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Archive for the ‘Editorial’ Category

PostHeaderIcon The Excessive BMW-ness of the New Supra – Good? Bad? Who Cares?

So after a long wait the all-new Toyota Supra is finally here and over the past few days we have gotten to know it pretty well. And although we knew for years that it was going to be based on the latest BMW Z4, if we’re honest it was a bit of a shock to see how much BMW there is in this car. That is now a source of heated debate among Supra – and BMW – fans, and here’s our two cents.

The main issue with the strong BMW flavor in the new Supra, at least as far as hardcore fans of this model are concerned, is the legendary status of the car. The Supra is an automotive icon, they say, and it has a cult following. It would have been alright if they had given the BMW treatment to a lesser model, say, the GT 86. But picking Supra for this joint venture with the Germans is like casting an A-lister actor in a cheap police drama on RTL. And speaking of the German-Japanese come together, history teaches us that it usually doesn’t end well!

To look at the case purely from an objective point of view, there is absolutely nothing wrong with car makers doing joint stuff. It’s an expensive business making a small-volume sports car these day, and they should be able to use all the help they can get. but the thing is, we reckon Toyota could have done a better job hiding the BMW footprint. If you examine the new Supra, you see that from the very front of the car all the way to the back, there is just too much BMW stuff put blatantly on display.

You open the hood (bonnet) on this car, and at the very beginning you see a big BMW stamped on the radiator housing. Then you look at the German company’s logo and lettering on the hoses and  nuts and bolts. They have had the decency to remove the BMW badge from the in-line six engine, but Supra drivers are the kind of people who know the entire history of the engine in their car. The fact that this engine is not a 2JZ is bad enough, let alone that fact that it’s lifted straight out of a BMW.

But the worst part, for those fanatical Supra fans, is the interior. To a regular onlooker that cabin looks pretty great. The look of it is awesome and the ergonomic design seems spot on. The same goes for the driving position, the material, and the features. But, and this shows a distinct lack of integrity on Toyota’s part, the switchgear, most of the knobs and dials, all the important buttons, the infotainment including its software, and parts of the gauge cluster, even the bloody steering wheel, they are all exactly the same as you find in BMW models. Granted, they have changed the iDrive graphics to show a Supra instead of a BMW. But come on. They could have used GT 86 switches and it would have been better.

Again, those BMW buttons and dials work extremely well and you would happily use them for years and enjoy their excellent design and function. But, I don’t know, it makes the whole inside of the car seem and feel… borrowed. This takes us back to the question posed above. Is it a good thing or a bad thing, this sheer BMW-ness in the new Supra. Well, I guess it depends on where you stand in the car’s fan base. If you are a Supra extremist, then yes, it’s awful. If you are not that much of a hardliner, then you could probably live with it, even though you might never feel hundred percent in love with this mongrel of a car. But the majority of Supra buyers are going to be in the “who cares?” category, and that’s why we reckon the new model is going to be a success.

The post The Excessive BMW-ness of the New Supra – Good? Bad? Who Cares? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Car Awards – Trusty Guide or Misleading Claptrap?

One of the main criticisms people of some intellect direct at car reviews is that they cannot be an objective assessment of the product, because the reviewer’s personal preferences always holds sway over his or her verdict. And that is true, which is why everybody has their own favorite and trusted motoring journalist, and they usually have similar likes and dislikes with said journalist. But by that standard, car awards could also be dismissed as nonsense because, well, they are mostly the opinion of the judges. So are they?

One might say that is not the case because car award juries score the shortlisted cars and the winner is the car with the highest number of points. But if you peel away just one layer, you realize that those scores also reflect, for the most part, the opinion of the juror. Granted, some numbers have to do with tangible, measurable qualities such as legroom or cargo volume. But the same standard is applied to intangible qualities such as design, or the handling. So while one judge may find the soft ride of a Range Rover quite pleasant, another might bash it for negatively affecting the vehicle’s cornering capabilities.

So it is fair to say that car awards are not unbiased, objective measures of how good a car really is. That is almost impossible to measure conclusively, because different people have different tastes and needs. But the issue with car awards, especially really large ones like Car of the Year, goes deeper than that. You see, big awards tend to cater to big audiences. This is probably the main reason that each the world car of the year is some sort of sedan or crossover, and in Europe they always pick a hatchback. They go with the least objectionable choice that would appeal to the largest possible audience, and you end up with some less than savory car presented and highly publicized as the COTY, the best of its kind in the world. They also tend to be slaves to the latest trends, and as we know, trends reverse quite often.

But what is one to do if one is looking for proper buying advice? Should you just ignore all the reviews and award nominations and go with your guts? Not necessarily. Lately, a new trend has established itself on the internet where people – that is, regular car enthusiasts and not opinionated journos – film tours of new vehicles complete with a test drive. They differ from the traditional car reviews in that they rarely give an outright opinion as to whether this feature is good or that one is bad. They just present the fact and give you a first-hand look at all the nooks and crannies of the car. This is the second best thing after a real test drive and provides you with a ton of information on the vehicle you might want to purchase.

So here’s a solution: unless you do have a favorite car reviewer whose opinions you value and has given good advice before, don’t waste time try to find one now. Cars these days have so many specialized tech features that you are bound to come across at least four different opinions on the same piece of equipment if you surf YouTube for five minutes. Instead, watch the unbiased vehicle tours and walk-arounds. Form your own opinion of the design and options, and research the official materials the car maker releases if you need more information.Make your own shortlist of the best cars for you and then go and test drive the top five. This is a surefire way of ending up with the right car for you, and not Mr. Journalist.

The post Car Awards – Trusty Guide or Misleading Claptrap? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon On the Importance of Vehicle Tracking Systems

Back in the old days when cars used keys and locks to provide a modicum of security, thieves only needed a screwdriver and some mechanical aptitude to steal them. Nowadays, though, with the advancement of electronics and all the fancy keyless-remote-proximity stuff we have, you might imagine it is nigh on impossible for an unauthorized person to break into and start a modern car. Well, you are unfortunately badly mistaken. 

If anything, the electronics have made it easier for car jackers to do their thing. It is just that instead of being good with a wrench, they need to know how to work computers. Have a look online, and you can find tons of signal snoopers and remote key copiers. All it takes for a car thief to have your car is for him to wait at a car park, record the code as you press the keyfob or touch the keyless button on the door, and then replicate it using his copier device. And it is not just that. There are ways to exploit modern cars’ passive safety gear. One of the more sinister methods includes lighting a small fire inside the exhaust pipe and then blocking the tailpipe. The car’s onboard computer will mistake this for a fiery crash and immediately unlocks all doors so that, it imagines, the passengers can escape.

All that brings us to the importance of vehicle trackers. These are the next line of defense. Actually, you could think of them as a line of offense against those pesky thieves. A car tracker can take away a lot of anxiety when it come to vehicle security. With these devices you will no longer have to worry where you park your car, or double and triple check if you have locked it. You know that even if the bastards take it, you can easily find it at the touch of a button, provided you have the right system. A proper car tracker should be able to prove real-time GPS tracking, locating and following the vehicle on the map as it moves about. This way you can call the cops and keep them abreast of your car’s location at any second, or if you are worried it might get damaged in the ensuing chase, you can wait until the thieves stop somewhere and then go and steal your car back. That’d be a really cool situation, wouldn’t it?

