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Archive for the ‘sedan’ Category

PostHeaderIcon 2019 Toyota Avalon Gets More Aggressive, Boasts New Tech at Detroit

Toyota has undoubtedly heard cries from customers and journalists alike bemoaning its boring sedans. But no more. The 2019 Avalon is following in the 2018 Camry’s footsteps by going sporty. The new Avalon ditches the dull styling for some excitement as it moves into its fifth generation.

Toyota calls the Avalon its “mid-premium sedan” and has packed the car with loads of luxury features, more technology like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and made its Toyota Safety Sense P suite of active safety systems even more powerful. Improved powertrains include a reworked 3.5-liter V-6 and eight-speed automatic transmission, along with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with Toyota’s newest hybrid system and CVT transmission.

There are four trim levels available: the XSE, Touring, XLE, Limited. Hybrid models come in XLE, Limited, and XSE grades.


2019 Toyota Avalon Gets More Aggressive, Boasts New Tech at Detroit - image 758769
“The swankier trims, the Touring and Limited, come with real wood and aluminum interior accents and fancy stitching on the leather seating”

The swankier trims, the Touring and Limited, come with real wood and aluminum interior accents and fancy stitching on the leather seating. The latest Entune 3.0 system now includes a Wi-Fi hotshot, Toyota Remote Connect with smartwatch and Amazon Alexa connectivity, and the return of the Qi wireless charging system. An available JBL sound system pumps 1,200 watts through 14 speakers over a 7.1-channel surround sound system.

Toyota also addresses the Avalon’s fun-to-drive factor. Adaptive dampers are standard (a Toyota first) and offer variable control over the suspension’s movements in conjunction with drive moves.

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“Compared to the outgoing Avalon, the 2019 model has a 2.0-inch longer wheelbase, is 0.8-inches wider, and has shorter overhangs by 0.4 and 1.0 inches in the front and rear, respectively.”

The 2019 Avalon rides on the same Toyota New Global Architecture as the 2018 Camry, but is larger for more interior room. Compared to the outgoing Avalon, the 2019 model has a 2.0-inch longer wheelbase, is 0.8-inches wider, and has shorter overhangs by 0.4 and 1.0 inches in the front and rear, respectively.

As for the Toyota Safety Sense suite, it includes Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beams, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Back Guide Monitor. Optional safety equipment includes the Panoramic View Monitor (360-degree bird’s eye camera view) and Rear Cross Traffic Braking.


2019 Toyota Avalon Gets More Aggressive, Boasts New Tech at Detroit - image 758796
“Toyota hasn’t announced pricing for the 2019 Avalon, but we expect it to start around $34,000”

Toyota hasn’t announced pricing for the 2019 Avalon, but we expect it to start around $34,000. It will begin arriving in showrooms in the late spring of 2018.

References

Toyota Avalon


2016 Toyota Avalon - image 616782

Read more about the 2019 Toyota Avalon


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Read more Detroit Auto Show news.


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Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Mercedes Debuts New AMG Series with CLS53 Model

Mercedes-Benz is making big waves with the brand-new G-Class at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, but the German firm also launched a new AMG series at the U.S. event. The new AMG line wears the 53 designation and debuts on three cars, one of which is the CLS four-door coupe. Introduced a couple of month back, the third-generation CLS was expected to gain a traditional AMG CLS63 version, but it seems we will have to wait a while longer for that model. Instead, we now get to have a look at the CLS53. As you might have already guessed, the CLS53 will slot between the regular CLS and the upcoming beefed-up CLS63.

Unlike the usual 63-badged Mercs, the CLS53 sports a rather subdued look, with only a handful of details setting it apart from the regular model. Up front, the twin-blade radiator grille in silver chrome, previous a V-8 version feature, is the only tell-tale sign. The grille behind also features a black lattice pattern instead of the familiar diamond layout. The profile is highlighted by slightly more dynamic side skirts and new wheels in 19- or 20-inch designs, while the rear fascia gains a revised apron, twin tailpipes in high-gloss chrome, and a spoiler available in carbon-fiber. The 4Matic models gets a few extras, like additional side air curtains, mirrors positioned on the doors (like on AMG GT models).

Exclusive Appointments and up to 457 Horsepower


Mercedes Debuts New AMG Series with CLS53 Model - image 758308
“Inside the cabin, you'll find exclusive appointments and materials and an extended list of options”

Inside the cabin, you’ll find exclusive appointments and materials and an extended list of options. Highlights include a AMG Performance steering wheel, sports seats with red safety belts, AMG badges, and trim elements in carbon-fiber, glass fiber, or matte silver. Options include Artico leather and Dinamica microfiber, Nappa leather, or Designo upholstery in Macchiato Beige/Magma Grey, Black/Bengal Red, or Espresso Brown/Magma Grey.

The AMG CLS53 gets its juice from a beefed-up version of the standard model’s twin-turbo, 3.0-liter inline-six engine. This means it also gets the EQ Boost features, which turns it into a mild hybrid. The mill is rated at 435 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, a 73-horsepower and 15-pound-foot increase over the regular model. EQ boost adds an extra 22 horses and 184 pound-feet for a total of 457 horsepower and a whopping 568 pound-feet. That’s only 106 horses less than what the upcoming CLS63 is expected to get. And an extra 15 pound-feet of twist. Awesome!


Mercedes Debuts New AMG Series with CLS53 Model - image 758309
“Charging from 0 to 62 mph takes only 4.5 seconds, while top speed is rated at the usual 155 mph.”

All that oomph travels to the wheels through a nine-speed, AMG Speedshift transmission and a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Charging from 0 to 62 mph takes only 4.5 seconds, while top speed is rated at the usual 155 mph.

Stay tuned for a full review of the new CLS53 model.

References

Mercedes-Benz CLS


2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS - image 748196

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS.


maker logos - image 743625

Read more Mercedes-Benz news.


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Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon Bait & Switch: Tesla Swaps Model 3 Headliner from Alcantara to Textile

Tesla has found itself in the middle of a new controversy, though the issue has nothing to do with its autonomous driving technology going awry. The issue at hand revolves around the Model 3’s headliner and the material that’s being used on it. Apparently, some owners who have taken delivery of their Model 3’s were surprised to see that the headliner in their cars was covered by weaved textile as opposed to Alcantara.

The issue is cosmetic in nature, but it still left a handful of new Premium Model 3 owners fuming over what they believe to be a bait-and-switch tactic that Tesla is using to sell its new model. While the electric car maker didn’t explicitly say that the Model 3’s headliner would be covered in Alcantara, glam photos of the car’s interior reveal what looks like Alcantara headliner. Unless somebody in the company’s marketing department made a mistake with these photos, it does look like Tesla made the switch in purpose, possibly due to a shortage in Alcantara.

The company came out with a statement on this issue, except that it didn’t address the issue directly. Instead, it admitted that “all Model 3 vehicles are being made with the same premium textile headliner” found in the Model S and Model X, and that this material “has always been planned at this stage of production.”

That’s true in some aspects because base Model 3s use textile as a standard finish. The problem is that the base Model 3 is not yet available. The variant that’s in the market is the Premium Model 3, which is being advertised as having “premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs.” There’s also something to be said for showing images of the car with an Alcantara headliner and then pivoting to the less-premium textile headliner in the actual car.

It’s hard enough for customers to buy or put reservations on a Model 3 without actually seeing one in the flesh, It doesn’t help that they’re getting unexpected changes to what they think they’re buying, even if it’s something as trivial as the headliner material. Tesla needs to make this right.

References

Tesla Model 3


2018 Tesla Model 3 - image 727971

Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.


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Read more Tesla news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Passat GT

Launched all the way back in 1973, the Passat is one of Volkswagen’s most iconic models, up there with the Golf and the Beetle. But unlike the Golf, the midsize has yet to gain a higher performance GTI version. Even the tiny Polo got the infamous red stripe, but for some reason, VW kept the Passat away from this badge. It doesn’t really seem as this would change anytime soon, but Volkswagen just introduced something similar in the United States. Developed based on extensive feedback from U.S. customers and dealers, the Passat GT is pretty much a GTI model without the massive power and the chassis upgrades.

Visually, the GT is heavily based on the Golf GTI. Not only it sports the iconic red stripe on its front grille, but it also has a number of blacked-up out features that give it a more menacing look. The interior was upgraded too and received quite a few extra standard features. Things aren’t as spectacular under the hood, where we can find the same VR6 engine as in the regular range-topping model, but the Passat GT benefits from a retuned suspension for a sportier ride. Based on the R-Line version, the Passat GT is a limited-run model, but Volkswagen had nothing to say about production figures. Let’s find out more about it below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Passat GT.

What makes the Volkswagen Passat GT special

  • Red stripe on the grille
  • Standard LED lights
  • Blacked-out features
  • R-Line bumper
  • Read spoiler
  • Dual exhaust
  • Piano black trim
  • Fake carbon-fiber
  • Heated seats
  • Leather steering wheel
  • 3.6-liter VR6 engine
  • 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet
  • Sporty suspension

2018 Volkswagen Passat GT - image 757835
“While most special-edition Volkswagens barely stand out from the pack in terms of exterior features, the Passat GT has quite a few extra features to brag about”

While most special-edition Volkswagens barely stand out from the pack in terms of exterior features, the Passat GT has quite a few extra features to brag about. The first thing that catches the eye is the red accent stripe on the upper grille and headlamps. Reminiscent of the iconic Golf GTI, the stripe also adorns the lower frame of the grille. The front fascia also sports a honeycomb grille with a “GT” badge and a bumper from the R-Line model, which features black accents and sportier side intakes. Additionally, it gets standard LED headlamps and daytime running lights.

Onto the sides, there’s black window trim and black mirror caps, as well as two-tone multi-spoke wheels. The red brake calipers add a dash of color from behind black-and-silver rims. The lowered ride height gives the sedan a sportier stance. The rear section received its fair share of upgrades too, starting with the black spoiler and the smoked LED taillights. The bumper comes with slim black trim, just like the lower door sections, while the standard exhaust pipe was replaced with a dual configuration. Four exterior colors are available for this model: Pure White (pictured), Reflex Silver, Platinum Grey, and Deep Black.


