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2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale First Track Drive: A Big Argument for Big Thinking

Thu, 07/01/2021 - 00:45

Fiorano. The word, let alone the actual place, bursts with visions of Michael Schumacher obsessively knocking off lap after lap of Formula 1 testing; of Ferrari 288 GTO and F40 prototypes finessing the ragged edges of their track chops; of Big Ideas pressure-tested under il Commendatore’s watchful gaze before he spirited away to the great paddock in the sky in 1988. If old man Enzo could today magically materialize and size up the new, staggeringly special Ferrari SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano, the $567,490 (to start) wedge would probably trigger a cascade of questions.

What Is It?

For instance, why is the mighty LaFerrari’s spiritual successor not production-limited like Maranello’s past halo cars? Should a hypercar from the Prancing Horse send its power—some of it electric, as it is a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle—to all four wheels? And how on god’s green earth does this latest range-topper deserve the “Assetto Fiorano” moniker if it can also slice silently through traffic in full-electric mode (and do so for up to 15.5 miles)? Pardon the presumed reincarnation, but the prism of Fiorano—Ferrari’s famous test track, built in 1972—makes this 21st-century flagship a 986-hp riddle wrapped in a COVID-19 conundrum.

Due to the vagaries of pandemic timing (or perhaps Ferrari’s desire to put its fiercest foot forward first), every SF90 Stradale we’ve previewed and driven (such as we did recently on Los Angeles roads) has included the $56,240 Assetto Fiorano package. The bundle packs a serious bit of hardware. This includes the likes of fixed dampers and weapons-grade titanium springs by Multimatic, which replace the standard adaptive suspension; gummier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber (with a Krazy Glue–like R compound also available); a rear wing capable of handling 859 pounds of downforce at 155 mph; carbon-fiber door and underbody panels, wheels, you name it; and a few tasty tidbits such as a Lexan peekaboo engine cover and a titanium and Inconel exhaust.

Idling auspiciously just a stone’s throw from Enzo’s old Fiorano trackside office, the 2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano looks and sounds the part of speed incarnate, thanks in part to the exhaust’s thinner, more resonant Inconel plumbing. Yes, its profile betrays its lineage: 458, 488, F8 Tributo. But these antecedents have been or are commoner strains on the frontline of the eternal supercar battle, not top-line hypercar war dogs like the Enzo or LaFerrari.

Plenty of modifications beneath the SF90 Stradale’s skin illustrate and step away from the seeming similarities, especially the structural carbon-fiber firewall behind the driver that also offers thermal separation between passengers and the laser-welded, liquid-cooled 84-cell battery pack. And speaking of electrons, the single rear and two front electric motors actuate based on a complex matrix of driving goals that depend on two sets of parameters.

Gizmos, Not Gremlins

Those parameters are defined by haptically actuated dynamics settings on the left of the steering wheel (eDrive, Hybrid, Performance, Qualify), and the physical “manettino” dial on the right that controls stability- and traction-related settings (Wet, Sport, Race, CT off, all systems off). Drive in full EV mode, and you have the world’s first front-wheel-drive Ferrari; dial-a-ride to CT off, and power is apportioned to the tail as the reins loosen for maximum waggability.

We stick to Performance and Race modes for our first setting, which maintains the battery’s state of charge for continued floggings while keeping the Michelin Cup 2s from stepping too far out of line. The driver’s seat is an aggressively bolstered, manually adjustable chunk of the Fiorano package that incorporates a racing harness. The pilot’s view offers a visual panoramic of electronica, from the 16.0-inch curved digital instrument panel to a head-up display, plus two so-called satellite screens and an 8.0-inch passenger screen. While that’s a whole mess of pixels, at least they’re crisp, colorful, and purposeful enough to seem at home here at the racetrack, miles away from the fussy proclivities of city drivers. Heck, if digital displays are good enough for Ferrari F1 drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, they might be good enough for you.

Although the tactile delight of the mechanical button start has been lost to a glossy haptic surface at the wheel’s six o’clock position, the 4.0-liter V-8’s subsequent blat-a-tat-tat offers an endearingly archaic counterpoint to the alleged march of progress, especially in this raspier-than-standard setup. Tap the giant carbon-fiber paddle shifter on the right to engage first gear, and the eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox feathers you forward smoothly enough to disarm—at least until you drop the hammer: The accelerator pedal instigates the full symphony of two 25,000-rpm electric motors, one 8,500-rpm electric motor, and an 8,000-rpm Ferrari V-8, all spinning furiously to apportion torque to specific wheels for max speed in all directions, from acceleration to braking to cornering to rotation.

The Driving Experience

Despite the Rube Goldberg complexity of these tactics, the 2021 SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano manages to feel potent, smooth, and tied together cohesively through the steering wheel and pedals. The electric motors add an extra 132 pounds on the front axle, which removes some of the delicately light feeling that typified models such as the 458 Italia. But Ferrari’s signature quick steering and sometimes twitchy response is replaced with stability and linearity that encourages elevated antics. Meanwhile, the electric motors provide outstanding grip and tractor-like pulling force to help propel the SF90 hybrid hypercar out of corners like an F/A-18 Hornet on full afterburner.

We’ve chased Raffaele de Simone, Ferrari’s factory GT development driver, around Fiorano’s dozen corners in a variety of Ferrari production models throughout the years. It typically takes at least a full session to start closing the gap on his effortlessly blistering pace. This time around, the SF90 Stradale’s copious front-end grip and chassis responsiveness produce eerie confidence, to the point of being rather surprisingly un-Ferrari-like.

While the F12tdf and 488 Pista effectively put hair on your chest thanks to their electrifying engagement, the 2021 SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano feels like more of a co-conspirator than a combatant this first time around. It delivers brutal straight-line acceleration yet obedient, tenacious, and tractable cornering. As is typical of other Ferraris during track driving, Race mode constricts with an almost annoyingly well-tempered power delivery, enough to keep the tail tucked and the nose aimed in precisely the direction you point it. In this application the proceedings are aided by torque fill, which bolsters the thrust before the turbos spool to god knows what rpm, as well as discreet active aerodynamics that manipulate drag and downforce via a Gurney flap at the tail.

We’re able to reel toward de Simone by late braking on the approach to turn-in points, but there’s no gaining on him at midcorner or exit. Race mode, though seamless and seemingly unintrusive, simply does not transfer enough power to rocket out of the bend fiercely enough to keep pace with the seasoned pro. It continues like this: Fast in, slow(ish) out as we aim for smoothness while trying to work around the SF90’s quick-thinking nannies, which perform hundreds of calculations per second. The Stradale is a remarkably potent weapon even with this heavily managed attack, but greater reserves lurk beneath the surface, hidden capabilities awaiting our next go on the approximately 1.9-mile circuit.

The afternoon comes not only with de Simone’s encouragement to unlock less restricted settings, but with access to R-compound tires, Michelin’s ruthlessly sticky alternative to the already capable Cup 2s. The difference is remarkable. Switching to Qualify mode unleashes the electric motors’ full 217 hp, and it dumps maximum electrons from the battery in the interest of claiming peak lap times rather than long-term range. Telemetry later reveals the discharge rate is so intense that the 7.9-kWh battery lost approximately 13 percent of its charge on the straightaway alone. Some of that power is regenerated upon braking, but the energy flow’s net sum is dictated by enough battery depletion to empty the reserves over the course of one lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

With CT off, power pours through the rear wheels more generously, bringing a level of liveliness that simply isn’t there in the Race setting. Uncorked, the 2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano trades white glove for white knuckle, behaving much more like you’d expect from a four-figure-horsepower hypercar—and that’s without fully switching off all of the nanny systems. The elevated dynamics come with enough steering and brake feedback to inspire trust in the hardware, despite its drive-by-wire setup.

Data later reveal we’ve shaved off some five seconds per lap when using the more permissive settings, which at least superficially reinforces the idea that nannies can indeed slow you down. However, a deeper dive into the telemetry trace charts also reveals the myriad systems still working overtime to rotate, accelerate, and corner the car through vectoring and torque fill; so much for the triumph of man and machine over science.

The numbers also favor the 2021 SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano in contrast to its fearsome predecessors: the new model laps the Fiorano circuit in 1 minute and 19 seconds, 0.7 second quicker than the seemingly indomitable LaFerrari.

Why It Matters

If there is an ultimate point to experiencing the SF90’s Assetto Fiorano package at the eponymously named circuit, it’s that the Ferrari lineup’s new apex manages to be both startlingly elevated and remarkably accessible. Unlike the marque’s past flirtations with unobtanium—ultra-limited seven-figure specimens doled out to a select few, many of whom indulged in speculative resale—the dream is now reproducible and serialized, though, of course, it still carries a lofty price tag that can easily top $750,000 with options.

Once again, the flagship is also a Big Idea incarnate, a hopelessly optimistic execution on the premise that a hybrid needn’t sacrifice an iota of its track worthiness as it strives toward peak future friendliness. The 2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale Assetto Fiorano’s oversized accomplishments are also enough to justify Ferrari’s first-ever hybrid V-6-powered production car, the upcoming 296 GTB. Ultimately, the SF90 represents yet another of Maranello’s grand conceptions, a proof of outrageous concept that just might have made Enzo proud.

2021 Ferrari SF90 Assetto Fiorano Specifications BASE PRICE $567,490 LAYOUT Mid-engine front-motor, FWD/RWD/AWD,* 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 4.0L/769-hp/590-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8, plus 2×133-hp/63-lb-ft front & 201-hp/196-lb-ft rear electric motors; 986 hp comb TRANSMISSION 1-speed auto (fr), 8-speed twin-clutch auto (rr) CURB WEIGHT 3,550 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 104.3 in L x W x H 185.4 x 77.6 x 46.7 in 0-60 MPH 2.5 sec (mfr est) EPA FUEL ECON 16/20/18 mpg city/hwy/combined (gas), 51/51/51 mpg-e city/hwy/combined (gas+elec) ON SALE Now *In EV-only mode it is front-drive, at high speeds it is rear-drive, otherwise it is AWD.

The post 2021 Ferrari SF90 Stradale First Track Drive: A Big Argument for Big Thinking appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Here’s How the Awesome Rivian R1T Camp Kitchen Works

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 23:35

When that trail-induced hunger hits, bust out the kitchen and whip up some eggs and bacon. No biggie—if you have the right setup. The Rivian R1T electric truck hides a nifty secret in its self-contained outdoor Camp Kitchen, a big deal for those who prefer to cook outside in the fresh air rather than inside a tiny box. The setup is not stored in the bed, nor is it bundled with some futuristic Rivian bed-mounted camper setup. Rather, like magic, the Camp Kitchen slides out of the truck’s Gear Tunnel storage compartment via the Rivian Gear Tunnel Shuttle. The Gear Tunnel, located between the cab and bed, is accessed from the exterior via drop-down doors on either side of the bed just behind the rear passenger doors.

To get the full gist of Rivian’s Camp Kitchen setup, check out this video walkthrough with Rachel, the lead design engineer. The kitchen consists of separate flip-up cooktop and sink modules that connect to the Gear Tunnel Shuttle (that’s the tray that glides in and out) by sliding onto the shuttle’s T-slot system. Support legs on the shuttle keep the kitchen sturdy when in use. In addition to holding the Camp Kitchen, the 6063 aircraft grade anodized aluminum Gear Tunnel Shuttle powers the Camp Kitchen.

Drawers located on the other side of the cooktop and sink area house a 30-piece kitchenware set from Snow Peak that includes a three-piece nonstick cook set, prep tools, water kettle, stacking mugs, tableware set, and more. There’s a coffee grinder and coffee drip for those accustomed to a morning pick-me-up, and of course there’s a charcuterie board for home-away-from-home charcuterie-ing. The pieces all fit nicely into molded inserts in the drawers, guaranteeing there’s no banging and jostling of the precious titanium goods.

 

The 1,440-watt two-burner induction cooktop looks slick and provides the heat to make any meal or snack palatable. Its smooth Richlite surface allows for easy clean-up. The collapsible sink includes a cover in the event that countertop space is preferred. What’s a sink without water? A spray faucet fed by a 4-gallon water tank nestles nicely next to the sink.

The Rivian Camp Kitchen x Snow Peak package includes the Camp Kitchen, Rivian Gear Tunnel Shuttle, and Snow Peak Kitchen Set—for a limited time, at least. The package adds a hefty $5,000 to the Rivian R1T, which has understandably created some skepticism about its value. But at least the Camp Kitchen isn’t a permanent commitment—it’s fully removable, leaving the Gear Tunnel Shuttle available to attach any accessories that Rivian may offer in the future.