Besides security, which is the main function of a car tracking system, these devices have other beneficial uses. For instance, a good tracking system should have a fencing system which means you can define an area for it on the map, and it would alert you if the car has gone beyond those boundaries. This is of use for parents who want to make sure their teenage driver doesn’t joy ride on the way to school, and also for fleet managers. The latter can monitor the location of the company’s vehicles and make sure they are not being used for personal purposes. What’s more, a full tracking system with telematics can keep the manager updated on the speed and traffic zones the drivers are taking, and also provide information on the car’s overall condition by sending signals over the same communication platform.

The post On the Importance of Vehicle Tracking Systems appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Car Breakdowns in Movies – An Interesting Study!

Ever since the very first silent, black and white movies, cars have had a prominent role in the Cinema industry. Granted, there are only a few titles where cars sort of have the leading role. But most movies rely on cars in at least a few supporting situations where, if it weren’t for the car connecting the scenes, the whole scenario would have become illogical. Now, as important as cars are in films, there is one typecast role, as it were, for cars that I bet you hadn’t considered before.

We know we hadn’t, until we come across this rather cool infographic from the guys at Halfords Autocentre. They have studied the “vehicle breakdowns in movies” and arrived at some interesting conclusions. Those roles evidently teach us a lot about breakdowns and, consequently, the importance of maintenance. How many times the hero or the heroine could have saved themselves so much trouble if only they had done proper car maintenance?

Without any further ado, let’s check out the infographic:

27 Lessons From 27 Films

27 Lessons From 27 Films

Provided by Halfords Autocentre

So apparently horror movies have the biggest share of car breakdown in the film industry. That makes sense if you think about it. Imagine you are a screen writer with a deadline to finish a script for a horror flick. You are at a loss as to how in the world should your character find himself in some sticky situation. Then it hits you. You can have his car go bang in the middle on the night, on some extra dark road. And he is alone, and he doesn’t know how to fix the car. So he is standing by the car scratching his head, when someone – or something – pounce on him out of the darkness…

You can probably write the rest of the scrip yourself. Joking aside though, the tips included in this infographic helps you avoid many a car trouble if you pay attention.

The post Car Breakdowns in Movies – An Interesting Study! appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon New Lincoln Navigator – The Best Luxury SUV… In the World?

The question mark at the end of the sentence above shows that we are erring on the side of caution. After all, it is a big leap to say something is the best of something in the world, especially if that thing is a Lincoln Navigator. This once darling of the hiphop moguls and footballers has a reputation for being extremely ostentatious and unbelievably crappy to own. But the fact is, the tense of the last sentence’s verb should be past. It had that reputation. The new generation Navigator is something altogether more savory.

So, though cautiously, we are indeed calling the new Navigator the best luxury SUV in the world because it gets almost everything right about being a, well, luxury SUV. What’s more, Lincoln has somehow managed to retain the “cool factor” of the previous generation as well. It is still “hella street” as your local rapping artist would say, but it’s also a nice car to own and live with. More than that, actually. It is an immensely nice car to own. We genuinely want one, and we don’t even like big SUVs.

No motoring journalist worth his or her salt likes big SUVs. Us lot are obsessed with speed and handling and hard rides, and we automatically hate anything that doesn’t have those characteristic. But unlike most journos, we do recognize that the majority of people out there couldn’t care less about G force and drifting and loud exhaust. What they want, above all else, is a comfy ride, luxurious interior, loads of tech, and reasonable efficiency. And yes, a cool image would be a nice bonus. So when we say that the new Navigator gets everything right about being a luxury SUV, we mean that it is all a regular luxury car buyer would want, and then some.

Lets start exploring this giant slab of glitz from the exterior. The Navi is still huge, impressively so, and it doesn’t hide the fact that it still likes a lot of chrome. But whereas the previous models were all sort of second-grade in terms of design, this big boy can manage its heft pretty well. It is like that guy in Game of Thrones. You know, that huge dude who banged that tighty whitey dragon lady in season one and then died? The Navi is like him. It is big, but handsome. That said, it is one of those cars that look better in darker colors. So if you avoid white or blue or silver, you’ll have no problem with the looks of your Navigator.

Still, some might say the Escalade is better looking, and we might agree with them. But then we would usher them into the interior of the Navigator, and here even the most die hard Caddy fans will have to admit, the Lincoln has the game on the lock, as your local rapper would say. Let us take another giant leap and say that even the Range Rover loses to the Navigator in terms of overall interior refinement, features and convenience. We’re not sure about the longevity of Lincoln interiors, but they sure look and feel top notch. The leather, the trims, the speaker grilles,the knobs and buttons, everything is well designed, well placed, and well built. Okay, so the piano black on non-Black Label models is a bit of a sore point, as is some of the fake chrome bits. But the rest of the cabin – especially the incredibly cool seats in the first and second row – is so amazing, you’d easily forgive those niggles.

The same goes for practicality, where Lincoln Navigator blows all the other rivals out of the water. They have put this SUV’s immense size to good use and given it three rows of seats. The first two, as mentioned, are like designer chairs in the business class of some deluxe airliner, complete with dedicated center consoles for each row and an abundance of individual controls.As for the third row, well, it is the best of its kind, hands down. It easily affords enough space even for adults, and seats themselves recline, have cup holders, climate control and charging ports! Wait, there is more. Even with the third row seats up you still have plenty of luggage room. But should you need more, the third row folds flat at the touch of a button. The Navigator has by far the best seating arrangement in any SUV, ever.

Then there is the EcoBoost engine which provides enough grunt to move this ginormous vehicle around with ease, and without breaking the bank with fuel bills. The superb ride is another brilliant aspect of this car, as the technology and connectivity features. You get the latest in terms of, well, everything, but unlike the Range Rover and most other rivals, you don’t need a degree in software engineering to be able to operate the features. And all of this can be had for around a 100 grand. Spec a Range Rover to the same level, if it is possible at all, and you are looking at an extra 50 to 80 grand on top.

But what we like best about the new Lincoln Navigator is the fact that it is not pretending to be two things at the same time, like so many other cars in this class. It doesn’t pretend to have sporting credentials, nor does it try to fool you with useless mild hybrid nonsense. It is just a luxury SUV, and a brilliant one at that, and we love it.

The post New Lincoln Navigator – The Best Luxury SUV… In the World? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon On Genesis and Its Rocky Start as a Brand…

As we have covered in out piece on the brand game in the automotive market, a lot hinges on the weight your brand can carry when it comes to sales. It was on the strength of this well-established marketing fact that a while back Hyundai decided to detach its luxury cars from its own brand and present them under the banner of Genesis – a sub-brand taken from the name of their first true luxury model. But as I’m sure you know, things did not go very smoothly.

