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Property Week News Feed: Springfield opens for trading

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 08:53
Scottish housebuilder Springfield Properties has commenced trading on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) this morning after raising £25m for the float. 
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: THE WEEK AHEAD: Bellway set to reveal bumper annual figures

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 08:46
The housing market will be in the spotlight on Tuesday as housebuilder Bellway reports its final results.
Categories: The Top Zones

Property Week News Feed: LXi buys supported living portfolio

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 08:44
LXi REIT has bought a UK portfolio of supported living properties for £18.9m.
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Property Week News Feed: Impact seeks £36m from share placing as NAV falls

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 08:40
Impact Healthcare REIT has revealed a slight quarterly fall in net asset value (NAV) and a share placing to raise around £36m.
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review: Half-Measure?

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 08:00

Mercedes-Benz last put the world’s luxury-car peddlers on notice with its new-for-2014-model-year, W222-generation S-Class. It featured automated parking, Magic Body Control air suspension with Road Surface Scan, six programmable seat massages, and automatic perfume dispensing. BMW was first to parry with its new-for-2015 G11/12-generation 7 Series, which failed to unseat the mighty Merc in a 2016 Head-2-Head. Recently, Audi let us drive its spanking-new A8, dubbed MLB64. It goes on sale soon in Europe, but U.S. sales start next fall. Can the 6,500 part revisions made to this midcycle S-Class refresh keep the competition at bay? (Note: the engines count as one part each!) Very possibly.


The S-Class powertrain overhaul appears to be more thorough than what we’ve been told to date about the Audi’s powertrain revamp. Only the boffo 621-hp/738-lb-ft biturbo V-12 and seven-speed transmission from the AMG S65 carry over largely unchanged. A V-6 returns to power the entry-level S for the first time since the S400 Hybrid variant died with the previous generation. (A hybrid is expected to rejoin this generation of S-Class within a year or two.) It’s basically the engine from the GLS450. The twin-turbo V-6 produces 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. Paired with a nine-speed automatic, it motivates this limo just as easily as it does the GLS450, which finished second in a six-way jumbo SUV Big Test in 2015.

Stepping up to the S560 buys you a detuned AMG 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 good for 463 hp and 516 lb-ft. That’s 14 more horses than the previous S500’s 4.7-liter with equivalent torque. With the nine-speed and cylinder deactivation, it also gets superior fuel economy: 17/27/21 mpg city/highway/combined versus the S550’s 16/25/20 (comparing 4Matic models—the RWD S560’s 2018 certification will not be finalized until closer to its late-2017 launch). The AMG S63’s new hot-vee 4.0-liter biturbo V-8—also with cylinder deactivation—huffs up 603 hp and 664 lb-ft—a sizeable power bump from the 2017 5.5-liter V-8’s 577 hp at equivalent torque, and it also benefits from the added leverage of two more transmission ratios (for nine here as well). This helps boost fuel economy by 10 percent (to 17/26/20 from 15/23/18 mpg). S63s also get the Race Start function from the E63, which permits you to preselect a launch rpm to suit road conditions then do a brake-torque launch (sorry hoonigans, there is no drift mode here). The 4Matic Plus system adds the ability to vary front/rear torque in place of the former fixed 33/67 front/rear split. By comparison, Audi has only released info on its base turbo V-6 and twin-turbo V-8 variants, which produce 335 hp/369 lb-ft and 453-hp/487-lb-ft, respectively. Both spin through an eight-speed transmission to standard Quattro all-wheel drive. S and possibly RS variants could follow from Audi, but Benz appears to have the mainstream A8s covered, and manufacturer claims give the Benz an edge. Actual performance could defy appearances, however, because the Audis weigh roughly 200 pounds less, and they benefit from 48-volt mild-hybridization.


Mercedes-Benz set a standard in 2014 with its “Magic Body Control” system that used forward-looking cameras to instruct the dampers when to soften up for bumps, but Audi is trumping that feature with its AI active suspension, which will be able to use its cameras to measure bumps and dips and then direct electromechanical arms to push a tire down into a hole and pull it back out again (or vice versa for bumps). We understand Mercedes will introduce rival technology on its next GLS-Class SUV (using electro-hydraulic rams to manipulate the wheel corners under orders from the forward-looking cameras). You can count on that system appearing on the next S-Class. Note that the V-12 AMG S65 also offers curve compensation that pumps up the outside suspension corners to maintain a more level ride in hard cornering (which the Audi AI suspension pretty much does, too, on any A8 so equipped). A8s can be had with active rear-wheel steering that tightens the turn circle and improves dynamic stability. The Audis with normal air suspensions ride just as plushly as the air-suspended S-Classes, and we didn’t get an objective test drive of the AI predictive setup, so this category remains a push with an anticipated Audi edge until the next all-new S-Class arrives.


It’s unlikely any manufacturer will beat Audi to the introduction of a Level 3 autonomy system (though exactly when and where Audi’s low-speed traffic jam system will become available is not yet known), but Mercedes argues that its broader speed-range Level 2 Active Distance Assist Distronic with Active Steer Assist will prove more useful to more people more of the time. Upgrades for 2018 include broadening the speed range at which both the cruise and steering assist functions operate, Active Lane Change Assist (signal and it checks your blind spots, then changes lanes), Active Speed Limit Assist (which will vary your speed to match the limit, but no, it cannot be set to maintain a set increment above the limit), and Route-Based Speed Adaptation (this will slow the car as needed for impending tighter radius turns or navigation-recommended exits and the like). Audi will still win this one if Traffic Jam Pilot arrives here before the S-Class gets fully redesigned and likely gets something similar.


Mercedes enhances Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic alerts and adds Evasive Steering Assist. Think of that one like Brake Assist for steering, in that, when a collision is impending, if the driver initiates any sort of evasive maneuver, the car will make an expert driver of him or her by steering itself clear of danger and then countersteering itself back into the lane or out of danger of spinning. The active blind spot and lane keeping assist functions also both operate at a wider range of speeds now. Audi also uses the steering to avoid accidents and adds a few new ideas of its own, including Pre Sense 360, which uses the AI active suspension to lift one side of the body in defense of an impending side impact collision, and Exit Warning, which delays opening a door from the inside if an approaching car, bicycle, or other object threatens to hit it. Let’s face it, your odds of avoiding or surviving any sort of automotive calamity are best in an S-Class or A8, and let’s hope no obvious winner ever emerges in this category.

