Home

Feed aggregator

Motortrend News Feed: Weatherproofing Autonomy – Technologue

The Top Zones - 9 hours 56 min ago

Waymo, which recently launched its autonomous ride-hailing service in the Phoenix area, is betting big on traditional sensing technologies—including cameras, GPS, radar, and those super-expensive spinning lidar sensors on the roof.

These Waymo cars are essentially beta-testers, which means they are not fail safe. (Remember Uber?) If Waymo happens to have an accident and the fault is found to be with the sensor array, it’s a safe bet Waymo won’t be able to blame a blizzard or pea-soup fog.

An MIT spinoff startup called WaveSense hopes to hasten the arrival of autonomy in regions with, you know, weather, by providing an additional “leg” of the environmental perception stool that is utterly weatherproof: ground-penetrating radar (GPR). There are numerous applications for this technology in use today. Law enforcement locates buried booty or bodies with it, road commissions use it to assess road-bed fitness, it helps utilities locate pipes, and archaeologists rely on it to find the next King Tut’s tomb. Although most of these applications use a much lower-frequency radar than the forward-looking automotive kind—1–3 gigahertz (billion cycles per second) versus 77 GHz—WaveSense uses a frequency that’s way lower still—100–400 megahertz (million cycles per second).

The higher-frequency GPR provides super-high resolution but can’t measure as deep and suffers from “blur” at higher vehicle speeds. It’s also more susceptible to things like trash on a roadway, “thermal drift” as temperatures change, and the inevitable variation in the height of the sensor off the road that comes with vehicle pitch, roll, and payload variation. A 100–400-MHz system avoids these problems and can detect, record, and analyze underground features buried 6–10 feet deep. It also requires just 40 microwatts total, of which only 4 “leak” into the surrounding air. Higher-frequency GPR consume 1,000 times as much power. This radar senses differences in the electromagnetic properties of objects such as pipes, roots, and rocks in the surrounding dirt—all of which tend to be extremely stable over time.

As with camera- and lidar-based positional sensing, the road network must first be mapped by vehicles using essentially the same hardware, correlating GPR imagery with GPS location data. It takes a few passes to ensure the 5-foot-wide beam generates full coverage of a lane. The raw map data can be used for location-correlation, providing lateral/longitudinal accuracy within about an inch, and it works at highway speeds. Sensors that can “see” through 10 feet of dirt are unfazed by a layer of grunge on the lens, and at scale the sensor should cost $100 per vehicle. Another bonus: They mount underneath, so they don’t mar the vehicle’s styling.

WaveSense co-founder and CEO Tarik Bolat acknowledges the technology has some limitations. The radar does not work well in standing water, though deep snow is not a problem. The steel plates in bridges provide insufficient detail, so driving on them is GPR’s blinding “blizzard.” Happily, radar, lidar, and cameras should work fine on bridges, and autonomous cars won’t enter flooded areas. Frost heaves and large variations in moisture content can alter radar reflections of shallower features, but modern road engineering minimizes the risk of these factors, and deeper features typically remain stable over time. Another benefit: It’s difficult for malicious actors to alter or fake underground geography or to spoof radar reflections.

WaveSense is operating on $3 million of seed money and is working with several automakers, Tier 1 suppliers, and tech companies to bring GPR to production. The U.S. military has deployed the MIT-developed GPR technology on autonomous vehicles operating in certain areas in Afghanistan; now WaveSense is targeting early-adopter autonomous delivery and ride-hailing companies and plans to map the top 10 urban metroplexes and the major interstates connecting them—all of which limits exposure to potentially problematic environments like poorly drained or undeveloped roads. Pilot programs with certain partners will begin in the New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco metro areas, with vehicles testing in late 2019.

WaveSense had me at “$100/car” and “mounts underneath.”

Read more by Frank Markus here:

The post Weatherproofing Autonomy – Technologue appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Toyota Supra

The Top Zones - 16 hours 26 min ago

The 2020 Toyota Supra was finally revealed (officially) this week, returning the iconic nameplate to the lineup after an absence of more than 20 years. With such a big gap between this model and the last one, it goes without saying that expectations were high for the successor to the Mk IV, a car that has reached mythical status thanks to its prevalence in pop culture. The Mk V Toyota Supra was never going to please everyone, but will its design please most? Take a look below and decide for yourself.

The 2020 Toyota Supra was inspired by the FT-1 concept of 2014, so we’ve thrown images of that show car in the gallery for reference. And just for kicks, we’ve also included a few shots of the Mk IV Supra. Let’s start with the Supra’s front end. The FT-1 influence is clear, with the production car getting a similarly pointy front bumper inspired by the nosecone on an F1 car and wide-open intake vents in the lower valance. The light signature of the headlamps and LED daytime running lights is pretty close to that of the concept, and you could even argue that the cluster of three projectors is a nod to the MK IV.

From the side, the 2020 Supra looks sleek, but not as sleek as the FT-1. Considering the production car’s significantly shorter wheelbase, we applaud Toyota designers for capturing the general curviness of the FT-1’s profile. Even the double-bubble roof made it to production.

Much of the concept lives on in the Supra’s rear end. The Taillight shape is retained and the trunk lid gets a molded ducktail spoiler—though no active rear wing like the FT-1’s. The rear three quarter view might be the Supra’s best angle, as it highlights its shapely rear fenders.

