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Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Mazda3

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 22:00

The previous-generation Mazda3 was a looker when it first debut five years ago, and it continued to age gracefully throughout its life span. Mazda recently introduced the 2019 Mazda3 at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show, and it features the next evolution of the Japanese automaker’s Kodo: Soul of Motion design language. It’ll be a while before we drive the 2019 Mazda3, but we can take a look at how its design compares to its predecessor.

Immediately you’ll notice the 2019 Mazda3’s front fascia has undergone a thorough revision.The headlights are thinner, the signature grille is more rounded, and the chrome grille surrounds now extend under the headlights. Character lines on the side profile have been eliminated, giving the 2019 Mazda3 sedan a cleaner look. Cleaning up the side, however, gave the hatchback body style a more unique albeit divisive exterior. Thanks to the absurdly thick C-pillar, the hatch is the more unconventional of the two, and it stands out a little more than the sedan.

Mazda set out to create two distinctive characters with the 2019 Mazda3. The sedan continues with a conservative theme with a slightly squared-off rear fascia and thicker, rectangular taillight clusters. In contrast, the hatchback continues with the rounded theme, appearing bulbous the lower you go. Compared to its predecessor, the 2019 Mazda3 hatch has smaller rear and rear-side windows, and the taillights are thinner with smaller inner LED corona lights compared to its sedan sibling. Move inside, and you’ll notice a super minimalist interior with an 8.8-inch screen. There are fewer buttons on the dash compared to its predecessor, and with the exception of the one for the infotainment system, the knobs are smaller.

The 2019 Mazda3 will go on sale early next year. Initially, it will come with a 2.5-liter I-4 paired to either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic. The cutting-edge Skyactiv-X engine is slated to arrive in late 2019. The 2019 Mazda3 will mark the first time the compact car will be available with all-wheel drive. It will also be the first Mazda vehicle to utilize the automaker’s latest Skyactiv platform and an updated multimedia system.

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Categories: Property

2019 Hyundai Kona Electric Priced from $36,450 Before Incentives

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 21:28

Hyundai has announced pricing for the 2019 Kona Electric, and it’s right in the same ballpark as its chief competitor, the Chevrolet Bolt EV. The base model starts at $36,450 including destination, which is $1,045 cheaper than a base 2019 Bolt EV. Available incentives for the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric include a $7,500 tax credit and state incentives likes California’s CVRP rebate, which adds up to an extra $2,500 depending on eligibility.

A base Kona Electric SE comes standard with Hyundai’s Smart Sense active safety suite, heated front seats, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, keyless entry and start, two USB ports, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Higher trims are available with LED headlights, an upgraded adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, navigation, an eight-speaker Infinity audio system, wireless phone charging, and parking sensors.

With a full charge, the 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric is EPA-rated for 258 miles of range. Using a Level 2 charger, the crossover can be fully charged in nine hours and 35 minutes. On a Level 3 quick charger, the Kona EV can get to 80 percent charge in 75 minutes (50-kW charger) or 54 minutes (100-kW charger). The Kona’s electric motor makes 201 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque and is paired to a 64-kW-hr lithium-ion battery.

Source: Hyundai


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Categories: Property

2020 Jeep Gladiator Configurator Goes Live

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 19:12

Woo, it’s time to play! The online configuration tool for the 2020 Jeep Gladiator pickup truck is live, and it allows users the chance to dive in and mess around with the highly anticipated truck’s options for tops, wheels, paint colors, and much more.

With four trims—Sport, Sport S, Overland, and Rubicon—three different roofs, and 10 exterior hues to choose from, it’s going to be pretty hard to say there isn’t a Gladiator for you. (Unless you were hoping for a regular-cab version, that is.) We’ve dropped a selection of photos from the site into a gallery, showing all the colors as well as a mix of various wheels, trims, and tops.

The Gladiator is Jeep’s first pickup since 1992, and is powered solely with the Wrangler’s V-6 engine. A choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions is on offer, as are three different roof configurations: a soft convertible top, the black Freedom Top with removable panels over the front seats, and a body-color hard top available on the Overland and Rubicon.

Among the standalone options are a spray-in bedliner and a roll-up tonneau cover, as well as items like all-weather mats, a Bluetooth speaker, and different wheel designs. Packages add things like LED lighting, a larger touchscreen, heated seats and steering wheel, auxiliary power switches, and towing equipment, the last item a necessity to take advantage of the 7,650 maximum tow rating.

Pricing isn’t available just yet for the Gladiator, but we anticipate you will have to budget an extra three to four grand over an equivalent four-door Wrangler Unlimited. Still, if you want to be ready with the perfect spec, head to the Jeep Gladiator configurator to build one of your own.

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Categories: Property

First 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 to Get Auctioned

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 19:02

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is one of the most anticipated performance cars. Today Ford announced that it will auction the first GT500 off the production line at the 2019 Barrett-Jackson auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona. All proceeds for the mightiest of Mustangs will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), an organization dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Joe Hinrichs, president of global operations at Ford, said the Blue Oval has supported JDRF for a long time and knows how important its work is. The proceeds from the auction is in addition Ford’s own contribution, which is over $2 million annually and totals to around $60 million over the last 35 years. The winning bidder for the first 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will have the opportunity to customize the vehicle accordingly; all colors and options will be made available to the winner.

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will debut at the 2019 Detroit auto show. It is expected to feature a supercharged version of the 5.2-liter  V-8 found in the GT350 and GT350R. Power output remains unknown, but we expect it to have more muscle than the previous-generation GT500, which checked in at 662 hp. No word yet on what transmission options Ford will offer on its most potent Mustang. The 2020 GT500 goes on sale in fall 2019.

Source: Ford

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Categories: Property

2019 Jaguar XF Starts at $50,960

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 17:34

The 2019 Jaguar XF arrives with  a handful of new features including the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, a 10-speaker audio system, a frameless rearview mirror, and illuminated door sills. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now available as part of an optional Smartphone package while Prestige models get Navigation Pro and Pro Services as standard.

Base 25t Premium models start at $50,960 including destination for rear-drive models. That gets you a 247-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four. Other engine choices include a 180-hp 2.2-liter turbodiesel I-4 in the 20d, a 296-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four in the 30t, and a 380-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 in the XF S. A ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic is the only transmission option. Adding all-wheel drive to any trim is $3,000 extra. The wagon, called the XF Sportbrake, is available in 30t Prestige and S variants and comes with all-wheel drive as standard. Pricing for the wagon starts at $65,570 for the 30t Prestige and $72,210 for the more powerful S model.

