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A New Ford Concept Helps Blind People “Look” Out the Window – Technologue

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 09:00

My own love of travel incubated in the back seat of a 1969 Chevy Townsman wagon, as it racked up 170,000 miles performing numerous Homeric crisscrossings of the United States. In an era before rear-seat video, onboard Wi-Fi, and smart devices, my sisters and I mostly looked out the windows. We drank in the amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and endless fruited plains for hours at a time.

I shudder to imagine how tedious and cruel such slogs would have seemed had any of us been blind. But Ford just unveiled a concept that promises to help blind passengers enjoy the passing scenery as well.

Dubbed “Feel the View,” this emerging technology springs from a tiny corner of the Blue Oval empire: Ford of Italy, ad agency GTB Roma, and an Italian tech startup called the Aedo Project. Aedo was recently founded by a couple of professors from the University of San Marino to develop devices that assist visually impaired people, especially children.

The initial prototype for Feel the View is a clear 9.8-inch-square touchscreen that sticks to the vehicle’s side window without obscuring the view of sighted passengers. Along the top of the screen is a control panel that incorporates a camera. To “see” what’s out the window, the user presses a button to snap an image of the passing scenery. The device pixelates this image and converts it to grayscale. This image is then reproduced on the clear touch screen by means of vibrating individual pixels comprising the image. The tiny vibrators can generate 255 discernable levels of intensity representing as many shades of gray. The darkest blacks give the strongest vibration; pure white is completely still.

The device integrates with the vehicle’s Wi-Fi internet connection and audio system to provide the user with added context for interpreting the image (the device only renders still images, not moving video). The photograph is sent to the cloud, where artificial intelligence interprets the many various elements in the scene. Then as the user’s fingers pass over various features in the image the audio system describes the image in basic terms, like “snowy mountain” or “tree.”

According to Ford Italia spokesperson Marco Alù Saffi, patents are still being filed for this emerging technology, so the parties are not yet ready to share the specifics of how Feel the View is generating those vibrations. We do know that light-emitting diodes incorporated into the screen provide proximity sensing that activates the vibration generators in only those areas of the screen that are being touched.

This certainly isn’t the first attempt at rendering graphic images on a tactile display. Disney Research developed TeslaTouch (no relation to Elon Musk’s automaker), using an “electrovibration” technology that simulates texture as a finger passes over a screen’s surface via tiny discharges of electrostatic energy. Nothing actually moves, and a stationary finger wouldn’t feel much, so this isn’t likely to be Ford’s approach. Apple has patented a haptic touch pad (indicating potential use in future CarPlay applications) that locally deforms areas of the screen by forcing fluid out through a grid of tiny orifices just beneath the surface. “Bubble displays” like this tend to be on or off, black or white. They’re great for temporarily defining buttons or ridges or producing temporary Braille text (as Bitlab’s Android-based tablet does), but such fluid bubbles aren’t going to be able to oscillate fast enough to produce 255 frequencies of vibration.

If I were setting out to design such a gizmo, I’d probably try to make piezoelectric nanostructures do my vibrating work. Of course, if I were blind, I wouldn’t give a rip how it worked, I’d just be eager to try any new two-dimensional haptic display promising this many “shades of gray” after so many years of haptic black and white.

Read more by Frank Markus here:

The post A New Ford Concept Helps Blind People “Look” Out the Window – Technologue appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2017 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Update 5: Road Trip to Utah

Sat, 06/16/2018 - 09:00

As my girlfriend and I loaded up the CX-5, which was already 10 months into our one-year loan with 25,000 miles on the odometer, I realized this was my first non-work-related road trip with the Mazda. We were headed to Utah to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Monument Valley, which are all about 10 hours away from our Orange County home. We filled up all 30.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second row with camping gear, firewood, food, drinks (and beer, duh), and snacks for the road and made sure our Spotify playlists were at the ready.

We hit the road just in time for L.A. traffic, which is any time of day, really. California State Route 91’s eastbound lanes were clogged, as usual, so I activated Mazda’s handy adaptive cruise control to ease the pain of sitting in traffic, a luxury I now look for in any new car I drive.  We eventually escaped traffic and cruised to our motel in St. George, Utah, but not without a stop in Las Vegas for some delicious hand-pulled noodles.

We started early the next day to make it in time to find a first come, first served campsite in Moab. Our campground was still 5 hours away—thank goodness for Utah’s 80-mph speed limits. The CX-5 was laden with stuff and inhaling thin air at an elevation of 6,000 feet, and its engine really struggled, especially on steeper grades. It downshifted to maintain 80 mph, and at times it got a bit scary to pass semis. On the upside, the CX-5’s quiet interior (16.3 sones average at 65 mph, according to a previous test) and thumping Bose sound system made the long drive bearable. And we made it just in time to snag the very last campsite. Phew. We unpacked and set up camp next to the Colorado River under the shade of red canyon walls and cracked open a celebratory beer.

We spent the next two days exploring the touristy sights of Arches, Canyonlands, and the quaint little town of Moab. But my favorite part was traversing down Shafer Trail in Canyonlands. It’s a narrow dirt road that connects to White Rim Road with sheer drops and tight switchbacks sans guardrails. It took a bit of convincing to get my girlfriend to agree to the drive because she doubted the CX-5 could manage. “No faith! We’re in an off-roading beast!” I sarcastically exclaimed. From what I read, we wouldn’t even really need four-wheel drive, though that didn’t stop passing Jeep drivers from throwing puzzled looks our way. Obviously, we didn’t die. The CX-5 felt surefooted the entire time, and its modest 7.6 inches of ground clearance was never an issue.

The next day we continued to our next campsite three hours away in Monument Valley, overlooking the iconic buttes jutting from the desert floor. We did more soft-roading on the Valley Drive, a 17-mile dirt road that passes through the beautiful Navajo Tribal Park. Hollywood should do some filming here. Oh, wait. We made it back to camp in time to watch the sunset over dinner and drinks, stargazed, and watched the Milky Way appear from behind the buttes. Tired, a little buzzed, and still amazed at the day’s sights, we headed to bed.

After watching the sunrise, we packed up and began the 10-hour drive home. The drive itself was pretty uneventful, but after a few hours I was reminded of how uncomfortable the CX-5’s seats are. I’m not a big guy—5-foot-8 and 160 pounds—but I feel like the seat bottom is too small and flat. Other than that, the CX-5 handled our 1,700-plus-mile road trip like a champ and averaged an indicated 26.3 mpg. That’s not the greatest mileage, but overall I’m still impressed with Mazda’s best-seller.

Read more about our long-term 2017 Mazda CX-5:

The post 2017 Mazda CX-5 Long-Term Update 5: Road Trip to Utah appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Special Ferrari 488 Pista Celebrates Racing Success

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 23:00

We recently drove the Ferrari 488 Pista, and it left us wanting more. After all, it’s the most powerful road-going V-8 ever built by the Prancing Horse. Now, the automaker is rolling out a “Piloti Ferrari” version, featuring the same performance with cosmetic updates. The special model is available exclusively for customers involved in Ferrari’s motorsports programs, and it celebrates the brand’s success in the FIA World Endurance Championship last year.

The “Piloti Ferrari” 488 Pista features stripes in the colors of the Italian flag. This detail points to the racing version of the 488 GTE. Other details include a laurel celebrating the WEC win, PRO badging to indicate the class the winning car raced in, a matte black S-Duct, and natural carbon fiber dovetail suspended rear spoiler and vent surrounds. Each customer will also be able to put their specific race number on the car. The vehicle pictured features the number “51,” honoring the car that won the WEC Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles last year. Buyers can choose between four exterior colors: Rosso Corsa, Blu Tour De France, Nero Daytona, and Argento Nürburgring.

Peek inside the cabin and you’ll find black Alcantara seats that also pay homage to the Italian flag. The number shown on the car’s exterior also appears on the base of the steering wheel. There is a unique identification plate and “Tailor Made” badging as well.

The Ferrari 488 Pista features a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes 710 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. It has the best weight-to-power ratio of any road-going Ferrari, and it sheds around 200 pounds over the standard 488 GTB.

Source: Ferrari

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Categories: Property

Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Kia K900

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 22:00

Kia still has a ways to go if it wants to make a name for itself in the luxury vehicle category. But the second-generation K900 is a step in that direction. It adopts a modern exterior and interior, even taking a few cues from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But are the changes enough to make us desire the K900 over other luxury sedans?

The K900’s front face looks less generic than the old model. The new grille features a similar shape to the old one, but inside there is a new pattern that implies motion, and the individual cells inside the grille are concentrated in the center. They have been redesigned to resemble a water splash, in which ripples move away from the center of the impact. The K900 also features a new “duplex” headlamp design, reminiscent of the multi-tiered lighting elements on the headlamps of the S-Class. There are also new cut lines on the hood that suggest a more fluid look.

The 2019 Kia K900 is a bit longer and wider than its predecessor. A new thick chrome line runs across the side of the vehicle near the bottom portion of the doors. Is it garish or elegant? We’ll let you decide that one. From the side profile, you can also see the K900 has lost the decorative vent that was previously positioned between the front door and the hood. Keeping with the old model, the K900 still has flashy wheels and brightwork around the windows.

