2019 Detroit Auto Show

  • Lexus RC F facelift revealed with new Track Edition

    Some five months after the introduction of the facelifted Lexus RC coupé, Toyota’s luxury offshoot has finally unveiled the updated version of the go-faster RC F. Aside from adding the styling updates of the standard car, this revamp also aims to address criticisms about the car’s weight, handling and performance.

    To that end, Lexus’ trademark 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 has been breathed on with a revised intake routing and lower rpm trigger for the secondary intake opening, producing an extra five horsepower and eight Newton metres of torque at 472 hp and 536 Nm. The eight-speed automatic gearbox also features a higher final drive ratio to improve acceleration off the line – helped along by the new standard-fit launch control.

    But the modest increase in output would be for nought if the RC F remained the behemoth it was before, so a few lightweight components have been added without compromising the car’s “sense of refinement and solidity.” Although Lexus declined to reveal the nett saving, the rear half shafts are now hollow, and there’s also a pared-down intake manifold and a smaller air-con compressor to trim some weight from the front end.

    What’s more, the toe control brackets and upper suspension support brackets are made from aluminium, again reducing weight while maintaining stiffness. Speaking of stiffness, the rear suspension arm bushings and steering rack mounts are more rigid to refine the feel of the car, while stiffer engine mounts better transfer the engine’s power to the road.

    Also improving power transfer are new, bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. Equipped with a unique profile shape, tread pattern and rubber compound, they help reduce understeer, improve overall lateral grip and increase durability under extreme conditions.

    For an even more aggressive track-bred machine, Lexus is offering a new, more hardcore version of the RC F, imaginatively called the Track Edition. Said to feature input from Lexus’ race teams in Super GT and IMSA, it goes on an even stricter diet for improved performance in all conditions, while retaining comfort levels.

    For a start, all the aerodynamic addenda is made from carbon fibre, including the front splitter and a fixed rear wing that not only reduces drag but also adds downforce. The latter’s shape smoothens out the airflow, while the slight angle of attack increases downforce, resulting in an extra 26 kg of the stuff compared to the standard active spoiler. There’s also a carbon bonnet and roof, part of the regular RC F’s carbon pack.

    Particular attention has been paid to unsprung weight, with the Track Edition sporting Brembo carbon ceramic brakes hiding behind 19-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, featuring a design derived from the RC F GT3 race car. These alone save 25 kg at the front of the car.

    Lastly, a titanium muffler and tail pipe round off the lightweighting measures that see an estimated weight reduction of between 70 kg to 80 kg. All-in-all, the Track Edition will get from zero to 100 km/h in four seconds flat, half a second quicker than the outgoing RC F.

    Both models get a revised exterior design, incorporating stacked LED headlights that are now integrated with the arrow-shaped daytime running lights. There’s also a lower lip opening in the spindle grille, plus reshaped tail lights and bumpers.

  • 2020 Kia Telluride – flagship eight-seat SUV debuts

    Three years after it got its name, the 2020 Kia Telluride finally makes its official debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, having first appeared as a bespoke off-road concept at the New York Fashion Week last September. Well, the full details are out – think of it as a sister model to the Hyundai Palisade, for both are humongous eight-seater SUVs.

    The Telluride is the first Kia designed specifically for the US market and was purposely designed to big, bold and boxy – a nod to legendary SUVs of years past with the go-anywhere, do-anything attitude their square, burly-shouldered shapes suggested.

    It’s not too gaudy for its size as well, featuring a long, broad bonnet, wide chromed Tiger Nose grille, and stacked projector headlights surrounded by LED DRLs that also double as turn signals. The front edge of the bonnet and tailgate both get the Telluride lettering to accentuate its width, while the prominent character lines stretch from the headlights and into the upswept, vertical LED tail lights.

    Interestingly, the window line and chrome surrounds have a slight G05 BMW X5 feel to it, which in the Kia’s case isn’t a bad thing at all. Here, it rides on 20-inch five triple-spoke dark alloys, wrapped with Michelin Primacy Tour all-season tyres.

