Kia Sorento new design Think about it: in the midsize crossover class there are a lot of vehicles. Including the Honda Pilot. The Toyota Highlander and 4Runner. The Ford Explorer. GM has the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave. Volkswagen chose the category for its big push back into the graces of U.S. customers with the Atlas.
But where was Kia? It has the Sorento and Sportage. But nothing big. The company unveiled at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit a three-row luxury SUV named “Telluride.” At the time, Tom Kearns, chief designer, Kia Design Center America (KDCA), said, “Longer, wider and taller than the recently redesigned Sorento CUV, Telluride allows us to envision what a full-size seven-passenger SUV from Kia could look like.”
That “could” in his statement was a bit of a fudge because they were working on the real vehicle that would carry the same name. They benchmarked the Highlander and the Pilot. And the design team at KDCA in Irvine, CA, went at it, developing something that would have the distinctiveness that Kia models are known for, from the Soul to the Stinger. And Kurt Kahl, the lead exterior designer, came up with a design that is “boxy on purpose,” predicated on the idea that nowadays, crossovers have been styled with more smooth radii than sharp creases. They wanted something that looks solid. Strong. Muscular. A broad, long hood. A windshield is far more upright than is what is now the norm. A sculpted rear skid-plate with twin exhaust tips, side-to-side on the right side of the vehicle.
Arguably, they are taking a risk with this design approach. When the current Pilot (third-generation) came out, it has a more aero design than its boxy predecessor because the feedback that Honda received from customers that they thought the second-generation vehicle, because of its boxiness, was fuel inefficient. Perhaps the run of low gas prices has made consumers somewhat indifferent to miles-per-gallon ratings, although the Telluride is no slouch in this category:
Image: By GARY S. VASILASH, Editor-In-Chief
the vehicles—available as a front-wheel-drive (FWD) setup or with an active on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD) system (which is based on an electro-hydraulic coupling that activates the multi-plate clutch as needed; during normal driving, the power is 100 percent to the front wheels but torque is distributed to the rear wheels should slippage be detected, and there are selectable modes, such as “Snow, which has an 80∕20 front to rear split and Sport, which provides 65∕35)—are all equipped with an Atkinson cycle 3.8-liter V6 producing 291 hp at 6,000 rpm and 262 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 rpm mated to an eight-speed automatic. FWD vehicles have an estimated 20∕26∕23 mpg city-highway∕combined, while the AWD models return an estimated 19∕24∕21 mpg, which is certainly reasonable for a vehicle that can accommodate eight people and which has a curb weight ranging from 4,112 pounds to 4,482 pounds, depending on trim and packaging. (Arguably the vehicle would be heavier were not that the body the structure is made with 59.4 percent advanced high-strength steel.)
The Kia Telluride is 196.9 inches long, 78.3 inches wide, 68.9 inches high (sans roof rails), and has a 114.2-inch wheelbase. As it's ground clearance is 8 inches, AWD availability notwithstanding, while it can go off(ish) the road, it is probably best to stick to the pave.
This is the 2016 Telluride Concept, which was introduced at the North American International Auto Show. Obviously, the Kia designers in Irvine, California, got the look right, based on the similarity to the production version.
Kia HabaNiro Concept - YouTube
Then there are the acronymic technologies, including the standard downhill brake control (DBC), hill-start assist control (HAC), trailer stability assist (TSA—there are 5,000-pounds of towing capacity), torque vectoring corner Control (TVCC), vehicle stability management (VSM), blind-spot collision-avoidance assist rear (BCA-R), forward collision avoidance with pedestrian detection (FCA), lane departure warning (LDW), lane following assist (LFA), lane-keeping assist (LKA), parking distance warning-reverse (PDW-R), rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist (RCCA), rearview monitor (RVM) with parking guidance-dynamic, and smart cruise control (SCC) with Stop and go (S&G). These are all standard—yes, even on the FWD Telluride LX that has a starting MSRP of $31,690. Product planners at other OEMs are going to have to do some recalculations in light of this.The Telluride not only has the name of an American town, but the vehicle is produced in an American factory, at the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) facility in West Point. The KMMG plant is the only automotive assembly facility in the state. KMMG, a $1.1-billion operation, launched in November 2009, producing the Sorento mid-size crossover. Two years later, the Optima sedan was added to the mix. Then almost 10 years after the plant started production, the Telluride was introduced to the factory. The plant, running three shifts, has an annual capacity of 340,000 vehicles. While sedan sales are down across the industry, with the buoyancy of the crossover categories, odds are Kia Motors America is going to need that capacity. from: ADandP.media
Subaru Forester 2.5i-s review PLEASE go ahead and award yourself one RocKwiz bonus point if you’ve even heard of them Fauves, an Aussie four-piece formed in Victoria in the late ’80s. The Fauves are still together, but yet to top the modest success of their minor radio hit of 1996; a track I still believe to be something of a definitive social commentary regarding the messed-up realities of the modern world. It is a title? ‘Dogs are the Best People’. Okay, it’s not a song of huge lyrical depth; it’s really more of a catchy rock ditty set to crunching guitars and a propulsive bass hook, but certain lines really resonate with me: “His love comes free and unconditionally / ... he never lied to me once / he never flaunted my trust...”Dogs have been a big part of my life since childhood, but these days, apartment living and work travel don’t make dog ownership possible, so there tends to be a canine-sized void in my existence. To help fill it, I often spend time with dogs belonging to other people, but mostly with dogs who belong to no-one.
Each Saturday, my partner and I drive to our local dog rescue shelter (doggierescue.com, if you’d like to make a donation) and walk a couple of the 70 or so hopeful souls there. This is most satisfying and enjoyable, although occasionally heart-wrenching when one decides he ain’t going back, so locks the parking brake on the hind legs and fixes you with those “adopt me NOW!” eyes. Anyway, dogs at the shelter often need transporting to various events, so no long-termer can truly be considered to have fully slotted into our family unless it passes the doggo-Uber test. Now, we all know dogs tend not to be too picky about these things – I’m pretty sure I could turn up in a Panzer tank and I’d still be swamped by panting, wagging mutts pirouetting hot laps of excitement at the prospect of an outing – but the Forester does ace two important criteria.
