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The Departed: 10 Cars That Have Been Discontinued For 2018

2017 has been an eventful year for the auto industry. It’s also been a devastating one for some models, particularly those that were effectively told by their automakers that they’re discontinuing them. Cars come and go in this ever-evolving industry and, this year, a few notable models are, in fact, getting sent to retirement. There’s a chance that we may see them again in the future, but as far as the short-term is concerned, it’s time to say goodbye to them. So ahead of their eventual discontinuation, we’re giving them one last moment in the spotlight. Consider it a tribute to these models, some of whom have etched an inscrutable legacy in the auto industry. They may have been popular makes at one point in the past, but with consumer tastes changing, they’ve become expendable in the eyes of their automakers. So say goodbye to these four-wheeled machines; each of them had good runs. But time is unforgiving; it marches on with no conscience of who, or what, it leaves behind. Those who can’t keep up will inevitably become remnants of a time gone by. Continue after the jump to read the full story.Hyundai Azera There once was a time when the Hyundai Azera was regarded as Hyundai’s flagship model in the US. That status changed when the Hyundai Genesis arrived. Still, the Azera made for a decent full-sized sedan. It didn’t lack in features, had a relatively comfortable ride, and came with a price - $35,000 - that didn’t burn holes in our pockets. Still, the Azera was overshadowed by the mid-size Sonata and Hyundai’s decision to turn Genesis into its own luxury brand. Simply put, the Azera became expendable, and while it will live on in other markets as the Hyundai Grandeur, its days in the US are coming to an end. Read our full review on the 2017 Hyundai Azera. Jeep Patriot It is somewhat ironic to find a Jeep in this list, especially when you consider that the brand is one of FCA’s legitimate money-makers. But such is life in the auto industry as even the best automakers aren’t susceptible to making hard decisions like this one. For the record, the Jeep Patriot was actually discontinued in 2016, but since a handful of models were still sold this year, we’re including it in our list of cars that we won’t get to see once the calendar flips to 2018. It’s hard to point to one reason why the Patriot wasn’t as good as Jeep hoped it’d be. Maybe it was because the company took shortcuts in developing it and was seemingly content with selling it because it was affordable. Maybe it even relied too much on the “Jeep” name to help mask the Patriot’s many deficiencies. Whatever it was, Jeep finally came to its senses and decided to replace it with the all-new Compass. The jury is still out on how the second-generation Compass will be received, but it speaks to how terrible the Patriot was that Jeep decided to replace it altogether with a model whose first-gen version was every bit a slog as the Patriot was. In any event, good riddance, Jeep Patriot. You won’t be missed. Read our full review on the 2017 Jeep Patriot. Chrysler 200 Here’s another model that’s technically been dead since 2016. The Chrysler 200 is on this list only because Chrysler had to discard however many models were left this year. That won’t be the case in 2018 because believe it or not, Chrysler will have only two models on its portfolio, one of which is the 300 sedan that’s also dying to get replaced. You have to feel bad for the Pacifica minivan. You just have to. Not only is it the only Chrysler model that’s worth spending on, but there’s literally no other model around to complement it. The 200 should’ve been that model when it was introduced in 2015. But the supposed cornerstone never got any traction in the eyes of consumers. It generated poor reviews that affected its sales volume and, to Chrysler’s credit, it was quick to throw up its hands and admit that the 200 was a monumental debacle. It definitely won’t be missed. Read our full review on the 2017 Chrysler 200 Volkswagen Touareg Once upon a time, the Volkswagen Touareg was regarded as one of the first upscale SUVs to really make its mark in the SUV market. It was stylish, sporty, and proudly carried the Volkswagen badge that was a pretty big deal for American consumers. The thing is that 13 years, and hundreds of more SUV options later, the Touareg is being sent to the shed, though not really of its own doing. The model still had some loyalists, but not enough for Volkswagen to keep it in the fold. Instead, the Touareg will be replaced by the all-new Volkswagen Atlas, a model that’s not only larger than the model it’s replacing but also packs more features that play into the needs of American families. The Touareg had a good run, but its time is up. Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Touareg Volkswagen CC Since we’re already talking about retiring Volskwagens, let’s stay here and turn our attention on the CC four-door coupe. I was actually torn about the fate of the CC when Volkswagen announced that it was discontinuing it. I liked the way it looked, and I’ve driven it enough to know that it actually had a good ride to it. But the CC suffered from the same disease that the Hyundai Azera did: it was completely overshadowed by a far more popular model. In the CC’s case, the culprit was the Volkswagen Passat, arguably one of the most popular sedans in the U.S. today. It says a lot about the CC’s struggling state of affairs that the Passat actually out-sold it by a staggering 40:1 ratio. That means that for every one CC that Volskwagen sold, it sold 40 Passat models. If that doesn’t explain why the CC is headed to retirement, I don’t know what will. Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen CC. Chevrolet SS As the only car on this list with Australian roots, I do believe that the Chevrolet SS never got the traction it needed to really gain a strong foothold in the US market. It only arrived in the US in 2014 after carving up a quite a career Down Under as the Holden Commodore SS. It may not have been the easiest car to look out, but the SS was every bit the performance maven that it was hyped up to be. The only problem was that the hype it generated faded about as fast as it rose and before the SS could even establish itself in American soil, sales of the model never caught on. Chevy ultimately decided to cut its losses on the model, even if it probably never even gave it a chance to grow in the first place. Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet SS. Buick Verano The fate of the Buick Verano is an interesting case on how the popularity of the SUV market has affected other segments. The Verano is, for all intents and purposes, an entry-level luxury car. It’s a decent model too, unassuming in its looks, yet had a good comfort level to it that was spoke to what Buick was all about. The thing is, the market for compact sedans has been steadily dwindling as more consumers turn towards crossovers and SUVs. A lot of models have been affected by this, including the Verano, which somehow found itself getting usurped by a model in its own family - the Encore - that also happens to be one of the most sought-after crossovers in the U.S. today. Read our full review on the 2017 Buick Verano. Infiniti QX70 In some ways, the Jeep Patriot proved that even crossovers and SUVs aren’t immune to getting axed. The Infiniti QX70 falls along those same lines, even though the reputation for both models couldn’t have been more different. Unlike the Patriot, the QX70 was actually a popular model at one point its life. It was also a ground-breaking luxury crossover that was one of the first of its kind to highlight curvy styling in a car of its size. But like everything else that has been around for quite some time, sales of the QX70 dropped in recent years, forcing Infiniti to abandon the crossover and replace it with a redesigned QX50. It’s unclear if we’ll ever see the QX70 again, but with crossovers and SUVs still gaining in popularity, I wouldn’t close the door on this model from making a comeback. Just don’t expect it to happen anytime in the near future. Read our full review on the 2017 Infiniti QX70 Mitsubishi Lancer Without question the most popular Mitsubishi model in history, the Lancer has been a standard-bearer for the automaker’s compact car exploits in the US since 2002. But unlike the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic, the Lancer never quite reached the level of popularity that its two big rivals managed to achieve. It certainly didn’t help that the Lancer was in part stigmatized by a good part of the population as coming from a perceived-to-be inferior automaker. Clearly, Mitsubishi could’ve done more for the Lancer than sit on the popularity of the Evolution performance line. But it didn’t do enough and, while the Lancer did last for as long as it could, it quickly became another victim of the SUV uprising. For all of its faults, Mitsubishi is doing the right thing by focusing more on its crossovers and SUVs. I just wish that it didn’t do it at the expense of the Lancer. Read our full review on the 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer Dodge Viper In case you haven’t realized yet, I saved the most devastating departure for last. What else is there to say about the cultural impact of the Dodge Viper? It’s arguably the most famous American-made sports car in history. It’s also the model that changed Chrysler’s fortune when it made its debut in 1992. Long thought of to be a purveyor of dullness, the introduction of the Viper flipped the narrative around Chrysler. It certainly put the automaker in the American performance car map opposite Ford and Chevrolet. But as iconic as the Viper was, is, and will continue to be, it never really reached the heights of popularity that the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro attained. It did have a loyal fanbase to fall back on, but over the years, that fanbase never grew to become something that Chrysler could listen to. It didn’t help that the Viper had its own tumultuous life, changing corporate ownership on two separate occasions and even getting discontinued in 2010. It did come back with a vengeance in 2012, but it seemed that its “return” was nothing more than Chrysler’s attempt to squeeze out the last drop of cache the model had. There have been a lot of cars that have been retired in recent years and all the same; there will be more of them that will be canned in the future. But there will only be one Dodge Viper. Read our full review on the 2017 Dodge Viper.

