Property

Landsec appoints data and analytics expert to board

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:48
Data and analytics expert Manjiry Tamhane has joined the board of Landsec as an independent non-executive director.
Categories: Property

Softbank and WeWork settle US dispute, paving way for another float attempt

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:27
The prospect of a WeWork float has returned after SoftBank reached a settlement in the US legal dispute with directors of office space-sharing venture WeWork, and its founder Adam Neumann.
Categories: Property

2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR First Drive: It’s the Little Things

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 03/01/2021 - 00:00

“It’s the pinnacle of six years’ worth of tuning,” JLR Special Vehicle Operations vehicle dynamics manager Ross Restell says as he shows us around the 2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR. And after a few hours behind the wheel on some quiet English back roads, we’re not about to argue.

From a distance, the revised F-Pace SVR may not look all that different from the SVR crossover it replaces, which originally debuted in Europe in 2016. Even the power output—550 hp—remains the same. Up close, you’ll notice the new exterior hardware and the revamped interior with its upgraded infotainment package. But one drive of this deftly refreshed Jag SUV proves that sweating the details pays off. Thanks to a bunch of small changes under the skin, the 2021 F-Pace SVR is more agile yet more comfortable and slightly quicker yet noticeably quieter than the outgoing model.

How the New F-Pace SVR Looks—Inside and Out

Let’s start with the stuff you can see. The refreshed F-Pace SVR builds on the exterior, interior, and infotainment system upgrades made to the regular F-Pace for the 2021 model year. It gets unique front and rear bumpers, along with unique wheels in 21-inch and (in Europe) 22-inch sizes—the usual go-faster visuals, but they’re not all just for show.

The hood, which now stretches all the way forward to the top of the grille, is vented to help get rid of hot air and reduce air pressure in the engine bay that can cause lift at speed. The grille is flanked by a pair of massive vents that direct cooling air to the brakes. That air is then taken out from under the car by the two side vents just behind the front wheels. The sill panels feature small vanes behind the front and rear wheels to help reduce the amount of turbulent air along the side of the car. And those gashes on the rear corners are not there to package the reflectors. Rather, the reflectors disguise the way the sides of the rear bumper have been pushed out to keep the airflow as clean as possible. Four bazooka-caliber exhausts peek out from under it.

The sum total of the bodywork aero enhancements is a 35 percent reduction in lift and a drop in the drag coefficient from 0.37 to 0.36. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough, Restell says, to deliver a 2-mph increase in the top speed to 178 mph, helped by the engine now achieving its 550-hp peak 250 rpm to 500 rpm higher up the rev range than before.

Cost-cutting by JLR bean counters cursed the original F-Pace with an inexcusably cheap-looking interior that was the complete anthesis of what you’d expect in a Jaguar. In the 2021 F-Pace SVR, the hard black plastic has been banished to the B-pillar covers, the door apertures, and the storage units in the doors themselves. Pretty much everything else is wrapped in leather, with Alcantara inserts on the seats and doors. The new 12.3-inch touchscreen is bordered by Alcantara with ebony stitching, while aluminum patterned finishers are standard, with open-pore carbon fiber available as an option.

The SVR’s optional lightweight sport seats not only look the part but are also very comfortable. The most useful upgrade for 2021, however, is the small rotary controller to the right of the redesigned shifter, which makes switching between drive modes a simple, intuitive twirl of the fingertips rather than the frustrating hunt-and-peck of the old car’s button setup. The new EVA2 electrical architecture (first seen in the new Defender; putting it in the F-Pace meant changing every control module in the car) means the Dynamic mode settings for the engine, steering, suspension, and transmission can be easily toggled individually to Comfort mode settings.

The SVR’s Big Differences Lie Under the Sheetmetal

Now for the bits you can’t see that really make a difference. The original F-Pace SVR’s engine made 502 lb-ft of torque, and the torque peak was diminished slightly in the lower gears to protect the transmission. The 2021 model’s eight-speed automatic now has the same, more robust torque converter as used in the manic Jaguar XE Project 8 SV sedan, which has allowed SVO engineers to bump peak torque to 516 lb-ft, from 3,500 to 5,000 rpm. The revised transmission also allows launch control. More torque helps the 2021 SVR get to 60 mph 0.3 second than the old model, stopping the clock at 3.8 seconds.

The acceleration is helped by the fact that in Dynamic mode the default torque split sends 90 percent of the drive to the rear wheels. In Comfort mode, the front to rear torque split is 30/70, while in low-traction modes it’s 50/50. The system can send up to 100 percent of the drive to the rear wheels on wide-open throttle but will never send more than 50 percent to the front axle.

The 15.6-inch disc brakes carry over from the previous SVR, but the brake system has been recalibrated and now features an electric booster designed to deliver a shorter pedal travel and improve feel. The electric power steering has also been recalibrated. But the biggest change to the chassis has been to the suspension bushing. “Every compliance bush was studied and changed if needed,” vehicle dynamics manager Restell says. The aim was to improve lateral stiffness while reducing impact harshness and noise.

And that’s the first thing you notice once you get behind the wheel of the 2021 F-Pace SVR. Turn-in response is noticeably crisper than in the old car, but there is now a honeyed layer to the ride quality, even on the 22-inch wheels, and much less thump and roar from the tires.

But why still only 550 hp? Why not go to 575 hp, like the Range Rover Sport SVR? Doesn’t need it, says JLR Special Vehicle Operations boss Michael van der Sande, who points out the F-Pace is significantly lighter than the Range Rover Sport and is thus faster anyway. “What we try and do is be really specific about the character of the underlying car and amplify that. It’s a bit different from some of our competition, who tend to look at everything very much through a performance lens.”

Which explains why the Jaguar F-Pace SVR feels so much lighter on its feet, with a much more responsive front axle, than its Range Rover cousin. And why there’s a rounded sophistication to the way this Jaguar goes down the road that its powerful German rivals can’t match, not just in the chassis balance and the ride but also in the delicate feedback through the steering wheel and brake pedal. The 2021 F-Pace SVR an easy, relaxing car to drive fast. Like a Jaguar should be.