A limited edition model called the XF 30t 300 Sport also joins the lineup. It features a unique grille surround, side vents, side sills, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser finished in Dark Satin Grey. The 19- or 20-inch alloy wheel options are also finished in Dark Satin Grey, and behind them are brake calipers with the 300 Sport badge. Inside the cabin you’ll find yellow contrast stitching and 300 Sport badges on the front seat headrests, steering wheel, and door sills. The XF 30t 300 Sport will only be offered in three exterior colors: Yulong White, Indus Silver, and Santorini Black.

Source: Jaguar

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2017 Jaguar F-Pace Long-Term Verdict

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 09:00

We fell in love with the sporty style and sharp handling of Jaguar’s F-Pace at our 2017 SUV of the Year competition, but a starchy ride and polarizing interior torpedoed it from the top spot. Still, we had to know what a yearlong jag with this all-new Jag would be like. Could we deal with the stiff suspenders? And what of the whispers of questionable reliability? Thirteen months of “loanership” later, we have plenty of miles and, oddly, some feelz (as the kids say).

As I live only 3 miles from work and travel regularly, I cannot take credit for all 22,431 miles we racked up. It took an army of commuting colleagues and long-distance haulers to spin the odometer, from social media editor Carol Ngo, to photographers Jade Nelson and Robin Trajano, to online pros Colin Woodard and Erika Pizano.

Everyone raved at the F-Pace’s curb appeal. “Beautiful design and everyday usability,” Instagrammer-in-chief Ngo noted.

I too liked how it looked from the beginning all the way to the day we handed the keys back. This is pretty rare, as I normally go blind to my long-termer after a two- to three-month honeymoon. But even to my jaundiced eyes, the F-Pace looks as fresh as ever. Taut, muscular, well-proportioned, and perfectly sized for my ’hood and lifestyle.

As Carol notes, the flexibility of this two-row, midsize SUV is compelling. Surfing is my regular thing, and fitting 6-foot boards in bags with either the 60- or the 40-side seat folded down was never an issue. The optional heavy-duty rubber mats in the cargo area and footwells were also a godsend for containing sand and moisture.

Our F-Pace even does a pretty good job as an impromptu shelter, associate online editor Woodard noted: “When we forgot our tent on a camping trip with features editor Scott Evans and his wife, my wife and I spent the weekend sleeping in the F-Pace. It wasn’t the Four Seasons, but we actually slept pretty well. We even had a good view of the stars thanks to the panoramic moonroof.”

For me, the drive was like a broken-in pair of jeans by the end of our loan, but only in “light load” mode, with 9 pounds of air pressure removed from each tire. At factory specs, the F-Pace’s ride crashes over the line of acceptably stiff. If you’re going to live with this vehicle in an area with especially bad pavement (hello, Detroit), consider avoiding it entirely—or swapping to a tire and wheel combination that gives you more bump-soaking sidewall.

The 340-horsepower V-6 took a second to spin up, but once underway it was always ready to punch holes in traffic, with a satisfyingly hollow growl. I spent the first 5,000 miles driving around in Normal mode and most of the rest of the time in ECO, which limbers up throttle response and aims for the most efficient gearing. Mother Earth–loving chill-out modes like this usually come at the expense of immediacy, but Jaguar’s ECO mode is one of the best. It didn’t turn the F-Pace into a penalty box in exchange for fair fuel economy. The 35t powertrain struck quite a nice balance, so it’s a shame the engine is an orphan, launched in year one as a stopgap ahead of the turbo four-cylinder gas and diesel options (a 380-hp version of the engine remains available, however).

All 2016 and newer Jaguar vehicles come with “EliteCare,” which is a limited warranty covering five years or 60,000 miles, complimentary scheduled maintenance, roadside assistance, and updates to the infotainment system (which are regular). Jaguar claims EliteCare is best in class, and a quick check of the competition reveals that to be true, sorta. Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz offer fewer years and/or miles on their warranties. The only one that matches Jaguar (and betters, with an additional 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty) is Genesis—but it does not currently have a CUV that rivals F-Pace.

The only mechanical issue we had with our vehicle was the combined ignition and auto stop/start gremlin, which was covered for free under EliteCare. While in for that service, we requested a four-wheel alignment that cost $99.00.

At the very tail end of our loan, our F-Pace did start to creak a bit coming in and out of driveways and over speedbumps, similar to the way our long-term BMW M3 did. I didn’t get a chance to have the dealer check out the problem to see if it was pieces and parts of the interior rubbing or the dust-in-the-door-seals issue we discovered in our BMW. That will unfortunately remain a question, but for the record, our F-Pace never left us stranded or completely failed to start, and none of the major systems threw error codes or warning lights. For at least one of the aforementioned road warriors, this wasn’t enough.

“I’m torn on the F-Pace,” Woodard said. “It sounded great, the V-6 made plenty of power, and it ended up being surprisingly fun to drive. It was also a practical daily driver, offering plenty of room for four adults, a week’s worth of groceries, and with the rear seats down, two bicycles. On the other hand, it had way too many electrical issues for a new car. From the infotainment system regularly glitching to the rearview camera occasionally not coming on when I put the car in reverse and all the surprise shutdowns, there was just too much that kept going wrong. Jaguar has some work to do before I’d feel comfortable recommending the F-Pace to a friend or family member.”

I can recommend an F-Pace, new or off-lease, provided interested parties are fully informed of the issues we had. Part of this is because of a new wrinkle to my loanership experience this time around: I discovered the extremely helpful world of online forums. After publication of our F-Pace intro, Greg Craig, an owner of the more powerful F-Pace S, reached out with the helpful suggestion to reduce my tire pressures and to consult the community at if I ever needed assistance. And so I did, about random topics including the stop/start issue, updates to the ICTP system, and creaks at 22,000 miles. The ability to compare notes and seek advice from a community was helpful and reassuring.

As my time with the orphan F-Pace 35t drew to a close, I found myself oddly sad about its departure. I’m normally an “on-to-the-next” kinda guy, but this Jaguar had character rare in modern cars, beauty and athleticism I never tired of, and flaws that weren’t deal breakers.

