Gas prices surge for July 4 holiday, here's how to pay less at the pump

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 14:30
The average cost for a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. during the July 4 holiday week will be $2.86, according to AAA. That's the highest it's been in four years during the Independence Day holiday, which will mean more pain at the pump for roughly 40 million Americans traveling this week. “The national gas price average has held fairly...
Categories: Property

2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Long-Term Verdict: Excellence Versus Soul

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 14:15

The Audi A4 never shouts—it quietly works its magic until you start questioning choices other automakers make with their compact luxury sport sedans. After a year with our long-term 2017 Audi A4, living with the car solidified our feeling from last year’s Big Test comparison that it’s one of the best cars in its class.

Of course, when you spend that much time with a car, you also notice what doesn’t work well. The A4’s seatbelt chime is too loud, the rear defroster quits too early, I don’t like the upward-tilting exterior door handles, and the twin-clutch automatic transmission could be smoother in low-speed driving. Those are relatively minor issues when you realize that every car you’re considering has something you won’t like.

With the A4, you must decide how much soul you’re willing to give up for all-around everyday excellence. The Audi isn’t as fun to drive as the Alfa Romeo Giulia, our 2018 Car of the Year and the car that won the comparison in which the A4 placed second. Some feel the Alfa is more fun to look at, too, but I disagree. The Alfa is attractive, but the Audi’s sharp, understated looks will age well.

So the impressively capable Audi isn’t as entertaining as the Giulia, but you’re in for a great commute. Because let’s face it: That’s where you’ll drive this car most of the time. A number of smart details occasionally made me nod my head in appreciation. The A4’s 8.3-inch infotainment screen is ideally placed at the very top of the dash and is canted toward the driver. Then there’s the superb 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, which is distinguished from other similar systems not by its use of Google Earth—which is cool, but pricey after the trial period ends. Instead, I like the interface and how easily you can switch views using steering wheel controls. Whether you want a full-screen map view or a more traditional display of a tachometer and speedometer with music or drive info in the middle, the Audi gets most details right. Three suggestions: I wish the car could show album covers when I’m using Apple CarPlay; I want a tire pressure monitoring system that displays PSI at each tire; and it’d be cool if I could change the color of the “A4” that appears in one of the full-screen display modes.

The process of accessing some settings menus isn’t intuitive at first, but the system and MMI control knob are easy to use after a little practice.

Other interior pluses include an ambient lighting system that offers multiple colors and allows you to color part of the interior in one color and the rest of the car’s interior lighting in another complementing hue. Unfortunately, though, the illuminated white line at the bottom of the front doors doesn’t play along. Also, the A4 has one of the best turn-up-the-volume controls in the industry, with a roller-type control on the steering wheel and an easy-to-find volume knob at the base of the center console between the driver and front passenger. Over time, I even came to appreciate the engine auto start/stop system, but not for its smoothness. In fact, the engine awakens with a noticeable and unfortunate shake. I kept the feature on because under the right conditions, the car can turn the engine off for over a minute—perfect for making the most of our long-termer’s 19-speaker 755-watt sound system at long red lights in the silence to which EV owners have become accustomed.

Were I ordering an A4, I wouldn’t pick the Atlas Beige interior color of our long-termer, and not just because our Big Test comparison tester’s Nougat Brown looked great. The beige seats on our A4 don’t hide dirt well, and the standard seats on our car don’t provide as much side bolstering as I’d like. I would get the available sport seats, after making sure that the sport suspension with which they’re bundled isn’t too uncomfortable.

During our 19,419 miles with the A4, we had a few issues. The biggest one was when the car couldn’t reliably recognize phones that were compatible with Apple CarPlay. A total of $2,839.99 of warranty cost later, the control module that connects with the phone through the USB outlets was replaced to fix the system. The back of the center console armrest—which has a lid that adjusts up and down, and front to back—started to warp, and that was replaced with a warranty cost of $103. We also replaced all four tires before we would have liked. Right before a trip up the coast of California, we noticed one tire had a bubble on the sidewall, so two tires were replaced. Just a couple weeks later, a nail in another tire caused enough damage that we had to replace that one (and we again decided to replace a second tire to keep wear levels even).

