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Archive for the ‘luxury cars’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Kia Stinger

2018 Kia Stinger

When Korean manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia came to the U.S., they were fighting an uphill battle against American, Japanese, and German cars that were often regarded as having nicer materials and better build quality, among other things. Fast forward to today, and Hyundai has spawned its own performance/luxury brand called Genesis and Kia has finally jumped on the bandwagon with a premium and performance-based fastback that is derived from the GT Concept. Going by the name Stinger, it’s set to bring some insanely stiff competition to German rivals like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback, among others. At Launch, it will be available with a 255-horsepower four-banger or a 3.3-liter, Biturbo, V-6 with some 365 ponies on tap. But, that’s not all. It’s extremely spacious with a longer wheelbase than that of other competitors like the Lexus GS, and even the Infinity Q50 while the chassis itself is composed of 55 percent high-strength steel for superior stiffness and excellent ride handling. Inside, it offers high levels of comfort and an absolutely striking design with technology that rivals that of high-end models way outside the Stingers expected price range.

Those two engines I just mentioned, well there’s already word of a diesel powertrain being available for European customers. And, while it hasn’t been officially planned or confirmed, interviews with Albert Beirmann – the Executive VP of Vehicle Testing and High-Performance Development for Kia – has said that there have been talks of electrification, a move that could pit the Stinger against the likes of the Tesla Model 3 or even the Model S, depending on how much electric muscle Kia can come up with. Beyond that, the Stinger is said to be able to handle much more power than that offered by that Biturbo 3.3-liter, so an even brighter future could be on the horizon for Kia’s new halo car.

But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself as we already have a lot to talk about, and the Stinger isn’t scheduled to hit showrooms until later on in 2017. So, grab a beverage and join me farther down the page to see what the Stinger will offer when the order books officially open.

Update 11/16/2017: Kia has announced pricing for the 2018 Kia Stinger just weeks before it rolls into dealers. Pricing starts at an exceptionally low $31,900, nearly $10,000 less than its main competition. Check out the pricing section below to learn all about it.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Kia GT.

Exterior

  • Revised “Tigernose’ grille
  • Functional air dam
  • Fastback like design w\ Large panoramic glass panel up front
  • A refreshing design from the Korean Automaker
  • Rivals the look of cars like the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 with Elegance

2018 Kia Stinger - image 734759
“I was kind of expecting the Stinger to be a modified version of the latest Optima or Cadenza, but boy was I wrong.”

When I arrived in Detroit on the first day of the Detroit Auto Show, the No. 1 car that was on my list was the Kia Stinger, and boy was I surprised when I got to Kia’s show floor. What did I see? Three different production Stingers that not only looked amazing but offered a little secretive nod to the U.S. with one finished in red, one in white, and one finished in a gorgeous blue. I was kind of expecting the Stinger to be a modified version of the latest Optima or Cadenza, but boy was I wrong. Of course, Kia still gave it that Tigernose grille, but it’s the best iteration that we’ve seen so far. Refined and chrome plated the grille defines the sporty nature of the new Stinger and is accented perfectly by that large, functional air dam down below and the deeply recessed vent on each corner.

Moving farther up the front clip, it’s hard not to notice the unique headlights with double LED running lamps and the tightest fit to the body of anything its German rivals offer at this time. But, it’s the little details that really add to the car’s overall appearance. After all, look at the weird arrangement of dots on the bottom of the headlamp lens, or that vertical chrome stripe inside the corner air vents – it’s all about attention to detail, and Kia nailed it.
The most interesting thing about the front is that Kia opted for a smooth hood, with mildly muscular lines on the fenders and front fascia – something that’s somewhat unique in this segment. Those hood vents look really nice, but don’t be fooled; they aren’t in any way functional from what I could tell. Upon opening the hood, you’ll notice they are covered up underneath.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734752
“For the most part, the side profile is smooth, but if you look closely, you’ll see a very light body line running from the corner of the headlight all the way to the rear, crossing the doors just above the door handles”

Moving on to the side profile, you’ll find that the name of the game was elegance and style as opposed to aggressiveness or muscularity. For the most part, the side profile is smooth, but if you look closely, you’ll see a very light body line running from the corner of the headlight all the way to the rear, crossing the doors just above the door handles. The windows get chrome trim that matches the vent ahead of the front door, while the mirrors match the door trim between the two side windows. Finally, there’s another mild body line at the bottom of the doors that feeds from that front vent and disappears into the side skirt ahead of the rear wheels. What really emphasizes the car’s sporty characteristics, however, is the large glass roof above the front seats and that downward slope above the rear seats that gives the Stinger the fastback look. A smaller corner vent adds just a little more character on the side of the rear fascia, and those unique wheels with their five split spokes offer a path of view to those Brembo performance brake calipers. Nice!

Around back, the sexy hits just keep on coming. The thin and sleek taillights reside primarily in the rear quarters, however, the LED strip on the hatch offers a visual connection between the wo. The lower corners of the taillights wrap around the rear quarters to provide a rectangular side marker on each side – yet another unique feature. The rear quarts and rear hatch and a slight upward swoop to create a built-in lip of sorts. Down below, there’s a mild line that runs the width of the rear fascia, but what’s more important is the massive, full-width insert at the bottom that houses the twin, dual exhaust outlets and offers up a diffuser-like look in the middle.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734755
“The exterior look of the Stinger just goes to show what kind of talent Kia has required over the years”

All told, the exterior look of the Stinger just goes to show what kind of talent Kia has required over the years. It proves that a brand can step away from the boring, lackluster designs that made it a go-to for affordable but dependable vehicles and jump in the ring with the big boys. The design is well thought out and strategic in every sense, based on looks alone, the German three – as well as other premium and luxury manufacturers – have a lot to worry about in coming years.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (Inches) 114.4
Length (Inches) 190.2
Width (Inches) 73.6
Height (Inches) 55.1
Track front/rear (Inches) 62.8/64.8

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

So, once the Stinger hits dealer showrooms, it will be the new kid on the block that has to battle extreme brand loyalty and models that have been established in the market long before the Stinger was even conceived. Kia has named a number of models that it considers competition, but the more prominent ones include the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback.


2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupè - image 540334

When it comes to the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, it’s still in its first generation, being introduced as a 2014 model when BMW decided to split the 3 Series into two lineups. Be that as it may, the 4 Series will actually be nice and fresh when the Stinger goes on sale as it was just refreshed for the 2018 model year – something that might make it just a little harder for the Stinger to get a foothold in the market. In terms of exterior styling, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is sexy and stylish, and has more muscular definition than the Stinger. Up front, you’ll find that the hood has sharp and well-defined lines while the front fascia carries on with BMW’s typical aggressive design that makes use of a large, fake vent in each corner. The vents are larger than those on the stinger, while the air dam is smaller.

The Bimmer does feature some chrome, but it’s nowhere near as flashy as the stinger. The same story holds true for the side profile where two distinct body lines add character and a less-noticeable fender vent resides between the front wheels and the front door. The side skirts of the Bimmer are also far more aggressive. In the rear, you’ll find the 4 Series is more defined, featuring aggressive styling on the rear fascia and a rear insert that sits in between. The upward swoop on the decklid provides a bit of downforce in the rear while the exhaust outlets sit closer to the center of the fascia than they do on the Kia.


2017 Audi A5 Sportback - image 702793

If you fancy yourself as an Audi person, you’ll find that Audi has made some pretty big strides in recent years to ditch the bland, boring designs of the past. The A5 is clear and uncut proof of that in many ways. It has a muscular front hood that features four sharp body lines, with the outside lines curving inward to terminate at the upper corners of the front grille. That grille, by the way, has evolved in recent years and is now thinner, wider, and flashy. The upper corner edges run almost parallel with the inner-most edges of the headlight units and, down below, you’ll find a pair of aggressive but fake air vents that serve as a permanent home for the fog lights, when properly equipped. Instead of having a wide-open air dam like the 4 Series and the stinger, Audi kept with a short nose with the corner vents linked together by a splitter like design. It’s actually unique in this segment (in a weird kind of way) and fairly pleasing to look at.

To the sides, you’ll find that the headlights serve as a starting point for a somewhat wavy body line that curves slightly above each wheel well and runs between the door handles and waistline before terminating at the taillights. Down below a slanted body line that is positioned between the front and rear wheels helps give the illusion that the A5 as a slightly raked stance. The side skirts, are rather uneventful, and the A5 is the only one of the three that doesn’t have a vent or trim element on the front fenders. Around back, the rear quarters flare out a bit to give a muscular appearance, while sleek taillights sit below a tiny overhang that visually links the rear quarters and decklid together. Down below, the rear fascia has a few body lines that run the full width of the rear, but there is no massive insert or diffuser hear, just a single exhaust outlet, a pair of reflectors, and a small vent for a little extra character.

If you’re motivated by looks alone, it’s going to boil down to how much you like aggressive looks. The Stinger, while fairly flashy is the least aggressive of the three, while the Bimmer and Audi bring significantly sharper lines and a more commanding presence. Both German models have been updated recently and will carry on through the end of the decade, as will the Stinger.

Exterior Dimensions

left
right
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe Audi A5 Sportback
Wheelbase (Inches) 110.6 111.18
Length (Inches) 182.6 186.33
Width (Inches) 71.9 72.55
Height (Inches) 54.7 54.56

Interior

  • Luxurious interior far above any Kia that came before it
  • Soft touch surfaces
  • Instrument cluster includes oil temp, navigation, g-forces, and a lap timer
  • Advanced HUD system
  • Low-siting driver’s seat for more support
  • Spacious rear seats unparalleled by BMW or Audi

2018 Kia Stinger - image 745698
“When you sit down inside the Stinger, you’ll find yourself feeling an immediate and intense sensation of bliss as your mind goes into slight overload as you try to convince yourself that this is really a Kia”

When you sit down inside the Stinger, you’ll find yourself feeling an immediate and intense sensation of bliss as your mind goes into slight overload as you try to convince yourself that this is really a Kia. Not that Kia hasn’t made drastic improvements to its interiors over the last 25 years (Kia Motors America came to be in 1992,) but there is much more going on here than anyone expected. First off, there are soft-touch surfaces everywhere including the entire dash and the door trim panels. The dash itself is elegantly designed with that slight overhang that casts a small shadow on the nose of the dash. Mixed HVAC vents keep things interesting with trio circular, eight-spoke vents in the center and almost rectangular vents in the corners. A bright trim strip runs from both sides of the dash’s face, leading the way to a small control panel that houses the hazard light switch as well as a few audio controls.

Oddly, there isn’t a flat-bottom steering wheel here, but it’s sporty nonetheless and features red contrast stitching that matches the seats and door trim inserts. There are thumb control buttons on each side spoke, and the bottom spoke features a gloss black finish with the GT logo at the bottom. Ahead of the driver sits a semi-digital instrument cluster with two analog gauges that are outlined in metal trim to go with bright red needles. In between sits a wide TFT display that provides information like engine oil temperature, navigation, cornering G-forces, and lap times, but also serves as the home for the driver settings menu and onboard diagnostics system. Sitting just to the right, is a hint toward the Stingers German rivals with that large display that is perched prominently atop the center stack. And, you can’t see it in the pictures we have here, but there is also and advanced HUD system that is height adjustable and displays information on the windshield, including speed, navigation, audio settings, cruise control settings, and blind spot detection information.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734761
“The dash itself is elegantly designed with that slight overhang that casts a small shadow on the nose of the dash.”

Moving lower in the front of the cabin, you’ll find metal plated pedals and a metal plated foot rest. In the center, that tall transmission tunnel serves is covered up by that high-sitting center console that offers a central armrest with a storage pocket underneath to go with dual cup holders and a gear shifter that’s ergonomic, comfortable, and easy to use and understand. Further ahead is a smaller storage tray that offers wireless phone charging for smartphones with the capability. Sitting above that tray are the HVAC controls that are positioned for easy access from either front passenger. As you can see, the front seats offer amazing side support top and bottom and feature a nice stitching pattern. The models at the Detroit Auto Show were wrapped in the optional Napa leather, and while we don’t know what that option will cost yet, it’s definitely something you want to consider if you decide to give Kia’s new Halo car a chance.

There is one thing here, that’s very important to know but isn’t really represented in any of the images here. The driver’s seat actually sits really low in the car, bringing the driver’s hip point significantly lower than that of the Stinger’s German rivals. This gives it a snugger and sportier feeling, and to test this theory I went straight from Kia to BMW and sat down in the new 5 Series – the difference was night and day. The seat was more comfortable and offered much more support in all of the right places. It was shocking and hard to believe, but if you don’t believe me, I suggest you take the test for yourself – you’ll be surprised as well.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 745697
“The driver’s seat actually sits really low in the car, bringing the driver’s hip point significantly lower than that of the Stinger’s German rivals.”

Sitting in the rear of the Stinger is just as surprising as sitting up front. Of course, it’s void of anything like a rear infotainment system, but rear passengers do get their very own HVAC vents and controls to keep things kosher and a pair of power sockets to keep devices charged on those longer trips. What really caught my attention, however, was how spacious the rear of the cabin really was. Despite the sloping roof and fastback design, there’s more than enough headroom for anyone shorter than 6’4, while legroom can easily accommodate those of the taller persuasion as well. The doors even open wide to accommodate those with a larger frame. The rear seats offer support in all of the right places with an emphasis on the lower back and shoulder blades. While I couldn’t spend too long in the rear, I did find that the rear seats did ease the tension in my back – something you don’t normally find happening in the rear of a smaller sedan. The rearward tilt to the seat cushions help keep your legs in a comfortable position without hampering blood flow to the lower extremities.

I know a lot of this might come off as PR talk to those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the Stinger in the metal yet, but I promise you it’s not. In the short time I spent inside this crazy sedan, I found myself highly impressed and even a bit confused that Kia hasn’t brought this quality of materials or the superb and meticulous fit and finish to other models in its lineup. For the brand’s first go at the luxury segment, it did pretty damn well, and it’s only fair to give them props. Not everyone can jump in the ring with the big boys and go a full 15 rounds.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 745739

Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear (Inches) 38.3/37.0
Leg room front/rear (Inches) 42.6/36.4
Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 56.4/54.8
Hip room front/rear (Inches) 55.5/56.1
Passenger capacity (cu. ft.) 93.8
Cargo area capacity, rear seats up (cu. ft.) 23.3
Cargo area capacity, rear seats folded (cu. ft.) 40.9

Design, Function, and Comfort

At this point, you know that I practically fell in love with the Stinger’s interior, but that doesn’t mean the competition doesn’t stack up well. When BMW updated the 4 Series, it also did quite a bit to the interior to help keep it on point for the next few years.


2018 BMW M4 Convertible - image 702101

Looking at the full dash shot of the BMW 4 Series above you can see that it’s quite stylish in its own regard. I haven’t had a chance to sit in the updated 4 Series, but the pre-facelifted model offered very comfortable seats and a spacious alternative to the Stinger. Kia made it a point to say it benchmarked the Stinger against the 4 Series a lot, but some of the similarities between the two are uncanny. Take the door trim panels, for example. The both have their own designs and all, but the design of the armrest, pull handle, and the location of the middle speaker in the middle of the insert prove that Kia smuggled in some cues from the 4 Series – a tactical and strategic choice, but risky.

The seats in the Stinger offer a little more side support (unless you look at the M4, for instance) while the Bimmer has a more intuitive operating system built into its infotainment system. The screen in the Bimmer isn’t as tall, but it’s wider and responsive. Both models make use of a semi-digital instrument cluster, however, the TFT screen in the Kia is just a bit wider and offers better graphics. As far function goes, both offer similar safety technology while the controls for the Bimmer’s infotainment system are a little more intuitive. The Driver’s seat in the Kia does sit a bit lower in comparison, however, so it has a sportier feel and should offer a little more support during more extreme maneuvers.


2017 Audi A5 Sportback - image 687428

And, we finally get to the A5, which I tend to favor more than that of the BMW and find to be a little more advanced than that of the Stinger. Now, the Stinger wins hands down as far as comfortability goes, but on the technology and design front, the A5 is hard to ignore. It can be hard with a 12-inch, digital instrument cluster that provides all necessary information and as a home for the navigation system – a feature that helps keep your eyes on the road. I prefer the navigation in the BMW as far as looks and function goes, but I’d be willing to sacrifice if it meant getting that digital instrument cluster. The A5’s infotainment screen is also the larger of the three and actually looks like it is floating above the dash instead of being mounted to it.

The Audi features HVAC vents that run the full width of the dash and the seats sit higher than those of the Bimmer and Kia. The center console features a semi-floating design with
storage area located underneath and, while it has the slightly elevated edge on the passenger side, it’s not as intrusive as that of the BMW. The seats in the Audi look almost identical to those found in the 4 Series while the door trim is more refined. Like the other two models, it comes with a similar list of safety and technology features, including the option of a 4G LTE hotspot and various semi-autonomous safety features.

Interior Dimensions

BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe Audi A5 Sportback
Headroom front/rear (Inches) 39.9 39.92/37.28
Legroom, front/rear (Inches) 42.2/33.7
Shoulder room, front/rear (Inches) 54.8/54.3
Cargo Space (cu. ft.) 17.0 17.0

Drivetrain

  • Base model: 2.0-liter; 255 HP & 260 LB-FT
  • GT model: 3.3-liter, 365 HP & 376 LB-FT
  • 0-to-60 could be as fast as five seconds flat
  • Fuel economy as good as 22/29/25
  • Euro customers get a 2.2-liter with close to 200 HP
  • Automatic transmission only 
  • Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter
    – a first for Kia
  • RWD standard; AWD $2,200 option
  • AWD gets dynamic torque vectoring
  • RWD models get a mechanical LSD
  • More than half of chassis composed of higher-strength steel
  • 3,615 LB in base for or 3,968 with the V-6
  • Could go hybrid in the future
  • Chassis can handle much more power

2018 Kia Stinger - image 734762
“The entry-level model comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-banger known as the Theta II that has 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 pound-feet of twist at a very low 1,400 rpm.”

Unfortunately, I wasn’t afforded the option to take one of the three Stingers on display for a spin, but as they say, good things come to those who wait, right? Even without getting to hear that 3.3-liter Biturbo roar or feel how this thing really handles in a tight corner at high speed, I find myself impressed and intrigued by the specs. The entry-level model comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-banger known as the Theta II that has 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 pound-feet of twist at a very low 1,400 rpm. But, if you’re like me, and have a true thirst for power, you’ll jump up to the 3.3-liter, Biturbo, V-6 that is available in the GT model. It pumps out a cool 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 376 pound-feet at an even lower 1,300 to 4,500 rpm – this should make for some very fun and powerful burnouts when you turn off that traction control.