(image credit: Richard Berry)
Firstly, the chassis tune delivers real ride comfort. Whether the dogs want to do a bit of open-window surfing, or just take a nap in the footwell, I reckon all of them appreciate an SUV that breathes with the road and blots up the bumps. The Subie is the master of this; a fact brought into even sharper focus recently in our five-SUV comparo (Wheels, June.) The new Toyota RAV4 may have gotten the nod overall, but the Forester is even better when it comes to easy-riding, unstressed passage over bumpy bitumen. Second criterion – and stay with me on this one – is a quality sound system. Occasionally we’ll have a dog on board who’s over-excited or stressed, so one sure-fire way to chill them out is to crank up a bit of late-’90s deep house, with some soothing female vocals and a rich, velvety rhythm section. The Forester’s Harman/Kardon system, with its 10-inch subwoofer mounted in the cargo compartment, fills the cabin with the aural equivalent of canine Valium. The Fauves may consider me an Oz-rock sell-out, but it does give peace a chance.
The Wrap The Suburu Forester two.5i-S was an extremely simple addition to my family’s fashion. I liked the solid feeling of the automotive whereas driving - feeling safe on the road may be a huge issue with children. It works all people quite well, even after we were driving the children’s friends around for varsity holidays, and had enough boot area for a growing family. It drives very well and comes with all the newest technology and safety options you’d mean in 2019. I gave it a family rating of seven.5 out of ten as a result of I believe it’s a very nice worth. My children conjointly gave it a seven.5, that they had a snug week. Let us know what you think in the comments below. Likes Safety features Practical Tech Dislikes Confusing screen set-up Short warranty.
Scores Nedahl:3.8 The Kids:3.8 Subaru Forester 2.5i-s Price as tested: $41,490 This month: 532km @ 9.8L/100km by ASH WESTERMAN Instagram, facebook, twitter @wheelsaustralia
Renault Megane RS280 EDC LAST YEAR we had the opportunity to drive the Renault Megane RS280 back-to-back with our incumbent hot-hatch champ, the Hyundai i30 N. “Drive the Megane at absolute ten-tenths and it probably has a veneer of talent beyond even the i30 N,” I wrote. “A hot hatch that goes straight into the top drawer of current contenders,” I also opined. I even said: “One really good suspension setting always trumps a selection of so-so calibrations, and the Renault’s is a gem.” So it’s fair to say we liked it.
That car was the manual model, so Renault decided I needed to try the dual-clutch EDC version. We welcomed AVO006 into the Wheels garage last month with 9491km on the clock – and they’ve been some heavy kilometers. This car has been used as a circuit hack at the Melbourne GP and has been through countless comparison tests by other motoring outlets. The rims are a bit chewed, there’s a 10-cent-sized dint in the bonnet and the gear shifter feels as if somebody’s smashed it into Drive with a post maul. I don’t mind a bit. After treating the McLaren 570GT with absolute kid gloves, it’s great to jump into a car that demands to be given a pasting.
To the list price of $47,490, this car adds Liquid Yellow paint at $1000, Bose audio for $500 and R.S. Alcantara and leather upholstery that tacks on another $1190. Not that I have long to get used to all that. Next month I’ll be back in a manual version of the RS 280 Cup, so, for the time being, I’m savoring the EDC ’box’s smooth shift on the more choked parts of my commute. It’s a great installation. Some have complained that the paddle shifters are too small, but the transmission calibrations through the Comfort, Neutral, Sport, Race and Perso modes offer something to suit most moods, so I’ve rarely had recourse to bother flapping at one of the metal lugs.
I won’t go back over too much of the car’s dynamic repertoire right now, because you probably know much of that already. What’s been refreshing is how easy the Megane is to live with. The seats are supportive and the seat heaters warm up quickly in the cold weather. The air-conditioning is exemplary, with a rapid demist and big, easily accessible dials.
The dehumidifying effects of the air-con were put to the test this month due to a curious quirk of this particular car. On several occasions, either one or both of the front doors has failed to close properly. This has resulted in my returning to the vehicle to find it unlocked, which can be a worry. After a typically wet Melbourne evening, I parked my fundament into a driver’s seat that felt like a sphagnum bog due to the chubby door rubbers doing their thing again. After much hilarity in the office, which included being exposed to some fascinating retail opportunities for geriatric diapers, I’ve started to slam the doors like a character from GTA Vice City.
The Megane RS280 is so much fun that after a while, you just won’t care that strangers will think you’ve lost control of your bladder function. Instead, you’ll look for opportunities to drive it on the twistiest roads you can find. So far this month, it’s been to the top of Lake Mountain twice, Mount Baw Baw once and deep into the forests north of Noojee on another occasion. Reefton Spur, the Black Spur, Split Rock Road – I’ve been unable to resist the lure of some seriously tortuous tarmac. That’s exactly what a great hot hatch should do. It should render you freewayphobic, instead of longing for that weighing up of the wheel, the feel of the front end keying into the bitumen and the sound of exhaust crackle on the overrun. The Megane delivers that in spades, and for that it’s forgiven any petty peccadilloes. As AVO006 heads off after a month in its absolute element, I’m keen to see whether three pedals and a stick will prove quite so immersive. Check back next month. Renault Megane RS280 EDC Price as tested: $50.180 By ANDY ENRIGHT Instagram, Twitter, Facebook @wheelsaustralia
Hyundai i30 n TCR race car I THINK I’m about to lose feeling in my right leg. I’ve been strapped into one of only three Hyundaii30 N TCR cars in the country and the belt of the racing harness pressing me into the seat feels like a hot iron as it pinches my flesh. I try to hide the pain spreading through my thigh like a flash flood as the engine fires into life, and the door is closed with a solid THUNK.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The reason why circulation is being cut off in my leg is because I’ve convinced HMO Customer Racing to allow me behind the wheel of its box-fresh race car which is based on our hot hatch benchmark, the Hyundai i30 N. Handy, then, that I’ve brought along a road car to join in on the day’s antics. TOURING car fans of a certain vintage will understandably be skeptical about the introduction of TCR, which harks back to the touring car wars of the 1990s. During that tumultuous time, tin-top racing was divided into two distinct camps, with Super Tourers trying to use European manufacturing might uproot the V8 muscle of the ATCC. Ultimately, it was the ATCC that won out, clearing a path for the local domination of what we now know as Supercars. While the key plot points have returned in 2019, the players involved this time around are eager to avoid history repeating, on the surface at least.
