Monthly Archives: February 2017

Mitsubishi Unveils Eclipse Cross

When Mitsubishi recently revealed that the company was going to focus on a CUV focused lineup, we were curious to see where things would go moving forward. The Japanese auto firm has unveiled the first glimpse of this compelling future, the 2018 Eclipse Cross.

Eclipse Cross

 

While some enthusiasts may cry foul seeing the Eclipse nameplate on a CUV versus a sports coupe, the Eclipse Cross does have some neat styling elements that make it stand out when compared to segment rivals like the Nissan Rouge. The bulk of the styling language is carried over from XR-PHEV II concept that first appeared at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, and Mitsubishi designers did a good job in maintaining the bulk of the concept’s design language in the shift to formal production cues.

The front fascia features bright chrome accents that project an X-shaped look, while the rear fascia features a beefy roof mounted spoiler, as well as slick L-shaped taillights that are connected by an intergrated lightbar. The rakish C-pillar helps give the Eclipse Cross a coupe like profile, while also highlighting its form over function motif.

Eclipse Cross interior

With all things considered, the Eclipse Cross breathes much needed life into Mitsubishi’s exterior styling, and is a massive improvement over the bland canvas embraced by many of its current models. It also highlights how important design will be in the creation of Mitsubishi products moving forward.

“Land Rover has proved you can be both rugged and stylish, and we intend to follow that path” revealed a company insider during an interview with British magazine Autocar.

Performance hardware will vary depending on which market it is in. In the U.S. buyers will only have access to a 1.5 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine, which is standard along with all-wheel drive and a CVT transmission. Meanwhile, other markets can also choose a 2.2 liter turbocharged four cylinder diesel engine that is mated to an eight speed automatic. Sadly, there is currently no plans to bring the eight speed to U.S. spec models.

Eclipse Cross HUD

European buyers will have first crack at the Eclipse Cross when it arrives in dealerships this fall. The Eclipse Cross will then trickle into other markets, with U.S. dealerships getting their first units either at the end of this year, or in early 2018.

 

Ford Unveils 2017 Fiesta ST

Ford’s pint sized track terror the Fiesta ST has proven to be a solid sales success thanks to its impressive levels of performance as well as its financially attractive pricing ladder. The Blue Oval aims to continue this successful path with the 2017 Ford Fiesta ST.

A key change is found under the hood of the newly updated hot hatch. Power and overall refinement are up, but the engine drops a cylinder in the process. You heard that correctly, this iteration of the ST is the first ST model to be powered by a three cylinder engine.

The engine also loses a bit of displacement versus the old 1.6 liter, but the 195 horsepower this turbocharged three banger produces is 17 more than the old engine which relied on temporary moments of overboost to achieve its 197 horsepower figure.

Ford claims that the new Fiesta ST will make the sprint to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds which is nearly identical to the outgoing engine. Trque is also the same, but peak torque arrives lower in the rev band than before which should help improve acceleration times slightly. Port and direct injection has been fitted to the engine in an effort to not only reduce C02 emissions, but also cut down on carbon buildup in the valves.

In addition to the new engine, buyers also get to choose from three distinct driving modes Normal, Sport, and Track. Normal mode is, as expected, the setting with full safety net system engaged with Sport and Track modes gradually removing them.

The exterior styling is all new, but the look is still distinctivly Ford, which is good since the company appears to not be trying to mess with a good thing with this redesign. Ford chose to only preview the 3-door version in its press images, but look for the 5-door version to once again be the sole choice for U.S. buyers.

Ford promises higher levels of customization and personalization features for Fiedta buyers with owners being able to customixe trim elements suvh as the gearshift lever, flat bottom steering wheel, and exterior door handles

Look for more information on pricing and other options to gradually roll out in the weeks leading to the ST’s debut in Geneva with more details emerging closer to the ST’s formal launch to dealers worldwide.

Chevrolet Amps Up The Aggression with 2018 ZL1 LE

Are you looking for more track day performance from the Chevrolet Camaro, and not even the already potent ZL1 model can satiate your need for speed? Chevrolet has unveiled the solution to this unique problem with the all new 2018 ZL1 LE.