Of course, Kia has yet to release official performance specs thus far, but the 60-mph sprint should come in as low as five seconds with the 3.3-liter. Fuel economy for the four-cylinder is rated at 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. If you opt for all-wheel drive, fuel economy drops by one mpg in the city and combined. Meanwhile, the 3.3-liter delivers 19 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mph combined in rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive configuration.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 701499
“Fuel economy for the four-cylinder is rated at 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined.”

On a side note, European customers will have the choice of a diesel-powered Stinger that is powered by a 2.2-liter four-cylinder. It is said to deliver 197 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque. With this engine in tow, the Stinger will be able to hit 62 mph in 8.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 139 mph. This sounds more like all looks and no go to me, but something tells me the fuel economy will be amazing, so it may be fair trade off.

Unfortunately, those who prefer to row their own gears will find themselves largely disappointed as the Stinger isn’t to be offered with a manual transmission. In fact, it has now been exposed that Kia engineers didn’t even try to develop and manual gearbox for the sports sedan, so don’t get your hopes up for the future either. With that said, shifting duties are scheduled to be handled by the second-generation eight-speed auto that comes from the K900 sedan. It was designed by Kia engineers and makes use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter, a first for any vehicle that sports a Kia badge. The plus side to this is that the transmission will handle shifting all on its own, but if you’re feeling the need to get better acquainted with those corners on the way home, you can engage manual shifting and cycle through the gears with the paddle shifters that are attached to the steering wheel. At least you’ll have that option.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 745710
“When it comes to the driveline, the Stinger can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a rear-biased torque distribution”

When it comes to the driveline, the Stinger can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a rear-biased torque distribution. The latter features dynamic torque vectoring that allows the car to monitor conditions and deliver just the right amount of torque to each wheel for just about any given condition, ultimately resulting in the best traction possible in most scenarios. In adverse conditions, automatic braking will take charge of each wheel individually to keep things from getting wild. Those equipped with rear-wheel drive come with a mechanical limited-slip differential which should help evenly distribute power to the rear wheels.

When it came to the Chassis that supports the beast, Kia focused more of stiffness than it did making a light car. As such, the Stinger tips the scales at as much as 3,615 pounds with the four-banger and 3,968 pounds with that V-6 with all-wheel drive. But, that’s not a bad thing, because this makes the car excessively strong, and with 55 percent of the chassis being composed of advanced higher-strength steel, it can handle much more power than the current range-topping model. This in itself is a hint that the Stinger may, at some point in the future, be offered in a more powerful form with the ability to take on the BMW M4 head-to-head – now that’s a battle I would love to see.

Drivetrain Specifications

Stinger GT
Engine 2.0L Twin Scroll Turbo 4-Cyl 3.3L Twin Turbo V6
Displacement (cc) 1,998 cc 3,342 cc
Bore x stroke (mm) 86.0 mm X 86.0 mm 92.0 mm x 83.8 mm
Compression ratio 10.0:1 10.0:1
Horsepower 255 HP @ 6,200 RPM 365 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque 260 LB-FT @ 1,400-4,000 RPM 376 LB-FT @ 1,300-4,500 RPM
Curb Weight
Minimum RWD 3,611 lbs. 3,829 lbs.
Maximum AWD (All Options) 3,792 lbs. 4,023 lbs.
Fuel Economy
Automatic transmission (RWD), city/highway/combined (mpg) 22/29/25 19/25/21
Automatic transmission (AWD), city/highway/combined (mpg) 21/29/24 19/25/21

Rumors

There’s word that Kia has been discussing a future of electrification for the Stinger – there’s no official word and any details at this point, but the conversations have taken place. This means that in the near future a hybrid could come to be. Furthermore, an all-electric variant could but a big damper on the Tesla Model 3 if Kia plays its cards right. I certainly wouldn’t expect that to happen for at least a few years, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.

Better Bang For Your Buck

Power delivery and performance is a pretty big deal to a lot of folks, especially when you’re looking at sporty models like the Stinger, 4 Series Gran Coupe, and the A5 Sportback. But, how do they all stack up against each other? Well, the Stinger is actually the most powerful of the three, offering 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque from that biturbo, but that doesn’t mean it’s the fastest. When it comes to the 4 Series, the entry-level model is the 430i, which can be had in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel ($2,000 premium) and is powered by a 2.0-liter with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s not much less than what’s offered by the four-cylinder Stinger, but it’s enough to push the Gran Coupe to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds – likely a bit quicker than that of the Stinger. But, if you upgrade to the 440i or 440i xDrive, you’ll get a 3.0-liter inline-six that delivers a cool 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. It’s less than the Stinger, but thanks to weight savings and aerodynamics, the 440i can hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds or 4.7 seconds with xDrive. That’s at least 0.3 seconds faster to 60 than what the Stinger is expected to do, but in terms of top speed, the Bimmer is limited to 155 mph while the Stinger tops out well above 160.

The A5 Sportback is a little more confusing, but considering it’s not available in the U.S. as of the time of this writing, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s offered with more diesel engines than gasoline engines. In fact, if you want a six-cylinder model, you have no choice but to get an oil burner. On the gasoline front, there’s a 2.0-liter four-banger that can be had with 187 horsepower and 236 pound-feet or 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet. 62 mph comes in around six seconds, so it’s quite a bit slower than where the Stinger and 4 Series GC sit, but it does pull 47.8 mpg, so at least you get fuel economy if you sacrifice performance a bit. On the diesel front, you can get a 2.0-liter as well, that offers 187 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, which allows the 62-mph sprint to happen in around 7.4 seconds and top speed to sit at 146 mph. It’s a turd in comparison to the Stinger or 4 Series, but it does achieve a combined fuel economy of 67.3 mpg, which could be a major selling point if you do a lot of driving. V-6 TDI models displace 3.0-liters and can be had with 215 horsepower and 295 pound-feet or 292 ponies and 457.3 pound-feet of twist. Performance figures aren’t readily available for all engines, but you can opt for a six-speed manual if you want to row your own, or a seven-speed S Tronic dual clutch with paddle shifters. For those of you who like to cruise and enjoy the luxury without the fun of spirited driving, you can opt for the eight-speed auto that is said to offer smooth shifts.

BMW 430i Gran Coupe BMW 440i Gran Coupe Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TDI
Engine 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder 2.0-liter Inline four-cylinder 2.0-liter Inline four-cylinder 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine
Horsepower 248 HP @ 5,200 RPM 320 HP @ 5,500 RPM 252 HP @ 5,000-6,000 RPM 190 HP @ 3,800-4,200 RPM 218 HP @ 4,000-5,000 RPM
Torque 258 LB-FT @ 1,450–4,800 RPM 330 LB-F @ 1,380–5,000 RPM 272.9 LB-FT @ 1,600-4,500 RPM 295.0 LB-FT @ 1,750-3,000 RPM 295.0 LB-FT @ 1,250–3,750 RPM
Transmission 8-speed Sport Automatic 8-speed Sport Automatic 7-speed dual-clutch 6-speed manual 7-speed dual-clutch
Acceleration 0–60 mph 5.6 4.8 6.5 7.9 6.4
Top speed 130 mph 130 mph 155 mph 148 mph 152 mph
Fuel economy city/highway/combined 23/2/4/27 21/32/25
Curb Weight 3,668 Lbs 3,799 Lbs 3,240 Lbs 3,306 Lbs 3,615 Lbs

Safety


2018 Kia Stinger - image 734760

If you know anything about the Kia brand, you know it wouldn’t bring a car like this to the market without integrating a fair amount of safety and driver assistance features to keep things safe. As such, the Stinger has a number of advanced features, including an all new (and first for any Kia) Driver Attention Alert system that can determine whether the driver is tired or distracted and deliver audio and visual alerts to encourage a rest stop. But, that’s not all. It also features a forward collision system with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian protection to go with advanced cruise control, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert. While some may have been hoping to see more autonomous features, it’s nice to see that Kia isn’t shoving that crap down your throat with its first real performance offering. Surely, it will come in time, but this car is slated to be a driver’s car.

Pricing


2018 Kia Stinger - image 745714

We originally speculated that the Kia Stinger would command at least $41,000 to sit right in line with its main competition, the BMW 4 Series GC and the Audi A5. That would have been logical from most standpoints, but Kia decided to dial things down a bit more and keep its resident performance car in a price bracket that doesn’t require excessively deep pockets or an outrageous car note. All told, the Stinger will start out at a relatively low $31,900 for the base model. Moving up to the Premium trim increases your entry point by $6,000 to $37,100. The Stinger GT comes in at $38,250 while the GT1 commands $43,250. The range-topping Stinger GT2 comes in at $49,200. Of course, this doesn’t include the $900 destination fee and, like the other guys, AWD will set you back an extra $2,200 on any given model. Still, not a bad price point from bottom to top and lots of value for your hard-earned buck.

2018 Kia Stinger $31,900
2018 Kia Stinger Premium $37,100
2018 Kia Stinger GT $38,350
2018 Kia Stinger GT1 $43,250
2018 Kia Stinger GT2 $49,200
All-wheel drive $2,200
Destination $900

Sometimes It’s All About That Green Stuff


2015 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupè - image 540279

So, maybe you find yourself limited to a budget for your next whip. If so, then you’ll find that pricing is really tight in this segment, so you’ll probably want to look at things like design, and performance to really help you make a decision about which model is best for you. As of the time of this writing, the Stinger has yet to be priced, but journalists everywhere shoot out numbers that range anywhere from $40,000 for the entry-level model up to right around $60,000 for the range-topping stinger. When it comes to BMW’s offerings in this segment, you can get the 430i for as little as $41,950 or $43,950 with xDrive. Going with the 440i, which offers better acceleration than the others will hit the bank for at least $48,300 or $50,300 when equipped with all-wheel drive.


2017 Audi A5 Sportback - image 745741

When it comes to the Audi A5 Sportback, pricing varies a bit depending on the specific market. Over in Europe, however, it’s offered in three different trims. The entry-level model comes with the low-end 2.0-liter TDI and starts out from $40,641 in SE form, but increase to a starting point of $42,978 in Sport trim or $45,007 in range-topping S Line trim. These prices have been converted at exchanges rates as of Jan 18, 2017. It should be noted that the two upper trim levels can be had with any of the engines available, but pricing can increase to more than $50,000 for the S Line with all of the available options.

BMW 430i Gran Coupe $41,950
BMW 430i xDrive Gran Coupe $43,950
BMW 440i Gran Coupe $48,300
BMW 440i xDrive Gran Coupe $50,300
Audi A5 Sportback SE $40,641
Audi A5 Sportback Sport $42,978
Audi A5 Sportback S Line $45,007

Other Options

So, perhaps you’re considering the Kia, but you’re not interested in owning a BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe or an Audi A5. That’s okay, though, because the Stinger has what it takes to be cross shopped with a handful of models, like those listed below.

Lexus GS


2016 Lexus GS - image 640431

The Lexus GS isn’t a noob on the market, with the first-gen model being introduced way back in 1991. Of course, the GS wouldn’t have what it takes to compete with a model like the Stinger if Lexus hadn’t pulled itself together and released the current-gen model in 2015 – the first generation to wear Lexus’ iconic spindle grille as we all know it. On the outside, it features a wildly aggressive front end with sharp points and deep lines while the side and rear profiles are rather toned down in comparison.

Like the Stinger, the GS is offered with a four-banger and a V-6. But, the four-banger displaces just 2.0-liters and delivers 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, Lexus claims a 7-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 143 mph. Move up to the GS350 or higher will get you a 3.5-liter V-6 with at least 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. In this configuration, 60 mph comes as quick as 5.8 seconds while top speed maxes out at just 130 mph. In this configuration, you can have all-wheel drive if you so desire, but if you really want power, you need to upgrade to the GS 450h and that’ll need you a few extra ponies with an output of 338 horsepower. You’ll get to 60 in 5.6 seconds and top out at 137 mph, but will be limited to all-wheel drive. Of course, these specs are a little lower than those promised by the Stinger, so the only motivation I can think of is not wanting a German or Korean car, and being more interested in aggressive looks than power under the hood. Pricing starts at $46,310 which could be comparative to the four-cylinder Stinger (maybe) but climbs to as much as $69,995 for the range-topping 450h F Sport.

Read more about the Lexus GS here.

Infiniti Q50


2016 Infiniti Q50 - image 665242

The Q50 is a baby in Infiniti’s stable, being introduced for the 2014 model year and updated in 2016 to keep up with the competition. But, you’ve got to be careful when considering the Q50 as you could find yourself paying as much for way less power if the Stinger really starts out around $42k See, the Q50 starts out at $33,000 and climbs to as much as $44,300 in 2.0t form. This model comes with a 2.0-liter four-banger with a meager 208 horsepower on tap – far less than that promised by the entry-level Stinger. So, if you really want comparable power, you need to go with the 3.0t that pumps out 300 ponies from a 3.0-liter V-6. It starts out at $40,650, which could offer more bang for your buck if you’re considering an entry-level Stinger, but can climb to as much as $46,500 when fully loaded with all of the bells and whistles.

Then again, if the Stinger commands more like $60k, you could opt for a Q50 Red Sport 400 with 400 ponies on tap and an enticing exterior package for as little as $48,700. But, if you want all-wheel drive exclusive wheels and other niceties, you’ll be asked to pony up $50,700. Oh, and by the way, as far as looks go, the Q50 takes an approach similar to that of the Stinger – it’s got lines in all of the right places, but isn’t wildly aggressive. It is pleasing to look at, however, and you’ll find that it does compare well in the looks department.

Find out more about the Infiniti Q50 here.

Conclusion


2018 Kia Stinger - image 745718

And here we are at the end, and you have a lot of information to digest. What’s really important, however, is what you take away from what I’ve said here. I’m not talking about my opinion or all of my happy and enthused attitude about the new Stinger, but the fact that it impressed some like me, who can have some pretty harsh words about cars I see on the market today. Of course, I’m no David E. Davis or Brock Yates, so I don’t expect my thoughts and experience to carry much weight with you, but when you lay eyes on the Stinger for the first time, try to let go of all preconceived notions embedded in your mind based on previously released models from the brand. Kia really raised the bar for itself with the Stinger, and I hope that you find it as impressive as I did, but if you don’t, that’s okay too. Just keep an open mind at first and give it a chance – I truly believe you’ll be impressed as well. And, if you’ve already seen it in person, hit me up in the comments section below and fill me in on your thoughts.

  • Leave it
    • No manual transmission
    • Lots of German brand loyalty to compete with

References


2011 Kia GT Concept - image 415886

Read our full review on the 2011 Kia GT Concept.



Read more Kia news.

Update History

Updated 06/14/2016: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Kia GT up for a new testing session, this time somewhere in the Alps.

Spy shot Comparison


2018 Kia Stinger - image 701467

2018 Kia Stinger - image 702784

2018 Kia Stinger - image 701474

2018 Kia Stinger - image 702785
“Kia did a good job at keeping the Stinger prototype covered throughout its real-world testing sessions. We knew it would be sporty, but the world wasn’t ready for it to looks so good when the sheet came off.”

Kia Stinger vs Kia GT Concept


2018 Kia Stinger - image 701466

2011 Kia GT Concept - image 449917

As I mentioned earlier, the new Stinger (left) is based, in part, on the Kia GT Concept (right) that Kia showed off for the first time at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. The Concept was significantly more wild and futuristic than the production model it spawned. It took Kia five years to rework the concept into something that could be brought to the masses, but that was time well spent. As you can see, the new Stinger got a similar front grille, however, the front fascia, fenders, and headlights were all largely reworked. As far as the side profile goes, Kia dropped the side view cameras in exchange for aging but effective mirrors, and they solved the issue with the front door glass that made the front end of the concept look a bit awkward. The body lines on the side have been toned down but did carry over to the production model. The waistline is practically the same and Kia did make use of the vent from the concept that is ahead of the front doors, but it’s now chrome and doesn’t extend toward the rear wheels.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 701476

2011 Kia GT Concept - image 449919

In the rear, there’s some significant difference in design, but that’s a very good thing as the rear of the concept was the weakest point in its design. To put it simply, the rear end was boringly flat and uneventful with a weird diffuser-like element providing some character. As far as carry over to the production model goes, the only think you’ll recognize as familiar are the rear taillights. They wrap around the rear quarters in the same fashion and traverse across the rear hatch in the same fashion. The lens layout of the production model is much more attractive as is the exhaust setup and rear fascia insert.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 701488

2011 Kia GT Concept - image 702790

Inside, Kia completely reworked the interior to make the stinger more feasible and ready for a market where judgment and criticism comes at light speed. There are very few similarities here, however, you’ll notice that the Stinger’s steering wheel has a similar design but isn’t anywhere near as flashy. The dash has the same design principal with a nose that extends from the center to house the infotainment system and center vents. Normally, production models don’t look nearly as well as the concepts that led to their existence. But, in this case, the Stinger looks much better than the concept inside and out.

PostHeaderIcon Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec

2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec

The Novitec Group is arguably the biggest tuning company in the world. It’s tentacles run long, thanks in large part to sub-brands that cater to a specific automaker. We’re familiar with Novitec Rosso that works exclusively on Ferraris. We’ve also touched base with Novitec Torado with Lamborghini, Novitec Tridente with Maserati, and Spofec, which is responsible for developing programs for Rolls-Royce models. For this instance, the focus will be on Spofec and it’s latest tuning masterpiece, the Dawn Overdose.

You probably realize by now that the focus of this program is the Rolls-Royce Dawn. No surprises there. What you might find surprising though is the level of work that was put into creating a kit that not only adds a significant amount of extra power to the Dawn, but also gives it a wide-body kit that gives the lavish convertible a whole new level of physicality to it. The Dawn Overdose is an all-encompassing kit so if you happen to own Rolls’ newest luxury top-down and you’re itching to give it upgrades fit for a car of its status, there are few tuners who can do it about as comprehensive as the tuning company that literally gets its name from the “SPirit OF ECstasy.” Best hurry though because only eight units of the Dawn Overdose will be made created so if you miss out on any of these eight, you’ll be completely out of luck.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec

Exterior

  • Wide body kit made from carbon fiber
  • Front fenders add 5.1-inches of width
  • New rocker panels with air intakes
  • Front and rear fascias are more aggressive
  • Wider body accommodates extra-wide, 22-inch wheels

2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745418
“A new carbon fiber wide body kit helps create a more muscular look to the Dawn.”

