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The Volkswagen Corrado Had One of the First Production Active Spoilers

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 20:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Volkswagen

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Categories: Property

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

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 19:32

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

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

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

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

Source: Audi

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2019 Toyota C-HR XLE First Test: Style Priorities

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 09:00

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

Pictured is the 2018 Toyota C-HR.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Property

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

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 09:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Property

McLaren Honors its Racing Heritage With Six Special Edition Beauties

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 08:21

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

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

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

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

Source: McLaren

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Categories: Property

Vilner BMW E30 M3 Evo is the Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 21:07

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Vilner

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Categories: Property

Volkswagen Restores a 350,000-Mile 1967 Beetle

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 18:11

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Volkswagen

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Categories: Property

Jaguar Introduces New Range of Pet Products

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 17:32

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

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

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

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

Source: Jaguar


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Categories: Property

2019 Infiniti QX50 Long-Term Update 2: Commute King

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 09:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about our long-term 2019 Infiniti QX50:

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Categories: Property

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

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 00:37

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Aston Martin

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

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 23:00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Categories: Property

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

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 22:20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Albert Biermann Poised to Head Hyundai Motor Group R&D

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 22:14

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Reuters

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Toyota Supra Super GT Racing Concept to Debut in Tokyo

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 20:54

The 2020 Toyota Supra is among the most anticipated debuts in recent memory, as we’ve been expecting a new Supra to drop ever since the Toyota FT-1 concept was revealed way back in 2014. That day will finally come next month at the 2019 Detroit auto show, but before then Toyota will debut yet another Supra racing concept.

The automaker teased the GR Supra Super GT concept today, which will be unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Auto Salon taking place just before the Detroit show. You may be wondering why Toyota and its Gazoo Racing motorsports division are showing off another Supra race car concept when they already revealed the GR Supra Racing concept earlier this year. It seems that car will only see competition in Playstation’s Gran Turismo Sport, but based on this concept’s name we can assume it previews a car that will actually race in Japan’s real-life Super GT series.

The Toyota GR Supra Racing concept at the 2018 Geneva motor show

Once known as the JGTC (Japan Grand Touring Championship), Super GT is Japan’s premiere GT racing series and is comprised of two classes that compete on one track simultaneously: GT300 and the top-tier GT500 class. Because Toyota just launched the GT500-class Lexus LC 500 last year, the Supra will most likely compete in GT300. Given the Toyota Supra’s rich history in JGTC, we’d love to see a GT500 version of the Mk. V, but entering GT300 makes sense as those cars are typically more closely related to their production counterparts. The lower class also allows FIA GT3-spec cars, so it’s possible the Supra will be eligible to compete in other series besides Super GT. If the race car is production-based, then expect to find a BMW-sourced turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six under the hood.

Beyond that, we don’t know very much about the upcoming Supra race car. We’ll have to wait until the GR Supra Super GT concept debuts at the Tokyo Auto Salon on January 11-13 to learn more. Until then, at least we have the NASCAR version to tide us over?

Source: Toyota

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Spied! Next Audi RS 7 Tests in Icy Conditions

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 19:00

Our spy photographers have caught the upcoming Audi RS 7 testing in the snow and flaunting its shapely silhouette. The high-performance variant of Audi’s swoopy fastback sedan is scheduled to debut sometime next year and will eventually do battle with the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, Porsche Panamera, and BMW M5.

Some of the dead giveaways that this is the RS 7 are the large oval exhaust tips, which distinguish Audi’s RS models from lesser variants. Behind all of the camouflage, the fenders look wider than on the standard A7. This particular prototype also appears to have a different lower front fascia with larger side openings for improved air flow to cool the brakes. It’s also sporting sizable front brakes and larger-diameter alloy wheels. The car also appears lower than a standard A7, which could hint at a height-adjustable air suspension or possibly a lowered fixed setup.

As with past Audi RS models, it’s the small details that will set this car apart from its more pedestrian sibling, which should help the RS 7 to be one heck of a sleeper. Our spy photographers tell us that the RS 7 will debut with a new twin-turbo V-8 good for 650 hp. That powertrain is likely to be shared with the eight-cylinder version of the Bentley Continental GT. Look for the 2020 Audi RS 7 to debut next year, possibly at the Geneva motor show.

Photo source: CarPix

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1,900-HP Pininfarina Battista Teased Ahead of Geneva Debut

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 17:57

Famed Italian design house Pininfarina announced earlier this year that it would relaunch as an electric car brand, and now we know the name of the fledgling automaker’s first model. At the Geneva motor show next March, Pininfarina will debut the Battista, an electric hypercar named after the marque’s founder, Battista “Pinin” Farina.

The new automaker is coming out swinging with its first production EV, claiming it will be both the most powerful and fastest Italian car when it launches in late 2020. If it has the specs Pininfarina promises, it just might be. The Battista will produce 1,900 hp and 1,696 lb-ft of torque from its Rimac-supplied all-electric powertrain, according to Pininfarina. With that kind of power on tap, the Battista is estimated to hit 62 mph in less than 2 seconds and top 250 mph. Pininfarina also promises a range of more than 300 miles. Those figures may be hard to believe, but as you might recall, the Rimac C_Two from this year’s Geneva show boasted similar specs.