2018 Volkswagen Passat GT - image 757846
“The sporty theme continues inside with piano black trim on the center console and fake carbon-fiber on the lower dashboard”

The sporty theme continues inside with piano black trim on the center console and fake carbon-fiber on the lower dashboard. The headliner is also black for an almost all-black layout. The aluminum door sills feature “GT” badges. The seats are wrapped in black leatherette (yup, that’s not real leather unfortunately) with Moonrock Gray inserts and white contrast stitching. Extra standard features compared to the regular Passat include a leather steering wheel, eight-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, and heated mirrors

The 6.3-inch infotainment display comes standard with Bluetooth, voice control, and Volkswagen’s Car-Net App-Connect technology that offers compatible smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.

Under the hood, the Passat GT packs the company’s familiar 3.6-liter VR6 engine. The unit cranks out a solid 280 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, making it the most powerful Passat available in the United States. All that oomph travels to the wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Despite being this powerful, the GT still returns good economy, being rated at 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. A sportier suspension setup provides a more dynamic experience behind the wheel.


2018 Volkswagen Passat GT - image 757838
“The Passat GT is expected to arrive at dealers in the second quarter of 2018 with a start price of $29,090”

The Passat GT is expected to arrive at dealers in the second quarter of 2018 with a start price of $29,090 (not including the $850 destination fee). That’s a $6,095 premium over the base model, but at the same time, it costs $2,560 less than the range-topping Passat SEL Premium.

References

Volkswagen Passat


2016 Volkswagen Passat - image 647574

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat.


2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line – Driven - image 733652

Read our full driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Passat R-Line.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.


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Read more Volkswagen news.

PostHeaderIcon Kia Forte

Introduced in 2008 as a brand-new nameplate, the Forte has already made a name for itself in the affordable compact car market. And while it might not be as popular as the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, the Forte was Kia’s best-selling vehicle in the U.S. in recent years and of only 15 cars to earn the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2018. Not bad for an automobile that had nothing to brag about a decade ago. Almost six years old as of early 2018, the second-generation Forte is living its final months on the market, with a redesigned model set to break cover at the Detroit Auto Show. Details are still under wraps, but Kia released a bunch of design sketches to keep us busy until the event kicks off next week.

Based on these renderings, the Kia Forte will gain a massive makeover. As is always the case with design sketches, the sedan might not be aggressive in real life, but even if we ignore the exaggerated styling cues, the third-gen Forte is one sexy compact. The interior looks promising too thanks to its clean design and near-premium class features. There’s still a lot left to discover about the car that’s trying to give the all-popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic a run for their money, but until we can find out more at the Detroit Auto Show, let’s have a closer look at Kia’s design sketches below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Kia Forte Sedan.

Exterior

  • Sportier exterior design
  • Stinger-inspired cues
  • New “tigernose” grille
  • Clean side view
  • Diffuser-like element around back
  • LED lights

2019 Kia Forte - image 757883
“The renderings show a significantly sportier design up front”

The renderings show a significantly sportier design up front with every important design cue given a serious makeover. The new styling is clearly inspired by the hot Kia Stinger, but the Forte is by no means as aggressive as its bigger sibling. The “tigernose” grille is indeed based on the Stinger’s, having a narrower center section and more angular outer edges. The previous grille looks mild by comparison. The headlamps are also new. No longer connected to the grille, they also become slimmer toward the fenders, which gives the car a sportier look. The bumper boasts a larger center vent with integrated foglamps, while the side intakes bigger than the Stinger’s. Needless to say, the new Forte is gorgeous to look at based on these renderings.

The profile sports the same clean design as its predecessor, but there are quite a few changes to talk about. For starters, the beltline seems to be dead straight from front to rear, whereas on the outgoing model it ascends from the front fenders toward the trunk lid. The window trim is more symmetrical now and has a more pronounced Hofmeister Kink-like element on the quarter window. Like any rendering, there are a few features you should ignore for the production model, like the large wheels, the low-profile tires, and the missing door handles.


2018 Kia Stinger - image 745718
“Unlike the front fascia, the rear bears no resemblance to the Stinger”

Unlike the front fascia, the rear bears no resemblance to the Stinger. However, it’s significantly different than the outgoing Forte. The taillights are sleeker and have a unique LED layout, while the bumper has fake triangular vents on the each. There’s also a diffuser like element underneath, but it remains to be seen if this feature will go into production. The trunk lid is rounded off by a small spoiler and a horizontal strip between the taillights, which appears to be borrowed from the Sportage SUV.

In all, the Forte Sedan looks quite appealing in these renderings, but not everything you see here will make it on the production. Maybe Kia will use some of the sporty features on the range-topping model, but expect the entry-level trim to have a milder design. Still, it a welcomed upgrade over the current model.

Interior

  • Clean dashboard design
  • Uncluttered center stack
  • Big infotainment screen
  • Premium-like features
  • Two-tone upholstery
  • Contrast stitching

2019 Kia Forte - image 757613
“The bulbous center stack and the cheap-looking dashboard of the current model were ditched in favor of a cleaner, more modern layout”

Kia published only one rendering of the interior, and its more of a sketch rather than a detailed image, but it’s enough to get a good glimpse of the new cabin. And it’s entirely different from the outgoing model. And unlike the exterior, it doesn’t borrow too many features from other models.

The awkward-looking, bulbous center stack and the rather cheap-looking dashboard of the current model were ditched in favor of a cleaner, more modern layout. There are round A/C vents at the corners, a thin stripe stretching across the center stack and the passenger side, and a large infotainment screen on top.

The control layout is limited to just a few knobs, a massive improvement over the outgoing model, which had an ugly clutter of buttons below the display. The steering wheel looks cleaner too, while the door panels have a two-tone design with contrast stitching. Yup, it seems that the new Forte Sedan is moving up the premium ladder.

Drivetrain

  • Four-cylinder engines likely
  • More powerful turbo 2.0
  • At least two drivetrain options

2019 Kia Forte - image 757885
“The new Forte should get updated versions of the current 2.0-liter powerplants”

Kia had nothing to say about the engine lineup, but it’s possible that the new Forte gets updated versions of the current 2.0-liter powerplants. While the base models use a 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder rated at 147 horsepower, the more expensive trims come with a 2.0-liter four-pot rated at 164 horses. The sedan also gets a turbocharged, 1.6-liter Gamma GDI mill that generates 201 horsepower, but only in hatchback configuration. It would be cool for Kia to offer the twin-turbo, 2.0-liter four-banger from the Stinger in the Forte, but that’s not very likely to happen. At least not with the Stinger’s 255 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

I will update this section with specs from the Detroit Auto Show so make sure you stick around for more info.

Prices


2019 Kia Forte - image 757884

The new Kia Forte should come with a mild price increase over the outgoing model, which retails from $16,800. The redesigned model will probably cost at least $17,500 in base LX trim, while the S will fetch a bit more than $20,000. The range-topping EX version should cost around $22,500 before options.

Competition

Toyota Corolla


2014 Toyota Corolla - image 509691

The new Forte Sedan will go against a few tough competitors, starting with the Toyota Corolla, the world’s best selling car since the 1990s. Redesigned most recently in 2013, the Corolla may be a little old compared to the upcoming Forte, but it remains a popular choice in the United States and Europe. But while it may be reliable and efficient, the Corolla feels a bit dated inside the cabin and the fact that it’s limited to just one engine in the U.S. makes things easier for Kia. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder is rated at either 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque or 140 horses and 126 pound-feet, so the Forte should win the horsepower battle with the range-topping model. Mileage varies between 27 to 28 mpg city and 35 to 36 mpg highway depending on drivetrain, but Kia should be able to top that given that the outgoing Forte is already good for up to 37 mpg on the highway. Pricing for the Corolla starts from $18,550 for the base model and goes up to $22,730 for the range-topping trim.

Read our full review of the 2017 Toyota Corolla.

Honda Civic


2016 Honda Civic - image 651097

The Honda Civic is the second-most popular car in this niche and, unlike the Corolla, it’s brand-new for 2018 and boasts a sportier, more modern appearance. It’s also slightly larger than the competition and comes with a solid convenience and tech package. Motivation comes from three different engines, starting with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. More oomph comes from the more expensive trims, which get juice from the turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-pot with 174 horses and 162 pound-feet. The tiny powerplant is found in the Si model too, rated at 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet. The Si also enables Honda to rise above the competition as neither Toyota, Kia, Hyundai or Chevrolet offer similar power ratings. Pricing starts at $18,840 for the base model, while the Touring trim retails from $26,700. The higher performance Si variant fetches $24,100 before options.

Read our full story on the 2017 Honda Civic.

Volkswagen Jetta


2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 755666

A new-generation Jetta will be unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show and based on Volkswagen’s renderings, it will be aimed at a more premium market and it will have a decidedly sporty design. Which makes it the perfect competitor for the new Forte. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information beyond the design sketches, but it appears it will have a fancy-looking interior and a couple of turbocharged engines, with the range-topping model likely to arrive with more than 200 horsepower. Pricing will start from close to $19,000, which will make it the most expensive of the bunch. The performance-oriented GLI model will probably fetch close to $30,000.

Read our speculative review of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.

Conclusion


2019 Kia Forte - image 757615

It’s too early to jump into conclusions with nothing more than a few design sketches to run by, but it’s pretty obvious that the new Forte is a significant departure from its predecessor inside and out. And judging by the Stinger-inspired exterior design and the fancier interior layout, Kia could also be looking to move the Forte higher in the market, probably next to the Volkswagen Jetta. We will find out more at the Detroit Auto Show.

  • Leave it
    • * Production model might not be this aggressive
    • * Tough competition

References

Kia Forte


2017 Kia Forte - image 661737

Read our full review on the 2017 Kia Forte.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 745757

Read more Kia news.

PostHeaderIcon 2020 Cadillac CT5 Spied For The First Time

The Cadillac ATS and CTS sedans are not long for this world, and will permanently bite the dust as soon as they reach the end of their production cycle in the next year and a half or so. As such, a fresh four-door replacement dubbed the CT5 is undergoing real-world testing as we speak, as evidenced by this new batch of spy shots.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


2020 Cadillac CT5 Spied For The First Time - image 757696

Back in July, General Motors announced that Cadillac would ditch the ATS and CTS lines in favor of a single model, namely the up-and-coming CT5, ushering in a new era for Caddy’s luxury-stuffed four-doors. Now, we have our hands on the first batch of spy shots to reveal the 2020 Cadillac CT5, showing it in camo’d form out and about on wet, leaf-strewn streets in preparation for a launch sometime next year.

