Monthly Archives: April 2017

Hyundai Teases Kona Front Fascia

Hyundai has big plans for its CUV lineup, with the Korean automaker continuing its teaser campaign for the upcoming Kona CUV, which is expected to make its debut in the near future and serve as Hyundai’s entry into the compact CUV segment.

Named after a district on Hawaii’s Big Island, the Kona is designed to appeal to buyers that want a family hauler, but don’t want to step up to bigger entries like the Tuscon and the Santa Fe. Hyundai claims that the Kona has “true SUV genes, progressive design, and premium features.”  That is not a whole lot to go on, but the new teaser image Hyundai released does appear to shed some light on the styling of the Kona, with the soft roader embracing a more dynamic design especially when compared to the decidedly more reserved design language that is seen on Hyundai’s bigger SUV entries.

The LED daytime running lights for example are placed a bit higher than the grille itself, while the headlights are much lower, and are reminiscent of the look achieved by the NIssan Juke and Jeep Cherokee. If we had to grade the Kona on this regard, it would be somewhere in the middle, with the Kona easily outclassing the Juke but falling a bit short of the Jeep. That can change though once Hyundai formally unveils the Kona in all of its unobstructed glory.

Like its exterior styling, the technical aspects that underpin the Kona have also been shrouded in a veil of secrecy. However, it is known that the Kona will follow the general blueprint laid out by others in its segment, and offer front wheel drive as standard equipment, with all-wheel drive being an optional extra. Also expect four cylinder engines to be the dominant engine choice for the Kona, with an automatic possibly being the sole transmission offering available.

The Kona was designed mainly for the European market, with Hyundai hoping that the compact Kona will help the Korean automaker achieve its goal of being the number one automaker in Europe by 2021. This strong focus on the European market also helps add a degree of uncertainty into its apperance in the U.S. market, but Hyundai could eventually change its mind, especially if factors change, and promote a buying enviroment that is favorable to the Kona.

Rezvani Prices 2018 Beast Alpha, Costs Under $100k

When Rezvani first introduced the 2017 Beast Alpha at the Los Angeles Auto Show back in November, we were intrigued by its removable targa top, as well as the 500 horsepower engine lurking under its elegantly sculpted hood. However, its $200,000 price tag was not so praise worthy. Thankfully it appears change is in the air with the release of a lone teaser image that hints at a massive price cut for the 2018 Beast, as well as other changes that aim to make the boutique supercar offering standout when compared alongside its more mainstream peers.

CEO Ferris Rezvani has high hopes for the 2018 Beast with the enthusiastic chief claiming that the Beast Alpha will be “a Porsche killer, but with even more focus on the enthusiast.”Rezvani went on to say that the 2018 model year will bring a unique series of features that are tailored to a more mainstream customer, while still maintaining the race car like level of performance and exotic design. It would also do this at a lower price with Rezvani revealing that the updated Beast Alpha would start at under $100,000.

Technical specifications for the 2018 Beast Alpha have not been unleashed as of this writing, but the 2017 Beast Alpha has a mere curbweight of 1,950 lbs which is achieved thanks to a body crafted out of carbon fiber as well as a Lotus derived aluminum monocoque material. A heavily modified 2.4 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine delivers 500 horsepower, and can scoot the Beast Alpha to 60 mph in a blistering 3.2 seconds thanks to its optional sequential automatic transmission (3.5 when equipped with the standard six speed manual.)

The California company is already accepting pre-orders for the 2018 Beast Alpha for enthusiasts that are eager to get their hands on the car ahead of its official debut, which is expected to take place sometime during the second quarter of the year. Early adopters will have to shell out a refundable deposit of $1,000 to be put on the waiting list, however we think its worth it, especially to experience the trick sliding sidewinder doors first hand.

 

Honda Showcases Clarity Electric and Plug-in Hybrid

The Clarity fuel cell was a big achievement for Honda when the Japanese auto giant first unveiled it several years ago. However, the fuel Cell represented only a small portion of the Clarity’s full potential, and Honda has unveiled the final two members of the Clarity family under the bright lights of the New York International Auto Show, the Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid.