    Inside, the flagship SUV is draped in high-quality materials. The wide centre console puts emphasis on spaciousness, such that it exudes a more “luxe living room” than “utility vehicle” type of feel. Kia claims adequate spaciousness for all passengers, including those in the third row.

    To give the Telluride a proper upscale cabin, Kia chose to go with double-stitched, quilted and extra-padded Nappa leather upholstery for the seats, simulated brushed metal and matte-finished wood trimmings, optional heated and ventilated seats for the first and second row seats, ceiling-mounted second-row climate control and reclining third row seats.

    Other available equipment includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionalities, rear view monitor, 630-watt 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with Quantum Logic Surround Sound and Clari-Fi, wireless smartphone charging tray, five USB charging ports (upgradable to six), and head-up display with turn-by-turn navigation.

    Now, under the bonnet is a Lambda II 3.8 litre V6 GDI (Atkinson Cycle) engine that makes 291 hp at 6,000 rpm and 355 Nm of torque at 5,200 rpm. Those numbers, which are identical to the Palisade, are higher than its closest rivals, namely the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Nissan Pathfinder and Ford Explorer.

    Power is routed to all four wheels (FWD is standard) through an eight-speed automatic transmission, featuring four drive modes – Smart, Eco, Sport and Comfort. There is also Snow and AWD Lock for specific driving conditions, and the on-demand electro-hydraulic AWD system with multi-plate clutch plate constantly redistributes power to both axles. In Eco and Smart modes, power is completely routed to the front wheels, whereas Sport mode splits the power down to 65% front, 35% rear.

    The standard towing rate for this SUV is rated at 5,000 pounds (2,267 kg), and it also features the optional self-levelling rear suspension. Here, the SUV’s ride height is automatically calibrated depending on vehicle load to optimise control and stability. The onboard Downhill Brake Control helps maintain a controlled descent when traversing steep slopes.

    Lastly, safety. As the brand’s flagship SUV, the Telluride comes with an array of advanced technology and the “Kia Drive Wise” suite of Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems. This includes Blind Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist Rear, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist, Safe Exit Assist, Highway Driving Assist, Driver Attention Warning, Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and seven airbags.

    Like the Palisade, the Telluride also features Driver Talk, an in-car intercom system that allows the driver to communicate separately with passengers in the second or third row. The available Quiet Mode cuts audio output in second and third row, whereas Rear Occupant Alert employs ultrasonic sensors designed to detect child or pet movement in the second and third row after the car’s doors have been locked, thus alerting the driver through an app.

    It’s also equipped with the UVO24 telematics system, featuring an embedded modem that communicates with Telluride drivers. This allows control to a number of vehicle operations, such as Remote start and door lock, climate control pre-conditioning, and “Send-to-Car” navigation points. So, what do you think?

  • 2019 Subaru WRX STI S209 debuts in Detroit – 341 hp

    While the whole world was fixated on the all-new Toyota Supra, Subaru wheeled out its own special creation for the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. This is the WRX STI S209, a limited production S-line performance model that Americans will finally be able to buy.

    Subaru of America is making a big deal of the S209 because it is considered the first “STI-built” Subaru to be sold in the United States, with final assembly taking place in Kiryu, Japan, where it receives engine modifications and bodywork alterations that in total require it to be homologated for the target market.

    Only 200 units will be offered, and like previous S-line cars that were exclusive to Japan, each one comes with a good number of modifications to improve power, handling, aerodynamics and driver engagement. Subaru says the S209 draws inspiration and tech from the WRX STI Nürburgring Challenge racer, which recently won the SP3T class at last year’s 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

    Under the bonnet, the EJ25 2.5 litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine gets a through reworking, with a HKS turbocharger boosted to 18 psi (16.2 psi on a stock WRX STI), forged pistons and connecting rods, a high-flow air intake system, new high-flow fuel pump, larger fuel injectors, intercooler water spray system, high-performance exhaust system, and a specially-tuned engine control module.

    The end result is 341 hp (up to 8% more than stock), with all of it being routed through a close-ration six-speed manual transmission and full-time Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. Supporting items include front/rear limited-slip differentials, a Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD), Active Torque Vectoring and Multi-Mode Vehicle Dynamics Control.

