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2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster First Drive Review: Open-Air Greatness

Motortrend News Feed - 8 hours 40 min ago

No one these days designs a coupe without engineering the car to ensure it can also be built as a convertible. Well, almost no one—the Ferrari Portofino means there won’t be a convertible version of the gorgeous Roma coupe, although since 70 percent of the Roma’s platform is derived from the Portofino, you could argue Maranello simply did things the other way around.

The 2021 Aston Martin Vantage Roadster was baked into the Vantage coupe development program from day one. You can feel it in the first few miles. You can feel it in its bones.

The Vantage Roadster shares much of its hardware with its coupe sibling—the rumbling, AMG-sourced 503-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8; the rear-mounted eight-speed ZF automatic transmission; the e-diff; the suspension; and the brakes. And it has the same tight, taut, focused feeling as the coupe when you point it at a winding road and punch the gas. The Vantage Roadster is no show pony. It hasn’t been designed to do its best work slowly cruising the boulevards of the south of France—or South Beach, Florida—roof down and looking fabulous. It’s a proper sports car. You can drive it. Hard.

Paradoxically, removing the roof adds weight to sports cars. Without the roof structure to tie everything together, more robust additional bracing must be added elsewhere to give the body the rigidity needed to allow the drivetrain, suspension, and steering to work properly. Engineers also have to package the mechanism for a folding soft top. The Vantage Roadster thus weighs 132 pounds more than the coupe. But it feels just as rigid, with none of the shimmies and shudders through the steering column that still blight some convertibles—even in an era when body engineers have computers to help crunch the numbers. It’s an impressive piece of work.

The extra weight and different aerodynamic profile of the Vantage Roadster means it’s fractionally slower than the Vantage coupe. Aston Martin claims the Roadster will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and hit 190 mph, making it two-tenths of a second slower to 60 than the coupe and 5 mph slower at the top end.

On anywhere other than perhaps a racetrack or a German autobahn, the difference is utterly meaningless. What’s meaningful—and the real appeal of the Vantage Roadster—is that in pretty much every real-world driving scenario you can think of, choosing the soft top doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the soft option.

Roof up, the Vantage Roadster is as snug as the coupe, and no noisier on the freeway. The power soft top features a lightweight Z-fold mechanism and has been designed to nestle neatly behind the twin roll bars, eliminating the need for a hard tonneau. That makes it quick to stow, taking just 6.7 seconds to lower and 6.8 seconds to raise. It has the fastest cycle of any powered cloth roof in the business, Aston says, and it can be actuated at speeds up to 31 mph. A glass screen between the roll bars means turbulence in the cockpit is minimal with the roof down and the side windows up.

Finding the convertible actuator switch might be the most time-consuming part of the process, at least the first time it’s not in the center stack or console where you’d expect but in the door down near the map cubby, where a trunk release typically resides.

Roof down, the Vantage Roadster is all about the noise. In the default Sport drive mode the rumble of the twin-turbo V-8 is overlaid with a muted snap and snarl from the exhaust. Select Sport + or Track mode, and the engine rat-a-tat-tat-tats like a Spitfire strafing an airfield, accompanied by pops and bangs from the exhaust that sound like an ammo dump was hit on the way through. It’s a fun soundtrack out on the open road, but in urban areas it’s a bit embarrassing. Do you really want to drive around your neighborhood in a convertible that sounds like World War III has broken out?

The open-top, however, also allows you to better learn to shift by ear, rather than by glancing at the tachometer. As the revs build, the engine’s throaty, insistent snarl gives way to a scarcely perceptible reediness just as it edges toward redline. A quick click of the aluminum shift pedals, and the ZF eight-speed grabs the next cog.

Key to the Vantage Roadster’s impressive dynamics are subtle revisions to the suspension. The rear shocks have been changed to account for slightly extra weight over the rear axle, and the adaptive suspension and stability control calibrations revised. The standard wheel/tire combination is 20-inch rollers shod with 255/40 and 295/35 Pirelli P Zero tires front and rear. Both cars we drove—one in England and one in California—were fitted with lightweight 20-inch forged alloy wheels, a $4,600 option. The meaty Pirelli P Zero rear 295/35/20s do create a fair amount of road roar that enters the cabin, but that’s all part of the experience.

On a dash up Angeles Crest Highway in the California-based test car, the Aston distinguishes itself from its German or Italian rivals by being more about caressing corners rather than attacking them. That’s not to say the Vantage Roadster is without hard-charging spirit; roll onto the accelerator pedal with passion, and the Aston will grunt down on its rear haunches. You feel this response in the small of your back, in your loins, in your amygdala. Slowing down on ACH’s notoriously choppy braking zones, the Aston responds better to an earlier brushing of the brakes, rather than a late stomp that tends to make the rear end swim a bit (of course, some folks prefer it that way).

Other options include the Q Exclusive Spirit Silver paint ($7,600) and the Premium Audio system ($2,300), and comfort and tech “collections”—($2,500 and $3,000 respectively),which get you blind-spot monitoring, parking assist, and 16-way heated memory seats (another $1,600 gets ventilated seats, too.)

But the most significant option fitted to our test car in England was the new “vane grille.” Essentially a redesigned nosecone that replaces the Vantage’s gaping catfish maw with a front graphic that looks more traditionally Aston Martin, it’s the best $2,300 you can spend when ordering your Vantage Roadster. It’s also an option on the 2021 Vantage coupe. Aston Martin sources have confirmed it will be available through U.S. dealers as a retrofit, though details on pricing had yet to be confirmed.

The Aston Martin Vantage Roadster is scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. late in the fourth quarter of this year, with prices starting at $150,086.

Mark Rechtin contributed to this review.

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2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line First Look: Nürburgring Sonata

Motortrend News Feed - 8 hours 51 min ago

The big-name German performance brands all sell performance in various packages and steps, from BMW’s M Sport or Mercedes-Benz’s AMG packages to full-blown M and Mercedes-AMG models. Hyundai aspires to follow in these footsteps with N models like North America’s Veloster N and Europe’s i30 N at the top of the retail pyramid (factory racing N cars occupy the ultimate peak of the pyramid) and a widening line of N Line models occupying the rung beneath them. First to get the N Line treatment was the Elantra GT N Line, and next up are the Elantra and Sonata sedans.

Not too much info has been shared on the full Sonata N Line package, but at a powertrain backgrounder in December 2019, we learned that the heart of this new beast is a turbocharged 2.5-liter “Smartstream” gasoline direct injection (TGDI) engine that should make 290 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That represents a 52 percent power bump and a significant 71 percent more torque than the next-hottest-performing Sonata, a turbocharged 1.6-liter good for 191 hp and 181 lb-ft. Relative to the Elantra GT N Line’s 25 and 30 percent bumps in power and torque, that’s pretty impressive.

A performance boost of that magnitude will require commensurate reinforcement and re-tuning of the brakes, springs, and dampers, which engineers are no doubt putting the finishing touches on. Will the team be able to transform this sizeable front-drive sedan into a credible back-road burner that performs somewhere between an Elantra GT and a Veloster N? Consider our fingers well and truly crossed.