Of course, GM is playing this one rather close to the chest, outfitting the test mule with somebody components intended to throw us off the scent, including a bolstered bodywork in the flanks and a sizable hood scoop to boot. It’s the sort of components that, at first glance, are meant to suggest the this isn’t a Caddy, but rather some kind of upcoming Dodge Charger. However, GM ain’t pulling a fast one this time. We’re on to your game!


2016 Cadillac Escala - image 685454
“The new Cadillac CT5 should take its styling cues from the Cadillac Escala Concept that dropped in 2016, pictured above.”

The new CT5 is reportedly codenamed the A2LL, and will take its styling cues from the Cadillac Escala concept that debuted at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2016.

Features include a coupe-like roofline, which falls into the shortened rear end to create some subtle cab-back proportions along with the extended hoodline. And obviously, it’s impossible to tell exactly what’s going on under all that body wrap and faux padding, but we can still pick out a few details here and there. The nose appears to employ a large, crest-like grille for the central intake, as well as a slimmer lower intake and side intakes as well. The headlights appear quite slim in shape, and look to include LED lighting elements in horizontal lines with outer main projectors. There’s also a pair of side markers just ahead of the front wheels along the inner fender lines.


2020 Cadillac CT5 Spied For The First Time - image 757695
“We expect the CT5 to get the next-generation Alpha platform from General Motors, or more specifically, the long wheelbase iteration”

Under the skin, we expect the CT5 to get the next-generation Alpha platform from General Motors, or more specifically, the long wheelbase iteration. As for the powertrain lineup, the CT5 will use all the familiar engines we’ve seen from Caddy in the past. These will include a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, a 3.6-liter V-6, and of course, GM’s party piece, a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 for the hot-to-trot V-Series trim line. We’re also expecting a plug-in hybrid version of the 2.0-liter four to drop shortly after the CT5 launches.

As for the rest of the drivetrain, a 10-speed automatic will be used across the board, with performance enthusiasts grabbing the six-speed manual in the V-Series. Both AWD and RWD will be offered (RWD as standard and AWD as an option), while the V-Series will be exclusively RWD.

Production will kick off in Q2 or Q3 of 2019. The CT5 will be built at GM’s plant in Lansing Grand River.

References


2016 Cadillac Escala - image 685455

Read our full review on the 2016 Cadillac Escala Concept.


maker logos - image 749325

Read more Cadillac news.

PostHeaderIcon Subaru Promises New Viziv Performance STI For 2018 Tokyo Auto Saloon!

While we’re just a few short days away from the official sheet pull at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon, Subaru is teasing us with a few shots of its upcoming Viziv Performance STI, giving us a sneak peek at what the six-star brand might have planned for the upcoming WRX STI. Boy racers and vape enthusiasts, take note – this is your new icon.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


Subaru Promises New Viziv Performance STI For 2018 Tokyo Auto Saloon! - image 757165
“It should be said right off the bat that Subaru has a history of releasing some seriously desirable concepts that never actually make to the production stage, so temper your lust accordingly.”

For those of you who may be unaware, the Tokyo Auto Salon is an annual car show centered on the latest and greatest performance parts, aesthetic enhancement pieces, and tech bits from the Land of the Rising Sun, bringing together tuners and aftermarket suppliers to show off their various wares to eager crowds of enthusiasts. The big makes also take advantage of the show to bring their customization and sport-oriented products directly to their target audience, hence the be-winged concept you see here.

Subaru frames this new Viziv concept as the embodiment of its “vision for the future of making cars that deliver enjoyment and peace of mind to its customers.”

For now, we’re limited to a pair of shadowy teaser image and no specs, but so far, we like what we see.

Of course, it should be said right off the bat that Subaru has a history of releasing some seriously desirable concepts that never actually make to the production stage, so temper your lust accordingly.

Now that you’ve been properly warned, this concept looks to be a sneak peek of the next-generation Subaru WRX STI. It’s a continuation of the Viziv Performance Concept that showed at the Tokyo Auto Show in October of last year, which appropriately previewed the base model WRX, and thus this latest
appears to be upgraded for additional go-faster duties courtesy of the Subaru Tecnica International, Suby’s official in-house motorsport-focused skunk works division.


Subaru Promises New Viziv Performance STI For 2018 Tokyo Auto Saloon! - image 757166
“The first image shows a chunky, geometric front end with plenty of pink undertones (STI's go-to color).”

The first image shows a chunky, geometric front end with plenty of pink undertones (STI’s go-to color). There are mean-looking C-shaped headlights, a centrally divided six-sided front intake, an extended front splitter, pronounced side skirts, and hugely flared fenders front and back, as well as small ancillary wings just above the front rims. The fascia also throws in a pink grid for the lower intakes, and we’re pretty sure there’s a sizable hood scoop lurking under that shadow.

Large wheels fill the fenders, while the side-view mirrors are pretty much non-existent, looking more like canards than actual usable mirrors. That means they are most likely used for rear-facing cameras to enhance the car’s aero. Of course, the WRX has never really been known as the most aero-friendly model, offering the same efficiency as a thrown brick, but every little bit helps.

The model should also keep its traditional four-door body style, and even though there are no actual door handles, there’s a very subtle line drawn down the rear fender, suggesting this concept is indeed still a sedan. Pop the door, and part of the fender will open with it.


Subaru Promises New Viziv Performance STI For 2018 Tokyo Auto Saloon! - image 757165
“Moving back to the topic of aero, the second image shows the STI's requisite boy racer rear wing, more pink trim, and the STI logo in big stylized letters. Because of course it does.”

Moving back to the topic of aero, the second image shows the STI’s requisite boy racer rear wing, more pink trim, and the STI logo splayed out in big stylized letters on the end cap. There’s also interconnected taillights that will undoubtedly offer additional visual width to the vehicle, set with a black mesh overlay that’s reminiscent of the insert you get in the nose. We’re also likely to see a quad-tipped exhaust system in back.

Compared to the old Viziv concept, the newer STI version is definitely bigger, bolder, and more aggressive, most likely arriving with a wider stance and extra details throughout. Look for more in-your-face aero, deeper intakes, more logos, and the like.

left
right

Note: previous Viziv Performance Concept pictured on the left, latest Viziv Performance STI concept pictured on the right.

So far, the interior of the concept is a mystery, but if we do get something, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a large touchscreen and heavily bolstered sport seats. However, it’s quite likely Subaru will keep the design study relegated to just the exterior styling.

There’s no details on the oily bits either, but hopefully that will change when the model debuts in Tokyo. Of course, we can assume symmetrical AWD for grip and a turbocharged flat-four engine for motivation.

All told, fans are chomping at the bit for more info on the next-gen WRX and WRX STI. Rumors continue to swirl, with some of the latest contending Subaru could add a hybrid powertrain to the mix. We’d also expect the new WRX and WRX STI to use the latest Global Platform underpinnings from the updated fifth-generation Impreza that dropped cover at the 2016 New York Auto Show.

In the power department, we expect the new STI to offer well over 300 ponies, with 350 feeling about right for a next-generation model. Rumors point to the 2020 model year as the most likely release date for the updated performance machine.

As a reference, the Subaru WRX STI will take on competitors like the Civic Type R, Ford Focus RS, and Volkswagen Golf R.

Look for complete details on the fresh Viziv Performance STI concept when it drops at the Tokyo Auto Saloon later this week.

References

Subaru WRX


2018 Subaru WRX STI - image 702508

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX STI.


2018 Subaru WRX STI – Driven - image 722056

Read our full driven review on the 2018 Subaru WRX STI.


2018 Subaru WRX - image 700158

Read our full review on the 2018 Subaru WRX.


Subaru Viziv Performance Concept - image 741038

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Viziv Performance Concept.

PostHeaderIcon The Fisker eMotion Has a Beautiful Interior

There are three screens up front for the driver

The Fisker eMotion’s debut at the Consumer Electronics Show caught a few people by surprise. The debut itself was expected, but the features in the car were more than what most people thought they’d be. The eMotion’s interior is a good example of that. In a word, it’s beautiful. That doesn’t come as a shock to those who know Henrik Fisker’s work, but in some ways, the legendary auto designer seems to have outdone himself this time.


The Fisker eMotion Has a Beautiful Interior - image 756600
“A majority of the eMotion’s interior is covered in ultra-soft premium leather”

I’ll start with the interior color, which shows itself in heavy doses of Caramel and Midnight Black. These are solid color choices to complement the Sapphire Red exterior. A majority of the eMotion’s interior is covered in ultra-soft premium leather. You can see it by how many wrinkles the leather surfaces already have. Some folks may not like the sight of wrinkled leather, but it’s also a sign that the material is authentic. If leather isn’t your thing, Fisker is also offering a vegan option, a first in the auto industry.

The eMotion comes with four individual, electric adjustable first-class seats. There is an option, though, to remove the two rear seats and replace it with a rear bench-style seat. The cabin also has inductive charging ports and special holders for as many as four smartphones. The leather-covered dashboard makes space for a carbon fiber center console and extra storage space that can house tablets and other accessories. All these design elements seamlessly combine premium materials with modern design touches. Put them all together, and they make for a sublime interior package.


The Fisker eMotion Has a Beautiful Interior - image 756595
“There are three driver-oriented screens, including a center curved screen”

Just as important, the eMotion’s interior isn’t lacking in technology. There are three driver-oriented screens, including a center curved screen. The automaker is also offering a 27-inch curved rear screen in case those sitting at a back would want one of their own. This screen is included in the “Chauffer Edition” of the electric car. Then there’s the four-zone electric adjustable tinted roof. It’s made from Electrochromic Glass that Fisker developed in collaboration with Lipik, a company best known for developing state-of-the-art glasses for the auto industry.

References

Fisker Emotion


2019 Fisker EMotion - image 693723

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.