    Drivers will get to adjust the powertrain’s response with a recalibrated SI Drive system with three modes – Intelligent (I), Sport (S) and Sport Sharp (S#). Interestingly, STI engineers recommend Sport over Sport Sharp for circuit driving, as the less aggressive throttle map allows for greater driver control.

    Beyond the power bump, the S209 also gets a set of 19-inch forged BBS alloy wheels that are wrapped with Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT600A tyres, which are capable of generating a maximum lateral grip of over 1 g. Stopping power comes courtesy of Brembo brakes, with cross-drilled steel rotors and six-piston monoblock front calipers and two-piston monoblock rear calipers.

    The suspension also gets its fair share of revisions, starting with stiffer coil springs, Bilstein dampers, a 20 mm rear stabiliser bar and pillow-type bushings for the front/rear lateral links. Elsewhere, the front crossmember and rear subframes have been reinforced; a flexible tower bar helps laterally stiffen the body of the car; and draw stiffeners optimise chassis flex.

    Due to the new wheels, which measure 9 inches in width each, the S209 gets a wide-body kit to make it 43 mm wider than a regular WRX STI. Aerodynamic and non-mechanical add-ons derived from the above-mentioned race car are also present, including under spoilers, canards, a rear wing, additional vents and a carbon-fibre roof.

    Inside, there’s a D-shaped steering wheel wrapped in Ultrasuede with silver stitching and an STI badge in place of the traditional Subaru star cluster. A dedicated serial number badge on the centre console points out the model’s exclusivity along with other S209 badges, including on the Recaro seats.

    Pricing will be announced later in 2019, and Subaru of America offers two exterior colours to choose from. The first is World Rally Blue Pearl, which is paired to grey wheels, while the other option is Crystal White Pearl with gold wheels.

  • Nissan IMs concept – 483 hp electric sedan/crossover

    As the sedan continues to be cannibalised by the ever-popular SUV, its future is looking increasingly bleak, with carmakers like Ford and General Motors starting to abandon the humble booted four-door. But Nissan claims it will be able to resuscitate the bodystyle – and predictably it’s by turning the sedan into a crossover.

    The IMs concept, which debuted in Detroit today, is in the company’s own words an “elevated sports sedan”. It certainly looks that way, being taller than a typical sedan and riding on massive 22-inch wheels. The increased height, by the way, has not been necessitated by a raised ride height, but by the placement of the battery pack under the cabin – yes, this is an electric vehicle, but more on that later.

    According to Nissan, the styling of the IMs emphasises simple horizontal and vertical lines rather than sculpted surfaces, as evidenced by the bluff fenders, although the deep sculpting in the doors and the three-dimensional bonnet add some curves back into the design. The glasshouse is visually separated from the rest of the body, achieved through a glass roof, thin pillars and flush glazing.

    Nissan’s trademark “V-motion” grille graphic is achieved here through the shape of the headlights, which are also said to aid airflow. The horizontal light blade that runs across the bonnet is repeated at the rear, and they both pulse when the vehicle is being driven, turning light blue in autonomous driving mode.

    As with the GT-R50 by Italdesign, the IMs features gold highlights throughout, including the roof rail trim that is said to be inspired by the ring of an eclipse. A traditional Japanese pattern, Asanoha, is imprinted on the roof in gold and repeated throughout the rest of the car, including the wheels.

    The suicide doors open through invisible “eClinch” door handles, and there are no B-pillars to impede entry and egress. Inside, the IMs adopts a “2+1+2” seating layout – confusing, I know, but it essentially means that there are five seats, with the centre rear seat taking precedence over the slim outboard pews. Those outer seats can be folded to become armrests for the centre seat, turning it into a “Premier Seat”.

    At the front, the 3D-printed dashboard adopts a kumiko structure that Nissan says is lightweight and saves space. Ahead of the steering wheel sits a dual-layer floating screen that provides only important information to the driver, who sits on the company’s famed zero-gravity seat; in autonomous driving mode, the steering wheel retracts and the front seats pivot to face the rear.

