With the Aston Martin Vantage in desperate need of a replacement, Aston Martin has released several images of a 2019 V8 Vantage prototype that serve as the most compelling glimpse of the upcoming sports car to date.
While the psychedelic camouflage thwarts any attempts at discerning some of the car’s finer details, the lack of fabric obscuring elements does help shed some light on the basic design and shape. At first glance, there are welcome elements from the DB10, as well as select traits from the DB11, though look for the Vantage (assuming it keeps that name) to carve its own identity when it eventually makes its way to Aston Martin showrooms. This new identity will also benefit from a healthy dose of futurism, which will do away with the bulk of the dated design themes that comprise the current Vantage.
Look for the performance hardware to fully benefit from Aston Martin’s close relationship with Mercedes Benz. The most obvious candidate would be the 4.0 liter biturbo V8 which was recently announced as a lighter alternative to the V12 in the DB11. The new engine would replace the wheezy 4.7 liter naturally aspirated V8, and also being 503 horsepower and 512 lb-ft of torque to the festivities. This engine already helps motivate the equally potent AMG GT range, so look for the Aston version to help propel the car to 60 mph in a brisk 4.0 seconds flat.
There is still more that remains unknown about the upcoming Vantage, but we’re confident that the interior (another dated element) will receive a healthy dose of design mojo from the DB11. This includes better ergonomics, a much welcomed upgrade for the navigation system, as well as better materials including higher quality leather and metal trim. Thankfully, the wait will not be very long, with Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer revealing that the Vantage replacement is due to bow by the end of the year.
In the world of luxury cars many cars have tried to be the pinnacle of luxury, but only one has consistently reached this lofty benchmark, the Rolls Royce Phantom. This iconic nameplate has been around in one shape or another for over 100 years, but with age finally catching up to the current generation Phantom. Rolls Royce has unveiled the 2018 Phantom, and it aims to rewrite the rules of what a proper luxury car should be.
The front fascia may look like it has not changed much from its predecessor, but the grille is taller and wider than before, while the rest of the front fascia manages to be more imposing which should help the 2018 Phantom standout when pulling up to your favorite VIP lounge, or the nearby awards show. The headlights in particular have an eye catching allure to them, and have frosted glass lenses, while the familiar Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament can be crafted in gold, silver, as well as polycarbonate.
Meanwhile, the rest of the 2018 Phantom is decidedly less slab sided, and even has a specially crafted “waft line” that runs along the bottom of the doors. The body itself is lighter and 30 percent stiffer, but overall weight actually goes up versus its predecessor. Rolls claims that the 5862 lb curb weight is mainly due to the Phantom’s higher level of standard equipment, as well as the 287 lbs of sound insulation Rolls engineers stuffed into the cabin along with the triple layer window glass. Thankfully other Phantom cues remain untouched especially the rear hinged doors, as well as the enormous C-pillars.
Rolls Royce has always been a company that puts performance on the proverbial backburner, and eschews boasts in lieu of the phrase “adequate sufficency.” Despite the British luxury brand’s attempts at being modest, the 2018 Phantom has a number of key changes lurking under its long hood. Power comes from an all new version of the Phantom’s familiar 6.75 liter V12 engine that is now paired to a pair of enormous turbochargers. This combo is good for 563 horsepower and an earth moving 664 lb-ft of torque which is a gain of 110 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque respectively. It also allows the big Phantom to glide its way to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds.
All of this honed muscle is channeled to the rear wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission that is equipped with geolocation technology to help it choose the appropriate gear. All-wheel drive is currently not available, but Rolls Royce engineers did initially consider it before ultimately abandoning it due to it being “insufficiently refined.”
The biggest epitome of luxury is what lies inside the cabin, and Rolls Royce vehicles have always been designed from the back seat forward. The 2018 Phantom continues this time honored tradition, while also embracing the future at the same time. As expected, the cabin retains basic Rolls Royce cues including traditional rotary dials for the climate system as well as the omission of the tachometer in lieu of a simple “Power Reserve” indicator located in the instrument cluster. Speaking of the instrument cluster, while the gauges may appear analogue at first glance, they are actually all new digital screens which promise quicker readouts.
