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Archive for the ‘compact cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S.

The Golf line-up gets a humble facelift across its range. This includes the Golf hatch, Alltrack, SportWagen, GTI and the R. Some models get just the cosmetic updates, while the others get changes under the hood. Although they are mere updates and not new models altogether, the changes are significantly prominent to differentiate them from the older versions.

There are a few common changes across the range – the LED DRL’s being made standard on all models, slightly tweaked LED Tail-lights which complement the all-new rear bumper, rain sensing wipers, and automatic headlamps. The interiors get a new infotainment touchscreen, which according to Volkswagen, feature the latest software and react faster to touch inputs.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744062

Kudos to Volkswagen for making continuous changes all across its range. While other manufacturers generally follow a mid-life facelift once in the product’s life span, VW keeps tweaking its cars which not only keep the cars fresh but also invoke customer’s attention. Perhaps, the competition must tear a page from VW’s book (you listening Ford, Kia?). That being said, the changes to the Golf line-up surely differentiate them from the earlier models. The best part is how Volkswagen tries all permutations and combinations – like introducing the 7-speed DSG transmission from higher cars, or trickle down the Performance Package to the standard trims, etc. and succeeds almost every time. Despite being a model that is in production for 44 years now, it still feels fresh and new due to these little updates and upgrades from time-to-time.

Facelift breakdown for each VW Golf trims:


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744058

The Golf hatch gets a 1.8-liter, turbocharged engine producing 170 horsepower. It is mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. The Golf is available in two trims – S and SE. The S gets 15-inch “Lyon” alloys while the SE gets 16-inch “Toronto” wheels. In addition to that, the SE also gets full LED lights, fog lights, and panoramic tilting sunroof over its sibling-counterpart.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744050

The Wagons from the stable – Alltrack and Sportwagen – come in 3 trims – S, SE and SEL. Not much of an upgrade here except for the LED DRL’s, Automatic Headlamps, and a fresh, new shade of green. The SE and SEL trims get the updated 8-inch touchscreen.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744076

The GTI comes with a 2.0-liter unit returning 220 horsepower; 10 hp more than the earlier version. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. The GTI comes in three trims – S, SE and Autobahn. All features that were in the Performance pack can now be seen in the SE and Autobahn models (like the tire size, larger breaks, etc.,) as standard. The Golf GTI gets major updates in terms of safety. The SE and Autobahn get the VAQ Electronic Limited Slip Differential, autonomous emergency braking, and forward collision warning. Over and above this, the Autobahn trim also gets Lane departure warning, High beam control, and updated maneuver braking, to name a few.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744071

The hottest of the lot, the Golf R comes with the same specifications under the hood as before; 2.0-liter engine generating 292 horses. But, the facelift now offers the seven-speed DSG transmission instead of the previous six-Speed automatic, along with the standard six-speed manual. The Golf R features special LED headlights and 19-inch aluminum alloy rims called the
“Englishtown” which , according to VW, are specially designed for enthusiasts. Apart from this, the Golf R also gets VW’s trademark DCC Adaptive Cruise Control with Navigation and 4Motion (All Wheel Drive). On the inside, the car gets the new 8-inch infotainment system with VW’s Digital Cockpit.

How much is this gonna cost?


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744078
Golf Hatch $21,760 (six-speed manual) or $22,860 (six-speed auto)
Golf SportWagen $22,535 (five-speed manual) or $23,635 (six-speed auto)
Golf SportWagen 4Motion $24,785 ( manual) or $25,885 (six-speed auto)
Golf Alltrack $26,845 (six-speed manual) or $27,905 (six-speed DSG)
Golf GTI $27,265 (manual) or $28,365 (six-speed DSG)
Golf R $40,635 (six-speed manual) or $41,735 (seven-speed DSG)

References

Volkswagen Golf


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744066

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744053

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744079

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744071

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

PostHeaderIcon Kia recalls 340,000 Souls for a fix yet again!

Kia Motors America has recalled 342,381 Souls once again due to an unsuccessful steering issue fix that took place the first time. The first instance was in November 2015, making this the second recall in a span of two years. The recall is stated for the models manufactured between July 21, 2013 and September 30, 2015. These include the Soul and Soul EV’s.

According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the pinion plug is not safely secured. This means the pinion gear could separate from the steering gear assembly, resulting in a loss of steering control. Despite identifying and acknowledging the issue previously, they were not able to rectify the problem completely. As per the report,
“The driver will hear a clunking noise from the steering rack while turning the steering wheel.”

Kia issued a statement saying that they are not aware of any injuries caused by the issue. Depending on the car, Kia will either secure the pinion plug correctly or, if required, replace the whole steering assembly. Dealers will begin recalling the affected cars in mid-November.
While this is a voluntary recall, it may be noted that customers who have paid for the first repair will be reimbursed.

Author’s Take

A well-known brand like Kia cannot let such mistakes happen. This is something that shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Since the recall is for the same problem, the customers won’t have a peace of mind even after the second fix. The risk associated with an issue like this is life-threatening. But, on the other hand, Kia must be appreciated for committing to customer safety and accepting their mistake publically. They are willing to even replace the steering assembly if need be. All that matters, in the end, is that the problem is rectified and there are no injuries as a result of this potentially dangerous problem.

References

Kia Soul


2015 Kia Soul Electric - Driven - image 636545

Read our full driven review on the 2015 Kia Soul Electric.


2015 Kia Soul EV - image 541001

Read our full review on the 2015 Kia Soul Electric.


2014 Kia Soul - image 539354

Read our full review on the 2015 Kia Soul.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Beetle to Live On as RWD Electric Car

There’s been a lot of talk about Volkswagen looking to drop the Beetle nameplate in the future. While rumors from a couple of years ago quoted slow sales and Volkswagen’s plans to reduce manufacturing costs, newer reports claim that the “Dieselgate” scandal will force the company to axe the Beetle alongside the Scirocco. The brand has yet to confirm any of this, but a more recent report says that the Beetle may have a chance to survive as an all-electric car.

That’s the word from Autocar, which claims that Volkswagen is “actively considering plans for an electric, rear-wheel-drive successor to today’s Beetle” as part of its range of zero-emissions models based on its new MEB platform. More specifically, the new Beetle will be a system model to the company’s upcoming small electric van, which was previewed by the ID Buzz concept at the Detroit Motor Show. The electric Beetle will also be rear-wheel-drive, according to Volkswagen chairman Herbert Diess.

“If we wanted to do a Beetle, electrically it would be much better than today’s model, much closer to history, because it could be rear-wheel drive,” he said, adding that the MEB platform provides the perfect basis for emotional cars like the Beetle and Microbus. Volkswagen is reportedly also considering open-top models such as the Kubelwagen and the Buggy, so we may get a full lineup of electric cars that revive the company’s most iconic vehicles. On the flipside, Diess said that a firm decision on the Beetle’s successor has yet to be made.

Introduced in 1938, the original Beetle was produced in Germany until 1978, but assembly continued in other countries, with the Mexican plant rolling out vehicles until as recent as 2003. The New Beetle was launched in 1997 and redesigned in 2011.

References

Volkswagen Beetle


2015 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1.8T - Driven - image 599665

Read our full review on the 2015 Volkswagen Beetle.



Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon BMW X2 M

BMW X2 M - rendering by http://xtomi.blogspot.com

Rumored since 2011, the BMW X2 crossover was officially confirmed in 2016, when the German firm unveiled a concept car at the Paris Motor Show. One year later and the production model was revealed, joining the X1 in the company’s compact crossover lineup. With the X2 now official and on its way to dealerships, the question on everyone’s lips is will BMW create an M version of the mini SUV? There’s no official confirmation at this point, but there’s solid indication that the X1 will get its first M variant pretty soon. And with the X2 built on the same underpinnings, there’s a good chance that an X2 M will also follow.

Although the new niche the X2 was designed for includes just another model, the Audi Q2, as of this writing, the market is likely to expand in the near future. And as it’s almost always the case, on top of other carmakers joining in, we’ll also see higher-performance versions in dealerships soon. BMW is already a bit late to the party compared to Audi, so it wouldn’t hurt for the X2 M to arrive before the RS Q2 and grab an important share of the market. We’ll probably find out more about this in 2018, but until that happens, the speculative review below will give you an idea of what to expect from this model. We also have a rendering created by X-Tomi Design to go with the info.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming BMW X2 M.

Exterior

  • M-specific features over X2’s unique design
  • Aggressive bumper design
  • Unique wheels
  • Sporty rear diffuser

2020 BMW X2 M - image 741407
“Design upgrades are pretty obvious up front, where the X2 will get a more aggressive bumper with larger vents”

With no prototypes on the road, the X2 M seems to be a mystery as of this writing, but with the standard X2 already in the open and based on M features seen on other SUVs, it’s pretty easy to imagine how the X2 M will look like. And X-Tomi’s rendering is pretty spot on given the circumstances. Design upgrades are pretty obvious up front, where the X2 will get a more aggressive bumper with larger vents onto the sides. The center intake should grow in size too, while all grilles will be replaced with fined honeycomb meshes.

The big question here is whether the X2 M will ditch the standard triangular side vents, which are unique to this model, in favor of the more conventional intakes seen in the rendering, but that’s something we won’t find out more about until the first test cars hit public roads. An “X2 M” emblem will also find its way on the big kidney grille, which should also get optional black trim.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740795

Note: Standard BMW X2 pictured here.

“Around back, look for a slightly larger roof spoiler and a bigger diffuser-like element”

The X2’s profile will change only slightly with the M package. The side skirts will get extensions, the window trim will switch from chrome to black, while the standard wheels will be replaced by larger, sportier units. BMW will also drop the ride height by a half-inch.

Rear fascia changes are also very predictable. Look for a slightly larger roof spoiler, a bigger diffuser-like element, and a quad-exhaust pipe layout. Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body elements are also likely, but it remains to be seen whether they will be offered as standard. BMW needs to keep the crossover’s pricing well below that of the upcoming X3 M so carbon-fiber might be limited to only a few items, like a front splitter and rear bumper trim.

Interior

  • Leather and Alcantara upholstery
  • Sporty seats
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Custom instrument cluster and iDrive display
  • Contrast stitching

2018 BMW X2 - image 740816

Note: Standard BMW X2 pictured here.

“The crossover should get new, more upscale upholstery, most likely in the form of Merino leather with Alcantara inserts”

Much like any M vehicle out there, the X2 M will get a few sporty upgrades over the usual features found in the standard model. Since the X2 is based on the X1, it’s safe to say that the X2 M will be based on the X1 M. However, since the latter has yet to be unveiled, we don’t have a specific model to look into for accurate hints. But we can look at other M vehicles to get an approximate idea of what we should find in the X2 M. The crossover should get new, more upscale upholstery, most likely in the form of Merino leather with Alcantara inserts.

The interior should be mostly black in standard form, but brighter leather should be available through the Individual program. Contrast stitching will highlight the dashboard, center console, and the door panels. Aluminum trim on the dash and an M-specific instrument cluster with new dials and custom setting will be included as standard too. A sportier steering wheel, sportier seats, new pedals, and a host of M badges will round off the design update. Some extra convenience features are also on the table, including automatic climate control and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.

“A sportier steering wheel, sportier seats, new pedals, and a host of M badges will round off the design update”

Everything else will remain unchanged from the standard X2. So look for the same horizontal layout that makes the cabin seem spacious, large door pockets, optional voice control, and a 8.8-inch display for the iDrive infotainment system. Trunk space should remain the same at 16.6 cubic feet, more than two cubic feet more than the X2’s biggest rival, the Audi Q2. With the rear seats folded flat, trunk capacity should increase to at least 35 cubic feet.

Options will include the full-color Head-Up Display, and a Drive Pack that adds Driving Assistant with adds Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info with No Passing Info display, anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant, as well as Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function. A Traffic Jam Assistant system will take over both proximity control and lane-keeping tasks from the driver at speeds of up to 37 mph.

Drivetrain

  • At least 300 horsepower
  • Likely a 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • M2 engine likely too
  • Custom suspension setup
  • Performance braking system

2018 BMW X2 - image 740832

Note: Standard BMW X2 pictured here.

“A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with more than 300 horsepower is very likely”

There’s no word as to what engine will motivate the X2, but it’s safe to assume it will be a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The standard model already uses one in X2 sDrive20i trim, which is rated at 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of twist. Needless to say, the X2 M will be significantly more powerful than that, but it remains to be seen by how much.

The Mercedes-AMG GLA45, for instance, comes with 355 horsepower on tap. This means that its direct competitor, the upcoming X1 M, will have a similar amount. And since the X1 and X2 are basically identical save for the outer skin, the X2 M should get an identical engine and power rating. As of this writing, the most capable 2.0-liter engine cranks out 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in the 3 Series, but it’s definitely capable of more than that with new turbochargers and upgraded internals.

“The extra oomph will be backed by a custom suspension setup and a beefed-up braking system”

The 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine in the M2, which generates 365 horsepower and 343 pound-feet, seems perfect for the job, but BMW probably aims to keep six-cylinder units away from these small crossover. If anything, this 3.0-liter mill will find its way into the bigger, upcoming X3 M. Either way, X2 M will have at least 300 horsepower at its disposal. Both a manual and automatic transmission should be offered, but U.S.-spec models won’t get a shifter and clutch pedal. The extra oomph will be backed by a custom suspension setup and a beefed-up braking system.

Prices

U.S. pricing information for the standard X2 is not yet available, but it should retail from around $29,000 in base trim. Given that other M-badged SUVs are around 76-percent more expensive their standard counterparts, it’s safe to assume that the X2 M will retail from around $51,000. That’s a lot of dough considering that the much bigger X5 starts from $56,950, but on par with similar offerings from other makers, such as the Mercedes-AMG GLA45, which costs $50,600 before options.

Competition

Audi RS Q2


2017 Audi Q2 - image 667707

Note: Standard Audi Q2 pictured here.

The X2 competes in a brand-new niche that started life when Audi launched the Q2 in 2016. As a result, the first competitor for the X2 M will come from the same automaker in the form of the RS Q2. And I say “will” because so far Audi has yet to confirm that such a model is underway. But knowing how German automakers expand with performance-oriented and high-performance versions over a couple of years (sometimes even less), both S and RS variants of the Q2 are set to follow. The SQ2 will be the first to arrive, likely with around 300 horsepower, but the RS Q2 will probably hit the market with the old-school, 2.5-liter five-cylinder under the hood. This engine generates a whopping 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque in the latest RS3, and although it might not be this powerful in the RS Q2, it will certainly send at least 350 horses to all four wheels. But it would be out of this world for the beefed-up Q2 to arrive with 400 horsepower, a scenario that would put the X2 M at a big disadvantage performance-wise. Pricing should be similar, around the $50,000 mark before options.

Mercedes-AMG GLA45


2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA - image 700285

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is actually a competitor for the BMW X1, but since the X1 and X2 are very closely related under the skin, the comparison is more than fine. And the somewhat sleek appearing of the GLA and the absence of a proper quarter window actually makes it a proper competitor to the X2 design-wise. And unlike the X2, the GLA-Class has already received its performance upgrade. Sold as the AMG GLA45, the souped-up mini SUV sports all the familiar AMG add-on, including larger front bumper vents, unique wheels, and a more aggressive rear bumper. The interior boasts sports seats with heavy bolstering, a flat-bottom steering wheel, bespoke upholstery, and even carbon-fiber trim. Power comes from the same unit in the AMG A45 hatchback, a twin-turbo, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of twist. The mill mates to an AMG Speedshift seven-speed automatic and enables the crossover to hit 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. The big advantage here is that you can already find it in U.S. dealerships, so unless you’re willing to wait a couple of years for the X2 M, the AMG GLA45 retails from $50,600 before options.

Read our full story on the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA45.