TCR stands for, rather literally, Touring Car Racing, and is the brainchild of Italian Marcello Lotti, who also founded the World Touring Car Championship. While he may have taken naming lessons from Australian colonizers, Lotti is thought of as a tin-top racing management genius in Europe. He and his right-hand man, Nunzia Corvino, were let go from WTCC following a ‘difference of opinion’ with the commercial rights holder on how the category should be run. Lotti’s latest creation has boomed since its inaugural season in 2015, replacing the WTCC in 2017, and invading Aussie shores in a seven-round championship for this year. The formula for TCR is simple, with C-segment hatchbacks (and some sedans) the basis for each racer. Starting life as a production chassis, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot sends power to the front wheels via either a production-based or bespoke racing gearbox (the former receive weigh concessions). The homologated cars are built by manufacturers and sold to teams and are subject to Balance of Performance testing similar to GT3 racers. The rule book specifically outlaws outright factory entries.
Australian Racing Group (ARG) has been anointed by CAMS to control the commercial and promotional rights to TCR in Australia. ARG is managed by Matt Braid, who was formerly managing director of Volvo Cars Australia and of Supercars. Former Supercars CEO James Warburton joined ARG earlier this year as a non-executive director, adding extra clout to ARG as a category manager, which is also launching the new retro-inspired S5000 open-wheel category. While Braid is quick to note that TCR doesn’t have ambitions to become a Supercars rival, it’s clear the arrival of the booming series has Australia’s biggest category worried. It’s alleged that pressure has been applied internally at Supercars to prevent star drivers dabbling in the new series, and TCR has been blacklisted as a support category at some of the country’s biggest events.
A total of 17 TCR cars from eight manufacturers are in Australia, with plenty of familiar names running teams and performing driving duties. Garry Rogers Motorsport has a four-car outfit, likewise Kelly Racing. Supercars veteran Jason Bright has started a team, and rally ace Molly Taylor has been lured from dirt to tarmac to compete in a Subaru. All too often new categories in Australian motorsport are overhyped or underfunded, resulting in disappointingly short half-lives. It seems TCR, with the experienced heads of ARG at the helm, is doing its best to become a legitimate staple of the local racing fan’s diet, inking a free-to-air TV deal which dovetails with live streaming, while becoming the main feature at Shannons Nationals events. BEFORE I’m unleashed in the TCR car, it’s time to take the Hyundai i30 N road car for a spin on the track, and there’s a 911-shaped twist. A number of Porsche Carrera Cup teams are also testing at Wakefield today, meaning I’ll need to keep an eye on the mirror to ensure I don’t return the car to Hyundai’s head office with a Porsche badge embossed on the back bumper.
Everything needed to turn an i30 into a TCR racer is from the official Hyundai parts catalog, including the polycarbonate screen Hyundai Australia’s official N tech guru Geoff Fear got wind of our plans and has snuck into the garage to watch. He recommends winding all the i30’s drivetrain settings to kill but keeping the suspension in its softest mode. He says the extra compliance will allow the car to roll onto its outer tire, and get the rubber to ‘hook up’ easier. Fear has overseen countless development and testing miles of the i30N at this very track, so I’m not about to ignore his advice. On the road, the i30N is one of the most accessible and fun performance cars around. I’ve felt more comfortable pushing the Korean hot hatch on public roads than something like a GT-R Nismo. However, when presented with a race track the secret to a quick lap is patience.
On the relatively tight Wakefield Park, the i30 N is a hoot, however like any front-drive hatch speed management is vital to managing the grip on offer. It’s easy to barrel into a corner with more velocity than the front treads are prepared to deal with. While it’s no porker, the i30 N road car’s 1429kg is much more apparent on the track. Brakes and tires are punished and past their best after only a handful of laps. Though Hyundai’s five-year warranty for the i30 N covers track use, the car was never intended to suffer extended circuit abuse, so it’s time to give it a breather, peel into pit lane and squeeze into some Nomex.
ALTHOUGH it starts life as a basic i30 body-in-white, it’s clear the TCR version is a much tougher beast. A lowered ride height plus the foursquare stance of flared arches cut an intimidating figure even in the stark white paint used for testing. Each wheel is shod with 18x10-inch slick Michelins but unfortunately, there are no tire warmers on hand for the day, so the responsibility for getting the rubber up to working temperature is all mine. “Don’t worry about weaving, your best friend heating up the tires will be the brake pedal. Just slam it,” is the advice given by Nathan Morcom, the car’s regular pilot, before sending me out on the track. With visions of spearing off at the first turn running through my mind, I spend my initial lap heeding Morcom’s instruction. Accelerate. Brake. Accelerate. Brake. Gentle at first, but then with increasing ferocity.
The monotonous process allows me to recalibrate my brain to the brake-pedal force needed to maximize the TCR car’s stopping power. Discs are enormous: 380mm ventilated steel units up front, clasped by four-piston calipers, while the solid rear discs are 25 percent smaller at 278mm. Morcom, who spent two seasons in Super2 after winning the Australian GT Endurance Championship, likens the TCR car’s braking ability to that of our home-grown Supercars. As my confidence builds, more committed braking attempts require almost all the force I can muster through my leg. Even with the belts fastened to make it feel like my ribs are cracking, a forceful stop is like the hand of God slapping me on the back, forcing me forward in the seat. Even my most ambitious stomping of the brake pedal can’t cause the front tires to lock, even despite no ABS.
