2017 Audi e-tron Sportback Concept
Audi takes every chance it gets to remind us of its intentions to bring a whole range of electric vehicles that will, given enough time, eventually replace its entire lineup of gasoline and diesel-drinking models. The most recent model includes the Audi e-tron Quattro concept, an SUV slated for production in 2018. But, Audi is also one of those brands that likes to blur the line between car and SUV, so it has come up with another concept called the e-tron Sportback Concept – basically another interpretation of the Quattro concept with a lower roof, slanted rear, and a few other unique styling cues. It even uses the same electric drivetrain as it’s taller-sitting brethren, which means it gets a 96-kWh battery pack, three electric motors, and an estimated range of about 310 miles. A fast-charging system could offer up as much as 248 miles with as little as 30 minutes of DC charging. And, you’ll probably be able to buy one by the turn of the decade, as Audi as said it will be introduced in production form shortly after the e-tron Quattro for the 2019 model year.
So, if you haven’t come to terms with the fact that electric cars are on their way up, you better get used to it. With more than 300 miles to a charge, up to 496 horsepower on demand, and the ability to charge extremely quickly, Tesla isn’t the only heavy-hitter on the block anymore. The technology is finally there to ease range anxiety, and Audi is planning to capitalize on this early in the game. But, for now, this little “coupish-SUV” is just a concept. It’s a strong preview of a production model, so let’s take a good look at it and see what the future holds in store for us.
2017 Mercedes-Benz Concept A Sedan
Mercedes-Benz was quite the busy bee at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show, where it unveiled three updated cars, the S-Class, AMG S63, and AMG S65. But, the German firm also showcased a concept, one that may open the door to a new niche. I’m talking about the Concept A Sedan, which provides "an outlook of the next generation of compact vehicles and a potential new body type." In short, Mercedes is considering a sedan version of the A-Class.
Surprisingly enough for a brand that created quite a few niches, most notably with the CLA and CLS four-door coupes, Mercedes is behind the competition when it comes to sedans based on compact hatchbacks. While Audi has been selling the A3 Sedan since 2013 and BMW introduced the 1 Series Sedan in China in 2017, Mercedes has yet to create a sedan version of the A-Class. But it seems the folks over in Stuttgart want to change that, and the A-Class sedan could become a reality with the next-generation model in a couple of years.
Continue reading for the full story.
2017 Volkswagen I.D. CROZZ Concept
With mud still on its face from the Dieselgate scandal, Volkswagen is dead set on cleaning up its image. Gone is its focus on diesel and gasoline powerplants, now replaced by an all-electric future. While the internal combustion engine still has many years left with the German automaker, its executives have set a goal of 1 million EV sales a year. That’s a massive undertaking, but Volkswagen seems properly poised for the sprint. The latest in VW’s charge is the I.D. CROZZ, an all-electric crossover designed for mass appeal. The I.D. CROSS just debuted at the 2017 Shanghai Auto Show and is said to be entering production by 2020.
While the name will likely change, the I.D. CROZZ will hopefully keep its futuristic design. The chance is pretty good it will, in fact, thanks to comments made by Klaus Bischoff, VW’s head of design. He said at Shanghai "If it was ever possible to make a 100-percent certain prediction of what the future will look like, here it is. In 2017, we are showing how Volkswagen will be transforming the roadscape from 2020.”
While Bischoff might be a bit overly optimistic, his words give a sense of optimizing that Volkswagen will adopt this new design language across its lineup. It’s impossible to be disappointed, thanks to a greater degree of shape, style, and attitude than anything currently flowing from VW’s factories. The I.D. CROZZ doesn’t look like an appliance, but rather a sculpted piece of art. Sure, the production version will look a bit more conventional, but we’ve got high hopes that Volkswagen’s future looks much more sensual – not to mention emissions-free.
Continue reading for more information.
2017 Skoda Vision E
Skoda is gearing up to kick Tesla’s ass with a competitor for the Model X. The production model will be Skoda’s first electric vehicle and is set to go on sale at the turn of the decade. But, before all of that happens, Skoda has decided to preview that model with an “SUV coupe” known as the Vision E at the Shanghai Auto Show. Said to have a range of more than 300 miles, all-wheel drive, Level 3 autonomy, and a silhouette that’s sure to grind wonder boy’s gears a bit, the Vision E proves that Skoda isn’t playing around these days.
