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Archive for September, 2016

Lexus Downsizes with New UX SUV Concept

High-tech ute abandons conventional mirrors, offers hologram-style gauges.

by on Sep.29, 2016

The styling renaissance continues at Lexus with the debut of the UX Concept.

Long known for its staid and unexciting designs, Lexus has been pushing the styling envelope during the last several years, and the new UX crossover-utility vehicle making its public debut at this year’s Paris Motor Show is no exception.

The ute, which is already triggering a fair bit of controversy, offers a more downsized option than what’s available in the current Lexus line-up, something that could play well in Europe, in particular. That’s reflected by the fact that the concept vehicle was designed at ED2, the brand’s design studio in the South of France.

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“The biggest challenge for any designer is always to create something new and original, yet with relevance to both the customer and the brand. Overall, this is a product which gives another hint of the potential for Lexus’ design approach to satisfy those criteria,” said Simon Humphries, the president of ED2. (more…)

Infiniti Drives into Paris with Pair of Updated Models and Potentially Groundbreaking New Engine

New Q50 and Revised QX Inspiration models make debut alongside Variable-Compression turbo.

by on Sep.29, 2016

The shape of things to come? Infiniti tweaks its design concept, the QX Inspiration.

At a Paris Motor Show marked by the absence of a number of key brands, Infiniti seems determined to fill in the gaps. The Japanese luxury brand rolled into the City of Lights with a pair of updated models, as well as the debut of a radical new engine design that could give gasoline propulsion some new life in the face of a quickening assault by battery power and other alternative technologies.

From a product standpoint, the big news is the world debut of the updated Infiniti Q50, the midsize sedan receiving some styling tweaks and a number of technology upgrades for the 2017 model-year. Also on hand, the “design evolution” of the QX Inspiration that first grabbed the spotlight last April and hints at the future styling language for the Infiniti brand.

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Arguably, the most dramatic news centers around the debut of the VC-Turbo, the world’s first production engine that can automatically alter its own compression ratio to find the sweet spot, at any moment, for performance, fuel economy and emissions.

(more…)

Volkswagen Identifies a New Direction with I.D. Battery-Car

An “iconic design study with the potential to define history.”

by on Sep.29, 2016

The Volkswagen I.D. makes its Paris debut.

(This story has been updated from the official Paris Motor Show launch.)

Volkswagen appears to have clearly identified a problem – and come up with a solution. With its reputation for building clean, high-mileage diesels in tatters due to its emissions scandal – and with regulators around the world pushing for a shift to zero-emissions alternatives – it is planning a major push into battery-electric technology.

The German maker is offering up a look at the first at what it says will be 30 battery-based models scheduled to reach market during the next decade: the new Volkswagen I.D. This Golf-size EV will likely give some serious competition to the likes of the Tesla Model 3 and the Chevrolet Bolt when it reaches market in 2020.

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The VW I.D. pushes the concept of long range to a new level, the maker suggesting it will run anywhere from 400 to 600 kilometers – 250 to 375 miles – per charge. That would mean even a motorist could travel even longer than with most of today’s gasoline vehicles on a full tank.

“The I.D. stands for a new era of electric cars,” declared VW brand chief Herbert Diess, during the Paris unveiling. (more…)

Opel Charges into Paris with Long-Range Ampera-e

Range of up to 250 miles promised for Chevy Bolt near-twin.

by on Sep.29, 2016

The Opel Ampera-e is part of the flood of electric vehicles coming from European makers.

European automakers are powering up, and this year’s Paris Motor Show hints at the flood of new battery-based models we’ll be seeing major manufacturers roll out during the next few years.

That includes the new Opel Ampera-e, a slightly revised Euro version of the Chevrolet Bolt battery-electric vehicle we’ll see in U.S. showrooms before the end of this year. Thanks to more lenient European testing procedures, the Ampera-e is expected to deliver 250 miles per charge, or about 12 more than its U.S. near-twin.

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“The Ampera-e, with its outstanding range, makes electric mobility fully feasible for everyday use and also lots of fun,” said Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann. (more…)

Honda Surprises in Paris with Type-R Debut

New hot hatch expected to be sold in U.S. for first time ever.

by on Sep.29, 2016

The hot hatch market just got a new competitor with the debut of Honda's Civic Type-R.

The Honda news conference at this year’s Paris Motor Show is supposed to be all about the next-generation Civic Hatchback. But it doesn’t take a trained eye to notice another Civic spin-off sharing the stand.

Officially, that Civic Type-R is just a concept vehicle. But expect to see only some modest changes when the compact rocket rolls into showrooms next year, completing the launch of the broadest line-up of Civic variants in Honda history.

