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FLASH SALE- Auto Meter Tach Adapter (96-14 All)
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Archive for the ‘auto shows’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition

Chevrolet is now offering two new special editions for the high-performance off-road Colorado ZR2 mid-size pickup. The Midnight Edition brings an all-black theme with tons of dark accents and a ZR2-branded sports bar with LED off-road lights. The Dusk Edition brings all the same black accents and the sports bar but allows customers to choose any of the eight other paint colors available on the standard Colorado ZR2. Both the Midnight and Dusk Editions come with new five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels painted in black.

The Colorado ZR2 is one of the hottest trucks on the market right now, and Chevy is hoping the added special editions will pour gasoline on the ZR2 fire. Obviously, special edition models tend to sell roughly twice as quickly as standard pickups, so it’s no doubt why Chevys bean counters are happy to offer the blacked-out packages.

According to Jim Campbell, Chevy’s U.S. VP of truck strategy, performance vehicles, and motorsports, “The Colorado ZR2 Midnight and Dusk Edition models offer customers even more personalization choices from the only company with three distinct trucks: midsize, full-size and full-size heavy-duty. Chevrolet offers more choices because the truck market is too diverse for a ‘one size fits most’ strategy.” Basically, it boils down to customers feeling exclusive when they buy and drive a special edition truck.

So what makes these special editions so… special? Keep reading for the details.

Continue reading for more on the Colorado ZR2 special editions.

2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition


2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition - image 739209
“The Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition is exactly what we’ve come to expect from something called the “midnight edition.””

The Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition is exactly what we’ve come to expect from something called the “midnight edition.” Both Chevy and Nissan have midnight editions, and several other automakers have a play on the blacked-out theme. For the 2018 ZR2, it means black paint, black bowtie badges, those black 17-inch wheels (including the spare), and the bed-mounted sports bar with the ZR2-branded sail panels and LED off-road lights. Beyond that, honestly, there’s not much to speak of. Chevy makes no mention of interior changes.

2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Dusk Edition


2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition - image 739207
“What separates the Dusk from the Midnight is the availability of the standard Colorado ZR2’s eight other body color options other than black.”

Do you like the Midnight Edition but think black paint is hard to keep clean? You’re in luck because the Dusk Edition is dark, but not as dark as midnight. See what Chevy did there? (Hardy har har… ) What separates the Dusk from the Midnight is the availability of the standard Colorado ZR2’s eight other body color options other than black.
These include Deepwood Green, Graphite, Red Hot, Satin Steel, Silver Ice, Summit White, Kinetic Blue, and Cajun Red. Those wanting Kinetic Blue or Cajun Red will have to shell out $395 or $495, respectively. The other colors are no-cost options.

Besides the body color options, the Dusk Edition comes with the same equipment as the Midnight Edition. This includes the black bowtie badges, the black wheels, and the sports bar with the ZR2 logo and LED off-road lights.

More on the Special Editions


2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition - image 739206
“Chevy is using the Midnight and Dusk Editions to help celebrate its 100th-anniversary of building trucks”

Chevy is using the Midnight and Dusk Editions to help celebrate its 100th-anniversary of building trucks. You’ll probably remember reading about the 2018 Chevy Silverado and Colorado Centennial Edition. If not, check those out here. The special editions also give Chevy more things to showcase at this year’s SEMA show. The Colorado ZR2 special edition with be on display at the Los Vegas Convention Center from October 31 through November 3, 2017, along with roughly 20 other Chevy entries.

Chevrolet didn’t announce pricing or availability of the 2018 Colorado ZR2 special editions, but we expect them to arrive in showrooms sometime in December or early in 2018. Pricing will likely be steep, ranging between $1,200 and $2,000. And aside from what comes with these special edition packages, all other options will be available on the ZR2, including both engine choices.

More on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695642

The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is a no-holds-barred attempt at a high-performance off-road pickup. While Ford has seen fantastic success with the full-size F-150 Raptor, Chevy is taking a different route by using the Colorado in the mid-size category. The smaller truck is arguably better since its smaller dimensions make it easier to drive on tight trails.

What separates the ZR2 from a run-of-the-mill Colorado Z71 is its wider stance, special shock absorbers, locking differentials, high-clearance bumpers, wide fenders, and grippy Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires on ZR2-specific wheels.

Let’s break things down.

The ZR2 is 3.5-inches wider than a standard Colorado, giving it a more planted foundation. The suspension is also two inches higher than stock, giving it more ground clearance and wheel travel. The underbody is protected from damage via an upgraded aluminum skid plate under the radiator and engine oil pan. The skid plate also adds to the macho appearance of the truck. There is also a skid plate protecting the transfer case, too.


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695945
“With the two-speed 4WD transfer case locked into 4WD High or Low range, the ZR2 sends equal power to all four wheel no matter what”

The Colorado ZR2 features front and rear locking differentials. These electronically actuate and keep both left and right tires on an axle turning at the same speed, regardless of wheel slip. With the two-speed 4WD transfer case locked into 4WD High or Low range, the ZR2 sends equal power to all four wheel no matter what – an extremely handy feature when traversing loose terrain or slick rocks. The rear axle is also unique to the ZR2 and runs a stout 3.42:1 gear ratio.

The ZR2 also boats an off-road drive mode than reworks programming for the traction controls, ABS, stability control, transmission shift patterns, and throttle response.

However, the biggest performance upgrade on the ZR2 is its DSSV Spool Valve dampers from Multimatic. This is the first off-road application of spool valve shocks, which have a rich yet relatively short history in F1 race cars, supercars, and high-end track-day brawlers. Chevy has experience with spool valve shocks, though, as the fifth-generation Chevy Camaro Z/28 used them. In the ZR2’s application, the spool valves are designed to give highly controlled rates of drop and compression throughout its travel, all while staying cool no matter the ambient temperature, how rugged the terrain, or how fast the truck is traveling. In short, they are the ZR2’s magic bullet. They also give the truck instant street cred among sports car and racing enthusiasts.


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695643
“The Colorado ZR2 can be had with either the 3.6-liter gasoline V-6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel”

And as mentioned the Colorado ZR2 can be had with either the 3.6-liter gasoline V-6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel. The V-6 offers 308 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 275 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. It comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The turbodiesel is the extra-cost option and comes with 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm, and more importantly, 369 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm. A six-speed automatic comes with the baby D-Max. For those torn between which engine is right, the V-6 is best for high-speed running where big revs are needed. The turbodiesel is best for those situations where low-end torque is king – situations like rock crawling, towing, vehicle recovery, and of course, getting decent fuel economy.

As for pricing of the current 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 without any special edition package adding cost, the MSRP starts at $41,550 for the Extended Cab and V-6 configuration. Those needing four real doors will want the $43,175 Crew Cab. Adding the turbodiesel to the Extended Cab pushes the price to $44,655 and $46,280 for the Crew Cab. Those aren’t cheap prices, but they do undercut the Ford F-150 Raptor’s base sticker price of $49,785 for the SuperCab model. Option for the bigger SuperCrew costs even more at $52,770. Check every option box, and the Raptor will quickly sail towards $70,000. That makes the Colorado ZR2 look like a bargain, doesn’t it?

References

Chevrolet Colorado


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695944

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.


2015 Chevrolet Colorado - image 532914

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado.

PostHeaderIcon Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition

Chevrolet is now offering two new special editions for the high-performance off-road Colorado ZR2 mid-size pickup. The Midnight Edition brings an all-black theme with tons of dark accents and a ZR2-branded sports bar with LED off-road lights. The Dusk Edition brings all the same black accents and the sports bar but allows customers to choose any of the eight other paint colors available on the standard Colorado ZR2. Both the Midnight and Dusk Editions come with new five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels painted in black.

The Colorado ZR2 is one of the hottest trucks on the market right now, and Chevy is hoping the added special editions will pour gasoline on the ZR2 fire. Obviously, special edition models tend to sell roughly twice as quickly as standard pickups, so it’s no doubt why Chevys bean counters are happy to offer the blacked-out packages.

According to Jim Campbell, Chevy’s U.S. VP of truck strategy, performance vehicles, and motorsports, “The Colorado ZR2 Midnight and Dusk Edition models offer customers even more personalization choices from the only company with three distinct trucks: midsize, full-size and full-size heavy-duty. Chevrolet offers more choices because the truck market is too diverse for a ‘one size fits most’ strategy.” Basically, it boils down to customers feeling exclusive when they buy and drive a special edition truck.

So what makes these special editions so… special? Keep reading for the details.

Continue reading for more on the Colorado ZR2 special editions.

2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition


2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition - image 739209
“The Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition is exactly what we’ve come to expect from something called the “midnight edition.””

The Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition is exactly what we’ve come to expect from something called the “midnight edition.” Both Chevy and Nissan have midnight editions, and several other automakers have a play on the blacked-out theme. For the 2018 ZR2, it means black paint, black bowtie badges, those black 17-inch wheels (including the spare), and the bed-mounted sports bar with the ZR2-branded sail panels and LED off-road lights. Beyond that, honestly, there’s not much to speak of. Chevy makes no mention of interior changes.

2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Dusk Edition


2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition - image 739207
“What separates the Dusk from the Midnight is the availability of the standard Colorado ZR2’s eight other body color options other than black.”

Do you like the Midnight Edition but think black paint is hard to keep clean? You’re in luck because the Dusk Edition is dark, but not as dark as midnight. See what Chevy did there? (Hardy har har… ) What separates the Dusk from the Midnight is the availability of the standard Colorado ZR2’s eight other body color options other than black.
These include Deepwood Green, Graphite, Red Hot, Satin Steel, Silver Ice, Summit White, Kinetic Blue, and Cajun Red. Those wanting Kinetic Blue or Cajun Red will have to shell out $395 or $495, respectively. The other colors are no-cost options.

Besides the body color options, the Dusk Edition comes with the same equipment as the Midnight Edition. This includes the black bowtie badges, the black wheels, and the sports bar with the ZR2 logo and LED off-road lights.

More on the Special Editions


2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Midnight Edition and Dusk Edition - image 739206
“Chevy is using the Midnight and Dusk Editions to help celebrate its 100th-anniversary of building trucks”

Chevy is using the Midnight and Dusk Editions to help celebrate its 100th-anniversary of building trucks. You’ll probably remember reading about the 2018 Chevy Silverado and Colorado Centennial Edition. If not, check those out here. The special editions also give Chevy more things to showcase at this year’s SEMA show. The Colorado ZR2 special edition with be on display at the Los Vegas Convention Center from October 31 through November 3, 2017, along with roughly 20 other Chevy entries.

Chevrolet didn’t announce pricing or availability of the 2018 Colorado ZR2 special editions, but we expect them to arrive in showrooms sometime in December or early in 2018. Pricing will likely be steep, ranging between $1,200 and $2,000. And aside from what comes with these special edition packages, all other options will be available on the ZR2, including both engine choices.

More on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695642

The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is a no-holds-barred attempt at a high-performance off-road pickup. While Ford has seen fantastic success with the full-size F-150 Raptor, Chevy is taking a different route by using the Colorado in the mid-size category. The smaller truck is arguably better since its smaller dimensions make it easier to drive on tight trails.

What separates the ZR2 from a run-of-the-mill Colorado Z71 is its wider stance, special shock absorbers, locking differentials, high-clearance bumpers, wide fenders, and grippy Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires on ZR2-specific wheels.

Let’s break things down.

The ZR2 is 3.5-inches wider than a standard Colorado, giving it a more planted foundation. The suspension is also two inches higher than stock, giving it more ground clearance and wheel travel. The underbody is protected from damage via an upgraded aluminum skid plate under the radiator and engine oil pan. The skid plate also adds to the macho appearance of the truck. There is also a skid plate protecting the transfer case, too.


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695945
“With the two-speed 4WD transfer case locked into 4WD High or Low range, the ZR2 sends equal power to all four wheel no matter what”

The Colorado ZR2 features front and rear locking differentials. These electronically actuate and keep both left and right tires on an axle turning at the same speed, regardless of wheel slip. With the two-speed 4WD transfer case locked into 4WD High or Low range, the ZR2 sends equal power to all four wheel no matter what – an extremely handy feature when traversing loose terrain or slick rocks. The rear axle is also unique to the ZR2 and runs a stout 3.42:1 gear ratio.

The ZR2 also boats an off-road drive mode than reworks programming for the traction controls, ABS, stability control, transmission shift patterns, and throttle response.

However, the biggest performance upgrade on the ZR2 is its DSSV Spool Valve dampers from Multimatic. This is the first off-road application of spool valve shocks, which have a rich yet relatively short history in F1 race cars, supercars, and high-end track-day brawlers. Chevy has experience with spool valve shocks, though, as the fifth-generation Chevy Camaro Z/28 used them. In the ZR2’s application, the spool valves are designed to give highly controlled rates of drop and compression throughout its travel, all while staying cool no matter the ambient temperature, how rugged the terrain, or how fast the truck is traveling. In short, they are the ZR2’s magic bullet. They also give the truck instant street cred among sports car and racing enthusiasts.


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695643
“The Colorado ZR2 can be had with either the 3.6-liter gasoline V-6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel”

And as mentioned the Colorado ZR2 can be had with either the 3.6-liter gasoline V-6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel. The V-6 offers 308 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 275 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. It comes mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The turbodiesel is the extra-cost option and comes with 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm, and more importantly, 369 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm. A six-speed automatic comes with the baby D-Max. For those torn between which engine is right, the V-6 is best for high-speed running where big revs are needed. The turbodiesel is best for those situations where low-end torque is king – situations like rock crawling, towing, vehicle recovery, and of course, getting decent fuel economy.

As for pricing of the current 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 without any special edition package adding cost, the MSRP starts at $41,550 for the Extended Cab and V-6 configuration. Those needing four real doors will want the $43,175 Crew Cab. Adding the turbodiesel to the Extended Cab pushes the price to $44,655 and $46,280 for the Crew Cab. Those aren’t cheap prices, but they do undercut the Ford F-150 Raptor’s base sticker price of $49,785 for the SuperCab model. Option for the bigger SuperCrew costs even more at $52,770. Check every option box, and the Raptor will quickly sail towards $70,000. That makes the Colorado ZR2 look like a bargain, doesn’t it?

References

Chevrolet Colorado


Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension - image 695944

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.


2015 Chevrolet Colorado - image 532914

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado.

PostHeaderIcon Hyundai BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept

The Hyundai Elantra is getting a SEMA makeover, and it looks, well, you be the judge. After seeing the overhaul Blood Type Racing gave to the Elantra, it’s clear that this isn’t your mom’s daily driver anymore.

The creation is officially called the BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept, and it’s the result of yet another collaboration between the Korean automaker and Blood Type Racing. You may remember the latter from a separate build it did for the Ford Focus ST that’s also heading to SEMA, but the company’s involvement with Hyundai actually stretches for a few years now. Back in 2014, the company created a program for the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and followed that up a year later with one for the Hyundai Veloster. This year it’s the Elantra’s turn in the spotlight, and it’s getting a slew of modifications that range from a new aerodynamic body kit all the way to tweaked suspension. The end result speaks for itself, as the Elantra has transformed into something you’re more likely to see on the set of a Fast and Furious production than the parking lot of your local Barnes and Noble.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Hyundai BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept

Exterior


2017 Hyundai BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept - image 739212
“Work on the exterior also includes custom headlights from Diode Dynamics and a set of 19-inch SSR GTX01 wheels wrapped in Toyo T1 Sport tires”

As you can see, a lot of work was done to the exterior of the Hyundai Elantra, and I’m not just talking about the eye-cringing Glasurit Arancio Borealis paint job from BASF. It’s really just fancy speak for a bright orange that Blood Type Racing thought would be a good choice for the compact sedan. I suppose they’re entitled to that, but I’m not a big fan of it. What I am a fan of is the extensive aero kit the Elantra was given. The components come by way of AeroTek and include a lip spoiler in the front, side skirts on the side, and a similar lip spoiler in the back. Then there’s the huge, APR GTC-200 GT rear wing sitting on top of the trunk. It’s next to impossible noticing that one. Work on the exterior also includes custom headlights from Diode Dynamics and a set of 19-inch SSR GTX01 wheels wrapped in Toyo T1 Sport tires.

Interior


2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682248

Note: Standard Hyundai Elantra pictured here.

There are no photos of the interior at the moment though it’s been mentioned that the cabin gets a re-stitched OEM-style sport interior that includes a new carbon fiber steering wheel from SoCalGarageWorks to go along with diamond-stitched floor mats and ambient interior lighting. The tuner also describes the presence of anti-roll bars from Pierce Motorsports in the cabin. This suggests that the interior of the Elantra has also been reconfigured to the point that the rear seats could have been taken out completely.

The upgrades in this section of the Elantra won’t blow anyone away, but the function-over-form approach does lend to Blood Type Racing’s goal of giving the compact sedan a new identity without sacrificing its all-around ability to remain a “daily driver” for its owners. Separate of all that, there are more features that will likely be unveiled at the 2017 SEMA Auto Show when the doors open next month.

Drivetrain


2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682247

Note: Standard Hyundai Elantra pictured here.

“Helping the engine receive more power is an optimized ECU unit, a new intake system, and a water and methanol injection system”

The specific power figures have yet to be announced, but we do know now that the sedan will retain its standard 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Helping the engine receive more power is an optimized ECU unit, a new intake system, and a water and methanol injection system that comes all the way from Devil’s Own. It’s unclear how many extra ponies Blood Type Racing was able to extract with all the modifications, but it is important to remember that a standard Elantra is good for 201 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Is it safe to say then that we’re looking at an output here that’s comfortably north of 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque? Given its physical make-up, I’d actually be disappointed if it was anything less than that.

The sporty nature of the BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept is also characterized by how BTR went all-out in giving the Elantra significant chassis and suspension upgrades. There’s a new HSD coilover setup, for instance, an improved chassis brace, and an upgraded strut tower brace. Nobody goes to lengths like that if it doesn’t mean significant performance changes to a car, something that I’m becoming more and more sure of is the crux of this whole creation.

Conclusion


2017 Hyundai BTR Edition Elantra Sport Concept - image 739052

I’m not a fan of the bright orange paint finish, but I am intrigued about everything else that Blood Type Racing did to the Hyundai Elantra. The body kit is impressive, as is the reworked interior – if it does have one. There also looks to be a promising engine upgrade there somewhere, and the magnitude of the chassis and suspension improvements should not be overlooked. Overall, this looks like a fierce Hyundai Elantra, a far departure from its standard – and far more subversive counterparts. Here’s to hoping that we get to see this creation in action sometime in the future. I’d be very interested to see if all these upgrades amount to something special.

  • Leave it
    • Body paint ruins part of its appeal
    • Definitely not for everyone
    • Beauty lies in the beholder

References

Hyundai Elantra


2017 Hyundai Elantra Sport - image 682259

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport.


2017 Hyundai Elantra - image 656275

Read our full review on the 2017 Hyundai Elantra.

PostHeaderIcon An Unlikely Concept Debut From An Unlikely Company Will Be On Display In Tokyo

The 2017 Tokyo Motor Show is going to be very eventful this year with many showcase pieces expected to be in attendance. There is one vehicle though that’s going to get a lot of attention, and all because it comes from a company that’s not necessarily known for building cars, let alone one of the concept variety. Yes, folks; Yamaha’s at it again. Two years after introducing the Sports Ride Concept in the same event, the noted motorcycle company is bringing another “automobile” to Tokyo.

The concept vehicle will be one of six world premieres that Yamaha is expected to unveil. All the others are typical scooters, motorcycles, an e-bike, and a futuristic motorcycle prototype that’s right up Yamaha’s alley.
Now, I spent a good deal of time on the motorcycle scene here at TopSpeed, so I am curious about what Yamaha’s two-wheeled debuts are going to be. But, I will admit that I’m more curious about what Yamaha’s “automobile design concept” is going to be. Details are still scarce at this point, but it’s hard to look into what Yamaha unveiled two years ago and not think that there’s a possible connection between the Sports Ride prototype and whatever it is that the company is preparing to unveil at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Remember that lightweight piece of automotive goodness? Not only did it look like a proper concept car, but it actually had roots to the iStream design concept that was popularized by none other than Gordon Murray. I don’t know if this new concept will have similar roots, but you can be sure that I’m excited to find out.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

What does this mean for Yamaha?


Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept - image 653307
“There’s no way to think that the company can’t build a sports car if it really puts the time and effort into it”

The worst thing we can do at this point is to get ahead of ourselves and start pining Yamaha to build a car. The Japanese company may have a diverse business portfolio that includes building car engines, but an actual sports car is something that it has yet to do. So, to think that Yamaha would just venture into the business would be asking a little too much out of it.

Or is it?

Here’s where my optimism lies about the possibility of a Yamaha-badged sports car hitting the road the soon, and it all goes back to the same wide reach of expertise that has put the company where it is today. You can argue that Yamaha has its hands on as many industries as any automaker in the world, including titans like Toyota, Volkswagen, and General Motors. There’s no way to think that the company can’t build a sports car if it really puts the time and effort into it. The question now is whether Yamaha thinks that it’s something worth doing.

If it did do it, don’t be surprised if a Yamaha car ends up being as good as I think it’s going to be. In the absence of what this new concept has in store for us, look no further than the prototype it unveiled two years ago.

Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept


Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept - image 653308
“One look at the Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept and you can immediately tell that it’s more than just a flashy showcase of Yamaha’s designers”

One look at the Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept and you can immediately tell that it’s more than just a flashy showcase of Yamaha’s designers. Specific details about it point to a sports car that could really make some noise if the people behind it decide to bring it to life. First, there’s the concept’s weight of just 750 kilograms (1,653 pounds). Compare it to a similarly sized Mazda MX-5 Miata and the Sports Ride Coupe Concept weighs 679 pounds less than the almighty MX-5.

Take it a step further, and look at the concept’s measurements: 3,900 millimeters (153 inches) long, 1,720 mm (67.7 in.) wide, and 1,170 mm (46 in.) tall. It’s small and compact, exactly like a sports car should be. Compare it to the MX-5, and the numbers become even more interesting.

Model Length Width Height
Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept 3,900 millimeters (153 inches) 1,720 mm (67.7 in.) 1,170 mm (46 in.)
Mazda MX-5 Miata 3,945 mm(155.3 inches) 1,678 mm (66.1 inches) 1,228 mm (48.3 inches)

Similarly-sized, right?

Regardless of what Yamaha plans to do with this new concept car, it’s probably time for the rest of the auto industry to treat Yamaha as more than just a novelty in its circle. Maybe a Yamaha sports car is coming. At this point, it’s not hard to imagine the possibilities anymore.

References


Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept - image 653306

Read our full review on the Yamaha Sports Ride Coupe Concept


2018 Lexus LC Structural Blue Edition - image 737617

Read more Tokyo Motor Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Ford Focus RS by Rally Innovations

“Subtlety” is not one of the first words you think of when talking about the SEMA Auto Show. Proving as much is Ford, which is headed to the annual aftermarket show in Las Vegas with a series of specially modified Focus hot hatches. We’ve already seen the Blue Oval’s collaborations with Bloody Type Racing, VMP Performance, and a triple-team effort from Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil. Now, it’s Rally Innovations’ turn in the spotlight, and the rally racing tuner is bringing with it a heavily tuned Ford Focus RS that now looks like its ready to throw down in Baja or Dakar.

The project car officially goes by the name “Ford Focus RS Rally Revival,” and if there’s one thing that passes the proverbial eye test, it’s that this hot hatch looks ready to go flying in some sand dunes. It’s arguably the Focus hatch that underwent the heaviest and most significant of modifications among the four that are headed to SEMA. Given the new purpose it was given as a full-fledged rally marauder, it’s not far-fetched to think that the Focus RS Rally Revival can go throw down with the best rally cars. That’s the depth of Rally Innovations’ program for the Focus RS. It may sit at SEMA looking all peaceful and contained, but rest assured, there’s a beast lying underneath that modified body, and it’s one that’s itching to get uncaged.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Ford Focus RS by Rally Innovations

Exterior


2017 Ford Focus RS by Rally Innovations - image 738745
“There’s an intensity by which Rally Innovations tackled the Ford Focus RS’ exterior.”

There’s an intensity by which Rally Innovations tackled the Ford Focus RS’ exterior. You can see it by how the hot hatch looks post labor and there’s no question that it’s been retuned to fulfill one specific purpose: get down and dirty.

The front section is noticeably different with the addition of aluminum front splitters. You’re going to see this trend in the side and rear too, but its most distinct in this section because of its vulnerability to the elements in rally racing. Notice also the presence of those LED lamps on the radiator grille? Those are Baja Designs 3×3 Squadron Pro & S2 LED Amber and they’re high priority for any rally racer, especially this one. Then there’s the inclusion of the vents on the hood, which Rally Innovations installed in collaboration with Anaheim Rod & Custom.


2017 Ford Focus RS by Rally Innovations - image 738744
“The wheels themselves also benefit from getting diverters and mud flaps courtesy of RS4”

The wheels themselves also benefit from getting diverters and mud flaps courtesy of RS4 while the rear section of the newly created rally car is the recipient of an aluminum diffuser and a massive rally wing. Hard not to see that wing even from the angle of the photo.

Stainless steel latches from Sparco complete the functional upgrades on the Focus RS while an Avery Intense Blue and 3M Storm Gray vinyl wrap make up a significant part of the aesthetic enhancements.

Last but not least is the wheel-and-tire set-up. For this creation, Rally Innovations opted for a set of 19-inch OZ Racing Superturismo GT wheels and wrapped them all up in Nitto NT01 tires, 235/35- series tires on all four corners. Shop TPMS tire pressure monitoring sensors and Tred Wear raised white letter tire inserts complete the upgrades for this section of the hot hatch.

Interior


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 615129

Note: Standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

“Rally Innovations stripped away the rear seats of the hot hatch and put in its own version of a four-point roll cage.”

Given that this is a rally car we’re talking about, the objective of the interior upgrades on the Focus RS is to make it as light as possible while also offering enough protection to ensure the safety and well-being of the driver and his navigator. On that front, Rally Innovations stripped away the rear seats of the hot hatch and put in its own version of a four-point roll cage.

Interior panels from R4S and EVO racing seats add to the quality of the custom job on the cabin. The seats in particular should come very useful considering how unforgiving rally terrains traditionally are. A custom R353 steering wheel and globe shift knob are important in their own way, the latter specifically since quick and rapid gear changes are arguably one of the most important skills needed for any full-fledged rally racer. Combine those new equipment with an Omni pod mount and Autometer Cobalt Series boost, oil, air/fuel and Pro Shift light gauges and all the requisite equipment needed to get a full rally run is right in the cabin and within reach of both the diver and navigator.

Last but most definitely not least are the HPI 4-point harnesses. Nobody should be reminded about the importance of safety when racing in a rally car.

Drivetrain


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 702708

Note: Engine of t he standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

“Rally Innovations took those specs and added a series of refined equipment modifications”

Dressing the Ford Focus RS to look like a rally car is one thing. Actually turning it into one is another matter entirely. This is where Rally Innovations’ drivetrain upgrades come into the forefront. The base car still uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged I4 EcoBoost engine that’s paired to a six-speed manual transmission.

Rally Innovations took those specs and added a series of refined equipment modifications, including an upgraded intercooler, a high-flow induction kit, and a Ultra-High Performance Silicon Boost/Coolant hose kit that come by way of noted Ford tuner Mountune. A new CSF triple-pass high performance radiator was also installed and the same goes in the back of the car where a Ford Performance S-Type 3” cat-back exhaust makes its way into the picture. A special COBB Access Port V3 tune round out the drivetrain modifications on the Focus RS.

Neither Ford nor Rally Innovations divulged details on how much power this Focus RS rally car now boasts, but given that the standard version of the hot hatch is already capable of producing 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, there’s no question that this project rally car has more of that on tap.

The likelihood of a significant increase in output is made more evident by the amount of modifications Rally Innovations put into the hot hatch’s chassis and suspension. Suffice it to say; the Focus RS now sits on coilovers (supplied by RS-R Sports-i) at all four corners with upgraded sway bars in the front and rear (courtesy of Eibach), and an adjustable camber kit from Whittling. Throw in the 4000 series front and rear slotted rotors from DBA USA and Rally Innovations’ own intercooler “X” brace, and you have the makings of a custom Focus RS that can can display its newfangled destiny on any rally course in the world today.

Conclusion


2017 Ford Focus RS by Rally Innovations - image 738197

I’m impressed by how this particular project turned out, and not because of the novelty that comes with turning a Ford Focus RS into an actual rally car. We’ve seen that before and we’re likely to see more of that again. What I am impressed with is how Rally Innovations somehow made this project look easy. I’m sure it wasn’t by any stretch, but if we judge the difficulties based on how much work was done and the result of all that work, it does feel like the people from Rally Innovations didn’t have too many sleepless nights working on this project.

The result is exceptional enough that I’m now legitimately curious to see how this rally car can perform when it lines up against its ilk in a race. Maybe somewhere down the road it’s going to happen. But for now, it’s going to be nothing more than a display at SEMA and a showcase of what Rally Innovations is capable of. Seems like a waste of a perfectly solid project car, doesn’t it?

  • Leave it
    • What was once the Focus RS is now all but gone
    • Not for everybody
    • Should be quite a handle on its own

References

Ford Focus RS


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 664701

Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.


2016 Ford Focus RS – Driven - image 718773

Read our full driven review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.

PostHeaderIcon Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept

From the maker of some of the most bizarre vehicular creations in recent automotive history, Rinspeed is back at it with another, well, futuristic offering. It’s called the Snap Mobility Concept, and its name doesn’t do enough justice to what exactly it’s capable of doing. No, there’s no garden growing inside of it like the Oasis Concept from 2016, but it does have a chassis that can connect to different cabins, or “pods,” as Rinspeed likes to call them.

The whole concept isn’t at all different from how trucks can carry different trailers, but the Snap Mobility Concept takes that approach on an entirely different level because an entire cabin can be removed and replaced with another, resulting in a concept that’s not at all too different from the Surus platform concept that General Motors unveiled earlier this week. Rinspeed’s whole objective with the concept is to reduce congestion and pollution in crowded cities, so it’s no surprise that the Snap Mobility Concept is completely autonomous and runs on a fully electric powertrain. The actual details and figures are still being withheld though rest assured, there’s a lot more to this concept than meets the eye. Keep an eye out for it when it makes its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2018.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept

Exterior


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738659

The Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept does not have a traditional exterior. In fact, a case can be made that the exterior of the concept is limited to its platform, which looks like an oversized skateboard. According to the Swiss company, these platforms, or “backbones,” come equipped with “long-lasting IT components that are not bound to be outdated quickly” and are free from any mechanical wear. The box-like front and rear sections have their traditional automotive features like headlights and taillights, but everything else looks different, including the biggest design wild card of all them: the pods themselves.

I honestly don’t know how to describe it because, on its own, it looks like an elevated office that can be connected to the platform through some means that Rinspeed has yet to describe. If an owner decides to switch pods, he can remove the existing one that he has on the concept and replace it with another pod that serves a different purpose. These pods are the main attraction of the whole concept because according to Rinspeed, they can keep swapping them out without having to worry about turning them obsolete. Even the the platform is designed to function long-term, but in the event, they do get outdated, owners can just swap them out for a new platform, and their vehicle is good as new again.

Interior


2017 Rinspeed Oasis - image 697643

Note: Rinspeed Oasis Concept pictured here.

I suppose the interior of the Snap Mobility Concept is fluid, as it all depends on the kind of pod that’s being used at a given point in time. What I can surmise at this point is that each of these pods come with plenty of space – enough to at least create different environments. If an owner wants to design his pod like a living room, he can do that. If he wants to design it like an office, he can do that too. A kitchen perhaps? A movie theater? There are no limits to what kind of pod can come out from Rinspeed’s concept. There are even pods that can be created for commercial purposes, whether it’s something like a delivery truck, cargo transport, or maybe even a mobile restaurant. Everything’s up to the imagination of the owner, supposing that the whole concept does progress far enough to actually become something tangible.

Rinspeed even says that owners can set up their pods like offices and set them up in a specific location in the center of the city. It’s literally like your office has the ability to be stationary and on the move at any given point in a day.

Drivetrain


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738666

This section is clouded in mystery because Rinspeed hasn’t said anything about the concept’s powertrain other than saying its autonomous and fully electric. That said, we can at least surmise that some kind of electric motor will be powering the platform and the pods. I do think that it should at least be a powerful enough battery to accommodate some of the purposes an owner may have for his pod. It would be a bummer if somebody decides to turn a pod into a personal office and have to charge the batteries every few hours so that he doesn’t run out of power.

Conclusion


2018 Rinspeed Snap Mobility Concept - image 738647

And, here I thought that the Rinspeed Oasis Concept was outlandish enough with its own interior garden. Obviously, I completely underestimated what Rinspeed is capable of doing because the Snap Mobility Concept is unlike anything I’ve seen in quite some time. I get the whole point of it, but there are other aspects of it – the feasibility of the whole switching platforms routine – that make me wonder if the people over at Rinspeed just had far too much time on their hands that they decided to create something as curious as this concept. It’s definitely interesting, that much I’m willing to concede. But, as far as viability is concerned, I need to learn more about the purpose and objective of this concept to have a better understanding of what exactly we’re dealing with here. In that regard, the Consumer Electronics Show can’t come soon enough.

  • Leave it
    • What’s the point?
    • Is it really feasible?
    • Not counting on it becoming anything more than a concept

References


2017 Rinspeed Oasis - image 697634

Read our full review on the Rinspeed Oasis concept.


2015 Rinspeed Etos Concept - image 659883

Read more Rinspeed news.

PostHeaderIcon Ford Focus ST by Blood Type Racing

Launched in 2012, the latest Focus ST was the company’s range-topping hatchback until the RS model arrived for the 2016 model year. Although the ST was revised for 2015, the drivetrain remained unchanged, as did performance. As a result, the Focus ST lost its place under the spotlight as soon as the Focus RS made its entrance. Fortunately, several tuning companies are still offering upgrades for the ST, which remains an important model in the lineup despite being some five years old as of 2017. Blood Type Racing is one of those companies, and it just unveiled a flashy package for the 2017 SEMA Show.

Described as a concept that combines “lifestyle elements of moving images with motorsports,” Blood Type Racing’s Focus ST boasts several upgrades inside and out, as well as under the hood. And while the aero kit is heavily based on modern racing, the wheel design and the paint remind of flashy vehicles you usually see in the Fast & Furious franchise. What’s more, the hatchback sports a roof rack and a custom landing pad for drones. A rather awkward package for what sort of elements it combines, but more than suitable for an event like the SEMA Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Focus ST by Blood Type Racing.

Exterior


2017 Ford Focus ST by Blood Type Racing - image 738527
“Up front, it's the massive splitter that draws the most attention”

Blood Type Racing’s take on the Focus ST is somewhat weird, in the sense that it blends a race-specific exterior with a flashy paint and rims that are usually seen on tuning show cars (not exactly recommended for track use). But the car fits quite nicely in the SEMA Show context, where many tuning companies display out-of-the-box approaches on road-legal cars.

There are quite a few features that help this Focus ST stand out from the pack. Up front, it’s the massive splitter that draws the most attention. Made from carbon-fiber by Rally Innovations, it’s very similar to what we can usually seen on GT3- and GT4-spec race cars. The bumper and engine hood were also given a more aggressive design, but nothing compared to the really wide fenders from SoCal Garage.


2017 Ford Focus ST by Blood Type Racing - image 738528
“Around back, there's a massive, carbon-fiber wing atop the tailgate”

Onto the sides, we can see a set of B-Forged Performance wheels that measure 19-inch and feature a unique, twin-seven-spoke design and a brushed smoke gloss.The rims are wrapped in low-profile Toyo T1 Sports tires that sunk deep into the body under the flares. They look really cool, but I wouldn’t drive this car on a race track with this wheel and tire configuration. The blacked-out pillars and the carbon-fiber side skirts complete the look.

Around back, there’s a massive, carbon-fiber wing atop the tailgate, also provided by Rally Innovations. The roof carries a Thule rack system that includes a custom drone helipad that’s supposed to add “functionality to curb appeal.” But I think is just a fancy feature that’s not exactly useful, as landing a drone on such a small platform is rather difficult and inconvenient. But hey, drones are popular nowadays and I’m sure that most of the SEMA crowd will find this feature interesting.

Finally, the car is finished in a flashy Midnight Purple paint created by BASF, while the standard headlamps were replaced by Diode Dynamics units for a more modern look.

Interior


2014 Ford Focus ST - image 513098

Note: standard Ford Focus ST pictured here.

“Cabin upgrades include Sabelt carbon-fiber seats and a race-spec roll bar and harness system”

There are quite a lot of upgrades to talk about inside the cabin too. Arguably the most interesting is the racing package that includes Sabelt’s carbon-fiber seats with four-point harnesses. The latter are attached to an Autopower roll bar with harness bar, while the rear section comes with a BTR storage compartment for camera and drone. There’s also a SoCal Garage carbon-fiber steering wheel and a Ford Performance short-throw shifter. But this Focus ST isn’t just about racing and all the gear you need to make a cool video. Blood Type Racing also added all weather floor mats for enhanced practicality and illuminated door sill plates for a bit of glitz. Both were taken from the Ford Accessories catalog.

Drivetrain


2014 Ford Focus ST - image 513106

Note: standard Ford Focus ST pictured here.

“The 2.3-liter EcoBoost was enhanced with a Full Race Turbo kit that cuts turbo lag”

Under the hood, this souped-up hatchback hides the same 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine as the stock Focus ST. However, the four-banger was enhanced with a Full Race Turbo kit that cuts turbo lag for quicker throttle response and increased output. It also features a Borg Warner EFI turbo instead of the standard unit and a Ford Performance exhaust. Blood Type Racing also added a Mishimoto radiator and coolant reservoir, a new, improved intercooler, and a Hoonigan oil cap. A COBB Tunning Accessport tuner revised by Blood Type Racing rounds off the engine package.

Unfortunately, there’s no word as to how powerful the beefed-up EcoBoost engine is after all these upgrades. The unit cranks out 252 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque in stock configuration and this package could increase that to around 270 horses and 290 pound-feet. The extra oopmh should also drop the 0-to-60 mph sprint from the standard 5.9 to around 5.7 seconds.

More upgrades were made to the chassis, starting with a performance air suspension from Air Lift. A Pierce Motorsports underbody brace enhances stability, while a bigger brake kit from Wilwood provides the necessary stopping power.

Conclusion


2017 Ford Focus ST by Blood Type Racing - image 738198

While Blood Type Racing’s take is definitely exciting as far as performance upgrades go, it’s a bit too exotic (or may I should say flashy?) for my taste. And it has nothing to do with the purple paint. Though I’m not a big fan of these Fast & Furious type finishes, I actually like how it looks the Focus ST. What I don’t like about this build are the wheels, which are rather inappropriate for a race-inspired body. I also think that the roof rack system is out of place, while the drone roof pad is anything but necessary. Why would I want to land a drone on the roof on my car when I can use any surface on the ground? Sure, it’s not a bad idea if you look at this car as a SEMA Show project only, but it’s not a feature I’d pay for in an aftermarket tuning package.

  • Leave it
    • Roof rack doesn’t go well with the race-inspired design
    • Drone landing pad is a useless feature

References

Ford Focus ST


2014 Ford Focus ST - image 513093

Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Focus ST.


2017 Hyundai HyperEconiq Ioniq - image 737254

Read more SEMA news.

PostHeaderIcon Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance

The latest Ford Focus RS was unveiled for the 2016 model year and gave the hot-hatch term new meaning through its aggressive exterior, race-prepped cabin, and surprisingly powerful drivetrain. Rated at 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, the Focus RS is significantly more powerful than anything else in this niche, including the much-praised Volkswagen Golf R. To put things into perspective, the Focus RS is quicker and more powerful than he awesome Porsche 718 Cayman. At the same time, it’s only marginally less powerful than the base Porsche 911, but around two tenths quicker from 0 to 60 mph. But while the Focus RS is arguably the most exciting hatchback you can buy nowadays, there are quite a few tuning companies that find a way to make it even better. VMP Performance is one of them, and its version of the Focus RS was just unveiled ahead of the 2017 SEMA Show.

Dubbed “TriAthlete,” because it can “smoke the competition in true Olympic triathlete style” at the drag strip, the road course, and on twisty backroads, this souped-up Focus RS boasts upgrades in just about any department. Fitted with parts from Ford Performance, CoBB Tuning, and Anderson Composites, among others, the “TriAthlete” is a more aggressive proposition inside and out, while its drivetrain is a significant departure from the standard 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Some details are still under wraps, but until Ford spills the beans at the SEMA Show, let’s take a closer look at what we already know about this exotic concept car.

Continue reading to learn more about the Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete.”

Exterior


2017 Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance - image 738440
“If you're a big fan of carbon-fiber, you'll definitely love this one”

Thanks to its beefed-up aero kit, the standard Focus RS is already a menacing hatchback on the outside. But that didn’t stop VMP Performance giving it an even more aggressive look. And if you’re a big fan of carbon-fiber, you’ll definitely love this one as the tuning firm used plenty of it. The engine hood, the front splitter, rear spoiler, rear diffuser, rocker panels and foglamps surround are all made from the lightweight material. But while the hood and the foglamp surrounds are identical to the standard model as far as design goes, the splitter extends the bumper closer to the ground, giving the front fascia a sportier look. The same goes for the side skirts, which feature aggressive extensions and winglets toward the rear wheels.

All these parts were sourced from Anderson Composites, a California-based company specialized in fiberglass and carbon-fiber components for late-model U.S. models.


2017 Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance - image 738441
“Exterior modifications continue onto the sides with a set of Forgestar CF5 Deep Concave wheels”

Exterior modifications continue onto the sides with a set of Forgestar CF5 Deep Concave wheels finished in matte black. The rollers measure 19 inches and are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-performance tires. Unfortunately, there’s no photo of the rear section, but we can see a large wing atop the tailgate and it’s safe to assume that the diffuser is motorsport-inspired element that’s far more aggressive than the standard unit.

The souped-up hatchback also features lighting components with RetroShop custom fitment by Diode Dynamics and lens tint by Anchor Room. A dark gray paint rounds off the menacing exterior, giving the carbon-fiber elements a more subtle look.

Interior


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 615129

Note: Standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

“Much like the exterior, the cabin received some carbon-fiber parts”

There aren’t photos of the interior yet, but VMP Performance added a range of new features, starting with a Brey-Krause custom bolt-in harness bar and a Simpson Racing five-point harness. There’s no mentioning of racing seats, but it’s safe to assume that the harness comes with a race-spec unit for the driver.

The tuning firm also mentions some Ford Accessories, but there’s no specific info as to what that may mean. However, there’s a big chance that this Focus RS will be used to showcase some upcoming features from the brand. Much like the exterior, the cabin received some carbon-fiber parts, like the shift knob, the window switch cover, and the instrument cluster. Finally, there’s a cargo area protector in the trunk.

Drivetrain


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 702708

Note: Engine of t he standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

“The beefed-up Focus RS uses the same engine 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, but there are plenty of upgrades to talk about”

The beefed-up Focus RS uses the same engine 2.3-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost engine as the standard model (paired to the six-speed manual transmission), but there are plenty of upgrades to talk about.

For starters, VMP Performance added a short throw shifter and a cat-back exhaust system from Ford Performance. There’s also a carbon-fiber cold air intake and an Accessport handheld tuner, both made by COBB Tunning, while the new internal wastegate actuator comes from Turbosmart. A dual port blow-off valve from Kompact rounds off the engine upgrade list.

“The chassis was also enhanced by means of a performance suspension from Air Lift”

The chassis was also enhanced by means of a performance suspension from Air Lift — the lowered ride height is more than visible from the outside — as well as DBA USA 4000 series slotted brake rotors at all four corners.

There’s no word as to how these upgrades modify engine performance, but it’s safe to assume that the turbocharged EcoBoost unit cranks out more than the standard 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, although likely not by a lot. Still, the extra oomph, the new internals, and the revised aerodynamics should shave some two tenths of the Focus RS’ standard 0-to-60 mph time of around 4.6 seconds.

Conclusion


2017 Ford Focus RS “TriAthlete” by VMP Performance - image 738199

While we still have no information about the actual output and performance and we still need to see shots of the rear end and the cabin, it’s pretty clear that the Focus RS “TriAthlete” is one of the main highlights at this year’s SEMA Show. All I can say right now is that I wish VMP Performance would put this kit into production. I bet it wouldn’t be overly expensive and that it will turn the Focus RS into an even better car for weekends at the race track.

  • Leave it
    • Just a show car for now
    • We still don’t know much about its performance

References

Ford Focus RS


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 664701

Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.


2016 Ford Focus RS – Driven - image 718773

Read our full driven review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.

PostHeaderIcon Ford Focus RS By Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil

The SEMA Auto Show is just around the corner. That means a number of different things for a number of different automakers, specifically the Toyotas, Ford, and Hondas of the world. The Blue Oval is a regular presence at SEMA, and this year’s no different, as the company is planning to unleash as many as 50 different custom projects at the event. One of those projects is this Ford Focus RS, which comes to us by way of Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil.

It’s hard to escape the long name of the custom Focus RS because of the companies involved in its creation. What’s really cool about this project though is that it doesn’t straddle the line between realistic and overbearing. It just sits on the lawn of “realistic” comfortably, and that itself may be it’s biggest strength because Focus RS owners won’t have to worry about others thinking they’d lost their minds on a gaudy custom project. That’s not to say that it’s lacking in kits because it has its fair share of them. They’re just subtle enough that the identity of the Focus RS is still intact, as opposed to getting drowned by some overbearing custom work that’s too difficult to even stomach.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Ford Focus RS by Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil

Exterior


2017 Ford Focus RS By Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil - image 738196
“It’s called the Axalta Pennzoil yellow paint finish and it just so happens to be the biggest contribution of Pennzoil to the cause”

There’s not much in the way of modifications in this section, though, somewhat ironically, the most eye-catching of all is the car’s body color. Officially, it’s called the Axalta Pennzoil yellow paint finish and it just so happens to be the biggest contribution of Pennzoil to the cause. Not that it matters because the color itself bursts out of the body panels, giving the custom Focus RS is most identifiable feature. Complementing it is a carbon fiber aerodynamic body kit that you can see with the presence of a lip spoiler, side skirts, and a rear spoiler. It’s not clear if the spoiler is made of the same good stuff, though it wouldn’t be surprising if it is.


2017 Ford Focus RS By Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil - image 738195
“The tuners opted to use a set of 19-inch Rotiform wheels that are wrapped in a set of 245/35-series Falken FK150 tires.”

Last but certainly not least is the wheel-and-tire, two-hit combo. For this particular project, the tuners opted to use a set of 19-inch Rotiform wheels that are wrapped in a set of 245/35-series Falken FK150 tires.

Interior


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 615129

Note: Standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

There are no photos of the interior as I write this, but it is known that the program will feature a bevy of interior upgrades. One of the most prominent of these mods is a Ford Accessories kit made up of carbon fiber bits and pieces, including a carbon fiber shift knob, instrument cluster, and window switch cover. The tuners also threw in
audio components from Kicker because no self-respecting, SEMA-bound project car is complete without some modification to the car’s audio system.

Drivetrain


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 702708

Note: Engine of t he standard Ford Focus RS pictured here.

“The team went to work by adding a new exhaust system and upgrading the shifter with a short throw system”

To be clear, the modified numbers brought about by all the drivetrain modifications have yet to be announced so, at best, we’re speculating on how much power this particular Ford Focus RS has under its hood. What we can tell you at this point is that the tuners opted for the version of the Focus RS that’s carrying a 3.0-liter EcoBoost I4 engine mated to a six-speed transmission. With these pieces in place, the team went to work by adding a new exhaust system and upgrading the shifter with a short throw system. A new intercooler with new piping from FullRace were also thrown in, as was a new intake from the same source to go with an Optima Battery. To help maximize the hot hatch’s potential, the tuners also added new coilovers from BC Racing and brakes from Baer, specifically six-piston caliper’s with rotors.

Altogether, these upgrades should be enough to help the Ford EcoBoost see an improved output that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 horsepower. It’s not much of a mental upgrade by tuning standards, but it should be more than enough to turn the Focus RS into a full-fledged sports car hiding inside a hot hatch body.

Conclusion


2017 Ford Focus RS By Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil - image 738194

I like what I’m seeing from the work of Universal Technical Institute, Tjin Edition, and Pennzoil. I’m not blown away by it, but I appreciate how the tuners resisted from turning the Focus RS into something more than it probably should be. As a result, they were able to implement their modifications effectively without getting rid of the hot hatch’s identity. I get the urge to simply go all-out on a car like the Focus RS and, while it works on some occasions, it’s not a blueprint that has proven to be effective on a car like this.

References

Ford Focus RS


2016 Ford Focus RS - image 664701

Read our full review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.


2016 Ford Focus RS – Driven - image 718773

Read our full driven review on the 2016 Ford Focus RS.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota GR HV Sports Concept

Meet the Toyota GR HV Sports Concept

Toyota is the largest automaker in the world, even outpacing Volkswagen this year with over 7 million units sold across a plethora of markets. But, despite the huge volume of automobiles Toyota pumps out annually, picking a true-blue sports car from its lineup is a little limited. Very limited, actually, with just a single performance model on offer in the form of the Toyota GT86. Don’t get us wrong – we’re big fans of the little two-door coupe, and we’re quite happy that it exists. That said, we think Toyota has the means to offer us at least a few more options, don’t you? Now, it looks like we might get just that, as Toyota appears to be gearing up for the release of the next-generation Supra. While details on that are rooted in rumor, Toyota could be offering a glimpse at things to come with this new concept at the Tokyo Motor Show. Dubbed the GR HV Sports Concept, it’s a compact two-door with eccentric styling, a hybrid powertrain, and an odd H-pattern automatic gearbox.

Intrigued? So are we. Toyota frames it as “a new way to enjoy cars by integrating the thrill of a sports car with the environmental friendliness of an eco-car.” We see it as a chance for Toyota to instill the brand with a little more adrenaline. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Toyota GR HV Sports Concept.

Exterior


2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736612

The first thing that’ll strike you about this concept is the way it looks. The peculiar design was meant to mimic the Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid race car that runs in the World Endurance Championship, hence the GR HV (Gazoo Racing Hybrid Vehicle) letter lineup we see in the title. It’s an interesting tie-in, given the TS050 was designed entirely for going fast, rather than looking good. Still, it’s a nice reminder that although Toyota might not offer too many sports cars in its production line, its still got some very stout entries in the world of motorsport.


2016 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 - image 670823

2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736613
“Toyota’s latest concept car (pictured right) takes cues from the brand’s WEC competitor, the Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid (pictured left).”

The inspiration can be seen most clearly in the concept’s front-end design, where we find a downward sloping beak and rounded point, plus a set of tall LED headlights mounted on either side of the body. The concept’s wheels are made from aluminum and use the same look as the racer, while the concept’s rear diffuser, taillights, and lines also mimic the racer’s tail. Large fender flairs in front add a little extra visual beef.

While the allusions to the Toyota WEC competitor become obvious when seen side-by-side, it’s impossible not to see this concept is really just a re-bodied GT86, with slightly longer, wider, and taller dimensions. But that’s okay – after all, the GT86 is Toyota’s one-and-only sports car, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see it providing the bones for this new design study.


2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736610
“Another feature of note is the concept’s targa top, which the automaker says draws similarities with Sports 800 “Yotahachi,” a fun two-door coupe from the ‘60s, as well as the well-known Toyota Supra.”

Another feature of note is the concept’s targa top, which the automaker says draws similarities with Sports 800 “Yotahachi,” a fun two-door coupe from the ‘60s, as well as the well-known Toyota Supra. Obviously, this gets us very excited, as any and all official references Toyota might make to the Supra nameplate are enough to get us slobbering over thoughts of the release of a new-generation model. It’s like the Pavlov’s dog effect for fanboys.

Which begs the question – does the Toyota GR HV Sports Concept preview the styling Toyota has planned for the Supra?

Only time will tell, but for the time being, let’s assume that yes, this concept is what the new Supra is gonna look like as well. What do you think? Does it tickle your fancy? Personally, we’re not the biggest fans – sure it’s striking, but it doesn’t have the lovely curves and attractiveness we were hoping for. Regardless, we’ll take it if it means we can have the next-gen Supra already.

Finally, we find the exterior was covered in matte black paint to embody “power and aggressiveness.”

Interior


2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736617
“While the general look closely resembles the production GT86, there are a few features that make it stand out as unique”

Step into the cabin, and this new concept once again recalls the GT86. The look and layout aren’t all that different, with tight, form-fitting seats, a low-slung seating position, and three-spoke multifunction steering wheel.


2017 Toyota 86 - image 694997

2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736615

Note: Toyota GT86 pictured on the left, Toyota GR HV Sports Concept pictured on the right.

While the general look closely resembles the production GT86, there are a few features that make it stand out as unique. The most obvious of these is a series of buttons laid out horizontally across the dash and surrounded by brush metal-look trim. These provide inputs for selecting the various drive modes for the automatic transmission (Park, Reverse, Neutral, and Drive), and were designed to mimic the design of a race car.

“But wait,” you might say, “why is there a gear stick with an H pattern in the center tunnel?”

That’s where that red “M” comes in. Apparently, the GR HV Sports Concept allows drivers to row their own in the traditional fashion, despite coming equipped with a slushbox. We’re not entirely sure how that’s supposed to work, but we assume it’s like flappy paddles on the steering wheel, just with more control than a simple upshift/downshift operation.


2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736616
“We assume it’s like flappy paddles on the steering wheel, just with more control than a simple upshift/downshift operation.”

What’s more, Toyota put a push-button starter on the gear knob, which makes us think of the missile launcher system on a fighter jet. Is that the best spot for it? Probably not. Is it still pretty damn cool? We think so. More fighter jet references, please.

Finally, there are performance meters with digital readouts in the center console touchscreen, plus a full complement of digital gauges behind the steering wheel as well.

Drivetrain

Note: Toyota TS050 Hybrid drivetrain explained here.

While details on the GR HV Sports Concept’s powertrain are practically non-existent, Toyota did mention it would get a performance-oriented set-up with technology taken from the TS050 (hence the video above). And while we’d love to see a fire-breathing, high-revving, 500-horsepower 2.4-liter V-6 with 8 megajoules of electric assistance, we think something like an all-atmosphere 2.0-liter four-cylinder and single electric motor combo would be much more likely. Something around 250 horsepower would be perfect, actually.

The engine mounts in front and routes output exclusively to the rear wheels via that six-speed automatic/manual transmission already discussed. Meanwhile, the battery was mounted centrally in the body for better weight distribution. Fun noises exit via a single central exhaust pipe.

Again, this gets us thinking about the new Supra. Rumor has it Toyota is bringing hybrid power to the nameplate. And why not – the brand already has loads of experience when it comes to electrification, and the Supra was always a heavier, GT-style car, which means the added weight of a battery pack and electric motor shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota GR HV Sports Concept - image 736608

While you’d be right to call the Toyota GR HV Sports Concept, well, odd, we like it all the same. Yeah, the styling is weird, but Toyota’s Le Mans racer provided the inspiration, and that gives it a pass in our book. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to mount the starter in the gearshift knob, but it’s still a cool detail. And yeah, mixing a stick shift with an automatic transmission doesn’t make sense, but at least Toyota is thinking about ways to keep the driving experience more interesting.

Now, about the Supra…

  • Leave it
    • Row your own on an automatic?
    • Not exactly pretty
    • Basically a re-bodied GT86

References

Toyota GT86


2017 Toyota 86 - image 669805

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota 86.


2016 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 - image 670823

Read our full review on the 2017 Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Tj Cruiser

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736625
“It would be really cool if you could make a photo collage of the Astro, Element, and VW thing across the top and a larger photo of the Tj Cruiser at the bottom.”

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

QUOTE “This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.”

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Interior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736622
“The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.”

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736627
“It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.”

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.

Pricing


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736626

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Leave it
    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Tj Cruiser

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736625
“It would be really cool if you could make a photo collage of the Astro, Element, and VW thing across the top and a larger photo of the Tj Cruiser at the bottom.”

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

QUOTE “This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.”

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Interior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736622
“The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.”

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736627
“It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.”

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.

Pricing


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736626

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Leave it
    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Tj Cruiser

Toyota has debuted a concept vehicle designed to not only showcase innovation but to also create an entirely new vehicle class. It’s called the Toyota Tj Cruiser, and it’s basically the cross between a minivan and crossover SUV. Toyota says the overall theme is one of work meets play, which led to the Tj Cruiser name. It literally stands for Toolbox Joy. Wait, what? Yeah, Toolbox for its functionality and van-like hauling capability and Joy for the “joy of visiting various places by car.” Wow. Of course, the Cruiser name is borrowed from retro-redo of the iconic FJ series, the FJ Cruiser. As fans of the Jeep Wrangler, it just makes us think about the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ. What’s worse, the Tj Cruiser’s design makes us think Toyota took a Honda Element, Chevrolet Astro, the Volkswagen Thing, and some weird early-2000s Chrysler concept all squished together like different colors of Play-doh.

Needless to say, the Tj Cruiser’s visuals leave much to be desired.

Once past the questionable styling, the Tj Cruiser’s thesis actually works – a no-holds-barred functional vehicle with available AWD for unpaved roads, room for objects 10 feet long with the seats folded, and four people with the seats in place. There are even aluminum rails with movable tie-down cleats on the ceiling and walls, much like those in a pickup’s cargo bed. Toyota Says the Tj Cruiser rides on the next-generation global architecture and uses a stronger-style suspension system with all-terrain tires. Power is hybrid, of course, paring a 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor and a battery pack. Front-wheel drive is planned as standard, while AWD will be optional. Toyota has mentioned no firm plans for production, but the Tj Cruiser will be on display at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show October 25 through November 5.

Continue reading for more information.

Exterior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736625
“It would be really cool if you could make a photo collage of the Astro, Element, and VW thing across the top and a larger photo of the Tj Cruiser at the bottom.”

Wow, what can we say? It looks like Toyota spent all its time designing the Tj Cruiser’s interior and forgot about the exterior until 20 minutes before the project’s deadline. Like we said above, this concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing. Heck, the Tj Cruiser even shares the VW Thing’s round headlights!

QUOTE “This concept looks like some odd amalgamation of a Chevy Astro minivan, a Honda Element, and the designed-with-a-ruler VW Thing.”

The Tj Cruiser’s squared-off front has that sloping minivan-style hood with a lifeless, flat grille, bumper, and headlights. Aside from those headlights and the wheels, the only round shapes seen here are the fenders and the door handles. The angular lines continue out back, with a nearly-square liftgate flanked round taillights perched in blacked-out, negative space left by the open fenders. Come to think of it, the Tj Cruiser looks almost the same coming and going.

It’s not all bad news, though. The Tj Cruiser has respectable ground clearance with short overhangs. Toyota uses some sort of “special coating” on the hood, roof, and fenders to protect from scratches, though the rest of the body apparently offers free reign to door dings, gouges, and nicks. The van/crossover hybrid rolls on 20-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

Interior


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736622
“The interesting interior is filled with functionality and forward-thinking design.”

Open the front doors and slide the rear doors open like a minivan, and you’re greeted with an interesting interior filled with functionality and a forward-thinking design. While the seat count seems a little low for a family-friendly vehicle, four people have plenty of room in their individual bucket seats. The tall roofline makes for plenty of headroom and the flat floor should offer tons of legroom. Entry in and out seems incredibly easy thanks to the large door openings and taller hip-height.

When it comes time to haul stuff, all but the driver’s seat folds flat, creating a massive load floor. Holes in the cargo area floor and pipes along the seatback edges provide plenty of places to strap down cargo, not to mention those adjustable cleats on the aluminum rails in the ceiling and on the walls. There are even canvas straps on the seatbacks for holding stuff. Toyota says objects 10 feet long will easily fit in the Tj Cruiser, citing surfboards as the cool cargo of choice.

Being built for the Tokyo Motor Show, the Tj Cruiser uses a right-hand-drive setup, though with its squared-off, mirror-style dashboard design, it wouldn’t take much to produce a left-hand-drive version, too. The dash features even more storage space. The passenger side has a cubby hole with an elastic band keeping items in place. The gauges are located in an upper tier above the main dash, much like the Toyota Prius.

Overall, the interior seems well conceived and highly functional. It will certainly be interesting to see if Toyota actually puts something like this into production.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736627
“It uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.”

Toyota was pretty quiet with details about the drivetrain, though the Tj Cruiser is more of a design study at this point. Nevertheless, we know it uses a gasoline-electric hybrid system with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, an electric motor, and a battery pack. FWD would be standard and AWD could be added. Beyond that, Toyota could give more information at the Tokyo Motor Show coming October 25 and running through November 5, 2017. If anything develops, we’ll update you here.

Pricing


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736626

Being a concept vehicle, Toyota didn’t talk money. However, with the Tj Cruiser’s aim towards active families and its utilitarian nature, Toyota would surely keep pricing reasonable. If a production version were to hit U.S. shores for 2019, we might see prices start around $24,000. Of course, that’s a pure educated guess.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Tj Cruiser - image 736620

Well, it’s hard to dis the Tj Cruiser’s rather useful and well-conceived interior, but boy is it oh-so-easy to knock on its half-baked exterior design. It’s tough to imagine Toyota selling this beside the curvy new Camry or the slick 86 Coupe – both of which look meticulously sculpted. Even Toyota’s FT-4X Concept is far more appealing than the Tj Cruiser. Then again, perhaps this van/crossover thing isn’t intended for America. Perhaps the outside is just a placeholder for something better while allowing Toyota to preview its swanky new interior. Who knows?

All told, the Tj Cruiser is different. Yeah, it’s odd, but I do have to give Toyota credit for thinking outside the box. And since some of our favorite vehicles are unconventional, hey, maybe we will grow to like it.

What do you think about this concept? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Leave it
    • Boy, it its an ugly duckling
    • Only four seats
    • Will it enter production?

PostHeaderIcon Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017

The annual site of the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2017.
It is good to remember origins.
They lend perspective and light the way for the future.

In 1957 the need for a race track was apparent with more safety features than the races through the forest at Pebble Beach then offered.
In 1957 SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula), along with funds and energy from local businessmen, began a project for a new race track.
The site selected was in a natural bowl, which permitted simultaneous views of he majority of the race track.
Negotiations took place with the US Army for use of the land, and a lease was signed.
The track was completed in only 60 days, and the first race drew 100 entries viewed by 35,000 spectators.
Now in 2017, 60 years later, SCRAMP continues to manage the circuit.

Keep reading to learn more

The Monterey Historic Automobile Races came into being in 1974, organized by Steve Earle as a platform for racing period-authentic automobiles.
The event became a part of Monterey Car Week, and in 2011 the name was changed to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736821
“The Monterey Historic Automobile Races came into being in 1974, organized by Steve Earle as a platform for racing period-authentic automobiles”

Entering the raceway by the bridge near the media tower at the 2017 event, one of the first sights in view was a large tent housing a display of race cars entitled Racing Through the Decades.
Quite a few race cars that made their mark on history were in the tent, along with descriptions of their accomplishments.
Some of the cars under tent with racing experience at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca were a 1985 Porsche 962, a 1971 Ford Mustang Boss 302, a 1956 Porsche 356A Carrera, a 1963 Shelby King Cobra, a 1973 Porsche 917/30, a 1983 March Indy Car, a 1993 AAR Toyota Eagle, and a 1999 BMW V12 LMR.

After admiring the display, I focused my attention on one of them, a 2005 Audi R8 LMP.
The R8s had taken five overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in 2000-2005, excepting 2003.
These petrol-powered R8s took six wins at the American Le Mans Series also, finally being replaced in 2006 by the Audi R10, a diesel-powered machine.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736876
“This 2017 model, an R8 LMS, is an enclosed sports car that complies with FIA GT3 regulations”

Another type of Audi R8 was on display in Automotive Alley.
This 2017 model, an R8 LMS (2007-present), is an enclosed sports car that complies with FIA GT3 regulations.
Power is by a 5.2-liter V10 engine with DOHC and four valves per cylinder yielding 585 hp.

Christian von Koenigsegg’s car, named after him, was scheduled to lead a procession on track late in the day.
I wanted to find where the car was lying in wait to give it a good scrutinizing, being that it is such a technical marvel.
As I exited the media center I spotted a media shuttle that happened to have a few free moments.
We headed for the Island, as I thought that the most likely place.

Exiting the shuttle, the first thing I found was a display of show prepared Shelby Cobras.
I noticed two in particular, one in striking metallic green, the other in metallic blue.
Pointing to the dash of one of the nearby Cobras, a spectator enthusiastically suggested I look at something.
The dash boasted an actual autograph by Carroll Shelby.
Lucky owner, as this is seemingly uncommon in the Shelby.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 737027

Nearby was a Ford Shelby Cobra Concept Car (2004).
This model made its debut at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Its minimalist styling is not unlike the original Shelby Cobra. The car was designed and built by the Ford Advanced Product Creation team.
Like its predecessors, the car’s features are Spartan.
The powerplant is an all-aluminum V10, 6.4-liter (390 ci in) engine which produces almost 650 hp and just over 500 ft-lb of torque near tach red-line.
The engine employs double-overhead-cam, velocity stacks, port fuel injection, and a dry-sump lubrication system.

In the adjacent display I finally found the Koenigsegg. Its doors were open, so I asked the attendant if I could enter to try the fit.
He said that regretfully, no, the car was privately owned.
But he suggested that if I waited a quarter hour, four more should arrive from a nearby location.

As promised, fifteen minutes later four more Koenigseggs (1996-present) rolled in, all in different colors.
“What luck”, I thought.
I had never seen more than a solitary Koenigsegg in one place previously.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736990
“Another reason the Koenigsegg is special is a 270-plus mph top speed, the 0 – 60 mph acceleration time of well under 3 seconds”

The technology is awe inspiring that Christian von Koenigsegg has designed into the nearly 20 iterations of his hypercar since the 1996 prototype.
His V8 engine without camshaft is one example, enabling the engine to rev to 15,000 RPM, similar to the Formula One engines with the pneumatic-actuated valve system.
Another reason the Koenigsegg is special is a 270-plus mph top speed, the 0 – 60 mph acceleration time of well under 3 seconds, and the nearly 1,000 hp the Agera model puts out, although these numbers seem to keep improving.

The Koenigsegg uses carbon fiber extensively in various models to reduce weight.
In the limited edition Trevita, Koenigsegg developed a proprietary white carbon fiber for the body.
Some chassis also are made of carbon fiber with a F1-type honeycomb core.
Other components getting the carbon fiber treatment are the carbon fiber intake manifold, and bevel carbon fiber springs.

The key word with the Koenigsegg is “proprietary”.
Most of the components that make up the car are custom made.
The Dihedral Synchro-Helix door is an example.
This door system permits the extra-long structure to move outward and upward simultaneously.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736909

Production methods meriting praise include the 3-D scanning system, employed to ensure body panels align properly as specified by CAD (computer aided design) requirements.
Passenger comfort is not overlooked, noting the active noise cancellation system employed for a quiet ride.
Of course robust engine exhaust notes are permitted to enter, at least at a reasonable level.
The list of superlatives of this still evolving hypercar seems endless, but I think I have made my point about this remarkable automobile.

The Porsche display in Automotive Alley boasted several impressive racing cars.
One was an aggressive looking Porsche 935 (1976-1978) in highly polished black, bearing #0, with red, orange, and white racing stripes.
The car was previously driven by Danny Ongais (“On gas”), a talented Hawaiian driver who raced nearly everything from dragsters to Formula 1.
Ongais raced this car on billionaire Tom Field’s Interscope racing team.

“The Porsche 935 model was debuted by a Martini sponsored works crew in 1976”

The Porsche 935 model was debuted by a Martini sponsored works crew in 1976.
The model went through several iterations, including the 935/78 in 1978.
The 935 has an illustrious resume with many wins to its credit, including an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1979, and six times each at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

I found another Porsche 935 resting in the paddocks.
This model belonged to Bill and Don Whittington, and was a 1977 version.
This car looked real racy in its mustard-yellow color and aerodynamic body.
Eventually the impressive power output of model 935 reached within a few ponies of 850 hp.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736901
“Nearly 30 computer processors are built into the car, with the movable rear wing being one example”

The latest iteration of the Ford GT (2004-2006, 2016-present), winner of the GT class at the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours, was found just outside its garage in Automotive Alley looking lovely in red paint.
If it appears to have extreme styling, consider that it probably is the very definition of the architectural adage, “form follows function”.
The wind tunnel tests at Allen Park, Michigan weren’t done casually, they were quite extensive.
Those tests helped with the design, and design verification of the car, especially the static and active aerodynamics.

The wind tunnel helped achieve low drag with maximum down force, stability, efficiency, and improve wind noise acoustics inside the vehicle.
Although the so-called flying buttresses towards the upper-rear of the body may appear excessive, they are multi-functional.
Car fluids pass through them, while air channels under them to the active rear wing creating downforce, and this air also enters the intercoolers in front of the rear wheels.
Ford says that the close fit of the GT’s body around the V6 engine further enhances the aerodynamics.
That twin-turbo, 3.5-liter engine is quite powerful at 647 hp.
Ford eschewed employing a hybrid scheme which would have cost in weight and added complexity.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736943

There is more than just functional exterior styling to the Ford GT.
Nearly 30 computer processors are built into the car, with the movable rear wing being one example.
As car speed increases the rear wing rises, under computer control, thus increasing down force and grip for better negotiating curves.
In the GT’s track mode under aggressive braking the rear wing also rises, increasing drag and thereby reduces the car’s speed.

Turbo lag, long a fact of life in turbo assisted engines, has apparently been reduced to unnoticeable levels in the Ford GT.
Turbo lag is the unwanted delay from when the accelerator is depressed until the turbo-boosted engine power suddenly slams into effect.
The GT’s computers effectively keep the turbos always on boost, so that the GT seems to perform like a naturally aspirated engine.

A few more things about this fine piece of automotive work.
The smallest details have received attention, such as those openings around the tail lights which permit hot air (not engine exhaust) to be vented out through them.
Very notable, the GT’s chassis, complete body, passenger cell, and even the wheels are constructed of carbon fiber with the goal of achieving the lowest weight, and best power to weight ratio possible.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 737032
“The GT3 is homologated to compete in more than two dozen FIA sanctioned racing series internationally.”

Another car on display in Automotive Alley was Nissan’s race car, the NSX GT3 (Second Generation, 2016-present).
The car is powered by as 3.5 liter, twin-turbo, V6 with dry-sump system, delivering power through a 6-speed, sequential shift racing gearbox.
There is much going on with the styling.
The GT3 is homologated to compete in more than two dozen FIA sanctioned racing series internationally.

Back on track, the Trans-Am race cars sounded in superb tune.
They were revving high and as smooth as silk.
The speed indicator on the bridge indicated 139 mph quite a few times as the cars shot under the bridge at the Media Center.


Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion 2017
- image 736922

For” hot hardware”, automotive I mean, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is the place to be!
In the paddocks, at displays, or during wheel to wheel competition on track, whether on the Island, in Automotive Alley, or down the Corkscrew, the Reunion has it all!

PostHeaderIcon Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept

The Tokyo Motor Show is nearly upon us, which means we’re preparing for a barrage of wild concepts and cool sci-fi weirdness. Mitsubishi is already getting on the action, unveiling its new e-Evolution a few weeks ahead of the big sheet pull. The design study is framed as a preview of forthcoming technology and exterior styling from the automaker, and includes a focus on all-electric propulsion mated with an AWD SUV body style. The e-Evolution also gets a few interesting driver assistance technologies, like an onboard AI that customizes various onboard systems to your preferences and will even coach you on how to be a better driver. The e-Evolution is just one of 12 vehicles Mitsubishi is bringing to the show, so we’ll have to see what else will make an appearance, but so far, the e-Evolution is one of the more ambitious concepts we’ve seen from Mitsu in a while.

Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room – the repurposed Evolution nameplate. Just last year, Mitsu killed off the Lancer Evo, the iconic rally-bred sedan that churned major terra in the WRC. Purists will undoubtedly balk at the thought of an all-electric, AI-infused SUV carrying the torch lit by that four-door monster, and rightfully so, but either way, it looks like change is inevitable here. Read on for the full details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept.

Exterior


2017 Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept - image 736468

For starters, the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept is a look at what the Japanese automaker has planned in terms of exterior styling and design. So far, we have yet to get a full, un-muddled look at what’s on offer, instead settling for murky press shots that reveal just a few details at a time.

Regardless, there are a few things we can pick out this early on. Let’s start in front, where we find a highly angular nose chiseled by glossy black sections in the front and sharp-edged lights in the wings. LEDs seem to be the lighting elements of choice, with narrow units up top and check marked units below. Cuts in the hood look like they add a bit of style and panache to the nose, while a deep front intake and lower splitter complete the fascia.


2017 Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept - image 736469

Moving to the profile, we find a tall-bodied silhouette with a narrow body width. The e-Evolution looks lithe and straight, with a very short greenhouse height and hard-angled roofline. The headlights pull back into the fenders, while the taillights rise into the rear fenders in a Y-shaped outline. The wheels are plus-sized units sized at roughly 20 inches in diameter.

While certainly striking to look at, the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept will mostly likely not be the prettiest thing to look at. Rather, it’s likely to be a compilation of small details and features that give it a futuristic, sci-fi kind of vibe. Of course, that’s to be expected when considering the interior technology features.

Interior


2015 Mitsubishi eX Concept - image 649828

Note: Mitsubishi eX concept pictured here.

While Mitsubishi has yet to reveal what it wants to do with the interior design of the e-Evolution Concept, we already have a decent idea what the brand might be imagining thanks to the eX Concept it introduced in 2015. Revealed at the previous Tokyo Motor Show, the eX is another futuristic SUV, with a plethora of wild details inside the cabin. The lines are sleek, sweeping rearwards with a checkmark-shaped center console and a dash that juts out towards the driver and passengers. The seats are narrow and form-fitting, while the rear-doors swing wide in a suicide fashion, sans B-pillar.

Regardless of the actual layout design, the e-Evolution concept is sure to offer some pretty weird and wild concept technology. First up, there’s an onboard AI that will “augment” the driver’s capabilities behind the wheel. Basically, Mitsubishi says this system incorporates a variety of sensors that monitor road conditions and traffic, “as well as the driver’s intent,” which we can only assume to be the intended line through a corner and inputs for the throttle and brakes. The system will then assist the driver with a coaching function, whereby the AI will monitor the driver’s skills and provide a personalized training program via voice messages and text messages on the dash to make them better.

“Regardless of the actual layout design, the e-Evolution concept is sure to offer some pretty weird and wild concept technology.”

In addition to the AI of the e-Evolution concept, Mitsubishi also says there will be further sci-fi features on display at its booth, including an AI Personal Assistant and a Smart Speaker Demonstration.

Let’s start with the Personal Assistant, which will converse with passengers, and even be able to identify which passenger are speaking at any given time via voice recognition software, both through local processing and cloud-based processing. The system will then customize features to better suit the individual, as well as relay important information to the passengers, such as equipment failures and the current vehicle status. Voice command can also be used for the climate control, windshield wipers, headlights, and other similar features. Furthermore, the system can connect with various passenger devices for greater usability. For example, Mitsu says the system will connect to a drone to check out traffic conditions, or just to “give occupants a birds-eye view of the natural scenery they are passing through.”

“Mitsu says the system will connect to a drone to check out traffic conditions, or just to “give occupants a birds-eye view of the natural scenery they are passing through.”

Finally, there will be a Smart Speaker Demonstration that will utilize devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant to connect to features for the car as well, for example, turning the headlights off and on, change the climate control in the cabin, and lock or unlock the doors.

Drivetrain


2015 Mitsubishi eX Concept - image 649818

Note: Mitsubishi eX Concept pictured here.

Details on the e-Evolution’s drivetrain are few and far between, but there are a few tidbits to go on at this point. To kick it off, Mitsu says motivation comes from a set of high-torque, high-performance electric motors juiced by a high-capacity battery system. There are three electric motors total, which combine to create a 4WD system. Up front is a single motor to drive both wheels, while two motors in back drive each of the individual rear wheels. The two rear motors use something called a Dual Motor Active Yaw Control to offer electronic torque vectoring and help to sharpen handling.

All pretty basic stuff. We’ll have to wait and see about details concerning battery capacity and range per charge, but it looks like Mitsubishi is on the right track so far.

Conclusion


2017 Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept - image 736469

While we’re still a little salty that Mitsubishi is turning one of our all-time favorite rally stars into an all-electric SUV driven by robots, we’ll try to be objective here. Indeed, this new concept seeks to combine various high-tech systems “seamlessly to deliver safe and enjoyable performance that mirrors driver intent under all weather conditions and on all surfaces.” That’s all well and good, but now its time to deliver. You see, Mitsubishi isn’t the only one playing around in this space, and while concepts like the e-Evolution show the automaker is headed in the right direction, it makes us wonder if it’s gonna have the right stuff to hang with the long list of rival automakers already putting these sorts of ideas into production. Audi is certainly one name that comes readily to mind.

Long story short – Mitsubishi can talk the talk. But can it walk the walk?

  • Leave it
    • Nothing terribly innovative or new presented
    • Looks an awful lot like previous Mitsubishi concepts
    • Competition is plentiful in this space
    • Rally fans will be disappointed

References

Mitsubishi Lancer


2008 - 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X - image 343926

Read our full review on the 2015 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.


2015 Mitsubishi eX Concept - image 649819

Read our full review on the 2015 Mitsubishi EX Concept.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Crown Concept

The Toyota Crown isn’t a popular model here in the U.S., and there’s good reason for that. It’s not sold here, though, in its place, we have the Toyota Avalon. It’s a different story in Japan and some parts of Asia where the Crown has become a staple in those markets. Believe it or not, the “Crown” nameplate is actually the longest-running of its kind to be affixed to Toyota, a distinction that stretches all the way back to 1955, spanning a staggering 14 generations, the last of which was introduced in 2012. Fast forward five years, and here we are. Toyota’s all set to launch the 15th-generation Crown by showcasing a near-production prototype of the luxury sedan at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding what Toyota’s plans for the next-gen Crown was, especially now when a new platform is available to be used. Hardly a shock then to see that the next-gen Crown will, in fact, utilize Toyota’s TNGA platform, which was first used in 2015 by the Toyota Prius. The new platform is going to be one of the biggest changes in the next-gen Crown, but it won’t be the only one. Looking at the photos released by Toyota reveal a few important changes to the physical makeup of the luxury sedan, including a more dynamic stylistic design that remains unique across Toyota’s wide range of model lineups. Look at it from multiple angles and its hard not to notice some European influence in the sedan’s design. It’s a testament to the status of the model, also bolstered by the fact that the Crown is also one of a few Toyota models to actually carry its own badge. We may not be familiar with the badge itself, but rest assured, the Toyota Crown is arguably one of Toyota’s most important models – it doesn’t survive 15 generations for no good reason.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Toyota Crown Concept

Exterior


2017 Toyota Crown Concept - image 736259
“The next-gen Crown will be slightly longer than its predecessor by an inch – 193 inches to 192 inches – with a slightly longer wheelbase to go with it”

Not surprisingly, Toyota kept the details of the next-generation Crown up its sleeve, presumably because it wants to present everything when the luxury sedan makes its official debut at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. What we do know at this point is that the next-gen Crown will be slightly longer than its predecessor by an inch – 193 inches to 192 inches – with a slightly longer wheelbase to go with it. It may not seem much but that extra length could account for more interior space for the passengers and quite possibly, extra cargo volume as well.

As far as the car’s design goes, it is more production-ready than what we’re used to from other concepts. The front section, in particular, already features the Crown’s unmistakable Lexus-like front grille with the Crown’s unique badge right in the middle of it. The grille is flanked by sweptback headlights and just below it are intakes that are visually separated by what looks to be a an angular chrome bar.

“The grille is flanked by sweptback headlights and just below it are intakes that are visually separated by what looks to be a an angular chrome bar”

Move to the side profile of the Crown and it’s easy to see similarities to how the front section looks a lot like a Mercedes sedan, specifically how the nose dips south as it reaches the edge. There’s also a muscularity to the Crown that’s hard to miss. The arches, for example, are wide and the shoulder and body lines are high and tight. And notice how the taillights kind of has its own similarities to the BMW 3 Series? I don’t know if Toyota intentionally did this or not, but the design flavor of the next-gen Crown certainly has a lot of European flavor in it.

Exterior Dimensions

Length (Inches) 193
Width (Inches) 70.8
Height (Inches) 57.3
Wheelbase (Inches) 115
Occupancy 5

Interior

There are no details about the Crown’s interior at the moment. That said, expect this space to feature plenty of luxury influence akin to what we normally see from the Avalon here in the US. That could mean a lot of different things, including rich leather trims, premium accents, and a steady diet of technological features. Space should also be a priority for the Crown Concept so expect the luxury sedan to have more of them on account of the car’s wheelbase also being close to three inches longer than its predecessor. The layout of the interior should be revealed when the Crown Concept makes its debut in Tokyo in the coming weeks.

Drivetrain


2017 Toyota Crown Concept - image 736470
“Unless Toyota decides to go in a different direction so soon after it just did, I fully expect the 15th-generation Crown to feature the same base engine”

For those who aren’t familiar with the Crown’s engine options, the facelifted 14th-generation model that was unveiled in 2015 introduced a 2.0-liter turbocharged 8AR-FTS engine that produced 232 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and mated to an eight-speed transmission. Unless Toyota decides to go in a different direction so soon after it just did, I fully expect the 15th-generation Crown to feature the same base engine, possibly with some tweaks to it to draw out a little more power.

Should that be the case, the luxury sedan’s other engine option – a 3.5-liter naturally-aspirated V-6 – could also be in the mix. This particular engine is already being used by the China-exclusive Lexus LS 350 and with 318 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque on tap, it should have enough power differentiation from the base engine offering. A 10-speed automatic transmission is the odds-on favorite transmission to be mated to this engine.

“A 10-speed automatic transmission is the odds-on favorite transmission to be mated to this engine”

Last but not least is a possible hybrid model. It’s far more likely than not that Toyota will offer the next-gen Crown with a hybrid model considering the market that it’s expected to cater to. In this event, expect a similar setup with the LS 500h, specifically the Multi Stage Hybrid system that makes use of the same 3.5-liter V-6 mill and combines it with a couple of electric motors. All together, the system produces a total output of 354 horsepower.

Conclusion


2017 Toyota Crown Concept - image 736258

You can tell that Toyota wants to market the Crown to be a legitimate competitor to European luxury sedans. In that vein, it’s done a good job so far designing the model to look to part of one. It remains to be seen if it can drive and handle as well as we expect it to, but it is interesting that Toyota took the model all the way to the Nurburgring to do some testing. That tells you that the Japanese automaker is committed to making the next-gen Crown the best model it can be.

  • Leave it
    • Not available in the US
    • No interior details yet

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept

The Nissan Leaf has been around since 2010, and it’s already one of the most popular all-electric vehicles on the road. The Japanese compact has been declared the best-selling EV in both 2013 and 2014 and sales have already surpassed 250,000 units as of 2017. On top of that, it has won numerous awards globally. Come 2017, and Nissan has launched the second-generation Leaf, a significantly improved vehicle that’s not only more appealing to look at, but also a better competitor to brand-new EVs like the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3. And it seems that the second-gen Leaf may finally spawn a Nismo version. Or at least this is what the Leaf Nismo Concept that was built for the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show suggests.

Although it hasn’t been confirmed for production, the Leaf Nismo Concept seems ready to hit the assembly line, as every new feature it received is inspired by previous Nismo cars. As usual, it has a sportier exterior, while the interior is highlighted by contrast stitching and the Nismo-specific red trim. The drivetrain has also been upgraded with a new, sporty suspension and revised ECU. On the other hand, both the electric motor and the battery are as standard as they get, which raises some concern as to whether or not the production version of the Leaf Nismo will be an authentic Nismo vehicle or just an annoying visual package. But, let’s find out more about that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept.

Exterior


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735737
“One quick look at this concept is enough to notice that this EV received the full Nismo treatment”

One quick look at this concept is enough to notice that this EV received the full Nismo treatment. Sure, it still has the standard headlamps, hood, and clear blue 3D mesh pattern that looks as if crystals were frozen behind a transparent plastic lens instead of a traditional grille, but everything below is decidedly sportier.

The daytime running lights sit higher in the fascia, are thinner, and feature LED technology. They’re embedded into black covers with honeycomb patterns, which in turn are integrated into the deeply sculpted creases that mimic large intakes seen on gasoline-powered sports cars. The apron was also redesigned and now includes an aggressive splitter painted in red, the norm for Nismo-made vehicles. The hood also has a black center section, which adds to the sportiness of the car.


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735735

2018 Nissan Leaf - image 729747
Nissan Leaf Nismo 2018 Nissan Leaf

More Nismo goodness can be spotted onto the sides, starting with the red accents on the mirror caps and the side skirts. The roof and the A-pillars are now finished in black, while the rather mundane, standard wheels were replaced by Nismo-branded rims with a more exciting design. The lowered ride height rounds off the profile of this all-electric hot-hatch.


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735738
“The rear section also sports a number of Nismo-specific features, starting with the aerodynamically enhanced roof spoiler”

The rear section also sports a number of Nismo-specific features, starting with the aerodynamically enhanced roof spoiler. The fascia is actually identical to that of the standard model, but the bumper was revised for a more aggressive look. The old diffuser-like element was replaced by a proper, racing inspired diffuser. The unit is split into two pieces, each with two large fins, while a red stop light sits in the center just like on Formula One cars. Naturally, the diffuser is highlighted by red stripes.

Nissan claims that all these changes are more than a way to make the Leaf seem hotter. The new body elements also enhance aerodynamic performance and reduce lift. And there results were obtained without sacrificing the hatchback’s excellent drag coefficient.

Interior


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735739
“Bright red accents borrowed from other Nismo cars can be seen on the A/C bezels and the steering wheel”

Nissan didn’t have much to say about the interior, but the two photos speak for themselves. The first thing that catches the eye is that Nismo went with an almost all-black layout. This is typical for performance-oriented vehicles and it’s not particularly exciting, but at least there are a few red details that brighten up the place a bit.

These bright accents are borrowed from other Nismo cars and can be found on the A/C bezels and as a stripe at the 12 o’clock position of the steering wheel. The latter also has a flat bottom, but you shouldn’t get excited because this is an option on the production Leaf as well. The start button is also red instead of the standard blue.


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735740

2018 Nissan Leaf - image 729736
Nissan Leaf Nismo 2018 Nissan Leaf

Other features that set the concept apart from the production model are the sport seats with heavy bolstering and red and white stitching on the sides and seating surfaces, and more contrast stitching on the door panels. Far from spectacular for a concept car, but the Leaf Nismo is more of a production model rather than a show-off product.

Drivetrain


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735736
“The concept features a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance tires and a "custom-tuned computer"”

Drivetrain details are rather scant, but Nissan says that the concept features a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance tires and a “custom-tuned computer that delivers instant acceleration at all speeds.” There’s no specific data as to how all of the above influence the Leaf’s performance, but it’s safe to assume that it won’t break any records on the Nurburgring (unlike its GT-R Nismo sibling). The package could shave a tenth of two of the standard model’s sprint time, but since we don’t have any official ratings for the production Leaf yet, it’s impossible to estimate.

As a reminder, the recently launched Leaf uses a 40-kWh lithium-ion battery and an electric motor rated at 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The range is estimated at up to 150 miles on a single charge. With that in mind, I think it’s a bit disappointing that the concept car didn’t get the usual output increase that comes with almost all Nismo upgrades. On the other hand, this could change with the production model, given Nissan will make one.

Conclusion


2017 Nissan Leaf Nismo Concept - image 735735

Despite the “concept” tag, the Leaf Nismo is actually a production-ready show car. Those exterior add-ons aren’t something Nissan couldn’t throw on a production line, while the interior is just a slightly fancied-up version of the standard car. The drivetrain upgrades are also very doable, so this is basically a very realistic preview of a Leaf Nismo we could find in dealerships in a short while. Granted, Nissan didn’t confirm such a scenario, but it did not deny it either, so everything is possible at this point. My only complaint about this concept car is that it doesn’t have a more powerful electric motor and a higher capacity battery. In many ways, it’s very similar to the Nissan Sentra Nismo, which is identical to the range-topping production Sentra under the hood, with the Nismo package being mostly a visual upgrade. The production Leaf Nismo could be of the same variety, but I’m hoping Nissan will come to its senses and offer a higher-performance version. The thing is, the Japanese firm actually needs one since the Leaf is inferior to both the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 in terms of range and performance.

  • Leave it
    • No notable drivetrain upgrades
    • Needs a more powerful electric motor

References

Nissan Leaf


2018 Nissan Leaf - image 729756

Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.


2016 Nissan Leaf - image 645345

Read our full review on the previous generation Nissan Leaf.

PostHeaderIcon Subaru Dresses up its Three Favorite Models for an Outing in Tokyo

Subaru’s ho-hum presence at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show – only the new Impreza made the trip to Germany – may have been a disappointment for fans of the brand, but not all is lost because the Japanese automaker will be out in full force at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show in October. We already know that it plans to unveil a special edition version of the BRZ at the event. Now, it’s adding to its list of debuts by rolling out three “concept” versions of its three best-selling models: the Impreza, XV, and Outback.

Truth be told; none of the concepts are actual concepts, at least in the traditional way we know of concepts. Instead, they’re more like “special variants,” each coming with unique exterior and interior features that none of their standard counterparts feature. Subaru even says as much, describing them as previews of what it calls the “new Subaru story,” presumably a launching pad for what future versions of these models could look like. The company hasn’t made it clear if it plans to roll out these models in limited edition numbers like the BRZ STI Special Edition, but don’t be surprised if it does, especially if the public reacts to it as favorably as Subaru hopes.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

What should we know about these three vehicles?

If you’re imagining that these concepts resemble the Subaru Viziv Concept, prepare yourselves to be disappointed. The three cars are actually more production in design, albeit with a few design upgrades that create a little bit of differentiation between them and their standard counterparts.

“The real highlight of this concept is Subaru’s off-road treatment of it”

Let’s start with the XV first, which Subaru is officially calling the “XV Fun Adventure Concept.” Of the three concepts, this is the one that appeals to me the most,
mostly because it finally showcases the XV the way I always envisioned it being: off-road capable. The yellow exterior is a nice touch and the XV isn’t the only concept that received it. But its body color isn’t the real reason why I’m digging this interpretation so much. The real highlight of this concept is Subaru’s off-road treatment of it. It gets new cladding on a number of sections, including the front fascia, side fenders, and the rear diffuser. There’s also a bike rack on the roof and a new set of off-road of tires. Look a little closer and you’ll also notice that the XV’s ride height appears to have been raised slightly, presumably to hammer home the point of it being fully capable of getting down and dirty in less-than-ideal road conditions. It’s unclear if Subaru gave the concept any interior upgrades and since there are no interior photos at this point, your guess is as good as mine.


Subaru Dresses up its Three Favorite Models for an Outing in Tokyo - image 734283

Subaru Dresses up its Three Favorite Models for an Outing in Tokyo - image 734285
Subaru XV Fun Adventure Concept

Next up is the Impreza, or as Subaru calls it, the “Impreza Future Sport Concept.” Similar to the XV Fun Adventure Concept, the Impreza gets the full-on mustard yellow body treatment, a color that Subaru seems to have no issue doling out on its vehicles. I don’t mind it personally because I’ve always enjoyed Subaru’s attempts at injecting more personality out of their cars.

“The Impreza gets the full-on mustard yellow body treatment, a color that Subaru seems to have no issue doling out on its vehicles”

As far as the Impreza Future Sport Concept goes, the yellow body is complemented by a sportier look that Subaru achieved by installing redesigned front and rear bumpers, adding aesthetically aggressive centrally mounted exhaust tips, and going for the complete blacked-out treatment on the wheels. Smoked-out taillights and a unique LED light fixtures on the front fascia complete the concept’s attempt at creating a future design treatment of one of Subaru’s most popular models. Once more, there are no interior photos of the Impreza Future Sport Concept so, at this point, it’s best to wait for the car’s official debut in Tokyo to see if there are things in the cabin worth mentioning.


Subaru Dresses up its Three Favorite Models for an Outing in Tokyo - image 734286

Subaru Dresses up its Three Favorite Models for an Outing in Tokyo - image 734284
Subaru Impreza Future Sport Concept

Last but definitely not least is the Subaru Outback, which really is the outlier of the three because it’s technically not a concept, not even by the loose standards we’ve attributed to both the XV Fun Adventure Concept and the Impreza Future Sport Concept. On the bright side, the Outback does get some exclusive treatment in both the exterior and interior, including a new front grille and a new set of wheels in the body. Inside, Subaru decked out its resident mid-size SUV with Ultrasuede seats and panels, dark embossed silver accents, and on the tech front, a new eight-inch display that’s equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


Subaru Dresses up its Three Favorite Models for an Outing in Tokyo - image 734287
Subaru Outback Concept

Like I said, none of these concepts appear to have production futures written all over them. That’s not to say that Subaru won’t change its mind because it could still happen. Just don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

References

Subaru XV


2018 Subaru XV Crosstrek - image 711838

Read our full review on the Subaru XV.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670793

Read our full review on the Subaru Impreza.

Subaru Outback


2015 - 2017 Subaru Outback - image 549739

Read our full review on the Subaru Outback.


2018 Subaru WRX STI S208 - image 733620

Read more Subaru news.

PostHeaderIcon Suzuki Swift Sport

Introduced in 2000 as the Suzuki Ignis, the Swift was redesigned in 2004 and again in 2010 when the third-generation model was launched. In 2017, Suzuki brought the fourth-generation into the spotlight with the company’s brand-new design language, which debuted on the slightly bigger Baleno. Unveiled for the European market at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the new Swift received its higher-performance Sport version a few months later, at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Developed as a higher performance version aimed at similar offerings from Volkswagen and Ford, the Swift Sport has been around since 2005. The recipe was pretty much simple and revolved mostly around a slightly more powerful engine and a few chassis tweaks. Unlike hot-hatches like the Volkswagen Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST, the Swift Sport didn’t really stand out in the lineup styling-wise. But this changes with the new hatchback, which gained a more individual appearance and even a range of unique features. Let’s find out more about that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Suzuki Swift Sport.

Exterior


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 731181
“The grille is flanked by larger fog lamp housings, while the splitter below adds a touch of aggressiveness to the bumper”

Modern and sportier than ever, the new Swift is surprisingly aggressive in its Sport trim. Especially when compared to the outgoing model, which was… well… very boring. The new Swift also has a rather unique look, mostly because its styling blends European design features with Japanese Kei car elements. As I said before, I can’t stand a very serious, mature hatchback that draws too many cues from a sedan, and Suzuki read my mind with the new Swift Sport.

So what makes it different compared to the standard model?

First up, there a larger grille up front. Like most sports-trimmed models, it features a honeycomb mesh and a more aggressive frame. The black horizontal bar that separates the upper section from the one that trickles into the bumper is also unique to this model. The grille is flanked by larger fog lamp housings, while the splitter below adds a touch of aggressiveness to the bumper. The latter is made from a plastic that mimics carbon-fiber in a very authentic way. Sure, it’s not the real deal and this may be a turn off for most enthusiasts, but I think it’s a nice touch on an affordable car.


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 732005
“Around back, there's a diffuser-like element made from fake carbon-fiber and a pair of large exhaust pipes”

The Swift’s profile is already appealing to look at in standard guise, but the fake carbon skirts and the bespoke, thin-spoke 17-inch wheels further enhance the muscular beltline and the roof that “floats” on blacked-out pillars. Around back, there’s a new diffuser-like element made from the same fake carbon and a pair of large exhaust pipes. The sporty look is rounded off by a black-colored spoiler atop the tailgate.

Seven exterior colors are available for the Swift Sport, including three new hues. Six of them are taken from the standard Swift palette and include Burning Red Pearl Metallic, Speedy Blue Metallic, Pure White Pearl, Premium Silver Metallic, Mineral Grey Metallic, and Super Black Pearl. The red and blue were introduced with the new Swift. Finally, there’s Champion Yellow, a color inspired by the color scheme of the Suzuki Works rally car from the Junior World Rally Championship.

Interior


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 731183
“Arguably the most noticeable new features are the bright red accents on the dashboard, center console, and door panels”

The interior doesn’t stand out as much as the exterior, but it’s no surprise that the layout is identical to that in the standard model. Thankfully, Suzuki did add a few extra features, so it’s safe to say that the Sport’s cabin is somewhat unique.

Arguably the most noticeable new features are the bright red accents on the dashboard, center console, and door panels. These add-ons not only add a splash of color to the overall black interior — which I’m not a big fan of, by the way — but also give the car a more upscale look. The instrument cluster also features red accents, especially in the rev counter gauge. And speaking of that, the Swift Sport comes with new boost and oil temperature gauges.

In front of the instrument cluster there’s a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in dimpled leather for a more secure grip. The wheel is actually more of a mild D shape, so it’s not overly aggressive, but it adds a touch of sportiness to the cabin, while the standard leather puts it closer to the competition.


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 732017
“In front of the instrument cluster there's a flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in dimpled leather for a more secure grip”

Speaking of higher quality materials, the Swift Sport package also includes piano black accents, red cross-stitching, satin finish for various elements, a chromed gear shift knob, and alloy sports pedals. Finally, it has semi-bucket front seats that provide enhanced support for spirited driving. The Bluetooth-compatible Smartphone Linkage Display Audio Display*unit with the seven-inch touchscreen and a SD Card 3D-map navigation is standard equipment.

On top of all of the Sport-spec features above, you will benefit from all the new stuff in the new, third-generation Swift. Highlights include air conditioning, DAB radio, four speakers, rear privacy glass, and a rear-view camera. The new Swift also benefits from increased roominess. There’s almost an inch of extra head clearance, more legroom for rear passengers, as well as 25-percent more luggage space.

Drivetrain


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 731184
“Powered by a 1.4-liter, Boosterjet engine, the Swift Sport is rated at 138 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque”

Powered by the company’s relatively new 1.4-liter, Boosterjet engine, the Swift Sport is rated at 138 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. That’s an eight-horsepower and 50-pound-feet increase over the outgoing model. It’s pretty decent for a new-generation car, but it’s also significantly off compared to what you get with the Volkswagen Polo GTi and Ford Fiesta ST, both of which deliver almost 200 horsepower.