    Nissan’s augmented reality technology, Invisible-to-Visible, also makes its appearance here and enables occupants to see what may otherwise be hidden from view. Using the Omni-Sensing technology previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, it allows drivers, for example, to see around corners, visualise route information and even have a three-dimensional avatar keep them company as a “passenger”.

    Power comes from a pair of electric motors that provide all-wheel drive and a combined output of 483 hp and 800 Nm of torque, while a 113 kWh battery provides an estimated range of 610 km. The air suspension is claimed to be able to adapt to road conditions, achieving both a sporty drive and a smooth ride.

  • 2020 Volkswagen Passat officially unveiled in Detroit

    After dropping a few teaser sketches last month, Volkswagen has finally unveiled the new 2020 Passat at the ongoing Detroit Auto Show. The new midsize sedan doesn’t serve as a direct replacement to the European B8 model. Instead, the 2020 model is specific to the North American market, bearing greater resemblance to the China-only Passat NMS.

    Unlike the European Passat, which rides on the MQB platform, this 2020 Passat sits atop the existing PQ46 platform that underpinned the previous model. While the bones remain largely the same, the car itself has been completely restyled. It features a “coupe-like” roofline, dramatic “tornado” shoulder line, and dominant grille that all give the Passat a bolder look. In some ways, it’s essentially a more proportionately elegant version of the 2019 Jetta, and slightly sleeker than the Passat NMS.

    The slim LED headlights and tail lights, along with the Passat lettering that runs the width of the boot lid, give the car a more premium look. Wheel sizes range from 17 inches to 19 inches, the latter seen here on the R Line variant.

    Inside, the cabin starts to look a lot more familiar, much like the outgoing European B8 model. The front air vents sit flush within the centre dash, and the centre rests the MIB II Composition Media infotainment system. Owners can choose to upgrade to Discover Media as well. The Volkswagen Car-Net App-Connect is standard for all Passat models, granting Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink functionalities. For audiophiles, top-of-the-line models feature the Fender Premium Audio system.

    Elsewhere, the cabin gets new materials and trimmings, while the seats can be had in the standard cloth upholstery, or Volkswagen’s V-Tex leatherette and Nappa leather seating surfaces with four colour options.

    Comfort-wise, there’s the optional heated front and rear seats, power driver’s seat with memory, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Convenience features include Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) with range control and cornering lights, auto-dimming rear view mirror, remote start, rain-sensing wipers, keyless access and push-button start, Voice Control, and Easy Open tailgate.

    Under the bonnet, the Passat continues to be powered by the company’s ubiquitous 2.0 litre four-cylinder TSI engine, producing 174 hp. Thanks to a new torque converter unit, torque is up by 30 Nm to 280 Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels through a six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. No key performance figures have been revealed just yet.

    For safety, every 2020 Passat comes with forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB, front assist only) with pedestrian monitoring, blind spot monitor, as well as rear traffic alert. Onboard driver-assistance features (depending on variant) include adaptive cruise control, active lane keeping assist, and park assist with park distance control (PDC). As a bonus, there’s also the automatic post-collision braking system.

    The 2020 Volkswagen Passat will be available in four variants and a launch-only Limited model. Sales in the US will begin in the second half of this year. What do you think of this Passat, guys?

  • Toyota GR Supra revealed – first global Gazoo Racing model, 340 PS 3.0L straight-six priced from RM205k

    Here it is, the real deal. No more spyshots, no more teasers, no more leaks. You’re looking at the all new Toyota GR Supra in all its glory, and there’s a lot to unpack. So let’s get to it.

    Yes, the early rumours were true – the new fifth-generation A90 Supra gets a GR prefix to its name, marking its status as the first global model from in-house motorsports arm Toyota Gazoo Racing. And yes, as you all know by now, it’s based on the latest G29 BMW Z4 as part of a sports car collaboration with Munich, but there’s a bit more to this front-engined, rear-wheel drive sports car than that.

