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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Lincoln Aviator vs. Rivals

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 22:47

After we saw the redesigned Navigator, we had high hopes for Lincoln’s smaller three-row, the Aviator. Lincoln met those expectations, and the Aviator was one of our favorite models to debut at the L.A. auto show this year. Technically replacing the MKT in Lincoln’s lineup, the Aviator will face the same competitors as its predecessor when it arrives next summer. But seeing how it’s now built on a rear-drive-based platform, has a more premium Navigator-like interior, gets a long list of available tech features, and offers up to 450 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque in plug-in hybrid trim, it’s clear Lincoln is moving its midsize entry up market. With that said, we’ve chosen to compare it to two stylish and tech-heavy models sitting at the higher end of the class: The Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90. How do the three luxury three-rows compare when it comes to styling?

Although we live in an era of “the bigger the grille, the better,” Aviator stays away from this trend. The grille still manages to stand out with high-gloss black and chrome accents that give off a 3D effect. The Aviator has big headlights instead of the slim headlights many automakers have chosen to put on their newest vehicles. Meanwhile, Audi gave the Q7 a large grille that connects directly to the rectangular-shaped headlights. The front end takes on a curvier shape than its other two rivals. The Volvo XC90, meanwhile, adopts a waterfall grille design and unmistakable Thor’s Hammer headlights. The Volvo badge sits prominently in the middle of the glitzy grille.

From the side, the Aviator looks long thanks to the windows that wrap around to the back of the vehicle. Bold character lines, a raked windshield, and distinctive roof spoiler also contribute to the Aviator’s windswept look. The side profile of the Audi looks a bit more conventional, but the strong wheel arches give it prominent hips. Other than this, the Q7 doesn’t have particularly strong character lines running through the doors. The XC90 takes on an upright stance with a straight, not sloped, roof. Overall, it has simple lines much like the Audi.

In the rear of the Aviator, a light bar connects the two taillights. The bumper is simple, but dual exhausts seen on the Aviators pictured below add visual interest. The Q7 has a more traditional look with a defined rear windshield and standalone taillights. The XC90 is distinguishable by its vertical-oriented taillights, which contribute to the model’s overall upright appearance.

The Aviator takes design risks inside the cabin. Lincoln offers a tan and ebony design theme with engine-turned aluminum appliques that resemble the finish of early aviation instrument panels. There is also a design theme with Mahogany Red Venetian leather and wood appliques. No matter which theme you choose, the model offers a large central touchscreen. A cut-out in the center console section allows for the storage of small items. Buttons for Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive are tucked underneath the central air vents. The Q7 has a simpler design and a more traditional gear shifter. The retractable screen sits straight atop the dashboard, controlled by a touchpad on the center console. The XC90 has the simplest interior design of them all. For better or worse, the XC90 features a  touchscreen that resembles a tablet, eliminating the need for most buttons. Top-spec models offers a crystal gearshift knob. The Lincoln, Audi, and Volvo SUVs all offer a 12.3-inch instrument cluster.

How does the 2020 Lincoln Aviator stand up to the competition? Let us know in the comments on Facebook.

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Lincoln Aviator vs. Rivals appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Adam Carolla’s 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV Heading to Auction

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 21:30

There are few vehicles that possess the beauty, presence, and significance of Lamborghini’s Miura—the car that arguably started the supercar era. Even rarer still is the Miura SV, the final production iteration of the breed, of which just 150 were produced. Nevertheless, registered bidders at the December 8 RM Sotheby’s Petersen Automotive Museum auction will have the chance to take home a 1971 Miura SV of their very own.

The car in question is chassis number 4912, which just so happens to be owned by comedian and radio and television host Adam Carolla, a well known Lamborghini enthusiast. Said to be the only Miura SV finished in Bleu Medio over a Pelle Bleu interior, it’s also one of 11 single-sump SVs to have been fitted with air conditioning—an option you’ll want with a blistering 385-hp, 4.0-liter V-12 engine sitting right behind the cabin.

SV versions of the Miura had several mechanical changes from earlier cars, including revisions to the camshaft profiles, carburetor jetting, and suspension geometry. Wider wheels and tires, deleted headlight “eyelashes,” and of course an ‘SV’ badge on the rear of the car all distinguish the SV cosmetically.

Marcello Gandini was the legendary designer behind the Miura while at Bertone, and Gian Paolo Dallara was responsible for chassis development. The potent P400 engine was designed by ex-Ferrari engineer and 250 GTO development chief Giotto Bizzarrini.

Delivered new to the U.S., this Miura SV remained in the country until the early 1990s, when it was delivered to an enthusiast owner in Japan. After some 20 years in storage, it was again brought back to the U.S. and treated to a cosmetic and mechanical freshening, including new paint in the original hue and a top-end rebuild. Since then it has been displayed at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance and the famous Rodeo Drive concours, a Southern California Father’s Day tradition.

At what price does such an icon come? RM Sotheby’s pre-sale estimate is pegged at $2.1–$2.5 million dollars. That’s not exactly chump change for most of us, but considering the Miura’s upward trajectory with regard to value, the price may actually seem cheap—relatively speaking—in the future.

To find out the hammer price, be sure to check back here for results. And if you’re local to Southern California, consider having a look—or a bid—yourself Saturday, December 8.

The post Adam Carolla’s 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV Heading to Auction appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Volkswagen Plans to Build up to 15 Million EVs on MEB Platform

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 20:16

Volkswagen has begun a massive push to create new electric vehicles, and these efforts come at a price. The brand says it will streamline its product portfolio and reduce vehicle variants as it invests in new EVs and other technologies.

Volkswagen Group wants to introduce 15 million vehicles based on the new MEB platform for electric vehicles in its first wave. That’s up from previous plans to make just 10 million vehicles. Through 2023, the VW brand will invest more than 11 billion euros in EVs, autonomous driving, and other new technologies, with 9 billion of these euros earmarked for the I.D. family.

The first I.D. model will enter production in Germany in late 2019. After the small hatch arrives, VW will expand the I.D. lineup with a crossover, sedan, and van. By 2025, the brand plans to sell 1 million electric cars annually around the globe. At this time, the VW brand will have 20 electric models in its lineup instead of the current two. Meanwhile, it will make a decision “soon” on a production location for building EVs in North America.

To support these investments, VW aims to save 3 billion euros by 2020, of which $2.2 billion will be achieved by the end of this year. VW will make additional cuts of 3 billion euros by 2023, reports Reuters. This will help the brand boost its profit margins by at least 6 percent by 2022, three years earlier than previously anticipated.

How will it achieve these savings? Again, VW said it will streamline its portfolio and reduce variants, but didn’t name any specific vehicles that are on the chopping block. It also wants to slash administrative expenses and increase the productivity of its plants by approximately 30 percent by 2025. Earlier this week, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess said the German automaker might use Ford plants to build cars in the U.S. This could be part of the new collaboration between the two companies that will create synergies, including joint work on commercial vehicles. More news on the partnership between Ford and VW is expected in January.

Source: Volkswagen, Reuters

The post Volkswagen Plans to Build up to 15 Million EVs on MEB Platform appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

This Company Can Now Sell You a Brand New Old Ford Bronco

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 20:00

To say we’re excited to finally drive the upcoming 2020 Ford Bronco would be a serious understatement. After all, who wouldn’t love a boxy, Raptor-influenced, alternative to the Jeep Wrangler? At the same time, though, we understand that no matter how cool the new Bronco ends up being, there are always going to be fans out there who wish Ford would just sell the original Bronco again. If you’re one of those people, the good news is there actually is a way to get your hands on a brand new Bronco I.