Based on the teaser images, you can expect a sleek, low-slung exterior design. We see a bit of the Pininfarina-penned Ferrari Sergio concept in the front end, though the headlights could be closer to those of a Ferrari 488. However it ends up looking, the Battista will be rare. The brand promises to build no more than 150 examples, and each will be priced between $2 million and $2.5 million. The distribution will be split three ways, with the U.S., Europe, and Middle East each getting 50 cars.

We’ll find out more about the Pininfarina Battista at the 2019 Geneva motor show.

Source: Pininfarina

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2019 Subaru Ascent Long-Term Arrival: New Ground for Subaru

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 09:00

I was the first journalist to drive the Subaru Ascent midsize SUV prior to the unveiling at the 2017 Los Angeles auto show. Subaru had a heavily camouflaged Ascent in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and engineers flew in from Japan for the day to talk about the largest and most expensive Subaru to date and get impressions after taking it out on the road.

For that first prototype drive, the exterior was covered in camo and the interior draped in cloth with holes cut out around the starter button, gearshift, and other key stalks and knobs. With little to look at, full concentration was on the ride.

Cruising local roads showed off the new global platform that underpins most of the Subaru lineup. First impression was the appetite the four-wheel independent suspension had for eating up the imperfections of Michigan roads and the low center of gravity that made it feel planted with little body roll on the curves.

Since then the Ascent has been shown to the world and competed in MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year, and a Limited trim model in Cinnamon Brown Pearl with a cream and black interior has arrived at the MotorTrend garage in Detroit, where it will spend the next year.

Subaru has loyal customers, but in the past they had to leave the brand to find a three-row crossover, which is what prompted engineers to create the Ascent. The Ascent is an eight-passenger vehicle when the second row is a bench seat, but our model is the seven-passenger version with two captain’s chairs in the second row.  My dog-owning Detroit colleague Frank Markus notes Snickers prefers a bench seat. We’ll let you know how well Snickers adapts.

In the year ahead, we want to see how capable this family vehicle really is and assess the usefulness of its space. We want to see if the addition to the Subaru family lives up to the brand’s reputation for safety, reliability, and no-nonsense functionality.

Timing is perfect: The Ascent has Subaru’s standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, torque vectoring, and X-Mode to reduce wheel slip—and we offer a Michigan winter that promises cold, snow, and ice.

Also standard is Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system, a safety buffet that uses dual cameras to apply emergency braking from 7 to 100 mph and provides lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist to steer you back on track, a reverse automatic braking system, and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert.

The rearview camera helps with backing up and will be handy when we trailer—we made sure our Subie came with a $499 trailer hitch, which will be put to good use in the months ahead. The Ascent is rated to tow 5,000 pounds.

The Ascent is the first vehicle to get Subaru’s new 2.4-liter direct-injected turbocharged flat-four engine. The Boxer engine makes 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. It pairs with a CVT that mimics eight gear shifts. It has 8.7 inches of ground clearance to play with and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

The base price for our Limited is $39,970, and we have added a few goodies. A $2,950 options package adds an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system with 14 speakers, a panoramic moonroof with a retractable sun shade, a Starlink navigation system displayed on the vehicle’s 8.0-inch screen, and a cargo area cover that cleverly stows in a space under the load floor. Our all-weather floor liners cost an additional $132, bringing the total sticker price to $43,551.

We have so far put 2,206 miles on our Ascent, with an mpg of 19.7. Yet we’ve already managed to lodge a screw in one of the tires, which the local Belle Tire fixed for free—a job that normally costs $25. We are patched and ready to keep on rolling.

2019 Subaru Ascent Limited BASE PRICE $39,970 PRICE AS TESTED $43,551 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.4L/260-hp/277-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve flat-4 TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,626 lb (53/47%) WHEELBASE 113.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 196.8 x 76.0 x 71.6 in 0-60 MPH 6.9 sec QUARTER MILE 15.2 sec @ 90.5 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 114 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 20/26/22 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 169/130 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87 lb/mile TOTAL MILEAGE 2,206 mi AVERAGE FUEL ECON 19.7 mpg UNRESOLVED PROBLEM AREAS None

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2019 Ford Ranger EPA-Rated up to 21/26/23 MPG

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 05:01

Official EPA numbers for the 2019 Ford Ranger were released today. The midsize truck is rated 21/26/23 mpg city/highway/combined when paired with rear-wheel drive.

That rating makes the Ranger the most fuel-efficient gas-powered midsize pickup in the U.S. In comparison, the 2019 Toyota Tacoma tops out at 20/23/21 mpg with the four-cylinder or 19/24/21 with the V-6. The 2019 Chevrolet Colorado maxes out at 20/26/22 with the four-cylinder gas engine. The diesel Colorado is naturally better on the highway than the Ranger but has the same combined rating, hitting 20/30/23 mpg. Meanwhile, the 2019 Honda Ridgeline puts out a respectable 19/26/22 mpg. With the 2019 Nissan Frontier, you’re looking at a max rating of 19/23/21 mpg. Of course, we’ll have to conduct our own Real MPG tests to confirm the Ranger’s EPA numbers translate to the real world.

With four-wheel drive, the Ranger’s fuel economy drops slightly to 20/24/22 mpg, according to the EPA. The Ranger comes with a standard 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that makes 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. While it doesn’t have the most horsepower, it has more torque than any other gas engine in the midsize truck segment. The engine pairs with a 10-speed automatic transmission; no manual option will be available.

Ford began production on the new Ranger in Michigan this October. The model heads to dealerships in January with a starting price of $25,395. Right on its heels is the 2020 Jeep Gladiator, which is expected to hit the market during the second quarter of 2019.

Source: Ford

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New BMW 3 Series Wagon Not Coming to the U.S.

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 23:26

If you were considering buying a brand new BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon based on the recently introduced G20 generation, you’re sadly out of luck. Well, if you live in America, anyway, as a G20 wagon will still be offered in Europe and other markets.

A report published today by CarBuzz suggests that there are no plans for the marque to bring such a long-roof version here, and a BMW North America spokesman confirmed the model’s fate to our colleagues at Automobile. “The existing 3 Series Sports Wagon in 330i xDrive guise will be the last opportunity for anyone [in the U.S.] to order and take delivery of a 3 Series Sports Wagon.”

In the U.S., that model packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 248 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. With crossover SUVs all the rage, the station wagon in general seems to be going the way of the manual transmission. Both remain popular with a cadre of hardcore enthusiasts—like us—but we were told last year that the wagon accounted for only 4 percent of all 3 Series sales, trailing the sedan and even Gran Turismo variants.

If you don’t grab an F31-generation wagon before they’re gone, the best options moving forward for a smaller, liftgate-equipped vehicle at BMW will be the X1, X2, and X3 crossovers—or a pre-owned wagon, of course. We have enjoyed spending time in the small and spunky X2, and the raucous BMW X3 M40i as well, but neither is a station wagon.

The upcoming seventh-generation 3 Series is lighter, longer, and wider than before, and BMW promises it will also be more fun to drive. The sedan version goes on sale in March starting at $41,195. Our First Drive review of the 2019 3 Series sedan publishes tomorrow, so be sure to check back.

Source: CarBuzz

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Carlos Ghosn, Nissan Indicted in Japan for Underreporting Compensation

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 23:10

The auto industry reeled in shock last month when former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn was arrested on suspicion of financial misconduct. Now, the executive credited with saving Nissan in the early 2000s has been indicted by prosecutors in Tokyo, Japan, for misstating his compensation over the course of several years. Former board member Greg Kelly and Nissan itself have also been indicted.

According to a statement released yesterday in Japan, Nissan says the two executives were indicted for violating the Japan Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, specifically the section involving false disclosures in annual securities reports. Nissan acknowledged that it was also indicted for the same violation.

“Nissan takes this situation extremely seriously,” the company said in its statement. “Making false disclosures in annual securities reports greatly harms the integrity of Nissan’s public disclosures in the securities markets, and the company expresses its deepest regret. Nissan will continue its efforts to strengthen its governance and compliance, including making accurate disclosures of corporate information.”

According to Japanese media, prosecutors are accusing the indicted parties of underreporting Ghosn’s compensation by about 5 billion yen (roughly $44 million at current exchange rates) from fiscal years 2010-2014. New allegations contend that Ghosn and Kelly also underreported compensation from 2015-2017, which led to the two men being re-arrested. According to Automotive News, Japan’s legal system allows suspects to be arrested multiple times—even if already in custody—on different grounds. This process resets the detention clock and extends jail time by up to 20 days. Ghosn has been detained since his initial arrest on November 19 and continues to deny any wrongdoing. The re-arrest means he could be jailed until December 30.

But prosecutors may have a hard time getting a conviction to stick, former Tokyo prosecutor special investigation deputy Masaru Wakasa suggested to AN. You see, the 9 billion yen Ghosn is accused of underreporting over eight years is said to be deferred compensation that would have been paid out after he retired. Prosecutors need to prove that both the amount and timing of future payments are certain, and that Nissan was obligated to report the payments in its financial statements. The prosecution believes Nissan should have reported the deferred payments even though they had not yet been paid because they represent a future liability that stakeholders should know about. Sources familiar with the investigation say Ghosn and Kelly have admitted that the deferred payments were not fully disclosed in financial reports, but they believe it was unnecessary because the amount wasn’t finalized.

A panel of three judges will ultimately decide if Ghosn, Kelly, and Nissan committed crimes, though a trial date has not yet been set. Automotive News reports Ghosn will likely be re-arrested (again) on different charges, potentially keeping him detained through the beginning of 2019.

Source: Nissan, Automotive News (Subscription required)

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