Slowing sedan demand forces GM to cut up to 1,500 jobs in Ohio

The Car Connection News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:55
It's a trend that shows no sign of slowing: consumers are ditching sedans in favor of crossover SUVs, and now it's affecting the workers who assemble sedans. GM quietly announced late last week that it will cut an entire shift at an assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where it builds the Chevrolet Cruze sedan and hatchback. The move could affect as...
Categories: Property

Central London office take-up up 14%

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:12
Take-up of office space across central London totalled 2.3m sq ft in the first quarter of 2018, according to JLL – a 14% rise year-on-year.
Categories: Property

New head of UK real estate for Aviva Investors

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:08
Aviva Investors has completed a shake-up of its top team for real estate with the appointments of Daniel McHugh as head of UK real estate and Melanie Collett as head of real estate asset management.
Categories: Property

Clarion chief joins CBRE as affordable housing consultant

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 13:06
CBRE has appointed the chief executive of the UK’s largest affordable housing provider as its new consultant for housing associations and affordable housing.
Categories: Property

River Island to open five new flagships

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:54
Fashion retailer River Island has announced a plan to open five new flagship stores this year, beginning with an upsized unit at Landsec’s White Rose shopping centre in Leeds.
Categories: Property

Galliford raises £144m but falls short with rights issue

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 12:23
Galliford Try has confirmed it has raised £144.2m from a 91.5% take-up of its discounted rights issue aimed to over-run costs on its Aberdeen bypass contract.
Categories: Property

Victoria’s Secret plans north east debut

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 11:07
Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret has signed for its first store in the north east, taking a 10,000 sq ft space at intu Metrocentre in Gateshead.
Categories: Property

WeWork teams with investors to buy Blackstone's Devonshire Square

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 11:01
WeWork has teamed up with two investors to buy Blackstone’s 13-building Devonshire Square estate in the City of London for around £580m.
Categories: Property

Rockspring completes €400m of disposals for TransEuropean V

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:55
Rockspring Property Investment Managers has sold eight properties on behalf of its TransEuropean Property Limited Partnership V fund since Q4 2017, raising around €400m (£346.4m).
Categories: Property

Octopus hits £230m hard cap for institutional real estate debt fund

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:13
Octopus Property has reached a final close of £230m for its Commercial Real Estate Debt Fund II (CREDF II).
Categories: Property

Cala chief set to retire

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:07
Cala Homes chief executive Alan Brown is set to retire from the group after 32 years with the housebuilder.
Categories: Property

2017 Subaru Legacy Sport Long-Term Verdict

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 09:00

In Motor Trend’s version of My Two Dads, MT’s fleet admiral Erick Ayapana and I joined forces to shepherd a young and spirited Subaru Legacy through its journey of discovery in our long-term garage.

Shortly after the June 2017 issue went to press, Erick needed to give up his seat to help foster another vehicle, and that’s when I took over. Between the two of us, we logged 20,460 miles almost exclusively on the means streets of SoCal, although head honcho Ed Loh took it on a trip to Sacramento, and web producer Erika Pizano hustled up to San Francisco for a weekend trip. Other than that, it was mostly used to get me between El Segundo and San Pedro and for the occasional downtown dash for hockey.

This means I didn’t do a lot of open-highway driving, which probably accounts for our combined average of 26.3 mpg being a little less than the 29 and 31.1 mpg estimates from the EPA and Real MPG, respectively. Despite the lower numbers, the Legacy still managed to impress in the fuel mileage department because the whopping 18.5-gallon fuel tank made for a long-distance hauler that would often go 14 days and 500 miles between trips to the gas station.

For reference, our Legacy’s Subaru sibling, the 2016 Outback, which also has an 18.5-gallon fuel tank but weighs 203 pounds more, averaged 23.4 mpg over our year of testing it.

The interior is spacious and comfortable. My preference is to sit high and very close to the steering wheel, and I never felt cramped in the Legacy. It has a height of 59.0 inches, more than 3 inches taller than our last long-term sedan, a 2016 Honda Civic Touring, and I always felt I was sitting a little higher than I normally would in sedan.

Ergonomically, everything is within reach of the driver, the controls are easy to manage, and the steering wheel and mirrors are a breeze to adjust.

The back seat has plenty of room for cargo, human and otherwise, with 38.1 inches of legroom for the former—the same as in the larger Outback. The Legacy also excels in one of the most important back-seat metrics—zero complaints about comfort from passengers.