Gateway Bronco, an Illinois-based company known for restoring first-generation Broncos, recently announced that it’s reached an agreement with Ford to officially sell brand new 1966-’77 Broncos. These won’t be restomods, either. Thanks to the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015, Gateway is able to legally build its continuation Broncos from the ground up.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Ford Motor Company and consider this license agreement a tremendous privilege,” said Seth Burgett, CEO of Gateway Bronco, in a release. “We will work diligently to serve and protect the Ford brand. Our proprietary, exclusive solutions to re-condition and manufacture the first-generation Ford Bronco has led to incredible growth of our company. Deepening our relationship with Ford will help us better serve our customers who want the ultimate classic for Bronco with modern performance.”

Customers will have their choice of three different models, each priced between $120,000 and $180,000. And while Gateway’s Broncos all retain the original styling, they benefit from the use of modern chassis components, suspensions, and engines. Spring for the top-of-the-line Modern Day Warrior edition, and you’ll get a 5.0-liter Coyote V-8, a six-speed automatic from the last-gen Raptor, a premium leather interior, four-wheel disc brakes, reduced NVH, and a five-year warranty.

Yes, that’s a ton of money for a new version of an old SUV you can probably find in the classifieds for a fraction of the price. But remember, these Broncos are engineered and built from the ground up at a rate of two to four vehicles a month. That kind of low-volume production doesn’t come cheap. The upside is you’ll always have the coolest car in the parking lot, guaranteed.

Source: Gateway Bronco

The post This Company Can Now Sell You a Brand New Old Ford Bronco appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Shown in Production Form

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 17:46

Nissan revealed the production version of the GT-R50 by Italdesign, and sure enough, it stays true to the concept. Orders have begun, but only 50 copies will be sold.

The concept had a gray and gold exterior, but customers can specify whichever color combination they’d like on their own model. As we learned while driving the prototype, all 50 copies will feature a different design so that no two are alike. Buyers can choose different colors and packages to customize the interior.

The supercar celebrates the 50th anniversary of the GT-R in 2019 and Italdesign in 2018. It started life as a 600-hp GT-R Nismo, but Nissan tweaked the engine to produce a lot more power. Under the sheet metal, a 3.8-liter V-6 makes a whopping 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. The engine pairs with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Along with a more potent engine, the GT-R50 has an adjustable rear wing, a revised Bilstein suspension damping system, improved Brembo brakes, and a roofline that has been lowered more than 2 inches.

If you’re interested in one of the 50 copies, you’ll have to contact Italdesign. Prices start at 990,000 euros before taxes and options, or roughly $1.1 million at today’s exchange rates. Deliveries will run from 2019 into 2020.

Source: Nissan

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Categories: Property

Next-Gen Three-Row Jeep Grand Cherokee Reportedly Coming for 2021

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 17:34

We may love the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk‘s imposing styling and face-melting acceleration, but it’s also impossible to miss how dated the rest of the 707-hp SUV feels. And considering the current generation Grand Cherokee has been on sale for eight years, it’s safe to say the big Jeep could use a redesign. In two years, it sounds like that’s exactly what we’ll get.

The Detroit News reports that Jeep plans to introduce a new Grand Cherokee for the 2021 model year, meaning the current version will be a decade old by the time it goes out of production. To make it more appealing to families, the 2021 Grand Cherokee will reportedly offer third-row seating, as well. And in a move that Detroit residents are sure to appreciate, Jeep is said to revive an idle plant to build its next-gen SUV.

Mack Avenue Engine II, which has been idle since 2012, will reportedly be retooled to produce the new Grand Cherokee. According to The Detroit News, reviving the Mack Avenue plant will create about 400 jobs. It would also be the first new assembly line to open up in Detroit in 27 years. For workers affected by GM’s recently announced plant closures, the news of a new plant opening soon will likely come as a relief as they continue looking for jobs. Once the Mack Avenue facility comes online, FCA will reportedly begin retooling the Jefferson North Assembly Plant across the street to build two-row and three-row Grand Cherokees.

According to LMC Automotive, Fiat Chrysler’s plants are currently at 92-percent capacity, while GM and Ford are operating at 72 percent and 81 percent respectively. “FCA is essentially out of capacity,” Jeff Schuster, an analyst with LMC Automotive, told The Detroit News. “They’re kind of running up against being against full capacity. This is a very different situation than what GM is dealing with.”

As far as we’re concerned, that’s a pretty good problem for an automaker to have. Let’s just hope that FCA plans for one of these retooled plants to build a 2021 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

Source: The Detroit News

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Categories: Property

2019 Audi E-Tron First Drive: All Electric, All SUV

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 17:00

Dunes ripple off into the distance under a brassy sky. The Audi dances over stutter bumps as it slaloms between piles of soft sand. A quick flick of the wrist and flex of the right ankle: instant grip and grunt, dust and gravel spitting from all four wheels. The irony of the moment is delicious. We’re in the Middle Eastern emirate of Abu Dhabi, driving through a desert soaked in oil, having fun in an electric luxury SUV. Meet the 2019 Audi E-Tron.

The E-Tron is built on a brand-new battery electric vehicle (BEV) platform designed and engineered in-house at Audi. It follows the now-typical skateboard format, with a 95-kW-hr battery pack between the wheels and under the floor, and it has motors mounted front and rear to provide all-wheel drive. Despite a near 50/50 weight distribution, it’s not, however, as symmetrically laid out as other skateboard platforms. The rear motor is mounted coaxially with the rear driveshafts, but the front motor has been rolled rearward and upward, away from the axles, to allow Audi engineers to package steering from the MLB Evo components set used in vehicles such as the A6 and A8. They did it to save the expense of developing a bespoke system. For the same reason, the E-Tron platform also incorporates MLB Evo suspension and brake hardware.

That’s not the E-Tron’s only asymmetry, either. The rear motor is rated at 187 hp and 231 lb-ft, the front at 168 hp and 182 lb-ft, specifically to give the E-Tron a sportier, rear-biased dynamic balance. Audi claims the powertrain will deliver a total system output of 355 hp and 413 lb-ft on a sustained basis for up to 60 seconds, allowing for successive acceleration bursts with no reduction of performance. A boost mode gives a total of 402 hp and 489 lb-ft for up to 8 seconds. That’s enough, Audi says, to propel the 5,489-pound E-Tron (the battery pack weighs 1,543 pounds) from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 124 mph.

Freed from the need to package a bulky internal combustion engine and all its complex ancillaries, Marc Lichte’s design team endowed the E-Tron with a sporty silhouette and broad-shouldered stance. Dimensionally, it’s closer to Audi’s Q7 than the Q5, and it’s more efficiently packaged than either. Two key dimensions tell that story. Although it’s 6.6 inches shorter overall than the Q7, the E-Tron’s wheelbase is within 2.6 inches of the bigger Audi’s, and its roofline is 4.9 inches lower. It’s lower, even, than that of the Q5, which is a massive 9.4 inches shorter overall and rolls on a 4.3-inch-shorter wheelbase.