Its production equivalent will likely be toned down as far as exterior design goes, especially in the front end. But, that’s usually the case when it comes to concepts, right? Back to the subject at hand, the Vision E is just a bit shorter and wider than the new Kodiaq and is built on VW’s MEB platform. So far, we’ve yet to see official images, but Skoda saw fit to release a few sketches to keep us on ice until the Shanghai Auto Show kicks off. So, let’s dive on in and talk a little more about what’s going on with the Vision E, and what it tells us about Skoda’s future.
Continue reading to learn more about the Skoda Vision E.
Since going under the control of China’s Geely, Volvo has been steadily making improvements. We already know all about the new XC90, but at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show, Volvo showed off a super-luxurious version of the new SUV that it dubbed the XC90 Excellence. With its 2+2 seating and bottle chiller, this Swedish luxo-cruiser looks prepped to take on the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
From its debut in the 2003 model year through 2014, the XC90 remained nearly unchanged, as Volvo’s focus was mostly on making the model as safe as possible. For the 2016 model year, however, the SUV underwent a complete overhaul, making it more luxurious and dynamic than ever before.
Can this decked-out version of Volvo’s largest SUV really make it as a contender to the two stalwarts in the super-luxury segment?
Updated 03/25/2016: Volvo released pricing details for the XC90 Excellence when it debuted at the New York Auto Show. It will be produced in limited numbers, and will have a starting price of $104,900.
Continue reading my full review of the 2016 Volvo XC90 Excellence to find out.
For more information on the standard 2016 Volvo XC90, you can read our full review here.
Most of the products that were unveiled at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show have little relevance for car buyers in the U.S., but the debut of China’s 2016 Buick Verano is a look into the crystal ball for Buick showrooms here. After seeing strong sales in its first two model years on the market, last year saw a small drop in sales that put the Verano as Buick’s fourth-best-selling model (out of five products), so an update to the bottom of its lineup is definitely needed. Although branded a 2016 model year in China, there were doubts on whether the new compact sedan will arrive in the North America in time to be labeled as a 2016 model. Turns out, Buick was able to do that, too, as the 2016 Verano has now been announced in the US. Even with most of the major auto shows over in the U.S., Buick was able to squeeze in the announcement of the 2016 Verano in time for the last auto event on the calendar. The timeline looks stretched now but don’t be surprised to see the new U.S.-spec Buick Verano make its official debut at the LA Auto Show in November 2015.
Updated 08/13/2015: Buick announced today the addition of the new Sport Touring (ST) models to the 2016 Verano lineup. They will be distinguished by distinctive exterior cues, like special 18-inch wheels and a rear spoiler, plus additional equipment to the interior.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2016 Buick Verano.
The Lexus ES debuted in 1989 for the 1990 model year as the ES 250, which was little more than a badge-swapped Toyota Camry. Lexus quickly regrouped for the 1992 model year with the release of the ES 300, but it wasn’t until the 2002 model year that Lexus began separating the ES from the Camry it was based upon. The ES went through another change with the release of the ES 330 for the 2004 model year, and then Lexus released the ES 350 for the 2007 model year. For the 2013 model year, the ES 350 received a full overhaul, and now with its third birthday on the horizon, Lexus released a refreshed version of the luxury sedan.
The new Lexus ES, which arrived in time for the 2016 model year, debuted at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. As with most facelifts, visual updates are mild while the drivetrain was carried over from last year’s model. Will this revision help or hinder the best-selling sedan in the midsize luxury segment?
Updated 07/10/2015: Lexus offered details on the North American version of the new ES. As expected, the model will be offered in two version: ES 350 and ES300 h. Both models will be put on sale later in the fall.
Continue reading my review of the 2016 Lexus ES to find out.
Having confirmed plans to bring the Civic hatch back to the United States in 2016, Honda is also looking to enhance its lineup in other important markets as well. In China, for instance, one of the world’s largest automotive markets in 2015, Honda wants to launch a new crossover in the future. Previewing the new product that appears to be larger than the CR-V, yet significantly smaller than the U.S.-built Pilot, is the Concept D, recently showcased at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show.
