2019 Los Angeles Auto Show Archive

  • X167 Mercedes-AMG GLS63 shown – 612 PS monster with mild hybrid tech, seven seats, 0-100 km/h 4.2 secs

    The GLE 63 isn’t the only high-power big SUV that Mercedes-AMG is introducing at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show. That’s because Affalterbach has also pulled the covers off an even more massive high-riding, all-paw crossover with more brawn than brains, and that is the new Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 4Matic+.

    It couldn’t be simpler, the recipe – take all the mechanicals from the GLE 63 and shove them inside a hulking people carrier with room for up to seven seats and more toys than you can shake a stick at. Unlike the GLE, the GLS is only available with the big boy version of AMG’s 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, which makes a hefty 612 PS from 5,750 to 6,500 rpm and 850 Nm from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm.

    Further increasing the engine’s ferocity is a 48-volt EQ Boost mild hybrid system, which uses an integrated starter generator to add 22 PS and 250 Nm of temporary boost under acceleration. All this means that this giant hunk of metal, glass and leather will get from zero to 100 km/h in a blistering 4.2 seconds.

    The mild hybrid system does more than improve performance – it also recuperates kinetic energy, allows the car to coast with the engine off and smoothens the automatic engine start/stop function, and it also assists in idle speed control for the first time, to further save fuel. Despite this, the GLS 63 still swigs fuel at a rate of 11.9 litres per 100 km on the NEDC combined cycle.

    All this is mated to an AMG Speedshift TCT nine-speed automatic transmission, as well as an AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system that varies torque distribution from fully rear-driven to a 50:50 ratio front-to-rear. You’ll also find AMG Ride Control+ air suspension with the Adaptive Driving System (ADS+).

    This lowers the ride height by 10 mm at speeds above 120 km/h (permanently in the Sport and Sport+ modes) and raises it by 55 mm in the Trail and Sand modes, or at a push of a button. The car also comes with 48-volt AMG Active Ride Control roll stabilisation system, along with AMG speed-sensitive sport power steering and a high-performance braking system with 400 mm front discs, clamped by six-piston callipers.

    Exterior accoutrements include a very upright version of AMG’s trapezoidal Panamericana grille with vertical slats, along with humongous air intakes with an insert inspired by a jet wing. The rear end also gets a large diffuser with integrated quad exhaust exits, and while the car comes as standard with 21-inch alloy wheels, the options list includes rollers that go all the way up to 23 inches in diameter.

    Inside, there are AMG front seats upholstered in Nappa leather, along with a flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel optionally available with dedicated controls for various performance settings. Just like the standard GLS, the AMG model is available with either six or seven seats – the former with captain’s chairs for the second row – along with seat heating up to the third row.

  • Toyota RAV4 Prime – plug-in hybrid SUV with 302 hp

    The electric revolution is coming, and while enthusiasts aren’t exactly embracing the technology just yet, electric vehicle makers like Tesla are showing that zero-emissions running does at least not have to come at the expense of performance. And with its new RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid, so is Toyota.

    You see, this rather adventurously-styled family SUV comes with quite a lot of power under the bonnet. Sure, the 2.5 litre Atkinson-cycle engine, shared with the regular Hybrid model, isn’t going to set your pants on fire – it makes the same 176 hp, but adds a bit more torque at 228 Nm, made slightly lower down the rev range at 2,800 rpm. This, Toyota says, does improve low-speed acceleration.

    But it’s the more powerful electric motors that deliver the biggest net gain, taking total output to an estimated 302 hp. That’s 84 hp more than the Hybrid, and to give you a sense of perspective, that’s exactly the same amount of power as the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and BMW M135i hot hatches. Those are not slow cars.

    Neither is the Prime – despite being saddled with a lack of a conventional transmission (it will likely get the same electronic CVT as the Hybrid), Toyota is targeting a zero-to-100 km/h figure of just 6.2 seconds. On the flip side, a new high-capacity lithium-ion battery will help deliver an all-electric range of 60 km on the WLTP cycle, as well as carbon dioxide emissions of under 30 grams per kilometre.

