By on October 17, 2017

Polestar 1, Image: Polestar

There’s something missing from the efficiently named Polestar 1, the first production vehicle unveiled by the world’s newest car brand: a Volvo badge.

Anyone who’s ever seen Volvo’s 2013 Concept Coupe will surely recognize the similarities between the two vehicles, but the slinky personal luxury coupe seen here is the one you’ll actually see plying a roadway near you, if you’re so lucky. Polestar, once a performance arm of Volvo Cars but now its own standalone subsidiary, plans a range of high-end electrified performance vehicles, of which the Polestar 1 is merely the first.

Packing a 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid powertrain and a body to die for, the 2+2 grand tourer makes great use of its sister division’s architecture, all paid for by corporate overlord Geely. The obvious similarities to the Volvo S90 isn’t an accident, as a bespoke version of that model’s platform lurks beneath its curvaceous flanks. However, that isn’t to say the Polestar 1 is just a Volvo in disguise. (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2017

Concept EQ, Exterieur Concept EQ, exterior

Everyone’s doing it. It’s as popular as the fidget spinner and Pokémon Go crazes all those years months ago. In a rush to signal their environmental bonafides and display their dedication to the Next Big Thing, luxury automakers are tripping over themselves in an effort to promise an all-electrified model lineup as soon as technology and finances allow.

This time, it’s Mercedes-Benz. The world’s oldest car brand doesn’t want its rivals cashing in once governments around the globe start turning off the fossil fuel taps. So, earlier this week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped up and made a promise we’ve heard ad nauseum as of late: every model in the brand’s lineup will soon sport some form of electric propulsion, be it a hybrid setup or full-on battery electric powertrain.

For Mercedes-Benz, this means 50 hybrid or EV models, including at its irrelevant-to-Americans Smart brand. The move isn’t without a steep cost, however — Daimler is bracing for a slashing of vehicle profit margins. In some cases, the green collected from green cars could be half that of a gasoline Benz. What to do? (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

A week after the unveiling of the second-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf, we know for sure that value, value, value! is the upgraded model’s strongest selling point.

No longer offering a paltry 107 miles of range, the new Leaf sports a just-good-enough 150 miles of driving distance, or so Nissan believes. Of course, knowing that Chevrolet’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3 offer significantly better range, the Leaf’s priced to sell. For $29,990 plus delivery, and minus a $7,500 tax credit, Nissan figures the base S model is enough to tempt cost-conscious EV buyers who don’t want it all.

But there’s a longer-ranged Leaf in the works. For 2019, buyers can opt for a stepped-up 60 kWh battery, but just how far a so-equipped Leaf can drive on a single charge differs depending on the Nissan exec doing the talking. (Read More…)

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona - Image: Hyundai

Getting a new or redesigned model off the drawing board and into showrooms isn’t like designing and posting a meme on Facebook. It’s time consuming, and automakers run the risk of being left behind as rivals cash in on the latest hot bodystyle or styling trend.

Hyundai knows this, having underestimated the buying public’s affection for anything with a high ride height and rear liftgate. The Korean automaker made a bundle on its well-fleshed-out car lineup following the recession, but the seismic shift towards SUVs and crossovers left it scrambling to bolster its three-vehicle utility lineup. The result? Stagnant sales.

This won’t happen under a new plan, the company’s senior vice president of design claims. Hyundai’s hitting the product throttle. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Screenshots of preliminary information added to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer network computer system suggest the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, due for a late-November reveal, breaks with tradition in more than a few ways. The largest break involves how the 2018 Wrangler puts its power down to all four wheels.

The dealer system images, shared by JL Wrangler Forums, show the Wrangler adopting a Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, among other drivetrain details. Is this a goodbye to the manly transfer case lever? (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf, Image: TV2.no

The 2018 Nissan Leaf was ready for its close-up, but didn’t count on a Norwegian tourist peering through a hotel window.

Photos have emerged of a completely uncamouflaged next-generation Leaf spotted in Barcelona, Spain, apparently while in the midst of filming a commercial. The photos, sent to Norway’s TV2 television channel (Norway does love its EVs…), show the unclothed Leaf wearing a far more appealing body than that of its predecessor.

Still sporting a hatchback bodystyle, the 2018 Leaf boasts a number of advancements Nissan has slowly and carefully dripped to the media over the past few months. Head office won’t be happy to see these pics. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: Chevrolet

When you think about it, it all adds up. There was no way the powertrain of the Chevrolet Bolt, America’s first reasonably priced long-range electric vehicle, was ever going to remain solely the domain of one vehicle. General Motor’s CEO, Mary Barra, alluded to as much following the Bolt’s introduction.

While the 238-mile Bolt is already sold in Europe as the Opel Ampera-e, and in China as the Buick Velite 5, those vehicles don’t amount to much more than simple badge swaps. However, a new report claims U.S. buyers could see a Buick crossover based on the Bolt, and soon. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

2017-ford-fiesta-hatchback

After months of speculation as to the fate of the Ford Fiesta in North America, as well as months of hazy non-answers from communications staff, Ford Motor Company’s B-segment program manager, Robert Stiller, has stated that the subcompact car segment in Dearborn is dead.

No more Ford Fiesta.