Interior design, comfort, and coddling

This is a mighty subjective category, and these two players repeatedly set benchmarks in interior comfort and design. For 2018, Mercedes integrates both of the large 12.3-inch  high-def instrument panel an infotainment screens under a single plane of glass and fits an all new steering wheel that features small touch-sensitive pads that you brush your thumb or finger across to scan or scroll and press to select. The cruise control functions finally abandon the stalk they’ve occupied for decades in favor of steering wheel buttons, and pressing the resume button twice activates the aforementioned speed-limit-adherent function. Both models now offer fragrance dispensers, with the Audi boasting a choice of two onboard scents time, while Mercedes integrates its scent into one of six Energizing Comfort programs that blend scent dispensing with preloaded music, ambient lighting, climate control settings and, in many cases, seat-massage programming plus seat heating or ventilation over a 10-minute program designed to promote freshness, warmth, vitality, joy, or comfort. There’s also a “training” setting that recommends muscle movements you can do while seated. We found the whole thing a bit gimmicky and quickly abandoned these programs for the much-longer-lasting massage-only programs. Audi also offers a foot-massaging unit fitted to the front passenger seatback for use by the rear-seat occupant. That one sounds pretty enticing, but we haven’t tried it. Aesthetically we give the nod to the sleeker, sparer Audi, but note that Mercedes offers a vastly broader array of interior comfort options, including long and extra-long wheelbases (Mercedes-Maybach models are 7.9 inches longer), executive packages, a dizzying array of materials choices including Designo options (the Mercedes is shown in the first four photos below, and the Audi below that).

How they drive

Both are pretty sublime, truth be told, but maybe that’s just because each will tirelessly massage the driver’s back for the duration of any trip. The base V-6 and V-8 variants each excel at being driven in a serene and stately manner befitting their class. Auto stop/start shutdowns were a bit more noticeable in the S450 than they were in the S560 or A8s. The V-8s both shave about a second off the V-6 models’ 0-60 times, and each makes a sweeter sound, but all engine noise is so muffled in both that they barely register. The Mercedes-AMG variants are another story, with the S63 staged as the bad boy miscreant of the lineup—all crackling, snorting, and popping exhaust in Sport+ mode. Nobody buys a luxobarge like this for track days, but the S63 will happily oblige those who do, even boasting a telemetry app that connects to your phone to give you lap times, segment times, etc. Its Race Start function and variable-torque 4Matic drive make it the 0-60 champ at 3.4 seconds. Meanwhile the S65 wafts off the line a bit less aggressively, coming into its own when you need to roll onto the accelerator and accelerate from 100 to 150 mph (or from 150 to 186, the limited top speed). Ironically, its sublime engine smoothness is at odds with the lumpy shifting nature of its older, rock-crusher seven-speed transmission. We never noticed the nine-speeds (or the Audi eight-speeds) going about their business.

The S-Classes could benefit from Audi’s capacitive steering wheel, which knows when you’re touching it instead of inferring contact by steering input (three times different S-Classes told me to put my hands on the wheel when one or both hands were firmly gripping it). The speed limit assist is useful if you live in a strict jurisdiction, but note that if you want to corner at the speed limit whenever possible, you must either set the Dynamic drive mode to Sport or setup your “Individual” setting with ESP and steering set to Sport but the suspension set to Comfort for a smoother ride.

So is it worth waiting another year for the A8 (or three for the completely new S-Class)? Tech geeks who’ve been waiting for a truly predictive active suspension since before that old Infiniti Q45a will definitely want to sit on their wallets. Those who want their lux-sedan to breath fire, step right up to the AMG counter now (unless you insist on the S65, which hits the market in late 2017). Everyone else, study the galleries of Mercedes and Audi photos (both are featured in the gallery below), and pick the one that makes your knees go wobbliest. You can’t really go wrong either way.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 2019 Audi A8 L BASE PRICE $90,895-$230,495 $90,000-$110,000 (est) VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 4-5-pass, 4-door sedan Front-engine, AWD, 4-5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINES 3.0L/362-hp/369-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6;
4.0L/463-hp/516-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8;
4.0-L/603-hp/664-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8; 6.0L 621-hp/738-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 48-valve V-12 3.0L/335-hp/369-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6; 4.0L/453-hp/487-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSIONS 7- or 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT 4,550-5,300 lb (mfr) 4,300-4,500 lb (est) WHEELBASE 124.6-132.5 in 123.1 in LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 206.9-215.0 x 74.8-75.8 x 58.8-59.0 in 208.7 x 76.6 x 58.6 in 0-60 MPH 3.4-5.0 sec (mfr est) 4.0-5.7 sec (mfr est) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 13-19/21-28/16-22 mpg Not yet rated ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 177-259/120-160 kW-hrs/100 miles – CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87-1.24 lb/mile – ON SALE IN U.S. Currently (S560 RWD, S65 late 2017) Fall 2018

The post 2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class Review: Half-Measure? appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V-6 vs. 2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T Comparison

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 08:00

For more than three-quarters of family-sedan buyers, the base engine provides more than enough zip to get around town. Some like it hot, though, and for that remaining fraction, both Honda and Toyota offer powerful optional engines.

Comparing the mainstream powertrains for these two cars, we found the Accord to be the all-around superior vehicle. With the matters of rear-seat space, trunk capacity, number of USB ports, and smartphone integration already settled, we’ll focus singly on how well the versions with the big engines deliver on their sporting pretensions.

