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This Just In: Audi Releases Super-Limited Production R8

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 9:26am
In November, Audi will release the 2018 R8 V10 Plus Competition Package, a track-focused supercar limited to just 10 units for sale in the United States. All ten cars will be configured identically, wearing Suzuka Gray paint with matte black accents, and equipped with all of the Audi Sport performance parts offered for the R8, including a carbon fiber aero kit, adjustable coilover shocks, racing shell seats, and a performance brake pad upgrade with titanium backing plates. If you're in the market for a killer track-day machine, line up early and bring the big checkbook: The R8 V10 Plus Competition Package stickers for a cool $237k.


Categories: Syndicated

Motor News: 2018 Paris Motor Show

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:00am

While more than a few brands skipped the bi-annual Paris Motor Show this year, there was still plenty of high fashion to steal the spotlight.

Clearly the single most important car making its formal debut at the 2018 Paris Motor Show is the all-new BMW 3 Series. The seventh generation of the iconic sport sedan is more powerful, but likely without a manual transmission here on this side of the pond. 

Meanwhile, BMW’s new Z4 roadster arrived in Europe with a stiffer chassis, while the range topping BMW 8 Series Coupe returned with a new 530 hp V8.

Mercedes-Benz made big news with the small A-Class sedan. All new and due here shortly, the debut included a 306-horsepower Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC.

The Three-Pointed Star also showed the roomier and more sophisticated GLE SUV. 

And, the all-electric EQC, the first model under their new electric brand… promising a 279-mile range.

Finally, a so called “entry level” 367-horsepower, Mercedes-AMG GT 43 4MATIC+ 4-Door Coupe.

Audi showing their first production full EV, the e-tron.  This mid-size SUV has two electric motors, one on each axle.

The refreshed Porsche Macan (Mah-Canne) made its European debut.

And to celebrate 70 years of Porsche, a limited number of the 911 Speedster will be built starting next year.

Italian flare arrived in the limited production Ferrari Monza SP1 and SP2.  Both with Ferrari’s most powerful naturally-aspirated V12 at 800 hp. But, its buyer’s choice, one seat or two.

The Kia e-Niro made its European debut.  The Korean company’s first fully electric utility can travel to 301 miles on a single charge.

But perhaps the most anticipated reveals came from Vinfast, the first Vietnamese car brand. Even more novel is that both their LUX A2.0 sedan, and LUX SA2.0 SUV are based on last generation BMW chassis and powertrains.

And that’s it for the newest in automotive fashion from the City of Light, and for this week’s Motor News.

Categories: Syndicated

Goss’ Garage: Rear-View Cameras

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:00am

New cars have an amazing array of high tech features. But what if your car doesn’t have exactly what you want? Well you might be able to find it in the aftermarket. One of those things of course is that new cars come with back up cameras. We have Mark Miller from Westminster Speed and Sound to give us some pointers. Mark, welcome to Goss’ Garage.

Mark Miller: Thanks Pat.

Pat Goss: What do we have here?

Mark Miller: We have some different examples of products. That is an example of a license plate frame camera that mounts at the top of the license plate and then all you have to do is see the camera. Over the on the Golf, is an example of a complete license plate frame style system.

Pat Goss: Alright, and here?

Mark Miller: That is a module made by NAV-TV that actually talks on the vehicles CANBUS network and allows you to have a back up camera image displayed in a color screen just like we did in this Mercedes.

Pat Goss: Alright, and this one?

Mark Miller: That is a lip mount style camera that’s designed to very much mimic the cosmetics and the performance of a factory camera.

PAT GOSS: Not all cars have the center screen or any type of screen, what do you do then?

Mark Miller: So then you have to come up with something alternate. This is an example of a replacement rear view mirror that has an embedded LCD monitor in it that comes to life whenever you put the vehicle in reverse and shows the backup camera image.

PAT GOSS: And the big camera?

Mark Miller: That is a commercial camera. That’s a little different. It’s got to take a lot more use being in a commercial environment. It has to work really well at night. There’s even a microphone in it so the driver can hear what’s going on behind him when he’s backing up.

Pat Goss: We have some people who have had front mount cameras. Do you do those?

Mark Miller: We do. Normally we’ll install a little microswtich and when you get close to a curb you just tap that button and now you can see that two feet right in front of the camera.

Pat Goss: Pretty neat. Other things, that you have here in the Toyota.

