All posts in “Cars”

Ford, Toyota and Land Rover Will Bank on Nostalgia in 2019

A prominent automotive trend for 2019 will be nostalgia from the rad 1990s and beyond. Toyota brought back the Supra after a 20-year hiatus at NAIAS. Ford did not bring a Bronco down from the rafters. But, that revival is en route. So is another much-anticipated launch, the new 2020 Land Rover Defender, poised to make a return to the U.S. One presumes it will be with airbags this time.

We’ve seen nostalgia crazes before. VW launched the new Beetle in the late 1990s. BMW made Mini it into its own brand in the 2000s. But, the current comebacks are different. These cars don’t stem from marketing blitzes. They want to capitalize on organic, already rampant enthusiasm on the Internet.

The Supra, Bronco and Defender are being revived because, besides being cool, classic versions are going for stupid six-figure prices. Clean, low mileage Supras have crossed the $100,000 barrier in online auctions. East Coast Defender has been importing Land Rover shells and converting them into bespoke six-figure luxury cruisers. Gateway Bronco has signed a licensing agreement with Ford to manufacture first-generation Broncos and sell them for six figures.

Automakers’ natural reactions to that level of interest is to profit from it. It’s like how Jeep and others are co-opting a multi-billion-dollar aftermarket parts industry by customizing at the dealer level, for a healthy premium. What’s uncertain is whether that enthusiasm will translate to new, modern vehicles.

The Supra has the easier task. The sport coupe transcends eras. A 3.0-liter V6 remains socially acceptable. BMW’s involvement with the engine and tuning for it only intrigues car guys more. It should be a tremendous drive. Its performance for price package will appeal regardless of nostalgia. The one misstep may have been foregoing a manual in favor of raw performance. It’s the stick Supras that are selling for bonkers prices.

Ford and Land Rover must climb a tougher hill. The small, body-on-frame off-roader no longer exists as a segment. It’s contrary to everything going on in the car market. Land Rover had to kill the original Defender because it would not meet modern emissions standards. The concept needs to be rethought.

New Defenders and Broncos need to capture the essence of the originals, beyond aesthetics, while sharing platforms and making compromises (four doors) to appeal to families. The Jeep Wrangler, in a purer form, will still be there as formidable competition for both of them. Not to mention the updated classic versions will still be there for buyers who can afford them.

Faithfulness is only part of the equation. Those cars must also advance the concept. Looking enough like the original Mini got the Cooper buzz. Being a better version of the original pint-sized driver’s car vision is what has kept it around for two decades (and unfortunately spawned the Countryman).

Everyone will hope these reimagined cars are like the Battlestar Galactica remake. But, Toyota, Ford, Land Rover and others could, quite easily, be Magnum P.I. without Tom Selleck.

Supra’s Chief Engineer Claims a 7:40 Nürburgring Lap Time

Toyota Should Test His Theory

The Nürburgring is the track that sports cars and supercars make their name. If they lap the track fast, they earn a spot in every car enthusiasts list of favorites. The Supra, being the sports car it is will at some point have to make the lap, and when it does, the car’s chief engineer thinks it’ll do the run in 7:40. 

Tetsuya Tada, Supra’s chief engineer, told Road and Track, that the car would hit its 155 mph electronic speed limiter on the course’s long straight. He said the company may at some point cut the speed limiter to see how fast the car could truly be around the racetrack. He also said the car would do a 7:40 lap time as it is right now. 

“But even just driving it as it is, it’s really fast,” he told Road and Track. 

2020 Toyota Supra2020 Toyota Supra
Image from Toyota

The new BMW Z4 has more horsepower but it is heavier and has a soft top. The Supra is based on that car. While BMW has no official time for that car, Sport Auto, a German publication, recently posted a 7:55 lap time in a pre-production version of the Z4. It would be interesting to see how the Supra fared around the same track. 

While it is down on power from the Z4, the Supra’s more aerodynamic hardtop and lighter overall weight could help it achieve a 7:40. The only way to know for sure is if Toyota makes the run. Toyota, get to it. 

BMW’s Next M3 and M4 Will Have Manual Gearbox

BMW Wants You To Row Your Own Gears

It seems BMW really wants to make the next M3 and M4 cars it produces into the true ultimate driving machines. I don’t know about you, but to me, that indicates the cars will come with a manual gearbox. Recently, CAR Magazine reported that both the M3 and M4 will come with a manual. 

Not all versions of the car will be available with a manual transmission, however. The cars in what the publication refers to as the “Pure” form will receive a stick shift. According to the publication, the Pure models are the base, bare-bones, all-about-driving cars. 

BMW M3BMW M3
Image from BMW

Pure cars will come with a little less horsepower (according to CAR, 454 hp rather than 474 hp), and not as many frills and features as higher trim level vehicles. The word Pure, is just an internal designation at this point. BMW will likely come up with some new term that the marketing department has massaged into position. 

Those cars available with the manual transmission will be without all-wheel drive. Yep, you’ll only be able to get a stick if you’re cool with rear-wheel drive. That shouldn’t be too big of a deal, though, for the folks who want a manual. 

CAR also notes that the reason the cars will have less power and lack all-wheel drive is that BMW doesn’t have a manual that can handle the high levels of torque coming from the new twin-turbo straight-six engine. That’s the best reason I’ve ever heard, and I’ll be thrilled with the option of a good old six-speed and only about 450 hp.

2020 Supra: Toyota is Hell-Bent on Reviving Its Reputation

After a nearly 20-year absence, the Supra name returns to the Toyota lineup, making it clear Toyota is hell-bent on changing the world’s perception of its cars. The new Corolla hatchback was a declaration of war on Toyota’s modern reputation for milquetoast cars; the 2020 Supra is the first major offensive.