2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR PRICE $85,750 LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 5.0L/550-hp/516lb-ft supercharged DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 4,700 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 113.1 in L x W x H 187.5 x 77.1 x 65.7 in 0-60 MPH 3.8 sec (mfr) EPA FUEL ECON, CITY/HWY/COMB 15/22/18 mpg ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.11 lb/mile ON SALE Now

The post 2021 Jaguar F-Pace SVR First Drive: It’s the Little Things appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2021 Audi R8

The Car Connection News Feed - Sun, 02/28/2021 - 12:00
What kind of car is the 2021 Audi R8? What does it compare to? The 2021 Audi R8 is a V-10-powered mid-engine supercar related to the Lamborghini Huracán. Offered as a coupe or roadster, it’s a visual stunner with thrilling acceleration and track-ready handling. Rivals include the Porsche 911, Chevrolet Corvette, Nissan GT-R, and...
Categories: Property

2021 Audi TT

The Car Connection News Feed - Sat, 02/27/2021 - 12:00
What kind of car is the 2021 Audi TT? What does it compare to? The Audi TT is an all-wheel-drive coupe and roadster with pedestrian hatchback roots cloaked in style and thrills. It competes with the Porsche 718, BMW Z4, Toyota Supra, Jaguar F-Type, and Mazda MX-5 Miata. Is the 2021 Audi TT a good car? The TT is fun in any form. Its looks border on...
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Can Top Gear America Save Rally Racing?

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 02/27/2021 - 01:17

Rally racing is the most dynamic motorsport on earth—or at least it used to be. From the 1970s to the late 1990s, rally racing did wear that crown and rally cars were some of the most coveted vehicular icons of their time. The sport birthed world-renowned stars in both driver and vehicle, like Colin McRae and the Subaru WRX STI. But recent years have not been kind to the sport of rally racing and it is in need of a facelift. The Top Gear America hosts think they have that all figured out.

Related: It’s time to kick some asphalt! Buckle up and join us for the joyride with the Top Gear America team on the MotorTrend App. Sign up for a free trial today!

The Heroes of Rally Racing

Rally drivers are some of the best race car pilots in the world. The constant variations in terrain and traction combined with open-stage course conditions that can change in seconds forces them to develop god-like levels of control and finess. It’s no wonder legends like Walter Rohrl and Sebasian Loeb crossed over into road racing with great success. Rally racing has produced (or attracted) some of Formula 1’s greatest drivers like Alain Prost and Kimi Raikkonen, too. Even modern legends, like Ken Block and Travis Pastrana, regularly demonstrate that they can hold their own on tarmac with the best.

The drivers aren’t the only heroes. Cars like the Lancia Stratos were hyper-exotic poster art akin to Ferrari and Lamborghini and just happened to be extremely capable race cars; winning races and stages for years on an out-dated two-wheel drive chassis when the dominators of the sport had long switched to four-wheel drive.

But it wasn’t just the country club and yacht crowd that could attain a world-class rally car. Group B rally racing turned everyday appliances into legends. Cars the Fords Escort, Focus and Fiesta, the Toyota Celica, Subaru Impreza and Mitsubishi Lancer were all boy-racer dream cars that the average weekend warrior could attain. Ever wonder why WRXs and Evos were so popular in the 1990s? Win on Sunday, sell on Monday and boy did those cars do lots of winning.

Fundamental Flaws of Rally Racing

Rally racing, today, is not what it was 20 years ago. Only three manufacturers competed in the 2020 World Rally Championship (WRC) when dozens used to compete. Fan participation has dropped, tv coverage and viewership has dropped, but the Top Gear America hosts know how to fix it. The way they see it, rally racing is facing five fundamental flaws that they’re going to address in only the way Top Gear America can.

The Cars—Modern rally cars are cool and fast as all get out but they’re all based on boring subcompact cars that no one likes. If you went to high school between 1995 and 2005, you probably wanted a Subaru or Mitsubishi as your first car and it was because of rally racing. What car inspires the youth of today to get out and drive, the Ford Fiesta? Ford doesn’t even make it any more!

No, rally racing needs vehicular heroes that bring variety back to the sport and can capture the hearts of the youth. Jethro is kicking it old-school in his 2020 Subaru WRX STI Series White, figuring this more-street tuned evolution of Subaru’s indomitable rally car still has the right DNA.

Dax has gone for more of a sleeper approach with the 2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. A sporty sedan in a rally race? Don’t worry kids, Dax hasn’t lost his mind. The Q50 Red Sport has 400hp and all-wheel drive, plus it comes from the same engineering geniuses that created Rob’s ride—the 2020 Nissan GT-R Track Edition—which does not belong off-road at all. But Rob thinks it will be a blast anyway with it’s 600 Tokyo-destroying horsepower.

The Drivers—Modern rally car drivers are just too dang good! How is the average weekend warrior supposed to keep up with Tanner Foust on a local race-weekend? They can’t! So the guys want to attempt to level the playing field and give everyone an equal shot at victory. Remember, Jethro is a real professional race car driver—Rob doesn’t have a hope in matching him for skill. But at the same time he has almost double the power in the GT-R as Jethro does in the Subaru. Time to break out the handicaps!

Audience Participation—The best part of motorport for the spectator is being there; feeling the exhaust pressure hit you as the cars race by, the wall of sound vibrating you to the core and the smell of hydrocarbons littering the atmosphere. Rally racing fans are some of the most dedicated to getting as close to the action as possible, often risking life and limb to get the best view. So how can our brave hosts get the people closer to the action without risking their safety? This one might need to be workshopped a while longer…

The Look—A modern WRC car looks like the technological marvel it is—and usually technological marvels are expensive. At around $750,000, a WRC race car doesn’t miss that mark. To get more people involved in rally racing, the barrier to entry needs to be lowered so that the amature racer isn’t priced out, but the cars still have to look cool.

Jethro has gone for a clean set of graphics, a la Colin McRae and his 555 liveries. Dax has gone for more utility and ruggedness by cutting his fenders and lifting the Infiniti. The light bar adds a mean look, too. Rob just went for off-the-wall-style points—no rear bumper, side pipes and truck-bed liner to armor the fenders. The guys definitely present a diverse cast of eye-catching characters here.

The Event—Rally race events themselves need the most help. The same stages get run year after year, cars are released one at a time to prevent everyone’s favorite part of motorsport—the crashes—and co-drivers are so good with the notes that even if a driver is unfamiliar with the terrain, they can confidently charge forward. It’s time to flip that on its head! No more co-drivers, no more well-known stages and tracks and give us that wheel-to-wheel action! What could go wrong?

This isn’t the end of Top Gear America for this season. The action all comes back starting May 7th, 2021, only on the MotorTrend App. Don’t worry, there’s plenty to watch in the meantime, like seasons 1-27 of BBC’s Top Gear, Roadkill, Fastest Cars in the Dirty South or Dirt Every Day. Plus, there’s no better time to binge the first half of this season of Top Gear America than right after watching the midseason finale.