I’m going to miss the A4’s adaptive cruise control—in use and customizability, it’s one of the best systems I’ve experienced so far.

Audi throws in the first scheduled maintenance, but the second regularly scheduled service visit cost $561.36. For comparison, our $46,140 2015 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 cost $181.18 over 18,525 miles. Our $36,420 2015 Acura TLX 2.4 required $235.40 of services over 18,915 miles. As you compare prices of various cars you’re considering, keep in mind that some automakers (BMW, Jaguar, Genesis, Volvo) include additional complimentary service visits. As for the car’s retained value, IntelliChoice estimates our A4 would be worth an impressive 67 percent of its original $52,325 MSRP after three years and 42,000 miles, holding its value better than the less expensive Acura and Mercedes, and also slightly above our 2017 BMW 530i long-termer.

My own A4 would be a top Prestige-trimmed all-wheel-drive model. I didn’t find the less powerful, front-drive A4 Ultra’s responses at low speeds to be smooth, and our all-wheel-drive A4 is already so quick I would have trouble justifying the more powerful S4. As for the Prestige trim—like the mid-level Premium Plus trim, it includes chrome exterior trim that accentuates the arched side-window shape that has defined Audi sedans for over two decades. The top trim also includes Audi’s great adaptive cruise control. After turning off the lane keeping assist system that doesn’t center the car in its lane at low speeds, I sometimes let the adaptive cruise ease my evening commute. Some systems are too rough as they come to a stop or take off, but Audi’s system has settings for distance and aggressiveness. I’m more prone to motion sickness than the average driver, and for me, this is the difference between usability and permanently turning off the tech.

Really, though, I wouldn’t get an A4 at all. My choice would be a beautiful A5 Sportback, the four-door hatchback that slips all of the A4’s many advantages into a sexier shape. If I’m making the emotionally charged decision of paying $50,000 to $60,000 for a car that’s more cramped inside than a Civic, I’m treating myself to the more exclusive shape. For those who aren’t interested in that hatchback variant, a year in the Audi reaffirmed our belief that, despite the car’s drawbacks, the 252-hp all-wheel-drive A4 is one of the most well-rounded and recommendable cars in its class.

Read more about our 2017 Audi A4 2.0T: My first “long-term” A4 was a 1996 model, shown here with the 2005 Acura TSX that replaced it. Our Car SERVICE LIFE 12 mo / 19,419 mi BASE PRICE $40,350 OPTIONS Prestige package ($8,600: 18-inch wheels, Bang & Olufsen sound system, Audi advance key, LED headlights, top view camera, head-up display, Audi virtual cockpit); Driver Assistance package ($1,800: Adaptive cruise control, active lane keep assist, high-beam assist, traffic sign recognition); Adaptive damping suspension ($1,000); metallic paint ($575) PRICE AS TESTED $52,325 AVG ECON/CO2 25.1 mpg / 0.77 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS None MAINTENANCE COST $561.36 (2-oil change, inspection) NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $34,900 RECALLS None *IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, iron block/alum head VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 121.1 cu in/1,984 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 9.6:1 POWER (SAE NET) 252 hp @ 5,000 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 273 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm REDLINE 6,750 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 14.5 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 4.23:1/1.63:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 15.9:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.8 BRAKES, F; R 13.3-in vented disc; 13.0-in vented disc, ABS WHEELS 8.0 x 18 in cast aluminum TIRES 245/40R18 97H (M+S) Pirelli Cinturato P7 DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 111.0 in TRACK, F/R 61.9/61.2 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 186.1 x 72.5 x 56.2 in TURNING CIRCLE 38.1 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,645 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 56/44% SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 38.9/37.4 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.3/35.7 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 55.9/54.5 in CARGO VOLUME 13.0 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 1.8 sec 0-40 2.7 0-50 3.9 0-60 5.2 0-70 6.9 0-80 9.1 0-90 11.6 0-100 14.5 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.8 QUARTER MILE 14.0 sec @ 98.2 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 126 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.84 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.69 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,300 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $40,350 PRICE AS TESTED $52,325 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 10: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/Unlimited miles FUEL CAPACITY 15.3 gal REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 22.1/35.2/26.5 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 24/31/27 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 140/109 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.73 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

