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2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMGs: What We Know So Far

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 11:00

The C-Class is Mercedes’ best-selling car in the U.S., so you better believe the brand takes the redesign seriously. Before the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class arrives, we sat down with AMG’s Tobias Moers at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show to learn more about the 2021 C-Class AMG models and the future of AMG. With Frankfurt hosting the debuts of everything from a GLB 35 AMG to an updated plug-in GLC and the sleek EQS electric sedan concept, we chatted at the European auto show to learn about where the C-Class AMG models are headed. Here’s what we know so far.

A C 63 Plug-In Hybrid?

Moers confirmed that AMG is going hybrid, something we’ve heard is coming: “This is our intention, this is our strategy, and this is what we’re working on.” The next C- and S-Class AMG models will be plug-in hybrids, though don’t go looking for a huge EV range from powertrains we’re assured will be engineered differently from non-AMG Mercedes plug-ins.

The focus is on performance, though we’re sure that meeting increasingly stringent global fuel economy regulations is part of the picture, too. The outgoing C 63 S—that’s the one where the 4.0-liter turbo V-8 makes 503 hp—is good for 18/27 mpg city/highway as a sedan, but only 17/26 mpg as a coupe and 17/24 mpg as a convertible. Sure, roll your eyes at mpgs in an AMG story, but improved fuel economy translates to more AMGs in the future and—probably—a longer driving range before needing to fill up. Especially in a sport mode, the plug-in hybrid powertrain of the 2021 C 63 (assuming AMG doesn’t change its alphanumeric structure) could lead to satisfying temporary boosts in acceleration.

AMG Going for Four

You know that new AMG turbo-four that may make as much as 416 hp in upcoming models such as the A 45 S and CLA 45 S? Expect to see a version powering a future 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG model. Probably replacing the 385-hp turbo-six in the current C 43, performance should match that car. When we drove a 2017 C 43, it hit 60 mph in a MotorTrend-tested 4.2 seconds, and a previously tested C 63 S reached 60 in an even 4.0 seconds.

Where that leaves the 2021 C 63 is unclear; the current car’s soundtrack comes from a boosted V-8.

AMG AWD for All

Every 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG model will have AWD. The current C 43 models already do, and the next-gen C 63’s replacement should get a rear-biased AWD system with a drift mode.

That drivetrain shift, along with the previously announced move to hybrid power, may subtly change how people perceive AMG. Customer exposure to the Mercedes sub-brand got a lift once “AMG-lite” models (think C 43 versus the C63) rolled into dealerships.

“We had our journey with brand awareness,” Moers says. “When we started with our new strategy in 2014, we were well aware that the brand was not perfectly understood in every market.”

There’s more awareness (and sales) today, and we’re eager to see the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class lineup. For now, check out our latest reviews of the 2019 C 63 HERE and the 2019 C 300 HERE.

The post 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMGs: What We Know So Far appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Every Car Has a Story: A Lesson From the Japanese Automotive Invitational – The LohDown

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 09:00

At the start of the 2019 Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance, I found myself at the front of the pack of this year’s participants, a highly curated collection of some of the rarest (and most valuable) motorcars in the world—including a 1932 Mercedes-Benz SSKL, a girthy and raw metal reproduction of one of the company’s famed “Silver Arrow” race cars, nicknamed “Gurke,” German for cucumber. As the handler unfastened the clasps on the engine cover, my view of the polished and gleaming 7.0-liter straight-six engine was quickly obscured by the forward crush of the crowd that had gathered, phones in hand, camera and Instagram apps at the ready.

As I watched the scene play out on the mobile screens in front of me, I thought ahead to the 2119 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Surely by then we will have devices much smarter than our current smartphones, but will the vehicles of today and tomorrow engender the same emotions and reactions? Will we look upon the cars of today with the same curiosity? And hope to catch a glimpse of—well, what exactly? What lies beneath a plastic engine cover or under the composite hood of a frunk?

Four days later, a Bentley 8-Litre with Gurney Nutting Sports Touring coachwork crossed the ramp as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Best of Show winner. It was one of 100 examples of 8-Litre Bentleys built, one of only two with a short wheelbase and Gurney Nutting bodywork, and the last one remaining.

With 220 horsepower and a claimed near-silent 100-mph top speed, this 8-Litre Bentley represented the peak of opulence and optimism of a bygone era, as it debuted in the throes of the Great Depression. It’s clearly a beautiful and special winner, though I admit, I had to research its background extensively to fully understand and appreciate its significance.

The Tour d’Elegance on Thursday and Concours d’Elegance on Sunday represent the alpha and omega of the Pebble Beach Concours. In between, there was this scrappy upstart, the second annual Japanese Automotive Invitational (JAI), put together by MotorTrend in partnership with our friends at Infiniti. The theme this year: “30 Years of Japanese Luxury,” an homage to the birth of both Infiniti and Lexus back in 1989 (and tip of the cap to Acura, which came to market in 1986).

An assortment of Japanese classic, modern, future concept, and collectible cars were neatly arranged around an angular indoor-outdoor show space with an infinite road theme. What I liked most were the excited responses I heard from the JAI visitors, those who wandered around on the wood chips or took a docent tour with the MotorTrend and Automobile editors on hand.

With a collection of vehicles of such recent vintages, the reactions and stories tend to be more personal. Many of the vehicles on display represent the rise of the Japanese auto industry in America, from the ’60s through the ’90s, and thus evoke strong nostalgia.

Some things I heard on the field and in my head: I took my driver’s license test in that old Toyota over there. That Acura? Had it pinned on my bedroom wall growing up. Mom made it through college and grad school in that Mazda. I remember making out in the squishy leather seats of Dad’s Infiniti, just like that one. You get the idea.

It’s fun to think that, at some point in time, all vehicles on the lawn at the Pebble Beach Concours, cars like Gurke and that 8-Litre Bentley, were all so personally relatable. Is that accurate? Probably not, but every car has a story, and I like to think everybody has a car story. Please enjoy our stories this issue.

More from Ed Loh:

The post Every Car Has a Story: A Lesson From the Japanese Automotive Invitational – The LohDown appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

These Mercedes Cars Won’t Get an AMG Variant

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 07:05

AMG sprinkles its magic on nearly every Mercedes—except for just a few models. AMG chief Tobias Moers reminded us of the fact while we were at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show, which hosted unveilings of many models including a new GLB 35 AMG. A compact three-row family crossover isn’t our first association with the sport-focused AMG, but then again, this ridiculousness wasn’t either until a few years ago.

So what Mercedes models don’t get the full AMG treatment? Aside from commercial vans, the first is the B-Class. Once offered in the U.S. exclusively as an electric car, the new B-Class is a tall family-oriented hatchback whose strongest AMG connection is the European AMG Line package, which adds flashier 18-inch wheels, a body kit, a lowered suspension, and an upgraded steering system.

B-Classers seeking a sportier experience might go with the sleeker A 35 hatch or sedan; we’ll get the latter body style in the U.S. Powered by a 302-hp turbo-four mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, A 35 models have standard all-wheel drive and a manufacturer-estimated 0–60 mph time of 4.6 seconds. Not bad, considering a full A 45 with an even more powerful four-cylinder engine is also on the way. Either way, such cars may function as customers’ entry into the subbrand.

The second is the current-generation EQC. Moers tells us that Mercedes’ new fully electric crossover won’t get a full AMG model (but an AMG Line package will be available). The electric car is propelled by a 402-hp powertrain, and the automaker says you’ll reach 60 in under 5 seconds. When we drove the EQC earlier this year, we found it “breezes briskly away from the lights then comes over all calm and deliberate. … With 1,438 pounds of battery between the wheels, the EQC, unsurprisingly perhaps, drives bigger than it looks.”

That’s not to say Mercedes-AMG won’t go electric. The next C- and S-Class full AMG models will be plug-in hybrids, and Moers hints at an AMG derivative of the platform underpinning the EQS concept.

The question we have about AMG models isn’t whether Mercedes-AMG can, but whether it should. Are there enough customers to justify a GLB 35 or even GLB 45? Mercedes will soon find out.

The post These Mercedes Cars Won’t Get an AMG Variant appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Refreshing or Revolting: Porsche Taycan vs. Tesla Model S

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 01:16

The electric performance revolution is underway, and the tables have turned. Despite its illustrious history, Porsche is the upstart with its Taycan all-electric sedan. Meanwhile Tesla’s Model S is the icon of the space—an odd designation to bestow to a vehicle less than a decade old.


An argument persists that the two aren’t true competitors. The Taycan’s significantly higher price point somewhat precludes it from being cross-shopped against the Model S. But the fact is that in today’s arena, there simply aren’t any closer rivals. And with their ridiculous acceleration and simmering lap time face-off, it’s impossible not to compare them. Design-wise, though, each brings its own approach. Pitted against the Tesla Model S, is the Porsche Taycan refreshing or revolting?


Tesla succeeded with the Model S’ styling. Without a lineage to conform to, it was granted liberal reign to make the car look however it liked. The result was sleek and elegant; its low-key looks only enhanced by the face-lift which retired the “grille”—no engine to cool, after all. However, otherwise aesthetically unchanged since its 2012 introduction, it’s beginning to seem dated. Perhaps spoiled by the cadence set by more established manufacturers, we’re eager to see a thorough redesign of Tesla’s mainstay vehicle.

This stagnation only enhances the Porsche Taycan’s looks. As the camo peeled away leading up to its reveal, we were thrilled to see its resemblance to the Mission E concept. As a whole it’s extremely modern and ready for the next few years as the lineup proliferates. Unlike Tesla, Porsche has an aesthetic heritage and range-wide design language it must adhere to. The Taycan successfully aligns with it, while presenting its own fresh, distinct being.


That’s evident at the front, with the headlights in particular breaking from tradition. Porsche lamps have always been round or smooth-edged, but the Taycan’s are distinctly rectangular. Still, they carry the four-element LED signature seen in Porsche’s modern road and race cars. The units are sunken into the fenders in a manner dissimilar from Porsches past, which are typically mounted flush with or protruding from the fascia. That said, the fenders’ rise over the hood is a design hallmark seen on Porsche vehicles without an engine ahead of the driver. Likewise, grille openings are kept to a minimum, although the distinct “teardrop” vents beside the headlights feed cooling air to the front brakes and smooth frontal airflow.