    The exterior, as we’ve seen countless times before, is perhaps its biggest differentiator. Derived from the stunning FT-1 Concept from 2014, it borrows a number of styling cues from past Toyota sports cars, such as the rounded headlights (now with stacked LED projectors for a distinctive lighting signature) and slim tail lights of the fourth-gen A80 Supra, as well as the double-bubble roof of the 2000GT.

    The prominent nose that splits the air intakes, meanwhile, is very Formula 1 – even though Toyota won’t draw parallels to its ill-fated F1 project. There’s also a wraparound windscreen design with blacked-out A-pillars, faux vents and inlets aft of the front wheels and ahead of the rear wheels, a sizeable rear diffuser with twin tailpipes and a upswept integrated bootlid spoiler that Toyota says is inspired by the A80’s enormous rear wing. And the F1-style LED central rear light? That’s for reverse.

    Inside, the Supra borrows much of its switchgear (along with its door mirrors and door handles) from BMW – owners of the F30 3 Series will find plenty familiar here, down to the stubby electronic gearlever. The iDrive system, complete with its tiled interface, has also been lifted straight from Munich, but the design of the 8.8-inch digital instrument cluster with its central rev counter is unique to the Toyota.

    So is the rest of the cabin design, which features a flat, horizontal dashboard with full-width air vents, plus a padded leg bolster for the driver that gives the car a cockpit-like feel. You’ll also find a small three-spoke steering wheel, sports seats with integrated headrests, an optional colour head-up display and a choice of either a 6.5-inch central display or a 8.8-inch touchscreen – again, similar to what you’ll find on a BMW.

    Alright, enough of the superfluous bits, let’s talk numbers. The Supra shares the same 2,470 mm wheelbase as the Z4 (some 100 mm shorter than the 86), but its 4,380 mm length, 1,865 mm width and 1,295 mm height make it 56 mm longer, one millimetre wider and nine millimetres lower. All this results in a wheelbase-to-tread ratio of 1.55, said to be one of the smallest among mainstream sports cars, making for better agility.

    Other claims include a lower centre of gravity compared to the 86 (despite having an inline engine vis-à-vis the 86’s flat boxer mill), a perfect 50:50 weight distribution and a steel-and-aluminium structure that is 2.5 times stiffer than the carbon fibre-bodied Lexus LFA.

    Under the bonnet, the Supra will be offered with a choice of two engines in three different outputs, all from BMW. The base 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder on the SZ model produces 197 PS from 4,500 to 6,500 rpm and 320 Nm of torque between 1,450 to 4,200 rpm – essentially the 20i tune found on most BMWs. It sprints from zero to 100 km/h in a respectable 6.5 seconds.

    Step up to the SZ-R model and those numbers are bumped up to 30i spec – 258 PS from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 400 Nm between 1,550 to 4,400 rpm, cutting the acceleration time to 5.2 seconds. But it’s the evocative-sounding RZ that gets the top-dog 3.0 litre straight-six, producing 340 PS from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 500 Nm between 1,600 and 4,500 rpm. This one does the century sprint in just 4.3 seconds.

    For now, all engines are mated to a standard eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, but Toyota’s assistant chief engineer Masayuki Kai did previously say that a manual gearbox is a possibility (unlike the auto-only Z4) depending on market feedback, so there’s still some hope yet for purists.

    As for the chassis, the Supra features double-jointed MacPherson struts at the front and multi-link rear suspension, with optional Adaptive Variable Suspension damping and a electronic locking rear differential that is tuned to work in tandem with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system. So far, so BMW, but apparently the Supra has been developed independently from Munich since 2014, so we’ll see how it drives.

    Toyota has yet to confirm pricing for the Supra in Japan, but over in the US, the car will retail from US$49,990 (RM204,900). That’s with the 3.0 litre engine – the only one confirmed for North America so far – and it rises to US$53,990 (RM221,200) for the more well-equipped 3.0 Premium. The limited Launch Edition, essentially a Premium but with red door mirrors and black 19-inch alloys, goes for US$55,250 (RM226,400).