Honda replaced its 3.5-liter V-6 with a 2.0-liter turbo-four derived from the—wait for it—Civic Type R. Yes, Honda’s street-racing beast lent its engine to its sibling family sedan. At 252 hp, it’s down 26 hp on the old V-6, but the turbo breathes an extra 21 lb-ft of torque for a healthy 273, which comes on much lower in the rev range. You can have it with an all-new 10-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for them.

The challenger walks loudly and carries a big stick. Under the SE/XSE bodywork remains Toyota’s potent 3.5-liter V-6, all 301 hp and 267 lb-ft of it. It’s available exclusively with an all-new eight-speed automatic, and on paper it looks to have the Accord beat. Such a potential advantage is loudly telegraphed by all the racy bits added to the car, including quad exhaust tips, black wheels, fake vents, and a fish-pout fascia that’s arguably more handsome than the gigantic grille that looks like an air-condition vent on the base car. The Honda, though not pretty, either, eschews the boy-racer treatment and lets its 2.0T trunk badge do the talking.

Despite the power disadvantage, the automatic Accord is 0.1 second quicker to 60 mph than the Camry, and it posts an identical quarter-mile time.

Although rowing your own gears is indisputably more fun, the Honda stick shift’s throws and clutch pedal travel are both long—likely to ease the commute drudgery of a quick-shift box—and this adds a half-second penalty both to the 0–60 and quarter-mile times. One ridiculous point: You must engage the electronic parking brake before you can start the manual-transmission Accord. Patch that, pronto, Honda.

Behind the wheel, the manual-transmission Accord feels the most aggressive—there’s no waiting on the torque converter to lock up. The Camry, meanwhile, doesn’t feel as sharp off the line but comes alive at 4,000 rpm and pulls hard to redline. The automatic Accord, meanwhile, is the Q-ship of the crowd, with a long, smooth pull of power. Its 10-speed also performs better on the way back down through the gears, offering downshifts more readily and smoothly than the Camry’s.

It’s the same situation in the corners. The Accord, particularly the Touring model with its adaptive dampers, feels confident and planted. Even without the fancy dampers, high-zoot Accords have better tires than the base model, which helps highlight its excellent body control and surprisingly flat cornering. The seats on sporty Accords could use thicker side bolsters, but regardless, it’s a remarkably capable and fun family sedan on a back road.

The Camry, for all its bravura, is less capable when pressed. The steering is lighter but less fluid, with an aggressive ratio immediately off-center that makes the car feel darty and nervous. This and the high-end surge from the engine make it feel as though you’re going faster in the Camry when you’re actually not. It leans more in corners than the Accord, and body motions aren’t as well controlled, all of which is made worse by the flat seats that don’t even try to hold you in place.

In fact, this hotted-up Camry handles just like the four-cylinder Camry XLE, with just a bit more cornering speed, thanks to stickier tires. With the V-6 engine also available on XLE models, as far as we can tell the XSE is primarily a body kit and tires, not a true sport model—the lack of corner-entry downshifts are a disappointing omission. That said, we were able to hustle the Camry V-6 around a track faster than most people are going to do in the real world.

The skidpad tells the tale. The Camry XSE V-6 pulls only one-tenth of a g harder than the XLE four-cylinder and three-tenths of a g weaker than the Accord 2.0T Touring on average. The XSE V-6 uses its extra power to make up time on the figure eight, but the 2.0T Touring is right behind it pulling slightly higher average g.

It’s the same story in stopping. The Accord has a somewhat aggressive brake pedal with strong initial bite for a family sedan and little pedal travel needed to get the job done. Its significantly upgraded tires also help with stopping distances. The Camry, by contrast, has a long and soft brake pedal, which is partly responsible for extending its stop from 60 mph by 7 feet.

With the Camry XSE V-6 handling so much like the XLE four-cylinder, you might expect it to ride and drive the same, too, and you’d be right. The Camry rides somewhat firm for a family sedan, but the Accord 2.0T with fixed dampers rides about the same—but it does have better body control to eliminate the head toss of the Camry. Step up to the Touring’s adaptive dampers, and the Accord rides better, too. In tests zooming around a closed-course oval, the Accord felt more composed at 125 mph than the Camry did at 90.

Once again, it’s a clear win for the Accord. It’s quicker, handles better, and is more enjoyable to drive fast. It also rides better and costs less for more stuff, and you can even get it with a manual transmission. That’s two for two for Honda.

Read our comparison between the 2018 Honda Accord 1.5T and 2018 Toyota Camry 2.5 right here.

2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Touring 2018 Toyota Camry XSE (V6) POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD Front-engine, FWD ENGINE TYPE Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 121.8 cu in/1,996 cc 210.9 cu in/3,456 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 9.8:1 11.8:1 POWER (SAE NET) 252 hp @ 6,500 rpm 301 hp @ 6,600 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 273 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm 267 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm REDLINE 6,800 rpm 6,600 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 13.6 lb/hp 12.2 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.55:1/1.84:1 2.56:1/1.72:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Struts, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 11.8:1 13.8:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.1 2.6 BRAKES, F; R 12.3-in vented disc; 11.1-in disc, ABS 12.0-in vented disc; 11.1-in disc, ABS WHEELS 8.5 x 19-in cast aluminum 8.0 x 19-in cast aluminum TIRES 235/40R19 96V (M+S) Michelin Primacy MXM4 235/40R19 96V (M+S) Michelin Primacy MXM4 DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 111.4 in 111.2 in TRACK, F/R 62.6/63.1 in 62.2/62.6 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 192.1 x 73.2 x 57.1 in 192.7 x 72.4 x 56.9 in TURNING CIRCLE 39.4 ft 38.0 ft CURB WEIGHT 3,424 lb 3,665 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 61/39% 60/40% SEATING CAPACITY 5 5 HEADROOM, F/R 37.5/37.2 in 37.5/38.0 in LEGROOM, F/R 42.3/40.4 in 42.1/38.0 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 58.3/56.5 in 57.7/55.7 in CARGO VOLUME 16.7 cu ft 15.1 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.3 sec 2.1 sec 0-40 3.2 3.3 0-50 4.4 4.5 0-60 5.7 5.8 0-70 7.5 7.7 0-80 9.4 9.6 0-90 11.8 11.7 0-100 14.5 14.5 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.9 2.8 QUARTER MILE 14.3 sec @ 99.3 mph 14.3 sec @ 99.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 116 ft 123 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.85 g (avg) 0.82 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.9 sec @ 0.67 g (avg) 26.7 sec @ 0.66 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,500 rpm 1,350 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $36,675 $35,845 PRICE AS TESTED $36,675 $38,335 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 8: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee 8: Dual front, f/r side, f/r curtain, front knee BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 3 yrs/36,000 miles 2 yrs/Unlimited miles FUEL CAPACITY 14.8 gal 16.0 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 23/34/27 mpg (mfr est) 22/32/26 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 147/99 kW-hrs/100 miles (est) 153/105 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.72 lb/mile (est) 0.76 lb/mile RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular Unleaded regular

