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2020 BMW X3 M Competition by AC Schnitzer

2020 BMW X3 M Competition by AC Schnitzer

German tuner jolts Bimmer’s performance crossover to life

AC Schnitzer knows its way around BMW models. That knowledge comes in handy when we’re talking about a comprehensive aftermarket program for one of Bimmer’s resident performance crossovers, the X3 M.

You’re probably thinking the same thing. The X3 M already has 510 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. It doesn’t need more power than what it already has, right? Well, don’t tell that to AC Schnitzer. The German tuner isn’t interested in what’s already there; it’s in the business of imagining what it could become and bringing that scenario to life. The product of all that is this extensive tuning program that not only adds a slew of aerodynamic improvements to the X3 M, but, more importantly, also adds more power to what is already a powerful performance workhorse.

AC Schnitzer hasn’t announced pricing details for the X3 M Competition program, but rest assured, expect to pay somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000 to $30,000 for the program alone.

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2019 Nissan Versa - Driven

2019 Nissan Versa - Driven

Nissan’s updated, entry-level sedan is kind of fun to drive

The third-generation Nissan Versa was launched and the 2019 New York Auto Show, and with it came an all-new design inside an out. The new Versa features a wider body, was finally updated to feature Nissan’s V-Motion grille, and the rear end benefits form boomerang-shaped tail lights. We got the chance to test the SR model, so it had the extra spoiler on the rear deck but overall, as a package, the new Versa is sportier and more aggressive than before.

The interior felt a dramatic revamp as well, borrowing features from the recently updated Maxima and Altima. The new “Gliding Wing” instrument panel is probably the most recognizable change here, but we also had the SR model, so we were focused on things like the flat-bottom steering wheel, seven-inch infotainment display, and the red and black interior. In terms of cargo room, the Versa will swallow up 14.3 cubic-feet of goods with the rear seats in place or as much as 88.9 with the seats folded down.

Under the hood of our SR tester sits a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine that was completely revamped from the last model. It delivers a meager 122 horsepower and 114 pound-feet of torque, which is, impressively, 12-percent more horsepower and 7-percent more torque. The engine sent the power to the front, 17-inch wheels via an automatic transmission. Pricing for the Versa SR starts at $18,240, but ours was priced at $21,490 with a few option boxes checked. Stay tuned for a full, in-depth review of the 2019 Nissan Versa SR.

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2022 BMW 3 Series Electric

2022 BMW 3 Series Electric

Bimmer’s all-world nameplate is all set to go electric

The BMW 3 Series is arguably Bimmer’s most popular model, and it’s about to go electric. The all-electric 3 Series is one of the 25 electric and electrified models that BMW has in the pipeline, and while most of those models will probably end up being electric crossovers and SUVs, the 3 Series EV is arguably the most intriguing, in part because it’s shaped as a sedan and has big shoes to fill.

Recent spy shots of a heavily camouflaged 3 Series sporting “Electric Test Vehicle” stickers recently made their way into the Interwebs, providing us with all we need to know that the car under all the swirly bits is nothing else but the electric 3 Series. There’s no set timetable on when the electric 3 Series will hit the market, but with testing ongoing, it wouldn’t be surprising to see BMW debut the model this year ahead of a possible launch in 2021.

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2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0

The naturally aspirated flat-six makes a comeback!

The 2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 is a naturally aspirated version of the existing 718 Cayman. An update of the current 718 Cayman GTS, the GTS 4.0 ditches the turbocharged, 2.5-liter flat-four engine in favor of a 4.0-liter flat-six mill. The engine is shared with the range-topping 2020 718 Cayman GT4, but detuned in order to slot the GTS 4.0 a bit lower in the lineup.

The 2021 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 was unveiled alongside an identical version of the 718 Boxster. The 2021 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 is expected to hit dealerships for the 2021 model year. Let’s find out more about it in the review below.

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2020 Toyota GR Yaris

2020 Toyota GR Yaris

Tested and approved by Tommi Mäkinen himself

Whenever a carmaker takes out the good stuff out of its know-how box and spreads its on a new car, well, that’s when you know you’re in for a treat. That’s exactly what Toyota did with the GR Yaris, its second global GR-badged car after the Supra GR and at the same time a homologation model that will sometime in the future spawn a fully-blown rally racer.

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2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi - Driven

2019 Volkswagen Golf GTi - Driven

The Volkswagen Golf GTi is a prime competitor in the hot hatch segment and shouldn’t be overlooked!

We have been itching to get behind the wheel of the 2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk. 8 and would really love to try out the yet-to-be-released Mk. 8 Golf GTi, but we’ve been told we still have to wait a while. To make things good, however, and hold us over, Volkswagen decided to send out an MK. 7 2019 Golf GTi and, while it wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we have to admit that the week we spent with it was beyond memorable.