One look at the Japanese manufacturer’s current lineup and sale figures, and it’s easy to see how Toyota gained a lackluster reputation for blandness. Sure, performance off-roaders like the Tacoma TRD Pro and 4Runner TRD Pro and the nimble GT 86 coupe suggest otherwise, but Toyota didn’t sell 427,000 GT 86s in 2018 — that honor goes to the Rav4. Toyota also sold just shy of 344,000 Camrys and 290,000 Corolla sedans, meaning about 1,000,000 direct customer interactions with the Toyota brand is with either an uninspiring, forgettable car or compact SUV. Toyota, however, is beginning an about-face, led by the Supra, at the Detroit Auto Show.

Bringing the Supra back is meant to inject energy back into the company: it is a halo car, a performance flagship. Toyota acknowledges it’s not practical and at $49,990 base MSRP, they know it’s aspirational. but, crucially, is still relatively obtainable. Jack Hollis, Toyota North America Group Vice President and General Manager, said one of the top priorities of the new Supra is to be “aspirational, but something the driver can truly have fun in.” He elaborated that the for the first time since the GT86, Toyota is making a car aimed at “those who want to be on a track.”

Photo: Toyota

Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, is a racer: according to the Toyota Senior Vice President Bill Fay, Toyoda “has gasoline running through his veins.” Not only did Toyoda oversee the final stages of the Supra’s development, he personally helped in the final tuning of the brakes, steering and suspension. “Committees don’t build cars like the Supra. Finance departments are never going to greenlight a car like the FT-1 Concept,” Fay says. “But we have a CEO that says it’s worth putting [engineers] to work for five years to bring the [Supra] to market. If we had any other CEO, this car wouldn’t be here.”

Conversely, the lack of performance-focused Corolla advertisements was its secret success. It’s a nameplate hundreds of thousands of people are already buying and driving. Toyota snuck genuine performance into the Corollas without pandering to enthusiasts and, consequently, scaring off the customer base – that’s how you get the masses to change their minds about your cars. Case in point: at the Detroit Auto Show, while everyone was distracted by the big Supra reveal, Toyota also snuck a TRD-tuned Camry and Avalon on to show floor.

Toyota isn’t distancing themselves from its bread and butter; it’s simply using the Supra flagship tactically. “The Toyota group sold 2.8 million vehicles in 2018 – [almost entirely] SUVs, CUVs, pickups and sedans. We’re not moving away from the heart of the market, but we want to be a full line manufacturer,” says Fay. It’s impossible to deny the sales success of those massive segments, which is why it’s becoming more difficult to justify relatively low-volume sports cars. That’s why Toyota collaborated with BMW to jointly develop the Supra and Z4 roadster. The team up is also the source of most of the controversy surrounding the Supra.

Photo: Toyota

Enthusiasts and purists are the toughest car crowds to please. Thanks to the past Supra’s cult following, the new car actually developed more than a few ardent detractors. Its engine and powertrain components are sourced from BMW and there won’t be a manual transmission available, so Toyota is somewhat on the defensive with those purists. Supra Chief Engineer, Tetsuya Tada, doesn’t deny the lust for an old-fashioned transmission. Tada San says, “if there’s a persistent, overwhelming demand for a manual transmission, the nature of a sports car inherently is to improve, and that’s when we’d consider it — if the market demand is there.” But Tada San seems confident in the performance of the new sports automatic and says if you drive the new Supra, “you experience that right away. For Toyota enthusiasts old and new [and] up and coming fans of the [Supra], I’d like them to have them experience this new generation of automatic transmission and the whole experience of driving with it.”

There is also a non-Toyota (instead, BMW) inline-six powering the iconic car. Toyota wants Supra fans to understand that this collaboration with BMW isn’t a repeat of the carbon-copy 86 and Subaru BRZ project. In that instance, they tried to share as many components as possible to validate a low-selling sports car. But this time around, Tada, who was the chief engineer on that project too, says “the positioning of the sports car is higher. I had a specific vision of the Supra I wanted to create. With the Z4, BMW said they want to do ‘this’ or they want to do ‘that,’ — that had no effect on my vision on what I wanted to do.”

Without the BMW collaboration, there most likely wouldn’t be a new Supra at all. As a halo car and performance flagship, Toyota wouldn’t be able to turn its image around. They know it won’t sell anywhere near as well as the Camry, and Fay says it’s not even an aspiration to do so. “This is a Supra, through and through. It’s not a car that you need. It’s a car that you want.”

The Best of NAIAS 2019

If the 2019 Detroit auto show is any indication of the next year or two, it seems manufacturers are just as sick of monotonous committee-built cars as we are. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Best Headlight Design of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show

Chief among the 2019 Detroit Auto Show’s best concept cars was the Lexus LC500 Convertible Concept, which won EyeOn Design’s Excellence in Exterior Lighting Award. Their extreme, out-of-the-box design and the likelihood of them making it to production, as is, put Lexus’s lighting above the rest.

There was only a handful of concept cars on display at this year’s show, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for in quality. Standouts from the show are Nissan’s sport sedan IMs Concept and Infiniti’s QX Inspiration Concept, which, to its credit won Best Concept Car of the show overall. Both of which were acting as a collection of what could trickle down to each respecting manufacturer’s lineup.

