Monthly Archives: September 2017

2018 Volvo XC40 Goes Small, Introduces New Purchasing Tools

Volvo has big plans for the 2018 XC40 CUV, and it intends to not only take another slice of the broader CUV sales pie, but also redefine the ownership experience as a whole in a unique bid to rewrite the way the CUV segment is entered by customers.

The exterior styling of the XC40 mirrors many of the styling elements that also define its larger 60 and 90 series siblings. This is a good thing considering the high levels of demand that both the XC60 and XC90 have experienced since their respective launches. Volvo also hopes to lure younger buyers to the marque with the XC40’s customization factor. A key example of this is the 17 different color combinations buyers can choose for the body as well as contrasting hues for the roof. This distinctly MINI-esque move should help the XC40 standout in crowded parking lots and out on city streets.

The interior aims to further build on the elegant design language of its larger kin, and is a welcome blend of youthful sophistication. Like the exterior, the cabin has several distinct themes to choose from, and aims to outshine its rivals by offering a healthy list of standard equipment. Notable items on that list include a nine-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging capability, dual zone climate control, and 18-inch alloy wheels. This focus on quality and value is welcome in the compact CUV segment where it seems many entries have compromises and don’t deliver a balanced package.

Performance hardware reflects the XC40’s place in the compact segment, and buyers will initially have two engines to choose from. The D4 AWD model will feature a 188 horsepower four cylinder diesel, while the gasoline driven T5 AWD has a turbocharged four banger that produces a healthy 244 horsepower. Both variants come equipped with Volvo’s buttery smooth eight speed Geartronic automatic, and will offer stylish Momentum and R-Design trim levels when they eventually make their appearance in Volvo showrooms.

Naturally, the Volvo badge means high levels of safety equipment, and the XC40 does not skimp on that crucial category. Volvo’s usual assortment of safety equipment and technology is present and accounted for, but the Swedish car giant also made its City Safety package standard on the urban focused XC40. This special suite of equipment features detection and emergency auto braking if the XC40 detects pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists, and large animals. Other goodies include a 360 degree camera, Cross Traffic alert with brake support, as well as Pilot Assist.

As mentioned earlier, the 2018 XC40 also aims to spearhead Volvo’s recent push into new business models that are tailored to give customers new options when it comes to purchasing a Volvo product. One of these includes an all new “Care by Volvo” all inclusive subscription package that is based on a national flat-rate fee. This is an interesting alternative to a traditional lease, and could help Volvo lure in budget conscious XC40 buyers that might not otherwise consider the brand. Another interesting idea is an all new cellphone app that would allow owners to share their vehicle with friends and family in a nod to the recent trend towards specialized ride sharing and vehicle rental services.

Look for more information regarding these subscription plans to be revealed later this year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Pricing for the 2018 XC40 is expected to start around $35,000 with fully loaded examples surpassing $45,000.

 

 

Genesis Reveals G70 Sport Sedan

Genesis has had a great start in the U.S. market thanks in part to the G90 flagship sedan, as well as the G80 sedan (AKA the artist formerly known as the Hyundai Genesis.) But the one notable thing missing from its lineup (besides CUV/SUV offerings) was a true entry level luxury sport sedan. Genesis has rectified this problem with the unveiling of the G70 sedan.

Designed to be the latest attempt at toppling the benchmark BMW 3-Series sedan, the G70 starts off with bold exterior styling cues that are quite pleasing to the eye. There’s a healthy amount of G90 traits in its well tailored suit of clothes, especially in the front fascia design albeit with more lines and creases. The side profile leads out to a short rear deck, and an equally handsome rear bumper with bold tailights rounding out the look quite nicely.

The interior reflects this theme of elegant simplicity and has a refreshingly straight forward layout for many vehicle controls. This is a nice change from many of its German competitors, and their complicated electronics.

An eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system houses Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capabilities, and will allegedly be the first unit to utilize server-based voice recognition technology. This is due to Kakao’s artifical intellegence platform dubbed “Kakao 1.” It’s unknown what this entails for buyers in the U.S. especially if the feature does make it state side, but it could give the G70 an edge over BMW’s I-Drive system, and even Mercedes and its formidable COMMAND system.

Three diffrent engine choices will be offered, but look for U.S. buyers to only have two engines to choose from. The base model will feature a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline four cylinder with 248 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Genesis claims that an optional Sport package will slightly raise the horsepower figure to 251 horses.

Meanwhile, the G70 Sport shoehorns the 3.3 liter turbo V6 from the bigger G80 into its engine bay. Look for 365 horsepower to be on tap, with Genesis reps claiming the Sport can make the sprint to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds. A 200 horsepower diesel engine serves as the greenest of the bunch, but don’t expect it to be offered here in the U.S. anytime soon.

Genesis revealed that the G70 will also get some serious performance tech too including launch control, dynamic torque vectoring, and a limited slip differential. Handling benefits from an adjustable suspension system, but its unclear if some of these features will trickle down to four cylinder models equipped with the Sport package.