It’s on my third lap of the Wakefield circuit I realize that something is a bit ... off. While there’s nothing mechanically wrong with the car, there’s something my brain can’t quite comprehend. Aren’t race cars meant to be fearsome beasts, ready to bite your head off and spit you out at the smallest provocation, and tamed only by an elite few with rare talent? It seems that cliché doesn’t apply to Hyundai’s racer, which is encouraging me to push harder and carry more speed. There’s no traction control – this is still a proper racer – but the car supports you in the pursuit of speed, instead of fighting it. Even with 257kW and 460Nm, thanks to a larger turbo, beefier internals, and a racing ECU, Hyundai’s TCR car is never going to win a power war, but it’s a decent step up from the road car’s 202kW and 353Nm, and certainly potent enough to prompt the slick tires into wheel spin with a vicious prod of the accelerator.
A more progressive application sees the front-drive racer just grip and go. The front axle is more than capable of performing both power-delivery and steering duties thanks to the fitment of a more aggressive front differential, as the i30 shoots from the apex with no protest from the wheel. Steering the i30 TCR doesn’t require forearms like tree trunks, due to an electrically assisted rack and pinion set-up which, while mechanically similar to what is found in the road car, features a massive change to the steering ratio. Turn-in is almost neurotic, thanks in part to the ultra-quick rack – just a single turn lock-to-lock– meaning precision and finesse are essential when working the Alcantara-clad wheel. The powerful combination of slick rubber and clearly functional aerodynamics means the car is able to maintain mid-corner speeds the road variant could only dream of. The nose of the car darts towards apexes with manic intent, the large front splitter and rear wing keeping it hunkered down. In the transformation from the road to race, the i30 N’s suspension hard points and layout haven’t been changed, but the components are all beefed up. Under the front arches is a MacPherson strut set-up, with coil springs and gas-filled dampers (the team was testing both Öhlins and Supashock units on the day), while a four-arm multi-link axle combination underpins the rear. Gears in the six-speed Xtrac sequential are shifted without a clutch, using steering wheel-mounted paddles, each change of ratio accompanied by a sharp BANG from the exhaust.
It’s a hot day, so driving the TCR car is a punishing experience. Brilliant, but punishing. Just a couple laps in and I’m dripping with sweat. Time to hand back the reins, and ponder how Hyundai’s German engineers transformed a body-in-white road car chassis into a racer with the most genial attitude.
Acceleration claims are nothing exceptional in race-car terms, but it’s estimated a TCR car will crack 100km/h from a standstill in approximately 5.2 seconds thanks to a fiendishly complex launch process. Wheels performance-tested the i30 N road car last year, measuring a 6.4-second sprint to 100km/h. Over a single lap of Wakefield Park, with Nathan Morcom driving, there is a 10-second gap between the road car and racer. But perhaps more interestingly, a mere mortal like me is able to get closer to the professional benchmark in the TCR car than the road car. This largely comes down to the set-up of the TCR car, which just wants you to go faster, encouraging more commitment with every lap, where the road car fights back, waving that white flag named understeer when it isn’t treated with the finesse of a professional. When the data is downloaded from the car, it’s clear I’m not going to earn a race seat any time soon – Morcom is a full six seconds down the road from me. But for broader context, my best time after a handful of laps is on par with Warren Luff’s benchmark figure in a 997-gen Porsche 911 GT3. It’s all well and good letting a racing-crazed journo loose for a couple of laps, but the real test for the Hyundai i30 N TCR will be on the track, against a full field of competitors that are all frothing at the mouth in a rabid hunt for victory. As we went to print, HMO Customer Racing’s Will Brown had won two of the three races from the opening round of TCR Australia and nabbed a podium in the other. Not bad at all. Model Hyundai i30 N TCR Engine 1998cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo Max power 257kW @ 6600rpm Max torque 460Nm @ 3200rpm Transmission 6-speed Xtrac sequential L/W/W-B 4450/1950/2650mm Weight 1285kg (inc driver) 0-100km/h 5.2sec (estimated) Fuel economy 40.0L/100km (estimated) Price $250,000
WORDS CAMERON KIRBY PHOTOS THOMAS WIELECKI whichcar.com.au/wheels
Ferrari sf90 Stradale price UK SF90 STRADALE PRANCES STRAIGHT INTO RECORD BOOKS; SETS A BLUEPRINT FOR FERRARI’S BOLD HYBRID STRATEGY. HILE THE NEW
SF90 Stradale is the first plug-in hybrid Ferrari, it won’t be the last. Petrol-electric propulsion soon will be a staple of the prancing horse stable. “This is the [step]-off project for the new architecture,” Ferrari’s chief technology officer Michael Leiters revealed after the Stradale’s Maranello unveiling in late May. It would be the foundation for future mid-engine models, he said and contained little carry-over content from the company’s existing mid-engine 488 families.
Ferrari’s embrace of hybrid tech promises a new era of four-figure power outputs – at least for Europeans. The Stradale’s combined system output is 1000 metric horsepower. In the unit familiar to Australians, the number is 736kW, enough to vault the Stradale to the pinnacle of performance for a road-legal Ferrari. It has lapped the company’s Fiorano test track in exactly 79 seconds, eclipsing the LaFerrari supercar’s record of 79.70sec set in 2015. Acceleration claims are stunning: 0-100km/h in 2.5sec and 0-200km/h in 6.7sec. Top speed is 340km/h. Unlike the limited-edition LaFerrari, the Stradale will be part of Maranello’s regular line-up. Execs call it a “range supercar” and it will be priced as such.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale (Image: FERRARI)
“Despite being a supercar it will cost less than the LaFerrari [over US$1.4 million at launch in 2013],” said Enrico Galliera, Ferrari’s marketing chief. “And being a product in the range it will cost more than the 812,” he promised, referring to the company’s $610,000 V12-powered sports car. The Stradale is sure to wear a price tag of $1 million-plus when it arrives in Australia. Deliveries will begin in the first half of 2020. Globally, says Galliera, around 2000 customers have placed orders and there’s a long waiting list.