The post Can Top Gear America Save Rally Racing? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Walk On Air: 2021 Cadillac XT5 and XT6 Get Mild Hybrid System in China

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 23:30

Good news! As of 2021, the Chinese-market Cadillac XT5 and XT6 will get a 48 volt mild hybrid system, new gold paint, and—if the above photo, which we swear on our mothers’ lives was actually included with the press release, is any indication—the ability to levitate.

As of model year 2021, the Chinese-market XT5 and XT6’s standard 2.0-liter turbo four now comes with a 48-volt “mild hybrid” system, which Cadillac says boosts fuel economy by roughly 5 percent in the XT5 and 6 percent in the XT6 (to 7.0L/100km and 7.2L/100km respectively, if you must know—about 33.6 and 37.2 mpg).

According to Cadillac, the 48-volt motor will be used to get the Caddys rolling from a stop, and will then assist the gasoline engine once it gets going. Also new for 2021: Gold paint and an updated interface for the Cadillac User Experience infotainment system.

Sadly, there were no details in the release about the people surrounding the XT5 and apparently walking about a foot off the ground.

We emailed Cadillac to ask whether  we might see these changes on U.S.-market Cadillac XT5s and XT6s. “The 48V system is a China-specific solution and there is no plan to adopt in North America,” a Cadillac representative told us.

Suspiciously, they said nothing about levitation.

The post Walk On Air: 2021 Cadillac XT5 and XT6 Get Mild Hybrid System in China appeared first on MotorTrend.

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Ringbrothers Works Spooky Magic on this ’68 Mercury Cougar Restomod

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 21:01

You can’t swing a custom, billet-hewn Cougar emblem these days without scratching up a few high-dollar restomods. There’s an entire spectrum out there, ranging from the crate-motor-and-decal jobs to the Singer types. Ringbrothers is no Singer, but its builds are certainly special. We’ve seen a number recently, and all embody some fundamentally interesting idea. Whether it’s a 1,080-hp, Hellcat-powered AMC AMX or a ’48 Cadillac with ATS-V oily bits, the Ringbrothers folks like exploring the boundaries. That’s why we’re excited that the latest build is a swaggering Mercury Cougar rather than the typical Mustang—and it’s the first Cougar the builders have gotten their mitts on, too.

It’s not the most powerful build Ringbrothers has done recently, but the delicious 5.0-liter Coyote pumps out 460 horsepower—way more than even the burliest original offerings. It’s backed up by a 10-speed automatic swiped from an F-150 Raptor—an interesting, and completely competent choice.

The basis is an XR7 hardtop given a frame-off restoration and a host of performance parts beyond the driveline swap. Suspension is courtesy of DSE, the wheels are forged three-piece units from HRE, and modern rubber from Michelin means this Cougar shouldn’t fall over in a corner.

It’s finished in a delicious dark green over a tan interior. The shag carpet looks appropriately deep, the leather appropriately supple, and the wood-and-aluminum steering wheel sufficiently sporty. The retention of the modern shifter is strange and unsettling, a rare off-note in this build—why not stuff its guts into something that looks vintage? On that note, a retro engine cover would do a better job of selling the 5.0 underhood than the vast slab of plastic hiding the good stuff. Details, details … it’s still a fantastic and creative build.

And we’re sad there was no in-person SEMA show to gawk at it during, considering the interminable pandemic. The photos are one thing, but this is the sort of creation that deserves a close-up look to appreciate.

The post Ringbrothers Works Spooky Magic on this ’68 Mercury Cougar Restomod appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2021 Volkswagen ID4 First Test: VW’s Everyday Electric SUV

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 19:01

Thanks largely to Tesla, manufacturer of the quickest car we’ve ever tested, we’ve come to expect great rapidity from electric vehicles. But if EVs are going to become mainstream (and both governmental and automaker pledges indicate that is going happen eventually, ready or not), then they can’t all be high-priced rocket ships for early adopters. Enter the 2021 Volkswagen ID4, the electric ambassador for the post-“Dieselgate” VW. The ID4 is meant to be a true volks wagen, an everyday SUV for everyday drivers. It’s sized, powered, and almost priced to match conventional compact SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

2021 Volkswagen ID4 by the Numbers

We’ve got lots to tell you about the new 2021 VW ID4, most of it good, but let’s start with our performance numbers. We tested the rear-wheel-drive model, which uses a 201-hp, 229-lb-ft electric motor mounted at the rear axle. Our ID4 hit 60 mph in 7.4 seconds and ran the quarter mile in 15.9 at 86.3 mph, comparable to a Honda CR-V and 1.5 seconds quicker than the last Volkswagen Tiguan we tested. The ID4 doesn’t slam you back in your seat with tire-shredding torque like that record-setting Tesla, but it accelerates smoothly and steadily right up to freeway speeds.

We question the choice of rear-wheel-drive for a mainstream crossover SUV, though. Despite the inherent coolness of a rear-motor VW, we think Mr. and Ms. America would prefer something more sure-footed in the snow, but we hoped it might pay some dividends in the real world. Separating power and steering across the front and rear axles has advantages. For instance, the ID4’s turning circle is ridiculously tight, and the steering feels eager and accurate. On both the figure-eight test track and our favorite curvy roads, we could feel the tail trying to step out, but the stability control always stopped it. (We never did figure out how to turn the nanny off, but this VW-produced video of Tanner Faust caning the ID4 implies it can be done.)

The heft of the battery pack under the floor certainly helps with the 2021 Volkswagen ID4’s stability, though it sometimes hinders ride quality. The ID4 is smooth and comfortable in most circumstances, but on poorly paved streets it jiggles and jostles, a consequence of the damping stiffness required to keep 4,659 pounds of ID4 from flailing out of control.

The shocks are generally successful in this endeavor, but on curvy roads, we found that a good, hard bump taken at speed could send the ID4 into oscillations the suspension had a hard time reining in. If such a bump happened to be in the middle of a fast corner, it made for a wild ride. Still, everyone from our team who drove the ID4 enthusiastically said they had a better time than they were expecting.

2021 Volkswagen ID4: Regen and Range

One thing we really liked during our test drives was the battery-power-generating braking setup. The VW ID4 only has one selectable level of regen (accessed from shifting from D to B), which we thought wouldn’t be enough; in our experience, the Hyundai Kona Electric’s setup, with multiple driver-selectable levels of regen, is the best solution. Much to our surprise, the VW ID4’s single setting turned out to be just right, slowing the car appreciably but not aggressively or to a degree that forced a major adjustment to our driving styles.