Conclusion


2020 BMW X2 M - image 741407

The X2 M might not seem like a necessity for BMW right now with the X2 competing in a brand-new niche, but the German firm has the chance to be one step ahead of the competition with this performance mini SUV. The RS Q2 may actually arrive first, but until other brands join this segment, BMW can set up a solid lineup and establish itself as a powerful force here. Granted, the fact that the Mercedes GLA is very close in terms of size and performance makes things a bit more difficult, but the X2’s unique looks – unlike the GLA, which is a perched-up A-Class – could be more appealing to customers looking for something different. With some 350 horsepower at its disposal and a host of M upgrades, the X2 M could become the dominant force in this niche.

  • Leave it
    • Audi RS Q2 may arrive first
    • Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is a solid proposition

References

BMW X2


BMW X2 Arrives In Paris In Concept Form - image 690239

Read our full review of the 2016 BMW X2 Concept.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740796

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X2.

BMW X1


2016 BMW X1 - image 632512

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X1.


2017 BMW X1 M - image 632752

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X1 M.

PostHeaderIcon BMW X2 M

BMW X2 M - rendering by http://xtomi.blogspot.com

Rumored since 2011, the BMW X2 crossover was officially confirmed in 2016, when the German firm unveiled a concept car at the Paris Motor Show. One year later and the production model was revealed, joining the X1 in the company’s compact crossover lineup. With the X2 now official and on its way to dealerships, the question on everyone’s lips is will BMW create an M version of the mini SUV? There’s no official confirmation at this point, but there’s solid indication that the X1 will get its first M variant pretty soon. And with the X2 built on the same underpinnings, there’s a good chance that an X2 M will also follow.

Although the new niche the X2 was designed for includes just another model, the Audi Q2, as of this writing, the market is likely to expand in the near future. And as it’s almost always the case, on top of other carmakers joining in, we’ll also see higher-performance versions in dealerships soon. BMW is already a bit late to the party compared to Audi, so it wouldn’t hurt for the X2 M to arrive before the RS Q2 and grab an important share of the market. We’ll probably find out more about this in 2018, but until that happens, the speculative review below will give you an idea of what to expect from this model. We also have a rendering created by X-Tomi Design to go with the info.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming BMW X2 M.

Exterior

  • M-specific features over X2’s unique design
  • Aggressive bumper design
  • Unique wheels
  • Sporty rear diffuser

2020 BMW X2 M - image 741407
“Design upgrades are pretty obvious up front, where the X2 will get a more aggressive bumper with larger vents”

With no prototypes on the road, the X2 M seems to be a mystery as of this writing, but with the standard X2 already in the open and based on M features seen on other SUVs, it’s pretty easy to imagine how the X2 M will look like. And X-Tomi’s rendering is pretty spot on given the circumstances. Design upgrades are pretty obvious up front, where the X2 will get a more aggressive bumper with larger vents onto the sides. The center intake should grow in size too, while all grilles will be replaced with fined honeycomb meshes.

The big question here is whether the X2 M will ditch the standard triangular side vents, which are unique to this model, in favor of the more conventional intakes seen in the rendering, but that’s something we won’t find out more about until the first test cars hit public roads. An “X2 M” emblem will also find its way on the big kidney grille, which should also get optional black trim.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740795

Note: Standard BMW X2 pictured here.

“Around back, look for a slightly larger roof spoiler and a bigger diffuser-like element”

The X2’s profile will change only slightly with the M package. The side skirts will get extensions, the window trim will switch from chrome to black, while the standard wheels will be replaced by larger, sportier units. BMW will also drop the ride height by a half-inch.

Rear fascia changes are also very predictable. Look for a slightly larger roof spoiler, a bigger diffuser-like element, and a quad-exhaust pipe layout. Carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body elements are also likely, but it remains to be seen whether they will be offered as standard. BMW needs to keep the crossover’s pricing well below that of the upcoming X3 M so carbon-fiber might be limited to only a few items, like a front splitter and rear bumper trim.

Interior

  • Leather and Alcantara upholstery
  • Sporty seats
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel
  • Custom instrument cluster and iDrive display
  • Contrast stitching

2018 BMW X2 - image 740816

Note: Standard BMW X2 pictured here.

“The crossover should get new, more upscale upholstery, most likely in the form of Merino leather with Alcantara inserts”

Much like any M vehicle out there, the X2 M will get a few sporty upgrades over the usual features found in the standard model. Since the X2 is based on the X1, it’s safe to say that the X2 M will be based on the X1 M. However, since the latter has yet to be unveiled, we don’t have a specific model to look into for accurate hints. But we can look at other M vehicles to get an approximate idea of what we should find in the X2 M. The crossover should get new, more upscale upholstery, most likely in the form of Merino leather with Alcantara inserts.

The interior should be mostly black in standard form, but brighter leather should be available through the Individual program. Contrast stitching will highlight the dashboard, center console, and the door panels. Aluminum trim on the dash and an M-specific instrument cluster with new dials and custom setting will be included as standard too. A sportier steering wheel, sportier seats, new pedals, and a host of M badges will round off the design update. Some extra convenience features are also on the table, including automatic climate control and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.

“A sportier steering wheel, sportier seats, new pedals, and a host of M badges will round off the design update”

Everything else will remain unchanged from the standard X2. So look for the same horizontal layout that makes the cabin seem spacious, large door pockets, optional voice control, and a 8.8-inch display for the iDrive infotainment system. Trunk space should remain the same at 16.6 cubic feet, more than two cubic feet more than the X2’s biggest rival, the Audi Q2. With the rear seats folded flat, trunk capacity should increase to at least 35 cubic feet.

Options will include the full-color Head-Up Display, and a Drive Pack that adds Driving Assistant with adds Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info with No Passing Info display, anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant, as well as Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function. A Traffic Jam Assistant system will take over both proximity control and lane-keeping tasks from the driver at speeds of up to 37 mph.

Drivetrain

  • At least 300 horsepower
  • Likely a 2.0-liter four-cylinder
  • M2 engine likely too
  • Custom suspension setup
  • Performance braking system

2018 BMW X2 - image 740832

Note: Standard BMW X2 pictured here.

“A 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with more than 300 horsepower is very likely”

There’s no word as to what engine will motivate the X2, but it’s safe to assume it will be a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The standard model already uses one in X2 sDrive20i trim, which is rated at 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of twist. Needless to say, the X2 M will be significantly more powerful than that, but it remains to be seen by how much.

The Mercedes-AMG GLA45, for instance, comes with 355 horsepower on tap. This means that its direct competitor, the upcoming X1 M, will have a similar amount. And since the X1 and X2 are basically identical save for the outer skin, the X2 M should get an identical engine and power rating. As of this writing, the most capable 2.0-liter engine cranks out 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in the 3 Series, but it’s definitely capable of more than that with new turbochargers and upgraded internals.

“The extra oomph will be backed by a custom suspension setup and a beefed-up braking system”

The 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine in the M2, which generates 365 horsepower and 343 pound-feet, seems perfect for the job, but BMW probably aims to keep six-cylinder units away from these small crossover. If anything, this 3.0-liter mill will find its way into the bigger, upcoming X3 M. Either way, X2 M will have at least 300 horsepower at its disposal. Both a manual and automatic transmission should be offered, but U.S.-spec models won’t get a shifter and clutch pedal. The extra oomph will be backed by a custom suspension setup and a beefed-up braking system.

Prices

U.S. pricing information for the standard X2 is not yet available, but it should retail from around $29,000 in base trim. Given that other M-badged SUVs are around 76-percent more expensive their standard counterparts, it’s safe to assume that the X2 M will retail from around $51,000. That’s a lot of dough considering that the much bigger X5 starts from $56,950, but on par with similar offerings from other makers, such as the Mercedes-AMG GLA45, which costs $50,600 before options.

Competition

Audi RS Q2


2017 Audi Q2 - image 667707

Note: Standard Audi Q2 pictured here.

The X2 competes in a brand-new niche that started life when Audi launched the Q2 in 2016. As a result, the first competitor for the X2 M will come from the same automaker in the form of the RS Q2. And I say “will” because so far Audi has yet to confirm that such a model is underway. But knowing how German automakers expand with performance-oriented and high-performance versions over a couple of years (sometimes even less), both S and RS variants of the Q2 are set to follow. The SQ2 will be the first to arrive, likely with around 300 horsepower, but the RS Q2 will probably hit the market with the old-school, 2.5-liter five-cylinder under the hood. This engine generates a whopping 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque in the latest RS3, and although it might not be this powerful in the RS Q2, it will certainly send at least 350 horses to all four wheels. But it would be out of this world for the beefed-up Q2 to arrive with 400 horsepower, a scenario that would put the X2 M at a big disadvantage performance-wise. Pricing should be similar, around the $50,000 mark before options.

Mercedes-AMG GLA45


2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA - image 700285

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is actually a competitor for the BMW X1, but since the X1 and X2 are very closely related under the skin, the comparison is more than fine. And the somewhat sleek appearing of the GLA and the absence of a proper quarter window actually makes it a proper competitor to the X2 design-wise. And unlike the X2, the GLA-Class has already received its performance upgrade. Sold as the AMG GLA45, the souped-up mini SUV sports all the familiar AMG add-on, including larger front bumper vents, unique wheels, and a more aggressive rear bumper. The interior boasts sports seats with heavy bolstering, a flat-bottom steering wheel, bespoke upholstery, and even carbon-fiber trim. Power comes from the same unit in the AMG A45 hatchback, a twin-turbo, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of twist. The mill mates to an AMG Speedshift seven-speed automatic and enables the crossover to hit 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. The big advantage here is that you can already find it in U.S. dealerships, so unless you’re willing to wait a couple of years for the X2 M, the AMG GLA45 retails from $50,600 before options.

Read our full story on the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA45.

Conclusion


2020 BMW X2 M - image 741407

The X2 M might not seem like a necessity for BMW right now with the X2 competing in a brand-new niche, but the German firm has the chance to be one step ahead of the competition with this performance mini SUV. The RS Q2 may actually arrive first, but until other brands join this segment, BMW can set up a solid lineup and establish itself as a powerful force here. Granted, the fact that the Mercedes GLA is very close in terms of size and performance makes things a bit more difficult, but the X2’s unique looks – unlike the GLA, which is a perched-up A-Class – could be more appealing to customers looking for something different. With some 350 horsepower at its disposal and a host of M upgrades, the X2 M could become the dominant force in this niche.

  • Leave it
    • Audi RS Q2 may arrive first
    • Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is a solid proposition

References

BMW X2


BMW X2 Arrives In Paris In Concept Form - image 690239

Read our full review of the 2016 BMW X2 Concept.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740796

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X2.

BMW X1


2016 BMW X1 - image 632512

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X1.


2017 BMW X1 M - image 632752

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X1 M.

PostHeaderIcon Kia Niro EV

2019 Kia Niro EV

The Kia Niro EV has finally been spotted in the wild for the first time, and it was testing with its slightly smaller cousin, the Hyundai Kona EV. Based on its hybrid twin, the Niro Hybrid, the EV will ride on the same dedicated platform but is expected to deliver somewhere around 200 to 250 miles per charge. Then again, the Hyundai Kona is expected to offer up somewhere around 310 miles with its largest battery option, and both brands will use the same equipment, so the Niro could deliver closer to 300. But we’ll talk more about that a little later. With that said, not a lot has changed from the hybrid version of the Niro, but Kia has made a few changes that we can talk about.

Before we dive too deep into the details, let’s just point out that it’s not likely Kia will disappoint with the Niro EV. The Niro started life as the 2014 Kia KX3, which was already near-production ready. A couple of years passed before we saw the production model, but Kia didn’t disappoint and, if anything, it actually improved on its conceptual design for the Niro. The Niro is still relatively new on the market, making its initial push for the 2017 model year but it has taken the subcompact crossover market by storm. Kia promised us the EV by 2018 and, so far, it looks like Kia is about to hit yet another home run as this EV looks like it’s ready to bring the bacon to the table. Let’s take a good look at it before Kia beats us to the punch.

Kia Niro EV Exterior

  • Revised front fascia
  • Fog lights moved to the flanks
  • Could have a different grille
  • Side profile remains unchanged but could get lighter wheels
  • Rear end will see a revised lower fascia and new badges

2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742858
“The Niro EV won’t change all that much from the hybrid model it is based on”

As is the usual case with cars-turned-electric, the Niro EV won’t change all that much from the hybrid model it is based on. It will, however, take on a few changes and, despite all of the camo and padding, we can already make out a pretty decent idea of what we can expect. First off, the main shell of the car we go on unchanged from the basic hybrid model, as well most of the body panels, including the front fenders, front hood, and rear hatch – aside from different badges, of course. What will change outside, however, is the front fascia and maybe even the rear fascia to a very small extent. As best we can tell, the fog lights will be moved to the sides and site directly below the headlamps, which is completely different compared to the hybrid.

Those corner vents on the hybrid are also left aside for a different look that will include triangular units that are much smaller and feature horizontal louvers. I suspect the air dam will also be smaller as there is little need for cooling outside of the battery packs and a little airflow for the electric motor. The real question is whether or not Kia will do something different with the grille. Since this is an EV, there’s no need for a radiator, and the grille is, therefore, rendered redundant. Kia may elect to carry it over from the hybrid for the purposes of brand identification, or it could offer up a slightly different approach – like a backlit mesh, for instance – while still keeping the same size and shape; again, to preserve brand identity.


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742863
“The side profile and roof will remain untouched in comparison to the standard hybrid model, as will the rear hatch and taillights”

The side profile and roof will remain untouched in comparison to the standard hybrid model, as will the rear hatch and taillights. As I mentioned earlier, the rear fascia may change just a little bit, but for the most part, it will remain the same, evidenced by the stout body lines that we can see on the corners below the taillights. What we can point out is that there are some horizontal louvers in the lower corners of the rear fascia that aren’t present on the hybrid model, and this is where the minor differences lie. With so much camo and padding, there’s no telling what is really going on here, but it can’t be too different, as the same license plate recess in the center of the lower fascia is in place as it should be.

Again, not a lot to separate the EV from the hybrid, but there’s enough to make it known to those who have a keen eye for spotting the little things. Are there any other little differences I missed? If you see anything, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the article. If not, let’s talk a little about the interior.

Kia Niro EV Interior

  • Interior will be near identical
  • Will get an all-digital instrument cluster
  • Infotainment display may be revised
  • No need for a gear shifter

2017 Kia Niro - image 665044
Interior from 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid shown here.
“The interior will be nearly indistinguishable from any other non-EV Niro you find on the road”

If you like the interior you see here, then you’ll be happy to know that the EV badging outside and the lithium-ion bits under the metal won’t bring a lot of change to the interior. You can expect the same exact layout – seating for five, comfortable but not-so-supportive seats up front, pleasant-looking dash, and dual-zone climate control. Truth be told, the interior will be nearly indistinguishable from any other non-EV Niro you find on the road. There should be a few changes, however. First off, all interior lighting is all but guaranteed to be LED in nature – this will help preserve that precious go juice from the battery. To add to this, there will likely be a different shifter as the EV will be void of a typical transmission, and the infotainment system could be up for a change as well. Not necessarily a different look, but there could be different software involved; more specifically, software that is designed to account for various bits of data like state of charge, battery health, etc.

What you can be sure to see is a new instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel. As is the usual case with all-electric cars, the analog or semi-digital instrument clusters go bye-bye while all-digital units become the only choice. This is to help preserve power as it’s much more efficient to have an all-digital screen than a motor-actuated needle. Plus, there’s no need for a tachometer on an electric car, either. So, the instrument cluster should be home to a few new meters that include a battery meter, state of charge, range indicator, and it may even supplement the navigation system by pointing you to the nearest public charging stations. After all, there’s a big plug next to the grille up front for a reason – this thing doesn’t run on dreams and unicorn farts, that’s for sure.