Flexible motors Add up the outputs of the SF90’s motors and you get more than the 162kW electric boost maximum claimed by Ferrari. The front-axle motors make 85kW each and the one between engine and gearbox 150kW. Problem is, the car can’t use it all. “This is due to the limitation of the battery,” tech chief Michael Leiter said. The good news? “This installation of about 320kW allows us to be very flexible in apportioning torque to the rear, or to the front, on the left, or on the right.” The SF90 Stradale blends overt visual drama and covert aerodynamic sophistication. Its two-section active rear spoiler that Ferrari describes as a “shut-off Gurney”. This patented design varies downforce according to a control logic that takes multiple factors into account.
The car’s interior also marks a great leap forward. Instruments appear on a slightly curved screen with resolution and clarity to rival Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. There’s a head-up display (about time), a new steering wheel design, and a between-the-seats gear-selection switch designed to evoke the open-gate manual pattern of Ferraris past. But it’s surely the powertrain, with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 at its heart, that contributes most to the SF90 Stradale’s allure. Though closely related to the F154 3.9-liter engine of the 488, its cylinder bore has been increased to 88mm and its combustion chambers redesigned. These and other alterations increase maximum power to 574kW at 7500rpm. “You can consider this engine is totally new,” said Leiters, not without justification.
Ferrari SF90 Stradale (Image: FERRARI)
The V8 is aided by three electric motors, the most powerful of which sits between the engine and the all-new eight-speed transmission. The reverse is electric-only. Identical electric motors power the front wheels, making the Stradale all-wheel drive and explaining its explosive off-the-line acceleration. The electric motors add 162kW. With eDrive selected, the Ferrari uses its front-mounted motors to drive up to 25km at speeds up to 135km/h. But twist the manettino to Qualify and it uses all three motors to the max, prioritizing performance above efficiency. “The peak power you can have only for a certain amount of seconds, but this duration of time is enough to do every racetrack in the world,” said Leiters. “The most challenging one maybe is the Nurburgring,” he said. “We have available the full power in Qualify mode all that time.” Cost around £400,000 by JOHN CAREY twitter@wheelsaustralia
Mercedes EQC cost UK ANOTHER electric SUV. Getting quite popular now, aren’t they? Though this one carries special significance. It’s the first model in an ambitious plan by Mercedes-Benz to launch 10 new EVs by the end of 2022 (three will be from Smart), at a cost of 10 billion euros. That’s billion, with a B. By that measure, this SUV promises to be the most significant new Mercedes-Benz of the year. Hell, maybe even the next decade. Dubbed EQC, this is our first chance to see what the world’s oldest car maker has in store for us as it squares up to take on Tesla and the growing hoard of similarly timed EV rivals from Jaguar, Audi, and BMW.
First impressions? It’s all very familiar. Parked in front of our hotel in Oslo, Norway, its sleek proportions are hauntingly similar to Merc’s existing mid-size SUV, the GLC. Only the blacked-out grille and the aero wheel design hint at the gravitas at play here. This is quite intentional. Unlike the radically styled Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X, the EQC isn’t a new-from-the-ground-up design. It shares much of its core DNA with the GLC, including its suspension hard points and 2873mm wheelbase. The two are even made in the same factory, on the same line, which gives Merc the freedom to scale EQC production up or down depending on demand.
Clever, right? Mercedes Australia UK is hinting the EQC will cost around $140,000 when it arrives here in October this year. That’s about $20K more than an equivalent I-Pace or Model X, though the Benz is more powerful than both. Combining an 80kWh battery with dual electric motors (one for each axle) results in outputs of 300kW and 760Nm. Prod the throttle and the rate of acceleration is ferocious. In fact, despite a portly 2495kg curb weight, the EQC is so sharp off the mark that it can nip into gaps in traffic that no conventionally powered SUV, with its comparatively glacial throttle response and time-sapping gearbox, could manage. Officially Benz claims the EQC will hit 0-100km/h in 5.1sec, though it feels faster than that. This is real push-you-into-your-seat kind of stuff.
It’s no sports car, however. Unusually, the suspension is a combination of conventional coil springs up front and air suspension out back (there are no adaptive dampers) and the set-up is biased towards comfort. I can’t recall having driven a softer Mercedes this side of an S-Class, so supply is the ride quality, even on standard 20-inch wheels. Aussie EQCs will be fitted with the optional AMG Line styling pack as standard, and customers can choose larger (and handsome) multi-spoke 21-inch hoops, but even here, the ride is relaxed and well controlled. The trade-off to this waftiness is that the EQC never feels as agile as a Jaguar I-Pace, which is also some 362kg lighter.
The Benz is more of a polished cruiser, which is a character trait only enhanced by steering that’s mute and remote. Perhaps the most engaging thing about the steering is found on the wheel itself. Traditional paddle shifters remain, but with no gears to cycle through, their task is to moderate regenerative braking. There are five settings to play with: D auto, D+ (for coasting), D low, D medium (about 30-35 percent regen) and D high (75-80 percent regen for one-pedal driving). It’s intuitive to use, with noticeable step-changes between each of the settings.
Range-wise, the EQC is officially in the same ballpark as its rivals with a WLTP claim of 374-417km. Our drive route saw consumption hover around 24kWh/100km, suggesting a real-world range of around 340km. Charge times vary between 40 minutes for an 85 percent fill (from 10 percent remaining) on a 100kW DC charger, to 11 hours on a home wall box. And unlike our experience with the I-Pace, the EQC’s predictive range software is reassuringly accurate, seeing us arrive at our destination with the prescribed amount of charge remaining.