But, as eye-catching as they may be, concept cars, in general, tend to be design studies, a chance for manufacturers’ designers and clay shapers to let loose their imaginations and showcase an extreme version of what the future might hold. They’re usually nothing more than a tease. Every once in a while, though, manufacturers unveil concepts so close to what a production car can be, it’s impossible not to assume that’s what you’ll see on the road — as is the case with the LC 500 Convertible Concept and its striking headlights.

The Lexus LC500 Convertible Concept — despite having “Concept” in its name — is going to production as is, which makes it earning the Design Excellence in Exterior Lighting Award miles more relevant than the others. Rather unsurprisingly, you shouldn’t expect what Nissan or Infiniti put on display to look anything like what gets put into production.

Under the skin, the show model LC500 Convertible was just that, a show model — it didn’t have a working roof or a running engine. The headlights, on the other hand, are an evolution of the lamps found on the very real and very much running 2017 LC500 Coupe.

The Convertible Concept, as a whole, achieves the rare victory of designing a convertible while still retaining the dramatic attractiveness of the coupe version. Something that’s easier said than done and a task marque like Porsche struggled to do with the new 911 and GM has with the Corvette in the past. The Lexus’s radical lighting paired with the crowd-favorite coupe design language bodes very well for the drop top halo car hitting roads soon.

Read Our Review of the LC500 Coupe

Opinion: The Detroit Auto Show Is a Source of Hope

Less than a year ago, the horizon of the automotive landscape looked bleak. Ford announced it would axe its sedans and hatchbacks in the US and Cadillac and Volkswagen made threats to fill their lineups with more crossovers and SUVs. But, this year’s Detroit Auto Show is a source of hope. New sports cars from unexpected brands and the many adventure-ready overlanders coming down the pipeline are enough to plaster a smile on anyone’s face.

Continuously increasing crossover and SUV sales numbers are a legitimate excuse for manufacturers to hop on board the gravy train. Hell, even brands like Lamborghini and Ferrari can’t ignore the segment’s potential. However, while some of the traditional brands are dialing back on their super sedan and sports car efforts, the likes of Nissan, Hyundai, Subaru and Toyota are taking their crossover-cash and using it to inject energy into other products.

Nissan brought to the show the IMs Concept, which reimagines what a sports sedan can and should be. Hyundai launched the all-new Elantra GT N Line, the first of its mid-level performance cars sporting more than just a sculpted bumper and rear wing; you’ll get a 201-horsepower turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four engine paired with a six-speed manual and tuned suspension — all for $24,185. Subaru announced the first ever S-model STI coming to the US, which will sport 341 horsepower and a slathering of aerodynamic wings and vents. The 2020 Supra also made its first public debut in Detroit this week alongside a track-focused Lexus RC-F and TRD-tuned versions of the traditionally bland Camry and Avalon sedans. Ford deserves credit for the 700-horsepower-plus Shelby Mustang GT500 it brought along, and Cadillac gets an honorable mention for greenlighting the CT6-V – the big sedan’s possible swansong as its fate hangs in the balance.

New trucks from Kia, Ford, Chevy and Jeep are exploiting the rise in active and adventure lifestyles with overlanding-focused trims decked out with roof racks, skid plates, intake snorkels and suspension lifts. The Kia Telluride concepts, Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado Bison AEV and Jeep Gladiator prove America’s most popular slice of the market doesn’t have to be dull at all.

While global emissions standards are becoming stricter, and as the impending all-electric and autonomous future breathes down our necks, it’s impossible to ignore the fate of the automotive industry as it descends into soullessness. This sudden burst of entertaining cars – a renewed sense that cars can have a soul and purpose outside of getting us from point A to point B – is wildly refreshing after the seemingly endless string of bad news that poured out of 2018.

The Best of NAIAS 2019

If the 2019 Detroit auto show is any indication of the next year or two, it seems manufacturers are just as sick of monotonous committee-built cars as we are. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Ugur Sahin Design’s Alfa Romeo “Nivola” Looks Better Than the 4C It’s Based On

Improving On A Beautiful Design

I used to think the Alfa Romeo 4C was one of the best looking cars around, but now I know that it was only vaguely what I actually wanted it to be. This new design from Ugur Sahin Design called the Nivola is what the 4C should have always been. 

The Nivola Concept came about after the design firm’s CEO Ugur Sahin saw the Alfa Romeo Stradale 33, designed by Franco Scaglione in 1967, win at Pebble Beach. Its name comes from racing legend Tazio Nuvolari. Nivola was Nuvolari’s nickname, and it suits the car well. 

According to Ugur Sahin Design’s website, “He epitomized courage and daring and for 30 years he amazed the racing world with his exploits on both two and four wheels resulting in several championship titles in motorcycle as well as sports car championships.”

Elegant and Well-Proportioned

The Nivola Concept perfectly merges old and new design. It’s at once modern and retro and takes the 4C’s donor car shell to whole new levels with smooth curvy lines. It makes me wonder why automotive designers ever thought creases in bodywork sheet metal were a good thing. 

Sahin said the 4C was an obvious choice for his modern interpretation of the Alfa Romeo Stradale 33. The hard points of the chassis for the mounting of the body panels differ dramatically from the original car. That means he had to get creative to make his concept work. 

Sahin certainly pulled through. The car is beautiful with near-perfect proportions. In order to achieve this, Sahin had to increase the length of the rear of the car. While the car is based on the Stradale 33 it’s not an exact copy. Shin made a point to make the concept his own. It’s a homage to the original car, but it’s not a replica or a recreation. If Alfa was smart, they’d hire him to do the next generation of the 4C if there is one. 

Opinion: I Don’t Like the Jeep Gladiator

I promised to write this in the first person, lest my apostasy be attributed to others. I don’t like the Jeep Gladiator.

