2019 Hyundai Veloster N Makes Surprise Debut in Detroit

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 18:40

Hyundai brought a nice little surprise to the 2018 Detroit auto show in the form of the 2019 Veloster N, the first N-badged vehicle for the U.S. and the second following the European-spec i30 N.

Key design cues that differentiate the Veloster N from the standard car and the Veloster Turbo include lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels shod in Michelin Pilot SuperSport summer tires. Also available are 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped with 235/35R19 Pirelli P-Zero summer tires that are made specifically for Hyundai N vehicles. The grille is unique to the Veloster N, which has its own dedicated front air ducts for improved cooling for the brakes. Out back, the car features a rear spoiler, and an integrated diffuser with a high-flow dual exhaust.

Inside, the car comes with cloth sport seats, a special instrument cluster with a shift indicator, N-badged sill plates, a unique steering wheel, shift knob, and blue interior accents.

Under the hood is a beefed up 2.0-liter turbo-four rated at 275 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque that’s paired to a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission with downshift rev-matching capability. Changes to the engine include an intercooler that’s been isolated from the condenser and radiator to improve charge cooling. The transmission features carbon-coated synchro rings and reinforced gears for smoother operation. A double-layer facing clutch disc is used for additional robustness. Like the i30 N, the Veloster N’s exhausts have a variable exhaust actuator, and in N mode, produce distinctive pops and crackles.

The 2019 Hyundai Veloster N features a unique suspension tuning dubbed N Power Sense Axle design. It features a zero-scrub radius for better steering precision and on-center feel, increased linearity, and quicker response. Roll angles have also been decreased to improve grip while the motor-driven power steering system is now mounted on the rack and secured at three locations for less flex and more direct handling feel during enthusiastic driving. Body rigidity has been increased via a rear strut brace reinforcing the mounting points of the rear suspension.

An electronically controlled suspension comes standard on the 2019 Veloster N and it features an N mode that minimizes body roll and dive during braking. An electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip differential (N Corner-Carving Limited-Slip Differential in Hyundai speak) comes standard for reduced slip, improved launch performance, and increased max cornering speeds thanks to its torque vectoring capability.

Like the European-market i30 N, the Veloster N features a drive mode selector called the “N Grin Control System (ok), and features Normal, Sport, N, Eco and N Custom modes. The latter allows you to customize everything from suspension and engine to the exhaust and rev-matching function. For stopping power, the 2019 Veloster N will come standard with 13.0-inch front and 11.8-inch rear performance brakes. Optionally, you can specify larger 13.6-inch front and 12.4-inch rear brakes.

When it goes on sale later this year, the 2019 Veloster N will be available in five colors, including Ultra Black, Chalk White, Racing Red, and Performance Blue, which is available only on the N model.

Source: Hyundai

The post 2019 Hyundai Veloster N Makes Surprise Debut in Detroit appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2019 Ford Ranger video preview

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 17:51
It's hard to believe that Ford, the truck leader for four decades, hasn't had a mid-size pickup since 2011. Well, now the Ranger rides again. The Ranger never actually went away. Our Ranger is actually based on a global truck that's been around since 2009, but Ford has beefed it up for our North American tastes. Under the hood is one powertrain...
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Green light for Slade Gardens in Stockwell

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 17:17
The London Borough of Lambeth has granted planning consent for a new self-funded community hub in a conservation area in Stockwell.
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2019 Hyundai Veloster First Look: Halo Kiddy

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 17:05

Hyundai refers to its quirky one-plus-two-door Veloster coupe as a “reverse halo vehicle,” meaning it’s intended to draw young buyers in and get them hooked so that as they age, start families, and get promoted they’ll buy ever fancier Hyundai cars and utes. In Korea they even sell it under a “Premium Youth Lab” subbrand. Well, it’s hard to keep the kids interested year after year, and this new-for-2012 sporty car is arguably overdue for a do-over. One might expect a more radical redo in a market so fashion-conscious, but the new 2019 Hyundai Veloster certainly won’t be mistaken for anything else.

