Category Archives: Features

SSC Teases Tuatara Hypercar, Is It On Track For Production?

Remember back when the SSC Tuatara was first teased on the vast expanses of the internet? I sure do, it was back in 2011, a time when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV, Arab Spring was in full swing, and SSC had big plans for its world beating hypercar.

Named after a species of lizard native to New Zealand, the vehicular Tuatara was supposed to be a follow up to the utterly bonkers SSC Ultimate Aero which started a brief game of anything you can do I can do better with Volkswagen’s crown jewel the Bugatti Veyron. The Tuatara was supposed to be the figurative sequel to the Aero’s world shattering debut.

Unfortunately like the fore-mentioned reptile, the Tuatara proved to be a rare sight with the planned hypercar not making production as of this writing. In fact SSC itself has proven to be an elusive entity with the company releasing few press releases, and equally few glimpses at its new products. Like before the latest teaser follows typical SSC procedure and doesn’t reveal too much about how the Tuatara has been updated since its 2011 conception.

From the lone photo it appears that SSC is indeed building a car with slick looking headlights, as well as an interesting spoiler that promises to deliver maximum down force. The look is certainly more aggressive but it also has a slight futuristic vibe that does make the car standout even when hiding in the shadows. Our best guess is that it is indeed the Tuatara given how similar the original looks when compared to the car featured in SSC’s newest photo.

Times have certainly changed since the Tuatara was first unleashed, and perhaps SSC has managed to make some improvements to the Tuatara during its long absence away from the limelight. We hope for a bump in horsepower as well as better aerodynamic and interior treatments for lucky occupants.

Jeep Brings Styling Upgrades, Trim Tweaks To 2019 Jeep Cherokee

When Jeep first unveiled the revived Jeep Cherokee back in 2014, fans of the storied nameplate cheered its arrival but were noticeably shocked by its exterior styling which was a curious mixture of odd futuristic elements and tacked on Jeep traits. FCA vowed to resolve some of these styling missteps, and has unveiled the 2019 Jeep Cherokee ahead of its debut at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

A key change is the addition of new headlights which incorporate the daytime running lights and the main projectors into a single combined unit. While this revised front fascia is still a love it or hate it affair, it should allow the Cherokee to resonate better with buyers especially against some of its rivals.

The tweaks to the rear fascia are decidedly more modest, but new tail lights and a tweaked rear bumper design give it a more sophisticated look, and allows the Cherokee to mesh better with its siblings the Compass and the Grand Cherokee. The interior updates are much harder to spot, but our eyes spot new metallic trim accents, as well as a new seat trim design. Look for performance hardware to be largely unchanged, with the 2.4 liter four cylinder and 3.2 liter V6 present and accounted for.
Look for more information to be revealed at the 2018 North American International Auto Show especially in regards to performance figures and final pricing.

McLaren Unveils Insanely Bonkers Senna Hypercar, Brings 738 Horsepower To The Track

McLaren has been on a roller coaster ride of success over the past several years with entries like the 570S and the 720S redefining its core identity.  The British supercar maker continues to be a solid alternative to traditional stalwarts Lamborghini and Ferrari, and drive to stand out amongst buyers has driven McLaren to create their wildest, and most track focused road car yet, the limited production Senna.

Named after famed Brazilian Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna da SIlva, the exterior styling embraces a unique blend of form and function. Looks are subjective, but there’s no question that the Senna’s design has a distinctive character, and it all comes as a result of attempts to make the body as sleek and aerodynamically efficient as possible. Case in point is the double rear diffuser that leads out to the underfloor scoop, and is also partnered with a large rear wing that comes equipped with active aero technology. McLaren is quick to point out that the Senna spent countless hours in the wind tunnel to further refine its svelte bodywork, which embodies the high dedication that McLaren engineers had when it came to creating the ultimate track weapon.

A curious addition is the see through glass panels that are sandwiched into the doors. McLaren claims that the glass is lightweight, but it does take away some of the privacy that is afforded by conventional panels. Lastly, like other odd vehicle features that are offered in Europe, look for these panels to not make the transition to U.S. spec cars due to our country’s stricter safety regulations.

