Category Archives: Car News

Full Stop: These Are the Cars That Won’t See 2018

Full Stop: These Are the Cars That Won’t See 2018BMW 5-series GTBMW 6-seriesChevrolet Spark EVChevrolet SSDodge ViperFord C-Max EnergiHonda Accord CoupeHyundai Accent HatchbackHyundai AzeraInfiniti QX70Jeep PatriotKia Forte KoupLexus CT200hMercedes-Benz B-class EVMitsubishi LancerNissan JukeNissan QuestRange Rover Evoque Two-DoorRolls-Royce Phantom Coupe and Drophead CoupeSmart FortwoVolkswagen Touareg

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Genesis Design Chief Tells Us How He’ll Define the New Luxury Brand’s Style

Genesis GV80 concept

It has been just about two years since Genesis became a brand instead of only a Hyundai model name, marking the Korean company’s full arrival in the luxury class. But where the G80 and G90 were still conceived in the Hyundai Genesis era, it is up to the next generation of models to assert the newfound position. A central part of that is the new design language currently being developed under Genesis chief designer Luc Donckerwolke. After spending most of his career within the Volkswagen Group and having served as chief designer of Lamborghini, Seat, and Bentley, Donckerwolke is aggressively putting together a global team.

“Genesis was born out of Hyundai, and now we are splitting the brands, creating teams, but at the same time keeping synergies,” said Donckerwolke. “We are synchronizing the brands, and that is the only way to make sure we don’t overlap.”

Genesis G70

The Genesis and Hyundai design teams have already been separated in Korea and in the United States. “But we are not doubling all the functions, because then it would be impossible to have a constant flow of information,” he clarified. Donckerwolke has created the Global Genesis Advanced Studio in Europe, led by Sasha Selipanov. It is possible that Genesis will create its own design studios in other markets, including China, Japan, and India, he said.

A New Style

In September, Genesis launched the G70 sports sedan. It was designed before Donckerwolke joined the brand, but he said he likes it: “It is a really good, sexy car with ideal proportions.”

A better preview of where Donckerwolke wants to take Genesis was provided by the SUV concept GV80, unveiled at the New York auto show in April. Aiming to convey “athletic elegance,” the GV80 features pronounced rear-wheel-drive proportions, with a short front overhang, a long rear overhang, a cabin pushed back to increase the distance between the front axle and the windshield, and muscular curves concentrated above the large wheel arches. There is a horizontal line arched along the entire side, slightly dropping in the rear as on a classic luxury car; Donckerwolke described it as “la parabólica” and “slightly anti-wedge.” And he explained, “We optimized the proportions so we need to apply less makeup.”

Genesis GV80 concept

Many unusual details on the GV80 provide explicit leads to future Genesis styling. Perhaps the most prominent is the design of the head- and taillights: “These quad lights will become our signature,” said Donckerwolke. And the signature grille will not have a hexagonal shape but assume the look of a crest, as seen on the concept.

“You will see an evolution,” said Donckerwolke. “There will be no Russian-doll syndrome. We will not have such a strong similarity between generations, so that people will actually know what is the new car. But the theme will be the same.” We take the “Russian doll” comment as a swipe at the German premium carmakers.

Next Models Retain Rear-Wheel Drive

The lineup, which currently consists of the aging G80 and its G90 derivative as well as the new G70, will be aggressively expanded. We expect three new models by 2020, all of them with rear-wheel drive; beyond that, we could see electrics. “A couple of years ago, I would have said that Genesis will be exclusively a rear-wheel-drive brand, but electrification changes the situation,” said Donckerwolke. Meanwhile, he said, he is happy expanding the portfolio of conventionally powered cars: “We are enjoying the privilege of working on a platform that everyone would like to have.”

By the time the next three models arrive, Donckerwolke could have additional responsibilities: His friend and mentor Peter Schreyer, who oversees the design of the entire family of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands, turns 65 next year.