The Clarity PHEV is equipped with an ultra efficient 1.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine to generate electricity and directly power the front wheels in certain driving conditions. The engine is capable of delivering 181 horsepower and is paired with a lithium ion battery pack. Honda claims that the PHEV can be driven on all electric power up to 42 miles and achieve up to 42 mpg when the gasoline engine is running.

Meanwhile the Clarity Electric is solely powered by an electric motor that delivers 161 horsepower, and its battery can be fully charged in three hours or up to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Honda claims that the Clarity Electric is capable of achieving up to 111 MPGe but curiously its 25.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack is not that much bigger than the plug-in hybrid. This particular figure contributes to the Clarity Electric’s rather modest 80 mile driving range which is one of the lowest in the market and falls short of the Chevrolet Bolt and the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Honda claims that the Clarity Electric compensates for that initial disadvantage by being more spacious and luxurious than any other non-Tesla offering out on the market. It will be interesting to see if this will be enough to win over electric car buyers, but both models feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability as well as sustainable bio-fabric and plastic trim.

Honda revealed that both models are expected to start in the mid-$30,000 range before tax incentives but wheras the PHEV will roll out in all 50 states right out the gate, the Clarity Electric will initially only be available in California and Oregon before eventually rolling out in the remaining 48 states.

Genesis Previews Upcoming SUV Offering With GV80 FCV Concept

Genesis is making great strides in its emergence as a viable luxury brand especially with the G90 and G80 sedans. However, for the brand to truly blossom, Genesis will need CUV/SUV entries to prop up its reputation in the luxury car market.

While it is currently unknown what the production version will look like, Genesis previewed a glimpse at this future with the GV80 concept which showcases a new design language that aims to cement its styling language for years to come.

The two row four seat concept features a bold front fascia that is firmly anchored by the familiar Genesis grille, Unlike other applications of the Genesis grille, the application here has a bolder presence, which is mostly due to the larger real estate that is dedicated to it. This enhanced swagger is accentuated further by a second opening in the lower portion of the grille, which is reminiscent of recently Bentley offerings.

The grille is flanked by two tiered headlights that are made up of rows of separate LED strips. Below these stylish strips are two specially designed “air curtain inlets which flank the 23-inch wheels. The design of the inlets transitions into outlets behind the wheels, which are designed to help cool the hydrogen fuel cells. A pair of matching outlets also appears on the rear fascia.

Meanwhile the interior adopts a two tiered display with a large curved screen that serves as the infotainment and control hub. In addition, a second smaller cluster style display showcases vital driving information. The interior is a technological showcase, but our favorite feature has to be the trusses that Genesis designers used for the side pillars. These trusses are very stylish, and can also be viewed from inside and outside the vehicle.

With the high levels of luxury and technology that the GV80 possesses, we look forward to seeing what the production version will bring to buyers. While the hydrogen fuel cell power train will most likely not make the jump to production, look for the G90’s V6 engines to carryover to the GV80, as well as the eight speed transmission that helps regulate all that power.

How Toyota’s FT-4X Concept Could Revamp Future Of SUVs

Toyota’s FT-4X concept SUV certainly made waves when it was unveiled in New York yesterday, but the pint sized utility also hints at what could be in store for Toyota’s CUV lineup.

Currently Toyota has a very diverse lineup of CUVs, but a notable void exists in the compact CUV segment. Granted the C-HR is a commendable attempt at filling the gap, but its odd styling does detract from its overall mission somewhat.

This is where the FT-4X finds its niche, building on a rugged looking canvas that hints at crossing the beaten path. However, Toyota claims that the FT-4X’s suit of clothes actually highlight its “Rugged Charm” (whatever that means) and that it was designed to appeal to “casual core” consumers. The flat panel roof houses power outlets, which allows buyers to power campsite electronics directly from the exterior.

