Monthly Archives: November 2016

Ford Unveils 2018 Ford Fiesta Lineup, Adds Cylinder Deactivation And New Active Trim Level

Following a lone teaser image that made its way onto the internet earlier today, Ford has formally unveiled the 2018 Fiesta which adds new updates, and a suite of new tricks to its list of talents for the upcoming model year.

 

 

The exterior styling of the 2018 Ford Fiesta focuses on subtle updates, and as a result the front fascia is largely reminiscent of the current generation model with the new headlights and slightly rounded nose giving it away. The changes are more apparent at the rear where the current car’s vertical tailights have been shelved in lieu of new horizontal units that help give the car a more refined appearance, and mesh nicely with the tweaked rear bumper.

In addition to the existing Titanium, ST, and Vignale trims, the 2018 changes also bring a new flavor to the Fiesta lineup. Dubbed the Active, this new trim level is perhaps the closest the Fiesta has come to embracing the CUV segment, and benefits from a slight increase in ride height. Rugged roof rails and faux skid plates further build on this theme, and give the Active a bold adventure ready profile. It is unknown if the Active will make the trek to our shores, but it would largely have its pint sized segment to itself if it does make the journey to Ford showrooms here in the U.S.

 

 

The interior of the Fiesta was always one of its strong points, and naturally the 2018 version ups the ante in both design and technology. An all new ‘floating’ high-definition touchscreen replaces the old unit, and comes equipped with the all new Ford SYNC 3 infotainment system. The 2018 Fiesta will also be the first Ford model that will come equipped with the B&O premium audio system which should please audiophiles looking for a slice of musical bliss that is normally reserved for larger and more expensive offerings. Safety and convenience are also a key part of these updates, and buyers will benefit from a whole suite of technology including lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, as well as active park assist that has the ability to navigate perpendicular type parking spots. Ford also enhanced basic ergonomics, and chopped 20 buttons from the interior though it remains to be seen if its new touch based layout will indeed improve the driving experience, or if it will hinder it in the long run.

Ford did not release the full lineup of engines for the 2018 Fiesta, but did reveal that its compact 1.0 liter EcoBoost three cylinder engine will be the first three cylinder that will take advantage of cylinder deactivation technology. The novel system can stop or start one of the cylinders in just 14 milliseconds, and incorporates a dual mass flywheel and vibration damping clutch disc to help keep unwanted vibration and oscillations at bay when the engine is running on its two remaining cylinders. Ford also revealed that the new system is capable of operating at up to 4,500 rpm which is an impressive achievement.

“We intensively tested the system in real world conditions using a range of cylinder deactivation strategies to develop a system that maximizes the fuel efficiency without compromising driver comfort” stated Ford of Europe powertrain research and engineering manager Carsten Weber.

Ford also did not reveal availability or pricing information, but look for the Fiesta to make its appearance roughly in concert with the recently unveiled Ford EcoSport CUV  which means that it will possibly make its appearance later in 2017 and be badged as a 2018 model.

Maserati Confirms Alfieri EV For Production

Confirming a recent string of rumors, Maserati has revealed that the elegant and visually stunning Alfieri concept will spawn the Italian luxury car maker’s first ever production EV.

First making its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the Alfieri appeared as a sleek and stylish coupe, but the production version will also be joined by a convertible to appease sun soaking buyers looking for a good weekend cruiser. Look for the production version to largely retain the concept’s lines albeit with tweaks for safety and feasibility.

As for performance, Peter Denton the manager for Maserati’s northern Europe operations revealed in a statement to British website Just-Auto that the Alfieri will initially launch with a gasoline powered engine (most likely a V8) to help it establish a firm foothold in the marketplace. The electric model will be added to the lineup a year later, and will be sold alongside it.

“Alfieri will be bigger than Boxster and Cayman. It is being designed as a competitor to the 911 but it will be a larger car. More the size of the Jaguar F-Type, stated the executive.”

This is contrary to select reports that suggested the Alfieri would be smaller, and not only be primarily focused on the 718 Cayman, but also take aim at the upcoming Renault Alpine and the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Look for the Maserati Alfieri to go on sale in 2019 or 2020 and feature a pricing ladder that is very similar to the Jaguar F-Type’s. That model has a price tag of just over $61,000 when ordered with a V6, a manual transmission, and rear wheel drive. The electric version will be much more expensive in comparison, but its ability to serve as a halo vehicle will be beneficial to helping increase sales of its other models especially the Ghibli and the Levante SUV.

2017 Honda Civic Si Brings Turbocharged Performance To Vaunted Nameplate

2017 is shaping to be a big year for Honda’s performance aspirations. With the imminent arrival of the Type R, the company has unveiled the next chapter in its performance revival with the all new 2017 Civic Si.

 

 

Debuting in prototype form at a private event in Los Angeles, the 10th generation Civic Si features exterior styling that is bolder than prior generations, and also makes the Si a more serious contender at the same time. The width of the body is largely unchanged, but Honda designers added the front fascia and black grille from the Civic hatchback, and tweaked the rear bumper. A big spoiler also adorns the tail, and is paired nicely with the single hexagonal shaped exhaust tip.