The interior of the car adopts a very minimalist design, but it still manages to cram features such as a rear view backup camera, infotainment system, as well as McLaren’s foldable drivers display. The cabin is also bathed in carbon fiber, and the lightweight carbon fiber seats help enhance the overall ambiance, while also doing their part to shed weight at the same time. Speaking of the fore-mentioned seats, each car will have a distinctively different set of thrones, with McLaren designers custom tailoring the seats  to fit the unique dimensions of their lucky owners.

Power for the Senna comes from the same 4.0 liter biturbo V8 that also sees duty in the 720S. However, in the Senna this engine has been tweaked to unleash 79 more horsepower, bringing the grand total to 789 horsepower, as well as a slightly higher 590 lb-ft of torque. While this might not seem like much of an increase at first glance, it all comes together when you consider that the Senna is much lighter than the 720S with the car weighing in at just 2,641 lbs. McLaren chose to not release formal performance figures for its newest offering, but expect the Senna to be a an absolute missile out on the track. McLaren claims that “savage performance” will be on hand, and these claims have even more traction considering that Senna’s nephew Bruno Senna was directly involved in the car’s development phase.

Production is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2018 after the Senna makes its official public debut at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show. A three seat model dubbed the “BP23” will follow in 2019, and it will serve as the successor to the original F1 supercar. Like the Senna, it will be a part of the Ultimate series, and production is expected to be even more exclusive, with McLaren potentially producing a mere 106 copies, with each one (like the Senna) allegedly already spoken for by potential buyers.

Jeep Unveils Tech Loaded 2018 Wrangler In L.A. [HD Mega Gallery]

When it comes to being a symbol of American pride, engineering, and capability, the Jeep Wrangler stands out as a unique automobile that has always proven to be a sales success for FCA (in its various incarnations) over the past several decades. With the future steering towards murkier waters, FCA needed to make sure that the 2018 Jeep Wrangler could continue to appeal to its loyal fanbase, while also bringing much needed capital to FCA’s bottom line. On that front, it appears that Jeep has once again produced a solid winner.

The exterior styling of the 2018 Wrangler is a tasteful evolution of the basic formula that has made the Wrangler a success among younger buyers, though this evolution may not be very obvious at first glance. Indeed, it is still very reminiscent of the current generation “JK” platformed Wrangler which was first introduced in 2007. However, a closer look reveals several key changes that aim to bring more refinement and capability to the crown jewel of the Jeep brand.

The basic layout retains its rugged pedigree, but it also adapts to the modern world, thanks to features such as a spare tire mounted rear backup camera, as well as push button start, with the latter item making its appearance in the Wrangler for the first time ever. The quest for higher fuel economy has affected all vehicle segments, and even the Wrangler has had to make several changes to allow it to adapt to this ever stricter category. Unlike the old all steel  JK model, the “JL” Wrangler incorporates aluminium into its construction, with the lightweight material making its appearance in some of the body panels to help improve its rather subpar fuel economy to an extent. Even the fold down windshield gets in the act, and what once took 90 minutes and 28 bolts to achieve, transforms into a simpler job that involves four bolts, and reduced setup time.

Along with its more upright grille, bigger tail lights, and fender mounted turn signals, the 2018 Wrangler sends a strong message to fans that it has not gone soft, and that it is still capable of going where many vehicle offerings wouldn’t even dare, including fording up to 30-inches of water.

The interior continues the evolutionary theme that is seen in the exterior, with the 2018 Wrangler featuring FCA’s latest iteration of its popular Uconnect infotainment system, as well as a smaller screen that is melded to its still distinctively analog instrument cluster. The dashboard is still tall and shallow, but round air vents are a nice improvement, and an increase in USB ports aim to make the Wrangler more adept at accepting mobile technology than ever before.