  • Lexus LC Convertible concept revealed, Detroit debut

    The Lexus LC is one of our favourite cars, an intoxicating concoction of style, panache and performance. But for every person that loves it, there’s another that wishes it were available as a soft-top. Well, the Japanese luxury brand is whetting your appetites with the LC Convertible concept, debuting at the upcoming North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

    The recipe is a simple one – take one LC coupé and chop off the carbon fibre roof whilst retaining the 2+2 cabin. To its credit, Lexus has managed to do just so without ruining the svelte, swooping design that characterised the hardtop. The upswept beltline has been retained, while a pair of bulges have formed on the rear deck, behind the rear passengers’ headrests.

    A few other changes have been made to glitz it up for show car duty – it now sits on larger 22-inch two-tone alloy wheels, and the interior sees the addition of white leather upholstery with yellow stitching for a bit of added pop. Otherwise, it’s the same LC that we know and love, and that’s not a bad thing.

    Technical specifications have yet to be released, but we’d expect a production version to soldier on with the same two engine options as the coupé. There’s the LC 500 with a 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 making 471 hp and 540 Nm of torque, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, as well as the LC 500h hybrid that pairs a 299 PS/356 Nm 3.5 litre V6 with a 180 PS/300 Nm electric motor for a total system output of 354 hp, along with a four-speed automatic that simulates the feel of a 10-speeder.

    “A production version of this concept would be exhilarating in many different ways. You would see its dynamic lines as you approach, hear its engine when you started it up and feel everything around you once on the road. It would engage the senses in a way that is unique and exciting every time you got behind the wheel,” said the car’s chief designer Tadao Mori. We’re inclined to agree.

  • 2020 Ford Explorer unveiled – rear-wheel drive, 365 hp 3.0 litre biturbo V6, hot ST version coming soon

    The Ford Explorer has seen some big changes in recent years. The current model not only switched from a body-on-frame construction to a unibody one, but also received turbocharged engines for the first time. Now, the 2020 model is moving to a new rear-wheel architecture – shared with the Lincoln Aviator – in an attempt to bring some off-road and towing capability back to the nameplate.

    As a result, this three-row SUV can now haul much, much more. Equipped with a Class III Trailer Tow Package, the latest version gets a 2,400 kg towing capacity as standard, up from 1,360 kg on a comparable outgoing model, and more powerful models are rated at 2,540 kg, a 12% increase from old car’s 2,270 kg.

    Also fitted is a new, optional Terrain Management System with up to seven drive modes to suit various road, weather and terrain conditions. On rear-wheel drive variants, these include normal, sport, trail, slippery, tow/haul and eco; models equipped with intelligent four-wheel drive add a deep snow and sand mode for improved off-road performance.

    The wholesale revamp is complemented by a range of EcoBoost turbo engines. Standard, XLT and Limited variants come with a revised 2.3 litre four-cylinder – mated to a 10-speed automatic gearbox – that produces an estimated 300 hp and 420 Nm of torque, while the Platinum receives a 3.0 litre twin-turbo V6 making a projected 365 hp and 515 Nm. There will also be a hybrid and, for the first time, a high-performance ST.

    Despite the new rear-drive platform, the Explorer hasn’t grown significantly in size. Measuring 5,050 mm long, 2,002 mm wide and 1,783 mm tall, the new model is only three millimetres longer and five millimetres taller than before. What has grown is the wheelbase, which has been stretched some 160 mm to 3,025 mm.

    As such, the new Explorer returns to the long-bonnet proportions that characterised its ladder-frame forebears, while retaining the trademark prominent body-coloured C-pillars (all other pillars are blacked out). The front end, which features trapezoidal headlights joined to a large grille, sits on a shorter overhang than before, while the roof slope is steeper. Wheels measuring between 18 to 21 inches in diameter are available.

    The interior has also been redesigned and comes as standard with an eight-inch touchscreen and an updated version of Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system, complete with SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and native Waze navigation. Also fitted is FordPass Connect that provides remote vehicle access and a WiFi hotspot for up to 10 devices.

