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Archive for the ‘hatchback’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Polo GTI

Volkswagen’s most iconic model after legendary Beetle, the Golf became a performance hatchback all the way back in 1976, only two years after the nameplate was introduced. A popular model since day one, the Golf GTI inspired Volkswagen to design a higher performance version of the smaller Polo too. Although the first Polo GTi didn’t arrive until 1995, the model can trace its roots back to the first-generation G40 version. Following a limited-edition introduction in the 1990s, the GTI has become a regular member of the Polo family, and 2017 brought the latest-generation hatch into the spotlight.

Launched at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, the latest Polo GTI is based on the latest, sixth-generation subcompact, also unveiled in 2017. Built on a new platform, it uses an updated design language based on the latest Golf and a redesigned interior that moves the new Polo into a higher class, closer to the premium market. More importantly, the new GTI gained a 2.0-liter engine instead of the old, 1.8-liter unit. On the flipside, if you were expecting a new Polo GTI with significantly more power, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. But more about that in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Volkswagen Polo GTi.

PostHeaderIcon Quick Highlight – Subaru Impreza Gravel Express

I think at this point, Subaru is well established as one of the primary movers and shakers in the world of rough, rally-tough performance, mostly thanks to the turbocharged, all-four-driven, race-bred WRX. But while this mainstay of the import enthusiast culture first hit U.S. shores in the early 2000’s, older overseas slideways fans have known the joy of boosted Scoobys for much longer. Probably the most famous old school ‘Rex is the wide-hipped, be-winged 22B, a true icon in and of itself. But I’m not here to sing the praises of the 22B, at least not this time around. No, instead I want to raise awareness of something a little… weirder. Say hello to the Gravel Express, a JDM-special WRX rocking two-tone paint, a raised ride height, a giant bull bar on the nose, and a spare wheel on the hatch.

All you really need to know about this thing is right there in the name. Indeed, this odd Impreza is rocking WRX-levels of power from a carryover turbocharged 2.0-liter boxer engine and the traditional high-performance symmetrical AWD system. Unfortunately, Subaru axed the Gravel Express after just one generation, because apparently, this tasty slice of automotive awesomeness just didn’t sell as well as hoped. But the fact it was made at all is reason to celebrate, no?

On these shores, we got the much-less-interesting Impreza Outback Sport, which neglected boost in favor an all-atmosphere 2.2-liter four-cylinder, but the bones are pretty much the same. Your job, dear enthusiast, is to find an old Outback Sport, drop in a turbo 2.0-liter, lift it up, mount a bull bar up front, and put a spare wheel on the hatch. Once your task is complete, let the gravel be your guide…

PostHeaderIcon Honda Urban EV Concept

Honda has finally found its way again – the new Civic and new Accord look amazing and serve their purpose well, and the new Civic Type R is even coming to the U.S. for the first time. Needless to say, Honda is on a roll. Now, with auto show season kicking off, Honda decided to show up to the first big auto show with the Honda Urban EV Concept, a car that showcases Honda’s pride in its history and provides a glimpse at what we can expect from Honda in the future as it begins to transition deeper into the EV market. Basically a modern interpretation of the first-gen Civic (1972 – 1979), it features circular, LED headlights, an illuminated “H” up front, all the looks of the first-gen Civic, and an electric drivetrain that includes a high-density lightweight battery pack. It’s also nearly four inches shorter than the Honda Jazz, so there’s that.

With that in mind, it should be noted that Honda hasn’t released too much information on the concept or the production model that should see the light of day in Europe of 2019. But, if you look at the exterior look, we can say with near certainty that the production model will sport a similar look. The interior will likely find itself toned down a bit, but hey, we’re talking about an affordable vehicle here, so you can’t always have your cake and eat it too. Be that as it may, let’s take a good look at Honda’s newest concept and talk more about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the Honda Urban EV Concept.