Performance aside, the N Line kit comes with a number of visual updates relative to the standard Sonata, including a new fascia, racier grille, and three large air intakes. Around the back sits a new rear bumper with dual exhaust outlets flanking a new lower fascia. A set of 19-inch alloys help complete the sportier look. Inside, the model benefits from dark chrome trim, more heavily bolstered seats, red stitching on the steering wheel, and N Line badging (how else are you supposed to know you’re in a Sonata with a little extra flair?).

Then comes the question of what Hyundai will charge for such a device. If it applies the same roughly 20 percent upcharge that one pays to upgrade a base Elantra GT automatic to an Elantra GT N Line with its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, then that should bring the price of an SEL-spec Sonata N Line to around $34,000, or a Limited grade one to $41,000. It’s a bad idea to load a performance car up to Limited spec anyway, and with the Accord 2.0T Touring topping out at $37,355 and a loaded Camry XSE V-6 just cresting $39,000, we’d expect the Sonata N Line to be spec’d to price out a little shy of $40,000.

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2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid First Drive: A Turbo for the Geek Squad

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 23:01

As we noted in our first look of the 2021 Porsche Panamera, Zuffenhausen is worsening the “paradox of choice” customers face when trying to select their ideal powertrain, by dropping two engine offerings but adding three new ones. We’ve just driven the middle of these new engines—the plug-in electric-boosted twin-turbo V-6 Panamera 4S E-Hybrid that makes 552 hp and 553 lb-ft. That output rating has Porsche casting this new model as a greener proxy for the departed 550-hp/567-lb-ft twin-turbo-V-8-powered Panamera Turbo. Is it?

2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid: Performance

We haven’t mounted our Vbox gear yet, but Porsche says trading two cylinders for an electric motor and battery only blunts the 4S E-Hybrid’s launch-controlled 0–60 mph time by 0.1 second relative to the old Turbo, a difference that merely doubles by the quarter-mile mark. Adding those offsets to our last Panamera Turbo’s times suggests we should see a 3.1-second 0–60 time and an 11.5-second quarter mile at around 120 mph. That shows how effective electric motors are at launching heavy cars—Porsche puts the weight difference at 600 pounds, which gives the hybrid a 13 percent weight-to-power disadvantage (1 pound per horsepower) to the Turbo. The hybrid also lacks the Turbo’s sonorous V-8 snarl. Opting for the Sport Exhaust ($3,490–$3,860 last year) helps in Sport or Sport+ modes, but in the default start-up mode, it sounds flat.

2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid: Handling

It’s hard to hide an extra 600 pounds of car from the g-force meters, but the vehicle-dynamics crew at Porsche have done their level best to improve the handling feel of the entire 2021 Panamera lineup. A new electric power steering system that’s improved the precision feel of the 992 Carrera 4S and Taycan 4S is fitted here, complete with the same steering wheel and optional rear-wheel steer (not fitted to this test car). It provides impressive feedback for a big car with a ton-plus of weight burdening its front axle. Similarly, for ’21 the brake master cylinder diameter shrinks to provide more pedal travel, and the brake-force transducer better manages the transition from regenerative to friction braking for improved pedal feel—especially in the Sport modes.

Finally, although most of the hardware is unchanged, the software controlling the standard air suspension and adaptive damping systems is recalibrated for a less busy ride, the front/rear torque distribution algorithms send more torque aft in the Sport modes, and the rear differential locking strategy is better suited to track running in those modes. And wannabe DTM racers can now get an ultra-high-performance tire (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2) that will likely be a dealer upgrade for the 4S E-Hybrid.

Revised E-Boost Strategy

E-Hybrid battery capacity increases 27 percent to 17.9 kWh, and the rate at which it recharges while driving increases 50 percent to a max of 18 kW in Sport+ mode, but now the onboard charger targets 80 percent, not 100 as before. At 80 percent, the larger battery offers similar electric range and ample boost reserves to ensure full power and torque are available in Sport modes on any typical track, and overall fuel consumption improves because charging efficiency plunges when filling the final 20 percent of a battery. This system is now essentially the same as that used on the 918 Spyder.

Driving Modes

A drive-mode selector on the steering wheel lets you switch from the default startup mode (E-Power) to Hybrid-Auto, Sport, and Sport+ modes. From the central display’s Hybrid screen one can select E-Hold to maintain the current battery state-of-charge, or E-Charge mode to more gradually recharge the battery using the engine. In its default E-Power mode, the car strives to maximize electric driving, and when equipped with Porsche’s InnoDrive adaptive cruise system, it takes map and topographical data into account to further optimize charging and power strategies.

How E-Boost Works on the Road

I got the car with the battery showing 9 miles of range (max is expected to be 34) and set it to E-Charge mode. This gradually boosted range to 13 miles running in eighth gear on the highway with one LED showing on the charge meter. Switching to Sport+ dropped the transmission to sixth gear and lit a second LED charge light, quickly achieving the target of 27 miles of range, at which point I switched to E-Hold mode to preserve that level of charge for my “Hellring” laps around Hell, Michigan. I made my first 13.8-mile lap in E-Power mode, my aggressive accelerator stabs frequently engaging the engine, which then seemed overeager to switch back off. The E-Boost was often limited, some of these transitions were slightly lumpy, and all were attended by that blah exhaust note. I ended that lap showing 17 miles of range.

Next, a hard-charging Sport+ lap demonstrated aggressive gear selection, unlimited E-Boost, and strong linear acceleration everywhere. That lap ended with 20 miles of range showing. The steering firmed up (unnecessarily, as far as I’m concerned), and the suspension lowered and stiffened enough to excite some interior trim buzzing. Happily, the less aggressive damping settings are allowed in Sport+ mode.

 

A final, slightly more relaxed lap in Sport mode revealed the Goldilocks setup. Sure, it ran much of the lap a gear or two higher, but the E-Boost was just as readily available, and the suspension ceased buzzing the body. That lap ended with 21 miles in the battery, illustrating how aggressively the car replaces electricity when being pressed hard.

Geek-worthy Hybrid Screens

Why pay for all that heavy hybrid gear unless you’re at least a little interested in monitoring the way it variously helps save you fuel or go faster? Porsche provides its geekiest customers good screens for this. Infotainment screen options show hybrid modes, energy flow, consumption statistics, and various charge timers. On the instrument cluster, an arc inside the speedometer can depict accelerator position relative to the point at which the engine will fire, while a matching arc inside the fuel- and battery gauge display to the right of the central tachometer can indicate the amount of electric “boost” power currently available in the drive mode selected. This gray arc turns white to indicate the available E-Boost, then turns green as the boost is applied.

2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid Price and Fuel Economy

Here’s the 4S E-Hybrid’s most flattering comparison with the Turbo: No 2021 pricing has been announced yet, but the 2020 Panamera Turbo starts at $154,350 (add $4,000 for the Sport Turismo or $10,400 for Executive bodywork). The 2020 4 E-Hybrid starts at $105,150 (plus $4,000 or $4,500 for the other bodies). Adding the $13,200 price differential that separates the base Panamera S and 4S models brings us to a guess of about $118,500 for the 4S E-Hybrid—that’s 23 percent off the Turbo for a car that’s only 3 percent slower and should get at least 10 percent better EPA combined fuel economy if you never plug it in and 143 percent better mpg-e if you do (EPA numbers are not yet final, and the revised charging strategy is likely to improve gas-only mpg a little while the bigger battery boosts gas/electric hybrid mpg-e by a lot).