Read more about our long-term 2017 Jaguar F-Pace:

Our Car SERVICE LIFE 10 mo / 15,592 mi BASE PRICE $57,295 OPTIONS Technology pkg ($3,200: touch-screen infotainment, navigation, 60GB hard drive, CD/DVD player, 3G WiFi w/3 mo free data, TFT/LCD instrument panel, Meridian 825W audio w/17 speakers); Comfort and Convenience pkg ($1,800: ventilated front seats, heated rear seats w/pwr recline, remote 2nd row release, gesture tailgate release); metallic paint ($550); 20″ Blade wheels ($500); Rubber mats/cargo nets ($407), Activity key ($400), Gloss black roof rails ($350); Wheel locks ($191); Car care kit ($50) PRICE AS TESTED $64,743 AVG ECON/CO2 20.6 mpg / 0.94 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS Auto stop/start MAINTENANCE COST $99 alignment NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $52,500 (81%) RECALLS None *IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years 2017 Jaguar F-Pace 35t R Sport POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE Supercharged 90-deg V-6, alum block/heads VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 182.8 cu in/2,995 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 10.5:1 POWER (SAE NET) 340 hp @ 6,500 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 332 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm REDLINE 6,500 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 13.0 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.73:1/2.49:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 15.1:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.5 BRAKES, F; R 13.8-in vented disc; 12.8-in vented disc, ABS WHEELS 8.5 x 20-in cast aluminum TIRES 255/50R20 109W (M+S) Goodyear Eagle F1 AT SUV 4×4 DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 113.1 in TRACK, F/R 64.6/65.1 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 186.3 x 76.2 x 65.0 in GROUND CLEARANCE 8.4 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 25.5/25.7 deg TURNING CIRCLE 38.9 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,416 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 51/49% TOWING CAPACITY 5,290 lb SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 37.8/37.5 in LEGROOM, F/R 40.3/37.2 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.7/55.8 in CARGO VOLUME BEH F/R 63.5/33.5 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 1.8 sec 0-40 2.8 0-50 4.0 0-60 5.2 0-70 6.7 0-80 8.5 0-90 10.6 0-100 13.4 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.6 QUARTER MILE 13.8 sec @ 101.0 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 116 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.83 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.8 sec @ 0.67 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,700 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $57,295 PRICE AS TESTED $64,743 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 6: Dual front, front side, f/r head BASIC WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/60,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 16.6 gal REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 16.2/25.4/19.3 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 18/23/20 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 187/147 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.97 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

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Categories: Property

Infiniti SUV Concept for Detroit Previews Brand’s First Electric Vehicle

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 02:00

Infiniti will celebrate its 30th year as a brand in January when it shows a concept previewing its first fully electric vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It was at the 1989 NAIAS that the brand made its international debut with the Q45.

The SUV concept to be shown next month shows the design direction for future Infiniti models in keeping with the plan to electrify all models across the lineup starting in 2021. They will be a mix of pure EVs and e-power hybrids which use a small gasoline engine to charge the battery. The automaker is developing a new electric platform for future models.

The 2018 Infiniti Q Inspiration sedan concept

Last year in Detroit, Infiniti showed the Q Inspiration concept sedan with a shorter front end and larger cabin to reflect the design changes possible with smaller engines or electric motors as future propulsion which require a smaller engine bay or none at all. The design also reflected the impact of autonomous driving on how interior space is crafted and the need for greater connectivity for occupants.

Electric power makes new vehicle proportions possible, said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president for global design at Nissan Motor Co. The concept’s design is described as a mix of simplicity and technology inspired by Japanese culture. The idea was first explored in the Q Inspiration and Prototype 10 shown at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The 2018 Infiniti Prototype 10 concept

“The concept car we will show in Detroit is the beginning of a new era for Infiniti and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand,” said Karim Habib, Infiniti’s executive design director.

But before things go electric, the brand will expand its innovative VC-Turbo variable-compression-ratio gas engine by adding a sporty variant of the Infiniti QX50.

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The Volkswagen Corrado Had One of the First Production Active Spoilers

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 20:30

The Volkswagen Corrado turns 30 this year, and to celebrate, VW is looking back on the innovations introduced by the sporty two-door hatch. Just as it is today, the Volkswagen brand of the 1980s was focused on mainstream products, which at the time included mostly compact sedans and hatchbacks. As such, it didn’t offer a halo sports car like many of its contemporaries. The Corrado was the closest we got to a halo model, and the sharp-looking 2+2 hatch served as a technology showcase for the brand. What kind of technology did it showcase? For starters, one of the first active rear spoilers on a production car.

Introduced in 1988 as a replacement for the equally sexy Scirocco, the Corrado was built in Onsabruck, Germany, by long-time VW-allied coachbuilder Karmann. According to Volkswagen, the name comes from the Spanish word “correr,” which means “to sprint.” The Corrado was originally available with one of two 1.8-liter I-4 engines, one naturally aspirated and one supercharged. The latter, called the Corrado G60, used a scroll-type supercharger to produce 158 hp and 156 lb-ft of torque, a respectable amount for the day that allowed for an estimated top speed of 140 mph.

To help accommodate that high speed, VW fitted the Corrado with a flush-mounted rear wing that automatically deployed above 75 mph (or 45 mph in the U.S.) to increase high-speed stability and reduce rear end lift by 64 percent. Though technically the 1984 Lancia Thema was the first production car to use an electrically retractable rear spoiler, the Corrado was one of the first road cars in the U.S. to offer active aero. Volkswagen claims its system even predates the one on the 964-generation Porsche 911, but Porsche representatives argue that the two cars debuted around the same time and that the Stuttgart-based automaker had been experimenting with active aero on race cars since the 1960s.

In addition to the Corrado’s slick “aero blade,” the hatch also received an interior derived from the B3-generation Passat that is said to be inspired by the Bauhaus style of German modernist design. The Corrado also marked the first use of Computer-Aided Design at the VW brand, as the car’s fenders were the first production parts designed using CAD. Meanwhile, the chassis inherited bits from the Mk 2 Golf GTI 16V to give the Corrado handling to match its sporty good looks.

Dr. Carl H. Hahn, chairman of the VW board of directors from 1982-1993, reportedly wanted the Corrado to be “a kind of new Karmann Ghia, only with more power.” The car was relatively sprightly in G60 trim, but even more power came later in the Corrado’s product cycle when VW endowed it with its 2.9-liter VR6 narrow-angle V-6 engine, which produced up to 188 hp and 181 lb-ft.

VW contends that many of the innovations ushered in by the Corrado can be seen in its current product lineup, including the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon, which also features an active rear spoiler. Not many cars can claim to have influence over an automaker’s lineup 30 years after launch, so it’s pretty cool that the Corrado has such an enduring legacy.

Source: Volkswagen

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Audi SQ2 for Europe Offers 296 HP in a Tiny Crossover Package

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 19:32

With crossover demand rising, it was only a matter of time before the Audi Q2 received a high-performance model. Enter the Audi SQ2, a hot-rodded subcompact CUV powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque that puts power down to all four wheels via the automaker’s Quattro all-wheel drive system.

The diminutive little Audi gets a thorough performance makeover that includes an upgraded suspension that’s 20mm lower than the standard Q2, a retuned steering system, and an all-wheel drive system than can send 100 percent of torque to the rear wheels. There are also some aerodynamic improvements that give the SQ2 a 0.34 drag coefficient, and a drive mode selector that includes an Individual option to allow the driver to tailor the vehicle to his or her liking.