PostHeaderIcon Brabus Ultimate E Concept

In the 23 years that it’s been around, Smart has become a staple in urban cities, fulfilling its mission of being a purveyor of affordable compact cars. But like most car brands, Smart has a sporty and aggressive alter ego, though one that we rarely get to see. It just so happened that one such example was presented at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show by noted tuner Brabus. It’s called the Brabus Ultimate E Concept, and it’s an absolute humdinger.

Okay, so I know what you’re thinking. “It’s a Smart ForTwo. ‘Humdinger’ isn’t exactly the kind of word I’d use to describe it.” You’d be right about that, but you’d also be wrong in assuming that the Ultimate E Concept is nothing more than a dressed up ForTwo wearing a Brabus kit. It’s way more than what it appears to be, and we have Brabus and its partner-in-crime in this project, Kreisel Electric, to thank for that. This concept – it really shouldn’t be a concept – represents the pinnacle of what the Smart ForTwo can become if it adopts new technologies and embraces its inner id in the process. Think a 200-horsepower Smart ForTwo is still the stuff of dreams and fantasies? Think again. Smart has come a long way since it started in 1994. I can’t tell for certain if the Brabus Ultimate E Concept is the future, but if it is, then that future just became mighty exciting.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon The 2018 Polo GTI is an Attractive Reminder of Why Volkswagen is King of the Hot Hatch Market

The Volkswagen Polo isn’t exactly a spring chicken, gracing various markets of the world since 1975. In the 47 years the Polo has lived, it’s seen a number of different versions, including the Polo Fun, Polo Soho, Polo Vivo, Polo Dune, and even the funky, jacked up Cross Polo. Come 1995, and the Polo (in Mk3 form) was finally all grown up and was christened with its very first GTI badge, a model that was produced in just 3,000 examples. Since then, the Polo GTI has gotten better and better as it shifted into the Mk4 and Mk5 generations, but come 2017 and Volkswagen was proud to announce the newest, Mk6 Polo GTI– a model that sports GTI-specific bumpers, exclusive 17-inch wheels, large brakes, twin exhaust, sport steering, lowered suspension, and the 2.0-liter from the Golf GTI that has been slightly detuned to 200PS, the most power ever offered by a Polo GTI and the equivalent of 197 horsepower for those of you not on the metric system. 18-inch wheels are also available as an option, and the largest wheel offering in the history of the little hatchback.

On top of all of these GTI extras, the Polo GTI is based on the sixth-generation, 2018 Polo, which means it gets all of the fresh stylings inside and out to go with some standard safety features like front collision detection, blind spot assist, and even automatic emergency stopping. The base model is even available in 14 different exterior colors while the dash inside is customizable with any one of 17 different color options. When you add the extra power, the new styling, the standard safety systems, and the ability to choose from a wide array of different colors inside and out, this is by far the best Polo GTI to date. Let’s give it a quick once over and talk about all the goodness that comes with the sixth-gen GTI before we get to the full review.

PostHeaderIcon Renault Megane R.S. Is Proof that the French Need to Return to America ASAP!

After no fewer than eight years on the market, the third-generation Megane was finally replaced in 2016. The redesign brought a significantly more modern vehicle in showrooms, as well as proof that Renault can deliver pretty cars. Of course, the company’s most recent design language looks appealing on just about any nameplate that uses it, but the Megane is particularly attractive due to its balance, hatchback body style. For more than a decade now, a new Megane was always followed by a redesigned Megane R.S., so it’s far from surprising that Renault brought a new rendition of its performance hatchback at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

With the hot-hatch heavily based on the standard Megane and most R.S. features borrowed from the existing Clio R.S., the new Megane R.S. is far from surprising if you ask me. I mean, it’s just like I imagined it and all the recently launched R.S. features are there. This isn’t a bad thing though. On the contrary, the new Megane R.S. is stunning to look at, and I think it trumps everything else in this segment styling-wise, including the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS. Okay, so maybe the Focus RS is hard to beat, but the Megane R.S. is still cool enough to get us frustrated over the fact that Renaults aren’t available in the United States.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon New Suzuki Swift Puts On Aggressive Suit In Frankfurt

While most Japanese automakers are enjoying success in both the United States and Europe, Suzuki hasn’t been doing particularly well in recent years. But that’s not to say that it hasn’t been trying. The last couple of years brought three brand-new Suzuki vehicles into dealerships — the Ignis, Baleno, and Swift — and the Japanese firm may be on its way to a better future, at least in some markets. Come 2017 and Suzuki is pushing things a bit further with a redesigned version of the Swift Sport.

The higher performance version of the small hatchback broke cover at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, and it’s more appealing than ever. The new Swift design is perfect for the hot hatch treatment, and even though the performance might not be on par with the likes of the Polo GTi, the Swift Sport sure looks like it could outgun the competition. Of course, looks won’t it help it go faster, but it’s a significant progression compared to previous iterations of the Swift Sport. And, it’s worth looking into.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Brabus Goes Electric With The Ultimate E Concept

You know the electric revolution in the auto industry is looking more and more like a real thing when aftermarket tuners, usually the last defenders of traditional gas-powered engines, start to slowly embrace the prospect of tuning electric cars. Brabus isn’t quite there yet, but one of its offerings for the Frankfurt Motor Show points exactly to that kind of future. The model is called the Brabus Ultimate E Concept, and while it does take its roots from the smart ForTwo, this creation is more about what the tuner can do moving forward more than it is a showcase of smart’s expanding portfolio.

To be fair, there are a number of interesting items in the Ultimate E Concept. It’s all dressed up in a swath of fancy aero bits, making it look a lot more dynamic than a run-of-the-mill ForTwo. It even has an eye-catching yellow paint that a Mercedes-AMG GT R would be proud to wear. The real highlight of the concept though is its drivetrain. Don’t go looking for a combustion engine in there because it’s long gone. In its place is a full electric powertrain that Brabus developed in collaboration with Kreisel Electric. The result is a car that can produce 201 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, making it one of the most powerful versions of the smart ForTwo in the world. For a car that’s never been considered exciting, the Brabus’ Ultimate E Concept looks to be one way to inject some life into the little ride.

Continue reading for the full story.

PostHeaderIcon BMW 1 Series

We didn’t get a chance to enjoy the second-generation 1 Series here in the States, but with the introduction of the third-gen model, BMW has decided we are worthy yet again. So far, very little is known about the new 1 Series, but one big factor could be rather detrimental to its success: it’s shifting from a RWD architecture to a FWD architecture. It’s a move that’s surely ruffling some feathers in the Bimmer community. This switch is made possible by UKL platform that debuted in the 2014 Mini Cooper and now underpins the new 1 Series Sedan, 2 Series Active Tourer, and the X1. Outside of this, the new 1 Series will shed its homely exterior design in favor of a more aggressive look with a slightly longer wheelbase than previous models. Rumor also has it BMW is dropping the three-door model, leaving just the five-door hatch to fight against models like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus, among others.

More importantly, however, is the fact that the UKL platform will translate to more space inside for rear seat passengers and cargo. Compared to the Mini Cooper, the new 1 Series will be a bit longer and is even said to be coming back to the U.S. And, to add even more fuel to the fire, the BMW 1M could come back with as much as 360 horsepower on tap – just enough to put the Focus RS and Golf R in their place. But, before we get too far into all of that, let’s take a short walk down memory lane before diving into hints offered by the first round of spy shots.

Update 09/08/2017: It’s been months since we’ve seen the next-gen 1 Series testing on public streets, and it’s finally be spotted again. As it turns out, BMW has been quite busy inching the 1 Series closer to production. Check out the “Spy Shots” section below to learn about what’s new this time around.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2019 BMW 1 Series.

PostHeaderIcon The New 2018 Nissan Leaf Might Be The Best Replacement for the VW TDI

Last night Nissan finally unveiled the all-new 2018 Leaf, and it’s a massive improvement over the old car. The biggest news for EV fans will be the new 150-mile range. That’s nearly double what the original Leaf launched with. It’s even easier on your wallet with a starting price under $30,000, making it nearly $700 cheaper than the current model. But the best improvement is the all-new electric motor. The old car made a useable, but unimpressive 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque. But the new 2018 car makes 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, and that is more amazing than you realize.

Let us put those power numbers into perspective. The Volkswagen 2.0L TDI engine, the best “performance” fuel-economy engine on the market before the Dieselgate scandal destroyed everything, produces 150 horsepower and 238 pounds of twist.

Nissan just made a viable alternative to scorned TDI buyers.

True, the TDI had some other advantages like a massive 600+ mile range before needing to be refueled, but on a pure day-to-day performance perspective, the new Leaf might work. If you bought a TDI to make your daily commute, and you still want something that is good for the environment while providing the same level of thrust, maybe you should call your Nissan Dealer.

Yes, we do know that other alternatives like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 have even more power and performance, but those cars also have much higher price tags. We aren’t sure about you, but we feel like people buying $26k Volkswagen’s might not be able to afford the $38,000 asking price of a Bolt.

But what do you guys think? Is the new Nissan Leaf good enough to be a real competitor in the market now? And if you are a former TDI owner, please let us now, and be sure to give us your thoughts on this new car.

PostHeaderIcon What Makes A Civic Type R?

The entry of the 2017 Honda Civic Type R into the U.S. market is big news – both for Honda fans and the hot hatch segment. The new Type R will only add fuel to the already large flame burning between the Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf R, and Subaru WRX STI. Needless to say, Honda had to bring its A-game. Turning the 10th-generation Civic into competitive hot hatch wouldn’t be an easy task, but the Type R had to perform as good or better to be taken seriously. Well, thanks to time behind the Type R’s wheel, both on the track and bombing down mountain roads, it’s clear Honda has built a worthy rival for its global counterparts.

It all starts with the bones of Honda’s 10th-generation Civic, which debuted back in 2015. Even the base car was designed with a stronger structure for added rigidity, knowing in two years’ time, the Type R would need the extra strength. The same is true for the Civic hatchback, which is new for 2017. But Honda didn’t stop there. Engineers added even more structural adhesives to bind the bodywork together. A stiffer yet lighter suspension with adaptive dampers, bigger wheels, and stickier tires were added, too. And of course, Honda dumped that 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for something with a bit more power – a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 132 more horsepower and 133 pound-feet more torque. Add to that the aggressive yet functional aerodynamic features and heavily bolstered front bucket seats, and the Type R’s pedigree begins to take shape.

Continue reading for more info on the 2017 Honda Civic Type R.

PostHeaderIcon Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept

I suppose we should’ve expected something like this from Mini. Give the company an inch, and it’s more than happy to take a mile. Take the new John Cooper Works GP Concept for example. On the surface, the concept’s objective is pretty simple: pay tribute to its conquest in the Monte Carlo Rally back in 1967. But like everything that Mini does, it’s as interested in simply giving homage to a rally car as it is in making a statement and going above and beyond what’s needed. That attitude gave birth to the Mini Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Kit and the Mini John Cooper Works GP from 2006 and 2012, respectively. Now, Mini’s back with a new randy concept called the John Cooper Works GP Concept, and wouldn’t you know it, it looks positively stunning.

Nobody’s going to ever accuse Mini at being bashful, but even the JCW GP Concept seems to have been done with a simple purpose in mind: get a Cooper JCW and drown it in aerodynamic bits. Even Mini boss Peter Schwarzenbauer describes the JCW GP Concept as “driving fun in its purest form,” and it’s hard to even come up with a reasonable argument otherwise. The end result is a car that can make even the most demented of tuning firms blush with pride, though I suppose getting that kind of reaction is already old hat for Mini. Good to know then that after all these years, the BMW-owned automaker still has what it takes to grab everyone’s attention the way very few of its peers in the business are able to.

Updated 09/18/2017: Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept looked even more aggressive on the Frankfurt floor. Check our gallery for more images from the show.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

PostHeaderIcon Seat Leon Cupra R

The 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show is just around the corner and we’re already getting a steady stream of cars that will be in attendance at the event. One car that has our attention is a hot hatchback from an automaker that normally doesn’t get its share of the spotlight. Prepare yourselves as Seat is looking to take Frankfurt by storm with the new Leon Cupra R, the automaker’s most powerful road car in history.

The Leon Cupra R will be joined by the likes of the Ibiza and the Leon Cupra Evo 17 in Frankfurt, but make no mistake, the Cupra R will be the highlight of Seat’s booth, in large part because of its status as a limited edition model and its significance for the company moving forward. Remember, Seat recently filed trademark applications for a Cupra sub-brand, seemingly separating the model from the entire Seat family in hopes of turning it into a performance sub-brand. I can’t
help but wonder then if the Leon Cupra R is more than just a limited edition hot hatch, but a preview of sorts of what we can expect from the Cupra sub-brand in the event that its separation from Seat does happen. For now, though, our attention should be on the Frankfurt-bound Leon Cupra R. With its credentials, the hot hatch has at least earned its place as one of the most exciting cars to hit the upcoming motor show.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Seat Leon Cupra R.

PostHeaderIcon Everyday Life With the 2017 Honda Civic Type R

Honda’s new Civic Type R is a beast on the track. Its 306 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque are more than enough to push this 3,100-pound car toward speeds anyone besides a pro driver should feel comfortable with. My time with at The Ridge Motorsports Park proved that much. Yet, despite the Civic Type R’s race-bred underpinnings, it’s still a Civic hatchback. That means it should be easy to live with, easy to drive slowly, and easy to throw cargo into. So, how’d it do?

Wonderfully. The Civic Type R still offers a pleasant driving experience around down. The light clutch and short-throw shifter are just as enjoyable on the street as on the track. And despite their heavy bolstering, Honda’s front bucket seats are comfortable to get into and easy to get out of. They remain supportive over a long drive, too. The rear seats aren’t touched in the Type R transformation, so they remain spacious for the Civic’s class, yet do lack a center armrest and air vents.

But the value really arrives when it’s time to haul stuff. The Civic boasts a class-leading 25.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the second- row seat. Fold the 60/40-bench flat, and the Civic Hatch has 46.2 cubic feet of room. The hatchback’s rear opening is wide and tall, allowing for ungainly items like furniture and boxes to easily slide in.

When it comes to storing everyday items like drinks and cell phones, the Civic offers tons of options. The center console is ingeniously designed with a deep container under the armrest. It houses three cup holders – two of which are mounted midway down on a slidable track. The third is way down low, perfect for those Trenta-sized Starbucks drinks. A small storage cubby ahead of the shifter is great for phones and knick-knacks. A cable pass-through lets charging cables run into the lower tier area where Honda locates the USB and 12-volt charge ports. Large door pockets add to the usable (and reachable from behind the wheel) storage space.

On the downside, the Civic Type R rides on 245/30ZR-20 performance wheels and tires. While great on smooth pavement, the 30-series sidewalls offer little cushion from potholes and bumps. This leaves the active dampers with all the work of quelling uneven pavement. Road noise is prevalent, too, imitating mostly from the rear of the interior. Long drives on older pavement might spur on a headache from those sensitive to booming noises. I don’t remember noise being an issue in the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback EX-L Navi I previously tested, so it’s likely a trade-off for the added lightness and stickier rubber needed to make the Type R perform. In truth, these negligible complaints won’t turn away those eager customers. The Type R isn’t trying to pass as a Cadillac, after all.