    Range-enhancing features include an enhanced heat pump for the climate control system, adapted from the Prius Prime, to reduce energy consumption during the regulation of cabin temperature. There’s also the Hybrid’s Predictive Efficient Drive feature that reads the road and learns the driver patterns to optimise battery charging and discharging, even “remembering” features such as hills and traffic lights.

    Just like the Hybrid, the Prime is fitted with a separate rear electric motor to provide all-wheel drive, working when needed to reduce understeer and improve traction on slippery surfaces. A selectable Trail mode turns on torque vectoring by braking, clamping a spinning wheel and forcing torque to instead be delivered to the wheel with the most grip. The range-topping XSE variant also gets the RAV4’s first ever paddle shifters.

    You can tell the Prime apart from lesser siblings through the unique front spoiler with chrome trim, as well as piano black body mouldings instead of bare plastic. While the standard SE is equipped with 18-inch two-tone alloys, the XSE receives exclusive 19-inch rollers – the biggest ever fitted to a hybrid RAV4. The XSE also comes with vertical LED accent lights on the corners of the front bumpers.

  • V167 Mercedes-AMG GLE63 – 4.0L biturbo V8 with EQ Boost mild hybrid, 612 PS, 850 Nm, 0-100 km/h in 3.8s

    It’s no secret that Mercedes-AMG is dabbling in the world of electrification, and the first result of this endeavour is the latest GLE 63 4Matic+, which makes its debut just over a year after the cooking V167 model was revealed. Like the 53 version, it too comes with the EQ Boost mild hybrid system, but here it’s strapped to a bigger, much more monstrous engine.

    That engine is Affalterbach’s tried and tested M177 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8, in a specification lifted from the E 63. As standard, it makes 571 PS from 5,750 to 6,500 rpm and 750 Nm of torque between 2,250 and 5,000 rpm, which by itself is enough to get the SUV from zero to 100 km/h in four seconds flat.

    But of course, that’s not the full story, because you can also get your GLE 63 in spicy S configuration, bumping the outputs up to a searing 612 PS and 850 Nm from 2,500 to 4,500 rpm. So equipped, this hulking leviathan accelerates in an almost comical fashion, reaching 100 km/h in a ridiculous 3.8 seconds. Both models get a nine-speed AMG Speedshift TCT 9G automatic transmission.

    Also standard on both models is a 48-volt integrated starter-generator, which throws in an additional 22 PS and 250 Nm of temporary boost under acceleration; it can also recuperate kinetic energy, allow the car to coast with the engine off and smoothen the automatic engine start/stop function. For the first time, the electric motor also helps with idle speed control, further saving fuel.

    Even with this and cylinder deactivation, however, the GLE 63 is no Toyota Prius, with fuel consumption rated at 11.4 litres per 100 km (11.5 for the GLE 63 S) on the combined NEDC cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions, meanwhile, is quoted at 261 grams per kilometre for the standard model and 262 for the S.

    Power is sent to all four wheels via the AMG Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system, which is usually rear-driven but can send torque variably to the front axle. There’s also an electronic locking rear differential as well as the Electronic Traction System (4ETS) torque vectoring by braking. The AMG speed-sensitive sports steering has Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master settings, delivering progressively more feedback.

    As standard, the GLE 63 comes with AMG Ride Control+ air suspension with the Adaptive Damping System (ADS+), which drops the height by 10 mm at speeds of over 120 km/h (permanently in Sport, Sport+ and the S-only Race modes) and raises it by 55 mm in Trail and Sand modes. There’s also the 48-volt AMG Active Ride Control roll stabilisation, which the company says responds quicker than a hydraulic setup.

    Design-wise, the GLE 63 carries over all the usual AMG hallmarks, including the trapezoidal Panamericana grille, a jet-wing design for the massive front air intakes and a large rear diffuser with the obligatory quad tailpipes. The alloy wheel options measure between 20 and 22 inches in diameter and hide composite brakes with six-piston front callipers (carbon ceramic discs optional).