The continuous sweep of the roof into the backlite, the third half door on the passenger side, and the center exhaust outlet are all faithfully retained in this reimagining of Hyundai’s “city rally car,” but there’s a new wider sunroof, the A-pillars and cowl are moved back to visually extend the length of the hood, and aerodynamic air curtains are fitted to the front and (less expectedly) rear wheels. Up front, LED headlights and daytime running lights flank the new “pouring steel” cascade grille, and at the rear there are new LED taillights, dual centrally positioned exhaust outlets, and a more aggressive diffuser. Overall length increases by 0.8 inch (it’s all in the extended front overhang), and it’s wider by 0.4 inch.

Meanwhile most of what you don’t see has been substantially upgraded. The wheelbase is retained but the chassis shares more Elantra/Kona platform architecture, including the standard multilink rear suspension. The base naturally aspirated engine upgrades from 1.6 to 2.0 liters, gaining Atkinson-cycle efficiency plus 15 more horsepower and 12 additional lb-ft. That adds up to peak ratings of 147 hp at 6,200 rpm and 132 lb-ft at 4,500 rpm. A choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmissions is offered.

The up-level engine is still a 201-hp, 195-lb-ft 1.6-liter turbo, though it’s retuned so that peak torque arrives earlier (1,500 rpm versus 1,750) mated to a six-speed manual or a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic that gets sportier programming to hold lower gears when cornering. And augmenting the sport-tuned intake and exhaust sounds made by these engines will be Active Sound Design noises delivered via the sound system and tailored to the drive modes, which now include normal, sport, and smart.

Chassis-wise, 17-inch aluminum wheels are standard with 18s optional. Four different wheel designs are offered. Michelin Pilot Sport summer tires are available on Turbo models. The steering ratio is also quicker by 10 percent for more agile feeling dynamics.

The 2019 Veloster’s interior design aesthetic was apparently inspired by café racer motorcycles, and it echoes the exterior’s asymmetry. A 7.0-inch display audio system is standard with an optional 8.0-inch display that offers performance gauges for turbo boost, engine torque, and lateral/longitudinal g forces. Qi wireless charging and an Infinity premium audio system are available, as is a wide, full-color pop-up reconfigurable head-up display that can depict speed limit, navigation instructions, adaptive cruise and lane-keep assist icons, and several more warnings along with the more traditional speedometer and tachometer.

New safety features include forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist, blind-spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, high-beam assist, and driver attention alert (which analyzes driving behavior, looking for increased lateral movement in lane, sudden increase of steering pattern, or insufficient lane guidance).

For 2019, five trim grades will be offered: 2.0, 2.0 Premium (automatic only), a lighter, more basic Turbo R-Spec with manual transmission, a middle Turbo offering with the seven-speed twin-clutch, and a fully loaded Turbo Ultimate variant that can be had with either transmission. Color choices include black, white, orange, red, and three shades of silver/gray with Turbo Ultimate models getting a black roof. Cloth is standard on 2.0 and Turbo R-Spec, a cloth-leather combo comes with 2.0 Premium or Turbo, and Ultimates get full leather with two-tone black and Sand Storm gray. All get colorful anodized dash accents in different colors.

The 2019 Veloster might look and feel a bit more grown up, but don’t expect its price to leap beyond the reach of the youthful clientele Hyundai expects it to lure into the Hyundai brand.

Read our 2017 Hyundai Veloster Turbo First Test review right here.

The post 2019 Hyundai Veloster First Look: Halo Kiddy appeared first on Motor Trend.

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2019 Hyundai Veloster preview

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 17:05
The 2019 Hyundai Veloster is the unexpected redesign of one of the odder hatchbacks on the market. Coming at a time when consumers are clamoring for more crossovers and SUVs, the lifestyle-focused Veloster continues on with its odd spare door, but gains more power, enhanced technology, and refined style. The 2019 Veloster also serves as Hyundai's...
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2019 Hyundai Veloster gets new look, lots more tech

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 17:05
The redesigned 2019 Hyundai Veloster unveiled Monday at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit blends familial features from the Sonata sedan and Elantra GT wagon with its own stylish, odd-ball form. It all seems like a rehash of yesterday's news until you consider the new Veloster N, a high-performance model that's the first...
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2019 Kia Forte First Look: More Stylish and Efficient Compact Now Offers a CVT

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:35

The 2019 Kia Forte sedan makes its debut with a sleeker, more coupelike exterior at the 2018 Detroit auto show. Kia says that its compact sedan takes design cues from the Stinger to give it a more aggressive appearance. With its updated powertrain and an all-new CVT option, the 2019 Forte aims to be stylish and fuel efficient.