ZL1 LE

Building on the standard ZL1, the ZL1 LE was designed to be the ultimate track day Camaro, and also enhances the already popular LE package even further. Chevrolet engineers added an all new suspension that features lightweight components, and the company was quick to point out that owners can easily switch between track and street settings.

The ZL1 LE also features sticky Goodyear tires that were designed to heat up quickly, which translates into higher levels of grip. These tires are wrapped around forged aluminium alloy wheels that are an inch wider and are slightly smaller than the hoops fitted on the standard ZL1 . A key aspect of these rims is that they are actually lighter than the stock units despite their additional width.

ZL1 LE

The exterior styling of the ZL1 LE also sees a host of upgrades that aim to enhance the car’s already solid aerodynamic profile. The front fascia features lower bumper mounted dive planes, while the rear incorporates a massive rear wing.

Performance under the hood has not been altered in this transformation, and the car is still powered by the familiar 650 horsepower supercharged LT4 V8. A six speed manual transmission is the sole offering here though, and features a revised sixth gear ratio.

ZL1 LE

The ZL1 LE is also lighter than the standard coupe, but unlike the stripped out Z/28 model, the ZL1 LE retains a high level of standard equipment, and includes heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, dual zone climate control, and a Bose premium audio system.

The 2018 ZL1 LE is expected to go on sale later this year, with formal pricing information being released before the car begins its full rollout to dealers nation wide. In the meantime, Chevrolet has released a brief video of the ZL1 LE tearing it up in its natural habitat which can be seen below.

 

 

Smart To Go EV Only In U.S. Market

A new report from Daimler owned Smart reveals that the brand will stop selling a large slice of its current lineup in the U.S. and Canada, with only EV models making up the range after 2017.

This decision was shared to Smart dealers via a letter that was written by Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dieter Exler, and was not made public. Automotive News however, managed to obtain a copy of this letter which reveals.

“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” he explained. “The smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions smart electric drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada.”

Production of the U.S. spec fortwo will cease in April, but sales will continue until the present inventory runs out, which will give dealerships time to sell them to interested buyers. The first deliveries of the electric models will begin this summer, and expect the full rollout to be completed in early fall.

The announcement does not come as a suprise since the brand’s North American sales have been slowly dwindling over the past few years. According to Automotive News, the brand’s, peak sales year was in 2014, when it sold 10,453 cars. Since that time, sales have plummeted, with the brand only selling 6,211 units.

The first generation Smart car was a compelling idea when it first came out, and it managed to have strong success due to the spike in oil prices in 2008. However, with gas prices lower, and demand for SUVs and crossovers on the rise, many Americans were simply not interested in the pint sized two seater.

Smart’s decision to go EV only after 2017 applies to the U.S. and Canada. Buyers in other markets like Europe, will still have access to the current generation fortwo petrol model, which is powered by a Renault sourced three cylinder engine.

Mercedes-Maybach Showcases G650 Landaulet

Ever wondered what would happen if you took the superbly capable G-Wagen SUV, and infused it with the opulent luxury that the Maybach brand can only provide? Mercedes-Maybach has provided the result of this mad scientist-esque cocktail, the limited production G650 Landaulet.

G650 Landaulet

The Landaulet is a stretched version of the iconic G-Class, but stands out thanks to its soft top, as well as its foot high ground clearance. The G Wagen is already a uniquely awesome beast to drive on and off the road, but the highlight feature lies above the rear axle.

650 Landaulet

Normally, the G-Wagen’s rear seat accomodations are on the tight side, but the stretched wheelbase on the Landaulet allowed Maybach designers to create a cocoon like rear space with indvidual leather seats borrowed from the Maybach badged S-Class.

650 Landaulet

The seats can coddle occupants with a hot massage, or fully recline for passengers that like to stretch out and relax on long journeys. The center console features switches that allow passengers to raise or lower the glass partition, as well as operate the power top.

Performance for the Landaulet comes from the familiar 6.0 liter twin-turbocharged V12 engine that makes 630 horsepower and 730 lb-ft of torque. All of this muscle is sent to all four wheels through an automatic transmission which promises to make this limo-esque vehicle a rocket at any speed.