So Is It a Worthy Panamera Turbo Stand-in?

No. As close as its vital engine and performance stats may be to the Turbo’s, the 4S E-Hybrid is simply a less visceral, more clinical performer. But it scratches a valid eco-conscientious itch while delivering geek-o-rific screens and a level of driving fun that lands somewhere between the 4 E-Hybrid and the bonkers Turbo S E-Hybrid.

2021 Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid PRICE $118,500 (est) LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback ENGINE 2.9L/443-hp/405-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6, plus 134-hp/295-lb-ft electric motor; 552 hp/553 lb-ft comb TRANSMISSION 8-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT 5,000 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 116.1 in L x W x H 198.8 x 78.2 x 56.1 in 0-60 MPH 3.5 sec (mfr est) EPA FUEL ECON 21/24/23 mpg (gas); 48/54/51 mpg-e (gas+elec)* ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 62/61 kW-hrs/100 miles (gas+elec)* CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.37 lb/mile (gas+elec)* ON SALE Spring 2021 *2020 Panamera 4 E-Hybrid figures–larger 2021 battery likely to increase mpg-e figures.

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2021 BMW M3 First Look: Big Grille, Big Power

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 23:01

Good news, stick-shift enthusiasts: The 2021 BMW M3 comes standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. That’s right, the German brand’s iconic sports sedan refuses to give in to peer pressure and nix the row-it-yourself transmission from its features list. In other words, BMW listened to its enthusiast fanbase. 

Alas, the company opted to ignore the cries of dismay caused by the tall and narrow kidney grilles found on the 2021 4 Series. Rather than limit the large nostrils to the 3 Series sedan’s lower-slung sibling, BMW went right ahead and applied them to the new M3. Is this a sign of what’s to come for the run-of-the-mill 3 Series? We hope not. If the previous M3 is anything to go by, though, it’s likely the latest M3 will serve as the sole 3 Series variant to share its schnoz with its 4 Series counterparts, including its all-new 2021 M4 mechanical sibling.

2021 BMW M3: Big Mouth Strikes Again

BMW notes the M3’s large grille serves more than a styling purpose, as the openings are “designed to feed the massive amount of air needed for fulfilling the cooling requirements under the most rigorous conditions.” That bodes well for M3 fans who care more about driving the high-powered sedan than ogling or debating its exterior design. 

Like its X3 M and X4 M crossover stablemates, the 2021 M3 utilizes BMW’s S58 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine. In its standard M3 form, the straight-six pumps out 473 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. The former figure matches that of the X3 M and X4 M, while the latter falls short by 36 lb-ft due to the limitations of the M3’s standard six-speed stick. Even so, the rear-drive sedan remains properly quick, with BMW claiming a 4.1-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 180 mph with the M Driver’s package (without it, the car tops out at 155 mph). 

Those in search of additional power can always opt for the M3 Competition. Available exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Competition kit blesses the sedan with a stable of 503 horses and 479 lb-ft of torque. The extra grunt helps the model scoot to 60 mph in a manufacturer-claimed 3.8 seconds. The achievable top speeds, however, remain the same as the standard car.

2021 BMW M3: Competition Spec

Choosing the Competition model also gives the M3 additional black exterior trim details, M-specific seatbelts, and a transmission oil cooler to complement the standard engine oil cooler. It also affords buyers the option to tack on BMW’s M xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

Despite the addition of a front differential, BMW promises all-wheel-drive M3 Competitions ought to offer all the thrills of its rear-drive kin. And so the AWD system has a rear-drive bias, as well as the torque-vectoring capabilities of the system’s standard Active M rear differential. Three drive modes are available: the default 4WD, sportier 4WD Sport, and drift-worthy 2WD. As its name implies, 4WD Sport builds on 4WD by directing more power to the rear wheels in dynamic driving situations. Meanwhile, 2WD lives up to its name by directing all of the engine’s power to the rear wheels. Accessing this mode requires the driver to disable the car’s stability control.

This also enables the driver to take advantage of the new M Drift Analyzer also available in rear-drive cars, which rates the quality of your drift by recording the line, angle, and distance covered. It’s part of the M Drive Professional suite of functions that also includes M Laptimer, which places lap and split times, among other information, in the gauge cluster screen and head-up display; the car records additional data during a session that can then be exported to an iPhone app for further analysis.  

Regardless of trim, transmission, or drivetrain, every 2021 M3 boasts a long list of model-specific features aimed at optimizing its on-track performance. Alongside its gaping grille, various openings within the lower fascia feed additional air to the likes of the car’s standard front-mounted 15.0-inch rotors and six-piston calipers, painted in blue (black or red paint is optional). Those front units are complemented by 14.6-inch rotors and single piston calipers at the rear. Drivers looking for additional braking performance can opt for a set of carbon ceramics that feature gold-painted calipers and massive 15.7-inch rotors at the front and 15.0-inch plates at the rear.

For better or worse, the latest M3 employs brake-by-wire technology, which relies on an electric actuator to apply pressure to the brakes in response to inputs made to the brake pedal itself. As such, BMW’s able to offer the M3 with two brake pedal settings: Comfort and Sport. We’ll need to spend time behind the wheel of the new car to determine if either mode offers the feel we typically desire from a well-tuned mechanically connected brake pedal but having sampled BMW’s adjustable brake feel before, it seemed like a novelty where each setting was perfectly acceptable on its own. 

2021 BMW M3: Large and in Charge

Additional dynamic capability comes courtesy of the M3’s 74.3-inch width, which betters that of the standard 3 Series by 2.4 inches. Better yet, BMW notes the new car’s track is 1.5 inches wider than that of its predecessor. Thanks to its girthier fenders, the M3 comes standard with a set of 275-mm wide 18-inch front tires and 285-mm wide 19-inch rears (19-inch front and 20-inch rears are optional), which work with additional chassis bracing and standard adaptive dampers that offer Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus settings to bestow the sedan with superior handling over lesser 3 Series models. 

That said, the latest M3 is a good deal portlier than its forebear. At 3,840 pounds (add 50 pounds to the automatic-only Competition trim), the German brand’s small sports sedan weighs 265 pounds more than the prior model according to BMW’s numbers, and that’s with the standard carbon-fiber roof panel in place. Opt for the no-cost sunroof and the 2021 M3 surely tips the scales even further.

2021 BMW M3: Inner Beauty?

In contrast to the car’s front end, the cabin of the 2021 M3 is rather subdued. Building on the style of the run-of-the-mill 3 Series sedan’s innards, the M3 adds a variety of model-specific buttons to the center console and steering wheel, distinct menus to its 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system and 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and a racy set of leather-lined front seats with backlit badges and large bolsters. A set of optionally available carbon-fiber bucket seats shed 21 pounds relative to the standard units, afford an even lower seating position, have slots for racing harnesses, and add an extra dose of style to the cabin.