    Inside, you get AMG seats upholstered in Nappa leather, as is the three-spoke AMG Performance steering wheel with aluminium paddle shifters (with Dinamica microfibre grips on the S model). You also get alloy pedals, AMG-branded side sill plates and floor mats, along with options that include carbon fibre decorative trim and additional steering wheel controls for quick access to performance-related settings.

  • Hyundai Vision T revealed, previews next-gen Tucson

    Hyundai is wasting no time in refining and expanding its Sensuous Sportiness design language, which we first saw on the Le Fil Rouge concept last year. Since then, it has already appeared on the new Sonata and Grandeur, and this new Vision T concept sees the company repurposing the look for an SUV body style.

    Although the company hasn’t quite admitted it yet, the fact that the show car is called the Vision T hints that this is a thinly-veiled preview of the next-generation Tucson, due to be revealed next year. The design lends further credence to this theory, as it incorporates many of the design elements evident on Tucson development prototypes, as seen in past spyshots.

    Surprisingly for a concept, Hyundai has even released its dimensions, pretty much confirming that the car serves as a production preview. It may be a bit wide for a compact crossover at 2,025 mm, but at 4,610 mm long and 1,705 mm tall, the Vision T is 135 mm longer (an increase that is solely derived from its 2,805 mm wheelbase) and 60 mm taller than the current Tucson, which isn’t too far out of the ordinary.

    The buzzwords for the car’s design are Parametric Fantasy and Transcendent Connectivity, which sounds like typical designer nonsense. What they essentially mean is that each of the body’s surfaces are connected to either the lights or the trim, and the result is a riot of sharp lines and angles.

    Quite literally front and centre is a massive grille that takes up the entire width of the face, mirroring a similar look on the Le Fil Rouge and Grandeur. It features a tessellated pattern and hides signature lighting that use one-way mirrors to appear to be part of the matte dark chrome grille, until they are lit up.

    The car also comes with active grille shutters that not only control airflow to the engine to improve aerodynamics, they also move in a sequence to give the car a more dynamic look when in motion. The grille is flanked by large air intakes (which is where the main headlight units will sit on the production model) to give the car an X-shaped graphic at the front.

    Along the side, you’ll find the same angular wheel arches as on the latest Santa Fe, emphasised by the pronounced fender bulges that are connected by a prominent crease running from the front doors to the rear of the car. The low-slung roofline features a sweeping chrome accent that contrasts the upswept beltline. The massive split-spoke alloy wheels get a two-tone finish and hide dark orange brake callipers.

    Elsewhere, the glass roof features a special embossed pattern, while the rear end features the in-vogue full-width design that echo the individual cells of the front lights. The Hyundai badge is lit up in bright green (complementing the car’s matte green paint), and all the lights shut off in a dramatic sequence.

    Technical details are light, with Hyundai only saying that the Vision T is powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain (which may also appear on the production Tucson), with a charging port on the rear passenger-side fender. A Blue Drive script lights up when the car is being charged.

  • Lexus LC 500 Convertible – open-top stunner debuts

    The Lexus LC may be one of the most gorgeous cars in existence, but for many, the luxurious coupé would be made even better with unlimited sunshine and some wind in their hair. Well, Toyota’s premium division has listened to their pleas with the introduction of the LC 500 Convertible at the ongoing Los Angeles Auto Show.

    As you’d expect, the stunning design has not been hampered one bit by the removal of the carbon fibre roof, remaining an intoxicating blend of sharp creases and smooth curves. The upswept beltline continues to give the impression of the body cocooning the cabin, behind which a tonneau cover – neatly integrated with the rest of the car and featuring two humps aft of the rear headrests – hides the soft-top when it is stowed.

    The profile has also been subtly tweaked for an even more dramatic appearance, thanks to an integrated bootlid spoiler (replacing the active spoiler optional on the coupé) that is kicked up and made wider to accentuate the car’s wide, low stance. It’s also where the third brake light now sits.