Details are slim, but Honda promises the Concept D will morph into a "top-end SUV model that offers high-quality driving and a spacious cabin." The production model will be manufactured in China and sold by Guangqi Honda and Dongfeng Honda, two of the brand’s most important joint ventures in that country. The big news here is the Concept D previews the company’s future flagship model in China, positioned above the CR-V.
There’s no word as to when this new crossover will hit auto shows in production clothes, but, until new details surface, we might as well have a closer look at the Concept D and its outlandish design.
Continue reading to learn more about the Honda Concept D.
Ferrari has introduced a bespoke California T created by the company’s Tailor Made division at the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show. Built specifically for the Chinese show, the California T "Tailor Made" illustrates how Ferrari’s customization program allows clients to commission unique cars. The bespoke convertible joins the FF Dressage Edition and the F12berlinetta Polo Edition, which Ferrari unveiled with the same purpose when it opened its first Tailor Made Center in Asia Pacific in 2014.
But while the Dressage and Polo Editions were inspired by horsemanship and the game of polo, respectively, they also celebrated the Chinese Year of the Horse. The California T "Tailor Made" is inspired by two style icons from the past: actress Ingrid Bergman and former First Lady of the U.S., Jacqueline Kennedy. As usual, the Italians opted for an understated exterior and an extensively customized interior, with all sorts of unique and luxurious features.
Much like the FF Tailor Made showcased a few months ago, this California T is here to prove there’s always room to improve a Ferrari; all you need is a fat wallet.
Continue reading to learn more about the Ferrari California T "Tailor Made" Edition.
Lexus only recently unveiled the 2016 RX, and it has a completely new look that some may love and others, not so much. At the Shanghai Auto Show, Lexus revealed a new addition to the redesigned RX lineup, in the form of the RX 200t.
The Lexus RX lineup dates back to the 1999 model year, which was when the U.S. first laid eyes upon the RX 300 crossover SUV. In 2004, the RX gained a new look, a 3.3-liter engine, and a new name: RX 330. In the 2007 model year, the RX’s engine grew again to a 3.5-liter V-6, which meant that a name change to the RX 350 also took place. Following its change to the RX 350, the SUV received a new look in 2010.
With its new four-cylinder addition for the 2016 model year, the RX is treading into new waters for this segment, as neither the Acura MDX nor the Infiniti QX60 have four-pot offerings. Is this movement to a smaller, turbocharged engine a good move for Lexus?
Continue reading my review of the RX 200t to find out.
It’s been five years since production of the fourth-generation Infiniti M began in 2010, and nothing much has changed except for receiving a hybrid drivetrain in 2012 and being renamed as the Q70 in 2014. For the 2015, however, the Japanese introduced a refreshed design and a long-wheelbase version made available in both the U.S. and China. At the Shanghai Auto Show, Infiniti took things up a notch by unveiling the Bespoke Edition, a Q70L fitted with an exclusive interior that borrows from other concept cars the luxury brand introduced recently.
"Today’s display reinforces Infiniti’s distinctive design language of power and artistry, with the Q70L translating that seamlessly into an interior treatment," said Roland Krueger, president of Infiniti Motor Company.
The Q70L Bespoke Edition was unveiled alongside the Q60 Concept and the Q80 Inspiration, which made their official debut in Asia and likely preview future production cars.
Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti Q70L Bespoke Edition.
There have been rumors and reports of a plug-in hybrid version of the upcoming CT6, but they remained unconfirmed until now. Today, at the Shanghai Auto Show, Cadillac confirmed that there will indeed be a plug-in version of its upcoming flagship.
When Cadillac first unveiled the 2016 CT6 at the 2015 New York Auto Show, it arrived with a trio of engine options. The smallest of the group was a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that pumped out 265 horsepower. The two optional engines were both V-6s, but one was a 3.6-liter that produced 335 horsepower, while the other was a twin-turbo 3.0-liter with 400 ponies.
