The Volvo XC90, first introduced in 2003, was a mega-hit, gaining MotorTrend’s SUV of the Year in 2003, and the North American Car of the Year award. Even Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson has famously owned three of the previous-gen XC90’s and has praised them for being incredibly practical and pleasant to drive. Those are some big shoes to fill for this second-gen XC90, but it seems Volvo is up to the task.
The second generation XC90 will debut in 2015 and is said to be brimming with the latest and greatest automotive technology. To celebrate the year Volvo was founded, the first 1,927 buyers who order their crossover online will get what’s called the First Edition XC90. These few lucky buyers will get a fully loaded XC90, with many exclusive items that won’t be found on the standard model.
If you want one of these First Edition Swede’s you’re gonna have to hurry. Alain Visser, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales says, “Those who want to be among the first ones to own the best SUV in the world have to act fast. The huge interest in the all-new XC90 indicates that the First Edition will sell out quickly.” Whoever gets one of these First Edition models will get to own a very special version of quite possibly the best all around SUVs on the market.
Updated 09/05/2014: The new XC90 is already a smashing success, as all 1,927 XC90 First Edition units were sold in just 47 hours. The model was released Wednesday, September 1, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. CET and in no time it was gone, with an average of 7 cars sold every minute.
Click past the jump to read more about the Volvo XC90 First Edition
Bentleys introduction to the SUV world will come in the form of the Falcon. Due next year, Bentleys new flagship model, will be designed by Luc Donckerwolke, who has worked for the Volkswagen group for many years now and was the designer behind the Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo. His style usually utilizes sharp, crisp lines designed to reflect light. “I like really sharp, defined surfaces. If it’s too voluptuous, it’s too sweet. You need spices.”Said Donckerwolke.
This is somewhat different to the usual Bentley design, which is about softer, more rounded edges. However, despite his love for sharper lines, the new Falcon SUV will stick closely to the Bentley design language while still being a new direction for the famed British brand. “We are adapting the DNA of the brand to a new topology of car, but it’s always good when you do something that the brand hasn’t done before.”
A larger issue that Donckerwolke faces is creating a car for both the Western and Eastern markets. The Chinese and Russians seem to like the EXP 9 F concept, in which the Falcon is based, quite a bit, however the Western markets seemed more opposed to it. So the design for this car has to meet somewhere in the middle for both markets. Donckerwolke claims this is a difficult task and says Bentley “can’t design for just one market. We are ambassadors of a culture, and we have to look like a Bentley.” Hopefully Donckerwolke is up to the task, as he will have some stiff competition from Maserati and Aston Martin, which are both developing their own SUVs.
Click past the jump to read more about the Bentley Falcon
Land Rover has always been on the forefront of off-road technology. It’s a company that prides itself on pushing the bar upward with each new model. For instance, the new Range Rover is quite possibly the best, most advance off-roading production vehicle on the market today, with its all-aluminum body and frame, it has anti-roll bars that disconnect electronically and it can even come with a sonar system that allows you to monitor wading depth. All Land Rovers are highly advanced vehicles, and Land Rover seems to be teasing some new tech for the upcoming Discovery Sport.
The video seems to be tying the history and future of Land Rover with that of the space program, showing numerous Evolution Of Man-style aeronautic images. At the end of the video it even references the partnership between Land Rover and Virgin Galactic, the space program branch of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire.
The first bit of interior tech Land Rover teases, is the satellite-image-style navigation system, which could offer an incredibly accurate way of tracking yourself while off-road in dangerous and desolate places, or allow fantastic exploration abilities. The second bit is the set of seven rear seats that seem to have a high range of maneuverability. The last piece of tech Land Rover teases is a large, panoramic moonroof that seems to stretch almost the entire length and width of the roof.
Land Rover doesn’t tease too much, but it is hinting that this new Discovery is on the cutting edge of technology. The Discovery Sport is rumored to use space-grade techniques, borrowed from its Virgin Galactic partner, such as "see-through" view of the road ahead, helping you avoid dangerous terrain while tackling tough terrain, as well as gesture control, which will allow the driver to operate various parts of the vehicle with hand gestures. These are all just rumors, of course, and we’ll see how high-tech the Discovery Sport really is when it debuts September 3rd, 2014. For now we can only speculate as to what kind of tech the Discovery will really have, and hope that a zero-gravity key-fob is one of them.