One disappointment for me was all the scratches the console suffered with what I’d consider a light amount of abuse. Over the year the center console has developed some unsightly scars, presumably from tossing my keys into the cupholder upon entry. An everyday vehicle should be able to withstand a little torture. To combat this I trained myself to leave the keys in my pocket and use the keyless entry, which when you commit to works like a charm. I also took the time to adjust the settings to turn off the annoying beeping that accompanies every locking and unlocking—it was loud enough that I worried about waking the neighbors. The world needs less beeping, and I’m doing my part.

Aesthetically, the Starlink multimedia console could use some work (and Subaru must have agreed, as newer models have updated looks). It does, however, have an actual volume and tuning knob along with plenty of options for listening to music. It offers pretty good clarity when listening loud, as well.

The multiple power and USB ports were much appreciated, as was the smartphone notch built into the center console. However, the execution of a device notch should be further fleshed out in the future. It would have been nice to be able to seat the phone in the notch and connect it to power or the console. Good idea, but not 100 percent there.

One person on staff seems to think my devotion to legacy technology makes me a Luddite. I think that’s a bit harsh and an inaccurate understanding of the word, but you’re the benefactor of my inability to let go of past devices. For a while I was listening to my music and podcasts via Bluetooth streamed from my Dropbox app, and that worked pretty well, but recently I switched it up and have been using the aux input to listen via my iPod classic. I went the aux route because directly connecting the large iPod library was too much for the stereo to handle, and it would often glitch out and restart the iPod. It does work to connect your music device directly via USB, but I had spotty results and went with the technologically inferior analog aux input.

The Bluetooth streaming ability was easy to connect, so much so that while picking up the car from the valet, I got in and noticed the car’s Bluetooth had, from a distance, already synced to my phone and begun playing the show I was listening to. That’s a stereo eager to start streaming.

The Subie does have a CD player, and just to make sure it worked, I dug a disc out of storage. For a second I thought maybe Subaru could be bluffing to see if anyone noticed, but it played.

The navigation system went largely unused until I dropped my phone’s unlimited data plan. To save myself from the data-depleting Waze, I used Subaru’s onboard navigation, and to my delight it worked really well. Using real-time traffic updates, the nav steered me clear of a particularly nasty off-ramp construction project that stole hours from a bunch of co-workers.

Out on the road, although this model was called a “Sport,” it really doesn’t give off a sporty vibe. Its 0–60 time of 9.1 seconds is comparable to the Outback’s 9.5 seconds, and in the passing metric, the time to go from 45 to 65 mph, the Legacy and Outback again were comparable with 4.7 seconds for the wagon and 4.5 for the sedan. The Camrys and Accords of the world are at least 1.5 seconds quicker to 60 and at least a half-second quicker in passing.

So this is not a sports car by any stretch, but despite its name I never really expected it to be. It does get up to speed in a safe amount of time and does not struggle to maintain speed on the highway. The continuously variable transmission seemed to make the right “shifts” at all the right times without any lag or jerkiness. I mostly didn’t notice it.

The ride itself was smooth. The Legacy was able to absorb many of the minor bumps in the road, and it eliminated a lot of the annoying road noise to make for a pleasant commute inside the cabin. This allowed me to cut some of my fellow commuters some slack when they behaved a little less than noble. Oh, well. I’m happy in here.

We took the Legacy to the dealer for three scheduled oil changes, tire rotations, and inspections, and without any other problems springing up, we spent $0 on repairs or normal wear and tear. The Outback long-termer also cost us nothing to maintain, and our VW Passat also included free maintenance. We spent $483.20 on four service visits over 30,828 miles with our 2016 Civic, however.

In the last nine months I’ve enjoyed my time in the Legacy. I’m not naturally much of a lead foot, and generally I prefer comfort over aesthetics, so the very workmanlike, smooth-riding Legacy fit my driving disposition pretty well. It’s nice when you and your car are compatible.