Working on a car like the Rolls-Royce Dawn can be especially tricky for a tuner. The challenge itself isn’t so much about giving the luxury convertible a new look, but in accomplishing that while trying to navigate around the design elements that already make the Dawn stand out. This is, after all, a Rolls-Royce creation, so it’s not like a tuner can just take out certain elements of its design, change it, and then say it’s an “improvement.”

Fortunately, the people at Spofec are well-versed in the art of customization, having already build a more subtle upgrade for the Dawn in the past. Now, it’s taking it a step further with a new carbon fiber wide body kit that helps create a more muscular look to the Dawn. The kit itself includes a host of significant components, none more visually apparent than the large fenders that contribute an extra 13 cm (5.1 inches) to the overall width of the Dawn at the front axle. It’s a jarring physical transformation by itself, but the good news is that Spofec complimented it by also adding a bigger front bumper. It’s the same story at the back where new air rocker panels have been added into the mix, each carrying its own air intake on each side. The rear bumper also gets an upgrade in size to maintain the consistency of the carbon fiber wide body kit while the addition of a carbon fiber spoiler lip is instantly recognizable.


2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745421
“The Dawn Overdose gets a new set of 22-inch SPOFEC SP1 alloy wheels that were specifically created for this program”

Finishing off the exterior upgrades for the Dawn Overdose kit is a new set of 22-inch SPOFEC SP1 alloy wheels that were specifically created for this program. Th wheels themselves measure 10.5Jx22 and are wrapped in 295/30 ZR 22 tires. Seeing as only eight of these kits will be made, I’d venture a guess that the wheels themselves are going to be about as exclusive as they come.

Interior


2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745429
“There are a rich number of choices to pick from, at least if you’re looking to dress up your Dawns to match your personality”

Interior upgrades are always the trickiest ones to gauge because of the level of customization and personalization that can be offered with programs like the Dawn Overdose. It’s no different here as SPOFEC’s offering for this section of the 2+2 luxury sedan involves a great deal of personalization from the customer. That said, there are a rich number of choices to pick from, at least if you’re looking to dress up your Dawns to match your personality. On that note, Spofec has an endless variety of premium and bespoke materials to choose from, be it fine leather, Alcantara, noble-wood inlays, and enough carbon trim components in a range of designs and colors that will literally make your head spin.

The example that we’re seeing here provides us a good sampling of what we can expect fro the Dawn Overdose program. It’s hard to make out what kind of shade it is, but it is more like tan leather than it is brown leather that covers just about every square inch of surface inside the cabin of the Dawn. Regardless of the technicalities surrounding the collar’s exact name, it is obvious that it’s made of premium craftsmanship, the likes of which we can only get from a tuner that’s as in sync to its clientele’s needs as Spofec.

Drivetrain

  • Tuned 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine
  • Turbo pressure increased
  • Ignition an injection timing remapped
  • New N-Tronic tuning module
  • Power increased by 115 HP & 118 LB-FT
  • Total Output: 686 HP & 723 LB-FT
  • 0-to-62 mph in 4.6 sec; 0.3 seconds faster than stock

2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745420
“That adds up to an increase of 115 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of twist over the Dawn’s standard power of 571 ponies and 605 pound-feet of torque”

If you’re familiar with the way any of the tuning companies under the Novitec Group operate, then you’ll know that all of them rely on a specific tuning kit to get those engine upgrades up and running. The kit itself is called “N-Tronic,” the tuner’s go-to, plug-and-play, processor-controlled tuning module that’s responsible for tuning the engine control unit on the Dawn’s 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine. Specific mapping for injection and ignition to go with moderate increases to the boost pressure help the Dawn increase its output to 686 horsepower and 723 pound-feet of torque. Do the math, and that adds up to an increase of 115 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of twist over the Dawn’s standard power of 571 ponies and 605 pound-feet of torque. Pretty impressive for a car that already packs quite a punch by itself.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is till the gearbox-of-choice and all that power is sent to the two rear wheels. The result of that power increase is a Dawn that can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds, ridiculous for a car of its size. It’s also 0.3 seconds quicker, which tells you the quality of Novitec’s N-Tronic tuning module. Unfortunately, top speed sticks at 155 mph because it’s electronically-limited and Spofec didn’t think too much to even uncap it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing given that 155 mph is plenty fast enough for me.

Suspension and Brakes

  • Air suspension tuned to lower by 1.57 inches below 87 mph
  • Spofec carbon-ceramic braking system sheds 84 pounds from stock
  • Larger rotors measure 405 x 30 mm in the front and 395 x 38 mm at the back

2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745427
“Spofec is adding an air suspension system to the program, one that’s capable of dropping the convertible’s ride height by as much 40mm”

Needless to say, with this much going on as far as the Dawn’s performance capabilities are concerned, the need for suspension and brake upgrades are warranted. That’s why Spofec is adding an air suspension system to the program, one that’s capable of dropping the convertible’s ride height by as much 40mm, or around 1.57 inches. This feature is only available though up to speeds of 87 mph so anything higher than that, the whole body goes back up to its original level.

Complementing the air suspension unit is a new carbon-ceramic braking system from the tuner itself. This system comes with vented discs measuring 405 x 30 mm at the front and 395 x 38 mm at the rear axle. More to that, the whole unit actually weighs 38 kilos (84 pounds) less than the standard version. That’s the kind of functionality mixed in with quality use that I can get behind on.

Pricing


2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745426

Somewhat expectedly, pricing figures for the ultra-exclusive Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose program are available on a need-to-know basis. That’s usually the case with programs that offer a significant amount of personalization, largely because the scope and subsequent price of a specific upgrade may vary depending on the amount of owner-directed customization that goes on in the build of this kit.

Competition

Rolls-Royce Dawn by Mansory


2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn by Mansory - image 673224

It’s true that most of the non-standard Rolls-Royce Dawns we’ve seen over the years are of the special edition variety. That seems to be a specialty of Rolls-Royce anyway considering that I’ve literally lost count of the number SE Dawns that have been released since the car itself made its debut in 2015. But there have also been tuners that have worked on developing programs for the luxury convertible, one of which is a pretty familiar name to al of you. Mansory’s program for the Dawn was presented for all the world to see back in April 2016. Among other bits and pieces, that program featured its own handful of aesthetic and aerodynamic upgrades. It received a new front spoiler with larger air intakes and LED daytime running lights, a carbon fiber front lip, and a lightweight hood.

On the performance front, Mansory relied on its own versatile engine tuning module, one that was able to increase the convertible’s output up to a staggering 740 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque. Yep, that’s an increase of 177 ponies and 162 pound-feet of twist, a clear-cut indicator that the Mansory-tuned Rolls-Royce Dawn is going to lay down and roll over for everyone. Even better, the increased power of the car also
helps it print from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.5 seconds. It’s 0.4 seconds quicker than the standard model, though more importantly, it also beats out Spofec’s performance time by 0.1 seconds. It even has a higher top speed of 177 mph on account of the speed limiter getting its own update.

Read our full review on the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn by Mansory.

Conclusion


2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec - image 745424

I don’t think I’m the best authority when it comes to aftermarket tuning programs that come out of the Novitec Group umbrella. Not that I don’t consider myself to be well-versed in them, but more because I’ve always had a similar reaction whenever I see a Novitec program in the news. It’s hard not to be impressed with the time and dedication that were put into creating this kit, but more importantly, there’s that consistency in creating incredible work that Spofec has become known for. I’m sure that if you own a Rolls-Royce Dawn, the itch to get more out of it has probably crept up in your mind. Well, now you won’t have to think too much anymore because what Spofec is offering for the 2+2 luxury convertible is about as good as it gets for everybody involved.

  • Leave it
    • Limited to only eight units worldwide
    • Hard to come by as it is
    • Other options available

References

Rolls Royce Dawn


2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn - image 645010

Read our full review on the 2017 Rolls Royce Dawn.



Read more Rolls Royce news.

PostHeaderIcon Infiniti QX80

2018 Infiniti QX80

The Infiniti QX80 is getting a slight refresh for the 2018 model year. This comes after the SUV debuted in 2013 and is welcomed since the SUV segment is so hot these days. The grille, headlights, and hood receive the biggest updates, while new LED taillights, wheel designs, and color options round out the refresh. Even milder changes happen inside, though potential customers wanting the latest and greatest will find the larger rear-seat entertainment screens, revised leather-wrapped steering wheel, and larger storage compartments a welcomed addition.

The QX80 is somewhat of a niche vehicle. Infiniti says it sold 14,085 QX80s in the U.S. within the last calendar year, which is an 8.3-percent increase over the prior year. Compare that to the Chevrolet Tahoe’s 2016 sales of 103,306 in the U.S. Even the Cadillac Escalade outpaced the QX80 in 2016 with 23,604 examples sold in America. Still, Infiniti says its research shows the QX80 averages the youngest buyer in the full-size SUV segment, with a high percentage being females. The brand also labels the QX80 buyer as “affluent, high-achieving entrepreneurs and business leaders, often with families, who demand space and utility, hand-crafted quality and modern design, and effortless on-road performance” – whatever that means. Basically, the QX80 is a three-row, full-size SUV for those who want to stand out. The changes for 2018 won’t magically boost QX80 sales toward the Tahoe, but Infiniti can surely expect to see growth in the segment.

Let’s see exactly what’s changed for 2018.

Exterior

  • Grille more upright
  • Longer and taller hood
  • Revised lower fascia
  • New LED taillights
  • Wider side steps
left
right
“The grille is more upright than before, and the hood is now longer.”

You’ll have to look closely to spot the differences between the 2017 and 2018 QX80s. Nevertheless, the changes do impart a bolder stance that wasn’t present before. The grille is more upright than before, and the hood is now longer. In fact, the grille moves 3.5 inches more forward, and the hood is raised by 0.79 inches. The new LED headlights are moved further up the front fascia. They also have a more aggressive, more modern canter. Infiniti calls them “human-eye” headlights. They’re said to have a triple light guide that passes through multiple lenses to better disperse the light across the road. Down low, the LED fog lights and the surrounding bodywork have been revised for a sharper look. The front fender vents even have a sharpened shape.

Overall, the new front is more aggressive and squarish, which matches the roofline and crisp lines of the D-pillar. The bodywork helps harden the QX80, giving it a more macho stance. That’s something the previous bubbly front design lacked.


2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744916
“Three new exterior colors are added.”

Elsewhere on the outside, the QX80 retains most of its previous sheet metal. That’s fine, though, since the 2018 changes are only a mid-cycle refresh. The rounded wheel openings, the blacked-out roof pillars (minus the stylish D-pillar), and the integrated running boards all remain familiar elements. Infiniti did make those running boards 0.79 inches wider for easier footing. The taillights are new, though. As mentioned, they are now LED units and are far less bubbly. The chrome trim above the license plate now extends into the red lenses, while different section within the taillights have different shades of red.
The lower bumper is crisper, as well. New horizontal reflectors help bring definition and better frame the trailer hitch cover.

The 2018 QX80 rides on 20- and 22-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The 20s have a six-spoke design, while the 22s have an 18-spoke design. Both wheels are wrapped in wide, 275-series all-season tires. Three new colors are added to the options list – Moonstone White, Mineral Black, and Champagne Quartz – making nine choices in all with solid, metallic and pearl finishes scattered among the hues.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (Inches) 121.1
Overall length (Inches) 208.9
Overall width (Inches) 79.9
Overall height w/ roof rack (Inches) 75.8
Front track width (Inches) 67.5
Rear track width (Inches) 67.9
Angle of approach (degrees) 20.9
Angle of departure (degrees) 22.3
Ramp angle (degrees) 20.7

Interior

  • Two available grades of leather
  • Three Interior color options
  • Updated center stack and controls
  • Updated steering wheel
  • New shift lever
  • Larger rear-seat entertainment screens

2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744887
“As for the seating, three color choices and two leather grades are now offered.”

Changes to the 2018 QX80’s interior are minimal yet important. A revised steering wheel and gear shifter not only look better but should feel better to the touch. New leather options are added, and the second-row entertainment system moves from 7.0- to 8.0-inch screens and better resolution at 900 x 540 pixels. The hard-key buttons controlling the infotainment system and radio have been reorganized for easier use.

As for the seating, three color choices and two leather grades are now offered. There are the standard leather and the optional semi-aniline leather with color-contrasting piping. Colors for both leather options include Saddle Brown, Wheat, and Graphite. Regardless of color, the leather comes with a handsome and plush quilted pattern that really looks high-class. Real wood trim lines the center console, dash, and other areas of the interior. Best of all, Infiniti now uses a new micro-coating on the leather that is resistant to stains and denim dye transfer.


2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744889
“Infiniti now uses a new micro-coating on the leather that is resistant to stains and denim dye transfer.”

The QX80 continues to offer seating for eight people with the second-row bench or seven people with the second-row captain’s chairs. With those captain’s chairs comes a large center console for storage and cup holders. USB and charge ports are placed on the console between the front seats. Second-row passengers can adjust HVAC settings for rear passengers from here, as well. The outboard seats in the second row are heated. The same is true for the front seats, which also have ventilation.

Drivers will appreciate Infiniti finally adding a smart key that automatically adjusts over 200 settings saved to that key fob. For example, dad’s key will have his seat setting, radio presets, and navigation preferences saved, while mom’s key will have all of her stuff. Depending on which key is used depends on what settings are activated upon start-up.


2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744890
“With both rear rows folded, the QX80 swallows 95.1 cubic feet of cargo.”

Smaller yet thoughtful updates include a larger cell phone storage bin that accommodates devices up to 2.9 inches wide. The USB port has been moved to a more accessible spot. The front cup holders now hold two 44-ounce cups for us thirsty Americans. The QX80 adopts Nissan’s Smart Rear View Mirror system for improved rearward visibility. Push a button, and the rear view mirror shows a camera view from the tailgate. This is extremely handy when carrying tall passengers or large cargo.

The QX80 remains massively spacious inside. The cargo area has 16.6 cubic feet of room behind the third row and 49.6 cubic feet with the third-row folded flat. With both rear rows folded, the QX80 swallows 95.1 cubic feet of cargo. Front occupants enjoy 39.6 inches of legroom and 39.9 inches of headroom. Second-row passengers get 41 inches of legroom and 40 inches of headroom. Naturally, the third row is more cramped, yet it still offers 28.8 inches of legroom and 36.8 inches of headroom.

Interior Dimension

Head room with sunroof front/middle/rear (Inches) 39.9/40/36.8
Shoulder room front/middle/rear (Inches) 63.8/63.5/605.
Hip room front/middle/rear (Inches) 59.2/58.4/48.8
Leg room front/middle/rear (Inches) 39.6/41.0/28.8

Drivetrain

  • 5.6-liter V-8
  • 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque
  • Seven-speed automatic transmission
  • Available full-time 4WD
  • 14 mpg city / 20 mpg highway / 16 mpg combined on RWD models
  • 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds
  • Top Speed of 130 mph
  • 8,500-pound towing capacity

2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744912
“The 5.6-liter V-8 remains and still produces a very respectable 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque.”

No changes happen under the 2018 QX80’s hood. The 5.6-liter V-8 remains and still produces a very respectable 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. The seven-speed automatic returns, as does the standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive system.

Those getting the 4WD system will enjoy the Auto mode. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it system that only sends power to the front wheels when the rear wheels lose traction. The 4WD system is also a part-time system, allowing the driver to select 4WD High range and 4WD Low range. High range locks in the front axles and splits power delivery evenly between the front and rear. 4WD Low range does the same but uses shorter gearing to multiply torque for better low-end grunt, which is perfect for hill climbs, churning through deep mud or sand, or recovering a stuck vehicle. The 4WD system also boasts a Snow mode.

Though the QX80 does not have locking differentials, it uses its brakes to redirect power to the tires with traction. Infiniti calls it the four-wheel Active Brake Limited Slip system.


2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744873
“The four-wheel independent suspension uses new dampers with a 30-percent reduction in damping force for a smoother ride over rough pavement”

The four-wheel independent suspension uses new dampers with a 30-percent reduction in damping force for a smoother ride over rough pavement. Keeping the QX80 from feeling sloppy is the optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control system, or HBMC. It uses high-pressure hydraulics linked between the shock absorbers to limit the amount of body roll during turns. Coming standard is the automatic rear leveling system, which keeps the tail from sagging when loaded down. This also helps with the QX80’s 8,500-pound tow rating. And if you haven’t guessed by now, the QX80 rides on a ladder frame shared with the Nissan Armada and its global variant, the Patrol.

Fuel economy isn’t the best, though that’s not a surprise to someone dropping big money on a big SUV. It’s also not too far off what other full-size, three-row SUVs achieve during EPA testing. The QX80 in RWD form will get 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. 4WD models get 13mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined. And yes, the direct-injected V-8 drinks premium fuel.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine V-8
Displacement 5.6 liters (5,552 cc)
Horsepower 400 HP @ 5,800 RPM
Torque 413 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM
Transmission Automatic; 7-speed with manual shift mode, Adaptive Shift Control, Downshift Rev Matching (DRM)

Pricing


2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744881

Infiniti is adding $900 to the QX80’s base price. That means the RWD model now starts at $65,745 and the 4WD model starts at $68,845. Three trim levels are offered: the standard QX80, the Signature Edition, and the Limited. The Limited starts around $90,000 and will come with just about every optional feature as standard equipment.

2018 Infiniti QX80 $64,750
2018 Infiniti QX80 4WD $67,850
Options
Theater Package $2,450
Split Bench Seat Package $250
Deluxe Technology Package $5,700
22″ Tire & Wheel Package $2,800
Driver Assistance Package $2,900
Premium Paint $500

Competition

Cadillac Escalade


2015 Cadillac Escalade - image 527586

The venerable Cadillac Escalade has been the choice of automotive extravagance since 1999. Over the years, its luxury levels have risen, further separating it from its Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban cousins. The current ‘Slade debuted for 2015 and remains a fresh and solid choice in this category. It can be had in two wheelbase lengths, but both offer three rows with seating for seven.

Power comes from General Motors’ 6.2-liter, LT1-derived V-8. It has direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation and manages an impressive 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission does the shifting and the rear wheels receive power. A full-time 4WD system is optional. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined on 2WD models. Getting 4WD only alters the highway economy, dropping it to 20 mph.