From the rear, we can really tell the K900 has been channeling the S-Class. The taillights are shaped similarly to those on the S-Class, and they have the same dual light elements as in the K900’s headlamps. More chrome has been added, right above the exhaust area. The old K900 looked like any regular mainstream car from the back, but this new model adds a lot more luxury to the rear.

Now onto the interior. It’s hard to argue the K900 hasn’t improved in this area. The K900 gets a new wraparound cabin design in which the trim on the side doors blends into the trim on the dashboard. A new 12.3-inch touchscreen is perched on the center stack, and the shifter is now smaller. A number of open pore matte wood choices are available, including Walnut, Beige Olive Ash, Brown Olive Ash, and Engineered Wood. For the new model year, Kia improved rear seat comfort with reclining capability, height-adjustable headrests, and available 12-way and 14-way adjusters for the driver side rear seat and passenger side rear seat, respectively. A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is available.

Do you think the 2019 Kia K900 is refreshing or revolting? Let us know on Facebook.

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Kia K900 appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe Delivers 523 HP

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 20:26

After a 20-year hiatus, the BMW 8 Series coupe is returning to the U.S. The range-topping two-door made its official debut today and will go on sale this fall.

BMW hinted at the new model’s appearance last year when it debuted the 8 Series concept. Unfortunately, the production version doesn’t look quite as sleek as that model, but BMW took the most important design themes to heart. The model features a low-slung body, large air intakes, and a bold front spoiler. The model brings along LED laser headlights, which are the slimmest headlights of any BMW model to date. The roof gets subtle double-bubble contouring inspired by classic race cars, and it also features conventional trapezoidal twin exhaust tailpipes. Twenty-inch M light alloy wheels finish off the look.

At launch, the model will be available in the M850i xDrive variant. Equipped with a revised 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, the comely coupe produces 523 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque. BMW claims it can hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, meaning it should be significantly quicker than a V-8-powered 7 Series. We tested a 7 Series with the 445-hp twin-turbo V-8 reaching 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.

The 8 Series utilizes an eight-speed automatic gearbox that has been enhanced with a wider gear ratio. This feature works in conjunction with an all-wheel-drive system that has a rear-wheel bias. Top speed is 155 mph.

The 8 Series comes in at a curb weight of 4,478 pounds, although BMW has made efforts to shed heft where it can. Many parts, including the doors and hood, are made of aluminum. To reduce weight, buyers can opt for a carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic roof. Or they can splurge for the optional Carbon package, in which the rear spoiler, rear diffuser insert, air intake bars, and exterior mirror caps are made of CFRP.

Because it’s an M Performance model, although not a full M vehicle, the car boasts features befitting the title. Other than the M wheels, it gets an Adaptive M suspension and M Sport brakes.

Inside the cabin, you’ll find standard Merino Individual leather upholstery and folding rear seats. Other features include a standard head-up display, standard cruise control and optional stop and go functionality, standard parking assistant, standard gesture control, and standard ambient lighting.

Pricing information will be released closer to the model’s on-sale date this fall. Check out the full gallery below for a closer look at the 2019 BMW 8 Series.

The post 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe Delivers 523 HP appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Ford Eagle Squadron Mustang GT Honors Fighter Pilots in WWII

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 16:14

Ford has created a special Mustang to honor American fighter pilots who served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. The Eagle Squadron Mustang GT will debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed before heading to the auction block.

The special Mustang GT features the Eagle Squadron emblem on the hood in addition to other unique details throughout the body. The three Eagle Squadrons consisted of American volunteer pilots who fought in the skies over northern Europe, including the British coast and France, before the U.S. entered the war.

Thanks to a Ford Performance supercharger, the bespoke Mustang GT delivers 700 hp from its 5.0-liter V-8. To further customize the vehicle, Ford partnered with world champion drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his company RTR Vehicles, giving the mustang a special RTR carbon fiber wide-body kit. The model also receives a Tactical Performance suspension package.

Gittin will pilot the Eagle Squadron Mustang GT at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. on July 12. After this event, the muscle car will make its way to a fundraising fly-in event hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 26. Here, it will go up for auction, and all proceeds will support EAA’s youth education programs for the next generation of pilots. The highest bidder will also take home a plaque autographed by Gittin and members of Ford’s design team, as well as tickets for the upcoming Ford Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit.

“Supporting young pilots through the EAA charity auction reflects Ford’s aviation history, tracing back to the company’s early days and the Arsenal of Democracy during WWII,” said Darrell Behmer, Ford Mustang design chief, in a statement. “The Eagle Squadron Mustang GT build with Vaughn and the Ford design team is a great way to honor our heroes and keep the spirit of aviation alive for the next generation of American pilots.”

Ford has a history of introducing special edition vehicles with the EAA. Last year, Ford auctioned off a bespoke F-150 Raptor that paid tribute to the Lockheed F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. Other bespoke creations include an Apollo Edition Mustang and the Mustang F-35 Lightning II Edition that was inspired by the Lockheed Martin F-25 Lightning II fighter jet.

Source: Ford

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Categories: Property

15 SUVs with More Horsepower Than a Ford Mustang GT

Fri, 06/15/2018 - 09:00

Hot hatches such as the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus RS offer a seriously tempting combination of performance and practicality. But what if you want something larger with even more power? In the past, that might have been a problem, but these days, you’re in luck. Here are 15 high-performance SUVs that will even outgun the 460-hp Ford Mustang GT.

Dodge Durango SRT

After years of rumors, Dodge finally gave the Durango the SRT treatment. That means you can now get a three-row American SUV with a 475-hp V-8. It’ll also hit 60 mph nearly 2.0 seconds quicker than the 360-hp Durango R/T.

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S

If you’re willing to settle for a mere 469 hp, Mercedes will happily sell you the GLC 63 as a regular crossover. To see the GLC 63’s full potential, however, you need the S version, which is only available in coupe form. Pick that one, and you get a full 503 hp.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio

Many enthusiasts were disappointed to hear that Alfa Romeo had decided to cancel the upcoming Giulia hatchback. After a spin in the Stelvio Quadrifoglio, however, they might no longer care. Its twin-turbo V-6 makes 505 hp, enough to launch the Italian crossover to 60 mph in only 3.3 seconds.

Porsche Cayenne Turbo

Because Porsche recently redesigned the Cayenne, there’s no Turbo S version available yet. The Cayenne Turbo, however, is already on sale. Its twin-turbo V-8 makes 541 hp, and Porsche says it will hit 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.

Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography

Like the smaller Range Rover Sport, there are a couple versions of the Range Rover that make more than 460 hp. The SVAutobiography’s 557-hp supercharged V-8, however, is as powerful as it gets. That’s not as much as the SVR makes, but it’s still enough to get the full-size luxury SUV to 60 mph in a claimed 5.2 seconds.

BMW X5 M and X6 M

BMW didn’t necessarily need to build M versions of the X5 and X6, but it’s hard to argue with the results. Both SUVs handle far better than anything that heavy has any right to, and with a 567-hp V-8 sending power to all four wheels, they’re also seriously quick. Sixty mph arrives in 3.7 seconds regardless of which version you choose.

Read about the new 2019 BMW X5 here.

Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR

There are actually a few versions of the Range Rover Sport that make more than 460 hp, but the king of them all is the SVR. Tuned by Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations division, the SVR’s supercharged V-8 makes 575 hp. That’s enough power to launch it to 60 mph in a claimed 4.3 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG G 63

The bad news is that when Mercedes redesigned the G-Wagen, it killed off the G 65. That means there’s no more 630-hp V-12 option. The good news is that you can still get it with a twin-turbo AMG V-8 that makes 577 hp. Sure, it’s less power, but it’s also more than anyone in a G-Wagen will ever need.

Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S

With 550 hp, the GLE 63 is definitely more powerful than the Mustang GT. But if the folks at AMG had stopped there, it would have come up short compared to the X5 M and X6 M. The GLE 63 S, therefore, makes 577 hp.

Mercedes-AMG GLS 63

Unlike other AMGs on this list, there’s no S version of the GLS 63. Mercedes must have decided there was no need because the regular GLS 63 already makes 577 hp. Last time we tested one, the SUV hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds.

Maserati Levante Trofeo

Maserati’s first crossover was already stylish and fun to drive, and with 424 hp, it was plenty powerful. The Trofeo version goes even further, swapping out the twin-turbo V-6 for a twin-turbo V-8. The result: 590 hp.

Bentley Bentayga W12

If you’re going to charge more than $150,000 for an SUV, it better make some serious power. Luckily, the Bentley Bentayga more than delivers. The V-8 version makes 542 hp, and the W12 makes a whopping 600 hp. That’s enough to launch it to 60 mph in only 3.5 seconds.