The interior was also designed to reflect the needs of city dwellers with Toyota claiming that it is a “rolling gearbox” with the cabin offering commendable levels of storage in a deceptively open layout. A key feature is the dual temperature controlled storage boxes in the tailgate that can keep food hot or cold while still moonlighting as a handy place to store your gear.

Curiously, Toyota chose to not add a formal infotainment system, and instead constructed a unit that allows occupants to mount their phone to it in a nod towards Generation Y’s varied uses for smartphones (including navigation.)

Toyota has not formally commented on whether the FT-4X will eventually spawn a production model or not. But buyers clamoring for a reborn FJ Cruiser will most likely be disappointed. Instead, the production version would most likely be a compact CUV that would give Toyota an entry against the Jeep Renegade as well as the Kia Soul and Honda HR-V.

Lincoln Ups The Luxury SUV Game With 2017 Navigator

The Lincoln Navigator has been the perfect representation of Lincoln’s fortunes in recent years. When it first appeared in 1997, it literally set the luxury SUV segment ablaze with its slick (for the era) styling as well as its copious amounts of luxury.

All seemed well, that is, until the second generation Escalade came along. The big Caddy quickly outpaced the Navigator in sales, and as a result, the big Lincoln (as well as the brand that supported it) fell further and further behind in relevance. Lincoln understands how crucial the Navigator is to its identity, and has pulled out all the stops to make it shine once again.

The exterior styling will be the first thing that many observers will notice when looking at the 2017 Navigator in full detail. Wheras its predecessor had the elegance of a tacky pair of hoop earrings, the latest Navigator embraces an all new design, and the end result is very stunning to look at. The front fascia borrows the mesh grille from the Lincoln Continental and the big Lincoln star emblem softly glows when the driver walks up to it. The light show is part of a multi stage welcoming routine that also illuminates lights in the lower front fascia, taillights, as well as the puddle lamps. The Navigator also features adaptive headlights that vary their intensity depending on vehicle speeds. Like the Expedition, the Navigator features aluminium body panels which help reduce weight, and also increase its fuel economy.

The interior of the Navigator was designed to embody Lincoln’s “Quiet Luxury” principle, and it is a soft lush space, filled with high end materials, and three rows of ambient lighting. Like the Continental, the Navigator can be equipped with Lincoln’s all new 30-way perfect position seats that offer heating, cooling, and massage elements. The second row seats can be equipped either as a full bench or separate captains chairs. Meanwhile, the third row seats feature power recline technology to help free up room for passengers especially bigger ones.

Rear seat occupants also have an extensive suite of entertainment at their disposal thanks to the dual 10.0 inch screens on the front seatbacks. They can play media streamed from paired Android devices while Sling Media users can receive TV channels through the system. Audiophiles will also be pleased to know that the top tier sound system is a potent 20-speaker Revel II system. Lincoln’s Black Label trim plays a key role in the 2018 Navigator and is the top tier offering in the Navigator lineup. In addition to the standard Black Label trim, the Navigator also has two model exclusive Black Label variants that bring unique design touches to the interior.

Performance for the 2018 Navigator comes from a revised version of the 3.5 liter EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 that Lincoln claims is good for 450 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. These figures are roughly on par with the Ford Raptor, and the Navigator also utilizes the same 10-speed automatic to shunt all that power to either the rear or all four wheels.

It will be interesting to see if all these updates can help brighten the Navigator’s sales fortunes once it enters full production. For perspective, Cadillac sold over 27,000 Escalades last year, while Lincoln only sold 10,000 Navigators despite the old model being $11,000 cheaper than the $78,000 MSRP wielded by the base Escalade.

Dodge Unveils 840 Horsepower Drag Strip Slaying Demon

After keeping the world captivated with twelve long weeks of captivating teasers, Dodge has finally unleashed its drag strip slaying monster on the world, the 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon.