Mark Miller: This is a 2010 model. It doesn’t actually have the capability of Android Auto or Apple Carplay when it was new. So we retrofitted an Alpine 9 inch system to give that feature set and then that big beautiful display now also has a back up camera.

Pat Goss: We have a lot of clients who are really seriously interested in blind spot monitoring. Do you do those?

Mark Miller: We do, and it’s typically done one of two ways. It’s either a camera system that’s mounted on the side of the vehicle and displays in your color screen in the dash or it’s a monitoring system that uses little LED’s and an audible alert to let you know if there’s somebody in your blind spot.

Pat Goss. Mark, thank you. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line. Right here at MotorWeek.

Categories: Syndicated

Over The Edge: Formula 3 Racing with Cameron Das

Thu, 10/18/2018 - 7:00am

Researchers say we do a lot of our best thinking when we’re asleep.  But if you don’t take any action when you wake up, well you’re not really chasing your dreams. Our Zach Maskell tends to go over the edge when he’s catching his z’s…like driving an open wheeled race car? Well…it’s time to witness that dream come true.

ZACH MASKELL: In the USA, many know racing as NASCAR, or the Indianapolis 500. For the rest of the world… it’s mainly one letter. One number. F1. No fenders. No windshield. One seat. To drive an open-wheeled F1 car competitively is the crown jewel of racing… the winners seen as royalty.

A trip to Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia is where we found one driver practicing, determined to stand in the number one spot. 

ZACH MASKELL: In 2016 the Pilot of this car won the first ever F4 championship held in the U.S. Today we’re hanging out with 18 year old Cameron Das.

The road to F1 is long, expensive, and contains plenty of obstacles along the way… with no guarantee of ever securing a seat. A typical route starts with karting, moving to F4, followed by F3, then 2 and finally F1 – with each progression adding race intensity.

And fresh off a flight from the U.K., Cameron where are you racing now?

Cameron Das: I’m racing in Euro Formula Open F3 in Europe. It’s been an exciting season and I’m glad to be a part of it.

ZACH MASKELL: Many young racers get their start in karts around age 8. Cameron didn’t start until 15. Two years later he finished top 5 in British F3.

Still in high school, planning to attend a university after graduation…Cameron says professional race drivers need to different from others. On the side, he’s also developing a web series where he predicts future classic cars.

ZACH MASKELL: How would you describe what it’s like to take this thing around turns?

CAMERON DAS: This car’s obviously a lot lighter than a street car. And we’re running on slick tires, so everything happens so much faster. When the car breaks loose, it breaks loose all at once. And very quickly. Reaction times have to be so much higher. Physical ability has to be higher.

ZACH MASKELL: Powered by Honda, 2018 is the inaugural F3 Americas series. These Civic Type R Engines are shelling out 270 horsepower… the car weighing 1400 pounds. No power steering, no ABS, no traction control. The mood was tense. An outsider, hopping into a full-fledged race team’s baby. My extremities - shaking, brain - on overdrive

ZACH MASKELL: Alright I’ve got use the clutch here to get me out of first gear… from then on I’m only using the paddle shifters.

Let’s go baby!!! I did not stall it in front of everyone.. we’re off to a good start!!

This car costs over 120,000 and it’s one of only a few of F3 americas practice cars… if I wreck this thing I’m going into hiding and will I never be seen again.

It is just warp speed instantly. I’m going to get used to this quickly.

I cannot believe this is real life. I feel like I am in a driving simulator.

I noticed very quickly. I’m using my wrists to to steer here, I’m not using my whole arms. Because there is not enough room for that to happen anyway.”

ABSOLUTELY BONKERS.

ZACH MASKELL: Unbelievable. By far the craziest thing I’ve ever driven. Probably the craziest thing I ever will drive. It’s raw, it’s wild, and it’s confusing. Because it does everything you want it to do. You are so connected to the ground. No traction control. You feel the air coming across the hills, moving you left and right. NUTS.

ZACH MASKELL: But I’m just starting. So please, don’t ever wake me up.

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 4:53pm

Vital Statistics

Engine: 2.5 liter

Horsepower: 365

Torque: 317 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 3.7 seconds

1/4 mile: 12.2 seconds @ 116 mph

One certainty in life is that people always want more. Porsche buyers included. So while many people dream of owning a 718 Boxster, some have no interest in Porsche’s entry-level roadster.  Well, that might change, as Porsche has now spread their GTS treatment to the 718 family. Let us now experience that Porsche “moreness”.