Lamborghini Urus

After a 25-year hiatus, Lamborghini finally got back into the SUV game this year with the Urus. It doesn’t have a V-12 like the LM002 did, but its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 is still plenty powerful. It’s good for 641 hp, enough to launch the Urus to 60 mph in a claimed 3.5 seconds.

Tesla Model X P100D

We still haven’t tested a Model X P100D, but the last P90D we tested made 532 hp and hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. We can only assume the upgraded P100D will be even quicker. Why? That version makes 680 hp.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

Every SUV on this list makes a huge amount of power, but no SUV on the market today is more powerful than the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. With a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 borrowed from the Hellcat twins, the Trackhawk makes 707 hp. Plus, thanks to its all-wheel-drive system, it’s a full half second quicker to 60 mph than the last Hellcat we tested.

The post 15 SUVs with More Horsepower Than a Ford Mustang GT appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Watch: Behind the Wheel of the New Aston Martin DB11 AMR

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 22:08

The V-12-powered Aston Martin DB11 may be gone, but something even better has taken its place. With improved handling, more power, and thoughtful cosmetic upgrades, the DB11 AMR improves upon Aston Martin’s original formula for grand touring.

Aston’s AMR sub-brand has created high-performance variants of the Vantage and Valkyrie, and now the DB11 benefits from the treatment. Slotting above the 503-hp DB11 V8, the model packs a 5.2-liter V-12 with 630 hp. This is 30 more hp compared to the old V-12 model. Top speed is rated a healthy 208 mph.

In our recent First Drive, we noted, “It’s beautiful, powerful, and elegant, and now—with a bit more hair poking out of its shirt—the AMR is a compelling proposition. Before, there wasn’t enough daylight between the AMG-engined DB11 V8 and the big V-12 in terms of power, plus the lighter V8 drove better. Now, the handling advantage goes to the AMR. It’s one iteration more sorted out.”

Check out the video to learn more about how the 2019 DB11 AMR improves upon previous iterations.

The post Watch: Behind the Wheel of the New Aston Martin DB11 AMR appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Celebrity Drive: Poison Lead Singer Bret Michaels

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:58

Quick Stats: Bret Michaels, singer-songwriter, Poison
Daily Driver: 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550 (Bret’s rating: 10 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: See below
Favorite road trip: California, Arizona, and Las Vegas
Car he learned to drive in: 1967 Ford Galaxie 500
First car bought: 1967 Ford Galaxie 500

In this fast-paced world, Poison lead singer Bret Michaels finds driving on road trips to be therapeutic. And he often takes them in his beloved 2016 Mercedes-Benz S550.

“My philosophy is that a long drive and good music is great for the soul. I drive on the good days, it makes them better, and on my bad days, it makes them great,” he tells Motor Trend. “If you listen to my music like ‘Driven’ or ‘Riding Against the Wind,’ [driving has been a part of] a lot of great things in my life—or problems I’ve had to overcome and think through. … It frees my soul.”

He says he’s had a Mercedes since he could rub pennies together. “It was one of the first vehicles I ever bought, back when it was just the S500 and S600. Then I got the S550, it’s just an amazing vehicle,” he says. “Everything is laid out in that car like a cockpit. It’s a big car, so you can take a bunch of people with you, or you can punch it into Sport and just haul ass in it and have a great time.”

Michaels likes everything about these perfect-10 cars, adding that they hold up years later. “They’re like a good-fitting pair of jeans, I can’t give them up. I buy them outright,” he says. “I’m not one of those guys who every other day I’m trading it, I’m a long-haul guy. But this car has such good memories and I feel connected to it.”

He loves the S-Class so much, Michaels drove his 2009 S550 until it reached 160,000 miles. And he still has it.

2009 Mercedes-Benz S550

Rating: 10

Photo: Janna Elias

Michaels lends this car to relatives to drive. “When I say I’m a driver, I drive the bejesus out of these cars, and I love them. It’s never really let me down,” he says. “I have a place in L.A. and a ranch in Scottsdale, and I drive back and forth a lot, and I love it.”

2010 Bentley Continental GT

Rating: 10

Photo: Janna Elias

Some days it feels like a Bentley Continental GT type of day. “That is just such an amazing, amazing vehicle. Besides the speed and the handling, it feels a lot like a muscle car,” he says. “I just put good music in there and sometimes punch it up.”

He likes that the Bentley is a heavy car, as well. “It’s got this growl to it, yet it’s a luxury car. It’s a win-win.”

2016 Nissan Titan

Rating: 10

A few years ago Michaels did a Nissan campaign. “I bought the Titan truck, it’s the Heavy Metal Edition … and it’s amazing. I’ve beaten that thing up, and it just comes back for more,” he says.

He says the truck is great for hauling his dirt bikes, as well. “On my property, I have a full-on Baja dirt kart track,” he says, with a laugh. “When I say I love to drive, I take my kids out on it, we race all the time.”

Photo: Janna Elias 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Rating: 10

With his love for muscle cars, Michaels added this customized Camaro for weekend rides. “That one is a 10, with a lot of elbow greasing and cursing,” he says. “When you have a muscle car, anyone who owns one 1,000 percent understands it’s not going to be your daily driver. A lot of fun for maybe a road trip up to the mountains and back. But, [it] looks amazing.”

Michaels loves working on old muscle cars, and he’s been through a few over the years. “You can buy an updated version or a clone, but it just doesn’t have the same feel. Having the real deal, it never fails if you have the authentic real deal. I love it.”

Car He Learned to Drive In

Michaels bought an olive green 1967 Ford Galaxie 500, with a vinyl top, from his dad for $200, with money from odd jobs such as working at a music store at the mall, being a busboy/cook, and being part of the maintenance crew at a local resort.

Photo courtesy Bret Michaels

His dad taught him to drive in the Ford “He was teaching responsibility. Then I had to put fuel in it myself. I had to get insurance. Good things to learn.” Michaels would also later learn on a manual-transmission Opel.

When his dad taught him on the Galaxie, they would get in the car and drive just outside of their small town, where there were farm fields. “There was lots of back dirt roads, roads that ran down by the Susquehanna River. And that’s how we learned to drive,” he says. “One of my favorite drives was driving up Route 322 along the Susquehanna River up to Penn State or State College with my dad, and there were certain parts where he would let me drive up there. We had an old hunting cabin up there and we would just drive up to that, and it was some of the best days or nights of my life. My dad made a road trip an adventure.”

The Galaxie was Michaels’ high school car, and it became helpful when he needed to drive his band around. “It was a great car because it [had] bench cloth seats, [and a] humongous trunk, so all my music gear, everything fit into it,” he says. “No matter where I was going, if I had the band with me, we could all fit. We could put the guitars in there, even sometimes the drums. So it worked out.”

When the car got too old, Michaels traded it in for a Wide Glide Harley, his first motorcycle.

First Splurge Car in Poison

Every rocker has their first splurge car, and Michaels bought a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette and a Ferrari 328 GTS at the same time. “We were one of the first independent bands to sell, our first album did 3 million records, which was unheard of,” he says. “In the beginning when all these bands around us were getting signed, we were playing all the clubs and no one was signing us; the record labels turned their backs on us.”

Photo: Janna Elias

It was at some point after “Talk Dirty To Me” became a hit that Michaels bought these two cars. “That was probably ’88. The Ferrari was the ’89 GTS 328. And I went back to Pittsburgh and I was in love with this Corvette that our neighbor had in their garage, and I just purchased it,” he says.

Favorite Road Trip

Although some entertainers may not like the traveling part of the gig, Michaels isn’t one of them. “As a musician, I love traveling. My kids know it; they get in the car, I say, ‘Come on, we’re going to take a long drive up to the coast.’ They’re like, ‘Ah, no, here we go.’ I like having a destination, but sometimes that road trip is the destination half the time. I do it almost every day, my life is a road trip.”

His favorite road trip on the West Coast starts in Los Angeles. He travels up the coast to Santa Barbara and back down Interstate 10 to Phoenix. Then from Arizona, he’ll drive to Las Vegas and back to Los Angeles.

“There’s something when you get up and outside to some of these places, that makes you realize life is not as complicated as we have made it,” he says. “It’s pretty simple and beautiful up there. It’s good for the soul and good to clear your head.”

He does the drive in segments, staying at his ranch in Arizona and then getting up early in the morning to drive to Vegas and across Hoover Dam, before taking Interstate 15 back to Los Angeles, in a part of the drive in which he enjoys taking his car to its limits.

“If you’re heading east from L.A. to Arizona, once you get past Indio, and climb up the mountain, all the way to Blythe, it’s wide open. I may have been pulled over a time or two, but it was worth it,” he says. “It opens up. It’s a good day.”

On these road trips, Michael often plays music, but sometimes he likes to just listen to the road. “There’s no rhyme or reason. I’m looking around taking it all in, and I enjoy that. You listen to the road and the engine. There’s something very euphoric about it,” he says.

Poison and Other Projects

Michaels has been busy with various projects. He was just on fellow Celeb Drive Sammy Hagar’s Rock & Roll Road Trip on AXS TV, in an episode that just re-aired recently.