The interior might be the most controversial aspect of the new Supra, as it’s very clearly BMW-derived. The switchgear, infotainment graphics, and shifter all scream BMW—because they are. Pretty much none of the FT-1’s futuristic, racing-inspired cabin design made it to production, though the center console does have a divider on the driver’s side that could be a vestigial element from the concept’s F1-like cockpit.

What do you think of the 2020 Toyota Supra’s design? Tell us in the comments on Facebook!

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Toyota Supra appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Altima-te AWD is the Latest Nissan to Get Snow Tracks

The Top Zones - 17 hours 39 min ago

Though Nissan’s obsession with tank treads grows tiring, the brand has proven you can put tracks on anything and make it cooler. Case in point: the Nissan Altima-te AWD project vehicle that just made its debut at the Montreal auto show.

The one-off is based on a 2019 Altima and ditches its wheels for a set of heavy-duty tracks. It also gets some cool-looking 7.0-inch fender flares all around to complete the Mad Max-meets-mega-snowmobile effect. Adding the wide-body fenders took about 150 hours of work, according to Nissan, and the Altima’s ride height was increased by 3.0 inches.

It joins a bevy of other tracked Nissans that include the Rogue Warrior and the Nissan 370Zki that made the rounds at a number of other car shows last year. Like the 370Zki, the Altima-te was modified by Motorsports in Action in Quebec. The outfit used a Dominator track system from American Track Truck measuring 30 inches tall, 15 inches wide, and 48 inches long, in case you want to similarly mod your Sentra or Versa.

If you find yourself in the Great White North, the Altima-te AWD will be on view at the Montreal show through January 27 before making tracks for the Toronto auto show the following month.

Source: Nissan

The post Altima-te AWD is the Latest Nissan to Get Snow Tracks appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra R Sells for a Record $132K at Barrett-Jackson

The Top Zones - 18 hours 44 min ago

As is usually the case at Barrett-Jackson auctions, this year’s Scottsdale sale is teeming with Mustangs. One of the most notable is this foxy red Cobra R coupe, which sold for $132,000, making it the most expensive Fox Body Mustang ever sold at auction.

This 1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R was the 11th of just 107 units made. It features a 5.0-liter V-8 engine paired to a five-speed manual transmission. The Cobra R variants were tuned to produce 235 hp, and were only offered to licensed racers. This one features various upgrades, including a revised camshaft and GT40 cylinder heads from Ford Racing.

The Mustang logged just over 500 miles on the odometer over the past quarter century. It has had two previous owners: a Ford dealer in Connecticut and Jerry’s Classic Mustangs in Alabama. The car has never been dealer-prepped, the listing says, and it has never seen water.

The final year of the Fox Body Mustang generation was 1993. Prior to that, the Fox Body Mustang had served as Ford’s performance flagship since 1979.

To underscore just how well this Mustang performed at auction, let’s take note of a few figures. The most expensive Fox Body Mustang auctioned off until now went for $82,500, and coincidentally it sold at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2017. That car was a 1990 Ford Mustang convertible with 16 original miles on the clock. The Cobra R’s rarity and condition—especially considering most other examples were probably raced—likely pushed it above the $100,000 threshold, but who knows? Maybe the Fox Body’s time has come. If you’ve got a low-mileage 5.0 or SVO, you might want to hang on to it just in case.

Barrett-Jackson ushers in a new year of high-octane auction action during its 48th Annual Scottsdale Auction, featuring some of the world’s most coveted collector vehicles and authentic automobilia collectibles, January 12-20, 2019, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. As in decades past, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions will be the epicenter of Collector Car Auction Week and entertain thousands of automotive enthusiasts with interactive exhibits, entertainment, and activities. Check your local TV listings to see it live on MotorTrend Network and download the app for exclusive, live coverage.

The post 1993 Ford Mustang Cobra R Sells for a Record $132K at Barrett-Jackson appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: The Cars the Government Shutdown Might Delay

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 23:27

As President Trump and Congress feud over the government shutdown, regulatory agencies that test and approve vehicles for sale in the U.S. remain closed. That could impact the launch dates for several much-anticipated vehicles slated for launch in the next several months.

This buzz-kill is in contrast to the public reaction to acres of shiny new vehicles unveiled at media days for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. What’s more, automakers are gearing up for next month’s Chicago show that bills itself as the largest consumer show in America.

Before a new (or significantly re-engineered) car can go on sale, it must be certified by the federal government. Under the Clean Air Act it is the responsibility of the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor does the verification. But the lab is among the agencies not being funded during the month-long shutdown.

On the bright side, many new vehicles are not slated to go on sale until spring, and the majority are fall launches. While automakers are concerned if the shutdown goes too long, in most cases there is still time before panic sets in.

Concern is a bit higher for diesel-powered vehicles. The emissions reporting scandal is still fresh in American minds, and many automakers have canceled or whittled down their plans to offer diesel-fuelled vehicles in the U.S.—the exception being large pickups that are huge profit-makers for Detroit. Some diesel-powered vehicles have faced long wait times for certification as federal agencies have been more meticulous in the wake of the cheating scandal.

Keep reading to find out where the new vehicle launches stand at nine automotive brands.

Ram

The EPA completed the federal emission testing and certified the 2019 Ram 2500 heavy-duty pickup—but had not finished testing tailpipe emissions for the Cummins diesel version of the Ram 3500 when the shutdown hit. That process is on hold, FCA CEO Mike Manley confirmed at the auto show. Both trucks are scheduled to go on sale this spring. The automaker says other vehicles are undergoing their normal quality validation testing and no shipments are not being delayed at this time. That includes the 2019 Ram 1500 with a diesel, that is still in the certification process.