Cadillac keeps the Escalade riding smoothly with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control. The system’s shock absorbers have magnetic particles suspended in the fluid that vary the ride depending on how much electricity they receive. GM says the shocks can adapt to changing road conditions several hundred times a second. The Escalade still uses a solid rear axle but has an independent front suspension.

Pricing for the 2017 Escalade starts at $72,090 for the short-wheelbase model. Checking all the option boxes puts the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV Platinum at $99,390. Adding other options adds even more to the price.

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac Escalade.

Lexus LX570


2016 Lexus LX 570 - image 640375

Like the Tahoe-based Escalade and Armada-based QX80, the Lexus LX570 is a dolled-up Toyota Land Cruiser. That’s a great thing for those fond of Toyota’s go-anywhere LC and the heritage that comes with it. Unlike Land Cruiser owners who love flying under the radar, the LX570 shouts its prestige from the rooftops. The large Spindle grille and fishhook headlights draw attention while its interior is more techie and plushy than what’s found inside the Yota.

Under the hood is the same thing, however. Toyota’s aging 5.7-liter V-8. Here it makes 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic, and full-time 4WD with low range is standard. The Lexus also boasts advanced electronics that aid in off-road driving. There’s the CRAWL Control and Multi-Terrain Select systems, three drive modes, a locking center differential, and even a turn assist feature that locks the inside rear wheel to shrink the LX’s turn radius while off-road. The adaptive suspension also offers various ride height settings, along with variable stiffness during on-road drives.

Pricing is steep with the LX570. The SUV starts at $89,980. There are no trim levels, so the price all depends on how many options and packages are added. Check all the boxes, and the 2018 LX570 will total $98,610.

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus LX570

Conclusion


2018 Infiniti QX80 - image 744925

The changes Infiniti has given the 2018 QX80 help it look better, ride better, and offer more luxury to its seven or eight passengers. There’s no denying this mid-cycle refresh is a success. We’re always happy to see improvements. There’s also no doubt Infiniti is hoping the updated help QX80 sales, too. There is certainly room to improve on 15,000 examples sold annually. Then again, Infiniti can be thankful the QX80 far outsells the Lexus LX570’s abysmal figures; only 5,707 were sold in 2016 – and that’s an improvement of nearly 2,000 vehicles over 2015. Ouch. Still, it has a ways to go before catching up to the Escalade’s annual sales. Caddy moved 23,604 in the U.S. in 2016 – and that doesn’t even count the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV.

Sales figures aside, the updated 2018 Infiniti QX80 is a solid choice in the exclusive class of luxury body-on-frame three-row SUVs.

  • Leave it
    • Thirsty for premium fuel
    • Expensive with options

References

Infiniti QX80


2015 Infiniti QX80 - image 549643

Read our full review on the previous 2017 Infiniti QX80.



Read more Infiniti news.

PostHeaderIcon Cadillac XT5 – Driven

2017 Cadillac XT5

Cadillac is diligently working on polishing its brand reputation after decades of forgettable cars. Over the last few years, General Motors’ luxury brand has gotten a good start with updates to the ATS and CTS, while launching the all-new and impressive CT6. But, sedans aren’t hot right now – it’s crossovers. Cadillac needed a high-end crossover with classy digs and tons of tech capable of competing with the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Jaguar F-Pace. That’s where the new XT5 comes in, debuting for the 2017 model year.

The XT5 rides on GM’s new C1XX platform that’s shared with the GMC Acadia. The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse and 2018 Buick Enclave ride on a lengthened version of the C1XX, as well. The new architecture gave Cadillac engineers a clean-sheet start over the outgoing SRX crossover and the ability to bake in better ride characteristics, handling, softened NVH levels, more interior room, and better fuel economy. The icing on the cake is then advanced part-time AWD system with a twin-clutch rear differential capable of active torque vectoring. Not only does it improve all-weather drivability, but it improves handling on dry roads, too. A new V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission complete the important under-hood parts. Tech-savvy customers will love the new CUE system with 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless phone charging. Luxury bits include amazingly comfortable seats, high-end leather, wood and metal accents, and a suede headliner.

I recently spent a week with the 2017 XT5 and can vouch for Caddy’s new crossover. It’s got plenty going for it, but it isn’t perfect. Keep reading to see why.

Continue reading for more on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

Video

Exterior

  • All-new design but with familiar cues
  • LED headlights
  • 20-inch polished wheels
  • Towing Package
  • Power liftgate
  • Illuminated door handles

2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745026
“The new architecture under the XT5 gave Cadillac designers a clean canvas to work with”

The new architecture under the XT5 gave Cadillac designers a clean canvas to work with. Naturally, brand cues were kept like the V-shaped grille, LED projection-beam headlights with the cascading LED daytime running lights, and the sharp creases on the hood. Those details can be found on the ATS, CTS, and CT6. Even the Escalade shares a few.

The XT5’s overall shape does suggest it’s a front-wheel-drive crossover, which is true. AWD is an option, but more than that, the transversely mounted engine and its surrounding supports dictate a short front clip. Unlike the sexy CT6 and its long, low-slung nose, the XT5 looks more upright and a bit less elegant. This is my biggest aesthetic complaint on the XT5 – its design just isn’t as graceful as it could be.


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745028
“Besides the stubby front end, the rest of the XT5 looks pretty good.”

Besides the stubby front end, the rest of the XT5 looks pretty good. The roof has a very mild slope, which leaves plenty of headroom for rear passengers. That’s a departure from what the competition is doing; there’s a lot to be said for that. Out back, the LED taillights recall the same cascading design seen across the Cadillac lineup, as does the horizontal chrome pieces on the tailgate and bumper. Twin, chrome-tipped exhaust finishers and a removable metal hitch cover finish off the lower bumper in style. The cover also hides a seven-pin trailer wiring connector, too.

My Platinum-trimmed tester rolls on 20-inch, 12-spoke wheels wrapped in all-season tires. Between them, black plastic cladding protects the lower bodywork from rock chips and flying debris. Matched with the Stellar Black Metallic paint, the black plastic is hard to spot at a glance, but other colors contrast more quickly. Illuminated chrome door handles, chrome window trim, and chrome roof rails finish off the XT5’s outward appearance.

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (Inches) 112.5
Length (Inches) 189.5
Height (Inches) 66.0
Width (Inches) 75.0
Track front/rear (Inches) 64.4/64.4

Interior

  • CUE Infotainment system with 8.0-inch touchscreen
  • Customizable 4.2-inch Driver Information screen
  • Full leather seating
  • Suede headliners and trim panels
  • Wood and metal accents
  • 30 cubic feet of cargo behind 2nd row
  • 63 cubic feet of cargo with 40/20/40 2nd row folded
  • Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745050
“Cadillac borrowed heavily from the CT6 sedan when designing the XT5 – and that’s a great thing.”

Cadillac borrowed heavily from the CT6 sedan when designing the XT5. Thankfully, that’s a great thing. The updated CUE, or Cadillac User Experience system, is much-improved with toggle switches controlling the HVAC system and what seems like an improved response from the touch-sensitive slider for the radio volume.

The driver enjoys a rich-feeling, leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood and metal accents and a heated rim. A 4.2-inch driver information display shows tons of information in several configurable layouts while dual analog gauges show speed and engine revs. The 8.0-inch touchscreen in the center stack runs familiar software. Here it’s called the Cadillac CUE, but it’s nearly identical to Chevy’s MyLink and GMC’s IntelliLink software. All three are incredibly intuitive to use. It includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM, and navigation.


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745042
“A 4.2-inch driver information display shows tons of information in several configurable layouts”

Both the driver and front passenger ride on very comfortable and thickly padded front seats. Both have three-way heat and ventilation to keep backsides happy. They do lack massaging – something that’s becoming more common in luxury vehicles these days. Rear seat comfort is excellent, too. The 40/20/40-split bench is nicely padded with reclining backrests, a folding center armrest, and properly raked seat bottoms. There’s ample legroom and headroom. Separate HVAC controls, air vents, USB ports, and a 110-volt household plug all reside on the center console for rear passengers to enjoy.

When it comes to hauling cargo, the XT5 offers 30 cubic feet of room behind the second row and an impressive 63 cubic feet of room with the second row folded flat. An aluminum cargo divider slides along the metal tracks in the floor, giving options as to how space is used.


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745038
“I’d have no problem taking the XT5 on a cross-country trip.”

The overall experience inside the XT5’s cabin is memorable. The materials are high quality and feel well screwed together. There is very little road noise and zero wind noise. The suede-covered dash is a nice touch, though I did find the leather dash gives puts a gnarly reflection on the windshield during the midday sun. Everything else is very commendable. I’d have no problem taking the XT5 on a cross-country trip.

Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear (Inches) 39.7/38.4
Legroom
front/rear (Inches)
41.2/39.5
Shoulder front/rear (Inches) 58.3/56.2
Hip room front/rear (Inches) 56.0/54.7
EPA passenger volume (cu ft) 104.5
EPA trunk volume (cu ft) Behind 1st Row: 63
Behind 2nd Row: 30

Drivetrain

  • All-new 3.6-liter V-6
  • 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Part-time AWD system with twin-clutch rear differential
  • Active torque vectoring rear differential
  • 3,500-pound towing capacity
  • 18 mpg city/ 26mpg highway/ 21mpg combined

2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745062
“The engine was completely reworked for the 2016 model year for use in the ATS and CTS.”

Under the hood is an all-new 3.6-liter V-6. I know what you’re thinking – “all new? Doesn’t every Cadillac come with a 3.6-liter?” You’d be right; just about every Caddy besides the Escalade offers the familiar displacement V-6. However, this engine was completely reworked for the 2016 model year for use in the ATS and CTS. It shares almost no parts with the previous 3.6-liter. It’s now got direct fuel injection on top of the variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation seen on the previous engine. Power is up, too, at 310 horsepower at 6,700 rpm and 271 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox offered, and it sends power to the front wheels most of the time. Now, the XT5 gets a fancy new part-time AWD system (no, that’s not a type-o) that will send power to the rear driveshaft upon the driver’s command. A button on the center console quickly turns the system on and off. When off, the system completely disengages the rear driveshaft from the transmission to save on fuel. When on, the AWD system works on any road condition and at any speed. The system’s computer quickly responds to traction issues and can send 100 percent of power to the rear tires.


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745065
“The Caddy would likely be unstoppable in snow given a proper set of winter tires.”

More than that, the AWD system’s rear differential unit uses a twin-clutch design to engage each axle half-shaft independently. This is what allows for active torque vectoring around corners. This means the outside rear wheel slightly pushes the vehicle around the turn. The system is also able to send 100 percent of power side to side, meaning either of the rear tires can send all of the engine’s power to the ground. In heavy Florida rains, the XT5 was completely sure-footed and never spun a tire, even with heavy throttle. The Caddy would likely be unstoppable in snow given a proper set of winter tires.

Fuel economy is pretty respectable. The EPA estimates the XT5 AWD to get 18 mpg city, 26 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Premium fuel is required, though.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 3.6L V6 VVT DI (LGX)
Cylinder head material cast aluminum
Valvetrain DOHC, four-valves per cylinder, continuously variable valve timing (VVT)
Ignition system coil-on-plug
Fuel delivery direct high-pressure fuel injection
Compression ratio 11.5:1
Horsepower 310 HP @ 6,700 RPM
Torque 271 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM
Transmission AWF8F45 paddle-shift Eight-Speed Automatic (MRC)

Behind The Wheel


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745058
“The XT5 is comfortable in every aspect.”

The XT5 is comfortable in every aspect. It’s easy to get into; it’s easy to see out of, and it’s easy to drive. The steering feels appropriately weighted without being too heavy to requiring too many turns. Its on-center feel is tight without being twitchy. The throttle and brakes are easy to apply, with both having a smooth, predictable pedal travel.

The comfy front seats and power-adjustable steering column make it easy to get comfortable. Memory setting allows the driver to keep his settings. All-day comfort is very high, making the XT5 an excellent highway burner. Add in the large side mirrors and Head-Up display, and this Caddy just begs to rack up the miles.

Pricing


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745023

The 2017 Cadillac XT5 starts at $40,390. Four trim levels are available: the base XT5, Luxury, Premium Luxury, and Platinum. The Luxury trim starts at $48,790; the Premium luxury starts at $55,790; and the Platinum starts at $63,890. The base trim only comes with FWD and the range-topping Platinum only comes in AWD. The middle two trims have the option of FWD or AWD.

My tester came with a few optional extras, too. The $2,340 Driver Assist Package adds adaptive cruise control, auto-tightening seat belts, automatic collision braking, front and rear automatic braking, and the Automatic Park Assist feature. There is also the $575 trailering equipment and the $350 compact spare tire that replaces the tire goo and air compressor. Add on the $995 destination fee, and the total comes to $67,155.

The Competition

2018 Audi Q5


2017 Audi Q5 - image 690295

The Audi Q5 is completely new for 2018 and is lighter, more stylish, and more techie than before, while still holding onto its Germanic background and familiar yet modern Audi character. The Q5 has become nearly omnipresent these days, so it’s clear Audi is doing something right. The new model expands on that in all the right ways. The 2018 Q5 features Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit, a large infotainment screen with Audi’s latest MMI software, and a modern interior.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It’s sent through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to the Quattro AWD system. The Q5’s 4,100-pound curb weight is a couple hundred pounds less than the XT5, meaning the 2.0-liter perfectly peppy. The sprint to 60 mph comes in 5.8 seconds, which is quicker than the XT5’s 6.6-second run. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated at 23 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined. Those who want more power can opt for the SQ5 with its 354 horsepower turbocharged V-6.

Prices for the 2018 Q5 start at $41,500 and will grow beyond $57,000 with all the options added to the Prestige trim.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q5.

2017 Jaguar F-Pace


2017 Jaguar F-Pace - image 645923

In the same vein of sporty crossovers, Jaguar has its new F-Pace. It offers the same levels of luxury as its popular sedans, but in a higher-riding, more all-weather capable package. Naturally, the F-Pace comes in several flavors and with six trims to choose from. Niceties include Meridian sound systems, Jaguar’s infotainment system, and tons of optional features.

The standard engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 247 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a high-output version with 296 horsepower. Diesel fans will love the 2.0-liter turbodiesel with 180 horses and 318 pound-feet of torque. Those wanting performance should go for the familiar 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 found in other Jaguar Land Rover products. Here it makes 380 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque in the F-Pace S trim. All trims and engines come with an eight-speed automatic transmission and AWD.

Prices start at $42,065 for the 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Getting a diesel model requires $46,275 and the 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 takes $59,775.

Read our full review on the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace.

Conclusion


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745030

The XT5 is great at being a plush, luxurious, living room on wheels, but its competition goes about things differently. The Audi, Mercedes, and Jag all have sportier personalities that might appeal to a younger buyer. The XT5 is more passive when it comes to carving corners and blasting up Interstate on-ramps. Its luxury-first approach might make the XT5 appear dull and unathletic by comparison.

But in my view, that’s what makes the XT5 good. It doesn’t try being something it’s not. The XT5 is different, and I’m betting plenty of people want comfort over performance. I’ve got to give credit to Cadillac for that. The XT5 directly appeals to the classic Cadillac spirit of premium luxury without being too geriatric. Any Millennial or Gen-Xer should be more than proud to be seen behind the wheel. So sure, he XT5 takes the old-school Caddy approach of luxury over sport, but executed the idea rather well and without alienating any generation of customer. That’s a big win for Cadillac.

Now I’m left looking forward to what other XT-branded crossovers Caddy has up its sleeve. Perhaps an XT3 or XT4 will take the sporty approach to better compete against the Audi SQ5 and Mercedes-AMG GLC63, while the XT6 or XT7 might give the Land Rover Range Rover and Bentley Bentayga a run for their money

  • Leave it
    • Front end looks overweight
    • Luxury-focused in a sports-focused segment
    • Gets expensive with options

References


2017 Cadillac XT5 – Driven - image 745027

The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743169

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


Cadillac Fixed CUE For The XT5 - image 742588

Cadillac Fixed CUE for the XT5

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon Fisker’s New Battery Patent Promises 500-Mile Range; One-Minute Charging

Fisker, the company that has worked diligently to bring about a dead-to-rights Tesla Model S fighter, has just announced a new battery patent that promises a new technology capable of ranges exceeding 500 miles and one-minute recharging. Let me say that again: One-minute recharging.

Details are still rather thin at this point, but we have learned that Fisker’s new power storage technology will allow the company to build solid-state batteries with lots of surface area in comparison to the current thin-film solid-state electrodes currently in development and use. This ultimately means better conductivity below the shell which, in turn, makes for a battery that works better in cold weather and charges faster. Keep in mind; this is why lithium-ion batteries are the go-to right now for EVs – the current capabilities of solid-state batteries are insufficient and low conductivity levels is a primary cause of this. So, if what Fisker is saying is true, the company could have just solved a very big problem and could, very well, usher in the next generation of battery technology.

Of course, Fisker isn’t the only company gunning for solid-state batteries, and Toyota has even promised its battery would be put to use in electric cars by 2022, just two years sooner than what Fisker claims it can do. Then again, Toyota hasn’t proved its technology, so it still has the same burden that has now be thrust onto Fisker’s shoulders as well. It’s obviously an arms race in which the winner will reign supreme in the EV world. In the end, Fisker if lofting out claims for density 2.5 times that of current lithium-ion batters, which means these babies could charge in minutes and offer up ranges of 500 miles. Just think, you can pull into a “gas station” and by the time you make up your hot dogs, buy a beverage, and take a leak, you’re EV is good for another 500 miles. Range Anxiety? Not in this future. The question now is: Who’s going to deliver on these lofty promises first?

Toyota still has a few years, and the man behind Fisker isn’t exactly working with a full deck of successful resumes either. He hasn’t exactly been the most successful cat on the street, and he promises an advanced battery in the Emotion just to retract his claims. But, for EVs to be truly successful, this is the kind of technology we need, and if we’re really this close – Toyota claims 2022 and Fisker 2024 – we’ll certainly be seeing it happen in most of our lifetimes. And, once that technology is there, there isn’t really a need for the ICE anymore either now is there?

Have something on your mind? Let us know in the comments section below. We’re curious as to what you think about these hefty claims.

References

Fisker Emotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693722

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.



Read more Fisker news.