And what of range? Like its acceleration, the ID4’s EPA-rated 250 miles is not the stuff of headlines, but it’s an honest number. In ordinary driving, including quite a bit of time on the freeway (generally a range-sponge for EVs), we found the ID4 eagerly met or slightly exceeded this figure. More aggressive driving clipped our range by about 10 percent, but we don’t test cars or scream through the curves every day, and an overnight charge was sufficient for four or five days’ worth of ordinary driving. A 300-plus-mile figure would give the ID4 bragging rights, but for electric-car owners charging at home, the ID4 need cause no range anxiety.

2021 Volkswagen ID4: Brace Yourself for the Future

If the ID4’s performance was pleasantly ordinary, the way it presents itself is anything but. Let’s start with the exterior styling, a familiar two-box SUV shape shaved and sanded to slip through the air. The 2021 Volkswagen ID4 is about the same length and width as a Honda CR-V or a Toyota RAV4, but it sits quite a bit lower, the better to cheat the wind. From the outside, the VW ID4 strikes us as something we’d see in a movie set in the not-too-distant future.

The interior made us feel more like we were part of the cast. Volkswagen cabins have been remarkably consistent for the last couple of decades, to the point that when VW finally went to digital dashboards, it basically recreated its trademark analog gauges in video form. With the ID4, tradition goes right out the window along with the internal combustion engine. Warning to the Veedubisti: Before you hop into an ID4, brace yourself for some major culture shock.

The 2021 VW ID4’s gauge cluster is now a small video screen that perches atop (and moves with) the steering column. Like VW’s traditional analog dials, it distills lots of useful info into a simple format: speed, range, driver-aid status, and (optionally) next-turn directions. It’s all presented in a manner that reminds us of a really good head-up display. Jutting out from the pod’s right side is the simplified shifter: twist for a Drive, Reverse, or Neutral, and push for Park. On the limited-run 1st Edition model we tested, the steering column, wheel, and all its attachments were done up in dirt-magnet white, but other models will have a more conventional dark-gray scheme.

2021 Volkswagen ID4: Learning Curve or Learning Curb?

Nearly all other controls—stereo, climate, phone, and settings—reside on the tablet-like center screen (10.0-inch display standard, 12.0-inch optional), which has a capacitive touch panel below it to change temperature and volume and quickly access the parking camera, climate control settings, driver-assist settings, and drive-mode screens. Steering wheel buttons play an important role, as they should, but locating the defroster switches with the headlamp controls on the same panel to the left of the wheel is a head-scratcher.

We have no doubt the new control system will be a lightning rod for complaints, particularly from car reviewers like us. Truth told, we were all set to bash the system after our first day of using it, but we soon found the learning curve, while steep, isn’t very high. The touch-sensitive “buttons” can be a little confusing; some activate via swiping and some need to be pressed, and some provide haptic feedback and others don’t. We found the ID4’s new interface is a bit like visiting a country where the citizens speak English with a strong, different accent: Once you get an ear for it, everything mostly makes sense.

Kudos to VW for incorporating a little Tesla-like magic in the startup sequence. There’s a start button on the steering column, but you need not use it; once you’re inside the car—with the key on your person, of course—stepping on the brake turns the powertrain on. Twist the dial for D, and away you go. Turning it off is even cooler: Put the car in park and open the door, and everything shuts down as you get out.

2021 Volkswagen ID4: Pricing and More—Is It Worth It?

In terms of interior and cargo space, the ID4 delivers about as much of the former and almost as much of the latter as you’d expect from its gasoline-powered competitors. All the seats are comfortable and reasonably roomy, but cargo space suffers a bit from the ID4’s swept roofline.

Key to accessibility is affordability. Volkswagen says the average price paid for a compact SUV (luxury or blue-collar) is $33,000, which was its post-incentive price target for this EV. The 2021 VW ID4 starts at $41,190, for which you get cloth seats, dual-zone climate control, and automatic headlights and wipers. Subtracting the $7,500 tax credit brings the price down to $33,690, and state incentives may further lower the figure. Also, let’s not forget the costs of home charging are negligible compared to fueling a thirsty SUV.

Prices rise sharply from there on out. When all-wheel-drive arrives later this year, with two motors and more power (but presumably less range, as it uses the same battery pack), it’ll cost $3,680 extra. An AWD ID4 Pro S with all the trimmings will set you back nearly $51,000, which is Tesla Model Y territory, though Tesla’s federal tax incentives have run out and VW’s haven’t. But the limited-run ID4 1st Edition is a good one-time bargain, offering all the trimmings of the rear-drive Pro S for just more than $45,000 before incentives.

We came away impressed by the 2021 Volkswagen ID4, an electric SUV with one set of tires in the present and one in the future. It’s good fun to drive, novel but not baffling, and most important a reasonably practical SUV. If this is what mainstream EVs will be like in the not-too-distant future, then the future might not be as dark as you think.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4 1st Edition BASE PRICE $45,190 PRICE AS TESTED $45,190 VEHICLE LAYOUT Rear-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV MOTOR 201-hp/229-lb-ft permanent magnet electric TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,659 lb (47/53%) WHEELBASE 108.9 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 180.5 x 72.9 x 64.4 in 0-60 MPH 7.4 sec QUARTER MILE 15.9 sec @ 86.3 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 119 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.83 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 104/89/97 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 32/38 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.00 lb/mile (at vehicle)

The post 2021 Volkswagen ID4 First Test: VW’s Everyday Electric SUV appeared first on MotorTrend.

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Pricing Betrays a Well-Equipped Three-Row SUV

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 18:53

Jeep’s all-new Grand Cherokee L, the first-ever three-row Grand Cherokee SUV that also ushers in the next-generation Grand Cherokee (the two-row version arrives for 2022), is almost here. To prepare Jeepers eager for a seven-seat Grand Cherokee, the automaker has released official pricing for the three-row family hauler. The Grand Cherokee L will be costlier—but better-equipped—than the two-row, current-generation Grand Cherokee that it’ll be sold alongside for the 2021 model year.

The 2021 Grand Cherokee L starts at $38,690. That’s for a two-wheel-drive Laredo model with the standard V-6 engine, a $2,975 up-charge over an equivalent two-row model. That up-charge over equivalent two-row Grand Cherokees largely holds across the L family, with the biggest gap found comparing Overland trims, where the increase leaps to $6,235.