Dodge used its pre-autoshow conference to cement its image as a performance brand with swagger, and in an age where a renewed quest for horsepower is once again in full swing, the Demon represents a tactical nuclear strike on the muscle car segment.

It all starts with the engine which has been heavily upgraded in its bid for dragstrip superiority. While it does share its basic architecture with the standard 6.2 liter Hellcat engine, the Demon’s engine is an outright evolution that goes beyond simply being a Hellcat with more boost. While a bigger 2.7 liter supercharger does deliver 14.5 pounds of boost, other upgrades include dual two stage fuel pumps, numerous reinforced engine components, as well as a larger air box with three different sources of air flow (Air Grabber hood, driver side air catcher headlamp, and a special inlet near the wheel liner.

The end result of all this mad engineering is 840 horsepower on 100-octane gasoline (808 on standard grade gas), and while the former figure is a bit short of the rumored 1,000 plus horsepower that was pitched prior to its debut. It is still a sizable boost in power from the already ridiculous 707 horsepower wielded by the standard Hellcat Challenger. It also curb stomps other high horsepower offerings including the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the Shelby GT350 Mustang, as well as the supercar-esque Corvette Z06. An eight speed automatic transmission is the sole transmission offering here, but it has also been beefed up for Demon duty, and helps the demonic Challenger burn its way to a 2.3 second 0 to 60 time as well as an equally impressive 9.65 second quarter mile time. This time was officially confirmed by the National Hot Rod Association, which subsequently banned the Demon from official competition, due to safety reasons.

An extensive crash diet also defines the Demon, and it is highlighted by two absent pieces of equipment, the passenger seats. You heard that right, in a bid to shed maximum weight, Demon engineers took out both the front passenger seat and the rear bench seat which truly makes it a driver-centric experience. It also reminds us of the Lamborghini Egoista concept in this regard, with that particular concept also embracing a one seat only layout when it was unveiled a few years ago.

Unlike that one-off Italian, Dodge will let buyers outfit the production Demon with both seats (if they must), for a reasonable sum, with FCA head of passenger cars Tim Kuniskis jokingly claiming that each seat would cost $1 on the options list. The interior otherwise retains much of the basic elements that define the standard Challenger Hellcat, albeit an environment that lacks sound deadening, various interior trim pieces, as well as the removal of all but two of the speakers for the stereo system. We are fine with this latter item since the engine should be the full focus of attention anyway, versus whatever is playing on the local pop music station.

Meanwhile all that power going to the sticky Nitto drag slick tires also highlights an additional trait of the Demon. When the throttle is punched, the front end lifts up which in turn helps put more weight on the rear to help the tires hook up quicker, and make better use of the ample 770 lb-ft of torque. This allowed the Demon to secure a Guinness World Record for the longest wheelie at an impressive 2.95 feet.

Dodge plans to build an initial run of 3,300 Demons with 3,000 going to U.S. buyers while the remaining 300 will go to customers in Canada. Pricing has not been released, but Dodge claims that it is trying to keep the Demon under the $100,000 ceiling. With this bold move, we look forward to seeing if either Ford or Chevrolet will unveil a responding salvo to the Demon in the near future in a bid to further amp up the horsepower arms race.

Jeep Unveils Track Slaying Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

With the current parade of teasers that have been unveiled for the Dodge Demon, interest and intrigue surrounding FCA and its SRT lineup is at an all time high. While we still have to wait until April 16th to see the Demon in person, Jeep has decided to cut to the chase by unveiling its first ever Hellcat powered offering, the 2018 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

 

 

The standard SRT Grand Cherokee is already a potent beast out on the street, but the Trackhawk can be considered a welcome evolution of this formula. Curious observers that are trying to spot a Trackhawk out in the wild will have to look very closely at the finer details to spot it. Jeep designers retained the bulk of the standard SRT’s exterior styling with the fender flares and bumpers carrying over mostly unchanged.