2019 Fisker EMotion - image 756604

Fisker eMotion Debuts with 24-inch Wheels, 400-Mile Range, and Level 4 Autonomous Capability


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

PostHeaderIcon Lexus GS 200t F Sport – Driven

The Lexus GS has been around since 1991, and its latest generation raises the bar for Lexus’ mid-size luxury sedan. The fifth-generation GS debuted for the 2013 model year and underwent a refresh in 2015 as it gained the highly recognizable and polarizing Spindle grille. The refresh also brought the 200t variant and its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. When matched with the available F Sport package, which brings a sport-tuned suspension and more aggressive aesthetics, the GS truly shoulders the role of a proper sports sedan.

I just spent a week behind the wheel of a 2017 GS 200t F Sport covering some 200 miles of mixed driving over familiar Central Florida roads. From the grocery store parking lot to the high-speed Autobahn/demolition derby known as I-4, I put the Lexus through it all. Even the parent pick-up line at the kiddo’s elementary school saw some F Sport action. Here’s how things played out.

Continue reading for my driven review of the 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport.

Exterior

  • F Sport package adds aggressive exterior
  • 19-inch wheels with summer tires
  • Adaptive dampers matched with drive modes
  • Passive entry
  • Optional power-lift trunk
  • Optional orange brake calipers

2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755920
“The current Lexus GS is a calm, subtle sedan with a somewhat large grille and the personality of a no-nonsense accountant who only makes practical decisions”

The current Lexus GS is a calm, subtle sedan with a somewhat large grille and the personality of a no-nonsense accountant who only makes practical decisions. The F Sport version, however, is like putting that accountant on a protein, carbs, and Red Bull regimen and sending him to the gym six days a week. The sedan’s entire theme moves from calm to confrontational.

The enlarged F Sport grille and side air intakes dominate the car’s face. The more aggressive appearance continues onto the side with sportier-looking 19-inch wheels wrapped in summer performance rubber and big brakes poking from behind the thin spokes.

Around back, the truck gets a deck lid spoiler and the dual exhaust tips are enhanced with chrome trim. A faux diffuser resides between the exhaust, finishing off the GS F Sport’s more menacing styling. For those who want even more, Lexus will happily point you to the V-8-powered GS F.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755919
“Besides its appearance, the GS offers plenty of functionality, too.”

Besides its appearance, the GS offers plenty of functionality, too. The side mirrors are large and easily dispel blind spots. The Blind Spot Monitoring system helps with that, as well. The large, wide windshield and tall side windows make the cabin feel airy. For those times when the sun is too bright, the rear window has a power-operated shade.

An optional power-operated trunk lid is available and a button on the key fob opens it, as does the button just above the license plate. One complaint, though: the release button is too small and placed far to the right rather than being centered under the Lexus badge. It’s just a poor design that Lexus should have fixed years ago. Thankfully, the touch-sensitive door locks are incredibly easy to use. The doors unlock quickly by reaching behind the handle, even before you have time to start pulling. Locking the doors happens just as quick with a light touch near the front of the handle. It makes getting into and out of the GS very simple.

My GS tester came with the $300 orange brake caliper upgrade. It might not be for everybody, but I really like the splash of color. It also helps accentuate the F Spot’s intended nature.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755922

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 112.2 in.
Overall Length 192.1 in.
Overall Width 72.4 in. (mirrors folded)
Overall Height (unloaded) 57.3 in. (AWD 57.9 in.)
Tread Width – Front/Rear 62.0/62.6 in.

Interior

  • F Sport package brings deeper front bucket seats
  • Heated & vented front seats
  • Entune Infotainment system with joystick controller
  • 12.3-inch screen
  • Head-Up display

2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755902
“The dash layout is familiar and easy to find controls”

The GS’ interior is typical Lexus – but that’s mostly a good thing. The dash layout is familiar and easy to find controls. The fit and finish is good, too, with the leather feeling soft and the plastics of decent quality. The F Sport package also brings deeper bucket seats with both heating and ventilation. The steering wheel also gets nifty F Sport badge to officially announce the car’s sportiness to the driver.

The back seats are remain the same between the F Sport and conventional GS, but provide a comfy spot to pass the miles. A folding center armrest makes elbows happy, but the fold-up cup holders seem a bit flimsy. Why Lexus chose a coin tray rather than cup holders is beyond me. Another disappointment are the non-folding seatbacks. There is a small pass-through behind the armrest, though.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755935
“The 12.3-inch screen is pretty and the ability to have a split screen is nice with some menu functions.”

Continuing with the negatives, I’m not too fond of the Entune infotainment system. Its joystick controller works, but isn’t the most user-friendly method of selecting items on the screen. The menus are a bit convoluted, too. It isn’t all bad, though. The 12.3-inch screen is pretty and the ability to have a split screen is nice with some menu functions. You can read more of my thoughts on the Entune system here.

From behind the wheel, the GS proved very comfortable thanks to the vast adjustability of the seat, the power-adjustable steering column, and the placement of the controls and buttons. The interior is also whisper quiet from both wind and road noise. The view outside is pretty good, as well. The large windshield and tall side windows offer good visibility and the blind spot monitoring system helps keep an eye out. The same is true with the lane departure warning and lane keep assist features.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755903

Interior Dimensions

Headroom – Front/Rear 38.0/37.8 in.
Legroom – Front/Rear 42.3/36.8 in.
Shoulder room – Front/Rear 57.3/55.7 in.
Hip room – Front/Rear 54.5/54.1 in.
EPA Cargo Volume 18.4 cu. ft.

Drivetrain

  • 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
  • 241 horsepower & 258 pound-feet of torque
  • Eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • 0 – 60 mph in 6.6 seconds
  • F Sport adds larger brakes, adaptive dampers

2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755910
“The engine makes a respectable 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,650 rpm”

The Lexus GS has four powertrains to choose from, including the mighty 5.0-liter V-8 in the GS F, the 3.5-liter V-6 in the GS 350, and the V-6 combined with a mild hybrid system in the GS 450h.

Here in the GS 200t – the standard powertrain configurations – power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine makes a respectable 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,650 rpm. The engine’s torque curve stays mostly flat through the rev range, offering a healthy dose of turbo-induced twist up to the peak horsepower.

The engine is a sweet piece of engineering and it doesn’t suffer from the grating noise that often plagues four-cylinders. Its only problem is some slight turbo lag that is exacerbated by the eight-speed automatic transmission’s lackadaisical downshifts on initial acceleration. Thankfully, selecting Sport or Sport+ with the drive mode knob makes things slightly better.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755915
“The F Sport package adds larger brakes to each corner, with the front getting 14.4-inch, two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers”

The GS 200t isn’t a slouch, though. It will sprint to 60 mph in roughly 6.6 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 14.9 seconds at 95 mph – not bad for a 241-horsepower sedan that weighs nearly 3,900 pounds.

And thanks to the F Sport package, the GS 200t is very good at stopping. The F Sport package adds larger brakes to each corner, with the front getting 14.4-inch, two-piece rotors and four-piston calipers. Pay $300 and Lexus will paint the calipers orange.

The F Sport package also adds adaptive dampers. These shocks cater the ride to the drive modes, offering a smooth ride in Eco and Normal modes, while Sport and Sport+ have sharpened handling. Summer performance tires are included, too.

Fuel economy isn’t generally a big selling point on a $50,000+ luxury sedan, but the 2017 GS 200t doesn’t disappoint. The EPA estimates it gets 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. Premium fuel is recommended. In my hotshoe driving and idling for photos and in the parent pickup line a the kiddo’s school, I averaged 22.4 mpg over 200 miles.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755913

Drivetrain Specifications

Type, Materials In-line 4-cylinder aluminum block and cylinder heads
Designation 8AR-FTS
Valvetrain DOHC 16-valve with Dual VVT-iW
Displacement 2.0 liter twin-scroll turbocharged with intercooler (1,998 cc; 120.2 cu. in.)
Bore x Stroke 3.39 in x 3.39 in
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Horsepower (SAE) 241 HP @ 5,800 RPM
Torque 258 LB-FT @ 1,650-4,400 RPM
0-60 mph Acceleration 6.6 seconds
Top Speed 143 mph
Estimated Fuel Economy (city/highway/combined mpg) 22/33/26

Pricing


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755917

The GS 200t is the entry point in to the Lexus GS family. It carries a price of $46,310 for the rear-drive model. Adding the F Sport package pushes the price to $53,980. My tester came with a few á la carte options like a color head-up display for $900, the one-touch power trunk for $400, orange brake calipers for $300, Intuitive Park Assist for $500, illuminated door sills for $425, and a bundled cargo package that includes a trunk mat, cargo net, and wheel locks for $225.

Add in the $975 destination fee, and my tester stickers at $57,735.

The Competition

Cadillac CTS 2.0T


2017 Cadillac CTS - image 703853

Hailing from America, the Cadillac CTS
has been fighting the Germans and Japanese hard since the current version debuted for 2014. Its sleek “art and science” design gives it a unique flair not seen in its rivals. Its low-slung hood and crisp lines still look fresh four years later. The CTS is offered in several trim levels with four engine options. The Caddy’s interior is plush, though not on the Lexus GS’ level. Many complain about the CUE infotainment system’s slider controls for HVAC and radio settings, too. Still, the CTS is a bonafide luxury sedan.

While the CTS-V with its supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V-8 is the most exciting, the most comparable engine to the GS 200t is the Caddy’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. The engine is surprisingly closely matched to the Lexus, offering 268 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque backed by an eight-speed automatic that powers the rear wheels. AWD is available with the 2.0T, unlike the Lexus, which requires the V-6 to spin all four wheels.

The 2018 Cadillac CTS starts at $47,490 and comes standard with the 2.0-liter. Adding AWD adds $2,000. The mid-level Luxury trim starts at $55,190 and adds several welcomed features like heated and vented leather seating, navigation, a 13-speaker sound system, the UltraView sunroof, ambient interior lighting, and a handful of active safety systems. The Premium Luxury trim starts at $60,690 and adds Magnetic Ride Control, a head-up display, a 360 camera system, and tri-zone air conditioning.

Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac CTS 2.0T.