650 Landaulet

Meanwhile, Unimog inspired portal axles help give 17-inches of ground clearance, and also amp up the G-Wagen’s already impressive off-road capabilities. Look for this to be a highlight with well heeled guests when trekking off the beaten path.

Mercedes-Maybach plans to only build 99 examples of the G650 Landaulet, and will ship the first units to dealerships this fall. Pricing as well as avalibility were not released, but look for a small batch of examples to already be spoken for ahead of its official debut.

Ford Unveils Aluminium Bodied 2018 Expedition

While the era of the full-size SUV may appear to be drawing to a close with the prevelance of car based CUVs, Ford still has big plans for this segment, and has unveiled the newly redesigned 2018 Ford Expedition.

2018 Expediton

The 2018 Expedition is the long awaited replacement for the current generation model, which was in desperate need of updates to stay competitive. The exterior styling has been tightened, and is less bulbous looking than before with all aluminium bodywork helping to shed weight. The end result has a strong resemblance to its rival, the Chevrolet Tahoe, and embraces copious amounts of chrone trim.

Thankfully the slick design also retains key Expedition elements, including its trademark power running boards, beefy tailights, as well as its broad and functional side profile. Wheel sizes are also up, and top tier Expedition models now come equipped with 22 inch wheels (wheras the old model maxed out at 20 inches.) Lower trim models feature 17 inch wheels, and Ford designers did a much better job of hiding the muffler and spare tire versus the old model.

2018 Expedition

The 2018 Expedition also grows in length with the standard model gaining four inches of length, on top of the three inches that the wheelbase gains. The newly renamed Expedition Max long-wheelbase model (the EL moniker was pitched for 2018) gains one inch in length, but uses the same wheelbase as before.

At the moment, the EL accounts for about 40 percent of Expedition sales, but Ford claims that this figure will shrink with the new model since the standard length version now boasts more cargo space than before.

2018 Expedition

As mentioned earlier, the 2018 Expedition switches to all aluminium body panels, and this change plays a key role in the Expedition losing 300 lbs of flab. A lighter frame also contributes, and Ford claims that it is much stiffer than before which should reduce flex, and improve overall handling behavior.

A 3.5 liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is still the only engine choice avalible, and Ford promises it will be more powerful, though the company stopped short of formally revealing output figures for it. Regardless, look for the new engine to be an improvement over the 365 horsepower unit found in the current generation Expedition

The transmission will also gain more gears with the old six speed automatic being replaced by the same 10-speed automatic that also sees duty in the Ford F-150, and the recently unveiled 2018 Mustang. Engine stop/start technology is standard, and buyers can choose from rear or all-wheel drive, with the latter option still incorporating a low range transfer case.

Ford also did not reveal towing figures, but look for it to improve slightly on the 6,500 and 9,200 lb rating wielded by the current generation Expedition lineup. The company’s steer by knob Pro Trailer Backup Assist is avalible as an optional extra to help make life easier for RV and boat owners.

Durango SRT

Dodge Unveils Firebreathing Durango SRT [Video]

With the Chicago Auto Show fast approaching, Dodge has formally unveiled the 2018 Durango SRT which brings track ready performance to the venerable family hauler.

While the Durango SRT is not the Hellcat powered monster that prior rumors suggested (we have to wait until the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk appears) it still does its best to look the part. This is thanks to model exclusive elements including a new hood with air duct and heat extractors, a tweaked lower bumper with a wider air dam, as well as LED daytime running lights.

Fender flares also accent the package, and lead out to a rear diffuser that is topped off with twin four-inch exhaust tips. This certainly helps amp up the Durango’s presence on the street, and makes up for the standard model’s lack of attitude.

The interior of the Durango SRT also embraces performance, and real carbon fiber trim accents make their way to the Durango for the first time ever. Supple Laguna leather upholstry also comes along for the ride, and the supportive leather thrones feature silver accent stitching, as well as heated and cooled capability.