The post Here’s How the Awesome Rivian R1T Camp Kitchen Works appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Cheers to the Heineken B.O.T. Self-Driving Beer Delivery Robot

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 22:15

It currently is a day of the week—which one? Doesn’t matter, but kicking back at the end of it with a cold snack is surely a great way to wind down. But who wants to get up from the couch, work-from-home desk, or patio to grab their first (or second, or third … ) brewski from the fridge or cooler? You could train your dog to grab one for you, which would take effort, time, and commitment. Or you could turn to Heineken’s new B.O.T., which is, yep, a beer-carrying robot that brings the beers to you.

Stop wondering what this has to do with cars, because the B.O.T. is kind of like a tiny self-driving car. Well, with its little cooler backpack, it’s closer to a self-driving SUV or wagon. See? Autonomy! We’re covering the future here at MotorTrend. Sit down, this is important stuff.

The B.O.T. name stands for “Beer Outdoor Transporter,” a painfully forced (if cute) acronym. It has six wheels, with its frontmost pair being notably larger than its rears—those front wheels appear to be the ones that deliver the B.O.T.’s power to the ground. A tilting display and sensor array mounted to the front of the robot affords it a stark resemblance to WALL-E, the animated trash-compacting robot from the Pixar movie of the same name.

The Heineken B.O.T. is designed to follow you around while toting up to 12 beer cans in its onboard cooler. How it does this is unclear, but we’re guessing a Bluetooth or WiFi signal pairs it to a user’s phone and, well, tracks that person down while its sensors avoid obstacles. It’s kind of like a more fun Roomba vacuum.

As if this idea needed to be even better, Heineken made it so the B.O.T. talks. It has a “charming A.I. personality” and a video the company released shows the robot asking “Hello, feeling thirsty?” Yes, you saint of a tiny beer robot, we are. So far it does not seem as if you can buy a B.O.T. of your own, but Heineken is giving one away on July 1. Before you ask: no, we don’t care that we’re basically slinging a brewer’s goofy marketing opportunity. Mostly, that’s because we don’t find this stalker ‘bot anywhere near as terrifying as those robot dogs Hyundai now owns or as unusual as that toilet-paper one Charmin came up with.

The post Cheers to the Heineken B.O.T. Self-Driving Beer Delivery Robot appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Volvo Concept Recharge First Look: Fully Upgradable

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 21:00

The Volvo Concept Recharge heralds a new era for the brand, and maybe for the industry—one in which platforms are engineered for evolution. Lots of cars offer over-the-air software updates to keep customers engaged in, and in love with, their vehicles. But in the fast-moving automotive future, keeping a car’s technology current will require more than just freshened code. So Volvo envisions planning and packaging its cars with an expectation of periodic hardware updates as well.

Volvo’s chief executive officer Håkan Samuelsson said, “If a car is to live for, let’s say 10 years, I don’t see computing hardware living that long. If you could upgrade maybe after half that time, you could give the car even more functionality in the last five years.” The sentiment was echoed by Mickey Kataria, the director of product management at—Volvo’s electrical architecture partner—Google. “I think we’ll have to introduce some notion of hardware upgradability,” adding this bit of context: “People already upgrade the tires over a car’s lifetime, so it’s a natural concept to bring to the computer as well.”

Volvo Concept Recharge likely previews the design language the brand plans to use on its large premium SUV, which is due to arrive next year. It will introduce these and other new electric vehicle architectural concepts to the brand, as well as underpin the next generation of Volvo models. The vehicle is so new and so vital to Volvo’s future that the brand is scrapping its alphanumeric nomenclature. “This car will have a name, more like a child,” proud papa Samuelsson said.

Volvo Concept Recharge Design

Relative to the Volvo XC90, the Concept Recharge’s wheels are moved closer to the corners, which leaves more space for the large, long-range battery pack that forms the structural floor of the vehicle. This floor is actually low enough to provide the expected headroom and visibility of today’s SUVs while integrating a lower, more aerodynamic roofline. The A-pillars move forward and the seats are spread out a bit due to the extra space afforded by not having a combustion engine consuming space within the Concept Recharge’s front end. There is no radiator grille on this concept as there’s no hot engine to cool. Instead, a shield-like surface carries the iconic Volvo iron mark.

The daytime running light signature of the Volvo Concept Recharge is unmistakable as the brand’s so-called “Thor’s Hammer” design by day, but by night the “hammer handles” part horizontally like eyelids, allowing a half-dozen LED headlamps to emerge. The rear lighting signature similarly incorporates the vertical signature of most recent Volvos, with a horizontal element that helps frame a recessed panel on the hatch. On the concept, the lamps extend at speed to assist with air-flow separation, but we’re not holding our breath for that feature to make production. We do expect the exterior lighting animation to survive—possibly with a variety of downloadable versions for customers to choose from.

Scandinavian Living Room Interior

Swathed in natural and sustainable materials, including a very thin wood veneer through which ambient lighting can be projected, the interior vibe of the Concept Recharge is very much minimalist Scandinavian chic. Safe, simple, and serene were the watchwords for the user-interface architects. Critical information is displayed on a large head-up display, augmented by a comparatively small and reconfigurable digital instrument cluster, with most infotainment handled by the large 15.0-inch vertical touchscreen on the center stack. Information presented on it is divided into a large display of navigation, with frequently accessed items arranged in three zones beneath it, each of which can be expanded.

The front seats are mounted to pedestals to provide maximum rear foot room, and the entire seat cushion of each rear captain’s chair can elevate to put smaller children up at a safer height. A footrest elevates with the chairs. Here again, a welcome lighting animation greets occupants. Do not count on the rear-hinged rear doors and the absence of a B-pillar to see the light of day—these are strictly concept car bits.

Volvo Ride, or Super Cruise With Lidar

Look above the center of the windshield and you’ll notice a bump. This is where the concept’s Luminar lidar unit resides, providing a more weather-tolerant sensing system to contribute to the car’s 360-degree sensor suite. Volvo plans to make this feature standard long before it begins marketing any level of unsupervised autonomy, and the system will be programmed to intervene and not just warn the driver in instances where a crash is deemed imminent. The company believes so strongly in the system’s ability to help prevent accidents that it plans to eventually make the system standard across its range, noting, “We wouldn’t sell an airbag or seatbelt as an option.”

That said, this system will soon permit “Level 3” type conditional hands-off-the-wheel eyes-on-the-road autonomy, much like the Super Cruise system of General Motors. Volvo currently refers to this setup as “Ride.” The system will initially work only on certain highways, just like Super Cruise. Volvo will ensure the driver remains ready to resume control by using two driver-monitoring cameras (one located near the center of the car and another near the A-pillar), plus a capacitive-touch steering wheel. This should ensure against would-be rear-seat movie-watching “drivers.” While Volvo won’t take thousands of your dollars now in exchange for the promise of full autonomy sometime in the future, we fully expect Volvo to eventually market such functionality via software (and possibly hardware) upgrades.

Dual-Core Computing

Initial applications of this new technology will rely on two “brains”—or core computers—running an Android operating system that connects to perhaps 100 electronic control units connected via ethernet. One concentrates on vehicle control, the other is more focused on safety sensing equipment and Ride mode. The second generation of this setup will eventually merge these into a single unit for more efficient cooling and control. These systems manage all machine learning and the core computing that regulates the behavior of the vehicle.

The system was designed in-house and serves as the brain of the car, while all the connected devices work as the muscles that ultimately provide the customer experience. Designing as much of this in-house as possible gives Volvo control over the customer experience.

Leveraging the latest technology from Swedish battery partner Northvolt, Volvo claims its next generation of batteries will feature 20 percent more energy. Pure lithium anodes and state-of-the-art solid-state electrolytes promise 1,000 watt-hours/liter in the third-generation batteries that are expected to arrive within the second half of this decade. CEO Peter Carlson pointed out that because Northvolt’s battery factory is located in an area of Sweden with hydropower, the company can zero-out half the carbon footprint typically attributed to the manufacturing of batteries. Additionally, Northvolt is working to source recycled materials to lower the remaining carbon footprint of its batteries.

The next generation of Volvos will also have a more holistic mobile phone app that can connect the driver to more than one Volvo vehicle, to any home automation personal assistant, as well as to any charging payment apps.

When Can I Buy a Volvo Recharge?

You’ll never get a crack at this exact vehicle, but a large battery electric SUV with a real name (probably not Recharge) will arrive in 2022 sporting the first production application of lidar that isn’t in some fully autonomous robotaxi or shuttle. Keep it for 10 years and heaven knows what it’ll be capable of doing. That is, as long as you keep paying to keep its “brain” and “muscles” up to date.

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Categories: Property

2021 BMW Alpina XB7 First Test: A Comfy, 612-hp Cannonball

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 20:30

If something measuring more than 200 inches long and weighing in at nearly three tons doesn’t sound like an ideal candidate for a BMW M badge, well, you’re right. The X7 three-row SUV, BMW’s range-topping luxury SUV with an imposingly gargantuan profile, is about as spiritually far from standard-bearing BMW M sports cars like the M2 and M3 as you can get. This is where Alpina comes in—for years, Alpina has applied its own luxurious and sporty, M-adjacent treatment to various Bimmers, including those BMW’s own high-performance mavens wouldn’t touch.

For years, the latter vehicles included the 7 Series and, well, that’s it. Alpina recently added the 6 Series Gran Coupe to its American lineup (the B6), however, and now the beefy X7 joins the portfolio, receiving a serious warming-over and a new name: Alpina XB7. Think of it as an X7 M50i with a unique suspension tune and its twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 overhauled with bigger turbos, a better-breathing exhaust setup, and enhanced cooling, all with a factory BMW warranty. Plus, you can purchase one from your local dealership. 

Seriously Big-Time Numbers for a Big SUV

Ignore the XB7’s dimensions and mass, and its stats read like a proper M car’s: 612 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, rear-axle-biased all-wheel drive, and the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.0 seconds flat. The quarter mile whizzes by in only 12.4 seconds with a trap speed of 114 mph. Braking and grip figures are similarly wowing, with pizza-sized brake rotors capable of hauling the XB7 to a stop from 60 mph in 100 feet, and 23-inch Pirelli P Zero tires generating 0.95 g of lateral grip around our skidpad. Every performance metric improves over the 523-hp X7 M50i, and the Alpina is even quicker than the also-three-ton, also-three-row Mercedes-AMG GLS63.

Reconciling those performance figures with the hulking SUV before you might take a minute. But the XB7 really moves. Unlike many M-fettled cars, the XB7 isn’t harsh or unforgiving; it isn’t an animal barely tamed for the street. This is a three-row luxury SUV, and when driven normally it gives no indication that it’s anything more than that. The ride is firm and controlled yet comfortable. The cabin is eerily quiet. And everywhere you look inside there is wood trim, leather, and actual metal. Go ahead, cross the continent: The XB7 whooshes down the freeway with a stately authority. 

This ride and handling balance is classic Alpina, which has long focused as hard on extracting more performance from BMWs as it has on delivering a more exclusive and luxurious experience. Except for its thin-spoke wheels, four round exhaust outlets, and barely noticeable chin spoiler with A-L-P-I-N-A spelled out across it, the XB7 looks like nearly any other X7. Our test vehicle’s Ametrin Metallic purple paint was its loudest feature—pick any other color, and the Alpina is subtlety on wheels. It even keeps the regular X7’s chrome trim. 

Inside, the XB7 elevates the X7’s cabin while staying well clear of being garish. An Alpina badge replaces the BMW roundel on the steering wheel, there is a little plaque on the center console noting its origins, and it offers Alpina-specific trim (in our test vehicle’s case, an arresting myrtle burled wood). The digital gauge cluster is Alpina-fied, too, with special graphics and colors. As is customary for an Alpina product, the steering wheel features blue and green stitching, as well as shift buttons on the back of the rim. Taking the place of more commonly used paddles, these shift controls may require a bit of a reach for some folks. Each side handles a single shift direction; press the right button for upshifts and the left one for downshifts.  

Floating Between Comfortable and Sporty

While cruising, the only tell the Alpina has more to give is a distant, tense thrum from the huge tailpipes. From the driver’s seat, the engine note sounds so far away, it could perhaps be coming from another car. Step on the gas, and the V-8’s noises suddenly get a whole lot closer, a whole lot louder, and a whole lot more urgent. The scenery around you simply blurs. 

For as jaw-dropping as this 5,821-pound BMW’s performance is, its experience is surprisingly genteel. Stomp on the gas, and the XB7 moves forward with the inexorable push of a hydraulic ram, not the explosion of, say, a carbonated drink shaken up before twisting off the cap. Triple-digit speeds are reached and maintained effortlessly, though the twin-turbo V-8 is a low-rpm puller, not a high-revving screamer, and at higher speeds you can feel it working harder against the SUV’s considerable mass and aerodynamic drag. 