In spite of its sporting intentions, the M3 is still a luxury car at heart, and it predictably comes standard with niceties such as LED head- and taillights, an in-dash navigation system, parking sensors, a proximity key, a Harman/Kardon audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and various modern safety features including automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. While the likes of a head-up display system, heated steering wheel, and front-ventilated seats are optional across the board, only the M3 Competition is available with convenience items such as adaptive cruise control and lane centering.

2021 BMW M3: The Price of Power

Look for the 2021 BMW M3 to reach showrooms in March 2021 with a base price of $70,895 for the manual model; should you opt for the self-shifting Competition trim, plan to drop at least $73,795. Although BMW’s mum on pricing for the Competition’s optional all-wheel-drive system, the company notes these versions will arrive in the summer of 2021. Admittedly, getting into the new M3 certainly requires a sizable chunk of change, but its price is not far off those of the previous model or of the 469-hp 2020 Mercedes-AMG C 63 and 503-hp C 63 S, which come in at $69,095 and $76,695.

The 2021 BMW M3’s sheet metal might not exactly be pretty to behold, but its standard six-speed manual gearbox, surely scintillating performance, and impressive feature set might add up to a beautiful beast anyway. And besides, where else—besides the M4—are you going to get an onboard Drift Analyzer?

2021 BMW M3 Specifications PRICE $70,895–$73,795 LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD/AWD*, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE 3.0L/473–503-hp/406–479-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual, 8-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 3,850–3,900 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 112.5 in L x W x H 189.1 x 74.3 x 56.4 in 0–60 MPH 3.8–4.1 sec (mfr est) EPA FUEL ECON Not yet rated ON SALE March 2021 *M xDrive available on Competition models summer 2021.

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2021 BMW M4 First Look: Hello, M Drift Analyzer!

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 23:01

It’s comforting to know that not even a global pandemic can stop the inexorable march forward of BMW’s pursuit of power, torque, and driving fun. Proving our point is today’s virtual rollout of the 2021 BMW M4, sporting the spectacular new S58 engine available in two states of tune and with a choice of manual or automatic transmissions. There’s even a new M Drive Professional suite of onboard performance analyzers, including M Drift Analyzer and M Laptimer, and soon it will even offer M xDrive performance all-wheel drive. Hey, driving your own car fast around a track is de facto social distancing, right?

How Much Power Does the New M4 Have, Anyway?

We first sampled the new, mighty S58 engine in the BMW X3 M and X4 M SUVs and in the Competition models of each. Under the hoods of the 2021 BMW M3 and M4 it will make the same horsepower as in those SUVs—473 horses and in the regular model, 503 in the Competition—but torque is not equivalent. The SUVs get 442 lb-ft across the board, whereas the base M4 gets 406 lb-ft and the Competition model makes 479. For reference, the new base M4 beats its direct predecessor by 48 horsepower and the last M4 Competition by 29 horses; the new M4 Competition leapfrogs even the mighty M4 GTS by 10 horsepower. BMW claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.1 seconds for the basic M4 and 3.8 for the Competition.

To recap, the 3.0-liter inline-six twin-turbo S58 engine is based on BMW’s modular B58 engine, and like the S55 that powered the previous generation of M beasts, it features two mono-scroll turbochargers, wire-arc-sprayed low-friction cylinder liners, and a forged crankshaft. Perhaps the S58’s coolest new feature is a lighter, cooling-optimized cylinder head featuring a 3D-printed casting core that’s vastly more precise than a typical sand core, and which facilitates better cooling.

Yes, It Has Manual, Automatic, RWD, and AWD Options

Opt for the base M4 and you get a slick, close-ratio six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter and a Gear Shift Assistant rev-matching feature designed to improve directional stability during aggressive driving by preventing accidental rear-wheel deceleration (it can also be switched off). Opting for the Competition package signifies you’re serious about speed and can’t waste time interrupting the torque during shifts, so you get a paddle-shifted ZF-supplied eight-speed M Steptronic automatic. It weighs 50 pounds more than the manual and shifts a bit of weight forward, but teamed with the stronger S58 engine tune, this is unquestionably the quicker, faster setup. Starting in summer 2021, Competition models will be available with M xDrive as first sampled on the BMW M5, which always biases torque to the rear axle. A Sport mode sends even less torque forward, and a rear-wheel-drive mode is included but requires stability control be switched off.

Bam! Chassis and Suspension Upgrades Galore

As before, the M3/M4 get extensive bracing to ensure proper rigidity, bridging the shock towers to the firewall and the front of the vehicle, and vertically connecting the front suspension carrier with the engine compartment, with still more braces under the central and rear of the car. New ball-jointed lower links help widen the front track by 1.5 inches over the outgoing model for added lateral traction and directional stability. New M Integrated brakes feature 15.0-inch front/14.6-inch rear discs chomped by six-piston front and single-piston rear calipers with a newly developed brake-pad compound. A carbon-ceramic brake system remains optional and is identifiable by gold calipers and larger 15.7-inch front discs (metallic blue calipers are standard, while red and black are options with the regular brakes). There are two levels of brake feel that can be programmed, as well. Speaking of settings, the new M Drive Professional package promises 10 (!) different levels of wheel-slip limitation. Yes, the new M4 offers even more adjustments than ever before, as if anyone was begging for that.

The new M Drive Professional and M Driver’s packages are not to be confused. The M Drivers’s Package bumps the speed limiter from 155 to 180 mph and includes a voucher to attend a BMW driver training school. (On the 2020 model, this option cost $2,500.) M Drive Professional is a new package of features to help enthusiasts better enjoy the full potential of their M4, including the aforementioned 10-mode M Traction Control function. It also adds a Track mode to the standard Road and Sport M modes, accessible via a long press and hold of the M button, which fully deactivates all comfort and safety features and converts all displays to show only track-focused information. An M Drift Analyzer records the duration, distance covered, line, and angle of a drift with a rating shown on the Control Display. The M Laptimer feature tracks key performance metrics of a track session, placing them in the instrument cluster and on the optional head-up display. This allows drivers to see how much quicker or slower they are going relative to their fastest lap of the current session. The program tracks number of laps completed, distance covered, and the duration of the driver’s stint.

Yes, It Has the Huge Weird Kidney Grilles

BMW claims the new M4 enjoys greater differentiation from its 4 Series siblings than ever before, with its fenders dramatically flared to conceal the wider tires and track and connected by wide and potentially shin-knocking rocker panels. The front end is comprehensively redesigned, and the black used for the grille inserts is a huge (and slimming) visual improvement, although that’s not difficult to achieve. (Smaller grilles, as seen in this illustration, really would be better.) Full LED headlights with fiber-optic daytime running lights are standard, with adaptive Laserlight lamps available as an option. In back you’ll find the typical diffuser, 4.0-inch exhaust tips, and a lip spoiler. A carbon-fiber roof featuring longitudinal fins to manage airflow is standard, while an optional M Carbon exterior package adds carbon-fiber on the front air intakes, rear diffuser, exterior mirror caps, and rear spoiler.

In the cabin, the coolest new optional feature are the electric M Carbon bucket seats, which adjust lower than the standard M sport seats and weigh 21 pounds less while providing cutouts for a multi-point harness. They supposedly combine race-ready bolstering with long-distance comfort and feature an illuminated model badge. Naturally there are red accents and standard Aluminum Tetragon trim, the latter of which can of course be replaced by carbon fiber. The 12.3-inch reconfigurable instrument cluster and center displays get M specific screens to display all that cool M Drive Professional stuff.