The E-Tron’s angular interior aesthetic is less conspicuously upscale than that of an Audi A8 or Q8, but with three HD displays—one Virtual Cockpit instrument panel, as well as haptic touchscreens for the infotainment interface and HVAC controls—there’s no mistaking the technology quotient. The center console features what appears to be a leather-covered handrest, but the silver tab at the end of it is the shifter. Move the tab forward with your thumb to engage reverse, rearward with your forefinger for drive. Tap it rearward again, and you’ll get Sport mode; tapping it rearward twice in quick succession activates Boost mode. Park is engaged by pressing the button on the side of the tab.

And that’s about as tricky as driving the E-Tron gets. Everything else, from the Virtual Cockpit and Audi drive mode menus to the functionality of the infotainment and HVAC screens and the buttons on the steering wheel, works the same way as it does in any other current Audi. The E-Tron feels familiar on the road, too: Apart from the lack of engine noise and the eerily elastic surge of acceleration, it drives pretty much like, well … an Audi. The key to that is Audi’s innovative new electrohydraulic braking system.

In simple terms, the E-Tron braking system seamlessly combines motor regen and hydraulic braking. All braking up to 0.3 g is handled by the motors, which send the captured energy to the battery. But if the E-Tron’s neural network senses that more braking power is required, it activates a spindle drive on a displacement piston in the hydraulic braking system to get the calipers—six-piston units up front and single-piston items on the rear—to clamp the brake rotors, just as in a regular car. As most braking events in normal driving are less than 0.3 g, Audi claims regen handles 90 percent of the E-Tron’s braking chores. (It has even programmed the system to apply the hydraulic brakes at least once a day to clean rust off the rotors.)

The technology is clever, but the execution is brilliant. Unlike other BEVs, the E-Tron’s brakes have a wonderfully linear and consistent pedal feel. It is impossible to tell whether regen or hydraulic power is slowing the car, at any speed. At very low velocities—under 7 mph—the system automatically dials back the regen and switches up the hydraulic system, enabling you to gently glide to a smooth halt or engage in back-and-forth parking maneuvers without any of the herky-jerky shunting endemic with BEVs.

Also, because the system recoups so much energy under regular braking, the E-Tron can be driven without any liftoff regen dialed into the powertrain. This means the E-Tron coasts just like a regular car when you lift off the accelerator, which is useful for maintaining momentum when running on freeways—and releases you from the tedium of always having to have pressure on the accelerator pedal just to keep rolling with the traffic. It also enables you to better balance the car on corner entry when driving it enthusiastically on a winding two-lane.

You can dial in low and high regen settings if you wish; the latter allows the E-Tron to be driven with one pedal like a Tesla or Jaguar I-Pace in similar modes, but unless you desperately want to feel like you’re driving an electric car, don’t bother. Audi says the E-Tron is actually more efficient at recouping energy when the system is set to auto mode (where it works with the sat-nav and speed limits to further optimize the amount of energy recovered). More important, however, it endows the E-Tron with a lovely, fluid road manner other BEVs simply can’t match.

“One-pedal mode was a crutch for early BEVs to keep you from using the hydraulic brakes,” Audi product development exec Andrew Carter Balkcom said in Abu Dhabi. After driving the E-Tron, it’s hard to disagree. Audi’s electrohydraulic braking system is a game changer, a benchmark for BEV brake systems.

 

A height-adjustable air suspension is standard. The E-Tron’s default ride height is 6.8 inches. At speeds above 75 mph the suspension automatically drops the car 1.0 inch to reduce drag and improve handling. Switch to Off-Road mode on the Audi Drive Select menu, and the suspension lifts the E-Tron 1.4 inches. With 8.2 inches of ground clearance, Audi claims an 18.2-degree approach angle, 24.4-degree departure angle, and a 16.8-degree breakover angle. A Lift function provides an extra 0.6 inch of ground clearance when needed.

The two trim levels available in the U.S. at launch—the $75,795 Premium Plus and the $82,795 Prestige—come standard with 20-inch wheels fitted with 255/50 tires. Buyers can opt for more efficiency-oriented 19-inch wheels and 255/55 tires at no cost, and 21-inch rims with 265/45 tires will be available as an option at a later date. We sampled cars with both the 20- and 21-inch wheels in Abu Dhabi, and there wasn’t much between them in terms of ride comfort and noise. On either tire the E-Tron doesn’t quite have the rolling plushness of a Jaguar I-Pace, but it is quieter and more comfortable than a Tesla Model X.

Part of our drive included a spirited sprint up the iconic Jebel Hafeet Mountain Road, which packs 60 turns and 4,000 feet of elevation change into just 7.3 miles. Pushed hard, the E-Tron’s powertrain delivers the same punch and responsiveness as some of the more performance-oriented SUVs, and the chassis feels well planted and has less obvious body roll through corners. You need to watch all that instant-on torque, though—get on the power too early, and the nose will push wide—and although the weight is low in the chassis, there’s no mistaking that you’re waltzing almost 5,500 pounds across the road during rapid changes of direction. The downhill run was equally entertaining, not the least because the electrohydraulic braking system barely broke a sweat. No smoke, no smell, no spongy pedal as we rolled back onto the flat. Impressive.

OK, the question everyone wants answered: What’s the range? Audi’s not quoting an EPA number yet, but the 248-mile range it claims for the E-Tron on the European WLTP test cycle suggests it will be somewhere between 210 and 225 miles. That would put the E-Tron just behind the Jaguar I-Pace’s EPA-rated 234-mile range and the efficient Tesla Model X 75D’s 238-mile range.

What’s more, our testing shows the Jaguar to be a full 1.5 seconds quicker to 60 mph, and that the Model X 75D matches the Audi’s claimed 5.5-second time for the sprint. On paper, then, the E-Tron doesn’t seem to move the needle. But the Audi’s cabin is way more upscale than the Tesla’s, and it offers better rear passenger room than the Jaguar. The E-Tron’s real strengths, however, include better everyday drivability than either, courtesy of that clever brake system and a quieter powertrain, plus superior build quality. And the Electrify America 150-kW fast chargers being installed around the country will bring the E-Tron’s battery to 80 percent charge in a Tesla-rivaling 27 minutes.

The E-Tron is the first of four all-new, all-electric Audis scheduled to go on sale in the next two years, the spearhead of a sweeping transformation of VW Group’s premium brand that will see a fully electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle available in every model line by 2025. Audi is betting heavily on electrification. But if our first experience with the E-Tron is any indication, it’s a safe bet. Quick and quiet, stylish and practical, innovatively engineered and intelligently executed, the E-Tron brings the BEV another step closer to the automotive mainstream.

The post 2019 Audi E-Tron First Drive: All Electric, All SUV appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2019 Mercedes-Benz G 550 First Test: Grown-up G-Wagen?

Fri, 12/07/2018 - 09:00

The G-Wagen isn’t a logical vehicle. It’s the kind of car you buy because you want it and because you can. It may have started life as a utilitarian off-roader, but for the last several decades, it’s been luxed up to the point that many owners won’t hit the trails in one.

Thanks to an iconic design, though, the G-Wagen has remained popular with owners who could easily have bought a luxury SUV that didn’t drive like a farm truck. We can’t blame them, either. If you want a G-Wagen, even a Range Rover won’t do.

But the fact that a G-Wagen is an irrational purchase for most people doesn’t mean we shouldn’t run the new one through our regular series of performance tests. How else are we supposed to know how much better the redesigned version is?