Alpina’s signature wheel design is applied to absolutely massive 23-inch rollers wearing fat, staggered-width tires: 285-section fronts and steamroller-sized 325-section rears. These deliver solid grip in corners—again, check the nearly 1.00 g of lateral grip this XB7 posted—but their low-profile sidewalls and huge cross-sections make for sharp initial impacts over pavement cracks and freeway expansion joints. Go figure, the style-focused 23-inch wheels and thin tires suffer some slap; you can opt for smaller-diameter 21s if that bothers you. 

Another sign this isn’t meant to be a hardcore performance SUV like the smaller BMW X5 M or a Porsche Cayenne Turbo? The primary controls feel remote; the electrically boosted steering loads up somewhat naturally as cornering forces build but is otherwise rheostatic. The brake pedal is squishy, and although it delivers linear and powerful response, a firmer stroke would make for a more confident feel. Even the suspension, which offers settings ranging from Comfort to Sport to Sport Plus, maintains some give even in its firmest modes, allowing for some body roll, dive, and squat when really hustling the XB7. We left the Alpina in its Comfort ride setting for the most part, as this mode gives up little in body control while keeping the ride smooth. 

Just Leave It in Control

In spite of the myriad drive mode settings that allow for individually tailoring the steering, transmission, throttle response, ride, and exhaust to your liking, the XB7 works best when you skip all of that. We found that leaving the car in Comfort and tipping the shift lever to the left from “D” to “S” was the sweet spot. The eight-speed automatic transmission perks up, delivering crisp and perfectly timed shifts and holding lower gears without letting the engine rev unnecessarily—remember, this engine is a torque twister, not a high-rpm screamer, so “S” merely keeps the V-8 in the meat of its torque band. 

In theory, then, the XB7, like the B7 sedan, exists as the de facto step-up X7 variant. But although it overlaps some with the theoretical X7 M BMW isn’t going to build, the XB7 is not an X7 M stand-in—rather, it is a fast and cosseting hauler with a touch of exclusivity, excellent chassis and engine tuning, and impressive performance. Starting at $142,295, it isn’t even all that expensive, at least given what it brings to the table, and our test car rang in at $156,345 fully loaded. The similarly fleet, luxurious, and 603-hp Mercedes-AMG GLS63 runs $133,150 before options, for example. Whether you need the ultimate X7 or are a longtime Alpina fan who now needs something far roomier, the XB7 satisfies.

2021 BMW Alpina XB7 Specifications BASE PRICE $142,295 PRICE AS TESTED $156,345 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 6-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 4.4L/612-hp/590-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 5,821 lb (48/52%) WHEELBASE 122.2 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 203.3 x 78.7 x 70.7 in 0-60 MPH 4.0 sec QUARTER MILE 12.4 sec @ 114.0 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 100 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.95 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.8 sec @ 0.78 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 15/21/17 mpg

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Categories: Property

2022 Chevy Silverado ZR2 Coming to Off-Road Ford, Ram Pickups

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 19:15

The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is a serious midsize pickup with legit off-road chops. The truck’s spool valve shocks are serious performers, the underside is up-armored to handle the rough stuff, and it rocks an all-business look that happens to also increase function. The ZR2 treatment is a very successful formula on the Colorado, and the available turbodiesel engine is a nice touch. Now, it seems, Chevy is seeking to replicate the formula with the full-size 2022 Silverado ZR2, creating a truck to sit above the Trail Boss in the lineup.

Celebrating those who love the mud. Tune in this fall to see what's new from #Silverado. pic.twitter.com/MUYoEUyBZa

— Chevy Trucks (@ChevyTrucks) June 30, 2021

But is the bigger ZR2 going to be a less speed-addled F-150 Tremor and Ram 1500 Rebel fighter, or will it have enough performance to do battle with the powerful F-150 Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX? Until Chevy releases engine specs, it’s hard to peg exactly which bogie the Silverado ZR2 is aiming at. But it’ll likely have some features and a look that sets it apart, in some respects, from all of them.

For one, expect the Colorado’s Multimatic-sourced Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve shock absorbers to have a starring role. These allow for very precise damping control, improved cooling, and more travel. In the Colorado ZR2, there’s an additional spool valve that only comes into play during very large suspension movements. As a package, the dampers work better over a broader range of conditions—on- and off-road—than a traditional shock.

The Colorado ZR2 also distinguishes itself with an increased lift, improved armor, rock sliders, and re-sculpted bumpers to improve approach and departure angles. There’s also a reinforced, fully-boxed  frame. The Silverado ZR2 will almost certainly get a slightly increased lift compared to the Trail Boss, beefier skid plates, and the same sort of bumper treatment as its little sibling. The additional frame reinforcements may or may not be necessary. Based on the teaser video, it also seems the Silverado ZR2 will stick with a rear leaf spring arrangement, like the Colorado ZR2, rather than adopt the coil-spring arrangement of the F-150 Raptor and Ram TRX.

What will be under the hood? That’s a good question. We’d hope that Chevy would go full-send with the Silverado ZR2 and make it a true Raptor/TRX-fighter with a supercharged version of the L87 6.2-liter V-8, but we have a sinking feeling it won’t happen. The regular L87 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft is a pretty stout engine, and a Silverado ZR2 so equipped would be more than a match for a 5.7-liter Ram Rebel and only slightly off the pace of the F-150 Tremor’s twin-turbo V-6 (perhaps making up for the torque deficit with the charm only a massive V-8 can provide).

Remember, the Colorado ZR2 also offers a Duramax turbodiesel option, and if Chevy wants to it could offer the Silverado ZR2 with that engine’s larger sibling: the smooth, torquey Duramax I-6 turbodiesel. It offers a mere 277 hp but a stinking 460 lb-ft of torque, and provides great fuel economy (and, thus, range). It’s a solid possibility.

All this squares with what our friends at Four Wheeler saw on Chevy’s ZRX race truck, which features DSSV shocks with bodies that were as wide as a can of soda, extra armor, and a 6.2. The ZRX didn’t feature the rock sliders we’re hoping Chevy will fit to the production ZR2 (or offer as an option), and also didn’t feature significantly altered bumpers—although fitting ZR2-style bumpers may have tipped Chevy’s hand about an imminent production version. Either way, with the ZRX race truck and now this official ZR2 teaser, something wicked this way wheels—and we’ll know more about it this fall.

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Categories: Property

We Hate That We Kind of Like This Over-the-Top Rolls-Royce Cullinan

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 18:05

It’s hard to get Mansory body kits right. Well, what we really mean is it’s hard for Mansory to get pretty much anything right. The German tuning brand has a penchant for going well overboard most of the time. That said, we might have found the exception to that rule. Platinum Motorsports, a tuning company based in Los Angeles, has shared a few images of its newest project: a two-tone Mansory Rolls-Royce Cullinan, which just so happens to work.

At first, this Rolls might look like a bit much. But, you have to think about Mansory’s history. After dishing out some of the gaudiest takes in the aftermarket world, the company’s body kit for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan actually displays a little bit of restraint. It swaps silly looks for a sprinkle of subtlety (aside from the huge fender flares), and the team at Platinum Motorsports neatly overlaid silver-over-blue two-tone paintwork—no, it isn’t a wrap—with a hand-painted orange pinstripe running just over the Cully’s shoulder line.

Like Kim Kardashian’s Escalade we recently featured (that Platinum also worked on), this Cullinan is slammed and rides mere inches off the ground. It also features massive 24-inch wheels by Forgiato, a cat-back exhaust system, and a completely reworked interior. Inside, there’s a bit more of the classic Mansory we know (and usually can’t stand). Nearly everything is orange leather or fur, and on the door sills there are carbon-fiber kick plates that read “One of One.” Platinum said its team tore the old interior out and replaced just about every inch and stitch—that’s no small task.

Platinum said the project took some 600 man-hours to complete; from stripping off the Roller’s body panels to reworking the interior to putting the Mansory kit on to painting the whole thing. It’s not for everyone, but somehow this one-off Cullinan makes a statement without being in your face. We like that.

Thanks to Johnny Beckett (@Paid2shoot) for the photos. 

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Categories: Property

2022 Ram 1500 Limited 10th Anniversary Edition: Literally a Limited Edition

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 17:01

The Ram 1500 Limited has been around for a decade now, and to commemorate the luxurious pickup truck, Ram is introducing a 10th Anniversary Edition model. Yep, it’s a limited-edition pickup celebrating a…Ram Limited pickup.

Joining the lineup for 2022, the Ram 1500 Limited 10th Anniversary Edition is an even more upscale version of the already luxurious 1500 Limited trim level. Today’s benchmark for luxury trucks, the Limited offers high-quality materials throughout the interior, including combination of wood, metal, leather, and detailed stitching. The 10th Anniversary Edition adds another layer of premium with exclusive quilted leather on the seats and door inserts and a new suede headliner that extends to the A-pillar and flip-down visors.

Inside, the special-edition Ram features a new Indigo and Sea Salt Grey color scheme accented with Aluminum Litho bezels. Equipment upgrades include a 19-speaker premium sound system and a metal pedal trim kit, a unique graphic displayed on the instrument cluster at start-up, a 10th Anniversary badge on the center console, and an updated rotary shifter center cap.

Ram 1500 Limited 10th Anniversary models come painted in exclusive Blue Shade paint and all get the truck maker’s a multifunction tailgate, a Mopar center-mounted bed step, and adjustable cargo tie-down hooks. A crew cab configuration is available, and engine choices include the 5.7-liter V-8 with eTorque mild-hybrid assist or 3.0-liter EcoDiesel.

As many of you may recall, the Ram 1500 won our 2019 MotorTrend Truck of the Year award. Reclaiming its place in the truck competition for 2021, the 702-horsepower Ram 1500 TRX returned to the battleground and won once again, after the Ram HD won for 2020. The 2022 Ram 1500 Limited 10th Anniversary Edition goes on sale in the third quarter of 2021 and will start at $61,870.

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Categories: Property

Kevin Hart’s Muscle Car Crew: A Journey into the World of Classic Cars

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 16:00

“The art of building a car knows no color,” said actor/comedian Kevin Hart in an exclusive interview with HOT ROD in anticipation of the new show Kevin Hart’s Muscle Car Crew. His words are true, and that’s a fact I’ve witnessed over my nearly two decades in the industry.

Cars bring people of all walks of life together. The shared passion among enthusiasts breaks down perceived differences in age, demographics, and social status. No matter what you look like or where you came from, you can always recognize a cool car and share a conversation with a stranger over it. As a colleague and friend for many years loves to say, “If the world were run by car guys (and gals), it would be a much better place.”

Related: Get ready for full-throttle fun with Kevin Hart’s Muscle Car Crew, streaming July 2 only on the MotorTrend App! Sign up for a free trial today!

Kevin Hart is a true enthusiast with an impressive collection of vintage and modern cars, most from the muscle car era, but a few exotics and European sports cars are thrown in for good measure. Even better, he wants his cars to be functional as drivers and has taken to attending car shows in Southern California—most notably, the Quarantine Cruise in Huntington Beach—and wanted to bring his core group of friends along with him, so about 18 months ago, he bought each of his five closest friends a car that seemed to be reflective of their personalities. That way, they could attend shows together as a group they’ve dubbed the Plastic Cup Boyz. Why plastic cup? Kevin says he associates the ubiquitous red plastic cup with having a great time. “It came from touring. Backstage at shows, you’re usually drinking from a plastic cup. It’s the same with family barbecues and parties.”

With this spirit of seeking a good time, Kevin and his crew began attending local car shows, and though they weren’t all “car guys” at the start, they each got hooked. We all know how it goes from there. You have a cool car that you take to your local show, and as you meet more people and swap stories, the bench racing sessions ensue. Suddenly, you want more power, a better stance, wider tires, and bigger brakes. The parts catalogs come out, plans are formed, and money changes hands, and that’s where the newbie can fall into a trap. What are the best modifications to do to an already nice car? What parts should you avoid? What offers best bang-for-the-buck? Who should do the work? The guys had the wherewithal to recognize they were potentially straying off path and paused to regroup. Since all of them are “in the biz” as the expression goes, they drew upon their writing and producing talents and pitched a show that documented their journey into the world of performance cars. Kevin enthusiastically approved, and MotorTrend signed on.