If you’ve already been to a Porsche dealer and are still having a hard time choosing between a base 718 Boxster and the Boxster S, well things just got even harder. Now there is a new for 2018…718 Boxster GTS in the mix as well. 

It seems like every other month or so we’re driving some fantastic new Porsche, and sometimes even we have to remind ourselves to stop sounding like total fan boys.

But, then comes along this Boxster GTS. Much like the 911 GTS, it largely takes a host of performance options already currently available, and puts them together under one label. 

But, you do get added power as well. More boost from the turbo and a redesigned intake add 15-horsepower over the S for a total of 365, along with 309 lb-ft. of torque with the standard 6-speed manual transmission. 317 lb-ft. if you opt for the 7-speed PDK like our test car. 

Included, is the Sport Exhaust System; black tips of course, as GTS adds black trim throughout both the exterior and interior.

Alcantara leather covers the center of the Sports seats, GT sports steering wheel, door armrests, and gear selector.

Now, it’s no fun sitting still in a Porsche, so off to the track. 

In typical PDK fashion, launching is easy as pie.  Take off is not as brutal as some of the 911s we’ve been in lately, but it’s enough of a thrill ride to scare people that don’t do this for a living. 

There is a slight bit of turbo lag early on, but power arrives soon enough; as does the rev limiter, at least through the first two gears. We hit 60 in 3.7-seconds, a tenth quicker than we got in the lighter Cayman S last year. 

PDK shifts are just as quick and deliberate as always, taking us to the end of the ¼-mile in 12.2-seconds at 116 miles-per-hour. 

For the handling department, GTS includes a suspension lowered by 10-millimters, with Porsche Active Suspension Management, a mechanical torque-vectoring locking rear differential, and the Sport Chrono package.

For these, it was off to the challenging road course at Dominion Raceway near Fredericksburg, Virginia.

This Boxster may still be rear-drive only, but its mid-engine neutrality, makes it one of the most balanced cars we’ve ever driven.

Even with the additional power, grip remains spectacular, seemingly never-ending; unless you really go out of your way to induce some oversteer with a quick stab of the throttle. 

We noticed that turbo-lag even more here, especially when coming out of slow speed corners. 

But, no matter the corner, the GTS stays very flat; and has that divine feel that everyone seems to want, yet no other manufacturer seems to be able to deliver with such consistency as Porsche. Who knows how much more power this chassis could handle, but it feels just about perfect right now. 

The GTS does not come standard with ceramic brakes, but they are available. They’re certainly not a necessity for good stops, but a worthy consideration if track days are on the agenda, as our standard brakes-equipped GTS’s pedal did get a little soft towards the end of our long test day. 

With performance stopping just short of a 911; it makes sense that pricing winds up almost as lofty. $82,950 to start, and of course you can get the GTS treatment for the hardtop cousin Cayman as well, for about 2-grand less. 

So, while the 2018 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS does not include a major engine upgrade over the Boxster S; its value-added, pre-assembled package of already available upgrades, touch every part of the car that matters. All to make a driving experience even more so.  It feels fantastic no matter what road or track you’re on.  And all-in-all, it’s more proof that when it comes to Porsche, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Tesla to Build New Plant in China

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 4:04pm
Tesla will have a new facility to make electric vehicles. Reuters is reporting Tesla has signed an agreement to build a factory in Shanghai, China. This will be Tesla’s first Gigafactory outside of the United States. Building Teslas in China will help get around the tarfiff dispute between the U.S. and China, bringing the price down for Chinese consumers. It’s not clear when the plant will open, but Reuters is reporting Tesla plans to build 500,000 cars a year and is already hiring.
Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Nissan Kicks

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 3:30pm

Vital Statistics

Engine: 1.6 liter

Horsepower: 125

Torque: 115 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 9.7 seconds

EPA: 21 mpg city / 36 mpg highway

Energy Impact: 10.0 barrels of oil/yr

CO2 Emissions: 4.5 tons/yr

Over the years Nissan’s utility lineup has steadily grown, to become quite comprehensive. Ranging from the full size and rugged armada to the tiny and quirky juke and just about everything else in between. But they’ve also become more and more mainstream. So now it’s out with that funky junk and in with a whole new Kicks.

We’ve driven all manner of Nissan utilities over the years, from rugged to refined. And truth be told, we were never huge fans of the funky Juke. But, it certainly had presence, and was pretty fun to drive to boot.

So, what do we get with its tamer looking replacement, this 2018 Nissan Kicks?