Exterior design cues that distinguish the Audi SQ2 from a standard Q2 include quad exhaust tips, a longer roof spoiler, Quattro badges on the lower part of the rear doors, and silver side mirror covers. Inside, the SQ2 comes standard with sport seats, Audi’s Digital Cockpit system, illuminated door sills with sport S badges. Other available features include Audi’s MMI interface with an 8.3-inch screen, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, LED headlights, and a full suite of active driver assists including automatic emergency braking.

Unfortunately, there’s no word on whether the SQ2 will come to North America. When the Q2 originally debuted, Audi intended to bring the crossover stateside but the sub-Q3 model has yet to make an appearance on our side of the pond.

Source: Audi

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2019 Toyota C-HR XLE First Test: Style Priorities

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 09:00

Although Toyota originally intended to sell the C-HR as a Scion, the youth-oriented brand folded before the crossover’s North American debut. The polarizing C-HR lives on as a Toyota, however, and for 2019 gains new trim levels from the base LE to the range-topping Limited variants. With a wider variety of models and new multimedia tech, let’s take another look at this cute-ute to see if it can lure new buyers into the Toyota brand.

Pictured is the 2018 Toyota C-HR.

Exterior styling remains the C-HR’s distinguishing feature. Barely changed from concept form, the spaceship-like crossover is an attention magnet. Inside, the angular design theme continues with triangular patterns on the dash, door panels, and center console. There are soft surfaces near touchpoints while cheaper, harder bits are used in the rear door panels and the lower part of the center console. The 2019 C-HR’s cargo area’s usability is hampered by its sloping rear window, but it does offer 19 cubic feet of space. Folding the rear seats increases capacity, but every competitor except the Fiat 500X has more room for your gear. Regardless of where you sit, the 2019 C-HR’s cabin is claustrophobic and visibility is severely compromised. The small rear windows make the rear seats feel even more cramped, and the dash gives the interior an uncomfortably confining ambience.

For 2019, Toyota replaced the antiquated aftermarket-looking interface from the 2018 model with its Entune 3.0 unit. This system is an improvement over its predecessor, but response times are slow whether you’re using the physical buttons or the 8.0-inch touchscreen. There’s also only one USB port, an epic fail in any smartphone-wielding millennial’s book. Apple CarPlay is standard on all models, but Android users must use Toyota’s Entune apps, none of which are on par with Google Maps and other smartphone apps.

All 2019 C-HRs come standard with Toyota Safety Sense P suite, bundling together adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, automatic high-beams and lane departure warning with steering assist. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are available on the XLE and Limited grades. Toyota’s adaptive cruise control system maintains speed with little deviation even when going downhill, but the gap it leaves between you and the vehicle in front is too big even in its closest setting. The lane departure warning system also needs improvement because, in our experience, the crossover had already crossed into the other lane before the system nudged us back.

At the track, the 2019 C-HR proved it’s more show than go, hitting 60 mph in 10.1 seconds and the quarter mile in 17.6 seconds at 80.6 mph. Road test editor Chris Walton noted that revs rise slowly to redline before the CVT “upshifts,” leading to lazy acceleration from a standstill. Between the underpowered 2.0-liter engine, leisurely throttle response, and its as-tested 3,263-pound curb weight, the C-HR is agonizingly slow; going up inclines or passing and merging onto highways require planning. The CVT also gets thrashy when accelerating hard. Braking performance is respectable, stopping from 60 mph in 122 feet with minimal fade, but Walton also observed excessive pedal vibration and front-end dive that’s severe enough to cause the rear end to lift up during emergency stops.

Despite its slow acceleration, the 2019 C-HR falls mid-pack in fuel economy. The Toyota’s EPA-rated 27/31 mpg city/highway falls behind many front-drive competitors except for the Ford EcoSport, Jeep Renegade, and Fiat 500X. The Subaru Crosstrek and an all-wheel-drive-equipped Mazda CX-3 are also more efficient, as is the larger Honda CR-V in 1.5 FWD form.

The Toyota C-HR features four-wheel independent suspension for improved ride and handling. On the figure-eight course, the C-HR turned in a time of 28.1 seconds with a 0.58 g average and generated 0.83 g of lateral acceleration on the skidpad. Cornering is secure and the suspension does a great job of absorbing big impacts; however, ruts and expansion joints upset the C-HR more than expected, and the steering feels artificial and disconnected. The Hyundai Kona and Mazda CX-3 offer superior driving dynamics thanks to their superior body control, steering, and suspension tuning. The standard 18-inch wheels shod in Dunlop all-season tires in the XLE and Limited trims also contribute a substantial amount of road and tire noise, especially on poorly maintained roads.

Even with a full model range, there’s not enough substance behind the 2019 Toyota C-HR’s techy looks. Besides the distinctive looks, high expected reliability and an impressive package of safety tech are all the C-HR has going for it. Millennial buyers with active lifestyles will find they barely have any space to fit their gear, and we’d like to see Android Auto added on a future model. Add to that the underwhelming performance, and Toyota’s spaceship-like subcompact crossover becomes a harder sell, especially in a segment that’s growing at such a quick pace.

2019 Toyota C-HR (XLE) BASE PRICE $24,025 PRICE AS TESTED $25,198 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.0L/144-hp/139-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,263 lb (61/39%) WHEELBASE 103.9 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 171.2 x 70.7 x 61.6 in 0-60 MPH 10.1 sec QUARTER MILE 17.6 sec @ 80.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.83 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.1 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 27/31/29 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 125/109 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.68 lb/mile

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2018 Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic SE Long-Term Update 4: Playing With Eco Mode

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 09:00

With the latest climate-change disaster consensus coming from 13 U.S. government agencies, I must admit to a bit of shame when I embark on my solo commute in the Range Rover Velar.

I mean, it’s a beautiful, graceful vehicle, with an impressive 5.7-second 0–60 time for imposingly darting through traffic, and an elegantly posh interior that gets me to the office (or home) feeling none the worse for wear. And its 18/24 EPA mpg (and our EQUA MPG testing outperforming EPA estimates at 20.7/27.5 mpg) ain’t half bad for a 4,547-pound vehicle with the phrase “R Dynamic” in its name.

I also have a motorcycle in the garage with a much smaller carbon footprint. That might make better sense on my traffic-choked commute. Still, SUVs are the most popular type of vehicle in America that isn’t a pickup truck, and research on behalf of the consumer must be performed.

To assuage my guilt, I have started experimenting with Eco drive mode. Normally I am a Sport mode personality. But my commute up Pacific Coast Highway through the South Bay beach cities is such a predictable slog that I rarely dip into the throttle.

I’d say that 90 percent of the time, Eco mode is sufficient for my needs. On a hot day, having the car’s computer cut the engine to save fuel also crimps the air conditioner’s cooling abilities, but that’s a minor, temporary inconvenience. Over the course of a couple tanks of gas, I found Eco mode improves fuel economy by 1 mpg. Every little bit helps.