Pivoting to the profile, it’s classic Porsche from end to end—there’s no denying the Taycan’s sloping roofline is meant to resemble the 911. Its tapering daylight opening and vertical vents behind the front wheels are much like the Panamera. There’s almost nothing about the Taycan that projects its electric motivation, but the subtle fin on the charge port on each side tastefully draws attention to the Taycan Turbo S’ eco-friendly aspirations.


The side showcases the Taycan’s retro-modern wheel options. Motorsports-inspired multi-spoke designs have flat facing to smooth airflow. Taycan-exclusive five-spokes have broad blades which call to mind the timeless Fuchs design, but become contemporary with the addition of available carbon fiber. On the Mission E-inspired rollers, the body color outer lip is a love-it-or-hate-it detail. Regardless, it’s optional for either inclination.


Viewed from the rear, the Taycan continues its familial resemblance. The deck is extremely short to further evoke the 911, but leaves space for a pop-up spoiler and a bit of extra trunk lid. Set into the fascia is a width-spanning taillight, which has been seen previously on some earlier Porsche models and is a modish trait in the industry today. The rear bumper is a prominent element integrating a diffuser. Perhaps it’s intended to invite the viewer to find a tailpipe—which is, of course, conspicuously absent.

The Taycan’s interior will feel recognizable to any prior Porsche driver. A power button to the left of the steering column carries the decades-old tradition, while a stubby 992-esque drive selector is mounted on the right. Perhaps the biggest departure is the sheer number of digital displays across the dashboard and center stack. It’s not spartan to the extent of the Model S, but less decorated than other European luxury rivals. Like the exterior, as a whole the Taycan’s interior is clean, purposeful, and technical.


Even after several years on the market, the Tesla Model S remains a looker. We won’t assert that the Taycan is a resounding design defeat of the EV originator. It is, however, a refreshing addition to the segment; an equally attractive offering executed in typical Porsche fashion. Now only one test remains: to set them side by side on the starting line and let electrons fly.

The post Refreshing or Revolting: Porsche Taycan vs. Tesla Model S appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Toyota Land Cruiser Photo History: Looking Back at the Off-Road SUV After 10 Million Sales

Sat, 09/21/2019 - 00:54

What’s not to love about the Toyota Land Cruiser? As Toyota’s longest-running nameplate, the Land Cruiser has a richer heritage than any vehicle in the lineup, and the virtually unstoppable off-roader is certainly one of the brand’s most evocative vehicles. Toyota recently sold its 10 millionth Land Cruiser worldwide, am impressive accomplishment to put under its belt before the vehicle turns 70 in a few years.

The Land Cruiser’s journey began in 1951, when it wasn’t even known by that name. The product of the Korean War, which created demand for military trucks, the Land Cruiser started life as the BJ prototype. Early on, the vehicle would scale more than 8,200 feet on Mount Fuji, proving its off-road chops. In 1953, Toyota updated its off-roader for civilian use and it entered series production. It wasn’t until 1954 that director of technology Hanji Umehara would rename the vehicle Land Cruiser (in response to the Land Rover).

Toyota released the second-gen Land Cruiser, dubbed the 20 Series, in 1955. With a spruced up design, it made its way to North America and other markets in large quantities. Through the 1950s and ’60s, buyers enjoyed various engines, body styles, and top configurations as the Land Cruiser zipped into its third generation known as the 40 Series—or FJ40 to fans. The FJ55 station wagon variant arrived in 1967 as a more spacious, family-friendly alternative.

In 1984, Toyota introduced the Land Cruiser 70 Series to international markets as a successor to the beloved 40 Series. To further increase its appeal to customers, Toyota added a Land Cruiser Wagon light-duty, spawning the small Land Cruiser Prado series. Sadly, North America never got the FJ70, but we did get the FJ60 in 1980, the successor to the FJ55 station wagon. High passenger capacity would continue to be a hallmark of the North American-market Land Cruiser through the FJ80 and FJ100 generations.

That brings us to the Land Cruiser we know and love today in the U.S., the 200 Series. First introduced for the 2008 model year, the Land Cruiser 200 Series has received numerous upgrades over the years to prolong its life cycle. Along with excellent off-road capability, the 2020 Toyota Land Cruiser boasts a smooth ride on paved roads as well as a luxurious interior. For 2020, Toyota added a special edition model called the Toyota Land Cruiser Heritage Edition, which gets retro-inspired badging and bronze accents inside and out. Check out the Land Cruiser’s history for yourself in the photos below.

Toyota BJ Prototype (1951)


Toyota Land Cruiser 20 Series (1955-1960)

Toyota Land Cruiser 40 Series (1960-1984)

Toyota Land Cruiser station wagon (1967-1980)

Toyota Land Cruiser 60 Series (1980-1990)

Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series (1984- )

Toyota Land Cruiser light-duty wagon (1985-1990)

Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series (1990-1997)

Toyota Land Cruiser Prado (1990- )

Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series (1998-2007)

2020 Toyota Land Cruiser

The post Toyota Land Cruiser Photo History: Looking Back at the Off-Road SUV After 10 Million Sales appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Plug-in Hybrid SUVs With the Best MPGe Ratings

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 22:10

Plug-in hybrid SUVs are trickling into the market, and they provide unique advantages over their gas-only counterparts. With these vehicles, drivers have the flexibility to run solely on electric power for short jaunts around town, and rely on the gas engine for longer trips. If you’re looking for a PHEV SUV, you have more than a few choices. Keep reading to find out which one may be right for you.

The following plug-in hybrid SUVs are ranked by MPGe, or “miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent.” This metric represents the number of miles a car can travel using a quantity of alternative fuel (in this case, electricity stored in a battery) with the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline.

Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid: 46 MPGe

This is one of the most powerful plug-in hybrid SUVs on the market, and it’s sure to put a smile on your face. In regular guise, it makes 455 hp, and you can kick things up a notch with Sport Plus mode. If you really want to maximize power, opt for the 2020 Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid, which boasts an incredible 670 hp—and an eye-watering price tag of $163,250.


Bentley Bentayga Hybrid: 50 MPGe

Weighing 5,800 pounds, this is one formidable SUV. Fortunately, the 443-hp, 516-lb-ft V-6 hybrid powertrain is up to the task. Braking isn’t as crisp as in the non-hybrid Bentayga, but otherwise it’s every bit what you would expect from a Bentley. The 2020 Bentayga Hybrid goes on sale in the fourth quarter of 2019 with prices starting at $159,625.


Volvo XC90 plug-in: 55 MPGe

If you’re looking for a three-row PHEV SUV with lots of power, this is it. The Volvo XC90 produces a total of 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque from its optional T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain. Put it in Pure mode to run on pure electricity, Hybrid mode for everyday driving, and Power mode when you want some performance PHEV excitement. Acceleration comes on smooth and quick, and it takes exactly 5 seconds to reach 60 mph, according to our tests. The XC90 is refined and doesn’t let road noise seep into the cabin, but it’s also pricey, starting at more than $67,000.


BMW X5 xDrive40e plug-in: 56 MPGe

BMW’s most recent X5 plug-in hybrid SUV was the xDrive40e model. In 2020, buyers will get a new version dubbed the X5 xDrive45e iPerformance. The xDrive45e we sampled in early 2019 was comfortable to drive, packing a twin-turbo inline-six with a healthy 394 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. In electric-only mode, top speed is a robust 87 mph.


Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e: 56 MPGe (2019)

The plug-in hybrid variant of the Mercedes GLC SUV makes a healthy 315 hp from a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and electric motor system. You can expect to go only about 10 miles on EV power, but total range is 350 miles on the 2019 GLC 350e. Prices exceed $50,500. Mercedes just announced a 2020 GLC 350e is coming in mid-2020 with a larger battery pack and increased electric-only range. EPA range has not yet been announced for this model.


Volvo XC60 plug-in: 57 MPGe

This compact SUV is stylish on the inside and out. Priced above $55,000, it packs a punch like the larger XC90 PHEV SUV, delivering a total of 400 hp from its gas-electric powertrain. You can only drive about 18 miles on all-electric power, but total range is a whopping 520 miles.


MINI Cooper S E Countryman All4: 65 MPGe

Yes, BMW’s quirky Mini brand offers an SUV, and a plug-in hybrid version at that. Electric driving range is only up to 12 miles, but it delivers a satisfying 221 total hp. It’s quicker than the Cooper ALL4 and Cooper S ALL4, hitting 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. The plug-in hybrid Countryman is also more fuel-efficient than these versions, but only when it comes to city, not highway, fuel economy. Prices currently start at $37,750.


Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: 74 MPGe

This five-seater SUV has been around for a long time, and it’s the world’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle as of December 2018, according to Jato Dynamics. Drivers will enjoy fair amount of electric range—you can travel up to 22 miles in EV mode. This SUV also benefits from a strong 10-year/100,000-mile limited warranty for the powertrain, lithium-ion battery, and PHEV components. Unfortunately, the SUV looks a bit dated and the interior is in need of an update. Prices start at $37,175.


Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid: 90 MPGe

Although it’s a PHEV, the Crosstrek Hybrid still knows how to tackle off-road trails with steep grades, large rocks, and deep ruts. It also drives well on the road, accelerating smoothly, and if you’re commute is 17 miles or less, you can cruise to work using only the electric motor. It’s quicker than the standard Crosstrek, but luggage space suffers because the battery pack is mounted below the cargo area. The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $35,970.


Ford Escape plug-in: TBD

Expected to arrive in the spring of 2020 is a new plug-in hybrid version of the Escape. Buyers will benefit from a 30-mile range in electric-only mode, but it’s front-wheel drive only. The lithium-ion battery pack sits under the rear seats so as not to impede cargo space.

Plug-in Hybrid SUVs With the Best MPGe Ratings

The post Plug-in Hybrid SUVs With the Best MPGe Ratings appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Turbo High Performance Package First Drive

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 11:00

If you’re a luddite who insists a pony car must have eight atmospheric cylinders, stop reading now. Otherwise, if you enjoy front-engine, rear-drive fun regardless of what’s under the hood, let me tell you about the Ford Mustang EcoBoost Turbo High Performance Package.