However, top honors go to a toughened glass panel that spans the top of the dashboard and the instrument panel. Dubbed “The Gallery” this specially designed space was designed to fully display commissioned pieces of individualized pieces of artwork. Some of the examples Rolls Royce showed off included an oil painting, an abstract silk design, porcelain rose stems, and even an owners DNA profile rendered in 24 karat gold.
Once you finish admiring the artwork, the rest of the cabin takes a more conventional route that still coddles occupants in world class luxury. The folding picnic tables are still there, but are now power operated, while beefy 12.0 inch screens are integrated into the rears of the front seats. As usual, every non-glazed surface is covered in either leather, wood, or plush carpeting, while the range of customization is virtually limitless with Rolls Royce willing to accommodate any request thrown at them to try and please their exclusive clientele.
Rolls Royce did not release formal pricing for the 2018 Phantom, but expect that to not be much of a concern to those with the adequate financial liquidity to own a Phantom. For reference, the previous generation Phantom started at $422,925 for the short wheel base model, with the long wheel base variant wielding a much higher $497,525 MSRP.
Audi’s venerable A8 flagship has always served as a compelling glimpse into the current state of the luxury car market. However, when it came time to unveil the 2018 A8, Audi instead chose to use the model to showcase the future, and if all goes according to plan, the future could indeed be a very different battleground for luxury car brands.
The exterior styling of the 2018 A8 then can be viewed as the perfect camouflage, with a look that does not stray too far away from the current generation A8. It’s a little bigger in appearance, and Audi designers will have 12 different color choices for buyers to ogle over, but its conservative suit of clothes, as well as the subdued approach it takes to styling will no doubt please the Audi faithful. A key change can be found at the front fascia which features an all new Singleframe grille, as well as equally futuristic HD Matrix LED headlights that feature lasers.
While the lasers are still a step or two behind from replicating your favorite sci-fi battle scene, they do help double the visible range of the high beams at speeds above 43 mph. It is currently unknown if the system will formally make its way to the U.S. due to our country’s strict safety regulations, but look for Audi to possibly make tweaks to the system to help it comply with U.S. regulators and give buyers across the pond something to look forward to.
The nifty lasers are cool, but it is the cabin where the A8’s leap into the future becomes more apparent. The flagship model gets an all new iteration of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit system with a digital instrument cluster that now displays various readouts in crystal clear HD quality. The 10.5 inch dash mounted infotainment system is virtually flush with the dashboard itself, and arrives with fewer buttons than the old car. This is due to the Multi Media Infotainment system utilizing more touch and voice commands to access various features. Audi lists a lofty 400 commands for the system, but thankfully, they were kind enough to leave the steering wheel controls intact as well as various oral and tactile feedback cues to let occupants know a task has been executed.
As expected from a car befitting of its status, the 2018 A8 offers a whole host of amenities to its occupants. These include 3D sound for the rear passengers, a host of climate and electronic amenities, and so much more. Our favorite feature is the all new “relaxation seat.” Only available on the passenger side rear seat of the A8L, this enviable throne offers the usual assortment of heating/cooling and massage functions as well as a trick foot rest that comes equipped with massage capability. This novel feature would also be the first time that a massaging foot rest has ever appeared in a factory vehicle, and look for it to be replicated by rivals such as the Mercedes S-Class, as well as the BMW 7-Series in the near future.
Meanwhile on the mechanical front, Audi engineers left their mark on the forward thinking 2018 Audi A8 in a number of ways. Big news here is that every A8 model is now a hybrid. The 2018 A8 will initially launch with a pair of turbocharged V6 engines – a petrol powered 3.o liter turbocharged TFSI V6 good for 340 horsepower, as well as a 3.0 liter TDI engine that produces a slightly lower 286 horsepower. Each engine is paired with a mild hybrid system that allows the beefy A8 to coast for up to 40 seconds without the engine being activated at speeds between 34 to 99 mph. The novel system also allows for slow speed operation as well as start -stop capability.