Imagine this, you’re driving down a twisty, winding road, in a convertible BMW with the top down, wind in your hair and in your ears, and the sound of…nothing because you’re driving a hybrid. Sounds pretty awful, right? Well don’t worry because BMW isn’t making a hybrid convertible, at least until the i8 goes topless. BMW has officially stated that six, inline cylinders will drive the upcoming Z4 replacement. This is good news. The Bavarians have always made wonderful I-6 engines; with smooth, buttery powerbands and lovely, growling exhaust notes.
The engine in question, code named B58, will be a 3.0-liter, turbocharged I-6 that will put out around 335 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque. Combine that with an estimated curb weight of around 3,084 pounds, and you’ve got one hell of a convertible sports car. Rumor also has it that this car will be developed together with Toyota and its upcoming Supra replacement. Based on the success of the Toyobaru twins and all of the success BMW’s had developing sports cars, I cannot see this car being anything other than fantastic.
This is a whole new line of engines from BMW. It’s in the same “Efficient Dynamics” engine family that its newly released, 1.5-liter, three-cylinder and 2.0-liter. four-cylinder engines are from. This engine is also rumored to debut in the upcoming 7 Series replacement, and should trickle down into the 3 Series and 5 Series cars shortly after. It’s also good to see Bimmer sticking with six-cylinder engines. Many automakers have been ditching sixes for turbo-fed fours, and while the turbo fours pack quite a punch, they lack in emotion and excitement compared to sixes. So while the Z4 might eventually get the familiar 2.0-liter turbo four as well, it’s refreshing to see BMW also offer an I-6.
Click past the jump to read more about the BMW Z4 successor.
BMW M3s have always been about high-revving, naturally aspirated engine and lightweight, nimble handling. In fact, that was the case for all M cars until the M5 came along with a twin-turbocharged V-8, which then made its way into the M6 as well. The E92 generation M3 was the last M car to have a free-breathing engine. The new one, chassis code F80, gets forced induction — much to the dismay of many M car fans. With the help of two turbochargers, the new, 3.0-liter inline-six makes 425 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. That’s a considerable bump over the 295 pound-feet of the previous M3 and it comes on 2,050 RPM sooner. This makes the new M3 much more of a weapon than the E92, which needed to be revved to eternity to really get going. And this shows, as the F80 gets from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds where as the old E92 took 4.1.
Chris Harris seems to think, despite what all of the haters say, that this new M3 is best of the breed. And he should know, being that he used to own an E92 M3 and currently owns an original E30 Sports Evolution M3. Harris say the engine, despite drawing such criticism for its blown-nature, is a masterpiece. It doesn’t sound all that great but it works wonderfully.
The chassis balance, as always with M3s, is fantastic and the gearbox is epic. One place where the new M3 might still draw criticism though, is the steering. It’s electric and many people, including Harris himself, think that it feels a bit artificial, but it’s incredibly accurate and is nicely weighted. Chris seems to think that this new M3 moves the game dramatically forward over the previous generation. If a man who drives some of the most hardcore sports cars out there says that, then I’m going to listen.
Chris Harris makes lovely videos because they help people like me, who don’t always get to drive some of these awesome sports cars, really get a feel for what they’re like. He really beats on the M3 in this video and shows what it can do, drifting through turns on a circuit and bombing a twisty, mountain road. In doing so, we can really get an idea of just how good the new M3 is. It may not be as pure as an E30, but it’s damn close, and that’s good enough for me.
Caterham is just one of many car manufactures that have built replicas or continuation cars based on the iconic Lotus Seven. That said, Caterham is the only one that has become notorious for its Seven continuation cars and its numerous iterations. Ranging from the lightest and cheapest Caterham Seven 160 to the powerful and expensive Seven 620 R, the Caterham line of Sevens is nothing short of impressive. Caterham cars remain rather scarce in the States, but for 2015, the automaker is growing its lineup in America with the addition of the Seven 480.