Read more about our 2017 Subaru Legacy Sport:

Our Car SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 20,460 mi BASE PRICE $24,815 OPTIONS Sport Value Package ($4,095: EyeSight Driver-Assist system with blind-spot detection and rear automatic emergency braking, Starlink telematics and navigation, Power moonroof, 18-in wheels, Keyless Access w/push-button start, Sport appearance package); Side cargo net ($88) PRICE AS TESTED $28,998 AVG ECON/CO2 26.3 mpg / 0.74 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS None MAINTENANCE COST $0 (3- oil change, tire rotation, inspection) NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $20,100 RECALLS None *IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years 2017 Subaru Legacy Sport POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE Flat-4, alum block/heads VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 152.5 cu in/2,498 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 10.3:1 POWER (SAE NET) 175 hp @ 5,800 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 174 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm REDLINE 6,000 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 20.0 lb/hp TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.90:1/2.41:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 14.5:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.8 BRAKES, F; R 11.6-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS WHEELS, F;R 7.5 x 18-in cast aluminum TIRES, F;R 225/50R18 95H M+S Goodyear Eagle LS2 DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 108.3 in TRACK, F/R 62.2/62.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 188.8 x 72.4 x 59.0 in TURNING CIRCLE 36.8 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,499 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 59/41% SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 37.6/37.0 in LEGROOM, F/R 42.9/38.1 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 58.1/57.3 in CARGO VOLUME 15.0 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 3.5 sec 0-40 5.1 0-50 6.9 0-60 9.1 0-70 11.8 0-80 15.1 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 4.5 QUARTER MILE 17.0 sec @ 84.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 119 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.5 sec @ 0.62 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,750 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $24,815 PRICE AS TESTED $28,998 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, front seat pan, f/r curtain BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 18.5 gal REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 27.8/36.6/31.1 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 25/34/29 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 135/99 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular

The post 2017 Subaru Legacy Sport Long-Term Verdict appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Barings backs Maida Vale scheme with £54m loan

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 08:56
Barings Real Estate has provided a £53.9m loan to Meadow Partners for the development of Hathaway House, a mixed-use scheme comprising residential and commercial space in Maida Vale, west London.
Categories: Property

Leading Hammerson investor to vote against intu deal

Property Week News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 08:34
Dutch pension giant APG Asset Management has revealed it will vote against Hammerson’s £3.4bn acquisition of shopping centre rival intu.
Categories: Property

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Engine Tech Deep Dive

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 08:00

Ferrari is rightfully proud of its rich history of designing and building high-performance engines, winning races with them, and winning international awards for them. These include 21 different class awards in the Britain-based International Engine of the Year Awards (founded in 1999), including overall Engine of the Year honors for the 488 GTB’s current 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 (code-named F154 CB) in 2016 and ’17. The company is gunning for a threepeat by substantially redesigning and upgrading that engine for duty in its new 488 Pista.

We shared what we learned about the Ferrari 488 Pista in the weeks leading up to its Geneva show debut in March, and then a week later the company invited IEOTY judges to Maranello for a deep dive into the engine tech and an opportunity to flog this road-legal track star on the famed Fiorano circuit and in the hills above the Scuderia’s hometown. It was indeed a very good time to be an engine nerd, and after you read my nerdy learnings about this new F154 CD engine below, click by fellow IEOTY judge Angus MacKenzie’s account of how the 488 Pista drives.

As recent race-ready street-legal Ferrari specials go, this one enjoys the biggest bump in output, gaining 49 hp and 6 lb-ft for an impressive total of 710 horses and 567 lb-ft. That tops prior V-8 special edition improvements like the 458 Speciale’s gain of 35/0, the F430 Scuderia’s 20/0, and the 360 Challenge Stradale’s 25/0. It even tops the V-12-powered F12tdf’s 38 horses and 11 lb-ft. How’d they do it? The nerdy way: by sweating small details that improve engine breathing, as well as reducing rotational inertia, friction, and turbo lag.

On the breathing front, nearly everything involved with inhaling and exhaling is new. To begin with, the engine-air intake moves from just ahead of the rear wheels to a high-pressure, cooler-air region near the rear spoiler. Air molecules are quickly filtered and sucked into the turbos (more about that in a moment) before passing through new 7 percent larger intercoolers that use all the cooling air entering those openings ahead of the rear tires. That means the charge-air delivered is a crucial 11 degrees cooler. Next the air flows into one of two carbon-fiber intake plenums, each of which is 41 percent smaller, before whooshing down one of four intake runners that are 60 percent shorter. The smaller intake tract is quicker to pressurize, but the main objective was altering the resonance supercharging effect.