2018 BMW 530i


2017 BMW 5 Series - image 703469

The BMW 5 Series comes in several flavors, including the hybrid 530e iPerformance, the inline-six 540i, the impressive M550i with its twin-turbo V-8, and the mighty M5. For this comparison, though, the 530i with its 2.0-liter turbo-four makes the most sense. Three trim levels are offered, with prices starting at $52,650 – a few grand more than the competition. There is the Sport Line Design, the Luxury Design, and the M Sport Design, the latter of which competes well with the GS’ F Sport package. That pushes the price to $58,000 – only $265 more than my Lexus GS 200t F Sport tester. For even more handling performance, BMW offers the $1,650 Dynamic Handling Package. It includes active dampers, M Sport brakes, and four-wheel steering.

As for that 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the engine makes 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels, though BMW’s xDrive AWD system is available.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 5 Series.

Conclusion


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755925

The 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport might not be the newest or most technologically advanced in its class, but it remains highly competitive and a solid performer. It combination of smooth luxury and aggressive appearance match the four-cylinder’s peppy nature and the F Sport suspension’s ability to handle twisty roads. The only letdowns include some turbo lag, a transmission that takes a second to downshift for acceleration, and an infotainment system that isn’t the most user-friendly and isn’t filled with the latest tech like Apple CarPlay or a 360-degree camera system.

Still, the GS 200t (now called the GS 300 for 2018) makes a fantastic, mild-mannered performance luxury sedan. For those wanting more power, the V-6 offers 311 horsepower and the V-8 brings 467, while the GS 450h combines the V-6 with a hybrid system for slightly better fuel economy at 29 mpg city and 34 mpg on the highway.

  • Leave it
    • * Infotainment system needs improvment
    • * Slight turbo lag

References

Lexus GS


2016 Lexus GS - image 640431

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS.


2016 Lexus GS F - image 608999

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS F.


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755908

Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car?


2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport - Driven - image 755935

The Lexus GS 200t’s Infotainment System is its Weak Point


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 756363

How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F


Driven Opinion: How the Lexus GS 200t Compares to the Competition - image 756643

Driven Opinion: How the Lexus GS 200t Compares to the Competition

PostHeaderIcon Fisker eMotion Debuts with 24-inch Wheels, 400-Mile Range, and Level 4 Autonomous Capability

That Means the eMotion...

The Fisker eMotion has officially spread its wings at the Consumer Electronics Show. Henrik Fisker’s latest pièce de résistance is every bit the car we expected it to be. It’s sharp as a tack, has aero bits for days, and carries what can only be described as one of the funkiest door configurations of any car we’ve seen in recent memory. If you thought the Tesla Model X’s falcon doors were treats for the senses, prepare yourselves for what the eMotion has to offer.


Fisker eMotion Debuts with 24-inch Wheels, 400-Mile Range, and Level 4 Autonomous Capability - image 756603
“The new electric car is provocative to look at, but the doors are the real highlight of the exterior.”

The Fisker eMotion is a tremendous return to form for Henrik Fisker. Aesthetically, it looks like a proper sports car. It measures five meters (16.4 feet) long and 1.48 meters (4.8 feet) high. That makes it slightly longer and taller than the Porsche 911 Turbo, which comes in at 4.5 meters long (14.7 feet) and 1.29 meters (4.25 feet) high.

Carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum were used in building the car’s body panels. The panels themselves make up a significant part of the car’s aerodynamic features. The front spoiler, side rocker panels, and rear diffuser are all prominently seen in the design of the eMotion. The new electric car is provocative to look at, but the doors are the real highlight of the exterior. We’ve seen two-door models use butterfly doors before, but we’ve never seen a four-door model use a similar configuration. Fisker takes it to that level by giving the eMotion two butterfly doors in the front and two falcon doors in the back. Throw in the set of 24-inch low-rolling resistant Pirelli tires, and you’re looking at a car whose design can only come from the mind of Henrik Fisker.


Fisker eMotion Debuts with 24-inch Wheels, 400-Mile Range, and Level 4 Autonomous Capability - image 756608
“On the performance end, the Fisker eMotion is tipped to have a top speed of 161 mph to go with an EV range of “more than” 400 miles”

On the performance end, the Fisker eMotion is tipped to have a top speed of 161 mph to go with an EV range of “more than” 400 miles. No details were given on the car’s EV powertrain, but Fisker did say that the eMotion will feature five Integrated Quanergy LIDARs that has the capability to achieve Level 4 autonomous driving. This system is made up of S3 solid-state LiDar Sensors that are integrated into different sections of the car, including one integrated behind the front wheel and another hidden in the lower rear rocker panel.

References

Fisker Emotion


2019 Fisker EMotion - image 693723

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

PostHeaderIcon Video of the Day: Jeremy Clarkson Tries His Hand at Gymkhana: Video

Jeremy Clarkson is good at many things. He’s good at talking about cars. He’s good at driving some of them. And he’s good at pissing a lot of people of. He also claims to be good at drifting, something he showed in the last episode of The Grand Tour when he decided to have a go at recreating Ken Block’s famous Gymkhana stunt videos.

Of course, this is Jeremy Clarkson we’re talking about. A lot of his bombastic claims should be taken with a grain of salt. His stunt video, called “Farmkhana: Ultimate_Country_Playground,” is a perfect example of that. Watch it on a surface level, and you might even be convinced that Clarkson’s run across the playground is legitimate. He even makes faces while performing those intense burnouts. But take the time to study the video. Look at it closer, and you’ll start noticing how carefully edited it is. The shots from inside the Subaru STI show him mostly stationary — the face-making served as good distraction — while the shots of his feet slamming the pedals are far from conclusive since we don’t know if it’s actually doing it.

I will admit that Clarkson does know how to do a proper drift. He’s done it in front of a camera many times. But he’s nowhere near Block’s level when it comes to this kind of horse-playing. The latter is on another level. Fortunately, Clarkson and the show are in on the joke too when they released a short “Behind-The-Scenes” video of the stunt. It turns out; there was a lot of editing and failed stunts involved in the making of Farmkhana, including one scene where Clarkson failed to drift into a sheep pen, hitting and destroying its wooden enclosures every time.




References


Emirates Airlines Gets A Helping Hand From A Luxury Automaker On Designing Its First-Class Suites - image 744864

Read more Jeremy Clarkson news.

PostHeaderIcon The Fisker EMotion Is A Four-Door Lamborghini with Butterfly Doors

It’s been around seven years since the Fisker Karma was a still a thing, and Henrik Fisker appears to be back in business with another company. With Fisker Automotive bankrupt since 2013 and the Fisker Karma revived by a Chinese company under a different name, Henrik founded Fisker Inc. in 2016 and set out to develop an all-electric sports car. Less than two years have passed since then, and Fisker unveiled his first automobile in years. It’s called the EMotion, it’s gorgeous to look at, and it has the coolest set of four doors ever created.


The Fisker EMotion Is A Four-Door Lamborghini with Butterfly Doors - image 755946
“We've seen Lambos and McLarens with butterfly doors and Teslas with falcon doors, but the EMotion is probably the first four-door to bring together both designs”

We’ve seen Lambos and McLarens with butterfly doors and Teslas with falcon doors, but the EMotion is probably the first four-door to bring together both designs. It’s also the first production four-door to have unconventional doors (the Model X has regular doors up front). It’s like Fisker took the front half of a Lamborghini and welded it to the rear half of a Model X, and then redesigned the body until it came up with the hottest four-door coupe I’ve seen in years.

Butterfly doors go a long way back. While the Lamborghini Countach is probably the most iconic classic car to sport vertical doors, they were actually used for the first time by Alfa Romeo on the 33 Stradale, launched in 1967. Tesla’s falcon doors aren’t very original either. Mercedes first used them on a production model, the 300 SL “Gullwing,” in 1954 and since then we’ve seen them on a handful of cars, including the Bricklin SV-1 and the DeLorean DMC-12. What I’m trying to say is that Fisker Inc. took two classic design cues and gave them a modern twist on a four-door car. Okay, so maybe it’s not exactly revolutionary, but it’s the hottest thing since the Lambo Countach. Actually, it’s that four-door Lamborghini we’ve been dreaming of since forever.

Fisker Emotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693723

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

PostHeaderIcon How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F

Lexus might be best known for its cushy cars and that unforgettable Spindle grille, but the company has a long list of high-performance vehicles that include the iconic LF-A and a handful of F Performance models. The F stands for Fuji Speedway where the vehicles are developed, but it might was well stand for fun. These models have performance-oriented suspensions, larger brakes, a powerful engine, and more aggressive styling. A perfect example of this is the Lexus GS F. It’s a full-size sedan with a 467-horsepower 5.0-liter V-8, rear-wheel drive, massive Brembo brakes, and looks to kill.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Lexus GS 200t – the same sedan but powered by a 241-horsepower turbo-four. While the cars couldn’t be more different, Lexus offers something in the middle: the F Sport package. This adds 19-inch wheels, larger brakes with high-friction pads, an adaptive suspension system, variable ratio steering, and a body kit that closely resembles the GS F’s.

This week happens to have a 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport in my driveway, and I wanted to explore the differences between it and the all-out GS F, especially haven driven both.

Continue reading for the quick comparison.

Exterior

left
right
“It might take a Lexus expert to spot the differences between the GS F Sport and the GS F when seen separately, but when put together, the differences become noticeable”

It might take a Lexus expert to spot the differences between the GS F Sport and the GS F when seen separately, but when put together, the differences become noticeable. Up front, the GS F has larger air intakes below the headlights. The Spindle grilles are actually pretty similar, though the GS F uses some carbon fiber trim along the bottom.

Around the sides, the front fenders have a massive vent slotted right behind the front wheels. This functional piece helps evacuate air from within the wheel well, put there by the brake ducts designed to keep the big Brembos cool. A more pronounced rocker panel skirt follows the vented fender, giving the GS F a more planted look.

left
right
“Around back, the GS F uses stacked, quad exhaust pipes and a carbon fiber deck lid spoiler to denote its high-performance nature”

Around back, the GS F uses stacked, quad exhaust pipes and a carbon fiber deck lid spoiler to denote its high-performance nature. A smaller details are the gray mirror caps that stand apart from the seven available body colors – well, except for Smoky Granite Mica color.

The most noticeable different, however, are the wheels. The GS F comes with 19-inch, 10-spoke wheels, while the GS F Sport comes with 19-inch five-spoke wheels with thicker, less intricate spokes.