Unlike most compact sedans, the 2019 Kia Forte adopts a cab rearward exterior, giving it a fastback silhouette and a short trunklid. Designers moved the cowl back 5 inches to achieve this look while giving the car a more planted appearance on the road. Out back, the 2019 Forte has a trim piece connecting both of its taillights, similar to the Sportage crossover. The car has also been stretched by 3.2 inches, making it 182.7 inches long and allowing for more legroom and a larger trunk that now measures 15.1 cubic feet. It also grows slightly in width by 0.7 inch to 70.8 inches and is a half-inch taller at 56.7 inches, improving headroom.

The last-generation Kia Forte sedan won a Big Test comparison test in 2013. Read about it here.

Compared to the outgoing model, the 2019 Kia Forte features a stronger body made of 54 percent advanced high-strength steel and expects the car to receive top crash test scores from the IIHS. The seat frames are also stronger yet lighter, and the body-in-white is 16 percent stiffer. According to Kia, the 2019 model’s new motor-driven power steering system should minimize the artificial feel and friction while the revised suspension geometry improves handling. Throttle and braking feel have also been reworked to smooth out tip-in response and achieve better stopping performance.

Under the hood is a carryover 2.0-liter I-4 running on the Atkinson cycle and is estimated to make 147 hp and 132 lb-ft of torque. It can be couple to either a standard six-speed manual or Kia’s first CVT, dubbed Intelligent Variable Transmission (IVT). The automaker worked to ensure its first gearless transmission didn’t have a rubber band feel, which resulted in the addition of a “shifting” logic to make it feel like a conventional automatic. It also features a chain-type belt to help reduce the rubber band effect. Kia wrapped the transmission case in a sound-insulating cover to improve NVH and to ensure that the CVT doesn’t get noisy. The Korean automaker is expecting the new powertrain combination to get 35 mpg in the combined cycle.

Inside, the 2019 Forte comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, which is the centerpiece of its minimalistic cabin. The updated infotainment system comes standard with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on all models and can now read text messages on phones linked via Bluetooth. Additional features include full LED headlights, a 320-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system, and a wireless phone charger. A full suite of active safety tech will be offered on the 2019 Kia Forte including blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, which bundles together automatic emergency braking and forward collision braking.

Look for the 2019 Kia Forte to go on sale later this year. A hatchback variant should follow sometime after the sedan, possibly with a 201-hp turbo-four engine option.

The post 2019 Kia Forte First Look: More Stylish and Efficient Compact Now Offers a CVT appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

AXA IM acquires DC trophy office

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:28
AXA IM - Real Assets has completed the acquisition of a 210,000 sq ft office asset located in Washington DC, located just two blocks from the White House.
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2019 Acura RDX Prototype First Look: Larger, Stiffer, More Powerful

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:20

Acura might be calling its unveil of the third-generation RDX crossover a prototype, but the five-passenger luxury SUV making its global debut at North American International Auto Show is production-ready.

It goes on sale this summer, and there also will be an A-Spec variant available at launch—the first sporty addition for an Acura SUV. In the future, all core Acura vehicles will get the A-spec treatment.

Acura is calling it an all-new, exclusive platform—but the RDX started with the Honda CR-V architecture and modified the chassis and upgraded the powertrain. Obviously, the sheetmetal is much different, too.

The only engine under the hood at launch is the new 2.0-liter VTEC turbocharged inline-four-cylinder engine that is shared with the Honda Civic Type R and Accord. The direct-injection engine—which generates 306 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in the Type R and 252 hp and 273 lb-ft in the Accord—has 40 percent more low-end grunt than that of the outgoing RDX and is mapped to deliver more low-end thrust than the revvy Type R. We also expect a hybrid variant in the future.

The RDX’s 10-speed automatic transmission is shared with the Odyssey and Accord, but this is its first all-wheel-drive application.