Jeep

A Grand Cherokee with a diesel is still in the lineup awaiting its turn for certification.The new Jeep Gladiator midsize pickup is not due until spring so there is no impact yet.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen will show the new Jetta GLI (a standard 2019 Jetta is pictured) next month at the Chicago Auto Show. It is slated to launch in March. Executives think the launch will be OK if federal employees get back to work by the end of January, but it will be tight.

Ford

Ford has a lot of vehicles (GT500, Explorer, Escape, and Lincoln Aviator) slated to go on sale this year, and many of them are in the queue for certification. Nothing is due in the next few months so no delays at this time. But if the shutdown is prolonged, there will be concerns.

The 2020 Ford Explorer is due in June and the Aviator also goes on sale this summer. The GT500 is not due until fall. We have not yet seen the new Escape yet so it likely has more time.

Cadillac

Cadillac’s big XT6 crossover is due this spring so there is still time before it feels any impact as long as the backlog does not become onerous. GM officials say they have no launch delays at this time but, like other automakers, are currently awaiting decisions in the certification process for a number of 2019 and 2020 models.

Porsche

There is some concern that the mid-cycle refresh of the volume-leading Macan could be delayed, as it is slated to go on sale in March. Same applies to the Cayenne Hybrid. The next-generation 911 isn’t coming to the U.S. until July or August so there should be plenty of time to get tested under the wire.

Kia

Kia’s new Telluride three-row crossover goes on sale this spring but no reports of delays at this time.

Hyundai

Hyundai’s new Palisade three-row crossover will be available this summer. At this point, officials say no Hyundai model is on hold awaiting EPA certification due to the shutdown.

Honda

Nothing from Honda is being impacted. The new Passport crossover goes on sale next month but is already certified.

The post The Cars the Government Shutdown Might Delay appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Barrett-Jackson Hidden Gems: 2012 McLaren MP4-12C High Sport Chassis 9

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 21:20

The McLaren MP4-12C is a fascinating supercar. First of all, the fact that it exists is perhaps the craziest part of the story. Sure, McLaren’s flirted with passenger vehicles in the past. Back in the late ’60s, Bruce McLaren himself drove around the U.K. in a prototype M6GT, one of two built back when McLaren was considering competing in Group 4—50 cars would have needed to have been built to meet homologation rules and that number was a bridge too far. Then of course there was the Gordon Murray-designed F1, the legendary car against which all other supercars are forever measured. Then McLaren teamed up with Mercedes to build the Mercedes-McLaren SLR, a machine that was much more muscular German thug (i.e. AMG) than McLaren liked. Then, finally, this thing, the MP4-12C. With it came the decision that, yeah, McLaren was going whole hog and becoming a “regular” car manufacturer.

Was it perfect? No. The MP4-12C had flaws, and we famously ranked it one spot behind a Subaru BRZ at Best Driver’s Car. Hey, that Subaru is pretty great. But the MP4-12C is something else: it is an uncompromised expression of one person’s indomitable will. In this case, that person is former McLaren CEO Ron Dennis. I honestly don’t even know that much about Mr. Dennis, but what I do know could fill a book. A quick anecdote to set the stage: a guy I know once got a ride on Ron’s private jet. Ron had a rule about no shoes allowed inside the plane. Even though it was pouring rain, my friend was forced to remove his shoes, walk up the soaked steps in his socks, and fly to Paris with wet feet. The MP4-12C, therefor, represented what Ron Dennis thought a supercar should be. All the way down to and including the weird name. Flaws aside, McLaren built approximately 1,800 MP4-12Cs (and later 12Cs), as well as around 2000 MP4-12C Spiders. Not a bad start, all things considered.

This particular MP4-12C is a very special edition done by the fledgling MSO, aka McLaren Special Operations, limited to 10 examples, and called High Sport. Initially, only five High Sports were planned, but since the upgrades were all very functional, demand was great and McLaren built five more. First and foremost, power went way up. From 592 horsepower to a devilish 666 hp. The exact same output as the way-off-in-the-future 675LT, as a matter of fact. Visually, you can tell High Sports by the significantly revised front end that previewed the 650S’ schnoz.  You can also tell by the massive air vents on the side of the front fenders just ahead of the wheels. Those come from McLaren’s GT3 effort at the time. The same is true for the high pressure-relieving louvers on top of those same fenders, the rear fascia, and the wing.

This particular High Sport is arguably the most coveted of all. It’s chassis number 9, and was built for a very particular client: Ron Dennis. If it’s not this High Sport then it’s the one that was rumored to have been built for the crown prince of Bahrain, though no one’s seen that one. Anyhow, chassis 9 is the only one of the 10 High Sports finished in the Vodafone Racing Team’s F1 livery. There’s also the additional MSO Red Rocket airbrushed details. Under the “bonnet” you’ll find signatures from the team that drove and crewed an MP4-12C GT3 to a win at the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. Perhaps best of all, the car comes with a signed letter from Ron Dennis, explaining his commissioning of this car. You know, if I’m going to write that book, I should probably get my hands on that letter. Thing is, this High Sport did not sell at another auction a few years back, with a high bid of $900,000. So… no letter for me!

Post Script: The McLaren 570S took the Best Driver’s Car trophy back to Woking, England, in 2016. All is forgiven. On both sides.

