BMW Confirms Return Of 8 Series

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.

 

Mitsubishi Unleashes Blacked Out Lancer Limited Edition

Mitsubishi’s venerable Lancer sedan is getting ready to head to greener pastures in 2017, but that doesn’t mean that the Japanese auto giant is letting it exit with a whimper. Mitsubishi has formally unveiled an all new Lancer variant that adds to bring more style and a few pinches of new technology to sedan buyers.

Dubbed the Lancer Limited Edition, this all new variant is positioned directly above the base ES model, and is designed to help add more style and technology to the Lancer’s value oriented mission. The LE was inspired by the recent emergence of popular blacked out models that are being offered by competitors, and while it will never match the dearly departed Lancer Evolution’s bold styling cues, it does bring some boldness back to the car.

As mentioned earlier, the LE takes its inspiration from other blacked out models and comes equipped with black 16-inch wheels as well as black accents for the roof, upper front grille trim, fender garnish, as well as the door mirrors. These tweaks certainly help the Lancer stand out better in a crowd, though it is still a step behind Nissan’s recently expanded lineup of Midnight Edition offerings.

The interior has also seen its fair share of upgrades, and is swathed in black fabric with red stitching covering the steering wheel, shift knob, parking brake lever, armrests, as well as the door trim. Other goodies include a trim exclusive black headliner, aluminum pedals, and Mitsubishi’s familiar 6.5 inch infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability.

The Lancer LE will begin arriving in Mitsubishi showrooms later this month with a base price of $19,795. This pricing still puts the Lancer in the lower end of the sedan segment, and should make it a compelling choice for buyers that want a balanced blend of style and technology but don’t want to break the bank in the process.

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.