Alrighty Then, How Much Does the Beastly 2021 BMW M4 Cost?

The basic M4 coupe starts at $72,795—$2,650 more than the 2020 model—while the Competition model starts at $75,795, just $900 more than in 2020. (That’s $28,300 less than the CS, too.) They both go on sale in March of 2021, with M xDrive becoming available on the Competition models later that summer. A convertible is expected to join the lineup in the fall, as a 2022 model. An M4 Gran Coupe is probably not in the cards, which is unfortunate, but those with a need for more doors need only look to the equally new 2021 M3 sedan.

2021 BMW M4 Specifications PRICE $72,795–$75,695 LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe, convertible* ENGINE 3.0L/473-503-hp/406–479-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual, 8-speed auto CURB WEIGHT 3,850–3,900 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 112.5 in L x W x H 189.1 x 74.3 x 54.8 in 0-60 MPH 3.8–4.1 sec (mfr est) EPA FUEL ECON Not yet rated ON SALE March 2021 *M xDrive available on Competition models summer 2021; convertible M4 in fall 2021.

The post 2021 BMW M4 First Look: Hello, M Drift Analyzer! appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S First Drive: First-World Remedy

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 23:01

Porsche has given its Panamera lineup a midcycle refresh, tweaking the exterior styling, changing up powertrains, and unlocking the electronic goody bag to add more standard features. We’ve already covered the upgrades in detail, but to quickly recap the major ones: The entry-level Panamera gets the newer Audi-developed 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 of the Panamera 4 instead of the old single turbo 3.0-liter engine; Porsche’s own 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 gets 20 more horses in GTS trim and makes 620 horsepower in the new Turbo S model; and the 4S E-Hybrid’s powertrain now makes 552 horsepower and will take the Panamera 33 miles on all-electric power alone thanks to a bigger battery.

The 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S replaces the Turbo in the company’s luxury four-door lineup for one simple reason: Customers asked for it. Porsche had positioned the 680-hp PHEV Turbo S E-Hybrid as the pinnacle of the range, but that apparently left those who wanted the ultimate, pure internal-combustion-engine-powered Panamera feeling shortchanged. As if having to live with a mere 550 horsepower under the hood was a hardship…

The Panamera Turbo S remedies that very particular first-world problem courtesy of a version of Porsche’s excellent 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 under the hood that pumps out 620 horsepower and 604 lb-ft of torque. For the record, the Turbo S E-Hybrid will ultimately remain the most powerful Panamera you can buy, but it’s not being launched with all the 2021 upgrades for a few months yet, so for now the Turbo S is the alpha dog Porsche four-door.

Porsche engineers in Weissach coaxed an extra 70 horses and 37 lb-ft out of their V-8 with new, higher-flow-rate fuel injectors and modified turbines in the turbochargers that generate higher boost. New spark plugs have a higher platinum content in their electrodes to improve durability, and the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, and timing chain drive have been optimized to handle higher load peaks. The compression ratio has been dropped from 10.1:1 to 9.7:1 to reduce knocking. Porsche claims the 4,751-pound Turbo S sedan (the same powertrain is of course available in 2021 versions of the Sport Turismo and long-wheelbase Executive Panameras) will surge from zero to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and to 100 mph in 7.2 seconds en route to a top speed of 196 mph, using Launch Control in Sport Plus mode.

The extra thrust is immediately noticeable on the road, but what’s most impressive about the Panamera Turbo S engine is how, once the tach needle swings past 2,800 rpm, the engine pulls like a locomotive all the way to the 6,800-rpm redline. There’s none of the tightness you get from many turbo engines as they reach the upper limits of their rev range. Porsche has thankfully resisted the temptation to dial in childish pops and crackles from the exhaust, even in Sport Plus mode. The Turbo S merely purrs harder when you start pushing it.

The V-8’s muscle and flexibility is adroitly exploited by the eight-speed PDK transmission, whose shifts are slick and quick regardless of engine load and drive mode. It’s probably the sweetest drivetrain of any performance-oriented luxury sedan in the business.

But what’s more impressive is how comfortable and composed the 2021 Panamera chassis feels. Careful recalibration of the triple-chamber air suspension, a 48-volt powered anti-roll system, and the Porsche Torque Vectoring system have endowed the Turbo S with a lovely, languid primary ride with the suspension in Normal mode—all without compromising the car’s balance and precision through the corners. Standard rear-wheel steering helps the 198.8-inch-long Porsche feel more agile in the twisty bits, and the standard PCCB carbon-ceramic brakes—16.5-inch diameter at the front and 16.1 inches at the rear—will handle anything you can throw at them.

But the real improvement has been at the front end, where new engine mounts better steady the 772 pounds of engine and transmission against lateral forces, and new front axle bushings work with revised electronic steering calibrations derived from the 992-series 911 and Taycan to improve steering response and feel. The steering of the Turbo S feels best in class, the dialog with the front tires enhanced by a steering wheel whose diameter is just right and whose rim is not too thick.

Most high-performance luxury sedans seem as though their high-performance hardware has been grafted on. The Panamera Turbo S is different; it’s more like a luxury sedan with sports-car DNA. The biggest tell is the roar from the tires—275/35 and 325/30 Michelin Pilot Sport 4s front and rear, mounted on 21-inch wheels. They emit a more intrusive sound over coarse tarmac than other rival big, fast four-doors apart from the raucous, rough-riding Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door, which the Turbo S recently bested around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The Panamera Turbo S is expected to arrive in U.S. Porsche dealers in late March next year. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but that extra power and torque, the refinements in ride and handling, and the significant upgrade in standard goodies compared with the outgoing Turbo—rear-wheel steering, carbon-ceramic brakes, 21-inch wheels, to name but a few—suggests a price tag around the $178,000 mark.

No, it’s not cheap. But if you like driving and can afford to enjoy the finer things in life, the 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S is probably the finest fast luxury sedan in the world right now.

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Specifications PRICE $178,000-$188,500 (est) LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback ENGINE 4.0L/620-hp/604-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 8-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT 4,700 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 116.1 in L x W x H 198.8 x 78.2 x 56.2 in 0-60 MPH 2.9 sec (mfr est) EPA FUEL ECON Not yet rated ON SALE Spring 2021

The post 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S First Drive: First-World Remedy appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2021 Kia Sorento First Look: Taking Inspiration From the Telluride

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 19:00

It’s no secret that we love the Kia Telluride, our 2020 SUV of the Year, and we’re glad that the smaller Sorento will take a page from its playbook and adopt some of its bold design cues. Now, we’re learning specs for the overhauled 2021 Kia Sorento that’s coming to the United States, including details on a new hybrid variant.

Like the Telluride, the new Sorento has a boxy, prominent front end, and the expansive new grille makes its mug appear even wider. The headlamps, now integrated into the grille, offer “tiger eye” LED daytime running lights, which signify the “intense impression of the lines around a tiger’s eyes.” By pushing the A-pillar back slightly, Kia gave the Sorento a more windswept design. We can see the Telluride’s influence in the strong character lines, the vertical taillamps, and the model name spelled out in bold lettering across the SUV’s rear end.

