2017 Lexus LC Coupe Spied in Production Body: Lexusfalutin, Two-Door-Style

2017-Lexus-LF-LC-spy-photo-PLACEMENT
What It Is: A prototype of Lexus’s upcoming flagship luxury coupe, which will be positioned far higher up the automotive food chain than the Japanese brand’s only other current coupe model, the RC. The new model was previewed by the California-designed LF-LC concept at the 2012 Detroit auto show, but now running prototypes are plying public roads. So, yep, it’s real. READ MORE ››

Powered by WPeMatico

2017 Lexus LC Spied in Production Body: Lexusfalutin, Two-Door-Style – Future Cars

2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)2017 Lexus LC (spy photo)Lexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue concept taillightLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue concept headlightLexus LF-LC Blue conceptLexus LF-LC Blue concept badgeLexus LF-LC Blue concept interiorLexus LF-LC Blue concept interiorLexus LF-LC Blue concept interiorLexus LF-LC Blue concept interior

Powered by WPeMatico

Fitness Test: Subjecting an Average Car to the Perils of Lightning Lap

2015 Honda Fit EX

From the October 2015 issue

Every year, without fail, reader response to Lightning Lap includes multiple pleas to enter an everyday car—a Camry, an Accord, a Fiesta without an ST badge. You know, an average ride built for the average commuter. Well, this year we happened to have our long-term 2015 Honda Fit EX present at VIR and we put it to work, the test gear strapped in for what might be the slowest lap in VIR’s Grand West Course history.

Everyone was sure the 130-hp hatch wouldn’t break four minutes. Everyone was proven wrong when it did a respectable 3:37.7.

But what’s most surprising is how comfortable the wee Fit is on a track. Sure, the all-season tires howl in protest, the economy-oriented engine can barely muster 104 mph on the front straight, and you’re fighting to stay in the flat seat against 0.74 g’s worth of cornering grip. But the brakes don’t fade, stability control doesn’t intervene, and the steering is delightfully light and precise through faster corners. Beneath its overstyled skin lies the soul of a contender.





Part of the Fit’s speed—and this is a relative term—comes from being so narrow. Take the esses, for example: The skinny Fit essentially straightens out the curves, having to turn less than a wider, faster car. Plus, with its entry speed lower here than the exit speed or the esses’ average speed (94.8 mph), the Fit’s driver is dead flat on the throttle throughout the whole climb.

Going wide open through any corner is a total hoot, regardless of whether you’re in a go-kart or a golf cart. But please don’t ask us to lap a golf cart.

Powered by WPeMatico

Latka-san Is Pleased: Toyota Shows Doofy-Looking JPN Taxi Concept

Toyota JPN Taxi Concept

It’s been 20 years since Toyota launched the Crown Comfort, Japan’s Crown Victoria equivalent, and the rear-drive sedan meant for taxi duty was dated and stodgy-looking then, like a superdeformed vision of a Lexus LS400. No less a man than Akio Toyoda has recognized the Crown Comfort’s importance to the company, awarding it his “President’s Prize” back in 2010. But if the Panther-platform Vic’s departure taught us anything, it’s that all long-serving, fundamentally pedestrian cars with cult followings must ultimately pass from this earth. So here’s what Toyota is positing to replace the Crown Comfort: the JPN Taxi Concept.

Toyota JPN Taxi Concept

Note that the machine pictured here isn’t Toyota’s first stab at the JPN Taxi. The version the company displayed at the 2013 Tokyo auto show seemed a little more, well, Tokyo. This year’s model—presumably closer to the 2018 production car—is less futuristic-looking, more reserved, and significantly dorkier, perhaps in keeping with the Crown Comfort aesthetic. It does, however, retain the 2013 concept’s hatchback, high roof, and sliding door, all features specified with an eye toward ease of ingress and egress for all passengers, including those in wheelchairs.





The JPN Taxi is set up to run on liquified petroleum gas, although we imagine that like its predecessor, other fueling options will be available. The 2018 models will be legal for import to the U.S. in 2043, which means that assuming nothing untoward happens in the interim, we’ve got time to convert one into a proper hearse for our kei-car-populated funeral procession.

2015 Tokyo Auto Show Full Coverage

Powered by WPeMatico

Tomorrowland: We Drive Honda’s New Clarity Fuel-Cell Vehicle

 

2017-Honda-Clarity-INLINE2

Visiting Japan from the United States means crossing the International Date Line—quite literally traveling into the future. This was not lost on us when we visited Honda’s research and development center in Tochigi in advance of the Tokyo Motor Show for an extremely limited drive of its third-generation fuel-cell vehicle, which is known as the Clarity Fuel Cell (note: no FCX prefix).

President and CEO Takahiro Hachigo described the new Clarity as Honda’s “ultimate technology,” although we will note that the company had two Acura NSX prototypes present and available for joyrides, as well.