What makes things even more interesting is that even though Mercedes gave the G-Wagen a complete redesign for the first time ever, its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 makes the same 416 hp and 450 lb-ft as the outgoing G550. But with less weight to haul around and a newer nine-speed automatic transmission, Mercedes’ latest four-wheeled brick should be a much better performer.

In acceleration testing, our G 550 ran from 0 to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and finished the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 98.4 mph. That’s relatively quick, but for a vehicle weighing 5,665 pounds, it’s impressive. For comparison, the last G550 we tested needed 5.9 seconds to hit 60 mph and ran the quarter mile in 14.4 seconds at 95.7 mph. More gears and less weight really paid off.

Of course, complaints about the previous G-Wagen typically didn’t focus on acceleration. Anyone who wanted something quicker could get the AMG-tuned G63 or G65. Handling, however, was definitely an issue. So how improved is the G 550 in that regard?

Well, in our testing, the new G-Wagen averaged 0.61 g on the skidpad and needed 30.7 seconds at 0.53 g to complete the figure eight. The 2016 version, meanwhile, posted 0.71 g and a 28.7-second time at 0.59 g in the same tests. Braking from 60 to 0 mph took 136 feet and 122 feet, respectively.

Wait, what? How can the new G-Wagen possibly handle worse than the old one? Part of that might have to do with how hot it was. We attempt to correct for temperature, but extreme heat can still be an issue, and during SUV of the Year testing, it was regularly well over 100 degrees. But there were two other problems that probably contributed even more: understeer and stability control.

In normal situations, stability control is an important safety feature that helps keep small mistakes from turning you into a played-out Cars and Coffee meme. But in a limit-pushing handling test at the track, programming that’s undefeatable or too conservative can get in the way. As testing director Kim Reynolds found, the G-Wagen’s stability control definitely got in the way.

“Stability control massively screws up cornering such that you’re often full throttle and going remarkably slowly,” he noted.

Stability control stepping in probably wouldn’t have been as big a problem if the G 550 had more neutral handling. Unfortunately, we found it loves to understeer, meaning the stability control had to work overtime. Throw in vague, spongy brakes that didn’t always feel up to the task of stopping such a heavy vehicle, and you have a recipe for poor performance on the handling course.

The good news is, few people are going to buy a G-Wagen expecting it to handle like a sports car. Even the AMG version is clearly not meant for the racetrack. Not to say we approve of any vehicle posting one of the slowest figure-eight times we’ve ever recorded. The G-Wagen’s design just clearly telegraphs its poor cornering abilities.

Around town, Mercedes has greatly improved how the G 550 behaves. You still get lots of body roll, and there’s lots of wind noise, especially at higher speeds, but there’s only so much you can do with an off-road vehicle shaped like a shipping container. On the plus side, it’s relatively easy to drive considering its size. As Detroit editor Alisa Priddle put it, “On the road, it no longer steers like a school bus, but that was not a high bar to clear.”

The cabin also finally feels like it belongs in an SUV that costs six figures. Mercedes kept the passenger grab handle and three locking differential switches, but other than that, the interior looks like it was pulled right out of the S-Class. Some potential buyers may look at the twin displays, multifunction steering wheel, and high-end materials and feel like the G-Wagen’s lost some of its character. But at least it now feels more worthy of its sky-high price tag.

Ultimately, Mercedes did a commendable job of improving the G-Wagen’s on-road driving dynamics while preserving its legendary off-road capability. It’s still a niche vehicle not everyone will understand or appreciate, but that’s OK. We just wish there’d been a bigger improvement in the handling department.

2019 Mercedes-Benz G 550 4Matic BASE PRICE $125,495 PRICE AS TESTED $145,095 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 4.0L/416-hp/450-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,665 lb (53/47%) WHEELBASE 113.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 189.7 x 76.0 x 77.2 in 0-60 MPH 5.4 sec QUARTER MILE 14.1 sec @ 98.4 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 136 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.61 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 30.7 sec @ 0.53 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 13/17/14 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 259/198 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.33 lb/mile

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Categories: Property

Bugatti Not Attempting Chiron Top Speed Run

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 23:23

Known to insiders as one of the best-dressed executives in the auto biz, Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann also has served in some of the industry’s seeming dream jobs, as head of both Lamborghini and Audi Sport. Now he takes Bugatti into the future as the iconic French brand celebrates its 110th anniversary. But doing so is not without potential snarls.

The Chiron is supposed to top 300 mph, and your predecessor promised a top speed run by now. Is there a delay?

When I started at Bugatti, one of the first things I did was to test-drive the car. Being used to all the other supersports brands, I had never driven a Bugatti. For me it was so surprising and above all what I had experienced before. I was really blown away. Then I sat with my team and started asking about what is in the pipeline next and what is important. And I put my priorities in. To me, a top speed run is not on the agenda. For me, performance has a lot of facets, and the Chiron besides being a hypercar is a car covering a lot more than other supersports cars. When I read in the past about the car and what we communicated about it, we were missing a big part of what the car is all about. You have cars of nice designs or others that are supersports cars that are fast and performing. It is much more important than showing one little slice of what this car is able to do. In this world, to talk only top speed is not a priority for me.

What does 110 years mean to Bugatti?

We have to think that the brand is much more than what the Chiron is. We are looking into Ettore Bugatti and what he did. He was passionate to a level of perfection that was incredible at that time. We have to explore more than just looking at top speed. Being a French company, it is important that we emphasize the past racing cars like the T35, the limousines, and GTs like Atlantique. You put those three cars together, plus the Veyron that kick-started the brand. All these have elements of performance, luxury, and being good looking.

The legacy is to increase the value and being here even in a half century from now. These cars have value that is accepted by everybody. It’s not just about scarcity like the T35, where the value is so high it’s incredible. You cannot change history, and Bugatti has a hole between the 1950s and the end of the ’80s. But this is part of the brand, and it makes the brand different from all the others.

Do you see the Divo as a Chiron variant?

With the Divo, my first exercise, I looked at what we can do as a different approach in terms of performance, because we are known for longitudinal acceleration and top speed—and we’ve been limited to 261 mph (420 kph), which for me is enough. I personally did more than [250 mph], which for me was exciting, but when I went on the handling part of the course, this was equally if not more exciting—accelerating, braking, getting into and out of corners. The idea with Divo translated into design, weight reduction, and more downforce to really showcase that top speed is important but not everything.

The Nardo circuit has a handling [circuit], and there is so much we can do with an existing car. We have a lot of ideas for the future. We are constantly looking for new ideas, to test ourselves to see how quickly a product can be realized and see market reaction. We sold the Divo in four weeks’ time then showed it at Pebble Beach, and for me, everything was done in a way that could be controlled. It was an incredible success, even to someone like me who expects a lot.

 

There was a Supersport version of Veyron. … Is the $5 million Divo the Chiron’s version of that, or will there be something in between Chiron Sport and Divo?

With an unlimited budget there would be room for incredible things. The Chiron Sport is not a supersport, and it is not a Divo. The Divo is outside the Chiron business.

Will Bugatti look to reprise the success of the Vitesse version of the Veyron with a convertible Chiron?

We decided in the Chiron project not to do an open-top version.

Is Bugatti a one-model company? Are there plans for a second model line?