There are five drive modes to choose from, including a new addition dubbed ‘Max Range’, which deploys a host of measures to eke out additional km. The most obvious change is felt through the throttle pedal, where haptic feedback is used to limit your speed. In fact, most of the EQC’s support systems are genuinely worthwhile. Owners can use an app to precondition their car, check to charge information, and set their destination in the sat-nav. If the EQC’s exterior styling is slightly derivative, things are more radical inside thanks to an all-new dash design, square air vents with rose gold detailing, and the inclusion of Merc’s twin 12.3-inch screen digital display.
It’s a luxurious place to sit and, as you’d expect, it’s eerily quiet. A two-layer system of rubber bushings is used to isolate the twin electric motors from the subframe and then the subframe to the vehicle, to improve NVH. And the wheel arches are lined with an acoustic shroud that cuts rolling noise by 7dB. Rear-seat packaging is superior to a Jaguar I-Pace, which is interesting given the Jag’s bespoke platform. And it’s here that we get to something of an EQC compromise. Sharing a platform with GLC means Mercedes hasn’t been able to fully exploit an EV’s packaging freedoms. There’s no frunk, for example, and the cabin space, while good, is no better than a regular GLC. In fact, the 500L boot is marginally smaller.
But there’s no escaping that the EQC is a remarkably convincing first salvo for Benz’s burgeoning EQ brand. This isn’t an outlandish SUV that requires vast degrees of readjustment, but one that’s polished, familiar, and likely to hit the sweet spot for Mercedes fans looking to embrace zero emissions By ALEX INWOOD / whichcar.com.au/wheels Model Mercedes-Benz EQC 400 Motor 2x asynchronous Max power 300kW Max torque 760Nm @ Orpm Transmission Single-speed reduction gear Weight 249kg 0-100k/h 5.1sec [claimed] Fuel economy 19.7-20.8kWh/100km Price $140.000 [estimated]
what car Volkswagen Eos review the Volkswagen Eos is a member of that select group of hatchback derived coupé-cabriolets that graced the noughties and included the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra, Peugeot 308 and Renault Mégane. Of them all, though, the Eos was the poshest, a status reflected in its higher price.
Fortunately, since production ceased in 2014, its prices have fallen to the extent that you can pick one up for around £700, although at that level you want to be sure the model’s temperamentalroof works. Prices peak at around £14,000 for a 2014-reg 2.0 TDI with 20,000 miles. That seems a lot for a car that is based on the old Golf Mk5 and went out of production 10 years ago, so we’d settle for something in between, such as a facelifted, 2011-reg 1.4 for around £7500.
The Eos was launched in 2006 and lauded for its spacious 2+2 cabin, roomy boot(at least until the folded roof occupied most of it) and good handling. However, the highest praise was reserved for stiff bodyshell and a metal-folding roof that incorporates a sliding sunroof. Buyers were never short of engines to choose from. From launch to that 2011 facelift mentioned earlier, there was a 113bhp 1.6 FSI(underpowered for the heavys), a 147bhp 2.0 FSI, a 197bhp 2.0T-FSI(one of the best and in Sport trim only) and a 3.2V6 producing 247bhp that makes a good, relaxed cruiser.
Note the emphasis on petrol engines there. The lone diesel was a 138bhp 2.0 TDI. The thing is if you want a good selection of petrols to choose from, a pre-facelifts is where to look because of the diesel didn’treally catch on. From the 2011 facelift, it was all change, with the market favoring the torquey 138bhp 2.0 TDI at the expense of the new 121bhp 1.4 TSI, the 158bhp 1.4 TSI with turbocharger and supercharger(it’s the most rounded) and the 208bhp 2.0 TSI from the Golf GTI. With the facelift, the Eos also acquired a simpler but smarter grille and a restyled bonnet and wings. At the back, the comical round tail-lights were given the heave-ho in favor of slimmer, more toned-down affairs. Versions with leather trim gained a new finish capable of reflecting the sun’s rays. The popularity of the diesel version after 2011 is a clue to the model’s appeal to business users, so check the one you’re looking at hasn’t been flogged and neglected. In any case, it’s a EU5 engine so subject to creeping emissions penalties and tougher MOT tests.
Really, you want to find one of the petrol models but avoid the earlier 1.6 FSI. And if you must have the DSG auto, ensure you opt for the facelift model, when the ’box was improved. (Earlier ones must have their oil changed every 40,000 miles or else.) Apologies for what follows… but find a good one and an Eos, the Greek goddess of dawn, could be the dawn of a new era in your motoring.
Bentley Bentayga max speed Engine and chassis upgrades bring Speed badging to the imperious off-roader At the beginning of last year, those interested in a superbly engineered but excruciatingly entitled Bentayga could choose either the W12 standard car or a V8 diesel version. Neither now exists, the diesel swept into the gutter by the broom employed to clean up the Volkswagen Group’s post-Dieselgate act, the W12 now replaced by this, the Bentayga Speed. There’s a Bentayga Hybrid too, featuring Bentley’s first V6 and its first six-cylinder motor in 60 years. More on that in a few weeks. Nowhere in the press blurb that accompanied the Speed’s Geneva launch does it say it ’s an ‘ instead of ’ rather than an ‘as well as’ but, it turns out, the old W12 Bentayga max slipped out of production a year ago. To me, a Bentley Speed model is an addition to a range, not a replacement, but apparently no longer.
Even so, all the hallmarks of a modern Bentley Speed model are here. Power is up, from 603bhp to 626bhp, and there’s a honed chassis tune, with a firmer suspension and new settings in a Sport mode that sharpens up the mapping for the engine, transmission and 48V active roll control system. Carbon-ceramic brakes are available as an option.