Genesis-Design-Direction-Reel

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Genesis Design Chief Tells Us How He’ll Define the New Luxury Brand’s Style

Genesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis GV80 conceptGenesis conceptGenesis conceptGenesis G70Genesis G70Genesis G70Genesis G70Genesis G70Genesis G70Luc Donckerwolke

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“All-Weather” Tires Explained: Merging All-Seasons and Winter Tires

Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) M+S symbol

If you live somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon line, cold weather is an annual reality. And in places like our home state of Michigan, the beginning of fall often means thinking about getting one’s car (or in our case, our long-term test fleet) ready for snow, i.e., new winter tires. But not everyone switches to dedicated winter rubber in the cold months, instead relying on all-season tires to get through snow, ice, slush, and just plain cold weather. Fortunately for those folks, in the last couple of years a new subset of all-seasons has emerged: the “all-weather” tire.

What denotes an all-weather tire versus an all-season one is a small pictogram on the sidewall known as the three-peak mountain snowflake (3PMSF), pictured above. This symbol is a seal of approval of sorts that indicates the tire has been tested and it is capable of at least 110 percent of the traction of a reference all-season tire (for the nerds, the standard is ASTM E1136-14). Yeah, it is vague, but it is a laboratory test that actually tells consumers more than an M+S marking (also seen above), which is just a calculation of tread geometry.

All dedicated winter tires have the 3PMSF, but an all-weather tire is suitable for winter conditions yet doesn’t necessarily have to be swapped on and off every winter and spring. This is ideal for some markets where winter-tire use is compulsory, like Quebec and many northern European countries. For what it’s worth, the only all-season tires you can find in Europe are these all-weather tires.

One of the newest all-weather tires to make it to the United States is the BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT, which comes with a warranty of 60,000 to 65,000 miles, making its warranty competitive with even some non-3PMSF all-seasons. Tire warranty is one of the most important factors consumers should consider when buying replacement rubber.

1stMain_9687_Adv_TA_29i

The rubber compounds used for dedicated winter tires are not designed for warm weather and will wear at elevated levels when driven above certain temperatures. Also, wet traction and cold traction are what the industry calls a target conflict, meaning that if you want wet grip you must give up cold grip and vice versa. Getting a 3PMSF tire to return decent wet grip while not wearing like balsa wood under 100-grit sandpaper was a eureka moment for the tire industry. Just as tires have improved their performance in the dry, they have also improved in snow and ice. That, along with rubber performing its task at a wider temperature range, has allowed some tire manufacturers to make a tire that consumers can run year-round but that can still be approved for places like Quebec.

The light-truck tire category, into which the aforementioned BFG tire falls, has included some all-weather choices for quite some time (at the bottom of this post, we have included a complete list of the various year-round, “all-weather” light-truck and passenger tires on sale or nearly on sale in our market). The penetration of the 3PMSF symbol has been slower in the passenger-car category, even though there are many tires that may qualify for the marking.

The 3PMSF initially was created and reserved for winter tires. “Every tire needs the right balance of three things to work in those conditions—proper tread pattern, appropriate tread compound, and sufficient tread depth. This is true for a racing slick, true for an M/T tire slogging through mud, and true for any tire driving in the snow,” according to Woody Rogers, Tire Rack’s director of tire information. And while that balance is swinging wider than ever before, not everyone will be happy with the performance of a 3PMSF all-season tire.

If you need true cold-weather, slush-cutting, black-ice-gripping winter tires, stick with those that you need to swap on and off. If you’re in, say, the Cincinnati-to-Nashville latitude and short-lasting winter squalls occasionally threaten to leave you stranded, the all-weather tire is a one-tire solution that might be worth looking into. Odds are that, in the future, more and more all-season tires will get the 3PMSF symbol while still maintaining a competitive warranty.

3PMSF passenger-car tires:
Goodyear Assurance WeatherReady
-Hankook Kinergy 4S (Canada only)
-Michelin CrossClimate + (limited sizes available)
-Nokian WRG3
-Toyo Celsius
-Vredestein Quatrac5

3PMSF Light-Truck (LT) tires:
BFGoodrich Advantage T/A Sport LT
-BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO (select sizes)
-BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2
-BFGoodrich Commercial T/A Traction
-General Grabber AT2 (select sizes)
-Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure with Kevlar (select sizes)
-Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac (all but one size)
-Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor
-Goodyear Wrangler TrailRunner AT (select sizes)
-Hankook Dynapro AT-M
-Kumho Road Venture AT51
-Nitto Exo Grappler AWT
-Nokian Rotiiva AT
-Nokian Rotiiva AT Plus
-Nokian WR C3
-Nokian WRG3 SUV
-Toyo Celsius CUV
-Yokohama Geolandar A/T G015