To help steer the ship, Lucky Costa, intrepid co-host of HOT ROD Garage, was recruited as the show’s mechanic and car advisor. Drawing on decades of experience as a mobile technician and electrical system troubleshooter, Lucky suggested real-world performance upgrades for each car, then built the cars at his shop. Meanwhile, the Plastic Cup Boyz dove headfirst into the performance world by participating in a one-day driving class at the Radford Racing School in Phoenix, then attended the Barrett-Jackson auction the next day. They also made a trip to Irwindale, California, for some passes on the 1/8-mile dragstrip and a ride-along in a Formula D drift car.

The show chronicles the journey of the Plastic Cup Boyz as they immersed themselves into classic car culture. As Harry explained to us, “When we first went to cars and coffee, we experienced all the different cars and cultures that were there—lowriders, sports cars, prewar—and each group had people who were experts in their range of cars. People would come up to Kev and ask questions like, ‘What transmission are you running? Is that a 4L80?’ He had no idea what they were saying. He couldn’t speak the jargon or the lingo. We thought it would be funny to have a show about guys who aren’t afraid to admit that we don’t know much about cars. We don’t know, but we’re willing to learn. We have this passion; we love classic cars.”

You’ve got to respect that attitude; not many people are willing to admit a lack of knowledge, much less make it as public as these guys are. Harry continued, “All the people we’ve met have been so open to us and willing to share information. You just bond over cars. We’re willing to learn, and we want you guys to learn with us. That was the genesis of the show.”

“[The show] is based on friendship. Cars bring people together.” — Kevin Hart

In addition to learning the mechanical jargon from Lucky, the guys were treated to a one-day driving clinic at the Radford Racing School, an experience Joey recalled with some chagrin. The day included sessions on track as well as the slalom course and skidpad. Spank told us he suffered a crippling case of motion sickness early that morning that nearly took him out for the rest of the day.

“Spank’s a wuss,” said Joey. “He probably told you it was something he ate!” In a more serious tone, he added, “The racetrack was intimidating. My left leg was shaking like a drummer, and I kept thinking, ‘I hope I’m doing this well.’ I learned a lot, though. Driving techniques aren’t always intuitive, but the experience helped me with everyday street driving.”

“I had to get out of the car,” Spank exclaimed. “They gave me a pill—Dramamine, I think. It helped, but it took a while,” he said of his churning stomach. The crew went to Barrett-Jackson the next day, and Spank said he had a great time looking at all the cars for sale. “I wanted to buy something, but they were all more than I wanted to spend,” he added.

At Irwindale, California, John and Spank raced each other on the track’s 1/8-mile dragstrip, where the LS3-powered Camaro spanked (pardon the pun) the big-block Chevelle. If the guys hit the track again, Spank’s new 525-horsepower crate engine will certainly fare better but will likely still get served by John’s newly supercharged Camaro. At the same time, Joey was harangued into a ride along with Kelsey Rowling in her Formula D drift car. “No one volunteered. Spank said he was too tall to fit in the car,” Joey says. About the ride, he continued, “It was terrifying. We kept getting closer and closer to the wall, and I was thinking, ‘Not like this. I don’t want to go out like this. If she slows enough, I’m going to get out of this car!’” He survived, of course, but ride-alongs in drift cars can make one pause to consider whether their will and life insurance policy are up to date. Other less intimidating field trips included a stop at the Petersen Automotive Museum for a behind-the-scenes tour of the collection, an air-cooled Volkswagen show at Los Angeles’ Dockweiler Beach, and a visit with Mister Cartoon, an Los Angeles–based tattoo artist who took the guys to a lowrider cruise.

Kevin Hart’s Muscle Car Crew will debut July 2 on the MotorTrend App and will run a total of eight episodes—sign up today for a free trial! The overarching theme is of learning from and participating more fully in the classic car culture. “It’s based on friendship,” Kevin says. “Cars bring people together.”

Meet the Plastic Cup Boyz

John “Burgandee” Clausell: Personal Barber

1968 Camaro SS

LS3/4L60E

Upgrades:

  • Magnuson TVS2300 Supercharger
  • Concept One Accessory Drive
  • Wilwood Brakes: 6-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors
  • Hooker Blackheart exhaust

Trivia: John calls the car Elmo. “Every time I hit the gas; I giggle like Tickle Me Elmo.”

Ron “Boss” Everline: Personal trainer/fitness entrepreneur

1965 Mustang

289/three-speed automatic

Upgrades:

  • 425-horsepower 347 stroker custom built by Engine Factory
  • Sniper EFI
  • Be Cool radiator
  • New top

Trivia: When he first got it, the car was very unreliable. There was a draw on the battery, it overheated, often wouldn’t start, and left Boss stranded on the freeway.

Will “Spank” Horton: Comedian/actor

1969 Chevelle SS 396

396/4L80

Wilwood Brakes

Upgrades:

  • Chevrolet Performance LS3 crate engine, 480 horsepower
  • Sniper EFI
  • Be Cool Radiator with dual electric fans
  • Wiring fixes

Trivia: Spank is Kevin’s oldest friend of the group. They grew up together in Philadelphia.

Joey Wells: Writer/comedian

1956 Volkswagen Beetle

1,600cc/four-speed manual

Upgrades:

  • Powerhaus 2,300cc engine
  • Upgraded transmission
  • Suspension rebuild
  • Disc brake conversion
  • New steering box

Trivia: “I only took the car on the freeway once, and it was scary,” Joey says. The alignment was off, the suspension was worn out, and the engine was really tired.

Harry Ratchford: Writer/producer

1970 Chevelle

502/4L80E

Ron Davis Radiator

Wilwood Brakes

Schott Wheels

Carpet and upholstery by Gabe’s Custom Interiors

Upgrade:

  • It didn’t need much since it was the most modified car from the beginning. For the show, it was dyno tuned at New Era Performance with two different settings: a valet tune, and the OMG tune.

Trivia: Harry is a U.S. Navy veteran. His car was at a couple different shops before taking it to Bent Custom & Performance in Chatsworth, California, where it was completely rebuilt. Harry used this experience to help develop the concept for the show.

Kevin Hart: Comedian/actor

Kevin Hart’s carbon-fiber 1970 Charger built by SpeedKore.

1965 Mustang

Coyote 5.0L/4R70W

Upgrades:

  • None needed! It was good to go.

Trivia: This is one of more than 20 classic and exotic cars Kevin owns. During production of the show, he won a 1959 Corvette at Barrett-Jackson with a bid of $825,000. Earlier this year, he bought an all carbon-fiber 1970 Charger (pictured, above) built by SpeedKore with Dodge’s 1,000-horsepower Hellephant crate engine.

Photos by Kevin Kwan, Brandon Lim, and John McGann.

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Categories: Property

GM CEO Doesn’t Want Electric Cars Available Only to the Rich

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 15:00

The first splash in a new wave of electric vehicles from General Motors is the $112,595 2022 GMC Hummer EV full-size electric pickup truck. So, does that mean GM sees EVs as transportation for the rich? Not at all.

GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra wants “equitable climate action” and put some money behind her words in announcing a new fund to address climate change and help bring electric transportation to all.

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Barra expressed her concerns that the EV world GM is helping to create must offer electric vehicles of all sizes, shapes, and price points in the future, but must also address the need for those who buy used vehicles and those who will rely on ride sharing.

GM Introduces Climate Equity Fund

Barra announced a $25 million Climate Equity Fund to help close equity gaps in the transition to electric vehicles and other sustainable technology knowing climate change does not impact every community equally. Grassroots non-profit community organizations can apply for funding for work that addresses issues associated with climate change.

Barra made the announcement as heavy rains once again deluged Detroit where GM is headquartered. The area continues to recover from massive flooding that closed freeways, stranded motorists, knocked out electricity, flooded homes and businesses, and sparked more concern about the effect of climate change on weather patterns.

New, Used, and Rideshare Vehicles Need to Be Electric

Barra’s hope is that GM will no longer sell new vehicles with tailpipes by 2035 and that customers of all economic status will be able to take advantage of an EV-centric world that includes affordable entry-level EVs, used EVs, and fleets of EVs for ride sharing. It also includes making sure all owners, even those who live in apartments, can easily charge electric vehicles. We want to ensure EVs for everyone, Barra says.

Barra also addressed concerns that electric vehicles have fewer parts which will result in fewer jobs building them. The antidote to that is bringing more work in-house. That includes the four battery cell plants GM has announced that will make the crucial battery cells in the U.S. rather than importing them.

Worker Training Underway

Training GM’s workforce to make electric vehicles is already underway as the 2022 GMC Hummer prepares to launch this fall, to be followed by more EVs, including the Cruise Origin autonomous robo-taxi.

GM also created BrightDrop for autonomous delivery service using the electric BrightDrop EV600 commercial van that will go into production at the CAMI plant in Ontario later this year.

The Climate Equity Fund is in addition to the $35 billion that GM is investing in electric and autonomous vehicles with plans to introduce 30 new EVs globally by 2025, retool plants to make electric vehicles, develop more dense and less costly battery cells and manufacture them domestically, and expand the charging network.

“Climate change does not impact every community equally,” Barra said. GM wants to be a leader in bringing solutions to its employees, dealers, suppliers, and the communities they live in, she said, so no one is left out in the transition to a cleaner future.

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Categories: Property

Sad! Chevy Killed a New, Z06-Powered Camaro Z/28

Wed, 06/30/2021 - 00:00

My most excellent source—Deep Burble—recently told me the sad tale of the stillborn sixth-generation Camaro Z/28 that almost was, but never will be. I just had to say something. Yes, friends, Chevrolet was all set to build a follow-up to the absolutely brilliant, Best Driver’s Car winning fifth-gen Camaro Z/28. Now it ain’t. Feeling blue? You haven’t even heard the details.

MotorTrend lifers Scott Evans, Angus Mackenzie, and I have long talked about a so-called “Engine Hall of Fame.” My first ballot all-timer has always been the mighty LS7 7.0-liter V-8 of General Motors fame. First seen in the sixth-gen Corvette Z06, the 505-hp humdinger eventually trickled its way down to the Camaro Z/28. The results were staggering. Quoting me: “But it’s not just a name-brand collection of parts, and the Z/28 is no tuner. It stands as one of absolutely the best track-focused cars in the world.” Guess what? The new one would have been even better.

Why? The naturally aspirated, flat-plane crank, 5.5-liter V-8 from the upcoming Corvette Z06 would have provided power (likely more than 600 horses, too) to the new Z/28. Let that sink in. Now, you ready to get really upset? Due to packaging reasons, there’s just no way to build a C8 with a manual transmission. The car is mid-engine, and as such, the transaxle is behind the engine, which means any shift linkage would have to pass through the engine. On a Camaro, the transmission would sit between the engine and the driven wheels, making a manual transmission not just possible but totally probable. Amazing, no? Oh yeah, not happening.

Why not? “Yeah, it’s so sad,” Deep Burble moaned. “They messed up the sixth-gen [Camaro’s] styling.” Yes, friends, Chevy made the current Camaro so unattractive that it led to the premature death of what would have no doubt gone down in the history books as the greatest Camaro of all time. “[Chevy is] like, ‘We can’t believe it’s not selling. It’s so much better than the competition.’” This is true. Not only was the sixth-gen Camaro our 2016 Car of the Year, but it’s beaten its chief rival, the Ford Mustang, in every comparison test I can think of. “[Chevy] fails to realize that most people buy styling over performance.” Shame, shame.

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Categories: Property

2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT First Look: Prepare Thyselves, Purists

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 23:00

Porsche finally pulls the wraps off of its track-oriented Cayenne: the Turbo GT. Limited to the slinkier Cayenne Coupe body style (sorry Cayenne SUV fans), the 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Coupe joins a long line of driver-focused GT-badged Porsches, including the 911 GT3 and 718 Cayman GT4.

At first glance, the Cayenne Turbo GT looks much like its lesser Turbo stablemate. Those with sharp eyes, however, will note a number of small styling enhancements, such as a distinct front fascia with bigger side air intakes and a more prominent front lip, black fender arches, a set of gorgeous 22-inch gold wheels, and updates to the SUV’s rear wings, with the upper-hatch-mounted unit welcoming carbon-fiber side plates and the larger adaptive spoiler (that resides just below the rear window glass) adding a two-inch-tall Gurney flap. Additionally, the Turbo GT sits approximately 0.7 inch lower than the run-of-the-mill Cayenne Turbo Coupe.

Powerful Porsche

Porsche’s performance tweaks to the Cayenne Turbo GT extend beyond its ride-height reduction. Notably, the German brand thoroughly reworked its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 for Turbo GT duty, fitting the big engine with the likes of a trim-specific crankshaft, timing chain, pistons, and connecting rods. As a result, the flagship Cayenne model packs a 631-hp punch—90 more than the standard Cayenne Turbo, but 39 fewer horses than the gasoline-electric Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. 