Thankfully, the firm ride is about the only trade-off for upgrading to the Type R over the standard Civic Hatchback – at least in terms of everyday livability. The big wing and aggressive aero bits might make it a target for speeding tickets. Just ask one of the journalists at this press event…

PostHeaderIcon Flogging The 2017 Honda Civic Type R

It doesn’t get hotter than the 2017 Honda Civic Type R – at least this month. That comes as no surprise since the Type R is just now making its debut in the U.S. after decades of devouring foreign roads in markets worldwide. This performance variant is based on the 10th-generation Civic, a compact car with a pedigree that needs no explanation. Honda wanted me to give the new Type R a swing, so they flew me to Seattle, Washington for some seat time in those heavily bolstered front buckets on winding mountain roads and through all 16 corners of The Ridge Motorsports Park just north of Olympia.

The Civic Type R arrives amidst a raging fight in the hot hatch segment. The Ford Focus RS and its ridiculous powertrain and Drift Mode square up against the dethroned champion, the Volkswagen Golf R and the rally-bred Subaru WRX STI. What these competitors all have in common are four cylinders being force-fed via turbochargers, six-speed manual transmissions, and AWD. Tit for tat, these compact brawlers are mostly equal – save for the Focus RS’ extra horsepower and the Civic Type R’s lack of AWD. Wait, what? Yep, Honda ditched the idea of a heavy, complex, and parasitic AWD system in favor of a lighter curb weight, a limited slip differential, and its dual-axis front MacPherson struts. The result is a 3,100-pound car that hangs with its toughest competitor despite its 44-horsepower, 55-pound-foot disadvantage.

Continue reading for my on-track driving impressions.

PostHeaderIcon MINI Electric Concept

The modern Mini Cooper was launched in 2001, some 42 years after the British firm launched the original model. This time build under BMW Group ownership, the Mini became more of a fashion statement rather than an affordable, people’s car, but this is exactly what turned it into a big hit. Redesigned in 2006 and 2013, the Cooper grew larger and larger and gained more technology with each generation. In 2017, Mini introduced its first hybrid model, the S E Countryman All4, and it’s now looking to launch its first-ever electric car. And it just unveiled the Mini Electric Concept ahead of the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Designed as a preview for a production model that will be introduced in 2019, the Mini Electric Concept arrives almost ten year since Mini built its first EV, the Mini E. More of a demonstration vehicle rather than a production car, the Mini E was produced between 2009 and 2010 in the form of a three-door Cooper. More than 600 cars were deployed in several countries for on-road testing in a project that eventually led to a couple of BMW trial cars and finally the i3. A modern reinterpretation of the Mini E, the Electric Concept moves Mini one step closer to joining the EV market. It’s a bit late to the party, but as they say, better late than never.

Updated 09/19/2017: We added a series of new images taken during the concept’s debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mini Electric Concept.

PostHeaderIcon Honda Civic Type R – Driven

Performance vehicles are pushing the envelope beyond the imagination these days. Insane horsepower numbers and bleeding-edge technology contribute to ridiculous lap times and sub-four-second sprints to 60 mph. But more often than not, these all-out performance machines – think Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type, and Porsche Cayman – are too compromised for daily living and cost a significant chunk of change. But imagine combining the impressive performance of a two-seater coupe with the functionality of a five-door hatchback and a reasonable price. That’s exactly what that hot hatch segment does. And now for the 2017 model year, Honda has launched its all-new Civic Type R. What’s more, Honda is bringing it to America for the first time.

Based on the new 10th-generation Honda Civic, the new Type R adds power, a sophisticated suspension system, and functional aero to the family-friendly Civic hatchback. It’s like having cake and eating it, too. Now, the Civic Type R has some stiff competition. The 350-horsepower Ford Focus RS is the reigning performance king and the Volkswagen Golf R is the grown-up’s idea of a performance-minded hatchback. And if having a hatchback isn’t a priority but hitting the rally circuit is, there’s always the Subaru WRX STI. The Civic Type R sort of carves its own niche in the segment with an outlandish design, heavily bolstered front buckets, and the lowest starting price of the bunch, but mixes it with only 306 horsepower and the lack of all-wheel drive. To find out how the Civic Type R recipe tastes, Honda flew me to Washington State for time on a private racetrack and scenic drives near the Olympic National Forest. Here’s what I found.