We live in the golden age for performance cars. Most old-school enthusiasts will say that the 70’s were the golden years because big, bad muscle cars and a "No replacement for displacement" attitude. I respectfully disagree, because while old school muscle cars are cool, they never really got any power out of those huge engines. Nowadays, car makers can get huge performance numbers out of engines with the same displacement as a container of milk. A perfect example of this is Caterham. A small British car company, who hangs its hat on making small, ultra lightweight performance cars. People might snicker at a purpose built track car that only has 237 horsepower, but when it flies past you on the track, that snicker will quickly fade. While Caterhams are wonderful cars, they’ve been absent in America. Now, however, Caterham here, in the good ole U.S. of A.
Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Caterham Seven 480.
Aston Martin is probably the coolest car company in the world. Its stunning designs, growling V-12s and relationship with everyone’s favorite British spy, give it an image of undeniable desirability. However, despite its icy coolness, Aston has always been a flawed company. Being a relatively small company, it’s always dealt with financial issues and, because of this, has always suffered in the R&D department. Due to it’s lack of funds, Aston has never been able to keep up with it’s rivals, particularly Porsche, when it comes to technology and innovation. For instance, Aston’s latest and greatest, the new Vanquish, uses an engine that’s essentially a decade old. So Aston Martin needs some help and Daimler very well may be there to help it carry on.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, Daimler, acquired four percent of Aston Martin. Now, however, Daimler wants a larger stake and bought one more percent to make it a nice, even five.
Click past the jump to read more about the Daimler-Aston Martin partnership.
Chris Harris is back again, making me jealous of his life. He recently spent some time in Maranello, testing the new Ferrari LaFerrari. The LaFerrari, despite having a silly name, is the hardcore, hybrid successor to the famous Enzo. It’s also the Italian answer to the Porsche 918 and the McLaren P1. It’s also probably the most brutally fast hybrid production car ever made.
Chris got to test each of those aforementioned hybrid supercars and had nothing but great things to say about them. However, he seems to feel a bit different about this LaFerrari. It seems to be the only one of the three he actually loved. The reason for that is probably the fact that the LaFerrari hides it’s techno-wonder more than the others. The Porsche 918 is a unashamed nerd-fest (a very cool, very fast nerd-fest), and the McLaren is all business with its very serious, designed-in-a-wind-tunnel looks. The LaFerrari, on the other hand, is typical Italian pantomime and theater, it’s a celebration of colors and noise. I personally think it looks fantastic, I especially like the bug-antenna-style wing mirrors. It looks like a proper Ferrari, not just an exercise in aerodynamics and numbers. They each have their own character but the LaFerrari seems to have the most interesting one.
Combine all of this power, performance, handling prowess and looks, and you have possibly the greatest supercar the world has ever seen. Now go watch Mr. Harris give it "the full potatoes!".
If you aren’t familiar, Chris Harris is one of the better journalists out there. He’s made a name for himself by getting into arguments with Ferrari — and more importantly — destroying tires (or tyres since he’s English). The one thing that’s always great about a Chris Harris video review, is how well he can diagnose a car. He’s been in the game a long time and has driven everything from ancient, decrepit Citroen 2CV’s to hypercars like the McLaren P1 and LaFerrari. This makes him very diverse, and able to enjoy many different types of car, he doesn’t limit himself to old muscle cars with manual gearboxes or modern high-tech sports cars with all the newest of gadgets. He simply enjoys cars for what they are, he’s a proper gearhead (or petrolhead because again...English). So when he put out this video driving the i8, I payed attention.
The i8 is a technological powerhouse, using technologies and techniques not available on anything in its price range. It has a mid-mounted, 1.5-liter, turbocharged, three-cylinder engine, making 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, paired with a 129-horsepower electric motor to make a combined power out put of 362 ponies. The benefit of electric power is the instantaneous torque, and when combined with the turbo three-banger, the i8 produces a whopping 420 pound-feet of it. All this is sent through a variation of the six-speed auto in the new Mini Cooper (the engine is also carried over from the Mini), and delivered to all four wheels.