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Tesla Debuts New Semi Truck

Tesla just unveiled the next major undertaking in its ongoing mission to bring electric motivation to every corner of the transportation universe. This time around, the California-based automaker is targeting semi trucks, revealing its brand-new vehicle at a special event in Los Angeles. Tesla’s aim is to not only make the job of truck driving easier, but also make it less expensive to move cargo while also increasing safety. Of course, Tesla’s various models are well known for their high-performance, and the new semi is no different. It’s got a total of four independent electric motors, and can go 0-to-60 mph in 5 seconds without a trailer. With a full 80,000-pound payload, the semi can hit 60 mph in just 20 seconds, while also climbing a 5-percent grade at 65 mph. Heading downhill, the onboard regenerative braking can covert 98 percent of the kinetic energy back into juice for the battery pack, yielding “infinite” brake life. Most importantly, Tesla says it’ll go 500 miles per charge with a full payload at highway speeds, which means this thing is ready to roll. Almost, at least. Tesla is taking reservations now at $5,000 a pop, with production scheduled to kick off in 2019. Read on for more details. Continue reading to learn more about the Tesla semi truck.What’s It Like To Drive? In a word – easy. For starters, there’s only one gear, which means no shifting to deal with. The cabin itself was designed around a central seating position for the driver, with dual touchscreen displays on either side of the seat for navigation info, blind spot monitors, and data logging. There’s also independent suspension to keep it comfortable. A bevy of connectivity features are included as well, all built-in seamlessly with the truck’s onboard systems. How Safe Is It? Very. Tesla promises a “massive increase in safety” with its semi, starting with a lower chance of rollover thanks to its low-mounted battery pack and low center of gravity. The windshield is so impact-resistant, Musk quipped it’s thermonuclear bomb proof. Jackknifing prevention is provided by the four independent motors, which can detect it and stop it before it happens thanks to individual torque and brake application. There’s also an around-view camera system that will automatically alert the driver to hazards, plus enhanced autopilot features like automatic emergency braking, automatic lane keeping, and lane departure warning. Is It Reliable? Making sure its semi stays on the road was one of Tesla’s primary concerns, and the automaker is promising up to 1 million miles before a breakdown. Preventative maintenance is anticipated with the onboard app, and there should be relatively low upkeep thanks to a dearth of moving parts. What About Cost? While a final price tag has yet to be revealed, the Tesla semi does promise a variety of savings over a traditional diesel semi. For example, Tesla says its semi will bring savings of $200,000 in just fuel costs over a 1-million mile period, possibly even beating the economics of train freight.

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Tesla Makes Surprise Debut Of Next-Gen Roadster

Following the debut of its new semi truck, Tesla dropped a bombshell with the surprise reveal of its second-generation Roadster. The specs on this thing are simply outlandish – 0-to-60 mph in 1.9 seconds, which would make it the first production car to break the 2-second barrier in the test. The sprint to 100 mph will take 4.2 seconds, while the quarter mile is dispatched in 8.9 seconds. Top speed is rated at over 250 mph. Torque output comes to a mind-bending 10,000 Nm (that’s 7,376 pound-feet, by the way). This thing is a world-beater in every single sense, capable of setting multiple world records, and Musk knows it, quipping that the new Roadster is basically a “hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars,” and that after driving the Roadster 2.0, internal combustion would feel like “a steam engine with a side of quiche.” No kidding. Not only do the acceleration specs blow away the current crop of dino juice sports cars, but the new Tesla Roadster also has the stamina to back its insane performance. Packing a 200-kWh battery and three motors (yep, its AWD), range-per-charge is an astonishing 620 miles on the highway, which means it would have the most range of any production electric car ever made. Throw in the 2+2 seating arrangement and some decent storage (frunk for the win?), and you can bet the big makes are feeling the heat right about now. And oh yeah, it also looks fantastic, rocking a targa top for extra headroom if you want it. The cherry on top? This is the base model, which means more range and more speed are on the way. Availability for the second-gen Tesla Roadster is scheduled for 2020. Pricing will be around $200,000, although the first 1,000 units will be dubbed the Founder series and will cost at least $250,000. Reservations are open now, with a $50,000 deposit required for the standard model and the full $250,000 required to reserve a unit from the Founder series.