    The four-layer roof itself, available in black, blue or beige, has been designed to make the underlying frame invisible when it is up – in order to avoid ruining the silhouette. The fabric has been carefully selected and manufactured to ensure optimal tension, minimal wrinkling and improved sound insulation. The top can be dropped in just 15 seconds and raised in 16, and it can be operated at speeds of up to 50 km/h.

    Inside, it’s just as well-appointed as the coupé, with sweeping surfaces, a digital instrument display with a moving rev counter, a 10.3-inch centre display (unfortunately still linked to Lexus’ god-awful Remote Touch interface, albeit now with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity) and quilted and perforated leather pretty much everywhere you touch. The roof controls are hidden under a palm rest aft of the touchpad.

    Lexus has gone to great pains to retain some of the coupé’s excellent refinement even with the roof down. There’s a transparent polycarbonate wind deflector to reduce buffeting, along with active noise cancellation to filter out unwanted and unpleasant noises. To keep the noise you do want, a sound pipe transmits the V8’s guttural induction roar into the cabin, while an active exhaust valve adds some bark at higher revs.

    Elsewhere, the coupé’s Lexus Climate Concierge finds even greater use here, managing the air-conditioning and the steering wheel, seat and new neck heaters to maintain the ideal cabin temperature, no matter if the top is up or down. It even blows warm or cold air to the backs of your hands when you grip the wheel.

    At this point, you’d probably have noticed that the droptop version is currently only available with pure V8 power, with the 500h hybrid variant nowhere to be seen. The sonorous 2UR-GSE 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated eight-cylinder mill continues to push out 470 hp at 7,100 rpm and 540 Nm at 4,800 rpm, sent to the rear wheels through a 10-speed Direct Shift torque converter automatic transmission.

    To increase body rigidity and maintain the coupé’s handling characteristics, engineers have added and moved various structural braces. The suspension has also been tweaked to suit, with a reduction of unsprung weight at the front improving overall stroke. At the rear, the suspension brace has been reshaped and relocated to further increase rigidity, and it’s now die-cast from aluminium to reduce weight. A Yamaha Performance Damper are also fitted to the chassis to improve ride comfort.

  • Ford Mustang Mach-E is the name of all-electric SUV

    Ford may have reversed its controversial decision to use its iconic Mach 1 nameplate on an all-electric SUV, but the moniker it settled for is no less bold. The Blue Oval has confirmed that this high-performance, zero-emissions crossover, which will be unveiled this Sunday, November 17 (18 for us) alongside actor Idris Elba, will be a member of the Mustang family and be called the Mustang Mach-E.

    This tallies with the teaser sketch showed last month, exhibiting styling very much inspired by the pony car, with details such as the slim headlights, sweeping lines over the front and rear wheels, a teardrop-shaped glasshouse and triple vertical tail lights.

    The video above also provides a glimpse of the front end with an inset front panel and the galloping horse badge, confirming that last year’s teaser was for the SUV, not a hybrid version of the “regular” Mustang (which is also coming), as previously thought.

    No details have been released just yet, but Ford has previously floated a range figure of around 600 km. We’ll have to wait until the car is unveiled in full to get more details.

    GALLERY: Ford Mustang Mach-E spyshots

  • Hyundai Vision T plug-in hybrid SUV concept teased ahead of LA debut – preview of next-gen Tucson?

    Hyundai is presenting a new concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week. The Vision T, as it’s set to be called, is a plug-in hybrid SUV that repurposes the company’s Sensuous Sportiness global design language, first seen on the Le Fil Rouge concept and Sonata sedan, onto a taller crossover body style.

    The fact this car is called the Vision T hints that it is a thinly-veiled preview of the next-generation Tucson, which is set to debut next year. Further evidence of this can be found in the teaser images shown here, where the show car displays key design cues also seen on recent Tucson test mules.

    Most obvious of these is the massive front grille that takes up the entire width of the fascia, very similar to that of the Le Fil Rouge. It features hidden signature lighting and a tessellated pattern that functions as an active grille shutter, adjusting at higher speeds to not only optimise air flow and aerodynamics, but also to give the car a more dynamic look when it is in motion.