Barrett-Jackson ushers in a new year of high-octane auction action during its 48th Annual Scottsdale Auction, featuring some of the world’s most coveted collector vehicles and authentic automobilia collectibles, January 12-20, 2019, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. As in decades past, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions will be the epicenter of Collector Car Auction Week and entertain thousands of automotive enthusiasts with interactive exhibits, entertainment, and activities. Check your local TV listings to see it live on MotorTrend Network and download the app for exclusive, live coverage.

The post Barrett-Jackson Hidden Gems: 2012 McLaren MP4-12C High Sport Chassis 9 appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: 2019 Porsche 911

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 21:00
There’s a new version on the way soon, but the 2019 Porsche 911 is here to bide time and burn money. This year is the last of the 991 generation, the 992-generation 911 is due later this year. For its last year, the 2019 911 earns a 7.0 on our overall scale, which is very high for a (mostly) six-figure car with two usable seats. (Read more...
Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class preview

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 20:57
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class has some work to do to stand out in the German automaker’s showrooms. Its predecessor got by on its looks and its low price. The 2020 CLA250 has a new baby sibling in a new 2019 A-Class that’s not as pretty but may have more rational appeal to some buyers. Then again, the CLA250’s dramatic...
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Tesla Cuts 7 Percent of Full-Time Workforce

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 20:45

Despite record sales last year, and profitability in recent quarters, Tesla is reducing its full-time employee headcount by 7 percent. CEO Elon Musk made the announcement in an email to Tesla employees on Friday.

Tesla’s headcount grew by 30 percent last year, which was more than the company can support, Musk said in the note. The email discussed the company’s current challenges, namely making its products more cost-competitive.

Right now, the least expensive Model 3 costs $44,000 before tax credits. This model has the mid-range battery with an estimated 264 miles per charge. Federal EV credits dropped from $7,500 to $3,750 on January 1, 2019 and they will fall again to $1,875 on July 1. We’re still waiting on the lower-price Model 3, which Musk has promised will cost $35,000.

“Tesla will need to make these [job] cuts while increasing the Model 3 production rate and making many manufacturing engineering improvements in the coming months,” Musk said in the statement. “Higher volume and manufacturing design improvements are crucial for Tesla to achieve the economies of scale required to manufacture the standard range (220 mile), standard interior Model 3 at $35K and still be a viable company. There isn’t any other way.”

Tesla made a 4-percent profit in Q3 last year. Preliminary results indicate the company will post a profit again for Q4, but it should be less than the previous quarter. With the help of the higher-priced Model 3 deliveries around the world, the automaker expects to continue a profit in the new quarter. Despite production bottlenecks, the Model 3 was the best-selling luxury vehicle in the U.S. last year.

This is the latest round of layoffs after Tesla announced last June it dropped 9 percent of its workforce. The company noted the duplication of some roles, and said it needed to reduce costs and focus on profitability. It said production of the Model 3 would not be affected by these cuts.

Read the entire statement from Musk here.

Source: Tesla

The post Tesla Cuts 7 Percent of Full-Time Workforce appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: An All-Electric Ford F-150 is Coming…Eventually

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 20:00

Ford is the king of pickup truck sales, and it wants to stay that way. A big part of the plan is continued innovation, and on the heels of introducing a fully aluminum-bodied F-150 pickup for the current generation, the Blue Oval has confirmed an all-electric F-150 is coming. This model will be in addition to the previously announced hybrid version coming in 2020.

Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley told inventors at the Deutsche Bank Global Automotive Conference in Detroit that plans are in the works to electrify the best-selling F-series truck.

“We’re going to be electrifying the F-Series—battery electric and hybrid,” Farley said, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A timeline wasn’t part of the announcement, nor were any other details such as powertrain information, but a Ford spokesperson tells us that there are plans to debut a pure EV F-150…eventually.

“We are constantly looking at new ways to better serve our truck customers, from materials to features to propulsion systems,” Ford spokeswoman Emma Bergg told us. “We are not specifying timing. We don’t have any other details to share at this time.”

Of course, this isn’t the first time a Ford executive has hinted at an electric F-Series.  Last year, executive chairman Bill Ford had this to say at a celebration of the Ford Rouge manufacturing complex’s 100th anniversary:

“[The F-150 Hybrid is] going to be a truck that takes you farther without sacrificing power and a truck that helps you do more when you get there, with electricity for everything from your tools to your camping gear. And then we’ll keep innovating. When it comes to building the best trucks in the world, we never rest. Whether they’re gas, diesel, hybrid—or when the time comes, fully electric—we will ensure they power the world in a sustainable way and remain Built Ford Tough.”

That sounds more to us like we’ll see an electric Ford F-Series when every other car on the road is electric. But then again, it’s also possible a more immediate plan for an electric truck came together between last October, when those comments were made, and Farley’s confirmation of an EV F-Series this week. One big thing that’s happened since then is Ford’s alliance with Volkswagen. The two automakers will work together on next-gen midsize truck production and also explore collaboration in other areas such as electric and autonomous vehicles.

FoMoCo made an all-electric Ranger from 1998 until 2002, so the company has some learnings to draw upon for an electrified F-series truck, although huge advances in EV tech and adoption will make them of limited use. The Ranger EV had a range of just under 100 miles, for example, while now both Tesla and Rivian Automotive intend to launch EV pickups with more than 400 miles of range. The Tesla truck should arrive after Model Y, while we’ve already seen the stunning Rivian R1T currently slated to roll out in 2020.