A front splitter also makes its apperance and all Civic Si models feature trick 19-inch wheels which help complete the overall profile. A notable omission is the “i-VTEC” stickers which have become a staple of the model since the late 90’s. The healthy amounts of Si badges are in full attendance however, and are scattered through out the car.

 

 

Performance hardware has also been reinvented for the newest Si, and represents a seismic shift in Honda strategy. Once known for being one of the highest revving naturally aspirated powerplants money can buy, the 1.5 liter turbocharged engine focuses on providing more low end torque, and also balancing power delivery.

Honda did not formally reveal how much power it makes, but its safe to assume that it has not climbed much beyond the 205 horsepower figure produced by the current generation Si. A six speed manual is the sole transmission avalible, and sends the engine’s grunt to the front wheels with the help of a limited slip differential.

 

 

The interior of the Civic Si also recieves sporty touches and also includes a healthy dose of red accents (at least on this prototype.) The blood red hue also extends to the instrument panel, floor mats, contrast stitching, as well as the background for the touchscreen infotainment system. The Si exclusive seats promise to deliver better support, and feature a seat back stitched “Si” logo.

Meanwhile, drivers will be pleased with the aluminium shifter ball as well as the aluminium sport pedals. A sport mode next to the shifter presumably alters steering feel as well as suspension travel. Honda claims that the interior of this prototype “closely previews” the final production version, so expect minimal changes when the Si fully transistions into mass production.

It is unknown if the 2017 Civic Si will come in hatchback form, but look for a more practical sedan variant to join the fold later. Pricing has not been released either, but look for the model to arrive sometime next year.

 

Nissan Showcases 2017 Sentra Nismo

Nissan has big plans for its Sentra compact car, and the first chapter was recently unveiled with the debut of the recently unveiled Sentra SR Turbo. However, there will always be a select group of buyers that want a tantalizing slice of the performance enhancements that the Nismo is known for, so the company has unveiled their compelling slice of Sentra pie with the all new 2017 Sentra Nismo.

 

 

The exterior styling of the Nismo will be the first key change that many Sentra faithful will notice with the front fascia receiving a “layered double wing” design on the lower front of the front fascia with tweaked side skirts, a revised rear fascia, and a revised rear spoiler adding a visual exclamation point to the design. Red accent stripes help add contrast to the sedan, and buyers can choose from five different colors Brilliant, Silver, Super Black, Aspen White, or Gun Metallic. Rounding out the more aggressive suit of clothes are 18-inch aluminium alloy wheels that look slick, and add a strong finishing point to its profile.

Nismo engineers also revamped the car’s suspension, and the Sentra Nismo benefits from upgraded struts and front springs as well as monotube rear dampers which benefit from the 0.4 inch drop in ride height. Sticky Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires help keep the car planted during all forms of spirited driving. However, for buyers that prefer to have even more grip, the Sentra Nismo can also be equipped with Bridgestone Potenza RE-71R summer tires.

 

 

Performance hardware for the Sentra Nismo is largely carried over from the Sentra SR Turbo which includes the 1.6 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that brings 188 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. A six speed manual transmission is standard equipment, but buyers can opt for an optional Nismo tuned Xtronic CVT automatic. The Nismo also shares the SR Turbo’s braking gear, and features 11.7 inch vented disc brakes at the front, and 11.5 inch disc brakes at the rear.

 

 

The interior also comes nicely equipped and includes a leather wrapped steering wheel with Alcantara inserts, Nismo branded carpets, a red tachometer, and other Nismo touches to spice things up even further. The interior is only available in charcoal with red contrast accents and also comes with only one option. Dubbed the Nismo Premium Package, it features goodies such as an eight speaker Bose audio system, Nissan voice recognition technology, and the NissanConnect system.

Pricing for the Sentra Nismo has not been officially confirmed, but early reports suggest that the sedan will start at just under $25,000 which would be $3,000 more than the SR Turbo with the first units arriving in Nissan showrooms sometime next  year.

Beast Alpha

Rezvani Teases Beast Alpha

Rezvani has been on a roll when it comes to expanding its ferocious lineup of Beast offerings, and the California based firm appears to have yet another road devouring offering in the works with the company releasing a lone teaser image of its all new Beast Alpha.

As is the case with the company’s other Beast offerings, the Alpha most likely starts life as a stripped down Atom which has been shrouded in a custom coach built body. However, unlike other Rezvani models, the Beast Alpha stands out thanks to several unique features. These include forward sliding ‘sidewinder’ doors, a removable hardtop, and air conditioning.  Naturally, the extra amenities increases the Beast Alpha’s curb weight by several hundred pounds when compared to its brethren, but Rezvani reps claim that the car still retains its lightweight reputation with the Alpha allegedly being 50 pounds below a ton.