Clearly it’s styling is more sedate than the Juke’s bug-eyed personna, but it’s still more adventurous looking than most rival subcompact utilities. 

At its essence, the Kicks is a jacked up, reskinned Versa Note. But, exaggerated fenders and lower-body cladding add a rugged element; while up sweeping body lines and blacked-out greenhouse set an aggressive and sporty tone. 

Powering this tiny runabout, is a naturally aspirated 1.6-liter I4, rated at only 125-horsepower and 115 lb-ft. of torque. Transmission is a CVT. Like the Toyota CH-R and Kia Soul, it’s part of the urban crossover breed that is front-wheel-drive only. Formerly known as a hatchback; though Kicks is a tall one, with a stout 7.0-inches of ground clearance. 

Inside, the level of standard features is pretty impressive; 6-speaker stereo, 7.0-inch touchscreen, and three USB ports.

SV trim ratchets it up with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, auto climate control, and a 7.0-inch digital instrument cluster.

Luggage space is among best-in-class at 25.3 cubic-ft.; expanding to 53.1 with the seatbacks folded. 

Room for passengers is generous too; and for an entry-level ride, it’s reasonably quiet inside, and seat comfort is quite good. Little things that often fall short in economy-based rides, like the armrests and user interface, are actually highlights here.

Yes, the bulk of interior materials are plastic, but they are nicely-textured and have a good feel. 

So, all is good up until this point, but 125-horsepower and CVT didn’t exactly drum up excitement on track day. 

And as expected, there’s not much kick to the Kicks off the line. But, once it’s movin’, it’s improvin’.  After getting over the hole-shot slump, the engine revs freely and sounds eager. Still, expect a long 9.7-second trip to 60. That’s almost two seconds longer than a turbocharged Juke, but a hair faster than a comparable Ford Ecosport.

As for the CVT, it was a little better than expected; Nissan’s latest Xtronic does have simulated shifts, feeling about as real as it gets. 

Things improved dramatically when we added some back-and-forth into the mix. We found nice gentle understeer; paired with quick, well-weighted steering, good grip, and a compliant chassis. 

A short 115-feet was our average stopping distance from 60. Pedal travel is on the long side, but stops were straight, true, and fade free.

Even better, Automatic Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning comes standard. In our barrier test it performed similar to other recent Nissans. It worked every time at speeds up to 10 miles-per-hour, but stops are very abrupt and jolting. 

Kicks Government Fuel Economy Ratings are quite good at 21-City, 36-Highway, and 33-Combined. We averaged a fine 34.7 miles-per-gallon of Regular. There’s a great Energy Impact Score too, considering this is not a hybrid of any kind, using just 10.0-barrels of oil yearly with 4.5-tons of CO2 emissions.

After all of that, we were expecting the Mexican assembled Kicks to cost more than its $18,985 base price. Top trim SR is just 23-hundred dollars more at $21,285. That makes it among the better bargains in this bargain class. 

Whether it is the low price, or just being oversaturation with tiny crossovers, we had modest expectations going in. But we came away quite impressed with the 2018 Nissan Kicks. More impressed than we’ve been with any other entry-level Nissan in quite some time. It’s quiet, feature-packed, efficient, and good-looking. And, along with the slightly larger Rogue Sport, it appears Nissan is finally back in the business of making great small cars. Only now they just happen to be crossovers.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: BMW Finally Adds Third Row with All-New X7

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 6:02pm
BMW officially announced today what has long been anticipated, a 7-passenger Sport Activity Vehicle badged, appropriately enough, the X7. Actually, while the standard fitment is for seven, captain’s chairs can be optioned to reduce the carriage to six while improving long distance comfort.  The BMW X7 will join 4 other crossovers and be produced at the company’s Spartanburg, S.C plant for worldwide distribution. Closely following the lines of last year’s X7 Concept iPerformance auto show model, the production X7 is the largest of BMW’s X lineup yet, and looks it with an upright, almost regal stance that says tons about the roominess within. Indeed, it is just short of 10 inches longer overall than an X5.  The new 2019 BMW X7 launches in North America with a choice of two gasoline engines. Heading up the range is the BMW X7 xDrive50i, with an extensively updated 4.4-liter V8 engine. A 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine, found under the hood of the new BMW X7 xDrive40i rounds out the model line-up. All engines channel their power through an eight-speed Steptronic transmission, while BMW xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive is standard. With orders starting this month, the BMW X7 will start rolling into showroom next March.


Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: All Things Z

Tue, 10/16/2018 - 1:43pm
Starting today in Atlanta, Nissan will take part in the 31st annual ZCON, a celebration of Nissan and Datsun’s legendary Z cars. For Nissan/Datsun fans, ZCON is a week-long festival of everything that is Nissan, ranging from autocross events to chili cook-offs.  In addition to showing off the brand new 2019 Nissan Altima, Nissan is bringing a sampling of four vehicles that represent their history including the very first Datsun sports car imported to the United States, the 1960 Datsun Fairlady Roadster and the #83 Nissan GTP-ZX Turbo IMSA race car. Yoshihiko Matsuo, the man who designed the iconic Datsun 240Z, will also be at the event according to a Nissan press release.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Porsche Reveals Panamera GTS Variants

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 6:02pm
Porsche is adding even more sportiness to their line-up. They’re introducing the new Porsche Panamera GTS and Panamera GTS Sport Turismo. Power comes from a four-liter twin-turbo V8 engine generating 453-horsepower and 457 lb.-ft. of torque, peaking from 1,800 to 4,500 RPM. That’s 13 more horsepower and an additional 73 lb.-ft. of torque over the naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 in the previous Panamera GTS. An eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission sends power to all four wheels. The sportiness is more than under the hood. These new GTS models sit 0.39 inches lower than other Panamera models with the standard air suspension recalibrated specifically for them. Both GTS models are positioned between the Panamera 4S and Panamera Turbo. The Panamera GTS starts at $128,300. The Panamera GTS Sport Turismo begins at $134,500. On sale now, we'll be getting our first drive in both models at the end of the month.



Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Mitsubishi Ad Campaign Features Test Drive Surprises

Mon, 10/15/2018 - 8:49am
Mitsubishi Motors is “Punking the Test Drive” in a fun new pair of TV ads for their Eclipse Cross and Outlander utility vehicles. The Eclipse Cross spot features the instantly-recognizable movie trailer voice artist John Bailey, touting the features of the vehicle as a family takes it for a spin.  In the Outlander commercial, young rap sensation Alaya “That Girl Lay Lay” High gives a shout out to the layout of the SUV’s roomy interior and other features. Check out both clever spots below.

Categories: Syndicated

Podcasts: 2018 Paris Motor Show, 2019 Acura RDX and 2019 Subaru Ascent

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 3:00pm

Podcast #191

In Podcast 190, John Davis and the gang are recaping the recent Paris Motor Show. Then they talk about the new Acura RDX and Subaru Ascent. Lastly, they help a viewer shopping for minivans.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Arizona Govenor Signs Off on Automated Mobility Institute

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 1:18pm
Arizona is apparently taking the lead in autonomous driving. Governor Doug Ducey has signed an executive order creating the Institute for Automated Mobility. It’s a collaboration of private sector companies, public officials and university researchers. They’ll focus on the science, safety and policies surrounding automated vehicles in a special facility designed to address a variety of real world scenarios. The Arizona Commerce Authority will oversee the institute. Arizona has been one of several places around the country where self-driving cars are being tested on the road.
Categories: Syndicated