Three top options are avalible, and in addition to the hardtop, an easier to install soft top is also available, as well as an all new power operated top that can be considered a bigger version of Jeep’s MySky roof system. The trail ready cabin also offers occupants more passenger room especially in the Unlimited model, which is slightly wider than before, but has a reduced turning radius thanks to an all new electro-hydraulic steering system.

Higher grade materials are also on deck, and while the Wrangler will still play second fiddle to the Grand Cherokee in terms of amenities and comfort, the materials that are present are noticable improvements over the aging JK variant, and should help it become a slightly more livable companion out on long treks.

Performance for the 2018 Wrangler will initially come from two engines, with a slightly updated iteration of the familiar 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 resuming its volume oriented role. Good for 285 horsepower and a solid 260 lb-ft of torque, this latest version benefits from several tweaks that were designed to help boost fuel economy. An optional four cylinder also makes its appearance in the Wrangler after a 10 year absence, and allows the Wrangler to go hybrid–sort of. The turbocharged four banger produces 270 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a belt driven belt/generator system that draws electricity from a 48- volt system. This mild hybrid setup was designed to improve fuel economy, as well as engine performance in low engine rev situations.

 

However the real news will be the addition of two new engines to the Wrangler. A 3.0 liter turbodiesel capable of producing 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque is in the cards for 2019, as well as an all new PHEV model though Jeep did not elaborate on that model’s performance credentials.

The V6 can be equipped with either a six speed manual or an optional eight speed automatic that quietly retires the old six speed unit. The four cylinder is automatic only, but both models get standard all-wheel drive to help them be trail ready right out of the box.

Jeep has already started production of the 2018 Wrangler, and the first examples will trickle into showrooms early next year. Initally it will be sold alongside its predecessor before the JK platforms official retirement in 2018.

Lincoln Surprises L.A. With 2019 Nautilus

Change is in the air at Lincoln, with the brand’s lineup now largely updated for the 2018 model year, Lincoln has moved on to the task of eliminating its dated Mark based naming scheme. It has a long way to go, but the resurgent luxury car maker has gotten off to a good start with the surprise unveiling of the 2019 Nautilus CUV.

Undoubtedly inspired by Jules Verne and the submarine of the same name that made its appearance in Twenty Thousand Leauges Under The Sea, this land based Nautilus ventures into a new era for Lincoln. The exterior styling of the Nautilus is a tasteful update of the current MKX with the front fascia embracing a new grille and headlights. These changes look more upscale than before, and are a noticeable improvement over the old winged grille. The rear fascia is more restrained, but the clear look tail lights are a nice touch.

The interior of the Nautilus is a sleek and elegant space with the dashboard dominated by a 12.3 inch digital gauge cluster, while the hand stitched leather wrapped steering wheel and Lincoln’s shift by wire push select transmission preserves the brand’s core traits. Occupants will also be pleased with the 22-way adjustable Ultra Comfort leather seats that promise to create a sitting position that is both comfortable and beneficial, especially for the driver.

The Nautilus also comes with beefy performance credentials to backup its svelte looks. No, it cannot send electric jolts through certain species of Giant Squid, but this Nautilus still manages to jolt the senses thanks to its two available engines. A 2.0 liter four cylinder engine is standard issue and is good for a healthy 245 horsepower, but buyers looking for more performance can opt for the 2.7 liter turbocharged V6 that brings 335 horsepower and an equally stout 380 lb-ft of torque to the open road. Both engines are mated to an eight speed automatic, and are paired with fuel saving Stop/Start technology, as well as available front or all-wheel drive.

Lincoln’s decision to pitch the Mark naming scheme was mainly due to the big updates that all of their models have received (especially the Nautilus) as well as name retention in the minds of potential buyers. Lincoln execs also confirmed that new names will be coming for the two remaining Mark named holdouts the MKZ and the popular MKC crossover, but we expect that to not take place for a few more years.

Pricing information was not released, but look for pricing to not venture too far from the current MKX which starts at $38,260 and went all the way up to $45,560 depending on trim level and options. It will be interesting to see how the new name will affect sales in the long term, but we’re confident that the 2019 Nautilus will still be a top choice in the large luxury CUV segment.