You’ ll notice the tail spoiler, which brings some presence but only while making an already ugly exterior uglier still. There are also smoked headlights, body-colored side skirts, 22in rims, a darkened grille and Speed badging. The interior has been turned into suede-fetishists delight, with all the Alcantara therein. It actually works really well, but if you don’t like it, Bentley will do yours with leather at no extra cost.
Talking of which, the can find for the defunct standard Bentayga and over £45,000 more than the most definitely extant V8. Bentayga max Speed costs £182,500, nearly £20,000 more than the last price I If you like this kind of car, and I concede that’s a fairly mighty ‘if ’, you will likely love the Bentley Bentayga max Speed.
Forget the claim that it’s the world’s fastest SUV unless you consider a top speed 0.62mph higher than that of a Lamborghini Urus a deal-sealer. Nor should you concern yourself with its 3.9sec 0-62mph run, because it’s a scant tenth quicker than the non-Speed Bentayga, which was plenty quick enough for a car weighing the same as a pair of base-spec VW Golfs.
Instead, feel the performance: yes, the Speed now only has the same engine as the non-Speed Continental GT has had all along (how confusing will that is when the actual Cont I Speed turns up?), but it’s a wonderful motor, with a thundering voice and a bellyful of torque. Bentley’s modern 12- cylinder engine is at last starting to acquire the same level of character as its ancient pushrod V8, and the Bentayga is all the better for it. The firmer suspension is all for the good, with no harm done to the Bentayga’s peachy ride. Some might prefer the additional degree of body control, too, given how much body there is in need of controlling. Bentley has settled for merely a slightly sporty feel, which fits well the character of both the car and the company. This is no sports car, yet it handles far better than anyone has a right to expect. If you’re not into big, expensive and luxurious SUVs not only will the Bentayga Speed fails to change your mind, but it will also likely entrench your position. If you are, however, be advised that you can judge for yourself the worst aspects of this car simply by looking at this page.
If you can face, or even like its appearance, and if you don’t mind driving a car called a Bentayga, the rest of the news is entirely good – apart, of course, when you have to drop another hundred quid’s worth of unleaded in it, which will be quite often. Of course, the Bentayga comes from the same stock as the Urus, Audi Q8, and Porsche Cayenne, but the virtue of a meal lies not only in its ingredients but also the skill of the chef. And the truth is this strong, silent, comfortable and cosseting big Bentley is as good an example of its art as exists out there at present. ANDREW FRANKEL
BMW Alpina xd3 awd BMW identification front and rear, and the whole thing roll on 22in wheels and ultra-low-profile tires. Actually, the standard wheels are the 20s, but given that radical wheels and tires are very much an Alpina trademark, which buyers wouldn’t pay the extra £1820 and opt for the Alpina Classic 22s? Especially when they’re wearing special Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 255/35s in front and 295/30s at the rear.
Differently sized tires front to rear is another part of the Alpina culture: they make great play of building cars that handle neutrally on the limit. In the leather-lined cabin, you’ll find Alpina-badged sports seats plus Alpina logos on the sill plates, fascia and steering wheel, and enough variation in trim colors and seat piping to convince you that you’re in something more bespoke than a mere well-equipped BMW. Alpina's brochure calls it “discreet hints to the XD3 Biturbo's provenance” – something akin to being discreetly hit over the head.
Still, it’s very comfortable, feels special and from the driver’s seat has a pleasant sense of roominess on the inside and reasonable compactness on the road. It also shares the standard X3’s advantage of having a particularly fine view over the bonnet, an interesting collection of planes and bumps that also helpfully define the extremities of the car in tight going.
Mechanically speaking, Alpina has done its usual, taking BMW’s 3.0-litre aluminum in-line twin-turbo six and ‘optimizing’ its induction system and cooling system, among other aspects, to conform to their time-honored recipe of providing an especially wide power spread. Maximum power of 32 8bhp is supported by 516lb ft, the latter delivered between 1750 and 2500rpm.
Put that lot through a ZF eight-speed automatic, support it with a Drive Performance Control that in its Sport setting electronically increases damper control and sharpens throttle response, bung it all through BMW’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system and you have a machine that can cope anywhere. It all comes together on the road. Despite a slightly ponderous throttle at low speeds, the XD3 feels extremely quick when it gets going. Overtaking slower traffic is simple, and the car feels quite compact when you’re doing it, a virtue that works well with the good visibility. The just-sub-supercar poke is well supported by a stable chassis that keeps the Alpina well and truly planted over typically lumpy British road surfaces and controls roll in corners taken hard.
There’s some trade-off in comfort over ripples and ruts, but not much. This is one of those cars that feels more natural and composed when driven in Sport mode all the time. With this much high-quality rubber on the road, and thus grip, it’s difficult to get close to the limit away from the track, but for road use, the Alpina engineers’ promise of neutral cornering seems to be well and truly delivered. The steering feels perfectly weighted – not too light – and has enough accuracy for the car to be placed easily in tight going. In all, Alpina’s XD3 feels sufficiently unique to claim the separate place in the car market claimed for it by its creators.
It is very obviously an enhanced BMW, but the special focus is there from the first mile. Those who must have an SUV for family or load reasons will find they need give away little in road ability to the best sports saloons. Which is Alpina’s whole point The XD3 isn’t the only SUV Alpina now offers, and nor is the effortless twin-turbo diesel tested adjacent the only engine fitted to that car. In certain markets, Germany included, the XD3 and a new take on the slope-roofed XD4 come with a special quad-turbo straight-six diesel, and though neither this engine nor the XD4 will be offered in the UK, we tried the combination on the country roads around Salzburg.
With 568lb ft served up well below 2000 rpm, this is an engine that rightly steals the headlines, and it moves the XD4’s two-tonne bulk down the road like a leaf in the wind, ultimately powering the car to a top speed just shy of 170mph. The combination of large, low-pressure turbos with another pair of smaller, high-pressure, variable-geometry turbos for the upper half of the rev-range results in easily accessible performance at any moment.