 

 

However, a trademark cue is the lack of fog lamps, which were pitched so that more cold air could make its way to the engine, especially on the drivers side. The Trackhawk also gets model exclusive supercharged badging, as well as “Trackhawk” badges scattered throughout. The interior also gets minor updates with black chrome and carbon fiber trim adorning the cabin. Occupants are also coddled by  standard heated and cooled Nappa leather/suede seats which can be upgraded to full leather thrones as part of a leather package. Meanwhile, a separate metal package adds real metal accents to the cabin which in turn increases its performance oriented theme.

 

 

The star of the show lurks under the hood with all Trackhawks featuring the same 6.2 liter supercharged V8 that also sees duty in its sinister cousins the Dodge Charger and Challenger Hellcat models. Horsepower still checks in at a lofty 707 horsepower, but torque does drop a bit to 645 lb-ft versus 650 for the Hellcat twins. We don’t think many people will be bothered by that minor detail when they sign on the dotted line. Especially, since the Trackhawk can still lunge its way to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and post a scorching 11.6 second quarter mile time.

While the engine might be unchanged, the Trackhawk does offer one distinct difference when compared to its brethren, all-wheel drive. An eight speed automatic transmission helps channel all of the engine’s muscle to all four wheels, with Jeep engineers beefing up the single speed transfer case and adding an electronic limited slip differential. The transfer case also features a wider chain as well as forged sprockets that allow it to cope with the extra power demands wrought on it by the engine. Power is split 40/60 in its base setting, but the bias gradually increases in the more aggressive driving modes. Track mode serves as the pinnacle, and splits the power 30/70 while a snow belt friendly Snow mode delivers a perfect 50/50 split.

All of this raw power is good, but it wouldn’t  mean too much if the Trackhawk lacked the handling manners to make full use of it. Thankfully, Jeep engineers answered the call, and gave the Trackhawk a high performance suspension with adaptive Bilstein shocks. The stiffer suspension lowers the Trackhawk by 1-inch when compared to other Grand Cherokee models, which helps improve its overall stance, as well as mitigating excess body roll.

20-inch wheels shod in either all-season or optional three season rubber are standard equipment, but buyers can opt for optional forged wheels. Jeep claims that this latter option helps cut 12 pounds of excess weight, which is a plus when the Trackhawk is being pushed hard at the track. Braking is achieved by Brembo brakes with six piston calipers and 15.75 inch rotors up front, and 13.73 in the rear with four piston calipers providing the stopping power. Jeep claims that the front brakes are the largest set that it has ever fit onto one of its vehicles.

Jeep has not released official pricing for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, but with the standard SRT Grand Cherokee priced in the $60,000 range, look for the Trackhawk to command a price tag closer to $70,000-80,000  when it thunders its way into dealer show rooms. In the meantime, stay tuned to Autoinfoquest.com for our live coverage of the 2017 New York Auto Show, as well as our live look at the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

2017 Honda Civic Si Embraces Turbocharged Performance, Debuts In Slick Video

Building on the path laid out by its track honed sibling the 2017 Honda Civic Type R, Honda has revealed the missing link between the base Civic and the R, the 2017 Honda Civic Si via a video release earlier today.

A key item here is that the 2017 version is not as powerful as the one that preceded it, with the all new 1.5 liter four cylinder still producing the 205 horsepower that defined the previous generation Si. However, the addition of an all new turbocharger helps push overall torque to 192 lb-ft (a gain of 18 lb-ft) with the torque being available much lower in the rev band starting at 2100 rpm before reaching the 5000 rpm limit.

While these figures are a bit paltry when compared to many of its rivals, the Si has never been about raw power in the first place, and it is in other areas where the 2017 updates truly leave their mark. for instance, the suspension has been completely revamped and now features firmer springs as well as adaptive shocks and front lower control arms borrowed from the Type R. Wider tires also help the Si grip better, while an all new Sport button adjusts the suspension, steering, and throttle mapping to have a sportier feel.