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  • Ford F-150 VelociRaptor 6x6 by Hennessey Performance

    How do you make a Ford F-150 Raptor any more awesome? Hennessey Performance has a great answer – stick an extra axle under an elongated cargo bed then add 150 horsepower. Hennessey is no stranger to making outlandish vehicles with insane levels of power. The Texas-based tuner has done several Raptor upgrades before, and naturally, their bread-n-butter is adding more horsepower to stock vehicles. But this marks the first time a 6x6 configuration has been involved. Mercedes started the 6x6 trend in 2013 with the G63 6x6. Since then, a handful of aftermarket companies have followed those tracks. The idea behind the 6x6 setup is added traction, better payload and towing capacities, and shear badassery. One look at the G63 6x6 or the Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6 confirms that. Hennessey can’t confirm how well the VelociRaptor 6x6 handles in the dirt, however. The first example already has customer money on the hood. It’s also the same truck Hennessey took to the 2017 SEMA show. With SEMA over, Hennessey had only a few days to ship the truck to its owner in Florida. Want to know more? Keep reading for details on the VelociRaptor 6x6.What makes the 2018 Ford F-150 VelociRaptor 6x6 by Hennessey Performance special 6x6 configuration with added rear axle Lengthened cargo bed Special rear leaf-spring & 4-link suspension Larger Fox Racing shocks 20-inch wheels All-terrain tires Hennessey front & rear bumpers LED off-road lights "It goes without saying the 6x6 portion of this build is the focal point" It goes without saying the 6x6 portion of this build is the focal point. Hennessey achieved this by extending the F-150’s frame to accommodate another full axle and set of tires. The factory rear axle was moved rearward and a custom axle and pass-through differential rides ahead. That pass-through diff allows rotational power to turn its ring gear and the driveshaft that connects to the second rear differential. It’s a similar setup to an 18-wheeler. The big-rig inspiration continues with the suspension system. A lengthened leaf spring pack spans between the axles and is mounted on a bar to the outside of the frame rails. A four-link setup locates each rear axle. Upgrade Fox Racing shocks similar to the Raptor’s stock shocks control the bounce of the one-off suspension system. To match the rear suspension, the independent front suspension was lifted for longer travel and higher ground clearance. Upgraded shocks are here too. "Hennessey says the 6x6 conversion adds roughly 700 pounds to the Raptor’s curb weight, but the extra boost makes the 6x6 quicker than the stock truck" Hennessey couldn’t leave the Raptor’s high-output 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 alone, either. The engine normally makes 450 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque, which are very healthy numbers for a small-displacement V-6 with a factory warranty. Hennessey already had its VelociRaptor 600 package developed for the Raptor, so the kit is added to the 6x6. The engine upgrade includes a high-flow intake, a modified wastegate system, an air-to-air intercooler upgrade, a cat-back exhaust system, and a recalibration of the ECU. The result is 600 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 622 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Hennessey says the 6x6 conversion adds roughly 700 pounds to the Raptor’s curb weight, but the extra boost makes the 6x6 quicker than the stock truck. The sprint to 60 mph is said to happen in 4.9 seconds. "Hennessey is only building 100 examples for 2018" Other modifications include custom front and rear bumpers, LED off-road lights, 20-inch wheels with Toyo Open Country R/T tires, a bed-mounted roll bar, and VelociRaptor 6x6 graphics on the door, fender, and tailgate. Inside, Hennessey will customize the interior to customer tastes, but the standard upgrade includes a numbered plaque with the vehicle’s build number. Hennessey is only building 100 examples for 2018. The allotment is split 50-50, with half staying in the U.S. and half offered to customers around the world. Don’t expect to see a VelociRaptor 6x6 in the crowded streets of downtown London, but rather climbing up the sand dunes of the United Arab Emirates. Those folks in Dubai really love extravagant, over-the-top vehicles, after all. Paying for the 2018 VelociRaptor 6x6 takes Oil Sheik money, too. Pricing starts at $349,000 and goes up from there, depending on what options a customer adds. So, what do you think? Would you drive a six-wheeled mega Raptor or is it too much vehicle for you to handle? Let us know in the comments below. ReferencesFord F-150 Read our full review on the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor.