The 2019 RDX is the same height as the outgoing RDX but is longer and wider with a wheelbase lengthened by 2.5 inches and a 1.2-inch wider track, said engineer Steve Hansen. It also has a shorter overhang and long wheel-to-dash for more dramatic proportions, fronted by the signature diamond pentagon grille and next-gen LED headlights. In back is a “dragon tail” with LED lamps.

Engineers made the body and chassis stiffer and gave the 2019 model a multilink rear suspension with a new adaptive damper system. Drive modes are similar to the NSX’s, which defaults to Sport but can be switched to Comfort, Snow, or Sport Plus. It has variable gear steering.

The 2019 model gets the second generation of Acura’s torque vectoring Super-Handling All Wheel Drive or SH-AWD. About 60 percent of current buyers opt for AWD.

It was at the 2016 NAIAS that Acura showed the Precision concept that would shape the design direction for the brand going forward. Some cues made it into the NSX, but the RDX is the first Acura to fully implement the look the Precision telegraphed, says Acura General Manager Jon Ikeda.

The interior takes cues from the Precision’s cockpit. There are real metals—not faux-look plastics—including brushed aluminum as well as open-pore olive ash wood. The floating console creates space underneath, and the adjustable armrest is nice and necessary around the fixed location of the infotainment interface.

The 16-way adjustable sport front seats are heated and cooled, covered in Nappa leather, and offer lumbar support. Four of the 16 speakers in the updated sound system are located in the roof instead of the door, for better sound and clarity. Also standard are a sport steering wheel and ultra-wide panoramic roof.

The infotainment system features a touchpad interface and a 10.2-inch screen. The new interface will be in future Acuras. The RDX also has new natural language speech recognition. There is 4G LTE Wi-Fi and over-the-air updates for telematics and infotainment.

The RDX made its debut for the 2007 model year and helped create the compact luxury crossover as we know it. With a consistent string of sales increases, the RDX has been the No. 1 or No. 2 seller in the segment for the past five years.

This is the first RDX to be developed in the U.S., tapping the Ohio engineering team and California design studio. The crossover will continue to be built in Ohio at the East Liberty plant, and the engine is assembled in the Anna, Ohio, facility that also makes the twin-turbo engine for the NSX.

The post 2019 Acura RDX Prototype First Look: Larger, Stiffer, More Powerful appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Acura RDX Prototype previews 2019 model due this year

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:20
Everything is turning up SUVs and turbos nowadays, and that's just fine with Acura. Honda's luxury brand has been successful with its compact RDX crossover, and judging by the RDX Prototype it unveiled Monday at the 2018 Detroit auto show, it plans to continue down that road. What's bound to be the 2019 Acura RDX is an American product designed...
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PHOTOS! Cars of the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:16

The 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) has begun, and Detroit has already delivered some remarkable sheetmetal. From the highly anticipated reveal of the U.S.-spec Ford Ranger to the surprise debut of the Ford Mustang Bullitt, the show is shaping up to be an exciting one. But with so many big premieres happening in such a short span of time, it can be tough to keep track of them all. That’s why we’ve collected photos of all the most important 2018 Detroit auto show debuts in one post.

Keep checking back throughout the show for more updates.

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel  2019 Ram 1500 Limited 2018 BMW X2 Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt 2019 Volkswagen Jetta 2019 Ford Edge ST 2019 Ford Ranger 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (and LTZ) 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss

The post PHOTOS! Cars of the 2018 Detroit Auto Show appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Nissan Xmotion Concept Previews Design Direction for Brand’s CUVs

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 16:00

At the 2018 Detroit auto show, Nissan introduced the Xmotion Concept, a small crossover that previews the future design direction of the automaker’s crossovers. It also features an assortment of advanced driver assistance tech and a trick multimedia system with a personal assistant feature. Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design at Nissan, says that the wedge-shaped Xmotion Concept draws inspiration from Japanese aesthetics and heritage to give utility vehicles a more unique look and blend it with modern technology. It features key autonomous and semi-autonomous driving tech like Nissan’s ProPilot Assist system.