The post 2018 Toyota Camry XSE V-6 vs. 2018 Honda Accord Touring 2.0T Comparison appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: The Top Zones

The Car Connection News Feed: 2018 Volkswagen Jetta

Mon, 10/16/2017 - 00:16
The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is a sensible, roomy compact sedan, although a new model is on the horizon for the 2019 model year. While its basic design is beginning to show its age, the 2018 Jetta has plenty of assets like a roomy interior, a quiet demeanor, and strong turbocharged engines. We’ve rated the Jetta lineup 6.5 out of 10. (Read more...
Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: 2018 BMW X3 First Drive Review: Shifting the Center of Gravity

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 22:01

The 3 Series might be BMW’s iconic touchstone, but the X3 is fast becoming its lodestone. The sales figures tell the story. In the nine months through September 2017, BMW sold 32,127 X3s in the U.S. It still sold more 3 Series over the same period—43,215—but it’s the trend, not the number, that’s important: X3 sales were up 3.6 percent year on year while 3 Series sales were down 18.6 percent. And that’s not an anomaly—in 2016 3 Series sales finished 25.5 percent down on 2015 while X3 sales were up 38.4 percent. The center of gravity is shifting at BMW.

The third-generation X3 is therefore a critically important new vehicle for the Bavarian automaker. One in three BMWs sold worldwide these days carries an X badge, and BMW clearly expects the X3 to soon supplant the X5 as the company’s most popular SUV, having announced plans to augment production out of Spartanburg, South Carolina, with new X3 assembly lines in South Africa and China opening in 2018. The new X3 is slightly larger and roomier than its predecessor, as you’d perhaps expect, but more importantly, it feels a more mature vehicle to drive, quieter and more composed on the road, and laden with BMW’s latest technology. You can tell this is a product that’s now core to the BMW brand.

The first of the new X3s will arrive in U.S. BMW dealers next month. Two models will initially be available—the $43,445 X3 xDrive 30i, powered by the 248-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged I-4 and the $55,295 X3 M40i, the first ever M Performance X3 variant, with a 355-hp/369-lb-ft version of the 3.0-liter turbocharged I-6 under the hood and a bunch of sport-oriented mechanical components and appearance items. The X3 xDrive 30d, powered by the 3.0-liter I-6 turbodiesel with 261 hp and a hulking 457 lb-ft of torque from 2,000 to 2,500 rpm, will join the lineup in 2018.

The new X3 rolls on BMW’s new and highly flexible KLAR architecture, which also underpins the new 5 and 7 Series models. Compared with the previous X3, it’s about 2 inches longer overall and about a half-inch wider. More importantly, the wheelbase has been increased by 2.2 inches, which means a welcome increase in rear-seat legroom. The exterior design is an evolution of the previous X3’s, though it articulated the current BMW house style, with fuller surfaces and softer lines. It not only looks more sophisticated than the old X3, especially riding on 19- or 20-inch wheels, but also boasts an impressive drag coefficient of just 0.29.

The old X3’s interior looked cheap and felt it. By contrast, the new X3’s cabin is plush and premium, with a richer mix of colors and materials, plus digital dash hardware and switchgear that’s clearly been trickled down from the more expensive 7 and 5 Series. The dash is dominated by a 10.0-inch infotainment display screen that BMW claims is the largest in the segment and can be controlled—depending on which options you choose—up to four different ways via touch, gesture, voice, or the good old fashioned iDrive controller. With the rear seats up, cargo capacity is 28.7 cubic feet. The seats can be folded flat via levers just inside the rear hatch to increase that to 62.7 cubic feet.

We tried the diesel-powered xDrive 30d on a network of mildly rocky trails through the Sintra hills, just north of Lisbon, Portugal, and came away impressed with the diesel engine’s easy drivability—and the surprisingly compliant and controlled ride in the rough stuff, especially as it was fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels and sporty 245/45 front and 275/40 rear tires set to standard street pressures. BMW’s X models are generally regarded as soft-roaders, but the new X3 boasts 8 inches of ground clearance, excellent Hill Descent Control, 25 and 22 degree approach and departure angles, and can wade through water almost 20-inches deep, so you can genuinely take it farther off-road than you think.

BMW has positioned the M40i as the hero vehicle of the new X3 lineup. In addition to the punchy six-cylinder engine, it comes with bigger, more powerful M Sport brakes—13.7-inch rotors up front with four piston calipers and 13.5-inch units at the rear versus 13.0-inch rotors and single piston calipers all round on the regular X3s—plus 19-inch wheels instead of 18s and sportier suspension and steering calibrations. Visual differences include more aggressively styled front and rear fascias, different sills, and M badging.

The M40is we drove in Portugal all rolled on the same top-end wheel and tire combination fitted to our xDrive 30d tester. With spring rates that are effectively 5 percent stiffer up front, 8 percent stiffer at the rear, and that have stiffer stabilizer bars, the ride proved noticeably busier, with a lot more vertical motion transmitted through the cabin. Even so, the M40i felt nowhere near as brittle as the previous-generation X3 did on big wheels and tires.