Performance for the Beast Alpha comes from a tweaked and mid-mounted version of the Atom’s 2.4 liter supercharged Honda engine which promises to deliver 500 horsepower. This figure would put the Alpha in the middle of the Beast lineup with the car directly between the base 300 horsepower Speedster, and the range topping 700 horsepower Beast X. In short, it’ll be the proverbial Goldilocks model in the Beast lineup.

In addition to its potent power, the Beast Alpha is also capable of impressive levels of performance with Rezvani claiming that the Alpha can pounce its way to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds which is impressive considering the extra weight that the Alpha is carrying in comparison to its more track focused siblings. The Alpha also closes a void in Rezvani’s lineup, and adds a middle ground option to those that want to have more power than the base Speedster, but don’t have the financial resources to go all in on the Beast X.

Look for full details to be released when the Alpha makes its formal debut on November 16th. Pricing is expected to fall in the low six figure range for a base Alpha which is on par for other entries in its unique vehicle segment.

Buick Teases Velite PHEV Concept Ahead Of Chinese Debut

General Motors has released the first teaser image of the Velite PHEV concept car which will make its debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show, and signal what is expected out of Buick’s upcoming Buick Blue sub-brand.

GM for its part has remained quiet on specific details of the concept, but did reveal that the Velite’s PHEV system will consist of a direct injection gasoline engine that is paired with the company’s latest “modular intelligent electric drive system, as well as a modular lithium-ion battery pack.

The exterior styling of the concept also largely remains shrouded in mystery  but the front end does promise to showcase a bold face that is highlighted by slick headlights that merge at the Buick tri-shield which is also illuminated. The hood also has a relatively elegant design, and appears to thankfully be free of the tacky portholes that have come to define Buick’s offerings (for better or for worse.)

“Additional products featuring HEV, PHEV, and extended range electric vehicle powertrains are on the way from Buick to provide diverse intelligent solutions for green mobility” the announcement went on to reveal hinting that GM has a big green push in store for Buick that would not only be prevalent in China, but also trickle down into the U.S. market where the brand’s lack of green offerings is a noticeable weakness when compared to rivals such as Lexus and Hyundai

It is currently unknown if the powertrain and chassis architectures will lean towards the Cadillac CT6 PHEV or if they will share their heritage with the Chevrolet Volt. However, GM has released statements in the past which state that the company sees the Volt as a range extended EV versus an outright PHEV which could give the CT6 theory an edge in overall feasibility.

Look for additional details to be revealed closer to the car’s formal unveiling on November 18th, with more images possibly appearing before the big unveiling in China.

Fisker Previews EMotion Electric Car

Henrik Fisker always seems to find a way to stay busy in the automotive world. From being the man responsible for the current generation Aston Martin Vantage as well as the recently axed DB9, to crafting the outright bonkers Force 1 supercar. Fisker’s mark on the industry is undisputed, and it appears that his legacy will continue with his latest creation the EMotion electric car.

Unlike the Force 1 which was based on the Dodge Viper and sparked a legal spat with Aston Martin, the EMotion is an all new effort with the car boasting a wedge shaped design that is decidely less dainty than the Fisker Karma.

The EMotion also embraces the recent shift towards four door coupes though admittably some of the design elements here may appear EMotionto have a subtle relationship with Fisker’s old creation which is now being offered by Chinese firm Wanxiang under the Revero nameplate.

“Combining redefined proportions with game-changing battery technology, the car will boast the world’s longest electric range of any production vehicle on the road,” the company revealed in an accompanying statement. “For the first time in automotive history, Fisker’s electric vehicle adaptive construction transforms the use of lightweight materials without compromising elegance to create a superior driving experience.”

The EMotion will also allegedly have more rear head and leg room than comporable segment rivals with the rest of the cabin “cocooning” occupants in premium materials as well as superior ergonomic design.

Like Tesla, Fisker is aiming to create EV offerings that set new benchmarks for range and cost in every segment. Fisker’s strategy also mirrors Tesla’s and will initally be defined by premium models before trickling down market to appeal to more buyers.

Curiously, Fisker is taking an unconventional approach when it comes to battery technology with the firm ditching existing suppliers in favor of an all new seperate battery division dubbed Fisker Nanotech. The division is said to be pursuing a mysterious breakthrough battery technology that will be heralded by the EMotion. If all goes to plan, the car could theoretically deliver a driving range of 400 miles which would smash the rather low range boasted by many of its rivals.

It will be intersting to see if Fisker can use this second chance effort to finally build a sucessful EV offering. Its last attempt the forementioned Karma had early inital promise, but the company was forced to stop building it in 2012 after a series of issues with its old supplier A123 caused the battery maker to go bankrupt which in turn nearly crippled Fisker.

The EMotion then, can be seen as the company’s all in bet on the green car industry, and it will be interesting to see if the EMotion and its breakthrough battery technology can truly stand out against traditional lithium-ion batteries without falling into the same traps that doomed previous breakthrough efforts.