What started as a weekend project among some of Ford Performance’s biggest Mustang geeks evolved into a sport-focused production car meant to bring a unique experience to the historic nameplate. Using a decommissioned Focus RS test engine and an extra S550 chassis collecting dust in the division garage, the team set to work, digging into the Mustang parts bin to pick n’ choose their favorite bits to add—which subsequently bring its starting price to $33,405.

First came adapting the 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 from transverse orientation for front-wheel drive application, to longitudinally mounted and sending juice to the rear wheels. Initially proven in the base Mustang EcoBoost, the next step was bringing the power closer to RS levels. That involved modifying the engine block with high-tensile cylinder liners, improving piston rings, and designing a bespoke cylinder head. A new head gasket handles the increased pressures created by an enlarged turbocharger cramming 22 psi into the intake and reduced 9.37:1 compression ratio. The result is 330 hp at 6,000 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque at 3,000 rpm.

Driving off from Sausalito, California, I skirted along the base of Mt. Tamalpais through a thick layer of signature San Francisco fog. On initial roll-out the hi-po turbopony struggled to put that lump of torque down on the cold, slick pavement. It would seem Pirelli’s engineers who developed the car’s summer tires never heard Mark Twain’s quote about supposed warm months in the City by the Bay. To the point, 19 x 9-inch wheels all four corners wear 255/40Rs—wider than a basic Mustang GT’s.

Rubber and weather warmed as the route took me north along coastal Highway 1, and I sought out chances to prod the engine. After a blink of delay as boost builds, power is robust; the midrange torque crest passes over seamlessly to the near-redline horsepower peak. True to Ford Performance’s ambition, it feels stronger the higher it’s revved. Still, it never feels snappy or raw—and that’s a good thing. With this vehicle Ford targets drivers who may not have much sports car experience, who want accessible power that doesn’t overwhelm. You know, everyday enthusiasts like me, or maybe you. To be clear, this four-banger ain’t a slouch. Powering through gears, it delivers a hearty press into the seats and a blatty engine note accompanied by plenty of turbo whistle. Coming off the gas near redline induces some delightful exhaust crackles.

Transmissions are a six-speed manual or a $1,595 ten-speed automatic, shift points of which were brought out by about 500 rpm to better engage that peaky power. The standard shifter pairs nicely with the car’s character. Heavy and a bit rough, working it through the tight gates is a satisfying exercise. Pedal positioning allowed easy heel-toe downshifts, but auto rev-matching is absent from this purportedly novice-friendly setup; supposedly, the associated componentry wouldn’t fit in the transmission case. Ten is a somewhat mind-boggling gear count to manage, but it’s fun exploring through them to keep the engine in its sweet spot. The plastic paddle shifters feel cheap, but they’re sufficiently responsive and allow rapid ratio dumps when slowing into corners. With either gearbox, final drive is 3.31:1 via a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Undoing acceleration is left to brakes cribbed from the Mustang GT. Front 352mm vented rotors are clamped by fixed four-piston calipers, while 330mm solid discs out back are 10mm larger than those on standard V-8 cars. These stoppers feel well matched to the power delivery: strong but not grabby, responsive yet predictably progressive. Ford Performance rewrote the ABS module’s programming based on learnings from the GT350 to allow better trail-braking, again, the goal being to benefit drivers who may have never owned a rear-drive car or might attempt their first track day.

Want to see inside? Check out our in-depth review of the Mustang’s interior.

OK, but you’re a toughie who knows how to wrestle V-8 muscle. Want the extra pudge that comes with it? MotorTrend testers have critiqued 5.0 Mustangs’ handling balance, and this car’s 200-ish-pound front-end weight savings over the GT is constantly appreciable. The steering possesses a certain delicacy, smooth on turn-in and stable through tight hairpins and long sweepers. No Mustang driver wants to end up bent up and plastered across enthusiast meme pages, and this car’s 53/47 front/rear weight distribution should help eager learners keep both ends in check.

Supplementing poise is a $1,995 Handling Package, which brings a thicker rear anti-roll bar, dark-painted and half-inch-wider wheels with 265 section tires, and stronger brakes. It also adds new magnetic dampers featuring logic developed for the GT350. The effect is a more buttoned-down ride, providing more road sensation to the driver while reducing body roll. It’s not a crucial add to make this Mustang live up to its name, but the Handling Package does what it says on the tin.

As the sun crested through the afternoon, clouds burned off and I eagerly let the top back on a convertible variant, which starts at $38,905. Trade-offs instantly ensued. The car felt floppy, bouncy, and somewhat disconnected front to rear; the Handling Package isn’t available on droptop cars. Simultaneously, the exhaust became more audible, and seeing sunshine filtered through trees lining the curvy road was just so pleasant. For sure, this isn’t what you buy when you want the sharper driving experience, but damn if it wasn’t nice on that lovely California day.

Upon my return to the starting point I learned that my flight home had been delayed by several hours. No matter—Ford graciously offered me time with a Mustang Bullitt brought to support the event. Its V-8 burble and stonking power were intoxicating, but the dulled reflexes and skewed balance that accompanied that bigger, heavier engine were equally apparent. It was fantastic fun, but more so than the Turbo High Performance Package? And for $48,905? I still can’t say.

That’s proof, therefore, that Ford Performance succeeded in creating a unique, distinct, and enjoyable driving experience with the Mustang Turbo High Performance Package. Whether it’s better than a base, $37,370 V-8 GT will come down to individual preferences—and budget. It’s absolutely worth consideration by enthusiasts willing to accept engines other than a classic eight-pot in their pony car. If you’ve read this far, I suppose that’s you.

The post 2020 Ford Mustang EcoBoost Turbo High Performance Package First Drive appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Is the 2019 Honda Insight the Safest Hybrid on the Road?

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 09:00

According to the two leading American organizations that evaluate vehicle safety, the 2019 Honda Insight is one of the safest hybrids on the road. In fact, Insight is one of the safest small cars you can buy: It received a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as the coveted Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) rating from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). This means the 2019 Honda Insight successfully protects occupants from harm during several types of crash situations and possesses the latest active and passive crash mitigation technologies.

NHTSA is part of the executive branch of the U.S. government within the Department of Transportation. To produce its overall safety rating, the NHTSA tests three different crash scenarios. In the frontal crash test, a vehicle is accelerated into a fixed barrier to simulate a head-on collision between two similar vehicles, each moving at 35 mph. In this situation, damage to the vehicle and potential harm to the occupants in both the driver’s and front passenger seats are evaluated on scale of one to five stars, with five being the best. The scores are then combined and averaged. As the 2019 Honda Insight scored five stars in for both Front Driver Side and Front Passenger Side, it achieved the maximum 5-star rating for Frontal Crash.

Read more about our 2019 Honda Insight EX long-termer:

To test overall side crash performance, NHTSA utilizes two different tests. The Overall Side Pole Star Rating derives from a crash simulation that sends a vehicle (resting on a sled) sliding into a fixed metal barrier (which simulates a telephone pole or tree) from the side. The Side Barrier test simulates a T-bone collision you might find at an intersection, where a moving barrier hits a resting vehicle at 38.5 mph. For these tests, potential harm to the driver and rear passenger are rated against the 5-star scale. The results from these two tests are then combined to create the Combined Side Barrier and Pole Ratings, and—spoiler alert—the Insight scored 5 stars across the board, as well.

The third and last NHTSA test “measures the risk of rollover in a single-vehicle, loss-of-control scenario” and is executed by rapidly accelerating a vehicle sideways, usually with enough force to lift the opposite wheels off the ground or roll the vehicle over completely. In the case of the 2019 Honda Insight, the result was a yet again, 5 stars.

In addition to rating a vehicle on its crash safety, NHTSA publishes detailed information on the existence of active and passive safety features, and primers on how some of the newer systems operate. For instance, a quick scan of NHTSA’s writeup on the 2019 Honda Insight reveals that the vehicle comes standard with forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems but doesn’t come with dynamic brake support or knee airbags. It’s worth noting that although NHTSA offers a comprehensive overview of these systems, their performance is not evaluated as part of the 5-star Overall Safety Rating.

To get that level of detail, as well as a different set of crash tests, one must go to the IIHS, a nonprofit U.S. organization funded by auto insurance companies. Generally speaking, the IIHS takes four categories into account when deciding how a vehicle ranks on its Top Safety Pick scale, including crashworthiness, crash avoidance and mitigation, child seat anchor performance, and other available safety features (primarily related to driver assistance and headlight performance). Performance in these categories is rated against either a three-part scale ranging from basic, advanced, and superior (with superior being best) or a four-part scale ranging from poor, marginal, acceptable, and good.

IIHS’ test protocols are far more comprehensive than NHTSA’s. For instance, the crashworthiness category alone consists of six different tests: moderate overlap front; driver-side small overlap front; passenger-side small overlap front; side; roof strength; and head restraints and seats. To produce the overall score in just the driver-side small overlap front test, IIHS averages together another six scores: structure and safety cage; driver injury measures for head/neck, chest, hip/thigh, and lower leg/foot; as well as driver restraints and dummy kinematics. Over 30 different scores are used to determine the overall IIHS score, so for the sake of simplicity, we won’t review them all.

All you really need to know is that the 2019 Honda Insight received the highest ratings of good and superior in every category IIHS measures, with the exception of one. In the side crashworthiness test, the rear passenger injury measures related to the pelvis/leg received an acceptable rating. You can read all the details on the 2019 Honda Insight’s performance in IIHS safety testing here.

Although the 2019 Honda Insight achieves near perfect safety ratings according to IIHS and NHTSA, it does have two official NHTSA recalls of which you should be aware:

NHTSA campaign number 18V664000 affects the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) control unit of 118 Honda Insight, Odyssey, and Ridgeline vehicles from the 2019 model year. According to NHTSA, a manufacturing error in the control unit may result in airbags or seatbelt pretensioners failing to deploy during a crash.