The lineup offers a mix of V-6 and V-8 engine choices, rear- or four-wheel drive, and increasing luxury as you progress up through it. Before we hop into those trim levels and ordering options, it should be noted how the Grand Cherokee L lineup is slimmer than the two-row 2021 Grand Cherokee’s, with fewer trim levels and even standard four-wheel drive on top versions—but it also is much better equipped. We expect that, as time goes on, Jeep will add more of the two-row’s flavors—such as the off-road-focused Trailhawk, sporty X, and slick High Altitude trims—to the three-row L. And don’t forget, a high-performance SRT model is likely, too.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Laredo

The the entry-level Grand Cherokee L is surprisingly affordable and well-equipped, at least by Jeep standards. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and Quadra-Trac I four-wheel drive is a $2,000 upcharge; every Laredo is powered by Chrysler’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque.

A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster is included, as is an 8.4-inch central touchscreen with Uconnect 5 and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. There are 12 USB ports (types A and C) scattered throughout all three rows of seating, and active safety features such as forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, full-LED exterior lighting, and parking sensors front and rear are also included.

Jeep equips Laredos with 18-inch wheels, heated power-folding door mirrors, roof rails, an eight-way power driver’s seat, and dual-zone automatic climate control. That is a strong roster of equipment, especially considering how Jeep isn’t known for its value pricing. For example, a similarly priced Wrangler, Jeep’s iconic and smaller 4×4 lacks almost all of those features.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude

Like the Grand Cherokee L Laredo, the Altitude model uses the Pentastar V-6 and comes with rear-wheel drive; four-wheel drive is a $2,000 extra. Starting at $41,890, the Altitude adds 20-inch gloss black wheels and gloss-black exterior accents (the grille, roof rails, and grille, for example). Outside of its cosmetic upgrades, the Grand Cherokee L Altitude brings heated front seats, a power liftgate, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a 115-volt household-style power outlet.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited

The $45,690 Grand Cherokee L Limited also uses the Pentastar V-6, and again, four-wheel drive is a $2,000 extra. Jeep’s Selec-Terrain drive mode system is included, offering Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand settings. “Capri” leather seats are standard, as are memory functionality for the front seats (and power four-way adjustment for the passenger seat), heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, audio-speaker-based noise-cancellation technology, LED fog lamps, remote engine start, and a universal garage door opener.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland

Opt for the $54,690 Grand Cherokee L Overland, and you unlock the V-8 engine option, as well as the option for an adjustable-height air suspension. The Pentastar is standard, with four-wheel drive again representing a $2,000 add-on. One difference? The four-wheel-drive system is Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II setup, which adds the ability to precisely mete out engine torque to the front or rear axle as needed. Also, splurge to the tune of $4,000 on the 357-hp 5.7-liter V-8, and Jeep throws in Quadra-Trac II 4WD gratis.

Overland models slather the seats in Nappa leather, add ventilation to the front chairs, and boast a stitched-leather dashboard cover. Navigation is included, as is a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, ambient interior lighting, 20-inch wheels, chrome tow hooks, passive entry, a power-folding third-row seat, electronic release for folding the second row flat, a foot-activated power tailgate, and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof. An available Off Road Group beefs up the Overland’s off-road cred, upgrading to Quadra-Drive II 4WD with low-range gearing, steel underbody skid plates, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, and smaller 18-inch wheel with “rugged” tires. Pricing for this package is forthcoming.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit

Treat yourself to the $58,690 Grand Cherokee L Summit, and you’ll find yourself nearly at the peak of the lineup. Again, the V-6 is standard (with Quadra-Drive II 4WD available for $2,000); spend another $5,000 for the V-8, and 4WD is included.

On top of the already luxe Overland, the Summit adds quilting to the Nappa leather seats, Berber floor mats, “Absolute Oak” wood trim, 16-way power front seats with available massage function, a four-zone climate control setup, a second-row console between the seats, specific 20-inch wheels, and a 360-degree parking camera. The Summit also adds a few safety features, such as Active Driving Assist (lane-keep assist self-steering function), driver drowsiness monitoring, cross-traffic collision warning, traffic sign recognition, and automated parking assist.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

Okay, now you’ve reached the top of the Grand Cherokee L mountain. The top-dog Grand Cherokee L includes Quadra-Drive II 4WD and starts at $63,690 with the V-6 engine and $66,985 with the V-8. The interior is bonkers, with quilted Palermo leather, ventilated front and second row seats, massage function for the front seats, open-pore Waxed Walnut wood trim, sueded headliner material, 21-inch wheels, and a 950-watt 19-speaker McIntosh audio system.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Pricing Take-Aways

Obviously, the best pricing for the Grand Cherokee L lives near the lower half of the lineup. The Laredo is genuinely well-equipped out of the gate, even if it’s a bit pricier than similar three-row SUVs such as Ford’s Explorer, Kia’s Telluride, and Honda’s Pilot. Jeep seems to be positioning the L as a luxury product, making it better compared against the Hyundai Palisade or lower-spec Lincoln Aviators—while also capping the top of the lineup at a reasonable (for its luxury quotient!) mid-$60,000 figure, leaving plenty of room for the upcoming full-size Wagoneer and even more luxurious Grand Wagoneer SUVs. Expect to pay slightly less for the upcoming two-row 2022 Grand Cherokee.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Pricing
  • Grand Cherokee L Laredo V-6: $38,690 (+$2,000 for 4WD)
  • Grand Cherokee L Altitude V-6: $41,890 (+$2,000 for 4WD)
  • Grand Cherokee L Limited V-6: $45,690 (+$2,000 for 4WD)
  • Grand Cherokee L Overland V-6: $54,690 (+$2,000 for 4WD)
  • Grand Cherokee L Overland V-8: $59,985 (4WD std.)
  • Grand Cherokee L Summit V-6: $58,690 (+$2,000 for 4WD)
  • Grand Cherokee L Summit V-8: $63,985 (4WD std.)
  • Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve V-6: $63,690 (4WD std.)
  • Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve V-8: $66,985 (4WD std.)

The post 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Pricing Betrays a Well-Equipped Three-Row SUV appeared first on MotorTrend.

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It’s a Wrap! This Sweet VW Jetta GLI Concept Honors Its Past

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 17:45

If there’s one piece of the Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s history we all recall, it’s the little sports sedan’s Blue Lagoon hue from the mid-2000s. Wait a minute? You don’t remember this short-lived GLI color? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Even so, VW has introduced this Blue Lagoon Jetta GLI concept as a nod to a past it believes the wider enthusiast community fondly recalls.

That said, the Blue Lagoon Jetta GLI concept is an attractive take on the sportiest Jetta trim. Credit the color, as well as exterior bits such as a front lip spoiler, side skirts, and a trunk-mounted lip spoiler. A set of 20-inch BBS C-HR wheels pop nicely against the blue hue, while a set of Continental ExtremeContact Sport rubber and a coil-over suspension kit from H&R Springs surely improve dynamics.