It’s sport sedan quick, the M40i, especially with everything set in Sport + mode. BMW claims a 4.6-second 0-60-mph acceleration time, and, if you ask nicely, it will reset the 130 mph speed limit—a function of the standard fitment all-season tires—to a proper German autobahn-storming 155 mph. The M40i dives into corners with alacrity, grips hard, and then punches out past the apex once you get on the gas. Left to its own devices, the eight-speed automatic feels alert and responsive, but fanning the paddles is still better for ensuring you’re in the gear you want, exactly when you want.

We’re less convinced by the M40i’s variable sport steering, however. As is the current trend at BMW, the rim section of the sports steering wheel is too thick and sculpted, which makes you feel like you’re wearing boxing gloves when you driving. And, paradoxically, the extra effort that’s been dialed into the system in the name of ‘sportiness’ actually makes the M40i’s steering feel slower and more ponderous than that of the regular X3. The regular X3’s steering is actually not bad—it’s better than some of BMW’s recent effort, and we’d prefer it in the M40i.

The M40i will grab all the headlines, but a well-specced xDrive 30i with the standard suspension and steering settings but on 19-inch wheels and tires, is, for most people, going to be the pick of the new X3s. According to BMW, it’s only 1.4 seconds slower to 60 mph. Besides, where in the U.S. can you drive 155 mph?

The post 2018 BMW X3 First Drive Review: Shifting the Center of Gravity appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: The Top Zones

Motortrend News Feed: Report: Tesla Fired Over 400 Workers Within Past Week

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:00

A new report from Reuters has emerged stating that Tesla has fired over 400 of its employees earlier this week, according to a former employee who spoke to outlet on Friday  and asked not to be identified. The cuts were reportedly the result of an annual, company-wide review, according to an email Tesla sent to Reuters; however, it didn’t confirm how many employees were let go.

The former Tesla employee revealed that over 400 people were laid off from the company and it included associates, team leaders, and supervisors. According to the EV maker, performance was the main reason for the firings but the former employee who worked on the assembly line, said he was let go even though he never received a bad review during evaluations.

Mercury News also reported that the firings also included engineers and managers. Despite being let go, some former employees received promotions and bonuses, according to Tesla who insists these weren’t layoffs. Former and current employees revealed to Mercury News that the dismissals came with little to warning. The number of layoff according to current workers numbered between 400 to 700 employees. A Tesla spokesman also revealed that most of the employees dismissed were in administrative and sales positions. Workers in the factory floor who spoke to Mercury News anonymously revealed that the firings have led to lower morale throughout the company and that the targets appear to be those working on the Model X, Model S, and SolarCity operations.

With the recent launch of the Model 3 sedan, Tesla has been experiencing “production bottlenecks” that has caused it to fall behind its production ramp up for the new car. Additionally, It only delivered 220 Model 3s and made 260 of them in the third quarter since beginning production earlier this year in July. Originally, the automaker promised to produce around 1,500 Model 3s by the third quarter of 2017.

Source: Reuters, The Mercury News

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Motortrend News Feed: The Hidden Benefit of Car-Sharing – Reference Mark

Sun, 10/15/2017 - 08:00

It might seem bizarre that I say this in a car-enthusiast magazine such as Motor Trend, but I welcome the arrival of the car-sharing, ride-hailing economy where personal car ownership declines.

Go ahead: Call me a heretic, but hear me out—there’s some counterintuitive stuff happening here. More car-sharing means fewer cars jamming the road, which means more efficient driving speeds. A study by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies showed that for every car-sharing vehicle introduced, as many as 11 privately owned vehicles came off the streets. That’s great news for anyone with gasoline in their veins, who seethes at the plodders clogging up traffic.

On a personal level, I estimate that I have spent more than 10,000 hours commuting in stop-and-go traffic. That’s more than one year of my life going nowhere fast. (Cue existential crisis.)

I have driven rush hour in Los Angeles for more than two decades. In that time, I have seen the zeitgeist of the L.A. commute change from disgust to frustration to anger to downright rage. I have lived in some of the most congested urban areas in the world: London, Munich, and the New York tri-state area. London has almost proudly noted that its traffic speeds have regressed to the same speed as before the automobile was invented: 7.8 mph, or slower than the pace of a trotting horse.

I’m not suggesting we become a nation of equestrians. But how many of you with an hour-plus slog each way to work are overcome with feelings of joy when clambering into your vehicle each morning and evening? You’re reading Motor Trend, which means you love driving. But commuting is another matter.

Simply put, as many cities have grown in population, their already groaning infrastructures have not kept pace. As more urban citizens commute farther to where they work, elapsed drive times have soared. And this condition will only get worse without dramatic solutions such as car-sharing and ride-hailing.

This isn’t purely a megalopolis problem. I have sat in rush hour in Austin, which might as well have been the Jakarta of Texas for the two hours it took me to traverse 5 miles (with no accidents or special events, just pure gridlock and block-boxing).

I look at the solution this way: A decade or so ago, numerous surveys showed an overwhelming response in favor of electric vehicles becoming mainstream. What the surveys failed to disclose was the EV fanaticism always was in the sense of, “Yeah, that would be great for my neighbor Jim, but not so much for me.”

The same holds true for car-sharing. Right now, people see it as a great idea—for other folks. But think again: How many people drive their commute out of necessity but would accept a cheaper option that provided a door-to-door route to work without having to worry about as many swerving idiots in the next lane? There are plenty of folks who view cars as transportation and who would likely say yes. (We’ll leave the mass-transit conversation for another column.)

Wait, you say, car-sharing and ride-hailing are so expensive. But folks forget how pricey their personal cars are to own. It’s not just gasoline; it’s depreciation, insurance, maintenance, and repairs, too. A recent study by RethinkX projected that the average American household could save more than $5,600 per year by dumping their personal car and relying on “transport as a service” providers—once autonomous vehicles come online, that is.

The shift toward a new driving economy might already be taking hold: An Ipsos/Reuters survey showed that, of the people who traded in their cars, about 10 percent weren’t replacing them. They were switching to car-sharing and ride-hailing. The survey also showed that 39 percent of Americans had used ride services and that 27 percent of that group did so at least several times per week. That’s a groundswell.

We might still have as many people commuting, but with these alternative transportation services replacing car ownership, fewer cars will be parked on city streets waiting for their owners 22 hours a day—freeing up the roads for us enthusiasts.

More by Mark Rechtin:

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Motortrend News Feed: Report: Mazda Rotary Engine Could Arrive As Soon as 2019

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 16:00

Mazda’s rotary engine is coming sooner than expected, but not powering a sports car. Speaking to Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s global powertrain boss, said that the rotary engine will become a range extender for the automaker’s upcoming electric vehicle.

During a technology preview in Japan, Hitomi said to Automotive News that a rotary engine is ideal as a range extender because it’s small, powerful and doesn’t generate much vibration. Mazda’s first EV is expected to hit the market alongside a hybrid in 2019. Akira Kyomen, program manager for vehicle development, revealed that there will be two variants of the EV, pure electric and one with a range extender. Japan, Europe and China will be the key target markets for the pure EV as Mazda believes these type of vehicles can get by with less range. In North America, on the other hand, the range extender is a necessity because consumer have longer daily drives, according to Kyomen. Along with the two-model strategy for its EV, Mazda has developed a new vehicle platform that will also debut in 2019 and it’s been engineered with EV and hybrid powertrains in mid.

Hitomi also revealed that a second, larger, more powerful rotary engine is also under development. This unit is expected to power a high performance sports car in the future that will slot above the Mazda MX-5 Miata. However, Hitomi told Automotive News that the main issue remains making a business case for the vehicle and whether the automaker will be able to sell enough cars.

Originally introduced in the Cosmo Sport, the rotary engine first appeared in a Mazda vehicle in 1967 and powered a number of sports cars including the third-generation RX-7, which featured a 1.3-liter two-rotor unit with sequential twin-turbocharging. Mazda remains the only Japanese automaker to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and it did it using the rotary-powered 787B race car.

Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

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Motortrend News Feed: 2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Long-Term Verdict: One Year With a 707-HP Charger

Sat, 10/14/2017 - 08:00

Hellcat verdict? Aside from more, please? I spent 12 months with the most ridiculous sedan on earth: 707 horsepower divided by 365 is nearly 2 horsepower per day. Is that the most ridiculous sentence I’ve ever written?

But, let’s get serious: Did I learn anything after 26,012 miles seated in the deeply cushioned red barcaloungers that Dodge tries to pass off as bucket seats while averaging an almost respectable 14.9 mpg? I suppose you’d have to learn something—one entire elapsed year and all—but I have a hunch I learned the wrong lessons.

Normally with a long-term verdict you’re supposed to ascertain whether something such as the $1,500 black-painted roof was a worthwhile optional expenditure. The problem is I didn’t really remember that this car even had a blacked-out roof until I checked the window sticker. Because unlike regular cars, you don’t think about things like that when you’re living with a Hellcat.

I did appreciate the $995 Brass Monkey wheels, but mostly because Licensed to Ill by the Beastie Boys was the third album I ever bought—the first two being In 3-D by Weird Al Yankovic and Raising Hell by Run DMC. I’m Gen X, yo. Even still, I’m not so sure I’d opt for the $1,995 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Oh, who am I kidding—of course I would! Of note is the fact that although I might have chewed through five sets of tires (one short of my initial goal of six sets in a year), nothing on the car broke. No matter how viciously we treated the Hellcat with Motor Trend’s version of accelerated wear and tear, only routine maintenance—like changing out 8 quarts of synthetic oil every 6,000 miles—was all the big red gal required.

One takeaway from living with a Charger Hellcat is if you’re able to control your right foot, the thing drives like a normal car. You might be thinking, “Hey man, anything’s a normal car if you don’t drive it like you stole it.” That’s not true of many performance machines. Take the Alfa Romeo 4C. It’s never a normal car, ever! The same is true for a Viper, a Nissan GT-R, or a Lamborghini Aventador. But the Hellcat version of the Charger can do a close approximation of a $29,090 SE model. It’s roomy, it’s surprisingly comfortable, the Uconnect infotainment system works pretty much OK, and the back seats are good for three adults, fantastic for two. But if any of the above figures into your decision to go out and purchase a Charger Hellcat—a $73,725 purchase that I highly recommend—you’re doing it wrong.

You buy the four-door Hellcat with the shrieking supercharger so you can see the look on the guy’s face at the tire shop as he once again chisels molten rubber off your exhaust pipes. You get yourself a 707-hp Charger so that when you’re virtually parked in traffic you can relieve tension by spinning the back wheels a bit. Not a big smoky burnout, but just enough to make everyone around you nervous. It helps both relieve the tension and break up the monotony. You buy yourself a Charger Hellcat because it’s as close to a concealed carry permit as there is in the automotive world. Just like a .357 Magnum under your coat, you always know the immense power is there, mere inches away.

There’s a tension to living with this car. Perhaps that’s what 12 months of Hellcat stewardship most taught me. It’s a constant tussle between you behaving like a upright citizen and four-wheeled, tail-out, tire-shredding anarchy. Do I have the strength to not pointlessly burn up a tank of gas today? It’s a moral struggle, a constant one.

There’s going to be a time—and it’s coming sooner than many of you think—that you won’t be able to waltz down to your local neighborhood Dodge dealer and drive away in a snarling, antisocial beast with a Satanized kitty cat head on the fender. Not only will cars be electric, but you’ll also be too busy InstaSnapTweeting to even want to drive them, assuming they’ll still let us. No one will speed, and cars most certainly will not burn out. I’m not saying the impending future is better or worse. I’m just saying it’s racing toward us. Quickly. The Hellcat, this Hellcat, any Hellcat, is a finger in the eye of that particular inevitability. Take a guess as to which finger.

More on our long-term Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat here: Our Car SERVICE LIFE  13 mo / 26,012 mi BASE PRICE $68,640 OPTIONS Preferred pkg 23T ($1,995: Harman Kardon audio, 19 speakers, floor mats), black-painted roof ($1,500), Brass Monkey forged wheels ($995), P Zero summer tires ($595) PRICE AS TESTED $73,725 AVG ECON/CO2  14.9 mpg / 1.30 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS  None MAINTENANCE COST $158 (2-oil change, inspection) NORMAL-WEAR COST $2,114 (2 sets Pirelli P Zero tires, mount and balance) 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE*



*IntelliChoice data; assumes 42,000 miles at the end of 3-years

2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD ENGINE TYPE Supercharged 90-deg V-8, iron block/alum heads VALVETRAIN OHV, 2 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 376.3 cu in/6,166 cc COMPRESSION RATIO 9.5:1 POWER (SAE NET) 707 hp @ 6,000 rpm TORQUE (SAE NET) 650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm REDLINE 6,250 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 6.4 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 2.62:1/1.76:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar STEERING RATIO 14.4:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 2.5 BRAKES, F; R 15.4-in vented, grooved 2-pc disc; 13.8-in vented, grooved disc, ABS WHEELS, F;R 9.5 x 20 in forged aluminum TIRES, F;R 275/40ZR20 106Y Pirelli P Zero DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 120.4 in TRACK, F/R 64.0/63.7 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 200.8 x 75.0 x 58.3 in TURNING CIRCLE 38.5 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,530 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 57/43 % SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 38.6/36.6 in LEGROOM, F/R 41.8/40.1 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 59.5/57.9 in CARGO VOLUME 16.5 cu ft TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 1.9 0-40 2.6 0-50 3.3 0-60 4.2 0-70 5.2 0-80 6.1 0-90 7.1 0-100 8.4 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 1.7 QUARTER MILE 12.1 sec @ 123.4 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 103 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.93 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.4 sec @ 0.82 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,600 rpm CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE $68,640 PRICE AS TESTED $73,725 STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/Yes AIRBAGS 7: Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, driver knee BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/60,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/100,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 18.5 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 13/22/16 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 259/153 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.22 lb/mile REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 17.0/24.6/19.8 mpg RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

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Motortrend News Feed: Refreshing or Revolting: 2018 Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 22:50

You know which vehicle won our recent Accord vs. Camry comparison test, but now it’s time to take a look at the design differences between the two midsizers. Fresh off redesigns for the 2018 model year, both vehicles now feature bolder sheetmetal, making it clear they are jockeying for sedan buyers’ attention. So which one wins the styling crown?

When it comes to the front end design, the Accord features a structured look dominated by horizontal lines. The grille is flat and consists of rectangular shapes, while the Toyota features a more layered look. Some trim levels of the Camry have silver grille slats that wrap across from one end of the front fascia to the other, while others have a grille dominated by trapezoid and rhombus shapes. Meanwhile, the Honda features fog lights slotted below the headlights, unlike the Toyota. Overall, we’d say the Toyota looks a bit more three dimensional, which perhaps makes it more visually interesting up front. And we might dock a few points from the Honda because of its silver bar that cuts into the top of the headlights, creating a furrowed eyebrow look.

The Accord shares the same overall length as the Camry, except SE and XSE Camrys are longer by just a hair. While you won’t notice any differences in length, the two cars appear quite distinct in shape when examining them from their side profiles. The Toyota appears to have a rounded snout while the Accord’s nose comes down sharply into an almost 90-degree angle. Compared to the Camry, the Accord features more structured character lines that run across the side. One consistent line on top of the doors runs from the hood to the rear, compared to the Camry that has a more fluid line in the same area. Harsh lines run across the lower portion of the doors on the Accord, while the Camry features a softer indentation.

In the rear, the Accord dons the same C-shaped taillights as the Civic. However, the Camry has more typical taillights. Both cars feature small rear decklid spoilers and sculpted rear bumpers. The Toyota gets “Camry” badging between the taillights.

Just like much of the exterior, the Camry features more fluid lines in its interior compared to the Accord. The Camry’s infotainment screen sits on a curved upper center console that melds into the lower area near the cupholders. The dashboard also features swoopy, dramatic lines. Meanwhile, the Accord is once again dominated by boxier shapes. A rectangular infotainment screen sits on top of the dashboard, while the Camry’s screen is embedded in. Both feature 8-inch infotainment screens and 7-inch digital instrument cluster displays.

Which sedan wins the styling showdown?

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Motortrend News Feed: Polestar Teases First New Model in Video

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 21:52

Polestar dropped yet another cryptic teaser of its first model on YouTube today. The new video hints at the unusual shape of the model, while other teasers preview the car’s lights, tires, and what appears to be an exhaust pipe.

The newly minted brand will launch the model on October 17, although we still don’t know exactly what kind of vehicle it will be. A report from Autocar said the brand could introduce a 600-hp hybrid coupe as its inaugural car. Later, it’s likely Polestar will introduce a second all-new model.

In the video description attached to the new teaser, Polestar says, “We don’t settle for average. We don’t search for middle ground. Our cars are not built to fit into pre-defined segments or to fit a certain target group. When we launch our new car on the 17th October we reveal a car that we would want to drive ourselves.”


Earlier this year, Polestar announced its plan to spin off from Volvo and become its own separately branded car company. The automaker is focused on building its own high-performance electrified vehicles and special versions of Volvo vehicles.

Watch the video below for a closer look at Polestar’s new mystery model.

Source: Polestar via Instagram, YouTube

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Motortrend News Feed: U.S. Wants Automakers to Use More North American Parts on Cars

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 19:51

The United States has proposed more North American parts and steel in cars built under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during the latest round of negotiation talks with Canada and Mexico.

Reuters cites sources familiar with the talks, who say the mood is bad in the fourth of seven planned discussions regarding NAFTA. The U.S. previously proposed a sunset clause that would see the deal expire in five years. Both Canada and Mexico opposed that idea as well as the latest parts content demand that would require trucks, cars, and large engines to contain 85 percent North American parts content (up from 62.5 percent) and 50 percent U.S.-made parts, according to sources. President Donald Trump has railed against NAFTA since his campaign days, calling it an unfair deal that the U.S. must renegotiate or walk away from. According to Trump administration officials, current content rules don’t do enough to discourage automakers from using parts from China or other low-wage Asian countries.

Future site of Toyota’s plant in Guanajuato, Mexico

In addition to the increased regional parts content, the U.S. wants automakers to ensure North American steel, aluminum, copper, and plastic resins are used. Canada and Mexico say meeting these demands would mean disrupting the North American auto industry. The Trump Administration also hopes to stop vehicle production from leaving the U.S. for Mexico.

Upping regional content requirements would raise costs and would defeat the benefits of NAFTA’s tariff-free arrangement, according to auto industry groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls the demands “poison pill” proposals that will sink the deal.

Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said they were committed to achieving a “win-win-win” deal. The talks are scheduled to run through October 17, and three more meetings are on the books.

Source: Reuters

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Motortrend News Feed: Mercedes-Benz G500 4×4 Squared Ends Production

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:18

The utterly ridiculous Mercedes-Benz G500 4×42 had no business heading to market, but we’re glad it did. Mercedes-Benz announced that production on the model is coming to an end, and if you want one, you have until the end of the month to place an order. Prices start at 231,693 euros.

Inspired by the public’s strong reactions to a similar concept vehicle, Mercedes-Benz introduced the G500 4×42 in December 2015. The model later came to the U.S. market in 2017.

Not only is the vehicle more than 7 feet wide, it’s 7 feet, 9 inches tall and has nearly 18 inches of ground clearance. The model is known for its military-grade portal axles that help it handle extreme off-road adventures, including fording water more than 3 feet deep. Power comes from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter  V-8 engine that makes 422 hp.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the most bonkers G-Class Mercedes has ever built. How can we forget the G63 AMG 6×6 that rides on three portal axles and weighs over 9,000 pounds?

Mercedes-Benz recently introduced 1:18 scale models of the G500 4×42 apparently as a send-off. Fortunately, there’s still the regular G63 AMG that packs a whopping 563 hp from its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8. And there’s the even more powerful G65 AMG producing 621 hp from a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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The Car Connection News Feed: More cars experience exploding glass sunroofs than ever, study finds

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 18:13
Glass sunroofs have become an incredibly popular option in recent years for new-car buyers. However, an unusual side effect to their popularity is more prevalent than ever: cases of exploding glass sunroofs have skyrocketed in recent years. Consumer Reports cites National Highway Traffic and Safety Association data that shows 859 cases of...
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Motortrend News Feed: Yamaha to Debut Concept Car at Tokyo Motor Show

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 17:10

Yamaha Motor Co. is bringing a concept car to the Tokyo auto show later this month. The company best known for its motorcycles and powersports vehicles revealed few details other than that it will be an “automobile design concept,” but here’s hoping for a follow-up to 2015’s Sports Ride concept.

The Sports Ride concept (pictured) was an ultralight two-seat sports car based around the iStream manufacturing process designed by Gordon Murray, the designer of the McLaren F1. That process features extensive use of carbon fiber and is said to dramatically lower the cost of vehicle production. The iStream platform consists of a lightweight, high-strength chassis that accommodates multiple body styles by bonding different composite panels to the frame.

The Sports Ride concept weighed in at just 750 kg (roughly 1,650 pounds) and was around 153.5 inches long, or just slightly longer than a Lotus Exige. No details on the powertrain were given, but Autocar says Yamaha is developing the engine, which could be a tuned version of the turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder that debuted in the Yamaha Motiv concept. Both the Motiv and the Sports Ride were based on the same iStream platform.

Yamaha will also bring an updated version of its motorcycle-riding robot, a four-wheeled electric mobility concept, and a futuristic motorcycle prototype that looks like it was plucked from the cyberpunk world of Akira.

The Tokyo Motor Show begins October 25 and runs through November 5.

Source: Yamaha, Autocar


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The Car Connection News Feed: 2018 Lincoln MKC

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 16:17
Stare at the 2018 Lincoln MKC for too long and you might be fooled. The compact crossover SUV nails all the luxury details inside—but hardly looks the part from the outside. Just like its overall score of 7.0, the MKC is nearly there: the interior is elegant, but the exterior isn’t as daring as its sedans. Its standard equipment is...
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Motortrend News Feed: Aston Martin DB11 Volante Packs Twin-Turbo 4.0-Liter V-8

Fri, 10/13/2017 - 15:57

Aston Martin revealed the DB11 Volante today, and it’s more than just a DB11 coupe without the roof. The convertible receives a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 as the only engine option, leaving out the 5.2-liter V-12 that’s offered on the coupe version.

The Aston Martin DB11 Volante makes 503 hp and 513 lb-ft of torque, producing the same hp but more torque than the coupe’s V-8. That’s a far cry from the V-12 coupe’s 600 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, but still nothing to sneeze at. The 4,134-pound convertible comes with a familiar eight-speed automatic transmission as well as electric power steering and limited-slip differential with dynamic torque vectoring. Hitting 60 mph takes 4.1 seconds from a standstill, Aston Martin says. Top speed is 187 mph.

The Volante features an eight-layer fabric roof that pops up in 14 seconds and down again in 16. Drivers can operate the top remotely with the key fob or while driving at speeds up to 31 mph. Color choices for the hood include Bordeaux Red, Black Silver, or Grey Silver.

Like its coupe counterpart, the DB11 Volante features a single-piece aluminum hood. It’s around 57 pounds lighter than its predecessor, the DB9 Volante, and boasts 20 percent more cargo room with the updated hood system. A deployable spoiler improves downforce.

Inside, the Volante features new wood or carbon fiber veneer panels on the seat backs. Standard equipment includes heated front seats, an Acantara headliner, 360 degree surround view parking cameras, and navigation, and buyers can splurge for optional DB11 embroidered headrests, personalized sill plates, or a new wind deflector.

Aston Martin is currently taking orders for the DB11 Volante, which starts just north of $216,000. Deliveries begin in the first quarter of 2018.

Source: Aston Martin

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