Episodes: Episode 3806

Fri, 10/12/2018 - 11:31am

Debut 10.12.2018

Description

Comparison Test: Subcompact SUVs

Goss' Garage: Connectivity Services

Auto World: Alternative Fuels Corridor

Quick Spin: 2019 Genesis G70

Quick Spin: 2019 Honda Pilot

Quick Spin: 2019 RAM 1500 eTorque

Road Test: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e

Comparison Test: Subcompact SUVs

Categories: Syndicated

Car of the Month: 2019 Subaru Ascent

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:11pm
It’s hard to believe that it has taken this long for Subaru to recommit to the 3-row crossover market. After all it’s been 5 years since the uninspired Tribeca exited the scene. But then they’ve always done things in their own time. With sales numbers continuing to climb, there clearly was no urgency. Still, the arrival of the 2019 Subaru Ascent is overdue.  To us, the biggest difference between the Subaru Ascent and the Tribeca is that this one seems a genuine attempt to compete head-on in the growing 3-row crossover market.  Truly built for American families this time around, there’s generous room for 7 or 8 passengers. For those of you keeping score at home, the Ascent packs up to 8 USB ports and 19 cupholders.  You’d think that would call for a six cylinder engine like the Tribeca. But, no, the Ascent makes do with a new 2.4-liter turbo-4. Yet Subaru still claims it will tow 5,000-lbs.  Considering that it mates to a CVT, we’re a little skeptical; though its 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque feels up to the task.   Being a Subaru crossover means all-wheel drive is standard, and there’s a decent 8.7-inches of ground clearance to boot. Despite sporting the same Subaru Global Platform as the compact Impreza, the Ascent’s stretched 113.8-inch wheelbase keeps it plenty stable on the highway, yet also quite nimble. In many ways it drives much like a bigger Outback. There is a solid presence, with very little roll and no top-heaviness. Steering is super-light, but feedback is seriously lacking.  Ascent is the largest Subaru ever; and while the exterior is more midsize, it borders on full-size room inside. Both passenger and cargo volume are greater than segment leaders Honda Pilot and Ford Explorer, falling just short of the Volkswagen Atlas.   Whether you choose the 7 or 8-passenger arrangement, the expansive space is highly configurable. Even the 3rd row is acceptable for adults, though the seat bottoms are very low to the floor. For the driver, seats are typical for Subaru, a bit hard, but adequately comfortable. It’s a fairly quiet space as well, save for some aggressive engine noise that seeps in when you bury the throttle.  EyeSight Driver Assist Technology is standard on all Ascents, which includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking. But features like Blind Spot Detection and Lane Change Assist require an upgrade.   Outside, you’ll see a little Outback familiarity in the rear of the Ascent, but the rest of the body is just blend-in generic crossover, as Subaru surely wanted to avoid repeating any Tribeca styling controversies.   For our complete test of the 2019 Subaru Ascent, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3808, that begins airing on October 26, 2018. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. New episodes of MotorWeek premiere on Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.  The 2019 Subaru Ascent does not stick out from the rest of the 3-row crossover crowd. But, early sales numbers show that suits Subaru buyers just fine. They just wanted a lot more of what they bought a Subaru for, and now they’ve got it wrapped in a still familiar package.     
Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Ford Recalls Nearly 200 GTs for Hydraulic Leak

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 9:25am
Ford is issuing a recall on almost 200 Ford GTs made between December 20, 2016 and July 31, 2018. The recall is due to a problem with the hydraulic assembly under the GT’s rear wing. Hydraulic fluid may leak on the exhaust and cause a fire, Ford said in a press release on October 10th. No injuries were reported but Ford also noted that one affected GT has already caught fire in Germany.  To fix the problem, Ford plans to release a software update that will prevent pressure build-up of hydraulic fluid. If necessary, Ford dealers will also install a new valve and o-rings. 
Categories: Syndicated

Comparison Tests: Compact SUVs

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 7:00am

The Contenders:

2018 Ford Ecosport

2018 Hyundai Kona

2018 Nissan Rogue Sport

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

As car sales dropped, SUVs sales have zoomed. Whether they be traditional truck-style body-on-frame, or car-based unitized crossovers, utes are the family ride of today. And, increasingly they come in wide variety of sizes from most brands. Indeed, auto makers see big potential… in the smallest SUVs their line-ups.  So, we joined our colleagues at cars.com, to put the latest cute-utes to the test.

Automakers love pint-size SUVs as they promise bigger profits than comparable subcompact cars. So we headed into the suburbs of Chicago and teamed up with our friends at cars.com to find out which of these mini-utes offers the most for the money. Our sub-compact contenders are…

… the Ford Ecosport with its playful persona…

…the bold and sporty Hyundai Kona…

…the practical and capable Nissan Rogue Sport…

…and rugged runabout Subaru Crosstrek.

All four crossovers are 2018 models with stickers under our $26,000 cap, including destination. There’s one 3-cylinder turbo… the rest are 4 bangers. Each has an automatic transmission. Half are front wheel drive… while the rest are all-wheel driven. The group’s Combined Fuel Economy ratings ranged from 27-to-29.

For all the details on scoring head on over cars.com; but this is how this rivalry played out. 

Coming in at 4th… the Ford Ecosport. The blue oval’s cutest ute is new to the U.S… after roaming other parts of the world for years where its stiff ride is better appreciated. Ours had a front-wheel drive 123-horsepower 1.0-liter Ecoboost I-3 matched with a 6-speed automatic. It’s the shortest of the group, but cargo room is in line with others, and it scored points for its SYNC 3 multimedia system. The $25,590 price tag placed it near our upper limit.

Garick Zikan: The Ecosport is the only 3-cylinder in this group so naturally it has the least horsepower, but it is a turbo so it probably has more spirit than you might think when you drive around town. The transmission also does a good job of handling the shifting duties.

KELSEY MAYS: The nail in the coffin comes with safety features, where the Ecosport doesn’t even offer accident avoidance safety features like automatic emergency braking or lane departure warning. Those are at least offered on the rest of them in this group.”

Third place goes to the all-new Hyundai Kona. A 2.0-liter I-4 generates 147-horsepower, and the judges liked the smooth 6-speed automatic. It’s equipped with some advanced safety features, like blind spot and rear cross traffic alert, but it had the least amount of cargo room. The Kona easily beat rivals pricewise though, even with all-wheel drive, for $23,705.

GARRICK: The Kona seemed to have the sportiest nature in terms of styling. Now we’ve driven both engines that are offered and while this was not the most powerful it had good throttle response and handled well.”

FRED MEIER: The handling of the Kona was pretty good…Hyundai’s managed to get substantial room for four into the car and some clever interior storage.

Runner up is the Nissan Rogue Sport. A 2.0-liter I-4 with 141 horsepower works with a CVT sending power to the front wheels. Passenger and cargo volume are mid-pack. But, it did add automatic emergency braking to the mix, for the highest price of the group… $25,910.

BRIAN WONG: The Rogue Sport was the most well-rounded of our competitors it was the most like a traditional SUV. However, it had one glaring weakness and that was its multimedia system. It’s kind of absurd these days to pay almost 26,000 for a car that doesn’t even have a touch screen.

Garick Zikan: The Roque Sport had the most refined interior and it really was roomy inside. The engine had plenty of power and it was very comfortable on all the roads we drove on.

That leaves the Subaru Crosstrek at numero uno… which is where it landed during our last subcompact SUV challenge. The 2.0-liter flat-4 has the most horsepower… 152… working with a CVT. Our group’s largest contender, the latest Crosstrek offers generous people and cargo room plus a long list of safety features, with standard all-wheel drive, for slightly less than our cap at $25,905.

KELSEY MAYS: A good mix of ride and handling, excellent visibility, roomy seats and a very high quality interior in terms of craftsmanship and materials”

Garick Zikan: The Crosstrek is the most rugged of the group. It’s very solid and has that go anywhere capability. The engine is strong off the line, steering is light and quick, and it has good grip in the curves.

The subcompact utility market is already fiercely competitive with more options to come. And, while each of this foursome offers practical versatility, the Subaru Crosstrek does it with the design, safety, and standard all-weather, all-road creed that keeps it at the head of this pack.

Categories: Syndicated

Road Tests: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 7:00am

Vital Statistics

Engine: 2.0 liter

Horsepower: 320

Torque: 413 lb-ft.

0-60 mph: 5.9 seconds

1/4 mile: 14.5 seconds @ 92 mph

EPA: 28.8 mpg

Energy Impact: 8.8 barrels of oil/yr

CO2 Emissions: 3.9 tons/yr

Time now for two emerging trends to join forces. We’re talking about compact luxury SUVs, and plug-in hybrid powertrains. They’ve come together in the Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e. So let’s find out if these two great tastes, taste great together; or if it’s just the plug-in flavor of the month.

Mercedes-Benz has been slowly adding the PHEV treatment to vehicles throughout their lineup; the latest of which is this 2018 GLC 350e, their C-class based crossover. It all starts with the base GLC’s 2.0-liter I4 turbo, to which is added an 85kW electric motor. Both, filter their combined output of 320-horsepower and 413 lb-ft. of torque through a 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. 

Other notable additions are a radar-based regen braking system; and a “haptic” accelerator pedal, which kind of fights against you, to make sure you get the best fuel economy.

With a healthy 8.7kWh battery pack to store energy, we anticipated a fair amount of EV driving. But EV range is only listed as “less than ten”, and that’s about what we experienced. Fully depleted, battery charging takes only 2½-hours with level-2 240-volts. So, in daily operation it’s more like a traditional hybrid; but with a healthy boost of torque and enough battery power to get you from one end of town to the other without tailpipe emissions. 

And like most recent plug-ins, drive modes allow you to select when and how much you want battery power to be involved. Now, you may not be able to drive it very far as a full EV, but it sure feels like one off the line. 

At our test track, the 350e shot out of the hole briskly, with a diesel-like bottom end of glorious torque hitting 60 in 5.9-seconds. 

The gas engine revs quickly, and the 7G-TRONIC transmission that replaces the GLC 300’s 9-speed auto, keeps right up. Timely shifts kept the engine in its sweet spot. 

The ¼-mile took 14.5-seconds at 92 miles-per-hour. Thanks to a couple hundred pounds of extra weight mounted down low, and standard 4MATIC traction, grip through the cones was quite impressive. Weight transfer is subtle and refined; while steering is quick and light. It’s one solid and sophisticated-feeling utility.

Our average stopping distance from 60 was a good 127-feet. Regen brakes have a very natural feel; nice pedal pressure as well.

Plus, there is no compromise when it comes to expected Mercedes-Benz luxury. A 7-inch display screen with COMAND controller is standard, to which you can add navigation that will automatically decide when to most efficiently use battery power along your programmed route. And you’re not locked into one PHEV-spec model either, as the full suite of luxury and technology option packages are available. But like many plug-ins, the cargo area is compromised, due to the added batteries. But there’s still a decent amount of well-finished space. 

Not many eco indicators outside, as thankfully Mercedes chose classy over flashy. There is, of course, an extra access panel for the charge port. But like other Benz plug-ins, it’s located on the rear bumper. So, no cutting into a body panel, but it is also easily susceptible to rear end damage.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 25-Combined on Premium fuel, just one mpg better than a base GLC300; though the MPGe rating comes in at 56-Combined. We averaged 28.8 miles-per-gallon. Which is a better than average Energy Impact Score; 8.8-barrels of annual oil consumption, with yearly CO2 emissions of 3.9-tons. 

With a starting price of $50,985, we’re sure that well-heeled environmentalists will think that the GLC 350e’s close to $8,000 premium over a base GLC 300 4MATIC is appropriate, but we’re not there yet. We fully understand the benefits of plugging in, but our practical altruism only goes so far. We need a lot more return on our investments than single digit EV range. But, we also realize that vehicles like this 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e are stepping stones in the automotive stream, as we slowly cross from petroleum-based power to battery-based propulsion. Some stones may be placed a little better than others, but all will be useful in getting us to the other side. 

Categories: Syndicated

Goss’ Garage: Connectivity Services

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 7:00am

You’ve probably heard a lot about connected cars. Now many new cars can communicate over phone networks providing extra safety and convenience for their drivers. Including, alerting first-responders after a crash.

Now these subscription communication services have different names, often specific to the individual car brand. But, what if you car doesn’t have such a factory system? Well, it turns out; you can have that level of safety on most any car 1996 or newer by adding an aftermarket onboard communication system.

Now this is one example of these add-on communication units. This one comes in two parts: a module that plugs into your car’s ODB-II port and a hands-free Bluetooth speaker unit with microphone that clips on the sun visor. It connects to an app on your smart phone. 

Installing one of these units is pretty straightforward. Once you download the app and create an account, locate your car’s OBD-II port. That’s often under the driver’s side of the dash, but the app will help you locate it. Then, just plug in the module. Next, you clip the hands-free Bluetooth speaker to a sun-visor and you’re ready to connect.

Now, why do you need a system like this? Well, the biggest reason is to let someone know if you’ve been in an accident or have a health emergency. If it does detect a crash, it can automatically notify emergency services and send help your way even if you cannot make the call. If you break down, it can send roadside assistance to you even if you’re not sure where you are.

In addition to that, these connected services can provide peace of mind to parents of new drivers by letting them know where their car is and even if the car is being driven safely. It can even assist the police if your car is stolen or help you find it in a crowded parking lot.

Now, there is a car care assigned to it as well. Since it is plugged into your car’s OBD-II port, it can monitor your car’s basic systems and, this is a big one for families today, it can also provide you car with a Wifi hotspot.

That’s a lot of features for such a small and simple to use device. Now chances are you may never need to call for help in and emergency. But if you do, an add-on connected system can be ready to come to your rescue.

Now if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line; right here at Motorweek.

Categories: Syndicated

This Just In: Bentley Design Contest

Wed, 10/10/2018 - 9:35am
Bentley’s design team and students from England’s Royal College of Art got together to propose what British luxury cars might look like in 2050. With help from Bentley, 24 students submitted designs about what they think is the future of luxury motoring in Great Britain. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Bentley Design Director Stefan Sielaff said “Bentley has always been at the forefront of automotive luxury, and with this collaboration we asked millennial students for their vision of the future…” At the end of the program, four student’s designs were given extra attention by Bentley’s design team. The winning entries explored concepts ranging from reducing all outside noise and making cars from the future an acoustically sealed cocoon to designs that still included old-fashioned internal combustion engines. All entries, including the winning designs can be found here

 

Categories: Syndicated