PostHeaderIcon Emirates Airlines Gets A Helping Hand From A Luxury Automaker On Designing Its First-Class Suites

Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to partnering with some of the most well-known companies in the world. Now, the German automaker is taking to the skies with Emirates Airlines in one of the most significant collaborations between the two companies since agreeing to join forces back in 2014. It’s hardly a surprise that the scope of the partnership revolves around Mercedes’ involvement in designing Emirates’ new first-class cabin using no less than the new S-Class for inspiration.

Apparently, the results of this partnership bore fruit three years after Mercedes and Emirates designers first met to hash out the details on the scope of their work. It’s a slow play, sure, but the results did end up drawing heavily from the interior of the S-Class, including the materials that were chosen, the controls that were used, and the all-around workmanship that was done to turn these enclosed suites into the closest thing to five-star hotel rooms in the sky. Mercedes’ work certainly caught the attention of Emirates, including president Sir Tim Clark, who described the suites as offering “unprecedented levels of privacy, comfort, and luxury.” And to cap it all off, Emirates even enlisted the services of Jeremy Clarkson, a man who himself is no stranger to hyperbole, to promote the new suites. It seems like the airline made a right call on that one too because Clarkson was his usual Clarkson self in the ad, promoting just about everything he could think of, including the pajamas.

So, in the event that you do end up flying first class on Emirates Airlines, remember that those suites that you’ll likely end up enjoying are the work of Mercedes-Benz.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

References

Mercedes-Benz S-Class


2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class - image 713883

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class.


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Read more Jeremy Clarkson news.

PostHeaderIcon Dashboard of Next-Gen Mercedes G-Class Spied

Interior images of Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming 2019 G-Class have just leaked online thanks to Dutch Autoweek. The photos show a mockup of the dashboard, complete with its massive infotainment screen, swanky air vents, and modern design. Of course, the dash isn’t the only new part of the 2019 G-Class – rather, the entire body-on-frame SUV will be brand new. That’s something that hasn’t happened in several decades.

The more upscale dash matches what we know the new G-Wagen. It will be wider, longer, and have better on-road refinement thanks to an independent front suspension system and adaptive dampers. Basically, Mercedes is taking its high-class Jeep Wrangler and making it much more refined. The G-Wagen will still be insanely capable off-road, though, thanks to a full-time 4WD system and locking differentials front, center, and rear. Those diff lock controls are positioned prominently between the center air vents, suggesting the G-Wagen will still be marketed as a go-anywhere SUV.

Other visible details include controls styled after the S-Class sedan, a bank of toggle switches, and an analog clock. The gauge cluster is also analog, but we’re betting the S-Class’ full digital cockpit will be available. We can’t wait to see the rest of the interior, and thankfully, that likely won’t be long. Rumors suggest Mercedes will debut the 2019 G-Class at the 2018 Detroit Motor Show in January. For more spy shots and speculation, read out speculative review of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class here.

Interior Of the 2019 G-Class vs. the interior of the 2017 G-Class

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References

Mercedes G-Class


2018 Mercedes-Benz G-Class - image 683652

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class.


2013 Mercedes G-Class - image 448960

Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

PostHeaderIcon BMW M5: Old vs. New

BMW M5: Old vs New

2017 brought us the new BMW 5 Series, so it’s only fitting that 2018 brings us a new M5. We must have been good this year because Santa came early, and with him, he brought a whole slew of updates that include an updated V-8, loads of new technology, BMW’s xDrive AWD system as standard (optional outside the U.S.,) a lighter chassis, and better performance. Talk about some good news, right? Truth be told, the M5 dropped as much as 127 pounds, has more aggressive styling, an updated interior with the latest infotainment system, and an extra 38 ponies and 51 pound-feet over the outgoing model – that brings total output figures up to 591 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. It can now hit 62 mph in as little as 3.4 seconds and 124 mph in just 11.1 seconds. Of course, top speed is still pinned at 155 mph, unless you get the M Driver’s package, which increases the top speed to 189 mph.

Now, it’s set to take on other established beasts in the market that include the Mercedes-AMG E63, the Audi RS7, and the Cadillac CTS-V – I know, it’s not German, but this thing is seriously a beast, so don’t get caught slipping because it will eat you alive. With all this in mind, we decided to throw together a little infographic for the M5 to help bring its best features and qualities to the forefront. Check it all out in our visual comparison below.


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References

BMW M5


2018 BMW M5 - image 727404

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW M5.



Read more BMW news.

PostHeaderIcon The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac

The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac

Forget your grandfather’s 1985 Cadillac DeVille and even your neighbor’s 2011 DTS; the 2017 XT5 is the best iteration of the Cadillac spirit since the big fins and acres of chrome on the 1959 Eldorado. Sitting inside is where that feeling originates. The materials, the fit and finish, the in-dash technology, and the overall appearance impart a sense of luxury not found in prior generations.

The XT5 is completely new for 2017. Its clean-sheet architecture gave engineers the ability to bake in added comforts and features not seen Caddy’s previous crossovers. There’s an honestly new 3.6-liter V-6, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the techie part-time AWD system. But beyond the mechanics and greasy bits, the XT5’s interior simply feels a cut above. I recently spent time in a 2017 CTS-V – the 640-horsepower monster with the bones of Chevy Camaro ZL1. While it was insanely powerful, it can’t match the XT5 for luxury. Granted, the CTS-V’s aim isn’t to coddle, so I’ll give it a partial pass. Still, the XT5 just feels incredibly plush.

Continue reading for more opinions on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

  • The XT5 shares interior themes with the CT6 sedan
  • Improved controls with CUE system
  • Classy materials add a rich feel
  • 8.0-inch Infotainment screen
  • 4.2-inch Driver Information Display
  • Color head-up display
  • Reclining rear seats
  • Heated and vented front seats
  • Adjustable aluminum cargo partition
  • The XT5 is based on GM’s C1XX artchitecture
  • All-new 3.6-liter V-6
  • 310 horsepower and 271 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Part-time AWD system
  • 18 mpg city / 26 mpg hwy / 21 mpg combined
  • 5-Star NHTSA overall crash rating
  • Pricing from $39,395 to $70,000+

A New Time For Cadillac


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac - image 743978
“Luxury can be defined by the utter usefulness and convenience something offers, not just how high-tech it is.”

The XT5 does share many of its internal materials with other Cadillacs and General Motors products, but a few key differences set it apart. The CUE system has been reworked to make its operation simpler. Toggle switches now control the main HVAC functions and only one “slider,” for the radio volume, remains. Even it feels easier to use than the CTS-V’s. See, luxury can be defined by the utter usefulness and convenience something offers, not just how high-tech it is or what material it’s made from. Simple is better, at least when it comes to a user interface.

Thankfully, the XT5 isn’t alone in this. The CT6 sedan, which debuted for the 2016 model year, also shares much of the XT5’s interior, including the new CUE system. I’m hoping to see Cadillac adopt this system (or something even better) on future vehicles.

As for the materials, things are impressive inside the XT5 Platinum, the range-topping trim offered on this crossover. It features suede on the headliner, on the dash, and on the door panels. The rest of the dash is covered in real leather, wood, and metal. Panel fitment is well done. Gaps are tight and annoying noises are completely absent. The heated and vented front seats provide hours of happy riding and the power-tilt and telescope steering column makes it easy to find the perfect driving position.


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac - image 743999
“The heated and vented front seats provide hours of happy riding.”

I do have a couple complaints, though. The cream-colored leather dash does create a pretty annoying glare on the windshield during the mid-day and the electronic gear shifter doesn’t provide the most intuitive or enjoyable user experience. I also wish the cubby hole below the HVAC controls was about two inches deeper to accommodate larger cell phones. Lastly, I’m not the biggest fan of the XT5’s exterior. Its proportions feel bloated. I think it boils down to the front fascia’s low-hanging chin. The XT5’s front third just looks overweight. That’s a complete departure from the CT6 sedan, which is one of the sexiest sedans on the road today thanks to its low hood and angular lines that borrow from no one. But that’s another topic.


The 2017 XT5 Succeeds At Being A Cadillac - image 743991
“The cream-colored leather dash does create a pretty annoying glare on the windshield during the mid-day.”

When it comes to sitting in the back, Cadillac doesn’t treat you as second-class passengers. There is generous leg and headroom. The seats are well padded and can be reclined. Separate HVAC controls reside between the front seats and separate air vents make controlling airflow a breeze.

The XT5 is good at hauling cargo, too. My tester has the adjustable cargo bar that slides along the integrated floor rails. Moving it is simple and keeps your golf equipment from clubbing your groceries. A power liftgate makes for easy access, too. The rear seats are actually split 40/20/40 style, allowing each of the three seats to fold individually. That’s not a common feature these days, even in crossovers.

All told, the XT5 (along with the CT6) is a vast step forward for Cadillac’s interior quality and mind for luxury. It certainly feels worthy of the $67,155 MSRP attached to my tester.

What do you think? Do you like the Cadillac XT5? Would you buy this over the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, or even the Jaguar F-Pace? Let me know in the comments.

References


How It Works: The 2017 Cadillac XT5's AWD System - image 743169

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


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Cadillac Fixed CUE for the XT5

Cadillac XT5


2017 Cadillac XT5 - image 645340

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac XT5.

PostHeaderIcon Porsche Mission E GTS

2021 Porsche Mission E GTS

In case you hadn’t heard, let me be the first to tell you – Porsche is building a four-door all-electric sports sedan, and it’s called the Mission E. Don’t worry, it’ll have all the go-fast characteristics you’d expect, just without the internal combustion to make it go. In fact, it should draw a good deal of its tech from the hybrid goodness developed for the Panamera and 918 Spyder, so that’s a plus. But, as we all know, Porsche isn’t satisfied to make just a single version of any one model. Multiple variants are required to fill every niche possible, so what about an even-faster Mission E? We’re calling it the Mission E GTS, and we decided to draw up a rendering and put together a speculative review to boot. Upgrades over the standard Mission E should include more aggressive exterior styling, lots of black trim pieces, more performance gear inside, a bigger battery, extra horsepower, and standard performance suspension.

The EV performance market is looking to balloon pretty rapidly over the next few years, and you can bet your lithium-ion battery pack Porsche will be there to take advantage of that growth. Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2021 Porsche Mission E GTS.

Exterior

  • Larger aero than standard model
  • Blacked-out trim pieces
  • Lowered ride height

2021 Porsche Mission E GTS - image 743629
“The Porsche Mission E GTS will be a somewhat unique entry in the Porsche model lineup”

From the off, the Porsche Mission E GTS will be a somewhat unique entry in the Porsche model lineup. Of course, the traditional Stuttgart styling will be included, looking like an amalgamation of the 911, the 918 Spyder, and the Panamera. The nose will be rounded, curving downwards toward the pavement, with a wide and low stance to give it a definitively sporty flavoring. The hips will be broad, while the roofline will fall towards the truncated rear end at a gradual angle.

However, as is tradition for Porsche’s hotter GTS line, the Mission E GTS will get a few noticeable aesthetic changes to help it stand out from its standard, non-GTS siblings. Extra aggression will be the primary focus, with features like bigger wings, more prominent intakes, larger swoops, and similar details.


2021 Porsche Mission E GTS - image 743630
“As is tradition for Porsche’s hotter GTS line, the Mission E GTS will get a few noticeable aesthetic changes to help it stand out from its standard, non-GTS siblings.”

The front end will get the Mission E’s unique headlight design, which places the housings high on the fenders with a small teardrop shape framed by a prominent check mark crease. Lower horizontal daytime running lights emphasize the car’s width. LEDs will be the lighting element of choice.

Moving to the flanks, we find large wheels with a black finish, complementing the various blacked-out trim pieces, grilles, and mesh inserts that are so common on Porsche’s GTS models. The side sills get curvy ground effects that bring the car closer to the ground, a characterstic enhanced by the lowered ride height. The fenders will be broad to encapsulate the larger wheels.

In back, we’d expect to see a bigger diffuser element, once again in black, while above will be a larger wing for extra downforce. We’d also expect the wing to be adaptive, rising and falling to provide either more stick or less drag as the situation dictates.

Interior

  • Lots of Alcantara upholstery
  • Sporty seats
  • Steering wheel inspired by the 918 Spyder

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Note: Porsche Panamera GTS pictured here.

“We’re gonna go with the Panamera GTS as a reference, and we would expect a similar layout and similar upgrades applied to the Mission E GTS.”

While we have yet to actually see the interior of the Porsche Mission E, there’s still a few predictions we could make about a possible GTS version at this early point. First off, we’re gonna go with the Panamera GTS as a reference, and we would expect a similar layout and similar upgrades applied to the Mission E GTS.

For starters, the dash will likely incorporate a broad, horizontal design, with lots of wide lines that add a sense of space. The seating arrangement will include space for up to five passengers, with two up front and three in the rear, plus a little space in the trunk to haul around a suitcase or two. The steering wheel will draw inspiration from the 918 Spyder in terms of design, while digital screens will be used for user inputs and data relays.

“Upgrades for the GTS model will include even sportier seats, with larger side bolsters to keep passengers in place while cornering, plus Alcantara upholstery.”

Upgrades for the GTS model will include even sportier seats, with larger side bolsters to keep passengers in place while cornering. Alcantara upholstery will be the material of choice, and should be added to the seatbacks, the side panels, the doors, and just about anything else Porsche can manage. Finally, brushed aluminum and carbon fiber trim will add that extra bit of gloss.

Drivetrain

  • Four electric motors, AWD
  • Up to 350 miles per charge
  • More power – up to 650 ponies
  • 0-to-60 mph in 3 seconds flat

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“The Mission E GTS will be all-electric, routing motivation to the ground by way of four individual permanent synchronous electric motors”

Like the standard Porsche Mission E, the Mission E GTS will be all-electric, routing motivation to the ground by way of four individual permanent synchronous electric motors, essentially making it AWD. There will also be multiple drive modes, from eco energy saving to maximum attack sport.

The GTS could enhance this with a special sport mode that throws caution (and range anxiety) to the wind for even greater acceleration. Luckily, the Mission E GTS would also likely get a bigger battery pack, offering both greater range per charge and more horsepower as a result. Once again placed under the floor, the larger lithium-ion pack would provide upwards of 350 miles per charge, a substantial increase compared to the standard Mission E’s 300 or so miles per charge. And, if Porsche delivers on its promise, charge times should be pretty quick thanks to the brand’s forthcoming proprietary 800-volt charging system.

“The Mission E GTS would likely get a bigger battery pack, offering both greater range per charge and more horsepower as a result. We’re thinking 650 ponies total.”

But here’s the important bit – we would expect more power from the GTS, up to roughly 650 ponies compared to the standard model’s 600 horsepower. That would make it quicker, and when placed in its sportiest mode, the 0-to-60 mph time should drop to around 3 seconds flat compared to the standard model’s 3.5-second sprint.

Chassis And Handling

  • Standard adaptive suspension
  • Less weight
  • Faster Nurburgring lap time

2021 Porsche Mission E GTS - image 743629
“The Mission E GTS will utilize a unique chassis made specifically for all-electric applications”

Under those freshened body panels, the Mission E GTS will utilize a unique chassis made specifically for all-electric applications. The platform should provide just the right stuff to make the car enjoyable in the corners, while also taking advantage of the all-electric’s benefits and minimizing its drawbacks.

Unique to the GTS model will be additional sporting elements for the suspension, including standard active components for greater performance in the corners. We’d also expect to see a more advanced torque vectoring system, not to mention four-wheel steering as well.

“Unique to the GTS model will be additional sporting elements for the suspension, including standard active components for greater performance in the corners.”

Extra exotic materials, such as additional carbon fiber and titanium, should also be used, cutting out a few pounds here and there. Nothing major – just enough to maximize the newfound power gains and aggressive suspension.

All told, the GTS will be measured in terms of how it performs on the track. The Nurburgring is the place where these things get the full shakedown – perhaps a time of 7 minutes, 45 seconds could justify the extra outlay.

Prices


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With the Mission E expected to start at $85,000, a GTS version would likely put the bottom line at well over $100,000. However, if Porsche offers a stopgap between the base model Mission E and GTS model, such as an S iteration at $100,000, a price tag of $120,000 for the GTS would make a lot of sense.

Competition

Tesla Model S P100D


Tesla Model S Gets Upgraded Battery Pack; Now as Fast as LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder - image 686181

If you want a fast four-door EV, Tesla is pretty much the standard these days. Sitting at the top of the heap is the P100D, an AWD crusher of 0-to-60 mph times that manages to complete the benchmark in just 2.3 seconds. That’s seriously quick, and would likely trounce the Mission E GTS. But here’s the thing – Porsche is more concerned with handling than Tesla, and given a proper race track, the Tesla would likely fall short. Same goes for the interior appointment, where Stuttgart once again has the upper hand. However, if balls-out acceleration is all you care about, Tesla is the way to go.

Read our full review on the 2017 Tesla Model S P100D.

Conclusion


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Note: Porsche Mission E test mule pictured here.

While at first glance it might seem absurd to render up a hot-to-trot iteration of a car Porsche hasn’t even released yet, there’s a method to our madness. In case you hadn’t noticed, Porsche absolutely loves offering a wide spectrum of performance versions for their most popular vehicles. Indeed, no stone is left unturned in the quest to satisfy speed enthusiasts, and there’s no reason the same formula won’t be applied to the Mission E.

In fact, it’s practically required when looking at the current EV market. Tesla is obviously one of the biggest names here, and with a variety of model variants on offer for more speed, more range, and more bragging rights, Porsche can’t ignore the obvious.

  • Leave it
    • Might be very pricey
    • Base Mission E will need to see success before a GTS model is a thing
    • What will the EV performance market look like in 2021?

References

Porsche Panamera

Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 911

Tesla Model S

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate By Vath

2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate By Vath

Estate vehicles, or wagons as we like to call them, aren’t supposed to do 211 mph. It’s just one of those things that don’t happen as far as automakers are concerned. But the car tuning world is a different story, and we see a good example of that with Vath’s latest tuning program for the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate.