He’s on tour around the country with Poison now, with special guests Cheap Trick and Pop Evil. And he’s always doing his solo tour as well.

Photo: Mark Weiss

He also has a book Photographs and Memories and a video Roses and Thorns: The Story of My Life, both slated for the fall. “A lot of people write these biographies, and they’re amazing, but I want pictures, I want people to see this moment in my life and what was going on, so that there’s also proof with it,” he says. “You’re seeing a story taken in a moment in time, it’s a freeze-frame, and I get to talk about it.”

Michaels also has his Life Rocks Foundation. “Because I’ve been a diabetic since age 6, Type 1, I do the five injections a day,” he says. “I try to lead by example. We donate to not just diabetes—I come from a family of all veterans, so all politics aside, I support our veterans 1,000 percent, and my Life Rocks Foundation works with St. Jude [Children’s Research Hospital].”

Fans may also remember that Michaels had a brain hemorrhage eight years ago and had to be rushed to St. Joseph’s and Barrow Neurological Institute. He wanted to give back to the people who helped him as well as comfort those who will go through what he went through, creating the Bret Michaels Hospitality and Music Room in 2012 at the hospital. “They saved my life,” he says. “I built a room that is the most comfortable.”
For more information on upcoming tour dates and events, visit



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Aston Martin Reveals New Vantage GT3

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 21:27

Even though it has been 7 years since Aston Martin rolled out the V12 Vantage GT3, the car is still scoring wins, most recently in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and British GT series. Now, Aston Martin is serving up a replacement. The new Vantage GT3 is debuting in prototype form this week before its official rollout next year.

The model receives a lightweight aluminum chassis based on the road car, in addition to a new steel roll cage, Xtrac six-speed sequential transmission, and Alcon motorsport multi-plate clutch. Alcon brakes, Bosch Motorsport ABS, and Ohlins four-way adjustable dampers are also part of the equation. Under the sheetmetal, the GT3 packs the same 4.0-liter turbocharged V-8 engine that powers the standard Vantage. But instead of the road car’s 503 hp and 505 lb-ft of torque, the GT3 makes 535 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque.

The GT3 makes its track debut at the Michelin Aston Martin Racing Le Mans Festival race. However, it won’t be homologated until March 1, 2019, so it’s still in the development stages. Aston Martin will also display the new GT4, which also won’t be homologated until next March.

Last year, Aston Martin introduced a new Vantage GTE bound for the World Endurance Championship. The car is also racing in the GTE Pro category at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in a bid to win back-to-back class victories.

Source: Aston Martin


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Volvo S60 Shows Off New Face in Teaser Video

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 18:30

Volvo will debut a new S60 sedan on June 20, the automaker has confirmed. Until then, we can pretty much see the entire face of the new model in this latest teaser posted to social media.

The video reveals the S60 will feature “Thor’s Hammer” LED lights as well as a larger, more rectangular grille. A Polestar badge sits in the lower right part of the grille, indicating electrification.

It’s all in the details. Join us for the interactive live reveal of the Polestar Engineered #newS60. Six days to go.

A post shared by Volvo Cars (@volvocars) on Jun 14, 2018 at 12:59am PDT

Volvo announced it will launch its new Polestar Engineered series on the S60. These models will feature everything from special gold-painted six-piston brake calipers to black chrome exhaust pipes and gold seat belts. More than that, the Polestar Engineered model will receive performance upgrades including improved brake pads, a recalibrated eight-speed transmission, and multi-link front and rear suspension featuring Ohlins shock absorbers with dual-flow valves for stiffened springs and shocks. It borrows the strut bar and adjustable shock absorber design from the Polestar 1. The Polestar Engineered treatment is available on the plug-in hybrid S60. Polestar has tuned the powertrain to net 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque, up 15 horses and 22 lb-ft.

Volvo will build the S60 at its new plant in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be the first Volvo car made in the U.S.

Source: Volvo via Instagram

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2019 LEVC TX Taxi Review: Driving the New Plug-In Hybrid London Taxi

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 16:46

Taxi! In Manhattan, a battered yellow Crown Vic would shimmy to the curb; in Paris, a growling Peugeot 504 diesel. Down in Calcutta, it would be a Hindustan Ambassador, a motorized fossil based on a 1958 Morris Oxford. Up in Tokyo, a spotless Toyota Crown with a rear door that apparently opens itself and lace antimacassars on the headrests. In the years before the globalization of the auto industry, taxis were part of the unique visual signatures of the world’s great cities. But perhaps none has ever been as deeply embedded in a city’s iconography as London’s black cab.

Taxis have been a part of the London streetscape for centuries. The first hackney carriages—carriages for hire—were licensed by city authorities in 1662; the term is variously thought to have originated from the French term haquenée, describing the medium-sized horse regarded as best suited to pulling passenger carriages through London’s narrow and crowded streets, or from the village of Hackney, now an inner London district, that was the city’s main supplier of horses.

London taxis began to be motorized before the beginning of the 20th century, with 75 electric-powered cabs operating between 1897 and 1898. The first gasoline-powered cab appeared in 1903. But that giddy rush of technological change soon slowed back to a slow trot: The London Taxis International (later London Taxi Company) TX4, which ended a two-decade production run last year, owed its general form and proportions to the Austin FX4, which launched in 1958 and was built for 39 years with only minor cosmetic changes and periodic powertrain upgrades.

At first glance, the 2019 LEVC TX seems, like its predecessor, steeped in tradition, echoing the avuncular automotive form language of the 1940s. It looks tall and upright, with a narrow grille and separate front fenders, a rounded yet near vertical D-pillar flowing down to a bobtail trunk, and a soft fender line undulating through the body side. Appearances are deceptive, however. This is the most radical rethink of the London black cab in more than a century.

The clue is in the name. LEVC stands for London Electric Vehicle Company. Under the TX’s faintly retro skin is a thoroughly modern series hybrid powertrain that comprises a Chinese-made turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder Volvo engine, a 147-hp Siemens e-motor, and a 31-kW-hr battery. As in a Chevrolet Volt, there’s no direct link between the internal combustion engine and the driving wheels. The front-mounted 81-hp engine is used as a generator to charge the battery that powers the rear-mounted e-motor. The e-motor drives the rear wheels via a GKN co-axial transmission similar to that used in the twin-engine Volvo T8 hybrid. LEVC claims the TX will run 80 miles before the internal combustion engine needs to fire up and feed charge into the battery.

The TX also comes equipped with a suite of Volvo safety features, from basic antilock brakes, stability and traction control, to forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and autonomous emergency braking.

Designed under the direction of former Volvo design chief Peter Horbury, the TX’s sheetmetal cleverly disguises proportions that are closer to a modern minivan than a car. The TX is 11 inches longer overall than the old TX4, has a wheelbase almost 4 inches longer, and is nearly 2.5 inches taller. Overall width is the same. There’s no rear hatch, or even a trunk: Large bags and suitcases can be stacked up front in the flat-floored luggage compartment alongside the driver, a design feature resurrected from the 1948 Austin FX3. Despite the increase in size, and the addition of a battery and an e-motor to the powertrain, the aluminum-intensive architecture means the TX weighs just 562 pounds more than the TX4.

All that Volvo hardware, technology, and expertise is explained by the fact that LEVC is a wholly owned division of Geely. The Chinese automaker has been involved with London cabs since 2006, when it partnered with London Taxis International parent company Manganese Bronze Holdings to make versions of the TX4 for the Chinese market. Geely took full control of London Taxi Company in 2013, and has since invested more than $430 million on developing the TX, and constructing a brand-new factory just outside Coventry, England, designed to build more than 20,000 vehicles a year.

That’s a big increase from the 1,500 taxis a year that came out of the old LTI facility close to the center of Coventry. But Geely plans to export the TX to markets around the world, and the plant will also build a small commercial van based on the TX’s aluminum-intensive architecture and sharing its series hybrid powertrain. LEVC says TX prototypes have completed more than one million miles of testing—more than the combined total of the previous three taxis—including durability tests in the Arctic and the African desert.

The TX might be going global, but it’s taking a lot of London with it, with features honed over decades of operational experience on some of the world’s most crowded and demanding streets. The TX’s front wheels turn 63 degrees, giving it a turning circle of less than 28 feet, slightly less than that of a tiny Smart city car. It’s a London taxi standard dictated, according to legend, by the tight radius of the turning circle outside The Savoy Hotel.

Taxis are all about the rear seat, so that’s where we start. The rear doors—which hinge at the rear—open 90 degrees into a broad, flat-floored passenger compartment with room for six, three across the generous rear seat, plus three more in separate rear-facing jump seats. The jump seat nearest the curb swivels outward to enable easy access for less able passengers, and an inbuilt ramp slides out from the floor to allow wheelchair access. Other amenities include onboard Wi-Fi, two USB charge points, and a 230-volt AC power socket.

Rolling serenely through the cut and thrust of north London traffic on pure EV power, the TX is whisper-quiet compared with its rattly old diesel-power predecessors. The ride feels more composed, too. The rear seat is still located right above the rear axle, but the TX has a modern independent setup rather than the live axle used in the TX4. Legroom could be more properly described as lounge room. The tall glass house and panorama glass roof flood the cabin with light and deliver rubbernecking tourists first-class views.