After going on sale in the U.S. in mid-2010 as a 2011 model, the Fiesta’s American seems destined to end this year. Buyers in Europe and overseas — always a reliable draw for itty-bitty cars — are guaranteed a seventh-generation model. Oh boy, do they ever receive a new model. The 2018 Fiesta bows not just as a three- or five-door hatch, but also in luxurious Vignale and soft-roading Active trims.

Over here? Hug your 1.0-liter EcoBoosts tightly and shed a tear, Fiesta fans. The little guy appears doomed for the chopping block. Can Ford interest you in a subcompact crossover? (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

2018 Volvo XC60, Image: Volvo Cars

Not only is Volvo updating its aged XC60 crossover for the 2018 model year, it’s also turning up the heat. The handsome next-generation model will gain a Polestar-tuned T8 variant, Volvo’s performance arm has announced, meaning XC60 buyers will have a fourth output choice to select from this fall.

As you’ll recall, Polestar isn’t just a specialty house tasked with tuning Volvo products anymore. The Swedish automaker recently spun off Polestar into its own brand, with the tuning division rebranded as Polestar Engineered. It’s the latter entity that’s tasked with massaging 421 horsepower out of the top-flight hybrid version of the XC60.

However, now that Polestar is in the business of building its own standalone models, crossovers and sedans just won’t cut it. For its first Polestar-badged model, the new automaker wants a big, fast coupe. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

2018 Kia Stonic, Image: Kia

After Hyundai dropped the curtain on its B-segment Kona crossover last week, corporate cousin Kia wasn’t far behind, pulling the wraps off its own new subcompact crossover earlier today.

The Stonic, which will go on sale in Europe in the third quarter of this year, rides atop the same platform as the Kona, but arguably wears it better. Sporting a more cohesive design, a sharp, contemporary face, and headlights in all the right places, the Stonic aims to gra Kia a slice of the growing subcompact utility vehicle market. In Europe, the segment is expected to grow to more than 10 percent of all new sales in just a few years.

That’s money Kia wants to take home to Korea. It’s not just overtaxed European buyers on Kia’s hit list, either; automakers are hurriedly adding missing CUVs to their North American lineups to boost sales and market share. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2017

2018 Lincoln Navigator, Image: Ford Motor Company

Large. Imposing. Square-rigged. Bold. All apt descriptions of the totally redesigned 2018 Lincoln Navigator. After withering on the vine for years as it weathered refresh after refresh, Lincoln’s full-size SUV flagship was finally given the architecture and hardware it needs to battle its chief rival, Cadillac.

However, as impressive a redesign as it was, the new Navigator (unlike its predecessor) lacked one thing compared to Cadillac’s Escalade: a choice of body lengths and the ability to haul more cargo. Not anymore, it seems.

Earlier today, brand executives revealed the 2018 Navigator will appear in showrooms this fall with two body lengths. Yes, you can have your new Navigator and stretch it, too. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

You’re not likely to find another car sporting over 300 horsepower and a price below $35,000 with the same kind of visual impact as the Honda Civic Type R. Call it over the top, call it arresting, or call it exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Honda designers and engineers know what buyers they want to reach — as many as possible. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have decided to spice up its every-popular Civic with warm (Si) and hot (Type R) variants. With both models, deciding on power and price meant walking a fine line. Honda wants the Civic to be a big tent model. Nothing too exclusive, thank you very much.

Regular Civics for the masses, a 205 hp offering for the lively commute type, and a 306 hp hatch festooned with go-fast add-ons for the wannabe (or legitimate) racers. Seems like a pretty good range, right? Nope, there’s still white space in need of filling, says the Civic’s head engineer. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona, Image: Hyundai-blog.com

The 2018 Hyundai Kona, which American subcompact crossover aficionados will be able to drool over in person in early 2018, will see its first spotlights during a Korean launch event tomorrow. However, much like private celebrity photographs, the Kona has bared all on the internet a day before the big reveal.

Hyundai hasn’t provided much in the way of specifications, though it has teased us with ever-revealing photos of its new global model for some time. For the automaker, a B-segment crossover isn’t timely — it’s overdue. Utility vehicles are the company’s top focus as the market moves away from the vehicles that sent Hyundai sales surging in the post-recession era.

So, what do you think? (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2017

Mitsubishi Lancer GT, Image: Mitsubishi Motors

If you were to walk into a Mitsubishi showroom in the United States today, you’d be treated to two passenger cars, two utility vehicles and promises of more utility vehicles to come. Why, the 2018 Eclipse Cross is on the way! You know, the compact crossover named after a entry-level sports car?

If you’re looking for a Mitsubishi-branded car with more than three cylinders that won’t be extinct in a few months, you’re out of luck. In fact, if you’re hoping for any word on whether the brand will ever bring a new car to North America, you’ll have to wait until this fall, around the same time the long-in-the-tooth Lancer bows out of the U.S. market. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA, Image: Subaru of America

It’s a lot of letters, but not a lot of extra horsepower. That’s the synopsis of two limited edition performance models revealed by Subaru today.

We already knew both were on the way, and indeed the models seem well equipped to trounce the handling dynamics of their regular-production stablemates. The appearance, too. Festooned with every measure available to enhance downforce, braking, body stability, and traction, the 2018 WRX STI Type RA (“Record Attempt”) and BRZ tS are instant collector’s items for Subaru superfans.

Is there more power to be had? Are both the revamped WRX and BRZ faster than their corporate siblings? Short answer: yes, and…maybe? (Read More…)

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