I come at this with solid Jeep cred. I drove a 1995 Wrangler YJ S with a manual in high school. I upgraded to a 2000 Wrangler Sahara, also a manual, in college. My parents still own two Wranglers. I left the Jeep fam when I moved to NYC. Owning one no longer made any sense, and I would need to buy my own gas.

I understand the Gladiator’s mid-size truck appeal. There are people who want a rough and tumble Jeep Wrangler but also need a truck bed to port their other active lifestyle accoutrements. Jeep should have a vehicle for them. I just don’t particularly like this one.

The “Gladiator” name made me skeptical from the outset. Jeeps that reference the Old West (Wrangler, Cherokee, Wagoneer etc.) in a quasi-specific fashion tend to work out well. Jeeps that evoke vague concepts (Compass, Liberty, Commander, Patriot) do not. Gladiator skews toward the latter. Yes, “Gladiator” references a name in Jeep’s heritage, but not a vital one. Jeep originally dumped it for “J-Series Truck.”

The Gladiator arrived. Everyone else raved. I wasn’t that taken with it. I presumed this was a “me problem.” Photographs can be wonky. It’s best to view a car in person. I made sure to budget some time into my NAIAS day for careful Gladiator study in the Jeep pavilion. I viewed it from multiple angles. I pondered it like fine art. I took my own pictures. I… still don’t like it.

It looks and feels like what it is: a blatant, cobbled together attempt by Jeep to enter a lucrative market segment.

Broadly, the truck feels disproportionate. It’s as though Jeep took the instruction to slap a truck bed in the back of a Wrangler too literally. The bed feels too short and narrow for the cabin. It was also too short to easily accommodate the dirt bikes elsewhere in Jeep’s display. Yet, somehow the truck feels too long overall, even more so after someone has put in the strenuous effort to remove all four doors.

The area around the C-pillar, in particular, irks me. The gap between the bed and the cabin feels too prominent, perhaps because it bends to accommodate the wheel arches. There are seams running horizontally and vertically. The rear door is too small, leaving multiple inches of dead space. I don’t care for the protruding tail lights.

While the cabin looks large compared to the bed, the interior feels cramped, uncomfortable and not very truck-like. I’m south of six feet (by a hair) and I had to man-spread to fit in the back row.

The distinguishing feature of Ford, Chrysler AG and Chevy pickups is how much effort goes into them. Every flaw has been pored over almost to a fault. Flaws no one would have ever considered have been pored over. That’s where those companies make money. They can’t afford to fail. Jobs are literally on the line. The Gladiator doesn’t feel like that effort went in at all. It looks and feels like what it is: a blatant, cobbled together attempt by Jeep to enter a lucrative market segment.

Fanboys have been waiting for the Gladiator for a long time. Reviews will doubtless be as breathless as initial impressions. For now, I will be that guy. I’ll take my vindication when Jeep has a proper go of it with the second generation in a few years and it eviscerates the first one. It took Jeep a second crack to get the four-door JK right too.

Cadillac is Working On an All-Electric Crossover

The most interesting forthcoming Cadillac is two things that heretofore have never been combined under the luxury GM nameplate: it’s electric & it’s a crossover. So far all the world has seen are some Tesla-esque images. No stats. Not even a name. What we do know, it will be using GM’s “BEV3” electric vehicle platform.

The Best Design Details at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show

This year’s North American International Auto Show features the 2020 Toyota Supra (finally) and the new, frighteningly powerful 700-plus-horsepower Mustang GT500. On the more practical side, Kia and Hyundai joined the three-row SUV party with what look like promising family haulers. At an auto show, the stream of dramatic unveilings with bass-heavy soundtracks, light shows and sizzle reels can easily distract from the myriad notable yet subtle design exercises scattered throughout the convention hall. These are the best details of NAIAS 2019.

Kia Telluride x Brandon Maxwell

Kia introduced this collaboration with fashion designer Brandon Maxwell at last year’s New York Fashion Week. Up close and in the metal, you can see it’s littered with handsome details, from leather hood-staps to wood highlights on the roof rack.

VW Golf GTI Headlights

It’s great to see Volkswagen having fun with its color palette again. On this GTI, the signature red grille outline invades the headlights and really pops against its bright blue body work.

Nissan IMs Dashboard and Headlights

Nissan is showcasing one of the few all-out concept cars at the show. Like any clasic concept car, it’s purely a design exercise but hints at the brand’s possible future state. Hopefully, Nissan will incorporate the single-bar headlight and oddly intricate honey comb dashboard in its production cars sooner rather than later.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Tail Fins

Over at the Cadillac stand, hiding up on the second floor is a beautiful, fire engine red Eldorado Biarritz. It would be wrong to talk about beautiful automotive details and not mention these jet age tail fins.

Cadillac CT6-V Headlight Signature

As much as Cadillac modernizes its design language, evolves its crest logo or changes its mission statement altogether, it warms my heart to see them hide an old school cursive “Cadillac” in the headlights here.

Ford Mustang GT500 Ceramic-Coated Carbon Wheels

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DAS-Best-Details-Gear-Patrol-GT500-Slide-2

This isn’t the first time Ford has put carbon fiber wheels on a Mustang. That honor belongs to the GT350. However, the combination of a tight carbon fiber weave in the spokes and a ceramic heat shield coating (to protect from the temperature of massive steel brakes) is a thing of beauty.

Hyundai Palisade Headlights

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DAS-Best-Details-Gear-Patrol-hyundai-Slide-2

Hyundai could have played it safe with its first three-row SUV and gone with a conservative design, but I’m glad it didn’t. The big SUV market is crowded and Hyundai’s bold headlight design and structure deserves praise – and will help it stand out.