As you can see from the photo gallery organized into the slider above and the page below, the Golf GTi, even in its older design, is quite the looker. It’s attractive from all angles, and the interior really gives you the feeling that you’re sitting in a proper hot hatch. The flat-bottom steering wheel and eight-inch infotainment displayed helped in the regard, but the overall fitment of the seats and materials put together one hell of a package.

The 2.0-liter turbo-four under the hood isn’t the most powerful four-cylinder on the block – the title is reserved for the Mercedes-AMG A45S – but it’s powerful enough to keep just about any enthusiast happy at 228 ponies and 258 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen claims that’s good for a 5.7-second sprint to 60 mph, but we actually got there around one-tenth faster. More impressive than that is the fact that this baby is as nimble as can be. The 35.8-foot turning circle means it can turn on a dime (this is much better than both the Focus ST and i30 N that it competes with) while the 5.1-inch ride height feels like the sweet spot in terms of dealing with typical road conditions.

All told, our week with the Golf GTi isn’t one that we’ll forget, and we can’t wait to try out the MK.8 to see just how Volkswagen will manage to improve. Until that happens, though, you can enjoy our massive photo gallery. We’re busy putting together an in-depth review on the 2019 golf GTi, so be sure to check back in with us soon to learn the finer details!

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2020 Mercedes-AMG A45

2020 Mercedes-AMG A45

The company’s cool hatchback goes wilder than ever!

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 is the range-topping version of the fourth-generation A-Class hatchback. Unveiled in 2019, it slots above the AMG A35 in the range thanks to a more powerful engine, a more aggressive exterior, and extra equipment on the inside. Powered by a redesigned version of the AMG-tuned four-cylinder engine that cranks out 382 horsepower, the 2020 AMG A45 is the most powerful A-Class to date. But for the first time ever, Mercedes-Benz introduced an S-badged version of the hatchback, with even more power. In this tune, the AMG A45 delivers an amazing 416 horses, more than any other hot-hatch on the market as of 2020. This four-cylinder is also the most powerful of its kind in production, as well as the engine with the highest horsepower per liter. Let’s find out more about the 2020 Mercedes-AMG A45 in the comprehensive review below.

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2020 Audi TT-RS - Driven

2020 Audi TT-RS - Driven

Forget the Audi RS7 - we’ll take a new Audi TT-RS any day!

Audi updated the TT-RS for the 2019 model year, and after just a year on the market, we finally managed to get our hands on one. To our surprise, we found that the updated front and rear designs actually give the TT-RS a more dynamic, yet aggressive look. That is thanks to, at least in part, the new honeycomb grille up front that’s paired with the contrasted front spoiler lip.

Further emphasizing the sporty appearance of our TT-RS tester were the black mirror caps, the black accents on the rear spoiler, and the black diffuser-like elements in the rear fascia. Most people wouldn’t recognize some of the smaller bits, but those black legs for the spoiler, for instance, really stand out with the black accents on the rear decklid and the taillights.

The interior design of the TT-RS just screams performance and, at times, we almost felt like we were driving a Porsche. Maybe it’s the honeycomb inserts on the seats, the low seating position, or the material on the flat-bottom steering wheel. Honestly, it was probably a combination of all three, but we were so mesmerized by the crispness of the Audi virtual cockpit it was hard to look away.

Under the hood sits Audi’s classic 2.5-liter inline-five with 400 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. We really wish we had a six-speed manual, but unfortunately, the best we could ask for was the seven-speed automatic. The AWD was nice and, despite Audi’s claims of a 3.7-second sprint to 60 mph, we actually clocked the same run somewhere in the high-3.5 to low-3.6 range on multiple occasions. If we had tried a top speed run, we would have been limited to 155 mph (we didn’t break the highway speed limit, though) however, if you’re willing to pay for it, you could get that limit raised to 174 mph. Pricing for our tester, as you see it here, was $77,490.

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2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

BMW finally offers a competitor for the Mercedes-Benz CLA

The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is a four-door coupe version of the second-generation 2 Series. Essentially a smaller alternative to the 4 Series Gran Coupe, the 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe is the very first four-door version of BMW’s smallest two-door coupe yet. It’s also the first four-door model this small that’s available globally, after the release of the China-only 1 Series Sedan in 2017. Although it runs on the same underpinnings as the 1 Series, the 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe sports a unique exterior design that combines a three-box layout with specific details front and rear. Its interior layout and the technology is, however, identical to the 1 Series. The 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe is aimed at the Mercedes-Benz CLA, but it also competes against the Audi A3 Sedan.

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2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI

2020 Volkswagen Golf Mk8 GTI

The next-generation GTI arrives in 2019

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI may still be the most popular hot-hatchback out there, but it’s getting a bit long in the tooth after more than four years on the market. With Ford already working on a new-generation Focus ST, which will be significantly more powerful than the current Golf GTI, Volkswagen needs to roll out a new hatchback really soon. Fortunately, the Germans are already testing the next-generation Golf GTI, which is rumored to break cover sometime in 2019.