The chassis of the i8 is a monocoque tub made from CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic), so it’s incredibly light for a hybrid with big heavy batteries. The i8 weighs only 3,378 pounds. This makes it heavier than both the Corvette Stingray (3,298 pounds) and the Porsche 911 Carrera (3,042 pounds), but since the chassis is made out of CFRP and the batteries are laid out down the spine of the car, it feels much lighter and more nimble than it’s weight would suggest. This is also aided by the fact that it has that 420 pound-feet of torque from almost the second you touch the accelerator. In the video Chris explains how it doesn’t feel as pure and organic as a 911 but it’s close, and with all of the new technologies, it brings new exciting elements to the table.
Then there’s the look of the thing. To these eyes it’s the most interesting looking car on the road today, if not the most beautiful. This gives the Jag F-Type a run for it’s money. It’s not beautiful in the classic sense, but it is stunning in a modern art sort of way. It looks like the future, and it sort of is. Sports cars need to become fuel efficient nowadays and the new i Division cars are paving the way for that green future. I’m not a fan of electric cars but this one has me intrigued and it intrigues Chris as well. Real gearheads can appreciate when something is new and innovative, when it pushes the ball forward, and that’s exactly what you see here in the i8 and exactly what Chris talks about while driving it. Watch the video, it won’t disappoint.
Gran Turismo 6 is a car enthusiast’s dream. What GT6, or any Gran Turismo for that matter, offers is a chance to get as close as possible to the cars we love that we can’t drive in the real world. This is especially true for concept cars. Most concept cars never make it to production, and when they do, they usually end up resembling so little of the concept that it turns out to be a disappointment. Concept cars always look so much better than production cars because the design team has no boundaries or regulations to follow. The FT-1 is no different, as it simply looks fantastic. It was next to the Mercedes-Benz stand at the NYIAS and it stole most of the show-goers away from the German automaker’s. So when GT6 and Toyota announced that they would be making an FT-1 for the new game new game, with a 30 second teaser video, it obviously got all of us excited. It’s called the FT-1 Vision GT Concept, and it looks spectacular with it’s scoops, louvers and all that exposed carbon fiber. Let’s hope it drives as well as it looks, digitally of course.
Updated 08/14/2014: Toyota unveiled the official details and images on the FT-1 Vision Gran Turismo Concept set to be offered for Gran Turismo 6 users from September. Details after the jump.
Click past the jump to read more about the Toyota FT-1 Vision GT Concept.
Mysterious marketing can be fun. It’s a way to pique peoples’ interests and keep them coming back for more. Leave people hanging and they will diligently follow you for answers. However, it can also lead to disappointment due to high expectations and low delivery. Which is exactly what happened in this case.
BMW released a teaser video showing a car, in first person, tearing through the streets with a nice engine note to go along with it. What it had shown led me, and probably others, to believe a new, hot-blooded sports car was on the way. Being that the only part of the car BMW had shown was the front wheel, I had assumed something front-wheel drive; maybe a 2 Series Active Tourer hot hatch or maybe something based on the new Mini. But what it turned out to be, if you haven’t watched the video, was an i3 being driven by a woman with her son in the back seat playing some sort of racing game on a PS Vita.
While this is kind of a clever commercial, and the i3 is a great car, the video was somewhat disappointing. BMW is primarily a sports car company, a damn good one at that, and the idea of a new sports car from its factory is an exciting one, so to find out it’s just a clever i3 commercial is a real bummer. Unfortunately Bimmer got our hopes up, but at least for a little while I got to dream up some wild car fantasies, and isn’t that what being a car enthusiast is all about?
Click past the jump to see the deceitful teaser video that got us all riled up
The IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) has just recently awarded the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S its coveted “Top Safety Pick" designation. It scored a “good” in the front moderate overlap, side impact, rear impact and roof crush, and an "Acceptable" in the small overlap test. The real surprise there is the small overlap, as that’s a very difficult crash to survive. This makes the BRZ the seventh Subaru model to earn the Top Safety Pick award and Scion’s second. This isn’t that surprising though; Subaru has always been a symbol of safety.