Lexus RC-F Headlights and Rear Spoiler

As controversial and polarizing as Lexus design language is, you have to admit these headlights by themselves are uniquely radical exercises in industrial design. And the multi-directional carbon fiber weaves on the rear wing’s end plates in order to form an “F” is pretty clever.

2020 Toyota Supra Rear-3/4

The headlining act of the show this year is the 2020 Toyota Supra. Opinions are split on the overall design of Toyota’s prodigal son, but its rear wheel arches, hips and tail look expertly hand-shaped. There are only a few other cars on the market that feature shapes like this; sadly, most of them cost four times as much as the Supra will.

The Best of NAIAS 2019

If the 2019 Detroit auto show is any indication of the next year or two, it seems manufacturers are just as sick of monotonous committee-built cars as we are. Read the Story

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

McLaren 600LT Spider revealed: Top-down performance

In internet parlance, a long tail is a story or topic that endures, that people stick with over a long time. That idea could be translated in automotive terms to a classic. McLaren’s Longtail models are modern classics, and the bespoke sports car maker has just minted its fifth Longtail, the 600LT Spider.

McLaren promises the droptop has all the track-flavored performance of the 600LT coupe, with the “added exhilaration of open-air driving.” With a top-down top speed of 196 mph, that’s a lot of added exhilaration. (It’s 201 mph with the top up.)

And just imagine the tune from those top-exit exhausts just aft of your head.

McLaren says it managed to limit the weight gain in the Spider to 110 pounds over the coupe, and cites a dry weight of 2,859 pounds. Well, 2,859.4, to be McLaren-exact. That’s 220 pounds lighter than the 570S Spider from which this car is derived, and lighter than its exotic competitors. Customers can also order their cars with seats from the Senna and with radio and climate control delete for maximum weight loss. Much of the weight savings credit goes the car’s carbon fiber MonoCell II chassis that, even with the roof cut off, remains as rigid as the coupe without any added reinforcements.

As for power, McLaren cites 592 hp and 457 pound-feet of torque from its 3.8-liter twin-turbo V8. That’s 4.82 pounds per horsepower, for a 0-to-60 time of 2.8 seconds, on par with the coupe. You surely won’t even notice that the Spider’s time to 200 kph (124 mph) at 8.4 seconds is 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe.

All that power is delivered by a dual-clutch seven-speed transmission. An Ignition Cut feature in Sport mode is said to facilitate faster shifting “whilst delivering a dramatic aural crack from the top-exit exhausts.” A feature called Inertia Push (isn’t all driving an inertia push?) is supposed to boost acceleration in Track mode.

The retractable three-piece hardtop can be operated at speeds to 25 mph. It stows into a tonneau cover behind the seats that can provide a bit more storage when the top is up.

And even the Pirelli P Zero™ Trofeo R tires are bespoke, “for track-focused dynamics.”

The Spider is available to order now, starting at $256,500.

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BMW 7 Series Facelift Revealed – Gets Massive Kidney Grille

Following a series of leaks last week, the BMW 7 Series facelift had been officially revealed. It sports the controversial kidney grilles, as confirmed by the leaks last week, it also gains new interior appointments keeping it fresh on comfort and technology. There is nothing revolutionary but the updates should be enough to see the 7 Series through to the next generation model.

As you will no doubt gather from the pictures, the design of the front end is what has been capturing attention. The BMW 7 Series facelift now sits 50 millimetres taller with a new BMW kidney grille 40 percent larger than the outgoing model. It is inspired by the new BMW X7 of course, with the advantage that cooling is significantly improved in combination with larger outer air intakes.

Hidden next to the grille sits a set of slimmer headlights. BMW laserlight is available as an option and LED technology as standard. A larger BMW roundel sits above the grille. The bonnet receives a mild redesign with the lower front bumper also gaining a more modern look with chrome trim.

The front wings are also new, incorporating an upright air breather which optimises the airflow through the wheel arches. The wheels are new too, lighter than the outgoing models. BMW have included extra acoustic insulation around the rear arches to increase rear passenger comfort and the laminated side glass is thicker too.

At the back, a new 35 mm three-dimensional LED rear light has been installed with a full-width, 6 mm light bar below a chrome trim. The light strip is linked to the dartime driving lights and so it should operate at all times. The exhaust pipe trim is also larger for the facelift 7 Series with more chrome detailing.

Inside, the changes include a new leather steering wheel with new control panels for the driver assistance systems. A Bowers & Wilkins Diamond 3D Surround Sound option has been made available and the latest version of the BMW Live Cockpit Profession has been included as standard. Nappa Leather and increased quilting, together with new interior trim strips provide more options. Wireless charging and rear seat touchscreen entertainment are also on offer.

BMW have retained the V12 engine in the BMW M760Li xDrive. It gets a gasoline particulate filter and 585 hp. The BMW 750Li xDrive also returns with the 4.4 litre V8 engine and 530 hp, an additional 80 hp over the outgoing model. Three diesel engines are available with up to four turbochargers and outputs ranging from 265 hp to 400 hp. Plug-in hybrids also get increased all-electric range up to 50 – 58 kilometres (31 – 36 miles). The 740e ditches the four-cylinder engine in favour of a 3.0 litre 6-cylinder unit, named the BMW 745e.

Pricing for the BMW 7 Series facelift varies from country to country and depending on the model of course with details to be announced closer to launch.

Detroit Auto Show: 7 Tech Products and Innovations That Debuted This Week

This week’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, hot on the heels of the techtastic CES in Las Vegas, still managed to cough up some tantalizing bits of automotive innovation. We gathered the best so that you can Score your fix of the hardware and software to expect in our cars in the coming years.