We already know Ford plans an all-electric Transit van as well as a Mustang-inspired electric crossover, but is the world ready for an all-electric F-150? Could Ford’s recent partnership with EV-focused Volkswagen help in this endeavor? We aren’t sure, but we don’t expect to see Ford’s all-electric pickup anytime soon.

Source: Ford, Detroit Free PressGreen Car Congress

The post An All-Electric Ford F-150 is Coming…Eventually appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Lloyds backs M&G's Brexit-triggered Enhanced Value Fund with £53.5m loan

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 10:19
Lloyds Bank’s real estate and housing team has agreed terms for a new £53.5m revolving credit facility for the M&G UK Enhanced Value Fund (UK EVF).
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2019 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive: Reviewing a $222K, 680-HP Panamera

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:00

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive: Let’s unpack all that. Porsche is famous for sports cars. The Panamera is therefore sporty, but with four doors. Turbo S badging indicates it’s the most powerful Panamera in the 18-model lineup, the flagship of the fleet. Now things get tricky. The E-Hybrid bit means this 680-hp Porsche can silently glide 14 EPA-rated miles on pure electric power. And the Executive badge means a stretched wheelbase that delivers rear-seat legroom rivaling an S-Class Mercedes.

A sporty limousine with the efficiency of a hybrid: on paper, this big Porsche adds up to a boiling mass of contradictions. On the road, however, it’s a car that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

We’ve covered the Panamera in detail since its launch in 2016, but to quickly recap, it rolls on the Porsche-developed MSB platform that also underpins the new Bentley Continental GT. The Turbo S E-Hybrid powertrain delivers its 680 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels by way of a 550-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 under the hood and a 136-hp e-motor mounted between the engine and the eight-speed PDK twin-clutch transmission.

Select E-Power, and the sophisticated powertrain control system enables the big Porsche to be propelled solely by the electric motor when there’s sufficient charge in the 14.1-kW-hr battery. Hybrid Auto mode automatically shuffles between the internal combustion engine and the e-motor to deliver optimal efficiency. Porsche’s traditional Sport and Sport Plus modes are anything but traditional in the E-Hybrid. In Sport mode the battery charge is always maintained at a minimum level to ensure the e-motor can support the internal combustion engine. In Sport Plus mode the battery is charged as quickly as possible to allow the e-motor to help deliver maximum performance at all times.

Drivers can also instruct the system to preserve the charge in the battery to ensure the car can be driven solely on the e-motor at their destination. Or they can direct it to completely recharge the battery on the go by allowing the internal combustion engine to produce slightly more power than is needed to drive the car.

As befits the flagship model, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid comes loaded with goodies, including a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, and a 710-watt Bose sound system. Standard chassis hardware includes air suspension, 21-inch wheels, ceramic brakes, and the full complement of Porsche ride, roll, torque vectoring, and traction control systems.

The Executive specification—not available on the Panamera Sport Turismo—adds 5.9 inches to the wheelbase, along with standard rear-wheel steering, adjustable rear seats, and soft-close doors. Base price is $194,800, and, incredibly, even at that price features like adaptive cruise control are optional ($2,890). Other pricey extras fitted to our tester included the sports exhaust ($3,490), larger rear center console ($3,180), and the 1,455-watt, 21-speaker Burmester High-End 3D Surround System ($5,190), bringing the total price to $222,100, including destination. Ka-ching!

Limos are all about the rear seat. The low-slung Executive is not quite as easy to get into and out of as a Bentley Flying Spur or Benz S-Class, but despite the low roofline, there’s plenty of head- and legroom. It’s strictly a four-seater, however, the rear passengers sitting low down either side of the prop shaft, separated by a fixed center console. That’s mainly for packaging reasons, but Porsche engineers say the low H-point also means rear-seat passengers are less likely to suffer motion sickness should the driver choose to get all Walter Röhrl on a winding road. Which is entirely possible…

Porsche claims a 0–60 time of 3.3 seconds for the 5,313-pound, 122.0-inch-wheelbase Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive, though given the blistering 2.8-second 0–60 time returned by the Sport Turismo version of the Turbo S E-Hybrid we tested last year, that number may be on the conservative side. Even so, a 3.3-second 0–60 run would make the big Porsche quicker than the 603-hp, 5,105-pound, 124.6-inch-wheelbase Mercedes-AMG S 63 we tested last year, and—on Bentley’s own numbers—the 626-hp, 5,456-pound, 120.7-inch-wheelbase Flying Spur W12 S. The Porsche’s claimed 192-mph top speed shades the 186-mph terminal velocity of the S 63 but is beaten by the Bentley’s 202-mph top end; though anywhere other than on a German autobahn, these numbers are the stuff of country club cocktail hour boosterism.

Yes, it’s quick. But where the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive really throws down in the sporty stakes is in the twisty bits. Taut body control, quick steering, sticky tires, and a low seating position make the big Porsche feel two sizes smaller than it really is. There’s none of the deliberation, the slight “do you really want me to do that?” moment you experience in the S 63 or the Flying Spur when hustling those big, fast sedans down a winding road. The Turbo S E-Hybrid simply reacts, grips, and goes.

It comes close to squaring the limousine-as-sports-car circle, this Porsche. Leave the suspension in the standard setting, and the air springs and long wheelbase serve up a ride that’s calm and poised, both around town and on the freeway. And it remains just as composed through the corners, staying flat with no diagonal pitching over midcorner heaves. The rear-wheel steering—which can turn the rear wheels up to 2.8 degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts to effectively shorten the wheelbase—helps the big Porsche deftly dance through tight turns.