Ettore Bugatti did more than one car; he did many body styles, four-door, two-door, open car—whatever was possible, he tried to do. The brand today, 20 years after the restart, we are ready for more than one model. Not to say we can do it, but the brand is ready. We have to find the resources and many priorities in the Volkswagen Group. If we did a second model, it would enter into a different segment. With the 110th anniversary celebration, we can most assuredly look back and celebrate our roots and look into France and what Ettore has done. But to look into the future is much more important. We have to have the legacy of tomorrow, the icons—not just making a statement today. We have to do something we subscribe to as being what Bugatti stands for today but also something greater for tomorrow. It’s on us to shape the future.

The stillborn 2009 Bugatti 16C Galibier concept

Some media reports claim you said the second Bugatti will be an SUV.

I never said we are building a Bugatti SUV. The press said it because I pushed for the Urus at Lamborghini. Coming from my background, what I said is that we are looking into every segment, body style, and region. It has to be an approach good for the world and not one part. We have an idea of where we want to go.

It’s not about volumes, but in terms of visibility, if you sell 100 cars or 1,000 cars, there’s still no visibility. But we cannot do a copy of what we do today. So a second car has to enable us to sell more than we sell today. It would be a different segment with a different price tag, but above all the other competition. The price is not about positioning Bugatti out of this world. It’s about innovation, about materials, craftsmanship, all the things that are important to create a car which survives longer than the others and becomes a collectors’ item.

How does the business model work for Bugatti? How many Chirons do you have to sell to be profitable? Are you sold out of the current model run of 500?

We are selling all 500. If you want one now, you have to wait until second part of 2021. So we’re not doubting that. What we have to do is create out of one model a brand, a car company, which is creating news, not only for the few lucky owners but to build into the myth of Bugatti. It is not easy to achieve because we had to do it in a way that is consistent. With the leverage we have, we can do more.

Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann

 

What is the volume split between North America, Europe, China, the Middle East, etc?

The biggest market is the U.S. Then we have U.K., Germany, and Switzerland in Europe, then the Middle East and Japan. We have no homologation for China and no plans for it. But we have customers in China despite this. The willingness to own a Bugatti is so strong.

Bugatti has been a passion project of VW paterfamilias Ferdinand Piech for many years. What happens to Bugatti after he no longer has such influence?

I have always taken a profit/loss and 360 approach in my career—at Fiat, at Lamborghini, and Audi Sport. And I will take the same approach for Bugatti, to create a value out of it that would be high enough to reinvest and make money for shareholders. I compare it to being a designer confronted with so many issues—crash safety, the quality of gaps and profiles, fuel consumption, passenger space—which makes a big difference between being that and being an artist who has no limits. If you want a powerful, strong brand, you can’t do it without thinking of investment and return on investment. There is a weight you carry as CEO, and I take this seriously. I know the one way. And I would act the same way if I had joined Bugatti 30 years ago.

What happens to Bugatti when the next recession hits?

It happened to me at Lamborghini. It’s clear you have to be humble enough to understand what you cannot do anymore and what you can continue to do. The market is cyclical and has ups and downs, but that is not going to stop our long-term strategy for Bugatti in general.

Where is Bugatti in 10 years?

Wow. Bugatti is ready for more. There is an opportunity of a product range that could be all electrified. With a headquarters in France. A global presence [in China] which today we don’t have. And amongst the hypercars, we could still be the shining star.

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Categories: Property

Toyota U.S. CEO: Lineup Will Always Have Bias Toward Cars

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 21:12

The Detroit Big Three are cutting cars left and right in favor of SUVs and crossovers. Just last week, General Motors announced it would discontinue six car models and stop allocating funds to the plants that make them, and earlier this year Ford said it would shed all cars in the U.S. except the Mustang. Toyota sees the storm coming, too, and is carefully considering which vehicles it will sell in this market. Still, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz believes the automaker’s U.S. lineup will always be car-heavy.

Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club this week, Lentz acknowledged that car sales dipped below 30 percent of overall sales in November, a figure he believes is close to bottoming out. Despite that, he noted consumers are still purchasing more than 4 million compact, midsize, and near-luxury cars every year.

“There’s no way I’m going to walk away from that,” Lentz said. “We are always going to have a bias toward passenger cars.”

2020 Toyota Camry TRD Edition and 2020 Toyota Avalon TRD Edition

According to the Associated Press, passenger car sales are on track to fall short of 2017 levels by about 800,000 units. Meanwhile, truck and SUV sales are expected to increase by the same amount. This trend is reflected in Toyota’s own sales report, which shows total car sales volume down about 108,000 units (-11.6 percent year over year) and total truck sales up by roughly 98,000 units (8.8 percent) through November. Lentz predicts car sales in 2018 will be even poorer than in 2010, when the financial crisis was in full swing. “There is a depression on the passenger car side,” he said.

Despite that, Lentz says Toyota will continue to lean heavily on cars like the midsize Camry and the recently introduced Corolla hatchback and sedan. Through November, Toyota has sold roughly 314,000 Camrys and 278,000 Corollas, making those models the company’s second and third best-selling vehicles, respectively, behind the RAV4 at roughly 389,000 units.

But that doesn’t mean all of its cars will be spared. As we previously reported, Toyota is looking to cut underperforming models from its U.S. portfolio. The most likely candidates for the chopping block include the subcompact Yaris, 86 sports coupe, and Prius C.

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan and hybrid pictured below

Source: AP

 

 

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Categories: Property

2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition is Brand’s Second Most Powerful Model

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 20:09

Toyota will debut the Supra at the Detroit auto show, and it turns out Lexus has a treat for us as well. The 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition will also make its way to the show in January.

Despite what the name suggests, the RC F Track Edition is a purpose-built vehicle, not an accessory package. It will join the lineup in “very, very limited production,” according to Robert Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota Motor North America.

“With the exception of LFA, this is the fastest, most powerful vehicle we’ve ever built,” Carter told journalists at an event in Detroit. So while the model is expected to be less potent than the LFA, which makes 562 hp with the Nurburgring package, it sounds like it will still pack a very powerful punch. A teaser image of the car shows a sweet rear wing with carbon-fiber end plates, which appear to have the F emblem somehow woven into them. It’s a neat touch that’s likely a result of Toyota’s big investment in carbon fiber production.

The regular RC F is already powerful, making 467 hp from its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8 engine. It’s also quick; we tested a 2015 RC F hitting 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. In the past, we’ve praised the car’s handling and power, but we think its heavy curb weight holds it back.

Carter hinted at “one more surprise” for the Detroit auto show in addition to the RC F Track Edition. We’re not really sure what it could be at this point, but we think we’ll have a better idea closer to the Track Edition’s reveal on January 14.

Frank Markus contributed to this report.

Source: Lexus

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2019 Honda Passport Enters Production

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 18:33

Just a week after debuting at the L.A. auto show, the 2019 Honda Passport has entered production in Alabama. The crossover will go on sale early next year.

The Passport joins the Odyssey, Ridgeline, and Pilot which Honda also produces at its plant in Alabama. Like its siblings, the Passport makes use of the Honda Global Light Truck platform. All four vehicles have a 3.5-liter V-6 engine good for 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque.

The facility in Lincoln, Alabama, can make 340,000 vehicles and V-6 engines per year. Since production went online in November 2001, Honda has made more than 4.7 million vehicles and engines at the plant. Investment has exceeded $2.6 billion at the 4.6 million square-foot facility located 40 miles east of Birmingham.