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Hot-Hatch Showdown! Ford Focus RS vs. Honda Civic Type R

2017 Honda Civic Type R and 2017 Ford Focus RS

Making power is but one variable in going fast. The upper echelon of performance—occupied by the mega-output Germans, big-muscled Corvettes and Hellcats, and, of course, Italian exotica—now depends on automatic transmissions, launch control, track-bred tires, and often all-wheel drive to generate stupefying performance. READ MORE ››

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2017 Ford Focus RS vs. 2017 Honda Civic Type R – Comparison Tests

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Grand Convertible: Bentley’s Topless Offering Is for the Top of the Top Percentile

Bentley Grand Convertible

As hard as it may seem for most of us to believe, there are those who wouldn’t consider a Bentley Continental GT luxurious (or exclusive) enough. Now, for those select few—very few—discerning and eminently wealthy individuals, there’s the new Grand Convertible by Mulliner.

Originally previewed as a concept at the 2014 Los Angeles auto show, the Grand Convertible is a droptop version of the Mulsanne, and it is now being put into strictly limited production. It’s all hush-hush, the news being fed only on a need-to-know (read: have-the-dough) basis. However, a spokesman for the British automaker confirmed via correspondence with Car and Driver that Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house customization and coachbuilding department, will build 19 examples of the Grand Convertible—a figure ostensibly representative of 1919, the year in which the company was founded, as Bentley prepares to kick off its centenary celebrations a little over a year from now.

Exact specifications of the production model have not been disclosed, but the concept we saw three years ago packed the high-output 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 from the Mulsanne Speed sedan, which sends 530 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Bentley Grand Convertible

The concept also featured a burl-walnut tonneau cover that was the largest single piece of wood veneer ever fitted to a Bentley.

Pricing information, likewise, has been disclosed only to the elite cadre of clientele to which the Grand Convertible is targeted, but it is rumored to hover in the range of $3.5 million. There’s no word on whether the ultraluxurious convertible will be made available to Americans; it is limited at present to the U.K., Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, where it was recently revealed to invited guests at the company’s flagship showroom in Dubai.

Confirmation of the Grand Convertible’s production comes eight years after Bentley discontinued production of the Azure—the open-air version of the Arnage sedan and Brooklands coupe models that preceded the Mulsanne. Archrival (and onetime sister company) Rolls-Royce likewise ceased producing its similarly positioned Phantom drophead coupe last year.

This isn’t the first variant of the Mulsanne that Mulliner has created for its most discerning and moneyed customers. Last year it revealed the Grand Limousine, which took the big sedan in the opposite direction by adding an extra yard to the vehicle’s wheelbase and three inches to the height of its roof to accommodate an extra pair of rear-facing seats in the back.

Bentley Grand Convertible Reel

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Grand Convertible: Bentley’s Topless Offering Is for the Top of the Top Percentile

Bentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible conceptBentley Grand Convertible concept

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Flawed but Awesome: Jaguar’s XJ220 Supercar is 25 Years Old

Jaguar XJ220First, a DreamJaguar XJ220Jaguar XJ220Jaguar XJ220Jaguar XJ220 rear viewJaguar XJ220Jaguar XJ220 wheelsJaguar XJ220 engineJaguar XJ220 cockpitJaguar XJ220CJaguar XJ220 Fast MastersJaguar XJ220SJaguar XJ220SJaguar XJ220 and XJ220SJaguar XJ220Jaguar XJ220Jaguar XJ220

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Face Blindness: The Ho-Hum 2018 Volkswagen Jetta Tested in Depth

2017-Volkswagen-Jetta-01-Placement

The Volkswagen Jetta is a bit of an automotive conundrum. All three of its available turbocharged four-cylinder engines are refined and pleasant to drive, and the 2.0-liter under the hood of the Jetta GLI is truly fun to flog. Characteristic of a Volkswagen, the Jetta has competent handling and a functional interior. But despite these promising characteristics, the Jetta completely fails to set the heart racing. Snore-inducing exterior styling may be a culprit, or the fact that this sedan is not nearly as flexible or practical as its stablemate, the hatchback Volkswagen Golf. Whatever the reason, the Jetta can never seem to add up to more than the sum of its parts, and it fades into the background of this highly competitive segment. READ MORE ››

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