Here’s how that works: When an intake valve slams shut, it sends a shockwave back up the runner that reflects off the open plenum and bounces back toward the valves. Instead of sizing the runners so that the returning shockwave helps cram a bit more air into the cylinder just before the valve closes again, these shorter runners produce a slight negative pressure just before the valve closes at high engine speeds. This, along with the better intercooling, actually helps reduce in-cylinder peak temperatures by about 12 degrees. A cooler cylinder reduces knock sensitivity, so the spark can be advanced to produce about 10 extra horses. Oh, and all valves open 1mm wider than in the base engine.

Exhalation starts out in a robotically welded Inconel exhaust manifold with 10 percent larger-diameter pipes that are also 30 percent longer for more optimal flow than in the stock engine’s cast manifolds. Together, they also weigh 21 pounds less. From there, it’s a whoosh through the turbos, the catalysts, the muffler, and out the back of the car. This thin-wall (1mm) exhaust plumbing yields an engine note that’s 5–8 decibels louder inside. The frequencies are also said to be higher and better in quality, but no turbo Ferrari’s baritone note will ever be mistaken for a naturally aspirated one’s soprano wail.

On the rotational inertia front, the counterweights on the flat-plane crankshaft’s middle throws are trimmed for a 2.6-pound weight savings, and the flywheel is lightened by a further 3.3 pounds. F1-style titanium connecting rods save a total of 3.7 pounds and stand up better to the 10 percent greater structural loads generated by the higher (1,740-psi) peak cylinder pressures. Toward that end, the pistons also get thicker crowns and wrist pins with a new diamondlike carbon coating material for reduced friction. Compression increases from 9.4:1 to 9.6:1. New hollow intake valve stems save almost a half ounce each, which is meaningful at the speeds they’re bouncing up and down. Total rotational inertia is down by 17 percent, so the engine’s eagerness to rev improves by that amount. A lightened A/C compressor, thinner cylinder liners, and assorted other weight trimmings add up to an engine that’s 40 pounds lighter.

On the turbo-lag-reduction front, the IHI/Honeywell turbos already use ultra-light titanium aluminide turbine wheels, which Ferrari machines along with the seal plates behind them. Those seal plates use “abradable seals” that minimize the compressor-seal gaps to improve efficiency by 2 percent. New ball bearings reduce friction in these turbos by 30 percent, and peak boost rises from the standard 488’s 20 psi to 22 psi. Another big turbo upgrade is the addition of Hall-effect speed sensors that count the turbine blades as they pass to more precisely determine each turbo’s exact speed. Every turbo has a maximum permissible speed, and engines that compute turbo speed from other engine parameters can’t push the turbos right to their limits as this one can.

Ferrari really wanted this turbo engine to feel like a naturally aspirated one, and that mission appears to have been accomplished. Their metric for this: time to 90 percent power when matting the accelerator from a 2,000-rpm cruising speed in third gear. The 458 Italia took 0.6 second, the 488 Pista needs 0.8. Another measure: time to peak intake plenum pressure when transitioning from 40 to 100 percent throttle opening, which is 0.3 second quicker now. Another measure: The official Fiorano lap time drops from 1:23.0 to 1:21.5.

Some of the above parts are borrowed directly or adapted slightly from the racing versions of the F154 engine that go in the 488 GTE and Challenge cars: the turbos, crankshaft, exhaust manifolds, and cylinder liners. Brand-new for this engine are the titanium con-rods, intake plenums, intake valves, pistons, pins, and camshafts. In all, 50 percent of the F154 CD parts differ from those of the base 488’s CB engine. Oh, and one final bit of cake icing: The Pista’s Euro-spec CO2 emissions drop from 0.39 to 0.37 grams/kilometer. #PistaSavesThePlanet!

The post 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Engine Tech Deep Dive appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Prototype Review: The Best Made Better

Motortrend News Feed - Mon, 04/16/2018 - 08:00

Take our 2017 Best Driver’s Car champ, give it 710 horsepower, trim 198 pounds from the overall weight, add the latest generation of Ferrari’s acclaimed vehicle dynamics software, overlay it all with aerodynamic tricks learned in the white-hot cauldron of Formula 1 racing, and what have you got? The 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista, that’s what. And after some quick hot laps at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track and a short blast through the hills around Maranello in a gaudily camoed 488 Pista prototype, we can tell you this much: The best just got better.

