BMW has been hard at work on the upcoming replacement to the dearly departed Z4 for a while now. While various heavily camoflauged prototypes have been spotted, the German auto giant has released a compelling sneak peek of the new two seater ahead of its eventual debut.
Released on the company’s Facebook page, the lone teaser image is obscured and darkened, but there are still a few details that peek out from beneath the covers. Sharper headlights as well as a more aggresive profile help it stand out from the decidedly more elegant predecessor it is replacing. This will be good news for BMW, which is hoping that the car can put up a more targeted resistance to the segment benchmark, the Porsche 718 Boxster.
The new Z will be underpinned by an all new rear drive platform that is being co-developed with Toyota engineers, and could also herald the revival of the Supra nameplate for a new generation of young Toyota buyers. Look for BMW’s turbocharged four and six cylinder engines to carryover in both models, but a Toyota designed hybrid system could make its way into the mix to increase fuel efficency if rumors on the subject turn out to be true.
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.
The 2018 Ford Mustang already has shaken the muscle car world thanks to its slew of updates which aim to refine the car even further. While more style and comfort are welcome features, Ford’s performance updates are causing quite the stir.
The tweaked 5.0 liter V8 now produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque which is a notable upgrade over the old engine. The engine benefits from an all new “Drag Strip” mode which helps trim the 0 to 60 time to a swift four seconds flat. This is mainly due to the drag mode tweaking the shifting and power delivery from the 10-speed automatic transmission, which reduces excess wheel slip.
“Typically when you shift gears you give up time” stated Mustang chief engineer Carl Widmann. “In drag mode, the engine’s torque doesn’t drop when you shift.” To illustrate this point, Widmann claimed that drag mode made the Mustang faster off the line than the $94,000 Porsche 911 Carrera (an impressive claim indeed.)
The company didn’t leave EcoBoost buyers out to dry with these updates, and has transferred some of the GT’s magic to the four cylinder version of the Mustang. Power is up to 310 horsepower, with torque increasing by 30 lb-ft to a revised 350 lb-ft. When equipped with the 10-speed and the forementioned drag mode, the four cylinder can make the sprint to 60 mph in five seconds.
Ford is opening up ordering for the 2018 Ford Mustang this week, with the first units arriving at Ford showrooms shortly after.
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.
When Volvo first announced that it intended to seriously pursue electrification a few years ago, the world wondered what it would entail for the Swedish brand, and its lineup of vehicles. In a new announcement released earlier today, the car giant further detailed its ambitious plans while perhaps signaling a broader shift for the industry.
A key item of note here is that every new Volvo offering will be either a full EV or hybrid vehicle starting in 2019. Volvo also promises to include at least one electric motor in each of its new offerings.
“This is about the customer. People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose which electrified Volvo you wish” explained Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson.
However this sudden embrace of electrified powerplants doesn’t mean that Volvo’s iconic internal combustion engines will get the figurative pink slip anytime soon. Buyers will be asked to choose from either mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or full electric technology for their Volvo purchase, which will help retain customer flexibility and loyalty.
Volvo also plans to release a 48 volt hybrid system before the end of the decade, and to also roll out five all new battery electric models. Three of them will join the main Volvo lineup, but the other two will be performance tinged Polestar entries. Look for all five models to roll out between 2019 and 2021 with information being released possibly in late 2018.
BMW has a good thing going with its hot selling X3 SAV. Based on the equally successful 3 Series sedan, the X3 has proven to be a strong draw for young families during its production run. BMW aims to keep it that way with the revamped 2018 BMW X3.
The exterior styling retains elements of the current design that many buyers have come to love, but slightly increases the overall proportions. In fact, thanks to tweaks made to the vehicle packaging, BMW engineers were able to stretch the wheelbase 2.2 inches which helps open up more room in the X3’s interior.
Despite the rather discreet suit of clothes, BMW didn’t want the sport portion of the X3’s purpose blurred, and has added several dynamic touches to keep that from happening. This includes sharper full LED headlights, as well as a muscular hood that draws eyes to the all new 3D front grille which is the first time it has made an appearance on a “X” model. Rounding out the changes are tweaked tail lights, as well as a pair of exhaust tips.
A key feature that is a relative rarity in the broader crossover segment is its perfect 50:50 weight distribution, which works with the chassis to help make the X3 more honed and agile than before. The bulk of X3 buyers will most likely not take their vehicles off road, but for just the occasion, BMW has equipped the SAV with a dynamic stability control system that can adjust the power split between all the wheels to ensure maximum traction on all surfaces.
The interior of the 2018 X3 carries on the exterior’s theme of familiarity, but it has a few new tricks that help it stay relevant to buyers. This includes an all new three zone climate control system as well as individually adjustable angle for the 40:20:20 split/folding rear seats. Occupants can also remotely fold the seats from the trunk to boost cargo capacity to 62.7 cubic feet.