Inside, Volkswagen added a pair of Recaro Ergomed ES front seats and a Black Forest Industries golf ball shifter head to the GLI’s six-speed stick, and we’d like to see the brand offer this package of interior upgrades on the production GLI. The brand mentions no powertrain mods to the GLI’s 228-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Still, it’s the color of this concept that’s the star of the show. But we’ve got a little secret for you: the Blue Lagoon Jetta GLI is actually painted black. That’s right, this GLI’s blue exterior bits come courtesy of a wrap, which extends to the car’s door jams and inner body pieces to further fool Volkswagen fans. Even more shocking? The wrap isn’t actually done up in the exact same blue used on the Blue Lagoon fourth-gen Jetta. It’s actually a color Orafol—the company responsible for supplying the vinyl wrap—calls Midnight Blue Metallic. 

Nevertheless, it’s damn close in color to the original Blue Lagoon. The team responsible for this concept even sourced a Blue Lagoon fuel-filler door from a 2004 Jetta GLI to ensure the vinyl wrap was a near-perfect match for the original color. It looks like a dead ringer to the more than 15-year-old paint option if you ask us. Then again, we might not be the best lot to judge the success of this concept’s color match given we barely remember it was a thing in the first place.

The post It’s a Wrap! This Sweet VW Jetta GLI Concept Honors Its Past appeared first on MotorTrend.

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COVID-19 Forces Cruise Origin to Rethink and Redesign Its Robo-Taxi

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 16:30

Timing is everything. Cruise, a self-driving vehicle startup, developed the 2022 Cruise Origin autonomous ride-hailing vehicle and showed it to the world in January 2020.

Two months later the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly the Origin, a six-passenger pod for ride-hailing, was being viewed by new sets of health-critical eyes. A small vehicle that squeezes in six people, three per bench, facing each other, is not ideal in a world looking to prevent the spread of a deadly virus

Fortunately for Cruise, it designed the Origin to be modular so it would not become outdated with the quick pace of advancements in sensors, lidar, and other tech. Upgraded components are easy to swap out without redesigning the vehicle itself.

Pandemic Prompts Cruise Origin Design Changes

“This pandemic opened our eyes into many things that we haven’t been thinking about before,” says Mo ElShenawy, Cruise senior vice president of engineering.

Looking at research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization and working with epidemiologists from Harvard University, Cruise is reconsidering the interior design and overall user experience of hailing a Cruise robo-taxi.

“This was a great opportunity for us to revisit and rethink some of these concepts,” ElShenawy says. The team is rethinking some versions of its vehicle to curb the spread of this virus or any future ones in a world with a heightened awareness of infection. (Recent research suggest pandemics could become more common in the years ahead.)

Plexiglass and Disinfectants

More details are still to come, but the Cruise Origin will have a different interior configuration that includes middle sections in the vehicles with plexiglass and disinfectants.

How you order a vehicle and the logistics of the ride-share experience could change, as well.

The changes won’t necessarily shift launch dates. Cruise says it was making good progress before the pandemic hit. Engineers kept the technical work going, and in November Cruise was one of six companies to get a permit allowing autonomous vehicles to test on public roads in California without a driver.

Driverless Testing Underway

Cruise is using its new permit to test its fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Bolts (Cruise is majority-owned by GM) on the streets of San Francisco. Some are testing with a safety driver to monitor things; others are driverless. “Watching that vehicle go by itself in the streets of San Francisco was one of the highlights of the year,” ElShenawy says.

Cruise is also testing the Origin at GM’s Milford Proving Ground in Michigan.

The next step is a deployment permit that allows a company to go from testing to operating commercially. Cruise would love to start early commercialization this year.

Built in Michigan

The Origin will be built at General Motors’ Factory Zero—so named because it will only make electric vehicles—in Hamtramck, Michigan. Production is slated to start late this year or early in 2022 if all the safety boxes are checked. “We are going to be able to produce hundreds of thousands of these vehicles very soon,” ElShenawy says. The launch date is gated by safety—the vehicle must be safer with no driver than with a human behind the wheel to get the green light.

In addition to the passenger Origin, there will a stripped-down version to serve as a commercial delivery van, replacing the tram doors on the side with a rolling garage door to access parcels. Both versions are hoping to launch in 2022.

In the meantime, Cruise is using Bolts in a delivery pilot with Walmart. “This is a great step for us to start building that actual customer muscle and partner with the largest retailer in the world,” ElShenawy says.

GM as Partner and Competitor

Ironically, one of Cruise’s competitors will be GM itself, which has created BrightDrop, a division for electric commercial vehicles, starting with the EV600 van. Cruise welcomes the competition. “This is not a zero-sum game,” ElShenawy says, noting there is a trillion-dollar market to unlock between ride-hailing and deliveries. “The pie is way too big.” And Cruise has benefited from the scale that partnerships with GM and Honda make possible to keep costs down.

“In order to design a vehicle, an [autonomous vehicle], from the ground up, and design it with scale and cost targets in mind, that would really make this a viable business in the future,” ElShenawy says. “That’s one of the key advantages for Cruise. On the software side we continue to operate independently. The recent partnership with Microsoft adds to the validations. Having a tech titan like Microsoft in our corner is something that sets us up for even more success in the future.

“The key mission at Cruise and what drives me and others to be here is that we are really into changing the face of transportation,” ElShenawy continues. “Bringing this radical change and having our entire fleet of self-driving vehicles, all electric, powered by renewable energy. This race is about getting us into tens of city with hundreds of thousands of vehicles. That is the goal.”

The post COVID-19 Forces Cruise Origin to Rethink and Redesign Its Robo-Taxi appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L three-row SUV costs $38,690, crests at $67,000

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 16:30
The large three-row version of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L SUV costs $38,690, including a steep $1,695 destination fee, parent company Stellantis announced Friday. That's $4,450 more than the two-row 2021 Grand Cherokee that seats five, but the Grand Cherokee L is new and rides on a distinct platform with all the modern conveniences and latest...
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GM full-size SUVs compared, BMW doubts Tesla, California sets EV pace: What's New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 16:15
2021 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2021 GMC Yukon: Compare SUVs GM’s redesigned full-size SUVs share most everything except their fronts and interior upgrades, specifically on Yukon Denali models. 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L three-row SUV costs $38,690, crests at $67,000 The steep destination fee's just the icing on the pricey new Jeep cake. 2021...
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Buy Ken Block’s Record-Setting Subaru WRX STI, (Potentially) Become Rally Hero

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 15:20

Can you make your car waltz around a city street or wooded backroad like Ken Block? Probably not. Of course, the inability to hold hundred-foot all-wheel-drive slides and place a front wheel within millimeters of a dock drop-off hasn’t stopped tens of thousands of Gymkhana fans from imitating their rally hero, on- or off-camera. Most do so with a modified WRX or Focus ST/RS of their own, but now’s a rare chance at sliding behind the wheel of Block’s own Subie—all you have to do is win the auction.