The midsize SUV sits on a new platform that is lighter and stronger. The new platform allows Kia to stretch the crossover’s wheelbase by nearly 1.4 inches, allowing for more interior space. Overall weight is down slightly by 119 pounds, and the average tensile strength has improved by 4 percent. Thanks to the new architecture, Kia can accommodate both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The plug-in hybrid Sorento won’t be available until next year. But a traditional hybrid is available at launch. It consists of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a 59-hp electric motor, which work together to produce a combined peak figure of 227 hp. Kia states the Sorento hybrid is the most powerful of its kind in its class and estimates the model will manage fuel economy figures of 39 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 37 mpg combined.

Previously, the Sorento offered 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.3-liter V-6 engine options. For 2021, those have been replaced by two different four-cylinder options, each displacing 2.5 liters. The first makes 191 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, which it routes to the drive wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is estimated at 27 mpg combined—up 2 mpg from the old base engine. The second one, a turbocharged unit, delivers 281 hp and 311 lb-ft of torque and relies on an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. At 25 mpg combined, this mill is 3 mpg more efficient than the previous V-6. Towing capacity maxes out at 3,500 pounds on this model. Both new engines are available with either front- or all-wheel drive.

When it finally arrives, the plug-in hybrid Sorento will be able to travel 30 miles on pure electricity, per Kia. It makes use of a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and a 90-hp electric motor, which nets a combined peak output of 261 horses. All-wheel-drive is standard, as is a six-speed automatic.

Kia is offering the new X-Line trim for Sorento buyers in search of something a little more rugged. This variant increases ground clearance by an inch and improves the crossover’s approach and departure angles to better help it travel off the beaten path. The Sorento X-Line also gets an all-wheel-drive system with a center locking differential, downhill-descent control, X-Line-specific 20-inch wheels, and a beefier roof rack. The X-Line kit is available on the upscale SX-Prestige trim. Other available 2021 Sorento trim levels include LX, S, EX, and SX.

The Sorento’s new interior looks fantastic. There’s a rotary shifter, available 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and an optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Buyers can also get supple leather seats, as well as metal inlays or open-pore wood accents. Kia notes the new Sorento offers more legroom and cargo room than before. Both six- and seven-seat configurations are available.

Standard safety features include a forward-collision warning system, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, and rear-occupant alert. Additionally, blind-view monitors help drivers switch lanes more easily by providing a video view of adjacent lanes in the instrument cluster.

The 2021 Kia Sorento is expected to go on sale later this year. Prices have not yet been announced, but we expect the SUV to start above the current model’s $28,110 base price.

The post 2021 Kia Sorento First Look: Taking Inspiration From the Telluride appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2021 Kia Sorento preview

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 19:00
What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Kia Sorento? What does it compare to? The 2021 Kia Sorento three-row crossover SUV now comes with new turbocharged engines, an available hybrid, more interior space, and a new off-road leaning X-Line trim. It competes with the Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, and, perhaps most problematically for Kia...
Categories: Property

2021 Kia Sorento three-row SUV flexes a new bod and hybrid engines

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 19:00
The 2021 Kia Sorento three-row crossover SUV shakes off its portly minivan shape for a slimmer, stronger look. Equipped with four new engine choices, including a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid coming later in 2021, the redesigned Sorento is lighter, roomier, more powerful, and more efficient. The looks of the Sorento have evolved. The new crossover's...
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2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition: A Very Orange, Very Limited Luxury SUV

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 18:00

One of the best compact/tweener SUVs to drive, the Acura RDX stands out for its punchy engine, spacious and well-crafted interior, and strong value proposition. It’s also a huge seller for Honda’s luxury brand, and the tip of the spear of its return to form as a properly sporting marque. And so it makes sense that the 2021 Acura RDX would be the next in line, following in the tire marks of the larger MDX and the TLX sedan, to offer a special and limited PMC Edition model.

Just 360 copies of the RDX PMC Edition will be available, and the model is named after the automaker’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio, the same facility that births the NSX supercar. We hope you like bright paint jobs, because each model is coated in eye-popping Thermal Orange Pearl, a special color introduced on the NSX last year. (Previous PMCs were Valencia Red.) The color’s application involves multiple base layers underneath a middle coat of gold and orange mica and four layers of clearcoat. Acura says each RDX spends five days in the paint process before being hand-assembled.

The special RDX combines the styling aesthetic of the A-Spec model with certain luxurious features of the Advance Package. The model’s 20-inch wheels, chrome exhaust finishers, roof, side mirrors, and door handles are all blacked out, while the black grille features a body-color surround; all of the forgoing is said to be exclusive to the PMC.

Inside, you’ll find the same orange and black theme. The leather seats feature microsuede inserts and orange stitching, the latter of which carries over to the steering wheel, center console, dashboard, and floor mats, too. Dark brushed-aluminum trim decorates the instrument panel, and additional standard goodies include a surround-view camera, head-up display, and front and rear heated seats from the Advance Package. Ventilated front seats are also part of the deal, as is a serial-numbered plaque on the center console.

Like other RDX models, the 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, although Acura’s Super-Handling AWD is standard on this variant. Acura hasn’t announced exact pricing details for the RDX PMC Edition, but says it will be available in the low-$50,000 range; non-PMC RDXes start at roughly $38,000 and rise to below $50K fully loaded. The first deliveries to customers will start in October, with each example being swaddled in a protective film and transported in an enclosed, single-car trailer.

The post 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition: A Very Orange, Very Limited Luxury SUV appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Lewis Ellis make new senior hire

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 17:25
Lewis Ellis has announced the appointment of Charles Watson as a partner, joining from CBRE.
Categories: Property

Sitting Pretty: What’s the Perfect Driving Position?

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 17:00

You’d think that how we sit in cars wouldn’t be a thing to debate about. You get in, move the seat and steering wheel around, and off you go. But what’s the right way to find your perfect driving position?

Few people have sat in as many cars and needed to sit in them correctly as our expert among experts, our resident pro race car driver, Randy Pobst. So I’ll start by asking him:

“Before track driving, I adjust everything to what feels a bit too close. The padding compresses and offers good leverage for control, so being a little close works best for me because by the time I get out there, it’s not too close anymore. I lean back a bit, often meaning there’s a gap at my lower back that I fill with a rolled-up towel, and I have some bend at the elbows, because turning the wheel requires extending your arms. I’m relatively close to quickly countersteer if necessary, which is also a bit close for my legs—so I splay them a little. But on the track, I don’t notice.”

To Sit Low or High, That Is the Question

Nevertheless, when I get into a test car after another editor’s driven it, I often experience a moment of zero-g free fall before finally landing with a thump on the bottom cushion. The seat’s been left pancaked to the floor, and to see out over the cowl, I have to sit up with the perfect posture of Eliza Doolittle. Are some of my co-workers sleeping in here? When confronted they’ll describe—with stone seriousness—that they want to lower the center of gravity. And, yes, a lower CG does reduce weight transfer, and that maximizes grip (because tire grip is nonlinear with vertical loading). I wonder what their living rooms look like: I’m imaging tatami mats and chairs with their legs sawn off.