NHTSA campaign number 18V62900 relates to the rearview camera display. In certain situations, the center console display may not show the backup camera image and thus fail to comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 111, related to “rearview mirrors.” This recall affects approximately 232,140 Honda vehicles including the 2018 Honda Accord and 2019 Honda Insight.

For more information, owners of potentially affected Honda vehicles should contact:

NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Hotline: 1-888-327-4236 or head to
Honda Customer Service: 1-888-234-2138
Next update: the Insight’s first service appointment.

The post Is the 2019 Honda Insight the Safest Hybrid on the Road? appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Testing the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and 4 Other Super SUVs Near Area 51!

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 07:28

The day has finally come. The call to “Storm Area 51” on September 20 started out as an Internet joke but has inspired hundreds of people to actually drive out to the area surrounding the top-secret Nevada military base in search of alien life—or at least a good party. We strongly recommend that you don’t storm Area 51 if you want to stay out of jail, but all this Alienstock hype brings back fond memories from this 2018 comparison test, when we carried out an Area 51 raid of our own in five high-performance SUVs. Enjoy! 

The craft came to a stop in a cloud of dust. A slender figure emerged from inside the swoopy, sleek sheetmetal—loose skin, bulbous head, humanoid but with a hint of something extra—and a swarm of scientists descended, needing feedback. Needing data. Needing to know: Have we finally broken through?

I have always been fascinated with Area 51. Stories of secret test flights, of government scientists collaborating with alien pilots to push the limits of what we believed possible, hooked my childhood mind. And seeing Capt. Steven Hiller pilot his F/A-18 through the Grand Canyon, flying saucer in hot pursuit, only solidified my intrigue (Independence Day’s fictional nature notwithstanding). Was that top-secret area in southwest Nevada really the place where the government had hidden the Roswell aircraft? Had we reverse-engineered spacecraft not of this earth, perhaps with alien aid? Or were the feds telling the truth when they said the facility was merely the development site for military jets such as the U-2, SR-71, and F-117 Nighthawk—jets that suspiciously flew higher, faster, and sneakier than any before?

Like those military jets—or flying saucers—these five ridiculously high-performance SUVs we are piloting refuse to conform to classical ideas of appearance and capability. Originally created for rock-crawling or helping out around the estate, sport-utility vehicles have become America’s favorite mundane family haulers. But somehow, in a recent unexplainable technological leap, SUVs have also evolved into supercars, with overboosted engines stuffed between their fenders and suspensions cranked down for sports car levels of performance. This is higher, faster, sneakier space-alien stuff.

Which is how our pack of otherworldly vehicles is screaming at post-apocalyptic velocities across Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway. What better place to find answers on the hottest transport advancements than America’s most secret environs?

So we rip a hole through the desert air, alien experimentation on our minds, in a 2,730-hp convoy of performance SUVs built by manufacturers that have thrown out their rulebooks.

The 503-hp 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ Coupe I’m piloting is a challenge to the automotive status quo. SUVs don’t need to be big and slow; sports cars don’t have to be light, low, and lean. Like it or not, SUVs are where the auto industry is going. With its twin-turbo V-8 making 516 lb-ft of torque mated to a nine-speed auto with all-wheel drive, I can’t say I mind this form of transport.

Coming from brands traditionally known for their off-road prowess, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR both turn their backs on knobby tires and mud slinging in favor of a pair of supercharged V-8s. The Rover’s new-for-2018 5.0-liter unit makes 575 hp and 516 lb-ft of twist and is paired with an eight-speed automatic and a full-time four-wheel-drive system—its vestigial link to its past.

The Jeep, in a nod to the nuclear wasteland that is the Nevada Test Site surrounding Area 51, goes all in with its 6.2-liter Hellcat V-8, which puts out an absurd 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. The Grand Cherokee’s engine is abetted by an eight-speed automatic and an all-wheel-drive system.

Meanwhile, the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 Quadrifoglio and 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance package are a weird, roundabout return to the roots of the two storied racing brands. The Stelvio packs a Ferrari-derived 505-hp 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 under its hood, and it’s backed by an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. The Macan rides on an Audi-developed platform, but its 3.6-liter twin-turbo V-6 is all Porsche. It packs 440 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, and it’s backed by Porsche’s famed PDK seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox and torque-vectoring all-wheel drive.

The stakes here are high, and I’m really pondering the idea of a 440-hp Porsche being the lowest-output beast of this bunch. The winner of this performance SUV comparison test will have the honor of being the first SUV to compete in our annual Best Driver’s Car competition next month.

As such, the rules are simple: The winner needs to be the most engaging, exciting, fun-to-drive super SUV in our quintet—the SUV that’s most likely to upset the world order.

Welcome to Earth

The scenery a day earlier couldn’t be more different. A twin-turbo V-6 growls in front of me as the sapphire blue Macan slices through soupy coastal clouds and mist as we climb the Angeles Crest Highway to meet up with the rest of the group. It’s been a while since I’ve driven a Macan; this one offers an extra 40 hp, larger front brakes, and a few other go-fast options. It feels the same as the Turbo without the Performance package, but Angeles Crest will be the place to prove it. The highway twists and turns 66 miles up and over the San Gabriel Mountains as it links the L.A. basin to the Mojave Desert and beyond. It’s the perfect nearby-substitute for the Best Driver’s Car’s State Route 198 hill climb.

Once linked up with the rest of the crew, we picked one of our favorite stretches of the highway and set off. The Porsche makes things easy. Despite the Macan having the least powerful engine here, I found myself parked on the Trackhawk’s tail as we rocketed up Angeles Crest for our first run of the day. The Macan is easy to drive fast. “Zuffenhausen did a fabulous job with the suspension,” senior features editor Jonny Lieberman said. “The damping is superb, and the body control is excellent.”

But there’s something off about the Porsche. It’s not in the way it drives, but in the way it makes you feel—or not feel, rather. There’s a sort of numbness to the Macan Turbo that’s tough to identify—the Novocain-numb steering is part of the issue, but there’s more to it. Although this crossover is supremely capable, I found myself daydreaming about bills to be paid and errands to run. Nearly every other editor felt (or didn’t feel, as the case may be) the same detachment. “There’s no doubt about its capability, but there’s just no emotion in it,” features editor Scott Evans said. Driving a good car up a good road is supposed to be an escape. The Macan wasn’t acting like one.

Seeking a shot of adrenaline, I swapped into the Darth Vader–black Range Rover Sport SVR for my next run. I have fond memories of the pre-refresh Rover Sport SVR. Although it’s short 25 horsepower compared to the new one, it was absolutely hilarious to drive—the only SUV as prone to swinging out its backside as it was to plowing through a bend. It took all of four corners to discover that the SVR’s manners have finally been tamed. I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing, but because you’re no longer fighting the Rover, you do get a chance to evaluate its prowess in other areas. “Not nearly as ridiculously tail happy as the last SVR, this iteration does feel noticeably smoother,” Jonny said. The Range Rover Sport’s steering rack has a surprising delicacy and lightness to it, given the Rover’s size, but its air suspension can’t keep up on a good road. “Its weight is noticeable on the twisties, where it leans quite a bit,” associate road test editor Erick Ayapana said.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has a lot in common with the Rover. There’s a lot to love about the Trackhawk, but in this group it turns about as well as a B-2 in a dogfight. Its steering feel is actually pretty responsive—direct, linear, mechanical—but its dragstrip-oriented suspension makes it feel like, well, a Jeep. “I ran out of desire to go faster long before I ran out of grip,” associate online editor Collin Woodard said. As Scott would discover, braking could be a bit of an issue when the Jeep was pushed hard. “In a few miles, I managed to set the brakes on fire,” he said. “Not smoking. Actual flame from the right front pad.” The Jeep sports decent-sized brake rotors; we suspect that higher-quality brake pads and fluids would help avoid small, easily extinguished fires like we had. (Note: Pushing heavy vehicles repeatedly to their limits can ignite the brakes, and although it’s rare, it is not unheard of in the testing community.)

If you’re only looking to figuratively set your world on fire, the Alfa feels like it comes from a different galaxy than the Rover and Jeep. The Stelvio is a crossover only in that it looks like the rest of the SUVs assembled here. From behind the wheel it feels like its sedan stablemate, the Giulia Quadrifoglio, with an extra carbon-fiber halfshaft driving the front wheels. “The body control on this high-rider is incredible,” Scott said. Collin agreed, adding, “From the moment you take off, everything just feels right. Thirty seconds in, I almost forgot I was in a crossover.” It might sound like hyperbole, but the Stelvio really manages to capture the engaging, dynamic feel of the Giulia sedan (warts and all), from its pure steering to its grabby, hard-to-modulate brake-by-wire system.

Stuck in both camps is the AMG GLC 63. In some ways it bridges the gap between the Jeep/Range Rover camp and that of the Porsche/Alfa, offering up a V-8 for the former crowd and the European sensibilities of the latter. “It didn’t take long to feel confident behind the wheel of the AMG,” Erick said. True to its new AMG badge, the GLC 63 begs to be pushed to its limit. Trouble is, you might not like what you find once you get there. “Steering just feels good: sharp, precise, perfectly weighted,” Jonny said. “But once you start pushing the GLC 63 S Coupe, the damping lets the car down, and it starts to bounce around on its air springs.” Even in its firmest mode, the AMG’s suspension never proved to be stiff enough to deliver the high-gain experience that the rest of the GLC package was promising.

Exhausted after a long day on Angeles Crest, we fueled up and cannonballed to Las Vegas. Little green men were waiting.

Warp Speed

Ride and handling get a well-deserved portion of the attention during Best Driver’s Car. But as you well know, it’s only half of the formula that makes a driver’s car just that. It’s the atom without the neutron, if you will. Our next stomping ground: a blazing-hot scenic drive along some of America’s most top-secret sites on the deserted Extraterrestrial Highway, skirting Area 51, across the barren U.S. Route 6, and then a straight shot down US-95, hugging the edges of the nuclear-weapons Nevada Test Site to reach our end point in Death Valley.