But that poise and agility comes at a price: tire noise. The low-profile Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires roar like a freight train through a tunnel on coarse tarmac at freeway speeds, and there’s some slap-patter over road acne around town. With an interior wrapped in leather and Alcantara, dripping with the latest in touch-tech and designer jewelry, the long, low, lavish Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive is dressed to the nines. But you’re always aware it’s wearing sneakers with the tux.

The Turbo S E-Hybrid is thus arguably still more Porsche than limousine, but there’s no question it’s both powerful and efficient. The performance numbers tell the power story. Efficiency? An 1,835-mile road trip from Atlanta to New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, and back saw the big Porsche average 24.1 mpg. And that was achieved with only one full charge put into the 14.1-kW-hr battery, in Atlanta at the start of the trip.

With the powertrain set in Hybrid Auto mode, the Porsche’s electronic brain managed the battery charge and the e-motor’s contribution to our progress the whole trip. Once the battery is depleted, the system uses the internal combustion engine to bring it back to a 5-percent charge. It then uses that charge to enable the e-motor to provide torque fill under acceleration or to power the car on its own for brief stints of light load cruising (the Panamera E-Hybrid can run at up to 86 mph on pure e-power).

The system also allows coasting, shutting down the internal combustion engine when you lift off the gas. There’s very mild liftoff regen (to help increase the distance coasted) but more intense levels of regen under braking, which helps feed the battery in stop-and-go traffic.

To make you feel like a true eco-warrior (despite the fact you’re driving a 17-foot-long luxury car) the E-Hybrid trip computer shows the time and distance it has traveled without the 4.0-liter V-8 running as “zero emissions” values. And all those little e-motor interventions and coasting intervals and regen events add up: Over 1,700 miles, the trip computer showed we’d clocked up 300 miles of zero-emissions running.

Whether cruising at 70 to 80 mph on the freeway, cruising a quiet back road, or mooching around town, the big Porsche returned impressively consistent fuel consumption numbers, with a best of 25.0 mpg and a worst of 23.1 mpg. For context, the official EPA numbers for the Mercedes-AMG S 63 are 17/26 mpg city/highway, and for the 12-cylinder Bentley Flying Spur, 12/20 mpg city/highway. The 2018-model-year Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive is rated 21 mpg combined city/highway when just using the engine, and 49 mpg-e combined city/highway using the hybrid system.

The Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive offers a unique take on the long-wheelbase luxury limousine. It’s sleek yet roomy, fast yet efficient. Most of all, it’s a long-wheelbase luxury limousine that drives like a Porsche, as edgily suave as a tuxedo with sneakers.

The post 2019 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Executive: Reviewing a $222K, 680-HP Panamera appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: James May Talks “The Grand Tour,” His Cars, and the Best Bath of His Life

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 09:00

Ahead of The Grand Tour’s third-season debut on January 18, we chatted with host James May about the show’s final season in-studio, what he’s cooking up for the future, and some of his favorite moments from both Top Gear and The Grand Tour with co-hosts Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond.

Photos courtesy of Amazon

MotorTrend: Thanks for making the time for us, James. Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect for season 3 of The Grand Tour?

James May: It’s sort of the same thing but refined a bit. We’ve taken a couple of elements out and streamlined it. So … we sort of do big drives and test cars and muck about and so on, but it’s just slightly better.

MT: The biggest change this season is the elimination of celebrity guests; did you miss that?

James May: No not really, I never did that bit anyway. The thing is, you can do [studies] on them and you can analyze everything to the end [and Amazon] did. We’re not a data driven production, but we know what the fans like, we know when they’re turning off or when they’re fast-forwarding, so we have to accept that we don’t need to do the bits they don’t like, so we won’t.

MT: It actually it seems like a great advantage to have that data and feedback from Amazon available, should you want it.

James May: Well I think that’s the trick actually— it’s when we want it. We don’t make the show around data because that sort of thing is very dangerous. You end up with something a bit like a clinic-ed car; it’s neither one thing nor the other, but we will read [the data] when it suits us.

MT: What’ve been your favorite moments this season, and what’s been your favorite car?

James May: Well, of the road trips it’s going to be a toss-up between Detroit and China. I love Detroit—I’m not just saying this because you’re from MotorTrend. I love Detroit because I’ve been going there on and off for twenty or so years, so I’ve sort of witnessed the changes happening there and I think it’s become a very, very cool place.

I mean if you are a young tech start-up type person, who you know had a beard and a bicycle and a bag full of algorithms, you’d think Detroit was fabulous. If I was in my twenties and I was in that sort of field or even doing what I do now, I could look at Detroit and think “Yeah that would kind of be kind of cool place to hang about.”

So that, and then China just because China is so amazing. We went to the China that most people don’t know; we went to Chongqing. We’re still not even sure how to pronounce it. It’s sort of the Detroit of China in a way. It’s where all the car and motorcycle factories are, and it’s a massive, massive place. It has got something like twenty-five or thirty million people in it. And it’s China, which was just, amazing, because it’s so different. That was a fab experience.

I’m duty bound to say that my favorite car of the series was the Alpine A110 … I actually went out and bought one afterwards because I liked it so much.

MT: I haven’t driven that yet but it looks special.

James May: It’s tremendous! I mean if we can be car bores for a moment, they’ve done what a lot of other supercar makers have failed to. They will make a Ferrari or a Lamborghini and then make a lightweight version where they manage to strip out 30 kilograms, and usually by taking away the bits that you really want like the air conditioning or the radio or whatever.