Conversely, MotorTrend social media maven Carol Ngo (who lives her life in Eco mode) nonetheless was captivated by occasional forays into Sport mode. That said, she is not a fan of the Velar’s rotary gear-selector, which resulted in mis-shifts into the wrong gear due to user error—in addition to just being an ergonomic annoyance compared to a traditional PRNDL gearshift.

Automakers also have different learning curves when it comes to their infotainment systems. We’ve already grimaced over the clunky user interface, in contrast to the beauty of the glossy twin-screen layout. The system’s user experience also leaves something to be desired, as copy editor Jesse Bishop discovered on a 3,000-mile run from L.A. to Washington state with his new bride.

When playing music through his phone and also using onboard navigation, the system didn’t pause the music while reading out directions—meaning missing out on a vital passage of music or podcast. There have also been a couple occasions—usually when engaging reverse gear quickly after engine start—that the infotainment system freezes or merely goes black. If you want it to work, you have to reboot the system by turning off the Velar, waiting about 10 seconds, and starting it up again—just like you have to do with your cable modem at home after a blackout.

Yeah, yeah, #FirstWorldProblems, but it points out that Land Rover’s telematics team has some catch-up to play.

Read more about our long-term Range Rover Velar R-Dynamic SE:

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Categories: Property

McLaren Honors its Racing Heritage With Six Special Edition Beauties

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 08:21

McLaren’s in-house customization center, McLaren Special Operations (MSO), seems to roll out bespoke versions of the British automaker’s cars at a bimonthly pace—or at least that’s how often it issues press releases about them. But this latest batch commissioned by McLaren Beverly Hills is actually deserving of an announcement. Numbering six cars in total, the special edition collection features three separate racing-inspired themes each applied to a 570S Coupe and Spider.

The three themes are called Muriwai, Papaya Spark, and Sarthe Grey, and represent major periods in McLaren’s racing history. The series of cars has been dubbed “Racing Through the Ages.” According to MSO, the blue and white Muriwai theme pays homage to Bruce McLaren’s early days of racing in New Zealand; Papaya Spark nods to the orange liveries in use during the 1960s and ’70s and on today’s F1 cars; and Sarthe Grey is inspired by McLaren’s 1995 Le Mans victory. Each gets special touches to go along with its theme, such as the kiwi on the Muriwai’s spoiler end plates, as well as a “1 of 6–Racing Through the Ages” plaque.

“It’s exciting for us at MSO any time we are able to merge McLaren’s racing heritage with current McLaren Automotive road cars,” said Ansar Ali, McLaren Special Operations chief, in a release. “Working alongside our retailers such as McLaren Beverly Hills to create these distinctive, limited editions of special cars for McLaren customers is an increasingly important part of our business as the demand for bespoke commissions becomes more popular.”

Each of the cars gets a black exterior package, dealer-installed rear wing, titanium exhaust, black 10-spoke lightweight wheels, and a GT4-inspired racing stripe that runs along the hood and roof. The cabins have striping on the seats, special headrest logos, an orange 12-o’clock mark on the steering wheel, and a key fob finished to match the exterior color. We’re sure they’re already spoken for, but that doesn’t make them any less fun to stare at.

Source: McLaren

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Vilner BMW E30 M3 Evo is the Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 21:07

All we want for Christmas is this beautifully—and tastefully—customized 1990 BMW M3 Evo built by Bulgarian tuning shop Vilner Garage. It may be almost three decades old, but if you’ve ever driven an E30 Bimmer, you’ll know why this one inspires such desire. And it’s always a relief when the result of a custom job is as clean-looking as this one, to say nothing of the most-excellent gray and maroon Tartan interior.

The master craftspeople in the Sofia-based custom shop have obviously been working overtime—and it shows. Coated in Imola Red II paint, this BMW features an E36 M3 inline-six that packs 321 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The straight-six is mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

KW suspension components were fitted, as was a set of lightweight 18-inch BBS RK wheels finished in silver. This build also included adding tinted Hella headlights with mini wipers up front and a set of special taillights out back.

“The philosophy here was the same one followed by Singer Vehicle Design—‘Everything is important.’ From the materials used, through their configuration and the final finish,” said company founder Atanas Vilner in a release.

The cabin features a leather-wrapped Momo steering wheel, a roll cage, and a pair of Sparco racing seats upholstered in plaid fabric and leather trim. Ditto for the door panels, gearshift boot, headliner, and glovebox. “It’s not only just for style purposes. This fabric is super-functional, too. It’s very robust and comfortable, especially during the hot season,” said Vilner.

Occupants are held in place by a set a four-point Sparco harnesses, and interface the gas, brakes, and clutch via a Sparco aluminum pedal set. Finally, in a slightly corny move that we’ll let slide, the perforated metal floor panels are debossed with the words “race shoes only.” All in all, this build is just too cool—so Santa, if you’re reading this, feel free to slide it under our tree.

Source: Vilner

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Volkswagen Restores a 350,000-Mile 1967 Beetle

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 18:11

It’s no big news that Volkswagen’s brand wouldn’t exist as it does today without the Beetle. For decades, the Beetle was the brand. Yet VW recently announced the end of the line for the model after its third-generation run. The Beetle’s place of prominence is Fahrvergnugen from over, however, and it is now free to fully focus on its role as the brand’s heritage icon.

For one lucky 1967 Beetle owner, that iconic status should now last another 50-plus years: The VW North America team and the Puebla factory have just completed an 11-month restoration of a Bug known as “Annie.” Kathleen Brooks, Annie’s owner, bought the car new in December 1966, from a Riverside, California, dealer and she has since wheeled the little red Beetle more than 350,000 miles. Brooks works with breast-cancer patients and is a three-time survivor of the disease herself.

“We often hear stories of dedicated Volkswagen owners, but there was something special about Kathleen and Annie that we felt we needed to honor,” said Derrick Hatami, the vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America, in a release. “The original Beetle launched our business in the United States. This isn’t just a Beetle, it’s a member of her family, and after all the time our employees have spent with this special vehicle, we feel Annie is a part of our family as well.”

The restoration saw 40 percent of Annie’s parts replaced, and another 357 original pieces restored—the team even recreated the stickers Brooks had stuck on Annie over the years. The paint was color-matched using the unfaded interior of the glovebox, the wiring was completely redone, and some more modern upgrades were added, too. One such upgrade is a new AM/FM/Bluetooth stereo designed to look and feel like the original Beetle radios—a stock item on later Mexico-built Beetles. The finishing touch to the restoration was applied to the seats, where the names Kathleen and Annie were embroidered into the new leather coverings.