I sit exactly the opposite of these lowlifes, raising the seat bottom so high and aiming the seat back so vertically that my skeleton nearly becomes a temporary structural member of the car. My defense? To get the best outward vision I can.

Both driving positions—highchair and supine—have had their champions (so to speak) among racing drivers. Back in the 1950s, Juan Manuel Fangio, my Numero Uno of the best who ever lived, sat like me, bolt upright, elbows angled out, trying to be as high as his stature allowed. Ten years later, Colin Chapman lowered Jimmy Clark in his Lotus 25 Formula 1 car and stretched his arms nearly straight to trim frontal area and aerodynamic drag—and yes, lower the center of gravity.

Let’s Ask the Mercedes Automatic Seat Setting

Sometimes conundrums like this need a third-party arbiter, and Mercedes-Benz may have stumbled into that role via something it calls Automatic Seat Setting, which claims to automatically put you in the proper position. I came across ASS (my acronym, thank you very much) while recently driving a Mercedes-AMG GLE 63. On its info screen is a slider you can move anywhere between 4-foot-9 and 7-foot-3. I slid it to 6-foot-1 (me) and tapped Start Positioning, and suddenly, everything started to whir and disengage me from my beloved Fangio Driving Position (FDP) as the car commenced to render its judgement.

When it stopped, I was about three quarters of an inch closer to the wheel, a tad lowered, and to my delight, only slightly more reclined. The rearranging process feels odd, as it doesn’t follow the sequence of adjustments humans would make, but the final result was a whole lot closer to FDP than the sleeper-car recline of my co-workers.

Why does it decide to stop at these positions? Although the first thing you learn about ergonomics is there’s no such thing as an average human, I’ve ditched that to use an adjustable mannequin composed of the head, limb, and torso lengths of the average American male (5-foot-9.6, plus shoes and hair) and female (5-foot-4.2) to measure comparative headrooms and rear knee room. With the mannequin adjusted to “average guy” and positioned in the GLE, I asked the seat to go to its 5-foot-9 position. It wound up matching the mannequin surprisingly well.

So is Mercedes’ positioning system using male or female proportions? As it only asks for your height, maybe it’s their average? I asked Mercedes for some illumination and got this back:

“The aim for this is to return drivers, who use extremely poor seating positions, to the more optimized standard. The seating positioning is based on both 3-D digital human model simulations and measurements of real driving postures, and we have developed ergonomics algorithms that pre-adjust everything on the seat and steering wheel for our customers as suitably as possible.”

I’d like to thank our arbiter, Mercedes-Benz, for a verdict that’s 95 percent in my favor, though I’m guessing that the real point is to coax drivers into a better position for airbag deployment.

Now, Let’s Ask the Staff

Just to give an idea how fractured our staff is over this very basic issue, I asked them how they sit in cars. Ever linger in your driveway until late at night wondering if you sit in your car just like Jonny Lieberman does? Here you go:

Jonny Lieberman, senior features editor: seat low, upright seat back, steering wheel close
“I went to too many driving schools to even entertain sitting any other way.”

Nick Yekikian, associate online editor: seat low, upright seat back, steering wheel close
“I like the feeling of sitting in a car, not on a car, so I always slam the seat right down.”

Scott Evans, features editor: seat low, reclined seat back, steering wheel close
“Jonny can’t grasp the idea of someone having short legs and a long torso, but my Sicilian heritage is likely the reason that the ‘classic Italian driving position’ doesn’t bother me.”

Greg Fink, digital editor: seat high, upright seat back, steering wheel far away
“I’m the opposite of Scott: Torso of a small child and long dancer legs. I usually put the chair up as high as I can go while still clearing room for my hair. I guess it messes with CG, but I find it easier to place the car when I can see more of what’s ahead of me.”

Erik Johnson, group editorial director: seat high, upright seat back, steering wheel far away 
“I often sit closer than I otherwise would in manual cars because I, too, am more torso than legs. I don’t care about CG, as we’re driving on roads, not looking for thousands of a second.”

Alisa Priddle, Detroit editor: seat high, upright seat back, steering wheel close
“As a short-legged person, I often adjust the seat up to its highest setting for an optimal vantage point.”

Ed Loh, SVP of content: medium seat height, upright seat back, steering wheel close
“I like to think I sit like a WRC rally racer—in an upright position with the steering wheel close-ish so I can shuffle-steer, but the WRC guys basically have their seats mounted to the floor, and I don’t like to sit that low.”

Christian Seabaugh, features editor: medium seat height, upright seat back, steering far away
“My seat’s high enough for visibility but also as low as possible to the floor (easy because I’m tall). The seat is pretty far back so my knees are slightly bent and I can push hard against the dead pedal.” (FYI, the dead pedal doesn’t do anything, Christian.)

Frank Markus, technical director: seat low, upright seat back, steering wheel far away
“My seat bottom is as low as possible for optimum CG, forward enough to press hard on the floor beneath the pedals in case the brakes fade that much, and the seat back is very upright, affording a slight bend in my elbows.”

Mark Rechtin, editor-in-chief: seat low, upright seat back, steering wheel far away
“I guess it goes back to learning how to pilot a vehicle via motorcycle rather than car. I always like to feel like I’m sitting in the car rather than on the car.”

Chris Walton, road test editor: seat low, upright seat back, steering wheel close
“I sit low and close to the steering wheel.” And then he starts getting all metaphysical: “I sit low to feel like a part of the car, to be aware of the car itself.”

As they say, allow me to unpack this. Rather than lowering his body to descend the center of gravity, his goal is to tune more directly into the car’s g-forces, which can be sensed more clearly without the exaggeration of body roll. “It offers me the chance to ‘listen to’ (feel) as much as I ‘say’ to the car (drive),” Walton said. Hear the car’s whispering without any distortions.

What Your Body Is Telling You About Your Driving Position

As with walking, driving requires both sight and balance. As a nerd who burns his fingers soldering the wires of clumsy accelerometers and yaw rate sensors, I find the inner ear a shocking thing to behold. Each ear packs a trio of orthogonal yaw rate sensors (the anterior, posterior, and horizontal canals) and two accelerometers: the saccule (that senses vertical motion, like when standing up) and another (of greater interest here) that senses horizontal acceleration, called the utricle. Five motion sensors per ear, 10 in total. And they’re very tiny.

Inside the utricles, the structures that do the measuring are 2mm by 3mm. Imagine: When Lewis Hamilton shrieks through the high-speed Copse right-hander at Silverstone in his Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance Formula 1 car, it’s these two tiny dots—pebble sized—that are signaling 5 g’s of lateral acceleration to his brain. Astounding, isn’t it? This is multiple times what they were evolved to measure. Curiously, the saccule and utricle are thought to retain a trace of their ancient role in hearing, which makes it curious that Walton uses the word “listening” to the car. These specks don’t work alone, though. The brain weighs and cross-checks them with the canal rotation sensors, your eyes’ view of the scene ahead (which is processed more slowly), and even such inobvious corrections as neck angle, and then works it all out.