Kia Niro EV Drivetrain

  • Could be AWD with two or four electric motors
  • With four motors it could torque distribution on demand
  • Could also be front-wheel drive
  • Range will vary from around 150 miles to 310 miles depending on battery size
  • 140 to 200 horsepower can be expected
  • Charging time will fall under six hours for a full charge

2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742865
“The chances are that the Niro EV will be all-wheel drive with two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear”

Unfortunately, what’s lurks below the metal as the main form of motivation has been rather elusive up to this point. We know very little about what’s going on or about what we can expect from the Niro EV, but word has it that it will benefit from Hyundai’s selection of batteries that include 39.2 kWh and 64.2 kWh units, both of which will be offered in the Hyundai Kona EV as well. Hyundai says the larger battery will be good for around 500 km or about 310 miles. We’re guessing that the smaller battery will probably be good for around 130 miles of range, at best.

The chances are that the Niro EV will be all-wheel drive with two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear. It’s possible Kia could go with four smaller motors, one at each wheel, but I really wouldn’t hold my breath for that. Kia could also make the Niro front-wheel-drive only to save weight and battery power, or design it so that its AWD on demand, with power being sent to the rear wheels only when needed. After looking at models like the Hyundai Ioniq EV and the Kia Soul EV, we’re guessing that power output will sit somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 to 140 horsepower. It’s a fairly small vehicle, and it won’t really need a whole lot of grunt. Then again, Kia could up the ante a bit and let it deliver around 200 horsepower, at least giving it the ability to tow small things or carry a full load of cargo in the boot without struggling like a hooker walking into church after a busy Saturday night.
Keep in mind, however, that even the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell boasts just 134 horsepower, so I really wouldn’t hold my breath for much more than that – this thing needs to offer up decent range too.

Kia Niro EV Pricing

Pricing should range from $35,000 to about $43,000


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742866

The Niro Hybrid currently tips the pricing scale at $23,240 for an entry-level model. Meanwhile, the range-topping Touring trim level is currently going for around $31,900. With that in mind, you can expect the EV to start out at no less than $35,000 because, for lack of a better reason, it’s an EV. It’s naturally more expensive to have such a large battery, and it’s possible that there’s an extra motor in there as well. With various trim levels eventually coming to the surface, the Niro EV could command anywhere between $35,000 and $43,000 in range-topping form. Seems like a lot for a subcompact crossover, but it’s an EV, and that’s the way the market trends right now for prices on these things – even the little ones.

Kia Niro EV Competition

At this point, there isn’t really anything on the market for the Niro EV to compete with, so you could even start hoping for Kia to be the first to put its subcompact SUV on the market – it’s certainly coming soon, right? All told, there’s nothing for it to compete with now, but there are a bunch of models on their way, and the Niro EV will find itself fight among some pretty serious models that are all hoping to reign supreme in what will be an epic EV showdown. So let’s take a quick look at all of the upcoming competitors.

Jaguar I-Pace


2019 Jaguar I-Pace - image 722486

The Jaguar I-Pace will likely fall a little a little higher on the pricing scale than the Niro EV since it is a premium vehicle and all, but it should be one of the first compact models to actually hit the market – most likely around the same time as the Niro or 2019 at the latest. It’s got more of a car look to it than the official “crossover” or “SUV” look but to each their own in that regard. It should sit in the same general size niche and should be able to cover about 300 miles on a single charge. Naturally, the materials and fit and finish will probably be a little more upscale, but Kia is slowly becoming a luxury brand itself – think about the Kia Stinger… — so I wouldn’t be so quick to say it won’t be able to hold its own against the Jag.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.

Mercedes Electric EV – Mercedes EQ


2020 Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV - image 697079

Mercedes’ first electric SUV is expected to debut for the 2020 model year, so Kia will probably beat it out of the gate, but what will be unique about this SUV is that it will be quite powerful in comparison. If the SUV is, indeed, based on the Mercedes EQ Concept, it should have some 400 horsepower on tap and be good for a range of about 300 miles. The Niro EV will keep up in range, no doubt, but that power on the other hand? I’m quite doubtful, but a man can still hope, right? In the end, the Mercedes EQ SUV in production form should come in at around $40,000 in base form which will be a little more expensive than the entry-level Niro EV but still with the realm of competition.

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes Electric SUV.

Hyundai Kona EV


2018 Hyundai Kona - image 720693

Note: Standard Hyundai Kona pictured here.

It seems a little redundant to mention the Kona EV here considering Hyundai is practically the same company once the two Korean carmakers merged into a single automotive group. Be that as it may, it’s still going to take up a place in the same niche, and that means the Niro EV will have to compete with it, even if profits from both models line the pockets of the same wealthy executive. It will actually be a little smaller than the Niro and as such may even come in a few grand cheaper but it should offer up the same range, power, and typical amenities inside and out. On the plus side, Hyundai’s current design language does have a slightly more attractive front end, so it may be advisable to go with the Kona EV. Plus, the ICE-powered Kona is already hitting dealers in the very near future so it’ll at least have an established following when the EV makes its debut. Pricing should start out around $33,000 and climb to as much as $40,000 at launch.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

Tesla Model Y


2020 Tesla Model Y - image 722132

It’s a shame but I almost wrote up this whole article without thinking about Tesla once, but as I came to the end, I decided I might as well throw it a bone considering it’s having a pretty rough year. The brand has been hit with various lawsuits for harassment, racism, discrimination, etc., and it posted a serious loss for the last quarter. Then you add in the fact that production of the Model 3 has become about as troublesome as trying to get through a dry county in Georgia without getting caught with that booze in your trunk. Either way, at some point Tesla will be debuting a smaller version of the Model X that will aptly be called Model Y, and effectively complete the SEXY lineup. It should fall in line with the Model 3 so expect to see a rather bland interior with a single screen for all pertinent driving information (no instrument cluster, either,) and it will likely be the least-attractive model of any that we’ve discussed in this speculative review. With that Said, the Model Y will likely come in at around $40,000 to $45,000 before tax incentives, which may be something to pay attention to considering President Trump is thinking of taking those away.

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Tesla Model Y.

Conclusion


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742867

So, at this point, the only question you should really have about the Niro EV is when it’s going to hit dealers. Well, unfortunately, I can’t tell you that as it’s still a bit too early. But, when you consider the fact that there isn’t a lot left for Kia to do outside of extensive testing of the drivetrain, it could happen in the very near future. It’s supposed to take shape and make its debut in 2018, so if it happens in the first quarter, we could very well see this thing rolling into dealers, pigtail hanging, by mid-July and go on sale as a 2019 model. This could, as a matter of fact, happen before most of the other competitors make it to market, but we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, that’s all there is to the story, but stay tuned for future updates and let us know what you think about the Niro EV in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • Competition could be tough
    • Could be a little too expensive
    • Competition may have more grunt for the $

PostHeaderIcon Kia Niro EV

2019 Kia Niro EV

The Kia Niro EV has finally been spotted in the wild for the first time, and it was testing with its slightly smaller cousin, the Hyundai Kona EV. Based on its hybrid twin, the Niro Hybrid, the EV will ride on the same dedicated platform but is expected to deliver somewhere around 200 to 250 miles per charge. Then again, the Hyundai Kona is expected to offer up somewhere around 310 miles with its largest battery option, and both brands will use the same equipment, so the Niro could deliver closer to 300. But we’ll talk more about that a little later. With that said, not a lot has changed from the hybrid version of the Niro, but Kia has made a few changes that we can talk about.

Before we dive too deep into the details, let’s just point out that it’s not likely Kia will disappoint with the Niro EV. The Niro started life as the 2014 Kia KX3, which was already near-production ready. A couple of years passed before we saw the production model, but Kia didn’t disappoint and, if anything, it actually improved on its conceptual design for the Niro. The Niro is still relatively new on the market, making its initial push for the 2017 model year but it has taken the subcompact crossover market by storm. Kia promised us the EV by 2018 and, so far, it looks like Kia is about to hit yet another home run as this EV looks like it’s ready to bring the bacon to the table. Let’s take a good look at it before Kia beats us to the punch.

Kia Niro EV Exterior

  • Revised front fascia
  • Fog lights moved to the flanks
  • Could have a different grille
  • Side profile remains unchanged but could get lighter wheels
  • Rear end will see a revised lower fascia and new badges

2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742858
“The Niro EV won’t change all that much from the hybrid model it is based on”

As is the usual case with cars-turned-electric, the Niro EV won’t change all that much from the hybrid model it is based on. It will, however, take on a few changes and, despite all of the camo and padding, we can already make out a pretty decent idea of what we can expect. First off, the main shell of the car we go on unchanged from the basic hybrid model, as well most of the body panels, including the front fenders, front hood, and rear hatch – aside from different badges, of course. What will change outside, however, is the front fascia and maybe even the rear fascia to a very small extent. As best we can tell, the fog lights will be moved to the sides and site directly below the headlamps, which is completely different compared to the hybrid.

Those corner vents on the hybrid are also left aside for a different look that will include triangular units that are much smaller and feature horizontal louvers. I suspect the air dam will also be smaller as there is little need for cooling outside of the battery packs and a little airflow for the electric motor. The real question is whether or not Kia will do something different with the grille. Since this is an EV, there’s no need for a radiator, and the grille is, therefore, rendered redundant. Kia may elect to carry it over from the hybrid for the purposes of brand identification, or it could offer up a slightly different approach – like a backlit mesh, for instance – while still keeping the same size and shape; again, to preserve brand identity.


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742863
“The side profile and roof will remain untouched in comparison to the standard hybrid model, as will the rear hatch and taillights”

The side profile and roof will remain untouched in comparison to the standard hybrid model, as will the rear hatch and taillights. As I mentioned earlier, the rear fascia may change just a little bit, but for the most part, it will remain the same, evidenced by the stout body lines that we can see on the corners below the taillights. What we can point out is that there are some horizontal louvers in the lower corners of the rear fascia that aren’t present on the hybrid model, and this is where the minor differences lie. With so much camo and padding, there’s no telling what is really going on here, but it can’t be too different, as the same license plate recess in the center of the lower fascia is in place as it should be.

Again, not a lot to separate the EV from the hybrid, but there’s enough to make it known to those who have a keen eye for spotting the little things. Are there any other little differences I missed? If you see anything, let me know in the comments at the bottom of the article. If not, let’s talk a little about the interior.

Kia Niro EV Interior

  • Interior will be near identical
  • Will get an all-digital instrument cluster
  • Infotainment display may be revised
  • No need for a gear shifter

2017 Kia Niro - image 665044
Interior from 2017 Kia Niro Hybrid shown here.
“The interior will be nearly indistinguishable from any other non-EV Niro you find on the road”

If you like the interior you see here, then you’ll be happy to know that the EV badging outside and the lithium-ion bits under the metal won’t bring a lot of change to the interior. You can expect the same exact layout – seating for five, comfortable but not-so-supportive seats up front, pleasant-looking dash, and dual-zone climate control. Truth be told, the interior will be nearly indistinguishable from any other non-EV Niro you find on the road. There should be a few changes, however. First off, all interior lighting is all but guaranteed to be LED in nature – this will help preserve that precious go juice from the battery. To add to this, there will likely be a different shifter as the EV will be void of a typical transmission, and the infotainment system could be up for a change as well. Not necessarily a different look, but there could be different software involved; more specifically, software that is designed to account for various bits of data like state of charge, battery health, etc.

What you can be sure to see is a new instrument cluster ahead of the steering wheel. As is the usual case with all-electric cars, the analog or semi-digital instrument clusters go bye-bye while all-digital units become the only choice. This is to help preserve power as it’s much more efficient to have an all-digital screen than a motor-actuated needle. Plus, there’s no need for a tachometer on an electric car, either. So, the instrument cluster should be home to a few new meters that include a battery meter, state of charge, range indicator, and it may even supplement the navigation system by pointing you to the nearest public charging stations. After all, there’s a big plug next to the grille up front for a reason – this thing doesn’t run on dreams and unicorn farts, that’s for sure.

Kia Niro EV Drivetrain

  • Could be AWD with two or four electric motors
  • With four motors it could torque distribution on demand
  • Could also be front-wheel drive
  • Range will vary from around 150 miles to 310 miles depending on battery size
  • 140 to 200 horsepower can be expected
  • Charging time will fall under six hours for a full charge

2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742865
“The chances are that the Niro EV will be all-wheel drive with two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear”

Unfortunately, what’s lurks below the metal as the main form of motivation has been rather elusive up to this point. We know very little about what’s going on or about what we can expect from the Niro EV, but word has it that it will benefit from Hyundai’s selection of batteries that include 39.2 kWh and 64.2 kWh units, both of which will be offered in the Hyundai Kona EV as well. Hyundai says the larger battery will be good for around 500 km or about 310 miles. We’re guessing that the smaller battery will probably be good for around 130 miles of range, at best.

The chances are that the Niro EV will be all-wheel drive with two electric motors – one in the front and one in the rear. It’s possible Kia could go with four smaller motors, one at each wheel, but I really wouldn’t hold my breath for that. Kia could also make the Niro front-wheel-drive only to save weight and battery power, or design it so that its AWD on demand, with power being sent to the rear wheels only when needed. After looking at models like the Hyundai Ioniq EV and the Kia Soul EV, we’re guessing that power output will sit somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 to 140 horsepower. It’s a fairly small vehicle, and it won’t really need a whole lot of grunt. Then again, Kia could up the ante a bit and let it deliver around 200 horsepower, at least giving it the ability to tow small things or carry a full load of cargo in the boot without struggling like a hooker walking into church after a busy Saturday night.
Keep in mind, however, that even the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell boasts just 134 horsepower, so I really wouldn’t hold my breath for much more than that – this thing needs to offer up decent range too.

Kia Niro EV Pricing

Pricing should range from $35,000 to about $43,000


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742866

The Niro Hybrid currently tips the pricing scale at $23,240 for an entry-level model. Meanwhile, the range-topping Touring trim level is currently going for around $31,900. With that in mind, you can expect the EV to start out at no less than $35,000 because, for lack of a better reason, it’s an EV. It’s naturally more expensive to have such a large battery, and it’s possible that there’s an extra motor in there as well. With various trim levels eventually coming to the surface, the Niro EV could command anywhere between $35,000 and $43,000 in range-topping form. Seems like a lot for a subcompact crossover, but it’s an EV, and that’s the way the market trends right now for prices on these things – even the little ones.

Kia Niro EV Competition

At this point, there isn’t really anything on the market for the Niro EV to compete with, so you could even start hoping for Kia to be the first to put its subcompact SUV on the market – it’s certainly coming soon, right? All told, there’s nothing for it to compete with now, but there are a bunch of models on their way, and the Niro EV will find itself fight among some pretty serious models that are all hoping to reign supreme in what will be an epic EV showdown. So let’s take a quick look at all of the upcoming competitors.

Jaguar I-Pace


2019 Jaguar I-Pace - image 722486

The Jaguar I-Pace will likely fall a little a little higher on the pricing scale than the Niro EV since it is a premium vehicle and all, but it should be one of the first compact models to actually hit the market – most likely around the same time as the Niro or 2019 at the latest. It’s got more of a car look to it than the official “crossover” or “SUV” look but to each their own in that regard. It should sit in the same general size niche and should be able to cover about 300 miles on a single charge. Naturally, the materials and fit and finish will probably be a little more upscale, but Kia is slowly becoming a luxury brand itself – think about the Kia Stinger… — so I wouldn’t be so quick to say it won’t be able to hold its own against the Jag.

Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace.

Mercedes Electric EV – Mercedes EQ


2020 Mercedes-Benz All-Electric SUV - image 697079

Mercedes’ first electric SUV is expected to debut for the 2020 model year, so Kia will probably beat it out of the gate, but what will be unique about this SUV is that it will be quite powerful in comparison. If the SUV is, indeed, based on the Mercedes EQ Concept, it should have some 400 horsepower on tap and be good for a range of about 300 miles. The Niro EV will keep up in range, no doubt, but that power on the other hand? I’m quite doubtful, but a man can still hope, right? In the end, the Mercedes EQ SUV in production form should come in at around $40,000 in base form which will be a little more expensive than the entry-level Niro EV but still with the realm of competition.

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Mercedes Electric SUV.

Hyundai Kona EV


2018 Hyundai Kona - image 720693

Note: Standard Hyundai Kona pictured here.

It seems a little redundant to mention the Kona EV here considering Hyundai is practically the same company once the two Korean carmakers merged into a single automotive group. Be that as it may, it’s still going to take up a place in the same niche, and that means the Niro EV will have to compete with it, even if profits from both models line the pockets of the same wealthy executive. It will actually be a little smaller than the Niro and as such may even come in a few grand cheaper but it should offer up the same range, power, and typical amenities inside and out. On the plus side, Hyundai’s current design language does have a slightly more attractive front end, so it may be advisable to go with the Kona EV. Plus, the ICE-powered Kona is already hitting dealers in the very near future so it’ll at least have an established following when the EV makes its debut. Pricing should start out around $33,000 and climb to as much as $40,000 at launch.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Kona.

Tesla Model Y


2020 Tesla Model Y - image 722132

It’s a shame but I almost wrote up this whole article without thinking about Tesla once, but as I came to the end, I decided I might as well throw it a bone considering it’s having a pretty rough year. The brand has been hit with various lawsuits for harassment, racism, discrimination, etc., and it posted a serious loss for the last quarter. Then you add in the fact that production of the Model 3 has become about as troublesome as trying to get through a dry county in Georgia without getting caught with that booze in your trunk. Either way, at some point Tesla will be debuting a smaller version of the Model X that will aptly be called Model Y, and effectively complete the SEXY lineup. It should fall in line with the Model 3 so expect to see a rather bland interior with a single screen for all pertinent driving information (no instrument cluster, either,) and it will likely be the least-attractive model of any that we’ve discussed in this speculative review. With that Said, the Model Y will likely come in at around $40,000 to $45,000 before tax incentives, which may be something to pay attention to considering President Trump is thinking of taking those away.

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Tesla Model Y.

Conclusion


2019 Kia Niro EV - image 742867

So, at this point, the only question you should really have about the Niro EV is when it’s going to hit dealers. Well, unfortunately, I can’t tell you that as it’s still a bit too early. But, when you consider the fact that there isn’t a lot left for Kia to do outside of extensive testing of the drivetrain, it could happen in the very near future. It’s supposed to take shape and make its debut in 2018, so if it happens in the first quarter, we could very well see this thing rolling into dealers, pigtail hanging, by mid-July and go on sale as a 2019 model. This could, as a matter of fact, happen before most of the other competitors make it to market, but we’ll just have to wait and see. For now, that’s all there is to the story, but stay tuned for future updates and let us know what you think about the Niro EV in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • Competition could be tough
    • Could be a little too expensive
    • Competition may have more grunt for the $

PostHeaderIcon How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5’s AWD System

The 2017 XT5 is Cadillac’s clean-sheet crossover designed to compete against some stiff competition that includes the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLE. Part of its secret sauce is its fancy all-wheel-drive system. Unlike most AWD systems, the XT5’s is actually a part-time system, meaning the driver can turn the system off manually. A Simple button near the gear shifter toggles through three modes – Tour, AWD, and Sport. In Tour, only the front wheels get power. The biggest advantage is fuel economy, of course, but I’ve found the FWD mode also heightens the liveliness of the 3.6-liter V-6 thanks to less parasitic loss in the driveline.

Being able to turn the AWD system on and off is a big deal, but it’s not the system’s crowning achievement. Rather, it’s the true torque vectoring abilities that help in vehicle control, both on slippery and dry surfaces. This isn’t some brake-activated cheater system, either. It uses a twin-clutch pack to progressively and precisely dial in the amount of power each axle gets. It’s pretty impressive, so let’s dive in.

Continue reading for more on the 2017 Cadillac XT5’s AWD system.

AWD With A PhD


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743167
“Cadillac gets its AWD system from GKN, a third-party supplier known for its driveline components”

Cadillac gets its AWD system from GKN, a third-party supplier known for its driveline components. Within GKN, the XT5’s AWD system, specifically the rear differential unit, is known as the Twinster due to its twin-clutch design. The Twinster system is also used in some other highbrow applications, too, including the Range Rover Evoque and Ford Focus RS. Yep, the same Focus RS with its crazy drift mode and outlandish grip uses nearly the same rear drive system as the XT5.

But back to the Caddy.

Let’s start from the top. Powering the 2017 XT5 is Cadillac’s new 3.6-liter V-6 also found in the ATS and CTS sedans. The all-new V-6 uses cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing on it dual overhead cams, direct fuel injection, and automatic start/stop. The engine makes 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque. Backing the V-6 is GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission. The XT5 uses a transverse powertrain layout, meaning the front wheels are the default recipients of power.


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743166
“The all-new V-6 uses cylinder deactivation, variable valve timing on it dual overhead cams, direct fuel injection, and automatic start/stop”

The XT5 AWD is optional on the Luxury and Premium Luxury trims, standard on the range-topping Platinum, and not available on the base XT5. When optional, the AWD system adds $2,500 to the MSRP.

The AWD system originates at the transmission’s PTO, or power take-off. This coupling is where the magic happens with turning the AWD system on and off. When the driver toggles through the drive modes, the coupler will either connect or disconnect the rear driveshaft from the transmission. That means when in FWD mode, none of the rear drivetrain components are spinning. This improves fuel economy by reducing the parasitic losses within the drivetrain. FWD mode is also exclusively FWD, meaning even if the front tires lose grip, the rear tires won’t kick in.

By activating the AWD system, the rear driveshaft sends power to the GKN Twinster differential unit. The differential is electronically controlled and uses a high-pressure hydraulic pump to actuate the twin clutches. The system receives input from the XT5’s stability management and traction control systems in order to dial out the right amount of torque to each axle.


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743169
“The rear drive system is capable of getting 100 percent of the engine’s power and delivering up to 100 percent of torque to one wheel.”

The rear drive system is capable of getting 100 percent of the engine’s power and delivering up to 100 percent of torque to one wheel. What that means in slippery conditions like rain, snow, mud, or even ice is the tire with the most grip will be the most power. Even laterally between tires – say if the XT5 is parked on a soft shoulder with its right tires on slippery grass and the left tires are on the road. The system will detect the wheel slip, adjust the clutches, and send power to the tire with the most grip, all nearly instantly and without the driver having to do anything more than just having the system turned on.


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743168
“The rear drive unit will send more power to the outside wheel, which creates a yaw effect on the XT5, essentially giving the vehicle a push around the turn.”

The AWD system also has benefits in the dry. That torque vectoring aspect comes into play when turning. The rear drive unit will send more power to the outside wheel, which creates a yaw effect on the XT5, essentially giving the vehicle a push around the turn. This makes for spectacular handling, even despite the XT5’s tall stance and 4,350-pound curb weight.

As for the noticeable driving characteristics, I can definitely feel when the AWD is engaged. The V-6 feels just slightly more taxed, and it doesn’t rev quite as quickly. The normal person who isn’t paying attention won’t feel a thing while appreciating the added stability and traction. Throw on a set of good winter tires, and I’d bet the XT5 would scamper through the worst conditions imaginable.

Check back with TopSpeed for more info and the full review of the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum.

References


Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5 - image 742588

Cadillac Fixed CUE for the XT5

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Needs A V-8 Option

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL is the hottest SUV right now. It’s not often Jeep reworks its most popular model, after all. Much of the buzz centers on the Wrangler’s new powertrain choices, which include the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder “Hurricane” and 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6, along with a revised version of the familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. Jeep fans and journalists alike are praising FCA for adding a fuel-sipping four-cylinder and the torquey yet efficient EcoDiesel, but there’s still something missing – a V-8.

Raise an eyebrow if you want, but Jeep actually has a rich history of offering V-8s in the Wrangler’s predecessor, the CJ. It started back in 1972 with the CJ-5. See, American Motors Corporation had bought Kaiser Jeep in 1970 and soon replaced Kaiser’s engines with its own, including the 3.8-liter and 4.2-liter straight-sixes. There was also a four-cylinder that carried the Hurricane name, which is directly referenced in the 2018 Wrangler JL’s new 2.0-liter turbo-four. But, the most desirable engine was the AMC 304 cubic-inch V-8. This 5.0-liter produced 150 horsepower and 245 pound-feet of torque. While those aren’t big numbers by today’s standards, that was impressive power amid the Arab Oil Embargo and tightening government fuel economy and emissions regulations. The power was especially robust in a short-wheelbase SUV.

The 304 V-8 made the jump to the longer CJ-7 when it debuted in 1976. Sadly, the V-8 was phased out during the 1981 model year, leaving the 4.2-liter inline-six as the largest and most powerful engine option.

But, modern times are different. Dodge builds an 840-horsepower Challenger, Jeep has a 707-horsepower Grand Cherokee, and the Wrangler is ripe for getting a mild V-8 behind its seven-slotted grille. Keep reading for my thoughts on the matter.

Continue reading for more information.

Should Jeep Build a V-8-Powered Wrangler?


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Needs A V-8 Option - image 743162
“Jeep could very easily offer a V-8 Wrangler, call it the Golden Eagle like V-8 CJs of yesteryear, and people would eat it up.”

Heck yes, Jeep should! Besides the typical American response of pleasure to excess and approval of power, a V-8-powered Wrangler has two things going for it – history and customer desire.

History is playing an ever more important role in how automakers operate. Retro styling is still in vogue and tying modern vehicles to those in the past in meaningful ways is the new thing. Jeep could very easily offer a V-8 Wrangler, call it the Golden Eagle like V-8 CJs of yesteryear, and people would eat it up. Throw on some retro graphics – you know, like that awesome golden eagle “screaming chicken” on the hood or maybe just a smaller logo on the fender, and boom – instant classic and assured sales success.


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Needs A V-8 Option - image 743161
“Jeep could very easily offer a V-8 Wrangler, call it the Golden Eagle like V-8 CJs of yesteryear, and people would eat it up”

As for customer desire, Jeepers want a V-8 Wrangler, and it shows in the aftermarket. A number of companies provide swap kits for LS and Hemi conversions, and companies like American Expedition Vehicles will happily do the work and warranty the craftsmanship. Those LS and Hemi swaps usually consist of 4.8-liter, 5.3-liter, and 6.0-liter small-block Chevy engines of the LS series and the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 found in several FCA products. Both the LS and Hemi are also available as a brand-new crate engine. Regardless of brand, it’s clear Wrangler owners want a V-8.

What Engine Should Jeep Use?


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Needs A V-8 Option - image 741967
“Jeep wouldn’t have a V-8 Wrangler ready until 2019, if not after.”

Well, the most obvious answer would be the omnipresent 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 found in everything from the Dodge Challenger to the Ram pickup from 2003 on. The engine makes anywhere from 357 to 395 horsepower and 389 to 410 pound-feet of torque, depending on application and model year. The Hemi obviously fits in the outgoing Wrangler JK’s engine bay, and it’s doubtful Jeep make the area smaller, so the Hemi should have no problem fitting in the Wrangler JL.

There’s just one problem.

Rumors are swirling the 5.7-liter Hemi will cease production after 2019. That would be a problem since Jeep wouldn’t have a V-8 Wrangler ready until 2019, if not after. It makes sense why FCA is looking to kill the 5.7-liter; its basic design will be 17 years old. It needs an update, which consequently, might see its displacement drop from 5.7 liters to 5.0 liters – a 304-cubic-inch displacement.

This new V-8 will surely come with direct fuel injection and turbocharging, along with the current fuel-saving tricks like cylinder deactivation and variable valve timing. Of course, this is pure speculation, but the Mopar-obsessed folks over at Allpar.com seem to think a smaller-displacement Hemi V-8 is in the works, too.

Dropping back to a 5.0-liter would not only accomplish the smaller displacement needed to improve fuel economy but would also tie in perfectly to Chrysler’s past. Plenty of AMC and Jeep vehicles came with the venerable 304 V-8, though Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth products used completely different V-8s. Still, the connection is there. Then again, FCA could use the 340, 318, or 273 cubic-inch displacement sizes (5.6, 5.2, and 4.5 liters, respectively) or could introduce something without a retro spin. But what fun is that?


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Needs A V-8 Option - image 741968
“A V-8 would likely improve the Wrangler Unlimited’s somewhat limited towing capability.”

On a more practical side of customer wants, a V-8 would likely improve the Wrangler Unlimited’s somewhat limited towing capability of 3,500 pounds. Perhaps we’ll see improvements with the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6, as well. Towing will be an even bigger factor with the upcoming Wrangler-based pickup, the Scrambler. A leaked spec sheet shows the Scrambler is rated to tow 6,500 pounds with both the 3.6-liter Pentastar and 3.0-liter EcoDiesel. The 2.0-liter apparently won’t be offered. Adding a V-8 might just boost the Scrambler’s towing beyond the 7,700 pounds available with the Chevrolet Colorado diesel.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of displacement, the Wrangler deserves a V-8. Not only would it recall Jeeps of old, but it would also boost the Wrangler’s appeal. The V-8 model would be the perfect platform for adding larger axles, massive tires, and all the heavy-duty equipment that tends to accompany a rock crawler. That, and imagine the V-8 mated to a six-speed manual and fitted with a throaty aftermarket exhaust. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, you’re probably reading the wrong website.

References

Jeep Wrangler


The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL Needs A V-8 Option - image 741967

Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK.



Read more Jeep news.

PostHeaderIcon Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5

The Cadillac User Experience, or CUE system, has been dragged through the dirt for not being easy to use. Specifically, it’s the touch-sensitive radio and HVAC controls that leave critics in a bad mood. Cadillac models like the ATS, CTS, and even the Escalade all have nearly identical CUE systems that require sliding a finger across gloss-black plastic to adjust the radio volume and pressing on invisible buttons marked only with labels. Well, apparently Cadillac heard the complaints and decided to address the issue.

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 crossover I’m driving this week has an updated version of the CUE system – with actual buttons! In fact, the center stack is far simpler in design and feels less cluttered. The XT5’s HVAC system has chrome toggle switches that control fan speed and temperatures for the dual zones. Yes, other features like the heated and vented seats, defrost, and recirculation functions still rely on the invisible buttons, but their operation seems improved. The same is true with the radio slider. Yeah, it’s still there, but it somehow isn’t as frustrating to use as the one in the 2017 Cadillac CTS-V I tested a few weeks back.

Continue reading for more information.

Impressive Infotainment


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“The 8.0-inch touchscreen runs similar software to the Chevrolet MyLink and GMC IntelliLink system”

Despite gripes about the CUE system’s touch-sensitive buttons on other models, the infotainment portion of the Cadillac User Experience is absolutely fantastic. The 8.0-inch touchscreen runs similar software to the Chevrolet MyLink and GMC IntelliLink system. All three are incredibly easy to use and have intuitive menus and features. The home screen icons can be moved around, and things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, the weather, live traffic, SMS texting, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi all make the experience a memorable one.

And besides the XT5 crossover, Cadillac’s updated CUE system can be found in the CT6 sedan. You can read my review on that car here.

References

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon Mopar Floods SEMA With 200+ Parts For The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL

Anybody not living under a rock knows Jeep Wrangler owners love customizing their rigs. The aftermarket industry for the Jeep has exploded in the last decade and Jeep has made moves to finally get into the action. But now Jeep is getting ahead of the curve with its new 2018 Wrangler JL by offering more than 200 parts and accessories right from the start, long before third-party aftermarket companies can even begin developing items for the all-new off-roader. Under the Mopar brand, Jeep and its Jeep Performance Parts (JPP) division have teased these accessories at the 2017 SEMA Show.