The old TX4 was cursed with an upright and cramped driving position, a near-Dickensian workspace awash with cheap plastic and Pep Boys switchgear. The TX’s cockpit is, by contrast, Swedish industrial chic. Volvo-sourced hardware is rendered in subtly grained black plastic with minimal satin chrome highlights. The instrument panel is a variant of Volvo’s crisply rendered three-dial TFT display, and the same infotainment touchscreen found in Volvo cars and SUVs is fitted in a high-mounted pod that angles toward the driver. The driver’s seat still doesn’t move that far rearward—the room goes to the paying customers—but it’s much more comfortable and accommodating.

The TX is relaxing and easy to drive in the hustle of London traffic, thanks to instant-on e-motor torque that delivers quick, seamless acceleration. In fact, says LEVC, early testing showed the TX to be a little too lively to 20 mph so the software was tweaked to deliver smoother rollout. The steering is light and very direct; on full lock, the TX virtually pivots on its rear axle. The little Volvo engine starts up smoothly and is very quiet when running, betrayed only by a distant turbo whoosh rather than an insistent clatter of combustion.

The powertrain can be configured via the touchscreen to one of three drive modes. Pure EV mode does exactly what it says, allowing the TX to run solely on battery power. In Smart mode, the computer figures the optimal conditions under which the internal combustion engine can be used to deliver the TX’s maximum 377-mile range—for example, when speed exceeds 50 mph, or when the battery charge level falls to 10 percent. In Save mode, the internal combustion engine runs all the time to keep the battery at a maximum state of charge.

LEVC says the 80-mile pure EV range is enough to cover a typical cabbie’s shift in central London, where traffic speeds often average little more than 4 mph during the day. Most drivers—50 percent of London’s 23,000 black cabs are owner driven—will leave home with a fully charged battery, courtesy of an optional 7-kW wall charger. A network of 300 taxi-only 22-kW AC chargers being rolled out across London by the end of next year will provide an extra 50 miles of range in 45 minutes if needed. The TX can also be plugged into 50-kW DC fast chargers that will pump an 80 percent charge back into the battery in just 25 minutes.

All that tech and capability doesn’t come cheap. The TX costs the equivalent of $73,000, about $13,000 more than a TX4. But LEVC says the average London cabbie will save more than $550 a month on fuel, and offers finance deals that keep the increase in repayments to less than $60 a month. Service intervals have been increased from 12,000 miles to 25,000 miles, and the battery is covered by a five-year, unlimited-mileage warranty.

Engineered to be roomier and more durable than a passenger-car-based cab such as a Toyota Prius or Camry Hybrid, and quieter and more comfortable than a repurposed commercial vehicle such as the execrable Nissan NV200 that clangs and clatters around Manhattan, the LEVC TX is a masterpiece of industrial design. Geely set out to create the ultimate taxi for a world that will see the number of people living in cities double by 2030. And it has.

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2019 Jaguar I-Pace Track Drive: Trophy Run

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:00

Motor Trend international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie recently road-tripped Jaguar’s spanking-new I-Pace long-range electric crossover 734 miles from London to Berlin to watch both the Formula E and supporting I-Pace eTrophy races. That trip afforded ample seat time with which to glean copious driving impressions, but he didn’t get a chance to do any flat-out lapping of the Berlin race course. So a few weeks later, Jaguar invited us to southern Portugal for a chance to really stretch this new e-cat’s legs on the Autodromo do Algarve outside Portimão.

Find out how the I-Pace differs from the Tesla Model X here

Our Algarve Circuit experience starts with some recon laps in Jaguar F-Types powered by the new 2.0-liter 296-hp 295-lb-ft turbo four. This 3,600-pound sports car storms the hilly 2.9-mile 15-turn circuit as admirably as expected, but my ride-along driving instructor draws attention to my frequent need to paddle-shift the automatic to keep the combustion engine humming in its window of optimum performance. I also find myself timing my throttle application to account for the split second or so of delay that occurs while fuel is dispensed, turbos spool, the intake manifold pressurizes, and the full turbo thrust reaches the rear wheels.

All of that is dispensed with as I switch into the all-wheel-drive 394-hp 512-lb-ft single-speed electric I-Pace. Yes, it weighs a staggering 1,200 pounds more than the F-Type, but its weight-to-power ratio is virtually identical at just over 12 pounds per horsepower. (Each pound-foot of the I-Pace’s torque carries about 3 fewer pounds, however.) More important, there’s absolutely no delay between the minutest ankle twitch and readily detectable acceleration. The broad torque band negates the need for gears, which leaves your hands free to concentrate on steering. Of course, paddle-pulling might distract from the fact that precious little road feel survives the arduous journey from the broad, heavily loaded tire contact patches up past the electric-assist trolls on the steering rack to the wheel rim.

Putting aside for the moment its dearth of steering feel and surfeit of mass, the I-Pace has most of the driving dynamics fundamentals nailed—50:50 weight distribution, infinitely variable torque distribution fore and aft courtesy of Intelligent Driveline Dynamics, a center of gravity just about 21 inches off the deck (some 5 inches lower than an F-Pace’s), adaptively damped air suspension for improved roll control, and four fat 255/40R22 Pirelli P Zeros for grip.

Working together, these attributes conspire to virtually shrink and significantly lighten the I-Pace. It feels nimble and planted and it jets out of corners with uncanny ease. Although its Dynamic drive mode permits some controlled four-wheel drifting, I notice two occasions when overeager throttle application at corner exits generates enough wheel spin to awaken the nannies. Both times this provoked a “one-Mississippi” torque interruption that struck me as overreaction (the pause was long enough for me to wonder, “Did the battery just overheat and go into limp mode?”). Hopefully, the programmers can be persuaded to soften that intervention. Upgrading the super-trick axle-concentric motor/transaxle units with mechanical or electric limited-slip devices would surely be another way of curbing this problem (side-to-side torque distribution is handled by braking a spinning inside wheel, but we disapprove of using the brakes to go faster).

Although the high-regen setting allows most road driving to be done without touching the brake pedal, attacking Algarve gives the friction brakes a good workout. These 13.8-inch front and 12.8-inch rear vented steel discs never exhibit a hint of fade on the track, and the pedal demonstrates none of the slightly wonky transition from regen to friction braking one occasionally feels on public roads. The sliding calipers (two-piston front and single-piston rear) are clearly not designed for track work, but the pedal demonstrates perfectly acceptable bite and travel throughout our lapping sessions. Fixed calipers from AP Racing upgrade the eTrophy racers.

Will anybody track their I-Pace? Of course not. But any true Jaguar should be capable of doing so, and this one certainly is. It’s also comforting to know that this battery pack and inverter and these very motors plus the cooling system that keeps everything happy are being used in the eTrophy race cars, so we know they can handle the heat—unlike early Teslas, which entered a battery-protection limp-mode when we attempted to establish Laguna Seca lap times. So load up your I-Pace and tackle that Davis Dam grade in the dead of summer with confidence. You’ll be fine.

Nobody Will Off-Road Their I-Pace Either, but…

Just above the Algarve Circuit is a nice ridge of hills complete with a fordable stream, so our route to the circuit detours through, up, and over several carefully chosen obstacles tailored to suit our test cars, which are shod in 22-inch Continental PremiumContact 6 tires. We sample Jaguar’s All Surface Progress Control system—cruise control for off-roading—which maintains an impressively steady pace (controllable via the cruise-control set switch on the steering wheel) as we scale an impressively steep trail of loose gravel. The same system holds an equally steady speed on the downhill stretch, as well. We definitely appreciate the selectable camera system, which offers the choice of a stitched-together 360-degree helicopter view of our bow wake through the stream, while front, side, or rear camera views prove highly useful for spotting a wheel on a rock or monitoring the ground immediately in front of the vehicle at the crest of the hill when the hood blocks your view. Here again, you probably won’t, but you’ll rest easier (or feel more comfortable signing the purchase papers) knowing you can.

2019 Jaguar I-Pace BASE PRICE $70,495 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front- and rear-motor, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV MOTORS 2x 197-hp/256-lb-ft AC electric, 394 hp, 512 lb-ft comb TRANSMISSIONS 1-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 4,800 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 117.7 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 184.3 x 74.6 x 61.3 in 0-60 MPH 4.5 sec (mfr est) EPA RANGE 240 mi (mfr est) ON SALE IN U.S. Currently

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20 Convertibles to Soak Up the Sun

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:00

It’s summer—that means it’s time to bring the drop-top out of your garage. But what if you don’t have one? We’ve compiled a list of choices ranging from affordable to insanely expensive, and from cruiser to bruiser. There’s a convertible for everyone to soak up the sun and feel good conquering your favorite roads or simply cruising around the city.