Exterior design cues include what Nissan calls a “protective armor” on the front and rear lower bumpers and side sills. Nissan styling cues are found throughout the Xmotion Concept’s exterior and include a new version of the automaker’s V-Motion grille that’s wider and deeper than in current production vehicles. Horizontal bars, which Nissan says are inspired by Japanese architecture and appear in a blade-like lattice pattern, featuring a high-gloss finish. Continuing with the sharp edges theme, the boomerang-style headlights return and are meant to evoke forged steel blades. The lamps integrate low beams, high beams, turn signals, and positioning lights all into a single cluster. The Xmotion Concept’s rear end features a unique taillight design that Nissan says is inspired by kumiko woodwork and puzzles, and features an optical illusion made via a hologram.

The Nissan Xmotion Concept has a striking stance thanks to its 21-inch alloy wheels and all-terrain tires. Its alloy wheels also feature a design effect that make it look like the wheels and tires are one, which in turn makes the rims look bigger than they actually are. At 180.7 inches long, 76.4 inches wide, and 66.9 inches tall, the Xmotion Concept is about the same size as the Nissan Rogue, putting it squarely at the heart of the compact crossover class in terms of dimensions.

Inside, the Nissan Xmotion Concept features an interior inspired by Japanese landscape with a floor that’s supposed to represent a river and a center console mimicking a bridge. Nissan says that the three-row Xmotion Concept features a 4+2 layout thanks to six individual seats instead of the normal three-row layout, which usually includes a bench in the second row. Albaisa says that the automaker is envisioning this concept as a practical crossover that’s usable every single day. It also features a retractable rooftop box for additional storage and was designed to ensure that it fit enough equipment while still remaining aerodynamic. Other key design cues include genuine wood trim taken from a single Japanese cedar tree from Yamagata Prefecture in Japan.

Even the interior colors are inspired by Japanese culture with red and white representing the Japanese flag and black accents representing technology. Printed and laser-embossed suede is used throughout the cabin and are accented by Nishijin-weave carbon fiber. The color patterns in the cabin are inspired by utsuroi or “gradual transitions” with the three main colors, red, black and white, blending together harmoniously.

There are a total of seven screens in the Nissan Xmotion Concept with three main displays plus left and right end displays that span the width of the car’s instrument panel. It can be controlled via gestures, eye movements, and voice to allow the driver to focus on driving while giving them the ability to safely access the infotainment system. One of the key features of the Xmotion Concept’s infotainment system is the so-called “Floating Koi,” a virtual personal assistant that takes the form of a koi fish that pops up on the main screen. Once a smartphone is linked to the car, the navigation system can automatically recognize destinations and even pull up useful information such as the weather and music. The virtual assistant can also pull up points of interest on your route and browse for information while you’re on the road even when the car is driving autonomously.

Source: Nissan


The post Nissan Xmotion Concept Previews Design Direction for Brand’s CUVs appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Toyota May Bring Back Small FJ Cruiser to Challenge Jeep Wrangler

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 15:58

Toyota is likely going to build a small 4×4 SUV—along the lines of the cult-popular FJ Cruiser sport-utility vehicle, but on a smaller wheelbase—to appeal to hard-core off-roaders.

The automaker is studying several ideas that could lead to a production model, Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz said that in an exclusive interview at the 2018 Detroit auto show.

“There’s room for an authentic small off-road SUV, “ Lentz told Motor Trend. “Everyone moved out of that segment because of truck CAFE ratings. But we’re getting a lot of requests from folks who want another FJ or some variant.”

Although Lentz did not provide a timeframe for when such a vehicle could reach market, in his normally cautious Toyota-speak, his comments essentially reflected that Toyota would build such a vehicle.

Toyota has already shown a few rugged SUV concepts, such as the FT-4X at the New York auto show, and the FT-AC concept at the Los Angeles auto show. But many in the press assumed those were merely Toyota’s design studios stretching their legs in anticipation of the next RAV4.

But Lentz said those concepts are “along the lines” of a 4WD vehicle Toyota wants to have in the lineup—in addition to RAV4.

“There is room on the lower end, in terms of price or authenticity, for an off-road, frame-based SUV,” Lentz said. “This would be for people going outdoors, but truly going offroad. This would not be all-wheel-drive for safety, this would be four-wheel-drive with ground clearance.”

Lentz noted that the increased capability of all-wheel drive, car-based platforms has made cargo and towing specifications almost on par with four-wheel-drive, framed platforms.