A lot of us are familiar with Vath’s work in the past, especially when it comes to Mercedes-AMG models. It has put in work to develop kits for the AMG SL 65, AMG C 450, and the sedan version of the AMG C 63. Heck, it’s even worked on the previous version of the AMG C 63 Estate. To say that Vath knows what it’s doing with Mercedes-AMG models is an accurate portrayal of the tuner’s abilities, and we see those abilities on full display once again with its new program for the meaty estate. Pick a section of the AMG E 63, and there’s a chance that Vath has something for it. The estate’s exterior? Check. Interior? Check on that too. Drivetrain? You better believe it. There are even “miscellaneous items” on the table, just in case you’re in the mood to get those. This is the kind of comprehensive tuning program that Vath has built its name on. There may be more popular tuning firms in the world out there, but when it comes to quality Mercedes-AMG tunes, few are as consistently good as Vath.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Mercedes-AMG E 63 Estate by Vath

Exterior

  • Front Carbon Spoiler
  • Rear Carbon Spoiler
  • Roof Spoiler in Development
  • 20-inch V2_GT wheels w\ Continental tires
  • Suspension Lowered by .78 – 1.5 inches

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“The carbon aerodynamic pack included in the program adds a front spoiler and a rear diffuser into the body of the car”

If you own a Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate and you’re looking to give it an aftermarket jolt, this is the kind of program that you’ll need to pay attention to. The exterior, for example, may not look much in the context of a tuning build, but there’s enough of it there to play a significant role in improving the overall makeup of the estate.

For example, the carbon aerodynamic pack included in the program adds a front spoiler and a rear diffuser into the body of the car. A roof spoiler is also being developed at the moment so it’s availability is subject to when the piece will be ready to be offered. The impressions created by the aero kit are hard to notice, I know, but observe the front section of the Vath-tuned AMG C 63 with the standard model. Notice the slight difference?

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Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate by Vath

It’s the same story in the rear section of the performance estate as the new diffuser help make for a more dynamic-looking profile. Complementing the carbon aero kit is a set of 20-inch alloy wheels that are wrapped in a set of Continental tires.

Interior

  • Floor mats in Black Velor w\ Silver Vath logo
  • New Speedometer reads 360 kph

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Note: Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate pictured here.

There’s not much going on in the interior of the AMG C 63 Estate, but unlike some tuners who prefer to keep the upgrades in this section to nada, Vath does offer spankin’ new floor mats as part of the whole package. Likewise, a new speedometer is also on the catalog, one that’s dialed up to 360 km/h (224 mph) to better reflect the estate’s new performance capabilities, which I’m about to get into.

Drivetrain

  • Mercedes 4.0-liter, Biturbo, V-8
  • Tuned to 700 HP & 664 LB-FT (190 hp and 148 lb-ft more than stock)
  • 0-to-60 in 3.3 seconds (supercar acceleration)
  • Top speed unlocked to 211 mph (the same as a Porsche 911 GT2 RS)
  • Vath Turbo with stock electronic tuning
  • Custom exhaust with new downpipe (115 x 85 mm)
  • Vath oil cooler for engine and transmission
  • Vath Brake Optimization (racing brake fluid, steel braided lines, and sport brake pads)

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“The car delivers 700 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque – or 190 horsepower and 148 pound-feet more than standard”

If you’re going to end up paying for the steep price of this program (more on that later), this is the section where you’re going to see most of your money go. Not that it’s a bad thing because Vath did yeoman’s work on the AMG C 63 Estate’s 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 engine to get its output up to supercar levels. The meal ticket item in this entire program is Vath’s power pack, which is largely responsible for getting performance hauler’s output to a staggering 700 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Do a little subtracting, and that equates to output gains in the amount of 190 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of twist. Impressive, right? Well, it gets better.

The extra horses provided by the said power pack helps the AMG C 63 Estate uncork a sprint-to-60-mph time of just 3.3 seconds. 3.3 seconds for an estate! Not only is that time 0.8 seconds quicker than its standard counterpart, but it also falls in the range of established sports cars like the Lamborghini Huracan LP 580-2, the Porsche 911 Targa 4S, and the McLaren 540C. In case you’re wondering, these cars are regarded as entry-level supercars. That’s the kind of performance mark you get with this Vath-tuned Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate.


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“The extra horses provided by the said power pack helps the AMG C 63 Estate uncork a sprint-to-60-mph time of just 3.3 seconds”

And if that’s not enough, the German tuner also did away with the top speed limiter installed by Mercedes-AMG. Rejoice then because the car’s top speed isn’t limited to just 155 mph, nor is it capped at 180 mph with the optional AMG Driver’s Package. The actual number is well beyond my own imagination as the estate is said to be capable of hitting 211 mph with the whole tuning kit in place. You know which sports car also sports the same top speed? The Porsche 911 GT2 RS. How’s that for perspective.

Outside of the sensational power pack, Vath is also offering a custom exhaust system as part of this program. It’s a little pricey (again, more on that later), but it should be good enough to supply that raspy roar when all that power is on display.

Suspension


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In keeping with its goal of providing a comprehensive tuning program for the AMG C 63 Estate, Vath is also offering suspension upgrades in the form of a suspension lowering kit and upgraded brakes. Nothing speaks to a car’s desire to be totally lethal and drivable at the same time than having that suspension lowering kit installed.

Pricing


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It always seems that as impressive as a tuning package is, the biggest factor surrounding it always has to do with the price. It’s a similar case with this program from Vath because if you’re interested in getting it, you’re going to have to pay at least €21,420 for it. That converts to just under $25,000 based on current exchange rates. A quick breakdown of the prices of some of the individual pieces can be seen in the table below.

Item Price (€) Price ($)
Power kit €12,800 $15,000
Custom exhaust system €3,440 $4,000
Continental tires €3,050 $3,500
Speedometer €2,130 $2,500

Notice that I said “at least”? That’s because certain elements of the kit don’t have prices attached to them, so if you’re preparing to spend for this kit, do so under the assumption that your costs could go up to about €30,000, or a shade under $35,000.

Competition

Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate “Rottweiller” by Piecha


Mercedes-AMG C63 S Estate "Rottweiler" by Piecha - image 670936

As surprising as it sounds, the tuning world actually has a soft spot for the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate as a number of other tuners have developed aftermarket programs for the car. One recent one to do it was Piecha Design, another tuner noted for its Mercedes kits. It may not have attained the same power gains as Vath did – “only” 612 horsepower and 620 pound-feet of torque – but it sure did make up for it with a pretty cosmetic package highlighted by sporty graphics, including a two-color racing stripe that runs the length of the wagon and a purposeful aero kit that’s made up of a new front spoiler lip, side skirts, and a roof-edge spoiler made from glass-fibre reinforced plastic.

Read our full review on the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate “Rottweiller” by Piecha.

Conclusion


2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate By Vath - image 743458

It’s hard to point to the one thing that makes this program stand out because a few of the elements being offered have appeal in them. But in the end, this kit being offered by Vath for the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Estate is defined by the power upgrade, and on that end, there aren’t a lot of programs that can compete with what the German tuner is offering. I mean, 700 horsepower for an estate, even a performance-oriented one at that, is insane on all fronts. But Vath made it happen so if you have any interest to get the program, do so with a full amount of confidence…and then let us know about it afterward. We’d gladly hear stories about how a 700-horsepower AMG C 63 Estate runs.

  • Leave it
    • Pricey
    • Not enough variety
    • Other options available

References

Mercedes C-Class


2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate - image 569894

Read our full review on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Estate.



Read more Mercedes news.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 BMW M3 CS Unveiled

BMW just unveiled its latest special edition for the M3. Dubbed the CS, the new German rocket seeks to combine everyday driveability and luxury with even greater performance potential courtesy of its M Division boffins.

Kicking it off is more muscle from the 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline six-cylinder. Peak output is now rated at 453 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 443 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm, an increase of 28 ponies and 37 pound-feet respectively. Redline is set at 7,600 rpm. All told, the CS is both quicker and faster than the standard M3, doing the 0-to-60 mph shimmy in 3.7 seconds and topping out at an electronically limited 174 mph. Making the good noises is an M Sports exhaust system with special sound tuning exclusive to the CS model. Routing the muscle to the rear is a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox with launch control and paddle shifters.

Outside, you’ll find a generous helping of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), which was added to the roof, front splitter, rear diffuser, and Gurney flap, cutting as much as 110 pounds from the car’s curb weight. That makes it sprightly, especially with the unique tuning for the springs and dampers. Standard spec includes Adaptive M Suspension components, which offer a variety of driving modes ranging between Comfort and Sport. An Active M Differential was added as well. The wheel design was inspired by DTM racers, and come staggered at 20 inches in back and 19 inches in front. Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires make the traction, while optional carbon ceramic brakes haul it down.

There’s new stuff inside as well, with Alacantara upholstery and two-tone Merino leather in Silverstone and black. M Sport seats, automatic climate control, and a Harman Kardon stereo keep it civil.

The 2018 BMW M3 CS will be offered globally, but is limited at 1,200 units total, only 550 of which will come stateside. Order books open May of 2018. Pricing is thus far unannounced.

PostHeaderIcon Lotus SUV

2020 Lotus SUV

The idea of a Lotus crossover might make some fans of the British sports carmaker a little squeamish, but if Lotus is going to stick around, it’s going to need a higher-volume model with more mass-market appeal. Lotus CEO Jean-Mark Gales has already revealed that the automaker is developing a compact crossover, but we still don’t know much about its underpinnings and design. However, a batch of patent images that surfaced the Web recently provided some hints as to what the British crossover will look like, and our designer created a new rendering of the vehicle.

So what do we actually know about this crossover so far? First, it will be built in China and launched exclusively in that market before expanding to Europe and Japan. No word on U.S. availability just yet, but it’s very likely that North America will get it too. Second, Lotus aims to win SUV enthusiasts with one of the lightest and most dynamic vehicles on the market. “The SUV market changes as well – it’s not just cars that are six feet high and wide now, it’s a huge market that’s becoming more segmented. There is a niche within that for a Lotus crossover that is light and aerodynamic and handles like nothing else. We’re working on it. The new board needs to pass it, but the future is very bright,” Giles told Autocar in October 2017.

Continue reading to learn more about Lotus’ future SUV.

Exterior

  • Patent images confirm Exige-inspired design
  • Sporty design
  • Coupe-style roof
  • Motorsport-inspired gas cap
  • Big rear diffuser

2020 Lotus SUV - image 743192
“The patent images confirm what we already knew: that its design will share many design cues with existing Lotus cars”

The patent images confirm what we knew from the day that the first rumor of a Lotus SUV surfaced the Interwebz: that its design will share many design cues with existing sports cars. Up front, we can see a pair of sleek, swept-back headlamps and a big center grille flanked by large outlets at each corner. These features remind of both the Elise and Exige, but the latter appears to have had a bigger role in inspiring the SUV’s design.

Naturally, being an SUV, this Lotus will have a taller front section and a more massive bumper. The engine hood also has a simpler design, devoid of the vents and bulges usually found on sports cars.


2020 Lotus SUV - image 743190
“Being an SUV, this Lotus will have a taller front section and a more massive front bumper”

The design changes radically onto the sides compared to other Lotus cars, which makes sense given that this is the company’s first crossover. But despite having a really tall beltline, four doors, and a long roof, it retains the sporty features that Lotus cars are known for. First up, notice how the beltline goes upward as it moves from the front fenders toward the rear fascia. It’s quite similar to the Exige, although the really wide C-pillar and the absence of a proper deck lid minimizes the effect. The side skirts are sporty too, with a deep crease on the lower areas of the doors. A particularly interesting feature is the gas cap mounted high on the C-pillar, a race-inspired detail that you don’t get to see on many crossovers.


2020 Lotus SUV - image 743189
“The roof splits into some sort of flying buttress toward the back, yet another unique design element”

The roof splits into some sort of flying buttress toward the back, yet another unique design element. Too bad it’s only visible if you look at the vehicle from above. Around back, we can see more Lotus sports car-inspired features, starting with the large, round taillights and the big diffuser in the bumper. The latter sports three vertical fins in the middle and wide exhaust pipes at the corners.

All told, even though it’s a brand-new vehicle layout for the British brand, the crossover remains recognizable among other Lotus sports car. At least based on these patent images.

Rendering Comparison


2020 Lotus SUV - image 629759

2020 Lotus SUV - image 743125

Our renderings are a few years apart, which explains the big design differences between them. The first rendering we made was created from a clean sheet, with no hints as to what Lotus may go for in terms of styling. Thinking into the future, we went for an evolution of the current design with slimmer headlamps and a more massive grille that went all the way to the ground. For the sides, we adopted a more conventional crossover styling with simple body panels and windows. As it turns out, we weren’t exactly close to Lotus’ vision for its first SUV. But needless to say, the real thing looks much more appealing.

Interior

  • Sporty features
  • Lightweight design
  • Seating for five people
  • Biggest Lotus trunk ever
  • Cramped space for rear-seat passengers

2017 Lotus Evora GT430 - image 724309

Note: 2017 Lotus Evora GT430 pictured here.

“It's safe to assume that the cabin will focus on the driver and front passenger”

The patent images don’t include information about the interior, but it’s safe to assume that the cabin will focus on the driver and front passenger. It may be an SUV, but Lotus probably wants to keep some of the motorsport-inspired layout seen in its sports cars. Of course, there will be a focus on comfort too, as in this will be the company’s most comfortable interior yet, but don’t expect it to be as fancy as a Bentley Bentayga. Sports seats will likely be included in the standard package, but Lotus should also offer race-inspired unit optionally.

The crossover’s main feat will be the ability to provide seating for up to five people. A never-before-seen feature in a Lotus, it will make the SUV appealing to drivers looking for a compromise between performance and utility or even people in need of a daily driver that’s also suitable for a long vacation. On the other hand, given the size of the vehicle, rear space might be a bit cramped for tall passengers. The coupe-style roof doesn’t seem to leave room for too much headroom, while legroom won’t be as vast as in the front. The trunk doesn’t seem to be huge either, but it will be a massive upgrade compared to any other Lotus out there. A couple of suitcases and a big list of groceries shouldn’t be an issue for this crossover.

Drivetrain

  • Same Toyota-sourced engines?
  • At least two performance trims
  • Best power-to-weight ratio on the market?
  • Diesel and hybrid likely

2017 Lotus Evora Sport 410 - image 743193

Note: Lotus Evora 410 engine pictured here.

“This is the area that will make or break the Lotus crossover, so expect Lotus to go all-out in developing the drivetrain and chassis”

This is the area that will make or break the Lotus crossover, so expect Lotus to go all-out in developing the drivetrain and chassis. Powering the crossover, Lotus could still use one or both of the Toyota-sourced powerplants used in other Lotus cars, like the 1.6-liter four-cylinder or the 3.5-liter V-6, both available with or without superchargers. Sticking with the tried-and-true design of its current model lineup, rather than giving the crossover a high-powered engine, Lotus will focus on a high power-to-weight ratio by making this one of the lightest crossovers in its segment, weighing about 440 pounds (200 kg) less than its rivals.

“After its initial Chinese debut, a diesel engine could also be included for the European market”

The SUV could arrive in several trims, starting with a base model rated at a little more than 100 horsepower and a more performance-oriented version with at least 200 horses.

After its initial Chinese debut, a diesel engine could also be included for the European market, but the big performance advantage could be an optional hybrid-based four-wheel drive that uses the engine to power the front wheels and motors to drive the rear. At this point, every scenario is possible since Lotus is looking to expand in every direction it can in order to get back in the game.

Prices


2020 Lotus SUV - image 743191

It’s obviously too early to estimate pricing for the upcoming SUV, but I would be smart for Lotus to price this vehicle very close to the competition. The British firm will likely develop the crossover as a competitor for the Porsche Macan, which retails from around €56,300 in most European markest and from £45,915 in the United Kingdom. Not much is know about the company’s production output for the SUV, but it’s safe to assume that Lotus won’t be able to compete with Porsche in this department, at least not in the first couple of years. A lower production run usually means higher prices too, so be prepared to pay at least €60,000 and £50,000 before options. Should it come to the U.S., the Lotus SUV could retail from around $52,000.

Competition

Porsche Macan


2020 Lotus SUV - image 533189

The Porsche Macan isn’t the only option on the compact crossover market, but it’s arguably the best suited to go against the upcoming Lotus SUV in terms of looks and performance. Essentially a shrunken Cayenne, the Macan borrows many styling cues from the iconic 911, which makes it one of the sportiest looking options in this niche. Drivetrain-wise, it comes in many forms, starting with a base model that uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The Macan S uses a 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 340 horses and 339 pound-feet, while the Macan GTS gets its juice from the same engine, but rated at 360 horsepower and 369 pound-feet. The latter is probably the best option against the Lotus, as the extra oomph is backed by a new aerodynamic package and several weight-saving measures. Finally, there’s the Macan Turbo, which uses a twin-turbo, 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers an amazing 400 horsepower and 406 pound-feet. Opt for the Performance Package and the output increases to 440 horses and 443 pound-feet. A diesel version is also offered in certain markets, with either 211 or 258 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of twist. U.S. pricing starts from $47,800 and goes up to $77,200 for the Turbo version.

Read our full story on the 2017 Porsche Macan.

Audi RS Q3


2020 Lotus SUV - image 576596

While BMW has yet to offer an M version of the X1, Audi is selling an RS variant of the Q3 since 2015. While the Q3 is not the sportiest SUV you can buy, the RS package adds a few interesting features, such as aluminum-look trim in the front bumper, which also has bigger vents, a roof spoiler, and a diffuser-like element with a larger exhaust pipe. The interior is wrapped almost entirely in black, which may be a tad too boring for some, but the RS bundle also brings sports seats either Alcantara/leather or Nappa leather, a bespoke instrument cluster, and new pedals. Power comes from a turbocharged, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that sends 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque to the wheels. Audi also offers a Performance model, which comes with 367 horses and 343 pound-feet of twist on tap.

Read our full review of the 2017 Audi RS Q3.

Conclusion


2020 Lotus SUV - image 743125

Crossovers and SUVs might be a soul-crushing proposition to the enthusiasts of any high-performance brand, but they are crucial to improving sales in global markets that crave space and utility. Just ask BMW and Porsche. Now with Bentley, Lamborghini, and Rolls-Royce getting in on the SUV/CUV market, this is a perfect opportunity for Lotus to step in with small CUV that exhibits the same lightweight characteristics and excellent handling capabilities of its past and present offerings. It’s also a great opportunity for the British firm to return to profitability after many difficult years.

  • Leave it
    • Might not be available in the U.S.
    • Likely to stir up controversy among Lotus purists

References

Lotus Evora


2017 Lotus Evora Sport 410 - image 667209

Read our full review on the 2017 Lotus Evora Sport 410.



Read more Lotus news.