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Up for grabs is Block’s old 2002 Subaru Impreza WRX STI (updated to 2006 exterior specs), a fully race-prepped Group N rally car built for his mid-2000s stint in Rally America. In his hands, the little WRX cruised to a handful of victories, including his first-ever overall win at the 2006 Rally of the 100 Acre Wood. Unfortunately, this car pre-dates Block’s first Gymkhana video and is not one of the cars that set the standard for exhibitionist rally videos.

Even so, this might look familiar to Block fans beyond its success on the rally stage. Block made headlines behind the wheel of this STI when he set the world record for longest distance jump at 171 feet for Discovery Network’s Stunt Junkies. The record has since been broken multiple times over, but hey—this is still a piece of motorsports history.

Even removed from its celebrity owner, this is quite a bit of vehicular kit. Built by Subaru technical partner Vermont SportsCar, this WRX STI arrives ready for more dirt-filled, mud-stained adventures, provided the winning bidder doesn’t plan to make this an expensive piece of garage art. If you do plan on burning the clean right off at a local rally, you’ll be pleased to know Block’s team of rally mechanics prepped the car for sale with a full fluid flush, new cam belt, and a brand-new fuel cell.

Bidding is already underway, so head over to the just-launched Wall Street Motorsport auction site for more info and a chance at a piece of rallying—and internet—history.

The post Buy Ken Block’s Record-Setting Subaru WRX STI, (Potentially) Become Rally Hero appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Weston Homes launches £144m of sales

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 14:10
Housebuilder Weston Homes has launched the sale of three developments across the South East, which have a combined total gross development (GDV) of £144m.
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Long Term Arrival: 2021 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design AWD

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 14:00

The tricky thing when trying to establish your brand as a player in the luxury stratosphere is pushing yourself past merely premium accoutrement. This is what confronts marketers from marques such as Acura, Buick, Genesis, Infiniti, and Volvo when proving bona fides against established German luxury.

Volvo has long produced sturdy premium vehicles with just enough elegance to justify the higher purchase price over a loaded vehicle from a mainstream brand. But now we’re seeing vehicles from Gothenburg like the S90 and V90 (and from what we hear, the redesigned XC90 coming next year) that place Volvo firmly on the luxury shopping list against the dominant German brands.

Enter the XC40, a spritely subcompact SUV that allows Volvo to step back into its premium-mentality comfort zone. But the Germans have been swimming downmarket and brought the fight for budget-luxury shoppers to Volvo’s door with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Audi Q3, and BMW X1. So who builds the better product—a longtime premium automaker playing in its well-established sandbox, or the true luxury brands looking to expand their presence?

Well, we have a year to find out, as we just took delivery of our charming long-term XC40 T5 AWD R-Design, resplendent in Bursting Blue Metallic paint with black roof and side mirrors.

Base XC40 MSRPs start as low as $34,795. But we got ours loaded up with goodies that stickered out at an as-tested $44,890. What did that extra 10 grand get us?

The “T5” code means a 2.0-liter direct-injection, turbocharged four-banger that cranks out 248 hp and 258 lb-ft (up from 187 and 221 in the base T4), mated to an eight-speed Geartronic torque-converter automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The suspension is a front MacPherson strut and rear multilink setup, riding on 19-inch aluminum wheels. The R-Design boasts a “sport chassis” setup, which has stiffer shocks and springs than the standard “dynamic” setup. We decided not to spring for the Four-C active chassis setup.

Climbing inside, occupants are greeted by Volvo’s always-comfy power heated seats with power lumbar and mechanical thigh-support extension, all crafted in Nappa leather.

What else does R-Design get you? Some upgrades in materials, such as a laminated moonroof, a different front grille design, leather steering wheel and gear-shift knob, Volvo-branded tread plates in the front door sills, and snazzier gas and brake pedals. There are some practical add-ons, as well, such as keyless locks, a hands-free tailgate (wiggle your foot under the bumper), integrated roof rails, dual-zone climate control, and HomeLink garage door controls.

The driver sees a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel that also has quick-view displays from the trip computer, map, or radio. The center waterfall has Volvo’s ubiquitous 9.0-inch Sensus Connect infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. It also serves as a Wi-Fi hot spot. Front and rear occupants in front and back each get two USB ports. A trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio blasts through the 650-watt, 13-speaker Harman Kardon stereo.

Our XC40 also comes with the $1,300 Advanced package, which provides a 360-degree surround-view camera, 12-volt outlet in the cargo area, inductive smart phone charging, adaptive cruise control, and high-pressure headlight cleaning (probably more necessary in Swedish winters than in Los Angeles). Still, I’d say that’s a well-priced set of features.

As for safety, the Swedish automaker wants to ensure that longstanding connection is still foremost in buyers’ minds. Starting with LED headlights and foglights (both sets of lights “corner” with steering inputs), the XC40 adds the usual blind-spot and lane departure warnings but then brings post-collision automatic braking, as well as the City Safety system that can detect bicyclists or pedestrians day or night.

If the XC40 detects that you are crossing the centerline into the path of an oncoming vehicle, it will swerve you back into your proper lane. It also will alert you if your driving inputs appear fatigued compared to the path of the road and will use the maps function to suggest a nearby place to stop. And of course, there are airbags galore.

And while not technically a safety item per se, this XC40 comes with front and rear park assist. Many automakers’ systems talk a good game in this arena but tend to do poorly when real-world execution is required; we’ll see how the Volvo matches up.

The XC40 comes with complimentary factory scheduled maintenance that covers the first three services (10,000, 20,000, and 30,000 miles) at no charge, as long as you come in within the first three years or 36,000 miles of service.

Even though the health scare has us taking great care with where we drive, we still expect to get plenty of use from the XC40. In fact, as soon as we took the keys, we were off to our vacation home in Paso Robles wine country. Details to come.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD (R-Design) BASE PRICE $41,945 PRICE AS TESTED $44,890 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.0L/248-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,807 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 106.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 174.2 x 73.3 x 65.3 in 0-60 MPH 6.2 sec QUARTER MILE 14.7 sec @ 93.0 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 111 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.86 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.4 sec @ 0.62 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/30/25 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 153/112 kWh/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.78 lb/mile

The post Long Term Arrival: 2021 Volvo XC40 T5 R-Design AWD appeared first on MotorTrend.