Don’t get too excited if you have a slightly rusty, much-loved Beetle of your own sitting out in the yard—this isn’t the start of a factory restoration service à la Porsche Classic or Lamborghini Polo Storico. This is a one-off project meant to demonstrate the brand’s affection for its customers, and its appreciation of its customers’ affection for the Beetle.

Source: Volkswagen

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Categories: Property

Jaguar Introduces New Range of Pet Products

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 17:32

My dog Bonnie loves riding shotgun, and on days when her paws are muddy and there isn’t a towel handy, floor mats placed over leather seats can be a real godsend. Such improvising on the fly may be a thing of the past for Jaguar owners, though, as the British automaker has announced a range of all-new pet products for finicky Fidos. The accessories were designed specifically for the E-, F-, and I-Pace crossovers and the XF Sportbrake wagon.

The options include a spill-resistant water bowl, a foldable carrier, and a rear-access ramp that can help ease access for big, old hounds that weigh up to 187 pounds. There’s also a tony quilted luggage compartment liner and a portable shower. The shower would probably also come in handy for cleaning outdoor gear like boots, bikes, and surfboards.

Like its vehicles, Jaguar’s pet products don’t come cheap. They’re available in four packages that range from $338 for a rear-seat protection liner up to $1,302 for the whole shebang. Got a messy mutt and don’t drive an SUV or wagon? You’re in luck; Jaguar’s rear-seat protector will work in the XE and XF sedans (and likely any other automaker’s vehicles, for that matter).

We’d imagine most of these items will be purchased with a new vehicle rather than ordered afterward—after all, there are plenty of aftermarket solutions available online or at pet stores—but making canine-carrying comfort as easy as checking an option box makes sense. New owners are no doubt going to be excited to keep the dog drool and muddy paws at bay in their brand-new E-, F-, or I-Pace. Think of the increased resale value and reduced chances for damage, and you can thank us later when your leash, er, lease is up.

Source: Jaguar


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2019 Infiniti QX50 Long-Term Update 2: Commute King

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:00

As I wrote in my previous update, the 2019 Infiniti QX50’s cutting-edge powertrain needs a little more refinement (and probably a different transmission). But with a 40-minute morning commute that stretches to an hour or more when I head home, I tend to value a low-stress drive more than anything else. Thanks to ProPilot Assist, that’s one area where the QX50 really shines.

When I say ProPilot Assist, though, it’s important to point out that I’m really referring to all the features included in two driver-assist packages. For $550, ProAssist gives you adaptive cruise control, rear cross-traffic alert with collision intervention, and a sort of ACC-lite called Distance Control Assist. Another $2,000 gets you the ProActive package, which adds the more advanced ProPilot Assist, along with a few other driver-assist features.

Infiniti’s adaptive cruise control can adjust driving speed based on the car in front of you, but it can’t handle the kind of low-speed traffic urban commuters deal with on a daily basis. That’s where ProPilot Assist comes in. Not only does it add steering assist for easier highway cruising, but it also adds stop-and-go capability.

Over the past few months, ProPilot has become a popular feature among the staff. Following a 700-mile drive, editor-in-chief Ed Loh even went so far as to declare it “Infiniti’s best technology.” But unless I’m in the HOV lane, I tend to use Distance Control Assist instead. It gives you most of the safety benefits you get from adaptive cruise control without requiring you to set a desired speed. Most luxury automakers offer lane-centering adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking, but features similar to DCA are much less common.

That said, these systems aren’t perfect. ProPilot’s steering assist is generally pretty good at keeping the car in the middle of a lane, but it does occasionally pull hard to one side or the other, and low-speed stops could be smoother. DCA is also a little finicky, often throwing on the brakes right as you start to change lanes. Reducing the system’s sensitivity when the turn signal is on would probably help.

The good news is that it isn’t hard to adapt to or work around these issues. And especially if you have a long commute, ProPilot’s probably worth the price.

Read more about our long-term 2019 Infiniti QX50:

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Marvel at the Aston Martin Valkyrie’s 6.5-Liter V-12

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 00:37

The Aston Martin Valkyrie is inching closer to production, and that means concrete details are beginning to trickle out. Today, the British sports car builder has released detailed specs for the Valkyrie’s primary motivator, its naturally aspirated 6.5-liter V-12 engine that produces 1,000 hp.

Aston says it wanted a naturally aspirated engine from the outset of the project, which was originally code-named AM-RB 001. Working with renowned engine tuner Cosworth Engineering, Aston Martin developed a 65-degree 6.5-liter V-12 that revs to 11,100 rpm and makes 1,000 hp at a stratospheric 10,500 rpm. Torque, on the other hand, is nearly half that at 546 lb-ft, and arrives at a still-high 7,000 rpm. As we previously reported, the Valkyrie will be a hybrid hypercar, so an electric motor (or two) will be employed to complement its peaky 12-cylinder gas engine. Aston says it will detail the Valkyrie’s hybrid system at a later date, however.

But even without that info, there’s plenty to unpack with just the Valkyrie’s internal combustion engine. For example, the V-12 produces 153.8 hp per liter, an incredible amount for a naturally aspirated car. Additionally, the engine weighs just 454 pounds. To put that into perspective, Aston says Cosworth’s 3.0-liter V-10 used in Formula 1 weighs 214 pounds, but if it were scaled up to 6.5 liters it would come in at 463 pounds. Much of the savings comes from internals machined out of solid aluminum or titanium billet, including the crankshaft, connecting rods, and F1-spec pistons. According to Aston Martin, the Valkyrie’s crankshaft is 50 percent light than the One-77’s.

Apart from the engine, there’s quite a bit we already know about the Valkyrie. The carbon-fiber-intensive hypercar will weigh in somewhere between 2,200 and 2,400 pounds, and have a power-to-weight ratio of 1:1 (hp/kg). The engine will be mated to a seven-speed paddle-shift transmission developed by the gearbox specialists at Ricardo Engineering. The battery hybrid system that Aston is keeping close to the chest will be supplied by Rimac, which should mean the electric half of the drivetrain will be no slouch. Production will be limited to 150 units for the standard Valkyrie, and just 25 copies of the track-only AMR Pro variant. Then, of course, there’s the price. The Valkyrie will cost $3.2 million when it finally arrives in 2019.

We still have a little bit of time before the first Aston Martin Valkyries are delivered, so expect more details to surface as we get closer. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of engine porn courtesy of Aston Martin.

Source: Aston Martin

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2019 BMW 330i M Sport First Drive: Bavaria is Back

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 23:00

Can BMW deliver on the promise of the Ultimate Driving Machine once again?

Over the past four decades, Bavaria’s sporting marque has endured tremendous pressure to constantly improve on what is seen as the segment benchmark. It is a cruel task. Improving one area often comes with a trade-off in another.