Of course, SEMA is the natural place to debut parts and accessories. But, in order to debut these new Mopar and JPP parts, Jeep needed to show the actual 2018 Wrangler. That’s why Jeep did a soft launch on Halloween with only three photos of its new model. As for the parts and accessories, they range from graphics to lift kits and everything in between. And, because of the 2018 Wrangler’s new roll bar design, Jeep can now offer a range of roof racks. The list also includes off-roading items like a Warn recovery winch, rock sliders, and beadlock wheels. There is plenty of others, so keep reading for everything Jeep has announced so far.

Continue reading for more information.

Mopar & Jeep Performance Parts

“The parts have been developed by Jeep engineers to work with the 2018 Wrangler and have undergone countless hours of testing.”

Besides being available before anything from aftermarket companies, the biggest advantage to Mopar and JPP parts is the connection to Jeep. The parts are not only warrantied and installed by Jeep dealerships, but they also do not void the Wrangler’s new-vehicle warranty. In line with that, the parts have been developed by Jeep engineers to work with the 2018 Wrangler and have undergone countless hours of testing.

Since the 2018 Wrangler shares almost zero parts with the outgoing 2017 Wrangler JK, these Mopar and JPP parts are technically all new. However, most are just modernized to fit the new Wrangler. A few, on the other hand, really are completely new to the Mopar and JPP portfolio. That roof rack previously mentioned is one, as it fits the Wrangler’s new roll bars. Jeep hasn’t been able to offer a roof rack on Wranglers in the past. Another new part is a screen protector for the 7.0- and 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system. It’s a first for Mopar, likely because no other FCA vehicle really needs a screen protector for its infotainment system. Well, maybe the Ram pickups…

Off-Road Parts


Mopar Floods SEMA With 200+ Parts For The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL - image 742112
  • JPP is offering LED off-road light bars. There’s a five-inch bar with 4,080 lumens and a seven-inch bar with an impressive 8,000 lumens.
  • JPP also includes the brackets needed to mount them. JPP also has an auxiliary switch bank for controlling these lights and other accessories.
  • For those wanting a taller ride height for bigger tires, JPP has a 2.0-inch lift kit.
  • JPP rock rails are made from heavy-gauge steel and are coated with bedliner. They protect the rocker panels from trail damage and give a step for getting into the Jeep.
  • JPP’s beadlock-capable wheel is 17 inches in diameter and can be upgraded with the optional beadlock ring for holding the tire to the rim when ran at low pressures during off-roading. The wheels have a 12-mm backspacing and come in silver and black.
  • Mopar will happily sell you a Warn recovery winch at a markup over what you’d pay directly at Warn. Still, the dealership will install it for you, making the upgrade as simple as sliding the credit card or rolling it into the vehicle’s financing.

Other Add-ons

  • Those Uconnect screen protectors are designed to perfectly fit the 7.0- and 8.4-inch Uconnect system and keep scratches off the sensitive screen.
  • A molded cargo tray fits within the cargo area for organized storage of all the random items that tend to accumulate within a vehicle
  • Grab handles have a new design and are hard-mounted onto the roll bar unlike the Velcro-secured grab handles for the Wrangler JK.
  • Fuel Door covers can be had in brushed aluminum and satin black
  • All-Weather Floor mats help protect the carpet from rain, snow, sand, and mud. They are molded to fit perfectly within the footwells, too.
  • Mopar graphics add flare to the Wrangler. Available on the Sport trim is a 1941 graphic and an American flag-themed design for the hood. Another graphic for the Wrangler’s sides are available for all three trim levels and have a 1941 stripe and a silhouette themed after off-roading at Moab.
  • Tire covers allow for more expression on the Wrangler but still allow for the spare-mounted backup camera with a hole stitched in the center of the cover.

Of course, these are just some of what Mopar and JPP offer and we expect more accessories to be added as the months roll on. The parts and accessories are available at any Jeep dealership and on Mopar.com/jpp.

References

Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 741966

Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK.

PostHeaderIcon Visual Comparison: Jeep Wrangler JL vs JK

Jeep Wrangler JK vs JL

The wait is finally over! Jeep has released photos of the next-generation Wrangler. Unfortunately, Jeep only dropped three photos with zero information, but the soft debut confirms much of the speculation, rumors, and spy shots we’ve been pouring over the last year. Yes, the 2018 Wrangler JL’s windshield folds down. Yes, the doors come off. And Yes, the top is removable. Yet beyond these carryover features that have come to define the Wrangler, this new Jeep is heavily updated in all the right ways.
Check out our visual comparison below to learn all about the new Wrangler JL


Visual Comparison: Jeep Wrangler JL vs JK - image 742106

Visual Comparison: Jeep Wrangler JL vs JK - image 742108

Visual Comparison: Jeep Wrangler JL vs JK - image 742107

Visual Comparison: Jeep Wrangler JL vs JK - image 742109

Visual Comparison: Jeep Wrangler JL vs JK - image 742105

References

Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 741966

Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK.

PostHeaderIcon Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo is making a comeback in the U.S. – and a rather strong one, at that. We’ve had the 4C sports coupe for a few years now, but it was the Giulia sedan in 2017 and this, the Stelvio crossover in 2018, that are bringing the Italian automaker to the American masses. Well, after spending a week with the Stelvio, I can say Alfa has done a fantastic job building a competitive crossover that butts heads against Germans like the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Porsche Macan.

Last year, I sampled the Giulia Quadrifoglio, the outrageously powerful version with a Ferrari-derived V-6 and two turbochargers stuffed under its carbon fiber bodywork. Not surprisingly, the Stelvio feels very similar to the Giulia, despite my Stelvio tester not having the Quadrifoglio package. And while there are things I really don’t like about the Stelvio (which you can read about in the Four Things I Hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio), there are also some aspects I truly love. So, without further ado, here are four things I love about the 2018 Stelvio.

Continue reading for more information.

4. The Heritage


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741586
“Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or in English, the Lombardy Automobile Factory Corporation”

The Alfa Romeo name is dripping with rich history dating back to 1910. The Italian automaker’s name is actually an acronym combined with Nicola Romeo’s last name, an Italian businessman who bought the company in 1915 and added his name in 1920. Alfa stands for “Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili,” or in English, the Lombardy Automobile Factory Corporation. Early success in racing solidified Alfa Romeo as a rightful player in Europe’s budding automotive industry. In fact, Enzo Ferrari rose to fame racing for Alfa Romeo from 1920 to 1939 before leaving to start his own company – a little automaker you might have heard of.

For Americans, Alfa Romero also represents something different yet with that lovable European flair. Alfa isn’t a Mercedes-Benz or Audi or Porsche. They aren’t found in every parking lot in every suburban supermarket. They’re unique – at least for now. If FCA has its way, Alfa Romeo will become just as dominant as the German brands, though Alfa’s got a long way to go. In the meantime, we get to enjoy the exclusivity of Alfa’s new position in the U.S. market.

3. The Looks


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741592
“Alfa Romeo’s unique grille design pulls from its heritage; it’s a look that dates back more than 50 years”

Alfa Romeo’s unique grille design pulls from its heritage; it’s a look that dates back more than 50 years. Besides not looking like anything else on the road, it gives the crossover a slick appearance, even when it’s not moving. The sloping hood and bulging front fender help inject athleticism into the Stelvio’s nose. Its steeply raked windshield and sloping roofline mix well with its coke-bottle hips. Out back, the dual exhaust are well-placed within the black and satin chrome lower fascia.

Yet despite its sporty nature, the Stelvio doesn’t forget it’s a crossover. The fenders and rocker panels are lined with black plastic flares and it offers decent ground clearance. Overall, the Stelvio has a healthy mix of SUV and sports car. It’s certainly handsome enough to compete against the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

2. The Handling


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741553
“Even when pushed hard into a corner, the Stelvio’s all-season Continental tires hold on without complaint or plowing”

Despite its tallish stance, the Stelvio is extremely nimble on its feet. Body roll is kept to a minimum and the steering is impressively quick. Put on a back road, the Stelvio shows some impressive dance moves. Even when pushed hard into a corner, the Stelvio’s all-season Continental tires hold on without complaint or plowing. It’s pretty impressive, actually.

Of course, there’s a downside. Like I mentioned in my Four Things I Hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio article, the tight steering can make for a darty ride on the interstate. Still, that’s a small trade for an impressively stable crossover. Best of all, my tester is only the Stelvio Sport model. Imagine what the Stelvio Quadrifoglio will drive like!

1. The Powertrain


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741578
“The 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 280 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm”

All non-Quadrifoglio Stelvios in the U.S. are powered by a potent, longitudinally mounted four-cylinder. It’s an all-aluminum 2.0-liter with single-overhead camshafts operating four valves per cylinder with direct fuel injection squirting in premium fuel. The intercooled, twin-scroll turbocharger then fill the engine with boost for some very stout numbers.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four makes 280 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm. The engine revs impressively fast, making its 6,200-rpm redline seem far too low. The turbo spools quickly with very little lag, giving power on request with no hesitation. The throttle can be dialed up to be more sensitive via the Alfa Romeo’s DNA selector knob. The D stands for Dynamic and is where all the fun can be had.

The tried and true ZF eight-speed automatic does the shifting, and boy, does it work well. The transmission shifts nice and smoothly around down with no fuss or jerkiness. Put the DNA selector in D and slap the shifter into manual mode, and the ZF fires off shifts like a dual-clutch! The only thing missing are cracking exhaust blats between shifts.


Four Things I Love About The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 741555
“Not only does it help when the weather turns sour, but this rear-biased system makes the Stelvio feel lively in the corners”

Behind that is the Stelvio’s Q4 AWD system. Not only does it help when the weather turns sour, but this rear-biased system makes the Stelvio feel lively in the corners. It allows the rear to slightly step out when in Dynamic mode, even with the traction control on. Rotate the DNA knob to the A, or Advanced Efficiency Mode, offers programming better suited for bad weather like heavy rain or in snow. There’s also the N, or Natural Mode, for normal daily driving.

In total, the drivetrain, matched with the tight suspension and steering, make the Stelvio a very capable back roads burner.

References

Alfa Romeo Stelvio


2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 716830

Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.



Read more Alfa Romeo news.

PostHeaderIcon Four things I Hate About the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

I’ve spent the week living with the all-new 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio. This new crossover is from a brand that’s new to the segment and new to mainstream consumer vehicles in the U.S. Under the watchful eye of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Alfa Romeo is trying hard to make its Stateside comeback with the Giulia sedan and this, the Stelvio crossover. While the Giulia is a fantastic sedan, it’s crossovers that are selling like hotcakes these days, so Alfa needs to nail the Stelvio. Thankfully for this Italian brand, there is plenty to love about the Stelvio, but there’s also a few things I just can’t stand.

Keep reading for my four things I hate about the 2018 Stelvio Sport. And as always, let us know what you think in the comments.

Continue reading for more information.

4. Finicky Infotainment System


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“Alfa has its own system that relies on a dial and two buttons for navigating through the menus”

The Alfa Romero Stelvio might be a member of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but it doesn’t get FCA’s highly regarded Uconnect system. Rather, Alfa has its own system that relies on a dial and two buttons for navigating through the menus. There’s no touchscreen here. For the most part, the system works okay and is fairly intuitive to get around within. In practice, though, downward clicks via the rotary knob don’t always elicit a response. The menu within the vehicle settings page is also odd, with some items getting a sub-menu, while others are controlled right from the main page.

The infotainment system also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And though the main rotary dial has a black face, it’s not a trackpad. Like Audi’s infotainment system, inputting an address or other information is done by rotating the dial and scrolling through the alphabet, however, unlike Audi, you can’t just write the letter or number. Entering an address just takes longer on the Alfa and requires more concentration.

Lastly, the system’s backup camera display is tiny relative to the screen’s 8.8-inch size. I found myself having to lean closer to the screen for a better view. The terrible resolution doesn’t help, either.

3. Twitchy Steering


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“The steering is some of the tightest and most rewarding I’ve sampled in a crossover”

The Stelvio is a sporty crossover, even without the Quadrifoglio trim. In addition to its potent turbocharged four-cylinder, its steering is set up for instant responsiveness and minimal turns lock-to-lock. Honestly, the steering is some of the tightest and most rewarding I’ve sampled in a crossover. it’s actually very enjoyable when driving with gusto.

But point the Stelvio down the open road, and the steering’s tightness becomes a downfall. Its on-center responsiveness is almost extreme. Even the smallest of inputs sends the Stelvio’s front tires changing direction. Combined with its taller stance and initial body lean, and the crossover can easily feel top heavy and boatish – sending occupants heads bobbling left and right. I couldn’t imagine being a second-row passenger with a steering-happy driver behind the wheel. Talk about getting carsick!

2. Interior Quality


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“The front seats could use a better design”

The Alfa Romeo’s interior, for the most part, is rather nice. The materials feel upscale and the fitment between panels is tight. However, there are a few details that spoil the overall experience. For one, the electronic shifter feels cheap. It even has a rough edge around the top and just isn’t satisfying to use. The front seats could use a better design. They are stiff and have almost no bolstering. The bottom cushion is too short and leaves thighs feeling unsupported. The infotainment system’s main control knob doesn’t have as rich a feel as it should, either.

Overall, the Stelvio’s interior is nice, but it has some things to improve upon.

1. Overly Sensitive Brakes


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“It’s nearly impossible to smoothly ease pressure off the pedal when slowing”

Topping my list of things I hate about the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio is its brakes. See, Alfa uses a brake-by-wire system, meaning there is no physical connection between the brake pedal and the hydraulic brake system. Behind the wheel, the brakes do a great job of stopping the Stelvio hard thanks to big four-piston Brembo calipers up front and single piston Brembos out back. On the highway, the brakes are easy to modulate, despite the brake pedal’s short travel. The problem comes with that short-travel pedal at lower speeds. It’s nearly impossible to smoothly ease pressure off the pedal when slowing. What feels like a millimeter of travel changes the braking from too little to too much. Slowing to a stop without a hard jolt at the end is basically impossible, regardless of how carefully I tried.

Besides being intensely frustrating for me as a driver, it proved rough on my passengers. Being stuck in stop-and-go traffic is a nightmare. I’d rather deal with a heavy clutch pedal than these brakes. Alfa seriously needs to dial in more pedal travel to help make the brake bite more progressive and even throughout the pedal travel.

Making it worse for Alfa, I had this same complaint with the 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio I drove earlier this year. I even wrote an entire article ranting about it.

Dishonorable Mention: Annoying Noises


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On startup, the Stelvio beeps, bongs, chimes, and clangs for a good 10 seconds as the systems come online. Of the noises, the seatbelt reminder is the worst. It sounds like that ultra loud, mid-range-pitched bong that violently awakens airline passengers awake as the pilot needlessly breaks the cabin’s calm silence as the plane starts its initial descent. The Stelvio’s chime bad enough to induce a headache – or to retrain the driver to buckle up before turning the car on.

References

Alfa Romeo Stelvio


2017 Alfa Romeo Stelvio - image 716830

Read our full review on the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio.



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PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe – Driven

Let’s get this out of the way up-front: I don’t “get” the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe or its cohort of other luxury-brand SUVs that have sporty, coupe-like rooflines. And I have not had the pleasure of driving most of the GLC 300 Coupe’s competition: sport-tinged SUVs like the BMW X4 and Porsche Macan come to mind.

These are intended to be more fashionable, driver-centric versions of their boxy-backed, taller SUV sisters. To that end, the GLC 300 Coupe was pretty fun to drive, as SUVs go. But it probably makes some cargo space and headroom sacrifices compared to the non-Coupe GLC 300. After all, as with fashionable clothing, sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice comfort for vanity.

Design Notes


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“The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe seems to meld a C Class Coupe roofline with the lower body and ride height of a GLC Class SUV”

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe seems to meld a C Class Coupe roofline with the lower body and ride height of a GLC Class SUV.