Look for more details to be revealed in 2018. These would include final pricing figures, as well as formal fuel economy figures. The G70 will certainly face off against established players in this segment, but it will also have to prove itself against newcomers like the Cadillac ATS, Jaguar XE, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia.

However, we think it has a fighting chance, and we look forward to learning more over the next few months.

Project ONE Unleashed, Mercedes-AMG Reveals Valkyrie Slaying Hypercar

After months of rumors, speculation, as well as a lone teaser image. Mercedes-AMG has at long last unveiled the Project ONE hypercar, which aims to seek and destroy all in its niche segment when it is unleashed on the road.

As expected, the exterior styling of this near production concept was designed with pure purpose and intent. The whole body of this visually stunning masterpiece is crafted out of carbon fiber monocoque, while the front fenders rise above the wheels and transition to the rear and its ultra wide tail lights. However, the detail that stands out the most in our eyes is the roof mounted scoop that channels air to the F1 derived V6 that lurks underneath.

Unlike other race derived engines, this spunky 1.6 liter actually uses F1 technology, and boasts a staggering 11,000 revs before it hits the limiter. To help avoid valve float, traditional valves and springs have been replaced with pneumatic valve controls, while an electrically operated turbocharger pumps even more cool air into the engine. Mercedes-AMG claims that all these radical tweaks help Project ONE have 40 percent thermal efficiency, as well as produce “over” 671 horsepower when linked to the electric motors.

Speaking of the front wheel mounted electric motors, they make 161 horsepower each, and can rev up to 50,000 rpms. The lithium ion batteries that power the motors only weigh 220 lbs, and have four times more cells than the batteries in the Mercedes F1 W06 hybrid race car. Mercedes also revealed that the system runs at 800 volts, which is double the voltage typically used in the firm’s other plug-in systems.

The interior of Project ONE is perhaps the most extreme form of function over style we have ever seen. A Formula 1 inspired steering wheel greets the driver’s hands, while a color display replaces conventional gauges. A second screen is also mounted on the center stack but other than that, many typical luxury and entertainment features have been pitched for the sake of weight savings. This follows in line with another recently unveiled hypercar, the Aston Martin Valkyrie which also sheds luxury features for the sake of maximum performance. The seats themselves are very spartan, but Mercedes engineers did retain power adjust-ability for the pedals and steering wheel so that the Project ONE can be experienced by a wide range of drivers.

All of this power is transmitted to the rear wheels through an eight speed automated manual transmission designed exclusively for Project ONE, with pushrod coil over suspension helping to keep the car straight and solid through even the twistiest of turns. This should please lucky buyers, while also causing sleepless nights for the Valkyrie, as well as the McLaren P1.

With all of this power, and potent race ready technology, it’s no surprise that  Project ONE will be a very limited release, with Mercedes-AMG only producing 275 copies before production ends. Buyers looking to pre-order one for their garage will have to keep their checkbooks at home since the whole production run is already sold out with each example going for $2.27 million each.

 

 

Mercedes Teases Project ONE Hypercar

The trail of teasers and statements surrounding the much hyped Project ONE hypercar are nearing the home stretch. With the Frankfurt Auto Show fast approaching, Mercedes-Benz has upped the ante by releasing a shadowy teaser image.

The lone image does not reveal very much, but the few elements that do stick out of the darkness offer compelling clues to the car’s wild capabilities. Mercedes claims that the Project ONE is “a two-seater supersports showcar” and it serves as the current pinnacle of the German auto giants engineering capabilities.

However, its also safe to call the Project ONE a road going Le Mans prototype with a Formula 1 engine. In fact, Project ONE evokes memories of the fabled CLK-GTR supercar. Unlike that model though, the Project ONE will be a visually innovative look into the future, especially with its performance hardware. This includes the Formula 1 grade engine and hybrid system, as well as the electronic systems.

The roof mounted scoop also hints at the aerodynamic tweaks that are in store for this car with much of the inspiration coming from Le Mans spec race cars. Look for the interior to invoke function over form with many racing elements and materials being used instead of the usual assortment of leather, wood, and other luxuries that define typical Benz models.

Performance for the Project ONE comes from a 1.6 liter turbocharged V6 that incorporates hybrid assistance technology and is largely based on the setup that sees duty in the 2015 Mercedes-AMG W06 Formula 1 hybrid car. Naturally, the engine will be reworked for road use with Mercedes claiming that it can last for 31,000 miles between rebuilds. This is impressive considering that the engine has a rev limit of over 10,000 rpm and packs “over 1000 horsepower.” This is achieved with the help of four electric motors with two mounted on the engine, and the remaining pair on the front axle.

When the Project ONE makes its debut in Frankfurt, it will appear as a near production prototype with the first deliveries expected to take place in 2019. Don’t bother pre-ordering through your local dealer unless you have done so already. Mercedes-Benz is only making 275 copies, with all of them being pre-sold for a cool $2.6 million each.