The post 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro Long-Term Verdict: Excellence Versus Soul appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

ePrix: Racing for the Future – The Big Picture

Motortrend News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 14:15

I started in this business as a freelance motorsport reporter, and over the years I’ve covered everything from club autocross to Formula 1. It’s been a long time since I arrived at a motorsport venue not knowing quite what to expect. That made my trip to the 2018 Berlin ePrix for electric cars doubly intriguing.

Let’s be clear: Formula E, barely through its fourth season, is not about to overtake Formula 1, IndyCar, Le Mans, or NASCAR any time soon. But automakers are taking it very seriously, pouring millions of dollars into the category. As one veteran motorsport insider noted in Berlin: “Every single driver in this series is paid to drive. Not even Formula 1 has that.”

BMW was the title sponsor of the Berlin race; Audi, Jaguar, PSA, Renault, and Indian automaker Mahindra each backed a two-car team. The entry list included some familiar old-school racing names, too: Andretti and Penske.

Mercedes-AMG F1 boss Toto Wolff was in Berlin, as was Porsche ambassador and former Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber. “We’re just checking things out, mate,” the laconic Webber said. Porsche has confirmed it will have a team competing in Formula E next year. Daimler will enter electric-powered Silver Arrows running under the Mercedes-EQ banner in 2020. Nissan is also joining the series.

The current crop of Formula E cars is powered by motors that develop 270 hp in qualifying mode and 240 hp in race mode, fed by 28-kW-hr lithium-ion batteries. The battery pack weighs 705 pounds, one reason the race cars weigh 1,940 pounds. But they’ll still hit 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. Top speed is 140 mph, fast on the tight circuits where they race.

You can’t hear them coming, but as the E-racers sweep past, they make a high-pitched turbine whine, with noticeable differences in pitch and timbre between some cars. The battery packs last about half the race distance, forcing drivers to come in and change cars. Although racing purists have struggled with the idea—forgetting that in the 1950s F1 drivers often swapped cars—it’s the Formula E equivalent of a pit stop for fuel and tires, with all the variables that can throw into a race.

Another variable is fan boost. Fans can start voting for their favorite driver via social media channels six days before each race, with voting closing six minutes after the start. The top three vote-getting drivers are given extra power to use for a brief period during the race.

Some critics suggest a race car without a transmission can’t be too challenging to drive. But Volkswagen Motorsport ambassador and former F1 driver Hans-Joachim Stuck points out Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, and Lewis Hamilton—drivers with 14 F1 world championships between them—honed their otherworldly car control skills in single-speed sprint karts. With equal power, treaded tires that lack the absolute grip of slicks, and unyielding walls right at the track limits, Formula E cars reward talent.

With little noise and no emissions, Formula E has been able to bring racing to the people, right into the hearts of the cities where they live. Tracks this season have been in Hong Kong, Marrakesh, Santiago, Rome, and Paris. After Berlin, the Formula E circus headed to Zurich before crossing the Atlantic for the final two races of this year’s championship in Brooklyn.

An all-new Formula E race car will hit the track in 2019. Dubbed Gen2 and featuring radically different aerodynamics, it will boast 335 hp in qualifying mode and 270 hp in race mode. The Gen2 cars will be faster, edgier to drive. What’s more, they will have double the battery capacity and double the range, meaning drivers won’t have to swap cars midrace.

“We want Formula E to be a visionary championship … a kind of laboratory for motor racing,” says Jean Todt, president of the FIA, auto racing’s supreme sanctioning body. Formula E might be racing for tomorrow, but the launch of the Gen2 reveals an essential truth that’s as old as the automobile itself: Racing improves the breed.