The Passport will slot between the CR-V and the Pilot in Honda’s lineup. The five-seater was built with off-road capability in mind, boasting more ground clearance than the CR-V and Pilot and different driving modes for snow, sand, and mud. The Passport comes standard with Honda Sensing, which includes forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control.

Expect pricing information to come relatively soon as we edge closer to the Passport’s arrival in dealerships.

Source: Honda

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2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD High Country Flaunts Unique Grille

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 17:28

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD debuted this week, and let’s just say not everyone is a big fan of how it looks. Now, General Motors is revealing the High Country model, which has a tamer grille than some other variants.

The High Country sits at the top of the Silverado HD lineup. Below it are four trim levels: Work Truck, Custom, LT, and LTZ. The different trims offer different design cues, so one truck could look quite different from the next.

The High Country’s grille consists of horizontal slats rather than the oval-shaped cutouts we saw on the LT model that debuted earlier this week. The High Country also features the classic bow tie instead of the stamped “Chevrolet” bar. Take a closer look at the grille, and you’ll notice the High Country’s exclusive two-tone metallic trim. GM is also using a mix of black, body color, and chrome trim to differentiate between the various models in the lineup.

Buyers have the choice of two powertrains. GM isn’t spilling the beans on the new direct-injected gasoline engine, but it’s rumored to be a Navistar-sourced 6.6-liter V-8 from MD Trucks. This engine will come paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. The other option is a Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 that pairs to a 10-speed Allison automatic and delivers 910 lb-ft of torque.

The 2020 Silverado HD goes on sale in mid-2019.

Source: GM

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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid First Test: Quietly Off-Roading Into the Future

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:00

When Subaru introduced the Crosstrek Hybrid plug-in, the crossover instantly carved out a niche of its own: a capable, compact, plug-in crossover. The electrified Crosstrek is also an important step forward for a company not known for hybrids. Subaru claims the new off-roadable Crosstrek variant is the quickest, most efficient, and best Crosstrek ever. So did Subaru deliver a half-baked variant, or is its first plug-in worthy of joining the ranks with other proven models from the brand?

Is it quicker?

We’ve criticized the non-hybrid Crosstrek for is its mediocre acceleration. It took 9.0 seconds for our long-term Crosstrek Premium to hit 60 mph and 16.9 seconds for the quarter mile with a speed of 83.4 mph. A slightly heavier Crosstrek Limited accelerated to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds. On the drag strip, the Crosstrek Hybrid clocked a 0–60 time of 8.3 seconds on its way to a quarter-mile time of 16.5 seconds at 83.5 mph. That makes it the quickest Crosstrek we’ve ever tested. Road test editor Chris Walton noted a very smooth takeoff, and unlike some hybrids, it didn’t lose much—if any—time or speed over the course of the three acceleration runs.

Considering the plug-in’s 500 pounds of extra heft, braking is impressive with a stopping distance of 118 feet from 60 mph, 2 feet shorter than our long-term Crosstrek. Walton noticed a good amount of dive during hard braking but noted that all three attempts were straight, consistent, and shorter than he had predicted. Testing director Kim Reynolds also noticed a significant about of dive under hard braking during his figure-eight laps and noted that it was followed by a big rebound oscillation. He questioned the accuracy of the damping and spring rates, which have been adjusted for the extra weight of the hybrid system. Around town in normal driving, however, I didn’t notice an issue with the suspension tuning.

Is it still capable?

During our drive event in Santa Barbara, Subaru stressed that the Crosstrek Hybrid is still very capable—unlike some all-wheel-drive hybrid crossovers that don’t always power all four wheels. To prove the automaker’s point, we traversed a 10-mile off-road trail with large rocks, deep ruts, and steep grades. The Crosstrek Hybrid made easy work of the trail, barely struggling even with two wheels in the air. Subaru had us activate the X-Mode off-road mode on the trail, but we apparently didn’t need it because I traveled most of the trail without it. The combination of the brand’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and the crossover’s 8.7 inches of ground clearance was more than enough for the rugged trail and more than most owners will ever need.

But my favorite part of the trail wasn’t the scenic mountain and coastal views or the friendly hikers we passed. It was the fact that we did the whole trail in EV mode. EV mode made the off-road trek quiet, and the instant torque shined when crawling over large rocks—no need to rev the engine out.

The regular Crosstrek can still claim superiority over the hybrid in two areas, however: cargo space and towing. The Hybrid’s towing capacity is just 1,000 pounds—500 less than the non-hybrid’s 1,500-pound limit—and cargo room is down from 20.8 cubic feet behind the rear seats to 15.9 cubic feet. Cargo space with the rear seats folded down is 43.1 cubic feet, less than the 55.3 found in the regular model. The reduced cargo space is a result of the battery pack mounted below the cargo area.

How does it drive?

You barely feel the Crosstrek Hybrid’s extra weight around town because it’s much quicker off the line than the non-hybrid model. Thanks to the instant torque from the electric motor, you don’t have to wait for the loud gasoline engine to rev to power. The electric motor produces 149 lb-ft of torque alone, 4 more than the 2.0-liter flat-four produces at 4,000 rpm in the regular Crosstrek. If more than half throttle is applied or if the battery is low, the Atkinson-cycle flat-four will kick on for additional thrust. Occasionally, the engine turning on sends a small jolt through the driveline. At highway speeds, the 148-hp hybrid system (4 hp less than the regular Crosstrek) did struggle to get the 3,732-pound crossover to speed during some passing and merging maneuvers on L.A.’s busy highways.

Subaru did its best to make the Crosstrek Hybrid drive as normal as possible. Like a regular gasoline vehicle, the Hybrid creeps forward from a stop in any drive mode, and the shifter looks and operates just like a regular one with the exception of the B position that increases engine braking for downhill stretches.

When lifting off the gas pedal, hybrids and plug-ins regenerate power through braking, and this can feel unnatural to drivers not familiar with it. This isn’t an issue in the Crosstrek because regenerative braking is almost unnoticeable. However, individuals new to plug-ins might find the sound of the electric motors to be strange at first, especially when coupled with the pedestrian warning sound (activates in EV mode below 20 mph).

How efficient is it?

During my time with the plug-in, I did drive the claimed 17 miles on all-electric energy but only with a light foot. Driving like I normally do (somewhat quick) shrank the range to 12–15 miles. Sport mode (instead of the normal Intelligent mode) significantly increases throttle response but also hurts the EV range.

When the battery is low, the Crosstrek acts like a regular hybrid and delivers a Subaru-claimed 35 mpg combined. In the two weeks I had the Hybrid, I achieved 42 mpg overall (including EV travel time). But if I had the ability to charge at home every night, I would rarely use the gas motor because my workday round-trip commute is 8 miles, well within the EV range. For some perspective, the much larger Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has a 22-mile EV range and is rated at 25 mpg combined. But its smaller gas tank gives it a total driving range of 310 miles versus the Crosstrek’s 480 miles (based on 45 percent highway and 55 percent city driving).

If owners want to save or charge their battery pack for future use, Subaru offers Save and Charge modes. The former uses the gasoline engine more often in order to save the battery for later use. Charge mode uses the flat-four to charge the battery pack in case you don’t have access to a charger and want to use EV power later. However, this is the least fuel-efficient mode.

What will my wallet think?