But with the Alpine they made it small and light from the start, and it does makes an incredible difference because most supercars are too wide. I mean it’s not quite such a problem where you are, but in Europe they’re too wide to be enjoyed on the road where they ought to be fun.

But the Alpine is like—I mean I’ve got a Ferrari 458 as well—is something like 500 millimeters narrower than the Ferrari and that makes a huge difference. It’s a proper—and I don’t like people comparing new cars and old ones—Ferrari Dino.

MT: Since you brought it up, what else is currently in your garage?

James May: I have that, the 458 Speciale, I’ve got a hopeless old Ferrari 308 GTB, a Porsche 911 Carrera 2S—that’s a 997, I’ve had that for a while now, and a BMW i3 because I’m being modern. Oh and I’ve got a little beach buggy as well.

MT: Oh the one from The Grand Tour Namibia special?

James May: Yea exactly, I brought the, well let’s say “the remains” home, and I had it completely rebuilt. It had to have a new body put on it, and it all had to be dismantled because it had saltwater in it. It was a proper mess but it’s now in metal-slate red and it’s got all the shiny bits on and it’s tremendous. I love it.

MT: That was quite the trip you guys took. What will season 4 look like given you’re going to leave the studio and focus on road trip specials? Is that a hard change to make?

James May: I suppose it’s hard in that it’s the end of a very, very long process that we’ve been doing together for 17 years or so. But I think in terms of the show, it’s a good idea, because again, looking at the data and just going by hearsay and things people say to me on the streets and in pubs, it’s the big films where we go and get three interesting cars or whatever and drive about and pick each other to death—it’s the bit that we’re best at, and it’s the bit that people like the most. So as we getting a bit old and fragile we should concentrate our energies and consolidate our talents and do the bit we’re good at, so that’s what we’re doing. Plus we don’t have to keep going to [the tent in] Jeremy’s garden which was getting a bit annoying.

Photos courtesy of Amazon

MT: What’s your dream destination for next season?

James May: Ooh that’s a good one. There’s still quite a few bits of the world that we haven’t been to, although we have been to a hell of a lot of it now. I would like to do some more bits of South America, and I’d like to do more bits of America because I still haven’t seen that much of the middle; I’ve been all around the edges of the States, but not the middle. And I’ve never been anywhere sort of in Malaysia, or that whole bit between Southeast Asia and Australia, so I’d quite like to see some of that.

But you have to bear in mind we’re not actually going on holiday, we have to go where there’s a good story rather than where we fancy being, otherwise we’d just make programs in the Maldives.

MT: Past the next season, what does the future hold for you guys, and could you ever envision retiring?

James May: Well yeah, to be honest, yes, one day. I think Churchill said, “We’re nearer the end than the beginning.” We must be because I can’t possibly do it for another 17 years, but I think there’s still a bit in us left. As we won’t exhaust ourselves doing the studio, maybe that will spin us out a bit longer.

MT: Seventeen years of television with Clarkson and Hammond is a long time—what’s been your favorite moment?

James May: I think, to be honest, it’s pretty mundane, but it’s either [on Top Gear] when we went to the North Pole, or it’s the moment where we got back to the base camp. I got in the bath after however long it was–you know, covered in my own cheese, and having to sleep in a tent with Jeremy Clarkson was just f–king awful. That bath was one of the highlights of my life.

I think more recently I suppose it’s actually in the [coming] series, where there’s a big road trip in Mongolia where we all had to share the car. I’m using the word “car” rather generously, because we cobbled the thing together ourselves. Mongolia is a fascinating country but there isn’t much there, so it’s pretty medieval living when you’re on a road trip, so getting to the end of that [was memorable]. The bath wasn’t quite as good, but the sense of relief was enormous. We’re still alive, and I haven’t become a murderer so you know, that’s like a double whammy.

MT: Why do you think you guys have been so successful on Top Gear and now at The Grand Tour for so long?

James May: It’s a complete bloody mystery isn’t it? I don’t know. I mean people dismiss it, they just say, “well its such great chemistry,” or something like that. I mean that must be something to do with it, but it’s not quite as simple as that, which is why it’s so difficult to replicate. It’s actually quite a delicate, frail thing that we have. And a certain amount of it is based on a mutual loathing I think; same as it is in rock bands and the actors in long running soaps. I’ve often said that everybody on Friends probably hated each other, so there’s a bit of that in it. And I think it’s also probably because of the old adage about three people in the meeting, one of them is always redundant, and there’s a certain amount of that. One of us at any moment in the show is always actually redundant and that, that sort of fuels us in a way.

Photos courtesy of Amazon

MT: Are there any films you wish you could go back and do differently?

James May: Actually you know there’s not much; I think the way we did them is pretty good or excellent. That sounds like a totally conceited way of putting it. We did a special in India when we did Top Gear, when we look back at it, we think, “Well actually we could have done a better job than that.” You only do your best work once; everything else is always done better.

And there are some small things in my own shows. When we did Man Labs and we went to try and catch a lightning bolt, and it was so futile. I look at it and think now, “Why did we ever kid ourselves and that might work?” I mean it is quite funny when things don’t work, but that so obviously wasn’t going to work, we wasted everybody’s time.

MT: With presumably more downtime next season, would you ever do a standalone show on Amazon Prime? Maybe programing like you had on your Unemployment Tube on YouTube?