Volkswagen Unveils 2018 Tiguan R-Line Ahead Of L.A. Auto Show

Volkswagen has alot riding on the recently launched 2018 Tiguan CUV, and has introduced a sportier R-Line trim level to help add some spice to the venerable Tiguan for the new model year.

The first immediate item that strikes the eye is how heavily inspired it is by the GTI hatchback. The front bumper is newly redesigned for this trim, and features exaggerated air intakes, more gloss black accents, and slightly tweaked headlights. The equally unique rear bumper features a gloss black diffuser that should help add even more street presence, which should compensate for the minimal effect it will probably have on actual performance numbers. Bigger wheels and fender extensions round out the package, and they help make the Tiguan appear lower and wider than it really is.

The interior checks all the typical Tiguan boxes, but it will be impossible for buyers to not know that they are in an R-Line model. This is due to the numerous R-Line logos sprinkled through out the cabin, as well as the stainless steel door plates, metal pedal covers, and trim exclusive black headliner. Performance hardware remains unchanged, which means the standard 2.0 liter turbocharged engine and its 184 horsepower is still present and accounted for.

Buyers looking to add this trim to their Tiguan purchase will have to shell out an extra $1,795 to add the package to SEL grade models. SEL Premium owners actually see a slight discount, and only have to pay $1,495 for the package due to that model already incorporating the ParkPilot system. Look for the R-Line Tiguan to make its debut at the 2017 L.A Auto Show, with the first units being shipped to dealers shortly afterwards.

Kia Teases 2019 Sorento Ahead Of L.A. Debut

The Kia Sorento has always been a favorite here at Autoinfoquest due to its blend of styling, capability, and affordability. With the 2017 L.A. Auto Show fast approaching, Kia has prepared a suite of updates to help keep the 2019 Sorento fresh in the minds of buyers.

The front fascia is lightly freshened with a new front bumper and tweaked headlights, but it still retains the basic styling formula that we have come to expect from Kia. The rear fascia is equally restrained, and comes equipped with lightly tweaked LED tail lights as well as new C-shaped pieces of chrome trim. While neither of these changes are evolutionary, they do help keep the Sorento fresh for a few more years, before it eventually migrates to the next model cycle.

The interior was not revealed with today’s image dump, but expect the usual suite of updates, including higher grade materials, updated infotainment offerings, and new optional extras. The model pictured here is the range topping SX Limited which currently starts at $44,600, but look for this magic to trickle down to the lower spec models as well. The engine lineup is not expected to change much, but the Sorento could finally gain an all new eight speed automatic  transmission that would help enhance fuel economy while also allowing it to catch up to some of its rivals.

The eight speed could also explain Kia’s decision to bring the Sorento to “Hell’s Revenge in the Moab desert, where the big Kia was said to have successfully completed the six and a half mile rock crawling course including the notoriously difficult Hell’s Gate obstacle. Kia admitted that the bulk of Sorento buyers will not push their vehicles this hard, but wanted to show that the 2019 Sorento can go beyond a typical grocery hauling vehicle if the need arises. We’re impressed, and we look forward to hearing more, especially when it makes its official debut at the L.A. Auto Show.

Tesla Unveils Tesla Semi Truck, Promises 500 Mile Range and 5.0 Second 0 to 60 Time

Despite concerns about the slow rollout of the $35,000 Model 3 Sedan and its shockingly high rate of cash burn, Tesla is pressing forward with its ambitions to shake up the world of automobiles and has done so in a new and unique way with the unveiling of the Tesla Semi truck.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk exuded confidence in his new big rig, and started off his remarks with perhaps the most impressive performance statistic of this beast, a 5.0 second 0 to 60 time when it isn’t shackled to a load. You read that correctly, 0 to 60 in 5.0 seconds, a time normally reserved for many modern performance cars, and a massive leap over the 0 to 60 times boasted by many of its petrol powered opponents. While it would be interesting to see how this big Tesla does in a drag race, the truck is no slouch either when towing a trailer filled with 80,000 lbs of stuff. Tesla claims that it can maintain a 65 mph speed on a sustained five percent grade wheras other diesel trucks can only do the same feat at 45 mph.