The nose is all GLC, with M-B’s tall, muscular grille design and a huge Three-Pointed Star logo that announces to the world that yes, you are driving a Mercedes. Twin-projector headlight lenses are interestingly shaped and contain LED eyebrows that stand out from other daytime running lights on the road.

Fat, directional Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tires make themselves known even from the front view. Measuring 20 inches tall and 255 millimeters wide, they give the GLC 300 Coupe a contact patch more than 10 inches wide at each tire. If this is supposed to be a sports car among compact luxury SUVs, the front view clearly communicates as much.


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“There’s a sharply sloping windshield and a rounded roofline that would look more at home on a sedan or coupe”

The side-view is when things start to get interesting. There’s a sharply sloping windshield and a rounded roofline that would look more at home on a sedan or coupe, hence the GLC 300 Coupe’s name.

That roofline transitions to the rear hatch almost like a liftback sedan, with a rear glass that is more horizontal than vertical and a tiny faux trunk lid at the very back. The lower side shares a lot with the current non-Coupe edition of the GLC 300, with a clean design that features a crease just below the door handles and a slighter crease in the lower quarter of the doors. The big 20-inch wheels have 14 spokes and fit the sporty personality of the design.


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“It’s almost like someone took a C Class Coupe and stretched it in Photoshop to make it appear taller.”

At the rear, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe can be polarizing. It’s almost like someone took a C Class Coupe and stretched it in Photoshop to make it appear taller. That faux trunk lid has a smooth lip at the top that almost evokes a spoiler, bridging two wide taillights. The lack of vertical daylight opening in the rear hatch glass becomes apparent when viewed from this angle. Once again, those chunky Michelins make themselves known from this angle, poking out just a bit from the lower rear bumper face.

Exterior Dimensions

Overall length (Inches) 186.3
Overall height (Inches) 63.1
Overall width (Inches) 82.5 (w/mirrors)
Wheelbase (Inches) 113.1

Interior Notes


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“It appeared to be making an appeal to the emotions of drivers who have traded in their C Class Coupes because they need to haul kids now”

When I opened the door of my 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe tester, its sporting pretenses became clearer. Bathed in optional red leather, it appeared to be making an appeal to the emotions of drivers who have traded in their C Class Coupes because they need to haul kids now, but they don’t want to feel like they have completely given up on enjoying a sporty drive now and then.

Thankfully, the red leather was limited to the seats. The steering wheel, dash, and door panels were more tastefully done, in my opinion, with black leather, soft-touch injection-molded plastics, aluminum accents, and black woodgrain trim.


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“The steering wheel felt great in my hands, with perforated leather and nice sport grips at 10 and 2”

The steering wheel felt great in my hands, with perforated leather and nice sport grips at 10 and 2. My only nitpick was with M-B’s control interface. It felt like stalk overload, because Mercedes puts a tiny shift lever on the column as well as a cruise control stalk. Combine that with the turn signal/windshield wiper control stalk and the tilt/telescope steering adjustment stalk, and it can be a little overwhelming to the uninitiated. I think using a small directional pad-style button for steering wheel adjustment, as many automakers do nowadays, would go a long way to improve the situation. So would putting the cruise controls on one of the steering wheel spokes.

The dash was pleasing to look at, though not distracting, and featured Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND infotainment suite with a floating, tablet-like screen mounted in the center stack. It was controlled by a combination control dial and touchpad in the center console, where a shift lever traditionally might be found in a vehicle like this. I found the controls relatively easy to master, though I liked the comparative simplicity of the control wheel I saw in the 2017 Mercedes-AMG CLA45 a little better. That model lacked the directional pad, and I think that made it easier to use.


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“Rear seating was plentiful for my kids, one in a rear-facing car seat and the other dangling his lanky six-year-old legs from a booster”

The 14-way power driver’s seat with memory was very comfortable. Rear seating was plentiful for my kids, one in a rear-facing car seat and the other dangling his lanky six-year-old legs from a booster. Mercedes-Benz didn’t provide measurements for interior leg- and headroom, but I had no trouble transporting my family of four in the GLC 300 Coupe.

What I did have a little trouble with was transporting our weekly grocery haul in the cargo area. Again, Mercedes-Benz didn’t provide interior dimensions or capacity measurements, but I found the sloping rear glass cut into the GLC 300 Coupe’s ability to haul tall, boxy cargo.

The interior had a couple of surprise-and-delight features, however. One was the HVAC system’s perfume option. It was ingenious, and it kept the car smelling great — if a bit feminine — all week. I later learned GLC 300 Coupe owners can get different scents from their Mercedes-Benz dealer, so I’m sure there’s a wide range of scents for every nose. The HVAC system sends air past a perfume canister’s perforated lid on its way out the vents, giving it a light scent that is not too heavy. It’s fully adjustable, and you can even turn off the smell if you want. It was part of the Air Balance Package, a sensible (for German cars) $350 option.


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“Another thing that delighted me was the Burmester Surround Sound audio system”

Another thing that delighted me was the Burmester Surround Sound audio system. With 14 speakers and a 10-channel, 640-watt amplifier, it provided plenty of thump for my tunes and remained crystal clear all the way up and down the volume range. I often say the measure of a good sound system is how clear it sounds at either extreme — low and high volume. By that test, Burmester delivers an exquisite system here. Well worth the $850 upgrade price. You won’t build a system that sounds this good using aftermarket car audio, not even for twice that price.

The Drive


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“The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine was plenty stout, offering up 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque”

My tester was equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and as with previous 4MATIC-equipped Mercs I have driven, it made the GLC 300 Coupe a joy to throw around corners. Yes, even with its tall, SUV ride height, you can have fun with a GLC 300 Coupe in the twisty stuff.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine was plenty stout, offering up 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, the latter coming on pretty low in the rev range and staying strong through a relatively wide band as revs climbed. It was kind of like a denatured version of the raucous, 375-horse AMG-tuned 2.0-liter engine I experienced in the CLA45. Turbo lag was not noticeable in day-to-day driving, with the boost coming on early and smooth to provide power to squeeze into an opening at the top of the on-ramp.


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“The suspension tuning of the GLC 300 Coupe did a great job controlling body roll when driven in a spirited manner”

I’d go so far as to say the GLC 300 Coupe moves far better than any SUV of its size ought to be able to move. Chuck it into a sweeping bend, lay into the throttle, and it doesn’t get addled. It just squats down and holds its line. I’m sure 4MATIC plays a huge role here, but let’s not overlook the suspension tuning of the GLC 300 Coupe, which did a great job controlling body roll when driven in a spirited manner, but did not beat me up over rough pavement and potholes. So many sporty SUVs compromise ride comfort in the name of handling, but not the GLC 300 Coupe.

Power is delivered to the wheels by a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission that was exceptionally smooth in my experience. Its kick-down was quick when I needed to pass a slower-moving car on a two-lane highway, and it was never harsh in its shifts, even in the sportiest “Sport +” driving mode. Shift paddles let me control the action myself if I wanted to.


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“The GLC 300 Coupe made good on its promise to deliver a sporty driving experience”

Even though I wasn’t sold on the exterior design or the red leather seats inside, the GLC 300 Coupe made good on its promise to deliver a sporty driving experience in an SUV that rides higher than your typical Mercedes-Benz sedan. I enjoyed the drive a lot. I just didn’t get its look.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 2.0-liter inline-4 turbo
Horsepower 241 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 273 LB-FT @ 1,300-4,000 RPM
Transmission 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic
Curb weight (Lbs) 4,045
0 to 60 mph 6.4 seconds

The Competition

BMW X4


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One could argue the BMW X4 is the reason Mercedes-Benz built the GLC 300 Coupe. With the X4 launching in 2014 and finding its niche of buyers, M-B was not to be outdone, introducing the GLC 300 Coupe in 2015 as a 2016 model.

BMW X4’s base 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo gasser is right on-par with the Merc, at 240 horsepower. It’s down a gear to the GLC 300 Coupe, however, with eight forward speeds. Performance is likely to be very similar between the two, as the BMW has xDrive all-wheel drive standard and should offer the brand’s usually well-sorted suspension.

Pricing is very similar between the two, with base MSRPs starting at $46,600 for the GLC 300 Coupe and $47,600 for the X4 xDrive28i.

If you’re shopping between these two, it’s probably going to come down to which one you like to look at the most. For me, the BMW is better-looking inside and out, but that’s not to say I find either model particularly beautiful.

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X4.

Porsche Macan


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The Porsche Macan paralleled the BMW X4’s introduction in 2014. Where Porsche differs from Mercedes-Benz and BMW, however, is that there is not a more traditional SUV-shaped Macan. BMW’s X3 and Mercedes-Benz’s GLC 300 are both more upright, boxy-profile crossovers. The Porsche Macan has a design that seems to split the difference between sporty, sedan-like roof profile and useful, SUV-like roof profile.

The base Porsche Macan comes in at $47,800 and is far more attractive to my eyes than either the GLC 300 Coupe or the X4. It offers similar performance credentials to those competitors, too, putting down 252 horsepower and making the run from zero to 60 MPH in about 6 seconds. All-wheel drive is standard.

Porsche offers an interesting middle step between the base Macan and the high-performance Macan GTS. The Macan S puts down 340 horsepower and shaves about a second off the base Macan’s zero-to-60 time for an extra $7,500 or so. To get more performance out of the GLC 300 Coupe, you have to pony up for the $60,400 GLC 43 Coupe that barely edges out the Macan S at 362 horses and a 4.8-second zero-to-60 time. Likewise, to get a faster BMW X4, you have to go for the X4 M40i for $59,250. For that additional cheddar, it’ll get to 60 in 4.7 seconds thanks to 355 horsepower.

Ultimately, even though I have not driven the Macan, it looks like the deal of the segment. Combining its more attractive looks with its class-competitive performance and lower cost of entry for the faster Macan S, it’s definitely an appealing package.

Read our full review on the 2017 Porsche Macan.

Infiniti QX50


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An interesting competitor in this group is the Infiniti QX50. Like the Porsche Macan, it has just enough of the car-like roofline to make it look a little sexier than your average luxury SUV. The main area where it differs from the mostly four-cylinder competitors above is its standard 3.7-liter V6 with 325 horsepower.

Its seven-speed automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive are deficits, however, and its refinement is not likely to be on the same level as that of Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Porsche. And its technology features are not going to be nearly as advanced as the above competitors. Infiniti’s optional audio system is made by Bose, and will pale in comparison to the GLC 300 Coupe’s Burmester audio system.

But the Infiniti QX50’s unique selling proposition here is value. It’s a whole lot of sporty crossover SUV-thing for the money, coming in at a base price of $34,650. If you want to compare all-wheel drive models since the above competitors all offer it standard, the Infiniti QX50 AWD will set you back $36,450. It’s a relative steal. Load up a QX50 AWD with options, and it’ll probably be about on-par with the base prices of some of the competition above.

Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti QX50.

Conclusion


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“It’s really fun to drive, for a compact SUV”

Just because I don’t dig the exterior design of the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe does not mean it’s a bad car. It’s really fun to drive, for a compact SUV. It was practical enough for most of my uses. It wasn’t too thirsty, getting mid-20s MPG in my mixed driving.

At an as-tested price of $63,505, it offers a lot of driving enjoyment from a powertrain that won’t suck your bank account dry on fuel costs. EPA rates it at 22 MPG city, 27 MPG highway, 24 MPG combined. Furthermore, it was plenty roomy and comfortable for my family.

For those who like the “coupe” styling melded with SUV practicality, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe certainly deserves a look and a test drive.

References

Mercedes-Benz GLC


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Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.

PostHeaderIcon Add Some Boost To Your Pumpkin With This Subaru WRX STI Carving Pattern

So then, it’s Halloween. What’s your costume gonna be? Does it happen to be a blue and gold jump suit and helmet combo with the name “Solberg” or “McRae” printed across it? If that describes you, then this is what your pumpkin should look like. Offered as a free downloadable and printable PDF from SubaruPartsPlus, this carving design will turn that boring orange squash on your porch into a turbocharged rally star, announcing to the whole neighborhood your undying allegiance to the Six Star brand.

Granted, that rumbling aftermarket exhaust you installed probably does the same thing, but either way, this is a great way to inject your spooky holiday with a little AWD goodness. We recommend adding a rooster tail of pumpkin seed “gravel” shooting out the back for extra artistic bonus points. That said, if you really wanted to scare your fellow Subaru enthusiasts, maybe a carving of a head gasket would be more appropriate…

References

Subaru WRX


2018 Subaru WRX STI - image 702594

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX STI.


2018 Subaru WRX STI – Driven - image 722054

Read our driven review on the 2018 Subaru WRX STI.

PostHeaderIcon BMW X2

2018 BMW X2

Rumors have been stirring about BMW building an X2 crossover since 2011, but it took some four years to see it in the metal for the first time. The small SUV first hit the streets in October 2015 and resurfaced again in January 2016, heavily camouflaged on both occasions. Later on, a concept car was showcased at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, making the company’s intentions about expanding the X lineup clear as daylight. Come 2017 and the X2 broke cover as the company’s sixth crossover. Essentially a sleeker, coupe-like version of the X1, the X2 competes against the likes of the Audi Q2, which was launched in 2016. It also completes BMW’s lineup of so-called coupe-style crossovers, which already includes the X6 and the X4.

The new compact SUV shares underpinnings with the second-generation X1, which rides on the same UKL platform found in the Mini Cooper and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. As a result, the X2 is front-wheel driven in the absence of xDrive AWD and also borrows the X1’s powertrains, meaning it will cross the pond to the U.S. in similar configurations. A North American launch date has yet to be announced as of October, but the X2 will become available in Europe starting November. Until we find out more about that, let’s have a closer look at the X2 in the review below.

Continue reading to learn out more about the 2018 BMW X2.

Exterior

  • Unique exterior design
  • Brand-new grille for SUVs
  • M Sport trim
  • BMW badges on the C-pillars
  • New tailgate design
  • Same wheelbase as X1
  • Full-LED headlamps
  • Optional 20-inch wheels
  • Exotic Galvanic Gold paint

2018 BMW X2 - image 740705
“While its name suggests it is part of the same range as the X4 and X6, the X2 is significantly different design-wise”

While its name suggests it is part of the same range as the X4 and X6, the X2 is significantly different design-wise. When BMW first announced the X2, many enthusiasts, us included, expected it to be a coupe version of the X1, or what the X6 is in relation to the X5. But no, the X2 doesn’t a raked roofline. Sure, it’s decidedly sportier than the X1, but it doesn’t quite fit in with the X4 and the X6. It kinda stands out on its own in the lineup, and this is a good thing for BMW, a company that adopted the “same sausage, different lengths” strategy for the majority of its vehicles in recent years.

It also sports a few design features of its own. While the headlamps are shared with the X1, the grille and the bumper are unique to this nameplate. Unlike other X SUVs, the X2 grille is wider at the base than at the top, a first for a BMW. It’s not yet clear whether this new design will make it on other BMW crossovers, but it gives the X2 a broader, more distinctive appearance. Down below, BMW ditched the usual horizontal side vents for triangular cutouts. In addition, the center vent is rectangular instead of trapezoidal, which further enhances the X2’s unique look.


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“While the headlamps are shared with the X1, the grille and the bumper are unique to this nameplate ”

The profile remains familiar compared to the X1, but there are a few changes worth mentioning. There are less creases on the lower doors, more cladding on and above the side skirts, and a new roofline and side window configuration. While the X1 comes with the traditional rear quarter windows behind the rear doors, the X2 has plain C-pillars. Combined with the slightly raked roof, it provides a sleeker profile, but it’s not as sporty looking (or hunchback?) as the X4. As a somewhat exotic feature, the X2 is the first X model to have BMW roundels on the C-pillars.