As for things the GS F Sport doesn’t have, well, its basically the opposite the GS F. It has smaller openings below the headlights, standard GS front fenders, less pronounced rocker panels, body-colored side mirrors, a body-colored decklid spoiler, and integrated oval dual exhaust tips.

Interior

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“The GS F comes with carbon fiber trim; suede inserts on the center console, dash and door panels; and deep bucket seats with uniquely stitched leather.”

Like the exterior, the GS 200t F Sport and GS F share the same basic interior layout. The differences are in the details. The GS F comes with carbon fiber trim; suede inserts on the center console, dash and door panels; and deep bucket seats with uniquely stitched leather. The GS F also boasts a gauge cluster much like the LF-A supercar. It has a small speedometer on the right, a large tachometer in the center, and an information screen on the left. The standard GS and GS F Sport’s gauges look similar, but replace the speedometer for fuel level and coolant temperature, which in all honesty, is a much better use of space. Both cars have digital speed readouts inside the tach and a head-up display with a digital speedometer is optional.

As for the GS 200t F Sport, it comes with comfort-oriented seats, aluminum-style trim, and leather covering all the spots where suede would be on the GS F. And beyond the gauge cluster, the rest of the interior is basically identical, including the large, 12.3-inch infotainment system and odd joystick controller.

Drivetrain


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 755912
“The GS 200t comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,650 rpm.”

Of course, the biggest differences between the GS 200t F Sport and GS F are the drivetrains. The GS 200t comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 241 horsepower at 5,800 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,650 rpm. Conversely, the GS F comes with Lexus’ familiar 5.0-liter making substantially more power at 467 horses at 7,100 rpm and 389 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. And though the GS F trails its super sedan competition like the Cadillac CTS-V and BMW M5, its naturally aspirated engine loves to rev and sounds good doing it.

Both the GS 200t and GS F use an eight-speed automatic transmission and pump power to the rear wheels.


2016 Lexus GS F – Driven - image 681152
“The GS F comes with Lexus’ familiar 5.0-liter making substantially more power at 467 horses at 7,100 rpm and 389 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm”

As for performance the GS F sprints to 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds at 113 mph and onto a top speed of 168 mph. The GS 200t F Sport needs 6.6 seconds to hit 60 mph and 14.9 seconds to complete the quarter-mile at 95 mph. Its top speed is governed at 143 mph.

Last but not least, the GS F uses a sophisticated electronic rear differential with torque vectoring to help in cornering. The GS 200t F Sport gets an open differential, though by graduating to the GS 350 F Sport opens up the optional Torsen limited-slip differential ($500) and the Dynamic Handling System with rear-wheel steering ($1,700). The GS F isn’t even available with the rear-wheel steering.

Suspension and Brakes


2016 Lexus GS F – Driven - image 681144
“The GS F rides on "F-Adaptive Variable Suspension" that’s tuned for a sharper ride and better cornering”

The GS F is clearly designed to handle track time and high-speed cruising. It rides on “F-Adaptive Variable Suspension” that’s tuned for a sharper ride and better cornering. It uses forged aluminum control arms and steering knuckles up front and massive, six-piston Brembo brakes clamping 14.9-inch slotted and vented rotors. Out back, four-piston Bembos clamp on 13.5-inch slotted and vented rotors. The GS F also rides on wider, sticker summer performance tires measuring 255/35R19 up front and 275/35R19 in back.

The GS 200t F Sport might not be that quick in a straight line, but its F Sport package does wonders for its handling prowess compared to the standard GS sedan. Of course, it can’t match the GS F’s road-holding abilities. The GS 200t F Sport uses a similar Adaptive Variable Suspension system that get the “F Sport tune” rather than the “F tune.” Lexus doesn’t dive into the specific calibration differences. The GS 200t F Sport uses 14.0-inch, two-piece brake rotors up front with four-piston calipers. The rear brakes measure 12.2 inches in diameter and come with single-piston sliding calipers. The F Sport still comes with summer performance tires, but they are narrower at 235/40R19 in front and 265/35R19 in back. Both cars share the same electronic power steering system with 2.8 turns to lock.


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 755915
“The GS 200t F Sport uses a similar Adaptive Variable Suspension system that get the “F Sport tune” rather than the “F tune.””

According to Car & Driver, the GS F manages an impressive 0.93 g on their 300-foot road-holding skidpad, while the GS 200t F Sport manages a slightly milder 0.86 g in the same test. Interestingly, there is a big difference in curb weights between the two cars, as well. The GS 200t F Sport C&D tested weighted 3,869 pounds while the GS F weighted a porky 4,128 pounds. Lexus claims the GS F only weights 4,034 pounds.

Pricing


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 755913
“The GS F starts at $84,350 – a full $30,370 more expensive than the GS 200t F Sport”

While the 2017 GS 200t starts at $46,310, adding the F Sport package pushes the price to $53,980. The GS F, on the other hand, starts at $84,350 – a full $30,370 more expensive than the GS 200t F Sport. That’s a hefty jump, though it’s undeniable the vastness of the performance jump between the cars, too.

For someone who wants a serious sports sedan but isn’t keen on Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz or Porsche, the Lexus GS F proves to a solid choice. For those who would rather carve corners than drag race or do long drifts around some bendy autocross circuit, the GS 200t F Sport is the better choice. For those in the middle, Lexus has the GS 350 F Sport with its 3.5-liter V-6 making 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. For those wanting to be green, Lexus also has an F Sport package for the GS 450h and its hybrid drivetrain.

Behind the Wheel

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So far, we’ve covered all the objective facts between the two GS models. Now it’s time for sliding behind the wheel and getting a feel for them.

Both cars feel incredibly similar thanks to the shared dashboard design, infotainment system, and related gauge clusters. Even the steering system are the same, offering the same number of turns from lock to lock and connected feel doing down the road. There is zero on-center vagueness and both cars start dancing at the slightest turn of their leather-wrapped wheels.

The first big noticeable difference is the seats. The GS F has thickly bolstered front bucket seats while the GS 200t F Sport has cushier padding and less contrast stitching. Once moving the power level quickly becomes apparent. The GS F will rocket away, accelerating very rapidly to extra-legal speeds. The 241-horsepower GS 200t takes a bit more time. Between the somewhat slow-shifting transmission and slight turbo lag, the GS 200t takes few milliseconds to get moving, even with the throttle jabbed quickly to the floor. The naturally aspirated, 487-horsepower GS F doesn’t have that problem.

The differences in braking and road-holding are nominal on the street and would need a racetrack in order to illuminate the GS F’s advantages. Just tooling around the streets will never explore the GS 200t F Sport’s brakes full capabilities, let alone the GS F’s big Brembos.

Stay tuned to TopSpeed.com for more on the 2017 GS 200t F Sport and check below for our previous coverage.

References

Lexus GS


2016 Lexus GS - image 640431

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS.


2016 Lexus GS F - image 608999

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS F.


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 755909

2016 Lexus GS F – Driven - image 681138

Read our full driven review on the 2016 Lexus GS F.

Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car?


How the Lexus GS 200t F Sport Compares to the GS F - image 755935

The Lexus GS 200t’s Infotainment System is its Weak Point

PostHeaderIcon The Lexus GS 200t’s Infotainment System is its Weak Point

This week has a 2017 Lexus GS 200t in my driveway, and while there are many admirable qualities about this full-size luxury sedan, its infotainment system isn’t one of them. It’s called the Lexus Enform system, and it’s been around for a while. It relies on a joystick-like controller to scroll and click through menus. The system helps guide the joystick to menu buttons and selectable options like the planchette on an Ouija board.

Making the situation worse is the menu layout within the infotainment system due to a cluttered-looking screen with fonts of varying sizes. But the worst grievance by far is imputing addresses into the navigation system. It just takes too much patience and time. Thankfully, voice commands are able to help. On the other hand, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nowhere to be found.

Continue reading for more information.

There Is Still Plenty To Like


The Lexus GS 200t's Infotainment System is its Weak Point - image 755984
“The Lexus Enform system works, but it’s not the most intuitive infotainment system on the market, or the most capable”

Admittedly, I’ve gotten pretty good at using the Enform system and its controller over the years thanks to the numerous Lexus vehicles I’ve tested, but its learning curve is rather steep. While familiarity makes for an easier time, car shoppers might be detracted by its initial complexity, and new owners might have to break out the owner’s manual before fully understanding its functions.

The Enform system does have some redeeming traits, though. Its large, 12.3-inch display is handsome, and the split-screen view within some menu pages is a nice touch. Navigation maps view full screen is also pretty attractive. I’m also happy Lexus didn’t bury the HVAC controls within Enform. Rather, the most used functions get their own buttons on the dash.


The Lexus GS 200t's Infotainment System is its Weak Point - image 755979
“Lexus also did a great job at making the joystick feel nice in your hand”

Lexus also did a great job at making the joystick feel nice in your hand. The leather-wrapped palm pad is curved just right, and the joystick falls nicely at the fingertips.

One helpful trick that makes using the joystick more tolerable is adjusting the force-feedback function. It’s basically turning down the “planchette’s pull” and making it not so strong when gravitating to different menu buttons. The adjustment is made in the settings menu and is one of the first changes I make in every Lexus tester.

Here’s the thing: the Lexus Enform system works, but it’s not the most intuitive infotainment system on the market, or the most capable. Lexus has some ground to make up in this department, though the rest of the GS is rather impressive.

I’ll be writing more on the 2017 Lexus GS 200t in the coming week, so stick around to TopSpeed.com for more.

References

Lexus GS


2016 Lexus GS - image 640431

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS.


2016 Lexus GS F - image 608999

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS F.


Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car? - image 755909

Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car?

PostHeaderIcon Fisker eMotion Heads To CES 2018 With Solid-State Battery And Fast Charging

When it comes to automotive technology and the Consumer Electronics Show, anything and all things battery related is obviously quite the hot topic. This year is no different, and Fisker is looking to make a splash thanks to its new solid-state battery and fast charging on the soon-to-be-revealed eMotion sedan, as teased in a series of Tweets from the man himself, Mr. Henrik Fisker.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story


Fisker eMotion Heads To CES 2018 With Solid-State Battery And Fast Charging - image 755946
“Stylistically, the eMotion is classic Fisker, combining elements of his work at Aston, Tesla, and of course, the Karma into a single package”

For those of you who may be unaware, Henrik Fisker is a Danish-born auto designer with a long, impressive resume. After getting his start at BMW, where he helped to pen the E1 electric concept, the Z07 concept (which later became the Z8), and the X5 SUV, Fisker made the move Aston Martin. There, he helped create such stunning beauties as the V8 Vantage. Later, he helped get the ball rolling on the original Tesla Model S.