The 488 Pista is the latest in a line of race-flavored mid-engine Ferrari road cars dating back to 2004’s 360 Challenge Stradale, and this is the most extreme of the lot. It’s also, paradoxically, the easiest of them all to drive. At any speed.

Technical director Frank Markus deconstructs the 488 Pista’s headline story—its staggeringly powerful and efficient twin-turbo V-8 engine—here. And we gave you the lowdown on the car’s other tech highlights after its debut at the Geneva show. But it’s only out on the road and the track where the 488 Pista becomes more than an aggregation of numbers and factoids.

It starts with that astonishing engine, the most powerful V-8 Ferrari has ever installed in a road car. With those 710 horses arriving at a soaring 8,000 rpm, it combines the crystalline response of a high-revving naturally aspirated engine with the midrange muscularity of a turbo engine that can produce a thumping 567 lb-ft from just 3,000 rpm in seventh gear. Ferrari’s clever torque management system doles out the lb-ft to ensure torque keeps rising throughout the rev range in gears one through six. And unlike other engine management protocols that anticipate when an engine is about to approach the redline and pre-emptively begin to wind back spark, fuel, and boost, the 488 Pista’s system will allow the 3.9-liter twin-turbo V-8 to maintain exactly 8,000 rpm.

It all happens in such a seamless manner you’re never aware of anything other than pure thrust, whenever you want it. Acceleration is urgent, even as the upshift warning lights form a crimson arc across the top of the steering wheel. But you can also use the torque to punch the Pista through a tight sequence of unsighted corners on the open road, or to let the car loaf through town with the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission in automatic mode. The Pista’s V-8 may make 182 hp per liter, roughly the power density of Ferrari’s 1989 V-12 Formula 1 engine, but it will pull cleanly from just 1,200 rpm in top gear.

In Race mode and above, the transmission has been recalibrated to deliver harder, faster shifts that thump home like a full-race sequential-shift manual transmission. Under normal circumstances that would mean treating downshifts with respect on corner entry to avoid unsettling the car. But the Pista’s Side Slip Control 6.0 (SSC) system monitors everything from steering angle to yaw motions and braking efforts, and the intensity of downshifts is modulated to avoid locking the rear wheels.

The Pista’s chassis feels sharper, more alert, more connected to the tarmac than that of the regular 488, though it still retains that car’s wonderfully light-footed feel. The ride is remarkably composed. Recalibrated shocks and 10 percent stiffer springs mean body motions are more tightly controlled than in the 488, but the Pista remained calm over the bumpy roads around Maranello, with impressively low levels of impact harshness. There’s slightly more weight to the steering than in the 488, but—importantly—more intimacy, too. Despite the extraordinary grip generated by the bespoke Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires, especially once they’re warm, you can feel the slip angles building with remarkable clarity.

Reduced sound deadening means there’s more tire noise, however, and you hear gravel peppering the underside of the car. There’s also slightly more pronounced tip-in when braking from low speeds. But there’s nothing to prevent the 488 Pista being used as a daily driver. Which is remarkable given the way it drives on the track.

The Pista is fast, 1.5 seconds a lap faster around the 1.86-mile Fiorano circuit than a regular 488 in the hands of a Ferrari test driver like Raffaele de Simone. But what makes the Pista special is that its extra performance is accessible even to regular drivers like us. Ferrari’s extraordinary SSC dynamics system works with the driver to ensure the 488 Pista delivers its best while inspiring maximum confidence. The laws of physics still apply, but it is indeed remarkable to be able to hop into a mid-engine supercar with 710 hp and be confidently powersliding it out of Fiorano’s hairpin turn within four laps.

The genius of the Pista’s SSC system is that it’s not an electronic nanny that punishes when you make a mistake, but a genuine aid that helps even experts go faster. With manettino at the CT-OFF position—one shy of switching everything off—SSC 6.0 analyzes the driver’s reaction to lateral movements of the car and lightly brakes selected wheels to make them feel more predictable. SSC 6.0 doesn’t dumb down the Pista’s dynamic limits. It simply makes them much more approachable. So despite its enormous power and prodigious grip, the 488 Pista is a supercar that encourages rather than intimidates. And yes, it will drift.

Rest assured the 488 Pista is on the invitation list for our 2019 Best Driver’s Car shootout. We can’t wait to let it loose around Laguna Seca and find out exactly how much better than our current titleholder it really is.

