By on July 20, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf [Image: Nissan]

What’s an e-Pedal? No, it’s not some dorky electric bicycle built by Ford, though that scenario doesn’t sound far fetched.

As the steady decline of manual transmission availability brings the three-pedal lifestyle ever-closer to oblivion, the e-Pedal is Nissan’s way of sending the two-pedal setup a step closer to obsolescence. Will cars in the heady, electrically powered future contain just one pedal? Maybe. Maybe not. But starting late this year, one Nissan model will allow drivers the choice of accelerating and braking with just one pedal. (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2017

Mercedes-Benz X-Class Studio - Image: Mercedes-BenzWe don’t know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what Mercedes-Benz USA has planned for the brand’s new pickup truck, the X-Class.

Importing the Nissan Navara-based Benz pickup seems doubtful. The Chicken Tax, a 25-percent tariff on imported light trucks, would bring a $43,000 X-Class’s price up to $54,000. Moreover, premium  brand pickup trucks — Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT; Cadillac Escalade EXT — have faltered in the past. The X-Class is also set to be almost entirely dependent on diesel engines, and Mercedes-Benz would almost invariably need a gas powerplant to function in North America, both from cost and emissions standpoints. Plus, Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class would be competing for a slice of a slice of America’s pickup truck pie. America’s pickup truck sector is huge, but 84 percent of it is devoted to full-size, not midsize, pickup trucks.

However, if — and it’s a big if — Mercedes-Benz either determines that importing the X-Class to the United States is viable or decides to build the X-Class in the NAFTA zone, the words of Volker Mornhinweg, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ executive vice president, might just come back to haunt the three-pointed star. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI - Image: Volkswagen

As Volkswagen progresses toward electrification and bolsters is court-mandated greener image, concerns arose that enthusiasts might be left to fend for themselves.

Those fears appear to have been entirely unnecessary. With Ford upping the ante with its hot-hatch Focus variants and newcomers like Hyundai’s attractive i30 N planning to enter the market with a minimum of 246 horsepower, VW knew it had to bring more to the table with its Golf. News from Germany indicates Volkswagen’s world-famous hatchback will lose some weight for its eighth generation and gain beefed-up powertrains. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2017

Original Ferrari Factory Entrance - Image: FerrariCAR Magazine’s automotive insider, Georg Kasher, has confirmed Ferrari’s first utility vehicle will be unveiled in 2021. Codenamed F16X, the Ferrari SUV/crossover/high-sided vehicle will be a partner vehicle of the GTC4Lusso successor, itself a direct descendant of the Ferrari FF, Ferrari’s first all-wheel-drive vehicle.

Ah, it’s all coming together now. The FF was a trojan horse.

If the 2021 Ferrari F16X comes to fruition, it will be over the proverbial dead bodies of all those Ferrari executives who have denied the possibility of a Ferrari SUV. “We will not play with SUVs,” current CEO Sergio Marchionne said earlier this year in Geneva. “It’s not that we’re not planning an SUV for now — we’re not planning one at all,” former CEO Amadeo Felisa said in Frankfurt in 2015.

But a Ferrari SUV has nevertheless been long rumored, and the rumors were stoked when marketing chief Nicola Boari discussed at length earlier this year the way in which a Ferrari SUV would need to create a new segment.

Indeed, according to CAR, Ferrari’s first foray into the utility vehicle arena will be different: aluminum architecture, suicide doors sans B-pillars, a likely hybrid powertrain, and a price tag of roughly $350,000. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

mercedes-gas-i6

While we knew Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand had plans to dabble in electrification for upcoming performance models, details of what that could mean for the sub-brand’s products remained pretty thin on the ground.

Daimler R&D head Ola Källenius explained back in January that future AMG-badged vehicles will gradually become “more and more electric.” Never mind the limited-production Project One hypercar that’s in the works — that model is just a plaything for the Dubai set. Well, now we know exactly what AMG has planned for the new rung in its model range, and it indeed makes use of charged particles to lend some extra grunt to the overall package.

It also brings a very sweet inline-six to the table. Baby steps, people. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

Mag-X Lexus RX Three-Row Tokyo - Image: Mag-X via AutoguideThe Lexus RX is, by a massive margin, America’s top-selling luxury utility vehicle.

Through the first five months of 2017, Lexus had already sold 38,329 copies of the RX350 and RX450h in the United States. Most competing luxury crossovers won’t produce that many sales in all of 2017.

But Lexus wants more, and with car sales plunging — Lexus car sales are down 29 percent so far this year — there’s no better means of adding volume than by expanding the utility vehicle division. Lexus has already introduced the NX to sit below the RX, and it’s a verifiable hit. But the GX and LX at the top of the Lexus SUV/CUV heap add only incremental volume.

Thus, Lexus is readying a three-row version of the Lexus RX, a natural fit given the RX’s connections to the three-row Toyota Highlander. This much we knew.

Now, based on reports from Japan’s Mag-X, we also know the seven-seat Lexus RX will debut at the Tokyo in late October 2017. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

2017 Audi RS3 sedan red - Image: AudiWhether A3 and Q5 and Allroad drivers in 2017 know it or not, much of Audi’s modern reputation is built upon a foundation cemented by the Audi Quattro rally car in the 1980s.

In the capable hands of drivers such as Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, and Walter Röhrl, Audi brought dominant traction to the World Rally Championship and eventually found traction in the marketplace as well.

Fast forward to 2017 and Audi consistently reports meaningful growth in the North American market. Audi sales in the United States have grown in seven consecutive years, more than doubling since 2010. And while U.S. auto sales are dipping in the first half of 2017 — including declines at the only three premium brands that outsell Audi — the Audi brand is up 7 percent, year-over-year.