    Flanking the grille are large air intakes (where the main headlight units will sit on the Tucson) to give the car a distinctive X-shaped graphic. Along the sides, the Vision T features angular wheel arches and prominent fender bulges, along with a sharp shoulder line that stretches from the front doors to the rear of the car – again, very Tucson-like. The low-slung roofline gets a chrome fillet that contrasts the upswept window line.

    No other details have been announced just yet, but the presence of a plug-in hybrid powertrain could mean that a similar system may very well make its way to the Tucson too.

    GALLERY: 2020 Hyundai Tucson spyshots

  • Volkswagen ID. Space Vizzion wagon set for LA debut

    Volkswagen has laid out an entire family of ID. electric vehicles, even though only one of those – the ID.3 hatchback – has actually gone on sale so far. Joining the ID. Crozz and Roomzz SUVs, ID. Buzz MPV, ID. Vizzion sedan and ID. Buggy, um, buggy is the ID. Space Vizzion, which will make its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month.

    As the name suggests, the Space Vizzion concept is a wagon version of the Vizzion, billed as a car that combines the “aerodynamic characteristics of a Gran Turismo with the spaciousness of an SUV.” The sketches show a long and low body with a sleek roofline and large wheels pushed to the far corners.

    Starting with the front of the car, you can see Volkswagen’s design language for electric vehicles starting to develop. The slim upper grille leads into the eyebrow-like light guides above the crosshair-shaped headlights, culminating in the “tails” that are reminiscent of the ones on the new Mk8 Golf. Just like the Golf, these “tails” are parallel with the front fender trim aft of the front wheels.

    The air inlets are made up of a series of dots, some of which light up in an arrow-shaped pattern. Moving further along, a prominent shoulder line starts from the headlights and flows along the flanks, rises up above the rear wheels and sweeps across the entire width of the rear end in an unbroken fashion. The full-width tail lights repeat the dotted pattern found elsewhere on the car.

    Inside, you’ll find a minimalist dashboard with just a single full-width air vent carrying the digital instrument readout, along with a massive Tesla Model 3-style tablet-like centre display. Volkswagen says that the “completely digitised cockpit” is more intuitive and provides greater usability, and that the four-seater cabin is upholstered in sustainable raw materials. These include AppleSkin, an artificial leather made from a proportion of residual matter from apple juice production.

    As for the powertrain, there are no details as yet, but Wolfsburg quotes a range of 590 km on the WLTP cycle. The company also says that the Space Vizzion has an aerodynamically-optimised design, with openings for the airstream to pass through the front end and along the roof.

    Volkswagen has already confirmed the ID. Space Vizzion for production, with the finalised version to debut in late 2021. It will come in different versions for North America, Europe and China.

  • F44 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé debuts – FWD four-door coupé is Munich’s answer to Mercedes CLA

    Mercedes-Benz may have been first to the modern four-door coupé market in the shape of the CLS, but that hasn’t stopped BMW from making the body style its own. Munich currently has Gran Coupé versions of the 4 and 8 Series, and it has now fleshed out the range with the entry-level F44 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé.

    Aside from the rather long name, this new model also complicates the 2 Series lineup still further. While the 2 Series proper, a small two-door coupé, is rear-wheel drive, the GC – together with the Active Tourer and Gran Tourer MPVs – is front-wheel drive, using the same front-wheel drive architecture (FAAR) as the latest 1 Series. So, not for purists, then – this is more a competitor to the ultra-fashionable Mercedes CLA.

    It is quite a bit smaller than its Stuttgart rival, however. Measuring 4,526 mm long, 1,800 mm wide and 1,420 mm tall, the Gran Coupé is 162 mm shorter, 30 mm narrower and 19 mm lower, and its 2,670 mm wheelbase is also 59 mm shorter. The boot is also less commodious, at 430 litres versus 460 litres.