Part of the problem was the way Hyundai went about the whole business of separating Genesis from the rest of the lineup. That name was already associated with a production model of some reputation, and so it was (and to some extent still is) confusing to some people. But that was the name they decided to go with, and so they instructed their dealers to launch standalone marketing campaigns for this brand and even make dedicated showrooms – all of that for a brand that makes exclusive, limited volume, and rather pricey models. It made so little sense to most Hyundai dealers, who were used to the high volume regular models form the company, that it resulted in a botched launch for the brand. You kind of felt like they deliberately didn’t want to raise awareness about the brand until the infighting was resolved as to how to promote it.

That aside, we reckon Hyundai’s decision to distance itself from the Genesis models was wrong. It revealed how insecure they still are about the main brand, even though they have come a long, long way since the days when the name Hyundai provoked belly laughs in all automotive circles. We think they should have owned the fact that Hyundai is now making cars as cool and luxurious as the G70 and G80 and G90. Those models should be called the Hyundai Genesis G70 and Hyundai Genesis G90, and not just Genesis G70 and Genesis G90. And if they don’t believe in themselves enough to put their name on their fine products, how can the customers? Instead of reinforcing the brand’s image as the innovative, powerful, and resourceful car maker that Hyundai now is, that move revived and reinforced the old stereotypes.

They should have taken a leaf from Mercedes-Benz book there. Mercedes doesn’t call their AMG model just AMG. They make sure the name and logo are secured in a prominent position even on the stand-alone AMG models. Of course, you might argue that comparing the Mercedes brand to that of Hyundai is ridiculous because the former has a different kind of heft to it. But that fact is, Hyundai Genesis models are really, really great cars. And in order to make people understand and believe that, they should be a little cocky about it. Otherwise, they would launch the brand and put out a couple of models and a couple of years on nobody would no about then… wait a minute, isn’t that exactly what happened?

Now, before you take issue with us stating that Genesis models are as fine as those produced by the celebrated German auto makers, we have to point out that we have based that solely on the value. Just go and check out a G90 and compare it price relative to the kit you get to an S-Class. Things get a lot more interesting when you check out the older models, Hyundai Genesis, and Centennial or Equus. These are reliable, powerful, extremely well-equipped and very reliable luxury saloons, and you can have them for under $20K. Honestly, why would anyone spend 30 or 35 grand on a new mid-size sedan or crossover with barely any equipment, when for under 20 grand you have the Korean S-Class? You would understand a luxury buyer not wanting a Hyundai because of the image. But someone who buys a Ford Focus instead of those Hyundais is completely mad.

And that’s the problem for Hyundai. What they have done with the Genesis brand is create excellent second hand buys for people who can wait two or three years. Today a brand-new G90 costs around $75K, but because it’s a car with no identity, most people prefer to spend that money on a lesser E-Class or 5-Series. That means the G90 will depreciate faster than it accelerates, and a few years down the line you can pick up a low-mileage one for peanuts and enjoy Maybach levels of luxury. Yes, the brand will still be crappy, but hey…

The post On Genesis and Its Rocky Start as a Brand… appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Our Kind of Transition: Aston Martin Vantage AMR

These days there is a lot of talk about transitioning and living one’s truth. And quite frankly, we find it all a bit much. But we have recently come across one transition we have liked a great deal, and that is how the Aston Martin Vantage has stopped lying to itself as to what it is, and become a full-on, snarling, hard-core, naughty sports car. This gender switch, as it were, is now fully established with the introduction of the new Vantage AMR.

We reckon we have Mercedes and their AMG gurus to thank for a lot of the good things happening to Aston at the moment. Ever since they took an active role in planning for them and supplying their cars with the right parts, Aston’s lineup started to make a lot more sense. As far as we can tell, the Germans have instructed the Brits to keep the DB11 a sort of traditional Aston, i.e. a big and comfy grand tourer with a large and fairly lazy engine and the kind of lustrous design that makes you let out a contented sigh of joy every time you see it, while the Vantage is slated to become an aggressive, edgy and exciting sports car.

In order to make that transition take effect, they have injected a healthy dose of testosterone into the baby Aston’s veins. Consequently, the car has a deeper, dirtier voice than before. Its once soft and lovely face is now wearing a permanent frown. And it has swapped all of its nice and sexy curves for bulging muscles and taut tendons. You only have to look at the two models side by side to notice how completely they have eradicated any trace of femininity from the Vantage and replaced it machismo. The same goes for the way the car drives. The previous Vantage was always a half-assed sports car and you got the feeling it was more at home driving around the city center looking at the shops. The new model, well, it doesn’t just turn everything up to eleven, it starts up there.

And now there is the Vantage AMR, which is a bit like a woman transitioning into a man, and then enlisting in the Special Forces. This son of a gun is extra hard-core, as you can tell by the fact that it is a whopping 95kg lighter than the regular version, and boasts a seven-speed manual gearbox. That’s right, a manual. This car is not for sissies, nor does it care much for trends and fashion. It’s just a brutal, bastard of a machine, and it is just fantastic. Yes, yes, the engine is the same AMG 4.0 liter V8 and they haven’t even bothered upping the power (it has the same 510PS/625Nm output). And yes, there is still a lot of Mercedes stuff inside the cabin and in the infotainment system. But who cares? The Vantage AMR certainly doesn’t!

So no, this isn’t a car that would appeal to every one, most certainly not the typical Vantage buyers, the wives of rich men the world over. And neither is the regular version, for that matter. Aston recognizes this, which is why they are only producing 200 units of the Vantage AMR, each priced at £164,995 in the UK, €209,995 in Germany and $204,995 in the USA. 141 of those 200 will be available in either Sabiro Blue, Onyx Black, China Grey or White Stone. The other 59 will be finished in Stirling Green and Lime in celebration of the 60th anniversary since Aston Martin’s triumphant 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans victory with DBR1, and sport a “Vantage 59” emblem.

The post Our Kind of Transition: Aston Martin Vantage AMR appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Porsche Panamera – 10 Years On

2019 marks the tenth anniversary of the Porsche Panamera, one of the weirdest and most interesting cars ever to come out of Germany. On this occasion we want to have a deeper look at this groundbreaking car and see how things have moved on for Panamera over these years. Consider this out homage to the mighty Pana.

We called the Panamera weird and interesting above, words that some people might take an issue with. If you look at the Panamera as a luxury saloon with a goodly amount of power and better handling than most other rivals, then you would struggle to see what’s so special about it. But if take into account the character of the car and what it has to offer, you will see that it is a pretty unique bit of kit. Here’s a sports saloon that doesn’t really comply with the rules of sports saloon making by being way too big and heavy. And although it is build and pitched as a performance sedan, it is a lot more luxurious than the top deluxe options in this class. But above all, the Panamera has class – just loads and loads of class. That, really, is its trump cars – what sets it apart from pretty much everything else out there.

Again, some people might take issue with calling the Porsche Panamera a classy car. They may say the Pana is, and has always been, a hideously ugly car. And they have a point. For some reason Porsche designers seem incapable of coming up with a good looking Panamera. But looks have nothing to do with the prestige of this car. As a proof of this point you can look up the sales figure for the first generation of the Cayenne, a car compared with which the first-gen Panamera is a beauty queen. That rotten egg flew out of the showrooms for precisely the same reason. People didn’t care about the odd shape of the headlights or the featureless body panels. They recognized the Cayenne was a Porsche that was big and in-your-face and let everyone in sight know your life is going rather well. The same goes for the Panamera. Yes, it is a bit of an oddball in terms of aesthetics. But the thing is like a penthouse with wheels.