As of 2015, it appears as if the CT6 PHEV will only have to butt heads with the Mercedes S550 Plug-In Hybrid, as neither Audi nor BMW have released range-topping plug-in hybrid sedans. With the hybrid flagship market still in its very early stages, can this thrifty but expensive sedan thrive?
Continue reading my full preview of the 2016 Cadillac CT6 PHEV.
Volkswagen is debuting the C Coupe GTE Concept vehicle at the Shanghai auto show this year, positioning it as a chiseled looker of a luxury-liner for the Chinese market, with tons of technology and comfort, and an efficient hybrid drivetrain. On the outside, you’ll find ambient lighting, and lines similar to those seen on the Sport Coupe Concept from Geneva. This car, however, is much larger, slotting between the Passat and Phaeton in terms of catalog hierarchy. Inside, you’ll find chauffeur-oriented equipment up front and lounge kit in back. It’s ideal for the busy businessperson, and surprisingly, somewhat realistic for a concept car.
VW says it’s a premonition of things to come from its most expensive models: “The future of the new Volkswagen premium class models is indeed starting in Shanghai because the C Coupe GTE very clearly shows the new ‘face’ of top Volkswagen saloons for the first time and an unparalleled superior design presence,” says Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand. "The sports saloon unequivocally demonstrates our premium standards. The evolution of the Volkswagen design DNA shown here will accompany us worldwide – also on the way to the new Phaeton.”
Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen C Coupe GTE Concept.
GM is currently celebrating its 10th year of operations in China, and has chosen to celebrate by debuting a seriously wild concept car. Called the Chevrolet FNR, the concept debuted at the Shanghai Auto Show in all of its weird, futuristic glory. The concept is not meant as something you could at all realistically see in production any time soon, but rather to attract attention from younger potential customers by giving them a glimpse of something to look for down the road. The concept is therefore packed full of all manner of hypothetical technology currently still in development.
Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet FNR concept.
With the announcement of a production version of the 2012 A6 L e-Tron, Audi attempts to answer two problems posed by the Chinese luxury-car market at the same time. The first of these is something that the A6 L in its regular form already addresses, the Chinese obsession with rear legroom. But the more important issue is that of fuel economy, and this the new car does quite well. This economy comes at a bit of a price when it comes to power, but this is a car intended only for the Chinese market, and China very much has its own set of rules. The car was first shown as a concept back in 2012, and has received a few tweaks since then.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2015 Audi A6 L e-tron.
McLaren is doing all it can to make its vehicles more accessible to the public, and the lineup set to springboard this effort is the Sports Series. At the 2015 New York Auto Show, the first of the Sports Series models, the 2016 570S, debuted with its 562-horsepower V-8 and $184,900 price tag. Less than a month later, at the Shanghai Auto Show, the Brits introduced the less-expensive 540C version.
The 540C is essentially a detuned and more accessible 570S, in terms of premium features. As its name implies, the 540C has less power than the 570S, but it’s still quite the performer. The real test is whether it can hang with the big-boys of this segment, like the 911 Turbo and the Jaguar F-Type R Coupe. In the meantime, let’s have a closer look at the fourth new McLaren to break cover in 2015 (quite an achievement for the manufacturer).
Updated 04/20/2015: McLaren officially unveiled the second model in the Sports Series lineup at the 2015 Shanghai Motor Show. The model will be put on sale in early 2016, with prices on the British market starting from £126,000 - or about $188,000 at the current exchange rates.
Continue reading to find out how this new McLaren sports car will stack up to its competition.
As we inch closer to the full-electric car taking the place of gasoline-fueled cars, we are seeing a transition to plug-in hybrids. These models give buyers a short EV distance and a standard hybrid setup for longer journeys. The Audi Q7 has already joined these ranks with the 2016 Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, and now it is spreading the e-tron love to China with the Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI.
I don’t know exactly why Audi decided to use a different engine in the China-spec Q7 e-tron, but I can only assume that it is because diesel engines are not popular there. In the U.S., we’ve had the same issues with diesel vehicles, but Audi’s never been overly shy about offering diesel-powered cars here.
How does this China-exclusive version of the Q7 e-tron stack up next to the already unveiled TDI version?
Find out by continuing to read my full review 2015 Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI.