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Archive for the ‘los angeles auto show’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Jeep Gladiator Pickup Truck Leaks Ahead of L.A. Debut

Here it is folks! Jeep’s Wrangler-based pickup truck just leaked online before its official debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Not only we get to see it ahead of time, but we have info and specs too.

The photos and the spec sheet come courtesy of the JeepGladiator forum, which claims they were briefly posted on FCA’s media website today. Luckily, a member managed to download them before they were taken down and we can now see the Gladiator in all its glory. Oh, the sheet also confirms the truck will carry the Gladiator nameplate. While this isn’t surprising, it wasn’t clear whether Jeep wanted to use the Gladiator or Scrambler name.

PostHeaderIcon Next-Gen 2019 Mazda3 Headed for L.A. Debut

After almost six years on the market, the current-generation Mazda3 will retire to make way for a redesigned model. The Japanese firm confirmed the new Mazda3 will make its global debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show and released a new teaser of the car.

Actually, Mazda previewed two vehicles, as the photo includes images of both the sedan and hatchback versions. Not much can be seen in the photo, but it gives us a glimpse of the sedan’s roof and the hatchback’s rear end.

PostHeaderIcon 2019 Lincoln Aviator Headed for L.A. Debut

Thirteen years after departing the mid-size luxury SUV scene, the Lincoln Aviator is all set for its comeback as the production model takes center stage at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The production version’s debut comes eight months after Lincoln introduced the concept version at the New York Auto Show. Once it arrives, the Aviator will slot between the Nautilus and the range-topping Navigator in Lincoln’s SUV lineup.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Set To Drop More Nightshade Lovin’ at The 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show

Toyota is once again rolling out a lineup of special edition Nightshade Editions, this time at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Months after introducing Nightshade SE versions for the 4Runner, Tacoma, and Tundra, the Japanese automaker is giving the Camry sedan and the Highlander SUV the same treatment. Both special edition models will be in attendance in Los Angeles before going on sale in 2019.

PostHeaderIcon The 2020 Jeep Scrambler Teased in Dealer Memo; Confirmation of L.A. Debut

Hype is building for the upcoming Jeep pickup, the first such model to come from the brand in three decades. We’ve pieced together some of the basics from spy shots and rumors, but now we’re getting a much better handle on what to expect thanks to a recently leaked memo sent to FCA dealers, with the really big news including a confirmation that Jeep will pull the sheets on its new pickup at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 28th!

PostHeaderIcon Toyota to Showcase the 2019 Toyota Camry TRD and Avalon TRD in Los Angeles

The Toyota Racing Development division, or TRD, has finally set its sights on Toyota’s Camry and Avalon sedans. The TRD-seasoned sporty versions will drop at the upcoming L.A. Auto Show confirming Toyota’s drive towards performance cars and trucks.

The Avalon and Camry sedans are really good cars in their own way but they never really had any claim to performance. Now, however, with the involvement of TRD, that’s all about to change. Both the mid-size Camry and the full-size Avalon have been peaked at in an announcement released by the Japanese manufacturer which states that the new models will drop at the end of the month.

Keep reading to learn more about the TRD Avalon and Camry

PostHeaderIcon Leaked Photos Forced BMW to Showcase the 2019 8 Series Convertible – Here are the Details

Following news that the BMW 8 Series Convertible would debut at the Los Angeles Auto show, and a very convenient leak of press images just the other day, BMW has decided to showcase the new 8 Series convertible in all its glory. In a nutshell, BMW did it right. It comes with a long list of standard equipment including adaptive LED headlights and a wind deflector that can even be stowed away when not needed. More importantly, that soft-top is electric and can be opened or closed in just 15 seconds and at speeds of up to 31 mph.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus LX Inspiration Series

Lexus is bringing a special edition LX SUV at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Dubbed the “Inspiration Series,” the limited-run LX offers exclusive touches on the exterior to go with a few upgrades in the interior of the SUV. There are no engine upgrades included in the package, though you probably wouldn’t know it based on how much Lexus is asking for the special edition SUV. The Lexus LX Inspiration Series costs a whopping $100,420, which is almost $15,000 more than the base LX that starts at $85,830.

PostHeaderIcon The Wrangler-Based Jeep Scambler Pickup to Debut at the LA Auto Show!

The much-rumored Wrangler-based pickup truck from Jeep is just around the corner. The utility vehicle that will likely mark the return of the Scrambler name after more 30 years will make its global debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show.

PostHeaderIcon Kia’s New SUV Will Be The ’Soul’ Of The Los Angeles Auto Show Next Month

This year, nearly one-third of the cars to be showcased at The Los Angeles Auto Show will have eco-friendly powertrains, and the 2020 Kia Soul is expected to be one of them. We haven’t seen or heard much about the 2020 Soul as the automaker has managed to keep a tight lid on details thus far.

PostHeaderIcon Audi’s Tesla Model S Fighter, the E-Tron GT Will Debut at the L.A. Auto Show

It looks like Audi’s onslaught on Tesla is not going to end anytime soon. After launching the E-Tron and announcing war against Tesla Model X, Audi has now revealed that it will showcase the much anticipated E-Tron GT at the upcoming L.A. Auto Show. This time, the Tesla Model S is the hot target.

PostHeaderIcon BMW 8 Series Convertible

Unveiled for the 2019 model year, the modern BMW 8 Series revives the iconic nameplate that the German firm produced from 1990 to 1999. Unlike its predecessor, the new 8 Series also spawned a convertible version to tackle the drop-top variant of the luxurious Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.

After nearly two decades on the shelf, the BMW 8 Series is back, and it’s once again looking to head the BMW lineup with sporty grand touring luxury as a replacement for the outgoing 6 Series. Revived in both racing and full production form at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Bavarians kicked things off with a hardtop coupe iteration, but this new flagship also spawned a convertible ahead of the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Does it have what it takes to give the S-Class Cabriolet a run for its money?

Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 BMW 8 Series Convertible.

PostHeaderIcon The New Mazda 3 is Inspired by the Kai Concept and Will Debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show!

The fourth-generation Mazda 3 will make its global debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The compact sedan will get its styling cues from the Kai concept, which was showcased at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017.

PostHeaderIcon BMW i8 Roadster

new interior color schemes for the 2019 model year

The world got its first official look at the production-ready BMW i8 hybrid sports car back in 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Critics and enthusiasts alike went gaga over its sci-fi good looks while reveling in its promises of speed and efficiency, and consumers responded by buying over 10,000 examples of the i8 as of November of 2016, making it the best-selling plug-in hybrid sports car in the world. Impressive stuff, no doubt, but now there’s a new model out, and this time, it’s got a bit off the top. This roofless iteration of the Bavarian’s hybrid sports car made its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, and brings with it a few small tweaks to the exterior styling, updated tech in the cabin, and a little extra oomph in the electrified powertrain department as well.

Overall, the updates are pretty minor, refining what’s already there without changing much. And considering the widespread acclaim levied at the i8 in the few short years it’s been on the market, it makes sense to keep things more or less unchanged, right? That said, the hybrid and EV market have seen some mighty impressive advances over the course of that time period, which begs the question – can unlimited headroom keep the i8 feeling fresh for the 2019 model year?

Updated 01/24/2018: We’ve updated this review with all the latest official info straight from BMW!

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 BMW i8 Roadster.

Exterior

  • Looks very similar to the Coupe
  • 3D-printed roof mechanism made from aluminum
  • 16 seconds to close and open fabric top
  • Top down looks even better than the hardtop
  • Aero-optimized exterior
  • Standard 20-inch alloy wheels shave weight
  • New paint options
  • “Roadster” badges help to identify it

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 748144
“The roof operation is electrically assisted, with less than 16 seconds required to open and close it.”

Let’s just jump straight to the headline, shall we?

The biggest, most obvious update for the 2018 model year i8 is the addition of a new Roadster body style, which adds a soft-top roof made from high-grade fabric. The roof operation is electrically assisted, with less than 16 seconds required to open and close it. You can also put it up or down at speeds up to 31 mph. The top is stored in a perpendicular position in the rear of the car, folding down into a “Z” shape when you want extra atmosphere. The folding mechanism is also made from aluminum using new 3D printing technology, which goes well with the i8’s futuristic themes. “This manufacturing method for aluminum components breaks new ground in the automotive industry and allows the topologically optimized bracings to be produced in a geometric form, which would not be possible using conventional casting techniques and ensures an optimal balance between component rigidity and weight,” BMW says.

With the roof up, the Roadster has more or less the same similar profile as the coupe, and incorporates the same styling elements. These include a flat hood and a long roofline. It’s like an inter-dimensional speed wedge, complete with a kidney grille in the nose.

One notable difference can be found in the rear, where the Roadster gets a pair of bulging, curvaceous pillars that run behind the head rests and into the tail in a U-shaped design. The rear deck is flatter and lower on the Roadster compared to the Coupe, undoubtedly to help give it reduced turbulence inside the cabin when the roof is down.


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 763030
“Speaking of roof down, the i8 Roadster looks fantastic with the top dropped. It's like an inter-dimensional speed wedge, complete with a kidney grille in the nose.”

Speaking of roof down, the i8 Roadster looks fantastic with the top dropped. The swoopy, geometric design elements in the profile are emphasized without the extra bit up top, bringing the whole thing lower to the ground in the process. Indeed, none of the coupe’s head-turning capability is lost in the Roadster – in fact, we might go as far as saying the i8 actually looks better as a roadster.

And while it’s certainly a tasty bit of eye candy, the i8’s exterior design is also rather functional, sporting an aero-optimized layout that helps to strike a balance between performance and efficiency. Standout features include an air flap control system, air curtains in the front apron, a flat underbody, molded side skirts, and air ducts placed between the rear lights and roof frame. Air is now redirected through the sides of the car, rather than through the hood and nose, with the atmosphere venting out close to the wheel arches and through to the underbody.


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749485
“The swoopy, geometric design elements in the profile are emphasized without the extra bit up top, bringing the whole thing lower to the ground in the process.”

New for the 2018 model year is a fresh selection of exterior colors, which now include shades like E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic, both of which are offered with accents in a Frozen Grey metallic color.

The Roadster also comes standard with a unique radial-spoke wheel design in a two-tone finish, also available in an optional Jet Black. These rollers measure in at 20 inches in diameter and are made from a lightweight alloy. In fact, they’re so light, each wheel actually shaves off 2.2 pounds compared to the previous i8’s alloy rollers. Buyers get four additional wheel designs (each also measured at 20 inches) for extra customization.

And of course, don’t forget the requisite “Roadster” badges to identify the model for anyone left wondering.

Interior

  • Gullwing doors are kept as is
  • Loses rear bench +2 seating
  • Multiple color combos offered
  • Leather and cloth upholstery options included
  • Includes the latest infotainment gear
  • Standard heads-up display
  • Multiple display modes and connected features

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749488
“The dash layout is a wavy assemblage with multiple layers added in a horizontal fashion, plus a wide center tunnel dividing the left and right seating positions.”

Just like on the Coupe, ingress and egress in the Roadster is aided by a set of attractive gullwing doors, which open up and forward rather than out. Settle into the cockpit, and you’ll find seating for two passengers, as opposed to the 2+2 layout found in the Coupe. Of course, this is due to the extra space needed to put the roof away, leaving the i8 Roadster with rather meager storage space. But that’s to be expected, and we’re not gonna dock points because the tiny rear bench was tossed. In fact, the Roadster still has a few cubbies scattered around for storage, including a 3.5-cubic-foot compartment located between the roof box and the seats, plus a secondary storage space in the rear that provides an additional 4.7 cubic feet.

Hit the button to open the roof, and the rear window will automatically rise 1.9 inches to help cut through the wind and direct it towards the rear, enhancing cabin comfort while reducing turbulence. The driver can tweak the rear window height to better control the air flow as desired.


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 748139
“The dash layout is a wavy assemblage with multiple layers added in a horizontal fashion, plus a wide center tunnel dividing the left and right seating positions.”

Standard spec for the cabin includes a sports steering wheel that’s wrapped in leather and mounted shift paddles for semi-manual gear changes. Behind the wheel is a multi-function instrument display, plus there are standard heated seats with fully electric adjustments. The dash layout is a wavy assemblage with multiple layers added in a horizontal fashion, plus a wide center tunnel dividing the left and right seating positions.

Customers will enjoy the “Giga” interior trim, plus the full-leather upholstery finished in an Ivory White and Black double-color scheme. You can also get the Giga interior trim in Dark Amido. Further options include the “Halo” trim with cloth and leather upholstery in a Carum and Dalbergia color scheme, and a new Tera World Copper trim with cloth and leather upholstery in an Amido and E-Copper color combo. Overall, we think the two-tone options work quite well with the layout and design.

But of course, as you might expect for a spacey hybrid sports car, the infotainment features list is extensive, and includes a host of features from BMW Connected, ConnectedDrive, and 360 Electric. Kicking it off is an 8.8-inch freestanding display, while Navigation system Professional and Driving Assistant both come as standard equipment. Running it all is the iDrive 6.0 operating system, with inputs made by the Touch Controller rotary knob located in the center console. Infotainment navigation is achieved with a tile-like presentation for the various apps and features.


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749457
“As you might expect for a spacey hybrid sports car, the infotainment features list is extensive, and includes a host of features from BMW Connected, ConnectedDrive, and 360 Electric.”

Behind the steering wheel is a set of fully digital multi-function gauges. These will actually change their appearance depending on the mode selected, for example, Sport mode is set in an orange tint with round dials, while Comfort offers up a blue power meter display, and Eco Pro includes an efficiency gauge. You can also keep tabs on the powertrain stats via the Control Display and iDrive menu, which provides an energy flow graphic. You know, just in case you wanna get really nerdy with it.

The infotainment system can also integrate with your smartwatch and smartphone for added functionality, and it provides a variety of connected services, including trip planning, refueling information, trip status notifications via text messages, traffic info, parking info, concierge services, and more.

The i8 Roadster comes with a good deal of standard equipment, with the tunes routed through a Harman Kardon stereo rocking 12 speakers pumping out 360 watts of power. There’s also a standard heads-up display, which, in Sport mode, displays stuff like engine rpm, the current selected gear, and a set of shift lights. On the safety and convenience front, there’s standard cruise control, automatic braking, and surround view cameras, plus frontal collision warning, city collision mitigation, pedestrian detection, park distance control, automatic high beams, speed limit info, and cross traffic alert. Finally, there’s an Intelligent Emergency Call feature that will relay the crash severity and vehicle location in case you really bin it.

Drivetrain

  • Same powertrain and hybrid system as the Coupe
  • Turbocharged three-cylinder engine in the rear
  • Single synchronous electric motor in front
  • Hybrid AWD grip
  • 369 horsepower total, 12 more than before
  • 18 miles of all-electric range
  • 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (0.2 seconds slower than Coupe)
  • 155-mph top speed
  • Braking energy reclamation feature
  • Battery charges in 3 hours from 7.2-kW power supply
  • Multiple drive modes

2015 BMW i8 - image 518243
“While the gas engine drives the rear wheels, a single synchronous electric motor is mounted in the front, sending power and instant torque to the front axle through a two-speed transmission.”

One of the BMW i8’s best party tricks is its ability to provide emission-free driving and silent running on demand, and the Roadster is no different, packing the same BMW eDrive technology, AWD system, and plug-in hybrid powertrain as the Coupe. Behind the seats is a TwinPower Turbo 1.5-liter three-cylinder internal combustion gasoline engine, which makes as much as 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque thanks to features like Valvetronic variable valve timing and direct fuel injection. The ICE’s power is sent to the rear axle through a six-speed Steptronic gearbox.

While the gas engine drives the rear wheels, a single synchronous electric motor is mounted in the front, sending power and instant torque to the front axle through a two-speed transmission. The combo gives the i8 its AWD grip, providing both the high-revving power of a turbo gas engine and the low-end punch of an electric motor.

This time around, BMW updated the powertrain to be more efficient, tweaking the programming to include further driving situations wherein electric power was the exclusive source of motivation. Bimmer says it set it so the gas engine would only be put to use when accelerating hard, with advanced start/stop technology integrated to keep the engine sipping gas at optimal rates. The engineers refined the exhaust note as well – who knew a three-banger could sound so aggressive?


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 748124
“The biggest powertrain updates pertain to the electric side of the equation. The big news is an updated lithium-ion battery, which adds an extra 12 horsepower.”

However, the most important powertrain updates pertain to the electric side of the equation. The big news is an updated lithium-ion battery, which now boasts an increased cell capacity up to 34 Ah from the previous unit’s 20 Ah. Gross energy capacity up is also up, now rated at 11.6 kWh from the previous i8’s 7.1 kWh.

All told, the new cell configuration adds an extra 12 horsepower, bringing the electric motor’s output to 141 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque total. The all-electric range was increased as well, and now offers up to 18 miles of electron-powered go, a 30-percent increase compared to the old model.

Put the ICE and electric motor together, and they yield a total of 369 horsepower, which means that 12 extra horsepower was basically added on top of the old model’s peak output. Impressively, the i8 will also return upwards of 70 MPGe. The 0-to-60 mph sprint clocks in at 4.4 seconds, 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe model, while top speed is rated at a Coupe-matching 155 mph (no word on what it’ll do with the electronic limiter removed).


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 748164
“Put the ICE and electric motor together, and they yield a total of 369 horsepower, which means that 12 extra horsepower was basically added on top of the old model's peak output. Impressively, the i8 will also return upwards of 70 MPGe”

The Roadster can also hit 65 mph using only electric power, or you can press the eDrive button, and the all-electric top speed will be increased to 75 mph. There’s also a variety of different drive modes, such as Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro, each of which should be pretty self-explanatory. If you’re looking for all-electric modes, the selection is limited to Comfort and Eco Pro.

The multiple drive modes also tweak the energy management system. With the hybrid modes, the electric motor provides extra go while also offering energy reclamation under braking and on the overrun. The system is smart too, integrating with the navigation system to switch between gas and electric power as needed for maximum efficiency (for example, electric power is best suited for stop-and-go traffic and downhill sections).

Finally, users can juice up using their BMW-branded i Charging Station. Utilizing a 7.2-kW power supply, the i8 can top off its battery in about 3 hours. Also, if you are registered with the ChargeNow network, you’ll receive “unrestricted access” to any of the various charging stations located across the U.S.

Chassis And Handling

  • Aluminum and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic used throughout
  • Weighs in at 3,513 pounds, just 132 pounds more than the Coupe
  • Standard Dynamic Damper Control

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749469
“Weight saving measures include features like newly designed frame-less gullwing doors that incorporate additional CFRP and an aluminum outer shell. The windscreen frame is also made from CFRP.”

Just like the Coupe, the BMW i8 Roadster utilizes an aluminum chassis and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell, blessing it with high rigidity and a surprisingly low weight. The car’s heft is also evenly distributed front-to-back and mounted as low as possible, thanks primarily to the balanced rear and front locations of the ICE and electric motor respectively, and the central placement of the battery in the car’s underbody.

Additional weight saving measures include features like the newly designed frame-less gullwing doors that now incorporate additional CFRP, plus an aluminum outer shell. The windscreen frame is also made from CFRP, as are the swoopy side skirts. Meanwhile, the drive module, which is comprised of the powertrain, high-voltage battery, and suspension, once again incorporates a good deal of aluminum.


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749478
“Thanks to all the alloys and composites, the i8 Roadster weighs only 3,513 pounds, an increase of 132 pounds compared to the hardtop model.”

Thanks to all the alloys and composites, the i8 Roadster offers the requisite sports car torsional rigidity, all despite the lack of a fixed roof for extra bracing. It’s also surprisingly lightweight, with the curb weight rated at 3,513 pounds, an increase of only 132 pounds compared to the hardtop model. Not bad at all, if you ask us. Typically, drop tops are significantly heavier than their convertible cousins, packing an additional couple hundred pounds in bracing to keep it from folding in on itself when attacking a corner.

The suspension system in place to manage the surprisingly low curb weight includes double wishbones in front and a five-link rear, all of which is made from aluminum. Standard spec tosses in Dynamic Damper Control, while the Roadster model benefits from custom suspension tuning, a specially configured steering system, firmer roll stabilization, and a few changes to the DSC as well.

Pricing


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749473

Sales for the 2018 BMW i8 Roadster kick off in the spring of 2018. Bimmer has yet to announce official pricing information, but considering the 2017 Coupe starts at $143,400, we’d expect the Roadster to ring in at just under $150,000, give or take a few grand.

Competition

Acura NSX Roadster


2014 Acura NSX Roadster
- image 442955

When Acura dropped the second-generation NSX at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, the auto world went wild. Finally, Honda’s legendary nameplate had returned, and it brought with it a host of go-faster technology that placed it at the forefront of hybrid-flavored speed. Making it go is a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6, which is hybridised by no less than three electric motors to produce an impressive 573 horsepower. The 0-to-60 mph sprint is done in a little less than 3 seconds, while top speed is rated at 191 mph. And while there’s no official word that a drop-top is on the way, it just makes sense to offer one, no?

Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Acura NSX Roadster.

Tesla Roadster 2.0


2020 Tesla Roadster - image 746104

While we’re still several years away from seeing this thing out on public roads, the second-generation Tesla Roadster looks to offer some pretty insane competition for the Bimmer. Scratch that – this thing is beyond insane, and deep into plaid territory. The claimed specs are light years ahead of what you get in the Bimmer, with a claimed 0-to-60 mph time of 1.9 seconds and a top speed over 250 mph. Making the go is a three-motor powertrain laying down a Earth-turning 7,376 pound-feet of torque, while all-electric range is pegged at 620 miles per charge. Of course, these are all just unverified claims, so we’ll have to see where the Tesla really lands when it’s finally sold to the public, not to mention where the Bimmer will be in comparison. For now, though, keep an eye out for this one.

Read our full review on the 2020 Tesla Roadster 2.0.

Conclusion


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 749474
“The handful of years between now and the i8's original release date have been a boom time in the hybrid segment, and a lot of what made the i8 so impressive in 2013 doesn't quite spark our interest like it once did.”

At its heart, the 2018 BMW i8 Roadster is a very exciting car. It’s got literally everything offered by the Coupe (except the rear +2 seats, of course), plus a heady dose of extra blue sky on demand. That makes it a fantastic option for those looking into the more eco-friendly options in the high-end roadster market. That much is obvious.

At the same time, though, we have to dock a few points from the Bimmer’s score for it’s lack of upgrades heading into the 2018 model year. When it was first released, the i8 was extremely exciting, offering AWD, sharp styling, solid speed, and a surprising level of efficiency to boot. What’s not to like?

Well, as it turns out, the handful of years between now and the i8’s original release date have been a boom time in the hybrid segment, and a lot of what made the i8 so impressive in 2013 doesn’t quite spark our interest like it once did. Yeah, it still looks great, and yeah, it’s still quick, but were expecting more than an extra 12 horsepower and a few extra miles with the latest update. Just look at rivals like the Acura NSX, which is also an AWD, spacey hybrid sports car, but it’ll simply demolish the Bimmer in the speed department, all while looking equally as good in the styling department. We were hoping for more from the Bavarians.

That said, the Roadster is still a fantastically exciting machine. We’d just wait until the next, more substantial update to pick one up.

  • Leave it
    • * Could be faster
    • * Rivals aren’t slowing down
    • * Loses the rear +2 seats

References

BMW i8


BMW Debuts “New” i8 Coupe and the First i8 Roadster - image 748136

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW i8 Coupe.


2015 BMW i8 - image 522680

Read our full review on the current 2017 BMW i8.


maker logos - image 741745

Read more BMW news.


maker logos - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

Updated History

Updated 07/03/2017: The new i8 Spyder is actually coming! BMW dropped the first teaser video for it!

Updated 05/12/2017: The upcoming BMW i8 Spyder was caught testing one more time, and this time we have the chance to get a closer look.

Updated 02/28/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming i8 Spyder during winter testing in Sweden.

Updated 07/03/2017: The new i8 Spyder is actually coming! BMW dropped the first teaser video for it!

Teaser video

The first official teaser video isn’t much of an actual teaser as it is footage with the camouflaged car we’ve already seen on public roads. However, in this video we can see the i8 Spyder with its doors open, which confirms that it will have butterfly-tipe doors, just like the coupe. This type of door configuration isn’t very common on convertibles, which makes it a pretty big deal.

Spy Shots

May 12, 2017 – BMW i8 Spyder caught up-close and personal


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 716249

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 716252

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 716246

February 28, 2017 – BMW i8 Spyder caught testing in Sweden


2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 707155

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 707161

2019 BMW i8 Roadster - image 707168

PostHeaderIcon Feeling Special: Lambo Unveils Urus at Museum of Art, Ditches Detroit Auto Show

The brand-new Lamborghini Urus, the super SUV that drove almost everyone crazy, made its North American debut in Detroit earlier this week. For a couple of hours or so, because the vehicle was displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art instead of the Detroit Auto Show. Specifically, Lambo made a separate event, invited a few people to see company CEO Stefano Domenicali give a speech, and then took the Urus away, leaving just an orange Huracan on the show floor. Why? Well, maybe it’s because the Italian firm is too special for the Detroit Auto Show.


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This isn’t the first time the Italians have done such a thing. The same thing happened at last year’s Detroit Auto Show, where they set up a separate event for the Aventador Roadster SV and removed the car from Cobo before the visitors were allowed in. When asked by a TopSpeed staffer why the Aventador wasn’t there, a Cobo staff member suggested that perhaps the brand thought it was too special to be there. Well, I agree. We definitely don’t want the new Urus to catch some sort of skin disease from journalists and visitors breathing over it.

Excuse me while I go update my Facebook status to “feeling sick.”

References

Lamborghini Urus


2019 Lamborghini Urus - image 749811

Read our full review on the 2019 Lamborghini Urus.


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PostHeaderIcon Project Redspace

The Earth is teeming with humanity. In 2011, the world population hit a head-spinning 7 billion people, and it’s only getting more crowded – at an accelerating rate, too. Most folks live in and around staggeringly dense urban centers called “megacities,” called as such thanks to population figures that eclipse the 10-million mark. With such incredible numbers of people to serve, transportation systems are at their limit. So what’s the solution? Something like Project Redspace might very well be it. Produced by a Chinese firm and aimed primarily at the Chinese market, the Project Redspace (Redspace as in “Revolutionary Electric Dream Space”) is an all-electric commuter with a unique twist. The driving philosophy behind its creation was to leverage space wherever possible, finding an ideal amalgamation between form and function through inherent adaptability and customization, all while leaving the door open for the integration of forthcoming autonomous systems. Introduced in concept form at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this very well could be the transportation solution for future U.S. city dwellers.

While the Project Redspace certainly doesn’t look like anything we’ve seen before, that’s kind of the point, or at least half of it. Spearheading the project is Chris Bangle, a noted American car designer with a resume that includes a stint at BMW and Fiat. Backed by Chinese partners from CHTC Motors (China Hi-Tech New Energy Automobile Co., Ltd), Bangle says that he managed to design “a space that decided to become a car,” and he’s deadest on meeting the needs of the traveling public of the future. While this might be a prototype model, a production iteration is reportedly just years away. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2020 Project Redspace.

Exterior

– * Unique exterior features

– * Boxy, yet angular, yet organic

– * Forward-leaning windshield helps keep interior cool

– * Offers a roof around the perimeter

– * Sliding door design

– * Very small exterior dimensions

– * Flower pedal wheel cover design


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“The Project Redspace is utterly unique, blending a variety of elements to create something unlike anything we’ve seen before”

The Project Redspace is utterly unique, blending a variety of elements to create something unlike anything we’ve seen before. It’s boxy, no doubt about it, but at the same time its got tons of curves and angles, marked by pointed elements added just about everywhere, thus breaking up the lunchbox-style form underneath with additional organic bits. The details on this thing are plentiful, to say the least. Bangle says part of the design takes inspiration from what a little kid would trace when asked to draw car – a bold move, to say the least.

Taking responsibility for the form is a multinational design team that includes folks from Germany, Japan, America, France, and Italy, which might help to explain the Project Redspace’s rather hodge-podge look. Bangle calls it an “interactive” design language.


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“Taking responsibility for the form is a multinational design team, which might help to explain the Project Redspace’s rather hodge-podge look.”

In front, we find a short, blocky nose, with rounded curves and angular headlights drawn into the corners. An organic-looking front bumper block breaks up the form, while the windshield rises up and outwards into a perfectly flat roof, curving around like half of a martini glass. The headlights appear to offer LED lighting elements, with signature surrounds. The overhangs are very short, both front and back. A small geometric Redspace badge resides in the left-hand portion of the fascia.

Moving to the sides, the Redspace’s unique front-leaning wraparound windshield becomes more obvious, offset by a rear-leaning pillar structure to give a sort of vee-shape. While unique in terms of styling, the automaker says the design is also quite functional, as it opens up the interior space while simultaneously allowing for more efficient airflow outside. The top overhang also helps create a shadow, thus keeping temperatures inside down.


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“In the corners, we see an adequately funky wheel design, like the pedals of a some kind of mechanical flower. Aiding ingress and egress is a pair of sliding doors, similar to a van, and particular useful when squeezing through tight spots.”

In the corners, we see an adequately funky wheel design, like the pedals of some kind of mechanical flower. Aiding ingress and egress is a pair of horizontally sliding doors, with a function similar to what you might find on a van, which is particularly useful when squeezing through tight spots. The sliding design also means the car offers a bit of a roof as you climb into the vehicle, which, as the automaker points out, should keep you dry when entering or exiting the car in inclement weather.


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“As you might expect, all those crazy exterior details opens up a plethora of opportunities when it comes to customization.”

As you might expect, all those crazy exterior details open up a plethora of opportunities when it comes to customization, and the automaker is quick to boast about the huge range of styling options customers will have in making it their own.

Finally, the Project Redspace comes with very small exterior dimensions, a vital characteristic for city driving. We’ll let you know the final measurements when the production version arrives, but for now, we hear it’s roughly 20 inches shorter than a Fiat 500 and just a tad bigger than a Smart Fortwo.

Interior

– * Designed from the inside out

– * Seats four passengers

– * Offers enough space to “live” in

– * Large infotainment screen on the dash

– * Adaptable and modular seating arrangement

– * Wi-Fi should be standard

– * Seats rotate for socialization

– * Opens up opportunities for autonomous technology


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“Project Redspace actually began its life as an interior”

Interestingly, Project Redspace actually began its life as an interior. The designers started by modeling the cabin space, so as you can imagine, a lot of time and effort went into making it as effective as possible. The overarching goal was to comfortably seat four adult passengers, while also offering a huge amount of customizability to fulfill a broad range of needs, whether its playing video games, changing a diaper, or finishing a business report. Bangle says it’s supposed to be an area large enough to “live my life in,” like a mobile apartment.

To kick it off, the individual seats can swivel 180 degrees, facing forward while driving, or facing one another when the car isn’t in motion. Alternatively, the seats can be rearranged into a totally new configuration, placed in offset to make more room for arms and legs. The armrests slope upwards for easier driving.


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“The seats can be rearranged into a totally new configuration, placed in offset to make more room for arms and legs.”

On the dash, the most obvious feature is the enormous 17-inch infotainment screen on top of the dash. There’s also a lower touchscreen located near the driver to provide a means for user inputs. This lower screen gets a plastic cover with a tactile feel to it, which is intended to offer easier the driver operation without requiring them to take their eyes off the road. There’s also a fold-down desk, in case you need a spot to sign papers or rest your mobile device. Onboard Wi-Fi should be standard.


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“The car is obviously perfectly suited for high levels of autonomy.”

Further tech features include automatic braking and parking assistance. And considering the amount of time that went into making the Redspace interior a great spot to relax, the car is obviously perfectly suited for high levels of autonomy, a facet the company is sure to jump on as soon as the technology hits the right inflection point in terms of cost and efficacy.

Drivetrain

– * Rear-mounted electric motor

– * Aluminum construction

– * Solar panels on the roof

– * Inductive charging capabilities

– * Offers the same range as a “large four-seater car”


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“The Project Redspace gets all-electric motivation”

Per tradition for a forward-thinking city machine, the Project Redspace gets all-electric motivation. Details on the car’s powertrain are understandably still under wraps, but we do know the electric motor is mounted in the rear, which means its RWD. The batteries are also mounted underneath the floor, while aluminum was used for the construction to keep it as lightweight as possible. The automaker also says it’ll offer the range of a “large four-seater car,” so we’re hoping for at least 150 miles. 200 miles would be ideal.

Once again though, the details are what make Project Redspace interesting. For example, the roof is a solar panel, which is wired to the peripherals (HVAC, stereo, infotainment, etc.) to keep the battery pack topped off on sunny days. And it’s got a big roof too, which means a big solar panel. Apparently, it’ll have the option for inductive charging as well, a feature that will be offered at launch.

Prices


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While the Project Redspace is designed specifically for the Chinese market, there’s a possibility it could see an introduction in other markets as well, including in the U.S.

Impressively, Redspace says it could have this thing on the road in the next two years, which seems rather ambitious, if you ask us.

No pricing has been announced, but if we were to guess, all those premium features and customizability and advanced technologies won’t come cheap. As such, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it tagged at $45,000, similar to the BMW i3. And speaking of which…

Competition

BMW i3


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Interestingly, our first competitor comes from Bangle’s former employer, BMW. Like the Project Redspace, the BMW i3 is a high-end all-electric box, made from aluminum and carbon fiber to keep weight as low as possible. Inside, the materials are quite nice, while seating for four provides a decent amount of space. In the tail, you’ll find an electric motor in place to drive the rear wheels. Range per charge is around 100 miles, but if you need more, there’s the option for a gasoline “range extender” internal combustion engine for a little more outlay.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW i3.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive


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The Smart Fortwo focuses much more on catering to urban environments than the BMW i3, with tiny exterior dimensions and a tiny turning circle as well. This thing was made for squeezing through cramped spaces, which is great, but the interior space suffers as a result, only offering seating for two passengers max. Range is also a bit on the low side, with just 75 miles offered between plug-ins. The price, however, is far below that of the Bimmer and what we’re speculating for the Project Redspace, slotting in under the $25,000 mark.

Read our full review on the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Conclusion


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Redspace says cars spend the vast majority of the time (up to 90 percent in fact) just being idle. And therein lies the designer’s idea of what could be done to increase efficiency on a variety of levels. In terms of time, the car was designed to be a mobile workspace and lounge thanks to its modular interior layout. Thanks to the electric motivation and potential autonomous technology, the car should be efficient with the energy reserves as well.

It makes sense this thing was designed by a Chinese firm. After all, few countries have as many megacities as China, and demand for personal transportation solutions will only increase. The automaker says the target demographic includes “young people who just want a place to be with their friends on their own in a car that they have fun with, and at the same time, the mom, the woman who needs a second car in the family.” Then there are the folks who will use it as a “business tool.” All told, the Project Redspace is meant to appeal to a wide variety of folks in the newly emerging, hyper-crowded megacity landscape.

“That’s a rather tall order, hence the good deal of experimentation that went into the vehicle’s creation. However, if autonomous tech really takes off in the next few years, it could be quite successful.”

And that’s a rather tall order, hence the good deal of experimentation that went into the vehicle’s creation. The novel design approach is also pretty interesting, with an inside-out look at making the car work.

If the Project Redspace really does become a reality, the biggest hurdle we see to its success is price. There’s a lot going on here, and making it function properly in the real world will be complicated, which means by the time it reaches consumers, it could be quite out of reach for the target buyers.

However, if autonomous tech really takes off in the next few years, and Project Redspace adopts a “sharing” business model to help bring down the price, it could be quite successful as well.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

  • Leave it
    • * Not all folks will like the way it looks
    • * Likely very expensive
    • * Best served with autonomous tech, but where’s the tech?

References


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Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Kicks – U.S. Spec

More subdued styling versus the Juke

Without a doubt, the SUV and crossover market is still running strong, prompting every automaker under the sun to fill their lineups to capacity with fresh tall-riding hatches in a bid to satisfy the public’s seemingly never-ending demand. Nissan is no different, offering U.S buyers no less than six different models in the segment, including the Juke, Rogue, Rogue Sport, Murano, Pathfinder, and Armada. Unfortunately, lovers of the funky and fun Juke won’t see the compact on the roster for much longer, as rumor has it Nissan is showing it the door in 2018. However, in its stead, Nissan will offer something fresh – enter the Kicks. The Kicks is Nissan’s very first new nameplate in 8 years, arriving as a new entry-level model in the Japanese automaker’s lineup with more room and a lower price tag than the Juke. It’s also got some nice technology, both for entertainment and for safety purposes.

The Kicks is already on sale in South America, but arrives stateside more or less unchanged in the hopes of enticing urban consumers, or as Nissan puts it, “singles or couples looking for unique styling, roominess, personal technology, smart functionality and advanced safety features at an affordable price.” So – how does it stack up?

Updated 05/08/2018: Nissan announced prices for the 2018 Kicks. Check the “Prices” section for the full details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Nissan Kicks.

PostHeaderIcon Aria FXE

Seven-speed dual-clutch transmission

If you’ve never heard of ‘em, don’t feel bad. Aria is best known as the pen behind projects like the Tesla Model S Concept from 2009, the bespoke carbon fiber body panels that adorn the Singer 911s, and the Ford Shelby GR-1, as well as the SpaceX Dragon capsule and the Warthog from Halo 4. Just 100 employees make up the entire firm. Now, this small, yet talented group is offering up a glimpse at its very first production passenger car, and long story short, it’s a whopper. Recently unveiled at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, Aria calls it the FXE, as it’s an evolved iteration of the FE concept shown in LA last year. The FXE looks like a spaceship, and based on Aria’s claim regarding the onboard hybrid V-8 powertrain, it should go like one too. Taking inspiration from track cars, the FXE is made for the road and aims to topple the best of the best from Europe, including the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1.

Of course, that’s a rather tall order for any carmaker, let alone a tiny boutique design house looking to make their first production vehicle. So the question is this – can Aria pull it off?

Continue reading to learn more about the Aria FXE.

Exterior

  • Highly angular and aggressive
  • Two-tone color scheme
  • Cabin placed in the middle
  • Tons of wings, spoilers, and vents everywhere
  • 20-inch wheels in front, 21-inch in back
  • HRE center-locking rollers with carbon fiber flourish
  • Adaptive aerodynamic elements in the rear
  • Flat carbon fiber undertray

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“The Aria FXE certainly looks the part of a top-shelf hybrid performance machine”

From the off, the Aria FXE certainly looks the part of a top-shelf hybrid performance machine. The lines are crisp and pointed, with deep cuts and sharp angles that simply scream speed. While Aria declined to provide exact downforce and aero specs, the FXE appears as though it would get smashed into the pavement while traveling at high-velocity. There are wings and blades and spoilers galore, which make the car bristle from every angle you look at it.

Of course, such drama should be expected from a modern hypercar, especially the first production model from a well-established design house. All that aggression will help the FXE get noticed, so why not go full throttle right from the off?


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“Of course, such drama should be expected from a modern hypercar. All that aggression will help the FXE get noticed, so why not go full throttle right from the off?”

Up front, we find wide, narrow features that enhance the car’s natural girth. Connecting the relatively small headlight housings is a U-shaped section offsetting the white body panels with a matte-black finish, while the headlights themselves look as though they come equipped with LED lighting elements and daytime running lights. A large vent occupies the top section of the hood, while lower in the bumper, you’ll find large intake sections and a deep splitter element with a curvaceous slant to it, plus a pair of side winglets marked by the FXE logo in white.

Viewed in profile, the FXE places the greenhouse in the center of the vehicle, evening out the proportions into semi-equal parts, front to back. The overhangs are short, while the lower aero sections continue the look of the front splitter with angular dips and dives in a matte-black finish. Enormous side intakes dominate the rear quarter panels and fenders, while a smaller secondary intake was added to the roof. In the corners, you’ll find ornate forged center-lock wheels from HRE, rocking carbon fiber flow inserts for extra style points. The rollers are staggered in size, with 20 inches of diameter in front and 21 inches in the rear.


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“In the corners, you’ll find ornate forged center-lock wheels from HRE, rocking carbon fiber flow inserts for extra style points.”

The rear end is a bit blockier in its appearance, with sizable vents placed under the taillights, in the lower bumper, and along the supporting beams in the roof. The diffuser back here is enormous, complimented by a sizable GT-style wing on the trunk lid that appears to have automatic adjustment capabilities. A flat carbon fiber undertray is found just inches from the pavement. Finally, the taillight’s shape is as slim as the headlights, and they get a contour that reminds me a bit of the rear end on the new Chevrolet Corvette.

Compared to the Ferrari LaFerrari, the Aria FXE is much shorter, a bit narrower, and a bit taller. The Aria’s wheelbase is also longer than the Ferrari Squared.


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Exterior Dimensions

Aria FXE Ferrari LaFerrari
Length 4,470 mm (176 inches) 4,702 mm (185.1 inches)
Width 1,930 mm (76 inches) 1,992 mm (78.4 inches)
Height 1,139 mm (44.8 inches) 1,116 mm (43.9 inches)
Wheelbase 2,709 mm (106.7 inches) 2,650 mm (104.3 inches)

Interior

  • Two passengers max
  • Fixed-back seats look like they were carved out
  • Racing harnesses to keep you in place
  • Simplistic, clean dash design
  • Should offers tons of customizability
  • Pedals and steering wheel move back and forth for comfort
  • All-digital instrumentation

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“Both passengers will strap in with racing harnesses to keep from sliding around while exploring the FXE’s upper grip threshold. Customizability opportunities will be plentiful.”

While Aria wasn’t opening the doors on the FXE to give journalists a clear view of the cabin space, there are a few things we could glean after seeing it in LA. First off, it’ll only seat two passengers – just as a proper hypercar should. Both passengers will strap into fixed-back seats that appear as though they were carved out of the car’s rear bulkhead, and come complete with racing harnesses to keep you from sliding around while exploring the FXE’s upper grip threshold. A large center section divides the two seats, while a simplistic dash layout provides a space for controls. The gauge cluster spears to be totally digital, while the button layout is ultra-clean and simplistic. There’s also probably little to no storage space, which makes the FXE exactly the wrong pick for a month-long holiday. Unless, of course, you’re vacationing at a race track.

Aria says the seats will be specially molded to each individual customer, while the controls will be able to move forward and backward as needed to accommodate a variety of body types. We also expect a vast variety of additional customization options, given the inherently bespoke nature of the company, the relatively low production numbers, and most importantly, the price tag. Custom materials, custom colors, technology options, and similar stuff will pervade throughout, which, combined with the specially molded seats, should make the interior of each Aria FXE utterly unique.

Drivetrain

  • Hybrid AWD powertrain
  • Supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 from Chevy
  • Seven-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • Two axial-flux induction electric motors in front
  • 10-kWh battery pack
  • 1,150 horsepower and 1,316 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds
  • Top speed is rated at 220 mph

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“In the middle of the machine, there’s a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, the same GM-sourced LT4 V-8 used in the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. ‘Merica.”

Like the majority of top-shelf hypercars currently on the market, the Aria FXE makes use of hybridization to make all of its go. In front, you’ll find dual front axial-flux induction electric motors, which get juiced by a 10-kWh battery pack. Meanwhile, in the middle of the machine, there’s a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. This lump is based on the same GM-sourced LT4 V-8 used in the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, and it does well to fit in with the whole all-American theme the FXE is shooting for. The V-8 mates with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to send power to the rear, while the electric motors motivate the front axle. And that means the FXE should offer copious AWD grip when you put its prodigious output to use.

Speaking of output, the V-8 and pair of electric motors combine to create a lot of it – upwards of 1,150 horsepower and 1,316 pound-feet of torque, to be exact. Properly applied by the driver, Aria says the FXE will go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, while top speed is rated at 220 mph.

Those numbers are more or less in line with what we’d expect for the segment, although the 0-to-60 mph time is a few tenths short of what you get with the established benchmarks from Europe.


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Aria FXE Engine And Performance Specs

Drive type mid-engine, hybrid AWD
Engine supercharged 6.2-liter V-8
Electric motors dual front axial-flux induction electric motors
Battery pack rating 10 kWh
Engine transmission seven-speed dual-clutch automatic
Combined horsepower 1,150 hp
Combined torque 1,316 pound-feet
0 to 60 mph 3.1 seconds
Top speed 220 mph

Chassis And Handling

  • Carbon fiber monocoque
  • Carbon fiber body panels
  • 3,450-pound curb weight
  • 3D-printed metal components
  • Wide Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R tires

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“The real question though is how the chassis and suspension set-up manage to apply the impressive power levels mentioned in the drivetrain section.”

Despite its large supercharged V-8 and complicated hybrid AWD system, the Aria FXE weighs in at just 3,450 pounds in terms of the curb weight. As you might imagine, this is made possible thanks to its carbon fiber monocoque chassis and carbon fiber body panels, all standard stuff for something looking to make waves in the hybrid hypercar segement.

Aria says it also used a good number of 3D-printed metal pieces here and there, although details are a bit scant as of this writing. Aluminum is sure to be one of the most important materials used, and we’d love it if the FXE threw in stuff like titanium and the like for the extra bling factor.

Making the traction is Pirelli’s P Zero Trofeo R tire compound, with the FXE coming equipped with a 265-section sizing in front and 325-section in the rear. With all four wheels driven, this much sticky tire should post some impressive grip numbers on the skidpad.

The real question though is how the chassis and suspension set-up manage to apply the impressive power levels mentioned in the drivetrain section. Given this is Aria’s first real venture into making a full-on production vehicle, refinement on the road and adjustability at the limits of grip could be an issue.

Prices


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Aria says it’s aiming to cap production at 400 units, which is actually rather high for a boutique hybrid hypercar like the FXE. For now, sales are slated to commence some time in 2019.

Pricing wasn’t made public, but rest assured every FXE will cost somewhere around $1 million. For that kind of money, each customer will get to customize theirs to suit there individual tastes, which means the final bottom line might vary greatly between each example.

If seven figures is too rich for your blood, there’s also a “base model” FE that’ll sell for $650,000. With the downgrade, you lose the hybrid system, but keep the blown 6.2-liter V-8 for power. That means less output, but something tells us it’ll still be mighty quick all the same.

The FXE will be built at Aria’s plant in Irvine, California.

Competition

McLaren P1


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As the very shot fired in the battle for modern hybrid hypercar supremacy, you can bet your bottom dollar Aria has taken careful notes on the P1. Introduced in 2012 at the Paris Motor Show, the P1 floored the automotive world with its incredible specs, making upwards of 903 horsepower thank to a twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-8 and electric motor combo. Applied to the rear axle, it’s enough to propel the P1 to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds, while reaching a top speed of 217 mph at the other end. Only 375 were built, each carrying a price tag in excess of a million dollars.

Read our full review on the 2014 McLaren P1.

Ferrari LaFerrari


2014 Ferrari LaFerrari - image 496624

Not long after the release of the McLaren P1, Ferrari made its presence known in the segment with this – the hybrid LaFerrari. Mating a naturally aspirated 6.3-liter V-12 with a hybrid system inspired by KERS and Formula 1, the Ferrari Squared makes a combined 950 horsepower, all of which is directed to the rear axle thanks to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 0-to-60 mph benchmark is dispatched in 2.5 seconds, while top speed is pegged at 218 mph. Motorsport-inspired tech dominates throughout. Pricing is set at around $1.42 million – if Ferrari deems you worthy to buy one, that is.

Read our full review on the 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari

Conclusion


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“Its obvious Aria spent a good amount of time making the FXE look the part of a world-beating hypercar. But here’s the real question – what’ll happen when the rubber really meets the road?”

While it’s still a few years out, the Aria FXE certainly appears to be on the right track, at least as far as appearances go. That said, in this segment, appearances count for a lot, and smartly, its obvious Aria spent a good amount of time making the FXE look the part of a world-beating hypercar.

But here’s the real question – what’ll happen when the rubber really meets the road? Will the FXE have what it takes to perform with track superstars like Ferrari and McLaren? Sure, the power numbers are impressive, and with its carbon fiber monocoque, enormous brakes, aggressive aero, and sticky Pirelli tires, it’s got all the right buzz words to make one think it’s in the same class as the P1 or LaFerrari.

So yeah, it’s got the right aesthetic to compete with Ferrari and McLaren, if you like the way it looks. But to us (and the majority of buyers as well), the way it goes is just as important, and we’re not convinced Aria has the right stuff to match the big makes in that regard. McLaren and Ferrari have an incredible resume to fall back on when it comes to actually making the numbers and words work as a complete package, so in that respect, Aria has some catching up to do.

But that said, we’ll reserve final judgment until this thing finally gets driven in anger. Until then, we’re happy to sit back and simply take in all those curves.

  • Leave it
    • * Aria’s first production model might need some ironing out
    • * Styling isn’t for everyone
    • * Not exactly the most forgiving segment to try your hand in

Who Is Aria?


2018 Aria FXE - image 750197

Based out of Irvine, California, and supported by a research and development center in Detroit, Michigan, Aria is a design, engineering, and manufacturing group focused on the transportation, aerospace, production, and entertainment industries. The company boasts over two decades of experience, and has worked with Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM, Disney, Paramount, and Northrop Grumman.

References


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Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography

The Land Rover Range Rover’s ultimate trim level, the SVAutobiography, is getting a healthy update for 2018. Of course, many of these same updates are found on the standard 2018 Range Rover, too, having undergone a welcomed refresh. The 2018 SVAutobiography is available on the long-wheelbase Range Rover. It comes with ultra-premium levels of luxury fittings and first-class accommodations for rear passengers. Airline-style reclining seats with massaging, folding aluminum tray tables, power-operated doors, twin 10.2-inch entertainment monitors, and a refrigerated compartment are just some of the highlights.

As part of the Range Rover’s 2018 update, the dashboard now features the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system with two 10-inch touchscreens in the center stack and another 10-inch screen for the fully digital gauge cluster. Other tech features include 4G Wi-Fi hotspot for eight devices, plenty of USB and 12-volt ports, a household power plug. Land Rover’s Connect Pro brings smartphone connection and remote controlling of the vehicle’s systems. The app allows for operating door locks, setting climate control temperatures, and remotely starting the engine. And for those times when having keys for a phone on your person isn’t feasible, the available Activity Key wristband doubles as the key fob.

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface, so let’s dive into what’s new.

Continue reading for more on the updated 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography.

What’s New on the 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography


2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography - image 747494
“While there’s plenty to cover, the heart of the Range Rover SVAutobiography is is rear-seat comfort”

While there’s plenty to cover, the heart of the Range Rover SVAutobiography is is rear-seat comfort. The long-wheelbase Range Rover provides a whopping 1.2 meters (four feet!) of legroom. Power-raising leg rests and reclining seatbacks make long trips completely comfortable, while customizable massaging rubs out a sore back and heating and ventilation keep backside temperatures regulated. Of course, rear passengers can control their own HVAC settings, too. The new seats are more padded than before while offering more power adjustments and memory settings. If breaking out a bottle of Champaign feels right, a refrigerator between the seatbacks will keep two bottles chilled. The luxury life is so hard, isn’t it?

New colors and stitching patterns for the leather upholstery appear for 2018, giving customers more choices and combinations. Up front, the steering wheel has been update with invisible-until-touched backlit controls. The updated digital gauge cluster now has more customizable configurations to choose from. The Touch Pro Duo screens offer better and more intuitive controls. The upper screen is still the main hub for radio, navigation, and various vehicle menus, but the lower screen now holds the HVAC controls and doubles as the Terrain Resonse 2 control center for off-road settings. Remember, even though the Range Rover SVAutobiography is basically a private jet for the ground, it can still traverse over nearly any terrain thanks to its adjustable air ride suspension, full-time 4WD, locking differentials, and various drive modes that include settings for sand, snow, mud, and rocks.


2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography - image 747491
“And speaking of the greasy bits, the updated 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography is also available with Land Rover’s new plug-in hybrid drivetrain”

And speaking of the greasy bits, the updated 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography is also available with Land Rover’s new plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Called the P400e model, it features a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder combined with an electric motor good for a combined 254 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The system offers an all-electric range of 31 miles and will charge on both public quick chargers or at home with a standard wall outlet and its included charging cable.

The supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 carries over, too, so those who enjoy big power will be happy. The all-aluminum engine makes 557 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Both the PHEV and V-8 come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and that full-time 4WD system.


2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography - image 750234
“The 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography starts at $208,200 and comes with just about everything as standard”

Naturally, the 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography is pretty pricy. It starts at $208,200 and comes with just about everything as standard. Land Rover does offer a few accessories like the $5,815 “tailgate event seating” with leather-wrapped seats and metal stirrups. There’s also a $5,455 power-deployable loadspace floor extender, which basically does nothing but move fore and aft to help getting heavier items into the cargo area.

Despite the Range Rover’s bones continuing unchanged, the 2018 updates and the major upgrades to the SVAutobiography edition make this SUV one of the swankiest (yet still most capable) on the market today. Even with its hefty price tag, the SVAutobiography represents a good deal when compared with other vehicles in its ultra-luxury class.

  • Leave it
    • * A good deal, but still very expensive
    • * Choosing between driving and riding in back

References

Land Rover Range Rover


2018 Land Rover Range Rover - image 738491

Read our full review on the 2018 Land Rover Range Rover.


2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e - image 737706

Read our full review on the 2019 Land Rover Range Rover P400e.


maker logos - image 745566

Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Model Sondors

2018 Model Sondors

The world of all-electric vehicles seems to be in a constant state of flux as of late, evolving from quirky, eco-friendly transportation alternatives, to top-shelf luxury cars, to high-performance speed machines, and now, it looks like we’re coming full circle. Unveiled in a small corner booth at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, this is the Model Sondors, the first offering from the Sondors Electric Car Company. Sondors is best known for its popular line of electric bicycles, and currently enjoys a position as the largest electric bike manufacturer and distributor in the U.S. Now, it’s aiming at expanding into the electric car game, starting with this slick-looking three-wheeling three-seater. Simplicity is the name of the game, from the powertrain to the interior. Even the way its built and sold will be streamlined, all in the name of driving down costs to bring electric motivation to the masses.

“I believe affordable, clean transportation should be the norm, not the exception. You shouldn’t have to choose between a car you can afford and a car that’s electric. We can do better,” says the founder of Sondors Electric Car Company, Storm Sondors. So far, so good. The prototype you see here was built in just seven months, an outright blitz by industry standards, and we think it looks quite good at this early stage. But is it really?

Continue reading to learn more about Sondors three-wheel EV.

Exterior

  • Simplified three-wheeler exterior
  • Two wheels in front, one in back
  • No motorcycle license required
  • Aerodynamic efficiency a major focus
  • Teardrop shape helps cut through air
  • Available in five exterior colors

2018 Model Sondors - image 750799
“Having just three wheels allows for fewer bureaucratic hoops to jump through before bringing the vehicle to market”

First off, let’s discuss that three-wheeler exterior. This, along with the all-electric powertrain, is the defining feature of the Model Sondors, providing the framework to accomplish the upstart carmaker’s rather lofty goals.

So what’s the point of going with the trike format? For starters, having just three wheels allows for fewer bureaucratic hoops to jump through before bringing the vehicle to market, a vitally important characteristic for a new carmaker aiming at the budget consumer. The design also has the added benefit of reducing complexity, lowering overall weight, and increasing aerodynamic efficiency, all important things for the segment. Plus, you don’t need a motorcycle license to drive one.


2018 Model Sondors - image 750800
“The Model Sondors doesn’t necessarily look like what you’d expect from an all-electric three-wheeler. Penned by unnamed Italian designers, Sondors says grand tourer cars provided the inspiration for the aesthetic.”

That said, the Model Sondors doesn’t necessarily look like what you’d expect from an all-electric three-wheeler. The company went to unnamed Italian designers to create the exterior shape, and we think it looks pretty good. Sondors says grand tourer cars provided the inspiration for the aesthetic, and that much is evident from the lithe, streamlined appearance. The front end is particularly attractive, with a wide, low stance that stretches forward with smooth lines and a streamlined attitude. The headlights are set with a duo of projectors per side, extending the car’s visual breadth with thin, blade-like housings. A large, angular lower lip spoiler offsets in grey, adding sportiness, and complemented by small intakes in the hood.

Moving to the sides, we find the front wheels get a split multi-spoke design finished in a lighter grey, offering another nice splash of aggression. The roofline curves rearwards in a coupe-like fashion, while prominent side skirts match the front lip in their appearance.


2018 Model Sondors - image 750797
“In the rear, the fenders join up to form a teardrop shape, revealing a prominent rake to the stance.”

Finally, in the rear, the fenders join up to form a teardrop shape to the thing. Back here, the car’s prominent rake is evident, leaning forward at a steep angle. Minimalistic, slender taillights illuminate the rear end.

It definitely looks quite aerodynamic, with few frills and extraneous pieces to muck it up, and we hope the aesthetic doesn’t change much by the time it reaches production. Of course, that front lip looks like it might mess with the airflow and create a bit of unnecessary drag, but we think it looks good all the same. When the Model Sondors does finally roll off the production line, customers will have up to five exterior colors to choose from.