Truth be told, though, it is not the looks or the class or the sales that makes the Porsche Panamera interesting in out eyes. What we find particularly amazing is this car’s immense range of capabilities. As we said earlier, this enormous four-door saloon with all its luxury features and comfy seats and suspension is a true sports car at heart. It’s amazing how Porsche can pull these things off, but somehow they can arrive at compromises that other car makers seem incapable of. The straight line performance aside, while noting that even the diesel variants are pretty damn quick, the Panamera is also a star in terms of handling. We honestly can’t think of a car with similar size and level of luxury that drives as well. Granted, it’s not a 911. But for what is essentially a road yacht, you can’t really fault it.

And all of that is why the past ten years have been a consecutive success story for the Porsche Panamera. Porsche engineers achieved something truly extraordinary with this model, so much so that we have all forgiven them for dropping the ball in the design department. It is a car desired by one and all. Even those who say they cannot bear to look at it for more than five second want to have one. So cheers, Panamera. Here’s to the next 10, 20, 100 years!

The post Porsche Panamera – 10 Years On appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Why AMG Will Be The Leader of Electrified Performance Segment

The initial excitement about fully electric cars has died down a bit now, and experts and laymen alike agree that electrifying everything that moves out there is nothing more than a pipe dream (at least for the time being). But that doesn’t mean we cannot benefit from the magic of electric power and the good thing it brings to the table. There is the age-old hybrid solution, these days known as electrifying combustion engines, and it is a superb compromise. Specifically, performance cars benefit greatly from this technology, which has given them a new lease of life.

So there is an ongoing battle between car makers to dominate the burgeoning “Electrified Performance” market, and it appears to us that AMG is going to emerge as the leader of the pack. Any analytical mind will arrive to the same conclusion if they examine what the Affalterbach locals have on offer, and compare it to efforts of the rivals. And the best example of this would be the Mercedes-AMG CLS 53, an electrified performance saloon (or four-door coupe) with amazing performance and really good fuel efficiency, at least relative to the aforementioned performance. The system employed in this car, one of the first applications of this tech in a production model, is truly good at its job and things can only get better from here.

The electrified motor in the CLS 53, or EQ Boost in Mercedes parlance, comprises a 3.0 liter 6-cylinder in-line engine and a 48 V on-board electrical system featuring a starter-alternator. It’s a complicated thing, and they are right in not calling it a hybrid outright. But what it result in is what’s quite possibly the best compromise we can get today vis-a-vis speed and consumption. The system delivers an immensely respectable (for a 6-cylinder) 430 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.That may not sound as impressive as the figures provided by the old V8 in the previous CLS 63, but anyone who has sampled that car, and the first-gen CLS 55 AMG, has to admit not only the electrified 53 doesn’t lack behind in the speed department, it sounds and feels just as exciting as those two gas guzzlers with their huge engines.

AMG believes in their 53 series, and rightly so, to the extent that they have ditched the 63 version from many model lineups, reserving it only for the high-end models. This brings us to why we reckon these Germans are going to sit at the top of the charts as regards electrified performance cars. In about two years AMG will release a new electrified version of the AMG GT four-door super saloon with a similar system to what we have in the 53 models, only fatter and more exciting. That car will kick off a new initiative in which all AMG models that come afterwards will be electrified in one way or another.Compare this plan, whichever way you want, to what the rivals have come up with. Namely, consider Porsche’s e-Hybrid models.

The upcoming electrified AMG GT Four-door will go head to head with the Porsche Panamera Turbo S e-Hybrid, which as you know packs a weapons-grade V8 with an electric motor for a total of 680 horsepower. That’s impressive, but the word on the street is, AMG’s top electrified dog will have more than 800 horsepower. If you have so much as laid eyes on the Panamera in the flesh you know that is a huge and heavy barge of a car. Whatever AMG puts in the GT, that car will be lighter than the Porsche. As for the looks, well, the Panamera loses any beauty contest by default, as it has done since day one. So in terms of power, performance, styling and luxury, the AMG has the main rival beat already.

That means Porsche will have to spend a lot of time and money upgrading the still fresh e-Hybrid Panamera, which won’t be easy given what they are putting into the Taycan all-electric sedan. AMG does not have an all-electric plan, probably because they know it is not yet time to have one. It may well come to pass that Porsche find they’ve been barking on the wrong tree, constantly trying to iron out the niggles of the Taycan EV, while AMG runs away with the electrified market.

The post Why AMG Will Be The Leader of Electrified Performance Segment appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon McLaren 720S – The Last Word In Supercar Making

So as you might be aware, this week the McLaren 720S won what is probably the highest accolade in the automotive world. It was named World Performance Car 2019 by the World Car Awards jurors, meaning the experts of the industry believe that it is the best super car in the world right now. And with good reason. This piece is our tribute to this unbelievably amazing machine, and in it we will try to work out where are things headed from here.

When it comes to high-end supercars that cost well over $200K, it usually comes down to taste which of the available models you choose. Granted, you go and check out the performance figures and pour over the options list. But at the end of the day, you follow your heart and get the car that gives you the biggest fizz in your gentleman’s area. And that is how it should be. The genius of the McLaren 720S is that besides being hot enough to give your sausage the biggest fizz it has ever experienced, it is also extremely good at everything it is supposed to do as a performance car.

That is not something that can be said about any of its rivals. Take the Ferrari 812, for instance. That car has the performance to rival the Brit, and some might say it looks better and has a cooler badge which for a lot of people carries a lot more weight than that of the McLaren. But the Fezza is not a balanced car, in that it is way too hot to be really usable and enjoyable. Imagine you have a pizza which is two-thirds full-fat mozzarella. It might sound good on paper, but you can’t eat it without getting sick. That’s the Ferrari recipe. The 720S is a pizza where every ingredient is set just so.

The same is true of the flip side. If you compare the 720S to something like the Porsche 911 Turbo S, again you realize that the Mac has the better compromise. The Porsche puts a premium on usability and practicality to the point that its supercar-ness suffers a great deal. Not to mention it is based on a fairly ordinary sports car. Sure, the Porsche offers awesome performance and can be used everyday. But it lacks the fizz factor you would expect from a car of that caliber.

The McLaren, though, it has the right amount of everything. The looks are super in every way, and yet it is not so low and wide as to be a pain to drive around town. The ride is sporty and tight, but thanks to some engineering witchcraft it is also comfy and soothing. The car has the latest tech features, but they are all easy to use and intuitive. And as for the performance, while the twin-turbo V8 powerplant can make your old chap explode with excitement, it can also be tame enough to practically make the 720S a daily driver.