Continue reading for the full driven review.

PostHeaderIcon Mazda3

The Mazda3 has been generating solid sales for the Japanese automaker ever since it was introduced in 2003, but it was the third-generation model, launched in 2013, that established the nameplate as a strong competitor in the compact market. Selling more units than ever, the third-gen car received a mild update in 2016, but Mazda is already working on the next-generation model. Not much is known about the fourth-generation version, but Mazda’s North American design director, Julien Montousse, has recently unveiled that its design will borrow styling cues from the gorgeous Mazda RX-Vision concept.

Believed to preview the next-generation Mazda RX-7, the RX-Vision concept is also expected to inspire several vehicles in the company’s lineup in the future. The Mazda3 will become the first model to make use of the concept’s sporty lines and we just created a rendering of how the hatchback model may look like. The new Mazda3 won’t see the light of day until at least 2018, but having seen the company’s evolution in recent years, it’s not too difficult to predict what the next compact will bring to the table. As a result, we also put together a speculative review to go with our new rendering. Keep reading for all the info and make sure you stay tuned for updates.

Updated 09/01/2017: The next-gen Mazda3 was caught testing for the first time and, as you can see from the stickers on the prototype, it will feature Mazda’s new Skyactiv-X engine technology!

Continue reading to learn more about the upcoming Mazda3.

PostHeaderIcon BMW i3

The BMW i3 was introduced in 2013 and was the company’s first zero emissions, mass-produced vehicle. Part of BMW’s then-new sub-brand, BMW i, which also includes the i8 sports car, the i3 was also the first volume production vehicle to feature carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). A five-door hatchback with a 125-kW electric motor, the i3 is available optionally with a range-extending, two-cylinder engine and a small fuel tank. The city car has had great success on the market, ranking third among EVs sold globally from 2014 to 2016. Sales reached 50,000 units in 2016 and surpassed 70,000 examples in 2017, when the i3 became the world’s third best selling electric car. For 2018, BMW rolled out a significant upgrade that adds new styling features and a revised powertrain.

Received with great enthusiasm and praised for its premium appointments — in contrast to many small EVs being rather mundane in this regard — the i3 won several awards in its first year on the market. On the flipside, the German firm received its fair share of criticism for the car’s bumpy ride, high price, and limited practicality. Did BMW fix some of the EV’s issues with this mid-cycle facelift? Join me in the review below to find out.

Continue reading to learn more about the BMW i3.

PostHeaderIcon Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept

Given how rapid the advancements are in smart mobility, it figures that it would only be a matter of time before more and more automakers begin showcasing their cars of the future. We’ve already seen a handful of concepts in the past year, and now Smart is joining the fray with the presentation of the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept.

The Vision EQ Fortwo Concept is, for all intents and purposes, a showcase of the company’s interpretation for the future of car sharing services. It’s not meant to be a personal vehicle so any influence in that regard has been put on the shelves in favor of pushing for advancements in car sharing technology. The results are what you’d expect it to be as the Vision EQ Fortwo Concept really is unlike any concept that smart has introduced in years. It still takes the shape of a concept Fortwo, but in the case of this vehicle, the devil really is in the details, as you will see in the section below. For now, there aren’t any plans to bring the concept up to production, so don’t expect it to suddenly show up at your front door waiting to pick you up. This concept is a preview of a potential future where technologies in car sharing, electrification, and smart mobility all come together as one. If the Smart Vision EQ Fortwo Concept doesn’t get you excited for that kind of future, there’s little reason to expect anything else that will.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

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