While full details and specifications on the new car were not shared, from the outset it is apparent that this Clarity is essentially an evolution of the last one, the FCX Clarity. At 192.7 inches, it is a little longer than its predecessor, although we were told its wheelbase is a bit shorter. The latest Clarity also is slightly wider and taller than the FCX Clarity but is still in the same dimensional ballpark as the Honda Accord. Unlike the older model, the new one can now seat three across in the rear, making it a true five-passenger sedan.

2017-Honda-Clarity-PLACEMENT

This is accomplished by moving the fuel cell itself under the hood. Honda has managed to both improve the power density of the fuel cell—from 2.0 kW/L to 3.1 kW/L—and shrink its physical size by a third. By rotating the power drive unit so that it is lying on its side, the fuel cell can now squeeze in on top. Looking under the hood, the entire package is about the size of a V-6 engine. It nestles in a hollow aluminum subframe, die-cast using technology adapted from Honda’s motorcycle division. A lithium-ion battery pack of unspecified size sits underneath the front seat and two hydrogen tanks occupy space under the rear seat and in the trunk. Cargo capacity takes a hit due to the larger of the tanks, but not as much as before. Power has improved, from 134 horsepower to 174, which should allow the new Clarity to do zero to 60 mph in less than 9.0 seconds. Range is also said to increase to roughly 300 miles per fill-up, which will take you about three minutes if the hydrogen tank is somewhere near empty.

The Briefest of Impressions

Our time behind the wheel was measured in minutes—that could have been counted on one hand—but we can confirm both Honda’s promise of a quicker Clarity as well as improvements to NVH. In every respect, this new car seems even more like an Accord, from the corporate steering wheel to the infotainment touch screen to the refined interior. The Clarity is not, however, based on the current or next-generation Accord, but rather a separate platform that will be shared with a dedicated plug-in-hybrid successor to the discontinued Accord plug-in, which is to be introduced in a year or two. Honda says this new PHEV should have three times the Accord plug-in’s electric driving range, which would work out to about 42 miles, although the battery will only double in size.

Sharing a platform in this fashion should allow Honda to better scale up the Clarity, and indeed, company representatives say they have “broader market plans” for the new version, bolstered by Honda’s $13.8-million investment in hydrogen fueling infrastructure in California. As strategies go, this seems relatively obvious given the scarcity of the old FCX Clarity, which was only leased to a carefully curated list of well-heeled Southern Californians. Archrival Toyota’s ambitious new Mirai fuel-cell car no doubt provides additional motivation. Honda would not say whether it would join Toyota in selling—as opposed to strictly leasing—its new fuel-cell car when it comes to market in the Golden State next spring, but the model is lease-only in Japan.

2017-Honda-Clarity-INLINE1

If there is reason to find fault with this new Honda as a car, it is that it still adheres to the same old automotive paradigm. Honda engineers continue to emphasize a goal of transparency to the customer coming from traditional vehicles, yet what Elon Musk’s cult of owners have found is that driving an electric can in some ways trump the experience delivered by internal-combustion engines. We count ourselves as big fans of the “one-foot” driving experience that the Tesla Model S uniquely provides, with high levels of regenerative braking not found in the Honda. Honda prefers to use a blended regenerative-braking system that characteristically distorts feedback through the pedal, an effect present to some extent in every car we’ve encountered that uses regenerative braking, yet allows the car to coast when the accelerator pedal is released. Regenerative braking, notably, is absent in the Tesla, which allows the friction brakes to just be brakes.





The larger problem, of course, has nothing to do with the new FCV itself. Honda’s presentation came with the same caveats that always accompany talk of the hydrogen future: infrastructure still needs to be built and mass production is needed to reduce costs. Clearly Honda has some plans to address these issues, although it still promises widespread deployment only 10 years from now. Forgive us for experiencing déjà vu to when we were first handed the keys to the FCX Clarity nearly a decade ago. Remarkably, you could have said the same things then about battery-electric vehicles—and carmakers did. But then Tesla went ahead and started building an infrastructure and forged ahead with mass production. So have other carmakers. Indeed, the world of electrified automobiles—and remember, fuel-cell cars also are electrics—has evolved dramatically in the last eight years. Honda’s contribution, not nearly so much.

2017-Honda-Clarity-REEL

2015-Tokyo-auto-show-full-coverage-blog-626px

Powered by WPeMatico

Lightning Lap 2015: 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – Feature

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Powered by WPeMatico

Tomorrowland: We Drive Honda’s New Fuel-Cell Vehicle

Honda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCVHonda FCV

Powered by WPeMatico

Lightning Lap 2015: 2016 Cadillac CTS-V – Feature

2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V2016 Cadillac CTS-V

Powered by WPeMatico

Lightning Lap 2015: 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S – Feature

2015 Porsche 911 GT3 and 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2015 Porsche 911 GT3 and 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2015 Porsche 911 GT3 and 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S

Powered by WPeMatico

Lightning Lap 2015: 2015 Porsche 911 GT3 – Feature

2015 Porsche 911 GT32015 Porsche 911 GT32015 Porsche 911 GT3 and 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2015 Porsche 911 GT3 and 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S2015 Porsche 911 GT3 and 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S

Powered by WPeMatico