So it comes as no surprise that the McLaren 720S has won the world car award in its segment. The question is though, the Big Mac seems to be damn near perfect in every way. How can McLaren, or any other super car maker for that matter, improve on this recipe? How can a car be more comfortable, faster, cooler and desirable? A quick gander through the annals of automotive history shows that successors are not always better than predecessors. In their zeal to make the 720S even better in the next generation, McLaren could well end up ruining their perfect car. So enjoy it, if you can, while you can.

The post McLaren 720S – The Last Word In Supercar Making appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Lotus Is Going Electric with the New Type 130

It feels like yesterday when we were discussing the fact that Lotus has not released a new product in years. Little did we know that big things were brewing inside their HQ in Norfolk. They have just announced the near-future release of a brand-new product, and it is very groundbreaking. The new Lotus Type 130 is an all-electric hypercar, the first from Lotus and or British manufacturer. 

So, how do you feel about that? About time they entered the 21st century, or sacrilege? On the one hand, Lotus fans should be chuffed that their beloved brand is finally off its bottom and doing something. On the other, they might not like the idea that the cherished Chapman principles of performance through lightness are being ignored. Well, actually, details are still scarce on the Type 130 and they might well have found a way to produce some featherweight batteries. But based on what we currently know about electric cars, they are pretty hefty things. Granted, they makeup for it with tons of oomph and instantaneous torque. But Lotus is all about lightness and nimbleness. Can those qualities be replicated in the new EV?

One thing that warms the cockles of is the naming itself: Lotus Type 130. The fans know that ever since the Chapman days ‘Type’ nameplate was only give to the sportiest, most hardcore models. These cars always features not just the latest technologies of the day, but also introduced new innovations beyond that. With that in mind, we can safely assume that at least in order to maintain that naming policy and keeping it true they have taken care not to fall in the same trap as other EV super car makers. What we mean by that, most EV super cars are designed for on thing only, and that’s outright speed. They are astonishingly fast in straight line, but not that great around corners. And while it’s okay for, say, Rimac, Lotus cannot swing that.

The words of Lotus’ officials, however, do sound like they are thinking about a clean break with the past:

CEO Phil Popham said: “Type 130 will be the most dynamically accomplished Lotus in our history. It marks a turning point for our brand and is a showcase of what we are capable of and what is to come from Lotus.”

Still, we best wait and check out the Lotus Type 130 at least in prototype form before forming any judgment about it. The car is scheduled to be launched in London later this year. The way it usually goes, it’ll probably take about a year for the first prototypes to become production-worthy, and another year will pass before the first production units are ready to be handed over to the customers. Another significant aspect of this move is that we will probably see more electric Lotus models in the future, especially in the GT segment. So, if you are a Lotus enthusiast, keep an eye on the development. There are interesting things afoot!

The post Lotus Is Going Electric with the New Type 130 appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon New Mid-Engined Corvette Is Coming – What to Expect

So today, and after a long time waiting for a first glimpse, Chevrolet released the first teaser for the all-new and long-anticipated mid-engined Corvette. It’s a video showing the sports-nay-super car in action around New York where it will be making its world debut in July. It’s a momentous car, featuring momentous changes, so the speculation market is quite hot around it and here in this piece we are going to partake of it. 

Let us start with the looks and see what kind of design can be expected from the 2020 mid-engined Corvette. Obviously, the car is still under full camouflage and we can only make out its rough dimensions and overall stance. But those are enough to know the new ‘Vette has graduated from being a mere GT and has entered the realm of true super cars. There is something of the NSX about the overall shape of the car, but we’re sure that’s only superficial and when we see the thing in full glory the looks will be up to the expectations.

Codenamed the C8, the new Corvette will compete with the likes of the Ferrari F8 and it will be a more direct opponent for the 911. Actually, it will be closer to stuff like the GT3 RS rather than the vanilla 911. With a body like that, Chevy is not going to mock about with weak-ass basic versions. The C8, almost certainly, will be offered with big power right from the get-go. What is the point of giving the car a whole new chassis, layout and body if you are not upping its game in terms of performance? One would not be far off reality if one said the new ‘Vette is to take on McLaren products. It certainly looks like it should be capable of doing so.

That said, Chevrolet is probably going to retain the Corvette’s trump card, which is its price. Compared to its European rivals, the ‘Vette has always been a bit of a bargain relative to the performance it offers. So while the new design is fancy, the plastic and fiber glass build will probably still hold true – though with an infusion of carbon in strategic places – and the engines will be close what is currently on offer. There have been a lot of talk about the C8 getting a turbo engine. And it is very likely. But the first models to come out are apparently going to boast a naturally aspirated V8, a tweaked version of the C7’s motor.

Whichever way the mid-engined Corvette goes vis-a-vis looks and power, the one certainty is that it is going to give the old-school fans of the car a big shock. Gone is the long, sloping bonnet that would rise skyward at the slightest touch of the accelerator, and the drifting capabilities of the older models are replaced by precise handling and spot-on road holding. And we’re not sure that’s necessarily a good thing. Sure, the new characteristics will enable the Corvette to compete with its sophisticated European foes in this modern age. But there are still a lot of people who would gladly trade razor-edge handling for the fun and games of the old, crude models. Still, the new ‘Vette might be appealing to those who want a fast and cool mid-engine supercar but cannot afford any of the high-end stuff.

The post New Mid-Engined Corvette Is Coming – What to Expect appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Is Mercedes SL a Goner?

The term has-been is associated with performers who were once leaders of the industry but are now, for all intents of purposes, forgotten. Sadly, that is the best term these days to describe a car with one of the most legendary badges: the Mercedes SL. You can’t be a car guy and not like the SL. But in recent years this model has been on a constant decline in popularity, to the point that a lot of people are now talking its demise.

Part of the reason why the Mercedes SL has suffered such a downfall is due to the changing trends of the automotive world. The simple fact is, customers just aren’t that interested in big, heavy, expensive roadsters. The main things they seem to crave these days seem to include a high driving position, better infotainment, and stronger residual value. The joys of alfresco motoring in a low and wide drop-top with comfy seats and suspension appear to be a thing of the past. So it is not that far-fetched to call the SL an old-fashioned car.

This is most clear when you look at this car’s interior. The sheer number of buttons and knobs on the dashboard, to say nothing of the tiny size of the main screen, is a telltale sign that this car belongs to the yesteryear. And it doesn’t matter one iota that these buttons are actually more convenient to use than the touch stuff, or that the size of the info display is the least distracting among modern cars.

So perhaps that is why the Mercedes SL is widely known these days as an old man’s sports car. They say the old folks prefer the SL precisely because it has big chunky buttons and menus that actually make sense – because the graphics are not blindingly colorful, and because the ride doesn’t break your back. Not that long ago such qualities were counted as brilliant, but not today. These days rough suspensions, hard seats, complicated controls and uncomfortable driving positions are in vogue for young people. Call us crazy, but we reckon there is a degree of S&M to this phenomenon. The old, regular stuff just don’t satisfy the people of the new age.