James May: It’s funny you should say that because I haven’t actually proposed food to Prime. I think they would look at me and think, of all the people that we could choose in the world, which is pretty much everybody, I don’t think they would choose me to do a cooking show. But there are some moves afoot to do something with food online, a bit like my Unemployment Tube. But there’s not going to be some fabulous glossy cookbook for you to try out but it’s going to be, let’s call it, “garage cooking.”

MT: That’s the best kind of cooking.

James May: Well I think it is. It’s one implement, one utensil, you know.  You cook it and eat it with one hand ‘cause the other one is covered in Castrol oil or whatever. That’s sort of the direction I’m heading in.

MT: Are there any stories you keep pitching to The Grand Tour where you keep getting told no?

James May: Yes. There’s one about bicycles, they said no. There’s a thing I’ve got about going to the moon, but we’re not really obviously. But they’ve said no to that. There was one I proposed—not to Amazon it was actually the BBC several years ago—I pitched a program called “The Antiques Bonfire” where we set people’s antique furniture on fire, but they didn’t like that either.

I also came up with “The Pissed Olympics” because everybody was really worried about the effects of steroids and things in sports. I said, well why don’t you level the playing field by saying everybody goes to the Olympic village, they don’t have access to anything, but they have to drink eight cans of strong lager and then do the pole vault or the triple jump, it would be tremendous to watch. They didn’t like that either, it was really weird.

Photos courtesy of Amazon

MT: I think you’ve got an untapped market there. Back to cars for a moment, what coming automotive trends most excite you? Autonomous cars? EVs?

James May: Well I don’t really believe in autonomous cars—not in the way they’re popularly considered in the general press. I think the idea of Tesla-type autonomy on freeways—I can see that working, and I can see it being very beneficial.  Cars can go faster, closer together, and it would be safer. But I think most people have in their minds you will soon have an autonomous car that they can fall asleep in, in the back, drunk, whilst it drives them home through the city. I just think we’re a long, long way from that. It’s such a complicated idea, because you’re basically talking about robotics and no branch of science has been more consistently disappointing than robotics. We’re supposed to have robot butlers and things by now, but you can barely make a robot throw a tennis ball into a bucket, so I’m not sure about that.

I think the electric revolution is interesting. I’ve got an electric car, not really for environmental reasons, but just because I think it’s interesting. I think ultimately—and I do know some people who are working on this—the car will move off the road and into the sky in some way, because that’s where the space is. That’s where autonomy would work because the only other thing to worry about is the other cars, or pods or whatever we’re going to call them. I’m not sure if that will happen in my lifetime, but I have believed it for a long time. Car makers will have to think upwards rather than forwards.

In the short term, I like reconfigurable dashboards and connectivity. I love all that stuff. I like all the colors and things that you get on the dash of modern cars, because when you look at old ones, everybody loves instruments and so on, but they’re actually pretty boring compared to what you get today.

MT: Yeah, digging into the digital dashboard on your i3, for example, is pretty neat considering all the information available.

James May: Yeah and you can change it, a bit like the Apple watch, and have a different style of instrument today, or a different style of readout. And there’s little things, like on my Alpine, when you turn the lights on at night, the gear display which is in the middle between the two main instruments like it is in a Lambo–stars come out behind the numbers and the numbers of the gears rush at you from space. It is really cool. I look at it too much and I’ll eventually have an accident because I’m changing gears and watching the stars come out, because I do love all that stuff.

MT: Last question, biggest automotive regret?

James May: I’ve always tried to say I don’t regret selling any of the cars I sold, because at the time it must have been the right thing to do otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. But, I sort of wish I had kept my Alfa Romeo 164, which I had, oh god, about 25 years ago. It would probably feel terribly clunky and old fashioned now, but I love that 3.0-liter V-6. It was the first time I’d ever had a new car and it was the first time I’d ever had anything that was vaguely special, and it did sort of, I’m not going to say, “change my life” because that’s too corny, but it did. It was a good pick me up. It propelled me forwards.

MT: Literally and figuratively! Well, thanks very much for making the time for us, James. Looking forward to watching the next season of The Grand Tour.

James May: My pleasure, cheers.

The post James May Talks “The Grand Tour,” His Cars, and the Best Bath of His Life appeared first on Motortrend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Bourne Capital refinances £132m Legacy portfolio

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 08:55
Bourne Capital has completed a £132m refinancing to fund its Legacy Portfolio, which comprises the Queensway and Waterloo estates in London.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Spelthorne approves PDR plans for conversion of own offices

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 00:00
Spelthorne Borough Council has approved its own plans for a conversion of part of its office HQ into housing through permitted development rights, Property Week can reveal.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Manchester landlord withdraws from WeWork deal

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 00:00
An office landlord in Manchester has withdrawn from a deal to let space to WeWork, citing the effect the US flexible office provider’s covenant could have on the potential investment value of the building.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Evans Randall drops £200m Clerkenwell office buy

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 00:00
Brexit a factor behind £200m deal for Clerkenwell Collection falling out of bed.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Huawei spies site for Cambridge R&D base

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 00:00
Chinese firm at centre of espionage controversy buys land for R&D campus.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Retail investor sell-off leaves property funds unscathed

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 00:00
Capital flows into property funds remain steady as billions of pounds are pulled from bond and equity funds.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: Brotherton recruits pbb’s Vaughan to launch debt distribution business

The Top Zones - Fri, 01/18/2019 - 00:00
Brotherton Real Estate has hired pbb Deutsche Pfandbriefbank’s head of UK syndications Tim Vaughan to launch Brotherton Debt Distribution.
Categories: The Top Zones