    But enough about comparisons, because the GC has a style all of its own. It’s sleek and low-slung with a fastback-like rear end, and the frameless six-window glasshouse – featuring a rather diluted version of the Hofmeister kink – adds to the graceful silhouette. Better yet, the 2 Series version thankfully sidesteps the huge bucktoothed kidney grilles that are set to blight the 4 Series, if the Concept 4 is anything to go by.

    Here, the grilles are still sizeable, but they don’t take up the entire height of the front end. As with the 8 Series, Z4 and X2, they are conjoined in the middle and take the form of a trapezoid, with three-dimensional vertical bars. They are flanked by angled LED headlights that give the car the typical BMW “four-eyed” look, equipped with hexagonal daytime running lights and “eyebrow” indicators.

    Along the side, the variety of lines and surfaces play with the light and shadow, and a second shoulder line above the rear wheels provide added definition. The rear haunches are emphasised still further by the glasshouse that tapers towards the rump, where you’ll find slim L-shaped LED tail lights joined together by a gloss black strip, along with a bumper-mounted number plate recess for a more minimalist look.

    Inside, the Gran Coupé shares the same basic design as the 1 Series, incorporating the angular look and silvered controls seen on other new BMW models. Just like the 1er, the trim strips that stretch across the dashboard and door cards can be optioned with integrated ambient lighting, while the instrument and touch-sensitive infotainment displays run the latest BMW Operating System 7.0 and measure up to 10.25 inches.

    With the benefit of a larger body, four doors and the use of a front-drive architecture, the Gran Coupé is obviously more practical than the two-door coupé. The company claims 33 mm of extra rear knee room, and despite rear passengers sitting 12 mm higher, there is 14 mm more headroom – even with the optional panoramic roof. The boot is also 40 litres larger, expanded further by folding the 40:20:40-split rear seats.

    Of course, the Gran Coupé comes with a whole host of added gadgetry, including the Intelligent Personal Assistant voice control and the Digital Key that allows you to use selected Samsung smartphones to unlock and start the car. Safety-wise, the car comes as standard in Europe with autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning (watch as these get dropped for our market).

    On the options list is the Driving Assistant package with lane keeping assist, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning, as well as adaptive cruise control with stop and go and the Parking Assistant. The latter comes with the reversing assistant that allows the car to reverse exactly the way you came in.

    Under the skin, the Gran Coupé is constructed from a mix of high-strength steels and aluminium body panels to reduce weight while maintaining a high level of torsional stiffness. This is aided by added bracing such as a boomerang-shaped strut at the rear of the car. Suspension options include a passive setup in standard and M Sport forms – the latter being 10 mm lower – as well as adaptive dampers.

    As with the 1 Series, the Gran Coupé gets the near-actuator wheel slip limitation (ARB) system, an advanced traction control that made its debut on the electric i3s. With a slip controller positioned directly in the ECU, rather than being integrated into the stability control, the system allows for swifter, more precise wheel slip control. Together with the stability control, ARB is claimed to significantly reduce power understeer.

    Also fitted is the BMW Performance Control torque vectoring by braking, as well as Electronic Differential Lock Control (EDLC) that also uses the brakes to simulate a limited-slip differential. The xDrive all-wheel drive system is also fitted as standard on certain models.

    The Gran Coupé gets the usual range of BMW turbocharged engines, with four of them available at launch. The base petrol mill is the latest version of the B38 1.5 litre three-cylinder in the 218i, now five kilograms lighter and delivering four more horsepower, with outputs sitting at 140 hp at 4,600 to 6,500 rpm and 220 Nm of torque from 1,480 to 4,200 rpm. An extra 10 Nm of overboost is delivered in fourth gear and higher.

    As such, the 218i is able to get from zero to 100 km/h in 8.7 seconds before hitting a top speed of 215 km/h. Fuel consumption is rated at between 5.0 and 5.7 litres per 100 km, while carbon dioxide emissions are said to be 29 grams per kilometre with the new engine, at 114 to 131 grams per kilometre. It is the only model in the range to come with a six-speed manual gearbox, with a seven-speed dual clutch transmission optional.

    Exclusive to the United States is the 228i xDrive, utilising a 231 hp/350 Nm 2.0 litre four-pot. On the diesel side, the 220d gets a 190 hp/400 Nm 2.0 litre twin-turbo unit, delivering a zero-to-100 km/h time of 7.5 seconds, a top speed of 235 km/h, fuel consumption of between 4.2 to 4.5 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions of 110 to 119 grams per kilometre. Both engines get an eight-speed torque converter automatic.

    At the top of the range is the mid-range M Performance variant, the M235i xDrive. This uses BMW’s most powerful four-cylinder engine yet – an uprated B48 2.0 litre unit that also sees service in the X2 M35i and M135i. With 306 hp between 5,000 and 6,250 rpm and 450 Nm from 1,750 to 4,500 rpm, it races to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds before hitting the limiter at 250 km/h. It also offers a fuel consumption figure of 6.7 to 7.1 litres per 100 km and CO2 emissions of 153 to 162 grams per kilometre.

    Unique features for the M235i are a sport version of the auto gearbox, a mechanical Torsen limited-slip differential, a strut tower brace, additional strengthening around the front subframe and centre tunnel, and standard M Sport steering, brakes and suspension. Visually, the high-performance model is differentiated by the standard M Sport package, a mesh grille, larger air intakes and Cerium Grey exterior highlights.

  • Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport – another SUV “coupé”

    Unless you’ve been living under the rock over the past few years, you’d know that the SUV “coupé” craze is well and truly upon us, with almost every regular sport utility having a low-slung variant. Volkswagen has hinted of such a version of its eminently practical three-row Atlas for more than a year, and it has now revealed the real deal in the form of the five-seater Atlas Cross Sport for the United States.

    Next to the standard Atlas, the Cross Sport is 71 mm shorter and 58 mm lower, taking those measurements to 4,955 mm long and 1,720 mm tall. It remains 1,989 mm wide and, crucially, retains its 2,979 mm wheelbase, freeing up more than a metre of rear seat legroom. The boot measures a commodious 1,141 litres, expandable to 2,203 litres with the rear seats folded.

    The Cross Sport is mostly identifiable by its shorter length, lower roofline and faster rear windscreen rake, but it also sports (excuse the pun) a few other upgrades that enhance the Atlas’ already imposing design. The front end has been revised significantly with a more aggressive bumper design, a subtly re-profiled bonnet and a new three-bar grille, the middle bar being integrated with the redesigned LED daytime running lights.

    Meanwhile, the rear end gets new L-shaped tail lights and a new rear bumper, and as with its larger sibling, there’s an R-Line variant – now with a new logo – that adds sportier front and rear bumpers with chrome and gloss black accents, as well as different wheel options measuring up to 21 inches.

    Inside, the Cross Sport retains the Atlas’ sober cabin design, but with a few key changes. It adopts a new steering wheel, which is identical to that of the facelifted European-market Passat save for the adoption of the new VW logo (which is also found on the exterior badges). You also get accent stitching on the doors and seats, plus new features such as Qi wireless smartphone charging.

    As usual, the options list include a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated seats, rear sunshades, a 12-speaker Fender sound system and a Volkswagen Digital Cockpit instrument display. The Car-Net suite is upgraded for the 2020 model year with an updated mobile app, new subscription options and free services for the first five years, including remote locking and start. There’s also 4G WiFi for up to four devices.

    Safety-wise, the Cross Sport gets standard autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, plus available features such as adaptive cruise control with a stop-and-go feature and park distance control. New options include Traffic Jam Assist that centres the car in its own lane at speeds of up to 60 km/h, along with traffic sign recognition.

    The engine options are the same as the standard Atlas – a 235 hp 2.0 litre TSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a 276 hp 3.6 litre naturally-aspirated V6. Both are paired with an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission and are available with either front- or 4Motion all-wheel drive.


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Last Updated 22 Jul 2021