Mazda MX-5 Miata

The quintessential driver’s car gives you plenty of smiles behind the wheel, and it punches way higher than the 2018 model’s 155-hp output might lead you to believe. Available with a traditional soft top, or with a slick-looking targa-like hard top as the RF variant, the current-generation MX-5 Miata blends engaging driving dynamics, a slick-shifting manual transmission, and seductive styling.

Fiat 124 Spider

Want a little Italian flavor with your roadster experience? The Fiat 124 Spider gives you that and a turbocharged engine for an extra dose of torque. Like the car on which it’s based, the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the 124 Spider is agile and easy to maneuver so you can easily devour mountain roads. Opt for the Abarth variant for a better soundtrack and buttoned-down chassis with less body roll, for just under $30,000.

Porsche 718 Boxster

The Porsche 718 Boxster sacrifices the aural drama of its predecessors for improved performance with a range of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The mid-engine roadster bundles together superb driving dynamics, potent power, and daily usability, making it one of the best sports cars around if you can afford the $60,050 base price.

Audi A3 Cabriolet

The A3 Cabriolet is Audi’s smallest convertible and starts at $39,325. Opt for the 220-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four if you’d like that extra kick and all-wheel drive, over the base model’s 186 hp and front-wheel drive. Sadly, you can’t get the higher-performance S3 and RS 3 in convertible guise in the U.S. Read our First Test of the incredibly quick RS 3 sedan here.

Jaguar F-Type

Need aural drama to go with your quick drop-top? The Jaguar F-Type will happily oblige while giving you plenty of points for style and flair. The ultimate British road burner is the driftable 575-hp F-Type SVR, or you can opt for the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 if you’d like to shift yourself.

Mercedes-AMG GT

Essentially a German muscle car, the Mercedes-AMG GT also comes in roadster form with a folding soft top. Powered by a hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 in three power outputs, the AMG GT gives you pops and crackles for epic sensory overload. Opt for the 550-hp AMG GT C or the 577-hp GT R for maximum performance on and off the track.

Chevrolet Camaro

Despite its retro-inspired looks, the Chevrolet Camaro is no longer just a burnout specialist. It’s a thoroughbred sports car that’s become a world-beater, and was our 2016 Car of the Year. Although you can’t get the 1LE as a convertible, you can get the SS and ZL1 as a drop-top, so you can hear that beautiful V-8 engine roar as you attack your favorite winding roads or simply cruise.

Ford Mustang

From the EcoBoost four-cylinder engine to the V-8-powered GT, the Ford Mustang was recently refreshed with more aggressive looks and extra power. If you’re a fan of high-revving engines, the Mustang GT should be right up your alley.

Audi A5/S5

Like the coupe and four-door hatchback variants, the A5 convertible has tasteful and timeless styling. Opt for the 354-hp Audi S5 if you’d like more power and sportier handling to go with the wind in your hair and head-turning looks.

BMW 4 Series/M4 Convertible

Prefer a retractable hardtop in your convertible for an extra layer of sound insulation? The BMW 4 Series gives you the wind in your hair, sporty performance, and a folding metal roof to keep you isolated from the elements when the weather turns. Go for the high-performance M4 with its available Competition package if you want more power and track-ready handling.

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Mercedes-Benz’s legendary SL roadster is perfect for cruising in all weather conditions but is best experienced with the retractable hardtop down. Available in six-, eight-, and even 12-cylinder guises, the SL is luxurious and powerful, perfect for high-speed cruising. Opt for the AMG SL 63 for a glorious V-8 exhaust note for maximum top-down listening pleasure.

Porsche 911

The legendary Porsche 911 gives you two choices for top-down driving: the traditional 911 Cabriolet and the slick 911 Targa with its folding-roof panel. Like the coupe, the 911 Cabriolet is available on all variants except for the GT2 and GT3; the 911 Targa is offered in base, S, and GTS with all-wheel drive standard.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet

If you want to flaunt your wealth, try the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet with its opulent interior and cutting-edge technology. And if the S 560’s 463 hp isn’t powerful enough, there’s always the AMG S 63’s 603 hp and the 12-cylinder AMG S 65’s 621 hp.

Rolls-Royce Dawn

One of the best convertibles the 1 percent can use to soak up the sun in opulence is the Rolls-Royce Dawn. Unlike more pedestrian cars, the Dawn can be personalized inside and out so it’s uniquely yours.

Aston Martin DB11 Volante

Among convertibles, few are as striking as the Aston Martin DB11 Volante. Available with a 503-hp twin-turbo V-8 paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the DB11 Volante combines speed, agility, style, and sophistication in a package that’s sure to turn heads.

Ferrari 488 Spider

Currently one of the most visceral vehicles available, the Ferrari 488 Spider proves that moving to a turbocharged engine doesn’t have to come at the cost of aural drama. With 661 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque, the 488 Spider will give you plenty of smiles when the top is down.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet

More powerful for 2019, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet gives you twin-turbo power standard on the E 450, and 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque on tap for your cruising pleasure. For something more powerful, the AMG E 53 offers up 429 hp and 384 lb-ft from anew 3.0-liter turbo I-6 that features a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that adds an extra 21 hp and 184 lb-ft for short periods of time.

Jeep Wrangler

Available in two- or four-door models and with your choice of a removable soft or hard top, the Wrangler can crawl through the beaten path with little issue. Read our 2018 Wrangler First Test here.

Range Rover Evoque Convertible

A high-riding boulevardier, the Range Rover Evoque convertible is currently the only SUV that’s available as a drop-top (besides the more rugged Wrangler). Although its off-road chops may not be on par with other Land Rover vehicles, the Evoque is still capable enough to get you far into the wilderness as you work on your tan. Just make sure to pack lightly because cargo space is compromised compared to the standard Evoque.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet

The smallest Mercedes-Benz convertible with seating for four resembles a shrunken S-Class, but it’s more agile and efficient. Available with a choice of a turbocharged four-, six-, or eight-cylinder engine, the C-Class Cabriolet offers something for everyone.

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Jaguar I-Pace vs. Tesla Model X EV Tech: 5 Key Differences

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 09:00

Jag never misses an opportunity to point out the price differential that prevents its I-Pace electric crossover from consideration as a Tesla competitor, but the world is comparing them. Here are five key technical differentiators:

Read our 2019 Jaguar I-Pace Track Drive here, and don’t miss our 734-mile electric-Jag road trip here.

Magnetic Motors

Both use AC electric motors, but Jaguar’s in-house-designed motor (built by Detroit-based American Axle & Manufacturing) utilizes permanent magnets. The rare-earth materials in these magnets makes them cost more, but for a given output, they’re smaller. And by not using some of the electricity to generate a magnetic field, they’re a few precious percentage points more efficient, as well.

Axial Planetary Gearing

Most electric motors are offset from the axles that drive the wheels, connected by bevel gears, but Jaguar’s compact motor is cleverly designed such that the motor output shaft connects to a hollow sun gear concentric with the axles. The ring gear is pressed into the housing, and the differential and axles connect to the planet carrier. The gear reduction is typical of performance EVs (9.04:1). This arrangement saves space, and the planetary gearing gains another scant few efficiency points. Hopefully they’ll soon figure out how to integrate a limited slip or torque vectoring device in there, as well.

Pouch Batteries

The Jag and Tesla battery packs could not be more dissimilar, though the completed battery packs do look similar in size and shape. Tesla uses cylindrical Panasonic batteries with nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) chemistry, whereas Jaguar uses long, flat LG Chem “pouch” batteries with nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) chemistry. (Fun fact: Tesla uses that chemistry for its stationary energy-storage battery products.)

Battery Health Warranty

Eight years is the industry-standard battery warranty period, but the fine print varies pretty widely. All Teslas since the original 60-kW-hr batteries built before 2015 are covered for “infinite mileage” during that period (the early 60s have a 125,000-mile limit). This only covers defects, however, not loss of total capacity, which is known to degrade over time. Jaguar’s warranty specifies that if your capacity drops below 70 percent of what it was when new within eight years or 100,000 miles, it will service the battery, replacing underperforming modules to restore the pack to at least 70 percent of its new capacity.

Tow Ratings

Tesla rates the Model X to tow 3,500 pounds with 22-inch wheels, or 5,000 with 20s. Jaguar does not rate any I-Pace to tow at all, and folks wishing to take matters into their own (and Draw-Tite’s) hands will have difficulty finding a spot to bolt an aftermarket hitch to. Jaguar engineers determined that the number of customers who would actually tow with their I-Pace would be so small that it didn’t warrant the effort to engineer the four different global hitch standards. The company will, however, offer accessory rear mounts that bolt in to the tow hook eyelets, like this bike carrier. Note also the roof-rack solution that bolts to holes on the roof rail that are covered by the door frames. Very slick. (Pricing has not yet been announced for either of these accessories.)

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Watch: Behind the Wheel of the 700-Horsepower Ferrari 488 Pista

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 21:55

Has Ferrari made the ultimate V-8 road car? That was certainly the goal. We traveled to the Fiorano Circuit in Italy to drive the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista, the most powerful V-8 road car ever built by the coveted brand. With its 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8, the Pista cranks out 710 hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. That’s significantly more than the 661 hp and 561 lb-ft made by the regular 488 GTB. The new model also has the best weight-to-power ratio of any road-ready Ferrari, saving around 200 pounds over the GTB.