Subaru offers the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid in one loaded trim that starts at $35,970 before EV rebates. Opting for the one available package will cost another $2,500 for a moonroof, upgraded sound system, heated steering wheel, and integrated navigation, bringing the pre-rebate total to $38,470. That might sound like a hefty amount, but those who qualify for federal tax credits and state rebates can significantly reduce the vehicle’s overall cost while saving money at the pump. Additionally, the Crosstrek Hybrid will be sold in every state (but in some places, expect a wait time after it’s ordered).

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is a solid choice for someone considering their first plug-in or for folks who want to save money at the pump while experiencing daily driving and off-roading on all-electric power. The Subaru might not be the most efficient or have the longest EV range among plug-in hybrids, but it’s a rare bird in a plug-in crossover market filled with mostly expensive options.

2019 Subaru Crosstrek AWD Plug-In Hybrid BASE PRICE $35,970 PRICE AS TESTED $38,470 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.0L/137-hp/134-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve flat-4 plus 118-hp/149-lb-ft electric motor; 148 hp comb TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,732 lb (54/46%) WHEELBASE 104.9 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 175.8 x 71.0 x 62.8 in 0-60 MPH 8.3 sec QUARTER MILE 16.5 sec @ 83.5 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 118 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.82 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.3 sec @ 0.62 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 35 mpg ENERGY CONS, COMB 96 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.55 lb/mile

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2019 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid: Six Things to Know

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 09:00

The Crosstrek Hybrid is Subaru’s first foray in the plug-in hybrid world and a bold move for a company not known for hybrids. This is the brand’s second shot at a Crosstrek hybrid model—the first was discontinued after a few years—and it’s currently the automaker’s only hybrid offering. Not straying from its off-road pedigree, the Crosstrek Hybrid was developed to be efficient as well as capable. The crossover also strives to keep the driving experience as familiar as possible for new hybrid owners. Keep reading to find out what makes the Crosstrek Hybrid unique.

For driving impressions, please read our First Test review.

The Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Powertrain

The Crosstrek Hybrid’s plug-in powertrain consists of a 137-hp, 134-lb-ft 2.0-liter flat-four engine (Atkinson cycle), a generator motor, a drive motor, and an 8.8-kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack housed under the cargo area. Both motors are integrated and housed inside the CVT. Besides charging the battery pack, the generator motor is also the starter motor for the flat-four. The 118-hp drive motor powers the wheels in EV and hybrid operation and charges the battery pack during regenerative braking.

Subaru estimates total system power at 148 hp, 4 hp less than the non-hybrid Crosstrek. Using a traditional 120-volt outlet will take about five hours to charge an almost depleted battery, but a Level 2 (240-volt) charger takes about two hours. Fast charging is not available.

Efficiency

If driven with a light foot, the Crosstrek Hybrid will travel Subaru’s claimed 17 miles on all-electric power and delivers 90 mpg-e. The crossover is also capable of traveling up to 65 mph on all-electric power. Once you pass that speed or apply more than 50 percent throttle, the gasoline engine turns on for more power. If the battery is low, the Crosstrek acts like a regular hybrid by frequently kicking on the gasoline motor for thrust and energy generation. Driving the Crosstrek like this gets you 35 mpg combined. Subaru says the total driving range on a full tank and battery is 480 miles, the same as the regular Crosstrek—the Hybrid has a 13.2-gallon tank versus the non-hybrid’s 16.6 gallons. At the time of this writing, EPA figures weren’t available.

Can Still Off-Road and Tow

Unlike some all-wheel-drive hybrid crossovers that only power two wheels during certain situations, the Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t; it retains Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. However, Subaru adapted it to the PHEV system by using an electric coupling multiplate transfer clutch instead of the electronically managed continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch found in the regular Crosstrek.

Additionally, the X-Mode off-road mode and generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance from the non-hybrid Crosstrek carry over, making the Hybrid model almost as capable as the regular model. I say almost because the PHEV system adds about 500 pounds of weight. But Subaru claims the instant torque from the motor provides better performance on slippery surfaces. Towing is possible but is rated at 500 pounds less than the regular Crosstrek’s 1,500 pounds.

Looks and Feels a Lot Like a Regular Vehicle

The Crosstrek Hybrid, like all plug-in hybrids, has a few unusual driving quirks that some drivers might not be used to. Even so, Subaru did a good job making the PHEV feel like a regular gas burner. When you lift off the gas pedal, regenerative braking starts to slow the vehicle down and charges the battery, but you can barely feel it; it feels almost like normal engine braking. There aren’t adjustable levels for regen—you can only modulate it by the pressure you apply to the brake pedal. The Hybrid also creeps forward from a stop when in EV mode, something all-electric vehicles usually don’t do. Furthermore, the gear lever operates like a normal one, and the instrument panel gauges are easy to understand. Outside, the Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t have any futuristic design cues and looks like any other crossover.

Design Differences

However, Subaru did give the Hybrid model unique features to set it apart from the regular model. Outside, Plug-In Hybrid badges are located on the front fenders and liftgate, and “Plug-In” is imprinted on the charge port door. The headlight projector rings are painted in blue, and the front grille, lower front bumper, lower body cladding, and foglight surrounds are accented in metallic silver. Further distinguishing the Hybrid model are the unique 18-inch wheels and black low-profile roof rails and spoiler. Four exterior colors are available, including the new and exclusive Lagoon Blue Pearl.

In the cabin, exclusive gray and navy blue leather covers the seats, door panels, and armrests. Bright blue stitching and interior accents panels add to the exclusivity. An electric switch replaces the non-hybrid’s manual parking brake, and the fuel door lever is replaced by a button.

Comes Loaded

The Crosstrek Hybrid comes in one well-equipped trim with an optional package. Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, a proximity key with push-start ignition, heated front seats, LED cornering headlights, LED foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Sport and Intelligent drive modes, and a 4.2-inch instrument panel display. The optional package adds a moonroof, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, and a Harman Kardon audio system.

Subaru didn’t forget about safety. The Hybrid comes equipped with the EyeSight package of driver-assist safety features, which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, and sway warning. Reverse automatic braking, LED high-beam assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are additional standard safety features.

All this comes out to a starting price of $35,970 before any federal or local EV incentives. The optional package tacks on an additional $2,500.

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Categories: Property

Koenigsegg Will Sell You a Regera Made from Naked Carbon Fiber

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 02:01

Koenigsegg builds some of the fastest, rarest cars in the world. They’re also mechanical marvels that feature innovations such as the gearless hybrid powertrain found in the Regera. As you can imagine, they’re also incredibly expensive. But if you happen to be wealthy enough that a regular Regera isn’t rare or expensive enough for you, Koenigsegg may have a solution: naked carbon fiber.

Today, Koenigsegg announced that it has built the first car ever finished in its version of naked carbon fiber. Creatively called Koenigsegg Naked Carbon, or KNC, it uses no lacquer or varnish to protect the carbon surface. Even the thin layer of epoxy that typically stands between the carbon fibers and the outside world has been removed by hand, leaving behind only pure carbon.

The result is a car that’s absolutely gorgeous. The Koenigsegg Regera is already a good-looking car, but the KNC treatment takes it to a completely different level. Is it necessary? Not at all. But just look at these photos. It’s pure art in engineering.

Koenigsegg says it took years to develop the technique. But now it’s able to produce body panels, wheels, wings, splitters, winglets, and steering wheels in naked carbon. KNC is said to be impervious to weather and less likely to pick up rock chips. Koenigsegg also claims the KNC-bodied Regera is 44 pounds lighter than a painted one.