That said, Mercedes-Benz themselves are also responsible for the miserable state the SL is in sales-wise. This car used to rule its segment over the likes of BMW 6 Series and Jaguar XK. But then Mercedes decided to launch the S-Class Cabrio which trumped the SL with more luxury and two extra seats, and then they went ahead and created the AMG GT and GT Roadster – sports cars compared with which the SL drives like an old barge. It might appear that Mercedes has shot themselves in the foot the way they have formed their new lineup, but really, they don’t care. What they want is sell cars. What do they care if it’s the SL or the AMG GT?

Back to the question, is our beloved Mercedes SL over and done with? Is it going to be consigned to the history books, the same way the new 8 Series killed the BMW 6 Series? Well, all the evidence point to this rather somber fact. Not only that, the same seems to be the case with the SL’s little sister, the SLC (formerly known as the SLK). You probably remember the second generation of that car, a beautiful and – in 55 AMG guise – cool car that even Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t resist buying one. Mercedes replaced that with the massively ugly SLC which is not doing so much better than SL in the market.

So what is one to do if one wants a luxurious, semi-sporty open-top two-seater with a folding hardtop? Unfortunately, one seems to be out of luck. The folding hardtop is going out of fashion. Even the new BMW Z4 has dropped it in favor of a soft top. So the SL’s (and SLC’s) one remaining party piece is not going to help it survive. But don’t despair. Trends are always changing. The SL may get dropped soon, but in a few years, or decades, it could come back stronger than ever – kind of like the grand return of the R230 series in the early 2000s.

The post Is Mercedes SL a Goner? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Is Mercedes SL a Goner?

The term has-been is associated with performers who were once leaders of the industry but are now, for all intents of purposes, forgotten. Sadly, that is the best term these days to describe a car with one of the most legendary badges: the Mercedes SL. You can’t be a car guy and not like the SL. But in recent years this model has been on a constant decline in popularity, to the point that a lot of people are now talking its demise.

Part of the reason why the Mercedes SL has suffered such a downfall is due to the changing trends of the automotive world. The simple fact is, customers just aren’t that interested in big, heavy, expensive roadsters. The main things they seem to crave these days seem to include a high driving position, better infotainment, and stronger residual value. The joys of alfresco motoring in a low and wide drop-top with comfy seats and suspension appear to be a thing of the past. So it is not that far-fetched to call the SL an old-fashioned car.

This is most clear when you look at this car’s interior. The sheer number of buttons and knobs on the dashboard, to say nothing of the tiny size of the main screen, is a telltale sign that this car belongs to the yesteryear. And it doesn’t matter one iota that these buttons are actually more convenient to use than the touch stuff, or that the size of the info display is the least distracting among modern cars.

So perhaps that is why the Mercedes SL is widely known these days as an old man’s sports car. They say the old folks prefer the SL precisely because it has big chunky buttons and menus that actually make sense – because the graphics are not blindingly colorful, and because the ride doesn’t break your back. Not that long ago such qualities were counted as brilliant, but not today. These days rough suspensions, hard seats, complicated controls and uncomfortable driving positions are in vogue for young people. Call us crazy, but we reckon there is a degree of S&M to this phenomenon. The old, regular stuff just don’t satisfy the people of the new age.

That said, Mercedes-Benz themselves are also responsible for the miserable state the SL is in sales-wise. This car used to rule its segment over the likes of BMW 6 Series and Jaguar XK. But then Mercedes decided to launch the S-Class Cabrio which trumped the SL with more luxury and two extra seats, and then they went ahead and created the AMG GT and GT Roadster – sports cars compared with which the SL drives like an old barge. It might appear that Mercedes has shot themselves in the foot the way they have formed their new lineup, but really, they don’t care. What they want is sell cars. What do they care if it’s the SL or the AMG GT?

Back to the question, is our beloved Mercedes SL over and done with? Is it going to be consigned to the history books, the same way the new 8 Series killed the BMW 6 Series? Well, all the evidence point to this rather somber fact. Not only that, the same seems to be the case with the SL’s little sister, the SLC (formerly known as the SLK). You probably remember the second generation of that car, a beautiful and – in 55 AMG guise – cool car that even Jeremy Clarkson couldn’t resist buying one. Mercedes replaced that with the massively ugly SLC which is not doing so much better than SL in the market.

So what is one to do if one wants a luxurious, semi-sporty open-top two-seater with a folding hardtop? Unfortunately, one seems to be out of luck. The folding hardtop is going out of fashion. Even the new BMW Z4 has dropped it in favor of a soft top. So the SL’s (and SLC’s) one remaining party piece is not going to help it survive. But don’t despair. Trends are always changing. The SL may get dropped soon, but in a few years, or decades, it could come back stronger than ever – kind of like the grand return of the R230 series in the early 2000s.

The post Is Mercedes SL a Goner? appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Future of Car Cockpits – All Touch, Little Sense?

The competition among car makers to gain an edge over the rivals is pretty heated right now, and that means they often take gambles with their design and technology. We have witnessed that with car design and motor engineering. But now, it seems, the battle is coming into the cabin. Manufacturers are trying to revolutionize the car cockpit and they all seem to have one idea: making everything touchscreen.

The trouble with revolutionizing the cockpit is that there isn’t much wiggle room here vis-a-vis arrangement and placement. So what designers have collectively decided to do is get rid of all the buttons and try to replace them with screens, voice activation and gesture control. Of these three the first, touchscreen, seem to be the most prominent as those things have already established themselves in the smartphone world and are generally less error prone. But as we will see, they are not entirely faultless, either.

The first real and truly bold move toward touchscreenizing was executed by Tesla who basically crammed all the in-car controls into one giant tablets, and continue to do so in their new models. This, as we have discussed at length before, presents a number of issues even for teenage users who are skilled at fingering glass displays. Have you ever tried to adjust the volume on a touchscreen bar while going 60 miles an hour over a bumpy road? That’s how you have to control most of your Tesla’s functions. We feel we have to reiterate that we are by no means against new technologies. But it’s just a fact that some of those functions are more easily accessible via a big chunky physical button you can operate without taking your eyes off the road, let alone focusing on some pixels in the top right corner of a colorful and distracting display.

Now, Hyundai has looked at that, and decided there is a better way of doing that. They are compromising, as it were, by giving you a large-ish screen in the center, another in the instrument binnacle, and then two smaller ones on the steering wheel. That is what they call the virtual cockpit. The touchscreens replace the touchpads and touch buttons they used from 2016 to 2019, replacing the “traditional” buttons on the previous models. And again, we have to ask, what was the problem with those clicky buttons and rocker switches they used to use? Are these new touchscreen panels more pretty? Well, just look at the picture above. Are they more intuitive to use? No, because actual touch is more intuitive than virtual touch.

We reckon they are doing this because we have come to a point where change, any change, is seen is progress. So they update a design that is perfectly fresh, re-engineer an engine that doesn’t need re-engineering, and throw out those perfectly fine keys and replace them with ugly, silly touchscreens. If they don’t do that, somebody else will and people will think of them as advanced and progressive and brilliant, and buy their products. Here’s the hard, cold fact: the majority of people on this planet aren’t that bright. They are not even reasonably smart. Sadly, it is the will of the multitude that often prevails, and because of that all of us have to put up with rubbish inventions and trends and music and political leaders and …

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PostHeaderIcon Game On: BMW Is Taking Its Electric Cars Mainstream

Almost all of the car manufacturers the world over have now at least one electric vehicle, or some sort of electrification plan, in the pipeline. But really, none have yet come out with a viable lineup of EVs that can challenge the stuff made by the pioneer of this field, Tesla. That might be about to change, though, because BMW is stepping in the field and they are coming heavy. 