Leaving Vegas by car is always a gamble, one I won by scoring the keys to the Alfa. For a knife-fighter, the Stelvio is remarkably comfortable on the highway. Its high-strung V-6 is brutally powerful; it’s laggy off the line, but once the turbos spool up, it sends out wave after wave of torque. “The engine is powerful and the transmission doesn’t need your guidance; it’s fine on its own,” said Scott. The test data shows he’s right. The Alfa accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and it’ll run the quarter mile in 12 seconds flat at 114.4 mph. Yet these startling numbers are only midpack in this group.

The Macan futilely attempts to hang on the Alfa’s tail. Hustling through the San Gabriel Mountains the day before, the Macan felt quick. But out on the endless straights of Nevada highway, its power disadvantage becomes apparent. It’s kind of amazing how much horsepower can skew things; the Macan’s 440 ponies are enough to get it from 0 to 60 mph in a properly quick 3.8 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 109.4 mph. But in this group that still makes it second slowest.

The Range Rover Sport SVR brought up the rear of our strike package—not that those driving it minded. Arguably the most comfortable long-haul cruiser of the bunch, the Rover had another trick up its sleeve. “The award for best exhausts goes to the Range Rover Sport SVR,” Erick said. “But it sounds much quicker than it feels behind the wheel.” He’s right. In nearly all of our instrumented tests, the SVR trailed this pack. It takes the Range Rover Sport 4.3 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph, and it needs 12.7 seconds to cross the quarter mile at 110.9 mph. That’s hardly slow, but it ain’t setting speed records in this crowd.

Amazingly, our two fastest SUVs were designed for the same job but go about it in completely different ways. The Jeep is all about power. Its 707-hp V-8 allows Jeep to ignore the Grand Cherokee’s curb weight and focus instead on blistering straight-line speed. That suspension that left the Trackhawk flopping around Angeles Crest? Well, when launched, the Trackhawk hunkers down on its rear haunches as it claws down the tarmac. Your view changes from street to sky. “All the SUVs in this group are quick, but oh my, the Trackhawk is something else completely,” Collin said. “From a stop. At low speeds. At highway speeds. You put your foot down, and it just takes off. It never gets old … at least as long as you’re going in a straight line.”

The better-balanced Mercedes doesn’t need any more than the 503 horses under its hood thanks to its nearly 1,000-pound weight advantage. “The AMG’s ‘big’ V-8 puts out all the cruel and lovely snarls we’re used to, deep and throaty and pretty much hinged,” Jonny said. “It feels both torquey and fast.” The GLC 63 S loves eating up highway miles at extralegal speeds just as much as it does launching hard for drag races.

In instrumented testing, the GLC 63 S and Grand Cherokee Trackhawk are constantly trading blows. The German and American tie each other from 0 to 30 mph, the Jeep edges the Mercedes to 40 mph, the Mercedes comes even at 50 mph, and then ultimately it takes the 0–60 crown. The GLC’s 3.2-second 0–60 run ties the Tesla Model X P90D for the quickest SUV we’ve ever tested. The Merc is also the quickest gas-powered SUV we’ve ever run down the quarter mile—tying the Jeep’s 11.7-second quarter-mile time but at a higher 116.5-mph trap speed. It’s close enough to call it a draw. Even in the open desert, local police presence means this fight won’t be settled today.

Mission Accomplished

I think it’s fair to say that everyone hated my logistical planning skills after our loop through Nevada to Death Valley. After a long day, the only alien we saw was the plaster one standing outside of the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nevada. The only flying saucer we saw was hanging from a battered tow truck outside the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel, Nevada. As for under-the-radar military stuff, we did see an old Nike nuclear-tipped missile serving as a gate guard for the secretive Tonopah Test Range, and a ’50s-era French fighter jet—likely belonging to the Air Force test pilot school—buzzed us. I’m sure those were secret at one point or another.

But despite the hassle, there was a reason we wound up in Death Valley.

While the military develops its latest black projects in Area 51, not far away in Death Valley, the auto industry tests its own top-secret stuff. Bugatti Chirons and Ford GTs were both partially developed in the national park. Hell, we even bumped into Acura engineers hard at work on a to-be-announced performance MDX variant. It’s a fair bet that each of our five super SUVs spent some development time in Death Valley, their test drivers, decked in bulbous helmets and the loose skin of racing suits, taking on a vaguely alien appearance as automotive engineers prod them for thoughts on how to push the performance envelop just a little bit past what we previously imagined possible.

That evening, with beers to quench the desert’s heat, our SUVs ticking in the cool desert night behind us, it was time to take all we’d learned and pick the SUV that most deserved a shot at Best Driver’s Car. After all—only the best-driving SUV stands a shot at knocking BDC’s purebred sports and supercars off their pedestal.

Were Best Driver’s Car singularly focused on straight-line speed, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk would’ve been a sure bet. It’s stupid fun to bury the Trackhawk’s throttle in a straight line, but it’s severely underbraked for an object as fast and heavy as it is, and its handling performance is perhaps most kindly described as “sharp as a hammer.” Last place in this group is nothing to hang your head about, but this bruiser would be outgunned at Best Driver’s Car.

The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR finished ahead of the Jeep by a nose. Despite the Rover being the slowest SUV in this comparison, this isn’t a numbers game. Simply put, out on the road, the Range Rover Sport is more enjoyable to hustle through a corner or two, making the most of its power. Although price wasn’t a factor in this comparison, it’s worth mentioning that the SVR, especially its interior, felt worth every bit of its $28,500 premium over the next-cheapest SUV here.

The 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo with the Performance package earned third. The Porsche does almost everything right—it’s quick, it goes around a corner well, and it’s easy to drive fast. So what went wrong?  “It commits the cardinal sin of being boring,” Jonny said. “I’m sorry, but Porsches, by definition, cannot be boring.” Collin agreed: “Driving the Macan was kind of like watching Tom Brady play football. He’s an incredible quarterback, but guys like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson play a more exciting game.”

And that sets us up the battle for first place between the 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S. The Alfa lives for slicing up your favorite back road, yet it’s equally satisfying at high straight-line speeds. “This thing is phenomenal in a way that you have to experience to understand,” Collin said. The Mercedes trades some of that sharpness in favor of a slightly more comfortable commute-friendly ride, and it’s also the fastest  SUV we’ve ever tested, period. “The experience reminds me of the GT R,” Erick said. “That the GLC 63 S evokes the same visceral and satisfying experience as AMG’s halo car is a huge success.”

Ultimately it’s a game of inches, and with Best Driver’s Car rules in place, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio earns the win. The Merc is quicker, but the Alfa is the most fun SUV here to drive, and in spite of its SUV-ness, it’s also one of the most outstanding vehicles on the road—regardless of shape, size, or curb weight.

Like the secret projects being built in the middle of the Nevada desert, automotive enthusiasts might not like what the Stelvio Quadrifoglio represents. But there’s no denying that Alfa accomplished its mission of building a driver’s SUV. Best Driver’s Car contenders, you have your work cut out for you. Godspeed.

5. 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

The world’s fastest studio apartment is great in a straight line but leaves us wanting in corners.

4. 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR

It’s guaranteed to score you a primo valet spot, if not necessarily a spot on the podium.

3. 2017 Porsche Macan Turbo (Performance Package)

The soul we’ve come to expect from Porsche products is nowhere to be found.

2. 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ Coupe

Say hello to the quickest SUV we’ve ever tested. Sort out its body control, and we might have had a different winner.