“It’s not unusual for a customer to specify their car with visible carbon fiber. It’s a beautiful material from a visual perspective and our customers love to show what the car is made from. KNC takes the idea of visible carbon fiber to a whole new level, revealing a beautiful lustre and a very silky finish,” said CEO and founder Christian von Koenigsegg in a statement. “The Koenigsegg philosophy has always been about exploring extremes. It’s great to extend that idea to a whole new way of finishing and presenting a car.”

Source: Koenigsegg

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Ford Fiesta R2 Prepares for Junior WRC Championship

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 23:30

M-Sport unveiled the new EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta R2 for next year’s FIA Junior WRC Championship series. The hatchback, developed in conjunction with Ford, was designed to meet the FIA’s latest R2 regulations.

Designers started from a clean slate, so the new model shares little with the previous one. Most components of the rally car have been rethought and upgraded.

Motivating the Fiesta R2 is a 1.0-liter turbocharged I-3 that produces 200 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. Backing the engine is a Sadev five-speed sequential transmission with an AP Racing two-disc plate clutch and a limited-slip differential.

The new suspension includes Reiger adjustable dampers (3-way front, 2-way rear adjustable) with Eibach springs that can be ordered with hard or soft springs. Alcon supplied the competition brake calipers, rear solid rotors, and the brake master cylinder. The front rotors are ventilated AP Racing units, and the rally car rides on OZ Racing wheels.

Electronics consist of a Life Racing F88 control unit with a digital dashboard, a three-stage anti-lag system, and an M-Sport power distribution unit. Additional technical specifications can be found here.

Previous Fiesta R2 rally cars have launched the careers of drivers like Ott Tänak, Elfyn Evans, Craig Breen, and Pontus Tidemand.

Teams can now place their orders for M-Sport’s latest Fiesta R2.

Source: Ford Performance

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Categories: Property

Genesis Head Designer: Our SUVs Have No Design Benchmark

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 22:00

The Genesis brand has been on a roll lately. After debuting three sedans in three years—including the G70, the 2019 MotorTrend Car of the Year—Genesis is now looking to expand its lineup with SUVs. The GV80 Concept, which debuted at the 2017 New York auto show, was the first SUV ever to be seen from Genesis, and the production version could be ready next year. We talked to Luc Donckerwolke, the newly appointed chief design officer of Hyundai Motor Group, at the L.A. auto show about the upcoming SUVs from the luxury brand.

The GV80, which should compete against the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, is expected to arrive as a 2021 model, and its design is finished. Donckerwolke added that we should expect its styling to stay close to the concept from New York, which featured a futuristic look with clean and crisp lines.

The Genesis GV80 concept

“Just to give you an idea, the same design team that designed the GV80 concept [also] designed the production model,” Donckerwolke said. “So what you’ve seen it’s basically the design. Again, it’s more mature, it has more quality and more functionality applied to it, but it’s basically designed.”

Donckerwolke also said that we should expect a different design flavor in Genesis’ two upcoming SUVs. The GV70 could compete against the Volvo XC60, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC, and like the G70 sedan, it could bring more sportiness to the lineup.

“And the two SUVs will also have—like the G90, G80, G70—their own personality, and so the GV80 is the bigger one. There will be another one, which will be more sporty, more emotional, but we will play the same strategy. Each car will have its own identity,” he said. The designer also alluded that there’s another SUV coming, and we’ve heard rumors about a compact crossover joining Genesis’ lineup.

Given that Genesis is a new brand, Donckerwolke and his team enjoy the freedom they have with their designs, but his main goal is to differentiate the styles from the competition. When asked if he had a benchmark, he said: “I mean, I’m trying not to because if we have a target, if we have somebody we’re looking at, we are limiting ourselves. I would like to have something quite unique and not targeting a company itself. Obviously, the whole architecture—like Mercedes and BMW, a rear-wheel-drive architecture—but we’re not really looking at them, and especially not in terms of design. I don’t want to look at them because we have a situation that nobody has. We are a new brand; so to target one competitor is actually limiting ourselves. It’s taking the freedom I have at the moment to create something unique, and obviously it’s difficult to make something unique when everything has been done already.”

With that freedom, Donckerwolke and his team are making sure their SUVs stand out in the crowded segment, adding functionality with other touches. He said: “An SUV is giving you a typology of vehicle that is addressing all the needs we have in terms of leisure functionality and professional functionality, but with a different flavor. When you do a sedan and you want to give a flavor, you give it sportiness—hinting at the race car. When you do an SUV, you give it the flavor—what I call the Marlboro man flavor. It’s the cowboy. It’s the adventurer that everyone wants to be. This is what we’re giving to SUVs. This is why I believe that we have to give more emotionality to these SUVs.”

We’ll have to wait until next year to get a taste of Genesis’ SUV flavor.

 

 

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Categories: Property

Rivian’s Third Vehicle Will Be an Electric Rally-Style Car

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 21:00

Tesla may be the standout player in the EV space right now, but that might not be the case for long. Over the next few years, most established automakers plan to introduce their own electric cars, while several startups hope to break into the market, as well. One of the most interesting of those startups is Rivian. We got a look at its first two vehicles, a pickup truck and an SUV, at the Los Angeles auto show this year. But Rivian’s third vehicle sounds like it will be especially cool.

Speaking with Autocar at the show, RJ Scaringe, Rivian’s founder and CEO, said the brand’s third entry will be a rally-inspired performance car. And while he didn’t specifically mention Local Motors, the car he described sure sounds like an electric version of the impossibly cool Rally Fighter.

“The third vehicle will have a smaller wheelbase [than the R1S SUV] and will be the Rivian interpretation of a rally car with a lot of ground clearance,” said Scaringe. He also described its performance as “bananas.” That said, it won’t be some sort of barely street-legal race car. Scaringe said he believes all Rivians should offer a “combination of on- and off-road performance, and a level of functionality that’s unique in its space.”

And because Rivian builds its vehicles on a skateboard-like electric platform, Scaringe claims the startup can build all kinds of cool cars. “You could build an 800-hp R1T truck or a goods delivery van, or a shuttle bus,” he said.

We may be more interested in the 800-hp pickup truck, but we can admit commercial vans and buses have their charms, too. This Rally Fighter-like EV has piqued our interest, and hopefully we don’t have to wait long to see it.

Source: Autocar

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Categories: Property

Waymo Launches Commercial Self-Driving Service

Wed, 12/05/2018 - 19:15

Waymo launched a new commercial self-driving car service today. For now, the service is limited to members of Waymo’s early driver research program, but it will eventually roll out to more of the public.

Dubbed Waymo One, the service introduces a new app. Users can access the app 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to book a ride. The process is pretty simple: Confirm the pickup location and type in a desired destination. Before completing the request, the app shows drivers how much they can expect to pay for the trip. Yes, unlike in the research program, these rides aren’t free. Waymo didn’t reveal prices, but said they will vary based on factors including time and distance to the destination.

Initially, Waymo drivers will sit inside the autonomous vehicles as a backup, even though the early rider program has provided fully driverless rides with no one behind the wheel. The service will be available only in the Metro Phoenix area at launch. If riders have any questions during a trip, they can contact a support agent through the app. Screens inside the autonomous vehicle shows key details of the route during the trip.

The early rider program will continue alongside Waymo One. The research program will test new features before they become available on the paid service. Vehicles in the fleet include Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans outfitted with autonomous gear.

Source: Waymo

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