Watch the video to learn more about how the Ferrari 488 Pista drives on the track.

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McLaren Teases New Model with Top-Exit Exhausts

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 19:41

McLaren has confirmed it will unveil a new model on June 28, but it’s keeping quiet on the car’s identity. Until then, we’ll have to pour over this teaser image of the mystery car’s top-exit exhausts. We like how McLaren is channeling the Porsche 918 Spyder with this feature.

McLaren isn’t providing many other clues. But the automaker says it will “deliver track-focused dynamics.” Equally cryptic, McLaren declares the car will “benefit from increased power, minimized weight, optimized aerodynamics, and enhanced driver engagement.” Much like the new Senna, which also has an unusual exhaust design, the new model will be available in limited quantities.

In another teaser, McLaren shows off the model’s back end, and it looks a bit like the 570. Could this be a variant of that Sports Series car? We’ll have to wait a few weeks to find out. After the new model makes its online debut on June 28, it will show its face to the public at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The model is the fifth new car to be announced under McLaren’s Track22 business plan. Under this plan, announced in 2016, McLaren will debut 15 new or derivative models by the end of 2022. Half of these will offer hybrid powertrains.

Source: McLaren

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Aston Martin Rapide AMR Limited to 210 Units

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 16:44

Aston Martin announced the creation of the AMR sub-brand for high-performance vehicles at the Geneva auto show last year, where it also debuted the Rapide AMR. Now, Aston Martin has revealed the production version that will arrive on customer doorsteps later this year.

The design hasn’t changed much from the concept. The Aston Martin Rapide AMR features aerodynamic upgrades including a splitter, sills, rear diffuser, and trunk lid spoiler—all made from carbon fiber. The hood, which includes ventilation inserts, is also constructed from carbon fiber to reduce weight.

Three different exterior design themes are available, including the Signature theme that mixes Stirling Green paint with lime stripes. The Standard and Silhouette themes offer four different colors—Mariana Blue, Scintilla Silver, Lightning Silver, and Onyx Black—with the Standard adding lime accents and the Silhouette adding a full-length stripe in either China Grey or Clubsport White. Inside, the colors match those of the chosen exterior theme, and you’ll also find Alcantara-trimmed seats, a carbon fiber center console, AMR logos, and a limited edition plaque. A One-77 steering wheel is optional.

Of course, some of the biggest updates are under the sheetmetal. Motivating the Rapide AMR is a 6.0-liter V-12 good for 595 hp, more than the 552 hp in the Rapide S. Both models boast 465 lb-ft of torque. Aston Martin says the new model can hit 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, and top speed is 205 mph.

The AMR model boasts 21-inch wheels, the first for any Aston Martin. Those wheels are wrapped around ultra-high performance Michelin Super Sport tires. Also look for carbon ceramic brakes with six-piston calipers up front and four in the rear. The AMR rides on a suspension that is 0.4 inch lower than the Rapide S. A quad exhaust adds to the performance updates.

Prices start at $240,000 in the U.S. Global deliveries begin in the fourth quarter of this year.

Source: Aston Martin

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2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Review: Pista! Pista!

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:00

In the time it takes you to read this sentence aloud, the new Ferrari 488 Pista can accelerate from a standstill to 124 miles per hour.

Let that spin your head for a second. Or 7.2 seconds, for that matter.

That’s the sort of asphalt the Ferrari 488 Pista can ripple, thanks to its 710-hp, 567-lb-ft 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8. It has variable torque curves mapped—depending on which gear you’ve selected—moderated by changes in boost, injection, and spark advance. In other words, there’s flop-sweat power in any gear, at any rpm.

I’m sitting shotgun beside Ferrari chief test driver Raffaele de Simone at Ferrari’s legendary Fiorano Circuit test track. For those of you who’ve never been, Fiorano isn’t out in the middle of nowhere. It’s in the middle of town, embraced by the sprawling factory grounds as well as residential Maranello itself. Raffaele is gently warming the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup K2 tires and reacquainting me with the track’s layout before I take the wheel.

Without warning, he stabs the throttle midcorner, causing the Pista’s back end to jar sideways in a vicious slide that he easily catches (with some help from the very sophisticated new traction electronics). For the next lap and a half, he rarely lifts from full-mash throttle or brake, providing an expert’s demonstration of the limits of the most powerful road car Ferrari has ever built.

Look, I’m pretty quick around a track. But I’m not Raffaele quick. Not even close. And let’s face it, likely neither are you. But the magic of the 488 Pista is that you or I can play at being Raffaele, and this magnificent supercar will forgive us our trespasses without an unfortunate meeting with gravel or Armco. Really, you have to be blindingly stupid to wad this machine. Some cars can smell fear and prey upon your hesitancy and twitchy hands. The 488 Pista can sense it, as well, but instead of snapping back upon you, it reacts with reassurance.

So let’s get to the basics of what Ferrari changed from its already impressive 488 GTB, which won Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car contest last year.

Although the GTB verily leaped forward with 660 hp, Ferrari engineers generated 50 more horsepower from the gorgeous midship engine (covered in Lexan for easy viewing). And if a 7.6 percent gain doesn’t sound like much, in this aspect it’s the difference between slingshot and rifle. What changed? About 50 percent of the part numbers, including redesigns to the valves, springs, and cam profile for starters, not to mention the intake and exhaust runners.

Having 710 cavallini under the hood puts ungodly stress on mechanical parts. So Ferrari redesigned the cylinder heads, pistons, and DLC-coated piston pins for greater durability, all while lightening pretty much everything, from the titanium connecting rods to the crankshaft and flywheel. The cylinder liner walls are thinner, saving precious grams, said Gianfranco Ferrari (no relation), the Pista’s powertrain project manager.

But you can’t simply create 50 more horsepower without some associated engineering challenges—namely, dissipating the heat from the entire engine bay rather than the engine itself. Enter Ferrari’s thermal management specialists, who redrew the ducting at the front, as well as the rear spoiler and diffuser. Engine-air intakes have moved from the flanks to the rear spoiler, where they feed directly into the plenums—with the side benefit of making room for larger intercoolers.

While they were in there, Ferrari made the engine sound inside the cockpit 8 decibels louder. There’s no acoustic trickery, just plain old ripping out of sound-deadening material (which also saves weight). Why not make the glorious engine song louder to passersby, too? “Well … ” says ingegnere Ferrari, “there are laws about that.” Listening from trackside, the Pista’s notes at speed nonetheless shred the air with a menacing alto of furious purpose.

Thanks to all this engineering excellence, the Pista engine won the International Engine of the Year trophy—a threepeat for the prancing horse marque. (If you want to geek out further about the engine changes, check out technical editor Frank Markus’ teardown of the 488 Pista engine here.)

Nicola Boari, Ferrari’s head of product marketing, said the Pista has the best weight-to-power ratio of any road-going Ferrari. And it isn’t all about the engine and raw power. There’s weight savings galore, about 200 pounds over the GTB.

With bodywork and chassis, the Pista makes extensive use of carbon fiber as a replacement for aluminum—from the body panels to the 20-inch wheels. At $17,500, this is an option box worth ticking. These are pounds, not grams, we’re talking about here.

Combine the reduced weight with improvements in aero—an 18 percent improvement in downforce with negligible drag penalty, for 528 pounds of downforce at 124 mph—and the Pista can stay well mannered when handled roughly.

So what does all this power and lightness mean in the hands of a gentleman racer? Well, Ferrari makes its bones in ride and handling, as well. Having a fast car that doesn’t turn triggers a frowny emoji in terms of customer loyalty.

In other words, Ferrari took extensive measures to give drivers more confidence while cornering (and often save themselves from ham-fisted mistakes) via an evolution of the Side Slip Control system (SSC 6.0).

“You shouldn’t feel the difference, but you’ll end up going faster,” said Stefano Varisco, vehicle dynamics and control engineer. Essentially, he’s saying Ferrari wouldn’t have built a car with this much power if it didn’t have a dynamics system capable of handling it.

Before I hit the track, I skitter through the hill towns of the Modena region, snaking around endless delivery trucks in steaming swelter and seeking picturesque spots to highlight the skills of photographer William Walker.

A race-bred car can be a chore to drive in city traffic. But the Pista—Italian for track—is quite manageable in tight urban settings. In basic Sport mode, shifts are calm and smooth, the carbon-ceramic brakes are predictable rather than chalky, and steering is light. I very much appreciate the “bumpy road” suspension setting (carried over from the GTB) to tame the district’s disinterested attitude toward road maintenance. While dodging the occasional nonna strolling across a blind corner, we find the odd chance to let loose—to about 50 percent of the Pista’s abilities. But the roads are tight and narrow, the traffic too unpredictable, and the car too quick for the conditions to play it fast and loose. The prescribed route never puts us on the autostrada for a high-speed blast. Pity.