After those engines launch, Audi will be bringing out a pair of 4.0 liter V8 engines for both gas and diesel buyers, as well as the return of the silky smooth W12 engine, and the green e-tron plug-in hybrid model. All 2018 A8 variants will send their power to all four wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission, as well as the latest iteration of the company’s Quattro all-wheel drive system. The suspension also gains new moves, and aims to help improve the A8’s composure in corners. Audi dubs the system “AI Suspension,” and the new system incorporates and electric motor, as well as separate components for each wheel. According to the company, the end result is a two toned experience with the 2018 A8 having the comfort oriented compliance of a luxury car, while also having the agile stance of a sports car at the same time.
The new 2018 Audi A8 will make its initial appearance in German showrooms this fall, and will command a hefty price tag for its futuristic take on motoring. The V6 model leads the charge with a base MSRP of €90,600 while the A8L wields a slightly higher €94,100. These figures roughly translate to $103,000 and $107,000 U.S. dollars with various options and other equipment potentially pushing the price as high as $120,000 a far cry from the current model and its $82,500 base price.
The BMW 8 Series Concept was not supposed to make its debut for another few hours, but thanks to a few leaked images, we get a compelling glimpse at whats in store for BMW’s flagship coupe.
While the quality of the images is not the sharpest, it does reveal that the posh coupe will adopt a relatively fresh design, with slender headlights and a bolder interpretation of the twin kidney grille accenting the front fascia. The bulging hood adds a hint of menance, with the lower front bumper featuring beefy cooling vents.
The side profile features a prominent crease, and the elegant roofline flows seamlessly into the lip of the rear mounted spoiler. The concept also eschews door handles, though we suspect those items will ultinately reappear in the production car for safety and cost reasons. Big wheel arches house large multi-spoke alloy wheels, and yellow brake calipers nicely contrast the blue body.
The rear fascia doubles down on its high tech theme, and features wide tailights that incorporate slick L-shaped graphics as well as a rear bumper that features prominent side vents, as well as trapazoid shaped exhaust tips.
Look for BMW to formally introduce the 8 Series Concept later today at the Concorso d’Eleganza Ville Este before launching the production version next year. Look for the interior to also make its debut later today, and showcase its high levels of opulence and technology.
Following on the heels of BMW’s quiet axing of the 6-Series coupe, the German car maker revealed that it is breathing new life into its long dormant 8-Series moniker in a bid to renew its push into the large luxury coupe market.
For those unfamiliar with the 8-Series, it originally appeared in 1989, and was designed to cater to big coupe buyers looking for a distinctive alternative to the 6-Series. However, its glitchy electronics, as well as the global recession in the 1990s, caused sales to plummet before it was mercifully pulled from the U.S. in 1997, and from Europe in 1999.
BMW accompanied this announcement with a lone teaser image that showcases a sleek side profile, as well as wide rear hips and a raked roofline. These traits are promising, especially since the 8-Series is expected to renew its focus on style and flair. Look for the new model to embrace plenty of cues from the Gran Lusso concept which made its apperance back in 2013, and wowed audiences with its stunning good looks.
BMW claims that the concept in the teaser image is a design study, but expect minimal changes when it makes the transistion to production, and arrive on dealer lots in 2018. A higher price tag will also be part of the package given its status as a flagship offering.
Look for the 7-Series to play a key role in the car’s devlopment, with much of its technology and even its V12 engine making the jump into the bigger 8-Series. The model could also spawn Gran Coupe and M8 versions, though plans for these models are mere rumors at this point.
With the confirmation of the 8- Series, the Mercedes S-Class coupe will have a new rival in its niche segment, and it could very well become a three way fight if seperate rumors of an Audi A9 are indeed true.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.