1. 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 Quadrifoglio

Take everything you thought you knew about lumbering SUVs and throw it out the window. Blistering performance and sublime handling in an attractive, practical package. Bring on Best Driver’s Car.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q4 Quadrifoglio 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Supercharged 2018 Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ (Coupe) 2018 Porsche Macan Turbo (Performance Pack) DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, 4WD Front-engine, AWD Front-engine, AWD ENGINE TYPE Twin-turbo 90-deg V-6, alum block/heads Supercharged 90-deg V-8, iron block/alum heads Supercharged 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads Twin-turbo 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads Twin-turbo 90-deg V-6, alum block/heads VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl OHV, 2 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 176.4 cu in/2,891 cc 376.3 cu in/6,166 cc 305.1 cu in/5,000 cc 243.0 cu in/3,982 cc 220.0 cu in/3,605 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 9.3:1 9.5:1 9.5:1 10.5:1 10.5:1 POWER (SAE NET) 505 hp @ 6,500 rpm 707 hp @ 6,000 rpm 575 hp @ 6,000 rpm 503 hp @ 5,500 rpm 440 hp @ 6,000 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 443 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm 645 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm 516 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm 516 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm 442 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm REDLINE 6,500 rpm 6,000 rpm 6,500 rpm 7,000 rpm 6,750 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 8.6 lb/hp 7.7 lb/hp 9.5 lb/hp 9.0 lb/hp 10.2 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic 9-speed automatic 7-speed twin-clutch auto AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.73:1/2.39:1 3.70:1/2.48:1 3.31:1/2.21:1 3.27:1/1.96:1 4.67:1/2.42:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Multilink, air springs, adj shocks, adj anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, adj anti-roll bar Multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Control arms, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, air springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 12.0:1 16.5:1 17.7:1 14.5:1 14.3:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.2 3.0 2.7 2.0 2.6 BRAKES, F; R 14.2-in vented, drilled disc; 13.8-in vented, drilled disc, ABS 15.8-in vented, grooved, 2-pc disc; 13.8-in vented, grooved disc, ABS 15.0-in vented disc; 14.4-in vented disc, ABS 15.4-in vented, drilled, 2-piece carbon-ceramic disc; 14.2-in vented, drilled disc, ABS 15.4-in vented, grooved, 2-piece disc; 14.0-in vented, disc, ABS WHEELS, F;R 9.0 x 20-in; 10.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum 10.0 x 20-in forged aluminum 10.0 x 22-in forged aluminum 9.5 x 21-in; 10.0 x 21-in, forged aluminum 9.0 x 21-in; 10.0 x 21-in, forged aluminum TIRES, F;R 255/45R20 101Y; 285/40R20 104Y Pirelli P Zero AR 295/45R20 110Y Pirelli P Zero (runflat) 295/40R22 112Y Continental ContiSportContact 5 SUV 265/40R21 105Y; 295/35R21 107Y Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 265/40R21 101Y; 295/35R21 103Y Pirelli P Zero N0 DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 111.0 in 114.7 in 115.1 in 113.1 in 110.5 in TRACK, F/R 61.2/63.3 in 65.7/64.8 in 66.6/66.4 in 65.4/64.9 in 64.9/65.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 185.1 x 77.0 x 66.3 in 189.8 x 76.5 x 67.9 in 192.2 x 78.1 x 69.0-73.6 in 186.8 x 76.0 x 62.4* in 184.7 x 76.1 x 63.0 in (in std mode) GROUND CLEARANCE 7.9 in 8.1 in 6.4-10.9 in (8.4 in, std mode) 6.4 in* 6.2-0.0 in APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE 20.8/20.0 deg 18.0/23.1 deg 20.6-26.9/22.6-27.8 deg 17.6/21.5 deg* 24.0-25.5/19.5-24.2 deg TURNING CIRCLE 38.4 ft 38.0 ft 40.7 ft 39.0 ft (est) 39.2 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,339 lb 5,448 lb 5,450 lb 4,503 lb 4,466 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 53/47% 56/44% 51/49% 55/45% 56/44% TOWING CAPACITY 3,000 lb 7,200 lb 6,613 lb 3,500 lb 4,409 lb SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 5 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 40.2/38.9 in 39.9/39.2 in 38.7/39.0 in 41.1/38.3 in (est) 38.6/38.7 in LEGROOM, F/R 36.6/31.9 in 40.3/38.6 in 42.2/37.0 in 34.3/33.6 in (est) 40.9/35.6 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.7/55.9 in 58.7/58.0 in 60.7/59.5 in 51.7/55.1 in (est) 56.9/54.9 in CARGO VOLUME, BEH F/R 56.5/18.5 cu ft 68.3/36.3 cu ft 59.5/27.5 cu ft 49.4/18.3 cu ft (est) 53.0/17.7 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 1.2 sec 1.1 sec 1.6 sec 1.1 sec 1.3 sec 0-40 1.8 1.6 2.3 1.7 2.0 0-50 2.6 2.4 3.2 2.4 2.8 0-60 3.5 3.3 4.3 3.2 3.8 0-70 4.5 4.2 5.5 4.2 5.1 0-80 5.7 5.3 6.9 5.5 6.6 0-90 7.2 6.8 8.5 6.8 8.3 0-100 9.0 8.4 10.4 8.4 10.3 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.8 1.8 2.1 1.7 2.1 QUARTER MILE 12.0 sec @ 114.4 mph 11.7 sec @ 116.2 mph 12.7 sec @ 110.9 mph 11.7 sec @ 116.5 mph 12.5 sec @ 109.4 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 103 ft 108 ft 106 ft 105 ft 105 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.92 g (avg) 0.90 g (avg) 0.89 g (avg) 0.96 g (avg) 0.95 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.6 sec @ 0.79 g (avg) 24.7 sec @ 0.79 g (avg) 25.2 sec @ 0.77 g (avg) 24.1 sec @ 0.85 g (avg) 24.3 sec @ 0.81 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,750 rpm 1,700 rpm 1,450 rpm 1,400 rpm 1,600 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $81,390 $87,645 $114,595 $81,745 $88,750 PRICE AS TESTED $86,940 $101,610 $133,860 $105,610 $98,030 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes Yes/Yes Yes/Yes Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee 7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee 6: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain 10: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee 7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 4 yrs/50,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 4 yrs/Unlimited miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 16.9 gal 24.6 gal 27.3 gal 17.4 gal 19.8 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 17/23/19 mpg 11/17/13 mpg 15/20/16 mpg 15/22/18 mpg 17/23/19 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles 306/198 kW-hrs/100 miles 225/169 kW-hrs/100 miles 225/153 kW-hrs/100 miles 198/147 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.01 lb/mile 1.48 lb/mile 1.15 lb/mile 1.11 lb/mile 1.01 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium Unleaded premium Unleaded premium Unleaded premium Unleaded premium *At standard ride height; range N/A

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Categories: Property

Koenigsegg Agera XS Test Drive Video: Almost 1,400 HP Would Leave You Speechless, Too

Fri, 09/20/2019 - 07:20

In the grand scheme of automotive history, Koenigsegg hasn’t been around for very long. Founded in 1994 by Christian von Koenigsegg, its mission has been simple: make some of the fastest, most ferocious cars the world has ever seen. The company first gained mass attention when Jeremy Clarkson called the CCX the “scariest car in the world,” and the Stig subsequently crashed it during its hot lap.

Since then, ever more powerful variants have left the production facility, which occupies a former Swedish air squadron hangar in Ängelholm, Sweden, and the lineup has gotten pretty difficult to follow. Especially if you count all the one-offs and special editions. After the CC–and all of its subsequent variants–came the Agera, the Regera, and most recently the Jesko, named in honor of Christian’s father.

Some would say the Agera RS is currently the fastest production car in the world at 277.87 mph. Yes, the Bugatti Veyron SS 300+ recently broke the 300-mph barrier, but the Bug only did the run in one direction.

Whether that officially makes it the fastest car in the world is entirely up to you. But no matter how you look at top speed records, all Koenigseggs are fast with a capital F. This Agera XS–a special edition made for millionaire and Miami native Kris Singh–is no exception. The XS makes 1,360 hp and more than 1,000 lb-ft of torque and costs a cool $5 million.

To get an idea of just what that much power is like, check out the video above to watch Jonny Lieberman take the XS for a quick spin on the streets of Miami. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t end up saying much, the car speaks for itself.

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Categories: Property

This is the Emperor of Japan’s New Toyota Century Convertible

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 23:54

On April 30 of this year, Japanese Emperor Akihito became the first Japanese royal in 200 years to abdicate his throne. He cited his poor health as the reason for the transition. His departure also meant the end of the Heisei Era of Japanese Emperors.

The official transfer of power happened on May 1, but the coronation ceremony is yet to take place. That will happen on October 22, and the event will welcome envoys and dignitaries from more than 120 countries. And based on these photos first published by Japanese Nostalgic Car, it looks like Emperor Naruhito—the man set to take Akihito’s place—will be rolling up to his coronation in style.

A one-off Toyota Century convertible will be used to take Naruhito along the parade route and to the location of the ceremony. His predecessor, Emperor Akihito, showed up to his coronation in a drop-top Rolls Royce Corniche II that was both shorter and narrower than this Century. The Emperor’s new custom Century convertible is almost identical to the fixed-roof car (yes, it still has four doors), with a few dimensional and interior differences. The roofless Century is 5mm shorter than the car on which it’s based (now that’s attention to detail), and the rear seats are fixed as opposed to the reclining units found in the standard century.

The Century is also emblazoned with a gold imperial seal rather than a license plate, and for the ceremony the Emperor’s flag will be displayed on the hood of the car. According to the office of the Japanese Emperor, when the ceremony ends the car will be managed by the Cabinet Office and occasionally exhibited at the guesthouses in Tokyo and Kyoto as part of the celebration.

Click through the gallery below to see Toyota Century luxury sedans new and old, and read our in-depth look at how the third-generation Century is built HERE.


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Categories: Property

These Retro Camper Trailers Are Just the Freaking Cutest

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 22:28

If retro camping in an Airstream appeals to you, you’re gonna love Barefoot Caravans. These super cool, egg-like pods hail from the U.K. and are expected to go on sale in the U.S. in 2020 through trailer and camper builder nuCamp RV. They’ve been available since 2015 and feature a fiberglass monocoque body on a steel chassis, and they include features such as a full bathroom with a shower, a kitchen, solid oak countertops, a fridge with freezer, and an audio system.

The windows feature screens to keep out pesky flies, and there’s also a ventilated roof light, a heating and hot water system, an onboard water tank, LED lighting, and U-shaped vinyl seating that converts into a six-by-six-foot bed. Overall, the campers measure roughly 93 inches tall, 76 inches wide, and 200 inches long.

The 13-inch wheels have retro dish hubcaps—including the spare—and standard colors are Pale Gray, Cotswold Cream, and Duck Egg Blue, although any hue can be specified for a fee. The kitchen units, seating, and even the window treatments are all customizable. No pricing has been announced for U.S. models at this time but the campers start at £25,500 in the U.K., or about $33,321 at today’s exchange rates. Our only question: How soon until we can take one on a trip?

Source: Barefoot Caravans

This story originally appeared on Automobile Magazine.


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Categories: Property

Rivian Electric Commercial Van Will Soon Deliver Your Amazon Packages

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 20:36

Tesla’s Semi may have picked up quite a few early customers, but EV startup Rivian has just secured a massive order from Amazon. The e-commerce giant has requested 100,000 units of the just-revealed Rivian electric delivery van, and it won’t be very long before we see them on the road.

Rivian’s electric commercial vans will begin delivering packages to customers in 2021, Amazon said in a statement. The company aims to have 10,000 copies of the vehicles on the road as early as 2022, and all 100,000 vans will arrive by 2030.

Amazon says this is the largest order of electric delivery vehicles to date. The order is part of Amazon’s plan to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. When all 100,000 Rivian electric vans are on the road, Amazon says it will net savings of 4 million metric tons of carbon per year.

The partnership between Amazon and Rivian has been moving quickly. It was just this February that Amazon announced it was the leading contributor in a $700 million round of investment in the EV startup. Amazon says it has injected $440 million into the budding company to accelerate the development of electric vehicles, but then another major player joined the game in April. Ford dropped $500 million into Rivian and said it would adopt Rivian’s flexible skateboard platform for a new electric vehicle.

In 2018, Rivian showed off its own all-electric pickup truck and SUV. These are slated to enter production in late 2020.

Source: Amazon

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Categories: Property

Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse Video: Touring Miami in a Crazy-Fast Convertible

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 18:18

Jonny Lieberman cruises Miami—one of the world’s premier supercar cities—in one of the world’s premier supercars. That would be the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.

With its 8.0-liter quad-turbo W-16 engine making an awesome 1,200 hp and 1,100 lb-ft of torque, the 2015 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse takes top-down cruising to another level. Its top speed of 233 mph makes the Bugatti Veyron one of the fastest vehicles ever produced even four years after production ended. Its standard all-wheel-drive system also means it’s able to put its power down efficiently, allowing it to accelerate to 60 mph in well under 3.0 seconds.