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Hyundai Sonata N Line Review: Is This Hot Hyundai Hot Enough?

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 13:30

It’s no secret that Hyundai’s N division is on the come-up. It’s run by ex-BMW M division head honchos and has proven that it’s more than capable of holding its own against storied performance badges like Type R and GTI. Hyundai’s N Line cars, however, are a different story. Much like BMW’s M Performance models, they serve as a stepping stone—a halfway house between the mundane and the maniacal. But as brands continue to stratify their performance lineups and create ever-smaller niches, we wondered why the South Korean automaker didn’t buck that trend and go all in on the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line.

Hyundai, for its part, doesn’t seem to know what it wants N Line to be, either. The 2022 Kona N Line and 2022 Tucson N Line are just appearance packages, nifty-looking cosmetics to give the appearance of sport without making the cars any, well, sportier. The Sonata N Line we have here, however, is much closer in philosophy to a full-on N car, and that’s where its major (and perhaps only) flaw stems from.

We’ll get into those weeds a little later. For now, the good stuff. The 2.5-liter turbocharged I-4 under the hood routes 290 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic to the front wheels. If you happen to meet a Camry TRD or a Honda Accord Sport 2.0 at a set of lights, you will send them and their so-called sport badges packing.

Hyundai’s stud athlete needs just 5.3 seconds for the 0–60-mph sprint. The Camry and the Accord need around half a second longer to do the same deed, and that gap holds steady at the end of a quarter mile. It also blitzes our figure-eight test in 25.8 seconds. The handling all-star Accord Sport 2.0 is 0.6 second slower, and the TRD is 0.8 second off of the N Line’s pace.

The Sonata N Line delivers the sort of punch that makes you think “You mean this is a Sonata?!”After all, it hails from a class of cars that, let’s face it, is about as interesting as yesterday’s warmed-over milk. But there is an impressive amount of talent hidden beneath the N Line’s swoopy skin; it’s not all down to the enthusiastic engine. The dampers have been retuned and are significantly stiffer than the setup featured on the standard car.

The result is an almost complete lack of body roll, sharp steering, and punch-above-its-weight agility. The Camry TRD has its own sharpened suspension, too, but that car is rock-solid to the point where driving it every day gets old quick. The Sonata N Line, on the other hand, still maintains some pliancy and is as interested in maintaining body control as it is comforting its passengers.

Firm though it may be, the Sonata N Line goes, steers, stops, and rides in a way that is well beyond what is expected from a car of this type. Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Custom drive modes alter the weight of the steering and the responsiveness of the engine. The dampers themselves are a passive setup, though, and remain the same regardless of mode.

Weak points? Not many. The dual-clutch transmission occasionally gives you a nice thump in the back just to remind you it’s not Porsche’s PDK, and the gray-on-gray interior is a bit bland. But those are small gripes. Everything you touch is of a high quality, the infotainment is snappy, the cabin feels airy and is well lit thanks to a huge sun roof panel, and there’s plenty of room for rear-seat passengers. Plus, the seats come with adjustable side bolsters, and at this price point that’s pretty much unheard of.

On the whole, the Sonata N Line is truly excellent. In fact, the result of all the work Hyundai and its N Line team did is so impressive that anything less than a BMW M3 or Audi RS5 would have the devil’s own job of shaking you loose on a twisty bit of back road. You can’t say that about a Camry TRD.

High praise, but it does come with a caveat that takes the form of two questions: Why did Hyundai go through all of the trouble to make this Sonata so fast and capable without going all the way? If N Line is supposed to be the appearance of sportiness and N cars are the actual performance machines, where does that leave this car? We asked Hyundai if it could clear it up for us.

Its answer is heat. Hyundai said the Veloster N and the upcoming Elantra N are both developed to cope with the thermal loads that track use places on them. That means more robust cooling for the engine, transmission, brakes, the differential, and so on. Expanding the Sonata N Line’s thermal envelope to a point where it could feasibly handle track use and be called a full-on N (by Hyundai’s own internal standard) would have made the car considerably more expensive.

While adding the extra cooling and Hyundai’s excellent limited-slip differential would have driven the price of the N Line skyward, its as-tested price of $34,305 is still a bargain given the capability that lies within. Hyundai is likely afraid that asking closer to $38,000 (or more) for a Sonata N would effectively price the car out of its intended market. But if only those prospective buyers knew what they were getting for that extra dough—or, in this case, what they’re currently missing out on.

The addition of a limited-slip differential, some rubber that’s stickier than the Continental PremiumContact 6s our test car wore, and Hyundai’s adjustable shocks would take the N Line to a different level—both literally by making it an N and figuratively by making it even spicier stick of dynamite. Plus, if Mazda can ask $36,895 for the top-spec Mazda 6 Signature, this writer thinks there’s room for a more expensive Sonata N with all the trimmings you’d expect of an out-and-out performance machine.

That said, we all know sedans are a dying breed—and performance-oriented ones occupy a niche that grows smaller every year. Plus it takes a heck of a lot more work to integrate an LSD than you’d think. In the end, the Sonata N Line is more car than most of its buyers will fully be able to exploit, and it’s all the better for it. If you want a cheap way to make it even better, toss the rubber it comes on and get some properly sticky shoes.

So is this hot Hyundai hot enough? For most, the answer is an emphatic yes. We just know it’s only a few parts and some N special sauce shy of something game changing.

2021 Hyundai Sonata N-Line BASE PRICE $34,305 PRICE AS TESTED $34,305 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 2.5L/290-hp/311-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,496 lb (62/38%) WHEELBASE 111.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 192.9 x 73.2 x 56.9 in 0-60 MPH 5.3 sec QUARTER MILE 13.9 sec @ 103.5 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.88 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.8 sec @ 0.72 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 26/35/29 mpg (est) ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 130/96 kWh/100 miles (est) CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.66 lb/mile (est)

The post Hyundai Sonata N Line Review: Is This Hot Hyundai Hot Enough? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2021 Chevrolet Tahoe vs. 2021 GMC Yukon: Compare SUVs

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 13:00
The 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 GMC Yukon full-size SUVs are cousins that share their underpinnings, powertrains, features and most options. The chrome-laden Yukon Denali differentiates itself with a slightly tweaked dashboard. The general difference between the two comes down to how much you want to spend and how strong you like your...
Categories: Property

IV Real Estate transforms two Bristol office buildings

Property Week News Feed - Fri, 02/26/2021 - 12:42
IV Real Estate has completed the refurbishment of two prime office buildings in Bristol city centre.
Categories: Property

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