2020 Mustang Shelby GT500


The Shelby GT500 arrives later this year with more than 700 horsepower, delivered via a supercharged V8 that’s fed air via cooling inlets that are twice as large as those in the Mustang GT350. But the big news is that the company has ditched the conventional manual in favor of a lightning-fast dual-clutch transmission, which will deliver gear shifts in just 100 milliseconds.

Purists can opt for the GT350, which still offers a manual, but… modern cars call for modern transmissions, folks. At the corners, Ford introduces the company’s Magneride shocks. These use iron filings suspended in a magnetorheological goo that can be charged with magnetic pulses to instantly alter the viscosity, and thus resistance levels. This means immediate response to the road and the driving conditions.

GAC Motors Entranze EV


This concept SUV from the Chinese manufacturer – which expects to start selling cars in the U.S. in 2020 – includes a “wave-inspired” instrument panel and OLED center display. Its AI-powered voice control minimizes driver distraction, and the steering wheel includes illuminated touch controls around the perimeter. That bit is inspired by aviation design, as is a storage trolley that slides between the seats when needed.

Infiniti QX Inspiration


This concept vehicle teases the company’s reaction to the recent wave of all-electric SUV’s from Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar. It’ll have four electric motors instead of usual two, which could mean for even more versatile interior space, and it’ll have retractable pedals and a screen-equipped steering wheel in order to accommodate our fully autonomous future, of course.

Kia Telluride


This is Kia’s full-size SUV, which will seat up to eight. It’s loaded down with technology that’s both familiar and new. The Highway Driving Assist option uses radar and lidar to combine lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control for Level 2 semiautonomous driving capability. This would be one of the first economy brands to introduce this capability, as it’s typically the realm of the premium brands.

When using the adaptive cruise control system, the Telluride will automatically match speeds to the posted limits, helping keep John Law off your back. Safety features include an advanced blind-spot assist system that applies the brakes to keep you from cutting off other vehicles, as well as automatic braking if a rear cross-traffic collision is imminent. Finally, Safe Exit Assist will keep the doors locked if an object – a cyclist, say – is approaching from behind while parked.

Cadillac EV


The most mysterious tech debut of the show has to be Cadillac’s coy reveal of its forthcoming electric crossover. It didn’t share any details at all – not even the name – and all we know about it is that it’s based on GM’s upcoming BEV3 electric vehicle platform, and thus appears to be the first of many to use it. As for the car itself, the design is promisingly strong and edgy, so we expect it to be a compelling alternative to the Jaguar I-Pace electric crossover, assuming they can deliver the range and performance to match or exceed that terrific product.

Ford Explorer

We got our first peek at the new Explorer this week, the first in its lineage to include a hybrid powertrain. Like Kia’s Telluride, it will also be an economy brand with semi-autonomous driving tech, indicating that type of tech is finally trickling down. Naturally, the Explorer will also have multiple engine options and will seat seven, making it still one of the most attractive – and now, tech-saturated – family haulers on the market.

Subaru STI


For those who like their performance tech of the analog variety, there’s the new STI S209. The new all-wheel-drive pavement shredder will be limited to just 200 copies, with its tech innovations squarely focused on the suspension and engine compartment. The new HKS turbo cranks out enough extra boost to push the flat-four to 341 horsepower.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

The Best of the 2019 North American International Auto Show

The unofficial theme at this year’s North American International Auto Show is “kickass.” There wasn’t a ton of news we didn’t see coming (looking at you, Toyota Supra), but if you take inventory of all the big launches and unveilings you’ll see it was nothing but sports cars and overlanders.

In years past, the landscape looked pretty bleak: brand after brand announced nothing but crossovers and mall-crawlers. If the 2019 Detroit auto show is any indication of the next year or two, it seems manufacturers are just as sick of monotonous committee-built cars as we are. If it’s a new SUV, you can be sure it’ll have an adventurous spirit; if it’s a sedan or coupe, count on it having a ridiculous available horsepower count or calling its second home the race track — 2019 is going to be a good year for cars and trucks. This is the very best of the North American International Auto Show.

Cadillac


Cadillac was the subtle surprise of NAIAS this year. GM’s luxury brand unleashed its first sub-Escalade three-row SUV, which is not necessarily impressive. But Caddy also made an addition to the rare breed that is the American super sedan with the CT6-V, which comes with a 4.2-liter V8 good for 550 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque.

Read Now: 2020 Cadillac XT6: Does the All-New Three-Row Model Even Stand a Chance?

Ford


An all-new Explorer, including an ‘ST’ trim level, and GT500 is cool and all… but the crowd was really hoping to get a glimpse of the 2020 Bronco. Still, the prospect of a 700 horsepower-plus Mustang is pretty soothing.

Read Now: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: Affordable and Purpose-Built to Embarrass Supercars

Jeep


The long-awaited Jeep Gladiator was unveiled late last year, but seeing it in the metal, with a pair of KTM enduros in the back, is wickedly exiting. Jeep knows it has a fantastic adventure vehicle on its hands and it’s nice to see them showing that off so aggressively.

Read Now: This Is the All-New Jeep Gladiator Pickup Truck

Kia


Kia continues to surprise the industry, year after year. What was once a company known for copy-catting German luxury is now a brand with a genuine reputation for “disrupting” the status quo with notable departures like the Stinger GT. But now the Korean manufacturer is bringing to market what looks like a fairly capable and boldly-styled three-row SUV.