“The difference is in wheel travel, and you can only do that with frame-based,” Lentz said. “This could be FJ sized, but for an enthusiast, it’s gotta be something with a small wheelbase to be more maneuverable when in the rocks.”

What does that mean for the larger 4Runner and Sequoia, which are showing their age?

“There’s market demand for frame-based SUVs, but we have to crunch all the CAFE numbers to see if there’s room for them,” Lentz said. “4Runner continues to do well, but the softest segment is for big SUVs.”

The post Toyota May Bring Back Small FJ Cruiser to Challenge Jeep Wrangler appeared first on Motor Trend.

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Toyota and Apple, 2019 Mercedes G-Class, Toyota Avalon Hybrid: What’s New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 15:30
Toyota to debut Apple CarPlay integration with 2019 Avalon Toyota's flagship four-door sedan will also be its first model in North America to offer integration for Apple iPhones. It's been a long time coming. 2019 Ram 1500 revealed: Ram with a family plan for full-size pickup truck buyers Full-size pickups have becoming living rooms and aircraft...
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Reeve becomes new CEO at Goodlord

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 14:55
Proptech startup Goodlord has appointed William Reeve as its chief executive officer.
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Lexus LF-1 Concept SUV Exclusive First Look: Reshaping the SUV

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 01/15/2018 - 13:45

It’s a balmy December morning. I’m standing in an L.A. photo studio and bearing witness to the Lexus LF-1 concept. This is the first time anyone has seen the tangible, functional, completed evidence of Toyota’s styling team’s efforts since it returned from the specialty-car fabricators at Sivax.

For more than a year, the 11-member Calty team pored over sketches, renderings, scale models, paint samples, interior fabrics and materials, and a full-size clay model. Now, with their collective work effort starkly posed in front of them, the group is speaking in hushed, almost reverential tones.

Suddenly, in a fit of enthusiasm, Ian Cartabiano, Calty’s chief designer and the overseer of the exterior design of the LF-1, spontaneously grabs my shoulders and gives them a manly shake.

“It’s so hot. It’s so hot. Look how hot it is,” he exclaims. He is quite literally hopping up and down, unable to contain his elation.

The normally composed Cartabiano is justifiably adrenalized. To call the LF-1 merely a departure for the traditionally conservative Lexus brand would be an emphatic minimization. The look of the LF-1 is more athletic and dramatic than the current LS and LC but has none of the gratuitous wackiness of RX and NX. The bold styling represents Lexus’ new design direction—which the automaker describes as “brave, courageous, provocative, and imaginative.”

So let’s get to the critical question: Just how realistic is this concept?

There are fanciful but impractical concept cars built to stir the creative and strategic juices within a car company but that won’t (or can’t) be suitable for production. Some small element of the design might surface on a showroom vehicle in a decade or so.

Then there are concept cars with more production intent. Their design might stretch the public’s idea of the brand, but they’re meant to give a tantalizing taste of what is to come in the near term.

The Lexus LF-1—to be unveiled at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit—most definitely is grounded in realism.

“This will not be a stretch to build,” Calty president Kevin Hunter says. “The reality is, we could use this in our lineup right now. This is a category we’re desperate to be in. So why waste time?”

This is a startlingly straightforward answer from an automaker whose communications typically traffic in nuance. In short: If you like it, Lexus will build it.

The LF-1 indicates that Lexus is changing to meet consumer preferences. No longer is a sedan or coupe perceived as the logical starting point for a flagship. Given the soaring demand for SUVs and crossovers, it is clear that Lexus is presenting the LF-1 as the luxury brand’s new elite vehicle.

You read that right: A production LF-1 could supplant (or supplement) the LS as Lexus’ top dog.

The Exterior

Using Toyota’s GA-L platform—which also underpins the flagship LS sedan and LC coupe—as its base, the LF-1 design interprets a sports car through an SUV lens. Granted, Lexus is not alone with this creative brief, but the LF-1 might be the most imaginative iteration to date.

Traditionally, to create a sporty vibe for a crossover, designers have aggressively sloped the roofline downward as it carries past the B-pillar, severely hindering headroom and ingress/egress for passengers. But that look is already played out.

Instead, the LF-1 maintains a consistent roofline without looking like a box on wheels. To provide performance credentials, the LF-1 carries a stretched hood and a long dash-to-axle ratio. The proportions have the sleekness of a raised wagon, more than a squished crossover. If it sat any lower, it could almost be mistaken for a hopped-up station wagon.