PostHeaderIcon Bentley Flying Spur

Launched in 2005 and updated in 2013, the Bentley Flying Spur is getting a little long in the tooth. As a result, the British firm has already begun testing the next-generation model and we have already received the first spy shots of the upcoming luxury rig. Don’t let the Panamera body fool you, this is actually a Bentley mule, and the fact that Bentley is using a Porsche body is by no means surprising. As you may recall, the first Bentayga prototype hit the road with an Audi Q7 body. Also, keep in mind the Bentley, Porsche, and Audi are all under the same Volkswagen Group umbrella. If you’re still in doubt, our paparazzi have already checked the British plates with the DVLA, which revealed that the prototype is indeed registered as a Bentley.

Likely to break cover in late 2018 or early 2019, the next-generation Flying Spur will bring major improvements to the nameplate. Arguably the most imporant is the MSB-F platform, which already made its debut in the new Porsche Panamera. The redesign will also spawn a new styling language, a more luxurious interior, and give the sedan more powertrain options. Official data is virtually non-existent, but I gathered all existing rumors in a speculative review that should keep you covered until a Bentley-bodied prototype shows up in 2017. Make sure you stay tuned for details.

Updated 11/02/2017: The upcoming Bentley Continental Flying Spur was caught testing once again, still wearing a great amount of camouflage.

Continue reading to learn more about the Bentley Flying Spur.

Spy Shots

November 2, 2017 – Bentley Flying Spur caught testing once again


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 742201

2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 742210

June 6, 2017 – Bentley Flying Spur caught wearing its real body prototype


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 719058

2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 719063

March 20, 2017 – Next Bentley Flying Spur caught testing


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 710796

2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 710802

Exterior

While the Panamera mule provided no details as to how the next-generation Flying Spur will look like and the more recent test cars wore camouflage that resembled the outgoing model, that’s not to say we are clueless on its exterior design. Much like the current model, the upcoming sedan will be a four-door version of the Continental GT. And before you say that the Conti has yet to show itself in public without camouflage, we already know that the coupe will borrow numerous features from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept. And the latest spy shots confirm just that.


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 692539

2018 Bentley Continental GT - image 711162
Mule of the upcoming Bentley Flying Spur Next generation Bentley Continental GT
“Much like the current model, the upcoming sedan will be a four-door version of the Continental GT.”

That being said, I expect the Flying Spur to share most if its front fascia with the Continental GT. Notable features will include the quad headlamp layout with smaller lamps toward the sides, a lowered nose, and a wider grille placed lower into the fascia, as well as a sportier bumper with big side openings. A sculpted engine hood is also on the table, but with more subdued, elegant lines compared to the Continental GT.

Onto the side, the front fenders and doors will be identical for the most part, but most features will change toward the rear. Naturally, the Flying Spur will get a second pair of doors, a longer wheelbase, and redesigned rear fenders. The latter will continue to sport a muscular design, but this is where the sedan will stand out as a more graceful version of the Conti GT. The rear end is a complete mystery, but I expect Bentley to retain the rectangular taillight configuration, albeit in a longer and slimmer shape. The long decklid, raked D pillars, and imposing bumper should round off this area.

Rendering


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 718772

2015 Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 - image 619492
Bentley Flying Spur rendering Bentley EXP10 Speed 6 concept

As mentioned above, we used many of the EXP10 Speed 6 concept’s features to design the next-generation Flying Spur. This is most visible up front, where the main headlamps flanking the grille are joined by smaller lights toward each corner. These are smaller than the ones seen on the outgoing model and now have their center sections covered, meaning they look like thin LED rings. The main grille retains the already traditional shape, but it now sits closer to the ground, thus lowering the nose for a sportier stance. Below, the Flying Spur should feature a three-piece grille configuration with two wing-like elements separating the cooling vents in the upper corners. The profile of the rendering is very similar to the current model, but we can see a revised fender vents, redesigned side windows, and more muscular rear haunches.

Interior


2015 Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 - image 619477

Note: Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6 Concept interior pictured here.

“With the Continental's interior set to take inspiration from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept, the sedan could go a similar way.”

Our paparazzi didn’t manage to get close enough to snap shots of the interior, but given the Panamera body, there a big chance that the cabin is also made of Porsche parts as of this writing. However, with the Continental’s interior set to take inspiration from the EXP10 Speed 6 concept, the sedan could go a similar way. If so, the Flying Spur will get a sporty yet elegant cockpit with a wide instrument cluster, a wrap-around dashboard that extends into the door panels, and maybe even the tall center console that separates the front seats in the concept car. The latter could also include the vertical-oriented center display screen.

Eye-catching details will be all over the place, starting with the two-tone upholstery, contrast stitching, and the diamond-quilted seats. Being a Bentley, the upcoming Flying Spur will also get plenty of ludicrous luxury options such as a watch holder, sterling silver atomizers, a refrigerated compartment in the middle seatback, and a set of bespoke champagne glasses. These will be joined by a long list of options from the company’s Mulliner division.

All told, no one will have a reason to complain about the car’s interior, whether they’re driving or resting in the back seat.

Drivetrain


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 692544
“Word has it the Flying Spur will share some engines with the Panamera”

The redesign should also bring a few changes under the hood, but given the new platform, these are mostly unknown as of this writing. Word has it the Flying Spur will share some engines with the Panamera, which makes sense given the Volkswagen Group’s current strategy. The most likely candidate for the Flying Spur is the revised 4.0-liter V-8 offered in the new-for-2018 Panamera Turbo. The twin-turbo unit cranks out 550 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque and it could make it into the Bentley with minor changes. For reference, the current 4.0-liter V-8 pumps 521 horses and 502 pound-feet in the Flying Spur V8 S.

It’s not yet clear whether or not Bentley will get the 2.9-liter V-6, but if it does, it will generate around 450 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque in the base Flying Spur.

Now that Bentley has already launched its first-ever diesel model in the Bentayga lineup, the Flying Spur could also get an oil burner. Naturally, the sedan will share the 4.0-liter V-8 with the SUV, which currently benefits from 429 horses and 664 pound-feet.


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 692548
“The W-12 engine will likely continue to be an option.”

The W-12 engine will likely continue to be an option, but the current unit will be replaced by the redesigned engine that debuted in the Bentayga. Also displacing six liters and using two turbochargers, the W-12 cranks out a massive 600 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. This configuration should push the four-door from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds and toward a top speed in excess of 200 mph.

Finally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Flying Spur also gets the Panamera’s hybrid drivetrain. The combo pairs a twin-turbo, 2.9-liter V-6, an electric motor, and a lithium-ion battery and delivers 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of twist. It can also travel for 31 miles on electric power alone. This drivetrain will most likely find its way in the Bentayga first, and that’s when we will find out more about the configuration Bentley is planning to use.

Prices

With the production model set to arrive in late 2018 or early 2019, it’s definitely way too early to talk about prices. However, it’s safe to assume that the base model will cost in excess of $200,000, while the range-topping W12 version will fetch at least $250,000 before options.

Competition

Rolls-Royce Ghost


2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II - image 544479

The Ghost is the Flying Spur’s traditional rival as it can offer the same amount of opulence and performance. On the market for six years as of 2016 and updated in 2014, the Ghost will most likely receive a complete redesign by 2019. The next-gen Phantom is already scheduled to arrive in 2018, so it’s safe to assume that a new Ghost will follow suit. Unlike the Flying Spur, the current Ghost is a V-12 machine only, as both the standard and V-Specification models are powered by a twin-turbo 6.6-liter V-12. The first version comes with 562 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque, while the latter benefits from 592 horses. The next-gen model should come with a revised V-12, but a hybrid or even an all-electric version are on the table too. Likely to retail from around $300,000, the Ghost will be a much more expensive proposition, especially when compared with the less powerful, non-W-12 Flying Spurs.

Find our more about the Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II.

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class


2016 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class - image 599556

Discontinued in 2012, the Maybach brand returned in in 2015 as Mercedes-Maybach. Now selling mildly revised S-Class models equipped with far more luxurious interiors, Maybach has two vehicles on offer. The base model is called S500 and uses a 4.7-liter V-8 rated at 455 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The second, more expensive version, goes by the name S600 and uses the larger, 6.0-liter V-12 with 530 horses and 612 pound-feet of twist. While the exterior of the Mercedes-Maybach is identical to the S-Class, the cabin is a different story, sporting the most luxurious features Mercedes-Benz has to offer. The wheelbase is also longer, providing more room for rear-seat passengers. It’s also more affordable too, with the range-topping S600 starting from $189,350 in the U.S. However, Maybach offers plenty of options to take that sticker beyond $300,000.

Learn more about the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

Conclusion


2019 Bentley Flying Spur - image 692540

It’s definitely too early to draw a conclusion here, but based on what Bentley did with the Bentayga, the next-generation Flying Spur should bring improvements in just about every department. The sedan should get more power, more luxury, some of the most ludicrous and expensive options on the market, and a sportier design. More importantly, it will also become more fuel efficient with either a diesel or hybrid drivetrain. Or both.

  • Leave it
    • Still an expensive choice
    • Still a couple of years away

Update History

Updated 06/06/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming Bentley Flying Spur out for a new testing session this time wearing a real body prototype.

Updated 06/01/2017: Based on the recent spy shots and rumors, we created a rendering for the upcoming Bentley Flying Spur. Let us know in the comments section below what do you think about it!

PostHeaderIcon Breaking News: Groundhogs Love Rolls-Royce

Who would have thought that those furry little ground dwellers would even have a preference of car? You would think that something like a Chevy Cruz, Ford Focus, or even a Mazda3 would be good enough. Even an Acura or a Lexus would have been more expected, but nope – that isn’t the case at all. As it turns out, Groundhogs are madly in love with Rolls-Royce vehicles. More specifically, the Rolls-Royce Phantom. As you can see from the images above, this groundhog, who asked to remain anonymous, is madly in love with the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

We’re unsure of the backstory here, or why our anonymous friend seems to love that Phantom so much, but he sure did spend plenty of time walking around underneath it, rubbing against the tire, and even considered building himself a den inside the engine bay. Don’t worry folks; he’s a bachelor, so there’s no chance of his offspring getting caught up in the cooling fans by mistake.

Okay, the truth is that we don’t know who the groundhog was or what he was doing there, but what do you think? We received these images along with a batch of Phantom photos and couldn’t help but spread the word about this little guy’s interest in one of the world’s best luxury cars. Is he friend or is he foe? Was he just curious? Check out the few shots we have of this little guy below, then let us know your opinion in the comments section.

References

Rolls Royce Phantom


2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII - image 740345

Read our full review on the 2018 Rolls Royce Phantom.

PostHeaderIcon Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake

2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake

Redesigned in 2012, the current Aston Martin Vanquish is set to retire in less than a couple of years in order to make way for a brand-new model, and the British firm is doing whatever it takes to spice things up before pulling the plug. In 2016, it unveiled a re-bodied version of the grand tourer made by Zagato, but the coupe was soon followed by a Volante version. 2017 brought a Speedster model as well, and with 2018 just around the corner Aston Martin and Zagato launched a new body style, the Shooting Brake. The wagon model will be as exclusive as its sibling and likely extremely expensive, but it’s an important milestone in a market where shooting brakes have almost gone the way of the dodo bird.

While the Vantage Zagato wagon arrived unexpectedly, it’s not exactly surprising that Aston Martin created a shooting brake. The British firm is no stranger to this body style, and it has released quite a few wagons in the past. Harold Radford built such versions of DB5, DB6, and DBS back in the 1960s, but Aston Martin made its very own production run of the Virage in the early 1990s. More recently, Bertone transformed the Rapide in a shooting brake, but these are just a few examples. We definitely need more shooting brakes on the market today, and even though the Vanquish Zagato is limited to very few examples, it will be great to see one more sports wagon hit public roads.

Continue reading to learn more about the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.

Exterior

  • Muscular, Zagato-design body
  • Unique roof and rear end
  • DB11-inspired features
  • Carbon-fiber body elements
  • Glass and carbon roof
  • Exclusive wheels

2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740278
“Arguably the biggest change to the car's profile is the longer, wagon-style roof”

Much like the Speedster and the Volante, the Shooting Brake model is identical to the Zagato coupe below the waist. So you’re basically getting an already good-looking grand tourer with more muscular cues and a unique twist thanks to the revised roof.

Up front, the new Zagato model sports the same massive grille with LED daytime running lights at each corner, a big splitter at the bottom, and a sculpted engine hood with big vents on each side of the center section. It also has the same deeply sculpted side skirts and DB11-inspired fender strake, but the latter was mounted on a black background. With all the other Zagato models having their front fenders finished in one color, this is yet another element that makes the Shooting Brake unique.

The side mirrors carry over unchanged, but this is cool since they’re inspired from those seen on the One-77 limited-edition supercar. But, arguably, the biggest change to the profile is the longer, wagon-style roof. The upper section is actually identical to the coupe from the A- to the B-pillars, but from there on, Aston Martin designed significantly longer quarter windows and C-pillars. The latter are flatter and continue the arch of the roof toward the front fascia. It forms a wagon-like tailgate, but with a narrower design that allows the Vanquish Zagato to keep it muscular haunches.


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740277
“This Zagato is a mighty fine example of how a modern shooting brake should be designed and engineered”

The rear fascia remains the same as far as the round taillights, the pointy decklid, and the carbon-fiber diffuser go. However, the rear glass is obviously smaller, while the heavily raked angle of the coupe is now gone. But the sloping roofline and the aggressive spoiler make the shooting brake just as aggressive as the coupe. The roof itself is also an interesting piece of engineering, with the fully transparent area being shaped like a V, with the narrower end oriented toward the rear. The remaining surface and the spoiler seem to be made of carbon-fiber, so Aston Martin took some precaution to keep the roof as light as possible.

All told, this Zagato is a mighty fine example of how a modern shooting brake should be designed and engineered and it’s by far the most appealing of the Vanquish Zagato lineup. Of course, this has to do with the fact that shooting brakes aren’t very common nowadays and the fact that I’m a big fan of sporty wagons.

Interior

  • “Herringbone” carbon-fiber paint
  • Anodized bronze detailing
  • “Z” quilt pattern on seats
  • Rear-seat delete
  • Enhance luggage room

2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato - image 680400

Note: 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato pictured here.

“The rear-seat delete provides more luggage room than the standard Vanquish”

There aren’t any photos of the interior, but it’s safe to assume that the Shooting Brake is like any other Vanquish Zagato out there. This also means that it’s almost identical to the standard Vanquish, being set apart by new luxury features. The main highlight here is the “Herringbone” carbon-fiber paint with anodized bronze detailing on the center stack. There’s also the aniline leather and a unique “Z” quilt pattern stitch on the seats and door panels. The headrests have the letter “Z” embossed, while the upper door panels received double contrast stitching.

The coupe also has “Z” headliner stitching, but this feature is obviously missing here since the most of the roof is transparent. What remains unknown is whether the Shooting Brake is a two or a four seater. A picture showing the car from above suggests that Aston Martin may have removed the rear seats. This makes it somewhat less practical than a standard Vanquish in terms of how many passengers it can carry, but it provides additional luggage room. Not that customers will actually use it as a vacation car, but it remains somewhat true to the original shooting brake concept, which was as utilitarian as a full-fledged wagon.

Drivetrain

  • 5.9-liter V-12 engine
  • 592 horsepower
  • 465 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission

2014 - 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish - image 461514

Note: Standard Aston Martin Vanquish engine pictured here.

“Just like the rest of Vanquish Zagato family, the shooting brake gets its juice from the familiar 5.9-liter V-12”

Just like the rest of Vanquish Zagato family, the shooting brake gets its juice from the familiar 5.9-liter V-12 that powers the standard Vanquish. Output is rated at 592 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque in Europe, while the U.S.-spec version comes with 580 horsepower. The 12-horsepower deficit most likely has something to do with emission regulations on this side of the pond.

There’s no info on performance as of this writing, but we do know the coupe model hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The shooting brake could be just as quick, as it shouldn’t be significantly heavier. The V-12 mates to the same ZF-developed, eight-speed automatic transmission from the regular Aston Martin Vanquish.

Prices


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740276

Aston Martin hasn’t revealed pricing for any of its Vanquish Zagato models, and the Shooting Brake is no exception from this rule. The only hint we have about this series is that the Zagato Speedster could cost a whopping £1.3 million, which converts to around $1.7 million as of October 2017. But, unlike the Speedster, which is limited to only 28 units, all the other Zagato models, the Shooting Brake included, are built in 99 examples. So it’s safe to assume that the Shooting Brake will cost less. than that. It won’t be as “affordable” as the regular Vanquish, priced from around $300,000 either, but it could cost around $1 million. Granted, it’s a lot of money even for a beefed-up Vanquish, but much like any other boutique shooting brake out there, this Zagato-design wagon will sell out in no time.

Competition

In the current market, there are only four regular production shooting brakes you can buy: the Mercedes-Benz CLS and CLA, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, and the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. Of the four, only the Ferrari is a worthy competitor to the Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso


2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso T - image 689068

Essentially an upgrade to the Ferrari FF, the GTC4Lusso is actually very similar to the Vanquish Zagato. It has a long nose, a sporty roof, and virtually no decklid to the rear. Sure, it’s roofline and tailgate aren’t as sleek as the Zagato’s, but it’s a proper shooting brake model. And, the new features it received in 2016 make it more appealing than the FF. Luxury is a given inside the cabin, with nearly every surfaced draped in leather, Alcantara, aluminum, and carbon-fiber. Unlike the Vanquish, it also has a number of race-inspired features, like instrument cluster with the white clock in the middle and the flat-bottom, multi-control steering wheel. Output-wise, it’s the more potent option, with its 6.3-liter V-12 engine generating a whopping 680 horsepower and 514 pound-feet of torque. This translates into a 0 to 60 mph sprint of 3.3 seconds, which should be at least two tenths quicker than the Aston Martin. Top speed is also far superior at 209 mph. Pricing starts at a little over $300,000, so it’s more affordable too.

Read our full review of the 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso.

Conclusion


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740277

When Aston Martin unveiled the Vanquish Zagato Concept as I said to myself “that’s one hell of a sexy coupe” and I just knew that we will eventually see a production model. And, Aston Martin delivered shortly after. But I honestly didn’t expect the British brand to expand the Vanquish Zagato nameplate to include four different models. Aston Martin has rolled out quite a few Zagato models in the past, but no project was a complex as this one. And on top of the usual coupe and convertible, we also got a speedster and a shooting brake. Needless to say, all of them are spectacular in their own right, but the Speedster and the Shooting Brake are by far the more exotic versions, especially since you don’t see these body styles on the road quite often.