The post 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista Prototype Review: The Best Made Better appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2017 BMW 530i Long-Term Update 6: The Ultimate Commuting Machine

Motortrend News Feed - Sun, 04/15/2018 - 09:00

I’ve been on the road a fair amount, and we wanted to put miles on the Bimmer because our time is running short on the long-term loan.

The keys found their way into the pocket of managing editor Rusty Kurtz, who said he was surprised to find a turbo-four under the hood. “It was very smooth and quiet,” he said, but the power was disappointing at this price point. “For this much, it ought to be faster.” Evidently, Rusty’s experiences with other turbo-fours—most notably his personal 2.3-liter EcoBoost Mustang—have not been as civilized.

We also continue to be impressed by the efficiency and precision of the BMW’s smart cruise control system. It always slows down just as a driver would, unlike many systems that wait a couple beats too late, prompting the nervous, “Is it gonna work this time?” micropanic as one’s foot hovers over the brake pedal. Instead, the BMW makes short work of SoCal’s gnarly traffic and the high-speed interstate system once the traffic clears.

But back to gridlock. The 530i’s collision warning system has saved our bacon several times. Searching among the numerous March Madness feeds on satellite radio meant taking one’s eyes off the road, if but for a second. But Pacific Coast Highway through the South Bay beach cities has a preponderance of lane jumpers and panic brakers—and the 530i keeps its eyes up when ours aren’t, ready with a warning and a firm stomp on the brake when necessary.

The Motor Trend parking lot can be a crowded affair, especially when Jonny Lieberman brings in his F-250 long-termer. We tend to back into our parking spaces for ease of exit. And in this aspect, the 530i might be the best in the business. The front, rear, and 360-degree cameras are sharp and precise, and the proximity sensors are informative rather than intrusive. Rusty’s home in the gentrifying enclave of San Pedro has a rather tight parking spot, “but the 360 view made it a breeze,” he noted.

Rusty’s satisfaction with the Bimmer was soon ended when he tried to link his smartphone. Like many of us, he found the 530i recalcitrant to pair the first time and then slow to connect each time thereafter. Bummer.

As we approached 20,000 miles on the BMW’s odometer, a service call was in order—especially because the unoccupied passenger seat belt chime had returned with a vengeance. Another software reflash appears to have solved the problem, in addition to the no-cost oil change and cabin-air microfilter replacement. But these sorts of electrical gremlins make us shake our heads when people brag about German quality. Everyone has bad days on the assembly line, it seems.

More on our long-term BMW 530i here:

The post 2017 BMW 530i Long-Term Update 6: The Ultimate Commuting Machine appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Dubai's new "smart" license plates can communicate with onlookers

The Car Connection News Feed - Sun, 04/15/2018 - 05:01
New license plate technology being put to the test in Dubai could benefit drivers but not be too helpful to car thieves. Among their myriad high-tech features, the plates can flash the word “stolen” in lieu of a registration number to quickly notify authorities. The digital plates go by the name of Tag 2 Connect and will be put to the...
Categories: Property

2019 Range Rover P400e Plug-In Hybrid First Drive

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 04/14/2018 - 09:00

Although Land Rover’s flagship Range Rover and rakish Range Rover Sport have been given a mild yet thoughtfully executed makeover for the 2018 model year, the big news is under the skin. For the 2019 model year, both will be available with Land Rover’s first plug-in hybrid powertrain, and our first drive of the 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e suggests it’s worth the wait.

The 2018 Range Rover and 2018 Range Rover Sport get exterior upgrades that include new headlights, grilles and front bumpers. Both have new seats inside, and both get a version of the high-tech dual-screen center stack that made its debut in the Range Rover Velar.

The first thing you notice about the new Range Rover plug-in hybrid is … nothing at all. There’s no additional flap in the bodywork for a charge port and not a single hybrid badge anywhere on the car. The charge port is hidden behind a cleverly disguised flap on the left-hand side of the grille. A tiny “P400e” badge under the HSE model designation is the only visible clue to the first hybrid powertrain in Land Rover’s 70-year history.

Land Rover’s PHEV powertrain is composed of a 296-hp version of JLR’s 2.0-liter turbo-four gas engine and a 114-hp  electric motor fed by a 13.1-kW-hr lithium-ion battery mounted under the rear loadspace floor. Total system output is 398 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. Land Rover claims a pure electric range of up to 31 miles, along with a 0–60-mph time of 6.3 seconds. And because the electric motor is mounted within the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission, pure electric drive is even available for low-range off-roading.