Nevertheless, the all-wheel-drive Turbo GT’s 626 lb-ft of torque (59 lb-ft more than the Turbo) and—even quicker shifting—eight-speed automatic transmission allow this powerful Porsche to push its way from 0–60 mph in a manufacturer-estimated 3.1 seconds, or 0.6- and 0.5-second quicker than its Turbo and Turbo S E-Hybrid siblings. Given we managed to hit the mile-a-minute mark in a Cayenne Turbo Coupe in 3.2 seconds, we wager the Turbo GT ought to trot to 60 mph in well under 3.0 seconds in our hands. Keep flat-footing the Turbo GT’s right pedal and Porsche claims its sportiest Cayenne model crosses the quarter mile in 11.6 seconds.

A water-cooled transfer case ensures the Turbo GT’s drivetrain remains reasonably cool, even with a hot shoe at the helm, while a specially developed center-mounted titanium exhaust system provides the quickest Cayenne model with a distinct growl.

Of course, taking the record in the “SUV, off-road vehicle, van, pick-up” category at the Nürburgring Nordschleife requires more than a powerful powertrain, which is why Porsche also fiddled with the Cayenne Coupe’s lateral dynamics to make it worthy of the Turbo GT nomenclature. Retuned dampers, steering bits (including the SUV’s rear-axle unit), and an air suspension that’s up to 15 percent stiffer relative to that of the Cayenne Turbo complement the likes of a tweaked torque-vectoring rear end, 1.0-inch-wider front wheels, and increased negative camber to make the most of the Turbo GT’s Pirelli P Zero Corsas’ available grip. Stopping power, meanwhile, comes courtesy of 17.3-inch front and 16.1-inch rear rotors. Standard yellow-painted calipers denote the fact the Turbo GT’s brakes are of the carbon-ceramic variety, although Porsche notes black-painted binders are also available.

Spicy Inside

Like its exterior, the Turbo GT’s interior subtly separates itself from the typical Cayenne herd. Both the front buckets and two-across rear bench sport a Turbo GT-specific seat pattern, as well as faux-suede padding at the center on the seats’ backs and bottoms, contrasting gold or gray stitching, and embossed headrests. A yellow marker at the top of the steering wheel’s rims further distinguishes the Turbo GT’s cabin.

With a starting price of $182,150, the 2022 Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT Coupe stickers for $47,300 more than its respective Cayenne Turbo Coupe kin (and $13,000 more than a Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe). Then again, no one buys one of Porsche’s GT-badged models to save a few bucks. Instead, buyers drop the extra coin to relish in the sheer joy of driving such a focused machine. No doubt, the Cayenne Turbo GT will maintain the behind-the-wheel thrills of other Porsche GT models when it reaches our shores in early 2022. Whether or not purists take to the first-ever GT SUV is almost beside the point. Fast SUVs are fast becoming a thing, and Porsche is smart to chase the market there while showing its performance prowess. 

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Categories: Property

2021 BMW M3 Competition vs. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Comparison Test: Four-Door Fire

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 21:54

On paper, the attractive Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio and the new, funky-looking 2021 BMW M3 Competition are spun from the same bolt of carbon-weave cloth. Both cars are rear-wheel-drive, front-engine members of the compact luxury sedan segment. Each boasts a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine displacing about 3.0 liters. The Alfa and BWM share the same ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission and nearly identical power outputs just a tick beyond the 500-hp mark.

Pricing—both starting and as tested—parallel each other, as well. BMW requires $73,795 for the basest of the base M3 Comp, while Alfa demands $76,095 to get things started with its arrabbiata Quad. Our test-car examples sit at a hefty $93,945 for the Italian and $97,645 for the bright yellow German, so ignite your checkbook if you want to re-create our pairing.

This comparison test is a meeting of technical equals with only a few minor exceptions, at least if you limit your afternoon reading exclusively to our spec charts that follow in this piece. In practice and on the charge, the 2021 BMW M3 Competition and 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio couldn’t be more dramatically different in terms of their ethos.

The Same, Only Quicker

A portion of this perceived imbalance is objective. Before we even have a chance to weigh the sensory and tactile differences between the M3 and the Quadrifoglio, the BMW gaps the Alfa on our test track with tires ablaze and ass akimbo. In Competition form, the M3’s 502-hp engine—and the M4’s by extension—is just short of the 505-hp Alfa. But it spreads an extra 36 lb-ft of torque on its rear Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires like cold butter on toast.

The two supersedans were dead even off the line, right up to the 50-mph mark where the BMW pulled ahead by 0.1 second, and then by 0.2 second at 60 mph. The Alfa took 3.7 seconds to cross that magic 60-mph mark, while the M3 nudged ahead at 3.5 seconds. The Giulia continued to wilt under the M3 Comp’s torque-tastic hammer, with the BMW claiming a 0–100-mph scramble in just 7.5 seconds, bettering the Alfa’s quick-but-not-quick-enough 8.3-second run. The 2021 BMW M3 Competition needs 11.6 seconds to conquer the quarter mile at 125.6 mph, a 0.3-second and 5.5-mph advantage over the red Alfa.

Big Performance Needs Big Space

Big power and big performance meet big rock country: Tired of our usual vehicular stomping grounds, we put the full extent of these sedans’ trans-county capabilities to good use escaping the gravitational tug of the greater Los Angeles metroplex. For two days, the slash of jagged land bordering Death Valley and the Inyo National Forest was our playpen. The locales offered secluded mountain passes that wiggled past campgrounds, and grit-washed desert highways that speared unbroken into the horizon.

Between L.A. and this delicious wasteland is a stretch of semi-populated California highway that’s best endured rather than enjoyed, no matter how quick the car or daring the driver. A perfect opportunity to futz and fiddle with the interior accoutrement and baseline road manners. This was one of the most important parts of the test, considering these are supposed to be the do-it-all multi-tools of the performance-car pie.

Game of Carbon-Fiber Thrones

Just a few miles from our office in El Segundo, the M3 Competition already proved itself a bit of a bummer. Test co-driver and features editor Scott Evans quickly found the new 2021 M3’s hyper-aggressive seats sadistic, its user interface frustrating, and its infotainment Kafkaesque.

“These might be the least comfortable seats I’ve ever experienced in a production car, and I include every track seat and carbon-fiber bucket I’ve ever sat in,” he snipped. “If you plan to do a lot of track time with this car, maybe go ahead and get these seats, but only if you plan to make it a permanent track car or you are willing to buy a second set of normal seats for all the other times you might want to drive it.”

Fire Up a Better Grille

Your ass won’t be the only thing stunned numb by the 2021 BMW M3 Competition. When viewed directly from the front—an inadvisable activity for which we recommend wearing solar-eclipse glasses—the new M3 Competition is an astoundingly ugly car. Do you like its dorky buck teeth? Those gawping nostrils locked in a perma-sniff posture? You’re weird. Don’t even write to tell us you think we’re wrong; we’ll just laugh and tape your letter to the grille of the next G80-series M3 we find so we don’t have to look at it in its totality.

This car looks very much like someone styled a normal BMW 3 from 10,000 feet down in the ocean, then shot it to the surface where it rapidly decompressed like some sort of automotive blobfish. In our 14.7-psi sea-level world, that type of weird just doesn’t work, and no, it hasn’t improved with time since we first saw it. This styling is not growing on us so much as it is haunting our night terrors.

In contrast, the pretty-ish 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is a veritable master class in design when lined up against the German.

“I briefly considered running the M3 into the Alfa in hopes that some of the Giulia’s beauty would rub off on it, only to dismiss the idea under the rightful fear of achieving the exact opposite,” Evans said after his highway stint in the BMW.

Forgiving Past Sins

Much of our BMW complaining subsided after we slipped off the highway and planned our charge up the side of Mt. Whitney. In many ways, the new G80-generation—G80? Gee, ugly—M3 Competition feels like a tight-lipped half-apology for the rather brutish F80 M3/F82 M4 cars it replaced. Our complaints with the prior car were numerous: steering that was both cinder-block heavy and alarmingly vague, a dual-clutch transmission with chalky operation, a bind-prone rear-axle, the S55 3.0-liter engine that sounded like a brass can of rich, schnitzel-fed farts. And crucially, it delivered too much power down low, with a greasy rear end that hopped, skipped, and smoked even with careful inputs once you got beyond moderate throttle.

Naturally, the Munich Maniacs figured more power was the solution, so the 2021 BMW M3 still vapes the rear rubbers like flash paper with an absolute ripper of an engine. The new S58 twin-turbo inline-six proves that while BMW pivots toward electrification, it still has the internal combustion know-how. The 503-hp rating is merely a suggestion; it must make that much at the wheels, because this 3.0-liter pulls like something closer to 550 hp. It both feels and sounds extraordinarily power-dense, like a leaf blower hoovering up a pile of honed titanium wind chimes.

The Alfa’s 2.9-liter Ferrari/Maserati-sourced twin-turbo V-6 feels every bit of its 505 hp and 443 lb-ft—no more, no less. The initial syrup-thick charge tapers off soon after you cross the upper end of highway speeds, while returning a muted, fuzzy soundtrack rather unbefitting of its Maranello origins. It’s not an unpleasant sound, but it’s a one-dimensional blat that is drowned completely by the M3’s volcanic crackle.

Drive Mode Methods

Happily, the 2021 BMW M3 Competition drives far better than it looks, and the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio drives more thrilling than it sounds. The main event of this brief desert sojourn was an empty-ish mountain road that does a stunning Yankee impression of Italy’s Stelvio Pass. But before we could splatter the rear panels in molten rubber, we idled at the mountain’s base, twiddling with assist systems and drive modes to put both cars into their max-attack stance.

More frustrated grunts emanated from the M3’s open window while properly locking in the BMW’s drive settings for the first time. Navigating the wildly complex and counterintuitive menus, sub-menus, and sub-sub-menus was a total pain: The morphine only kicked in once our preferences were mapped to the bright red “M1” and “M2” antennae buttons jutting from the upper sides of the steering-wheel center. After that, you just toggle between the two for your desired preset mode profile.

The Alfa continued to be the Bizzarro-world alternative to the M3. It’s dead simple—too simple, really. The rotary drive-mode selector on the center console offers four choices, only two of which are noteworthy for fast driving. Like the M3 Competition, the Giulia Quadrifoglio rides on adaptive suspension. Unlike the BMW, you cannot toggle between suspension stiffness outside of their tethered drive settings.

Alfa’s Wacky Suspension Settings: Why?

The 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio’s suspension is set to medium stiffness while in Dynamic mode, with the driver given the option to soften things by poking the suspension button located in the center of the drive-mode selector. We found Dynamic mode too soft, so we skipped straight to Race mode where the suspension is at its hardest, and where it can be toggled down to Dynamic mode’s middle setting for extra comfort.

Frustratingly, engaging Race mode also forces the stability control and traction-control off, so you can’t access the stiffest suspension without also running your 505-hp monster without driver aids. Fine on the track, but it’s initially frustrating and nerve-wracking on a mountain pass with unprotected drop-offs.

After just a few corners, our concerned scowls flipped into open-mouthed grins. It’s simply beautiful to drive. The steering is wonderfully delicate, giving you intimate control of the sweetest modern rear-wheel-drive sedan chassis on the market. Even with all assist systems off and a dangerously heavy right foot, the Giulia is unshakably neutral with just a smidge of understeer until you act like an absolute moron. Then, the rear swings out fluidly with all the predictability of finding a burger wrapper in a McDonalds trash can. Catch, correct, and charge hard down that straight. Too fast? Dance on the cheek-rippling carbon-ceramic brakes that gave us only the slightest bit of fade during hard back-to-back sprints. The brake-by-wire system is too touchy for smooth commuting, but the instant bite and neck-wrenching stopping power is almost worth the binarity.

This Alfa Romeo feels much like an M3 by way of Ferrari. A corny sentiment, perhaps, but it’s the best way to describe just how sweet this car slips around.

“This is a company that gets it,” Evans said. “It’s incredibly engaging to drive and draws you in with its personality. You really feel like you’re driving fast and having the time of your life.”

BMW’s Beautiful Brutality

If the Alfa is a careful caress, the new 2021 BMW M3 Competition is a dark-alley sucker-punch to the skull. If you covet outright capability, stop reading here and mark down the M3 as the winner. The G80 M3’s pace, limits, and brutal capability are fantastic; even the quicksilver Giulia fell a step behind when the BMW’s wick burned at full flame. The M3 absolutely rips up a mountain when it’s driven correctly; it’s enormously capable, more so than the Alfa.