Lexus


Lexus is playing it smart and building on two wildly successful model lines. Even though the LC 500 Convertible is just a “concept” it’s fairly wise to say Lexus will bring it to market. And why not? The coupe was in many ways a huge success for the brand. The RC F track-focused model also made a debut, marking another first for the luxury brand and also putting the BMW M4 on notice.

Lincoln


The Lincoln Aviator is nothing new, but Ford’s luxury brand is on a runaway success train right now that alone deserves an honorable mention.

Read Now: The All-New 2020 Lincoln Aviator Is Impressive, Gorgeous and Will Be Stupidly Powerful

Subaru


Granted, it feels like the current generation Subaru WRX is older than all of us, but it’s exciting to see the brand finally acknowledging its fan base in the US. Last year we go the first Type-RA model and now we’re getting the first S-model: the S206. This is the very best of what Subaru has to offer. Hopefully, this indicates the WRX is now completely wrung out inand a new generation is around the corner.

Read Now: Subaru WRX STI S209: The Most Powerful STI Ever Is an AWD Dream

Toyota


Toyota was easily the star of the show this year. The Supra has been the worst kept secret of the last five years, but that didn’t stop the official reveal from drawing an standing-room-only crowd. Everyone may have grown tired of all the leaked images and teasers, but as soon as the cover was pulled of the 2020 Toyota Supra, the excitement in the room was palpable. And let’s not forget about the new, spicy TRD versions of Toyota’s Camry and Avalon sedans.

Read Now: 2020 Toyota Supra Revealed: Return of the King

Volkswagen


Another quiet succes at NAIAS this year. Not to say the all-new Passat isn’t a big deal – quite the contrary. The understated sedan looks more mature than ever, drawing inspiration from the Aerteon and its upper-class Audi brethren.

Read Now: 2020 Volkswagen Passat: Mostly the Same, Still a Great Deal

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Toyota May Consider a Manual Transmission for the new Supra

Enthusiasts Want What Enthusiasts Want

The new Toyota Supra is a car built for racers, sports car enthusiasts, and anyone who likes sporty cars in general. That crowd of people seems a bit miffed by the lack of a manual transmission in the new car. However, according to Carscoops, a manual could be coming for the Supra. 

Tetsuya Tada is the chief engineer for the car. He told journalists if there was enough of an uproar for the new A90 Supra to get a manual transmission that Toyota would put one in. It all depends on the buyers and what they want. That means you’d better get to the Supra forums and social media and raise hell if you want a manual.

According to Tada-san, it would take “a persistent, overwhelming demand” for Toyota to put a regular manual transmission in the car. To me, that says Toyota doesn’t want to do it. However, I’m sure the company would if its fans all-out revolted.

Could a Manual Make the Supra Awesome?

There’s already mixed opinions of the new Supra. While the car doesn’t look all that much like the BMW Z4, under the skin it’s essentially the same car but with less power. In other words, some Supra fans feel cheated. A manual transmission may be the salve they need to heal their wounds and feel good about the car. 

2020 Toyota Supra interior2020 Toyota Supra interior
Image from Carscoops

Tada-san also noted that Toyota tested with manual transmissions, so it would seem that the company has a manual to use. However, one detail may throw a wrench in the solution.

The manual transmission was tested in markets that use right-hand-drive cars, meaning Toyota would have to flip things around for the North American market. It will be interesting to see what Toyota fans do and subsequently what Toyota does. 

Could the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Get a Manual?

We Know You Want to Row Your Own Gears

The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 will come with a dual-clutch automatic transmission (DTC) with paddle shifters instead of the manual transmission many enthusiasts wished it had. However, Carl Widdman, head engineer for Ford Performance and the Mustang, didn’t rule out a manual for Ford’s 700-plus hp Mustang. That means it could get a manual transmission.

Road and Track talked with Widdman at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit where the car made its debut. Widdman didn’t rule out the possibility of a manual transmission at some point. In fact, he seemed to hint that the muscle car could come with one at some point. 

The all-new Shelby GT500–the pinnacle of any pony car ever engineered by Ford Performance–delivers on its heritage with more than 700 horsepower for the quickest street-legal acceleration and most high-performance technology to date ever offered in a Ford Mustang.The all-new Shelby GT500–the pinnacle of any pony car ever engineered by Ford Performance–delivers on its heritage with more than 700 horsepower for the quickest street-legal acceleration and most high-performance technology to date ever offered in a Ford Mustang.
Image from Ford

When asked if the GT500 could get a manual transmission in later months, Widman said, “Right now, we’re DCT-only, [but] we get feedback, and we’re real tight with the Mustang crowd. We always listen to what our customers want, right?” 

That’s not a confirmation that the GT500 will get a manual transmission, but it’s certainly not a no. It would seem that Ford Performance is open to the idea. Why wouldn’t they be? If they’re going to miss out on sales because of the lack of a manual, then it only makes sense to put one in there.

Road and track also tried to find out if the Mustang GT350 or other versions of the Mustang would get the GT500’s slick new DCT from Tremec, and Widdman said no. That’s a shame because of the fact that the DTC in the GT500 shifts faster and can handle more torque than the current 10-speed automatic in the regular Mustang. 

10 Unique Porsches of WhatsApp Founder Jan Koum

Jan Koum founded popular messaging app WhatsApp alongside Brian Acton in 2009. The company was sold to Facebook in February 2014 for the staggering sum of $19.3 billion, earning Koum a payday in the region of $7.5 billion. What do you do with such vast wealth? Invest in classic cars of course!