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The Japanese maker isn’t saying much about the new Type-R beyond noting that it will be based off the same global platform as the rest of the ninth-generation Civic line-up. The current version rides a platform used in Europe but not the United States. (more…)

Lego My New Land Rover Discovery

New ute makes record debut.

by on Sep.29, 2016

The new Land Rover Discovery makes its debut alongside a replica of London's Tower Bridge using nearly 6 million Lego blocks.

It took nearly 6 million Lego blocks to set the stage for the debut of the all-new Land Rover Discovery.

The new seven-seat SUV, which replaces the old LR4 model, got a novel send-off ahead of its Paris Motor Show debut, emerging alongside the largest Lego structure ever built – a reproduction of London’s familiar Tower Bridge that took 5,805,846 of the blocks. That was enough to stretch from London to Paris, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

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That said, Land Rover isn’t playing around. The three-row Discovery is the latest in a fast-growing line-up of luxury utes from the British-based, Indian-owned automaker. It joins the smaller Discovery Sport model launched a year ago, with a third “Disco” variant still in the works. (more…)

Porsche Charged Up about New Panamera E-Hybrid, New 911 Racer

New version of hybrid saloon goes farther and faster than predecessor.

by on Sep.28, 2016

The 2018 Porsche Panamera 4 E-Hybrid delivers 462 horsepower and 0-to-60 in 4.4 seconds.

Automakers tend to debut either ground-breaking green vehicles or mind-bending sports cars in Paris: Porsche’s providing the yin and yang this time with the debut of the 2018 Panamera 4 E-Hybrid and a track-ready 911 GT3.

The Panamera was the German performance car maker’s first four-door sedan when it debuted a few years back. It was a polarizing entry with love or hate being the primary responses. Since then, Porsche’s been refining the saloon car as they say over there, and the new version of E-Hybrid is the best one yet.

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The new model delivers a total of 462 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque using a combination of a 2.9-liter V6 gasoline engine with an output of 330 hp and a 100-kW electric motor. (more…)

Continental Adds Autonomous Driving System to Portfolio

Supplier unveils "Cruising Chauffeur" system.

by on Sep.28, 2016

Continental's Cruising Chauffeur autonomous driving system allows motorists to let their vehicle handle the driving in certain conditions.

Continental AG is the latest company to offer up an autonomous driving solution with its “Cruising Chauffeur” system, which uses a mix of technologies to keep a vehicle cruising along the highway, adjusting to changing speed limits and driving conditions.

The system represents the continued technological evolution of the German-based supplier’s safety systems already in uses, such as blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise control and rear-cross-traffic alerts, re-shaping the motoring experience of millions of Americans.

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Cruising Chauffeur is the next step in making roads safer, noted Jeremy McClain, director of systems and technology for Continental’s NAFTA region. He said 95% of all road accidents involve human error. Continental is working on systems that help limit the errors and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, McClain said. (more…)

First Drive: Smart ForTwo Cabriolet

Is it hip enough for Brooklyn's hipsters?

by on Sep.28, 2016

Smart's new Fortwo Cabriolet offers an improved drivetrain and convenient drop top.

Brooklyn? It’s not the place you normally think of for testing out a new car, truck or crossover. We’re more likely to head into the hills, winding a circuitous path from San Diego to Palm Springs, or drifting through Napa and Sonoma wine country.

But it made perfect sense when we were invited to spend a couple days checking out the new Smart Fortwo Cabriolet winding through New York City’s hipster borough. The pint-sized Smart car is not the sort of vehicle you imagine romantically cruising the open road. But it’s well suited to squeezing through Brooklyn, its narrow and labyrinthine lanes packed so tightly it took us the better part of a day to clock just 38 miles.

Putting the Top Down!

The good news is that the fourth-generation Smart two-seater is better equipped than its predecessors at handling open roads. But the Fortwo, measuring barely 8.8 feet nose-to-tail, is most ideally suited to handling dense urban environments. That’s something that drivers in Paris and a number of other European cities have come to recognize. Might Americans, as well? (more…)

Paris Motor Show Brings Big Launches – But Key Carmakers Absent

Battery-cars, exotics and everything in-between spotlighted in the City of Lights.

by on Sep.28, 2016

The battery-powered Opel Ampera-e will be one of the Paris Motor Show highlights.

The 2017 auto show season officially gets underway this week with a media preview of the Paris Motor Show, one of the industry’s biggest and most widely watched events.

The show will spotlight a number of major debuts from manufacturers like Audi, BMW, Land Rover and France’s own Peugeot and Citroen. There also be plenty of green news, General Motors’ German-based Opel unveiling the long-range Ampera-e battery car and arch-rival Volkswagen expected to reveal its own, long-range EV.

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But this year’s Paris Motor Show also will be significant for what – and who – is not on hand. A variety of manufacturers and senior industry executives have decided to skip the events in the City of Lights, a move that reflects the growing industry concern about the high cost of major auto shows.

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