Again, it is not exactly news that BMW has an electric vehicle program. Like we said, all automakers have them these days. What sets BMW’s program apart, and what we believe makes it a perfect rival for Tesla and puts above the efforts made by Mercedes-Benz even, is how they are going about implementing it. It has been some years now since BMW launched its “i” products with the i3 and the i8. They were a pair of weirdos when they came out, but BMW kept them there and studied the the real-world problems of electric motoring like no one else. In the case of the i8 the car was a hybrid sports car which will show its research benefits in future sports car programs. But the i3, though itself not an altogether savory car, has played an important role in providing BMW with the technology know-how they are now utilizing in their new offensive.

It’s a multi-prong approach, this offensive, covering some of the most important segments of the market with well-engineered electric cars ready to fight at full chat from day one. BMW took their sweet time over developing these cars, and they were lucky no one beat them to the punch. But that means the new flock of electrified BMW i models that are coming out are going to be superb in their intended role.

So What’s Coming That’s So Hot?

Well, the first onslaught brings with a trio of solely electrically powered models under the i brand. The most important of the bunch, at least as far we’re concerned, is the BMW i4 four-door coupe. Judging by the teaser trailer, this is going to be the first EV by a mass producer worthy of the name that is actually fun to live with. Granted, Tesla Model S is also a cool toy to have, but the Bimmer will be a lot more accessible and a lot less problem-prone because of that engineering prowess we were talking about above. To be produced in Munich from 2021, the i4 will offer stunning performance with a 0 to 100 km/h sprint in a mere 4 seconds and a top speed of over 200 km/h. The range is said to be over 600 kilometers.

Next on the list is the BMW iX3 electric SAV, or crossover in plain English. With a range of over 400 kilometres and the possibility to use DC charging stations with a capacity of 150 kW to charge its battery, the first all-electric SAV is ideally suitable for day-to-day use and long-distance travel. That said, the evidence is not really stacking up as to suggest this bad boy is going to be a looker. BMW has already shown us a taste of this model’s final design, which will be produced for the entire global market by the BMW Brilliance Automotive Joint Venture at the Chinese production location in Shenyang, and it’s pretty ugly. There’s just no other way of saying that.

The more mysterious of the bunch has to be the BMW iNEXT. Pitched as a luxury Sports Activity Vehicle, with a fifth-generation electric drive unit and systems for highly automated driving, this car is the more futuristic proposition involved in this phase of the development. We’re sure it is going to be amazing, but details about this one are still pretty speculative and we’re not going to bother with them. For now, we’re just going to be licking our chops waiting for the sexy i4 to be released.

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PostHeaderIcon Is Aston Martin Losing Its Britishness?

Far be it from us to bemoan the forward march of the time and the new trends that come with it. But any person with a little bit of integrity will admit that there are some things about the yesteryear worth preserving. I don’t mean any of the old times’ material things. They were all rubbish. Modern stuff are much better. What I’m talking about here is character, personality, charisma – the intangible stuff. That brings me to Aston Martin and the question I’ve been grappling with since I first laid eyes on their new generation of cars.

Maybe I’m getting old, but to my mind Aston Martins have always been what Winston Churchill would have been like if he were a car. They were large, imposing, a bit ungainly, powerful but flawed, inconvenient at times but utterly lovable. They could be aggravating, but it only made you respect them more. They seemed like they weren’t really in touch with the reality as most others perceived it, but somehow the version they presented was better and more wholesome. And no, they never ever were politically correct, which quite frankly was the main reason to love them. It goes the other way, too. If Aston Martin was a human, it would have been an Esquire of advanced age who drank whisky first thing in the morning, consumed five cigars by noon, ate massive meals with copious amounts of alcohol, and capped off the night with more of the same while engaging you in the most enthralling of conversations. And despite all of this you would have enjoyed his company to any lean and mean Italian, German, or French nobleman.

On that basis, the Astons now are like those astonishingly irritating reality TV stars whose very way of talking is an affront to British refinement and decency. They have grown all dainty and angular and slash-and-dash, which is fair enough. Those are the automotive trends of the day, apparently. The trouble is, where the looks go, the character follows. So whereas in the olden days driving an Aston was, to continue with our Churchillian metaphor, like having a diplomatic chat with a head of the State while lounging on a comfy armchair sipping Brandy and puffing at a hand-rolled Cuban, these days it’s more like hanging around a chip shop with your mates having a loud argument about who would you rather bang, Posh Spice or Jordan. Forgive the crude example, but you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong. Modern Aston Martins, especially the new Vantage and the DBS, have become excellent driver’s cars thanks to German engineering and German parts and German management. But if all you want is a German sports car, why not buy a German sports car? What I’m saying is, we already have that. We already have German sports cars that are sharp and precise and serious. That is why we loved Astons. They weren’t like that. They gave us a sweet and refreshing alternative to that. With the older Astons – and we don’t even mean the magnificent 70s models like the beefy Vantage pictured at the top, but something like the reasonably modern DB9 – you got to experience power and performance in a different way than that propagated by those humorless Germans or dodgy Italians. It was an imperfect, but polished and polite way of doing things, which was quite lovely – the proper British way.

So the answer to the question posed above is sad but resounding yes. Aston is losing its Britishness as fast as it’s trading flair for flamboyancy, character for convenience, purity for popularity and integrity for investment. Well, it’s another dream of ours crushed and tossed into the bin. I don’t like Aston Martin anymore.

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PostHeaderIcon Hyundai Rewrites the Rule Book (Again) with the 2020 Sonata

Granted, Hyundai seems to be putting out a new Sonata almost every other week now. But the latest, newest version, to be released this month in Korea and later the world, is something quite special. This model takes the Sonata a few steps up in the game, making it almost unfair for the other competitors in the affordable sedan segment.

This is not the first time Hyundai has amazed us with their ability to change and improve. Those of you who remember the early Sonatas know what we’re on about. One day we woke up and Hyundai was no longer the maker cheap and crappy sedans you bought because you couldn’t afford anything less horrid. Hiring European designers and enhancing their production methods which resulted in a remarkable boost in quality, Hyundai products gradually became a byword not just for affordability, but reliability and convenience. They invested a lot in getting their act together, but it paid handsomely. The money they made the world over with their fine new sedans and SUVs turned Hyundai-Kia conglomerate into one of the world’s most profitable businesses.

But these Koreans are cleverer than that. Rather than being content with what they had achieved, they are keeping up the momentum by ceaselessly trying to improve their game. The all-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata is the perfect example of this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the current Sonata (relative to the class it competes in) and one could safely say it has at least three more years of juice to give in terms of marketability. But Hyundai, following the recipe that has served them well so far, took the car back to the drawing board and gave it a complete makeover. Not only have they redesigned the whole thing, they have engineered it like a brand-new product and crammed it with some much high-tech stuff, you’d think this is a Genesis and not a Hyundai. They certainly have come a long way, these “industrious little fellas!”