BMW owners are as demanding as they are proud. Take it from someone who owned the 3 Series that really started it all—the 1988 E30 325i—as well as the outgoing-generation 2012 F30 328i (and who has tested every generation in between). We’re an arrogant bunch possessing sturdy right feet, and we have no qualms calling out missteps in handling and steering feel.

The competition doesn’t sit still, either. For those of you who track these things, the last two MotorTrend Car of the Year winners have been compact luxury sport sedans designed to dethrone the 3 Series as the default choice for shoppers in the segment.

Both the COTY-winning Genesis G70 and Alfa Romeo Giulia make outstanding cases as the best-executed compact sport sedan extant. And the rival Mercedes-Benz C-Class has outsold the 3 Series for the past two years (although to be fair, Mercedes lumps sedans and coupes into C-Class sales, whereas BMW splits the sedan from the 4 Series coupe; if you add 3 and 4 Series sales, BMW still outsells the Mercedes C-Class). But still, BMW is facing some stiff competitive winds.

With the sixth generation of the 3 Series arriving in March, BMW’s new G20 Series edition fires a response that will hopefully endear itself to loyalists and halt the wandering eyes of those shopping around. The incoming 330i is roomier, quicker, more adept, and a sharper performer.

Segment creep persists. The 2019 3 Series carries 1.6 inches more wheelbase and 2.6 inches more overall length. As such, it has almost outgrown the conventional dimensional definition of a compact sport sedan. On the plus side, the added wheelbase length addresses the persistent 3 Series complaint about the lack of back seat space; it is now possible for a 6-foot-tall passenger to have sufficient legroom and footroom behind a 6-foot-tall driver without the driver having to scooch the seat forward.

The 330i’s engine remains a 2.0-liter twin-scroll single-turbo, though it gains 7 hp (to 255) and a whopping 37 lb-ft (to 295). BMW claims a 0–60 time of 5.6 seconds (5.3 with all-wheel drive). That’s likely a conservative estimate, as MotorTrend testing of the 2017 330i delivered a 0–60 time of 5.5 seconds—and the new 330i is lighter by 121 pounds, thanks to increased usage of aluminum and high-strength steels in the body-in-white, sheetmetal, and chassis.

The turbo-four still features direct injection, variable valve lift, and variable cam timing, but the fuel pump now delivers 5,100 psi (compared to 2,900 psi of the old one). It also now has a split cooling system, separated for the cylinder head and crankcase. And twin exhaust tailpipes are standard (yay!). BMW says the new engine will also boast better fuel economy; kudos to the engineers who found the holy grail of performance and efficiency.

Coming in summer 2019, the 340i variant will also keep its existing 3.0-liter twin-scroll single-turbo configuration but see impressive gains in power, delivering 382 hp (up 62) and 369 lb-ft (up 39) and an estimated 4.2-second 0–60 time (with xDrive AWD). Also, a 330e plug-in hybrid arrives this summer, with 37 miles of electric-only range and a 6.0-second 0–62 time. There’s also a trio of diesel variants, which Americans will never see, according to BMW. Also, the loss-leader depowered version of the turbo-four will not be offered, as BMW will likely bring the 1 Series sedan back to life at that price point.

Then there’s the look. BMW interior designer Bruno Amatino said the automaker considered more evolutionary styling but decided to be bolder instead. “This was the largest step we could take without scaring the customer,” Amatino explained. “We wanted to make it look like we were skipping a generation.”

Yet for the most part, it’s still unmistakably BMW’s design language. The kidney grille is more three-dimensional due to the revised hoodline, and the notched headlight housings feature laser lamps that can project nearly the length of six football fields.

One key design note that BMW fans will debate, however: The famed Hofmeister kink that defines the C-pillar is now more of a chevron. BMW calls it “a new interpretation,” as the headliner of the back seat still keeps the original counter-swinging shape (the shadow of which can be seen from the outside if you squint). But the exterior detail has turned the distinct kink into a double-angled point that subtly aims toward the rear deck rather than visually directing one’s gaze hard toward the rear axle to emphasize that this is a performance sedan.

Purists may howl, but Amatino defended the new C-pillar, saying it was “extended for visual length, in two movements. We wanted to extend the glass all the way to the edge of the door cut.” Function over form, evidently.

Inside, the 3 Series gets a thorough reworking. Unlike the X3 crossover’s recent interior redo, which felt more like a mere freshening, the 3 Series interior changes are more dramatic. The slim dashboard is detailed by defined creases. Cool upscale touches abound, such as the knurled metallic prisms that form the edges of the vent-opening adjusters and iDrive knob. The leather surfaces and aluminum detailing wouldn’t be out of place in a flagship vehicle. Every surface that falls to hand has an appropriately upscale feel, save for the plasticky response of the center console’s stowage tray lid. The sunroof is 4 inches longer.

The instrument panel now has more room in the center for the trip computer information, not merely because the 8.8-inch screen is larger but also because designers reversed the swing of the right-side tachometer—it now registers revs counterclockwise, which takes some acclimation. Designers also placed the center console’s display screen at the same elevation as the instrument panel to provide “a horizon of information,” Amatino said.

However, in slightly reconfiguring the center console, BMW moved the gearshift and many control buttons rearward so that a driver must bow out their elbow and knuckle under their wrist to change many settings, compared to the easy user interface of the outgoing model. Perhaps most notably, changing driving modes is now accomplished by pressing individual buttons that are not identifiable by touch (the old model had a ridged rocker setup), so the driver must look away from the road to see what button they are pushing.

Aside from a long-wheelbase version only for the Chinese market, BMW tuned the 3 Series identically for all the world, said Thomas Bäumer, the car’s project leader.

Behind the wheel of the new 3er, the most noticeable element is the return of firmness to the suspension. The new car attacks road imperfections with a snooty impunity. BMW has installed standard hydraulic stop dampers on the rebound stroke up front and compression stroke in the rear; M Sport versions have an optional adaptive suspension with electronically controlled dampers.

But even in Comfort mode, we received some hard jolts from the rear suspension when encountering sharp bumps and jounces—especially in Sport mode. (Note, we were driving 330i M Sport trims, not the base suspension, so for those of you chasing the 330i lease-deal special, your suspension response may vary.)

That said, the 2019 330i feels more planted. You can thank increased chassis rigidity (improved by up to a claimed 50 percent) as well as the front track being 1.7 inches wider and the rear track adding 0.8 inch.

The speed-sensitive electric power steering seems to have more direct feel, as opposed to the too-light video game response of the outgoing model—although there was some vagueness in the range of 5 to 10 degrees off center with the M Sport’s variable sport steering. BMW claims a 50/50 weight distribution and a center of gravity lowered by 0.4 inch.