Interior

  • Two seats in front, one in the rear
  • Simplified dash with large block shapes
  • All-digital instrumentation behind the steering wheel
  • Surprisingly spacious
  • Lots of contrast stitching
  • Flat-bottom steering wheel

2018 Model Sondors - image 750789
“Climb into the cabin, and you’ll find three seats for passengers, with two in front and one in back”

Climb into the cabin, and you’ll find three seats for passengers, with two in front and one in back. Once again, simplicity and clean design pervade throughout, with a dash that looks almost like something out of a Lotus Elise in terms of its minimalism. A quartet of air vents lines the dash with a rounded shape and propeller-like directional fins. Solid shapes are used for the door panels and dead pedal, with the black spaces are offset by large patches of red and contrast stitching. The steering wheel is also decked-out in red contrast stitching, and gets a flat bottom and glossy black center section. The seats are draped in hide and look to offer decent lateral support. The single seat in back is placed towards the middle/rear of the car.

Although we weren’t offered a chance to sit in it, it looks as though the Model Sondors has a surprisingly spacious cabin for such a tiny vehicle. Thanks to the relatively compact packaging of its all-electric drivetrain, there’s no center tunnel to deal with, opening up legroom considerably for all passengers. There’s even a pair of windows in back to keep it feeling airy when stuffed into that rear seat.


2018 Model Sondors - image 750792
“Although we weren’t offered a chance to sit in it, it looks as though the Model Sondors has a surprisingly spacious cabin for such a tiny vehicle.”

The whole thing felt surprisingly well put together as well, and Sondors promises all the standard convenience features you’d expect from a modern vehicle. These include a push button starter, air conditioning, a heater, an AM/FM stereo, power windows, power locks, and inputs for your smartphone or music device. There’s also a digital gauge readout behind the steering wheel, and Sondors says it’ll offer optional luxury features like leather upholstery for a little more outaly.

As you might expect, don’t expect much in terms of practicality, as there’s pretty much no space for storage purposes. That said, Sondors says it might add a storage spot in the front (commonly referred to as a “frunk” in the EV world) some time in the future.

As for the safety side of things, Sondors says its first model will come with airbags, a passenger safety cell, and seat belts, plus a strict consideration for crash standards. “Our intent is to meet and exceed automotive safety standards,” the company says.

Finally, Sondors has aspirations to one day offer autonomous drive features, although tech like that is most likely a quite a ways off in the future. However, if autonomous systems really kick off in the next 5 years and become much cheaper, offered at the right price point for a budget-oriented EV like the Model Sondors, that could change. And indeed, a car like this would be well-suited to robot chauffeurism.

Drivetrain

  • Rear in-hub motor system
  • Lithium-ion battery pack
  • Multiple range options, between 75 and 200 miles per charge
  • 0 to 60 mph between 8 and 5 seconds depending on the battery
  • Might be a lot of fun in the corners

2018 Model Sondors - image 750798
“The Model Sondors has single-wheel all-electric drive, with the rear tire making its move by way of an in-hub motor system and lithium-ion battery pack”

To make it go, the Model Sondors has single-wheel all-electric drive, with the rear tire making its move by way of an in-hub motor system and lithium-ion battery pack. Meanwhile, the two front wheels turn and provide the majority of braking force. Specs are understandably light at this early stage, but we do know Sondors intends to offer a variety of powertrain options and range possibilities, starting with 75 miles per charge. Customers willing to spend a bit more will have a shot at 150 miles and 200 miles in the options list.

Acceleration will be greatly affected by the battery pack you choose, ranging between 8 seconds at the slow end and 5 seconds at the fast end. Not bad for a plucky little EV three-wheeler. Charge times will vary quite a bit as well, with both 110-volt and 240-volt options on the table. No word on DC quick charger options at this time.

“Acceleration will be greatly affected by the battery pack you choose, ranging between 8 seconds at the slow end and 5 seconds at the fast end. Not bad for a plucky little EV three-wheeler”

How does it handle? That’s a good question. The tri-pod platform can be an absolute riot if properly executed, as evidenced by examples like the Polaris Slingshot, Morgan Three-Wheeler, and Campagna T-Rex, but it depends on how aggressive Sondors wants to get with this supposedly commute-oriented first offering. We do know the Model Sondors will come with standards like ABS and traction control, and that with its low center of gravity and instant torque at a single rear wheel, it has the potential to be quite interesting in the corners.

Finally, there are disc brakes in front by the look of it. No word on regenerative capabilities yet.

Prices


2018 Model Sondors - image 750801
“Sondors says it isn’t taking pre-orders just yet, as it doesn’t want to “oversell and under-deliver.”

Financially speaking, Sondors is in a surprisingly good spot right now. The start-up went through a round of crowd funding last January and raised an impressive $1 million in just 30 days, money that fueled the creation of the prototype you see here. Now, Sondors hopes to ramp up with a second round of crowd funding, aiming to raise another $2 million for pre-production, with the ultimate goal being $20 million for tooling and a full-blown production Model Sondors.

However, Sondors says it isn’t taking pre-orders just yet, as it doesn’t want to “oversell and under-deliver,” which honestly seems like a jab at pretty much every other start-up EV producer out there. And it’s a bold move, to boot.

When it does eventually go on sale, the asking price will start around $10,000. Production numbers are hazy, but Sondors says between 60,000 and 100,000 units annually would make sense – ambitious numbers, if you ask us.

“When it does eventually go on sale, the asking price will start around $10,000.”

Additionally, Sondors will partner up with various worldwide manufacturing companies, rather than go through the money-intensive process of creating manufacturing facilities on its own. The first run of Model Sondors will be produced in Italy.

Ultimately, this all gets back to the underlying philosophy driving the company – “Additionally, we intend to design, develop, and source materials and components from some of the best manufacturers around the globe. This will allow us to not only have access to proven technologies but we will also be able to pass on supply chain warranties to the end customer,” Sondors says.

When the final production model is ready to roll, customers will be able to buy theirs online, including picking out each of their preferred options, and have it delivered straight to their front door. The point of this, of course, is to cut out the dealer middleman, thus lowering overall cost for the buyer.

Finally, Sondors says it hopes to begin putting together production vehicles by April of 2019.

Competitors

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive


2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive
- image 689175

While there are a plethora of differences between the Model Sondors and the Electric Fortwo, at the heart of it, they both fly under the same philosophy – all-electric transportation that’s accessible to as many people as possible. Smart’s take adds a wheel, but deletes a seat, with just two passengers finding accommodation in the cabin. Range is also a bit low at 70 to 80 miles per charge, while price is more than double that of the Sondors at $23,800. Still, you can go out and buy a Smart right now, which is much more than you can say for the Sondors. The question is – where will Smart be when the Model Sondors finally hits the production line?

Read our full review on the 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

Conclusion


2018 Model Sondors - image 750799
“At the end of the day, Sondors is taking an undeniably bold and aggressive path.”

Truth be told, history tells us the odds of success are most definitely not in Sondors’ favor. However, this first prototype is looking mighty impressive all the same. Indeed, even the company is relishing in its own successes. “We were told that it costs hundreds of millions to do what I did for a million dollars,” says the founder of Sondors Electric Car Company, Storm Sondors.

At the end of the day, Sondors is taking an undeniably bold and aggressive path. The company aspires to change the way cars are purchased, manufactured, and delivered, and that’s no simple task, no matter how you look at it.

Still, the company does have a few advantages to play. For one, it’s a leader in the electric bike industry, and there are sure to be many lessons learned there that apply to the business of making cars as well. The crowd funding angels also seem to be in the company’s corner, driving development without resorting to grandiose promises like some of the other EV startups. Sondors’ “electric for everyone” motto also looks overseas, and as demand increases for affordable personal transportation options, and various countries ban internal combustion altogether, the time might be right for a trike like the Model Sondors.

“Still, the company does have a few advantages to play.”

Our only real issue is with safety, which might be a bit questionable considering the car’s size and lightweight approach to moving about. That said, we’ll reserve final judgment until we see the crash test results for ourselves.

Here’s the thing though. Let’s consider another startup when weighing the odds of success for Model Sondors – Elio Motors, a company that should serve as a cautionary tale for potential Sondors fans. Established in 2009, Elio sought to offer a highly efficient three-wheeler dubbed the P4, tagging it with specs like 84 mpg on the highway and pricing set at about $7,500. However, in the 8 years since it launched, Elio Motors has repeatedly pushed back the delivery date for its first model time and again, with the latest estimate putting delivery at 2019, a full decade after it was initially founded and seven years after its initial speculative delivery date. Granted, there are several glaringly obvious differences between Sondors and Elio, but the point is this – building cars is hard. Does Sondors have what it takes to prove the naysayers wrong? We’ll find out eventually.

  • Leave it
    • * Still just a trike with a roof
    • * Safety could be an issue
    • * Just a prototype for now

References


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Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

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