The relative contribution from our eyes and inner ears is the battle ground of our debate about seating position. Sit high for a bigger view and better three-dimensional perception? Or lower, to sense g-forces more accurately? Being that our eyes and ears are at the same height (they’re a package deal, right?—either they’re all up or all down), they can’t be split up and repositioned. Perhaps if our bodies were designed by racing car engineers, our inner ear sensors would have wound up around our navels (which is approximately our center of gravity).

As a for-instance, let’s compare the center of gravity improvement from sitting lower versus its cost in compromised outward vision. To sample this, I placed that same 5-foot-9 male mannequin in our long-term Mazda 3, which I happen to be driving. After positioning him, the driver’s seat could be vertically adjusted by 2.5 inches.

Our Mazda 3—a front-drive, six-speed manual version—weighs 3,027 pounds. The weight of our average guy is 180 pounds, or 5.6 percent of the car-plus-driver total. So in this case, dropping the seat from its highest position to its lowest lowers the Mazda 3’s CG by 0.14 inch—a little more than one-eighth of an inch. Separate your thumb and forefinger by the thickness of two SD cards (actually, less than that). This is irrelevant for a road car; your effort’s much better spent adjusting your tire pressures. For a racing car, though, nothing’s irrelevant. In 1986, Gordon Murray took supine-ness to a new low with his Brabham BT55 Formula 1 car, which, for mainly aerodynamic reasons, laid its drivers as close as they’ve even been to a luge driver blurring down the St. Moritz ice. The drivers complained of sore necks.

Now how about the flip side—the loss of outward vision from lowering the Mazda 3’s seat by that 2.5 inches? Doing so pushes away the closest thing you can see on the ground by 5.2 feet (from 11.9 to 17.1 feet). Said another way, it lengthens your forward blind spot by 44 percent. For a road car, lowering your seat might be justifiable for nebulous “sensing the car” reasons, but not for lowering CG.

One More Time, From Our Race Car Driver

Earlier, I forgot to ask Randy how high he sits.

“I prefer to be low on a racetrack,” he said. “However, on street courses and autocrossing, I sit a bit higher for vision.”

As always, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. I’m constantly amazed by high-performance road cars with one-piece seats that can’t be raised or their back angle tilted in a ridiculous tribute to what they use in race cars on high-speed road courses. (Last year I had to stuff a rolled-up towel behind my back to see better out of the McLaren Senna.)

Mr. Pobst repositions his for the task at hand—so whether he’s on a race track or on his way home afterward, he’s always sitting pretty.

The post Sitting Pretty: What’s the Perfect Driving Position? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

5 things to consider on the all-electric Ford F-150

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 16:45
The redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck goes on sale in November, but the ongoing development of the all-electric Ford F-150 foretells the trends shaping what we drive and how we drive for the next decade. For the first time, the bestselling vehicle in America and one that accounts for nearly half of all full-size pickup trucks sold here will...
Categories: Property

2020 Ford Explorer aces safety test, Jordan and Wallace team up, Tesla's Battery Day unfolds: What's New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 16:34
2020 Ford Explorer SUV earns Top Safety Pick+; Lincoln Aviator nabs TSP award After a change to their subframes, the 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator earned safety awards from the IIHS. 5 things to consider on the all-electric Ford F-150 When the all-electric Ford F-150 launches in mid-2022, it will have plenty of pickup truck competition...
Categories: Property

InfraRed acquires 162,000 sq ft of warehouse space in St Helens

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 16:06
InfraRed Urban Logistics has acquired 162,000 sq ft of industrial space in St Helens from Network Space for £17.6m.
Categories: Property

Foxtons and BidX1 announce exclusive partnership

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 16:02
BidX1 and Foxtons have announced a partnership which will see BidX1 become the estate agent’s exclusive auction partner.
Categories: Property

Makin’ a List: What You Need to Go on an Overlanding Trip

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 09/22/2020 - 16:00

The art of overlanding can be as simple or complex as you make it. In episode 105 of Dirt Every Day, for example, Fred Williams and Dave Chappelle go overlanding in Utah in an unconventional overland vehicle: a Kaiser Jeep M715. Their adventure makes plain that what you need to go overlanding broadly fits into a few categories: a vehicle; spares, tools, and recovery gear for your vehicle; camping gear; food; and a camera. You’ll also need the packing finesse and creativity to fit all that stuff into one vehicle.

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What Is the Best Vehicle for Overlanding?

To go overlanding, you need a vehicle—which, duh, but it’s essential. Whether it’s one of our best new vehicles for overlanding or a used rig, your vehicle will likely be a pickup truck or SUV and should preferably be reliable, well-maintained, able to tackle inhospitable terrain, and mechanically sound. (Or, well, it should at least be something you’re capable of fixing yourself.) This is your mode of transportation and your passport to remote areas, and off-road accessories like lighting, bumpers, suspension lifts, and all-terrain tires are helpful and can make the journey easier.

The thing that differentiates overlanding from basic camping is the element of off-roading. Since you’ll be in remote areas, you and your vehicle need to be self-sufficient. Ideally, your vehicle will have four-wheel drive and be able to hold plenty of gear, parts, fuel, and other supplies, because overlanding is all about off-grid adventuring and camping in isolated spots.

Essential Overlanding Gear

You’ll need plentiful spares, tools, and recovery gear like winches, jacks, and/or come-alongs for your vehicle. Since you’ll be traversing desolate areas, there’s no guarantee as to what the terrain will be like. Remember, even if you’re familiar with your route, off-road terrain can change and there’s no assurance it’ll be in the same condition as the last time you were there. You have to be prepared for calamity caused by rocks, water, sand, mud, hills, ledges, and such. So pack easily swapped—and commonly needed—spare parts, tools both basic and specific, and the appropriate recovery gear accordingly, because if you break down or get stuck, there’s no tow service to rescue you. Even a few miles of off-roading can take its toll on your vehicle.

Since most overlanding trips aren’t simple day trips, you’ll need all the camping gear you can muster up: some sort of tent or overnight shelter, sleeping bags, camping chairs, clothing and provisions to stay warm and/or cool, protection against bugs and sun, products to stay clean (enough), portable tables, headlamps, firewood, and a way to bring all your trash back out with you, among the other items you deem necessary for camping. Remember, you’ll be living out of your rig for days.

Life involves food. All that meandering in the wilderness is bound to give you an appetite. Food has to stay cold and then has to be cooked, so the gear associated with keeping food cold—and then hot—is a big part of overlanding. The overlanding market for refrigerators, stoves, and lightweight pots, pans, and utensils is quite robust for a good reason.

Don’t Forget the Camera

Lastly, overlanding involves a passion for the process and a desire to make memories. That means you’ll need a camera—okay, maybe need is too strong, but you’ll certainly want one—and a way to keep it powered up to document the journey. After all, you’ll want to tell the internet how strong you live that #offthegrid life (see the irony there?). For many, overlanding’s all about the ’Gram, although the memories posted to your mental photo roll will certainly be more poignant.

After cooking, eating, cleaning, and tinkering with your overland camping setup—or fixing your rig—make sure to carve out time to enjoy a good book, explore nature, or take a well-deserved nap, too. Of course, what you do and where you go is ultimately up to you.

The post Makin’ a List: What You Need to Go on an Overlanding Trip appeared first on MotorTrend.

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