The exterior styling of the truck is clean, and obviously geared towards achieving maximum aerodynamics. While it will not win a beauty pageant anytime soon, The front fascia has a pseudo-aggressive look, and the slick headlights help endow it with a slight degree of elegance. The truck currently does not have a sleeper unit, but we actually prefer the bigger cab over the smaller box style unit that Tesla also had on display for the world’s press. The rear wheels are hidden behind panels, and keen observers will notice the centrally mounted driving position which supposedly enhances visibility for higher levels of safety. The rear fascia (if you call it that) is predictably utilitarian, but we do like the tasteful taillight strip which builds on its futuristic theme quite nicely.

In addition to the centrally mounted driving position, Tesla designers also aimed to maximize space by moving the passenger seat behind, and to the right of the driver versus the normal side by side configuration utilized by current big rigs. Tesla also enhanced interior storage, and claimed that these changes were inspired by feedback from commercial truck drivers. The interior also features two big screens borrowed from the Model 3 with the right screen featuring radio and navigation controls, and the left screen covering vehicle settings and other truck related functions. Tesla claims that like its passenger cars, the screens could eventually be updated to be more configurable  which should please drivers looking to tailor them to their specific industry, and the transportation needs of their rigs.

The Tesla Semi Truck has conventional exterior mirrors mounted on the outside of the vehicle, but both screens also show the sides of the truck thanks to cameras mounted on the bottom portion of the mirror assembly. Tesla claims that these are part of the Autopilot system, but we suspect they are also designed to help drivers be more acclimated with the central driving position. As a bonus, Elon Musk claims that the front glass is “explosion proof” and that it could withstand the force of a nuclear blast. While  we are not eager to find out how the Tesla Semi Truck fares as a bomb shelter, the exaggerated explanation could mean that the glass is more durable than conventional windscreens, and that could appeal to fleet managers looking to shave precious maintenance dollars, especially money that goes into replacing windshields damaged by rocks and other debris.

Performance in this segment is more about road tripping versus 0 to 60 sprints, and the Tesla Semi Truck aims to achieve this by offering drivers a 500 mile driving range between charges. Notably this is lower than diesel trucks equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks, but Elon Musk was quick to point out that 80 percent of all trucking routes are 250 miles or less which could give the EV truck an edge, especially if it has a reliable network of charging stations in place.

Speaking of charging stations, a project this big requires an equally big charging source, and Tesla has unveiled the answer to keeping the big Tesla Semis powered up, Megachargers. Designed to be even more powerful than the standard Supercharger network, Megachargers will still retain the global network that has come to define the Superchargers and Musk revealed that “truckers will be able to travel anywhere in the world via the Megachargers.” The main reason why this is possible is in the way that they work, with the Megachargers drawing their juice from solar energy. This allows them to stay off the main electrical grid, and in turn not only give drivers locked electricity rates, but also 400 miles of driving range in a 30 minute charge.

This is not a bad combination, though we are curious to see how quickly Tesla can get the Megacharger network up and running, especially considering that the California based firm plans to unleash the first units onto the marketplace in 2019. Another challenge will be how much of a strain this new model will put on Tesla’s already precarious cash reserves, especially if sales do not meet projections. Contrary to Tesla’s flash and circumstance, the Tesla Semi Truck is NOT the first EV big rig in the marketplace. For example Daimler already has an all electric concept truck out on the road, while Nikola Motors is also embarking on a production green big rig of their own, the electric-hydrogen fueled Nikola One.

Lamborghini Unveils All Electric Terzo Millennio Concept

Lamborghini has always been known for offering high performance supercars that embrace the tantalizing combination of sleek sporty styling, and the soundtrack that can only be provided by a massive V12 engine. The one thing that Lamborghini has never offered is an all electric supercar, but the company is slowly changing its tune, and has joined forces with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students to create its wildest concept car yet, the Terzo Millennio.