In 2007, Fisker launched his own car company, creating the Fisker Karma hybrid sports car under the eponymous Fisker Automotive. While unquestionably good-looking and technologically impressive, the Karma ended up bankrupting the fledgling car company, with a variety of recalls issued concerning the battery’s tendency to spontaneously ignite.

Fast forward to 2016, and Fisker is back in the saddle, offering a new luxury sports hybrid dubbed the eMotion. Stylistically, the eMotion is classic Fisker, combining elements of his work at Aston, Tesla, and of course, the Karma into a single package. There are short overhangs (especially in back), cab-back proportions, high fender flares, large wheels, and wild-looking upward-flared doors.


Fisker eMotion Heads To CES 2018 With Solid-State Battery And Fast Charging - image 755945
“Full details are expected during the eMotion's reveal, but we're expecting huge range potential (upwards of 400 miles when topped off, with the possibility for 500 miles), and charge times equivalent to that of a normal gasoline fill-up.”

While nice to look at, the eMotion secures its spot in the limelight at CES thanks to what’s going on underneath the skin, namely a solid-state battery pack and quick-charge feature. Full details are expected during the four-door’s reveal, but we’re expecting huge range potential (upwards of 400 miles when topped off, with the possibility for 500 miles), and charge times equivalent to that of a normal gasoline fill-up. If true, the new tech would address two of the biggest hurdles to widespread EV adoption.

But there’s more. Rather than using a liquid lithium-ion substance like traditional EV battery packs, Fisker’s new solid-state batteries are made from graphene, an ultra-thin honeycomb lattice that currently only exists in laboratory settings. As such, the batteries would also be lighter than lithium-ion equivalents, have a higher energy density, be less prone to thermal runaway, and incredibly, be cheaper to manufacture as well.

“Here’s to a “Solid” 2018, the year we decide when our solid state Battery technology goes into mass production,” Fisker tweeted out on December 31st.


Fisker eMotion Heads To CES 2018 With Solid-State Battery And Fast Charging - image 755944
“In addition, it looks like the technology may be made more accessible some time in the foreseeable future.”

In addition, it looks like the technology may be made more accessible some time in the foreseeable future. In response to one of Fisker’s recent tweets, another Twitter user asked, “You will impress me when you make a 400 EV range for everyday people. We outnumber those that can afford your luxury model. Your revolution can only be carried out by the masses,” to which Fisker responded with, “That’s next on my agenda!”, suggesting a more affordable eMotion may already be in the works.

In addition to the new battery tech, Fisker will also show off the eMotion’s lidar system, which is presumably used to help it achieve high levels of autonomy.

Look for the full reveal of the Fikser eMotion on January 9th. Stay tuned to TopSpeed for the latest.




References

Fisker Emotion


2017 Fisker EMotion - image 693723

Read our full review on the 2018 Fisker Emotion.


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

PostHeaderIcon Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car?

There are a few features shoppers tend to expect come standard when buying a luxury sedan. Power window, power locks, leather seats, push-button starting – these have turned from extra-cost options to basic necessities in a vehicle billed as luxury. Apparently, Lexus didn’t get the memo with the GS sedan as heated and vented seats are bundled in the $1,400 Premium Package, along with the power rear sunshade and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

But there’s a logical reason Lexus does this.

The Premium Package is technically only available on the GS 200t and GS 350. It comes as standard equipment on the GS 200t F Sport, GS 350 F Sport, GS 450h, and GS 450h F Sport. In other words, only the base trims come without the Premium Package and its heated and vented seats. That brings up Lexus’ reasoning. Without the added cost of those features, Lexus is able to price the 2017 GS 200t at $47,305, which is well beneath the starting prices of the GS’ main competitors, the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF, and Audi A6. The base GS with no options provides that luxury car look and feel, but at a more affordable price and without many of the gadgets some folks might not want. It’s all about packages and the base price.

Continue reading for more information.

Here’s What’s Included with my 2017 Lexus GS 200t F Sport Tester


Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car? - image 755908
“Heated and vented seats are bundled in the $1,400 Premium Package, along with the power rear sunshade and rain-sensing windshield wipers.”

Selecting the F Sport package on the GS 200t sedan adds roughly $7,600 to the price. Though a hefty option, the F Sport makes several options come as standard equipment, including the aforementioned Premium Package. It also adds several go-fast bits to the suspension and brakes, along with a more aggressive exterior appearance and interior adornments. My tester also includes the $1,730 Navigation Package with turn-by-turn directions.

Beyond those packages, the GS 200t F Sport offers several á la carte options like a color head-up display for $900, the one-touch power trunk for $400, orange brake calipers for $300, Intuitive Park Assist for $500, illuminated door sills for $425, and a bundled cargo package that includes a trunk mat, cargo net, and wheel locks for $225.

All told, my tester stickers at $57,735, which includes the $975 destination fee.

References

Lexus GS


2016 Lexus GS - image 640431

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS.


2016 Lexus GS F - image 608999

Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus GS F.

PostHeaderIcon Toyota Teases 2019 Avalon Ahead Of Detroit Auto Show Debut

The 2018 Detroit Auto Show is nearly here, and with its approach comes a deluge of teasers from across the board. The latest arrives courtesy of Toyota, which is previewing the soon-to-be-revealed next-generation full-size Avalon sedan with a few shots of the redesigned headlights and taillights.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Full Story

The Toyota Avalon is a full-size four-door sedan, first seeing the light of day back in 1996. Since then, the nameplate has offered a combination of comfort, reliability, and a good amount of space as well. With a second generation appearing in 1999, a third generation in 2004, and the outgoing fourth generation in 2012, the last update we saw for the Avalon was for the 2016 model year, when Toyota gave it a face lift at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Now, Toyota is redesigning the Avalon for the 2018 model year, and it’s likely to be quite the update indeed.

Although the Avalon usually plays second fiddle to Toyota’s more popular compacts like the Camry and Corolla, we have high hopes for the fifth-gen Avalon. After all, we’re quite fond of the recently revealed new-gen Camry, which just got a much more exciting design, nice engine options, and a very solid interior, all for the 2018 model year.

“We have high hopes for the fifth-gen Avalon. After all, we're quite fond of the recently revealed new-gen Camry, which just got a much more exciting design, nice engine options, and a very solid interior, all for the 2018 model year.”

As of this writing, we don’t have many details on the 2019 Avalon, but Toyota is giving us a preview of things to come with close-cropped teaser images of the headlight and taillight housings.

The headlights appear to show a duo of Y-shaped LED daytime running light signatures, while the taillights show a wraparound design and dynamic turn signal feature. The front end also looks to incorporate a large black mesh section in the grille, while the rear image appears to suggest a wider stance and well-formed decklid spoiler. Exterior aesthetics should see a marked upgrade this time around.

In terms of motivation, the new Avalon will likely get a V-6 in the nose, while the option for hybrid power is another very good possibility. Inside, we expect to see new support for smartphones thanks to the inclusion of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as nicer materials, and the possibly for a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Look for the full details when the 2019 Toyota Avalon debuts at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. Stay tuned to TopSpeed for the latest.

References

Toyota Corolla


2014 Toyota Corolla - image 509691

Read our full review on the current 2017 Toyota Corolla.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.


maker logos - image 741755

Read more Toyota news.

PostHeaderIcon Rolls-Royce Is Putting Serious Thought Into Electric Vehicles

Seven years ago, Rolls-Royce rolled out the Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX Concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Then things turned quiet in Crewe. Outside of CEO Torsten Muller hinting at the possibility of an EV Rolls in 2015, we haven’t heard a peep about the company’s electric car plans since the 102EX broke cover. That changed recently when a high-ranking BMW board member admitted that the Spirit of Ecstasy could go electric real soon.


2011 Rolls-Royce Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX - image 395030
“Owners of Rolls-Royce models have become more open to the possibility of an EV Rolls, with some even asking about the company’s plans for the growing segment.”

BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer is the man who dropped the bombshell. In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Schwarzenbauer said that “there’s no doubt in my mind you will see an electric Rolls-Royce.” That’s as close to a commitment as you can get from someone who actually has a hand in deciding these things. Apparently, owners of Rolls-Royce models have become more open to the possibility of an EV Rolls, with some even asking about the company’s plans for the growing segment.

Schwarzenbauer refused to identify a specific timetable, but he did say that an all-electric Rolls-Royce isn’t going to arrive overnight. There are some issues that need to be addressed, not the least of which is developing a different platform that can accommodate an electric powertrain. As it is, Rolls’ existing aluminum space frame platform isn’t configured to fit an EV powertrain. Schwarzenbauer did say that the company doesn’t have to develop an all-new platform specifically for its electric cars. Instead, it could make “a major adaptation” to its current platform.


2018 Rolls-Royce Phantom VIII - image 740375
“An all-electric Rolls-Royce still sounds weird when you think about the company’s stature as a top-shelf marque”

Should Rolls-Royce decide to make the leap into the world EVs, it at least has the aforementioned Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX to look back on. The concept was developed in 2011 as a test vehicle for the brand to gather as much relevant data as possible with the hopes of determining whether jumping through the electric car world was worth the trouble. It’s taken seven years to get to this point, but Schwarzenbauer’s comments should get a lot of people excited. On that end, it looks like the 102 EX could still play a big role in guiding the company if it decides to walk down the EV aisle.

For those who don’t remember, the Phantom Experimental 102 EX carried the largest car battery pack in the world when it debuted in Geneva seven years ago. Its pack was made up of five modules of lithium cells that weighed 1,411 pounds (640 kg). Power came from two electric motors that were mounted on the rear sub-frame, and together, the motors combined to produce an output of 375 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers helped the 102 EX sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under eight seconds.

An all-electric Rolls-Royce still sounds weird when you think about the company’s stature as a top-shelf marque. But just as it did when it decided to develop the Cullinan SUV, it appears that Rolls-Royce is once again steering into the wind as opposed to against it.