Capable doesn’t always mean better. In sharp contrast to the prior M3’s/M4’s concrete-thick steering weight, the 2021 M3 Competition’s inputs are light as soap foam. Steering is quick and very predictable, but not great in terms of feel. In fact, the Alfa is a great example of how to do light steering without giving up too much grain. The BMW’s ceramic brakes—while potent—suffered the familiar pedal mushiness we’ve experienced in recent BMW M products. Whether the culprit is a set of slag-prone street-focused brake pads or low-temp brake fluid, modern M cars’ brakes go soggy quicker than those of its competitors’ do, particularly on those with ceramic brakes.

The M3 Competition was violence in motion through the gravel-strewn hairpins. Compared to the floor-it-anywhere Alfa, the BMW required a much, much gentler touch on the loud pedal—that is, if you followed the path of max efficiency. Unlike the Giulia, we left all of the M3’s assist systems on. If we fed more than half throttle at the corner exit, the rear-end teeter-tottered ever so slightly under the restraint of driver aids.

Even with that spooky rear torsion, the M3’s explosive forward motion remained entirely unaffected—just make sure everything is set up correctly. Driven fast in lesser modes, the BMW feels like it transfers way too much power across the rear axle, and it makes the car feel overpowered and unstable. On the other hand, set the car in the correct modes, and it puts down power incredibly well, with driver-inspiring confidence, to boot.

A Tale of Two, Er, One Transmission

Both cars provided a case study of just how far traditional automatic transmissions have come in the past decade. Again, the venerable ZF eight-speed auto is shared between the Giulia and M3, giving us a rare opportunity to experience marque-specific differences between what is essentially a shared crate of gears. We had no complaints about the BMW; shifts were snappy when we wanted them and subtle when we didn’t, and BMW’s shift logic is one of the better examples on the market. Not once did we miss the clattery old dual-clutch from the previous car, as the ZF provided all of the quick-shifting upsides with none of the loud, balky downsides.

The Alfa’s eight-speed was similarly quick-shifting, but its shift logic while in max-aggro mode was best avoided by manually shifting via the paddles or console shifter. The transmission guffawed occasionally in some of the sharper, slow corners, cutting power and limiting revs to a couple thousand below redline. No warnings flashed, so we assumed it was a bug and carried on.

BMW M3 Competition vs. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio: The Verdict

Two cars, two personalities, one winner. In terms of raw speed, the trophy goes without doubt to the 2021 BMW M3 Competition. But if this was just a spec-panel showdown, what’s the point of all these accumulated miles? The BMW is barbarically quick by every parameter, but there’s nothing particularly joyful about the way it scours a path. It’s clinical and cold, and it spat us out at the end of the mountain road not with a “Wow!” but with a “Yeah, that’s about right” kind of reaction.

Still, if you seek a reasonably comfortable, well-appointed four-door that could moonlight as a terrestrial Mach 3 reconnaissance craft, the 2021 BMW M3 Competition is a good place to start. This assumes you can stomach its ugly mug and you leave the unforgiving seats on the shelf. A great car, a good experience.

As capable as the M3 Competition is, the 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio is driving ambrosia. There wasn’t a stretch of paved road the Alfa didn’t flow down like melted garlic butter. And as the gap between the BMW and Alfa grew on the straights, so did our grin: The Alfa just gave us more room to poke and prod the Quad’s limits on our own time. The car is rewarding to drive fast, easy to drive slow, nice to look at, simple to operate, and it positively crackles with personality. A great car, a great experience.

Second Place: 2021 BMW M3 Competition

Pros: 

  • Spectacular engine with brutal power
  • Reasonably comfortable when not in most aggressive setting
  • Extraordinarily easy to drive extremely quickly
  • One of the most capable sedans you can buy

Cons: 

  • Ultra-light steering
  • Mushy brakes at times
  • Comes off as a bit joyless
  • Look at it
First Place: 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Pros: 

  • Delectable steering
  • Excellent chassis
  • Delightful day-to-day ride comfort
  • Dazzling brakes

Cons: 

  • Silly suspension settings
  • Rudimentary drive modes
  • Brake-by-wire system too aggressive for daily use
  • Engine sound could be more exciting
POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS 2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Specifications 2021 BMW M3 Competition Specifications DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD Front-engine, RWD ENGINE TYPE Twin-turbo 90-deg V-6, alum block/heads Turbocharged I-6, alum block/head VALVETRAIN Direct-injected DOHC, 4 valves/cyl Direct-injected DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 176.4 cu in/2,891cc 182.6 cu in/2,993cc COMPRESSION RATIO 9.3:1 9.3:1 POWER (SAE NET) 505 hp @ 6,500 rpm 503 hp @ 6,250 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 443 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm 479 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm REDLINE 6,700 rpm 7,200 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 7.6 lb/hp 7.4 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.09:1/1.98:1 3.15:1/2.02:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 11.8:1 15.0:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.2 2.0 BRAKES, F; R 15.4-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 14.2-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc 15.7-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 15.0-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc WHEELS, F;R 8.5 x 19-in; 10.0 x 19-in forged aluminum 9.5 x 19-in; 10.5 x 19-in, forged aluminum TIRES, F;R 245/35R19 93Y; 285/30R19 98Y Pirelli P Zero Corsa AR Asimmetrico 275/35R19 100Y; 285/30R20 99Y Michelin Pilot Sport 4S DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 111.0 in 112.5 in TRACK, F/R 61.2/63.3 in 63.7/63.2 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.6 x 73.7 x 56.1 in 189.1 x 74.3 x 56.4 in TURNING CIRCLE 37.0 ft 40.0 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,818 lb 3,745 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 53/47% 53/47% SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 38.6/37.6 in 40.6/37.8 in LEGROOM, F/R 42.4/35.1 in 41.6/35.6 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 56.1/53.6 in 56.0/54.6 in CARGO VOLUME 13.4 cu ft 13.0 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 1.6 sec 1.6 sec 0-40 2.2 2.2 0-50 2.9 2.8 0-60 3.7 3.5 0-70 4.6 4.4 0-80 5.7 5.3 0-90 6.9 6.4 0-100 8.3 7.5 0-100-0 12.1 11.3 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.6 1.4 QUARTER MILE 11.9 sec @ 120.1 mph 11.6 sec @ 125.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 99 ft 102 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.97 g (avg) 1.03 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.0 sec @ 0.82 g (avg) 23.8 sec @ 0.85 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,700 rpm 1,500 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $76,095 $73,795 PRICE AS TESTED $93,945 $97,645 ON SALE Now Now AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/Unlimited miles 4 yrs/Unlimited miles FUEL CAPACITY 15.3 gal 15.6 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 17/25/20 mpg 16/23/19 mpg RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded premium

The post 2021 BMW M3 Competition vs. Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio Comparison Test: Four-Door Fire appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Tesla Offers Free Supercharging for Fourth of July Holiday in California

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 20:45

Tesla drivers in California, good news: Supercharging is free for the Fourth of July holiday. On June 28, Tesla sent out the following message to some Tesla owners through the Tesla App:

“Avoid the rush this 4th of July holiday and charge for free before 12pm and after 9pm at select California Superchargers between Friday, July 2 and Monday, July 5. For faster charging anytime, navigate to your destination using Trip Planner to optimize your route and automatically precondition your battery.”

Tesla does not provide a list of those “select California Superchargers” but you can easily check Supercharger site’s status and price on the in-car navigation map. (Tip: tap on the red pins with numbers on them.) Do mind that the free charging time slots are before 12pm and after 9pm, and presumably the idle fee will still apply, so don’t overstay when you are done charging.

Using the Los Angeles area as an example, off-peak Supercharging generally costs $0.21/kWh. For charging from 10 to 80 percent, you will save about $10–12 on a Model 3/Y Long Range or Performance, and about $13–15 on a Model S/X. And $18.27 saving if you charge a Model S Plaid like we did for a test.

In general, electricity demand is higher from afternoon to evening when people are active and using appliances like A/C units during the heat of the day. Charging EVs during those times would then increase electrical grid load even more, especially fast charging. From a typical 220V stall, an EV only demands 6-12 kW, but easily 10 to 20 times higher at a Level 3 fast charger. This kind of sudden spike would force utilities to use less efficient or more polluting methods to generate power to meet grid load.

So charging EVs during off-peak hours helps reduce grid stress and is more environmentally friendly. And there’s even more incentive to do so when Tesla is paying for the electric bill. In California, Supercharger sites are often packed on holidays with Tesla drivers having to wait 15 to 30 minutes in line for a stall to become available. So if your travel plan allows you to go Supercharging in off-peak hours, you are saving both time and money.

Happy holiday, safe travels, and don’t misuse Autopilot.

The post Tesla Offers Free Supercharging for Fourth of July Holiday in California appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

It’s Ridiculous: The Story Behind Fast 9’s Mid-Engine, Hellcat-Powered ’68 Dodge Charger

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 19:15

You can only ask this question in the context of a Fast and Furious film: How do you top a ’68 Dodge Charger with a jet engine in the trunk? Easy—a ’68 Charger with a Hellcat in the back seat. How does a Hellcat engine, even one tuned to Demon specification like this one, top a jet engine? Because it’s real.

That’s right, kids, the jet engine sticking out the back of the “Ice Charger” in 2017’s Fate of the Furious was just a prop. The car was powered by a Chevy LS3 V-8 pushed back under the dashboard to make room for an all-wheel-drive system. Cool stuff, but the mid-engine Charger is the real deal.

At least, two of them are.

“We actually built nine,” says Dennis McCarthy, picture car coordinator at Universal. His shop, Vehicle Effects, built the cars for the past seven Fast films and for the Hobbs & Shaw spinoff.

“Now, when I say we built nine, they’re not all identical,” he explains. “There’s two of them that were built with the mid-engine design and the transaxle. The rest, the name of the company leaves me at the moment, but there’s a company that makes a plastic Hellcat motor. So the rest of them have the [fake] plastic motor in place. And we actually used an LS3 with a manual-shifted Turbo 400 automatic and a Ford 9-inch rearend for our stunt cars that we just use and abuse. But yeah, a total of nine cars, two different platforms. I’d say four and a half months, they were all done and headed off to different countries.”

The hero cars, the ones actors drive in close-up shots, have real Hellcats and actually run. Mopar provided the standard 707-hp crate engines, and McCarthy had them brought to Demon spec with a pully and a 110-octane race-gas tune from Performance Tech, the shop that tunes all the Fast movie cars. The now 800-plus-hp motors were mated to six-speed manual Graziano transaxles lifted from Lamborghini Gallardos.

“I feel that the clutch pedal is a key ingredient to the cool factor,” McCarthy says. “In my opinion, it just has to be that way. An automatic just wouldn’t have the same impact.”

Rich Waitas at Magnaflow built a full custom exhaust with custom headers that route up and over the transaxle and dump out of hidden tips behind the rear bumper. With no engine up front and no room left for the original under-trunk gas tank, Vehicle Effects mounted an 8-gallon fuel cell under the hood. The classic chrome gas cap on the passenger front fender is functional on the mid-engine cars, making trips to the gas station more like filling up a Porsche than a Dodge.

Also under the hood is a high-angle rack-and-pinion power steering setup to enable big drifts. That and the transaxle necessitated a custom fully independent suspension at all four corners, and it gives the front-engine stunt cars a tell: the live rear-axle pumpkin hanging down. That is, if you can get low enough to see it.

“I’m always into the lowest stance possible [for the cars],” McCarthy says. “I might have gone a little too far on this one. It’s definitely the lowest Charger we’ve ever put together, which is great. It looks awesome. But sometimes you get that high-center issue going in and out of the driveway with such a long-wheelbase car. But for a movie car, that’s great; for a daily driver, you’d probably want to raise it up a couple of inches.”

All these pieces are fitted to a custom chassis built by Wisconsin-based SpeedKore Performance, which also created the carbon-fiber widebody to go over the top. The Charger Daytona roofline and rear glass were chosen both to clear the Hellcat engine and to show it off. The body and chassis were modified to stretch the wheelbase nearly 6 inches by moving the front axle forward, mostly because McCarthy doesn’t like the big front overhang featured on early Chargers. Deep-dish HRE wheels fill out the fat fenders and hide modern Brembo disc brakes.

“It’s without a doubt the fastest Charger we’ve built,” McCarthy says. “There have been a lot of Chargers that look like they have 1,000 horsepower; this one in reality is probably the highest horsepower Fast and Furious Charger ever built.”