The arrival of the Bugatti Chiron, however, means that you can no longer buy a Bugatti convertible that does 233 mph. That’s because the Veyron’s successor doesn’t have a drop-top variant planned. In total, just 450 examples of the Bugatti Veyron were built over its 10-year run, with only 92 being Grand Sport Vitesse models, making it a rare vehicle even by supercar standards.

At the end of the Veyron’s production run, Bugatti turned the very last example into a one-off special edition called the Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse La Finale. It features a two-tone black and red exterior that pays homage to the very first Veyron built. The Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse La Finale also sports exposed carbon fiber, red and cream two-tone upholstery, and a bronze-casted emblem on the interior storage compartment featuring Bugatti’s famed elephant logo.

Check out the video above to watch our own Jonny Lieberman behind the wheel of a 2015 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse on the streets of Miami! Also check out the gallery for photos of the Bugatti Veyron.

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Categories: Property

2020 Ford Escape Hybrid Review: Why It’s the Best Way to Escape

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 11:00

Quicker isn’t always better: With the new 2020 Ford Escape, one of the slower trims is also one of its best. Don’t get too excited, though, as the 2020 Escape Hybrid comes with a couple big asterisks—for now. With the tall C-Max hatch gone, the 2020 Escape Hybrid has a special surprise for compact crossover customers craving something a little different. As the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid’s only direct competitor until the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid arrives, we tested the 2020 Ford Escape Hybrid to see how it measures up.

The Escape’s surprise is the new plug-in hybrid, an intriguing model that promises an EV range of at least 30 miles before the four-cylinder engine kicks in to help. In the real world, this means folks with shorter commutes can drive to and from work without ever using a drop of gas. Cool. It’s promising tech we look forward to testing; the already-available Mitsubishi Outlander has a 22-mile EV range. The less expensive non-plug-in Escape hybrid starts below $30,000 in the 2020 SE Sport trim and makes the fancy-pants Titanium trim available if the 245-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four doesn’t capture your heart (and money).

Read our non-hybrid 2020 Ford Escape First Test review HERE.

The 2020 Escape Hybrid’s as-tested acceleration to 60 mph falls nearly two full seconds behind that turbocharged 2.0-liter model, at 8.7 seconds to 6.9 seconds. But the hybrid might still be the better choice between them, as the 2.0T’s swiftness and overall value pales in comparison to the Mazda CX-5 Signature, which also boasts a boosted engine under the hood. With the Ford hybrid, our AWD 2020 Escape tester fell behind a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid by just over a second (the Toyota hit 60 in 7.5 seconds). The average hybrid buyer may not have quite as much of a lead foot as Escape 2.0T buyers, though, so we suspect that won’t be a huge factor.

Fuel economy is a big deal, but as this is written, we don’t have official EPA-rated numbers. What we can tell you is that the 2020 Escape Hybrid will battle the RAV4 Hybrid, whose 2019 model is rated at 41/38 mpg city/highway in its single AWD configuration. Unlike Toyota, Ford offers its compact SUV hybrid with FWD and AWD; the plug-in model is FWD only.

As for the Escape hybrid, we credit Ford for brakes that feel like conventional non-hybrid brakes nearly to the end of travel, at which point they bite harder than drivers new to hybrids may expect. On the track, the hybrid stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet, better than the 2.0T (123 feet) or 1.5T (128 feet). The hybridized Escape also loses a little of that light, tossable feeling we appreciate on the 1.5T and 2.0T models; otherwise, it drives well. Just drive it comfortably to keep from experiencing some unrefined behavior if you shift aggressively from braking to acceleration (like making an incomplete stop before quickly darting off).

On MotorTrend’s figure-eight course, which evaluates acceleration, braking, cornering, and the transitions between them, the Escape Hybrid finished in 28.3 seconds at 0.60 g (average), almost the same as an FWD Escape 1.5T (28.2 seconds at 0.62 g, average) but not as good as the AWD Escape 2.0T (27.7 seconds at 0.64 g, average).

The hybrid feels responsive overall, but no drivetrain behavior or slick 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster can distract from the general cheapness that pervades the interior. Our 2020 Ford Escapes were pre-production prototypes, so it’s possible some of these issues may be improved in time. Even so, the SUVs we drove disappointed MotorTrend editors who expect more from vehicles in this segment. Where the 2020 Escape Hybrid performs respectably is with perceived interior spaciousness for four.

Escape-ing does mean a slight sacrifice in terms of cargo carrying capacity, however. The RAV4 Hybrid can hold 37.0–37.6 cubic feet of your stuff with the rear seats in place, compared with the 30.7–34.4 cubic feet of the 2020 Escape hybrid and plug-in hybrid (the space is the same in both models; the variation comes from how far forward the rear seats are moved). And we’ll answer your next question: Escape hybrids have 2.8–3.1 cubic feet less space than non-hybrid models.

Not a strong showing if you’re comparing the Escape hybrid back to back with the RAV4 hybrid, but then again, you may not be. The new Ford is as far removed from the boxy first-gen model as you can get, with a soft and suburban appeal that’s also a world apart from the more rugged-looking RAV4. That RAV4 is quicker and has more space for your stuff, but whether it or the upcoming CR-V Hybrid are also more efficient is a question we’d love to answer. Until EPA numbers on the Escape hybrid arrive, we can tentatively recommend the new Ford. If its shortcomings don’t bother you, the Escape’s styling and hybrid powertrain may just make it the best pick of the new SUV’s expansive lineup.

2020 Ford Escape SE Hybrid AWD BASE PRICE $30,850 PRICE AS TESTED $34,840 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 2.5L/168-hp/170-lb-ft Atkinson cycle DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus elec motor; 198 hp comb TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,773 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 106.7 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 180.5 x 74.1 x 66.1 in 0-60 MPH 8.7 sec QUARTER MILE 16.7 sec @ 84.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.3 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON Not yet tested ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY Not yet tested CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB Not yet tested

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Categories: Property

Swan Song: The Porsche 911 GT3 Celebrates 20 Years – Reference Mark

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 09:00

Typically, when a vehicle comes to the end of its five- to seven-year production cycle, folks are relieved to see it go. With dated styling and obsolete technology, it is almost archaic in its form and function. There’s rarely celebration for the last car off the line.

That counts double for most sports cars, whose actual lifespan typically lasts a mere 18 months before competitors shave its lap time record and designers create something even more outlandish upon which well-heeled buyers may feast their eyes.

Not so with the Porsche 911, generation 991.2.

Yes, we’ve been graced with the new 992-era Carrera S (with an estimated as-tested price of $143,350), and it is indeed awesome. We dynoed it at 487 hp and 478 lb-ft at the crank. Tractable, endlessly powerful, almost graceful in its assured movements, the 992 responds precisely to your every input. And it will do so forever and always.

Which means the few remaining 991.2 versions are weak sauce by comparison, right? Wrong.

As part of Monterey Car Week festivities, Porsche had our group of journalists drive up from L.A. in a trio of outgoing 991.2 GT3 editions—the standard GT3, the Touring model, and the ferocious GT3 RS. If someone were going to make a bunch of noise while being thrown out of the clubhouse, the GT3 does just that.

For those unfamiliar, the GT3 label essentially means Porsche converted a 911 into a street-legal race car, complete with the vestigial back seat ripped out.

All GT3 doors close with the requisite, confident “chunk.” Firing up the 4.0-liter naturally aspirated engine brings a snarl of God’s Own Sawzall delivering 500 horsepower (520 for the RS) and a ludicrous 9,000-rpm redline.

On offer in the base GT3 and Touring models is a six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw gearshift carrying the confidence of a bolt-action rifle, not to mention rev-matching downshifts and an almost unstallable clutch. However, the GT3 also offers the magnificent PDK that will make you forswear manuals forever.

The steering is scalpel-precise. You don’t wrestle the GT3, you caress it, and in turn the GT3 caresses the road. If you need to get darty, it can be darty. The Touring model lacks the standard GT3’s carbon-ceramic brakes, but its steel binders still pack enough stopping force to avoid a flock of wild turkey chicks unexpectedly crossing the road.

Yes, your dampers may bark against the bump stops as the ground sharply undulates beneath you, and the tires may skitter across bad pavement, but the GT3 delivers the undefinable feeling that this 911 will not be defeated under any circumstance. It is an indomitable creation.

At $164,020 as tested for the base model and $168,840 for a well-equipped Touring edition, this mystical, magical beast is a life-changing experience.

See images from 20 years of the Porsche 911 GT3 in the gallery below.

Now, let’s talk GT3 RS, which is a reality-changing experience. Despite its track intentions, it will likely be purchased by hedge fund poseur bros who can afford its as-tested $204,980 price and take residence nowhere near such speedways, which is a shame.

The RS is skatey in your hands. Its track breeding brings immediate brake bite, but there’s no sharp dive in the nose; it merely decelerates the car firmly. Some might sneer at its race-ready PDK, but it’s faultless aside from its desire to chuff-chuff-chuff in slow-and-go traffic.

At speed, the RS feels like it’s constantly clutching, grabbing, chewing at the asphalt. Guttural and savage, this is 4.0 liters of naturally aspirated defiance against the imminent hegemony of the turbocharger. It is an angry beast, one that’s not meant to be kept in the cage of the city.

Which would I choose, one of the “old” 911 GT3 series or a gleaming-new 911 Carrera S? Although I like being at the head of the line, the GT3 is also the ultimate refinement of the species. It is a true shopper’s dilemma. Pick ’em.

More by Mark Rechtin:

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Categories: Property

Top 10 Affordable Sports Cars Under $40,000

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 09:00

With the definition of a sports car now including everything from convertibles and coupes to more practical sedans and hatchbacks, there are more vehicles to choose from than ever. Even if you’re on a budget, you can satisfy your speed fix with an exciting vehicle that’ll provide thrills at every corner. Here are 10 affordable sports cars under $40,000.

And if you’re specifically looking for sedans, check this out: 11 Sporty Sedans Under $40,000

2019 Honda Civic Type R – $37,230


When it first arrived, the Honda Civic Type R shook the performance world and immediately became the benchmark among hot hatches. Even today, it’s still under $40,000 (if you can find a dealer to sell at MSRP), and its level of performance makes it a bona fide giant killer. If you can get over its anime-inspired looks complete with a massive wing on the back, you’ll be happy.