References


Rolls-Royce Is Putting Serious Thought Into Electric Vehicles - image 394965

Read our full review on the 2011 Rolls Royce Phantom Experimental Electric 102EX Concept.


maker logos - image 745435

Read more Rolls Royce news.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Jetta

The latest-generation Volkswagen Jetta was launched in 2010 and production for North America commenced the same year in Puebla, Mexico. Larger than its predecessor, the sixth-gen Jetta was relegated from the premium segment into the same market as the highly popular Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. In order to keep costs down, Volkswagen removed the leather seats option and the multi-link suspension from the American model. Come 2018, and the German firm is getting ready to introduce a brand-new model. And based on the sketches that surfaced the web in late 2017, it appears that the new Jetta will return to the premium market.

The compact sedan is set to break cover at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. However, there’s not much official information about what it will bring to the table. We do know that it will ride on a new platform, but VW has yet to release drivetrain and technology specs so far. Instead, it released a few design sketches which confirm that the Jetta adopted the company’s recent corporate design, seen on the larger Passat and the Arteon sedans. Let’s have a closer look at those sketches below and stay tuned for updates from the 2018 Detroit Auto Show later this week.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Jetta.

Exterior

  • Passat-inspired design
  • Clean look
  • Aggressive, angular lines
  • Audi A4-inspired rear end
  • Longer body and wheelbase

    2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 752564
    “Now sporting a clean look with angular lines, the Jetta is obviously inspired by the larger Passat”

A quick glance at the sketches is enough to notice that Volkswagen has put a lot of effort in redesigning the Jetta. Almost eight years old, the previous Jetta was pretty dated and obviously boring design-wise, especially when compared to the company’s more recent products. But while the new Jetta is a significant departure from the old model, its styling is far from revolutionary. Much like Audi, VW has taken the “same sausage, different lengths” route in recent years and the Jetta is no exception from this rule.

Now sporting a clean look with angular lines, the Jetta is obviously inspired by the larger Passat, and we can even see some Arteon cues in there. Of course, the sketch includes a few exaggerated design features that won’t make it on the actual car, but the Jetta will be sexier than ever. On top of that, it’s very elegant for a compact four-door. I’d say it’s also sportier than expected, but I have a hunch that these sketches are showcasing an R-spec model and the entry-level version won’t be as spectacular.


2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 752563
“Around back, the new taillights and trunk lid design seem borrowed from the Audi A4”

Still, the massive front grille, the larger vents, the “angry” headlamps, and the sleek roofline give it an attractive stance. Around back, the new taillights and trunk lid design seem borrowed from the Audi A4, as does the sharp beltline. With Seat having also borrowed design features from Audi, it sure seems like the folks over at the Volkswagen Group are running out of ideas for their smaller vehicles.

The sedan also seems a couple of inches longer, which should translate in a slightly longer wheelbase as well.

Interior

  • Modern, unique cabin
  • Digital instrument cluster
  • Premium-looking features
  • Big infotainment screen

2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 752565
“The Jetta gets a digital instrument cluster for the very first time”

The interior sketch released by VW confirms that the Jetta was overhauled inside the cabin as well. The design is somewhat familiar with the center console similar to those seen in the Golf and Passat, but the dashboard is unique. While the Passat and the Arteon have the Audi-inspired layout with the continuous air vent, the new Jetta has traditional A/C vents and a big screen in the center stack. The latter is placed at the top instead of the middle and included under the same hood as the instrument cluster. Fancy!

The sketch also shows a digital display with plenty of information, but this device is likely optional on every model but the range-topping version. There’s no info on what tech we will get in this car, but the new Jetta should come with the new MIB infotainment system seen in the facelifted Volkswagen Golf.

Drivetrain

  • New platform
  • 1.4-liter base engine
  • Turbocharger 2.0-liter in GLI model
  • Hybrid drivetrain possible
“The more expensive trims should get the larger, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine”

The big news under the skin is that the Jetta finally ditched the old PQ35 platform, used since 2005. The sedan will now ride on the flexible MQB platform, shared with the Audi A3, Volkswagen Arteon, Atlas, T-Roc, and Polo, among other vehicles.

Word has it that the Jetta will come to the U.S. with two engines. The base model will be powered by a turbocharged, 1.4-liter four-cylinder. Transmission options will probably include a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic. The more expensive trims should get the larger, 2.0-liter four-pot with the eight-speed automatic gearbox. This engine should deliver significantly more oomph than the outgoing unit, rated at 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of twist.

A plug-in hybrid model is also likely according to reports, but Volkswagen has yet to confirm such a model.

Prices

Pricing for the upcoming Jetta is not yet available, but it’s safe to assume that it will be a tad more expensive than the outgoing model. The current Jetta retails from $18,645 in base trim, but the better equipped SEL version fetches $26,245 before options. Moving over to the range-topping GLI, powered by the 2.0-liter turbo engine, pricing starts from $29,545. Expect the new model to cost around $20,000 in base trim and about $31,000 with a GLI badge.

Competition

Toyota Corolla


2014 Toyota Corolla - image 509684

The world’s best selling nameplate since the 1990s, the Toyota Corolla is the car to beat in this segment. Introduced in 2013, the latest-generation Corolla may be a little old for the upcoming Jetta, but it’s still the most popular choice in most markets. However, it’s interior doesn’t feel as fresh and its limited drivetrain choices in the U.S. doesn’t make it as appealing to customers who want a bit more oomph. The compact is available with just one engine here, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder, rated at either 132 horsepower and 128 pound-feet of torque or 140 horses and 126 pound-feet. The CVT transmission is standard, but Toyota also offers a six-speed manual. Mileage varies between 27 to 28 mpg city and 35 to 36 mpg highway depending on drivetrain. Pricing starts from $18,550 for the base model and goes up to $22,730 for the range-topping trim.

Read our full story on the Toyota Corolla.

Honda Civic


2016 Honda Civic - image 651097

The Civic is yet another compact that Volkswagen wants to steal customers from. Unlike the Corolla, the Civic sedan is brand-new for 2018 and boasts a sportier appearance. It’s notably larger than its predecessor and the Si model looks aggressive even when compared to the Jetta sketches above. Motivation comes from three different engines, starting with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. More oomph comes from the more expensive trims, which get juice from the turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-pot with 174 horses and 162 pound-feet. The tiny powerplant is found in the Si model too, rated at 205 horsepower and 192 pound-feet. The Si also enables Honda to better compete with the GLI version of the Jetta. Pricing starts from $18,840 for the base model, while the Touring trim retails from $26,700. The higher performance Si fetches $24,100 before options.

Read our full review of the Honda Civic and Honda Civic Si.

Chevrolet Cruze


2016 Chevrolet Cruze - image 634990

The Cruze also received a significant redesign recently, being only two years old for the 2018 model year. Now sporting a more upscale look and a premium-oriented interior, the current Cruze is being praised for its attractive cabin, appealing convenience and technology packages, and ample rear-seat legroom. The standard turbocharged, 1.4-liter engine, rated at 153 horsepower and 177 pound-feet, returns solid fuel economy at 27 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. And unlike the competition, Chevy offers a diesel option in the form of a 1.6-liter EcoTec four-cylinder that cranks out 137 horses and 240 pound-feet of twist. The oil burner returns 30 mpg city and 52 mpg highway, the best mileage in this comparison. The Cruze is also the most affordable option, retailing from $17,850. In diesel trim, pricing starts from $22,195.

Read our full story on the Chevrolet Cruze.

Conclusion


2019 Volkswagen Jetta - image 752563

It’s definitely too early to draw a conclusion without photos and specs of the actual car, but the sketches suggest that the upcoming Jetta will be one of the best-looking compacts inside and out. But we still don’t know whether Volkswagen wants to push it back into the premium class and its success will depend on drivetrain options, technology, and fuel economy. We will find out more at the Detroit Auto Show so make sure you stick around for an update.

  • Leave it
    • * No official details and photos yet
    • * No diesel option

References

Volkswagen Jetta


2015 Volkswagen Jetta - image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


2017 Volkswagen Jetta SE - Driven - image 729228

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.


maker logos - image 753286

Read more Detroit Auto Show news.

PostHeaderIcon CES 2018 Attendees Get To Ride in Autonomous Lyft and Delphi Taxis

The Consumer Electronics Show is hitting Las Vegas next week. If you happen to be in the vicinity, you may find yourself with the opportunity to experience riding in an autonomous taxi. That’s because Lyft is launching a partnership with Delphi’s tech arm, Aptiv, to offer cab rides using BMW 5 Series sedans that are outfitted with autonomous driving technology.


“A safety driver will be in the front seat to take control of the wheel if it’s necessary”

With the calendar flipping to 2018, the race to develop autonomous driving technology is about to heat up even more. It’s not unusual for companies like Lyft and Delphi that are in this race to use CES as a showcase event for their respective products. That’s why this initiative is happening.

That said, commuters aren’t exactly stepping into a 5 Series by themselves. According to a press release announcing the partnership, a safety driver will be in the front seat to take control of the wheel if it’s necessary. In addition, an in-car host will sit shotgun next to the driver to properly explain to commuters how the technology works and how far along it is from becoming a real thing.


CES 2018 Attendees Get To Ride in Autonomous Lyft and Delphi Taxis - image 755660
“If you happen to be in the locale, these rides will be offered in more than 20 specific destinations throughout Sin City”

Lyft and Aptiv are calling the venture “a first-of-its-kind fully automated point-to-point ride-hailing experience.” It’s hard to argue against that claim because, at this point, public commutes using autonomous driving vehicles is still in its infancy. We’ve already seen a lot of automakers and tech companies make big promises on developing autonomous driving vehicles, but there remains a lot of skepticism surrounding the technology. In fact, a Deloitte study from 2017 revealed that only 25 percent of Americans believe in a future where self-driving cars are safe.

If these companies want to turn that percentage around, they’re going to need to do initiatives like this to convince commuters of the safety and potential of autonomous driving technology. Lyft and Aptiv will do their part at CES with these demonstration rides.
If you happen to be in the locale, these rides will be offered in more than 20 specific destinations throughout Sin City. Hop on one of them and let us know how it goes.

References

BMW 5 Series


2017 BMW 5 Series - image 703226

Read our full review on the 2017 BMW 5 Series.


maker logos - image 752756

Read more CES news.

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