However, the real star quality is still to be found in body control and steering. Our brief drive was useful only for fleeting impressions, but Alpina’s reworking of the steering – now quicker off-center but also more natural and resolute in its action – and suspension geometry gives the driver confidence not only rare among SUVs but also equal to the car’s huge grip levels. I’m not sure any comparable car is easier to place. Thicker anti-roll bars and a 15mm drop in ride height give the XD4 body control on a par with Porsche’s Macan, and yet even on a set of 20in multi-spoke alloys, the ride quality lives up the luxury brief. A range of around 500 miles doesn’t hurt, either. The xDrive driveline also deserves mention. The torque split feels more rear-biased than that of the standard X4 and uses an electronic locking differential at the back, so the XD4 will power-oversteer quite happily but otherwise corners neutrally. Ultimately, of course, Alpina’s talents remain better deployed elsewhere in the range, and there won’t be many Autocar readers who wouldn’t rather own a B4 S Touring. So far, though, the XD models have brought in a useful degree of new business, and that will help bankroll the development of coupés and saloons.
Ferrari SF90 Technical Analysis The Ferrari SF90 Stradale – the brand’s fastest-accelerating and most technically advanced road car to date – has been revealed as the first in a series of electrified Ferraris. Described as a “milestone in Ferrari’s history” by company CEO Louis Camilleri, the new flagship model is the first series -production plug-in hybrid Ferrari, with more expected. It is the second of five new models to be presented this year in an “unprecedented” product rollout.
The SF90 name is taken from the firm’s latest Formula 1 car, and in turn, references the 90 years since Scuderia Ferrari was founded. Unlike the earlier LaFerrari hypercar, which also used a hybrid power train, the SF90’s production is only limited to the amount Ferrari can sell. No price has been revealed at the time of going to press, but expect a figure around the £400,000 mark.
The SF90 Stradale’s petrol-electric powertrain produces a combined output of 986bhp – the most of any road-going Ferrari yet built. At its heart is Ferrari’s familiar ‘F154’ twin-turbocharged V8, bored out from the 3902cc of the 488 Pista to 3990cc. The combustion, intake, and exhaust systems have been completely redesigned, and a new, 350bar direct fuel-injection system fitted, all of which contributes to an output of 769bhp from the V8 alone, with 590lb ft at 6000rpm.
The new engine design, which employs a smaller flywheel and has the turbo mounted lower down, results in a lower center of gravity, while the exhaust system is made from Inconel to save weight. Complementing the heavily revised V8 are three electric motors, two of which are mounted at the front and one at the rear, giving all-wheel-drive capability. All three generate a total output of 217bhp. They are powered by a relatively small 7.9kWh lithium-ion battery pack that gives the SF90 a 16-mile all-electric range running at up to 84mph. The battery can be charged either by plugging into a supplied wall box or using the engine as a generator. The petrol and electric power sources channel their reserves through a newly developed eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is smaller and lighter than Ferrari’s old seven-speed unit and promises greater efficiency and 30% faster shift times.
The SF90 Stradale has a claimed 0-62mph time of 2.5sec – a record for a road-going Ferrari. It takes 6.7sec to hit 124mph from rest, while top speed is 212mph. Ferrari says the car pulls out a 64m lead ahead of LaFerrari over just one lap of the firm’s 1.86-mile Fiorano test track. A steering wheel-mounted power mode selector, dubbed ‘eManettino’, can be cycled through four drive modes to keep the car running on electric power only for as long as possible, to balance the two power sources or, in Qualify mode, to provide maximum combined performance for a limited period. The car sits on a newly developed platform, with a multi-material chassis – a first for Ferrari – making use of aluminum and carbon fiber.
The result is a dry weight figure of 1570kg – around 315kg more than the LaFerrari, which makes use of a carbon fiber tub. Despite the reduction in weight, Ferrari claims 40% higher torsional rigidity than previous platforms. Extensive work on integrating the new power systems has resulted in a new electronic Slide Slip Control (eSSC) system. A brake-by-wire system also features, which Ferrari promises has as much felt like a traditional set-up while allowing the car to balance electric regeneration against traditional assistance.
Electronic torque vectoring manages power on the front axle, with Ferrari claiming that the combination of the technologies improves lap times while also allowing “drivers of all kinds” to “have fun behind the wheel”. The SF90 Stradale will be available in two body styles: the ‘standard’ car and an optional Asset Fiorano package, swapping day-to-day comfort for track pace. It features at taller rear spoiler for increased downforce, a more stripped-out cabin and bespoke carbon fiber detailing, which results in a further 30kg weight reduction. Shorter overhangs have created a cab-forward layout said to emphasize the SF90’s mid-engined look and feel. The cabin area is 20mm lower than those of previous Ferraris, while the bubble-shaped design features larger rear flying buttresses – a classic Ferrari design cue. Slim C-shaped headlights now use matrix LED technology, while the exhaust is mounted centrally and high up on the rear profile.
Ferrari says the SF90 Stradale is “ the new benchmark for downforce and efficiency in high-performance road cars”. The claimed headline figure is 390kg of downforce at 155mph – 30kg more than the LaFerrari.
A stand-out bodywork feature, dubbed the ‘shut-off Gurney’, forms part of the rear spoiler. The mobile device is lowered towards the body in high-downforce conditions in order to create a different flow of air over the rear section. As with the rest of the car, the SF90’s cabin is totally new. The dashboard is dominated by a redesigned interface and a super-sized 16in curved digital instrument cluster. Most functions are controlled from here, with only a handful of touch-sensitive buttons either side of the wheel for climate and driver assist functions.
A head-up display has been added, but it’s the new steering wheel that is most significant. Ferrari says that 80% of the car’s functions can be controlled from here for “eyes-on-the-road, hands-on the-wheel” safety. First deliveries of the SF90 Stradale will be in Italy are tipped to begin in the first a quarter of next year. LAWRENCE ALLAN