 

 

With all these changes its good to know that the Civic Si still embraces the traditional manual transmission layout, with a six speed stick helping drivers have full control over each shift up and down the gears. Lastly a genuine mechanical limited slip differential helps bring power down to the front wheels without sacrificing agility and handling.

The exterior styling of the 2017 Honda Civic Si builds on the already aggressive lines seen on the Civic hatchback, and includes the familiar center mounted exhaust system and vent work . However, the rear bumper treatment depends on which body style is chosen, as will the spoiler type, with the coupe featuring a pedestal mounted wing, while the sedan gets a more discreet unit mounted directly to the trunk lid.

 

 

The interior of the Si is highlighted by heavily bolstered sports seats that feature embroidered Si logos as well as varied fabric material. The pedals are covered in aluminium, and red lighting accents the gauges, infotainment system, and buttons. In addition to its sporty backdrop, the cabin will also come well equipped with buyers being able to equip the Si with heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, rain sensing wipers, as well as a 7-inch touchscreen which will allow buyers to have full control of the 450 watt 10-speaker sound system. These goodies should help enhance its ability to be a legit daily driver choice, while also allowing it to be on par with other sport compact offerings.

Honda has not released official pricing for the 2017 Honda Civic Si, but look for the car to still be priced in the mid – $20,000 range with well equipped examples approaching $30,000. In the meantime, you can check out the 2017 Civic Si in its natural habitat in a brief video Honda added with its release below.

Buick Unveils 2018 Regal Sportback and TourX Wagon Models

While the Opel brand may no longer be under the GM corporate umbrella, The last remnants of this bygone era are still making an impact in GM’s broader plans. Case in point, the 2018 Opel Insignia. Known as the Buick Regal here in the U.S., the newest iteration of the Regal aims to bring new-found refinement while still retaining the attributes that made the last generation model a hit with buyers.

 

The previous generation Buick Regal was only available here in the U.S. as a sedan. For 2018 the Regal ditches this approach – sort of. Instead, the 2018 version will arrive as a liftback (similar to the A7) and also as a wagon dubbed the TourX which would give Buick a competitor against the Audi Allroad and the Volvo V60 Cross Country.

 

 

Like before, the 2018 Regal makes use of a 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, but overall performance figures vary depending on the model chosen. In the front wheel drive Sportback its good for 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque with all of this muscle being channeled to the front wheels through a nine speed automatic transmission. The Sportback is also available in all-wheel drive, and that helps boost torque to 295 lb-ft, though the nine speed gets swapped for an eight speed in this application.  Meanwhile the TourX only comes with all-wheel drive and an eight speed transmission which in turn preserves its existing 250/295 power ratings.

 

 

Buick claims that versatility will be at the forefront here with the Sportback having more overall cargo space than both the Audi A5 Sportback and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe. The TourX on the other hand will offer more cargo space than the Volvo V60 Cross Country, BMW 3-Series Sport Wagon, as well as the Subaru Outback.

The interior of both versions will come packed to the brim with the latest technology that GM has to offer. This includes a standard seven-inch infotainment system with Android and Apple CarPlay capability, but buyers can opt for a bigger eight-inch setup which can be enhanced further with optional navigation software. Look for the cabin to also gain upgrades in overall fit and finish including softer touch plastics as well as more supportive seats.

In addition, both the Sportback and the TourX will also make history for Buick, and be the first Buick models to offer an “active hood” A common feature on some of its European rivals, the “active hood can sense the imminent impact of a pedestrian between 16-30 miles per hour, and use a pyrotechnic operated actuator to raise the rear of the hood by four inches. This lessens the overall impact, and could also help reduce injuries to the pedestrian according to Buick’s official release.

Buick did not release formal fuel economy figures nor a final pricing ladder for the duo, but look for that information to emerge closer to the Regal’s launch to dealer lots in late 2017. Stay tuned to Autoinfoquest for the latest on the 2018 Buick Regal, as well as our live coverage of the 2017 New York Auto Show.