2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI – $28,490

The Volkswagen Golf GTI helped create the hot hatch segment, and it remains one of the most well-rounded performance cars available. Fully equipped, the 2020 Volkswagen Golf GTI checks in under $40,000, but our pick is the midlevel SE. That way you’re just over $30,000.

2020 Subaru WRX – $28,395

All-wheel drive usually means a premium when it comes to performance cars, but the 2020 Subaru WRX bucks that trend. Starting at $28,395, the Subaru WRX is one of the most affordable sports cars you can buy with all-wheel drive standard, and it comes with punchy 268-hp 2.0-liter turbo flat-four.

2020 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ – $27,940 (Toyota 86); $29,745 (Subaru BRZ)

We’re bending the rules by counting these twins as one. With their high-revving engines, slick manual transmissions, playful chassis, and rear-drive configurations, the Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ emphasize driver enjoyment over numbers. They’re both super affordable sports cars, too. Even in their most expensive form or when (blasphemously) equipped with the optional six-speed automatic transmission, you won’t pay over $35,000, making them solid bargains for the performance you get.

2020 Ford Mustang – $27,765

A longtime favorite, the Ford Mustang gives you muscle car looks and sports car performance without breaking the bank. A base EcoBoost Fastback starts under $30,000, and if you’re careful with how you option it, you can get all the go-fast goodies and it’ll still be one of the most affordable sports cars you can buy.

2020 Fiat 124 Spider – $26,935

The Miata’s Italian cousin gives you a different flavor for your two-seat affordable sports car. With its turbocharged engine and an available snarky exhaust, the Fiat 124 Spider has more aural drama. Its suspension calibration also gives it a more planted feel and less body motion, which further distinguishes it from the Miata.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI – $26,890

Think of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI as a Golf GTI with a trunk, as it has the same powertrain and suspension setup. Even fully loaded in Autobahn guise, the Jetta GLI is one of the most affordable sports cars you can buy, especially if you need a practical one. Additionally, the GLI Autobahn is packed with many creature comforts such as heated and ventilated front seats to keep you comfortable during your commute or spirited drives on your favorite roads.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata – $26,650

Quite possibly the quintessential affordable roadster, the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata has been providing thrills for more than 30 years, making it an enthusiast darling. The base Sport trim of the soft top starts at $26,650, making it a solid bargain by sports car standards. Even if you go for the RF with its retractable hard top, the Miata still tops out under $40,000, making it one of the most affordable sports cars available.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro – $26,495

You don’t need to get a V-8 in order for your Chevrolet Camaro to be fun. A nicely equipped Turbo or V-6 Camaro 1LE with the standard six-speed manual are some of the best bargains among sports cars when carefully configured. Both the Camaro Turbo 1LE and V6 1LE are on the lighter end of the spectrum, ideal for drivers prioritizing handling over outright performance or brute force.

2020 Hyundai Veloster R-Spec and N – $24,070; $28,320 ($30,420 with Performance Package)

The second-generation Hyundai Veloster gave the quirky three-door hatch truly sporting credentials with its new independent suspension in all four corners and two spice levels: hot and hotter. If you’re after an all-around performer, the Veloster R-Spec gives you everyday usability and exciting road manners for under $25,000. Want more? Opt for the Veloster N with the Performance package, a scrappy little beast that costs around $30,000 and gives you track-ready capability.

Top 10 Affordable Sports Cars Under $40,000

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2020 Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary Review: Retro to the Bone

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 09:00

Sports cars tend to go the longest between redesigns because they sell in such low volumes that it takes forever to amortize the tooling and development costs. The venerable Nissan 370Z, for example, was new in 2009 and hasn’t seen much updating. If I’m honest, I was slightly surprised that Nissan still sells the car when this 2020 370Z 50th Anniversary special edition arrived in our weekly fleet.

As we noted during its New York Auto Show debut, the Nissan 370Z 50th Anniversary package is available on the Sport or NISMO trim levels, with a manual or automatic transmission, but it adds no performance. What it does add is $2,600 worth of graphics and retro-reminders that it’s been five decades since Mr. K (Yutaka Katayama), president of Nissan Motor Corporation U.S.A., first brought the Nissan Z-car to America. Believe us, the retro runs WAY more than skin deep. Here are eight positive and negative features of the 50th Anniversary car that struck us as perhaps unintentionally retro.

More on the Z: Read our 2017 Nissan 370Z Coupe review HERE.

Racy VQ V-6 Growl

Nissan’s venerable VQ V-6 engine has been in production since 1994, offered globally in displacements ranging from 2.0 liters to 4.0 liters (North America examples always displaced 3.0-4.0 liters). While these engines were state of the art in their youth, the larger displacement ones have felt a bit unrefined in “polite-car” sedan duty of late. But this one’s rough and racy nature and baritone wail totally befit the Z-car’s mission.

No Screens

It’s SO weird to find the center of any new-car dash NOT dominated by a screen delivering information in crystal-clear iPad resolution, controlled either by touch or some sort of remote twirl-and-push wheel or touchpad. There’s not even a screen in the instrument cluster displaying virtual gauges or trip-computer info. Instead the 2020 Nissan 370Z has a big bin located high on the center stack that seems sure to have been intended as a temporary placeholder for a soon-to-arrive center display screen, but none ever arrived. Instead, there are…

Orange-on-Black Dot Matrix Displays

You may think all such remaining displays have found their way to the Smithsonian’s Electronics of Yesteryear show, but this Compaq III computer technology is how the car communicates info such as average speed and fuel economy, instantaneous fuel economy, range, etc.

Mega-Lo-Res Digital Clock

Stepping down a notch in resolution from the trip-computer display is the clock’s square-dot-matrix “screen.” At least it gets its own prominent location under a dedicated visor, front and center on the top of the dash.

Clock Radio Odometer Readout

The seven-segment LED technology employed in the main and trip odometer looks ripped directly from an old clock radio. We can cut Nissan some slack here, though, as they’re not alone in clinging to this elderly LED technology for tiny odometer displays.

A Glorious Stick Shift


Now that practically every vehicle from econoboxes to supercars has abandoned the third pedal, it’s getting to be a rare treat to row your own. The 2020 370Z heightens that treat, providing a good-old-days mechanical shifter feel, the likes of which you can only get when the stick is stirring gears that are directly below it in a front-engine, rear-drive car. S-Mode rev-matching is a feature added in the twilight of the manual transmission’s life, but it’s one I enjoy and always switch on so pedestrians can marvel at what appears to be my heel-and-toe downshifting mastery.

LED Fuel/Temperature Gauges

Who needs needles—real or virtual—when you can simply light up one of 16 LED light bulbs to indicate temperature, or turn LEDs off sequentially on a gas gauge as the fuel level drops. Very old school…

Key Cozy

Wow, cool—it has push-button start! But what’s this down by my left knee, a place to stow the key? Not exactly, but back when this car was new there was a lot of concern about dead batteries in key fobs. So this is an “Intelligent Key System” slot, which allows you to start the car if the fob’s battery runs down. It does NOT recharge the fob battery, however. (These days most fob batteries seem to last two-plus years anyway.)

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2019 Tesla Model 3 Earns Top Safety Pick+ Rating From IIHS

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 05:01

As we wait for the Tesla Model S to record a Nürburgring lap time, there’s news about the smaller Model 3. The 2019 Tesla Model 3 has been named a Top Safety Pick+, IIHS announced today. This is Tesla’s first safety award from the agency.

The Tesla Model 3 earned “Good” safety ratings in all crash test categories. It also earned top marks in the difficult headlight evaluation, as well as a “Superior” rating in front crash prevention. With its standard front crash prevention system, the Model 3 avoided crashes in the 12-mph and 25-mph tests.

The Model 3 joins the Audi e-tron as the second battery-electric vehicle to enter the IIHS winner’s circle. Hyundai’s Nexo fuel cell vehicle also earned the top award. IIHS didn’t release a full set of scores for the 2018 Model 3, only rating the headlights and front crash prevention system. The agency hasn’t listed ratings for the 2019 Model S, but the 2017 version it tested didn’t receive the award.

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Model 3 a five-star safety rating. Tesla has claimed the Model 3 has the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA, based on data from the agency. NHTSA apparently disagrees with that assessment, however. It said Tesla was making “misleading statements,” and it even sent the automaker a cease-and-desist letter over the claims.

Source: IIHS, Reuters

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2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Test Drive Video: Revisiting the 612-HP Widowmaker

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 00:42

We’ve already established that the modern 991-generation Porsche 911 GT2 RS is an absolute monster. It’s only one hundredth of a second slower than the fastest car ever to lap our figure-eight (the $986,000 McLaren Senna) and it’s captured more than a few lap records at racetracks around the country.

But let’s not forget, the generation before the 991, model code 997, had an ass-kicking twin-turbocharged animal of its own. The 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS, appropriately nicknamed the “Widowmaker,” makes 612 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo flat-six, and the RS model weighs 154 pounds less than a standard GT2.

But what really separates the last-gen GT2 RS from its successor is its transmission. Porsche offers only the fabulous PDK dual-clutch in the modern GT2 RS but the 997 version was available exclusively with a six-speed manual. That’s right; you could buy a rear-drive Porsche with over 600 horsepower that had three pedals and a stick between the seats.

Sure, the manual doesn’t shift as quickly as Porsche’s dual-clutch and no, it’s not as fast or as powerful as the new one, but come on! There’s a good chance we will never drive a manual transmission 911 this powerful again. Plus, the 997 still exhibited all of those old-school Porsche driving characteristics (light steering, trail-braking corner-entry oversteer, all the good stuff) that makes older 911s so unique to drive.

The 997 GT2 RS is an incredibly special car and the market seems to have taken notice. Choice examples are trading for around $600,000 right now—more than double what they sold for when new—and that price just might be worth it.

Check out the video above to watch our own Jonny Lieberman behind the wheel of a 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS on the streets of Miami! Also check out the gallery for photos of the 991-generation Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

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