Replacing the rear seat with a supercharged V-8 requires a lot of interior modification. A metal and plexiglass divider helps reduce some of the heat and noise coming into the cabin, which is sparse but functional. McCarthy took design inspiration from the Ford GT40, going so far as to incorporate brass rings in the seat covers. The bucket seats are adjustable, with tools, and don’t have headrests for a period feel. Between them is, of course, a NOS bottle for the inevitable scene where even more acceleration is necessary to save the day. A flat instrument panel with simple analog gauges and toggle switches, plus a steel three-spoke steering wheel, completes the old-school look.

“The tricky thing is always trying to come up with something new,” McCarthy acknowledges, “because there’s only so many ways you can build a Charger, and we’ve done most of them. And on top of that, not only have we built numerous Chargers in different styles, but we’ve used the Nelson Racing Engines Charger, that unpainted Charger, we’ve borrowed other Chargers from SpeedKore, so there’s a long list of Chargers that have been featured in the franchise over the years.

“Like I said, it’s always trying to come up with something new. When I was at SEMA, the SpeedKore guys were showing me what they were working on, which looked pretty badass. And then, I don’t know who owns this car, so I can’t give him credit for it, but there was a Mustang—I want to say it was maybe a ’71ish Mustang—that had a mid-engine setup in it, which was very impressive. I don’t want to take credit for other people’s ideas, but I get a lot of ideas at SEMA. One thing led to another, and I just decided that’s something we haven’t done yet. Let’s move the motor to a new location.”

The work is surprisingly clean considering McCarthy and a team of seven had only those four and a half months to build all nine cars from scratch. And really, it was Jonny Miller and Brian Gogerty who did most of the work on the mid-engine cars while the rest of the team built the stunt cars or moved back and forth between builds.

“As always, our biggest challenge is just trying to get it done in time,” McCarthy says. “Guys are working on the car for sometimes 14, 15 hours a day, and trying to keep sane for weeks and weeks and weeks on end. But they have a lot of practice. And obviously these were extremely labor-intensive cars to build. You talk to a guy, for instance at SEMA, who built a car, they’ll go, ‘Oh, we worked on it for three or four years.’ We’ll build 180 cars in five months. It’s a whole different style of building cars, but the nice thing is you don’t have to get each door gap exactly perfect. So there are some advantages. But they do have to perform and be reliable. And they were very reliable; they had no problems during filming. They fired right up every time.”

It’s an important consideration when a custom star car can make or break a shooting schedule. At one point, the two mid-engine cars were simultaneously in Glasgow, Scotland, and Tbilisi, Georgia, shooting different scenes. These are places you don’t just buy Dodge parts at the local shop.

Despite all the travel and shooting, the hero cars came back in near-perfect condition.

“I was adamant with the guys,” McCarthy says. “Don’t kill the mid-engine car. They both came back unscathed. No damage, nothing. It was great. And that’s not normal. Usually even the cars I don’t want to get damaged end up getting damaged one way or another.”

That’s good for a lot of reasons, not least of which because the cars have a lot of traveling left to do. They’ll split up again and ship around the world on a promotional tour for Fast 9, then at least one will likely end up on display at one of the Universal Studios theme parks. Before they go, though, McCarthy hopes to get them out to a track and dialed in properly.

“The only thing I regret is, we didn’t have a lot of track time,” he says. “Normally we’ll build these cars, and we’ll head out to Willow Springs for the day and run them through their paces. With this car, we were just in such a time crunch to get them shipped out. I think I made one pass up and down the street in front of my shop, and everything felt good. Into a shipping container it went, and that was it.

“Hopefully,” he continues, “when we get a little bit closer to movie release time [on June 25], we can take this car out and put it through its paces and see what it does. I have a bad feeling it’s going to have a little bit of an understeer push characteristic to it, because it’s just a ton of power, real sticky tires, and we never even scaled the car. I got to believe it’s 62, 63, or 64 percent rear weight bias on the car. But hopefully with a little track time, we’ll get that tamed and see what the thing can really do.”

The post It’s Ridiculous: The Story Behind Fast 9’s Mid-Engine, Hellcat-Powered ’68 Dodge Charger appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Fast 9 Is Here: The Deep Impact of the Fast & Furious Franchise on Car Culture

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 18:03

Maybe you love the Fast & Furious moves, or perhaps you’ve never forgiven them for that reference to the “MoTeC exhaust”—but either way, it’s impossible to deny the impact the movies have had on society and car culture. With 10 films, including this year’s Fast 9, Fast & Furious is one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood history. It’s been 20 years since Brian O’Conner moseyed into Toretto’s Market and Café for a tuna on white with no crust, and the car world has never quite been the same.

MotorTrend features editor Scott Evans well remembers the impact of 2001’s The Fast and The Furious: “The buzz was everywhere. Even in my small California town, everyone had heard about this new street racing movie. I went to the theater and couldn’t believe my eyes—I’d never seen so many modified imports in one place [as were in the parking lot]. The line to get into the theater was 10 times longer than normal.”

Craig Lieberman, whose YouTube channel is a treasure-trove of behind-the-scenes information, served as a technical consultant for the first two films. “A lot of people became car fans because of the movies’ influence,” he says today. “I hear it every day on social media: ‘This movie got me into cars.’”

“It’s difficult to overstate the significance of the franchise,” agrees Andrew Comrie-Picard, a racer and stunt driver who worked on the 2019 spin-off, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw. “It ranks up there with American Graffiti as one of the most significant car culture movies of all time.” For the first film, “they had the wisdom to get R.J. de Vera, an early tuner-car influencer, to consult and play the role of the video game–playing street racer. It meant the cars and the content were legit, like the 2JZ Supra and F-150 Lightning and even the VR6 Jetta, which was a thing back then.”

Sung Kang is the actor who played Han, starting in the third installment, The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, and became a car enthusiast largely as a result of his involvement with the film. “I think it was the first proper car film that represented a community,” he says. “Usually there were very singular American cars in most American films, but The Fast and The Furious featured JDMs [Japanese Domestic Market vehicles]. Bringing together the love of American iron and JDMs was really cool to see.”

Along with its effect on the car community, the original Fast & Furious film had massive repercussions for the aftermarket industry. “I went back to the companies that provided us parts for the movie,” Lieberman recalls, “companies like Sparco, GReddy, and Nitrous Oxide Systems, and they all reported their sales went up. Not hundreds of percentage points, but 1,000-plus percent.”

Bill Tichenor was with N.O.S. when the company was asked to get involved. “They asked for a lot of NOS, so it was a gamble,” he says. “Sales went crazy the weekend the movie dropped and stayed that way for a long while. It even changed the name—people started calling it ‘NAAAHS’ like in the movie instead of ‘N.O.S.,’ which is what we called it. [The movie] really did take the sport-compact scene from a subculture to mainstream and ultimately created a lot of new car guys and gals that are still into cars today.”

The effect on automakers was more subtle. “That whole movement of modifying Civics was completely homegrown by the kids who were doing it,” recalls Kurt Antonius, head of public relations for Honda and Acura when the first F&F films came out. “The Civic was kind of a hand-me-down car from parents. All of a sudden there was this movement, this interest in modifying the cars. Parts suppliers started growing out of the woodwork.

“Some of [Honda’s] executives, Japanese and American, started going to SEMA [the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show] and going, ‘Holy Christmas, look at this!’ Everyone had a Civic in their display. Whether they were selling audio systems or aftermarket pipes or floormats, they had modified Civics. It was really overwhelming. And the amazing thing is that it was an organic movement the kids started themselves. It was not the result of Honda promoting anything or giving reduced parts pricing. It just grew on its own, and that was the beauty of the whole movement.”

Tanner Foust, racer, TV host, and stunt driver for Tokyo Drift, recalls his early impressions of the movie. “The first time I saw how they brought a nitrous shot to life,” he says, “through the injection process, the combustion chamber, out the exhaust, and the car zooming away with blue flames coming from the pipe, I said, ‘This is one of the coolest things ever.’ I had never seen the emotion of acceleration put together on the screen like that. Even though I wasn’t a street racer myself, I was a huge fan of what those movies did for the aftermarket and the car enthusiast world.”

When the studio brought on Foust and fellow drifter Rhys Millen as stunt drivers for Tokyo Drift, “the pressure to make drifting look good on screen was pretty big. I wasn’t a fan of all the CGI in the second film. Rhys and I took it on ourselves to convince [the producers] that we needed to do as much as possible for real and try to minimize the cartoon factor.

“I spent hours convincing the folks that were in charge of CGI that we should try [the stunts] for real, like the moment in the parking garage where the 350Z comes around and the back wing scrapes the wall of the garage. We added three or four scenes in the film that they had planned to do with CGI. We always considered it a win when they would let us try to do it for real, rather than just plug in laptops and make it happen in CGI-land.”

Actor Kang recalls his surprise at the drifting drivers’ skill. “There was a scene where they were drifting up the parking ramp, and I remember asking, ‘Are you guys actually going to be able to do this? How are you going to hit that corner?’ Rhys put a quarter on the ground and says, ‘Watch this. I’ll hit it with my rear passenger-side tire.’ And boom, he hits it. That’s when I realized these guys are professional athletes. It was so exciting.”

In terms of the influence the movies had on drifting, Foust says, “Before Tokyo Drift, whenever somebody asked me what kind of racing I did, I had to educate them on what drifting was. People thought it was just hooligans doing smoky burnouts. After Tokyo Drift, it became a household word. I still had to explain what the sport was about and the judging factor, but people knew the definition and related it back to its roots in Japan. It was amazing that one film could educate a generation so completely. We had a lot more competitive drifters drawn into the sport. The movie didn’t glamorize drifting so much as showing how difficult it is and the skill it requires.”

Likewise, Foust remembers, drifting had an effect on Hollywood stunt driving. “In the scenes where the cars are weaving in and out of traffic, they would have something like 25 other stunt drivers in those other cars. [Millen and I] spent the whole time drifting between them, and by the end of the night, those guys were saying, ‘What the hell is this drifting stuff? This is awesome!’ After the film, some of the biggest names in the stunt world purchased drift cars and were out practicing at Buttonwillow.”

The emphasis on real-live car action remained part of the series. Comrie-Picard says of his time working on Hobbs & Shaw, “Director David Leitch is a real believer in authenticity. If it was physically possible to do it in-vehicle, we’d always do it.” He describes one scene, in which an Apache helicopter flies between two vehicles, as one of the most intense in his career. “The helicopter would swoop in and flare out, dropping the tail between me and the car in front of me, below my roofline. It’s something not to choke up when a military helicopter joins your car chase.”

Some lament the later movies’ shift to the heist genre, but Evans is of the opinion that even the first film was “a heist movie tethered loosely to the street-racing and tuning scenes. The cars were there to advance the plot but never at the center of it. What gave these movies broad reach was the everyman appeal of some nobodies from East L.A. who became the world’s biggest action heroes.

“We all joked about 17-speed transmissions, floorboards falling out at high speeds, and solving ‘Danger to Manifold’ by closing the laptop,” Evans says. “But as much as we loved tearing apart that first movie for what it got wrong, we all watched it. We all quoted it. We all talked about it. And it stuck. Twenty years later, you can throw out a Fast & Furious quote at a car show and five more will get thrown back at you.”

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G82 BMW M4 Coupe Likely Getting Higher Performance CSL Variant

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 17:00

If you’re a hardcore fan of Bayerische Motoren Werke, you’ll be abundantly familiar with what is perhaps the most iconic BMW M3 of all: the E46 M3 CSL. If you aren’t a hardcore BMW fanperson, the CSL name traces back to the 1970s, when it appeared on a powerful 3.0 coupe variant; many years later, it resurfaced in 2003 on a special M3. The CSL name is an anagram for “coupe, sport, lightweight,” and on the E46 M3, it was joined by an approximately 10-percent lighter curb weight, more power, and near-slick Michelins. It almost instantly cemented itself as one of the best M3s to roll out of Munich. But now, almost 20 years later, the two-door M3 has morphed into the M4, and the CSL name is poised for a comeback on the newest M4 coupe.

A popular thread on enthusiast forum Bimmerpost, which purports to have insider information on what new cars BMW is releasing and when, claims that the new M4 CSL will break cover either late next year or early in 2023 as a 2023 model-year release. That would put exactly two decades between the M4 CSL and its M3-badged predecessor. And yes, the CSL badge will only be applied to the M4 coupe; the M3 sedan won’t get it.

You may remember the praise we recently heaped on the new M2 CS. It was well-earned, and the M2 CS took the crown in a showdown with Porsche’s Cayman GT4. CS-badged BMWs have a tendency to be desirable and better to drive than even regular M-badged models, and the CSL will likely take that enticing formula and extend it further.