Up until now, the Speedster was my favorite variant of the Vanquish Zagato, but I just fell in love with the new Shooting Brake model. I must admit that I am a fan of vintage shooting brakes, but I’d take the Vanquish Zagato in a heartbeat. Assuming it wouldn’t be this exclusive and expensive. But hey, these attributes are part of what makes a car stand out from the pack.

  • Leave it
    • Exclusive and expensive
    • Not so much official info

References

Aston Martin Vanquish


2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato - image 727558

Read our full review on the 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato.


2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante - image 685633

Read our full review on the 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante.


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Speedster - image 726604

Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Speedster.


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S - image 695571

Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S.

PostHeaderIcon Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake

2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake

Redesigned in 2012, the current Aston Martin Vanquish is set to retire in less than a couple of years in order to make way for a brand-new model, and the British firm is doing whatever it takes to spice things up before pulling the plug. In 2016, it unveiled a re-bodied version of the grand tourer made by Zagato, but the coupe was soon followed by a Volante version. 2017 brought a Speedster model as well, and with 2018 just around the corner Aston Martin and Zagato launched a new body style, the Shooting Brake. The wagon model will be as exclusive as its sibling and likely extremely expensive, but it’s an important milestone in a market where shooting brakes have almost gone the way of the dodo bird.

While the Vantage Zagato wagon arrived unexpectedly, it’s not exactly surprising that Aston Martin created a shooting brake. The British firm is no stranger to this body style, and it has released quite a few wagons in the past. Harold Radford built such versions of DB5, DB6, and DBS back in the 1960s, but Aston Martin made its very own production run of the Virage in the early 1990s. More recently, Bertone transformed the Rapide in a shooting brake, but these are just a few examples. We definitely need more shooting brakes on the market today, and even though the Vanquish Zagato is limited to very few examples, it will be great to see one more sports wagon hit public roads.

Continue reading to learn more about the Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.

Exterior

  • Muscular, Zagato-design body
  • Unique roof and rear end
  • DB11-inspired features
  • Carbon-fiber body elements
  • Glass and carbon roof
  • Exclusive wheels

2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740278
“Arguably the biggest change to the car's profile is the longer, wagon-style roof”

Much like the Speedster and the Volante, the Shooting Brake model is identical to the Zagato coupe below the waist. So you’re basically getting an already good-looking grand tourer with more muscular cues and a unique twist thanks to the revised roof.

Up front, the new Zagato model sports the same massive grille with LED daytime running lights at each corner, a big splitter at the bottom, and a sculpted engine hood with big vents on each side of the center section. It also has the same deeply sculpted side skirts and DB11-inspired fender strake, but the latter was mounted on a black background. With all the other Zagato models having their front fenders finished in one color, this is yet another element that makes the Shooting Brake unique.

The side mirrors carry over unchanged, but this is cool since they’re inspired from those seen on the One-77 limited-edition supercar. But, arguably, the biggest change to the profile is the longer, wagon-style roof. The upper section is actually identical to the coupe from the A- to the B-pillars, but from there on, Aston Martin designed significantly longer quarter windows and C-pillars. The latter are flatter and continue the arch of the roof toward the front fascia. It forms a wagon-like tailgate, but with a narrower design that allows the Vanquish Zagato to keep it muscular haunches.


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740277
“This Zagato is a mighty fine example of how a modern shooting brake should be designed and engineered”

The rear fascia remains the same as far as the round taillights, the pointy decklid, and the carbon-fiber diffuser go. However, the rear glass is obviously smaller, while the heavily raked angle of the coupe is now gone. But the sloping roofline and the aggressive spoiler make the shooting brake just as aggressive as the coupe. The roof itself is also an interesting piece of engineering, with the fully transparent area being shaped like a V, with the narrower end oriented toward the rear. The remaining surface and the spoiler seem to be made of carbon-fiber, so Aston Martin took some precaution to keep the roof as light as possible.

All told, this Zagato is a mighty fine example of how a modern shooting brake should be designed and engineered and it’s by far the most appealing of the Vanquish Zagato lineup. Of course, this has to do with the fact that shooting brakes aren’t very common nowadays and the fact that I’m a big fan of sporty wagons.

Interior

  • “Herringbone” carbon-fiber paint
  • Anodized bronze detailing
  • “Z” quilt pattern on seats
  • Rear-seat delete
  • Enhance luggage room

2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato - image 680400

Note: 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato pictured here.

“The rear-seat delete provides more luggage room than the standard Vanquish”

There aren’t any photos of the interior, but it’s safe to assume that the Shooting Brake is like any other Vanquish Zagato out there. This also means that it’s almost identical to the standard Vanquish, being set apart by new luxury features. The main highlight here is the “Herringbone” carbon-fiber paint with anodized bronze detailing on the center stack. There’s also the aniline leather and a unique “Z” quilt pattern stitch on the seats and door panels. The headrests have the letter “Z” embossed, while the upper door panels received double contrast stitching.

The coupe also has “Z” headliner stitching, but this feature is obviously missing here since the most of the roof is transparent. What remains unknown is whether the Shooting Brake is a two or a four seater. A picture showing the car from above suggests that Aston Martin may have removed the rear seats. This makes it somewhat less practical than a standard Vanquish in terms of how many passengers it can carry, but it provides additional luggage room. Not that customers will actually use it as a vacation car, but it remains somewhat true to the original shooting brake concept, which was as utilitarian as a full-fledged wagon.

Drivetrain

  • 5.9-liter V-12 engine
  • 592 horsepower
  • 465 pound-feet of torque
  • 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission

2014 - 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish - image 461514

Note: Standard Aston Martin Vanquish engine pictured here.

“Just like the rest of Vanquish Zagato family, the shooting brake gets its juice from the familiar 5.9-liter V-12”

Just like the rest of Vanquish Zagato family, the shooting brake gets its juice from the familiar 5.9-liter V-12 that powers the standard Vanquish. Output is rated at 592 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque in Europe, while the U.S.-spec version comes with 580 horsepower. The 12-horsepower deficit most likely has something to do with emission regulations on this side of the pond.

There’s no info on performance as of this writing, but we do know the coupe model hits 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The shooting brake could be just as quick, as it shouldn’t be significantly heavier. The V-12 mates to the same ZF-developed, eight-speed automatic transmission from the regular Aston Martin Vanquish.

Prices


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740276

Aston Martin hasn’t revealed pricing for any of its Vanquish Zagato models, and the Shooting Brake is no exception from this rule. The only hint we have about this series is that the Zagato Speedster could cost a whopping £1.3 million, which converts to around $1.7 million as of October 2017. But, unlike the Speedster, which is limited to only 28 units, all the other Zagato models, the Shooting Brake included, are built in 99 examples. So it’s safe to assume that the Shooting Brake will cost less. than that. It won’t be as “affordable” as the regular Vanquish, priced from around $300,000 either, but it could cost around $1 million. Granted, it’s a lot of money even for a beefed-up Vanquish, but much like any other boutique shooting brake out there, this Zagato-design wagon will sell out in no time.

Competition

In the current market, there are only four regular production shooting brakes you can buy: the Mercedes-Benz CLS and CLA, the Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, and the Ferrari GTC4Lusso. Of the four, only the Ferrari is a worthy competitor to the Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso


2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso T - image 689068

Essentially an upgrade to the Ferrari FF, the GTC4Lusso is actually very similar to the Vanquish Zagato. It has a long nose, a sporty roof, and virtually no decklid to the rear. Sure, it’s roofline and tailgate aren’t as sleek as the Zagato’s, but it’s a proper shooting brake model. And, the new features it received in 2016 make it more appealing than the FF. Luxury is a given inside the cabin, with nearly every surfaced draped in leather, Alcantara, aluminum, and carbon-fiber. Unlike the Vanquish, it also has a number of race-inspired features, like instrument cluster with the white clock in the middle and the flat-bottom, multi-control steering wheel. Output-wise, it’s the more potent option, with its 6.3-liter V-12 engine generating a whopping 680 horsepower and 514 pound-feet of torque. This translates into a 0 to 60 mph sprint of 3.3 seconds, which should be at least two tenths quicker than the Aston Martin. Top speed is also far superior at 209 mph. Pricing starts at a little over $300,000, so it’s more affordable too.

Read our full review of the 2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso.

Conclusion


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Shooting Brake - image 740277

When Aston Martin unveiled the Vanquish Zagato Concept as I said to myself “that’s one hell of a sexy coupe” and I just knew that we will eventually see a production model. And, Aston Martin delivered shortly after. But I honestly didn’t expect the British brand to expand the Vanquish Zagato nameplate to include four different models. Aston Martin has rolled out quite a few Zagato models in the past, but no project was a complex as this one. And on top of the usual coupe and convertible, we also got a speedster and a shooting brake. Needless to say, all of them are spectacular in their own right, but the Speedster and the Shooting Brake are by far the more exotic versions, especially since you don’t see these body styles on the road quite often.

Up until now, the Speedster was my favorite variant of the Vanquish Zagato, but I just fell in love with the new Shooting Brake model. I must admit that I am a fan of vintage shooting brakes, but I’d take the Vanquish Zagato in a heartbeat. Assuming it wouldn’t be this exclusive and expensive. But hey, these attributes are part of what makes a car stand out from the pack.

  • Leave it
    • Exclusive and expensive
    • Not so much official info

References

Aston Martin Vanquish


2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato - image 727558

Read our full review on the 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato.


2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante - image 685633

Read our full review on the 2017 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Volante.


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Speedster - image 726604

Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish Zagato Speedster.


2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S - image 695571

Read our full review on the 2018 Aston Martin Vanquish S.

PostHeaderIcon Like Lots of Tech? You Need the Audi A7 in your Life

The Audi A7 recently made its debut, and it should come as no surprise that it took a lot of DNA from it’s bigger brother, the Audi A8. A lot of this DNA includes an insane amount of technology that shows just how far we’ve come in this department over the last 20 years. Digital Displays in cars were once practically non-existent, and those that did have them didn’t have anything anywhere near as cool as we have today. With that in mind, the Audi A7 (and the A8 for that matter) really push things to the limit with technology, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today.

First off, let me point out that you’re going to have to pay up if you want the goods, but in the end, it’s really worth it if you’re into this kind of stuff. You want to hit up the checkbox for the MMI Navigation Plus system that gives you the Audi Digital Cockpit, and the MMI navigation. I mean, the graphics are beautiful, the infotainment screen is almost too gorgeous to allow in a car (talk about distracted driving,) and the way that ten-inch display in the center stack blends in so nicely with the glass panel around it, the whole package just comes together nice and clean. The best part is that the system works like a smartphone in that you can use the upper screen to control most infotainment system functions, meaning there is no more control knob. And, the lower screen is used to control various creature comforts – that means there are far fewer buttons inside the vehicle.

There’s a lot what you find in the infotainment system, though. We’re talking about as many as 39 driver assistance features (these are available via three different packages, so they don’t come cheap,) and there’s the option for voice control as well. And, when you use this voice control, the system accesses data stored locally with the vehicle and in the Audi cloud. A head-up display can be had for some extra moolah and, sometime in 2018, Audi will activate the garage and parking pilot systems which should park your car for you. And, to bring the whole technology package together, the A7 is a mild hybrid as well, which means it can freewheel at certain speeds with the engine off, only starting when needed. A front-facing camera is also used to help improve start\stop functionality.

Now, obviously, a lot of this technology is just really over the top. The mild hybrid technology doesn’t even save you a whole liter per 100km driven, and until the A7 can locate a parking spot and park itself, the parking and garage assistant just seem to be in place for people who like the showoff or are simply too lazy to park themselves. Be that as it may, the A7 is very technological and, if you’re into technology, it’s certainly something you want to look into. This is what the future of all cars looks like – few buttons, more touch displays, more hybrid technology – but it still comes at a cost. What do you guys think of the new A7’s technology? Let us know in the comments section below

Audi Virtual Cockpit and MMI explained

Audi AI parking pilot and garage pilot

References

Audi A7


Like Lots of Tech? You Need the Audi A7 in your Life - image 739611

Read our full review on the new, 2019 Audi A7.


2018 Audi RS4 And RS5 Carbon Editions - image 734768

Read more Audi news.


Watch Giant Robots Duel One Another: Video - image 739786

Read more technology news.

PostHeaderIcon EIC Thoughts: Audi Finally Nails a Generational Shift with the New Audi A7

I will openly admit that I’ve been very harsh toward the German brands – all of them – for following the “same sausage, different length” philosophy (Audi, this is you) or for simply changing very little when it comes to facelifts or generational shifts. Admittedly, I expected the same from Audi when it came to the A7. But, while there are a lot of similarities to the A8, the A7 still stands out as its own model thanks to Audi’s ambition to provide simple evolutionary enhancements to not only the exterior but the interior too. In comparison to the A8, the A7 gets additional body lines on the hood but lacks the strong line below the waist. Inside, the dash is more defined, while things like the center console and trim panels have been tweaked just enough to keep things comfortable. Sure, it’s a bit smaller, but everything is so well proportioned inside and out that it’s almost like it was meant to be this way.

And, even better is the fact that there are options-a-plenty. You get the MMI system by default, but to get the Virtual cockpit you have to go with the MMI Nav Plus. I don’t necessarily like that idea, but it is what it is. A total of four sound systems are for the taking, including a very powerful Bang & Olufsen advanced sound system. You can also opt for the Audi Ai Parking Pilot and Remote Garage Pilot, but those won’t be activated until later on in 2018. What I really want to know is what engines will be available once the A7 goes into production. Audi already has the base 3.0-liter (hybridized, of course) that delivers 340 ponies and 368 pound-feet, but what else will be on the docket? I would love to see a turbo V-8, but I doubt it will happen. An S7 and RS7 are almost mandatory, and with any luck, the RS7 may get the turbo V-8 – eh, a man can hope anyway, right?

At the end of the day, the A7 certainly doesn’t disappoint, but I am worried about one thing. Considering the fact that the A7 borrows heavily from the A8, will the rest of the lineup eventually end up looking just like the two range-topping models? History tells me yes, and that’s a bad thing, as Audi could really use some diversity in its lineup, but at the same time, the brand’s strategy seems to be working so perhaps I should be less critical. Is this the world we live in now? Where every automaker makes one design, then copy and pastes it onto a proportionately smaller canvas? I really hope not, but who could blame you if you were starting to think that way? I certainly won’t because it seems to me like I see a lot of the same designs popping up model after model, and that doesn’t say a lot for individuality at all.

What do you guys think? Is the A7 a hit or a dud? Are automakers being too eager and pushy with their design consistency between models, changing little outside of size and engine output? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments section below.

References

Audi A7


EIC Thoughts: Audi Finally Nails a Generational Shift with the New Audi A7 - image 739611

Read our full review on the new, 2019 Audi A7.


2017 Audi A7 - image 673725

Read our full review on the previous 2017 Audi A7.

Audi S7


2019 Audi S7 - image 723160

Read our speculative review on the 2019 Audi S7.

PostHeaderIcon Nissan Removed the Fender Badge From 2018 Titan And Nobody Noticed

It looks like Nissan snuck a cosmetic change onto the 2018 Titan half-ton pickup without anybody noticing – even two months after the automaker released photos of the 2018 Titan Midnight Edition. Gone is the large fender badge that denoted the V-8 engine was under the hood. The badge was styled like a heat vent designed to keep engine bay temperatures down but offered no such functionality.

So, how did the change get noticed?

Well, it was a commenter who noticed the missing badge on Nissan’s new No Lazy Horses commercial – at least that’s the first mention I had seen. Digging deeper shows Nissan made zero mention of the missing badge in its press release on the 2018 Titan Midnight Edition back in August, nor has Nissan released info on changes for the standard 2018 Titan. Reading the commercial’s on-screen fine print does confirm the truck is a 2018 half-ton model. How about that?

The heavier-duty Titan XD will keep the fender badge, however, since it has two engine options – the 5.6-liter V-8 and the 5.0-liter Cummins V-8 turbodiesel. Originally, the half-ton Titan was slated to get a V-6 as standard equipment soon after it launched, making the fender badge necessary for distinguishing between the engine choices. That begs the question: does the missing fender badge mean the Titan isn’t getting a V-6 option?

On the other hand, you’ll notice the door badge now reads “Titan V8” on the No Lazy Horses truck. That’s new. The 2017 Titan doors didn’t have the V8 designation and only said “Titan.” Maybe this is Nissan’s way of better separating the Titan from the Titan XD? I’ve reached out to Nissan and will update this story if I hear back.

What do you think? Does this mean Nissan killed the V-6 development? Did you notice the badge was missing before I did? Let me know in the comments below.

References

Nissan Titan


2017 Nissan Titan - image 665129

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Titan.


2016 Nissan Titan XD - image 610121

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Titan XD.


2016 Nissan Titan XD - Driven - image 659452

Read our driven review on the 2016 Nissan Titan XD.

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2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium 2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium 6 speed FAST AND FURIOUS,no reserve
$22,600.00 (37 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Nov-22-2017 18:46:57 PST
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2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Coupe 2-Door 2017 CHEVY CORVETTE GRAND SPORT 2LT RED LEATHER NAV 1K #101720 Texas Direct Auto
$43,100.00 (111 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Nov-22-2017 14:32:37 PST
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1967 Chevrolet C-10 HORT BOX RESTORED V8 MANUAL PS PB DISC HOT ROD 71 72 stepside STREET ROD 69
$5,100.00 (2 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Nov-26-2017 16:02:01 PST
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1951 Chevrolet Other Pickups Deluxe 1951 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup truck, Patina Deluxe Cab Original Survivor
$10,300.00 (28 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Nov-22-2017 9:19:33 PST
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1991 Ford Mustang GT 1991 Mustang 5.0 GT
$8,500.00
End Date: Sunday Nov-26-2017 17:11:46 PST
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2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Coupe 2-Door 2016 FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT350 5.2L 6-SPEED TECH NAV 2K #522266 Texas Direct
$6,000.00 (5 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Nov-26-2017 12:14:27 PST
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2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe 2-Door 2016 CHEVY CORVETTE Z06 2LZ Z07 S/C 7-SPD NAV HUD 5K MI #601154 Texas Direct
$73,230.00
End Date: Monday Nov-27-2017 15:00:00 PST
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2004 Chevrolet Other Pickups 2004 Chevy Colorado truck 5 speed manual transmission
$1,900.00
End Date: Wednesday Nov-22-2017 13:58:19 PST
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2015 Ford Mustang Premium GT 2015 ford mustang gt premium BY OWNER
$27,900.00
End Date: Sunday Nov-26-2017 11:45:00 PST
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