Rounding out the transformation from mundane to macho is a flat bottomed steering wheel, as well as SRT badging scattered throughout the cabin. Expect these touches to be a hit with the kids lucky enough to be shuttled off to school in this beast.

The Durango SRT certainly looks the part, but a proper SRT product is more than just looking good. It’s what lurks under the hood that counts, and the Durango SRT does not disappoint in that regard. As mentioned earlier, the Hellcat is absent here, but the SUV bucks the trend towards downsizing, and fully embraces the familiar 6.4 liter V8 thats also found in the Charger and Challenger.

Good for a healthy 475 horsepower, the beefy V8 allows the Durango SRT to make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (on par with a BMW M5) as well as cover the quarter mile in 12.9 seconds.

The SRT retains the eight speed automatic that sees duty in lesser Durangos, but it has been tweaked for performance driving, and is complimented by huge Brembo brakes, a firmer suspension, as well as large Pirelli Scorpion tires.

Seven diffrent driving modes are avalible here, with Track mode sending up to 70 percent of the engines power to the rear wheels, and also promises to dramatically reduce shift times for the forementioned eight speed automatic transmission.

Dodge has not formally revealed when the Durango SRT will go on sale, or how much it will cost. But look for it to command a healthy premium over other Durango models when it eventually thunders its way onto dealer lots. In the meantime you can see the Durango SRT do its best burnout in the video below.

HSV Unveils LS9 Powered GTSR W1 Super Sedan

Confirming a whole host of rumors that have been swirling for months about a higher level of Commodore performance. Holden’s in house tuner HSV has unveiled an all new Commodore performance model to formally send off the current generation Commodore.

Dubbed the GTSR W1, This souped up Holden goes all in on its performance credentials, and is powered by the same fire breathing LS9 supercharged V8 that also saw duty in the last generation ZR1 Corvette. Good for 635 GTSR-W1-Rear-3-4-smhorsepower and 601 lb-ft of torque, this potent engine allows the GTSR W1 to make the sprint to 60 mph in less than four seconds.

In addition to its straight line performance, the W1 also has solid handling manners thanks to an all new race inspired SupaShock suspension system, 20-inch wheels shod in Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R race tires, 6-piston AP Racing monoblock front calipers, and a specially tuned bi-modal exhaust system.

The interior of the GTSR W1 shares much of its basic layout with the standard GTSR, but amps GTSR-W1-Interior-smit up with acres of Alcantara trim as well as a set of front racing seats.

Other details have not been released as of yet, but it is believed that HSV will only be building 250 examples of the GTSR W1, with each one having a base price of about $130,000.

 

2018 Dodge Demon Goes To Extremes In Weight Savings Program

The hype surrounding the 2018 Dodge Demon has been growing ever since Dodge began its meticulous teasing campaign a few weeks ago. This latest bit of news is not a new video, but rather new information that reveals just how far SRT engineers went in their bid to shave precious pounds from the Demon’s flanks.

The current generation Hellcat already pushes the very envelope of sanity, but the Demon aims to completely tear it to pieces. For starters, engineers removed all but the drivers seat which helps remove 113 pounds thanks to the omission of the fore-mentioned seats as well as their associated components. Its safe to assume that Dodge will offer the seats as optional equipment, though we expect it to be limited to the front passenger seat only.

The absence of rear passengers also causes the stereo system to be limited to two front door mounted speakers while the carpet, trunk trim, spare tire cover, as well as the rear parking sensors have been pitched in the name of weight shedding. Lastly, 18 pounds of NVH material has been removed, which means the engine will be the center of your auditory attention when in full song, and make you wonder why the stereo is even along for the ride in the first place?

Manual tilt and telescoping steering gear saves four pounds, and the Demon will come equipped with lighter 18 x 11-inch aluminium wheels with open lug nuts, as well as lighter six piston brakes and a hollowed out sway bar. The grand total is 232 lbs of weight savings, but with Dodge claiming that the figure is 217 lbs, it appears that 17 pounds were added in other areas of the car. Dodge is keeping quiet on where exactly the extra weight went, but look for the answer to eventually be known before the Demon’s New York debut, possibly via a future teaser video.