Audi’s methodology has been well and truly copied by many of its rivals. Quattro isn’t the only all-wheel-drive brand in town. Badges for 4Matic and xDrive are common on the trunklids of many a Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

How then can Audi stand out from the pack? With its high-performance models, the RS variants, Audi may well drop Quattro all-wheel drive on some models in a bid for rear-wheel-drive performance supremacy. (Read More…)

By on June 22, 2017

lynk-and-co-model-02

Geely may be pushing the Lynk & Co brand as the most connected and tech-savvy in existence but its senior vice president Alain Visser believes its sales strategy should remain simple. With cars supposedly rolling out in Europe and North America for 2019, Lynk & Co is only planning to offer an extremely limited number of trim choices that rotate seasonally. It’s a fine strategy for an unknown element breaking into the marketplace but it does omit the ability to rake in the additional dough via optional extras. However, it also permits for lower production costs and a flat rate Lynk & Co claims buyers won’t need to bother negotiating.

How convenient for everyone.  (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

VW Microbus I.D. Buzz Concept

After countless false starts and endless teasing, Volkswagen seems prepared to deliver on a modern-day microbus. While VW’s T platform is still in existence, the Type 2 that we all know and love died in the late 1970s — though society since developed a deep-seated nostalgia as we collectively forgot how disgusting and impractical real-world hippie culture actually was.

The world has asked for a throwback model for quite some time, something Volkswagen appeased with a 15-year stretch of concept cars, culminating in the 2017 I.D. Buzz revealed in Detroit in January. Then, earlier this year, gossip circulated indicating the Buzz might actually enter production, using the company’s MEB modular electric-vehicle architecture. But those were just rumors, right?

Apparently not. Volkswagen’s brand head, Herbert Diess, confirmed production for the electrified box last week using some definitive language.   (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

A Class Concept Mercedes, Image: Daimler AG

Get ’em young and get ’em poor upwardly mobile. That seems to be Mercedes-Benz’s rationale behind the upcoming A-Class sedan, which should arrive in the U.S. later next year.

According to dealers who spoke to Automotive News, the German automaker has confirmed the front-wheel drive model will indeed appear on these shores, slotted below brand’s current least-expensive car, the CLA. No longer a somewhat geeky, Euro-centric mini hatch, the global A-Class appears tailor-made to lure buyers away from other brands. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

2018 Lincoln MKC , Image: © 2017 Spiedbilde/The Truth About Carse

Lincoln’s littlest utility vehicle, the MKC, always risked being overshadowed by the larger offerings emanating from the resurgent luxury brand. That doesn’t mean it’s forgotten — either by the buying public or its builder.

The four-cylinder-only MKC went on sale in May 2014 as a 2015 model, heralding a new, decidedly non-Ford-like design direction for the brand’s utility vehicles. Sporting a toned-down version of the whale-like corporate split grille, the little utility was Lincoln’s first attempt to tap into the growing compact luxury CUV market. No longer was a Lincoln utility just a warmed-over Ford with a revised face and taillights.

Now that Lincoln’s moving away from the whale look, the 2018 MKC, judging by these spy photos, will follow the brand’s recent “Make like Continental!” design philosophy. (Read More…)

By on June 15, 2017

2017 Mazda CX-9 2.5 Turbo - Image: MazdaFull autonomy by 2020? An all-electric automotive portfolio by 2025? Not at Mazda, where deputy general manager for product, Kenichiro Saruwatari, says the internal combustion engine will be a part of Mazda’s lineup for at least another three decades.

“We need to have the internal combustion engine,” Saruwatri told Motoring. “Even beyond 2050 we will still utilise the combustion engine.”

But just because Mazda’s plans for the future aren’t limited to hybrids, EVs, and fuel cell vehicles doesn’t mean the engines under the hood of your 2050 Mazda CX-5 will resemble the engines of today. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors evidently hopes you like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon the way they are.

The midsize truck twins, which arrived in second-generation form nearly three years ago, won’t be replaced for another five years.  (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

2018 Next Generation Honda Accord Camo - Image: HondaThe 10th generation of Honda’s venerable Accord will debut for 2018 without a V6 engine option.

A few months later to the all-new midsize party than the next-generation 2018 Toyota Camry, the new Accord will not follow the Camry’s entrenched path of providing customers with a base four-cylinder and a V6 upgrade.

Instead, Honda will make do with the 1.5-liter turbocharged four already under the hood of the 10th-generation Civic and the fifth-generation Honda CR-V. As an upgrade, Honda will offer the 2.0-liter turbocharged unit from the 2018 Honda Civic Type R. In both cases, Honda has not yet revealed the power output. Honda will continue with an Accord Hybrid, as well.

But the V6 is a goner. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

2017 BMW SAV lineup - Image: BMW USALittle more than 18 months from now, BMW’s utility vehicle lineup will be dramatically altered, primed to absorb rising SUV demand in an increasingly anti-car market.

According to Australia’s Motoring, BMW will expand its entry-level utility vehicle lineup — BMW calls them SAVs — in early 2018 and the top end of the brand’s SAV lineup by late 2018.

The production BMW X2, due early next year, was previewed by the Concept X2 at 2016’s Paris auto show. BMW’s long-awaited Mercedes-Benz GLS challenger, the BMW X7, is a late-2018 arrival.

But the expansion of the BMW SAV lineup is only part of the story, as new versions of the SAVs currently sitting at the heart of BMW’s lineup will arrive in short order, as well. (Read More…)

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