    A 10.1-inch portrait-format capacitive display with a split-screen function is available as an option, as is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Buyers can also specify a Qi wireless charging pad, a 14-speaker, 980-watt Bang & Olufsen premium sound system and up to four USB outlets (including USB-C), three 12-volt power sockets and a 110-volt power socket.

    New E-Z entry sliding second-row seats improve access to the third row, which are available with a PowerFold function as an option. The boot measures 515 litres even with all three rows up, and expands to 1,356 litres with the third row folded and a whopping 2,486 litres with all rear seats folded. Ford says that the cargo bay is wide enough to fit standard four-foot building materials. A powered tailgate comes as standard.

    Safety-wise, the Explorer comes as standard with Ford’s Co-Pilot360 driver assistance systems, which include Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, automatic high beam and a self-cleaning reverse camera.

    Also on the options list are Evasive Steering Assist, Post-Impact Braking, Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Speed Sign Recognition, Active Park Assist 2.0 and a reverse brake assist system that applies automatic emergency braking when reversing.

  • Infiniti QX Inspiration – first photos of electric SUV

    Infiniti has released the first photos of its electric SUV concept, the QX Inspiration, ahead of its debut at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit next week. The show car is said to preview the design language for a new range of high-performance electric vehicles coming in 2021, following last year’s Q Inspiration concept and the Prototype 10 shown at Pebble Beach.

    The styling is rather more angular than past Infinitis, trading soft curves for sharp lines. At the front, there are slim headlights and a filled-in version of the company’s trapezoidal grille, integrating the illuminated Infiniti badge and script.

    Meanwhile, the low-slung roofline give the QX Inspiration a coupé-cum-SUV look that is all the rage these days, while the short bonnet – there’s no engine at the front, of course – should provide more space on the inside. The usual door mirrors have been replaced by cameras, a concept car cue that we’re seeing in more and more production vehicles.

    The as-yet-unseen interior is said to be spacious and lounge-like as a result of the new electric vehicle platform, handcrafted using traditional techniques and utilising materials inspired by “subtle Japanese sensuality.” The technology within is claimed to be inspired by the Japanese hospitality principle of omotenashi to create a welcoming environment for driver assistance and connectivity to the outside world.

    “QX Inspiration is the beginning of a new era for Infiniti and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand. New technology has given us the opportunity to evolve our design philosophy – and the new vehicle communicates the serene strength at our core, ” said executive design director Karim Habib.

  • Hardcore Subaru WRX STI coming to Detroit – S209?

    With the current popularity of its XV and Forester SUVs, it’s easy to forget that Subaru once made its name through hardcore STI models like the sublime Impreza 22B STI. Now, however, the company is teasing the latest in a long line of obscene go-faster variants, set to debut at the Detroit Auto Show on January 14.

    The bewinged WRX STI seen tearing up the Virginia International Raceway in the video above may still be covered in camouflage, but you’d be hard-pressed to miss the aggressive front canards, prominent fender flares and tall rear spoiler. In a small, subtle but telling hint, Subaru says that this new model is “from Japan with love” and is “coming to America for the first time ever.”

    These all lend credence to rumours of the track-focused Japanese-market “S” series of vehicles finally making its way to the US, which first surfaced with the news of an S209 trademark being applied Stateside. These limited-run models have only ever been sold outside Japan in select market, so this could be the point in which the nameplate finally becomes international.

    The previous “S” model, the Subaru WRX STI S208, was unveiled at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

    Last time around, the S208 packed a number of delectable goodies, including an uprated 329 PS 2.0 litre EJ turbocharged flat-four engine, Bilstein DampMatic II dampers, front and rear torque vectoring, a front strut tower brace and quicker steering. Visually, the car is set apart through a large front spoiler, a carbon fibre rear spoiler, 19-inch forged BBS alloy wheels and Recaro bucket seats.

    Just 450 of those were made, with 350 of those wearing the NBR Challenge Package that commemorated Subaru’s class victory at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in 2016. This consisted of a dry carbon roof and rear wing like the one you see here. Expect the US-market S209 to be just as potent.

    GALLERY: Subaru WRX STI S208 at Tokyo 2017


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Last Updated 29 Sep 2022