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    Kia Stinger

    When Korean manufacturers like Hyundai and Kia came to the U.S., they were fighting an uphill battle against American, Japanese, and German cars that were often regarded as having nicer materials and better build quality, among other things. Fast forward to today, and Hyundai has spawned its own performance/luxury brand called Genesis and Kia has finally jumped on the bandwagon with a premium and performance-based fastback that is derived from the GT Concept. Going by the name Stinger, it’s set to bring some insanely stiff competition to German rivals like the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback, among others. At Launch, it will be available with a 255-horsepower four-banger or a 3.3-liter, Biturbo, V-6 with some 365 ponies on tap. But, that’s not all. It’s extremely spacious with a longer wheelbase than that of other competitors like the Lexus GS, and even the Infinity Q50 while the chassis itself is composed of 55 percent high-strength steel for superior stiffness and excellent ride handling. Inside, it offers high levels of comfort and an absolutely striking design with technology that rivals that of high-end models way outside the Stingers expected price range. Those two engines I just mentioned, well there’s already word of a diesel powertrain being available for European customers. And, while it hasn’t been officially planned or confirmed, interviews with Albert Beirmann – the Executive VP of Vehicle Testing and High-Performance Development for Kia – has said that there have been talks of electrification, a move that could pit the Stinger against the likes of the Tesla Model 3 or even the Model S, depending on how much electric muscle Kia can come up with. Beyond that, the Stinger is said to be able to handle much more power than that offered by that Biturbo 3.3-liter, so an even brighter future could be on the horizon for Kia’s new halo car. But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself as we already have a lot to talk about, and the Stinger isn’t scheduled to hit showrooms until later on in 2017. So, grab a beverage and join me farther down the page to see what the Stinger will offer when the order books officially open. Update 11/16/2017: Kia has announced pricing for the 2018 Kia Stinger just weeks before it rolls into dealers. Pricing starts at an exceptionally low $31,900, nearly $10,000 less than its main competition. Check out the pricing section below to learn all about it. Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Kia GT.Exterior Revised “Tigernose’ grille Functional air dam Fastback like design w Large panoramic glass panel up front A refreshing design from the Korean Automaker Rivals the look of cars like the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5 with Elegance "I was kind of expecting the Stinger to be a modified version of the latest Optima or Cadenza, but boy was I wrong." When I arrived in Detroit on the first day of the Detroit Auto Show, the No. 1 car that was on my list was the Kia Stinger, and boy was I surprised when I got to Kia’s show floor. What did I see? Three different production Stingers that not only looked amazing but offered a little secretive nod to the U.S. with one finished in red, one in white, and one finished in a gorgeous blue. I was kind of expecting the Stinger to be a modified version of the latest Optima or Cadenza, but boy was I wrong. Of course, Kia still gave it that Tigernose grille, but it’s the best iteration that we’ve seen so far. Refined and chrome plated the grille defines the sporty nature of the new Stinger and is accented perfectly by that large, functional air dam down below and the deeply recessed vent on each corner. Moving farther up the front clip, it’s hard not to notice the unique headlights with double LED running lamps and the tightest fit to the body of anything its German rivals offer at this time. But, it’s the little details that really add to the car’s overall appearance. After all, look at the weird arrangement of dots on the bottom of the headlamp lens, or that vertical chrome stripe inside the corner air vents – it’s all about attention to detail, and Kia nailed it. The most interesting thing about the front is that Kia opted for a smooth hood, with mildly muscular lines on the fenders and front fascia – something that’s somewhat unique in this segment. Those hood vents look really nice, but don’t be fooled; they aren’t in any way functional from what I could tell. Upon opening the hood, you’ll notice they are covered up underneath. "For the most part, the side profile is smooth, but if you look closely, you’ll see a very light body line running from the corner of the headlight all the way to the rear, crossing the doors just above the door handles" Moving on to the side profile, you’ll find that the name of the game was elegance and style as opposed to aggressiveness or muscularity. For the most part, the side profile is smooth, but if you look closely, you’ll see a very light body line running from the corner of the headlight all the way to the rear, crossing the doors just above the door handles. The windows get chrome trim that matches the vent ahead of the front door, while the mirrors match the door trim between the two side windows. Finally, there’s another mild body line at the bottom of the doors that feeds from that front vent and disappears into the side skirt ahead of the rear wheels. What really emphasizes the car’s sporty characteristics, however, is the large glass roof above the front seats and that downward slope above the rear seats that gives the Stinger the fastback look. A smaller corner vent adds just a little more character on the side of the rear fascia, and those unique wheels with their five split spokes offer a path of view to those Brembo performance brake calipers. Nice! Around back, the sexy hits just keep on coming. The thin and sleek taillights reside primarily in the rear quarters, however, the LED strip on the hatch offers a visual connection between the wo. The lower corners of the taillights wrap around the rear quarters to provide a rectangular side marker on each side – yet another unique feature. The rear quarts and rear hatch and a slight upward swoop to create a built-in lip of sorts. Down below, there’s a mild line that runs the width of the rear fascia, but what’s more important is the massive, full-width insert at the bottom that houses the twin, dual exhaust outlets and offers up a diffuser-like look in the middle. "The exterior look of the Stinger just goes to show what kind of talent Kia has required over the years" All told, the exterior look of the Stinger just goes to show what kind of talent Kia has required over the years. It proves that a brand can step away from the boring, lackluster designs that made it a go-to for affordable but dependable vehicles and jump in the ring with the big boys. The design is well thought out and strategic in every sense, based on looks alone, the German three – as well as other premium and luxury manufacturers – have a lot to worry about in coming years. Exterior Dimensions Wheelbase (Inches) 114.4 Length (Inches) 190.2 Width (Inches) 73.6 Height (Inches) 55.1 Track front/rear (Inches) 62.8/64.8 Beauty Is Only Skin Deep So, once the Stinger hits dealer showrooms, it will be the new kid on the block that has to battle extreme brand loyalty and models that have been established in the market long before the Stinger was even conceived. Kia has named a number of models that it considers competition, but the more prominent ones include the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and the Audi A5 Sportback. When it comes to the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe, it’s still in its first generation, being introduced as a 2014 model when BMW decided to split the 3 Series into two lineups. Be that as it may, the 4 Series will actually be nice and fresh when the Stinger goes on sale as it was just refreshed for the 2018 model year – something that might make it just a little harder for the Stinger to get a foothold in the market. In terms of exterior styling, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is sexy and stylish, and has more muscular definition than the Stinger. Up front, you’ll find that the hood has sharp and well-defined lines while the front fascia carries on with BMW’s typical aggressive design that makes use of a large, fake vent in each corner. The vents are larger than those on the stinger, while the air dam is smaller. The Bimmer does feature some chrome, but it’s nowhere near as flashy as the stinger. The same story holds true for the side profile where two distinct body lines add character and a less-noticeable fender vent resides between the front wheels and the front door. The side skirts of the Bimmer are also far more aggressive. In the rear, you’ll find the 4 Series is more defined, featuring aggressive styling on the rear fascia and a rear insert that sits in between. The upward swoop on the decklid provides a bit of downforce in the rear while the exhaust outlets sit closer to the center of the fascia than they do on the Kia. If you fancy yourself as an Audi person, you’ll find that Audi has made some pretty big strides in recent years to ditch the bland, boring designs of the past. The A5 is clear and uncut proof of that in many ways. It has a muscular front hood that features four sharp body lines, with the outside lines curving inward to terminate at the upper corners of the front grille. That grille, by the way, has evolved in recent years and is now thinner, wider, and flashy. The upper corner edges run almost parallel with the inner-most edges of the headlight units and, down below, you’ll find a pair of aggressive but fake air vents that serve as a permanent home for the fog lights, when properly equipped. Instead of having a wide-open air dam like the 4 Series and the stinger, Audi kept with a short nose with the corner vents linked together by a splitter like design. It’s actually unique in this segment (in a weird kind of way) and fairly pleasing to look at. To the sides, you’ll find that the headlights serve as a starting point for a somewhat wavy body line that curves slightly above each wheel well and runs between the door handles and waistline before terminating at the taillights. Down below a slanted body line that is positioned between the front and rear wheels helps give the illusion that the A5 as a slightly raked stance. The side skirts, are rather uneventful, and the A5 is the only one of the three that doesn’t have a vent or trim element on the front fenders. Around back, the rear quarters flare out a bit to give a muscular appearance, while sleek taillights sit below a tiny overhang that visually links the rear quarters and decklid together. Down below, the rear fascia has a few body lines that run the full width of the rear, but there is no massive insert or diffuser hear, just a single exhaust outlet, a pair of reflectors, and a small vent for a little extra character. If you’re motivated by looks alone, it’s going to boil down to how much you like aggressive looks. The Stinger, while fairly flashy is the least aggressive of the three, while the Bimmer and Audi bring significantly sharper lines and a more commanding presence. Both German models have been updated recently and will carry on through the end of the decade, as will the Stinger. Exterior Dimensions BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe Audi A5 Sportback Wheelbase (Inches) 110.6 111.18 Length (Inches) 182.6 186.33 Width (Inches) 71.9 72.55 Height (Inches) 54.7 54.56 Interior Luxurious interior far above any Kia that came before it Soft touch surfaces Instrument cluster includes oil temp, navigation, g-forces, and a lap timer Advanced HUD system Low-siting driver’s seat for more support Spacious rear seats unparalleled by BMW or Audi "When you sit down inside the Stinger, you’ll find yourself feeling an immediate and intense sensation of bliss as your mind goes into slight overload as you try to convince yourself that this is really a Kia" When you sit down inside the Stinger, you’ll find yourself feeling an immediate and intense sensation of bliss as your mind goes into slight overload as you try to convince yourself that this is really a Kia. Not that Kia hasn’t made drastic improvements to its interiors over the last 25 years (Kia Motors America came to be in 1992,) but there is much more going on here than anyone expected. First off, there are soft-touch surfaces everywhere including the entire dash and the door trim panels. The dash itself is elegantly designed with that slight overhang that casts a small shadow on the nose of the dash. Mixed HVAC vents keep things interesting with trio circular, eight-spoke vents in the center and almost rectangular vents in the corners. A bright trim strip runs from both sides of the dash’s face, leading the way to a small control panel that houses the hazard light switch as well as a few audio controls. Oddly, there isn’t a flat-bottom steering wheel here, but it’s sporty nonetheless and features red contrast stitching that matches the seats and door trim inserts. There are thumb control buttons on each side spoke, and the bottom spoke features a gloss black finish with the GT logo at the bottom. Ahead of the driver sits a semi-digital instrument cluster with two analog gauges that are outlined in metal trim to go with bright red needles. In between sits a wide TFT display that provides information like engine oil temperature, navigation, cornering G-forces, and lap times, but also serves as the home for the driver settings menu and onboard diagnostics system. Sitting just to the right, is a hint toward the Stingers German rivals with that large display that is perched prominently atop the center stack. And, you can’t see it in the pictures we have here, but there is also and advanced HUD system that is height adjustable and displays information on the windshield, including speed, navigation, audio settings, cruise control settings, and blind spot detection information. "The dash itself is elegantly designed with that slight overhang that casts a small shadow on the nose of the dash." Moving lower in the front of the cabin, you’ll find metal plated pedals and a metal plated foot rest. In the center, that tall transmission tunnel serves is covered up by that high-sitting center console that offers a central armrest with a storage pocket underneath to go with dual cup holders and a gear shifter that’s ergonomic, comfortable, and easy to use and understand. Further ahead is a smaller storage tray that offers wireless phone charging for smartphones with the capability. Sitting above that tray are the HVAC controls that are positioned for easy access from either front passenger. As you can see, the front seats offer amazing side support top and bottom and feature a nice stitching pattern. The models at the Detroit Auto Show were wrapped in the optional Napa leather, and while we don’t know what that option will cost yet, it’s definitely something you want to consider if you decide to give Kia’s new Halo car a chance. There is one thing here, that’s very important to know but isn’t really represented in any of the images here. The driver’s seat actually sits really low in the car, bringing the driver’s hip point significantly lower than that of the Stinger’s German rivals. This gives it a snugger and sportier feeling, and to test this theory I went straight from Kia to BMW and sat down in the new 5 Series – the difference was night and day. The seat was more comfortable and offered much more support in all of the right places. It was shocking and hard to believe, but if you don’t believe me, I suggest you take the test for yourself – you’ll be surprised as well. "The driver’s seat actually sits really low in the car, bringing the driver’s hip point significantly lower than that of the Stinger’s German rivals." Sitting in the rear of the Stinger is just as surprising as sitting up front. Of course, it’s void of anything like a rear infotainment system, but rear passengers do get their very own HVAC vents and controls to keep things kosher and a pair of power sockets to keep devices