Needless to say, Suzuki’s claim that the Swift Sport delivers hot-hatch performance isn’t exactly true. Still, with a curb weight of only 970 kg and a revised suspension system, the Swift Sport is a solid option if you don’t want to pay Volkswagen or Ford premiums.

Not only 80 kg lighter than the outgoing model, the new Swift Sport also uses a new turbocharger that helps the engine produce impressive torque from low in the rev range, while the small displacement and direct fuel injection system optimizes fuel consumption. The old 6-speed manual transmission has been enhanced, with retuned actuating force providing improved shift smoothness and increased driver feedback.


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 731179
“In the suspension department, the Swift Sport continues to use Monroe shock absorbers front and rear”

In the suspension department, the Swift Sport continues to use Monroe shock absorbers front and rear, but the chassis received numerous upgrades compared to the standard model. The wheel hub and wheel bearings have been made into a single unit, and the width between the bearings has been expanded, which results in a 15-percent increase in camber rigidity during cornering.

The rear suspension was also specifically designed to ensure superior stability. The trailing arm was developed exclusively for this model to minimize deformation during cornering. Finally, toe rigidity has been improved by 1.4 times compared to its predecessor, and camber rigidity is higher by a factor of nearly three. All told, expect the new Swift Sport to be the sportiest iteration of the hatchback ever made.

Prices


2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 732007

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport - image 732003

Pricing for the new Swift Sport isn’t yet available, but it’s safe to assume that it will cost more than the range-topping SZ5 trim of the standard model, priced from £14,499. It should also cost less than the new Volkswagen Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST, which are expected to start from around £19,000 to £20,000. All told, look for a sticker set around £17,000 to £18,000. For reference, the base model starts from £10,999.

Competition

Volkswagen Polo GTI


2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI - image 731370

2018 Volkswagen Polo GTI - image 731371

One of the most popular subcompact hot-hatches in Europe, the Polo GTI was redesigned for the 2018 model year. Now benefiting from the sportier, more angular looks of the new Polo (heavily based on the latest Golf), the new GTI sports a range of unique design features, including red detailing on the front grille, a diffuser-like element around back, and special wheels. The cabin is by far the most appealing in this niche thanks to its clean, high-tech looks and premium market features. Under the hood, the old 1.8-liter four-cylinder was replaced with a 2.0-liter unit, making the Polo GTI the hot-hatch with the biggest engine in this comparison. The four-banger generates 197 horsepower and 240 pound-feet, a small upgrade over the outgoing model that puts it on par with the Fiesta ST, but below the Yaris GRMN. Obviously, it’s significantly more powerful than the Swift Sport. As far as performance goes, it’s as quick as the Fiesta ST with a 0-to-62 mph time of 6.7 seconds, but it’s slower than the Yaris. Top speed is rated at 146 mph, the highest in this niche. Pricing is not yet available as of this writing, but it should start from around £20,000 in the U.K..

Read our full review of the Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Ford Fiesta ST


2018 Ford Fiesta ST - image 706952

2018 Ford Fiesta ST - image 706953

Also redesigned for 2018, the Fiesta ST is also of the evolutionary variety, but unlike the Polo GTI, it sports a few more significant changes. Up front, the new grille is reminiscent of the larger Focus, while the bumper is decidedly more aggressive. But it’s the boasts the biggest change, in the form of horizontal taillights instead of the previous model’s vertical units. The Fiesta ST is pretty different under the hood too, as Ford ditched the four-cylinder in favor of a three-pot. But while small, the turbocharged, 1.5-liter unit cranks out a solid 197 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque, which makes the Fiesta ST just a quick as the Polo GTI from 0 to 62 mph. Top speed, on the other hand, is lower at 130 mph, but hey, the overall package is better when compared to the Swift Sport. Pricing is likely to start from around £19,000 in the United Kingdom.

Read our full review of the Ford Fiesta ST

Toyota Yaris GRMN


Gather Round Hot-Hatch Fans, Toyota Will Unveil a 210-HP Yaris Soon - image 701697

Gather Round Hot-Hatch Fans, Toyota Will Unveil a 210-HP Yaris Soon - image 701696

Launched at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Yaris GRMN is Toyota’s first high-performance hatchback and the company’s first rival for the popular Polo GTI and Fiesta ST. Also heavily based on the standard model design-wise, the GRMN stands out by means of a more complex aerodynamic package and race-inspired wheels and rear diffuser. While not overly aggressive, it still looks as if it could give the competition a run for its money by exterior design alone. Performance-wise it actually quite appealing. Using a supercharged (an exclusive feature in this segment), 1.8-liter four-cylinder rated at 212 horsepower, the Yaris GRMN hits 62 mph in only 6.3 seconds. On the other hand, its cabin is nowhere near as fancy as the Polo’s and lacks many of Volkswagen’s latest features. Pricing is also somewhat of an issue, as it is set at £26,295, at least £6,000 more than what the Polo GTI, Fiesta ST, and Swift Sport are expected to fetch.

Read our full review of the Toyota Yaris GRMN.

Conclusion


New Suzuki Swift Puts On Aggressive Suit In Frankfurt - image 731176

The Suzuki Swift Sport has been the underdog of the performance-oriented supermini market ever since it was introduced back in 2005. And that’s not going to change very soon because it’s very difficult to compete against the already established Volkswagen Polo GTI and Ford Fiesta ST. And these two cars are not only more popular in most markets, but also come with better equipment lines. The latest Polo GTI was also moved higher on the premium ladder, so Suzuki is again at least one step behind. But the new Swift Sport is a significantly better car than the outgoing model and this is a big deal given all the issues the Japanese automaker is facing nowadays. Not only more powerful and quicker, the new Swift Sport is actually sportier on the outside. Its exclusive features make quite the big difference and the Swift is finally on par with the competition when it comes to range-topping trims. Sure, you don’t get the performance you can buy from Volkswagen and Ford, but the Swift Sport is a cute, little but souped-up bug that’s powerful enough to give you some thrills. And it should be a bit more affordable to take home.

  • Leave it
    • Not as powerful as the competition
    • Tough competition

References

Suzuki Swift


2017 Suzuki Swift - image 699505

Read our full review on the Suzuki Swift.


2015 Suzuki Ignis Trail Concept - image 649064

Read more Suzuki news.

PostHeaderIcon A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017

As I approached the entrance gate at the 2017 Concorso Italiano, I thought how fortunate I was to find this annual event so near to home.
I took a moment to reflect on its importance to me, and probably to mostly other attendees too.
What does Concorso bring each and every year?
Plenty!
We all know it brings droves of Italian Automobiles.
But Concorso brings automotive glamor too.
Cars are immaculately prepared by their owners, and in arrive in show condition.
There are so many of them, usually numbering around a thousand.
There are some extremely rare cars in the mix.
Concorso brings us the individual story of these rare cars, often told by the owners themselves as the cars traverse and pause on the automotive stage during the day, while the owners relate their background.

Let’s see how the day went…

There is glamor and aesthetics in these beautiful automobiles.
Concorso says there are all things Italian at the show.
Motorcycles, boats, fashion, food, and art grace the fairways along with the cars.
Lo stile di vita Italiano!


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734232

I made the Kode Zero one of my first targets of the day.
The one-off was designed by Ken Okuyama, the lead designer of Ferrari’s supercar the Enzo when he was at Pininfarina.
I found it quickly, and immediately had an affinity for it.

“Founder of Ken Okuyama Design, his Kode Zero utilizes a carbon fiber monocoque powered by a mid-mounted V12.”

After receiving the prestigious Hall of Fame award “La Bella Macchina” at Concorso Italiano last year, Ken returned to Concorso this season bringing his one-off, the Kode Zero.
Founder of Ken Okuyama Design, his Kode Zero utilizes a carbon fiber monocoque powered by a mid-mounted V12.


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734231

With those credentials, I was curious about his approach and methodology when creating new designs.
Ken was standing next to his car available for the moment, so I asked him, “When you are making a new design, do you use a particular process, for example, aesthetic principals that architects might use, or do you think about certain geometric shapes, or does the computer assist you?”

“None of these,” Ken replied.
“The guidelines that I use are three – simplicity, modern, and timeless.
Then my arm simply goes into motion creating the lines for the design.”

I answered, “Oh, I think I know what you mean.
It’s a bit like when I am preparing a meal in the kitchen, and using the recipe book is taking too much time.
My subconscious takes over and I just do it?”


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734105

He agreed, laughing, “Yes, yes, that’s it!
Just get the thinking out of it!”

Later, on stage he described the “timeless” aspect of what he strives for as “potent”, meaning that the design should last for a very long time.
Ken’s Kode Zero, by the way, is a real knock-out!

“The roadster shows off some less conventional styling, like the top of the engine through and slightly above the bonnet, and gaps between the front fenders and the bonnet exposing some suspension”

Ken also brought along another one of his designs, the Kode 57 Enji.
The roadster shows off some less conventional styling, like the top of the engine through and slightly above the bonnet, and gaps between the front fenders and the bonnet exposing some suspension. Power is by a 6-liter V12 exceeding 600 hp, and this car is buyable now.


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734182

Lamborghini was nearby, with owner’s cars located across a long, rolling slope of the fairways.
So I set off for them, always one of my favorite stops.
The layout helped show off their exotic lines, their always exciting bright pastel colors, usually in metallic paint, and their vertically opening doors flung high in the air.
It has been 50 years since Lamborghini first introduced vertically opening doors on the Marzal prototype.
Looking through several adjacent Lamborghinis with their doors open high gave perspective, and I thought of giant bird’s wings flapping. There was a large flock of Lamborghinis on display including a 2016 Aventador Centenario, with 6.5-liter mid-engine V12, and all-wheel-drive.
Only 20 coupes and 20 roadsters were produced.

“Lamborghini first introduced vertically opening doors on the Marzal prototype”

A new recognition, the Valentino Balboni Award, was introduced and presented on stage by Balboni, the former long-time Lamborghini factory test car driver.
After presenting the award on stage, Balboni told about the time Mike Wallace, of the 60 Minutes TV show fame, came to evaluate Lamborghini in 1987.
Balboni took Wallace for a ride, needless to say at highly advanced speeds.


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734006

A couple days after the test ride, it was time for Wallace to leave Italy, and Balboni drove Wallace to the airport.
Exiting the car, Wallace exclaimed, “This is the happiest day of my life!!”
Balboni, “Oh yes?
Why is that?”
Wallace, “Because I’m getting out of Italy, ALIVE!!!”

A friend of mine in the DeTomaso Pantera car club had told me about his ride with Balboni at an event featuring the opportunity in some sort of charity situation.
He explained that Balboni put that Lamborghini through some pretty uncommon maneuvers at great speed.
So I can well understand about white-knuckles, pale face, and all that.


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734172

I have no doubts about Balboni’s prowess with supercars.
We seem to cross paths every year or so.
A few seasons back at an automotive event I asked Balboni a question about using the brakes when entering corners at high speed.
To my amazement, he expanded my question into other areas of a car, and described the total experience of high speed braking, touching on factors that I had not even considered.
I think that when it comes to supercars, he has been there – done that, many, many times.
The man is quite the resource.


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734114

Tom Tjaarda passed in June.
Commentary said that he would always be with us at Concorso.
A member of the Concorso Italiano Hall of Fame, Tjaarda had designed the DeTomaso Pantera (1971-1992), and worked at Pininfarina where he designed two production Ferraris, the 330GT and the 365 California Spyder, as well as the Fiat 124.
Tjaarda earned a degree in architecture at the University of Michigan, but spent fifty years designing cars, mostly in Italy.
The Pantera is a bit of a cult car and has quite aggressive looks.
Enthusiasts love to modify it, and often do great work in so doing, such as adding 500 cu. in.- plus engines.
As usual, there quite a large turnout of sexy Panteras at Concorso.

“The Pantera is a bit of a cult car and has quite aggressive looks”

Not all cars at Concorso are Italian, and one such was the Mulholland Speedster.
A large, multiple award-winning roadster, owned by Bruce Wanta of Bellevue Washington, the build by Troy Ladd’s Hollywood Hot Rods exceeded six years. Starting point was a 1936 Packard.
0926


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 734020

One of Alpha Romeo’s most eye-catching entries at the show was a 2008 Alpha Romeo 8C Competizione (2008-2010).
Only 500 units produced, with 90 to the USA, the model is based on the Maserati Quattroporte platform with a carbon-fiber body.
The car was assembled at Ferrari, and is powered by a 450 hp Ferrari 4.7-liter V8, with a sequential 6-speed F1-type transmission.

Of course, Ferrari had a large presence at Concorso including two models less often seen.
The first was the 288 GTO, a rear-mid-engine, twin-turbo, 2.8-liter V8 (1984-1987), only 272 produced.
The other, an F40 (1987-1992), a mid-engine, twin turbo, 2.9-liter V8, 1,311 produced.
Ferrari’s latest was on display too, the 488 GTB (Gran Turismo Berlinetta), and a blue 488 Spider (2015 – present).
The new model is a twin-turbocharged evolution of the 458 Italia.
Also on the lawn was the LaFerrari hybrid (2013 – present).


A Day Well Spent at Concorso Italiano 2017 - image 733991

After all is said and done, one question begs.
How little remaining space does even a golf course have after the Concorso Italiano rolls in?

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1996 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Convertible 2-Door 1996 Chevy Camaro Z28 Convertible 1969 Camaro Clone 5.7L 6 Speed Trans
$21,100.00 (10 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Oct-24-2017 12:45:00 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $34,995.00
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1965 Ford Mustang 1965 Ford Mustang Coupe 302 Automatic Power Brakes Air Condition Power Steering
$10,000.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Oct-26-2017 12:07:40 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $21,995.00
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1955 Chevrolet Other Pickups 1955 Chevy Delivery Hot Rod Gasser
$6,000.00 (1 Bid)
End Date: Saturday Oct-28-2017 6:09:18 PDT
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1993 Chevrolet Other Pickups 2500 1993 Chevy Suburban 2500 clear title 90 thousand miles new transmission
$1,400.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Oct-28-2017 2:45:00 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $2,000.00
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