The 330i’s brake pedal has a reassuring precision of response in nearly every situation—even with hard braking for a corner that has come on quicker than you expected. However, a spirited four-minute drive down a twisting Portuguese grade left the 330i M Sport’s front brakes smoking.

BMW has delivered more intelligent semi-autonomous driving features, with increased hands-off driving assistance, reversing assistance to back out of tricky parking garages, and “narrow passage support” where lanes may have narrowed due to road construction.

However, the lane keep assist programming is more insistent, snapping you sharply back into your lane if you approach the stripes. That could be a drawback when performing a courtesy pass of a bicyclist by inching into the oncoming lane; you could find yourself arm-wrestling the steering wheel to give the cyclist some space.

As for the allegedly Intelligent Personal Assistant voice-recognition system, I found it not so smart. For nearly every voice command, the system either didn’t recognize it or responded in error. For those commands it did recognize (“Turn down the radio,” or “I’m cold”), it took far longer to execute than it would have taken me to merely reach out to rotate the volume knob or flick the temperature gauge.

Although programmed to respond to “Hey BMW,” it frequently self-activated by someone merely saying “BMW.” As you know, BMW owners love to brag about their BMWs by saying “BMW” a lot—meaning the system frequently intrudes into conversations like an embarrassing mom chaperoning a teenage date. To be sure, BMW is far from alone in voice-command errata, but to label the system “intelligent” seems a bit of a misnomer.

There’s also a “revitalizing” function if the driver is tired. The climate control fan pulsates at a chilly 64 degrees, the interior lights change color, and the stereo cranks up a weirdly hypnotic Euro-techno track (which actually made me feel drowsier).

Standard features for all 3 Series buyers include LED headlights, a rain sensor, automatic headlight activation, a hands-free phone system, automatic climate control, cruise control with automatic braking, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, 18-inch alloy wheels, and split-folding rear seats.

Since 1975, BMW has sold 15.5 million compact luxury sport sedans worldwide. Those owners tend to be as enthusiastic as they are demanding. Upon encountering the G20 3 Series, they should feel reassured that BMW has their best interests at heart.

2019 BMW 330i BASE PRICE $41,245 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINES 2.0L/255-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSIONS 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 3,250 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 112.2 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 185.4 x 71.9 x 56.8 in 0-60 MPH 5.3-5.6 sec (mfr est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON Not yet tested ON SALE IN U.S. March 2019

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Categories: Property

1956 Ferrari 290 MM Sells for $22 Million on the Block

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 22:20

Another classic car auction, another multi-million dollar Ferrari sale. Ferraris have long been king when it comes to high-value post-war auction results, and this past Saturday, a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM sold to a new owner for a huge $22,000,005. The venue was RM Sotheby’s first Petersen Automotive Museum auction in Los Angeles, California and the car was a true gem from the early years of the storied Italian automaker.

The 1956 290 MM, chassis number 0628, was originally a factory race car, driven by some of the greatest names in the 1950s international racing scene. Legends such as Phil Hill, Juan Manuel Fangio, Peter Collins, Olivier Gendebien, Sir Stirling Moss, and Wolfgang von Trips all had stints behind the wheel of #0628, which even today still has its original bodywork, engine and transmission—rare for a frequently raced car from this period.

Further, #0628 was given a full restoration to the livery it wore in the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring by Ferrari Classiche, the brand’s in-house restoration service, and was fully authenticated at the same time.  During the 1956 racing season, the car was run with a four-cylinder, 3.5-liter 860 Monza-type engine and finished second at that year’s Mille Miglia road race.

In 1957, a new 3.50 liter 290 S engine replaced the original and in this guise the car finished third overall in the 1957 1000 KM of Buenos Aires. The engine was replaced again prior to the start of the 1957 12 Hours of Sebring,  this time with a 290 MM V-12 with single overhead camshafts vs the 290 S’ twin cam configuration. Unfortunately, the car recorded a DNF at Sebring and ended its campaign under the Scuderia Ferrari team, being sold on through American importer Luigi Chinetti to private ownership.

Other notable sales at the Petersen Automotive Museum auction included a 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV consigned by television and radio personality Adam Carolla, which sold for $2.2 million—in line with the pre-sale estimate. Carolla also sold a 1965 Lamborghini 350 GT for $555,000. Meanwhile, a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT brought $775,000, a 2015 McLaren P1 sold for 1,435,000, and a Euro-spec 1989 Ferrari F40 did very well at $1,545,000.

Among those cars not to sell were a 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort with a high bid of $870,000, a 1989 Ferrari Testarossa at $105,000, and one of the event’s star cars, a 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra with a high bid of $840,000. In all, RM Sotheby’s managed a less-than-stellar 79% sell-through rate for the sale, likely hampered by unrealistic consigner expectations.

While most cars were bid to values well beyond the means of typical collectors, we were quite fond of a 1961 Morgan Plus 4 roadster which sold for a relatively affordable $29,120 and had the curb appeal of something twice that price.

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Categories: Property

Albert Biermann Poised to Head Hyundai Motor Group R&D

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 22:14

A new report has revealed that Hyundai Motor Group will once again go through an executive shuffle, this time in its R&D division. Sources close to the matter told Reuters that two R&D vice chairmen have offered to resign from their positions. If those resignations are accepted, Albert Biermann, who was hired from his previous post as head of BMW M, would be named the next head of R&D for the entire Hyundai Motor Group.

This comes after a recent change-up that saw Euisun Chung, son of Hyundai Motor Group founder Mong-Koo Chung, become executive vice chairman. The move also occurs right as Hyundai’s profits are down two-thirds due to recall costs in the U.S. and weak sales in two key markets, the U.S. and China.

One person close to the issue said that the shake-up is part of a generational change being pushed by the younger Chung and could be announced as early as Wednesday. The two R&D vice chairmen who offered to leave, Woong-chul Yang and Moon-sik Kwon, declined to say why they did so because they are not authorized to speak with the media.

Alongside designers Peter Schreyer, who now serves in an advisory role, and Luc Donckerwolke, Biermann was one of a number of non-Korean executives brought in by the automaker. Since his arrival, two more former BMW M engineers, Fayez Abdul Rahman and Thomas Schemera, and have joined Hyundai Motor Group. Former Bugatti designer Alexander “Sasha” Selipanov was also brought on board at Genesis.

Biermann is responsible for the improvements Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis have made in driving dynamics, and was originally brought in to help develop performance vehicles. The Kia Stinger and K900, Genesis G70, and Hyundai i30 N and Veloster N are just some of the vehicles shaped by Biermann’s influence. Hyundai’s motorsport presence has also expanded since Biermann’s arrival with the automaker now participating in the World Rally Championship, 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, and the TCR Class of the Pirelli World Challenge.

Source: Reuters

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Categories: Property