The X2 has a unique design around back as well. The taillights are the first the stand out. Although just as large as the ones seen on other X models, they look sleeker and they get wider in the lower area instead of the top. The tailgate is also neatly integrated into the body thanks to a lower crease that separate the badges from the upper section. The bumper is taller too and unlike other X models it includes the license plate recess.

Overall, the X2 is BMW’s first unique design since the i3 and i8.


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“The X2 is the first X model to have BMW roundels on the C-pillars ”

In terms of size, the X2 is only 0.78 inches shorter than the X1, while the wheelbase is identical. On the other hand, it stands 2.75 inches lower than the X1. BMW says that the X2 has a drag coefficient of only 0.28, which is a big achievement for a crossover.

Moving over to features, there are four equipment trims. Full-LED headlamps are standard on every model but the base SE. On top of getting LED lamps, the M Sport and M Sport X versions are available with 20-inch wheels, an exclusive feature in the segment. As standard, both models are fitted with 19-inch wheels, while the SE uses 17-inch V-Spoke style rims.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740839

The trims are set apart by different cladding too. The SE and Sport models have black trim around the wheel arches and in the bumpers, while the M Sport X, shown in the photos above, use Frozen Grey inserts. On the SE and Sport models, the rear bumper is finished in the body color and matte black. The M Sport models feature Dark Shadow metallic, while the M Sport X has a bespoke diffuser insert in Frozen Grey for a stronger contrast. Every model can be specified in BMW’s new Galvanic Gold paint, a rather exotic option for this niche.

COMPETING DESIGNS


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2017 Audi Q2 - image 667919

The X2’s main competitor is the Audi Q2, which is already available in showrooms as the pioneering vehicle of this new niche. Although it has most of the trademark Audi features we’re familiar with, the Q2 brought quite a few new styling cues to the market. For starters, it the first Audi crossover that strays from the Q7. While the Q5 and Q3 are mostly shrunken variations of the Q7, the Q2 adopted a somewhat different design. Up front, the “singleframe” grille has a more squared-off look, while the headlamps are taller, shorter, and slightly swept back. These features help the Q2 seem a bit more massive than it really is, which is a good thing given its relative car-like size. The big outlets in the bumper add a touch of sportiness to an otherwise boxy front fascia. Things are different than the usual Audi norm around back too. The rear end is made of horizontal lines almost exclusively. It’s essentially a three-tier design layout, with rear glass and roof spoiler assembly stacked on top of the fascia and the bumper seamlessly. Only the taillights stand out thanks to their almost square design — which is opposed to the thin and wide units seen on other Audis. From the sides, the Q2 looks like a compact hatchback on stilts, but the sloping roof, the missing quarter window and the silver-painted C-pillar set it apart from any other Audi on the market.

Audi Q2 BMW X2
Wheelbase (Inches) 102.1 TBA
Length (Inches) 165.0 TBA
Width (Inches) 79.09 TBA
Height (Inches) 59.37 TBA

Interior

  • Interior borrowed from X1
  • Horizontal styling cues
  • Modern looks
  • Contrast stitching all over the place
  • New Dakota leather in Magma Red
  • Micro Hexagon fabric
  • Oak grain veneer
  • 16.6-cubic-feet trunk
  • 6.5-inch touchscreen

2018 BMW X2 - image 740771
“While the exterior is unique in the X lineup, the interior of the X2 is identical to the X1 ”

While the exterior is unique in the X lineup, the interior of the X2 is identical to the X1. This doesn’t come as a surprise though given that BMW, much like any other carmaker, wants to keep development costs as low as possible. Of course, it also has to do with the fact that the two crossovers have identical wheelbases.

So if you’ve already seen the X1, you’ve basically seen the X2 as well. The good news is that the X1 is relatively new, having been redesigned in 2015. The layout is pretty much standard for modern BMWs, with horizontal lines used on the dashboard and the door panels. The A/C vents have a similar orientation, as do the control panels in the center stack. The purpose of this configuration is to make the cabin seems spacious, but we must not forget that the X2 is after all a compact vehicle, so it’s not as comfortable as the X5.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740756
“The layout is pretty much standard for modern BMWs, with horizontal lines used on the dashboard ”

The good news is that contrast stitching on the dashboard, center console, and the seats is included as standard, giving the cabin a premium look. While the base model has fabric upholstery, the M Sport version comes with fabric and Alcantara. If you want leather in the standard package, you need to get the range-topping M Sport X variant. Fancier options include new Dakota leather in Magma Red and Micro Hexagon fabric with yellow stitching, as seen in the photos above.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740767

Trim finisher options are also varied and include high-gloss black, aluminium, and matte oak grain veneer. There’s also an optional lighting package with orange, lilac, mint, bronze, blue and white ambient lighting. If natural light and sun is your thing, you can opt for a panoramic roof with a tilting and sliding front section.

Trunk space is rated at 470 liters (16.6 cubic feet), which is an extra 65 liters (2.3 cubic feet) compared to the Audi Q2. No info on luggage room with the rear seats folded flat, but it’s safe to assume that X2 will offer at least 1,000 liters (35.3 cubic feet).


2018 BMW X2 - image 740823
“Trunk space is rated at 16.6 cubic feet, an extra 2.3 cubic feet compared to the Audi Q2”

As far as infotainment and technology goes, the 6.5 inch touchscreen for the iDrive with navigation system is standard. Optionally, you can get the full-color BMW Head-Up Display, which projects all important driving information and assistance system readouts onto the windscreen, in high resolution.

Speaking of assistance systems, the optional Driving Assistant, included in the Drive Pack, adds Lane Departure Warning, Speed Limit Info with No Passing Info display, anti-dazzle High Beam Assistant, as well as Collision Warning and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function. As an upgrade to the Driver Pack, the Driving Assistant Plus also features the Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function. This feature maintains a constant speed between 19 and 87 mph, as selected by the driver, and a safe distance to vehicles traveling ahead.

There’s also Traffic Jam Assistant, which takes over both proximity control and lane-keeping tasks from the driver at speeds of up to 37 mph. But while it uses steering assistance to keep the car in the middle of its lane, the driver needs to have at least one hand on the steering wheel for the system to work. Rear Park Distance Control and the rear-view camera are standard.

THE COMPETITION


2018 BMW X2 - image 740817

2017 Audi Q2 - image 667684

I don’t know about you, but when I look inside the Q2 I see the A3 hatchback. Sure, the steering wheel looks a bit more modern, the dashboard trim is thicker, and the door panels have been revised, but the instrument cluster, the center console, and the round A/C nozzles on the dashboard are clearly taken from the A3. That’s not to say that the Q2 looks old and its technology is dated, but I thank that its original exterior deserved a more unique cabin. And needless to say, if I had the option to choose between an A3- or Q3-inspired interior, I would’ve preferred the latter. But despite being just a rehashed A3 styling-wise, the Q2 is quite fresh when it comes to technology and features. The crossover utilizes Audi’s current fully digital instrument cluster, with a 12.3-inch screen that is similar to the one seen in the TT and R8. The configurable display offers two main views — one with large speedometer and tachometer gauges toward the center and one with the two gauges off to the sides with the entertainment or maps screens displayed between them. However, this cool screen is optional, with the entry-level model getting the analog cluster. Standard features include a seven-inch infotainment screen atop the dashboard (linked to a rotary dial near the gear lever), Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth, and USB. Navigation is optional on less expensive trims, as is the Bang & Olufsen sound system.

As far as space and practicality go, the Q2 is on par with the Q3 up front, offering similar legroom, headroom, and shoulder room for the driver and passenger. In the back, the Q2 isn’t as roomy, but there’s decent space and headroom for two adults. Being almost five inches shorter than the A3 hatchback, the crossover might not be very comfortable for tall adults during long journeys. Trunk space is rated at 405 liters (14.3 cubic feet), which is some 50 liters (1.7 cubic feet) more than you find in a modern hatchback. With the rear seats folded flat, it increases to 1,050 liters (37 cubic feet).

Drivetrain

  • Same drivetrains as X1
  • Gasoline and diesel engines
  • 2.0-liter diesel with standard AWD
  • Optional AWD for other models
  • xDrive20d with 190 horsepower
  • 0 to 62 mph in less than eight seconds
  • Hill Descent Control
  • Sport driving mode
  • Possible X2 M in the future

2018 BMW X2 - image 740832
“The small crossover will make its market debut in xDrive20d form”

As speculated from the very beginning, the X2 will borrow its engines from the X1. The small crossover will make its market debut in xDrive20d form, which comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder under the hood. The turbodiesel mill is rated at 190 horsepower 295 pound-feet of torque, which is identical to its X1 counterpart. Charging from 0 to 62 mph takes 7.7 seconds, while fuel consumption is estimated at 61.4 mpg on the British cycle. CO2 emissions are as low as 121 g/km, a competitive figure in this class.

More variants will be launched in 2018, including the gasoline X2 sDrive20i and the diesel X2 sDrive18d and X2 xDrive18d. The gas model will use a 2.0-liter four-pot rated at 189 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, but as it turns out it won’t get an all-wheel drive versions. The sDrive18d will also feature a 2.0-liter four-banger, but tuned to deliver 148 horses and 243 pound-feet. Unlike the gas model, this diesel will have optional all-wheel drive.


2018 BMW X2 - image 740840
“More variants will be launched in 2018, including the gasoline X2 sDrive20i and the diesel X2 sDrive18d and X2 xDrive18d”

The X2 also benefits from Hill Descent Control, which enables to to automatically maintain a desired speed on steep descents by taking care of brake control for the driver, who can focus on steering only. The crossover is also equipped with the Driving Experience Control switch, allowing the driver to choose between the default Comfort mode, the efficiency-enhancing Eco Pro mode and Sport mode. The latter setup gives the car even more dynamic steering and drivetrain responses. If the optional Dynamic Damper Control is added, the car’s suspension can be adjusted even more precisely for spirited driving.

There’s no word on when the X2 will get the more powerful xDrive25i and xDrive25d versions or even the iPerformance hybrid variant, but all three should be on the table. BMW had nothing to say about a potential X2 M model, but it should arrive right after the X1 M.

COMPETING PERFORMANCE

Just like the X2, the Q2 is available with a wide array of drivetrains in Europe, its main market. The gasoline range begins with the 1.0-liter three cylinder unit rated at 116 PS and 200 Nm of torque (114 horsepower and 148 pound-feet). This engine mates to a six-speed manual standard and a seven-speed DSG optionally and comes in a front-wheel-drive configuration only. Sprinting from 0 to 62 mph takes around 10.5 seconds, while top speed is rated at 118 mph. Next up is the familiar 1.4-liter TFSi, a four-cylinder that’s available with 150 PS and 250 Nm (148 horses and 184 pound-feet). The unit comes standard with FWD and the six-speed manual, but quattro AWD and the seven-speed DSG can be selected from the options list. Depending on specs, hitting 62 mph can take between 8.5 and nine seconds, while top speed is 127 or 129 mph Finally, the 2.0-liter TFSI pumps 190 PS and 320 Nm (187 horses and 236 pound-feet) of twist in the Q2 through a seven-speed DSG and quattro all-wheel drive. Naturally, this version is the quickest, needing only 6.8 ticks to hit 62 mph on its way to a top speed of 136 mph.

“The range-topping model benefits from standard Quattro and automatic transmission and needs only seven seconds to get to 62 mph.”

If you’re a fan of diesels, you get three options too. The base 1.6-liter TDI generates 116 PS and 250 Nm (114 horsepower and 184 pound-feet). Much like the base gas model, FWD and the manual are standard, but the automatic and Quattro can be had as options. Accelerating to 62 mph takes 10.7 seconds, while top speed comes in at 118 mph. Those who want more oomph can get it from the 2.0-liter TDI. This engine comes in two flavors, one that cranks out 150 PS and 340 Nm (148 horses and 251 pound-feet) and one that’s good for 190 PS and 400 Nm (187 horses and 295 pound-feet). The least powerful version uses FWD and the six-speed manual as standard, hits 62 mph in 8.7 seconds, and tops out at 129 mph. The range-topping model benefits from standard Quattro and automatic transmission, needs only seven seconds to get to 62 mph and its top speed is estimated at 135 mph.

Should the Q2 cross the pond to the U.S., you will only get the 2.0-liter TFI version at first. A diesel is likely to follow at some point, but only the range-topping 2.0-liter TDI will be offered.

Audi Q2 1.0 TFSI Audi Q2 1.4 TFSI CoD Audi Q2 1.6 TDI Audi Q2 2.0 TDI Audi Q2 2.0 TDI BMW X1
Engine 1.0-liter three cylinder 1.4-liter inline 4-cylinder 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder diesel 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder diesel 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder diesel 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder
Horsepower 114 HP 148 HP @ 5,000 – 6,000 RPM 116 HP @ 3,250 – 4,000 RPM 148 HP @ 3,500 – 4,000 RPM 187 HP @ 3,500 – 4,000 RPM 228 HP @ 5,000–6,000 RPM
Torque 148 LB-FT 184 LB-FT @ 1,500-3,500 RPM 184 LB-FT @ 1,500-3,200 RPM 250 LB-FT @ 1,750-3,000 RPM 295 LB-FT @ 1,900-3,300 RPM 258 LB-FT @ 1,450–4,500 RPM
Top Speed 118 mph 131 mph 122 mph 131 mph 135.5 mph 131 mph
0-100 km/h (0-62.1 mph) 10.5 seconds 8.5 seconds 10.3 seconds 8.1 seconds 7.3 seconds 6.6 seconds
Curb Weight 2,788 Lbs 2,888 Lbs 3,251 Lbs 3,262 Lbs 3,543 Lbs

Prices


2018 BMW X2 - image 740849

Pricing for the X2, which goes on sale from mid-November 2017, starts from £33,980 in the United Kingdom. BMW has yet to announce available for the U.S. market, but it should cross the pond to North America sometime in 2018. Likely to arrive in sDrive25i and xDrive25i forms, it should retail from around $29,000.

Other Options To Consider

Mercedes-Benz GLA


2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class - image 562371

The GLA was actually designed to compete against the BMX X1 and Audi Q3, but it can be cross-shopped with both the X2 and Q2 due to its hatchback-like body style and sporty profile. Also based on a car, in this case the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the GLA is the company’s smallest crossover to date. Introduced in 2014, it sports the brand’s current and familiar styling language with a big grille and swept back headlamps at the front and large taillights to the rear. It also lacks quarter windows, which makes it similar to the X2 and Q2, but unlike its competitors, the roof line makes it less of a coupe and more of a hatchback on stilts. Drivetrain-wise, there are many options available. The gasoline range includes a 1.6-liter four-cylinder with either 120 horsepower and 148 pound-feet or 154 horses and 184 pound-feet and a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. As far as diesels go, the 1.5-liter engine generates 108 horsepower and 192 pound-feet, while the 2.1-liter oil burner cranks out either 134 horses and 221 pound-feet or 168 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. Finally, the GLA 45 AMG delivers 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of twist from its gas-powered, 2.0-liter four-cylinder for drivers in need of a performance-oriented crossover. U.S. pricing for the GLA starts from $32,850.

Read our full review of the Mercedes-Benz GLA

Nissan Juke


2015 Nissan Juke - image 544650

Granted, the Nissan Juke is not a premium crossover, but if you don’t care about a luxurious interior and fancy tech, this is a great option to consider. Not only one of the first coupe-shaped compact crossovers on the market — it has been around since 2010 — the Juke also has a rather intriguing design, making it unique in just about any company. The drivetrain lineup might not be as diverse, but Nissan offers a 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine in a wide array of output flavors. The base model comes with 93 horsepower and 103 pound-feet, but customers can upgrade to 115 horses and 116 pound-feet. The turbo range begins with 188 horsepower and 177 pound-feet, while the range-topping Nismo version comes with 197 horses and 184 pound-feet. If you want a diesel, there’s the 1.5-liter dCi unit good for 109 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Needless to say, it’s not the most powerful crossover out there, but it’s the most affordable, retailing from $20,250 in the U.S.