Also rear-wheel drive makes it easier to implement good impact and crumple zones in the front, due to the lack of drivetrain equipment up there. This is very good news, as the BRZ and FR-S are two of just a few true, rear-wheel drive sports cars out there and they are arguably the best ones at their price point. With their accurate steering and nimble chassis, the BRZ and FR-S are tail happy hooligans at any speed. Add the Top Safety Pick on top of that and you’ve got an excellent little car.
Click past the jump to read more about the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S.
Ferrari is constantly on the forefront of automotive technology and setting the bar for the rest of the car world. For instance, with the Ferrari FF, the Italian automaker wanted a four-wheel-drive system but conventional systems weren’t good enough so its engineers completely reinvented the wheel and came up with their own. Was it necessary? No, probably not, but stagnation is self-abdication. At least that’s what Ferrari would say. Well Ferrari has done it again, at least it’s trying to. To Ferrari, a conventional electric power steering system just isn’t good enough. Even though any enthusiast lucky enough to drive a 458 Speciale would tell you that the steering is nothing short of perfect, Ferrari isn’t satisfied. Ferrari says that due to slack in the steering box and universal joints creating a slight delay between the driver’s input and what the wheels actually do, the wizards in Maranello are developing a software system that compensates for this and creates a more direct and accurate response. It, supposedly, can also compensate for the front suspension geometry differences, from left to right, which can create a miniscule difference in steering response respectively.
Now this is all well and good, but if Ferrari really wanted precise, accurate steering, why not just go back to hydraulic? Aren’t old school Ferraris, Porsches and BMWs world famous for their telepathic steering feel and response? I know, electric power steering is more efficient and with strict fuel-economy regulations, it makes more sense. But, what about no power steering at all? Ferrari’s baby brother, Alfa Romeo, doesn’t use power steering in its new 4C, and people love it.
Thankfully, Ferrari says that this new software tweak is simple and cheap, and the driver will never notice it working, they will only feel great steering. I understand Ferrari’s need to push the envelope but I feel this is just too much. Added software manipulation cannot be good for the already fading steering feel in sports cars nowadays.
Click past the jump to read more about Ferrari’s future steering system.
BMW is continuing its plan to make the transition to electric vehicles as simple as possible. The i3 is already a huge step in the right direction, as it introduces a Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic chassis, aluminum sub frames and a small gasoline range extender all at a relatively low price. The main goal is to get people into electric vehicles by taking as much of the compromise out of the equation as possible. Well, BMW is now going one step further with the introduction of the i DC Fast Chargers and the ChargeNow DC Fast Program. BMW developed the i DC Fast Charger with the help of Bosch Automotive Service Solutions. The i DC Fast Charger is a small (31-by-19-by-12 inches), 100-pound box that owners can mount to a wall that will charge the battery up to 80 percent in 30 minutes. The i3’s Fast Charger will set you back to the tune of $6,548, which is cheap in comparison to most DC Fast Chargers. A standard charger will “fill up the tank” in about 6 to 8 hours. With that in mind the Fast Charger seems worth the premium, especially considering it’s a slick-looking, smallish unit that will fit nicely in most garages.
ChargeNow DC Fast is a program BMW has developed with the help of NRG eVgo, and will offer unlimited, no cost, 30-minute charging for i3 drivers in California until December 2015. This will help reduce range anxiety considerably on long trips through The Golden State. To access the ChargeNow DC Fast program, i3 owners must equip the DC Fast charger option, and sign up for a ChargeNow Card. Doing so will give owners access to all eVgo DC Fast chargers across California. Even at a price though, the ChargeNow program will help dramatically in the implementation of electric vehicles as primary cars for households. It still takes a bit longer than stopping at a gas station, but if placed properly, these ChargeNow stations can provide some resting time or even some sightseeing on long trips. This in tandem with the i DC Fast Charger in the home and the i3 becomes a very useful and eco-friendly option.
Click past the jump to read more about BMW’s new i DC Fast Chargers And ChargeNow DC Fast Programs.