A couple of notes as we burble along: There’s an engine drone at around 3,000 rpm and a gurgling when you feather the throttle at 4,700—both of which get old quick. But otherwise, the engine is a symphony of whirs, whines, and whistles that remind you you’re driving a very exotic machine. Although grippy, the Michelins do create a substantial amount of high-register tire noise on coarse-aggregate roads. And I still need to get used to the horn buttons being integrated into the 10-and-2 of the steering wheel rather than the center airbag pad. Lastly, proving the supercar can coexist with the realities of the modern age, the navigation system is excellent in providing directions through villages that would merit scarcely a mention on a map.

“The Pista is about technology transfer from the track to the road, not a track car where we just hand you the keys,” Boari notes. Well said.

With thunderheads threatening, we dash back to Fiorano for my track time. Following my slithery session with de Simone, I take my own shot at this legendary circuit. Carrying speed through fast corners, I happily discover that banging redline doesn’t result in a twitchy, oscillating fuel cutout; rather, it simply maintains revs and power output (though a string of red lights across the top of the steering wheel strongly reminds that it’s a good idea to upshift). After all, if you reach max horsepower at 6,700 rpm, you should have sufficient time to flick the sensuous aluminum shift paddles before you hit the 8,000-rpm limiter.

I experiment with the manettino dial on the steering wheel to change the various traction settings. At Fiorano, there’s a narrow short chute that overpasses the main straight. It has an undulation at the precise point you’d hammer the brakes before entering a sharp right-hander. Normally this would upset a car’s balance, but in both Sport and Race modes, the Pista tracked straight and true. (With de Simone behind the wheel in CT-Off mode, things were considerably more wiggly, but never was it a water-in-shoes moment.) Get on the power too early, and the back end steps out quickly, but if you trust SSC 6.0 to keep things in order, you won’t suffer the dreaded tank-slapper. Under pressure diving into corners, the carbon-ceramic brakes are as good as your confidence level allows. Trail-braking into the right-hand sweeper at the end of the screaming-fast front straight? Not an issue. Want to wait for the last marker before testing your nerve? The brakes are ready.

All too soon, my session is over, limiting my chance to explore the 488 Pista. I could make up lots of excuses for why I wasn’t quicker—the fog of jet lag, rustiness on a long-forgotten track, my being the last track car out on possibly cooked brakes (though I felt no evidence of that), or wanting to be a kind escort to their pricey sheetmetal. I wish Ferrari had granted us more than four laps to sample the goods under their harshest inputs. The assembled journalists agree that four laps was the perfect amount to get settled into a rhythm, ready to really breach the Pista’s limits—only then to frustratingly see the “pit in” board come over the wall.

But that’s the magic of luxury-goods PR: always give a taste but leave them wanting more. It’s a $345,000 check to write to take that next step. Ferrari could not clarify whether that sticker includes destination charges or gas-guzzler tax, but those are rounding errors. Time to check your 401(k) balance.

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista BASE PRICE $345,000 (est) VEHICLE LAYOUT Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 3.9L/710-hp/567-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT 3,200 lb (est) WHEELBASE 104.3 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 181.3 x 77.8 x 47.5 in 0-62 MPH 2.8 sec (mfr est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 15/22/18 mpg (est) ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles (est) CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.11 lb/mile (est) ON SALE IN U.S. Currently


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2019 Volvo V60 First Drive Review

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 09:00

Volvo is sending the V60 wagon to North America even though it knows sales will only amount to a tiny fraction of those of the XC60 SUV. The fact that the V60 will make negligible impact on Volvo Car USA’s bottom line is of little importance, however: The V60 is coming to keep the faith. Although the wagon is increasingly seen as a niche product as SUVs and crossovers continue their march to global domination, it’s a vehicle that still defines the essence of the Volvo brand. Volvo without a wagon would be like Ferrari without red paint.

The new V60 is being pitched as the successor to the V70, the best-selling wagon in Volvo’s history, filling the space left by the V90’s move upmarket. The V60 shares much with its larger sibling. It’s built on Volvo’s highly flexible SPA architecture and has the same broad-shouldered stance and studied elegance. Sharp creases that gently arc over the rear wheels, and a greenhouse graphic that rises toward the D-pillar, as subtly playful as the red stitching around the buttonhole on a Savile Row jacket, are fraternal echoes of design elements from the XC60.

The 2019 V60 is 4.9 inches longer and 2.0 inches lower than the outgoing model. The wheelbase has grown 3.8 inches, though a lot of that has gone to deliver the exaggerated dash-to-axle dimension that’s become part of modern Volvo design DNA. But those extra inches have delivered substance as well as style: Volvo claims a 20 percent increase in load space over the previous V60, as well as the roomiest rear seat in the class. We can’t vouch for the load space, but we can confirm that a 6-foot passenger has no problem sitting behind a 6-foot driver.

The V60’s interior follows the design cues that were established with the S90 and have since cascaded through successive new Volvos. And there’s nothing wrong with that: The V60’s cabin looks elegant and upscale, more inviting than that of a BMW 3 Series, less clinical than an Audi A4’s.

The V60 will launch with the choice of two powertrains: T5, with the 250-hp turbocharged version of Volvo’s ubiquitous 2.0-liter four-banger driving the front wheels; and T6, with the 316-hp turbo- and supercharged version of the engine and all-wheel drive. Transmission for both is an eight-speed automatic. Volvo claims 28 mpg combined for the T5 powertrain, and 25 mpg for the T6. The T5-powered V60 will hit 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and reach a max of 140 mph; the T6 version is almost a second quicker to 60 and will top out at 155 mph.

Volvo will offer two trim levels at launch: Momentum and Inscription. The latter offers cosmetic upgrades such as driftwood inlays inside and standard 18-inch alloy wheels, as well as enhanced equipment such as a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and Harmon Kardon premium audio. Leather is standard on both, but the Momentum-spec V60 can also be ordered with chic plaid cloth seats.

The infotainment system—Sensus Connect, in Volvo-speak—has been given a 50 percent increase in processor speed. This means reduced startup time, faster access to the backup camera, better voice control, and quicker route recalculation by the satnav. Sensus Connect accommodates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among other third-party apps (and none takes over the entire display), so satnav is an option. When fitted, the Volvo nav software enables the cruise control to access mapping data and adjust speeds through corners where appropriate.

As expected, the V60 comes standard with an armory of Volvo automated safety technology, including steering, braking, and lane-keeping assist functions to help drivers stay on the road and out of harm’s way. The V60 also debuts Volvo’s new Oncoming Braking function, a safety system of last resort that, should the car sense a head-on collision is inevitable, automatically activates maximum braking. The system goes into action two-tenths of a second before impact and can reduce vehicle speed by 6 mph. That doesn’t sound like much, but the resulting reduction in crash force can be significant, potentially life-saving.

The V60 is no 3 Series wagon. That much is clear from the first few corners. It’s a much more relaxed car than the BMW, happy and comfortable at seven-tenths driving through the twisties. It doesn’t exactly fall apart dynamically when you press harder; it just never quite flows down the road with the composure you’d expect. The front end is aloof; it goes through the motions but never clearly communicates what’s happening where the rubber hits the road. And the surly response from the transmission, even when nudged between ratios via the central shifter (there are no paddles on the steering wheel), means you never quite have the power you want precisely when you want it.

Volvo offers four drive modes—Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual—and not all are worth the electrons. Dynamic makes the steering feel more wooden and busies the ride slightly without any noticeable improvement in, er… the dynamics. The V60 does its best work left in Comfort, which is precisely where most owners will leave it. The ride is excellent, and suspension NVH well suppressed; smooth and quiet, the V60 might be a midsize Volvo wagon, but it has the decorum of a limousine. And that’s precisely what makes it a genuine alternative to the 3 Series wagon.

Though a niche product, Volvo will add to the V60 lineup through 2020. An R Design version will offer 18-inch alloy wheels as well as paddle shifters and unique interior and exterior graphics, plus the same tech and multimedia features as the Inscription. The 400-hp hybrid T8 powertrain is also slated for launch, and a V60 Cross Country, with jacked-up ride height and all-road capability, is coming to take on Audi’s A4 Allroad.

The first U.S.-spec V60s will roll off the line late this year, with cars arriving in the first quarter of 2019. No prices have been announced yet, but Volvo has revealed that the V60 will be available under the Care by Volvo subscription scheme that debuted with the XC40 crossover. Essentially a simplified lease deal, Care by Volvo will allow consumers to choose one of two specifications of the V60—along with their choice of exterior and interior colors—and drive the car for one or two years for a single monthly payment that covers maintenance, consumables such as wipers and tires, roadside assistance, 24-hour concierge, and insurance. Nothing down, drive away.

The redesigned Volvo V60 makes a compelling case as an urbane yet practical premium vehicle for those who don’t want to follow the herd. It may not be the ultimate driving machine, but it handles better and uses less fuel than many high-riding SUVs or crossovers, while offering a similarly configurable and capacious interior. And with available all-wheel drive, it’s only marginally less capable on all roads in all weather. But the Volvo faithful know all that.

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