The Range Rover P400e has a 7-kW onboard charger that, when connected via the standard 10-amp home charging cable, will fully recharge the battery in 7.5 hours, according to Land Rover. An optional 32-amp wall box and multifunction cable, available from Land Rover dealers, will reduce charge time to just under three hours. Illuminated strips either side of the charge port allow a quick visual check of the battery’s charge status, but owners can also monitor remotely it via an app on their phones.

Drivers can leave the hybrid powertrain to shuffle between electric and internal combustion power to meet load demands, or they can actively manage the battery’s state of charge. When a destination is entered into the nav system, the P400e’s electronic neural network factors in traffic conditions, the gradient of the route, and whether it’s operating in a rural or urban environment to deliver the most efficient combination of power modes. Alternatively, selecting Save mode via the central touchscreen ensures the battery will always have enough charge to allow the P400e to operate in pure EV mode for a specific segment of their journey.

Sounds good in theory, but how does it work in practice? Surprisingly well, as it happens.

The PHEV powertrain is well suited to the relaxed demeanor of Range Rover. In pure EV mode—which it will maintain up to 85 mph—it delivers almost Rolls-Royce levels of waftability around town. In hybrid mode you can hear the engine fire up if you listen for it, but in reality the transitions between electric motor and the internal combustion engine are impressively smooth and seamless. The e-motor’s instant-on torque—203 lb-ft at zero rpm—effortlessly gets the 5,448-pound Range Rover off the line and adroitly shoulders the load to help out the engine once the big SUV is underway.

The PHEV powertrain is the best application yet of JLR’s gas turbo-four, an engine not especially noted for smoothness and silence in other Jaguar and Land Rover models. If they’re really concentrating, occupants might detect a little vibration when the engine fires fires up, and full throttle will deliver a distant, muted growl. But most would be hard-pressed to tell you what sort of engine is actually under the hood. What’s more, when left to its own devices, the little four-banger punches above its weight, coping surprisingly well with the Range Rover’s mass.

Although it’s a hybrid, it still has a Sport mode, which engages the electric motor all the time to help deliver maximum performance and allows full manual control of the eight-speed automatic via paddles mounted on the steering wheel. No matter which way you drive it, however, the P400e feels quicker, more responsive, and more refined on the road than the V-6-powered gas or diesel Range Rovers.

Off-road, the EV mode, selected via a button on the center console, works brilliantly, especially in low range. Land Rover has recalibrated its acclaimed Terrain Response system to work with the electric motor, and that instant torque means you can be extremely precise with the throttle, carefully tip-toeing the big Rangie over major obstacles.

Even a klutz can take this hybrid luxury limo places few other SUVs dare go. The air suspension can be jacked up a maximum of 3.0 inches, it’ll safely wade through 35.4 inches of water like every other Range Rover, and with JLR’s Low Traction Launch software now on board, it will effortlessly pull away from a standstill on slippery surfaces such as wet grass, loose gravel, and snow.

In Europe the PHEV powertrain is available across the Range Rover lineup, including long-wheelbase models. For U.S. buyers, however, it comes only in the standard-wheelbase Range Rover and in HSE trim. (A PHEV version of the Range Rover Sport HSE will also available in the U.S. in 2019.) Pricing is competitive: At $96,145, the P400e is an attractive alternative to the regular six-cylinder $95,045 HSE or the $97,045 HSE diesel models. Overall drivability is better, particularly in terms of a perceived luxury feel, with the added benefits of decent fuel economy and smooth, silent, zero-emissions motoring in city centers.

On top of all that, you get a bunch of worthwhile upgrades that come with the Range Rover’s 2018 model year refresh, from the subtle exterior tweaks to an interior that looks noticeably more upscale and lavishly equipped. Luxury SUVs might be everywhere these days, but the supremely elegant and capable Range Rover remains the segment benchmark.


The post 2019 Range Rover P400e Plug-In Hybrid First Drive appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

6 things to know about the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The Car Connection News Feed - Sat, 04/14/2018 - 05:01
As buyers put their money on crossover SUVs rather than sedans in the game of new-car roulette, the 2019 VW Jetta hopes to be more than just a dapper, quiet observer on the sidelines. The latest Jetta is a mild-mannered four-door that does many things well, which may make it highly appealing to those not sold on high-riding crossovers. We...
Categories: Property