The production version of the LF-1 will benefit from the flexibility of the GA-L platform; the LF-1’s wheelbase and overall length splits the dimensions of the LS and LC. It’s 3.0 inches taller and 3.5 inches wider than the LS, too. The platform also allows the LF-1 to carry 8.5 inches of ground clearance. Its structure is versatile enough to accommodate gasoline, hybrid, electric, and fuel cell powertrains.

Some rumors had pegged the LF-1 as a three-row crossover, but Hunter believes a two-row flagship makes for “a more personal driving experience.”

“Lexus doesn’t have 100 years of heritage and baggage to deal with,” Hunter quips, throwing some shade at the competition. “As a young brand, it’s better to change and shift gears to satisfy market needs.”

Although it’s the stuff of motivational posters, Lexus designers were urged to accomplish the mission of “transforming function into emotion, performance into passion, technology into imagination.”

“We wanted to redefine the Lexus design language,” Cartabiano says. “We wanted something organic and sharp—a flowing, beautiful structure controlled by edges, not just edge, edge, edge. ”

Anyone who has seen Lexus’ angular production crossovers of late—such as the NX or UX—can immediately understand Cartabiano’s thoughts on the evolution of the brand’s design.

One key indicator of the new look is the flare that grabs the LF-1’s front wheel. The fender construction, as the A-pillar dives into and away from the hoodline, is intricate and complicated. If this vehicle indeed goes to production, a battalion of manufacturing engineers will curse Calty’s name. But the structure is a thing of beauty, one giant scalloped arc and muscular swoop that leads all the way down the body side.

As sketches evolved into early-stage scale models, an additional rib resided below the flare, low down on the doors. But the doors then had an alternating round-flat-round-flat shape that was too busy, Cartabiano says. The LF-1 called for simplicity without looking slab-sided.

The wheel flare and body side designs went through myriad iterations during their creation. “Some of the early models were not sophisticated or premium-looking,” Hunter notes in his typical deadpan delivery, right in front of the design team. “Ouch,” Cartabiano says.

Hunter continues in order to salve the burn: “Then it became more fluid, more harmonized. A new space. It was a cool sketch, but getting it to the finishing point is another thing. It was a roller coaster of pain and suffering.”

Speaking of pain and suffering, perhaps the most polarizing aspect of Lexus’ design of the past decade is the brand’s signature spindle grille—dubbed “Predator” by critics who call out the Schwarzenegger alien movie as a reference. And don’t the Calty designers know it. Part of the problem is that, in past applications, the grille has looked tacked on, almost a graphical afterthought.

During the LF-1’s design development, Lexus chief branding officer Tokuo Fukuichi and Lexus International president Yoshihiro Sawa challenged the Calty designers to define what the grille really meant to the brand. This led to a month of resketching the upper half of the spindle in various proportions in order to determine how the spindle would integrate with the LF-1’s headlights and hood.

The final creation is a hood with severe cutouts that feed directly into the grille and make it appear to be an integrated part of the vehicle’s structure. In the final design, the grille almost vanishes, looking more like negative space between floating front fenders. As for the grille pattern itself and the Lexus badge’s location in it, Cartabiano described it as having the appearance of a magnet dropped into a pile of metal filings.

A stylish touch, which might not reach production, is the glass roof that appears to flow all the way through the tailgate hatch. There’s a separation to the glass, of course, so the tailgate can open. But instead of a solid roofline connecting the D-pillars over the roof, sheetmetal wings splay off the hatchback. Even that decision—whether the wings should follow the roofline or descend to follow the angle of the D-pillar—was the subject of extensive rendering and modeling.

The placement of the Lexus badge below the hatch-opening split rather than above it was the subject of lengthy debate. The look provides a clean line across the back of the vehicle, but the badge is located lower than some might be accustomed to.

There are many height and mass issues to consider when designing an SUV, Cartabiano says. The placement of the taillamps can alter the perception of an off-road vehicle versus a pretend off-road vehicle. By designing a sporty vehicle, the location and shape of the taillamps must be as sleek as the rest of the car.