The exterior styling of the Terzo Millennio reflects the wild styling themes that have defined Lamborghini models for the past few years, while also serving as a compelling glimpse into the brand’s future. Terzo Millennio means “third dimension” in Italian, and its slick suit of clothes certainly looks the part. It not only adds high levels of style and flair, but also advanced technologies that could very well change the way electric cars are produced. For instance, the Terzo Millennio pitches conventional battery packs, and instead adopts advanced super-capacitors that can quickly store and discharge energy. Lamborghini is quick to point out that they can even do both at the same time, while also having a longer shelf life than typical battery packs.

The super-capacitors and the four in-wheel mounted electric motors that they power allowed Lamborghini designers to use their full imagination on its design language. The end result is a slick body that is entirely made out of composite materials, which goes beyond shaving weight, and plays a role in maximizing energy storage. This ingenious layout allows the bodywork to function as a battery which not only helps lighten overall vehicle weight, but allows the car to store more energy than one with bulky battery packs.

In addition to its talents as a battery, the bodywork also has a degree of immortality that would make the T-1000 from Terminator 2 Judgement Day  green with envy. This is achieved with specially designed sensors that allows the material to sense small cracks, and subsequently heal itself before they turn into larger cracks that threaten the concept’s overall structural integrity. The chassis of the Terzo Millennio was constructed using Lamborghini’s familiar Forged Composites technology, and was designed to give the concept world class handling manners, especially out on the track.

The Italian supercar maker has not been shy about stating its disdain towards autonomous technology, but Lamborghini engineers have equipped the Terzo Millennio with a type of virtual co-pilot that shows the driver the fastest line around a track. The idea here is to help improve the driver’s reaction times, while also making them comfortable even on an unfamiliar track.

“We are inspired by embracing what is impossible today to craft the realities of tomorrow: Lamborghini must always create the dreams of the next generation,” said Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali.”

Sadly the Terzo Millennio and its futuristic charms are not heading into official production anytime soon, but some of its styling elements could trickle down into the Aventador’s replacement which is due to arrive towards the end of the decade.

Jeep Unveils 2018 Wrangler, Will Make Official Debut In L.A

With the internet practically busting at the seams with 2018 Jeep Wrangler material (leaked or otherwise) Jeep has finally given in, and has unleashed several photos of the 2018 Jeep Wrangler ahead of its official debut at the 2018 L.A. Auto Show.

The exterior styling of the Wrangler largely retains the brash and beefy motif that has defined the Wrangler for decades. Even the basic profile retains alot of the 2017’s styling theme, and that’s actually a good thing, considering how wildly popular it is with buyers. However, there are some modern touches that help it transition to the new model year gracefully, while also upping its technology credentials at the same time. These include new headlights and tail lights, as well as a new power operating top (which was revealed during one of the many leaks that the internet generated.)

But Jeep fans worried about the open air vibe being taken away will be pleased to know that Jeep engineers have those needs covered too. Like before  owners can take off the roof panels, fold down the windshield, or if they must, take the doors off too. Other features include a new fuel door for the fuel cap, a tweaked roll bar, and revised door sills possibly to help make entry and exit a bit easier.

Unfortunately Jeep did not reveal formal engine, transmission, or other specifications as of yet. All that juicy info will be unveiled at the aforementioned reveal in Los Angeles, but look for the first production units to not venture too far out of the box when they eventually make their way to dealer showrooms. While a four cylinder (the first in several decades) has been long rumored, look for the first examples to be hooked up to the familiar and readily available Pentastar V6 with either an automatic or a manual transmission. Look for the rumored four cylinder to arrive later with only an automatic as well as a turbocharger to help bring some green to the Wrangler’s gas swilling ways.

In the meantime, Jeep used the ongoing SEMA show to showoff a wide array of 2018 Wrangler accessories that it will have available for its new truck with each one designed to help bring distinction (and in some cases enhanced capability) to its eager fan base. Also look for some preliminary information to emerge about the upcoming Wrangler based pickup in L.A. though a debut will probably not be for several more years.