More from Angus MacKenzie:

The post ePrix: Racing for the Future – The Big Picture appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

New top team takes over at BPF

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 12:16
The managing partner of Argent, David Partridge, has been appointed as the next junior vice president of the British Property Federation – meaning that he will become its president in two years’ time.
Categories: Property

New corporate finance director for Grainger

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 12:11
Grainger has appointed David Prescott as director of strategy and corporate finance.
Categories: Property

Peel plans £100m Glasgow outlet

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 12:08
Peel Land and Property Group has submitted plans to develop a retail and leisure outlet at Glasgow Harbour, making an initial investment of £100m.
Categories: Property

Olympia London owners unveil plans for £700m investment

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 12:06
Olympia London owners Deutsche Finance and Yoo Capital have announced plans for a £700m investment in the 130-year-old exhibitions and events venue.
Categories: Property

Neuberger Berman takes minority stake in Round Hill Capital

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:51
Private equity firm Neuberger Berman has taken a minority stake in real estate investment and asset management firm Round Hill Capital through its Dyal Capital division.
Categories: Property

Hines UK appoints Cooper for logistics push

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:49
Hines UK has appointed Greg Cooper as director of industrial and logistics as the firm prepares to enter the sector later this year.
Categories: Property

Asian consortium acquires £2.1bn stake in Global Switch

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:36
A consortium of Asian investors has acquired a 24.99% stake in data centre company Global Switch for £2.1bn before it goes public next year.
Categories: Property

Urban Logistics acquires industrial portfolio double from LondonMetric

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:28
Urban Logistics has agreed to acquire a pair of logistics portfolios from LondonMetric for a total cost of £36m.
Categories: Property

Emoov seeks crowdfunding cash ahead of IPO early next year

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:21
Online estate agent Emoov has launched what it claims is the first “pre-IPO crowdfunding” campaign ever conducted.
Categories: Property

2018 Toyota Tacoma review update: the right place at the right time

The Car Connection News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 11:00
Robert Horry—known to some as Big Shot Rob—has seven NBA Championship rings on his fingers. That’s more than any modern-era basketball player. The ex-Rockets, ex-Suns, ex-Lakers, ex-Spurs forward was certainly a talented athlete noted for his clutch shooting during the playoffs, but he also happened to be at the right place at...
Categories: Property

HB Reavis sells CBRE pre-let Cooper & Southwark

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 10:51
HB Reavis has agreed the sale of its 78,000 sq ft office development at 61 Southwark Street that is pre-let to CBRE’s Global Workplace Solutions division to an overseas private investor.
Categories: Property

Altus acquires French proptech firm Taliance

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 10:51
Software and advisory firm Altus Group has acquired Paris-based proptech company Taliance Group for €20m (£18m).
Categories: Property

WELPUT lets central London office to The Office Group

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 10:33
Central London real estate fund WELPUT, managed by Schroders Real Estate and advised by Grafton Advisors, has let offices at Orion House in Covent Garden to The Office Group.
Categories: Property

OakNorth completes £21.7m loan to Starboard Hotels

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 10:28
OakNorth has completed a £21.7m loan to Starboard Hotels to develop a new 162-bedroom Hampton by Hilton hotel in Park Royal, west London.
Categories: Property

Urban Exposure closes £104m loans in first since AIM listing

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:49
Urban Exposure has revealed it has closed its first three loans since its £150m AIM float in May.
Categories: Property

Paragon completes Titlestone takeover

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:42
Paragon Banking Group has completed its £48m takeover of residential lender Titlestone Property Finance.
Categories: Property

NewRiver appoints Baroness Ford to chair

Property Week News Feed - Tue, 07/03/2018 - 08:30
Baroness Ford of Cunninghame is set to become NewRiver REIT’s new chairman, following Paul Roy’s decision to stand down in October.
Categories: Property