Then there’s the paint, which must be seen to be believed. It’s a copper-meets-rose-gold that was custom developed by Calty. The full-size clay model was the test palette for an eye-fuzzing patchwork of shades, hues, and variations of metallic, satin, chromatic, and gloss finishes.

Coming up with a paint color took the most time—literally, months—of any part of the concept, Hunter says. “I can’t remember this much debate on color on any other car we’ve done.” And although a satin look would pop from certain angles, Hunter says it would go “completely dead” as the color and reflectivity changed from another angle.

Wendy Lee, Calty’s chief designer for color and trim, says the final version allows light to be diffused and reflected, as if off the ocean. “It gives it a mystical, exotic, romantic feel.”

The Interior

When vehicles are designed for production, the exterior styling usually remains relatively static between concept and final vehicle. But the interiors can include wild reaches of the imagination. We can only guess which of these LF-1 ideas might reach production.

The front seats have been designed to appreciate the different mindsets of their occupants. The driver’s seat and surrounding area is cockpitlike, immediate, serious, and engaged with “compressed energy,” says Ben Chang, the LF-1’s chief interior designer. Even the center console and infotainment system are canted toward the driver—as they would be in an exotic sports car. Meanwhile, the passenger seat is spacious, restful, and relaxed.

Chang uses the Japanese word omotenashi, which translates into “anticipating the needs of your guest,” to describe the feeling Calty wanted from the LF-1 interior. It also happens to be a national slogan for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics. As Hunter puts it, “Everything revolves around the user experience.”

Such hospitality is apparent as the driver approaches the vehicle and the front fascia engages in an LED lightshow that flows like lava. Then, as the driver enters the vehicle, a galaxy of pinprick stars illuminates and flows through the center console and door panels.

Calty designers created an array of sizes, shapes, patterns, and light diffusions for the pinprick holes in order to find the right balance of mystical and welcoming, Lee says. Meanwhile, the undersides of major interior surfaces illuminate with ambient sublighting shaded in “Lexus Blue”—a cobaltish color between violet and blue.

But if Lexus really wants to be hospitable, it needs to update its much-derided touchpad infotainment interface. In this case, the LF-1 uses a simplified tracer with numerous shortcuts to decrease the amount of driver distraction.

The LF-1 back seat features captain’s chairs identical in comfort and style to those up front—as well as similar infotainment controls. Two in back could be a production option, but it seems pretty obvious that a three-seat bench would be the main build.

Production Plans

How soon can we expect to see the LF-1 on the road?

“We need this. Sooner would be better,” Hunter says. “There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. It helps when you have a design target.”

The LF-LC concept coupe from 2012 was planned as a design exercise, nothing more. After a rapturous reception in Detroit, Toyota’s board moved to turn the concept into reality. But it took four years from its Detroit unveiling to reach Job 1 production. After all, you can only move so fast when you are starting with a fantasy—especially one with dimensions nowhere near what would be required for the production version.

By contrast, nearly everything about the LF-1 was designed with production in mind.

The GA-L platform allows for multiple powertrain options—though likely rolled out in stages rather than simultaneously. GA-L also was created to be compliant with self-driving, either with the Guardian or Chauffeur self-driving systems being developed by Toyota’s advanced research team. A lidar provision is built into the headlight system.

Cartabiano says that even the bumper lines were conceived for production engineering purposes. The door latch mechanism is pulled straight from the LC coupe. “We even used Michelin 22-inch production tires.”

Some intricacies—such as the side-view cameras projecting images onto the fully digital instrument cluster—are for concept, not production. Other ideas: To make more room in the center console, the actuators for park, reverse, and drive are located at the base of the steering wheel hub. And activating Sport mode or various AWD modes can be accomplished with gesture control rather than having to push a button.

Although none of the Calty executives would give an explicit time frame, given past Toyota and Lexus product cadences, there is a strong chance the LF-1 could be a reality as soon as 2021—if Toyota’s board hits the “go” button. Given the LF-1’s status as a counterpart flagship to the LS and LC, pricing would likely start around $75,000.

“If the reaction is positive,” Hunter says, “we could move this into the Lexus production design system right away.”


The post Lexus LF-1 Concept SUV Exclusive First Look: Reshaping the SUV appeared first on Motor Trend.

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