Not much is known about the upcoming performance hatchback, but it should borrow many design features seen on recently introduced Volkswagen models, including the sporty Arteon sedan. The company also promises a revolution inside the cabin, including a "total digital environment," according to design chief Klaus Bischoff. Set to use a revised version of the company’s MQB platform, it will also a new engine with power ratings of up to 250 horsepower. Let’s find out more about that in the speculative review below.

Updated 12/30/2019: The 2021 Volkswagen Golf MK8 GTI was caught doing some cold-weather testing with next to no camo and zero padding. Check out the new images and the latest details in our spy shots section below!

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2019 BMW M340i - Driven

2019 BMW M340i - Driven

BMW Introduced the seventh-generation G20 3 Series for the 2019 model year and with it came a new design language, update engines, and some features from models like the 5 Series and X5, among others. To top all this off, it’s also just a bit larger and more aggressive than the seven-year-old F30 3 Series that it replaced. We didn’t get a chance to run the new 3 Series prototype around the track on the original pre-release test days, so we’ve been itching to see just how much better new the 3 Series is and whether or not all that new technology and new driving dynamics live up to the hype. So, we started reaching out in hopes of getting our hands on a new 3 Series tester, and BMW delivered. In fact, it delivered so well, that we got to spend a week with none other than the new 2020 BMW M340i – the best model you can get without going full-on M.

So, is the M340i really a poor man’s M3? Does it really compete against the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 or the Audi S5 Sportback? Does the M340i really deserve its time in the limelight? Well, after a week of a weird, love-hate affair with the 2020 BMW M340i, we have answers to all these questions and more. Here’s our experience….

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2020 Lotus SUV

2020 Lotus SUV

The pure British proposition to the cool Porsche Macan

The idea of a Lotus crossover might make some fans of the British sports carmaker a little squeamish, but if Lotus is going to stick around, it’s going to need a higher-volume model with more mass-market appeal. Lotus revealed that it’s developing a compact crossover in 2017, but we still don’t know much about its underpinnings and design. However, a batch of patent images that surfaced the Web provided some hints as to what the British crossover will look like, and our designer created a rendering of the vehicle.

So what do we actually know about this crossover so far? First, it will be built in China and launched exclusively in that market before expanding to Europe and Japan. No word on U.S. availability just yet, but it’s very likely that North America will get it too. Second, Lotus aims to win SUV enthusiasts with one of the lightest and most dynamic vehicles on the market. "The SUV market changes as well – it’s not just cars that are six feet high and wide now, it’s a huge market that’s becoming more segmented. There is a niche within that for a Lotus crossover that is light and aerodynamic and handles like nothing else," former Lotus CEO, Jean-Marc Gales told Autocar in October 2017. Lotus began testing the crossover in 2019, but the prototype is just an old Lynk & Co 01 model. As a reminder, Lynk & Co is owned by Geely, the same Chinese company that owns Lotus (and Volvo for that matter).

Updated 06/24/2019: Our spy photographers caught the very first mules for the upcoming Lotus SUV out for the first testing session.

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2020 BMW iX3

2020 BMW iX3

The company’s first electric SUV is coming in 2019

Like most automakers out there, BMW announced plans to add a large number of electrified models, but while some companies are already offering a handful of EVs and hybrids, BMW doesn’t have much to offer beyond the i3 electric hatchback and the i8 hybrid sports car. But that’s about to change soon, as BMW developed a new-generation eDrive platform that will underpin a number of vehicles in the future. The new drivetrain made its debut in the iX3 Concept, which previews a production model based on the familiar X3 crossover.

Showcased at the 2018 Beijing Motor Show, the iX3 is a mildly revised X3 on the outside. This is a sign that BMW wants its electric lineup to be familiar to company enthusiasts and it’s a hint that upcoming EVs will share design cues with the conventional Bimmers instead of getting their own unique styling, like the i3. Specs and performance details are slim as of this writing, but BMW promises an innovative drivetrain layout, an output of at least 270 horsepower, and mileage of at least 400 km (249 miles). A prototype of the production model was already spotted in the wild, so it may be unveiled early next year. Let’s find out more in the speculative review below.

Update 12/19/2019: BMW hasn’t decided to show off the production version of the iX3 EV quite yet, but it has filled us in on some vital information. Find out what we know in our “Update” section below.

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2022 Genesis GV70

2022 Genesis GV70

Hyundai’s luxury brand is getting its SUV fix on

The Genesis GV80 is the first SUV to wear the “Genesis” nameplate, but it won’t remain by itself for very long. Its smaller sibling, the GV70, is already scheduled to arrive in 2021, giving Hyundai’s upstart luxury brand a Development of the GV70 is ongoing, which explains the batch of spy photos we received from our eagle-eyed spy photographers. The SUV is still largely covered in camouflage wraps, but there are telling signs that the GV70 will share a lot of things with its big brother, not to mention its sedan counterpart, the G70.

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