Looking somewhat like the American luxury sedans of the 90s but a lot more refined, the 2020 Sonata features a distinctive new face with Daytime Running Lights, embedded with Hidden Lighting Lamps, complemented with a four-door coupe-like side profile, and a deluxe rear-end. The upper class theme continues inside where you find a brand-new dashboard and steering wheel as well as much improved switch gear and multimedia system. Inside is where the new Sonata shines best, showing off its multitude of technology features. Besides the wide central screen, you also get a digital binnacle with an active monitor which gives a whole new dimension to safety features such as blind spot monitoring. The car is also incredibly smart, available with a smart key system that basically makes the keyfob obsolete and opens and starts the car via your smartphone.



As for the technical highlights and performance numbers, we best wait for the Euro and American-spec versions to come out. The KDM variants usually get engines you see nowhere else in the world. Rest assured, there will be a new hybrid variant, arguably the best variant of the modern Sonatas, with improved economy and power. You look at this car and you have to ask yourself, do you really need more?

The post Hyundai Rewrites the Rule Book (Again) with the 2020 Sonata appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Lister Shows a Viable Way to Preserve Vintage Sports Car Brands

The modern automotive market with all its variety and customization possibilities did bring about one undesirable side effect. IT has made almost impossible for small-time manufacturers to continue doing what they do, which is making specialty, low-volume boutique cars for enthusiasts. It does not make sense business-wise, which is why many of the great sports car brands of the previous centruy have all but disappeared. But there might be a way to save those precious brands, as Lister is showing us.

To your father and grandfather, the name Lister Motor Company is synonymous with some of the most serious racing cars and hardcore sports cars. To your kid, however, the company is known as a Jag tuner. That’s right, Lister has metamorphosed into a tuner of Jaguar products following its take over by father and son team Andrew and Lawrence Whitaker in 2013. While upgrading and garnishing Jaguar products is a far cry from what Lister used to do, at least the brand is still alive, and flushed with cash.

It’s actually better than you think, Lister or any other legendary sports car brand being turned into a tuning shop. You see, custom exotics are in vogue these days, which means by becoming tuners these brands stand a good chance of making some serious money. Then, as a sort of extracurricular activity, as it were, they can channel that money into reviving one of the iconic old models or a completely new one designed from scratch. That is what Lister is supposed to be doing. In their day to day job they are customizing F-Types and F-Paces, but in their free times they are working on stuff you see above, a new, modern and extremely sleek Knobbly.

Speaking of Lister’s souped up Jag, they aren’t half bad, either. The latest creation, the LFT-C, is an open-top version of their take on the F-Type coupe (known as the LFT-666 coupe), and it’s a serious performance machine. Boasting a Lister-tuned and supercharged 666 bhp V8 engine, the LFT-C is able to sprint from nought to 60 miles an hour in just over three seconds and reach a top speed of 205 mph. That is what 666 horsepower can do for you, besides giving your car a cool, sinister air of naughtiness. The first thing you should do upon getting one of these is buying a pair of ‘666’ sticker for the side sills. Whereas the coupe version is limited to 99 units, this open-top version comes in only 10 copies, each priced from £139,000.

In addition to the production LFT-666 and LFT-C models, Lister is also offering wheel and body enhancements for all Jaguar F-Type models worldwide, with kits starting from just £9,750 for the Lister badge, bumper and wheel upgrade. Cars with only the Lister body enhancements will be known as simply the Lister LFT, with no BHP denotation added.





Lawrence Whittaker, CEO of The Lister Motor Company said: “Launching the new LFT-C is a personal triumph, as I have always loved convertible cars, even since my 2nd car, an MG Midget. While we are famous for cars like the Knobbly and the Storm, the LFT series heralds a new era for Lister and continues our historical enhancement of Jaguar drive trains, which dates back to 1957. In 2019, we will see the launch of at least two new cars and have also just opened our new £5m headquarters in Lancashire that will be known as the home of the new Lister. There is lots more to come, and we look forward to sharing more news in the near future.”

The post Lister Shows a Viable Way to Preserve Vintage Sports Car Brands appeared first on Motorward.

PostHeaderIcon Tuning à la Smartphone: Upgrading Cars Via Apps

It goes without saying that these days there aren’t many things one cannot do on one’s phone through the magic of apps. They have apps for anything and everything, including, as it turns out, tuning your car. The new generation of DIY chip tuning makes upgrading the software in your car’s brain as easy as touching a few virtual buttons. 

This no concept, either. One of the best known Ford tuners in the UK, Mountune, has already launched a package for the new Ford Fiesta ST which utilizes their mTune SMARTflash app to make installing the upgrade software on the car’s computer simpler than sending a text. Not only that, the app provides updates for that software, so you if there is a new version of the program that can extract more power out of the engine, you automatically get that just as you get updates for your Instagram app. And it gives you the option of playing with different calibrations to see what works best for you.

Sound interesting, doesn’t it? It sure does, but as with other app-related technologies, there are certain concerns associated with the whole thing. You see, people do all sorts of crazy things with their phones, whether it’s rooting them, or cracking the apps to get them to do more, or to cheat a paid service and use it for free. So how long do you think it’ll be before some nerd decides he knows better than the engineers at Mountune and messes with the codes built into the app? The DIY deal should work well as long as you use the ingredients just as they come from the supplier. But when you start fiddling with it, well, that’s a recipe for disaster.

It is one thing cracking a dating app so you can use their paid features, quite another to try and boost your engine beyond its standard capabilities without doing the necessary engineering work. When Mountune launches a DIY app-based chip tune, you can be sure they have done the homework. So there is only good thing to be gained from it, i.e. more power and torque, more responsiveness, better performance. But if, like so many computer geeks, you change the parameters thinking it is no big deal. In first instance the worst thing that can happen is you wreck your phone. The latter could have catastrophic consequences as regards your safety.

That is why we don’t think this sort of app-based tuning is such a good idea. Sure, it works for Mountune’s Fiesta, but only so far as it is not “tweaked” by Johnny two-wrench in his shed (or rather Johnny Snapdragon in his mom’s basement). Speaking of the professional upgrade, Mountune’s kit for the Mk8 Fiesta ST adds 26PS and 55Nm for a total of 225PS and 340 Nm of torque. This is what you get with the app flash which comes with its own bluetooth OBD dongle and three calibrations: Performance, Stock and Anti-Theft. But the package also includes a high-flow induction kit which makes things more serious.

“With m225 and our innovative new SMARTflash system, owners can safely increase the performance of the Fiesta ST with unprecedented ease,” continued David. “With that almost instantaneous delivery of torque the ST really comes alive, but you also have peace of mind in knowing that this is an engineered upgrade. As with all mountune packages, the m225 has undergone extensive performance and durability testing with all safety parameters retained. This is not just the best upgrade for the Fiesta ST, it is also the most robust.”

The post Tuning à la Smartphone: Upgrading Cars Via Apps appeared first on Motorward.

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