As for what alchemy will form the new CSL, it’s hard to say at the moment. However, if the new car follows the recipe of the original, there are a few things we can definitely expect. Like the M4 GTS from last generation, there will likely be a significant bump from the current M4 Competition’s 503 horsepower. You can also expect the rear seats to be removed, a rear wing to be added, bodywork to be reworked with a stronger focus on aerodynamics, lightweight wheels, and an even more aggressive tire setup.

All that, together with other smaller changes should, hopefully, make the M4 worthy of the CSL badge. Sadly, the nomenclature “M3 CSL” is likely long dead. If anything, the new M3 will get a CS variant, much like the previous-gen M4, the current M5, and the aforementioned M2, but we’re just speculating at the moment.

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2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class First Drive: Great Again, With Even More to Offer

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 16:00

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a sedan that in base form will retail in the U.S. for about the same money as a mainstream Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew, but which has an interior that looks like Mercedes lifted it straight out of the three-pointed star’s flagship sedan, the S-Class. And there’s S-Class function as well as form inside this new C-Class, too.

Getting the Goods

The new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has the same dazzlingly effective MBUX user interface system that made its debut in the S-Class last year, and it offers much the same level of functionality. No, you don’t get the trick 3-D digital instrument panel, nor the augmented reality head-up display that are the S-Class’ main party tricks. But you do get pretty much everything else. In terms of its ambiance and touchable technology, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class interior makes the cabins of BMW’s 3 Series range and even Audi’s A4 look and feel like downmarket items.

The rectangular digital instrument panel stands atop a dash that rolls forward under the windshield and enhances the sense of spaciousness. As in the S-Class, the portrait format central touchscreen flies over the dash, its silver edging streaming back into the center console’s upper surface like wingtip contrails from an F-15. However, in the S-Class the console structure below the central touchscreen simply headbutts the lower dash. In the C-Class its outer edges curve left and right and run in an unbroken line to each corner of the cabin.

Other S-Class tech: The individual elements of the semiotic seat controls on the doors are touch-sensitive capacitor switches, meaning the switches don’t move. These switches feel odd at first—you expect movement—but once you get used to just touching rather than pushing or pulling on their elements, you won’t want to go back to the old system: You can now make much finer adjustments to the seat than before.

Likewise, the steering wheel has the same haptic touch controls as the S-Class on the horizontal spokes. They too are a little tricky to work until you get used to the idea that light fingertip touches and sweeps are all you need to make something happen. And, as in the S-Class, the MBUX voice recognition system can recognize which of the car’s occupants is speaking.

Structural Changes and More

Codenamed W206, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan is built on an evolution of the outgoing W205’s platform, re-engineered significantly to package a 24.5-kWh battery that will deliver a 60-mile pure electric range for the plug-in hybrid models, and a new rear axle with optional rear-wheel steering. The wheelbase is an inch longer, and much of that has gone into improving rear legroom. Overall length increases by 2.6 inches, and width by 0.4 inch. One measurement shrinks, however: The roofline is 0.4 inch lower.

Up front is a revised multilink suspension similar in design to that of the new S-Class. And as in the new S-Class, the optional rear-steer system turns the rear wheels in the same direction as the fronts at speeds exceeding 35 mph, to enhance stability. They turn in the opposite direction at less than 35 mph to improve agility. In the S-Class, the rear wheels pivot 10 degrees or 4.5 degrees, depending on wheel and tire size, but on the C-Class they only turn a maximum of 2.5 degrees. 

Why? In the S-Class, rear-steer is all about making the big sedan more maneuverable, but in the smaller C-Class it’s all about handling, said chief engineer Christian Früh. With same-phase steering at more than 35 mph ensuring a more stable rear end, Früh’s engineers were able to tighten the W206’s steering ratio to improve its response. U.S.-spec C-Class models will not offer rear steer at launch, but the technology will almost certainly be included in AMG versions of the W206.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class will go on sale in the U.S. early next year in C300 and C300 4Matic specification, powered by the M254 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that made its debut in Europe last year. 

Power, Design, and Trim

Sharing the same bore diameter and bore centers, the M254 is basically the 3.0-liter M256 inline-six used in the E450, with two cylinders lopped off. It also gets the 48-volt integrated starter-generator setup, with its 20-hp EQ Boost and coasting functions. The engine makes 255 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 3,200 rpm. Driving through Mercedes-Benz’s smooth nine-speed automatic, it delivers a claimed 0–60-mph acceleration time of 6.0 seconds.

Every exterior panel is new, but unlike the dramatically upscale interior, the execution is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Forms, surfaces, and graphics echo those found on the new S-Class and the face-lifted E-Class. The crisp line that begins on the front quarter panel and extends rearward just under the side windows echoes the S-Class, for example, while the frowning grille graphic and the twin power bugles on the hood mimic the E-Class. The taillights combine design elements from each of the new car’s larger siblings.

Three trim levels will be available at launch: Premium, which includes a standard sunroof; Exclusive, which, among other things, adds the Parktronic parking assist system, inductive wireless charging for mobile devices, and the excellent Burmester 3D audio system; and Pinnacle, which gives you the MB navigation system with augmented video and the head-up display. All cars will roll on 18-inch wheels.

Our Kind of Ride

Interior and exterior design elements and the MBUX hardware and software aren’t the only S-Class influences evident in the new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: The impressive ride comfort and readily apparent road-noise suppression makes it feel much more like its luxurious big brother than any compact Mercedes sedan has since the original 190E, though we should note all of the test cars present for the model’s media launch were fitted with the adaptive-damping suspension that’s an option in Europe.

There’s a touch of float in Comfort mode, but even so, our test car, also on optional 19-inch rims shod with 225/40 and 255/35 Goodyears front and rear—and fitted with the optional four-wheel steering—stayed remarkably flat through corners. The suspension in Sport mode deftly calms the slight float without increasing impact harshness, a crucial accomplishment. If you like that but don’t want the extra business from the powertrain that Sport mode also delivers, go to Individual mode, put the suspension in Sport, and leave everything else in Comfort.

The steering is terrific, and although you don’t notice the rear wheels doing their thing other than during U-turns when the car’s tighter turning circle is obvious, there is, as chief engineer Früh promised, sharper initial response the moment you pull the steering wheel off center, and greater support from the rear end through corners. What’s nice about this new C-Class is the complete absence of rambunctiousness; you can hustle it down a rough and ready country road at a surprising pace, yet it always feels calm and controlled. 

Although the traditional sedan might seem a dying breed, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has in fact been a global best-seller for the marque throughout the past decade. More than 2.5 million examples of the outgoing W205 model alone have been sold since the car’s launch in 2014, with China being its single largest market since 2016. The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class—roomier than its predecessor, and with style, technology, and manners influenced so much by the car that defines the Mercedes brand—looks set to follow in its wheel tracks.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class / C300 Specifications PRICE $43,000 (est) LAYOUT Front engine, RWD or AWD, 4-door, 5-pass sedan ENGINE 2.0L/255-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16V I-4 plus 21-hp/147-lb-ft electric motor TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 3,600 lb (MT est) WHEELBASE 112.8 in L x W x H 187.0 x 71.7 x 56.6 in 0–60 MPH 6.0 Sec (mfr) EPA FUEL ECON, CITY/HWY/COMB N/A ON SALE Fall 2022

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2022 Subaru WRX Pokes Its Hood Scoop Out for the First Time

Tue, 06/29/2021 - 15:50

Fans of turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, rally-bred compact sport sedans have seen their options dwindle over the past decade from, well, two icons—the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru WRX—to one, the Subaru WRX. At least the most recent WRX was a good performance bargain, even if it lacked the outright titillation of earlier models. Could the next-generation WRX up the ante? One thing’s for sure: we know it’ll keep its signature hood scoop. Credit a teaser photo of the new rally rocket.

Curious about the new Subie’s reveal timing? So are we—the automaker is sharing only that the new WRX will debut “this year.” We’re about halfway through 2021, so there might be a wait ahead, even though from the photo above, it appears as though the new WRX sedan has taken physical form with at least a passing resemblance (in profile, at least) to the Viziv Performance and Viziv Performance STI concept cars.

As for what’s beneath the WRX’s hood scoop … well, that also is unclear at this point. Past reporting pegged the WRX as getting a new FA-series 2.4-liter flat-four engine, with the more powerful WRX STI model possibly spitting out as much as 400 hp. If the new 2.4-liter is at all related to the same-size turbo engine available in the Subaru Legacy, Outback, and Ascent, it could put out a similar 260 hp in the new WRX. It’d likely take a serious overhaul to throw down 400 ponies.

Today’s WRX uses a 268-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four, while the STI uses the company’s long-serving EJ 2.5-liter flat-four pushing as much as 341 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque from the crankshaft. It’s entirely possible the 2.4-liter engine outmuscles its predecessors’ states of tune in the new WRX and WRX STI, but we’ll need to wait for Subaru to reveal more official info, including whether the WRX range will once again be available only in sedan form (as in the photo above) or if the wagon/hatchback model will make a comeback for 2022.

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2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 4×4 Yearlong Test: How It Spent Winter

Mon, 06/28/2021 - 19:30

Yes, it’s summer, but we only recently found this winter report tucked between the seat cushions of Guffman, our long-term 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 4×4. So, we figured we might as well share how the truck spent the colder months in Michigan, where the truck is based with our Detroit staff.

When we ordered Guffman, we didn’t check the box for the Ram 2500 HD‘s $145 Cold Weather Group’s grille cover and block heater. That’s because the truck would live in Detroit, not Yellow Knife, and our oil never turns to Jell-O. But because diesels throw off less waste heat than gas engines (that’s part of their efficiency secret), and because the owner’s manual recommends covering the grille at temperatures below freezing—and also because we happened to sample a Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Duramax that came standard with such a cover—we rang up Mopar and ordered a $120 grille cover.

By comparison with that Silverado’s cover, this one seemed easier to install, using hooks on elastic loops to hold the top and bottom, and rigid felt-covered tabs that squeeze between the central grille and the trim or headlamps to secure the sides. Another point of differentiation: Ram’s cover includes four flaps that you’re supposed to leave open (by folding them under) until the temperature drops below 0 degrees F.

When temperatures were in the teens, we typically waited 45–60 seconds for the glow plug to warm up sufficiently on an outdoor cold start, and then felt noticeable heat from the vent registers by the time the Ram had traveled the 1.2 miles to our nearest freeway entrance. Without the cover, a bit of freeway driving was typically necessary to get the heat flowing.

No sooner was its radiator covered than did Detroit editor Alisa Priddle spirit away Guffman to her family homestead near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where winter temps routinely dip to single digits. She appreciated the swift warmup of the climate-control system, adding “The heated steering wheel and seats are also so good at their job, we’ve had to turn them off shortly after they make everything toasty.” She also praised the power-folding mirrors that ease entry to her garage and the running boards that are vital for assisting shorter-legged occupants. But she noted that her long-torsoed husband’s head brushes the sunroof trim even with the seat powered fully down. Tall folks should delete that $1,095 option.

One advantage the aforementioned Silverado had over this Ram (and the Ford F-250 Power Stroke) is a full-time 4WD function that lets you engage all four wheels without binding on dry pavement. The Ram’s 4H mode causes noticeable binding in turns whenever the snow and ice thins, and with our truck’s Firestone Transforce HT tires, which call for inflation pressures of 70/80 psi front/rear, don’t grip very well in snow and ice (Tire Rack customers rank them 5.2 out of 10 for winter/snow performance), all drivers reported needing to engage 4WD even to climb snowy driveway aprons. If Guffman made northern Ontario his permanent home, a set of Blizzaks would be a good idea, and for Detroit when these tires wear out, we’d replace them with a set of Michelin Agilis CrossClimate tires, Tire Rack’s highest-rated replacement respondents for winter/snow performance, at 8.9.

In other news, the Ram’s owner’s manual calls for the first oil change/tire rotation/inspection service at 15,000 miles, which coincided with a visit to Memphis, where the service was performed quickly for $144.77. Our only complaint: The various inspections failed to notice that our fuel filter had only a few miles left, as the onboard computer called for its replacement during our drive back to Michigan. Our local dealer charged an hour’s labor to replace this $85 filter, for a total charge of $252.26. Aghast at that charge and having swapped plenty of fuel filters on gas-burning vehicles, we looked online for the procedure and swapped it. Trust us—that’s not an hour you want to spend.

And now that the snow has well and truly melted, the flowers have bloomed, and we’re in the thick of summer weather, Guffman has returned to working for a living. There are trees that need to be chipped for mulch and lots of scrap to haul to the dump, after all.

Read More About Our Long-Term 2020 Ram 2500 Laramie 4×4 Cummins:

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