The X3 will arrive globally with a host of engine choices, but buyers in the U.S. will only have two models to choose from at launch, the xDrive30i and the performance tinged M40i. The xDrive30i replaces the old xDrive28i, and is motivated by a 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine which makes 248 horsepower (a gain of 8) and 258 lb-ft of torque with all the power being channeled to all four wheels through an eight speed automatic transmission. It’s also capable of making the sprint to 60 mph in six seconds before topping out at 130 mph. However for buyers that crave even more horsepower, the M40i should be enough to satiate their needs. The first M labeled X3 ever produced, it gets its grunt from the bigger 3.0 liter inline six that produces 355 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque. An eight speed automatic also manages power, and launches the M40i to 60 mph in a brisk 4.6 seconds as well as a final top speed of 155 mph.
After the 2018 X3 makes its launch, the engine lineup will grow with the possible addition of a diesel model as well as an all electric version with the latter not arriving till 2020. As expected, the xLine design package is standard issue for all 2018 X3s, but buyers can opt for the “Luxury” package that brings several minor changes to the X3 including a shinier grille, revised interior upholstery, and two tone bumper trim finishers. An M Sport package brings up the rear, and offers a beefier look, as well as bigger 20-inch rims.
Like its predecessor, the 2018 X3 will be built in the United States at BMW’s Spartanburg facility where it will share the line with the X4, X5, X6, as well as the recently confirmed X7.
While the Kia Stinger has yet to fully complete its distribution to all of the world’s markets, Kia is already shedding some light on potential variants of the already desirable liftback, including perhaps a range topping performance model that would slot above the current GT model, and possibly adopt the GTR moniker.
These revelations come from Albert Biermann the chief exec behind the company’s performance models during a recent interview with the folks at Motoring magazine. Biermann revealed that while “The car technically has more potential no doubt” the reason why Kia has not introduced any variants of the Stinger yet is actually very simple and straightforward.
According to Biermann before the company can introduce a “GTR or something” Kia has to know how the current iterations of the Stinger will do in terms of overall sales, as well as their long term sustainability in the broader marketplace. Biermann also revealed that Kia needs to identify the customer base for the car, and after that it will then make its mind up on whether there should be a spicier version of the Stinger for buyers that want to have even more performance than the current range topping model, the Stinger GT.
With that said, it appears that for the moment, the Stinger GT (which is the fastest accelerating car Kia has ever produced) will remain the flagship version. As for U.S. buyers, the StingerGT will arrive in our country by the end of the year in either rear or all-wheel drive with a 3.3 liter biturbo V6 producing 365 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to propel the car to 62 mph in 4.9 seconds, so look for the proposed performance model (whenever it arrives) to shave some seconds off of that figure as well as a higher top speed than the GT’s 167 mph.
Apple has had a shroud of secrecy over its autonomous vehicle efforts for the past several years. While the tech giant’s Project Titan in-house vehicle program is largely dead when it comes to building a vehicle from the ground up, Apple revealed that t is still exploring other projects in this burgeoning segment of the automotive world.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple is officially exploring self-driving technology that could potentially make its appearance in production automobiles .
“We’re focusing on autonomous systems” said Cook. It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” Cook claimed that the technology is “the mother of all AI projects,” and that it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”
This news follows on a previous statement by Apple’s Director of Product Integrity Steve Kenner. At the time, Kenner laid out a vision for developing and testing autonomus vehicles on public roads as part of a letter that he wrote to the NHTSA. The letter stated that Apple “is heavily investing in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation.
It’s not too often we have a chance to encounter upcoming model, but that’s exactly what happened when we had the opprotunity to encounter this 2019 Ram 1500 quad cab tester in the wilds of Michigan.
Being an early stage mule, this particular tester does not shed a whole lot of light on the styling direction that the next generation Ram 1500 will embark on. However, a closer look does showcase glimpses of whats in store. For example the switch from the traditional 5-lug setup to an all new 6-lug arraignment for its wheels could suggest that the new Ram is gaining weight, and that in turn could lead to increased towing and payload capacities.
Extensive interior camoflauge thwarted our efforts to get a clear view of the IP and dashboard. But the appearance of a Chrysler Pacifica derived steering wheel, as well as a mysterious contraption on the front grille could indicate that some of the van’s technologies will carry over to the 2019 Ram 1500. These could include lane keep assist, collision detection software, as well as adaptive cruise control.
Performance hardware is unknown at this juncture, but look for the familiar 3.6 liter V6 and 3.0 liter diesel engine to make their respective returns. The 5.7 liter Hemi V8 however could be axed, and replaced with an all new engine that would embrace turbocharging. This would allow Ram to follow Ford’s lead in this area, while also improving fuel economy.
Look for the 2019 Ram 1500 to eventually make its debut either later this year, or early next year at a future auto show, most likely in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, or the Chicago Auto Show.