Read our full review of the Nissan Juke.

Conclusion


2018 BMW X2 - image 740853

Though I’m no big fan of the X4 and the X6, which I find rather ugly and useless (albeit attractively powerful), the X2 has everything it needs to become an important member of BMW’s SUV lineup. Smaller than the X4 and X6, the X2 is significantly more affordable, which will bring new customers to BMW dealerships, especially enthusiasts who can’t afford the bigger SUVs and drivers who simply want a city crossover with sporty looks. With the X2, and the upcoming X7, BMW’s circle of X-badged SUVs will finally be complete.

  • Leave it
    • Yet another useless small crossover?
    • Not the prettiest BMW out there
    • No M version anytime soon

References

BMW X2


BMW X2 Arrives In Paris In Concept Form - image 690239

Read our full review of the 2016 BMW X2 Concept.

BMW X4


2015 BMW X4 - image 545240

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X4.

BMW X6


2015 BMW X6 - image 555202

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW X6.

BMW X2 Concept


2016 BMW X2 Concept - image 690610

2016 BMW X2 Concept - image 690611
“"The BMW Concept X2 combines the fast-moving body language and low-slung proportions of a coupe with the robust construction of an X model." – Karim Habib, Head of BMW Design”

Check out our full review of the BMW X2 Concept.

Spy Shots

October 10, 2017 – BMW X2 caught wearing no camouflage


2018 BMW X2 - image 737587

2018 BMW X2 - image 737592

October 6, 2017 – BMW X2 caught testing in Munich


2018 BMW X2 - image 736646

2018 BMW X2 - image 736652

June 7, 2017 – BMW X2 reveals more of its front end


2018 BMW X2 - image 719291

2018 BMW X2 - image 719293

December 13, 2016 – BMW X2 Goes Winter Testing


2018 BMW X2 - image 698032

2018 BMW X2 - image 698033

November 15, 2015 – BMW X2 caught testing close to the BMW development center in Munich


2018 BMW X2 - image 695470

2018 BMW X2 - image 695473

January 18, 2016 – BMW X2 caught testing in the snow


2018 BMW X2 - image 662379

2018 BMW X2 - image 662384

November 6, 2015 – BMW X2 testing on the streets of Munich


2018 BMW X2 - image 654499

2018 BMW X2 - image 654500

Updated History

Updated 10/06/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW X2 out for a new testing session on the streets of Berlin.

Updated 06/07/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW X2 out for a new testing session – and this time the prototype shows more of its front end. The production version X2 is expected to be unveiled in September at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Updated 11/15/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW X2 out for a new testing session close to the BMW development center in Munich.

Updated 10/10/2016: At the recent 2016 Paris Auto Show we saw the X2 Concept. Based on the concept, we decided to create a rendering for the production version. Check it out and let us know what do you think about it in the comments section below.

Updated 11/16/2015: Based on the recent rumors and speculations, we created a rendering for the upcoming BMW X2. We hope you like it.

Updated 11/06/2015: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming BMW X2 testing on the streets of Munich. The X2 will be offered in both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions, with an M version also being a possibility. BMW will offer both gasoline and diesel engines – borrowed from the X1, with a plug-in version set to arrive at a later date.

PostHeaderIcon The X2 Brings New DNA to the BMW Lineup

BMW’s lineup is ripe with models ranging from little sedans to sports cars to SUVs in any flavor or power denomination you could want. Now, that lineup gets a little bigger thanks to the addition of the BMW X2 – another coupe-shaped SUV that sits near the bottom of the lineup. It’s actually shorter than the X1 and lower than the X1 but carries the same wheelbase. A new grille design is showcased as well, with the X2 being the first model to feature a kidney grille with the bottom being longer than the top. If you recall they are usually symmetrical or longer on top. Needless to say, the X2 looks a lot like some of the other X-models out there, but the slight differences help to set it apart. Oh, and everything but the entry model even gets full LED headlights.

Inside you get a choice of various materials depending on trim level, and you can even get contrast stitching if you wish. Outside of this the interior is pretty much on par with the rest of the models in BMW’s lineup but can be equipped with a cool ambient lighting that offers up a number of different colors including Lilac and Bronze. If you opt for the panoramic roof, the front portion will open up like a traditional sunroof – that’s something you don’t usually see with glass up top. Of course, unless you’re someone who digs burning diesel, you won’t be going after the X2 when it hits dealers in mid-November since the xDrive20d is the only model that will be available at launch. Later one, an xDrive18d will be available as well as a sdrive version of the 20 and 18 in gasoline form – I guess only diesel is good enough for all-wheel drive.

At the end of the day, BMW will ask you to sign over £33,980 or about $45,022 at current exchange rates. For what it’s worth, you’ll get a model that’s good for 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It can hit 62 mph in 7.7 seconds. And with that said, I want to know what your opinion is on the X2. Personally, it seems a little redundant to me – it’s basically a 1 Series with jacked up suspension and pricing, and is nothing more than a pawn to help BMW continue flooding the SUV and Crossover market. Let us know what you think in the comments section below and check out our full review for even more information on the new X2.

References

BMW X2


The X2 Brings New DNA to the BMW Lineup - image 740765

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X2.


2017 BMW 7 Series Individual Black Ice Edition - image 739625

Read more BMW news.

PostHeaderIcon You Can Now Pre-Order The 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL & Here’s All The Details

The online leaks of Jeep Wrangler JL information continue to pour from FCA like wind through a chain-link fence, but the latest news is a doozy. It’s the complete order guide for the early-production 2018 Wrangler Unlimited JL. It gives an unprecedented look at what options are offered, including paint color, engine and transmission combinations, and trim levels. Best of all, as of October 24, anyone can pre-order a four-door Wrangler JL at their local Jeep dealership.

The order guide also confirms Jeep’s slow rollout of certain features. The two-door Wrangler won’t be available at first, the paint choices are limited to five, and the updated 3.6-liter Pentastar is the only engine choice. Those wanting the 2.0-liter Hurricane turbo-four or the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 will have to wait – but not for long. We’ve got all the details below thanks to JLWranglerforums.com, which has been at the forefront of Jeep leaks since information started coming out.

Continue reading for more information.


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 734784
“The order guide shows the four-door Wrangler Unlimited as being available first”

The 2018 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JL is set to debut sometime in November. Most agree it will bow at the L.A. Auto Show, but some say Jeep will steal the spotlight at this years SEMA show. Either way, it won’t be long before we have the full scope of the next-generation Wrangler.

As far as the order guide, it clearly shows the four-door Wrangler Unlimited as being available first. The three main trim levels return, too. They are the Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon. The budget-friendly, luxury-minded, and hard-core off-road trim each come with different options, though all three are powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and have the option for either a manual transmission (likely an updated six-speed) and an automatic transmission (which is all but confirmed to be the ZF eight-speed). Unfortunately, pricing has not been announced yet. Here’s the run-down that follows the order guide.

Wrangler Unlimited Sport


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 738902

Options

  • 17×7.5 Polished Granite Crystal wheels
  • Alpine Premium Audi System
  • Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle
  • Black 3-Piece Hard Top
  • Cold Weather Group
  • Convenience Group
  • Dual Top Group
  • Engine Block Heater
  • Jeep Trail Rated Kit
  • Premium Tan Sunrider Soft Top
  • Safety Group
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Smoker’s Group
  • Technology Group
  • Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group
  • Tubular Side Steps

Mopar Options

  • Mopar All-Weather Floor Mats
  • Mopar High Headliner

Color and Trim Codes

  • Cloth Low-Back Bucket Seats (Black/Heritage Tan)
  • Cloth Low-Back Bucket Seats (Black)

Monotone Paint

  • Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat
  • Black Clear Coat
  • Bright White Clear Coat
  • Firecracker Red Clear Coat
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat

Wrangler Unlimited Sahara


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 734783

Options

  • 18×7.5 Tech Gray Polished Face wheels
  • Alpine Premium Audi System
  • Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle
  • Black 3-Piece Hard Top
  • Body Color 3-Piece Hard Top
  • Cold Weather Group
  • Dual Top Group
  • Electronic Infotainment System Group
  • Engine Block Heater
  • Jeep Trail Rated Kit
  • LED Lighting Group
  • Premium Tan Sunrider Soft Top
  • Remote Start System
  • Safety Group
  • Smoker’s Group
  • Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group

Mopar Options

  • Mopar All-Weather Floor Mats
  • Mopar High Headliner

Color and Trim Codes

  • Leather Trimmed Bucket Seats (Black)
  • Leather Trimmed Bucket Seats (Black/Heritage Tan)
  • Cloth Low-Back Bucket Seats (Black)
  • Cloth Low-Back Bucket Seats (Black/Heritage Tan)

Monotone Paint

  • Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat
  • Black Clear Coat
  • Bright White Clear Coat
  • Firecracker Red Clear Coat
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat

Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 734779
  • 17×7.5 Black Wheels with Polished Lip
  • Alpine Premium Audi System
  • Black 3-Piece Hard Top
  • Body Color 3-Piece Hard Top
  • Body Color Fender Flares
  • Cold Weather Group
  • Dual Top Group
  • Electronic Infotainment System Group
  • Engine Block Heater
  • Jeep Trail Rated Kit
  • LED Lighting Group
  • Premium Tan Sunrider Soft Top
  • Remote Start System
  • Safety Group
  • Smoker’s Group
  • Steel Bumper Group
  • Trailer Tow and HD Electrical Group

Mopar Options

  • Mopar All-Weather Floor Mats
  • Mopar High Headliner

Color and Trim Codes

  • Premium Cloth Low-Back Bucket Seats (Black)
  • Leather Trimmed Bucket Seats (Black)
  • Leather Trimmed Bucket Seats (Black/Heritage Tan)

Monotone Paint

  • Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat
  • Black Clear Coat
  • Bright White Clear Coat
  • Firecracker Red Clear Coat
  • Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat

What We Now Know


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 721199
“The Sport is obviously the most basic model with the least amount of standard features”

Beyond what we’ve already laid out, the options give us a deeper look into what each trim level will be like. The Sport is obviously the most basic model with the least amount of standard features. That’s no surprise. Like with the outgoing Wrangler JK, options like the Convenience Group (which likely includes power windows, power door locks, and heated mirrors with power adjustment) is an optional extra. Things it lacks are optional leather seats, a body-colored hard top, and the LED lighting group.

The Sahara trim has the option of larger wheels finished in a dark gray color, the body-color hard top, the dual-top group (meaning it comes with both the soft and hard tops), the upgraded infotainment system (likely the updated 8.4-inch system), a remote start system on models with the automatic transmission, and the LED lighting group. The interior also gets the option of leather seats.

“As for the Rubicon, the Wrangler’s most hard-core trim level, it comes with smaller, 17-inch wheels with the option of black wheels with polished lips”

As for the Rubicon, the Wrangler’s most hard-core trim level, it comes with smaller, 17-inch wheels with the option of black wheels with polished lips. And along with the body-color hardtop option found on the Sahara, the Rubicon is also available with body-color fender flares. Oddly, this isn’t available on the Sahara as it currently is with the Wrangler JK. Again, things like the infotainment system LED Lighting Group, remote start system, and Cold Weather Group are all available to add.
The Rubicon does come with some unique features, too. Aside from the body-color fender flares, there’s the Steel Bumper Group. This is that steel bumper we’ve seen on several test mules Jeep has been testing and is an updated version of the steel bumper seen on special editions of the outgoing Wrangler JK. The end-caps are removable and it can easily accept a winch within its hollow center.

As for stand-alone options, the Jeep Trail Rated Kid is an off-road recovery kit that includes a couple D-ring shackles, a tow strap, gloves, and a nice carrying case. The engine block heater keeps the engine coolant from freezing in extremely cold climates via a 110-volt plug-in that powers a heater mounted inside the engine block. The Trailer Tow group has provisions for just that, towing a trailer, while the HD Electrical Group is something new. It includes those dash-mounted auxiliary switches and perhaps a high-output alternator.

Conclusion


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 669919
“Jeep has all but debuted the 2018 Wrangler JL in leaked information and scantily camouflaged test mules”

Jeep has all but debuted the 2018 Wrangler JL in leaked information and scantily camouflaged test mules. Our bet is these “leaks” are purposeful, coming straight from Jeep’s marketing department in an effort to drum up awareness for the new Wrangler and to gradually feed massive amounts of information in waves rather than one massive dump on debut day. Either that or Jeep has terrible information security.

The order guide “leak” comes just one week after the Owners Manual and Users Guide found their way onto JLWranglerForums. That leak gave us an unobstructed view of the Wrangler’s new interior, its engine options, towing specs, and how-to information like operation procedures for using every little feature.

And though we’re mostly impressed by the things we’ve seen so far, there are a few items we wish Jeep would include or make optional with the 2018 Wrangler. A factory winch would be a great add for the Rubicon model, even if it was optional. Ram already has a Warn winch included in the Power Wagon, so we know it’s possible. We’d also love to see the dark green and tan seats return to the Sahara trim. These two-tone seats were available with the 1987-1995 Wrangler YJ and the 1997-2006 Wrangler TJ and looked amazing with a tan dashboard. It will be interesting to see what “Heritage Tan” looks like, though the photos we’ve seen so far (specifically in the leaked Users Guide) make it seem like a cool name for a regular tan color.

Still, we are excited about Jeep’s upcoming Wrangler. It’s by far the automaker’s most popular and iconic model. The improved Wrangler JL should only boost sales thanks to its more civilized interior and two extra engine choices.

References

Jeep Wrangler


2018 Jeep Wrangler - image 734781

Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL.


2017 Jeep Wrangler - image 687100

Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car

This week has seen a 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE in my driveway. While there are plenty of interesting aspects to the car, the overarching theme is practicality wrapped in a reserved package. Where most compact sedans use flowy lines and outlandish styling to attract attention, the Jetta remains straight-laced. This no-nonsense approach to styling carries over into the car, making it about as honest as a family sedan can get. For that, I’ve got to give it props.

The Jetta might be labeled a compact sedan, but it offers 94 cubic feet of passenger volume and 16 cubic feet of trunk space. Rear passengers enjoy 38.1 inches of legroom, 37.1 inches of headroom, and 55.2 inches of shoulder room. Though I’m not a tall guy, I had plenty of space sitting behind the driver’s seat set adjusted for me. Comparatively, the 2017 Honda Civic, one of the most popular cars in the segment, has 97.8 cubic feet of passenger volume, an equal amount of rear-seat headroom, 55 inches of rear seat shoulder room, and 37.4 inches of rear legroom.
The Civic sedan is down about one cubic-foot of trunk space, too.

In practice, the Jetta is roomy for four adults. The rear bench can seat three in a pinch, but two is far more comfortable. My five-year-old daughter’s booster seat fits nicely back here, as well, snugly nestled between the side bolster and the seatbelt latch. The seatbelt is easy enough for her to use and buckle by herself. She can even open and close the rear door on her own, making the school pickup line much less stressful. Despite the roomy feel, the Jetta is small enough mom and dad can reach back and touch the kids – either to hand them something or “administer a hand of justice.”

Mom and dad also have plenty of room up front with plenty of storage spots. Best of all, the 2018 Jetta SE comes at a bargain. My tester had no options, preserving its $21,245 MSRP. Volkswagen does tack on $850 for destination and delivery, but that’s a typical price for any new vehicle. The Jetta’s 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is also inexpensive to fuel. The EPA estimates the Jetta with the five-speed manual to get 28 mpg city, an impressive 40 mpg highway, and 33 mpg combined. I averaged right at 33 mpg during the week.

Stay tuned for the full, driven review of the 2018 VW Jetta and be sure to check out my other coverage of the car down below.

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Makes A Good Family Car - image 738484

Read more about it in our 2018 Volkswagen Jetta SE: An Overview.


How The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better - image 738525

Read how the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Proves Simple Is Better.

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