Koum has accumulated a huge number of vehicles. He is known to have a collection of Ferrari’s and Porsche’s. Ferrari Magazine once profiled him, revealing his Ferrari F12tdf and Ferrari 458 Speciale. It seems Koum is making space in the Porsche section of his garage as he seeks to offload 10 unique Porsches at the Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction which takes place in Florida on 8 March 2019.

So what are we looking at?

1. 1992 Porsche 964 Carrera RS

Part of a trio of Carrera RS models, the 964 Carrera RS is one of 1910 lightweight Carrera RS produced. This one is powered by an M64/03 air-cooled, dry-sump horizontally opposed SOHC six-cylinder engine producing 260 hp. It did away with the 964’s electrically assisted steering and was fitted with a manual race. Air conditioning, power-adjustable seats, cruise control, an entertainment system, and sound deadening and insulation were also dispensed with to save weight.

2. 1993 Porsche 964 Carrera RS 3.8

1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS

The 1993 model, finished in Speed Yellow, is even rarer, just 55 were built, 12 in this colour. The cars served as the homologation base for the 3.8 RSR for international competition. It is expected to sell for in excess of $1 million.

3. 1995 Porsche 993 Carrera RS

1995 Porsche 993 Carrera RS

The third Speed Yellow model was the final air cooled Carrera RS model. Featuring the same 3.8 litre six cylinder engine as the 1993, it had 300 bhp. Around 1,000 of these were built.

4. 2008 Porsche 997 GT3 RS 3.6

2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RS RS Green

One of just 53 North American cars in RS Green, this one has travelled 12,000 miles.

5. 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Grey Black Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Another highly valued RS car. It is the second version of the GT3 RS for the 997 platform.

6. 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0

One of 600 built, 158 went to the North American market. It is claimed that this is the only one fitted with the combination of carbon ceramic brakes, red and black interior and adaptive sport seats. It has just 150 miles on the clock.

7. 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS

Porsche 997 GT2 RS

Another ultra-exclusive modern Porsche. Just 500 were built and this one has rare carbon fibre fenders.

8. 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder

Porsche 918 Spyder

Moving to the more modern machinery. This Porsche 918 Spyder has just 20 miles on the clock. Finished in Liquid Metal Chrome Blue, it has the Weissach package. Our perfect combination.

9. 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4

Signal Yellow Porsche Cayman GT4

This Signal Yellow GT4 has carbon ceramic brakes, carbon fibre bucket seats and comes with a lightweight battery and radio delete option.

10. 2016 Porsche 911 R

Porsche 911 R

One of 991 examples built, this one has delivery miles and delivery packaging from the factory. It has never been used.

Lexus LC Convertible Concept Revealed

A recent trip to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show reminded us just how good the Lexus LC sounds. Just in time for the release of the Lexus LC Convertible Concept this week at the Detroit Motor Show 2019!

Before you get too excited, for now, this is just a Concept. Lexus are testing the market, working out whether there is a profit to be made from chopping the top from its understated LC sports car. The result is jaw dropping.

The LC Convertible Concept has been released with very little fanfare. Lexus’ press release was remarkably short for good reason. The shape of this thing does all of the talking!

Long, low and lean, the LC Convertible concept retains the proportions of the LC coupe. Tailored seats and a superb Japanese, minimalist interior only add to the desire with crisp white leather trim and yellow accent stitching.

The combination of short overhangs, 22-inch wheels and a wide stance hint at the powertrain that hides underneath. The 5.0 litre V8 which powers the LC Coupe to the tune of 471 hp is the only real option for such a convertible. The 3.5 litre hybrid engine does not belong in this package!

With low demand for the Lexus LC in Europe, and moderate demand in the US. It seems as though the US market will be where the Lexus LC Convertible concept gets the biggest reception. Hopefully they decide to take the plunge. It looks stunning!

2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is Ford’s Most Powerful Street Car Ever

Hang on Tight

Ford is known for high-performance muscle cars, but now it has its most powerful muscle car of all time. The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500. It comes with a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine that produces more than 700 hp. 

Its monster V8 engine is connected to a dual-clutch automatic transmission that puts all that power down to the rear wheels. That should translate to mid-three second 0-60 mph times and a quarter-mile drag strip time of under 11 seconds. 

The GT500 isn’t just a straight line hustler, though, Ford claims it possesses the best braking and cornering of any domestic sports coupe. Dodge and Chevy, Ford is looking right at you. 

The Shelby produced car has an exterior design focused on aerodynamics. It’s supposed to increase downforce and improve thermal management. 

Jim Farley, Ford president of global markets, had this to say about the car, “A takedown artist, the new Shelby GT500 will surprise supercar owners with its Ford Performance racing tech, supercharged engine and visceral swagger.”

A Seriously Special Muscle Car

Ford hasn’t released specific engine power numbers or performance numbers for the car. All that will come at a later date. However, Ford did give insight into just how unique the model is. The powertrain is special to this car, and the aluminum alloy engine is built by hand. 

The engineering team inverted the 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger with an air-to-liquid intercooler to help keep the center of gravity low. To channel power efficiently and effectively, Ford used a carbon fiber driveshaft. In conjunction with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission that can shift in under 100 milliseconds, this helps put the power from the engine down to the wheels. 

The car also gets fully revised suspension geometry and a new electronic steering system. It gets MagneRide suspension to help manage everything. The massive 16.5-inch two-piece brake rotors (the largest of any domestic coupe) and Brembo brake calipers finish the car’s performance specs for the moment. 

From an aesthetic standpoint, the car looks downright angry. It’s the face of a true muscle car if I ever saw one. It’s here to gobble up Chevy Camaros and Dodge Hellcats with aplomb. It will arrive in the fall of 2019.