charged on those longer trips. What really caught my attention, however, was how spacious the rear of the cabin really was. Despite the sloping roof and fastback design, there’s more than enough headroom for anyone shorter than 6’4, while legroom can easily accommodate those of the taller persuasion as well. The doors even open wide to accommodate those with a larger frame. The rear seats offer support in all of the right places with an emphasis on the lower back and shoulder blades. While I couldn’t spend too long in the rear, I did find that the rear seats did ease the tension in my back – something you don’t normally find happening in the rear of a smaller sedan. The rearward tilt to the seat cushions help keep your legs in a comfortable position without hampering blood flow to the lower extremities. I know a lot of this might come off as PR talk to those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the Stinger in the metal yet, but I promise you it’s not. In the short time I spent inside this crazy sedan, I found myself highly impressed and even a bit confused that Kia hasn’t brought this quality of materials or the superb and meticulous fit and finish to other models in its lineup. For the brand’s first go at the luxury segment, it did pretty damn well, and it’s only fair to give them props. Not everyone can jump in the ring with the big boys and go a full 15 rounds. Interior Dimensions Headroom front/rear (Inches) 38.3/37.0 Leg room front/rear (Inches) 42.6/36.4 Shoulder room front/rear (Inches) 56.4/54.8 Hip room front/rear (Inches) 55.5/56.1 Passenger capacity (cu. ft.) 93.8 Cargo area capacity, rear seats up (cu. ft.) 23.3 Cargo area capacity, rear seats folded (cu. ft.) 40.9 Design, Function, and Comfort At this point, you know that I practically fell in love with the Stinger’s interior, but that doesn’t mean the competition doesn’t stack up well. When BMW updated the 4 Series, it also did quite a bit to the interior to help keep it on point for the next few years. Looking at the full dash shot of the BMW 4 Series above you can see that it’s quite stylish in its own regard. I haven’t had a chance to sit in the updated 4 Series, but the pre-facelifted model offered very comfortable seats and a spacious alternative to the Stinger. Kia made it a point to say it benchmarked the Stinger against the 4 Series a lot, but some of the similarities between the two are uncanny. Take the door trim panels, for example. The both have their own designs and all, but the design of the armrest, pull handle, and the location of the middle speaker in the middle of the insert prove that Kia smuggled in some cues from the 4 Series – a tactical and strategic choice, but risky. The seats in the Stinger offer a little more side support (unless you look at the M4, for instance) while the Bimmer has a more intuitive operating system built into its infotainment system. The screen in the Bimmer isn’t as tall, but it’s wider and responsive. Both models make use of a semi-digital instrument cluster, however, the TFT screen in the Kia is just a bit wider and offers better graphics. As far function goes, both offer similar safety technology while the controls for the Bimmer’s infotainment system are a little more intuitive. The Driver’s seat in the Kia does sit a bit lower in comparison, however, so it has a sportier feel and should offer a little more support during more extreme maneuvers. And, we finally get to the A5, which I tend to favor more than that of the BMW and find to be a little more advanced than that of the Stinger. Now, the Stinger wins hands down as far as comfortability goes, but on the technology and design front, the A5 is hard to ignore. It can be hard with a 12-inch, digital instrument cluster that provides all necessary information and as a home for the navigation system – a feature that helps keep your eyes on the road. I prefer the navigation in the BMW as far as looks and function goes, but I’d be willing to sacrifice if it meant getting that digital instrument cluster. The A5’s infotainment screen is also the larger of the three and actually looks like it is floating above the dash instead of being mounted to it. The Audi features HVAC vents that run the full width of the dash and the seats sit higher than those of the Bimmer and Kia. The center console features a semi-floating design with storage area located underneath and, while it has the slightly elevated edge on the passenger side, it’s not as intrusive as that of the BMW. The seats in the Audi look almost identical to those found in the 4 Series while the door trim is more refined. Like the other two models, it comes with a similar list of safety and technology features, including the option of a 4G LTE hotspot and various semi-autonomous safety features. Interior Dimensions BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe Audi A5 Sportback Headroom front/rear (Inches) 39.9 39.92/37.28 Legroom, front/rear (Inches) 42.2/33.7 Shoulder room, front/rear (Inches) 54.8/54.3 Cargo Space (cu. ft.) 17.0 17.0 Drivetrain Base model: 2.0-liter; 255 HP & 260 LB-FT GT model: 3.3-liter, 365 HP & 376 LB-FT 0-to-60 could be as fast as five seconds flat Fuel economy as good as 22/29/25 Euro customers get a 2.2-liter with close to 200 HP Automatic transmission only  Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter - a first for Kia RWD standard; AWD $2,200 option AWD gets dynamic torque vectoring RWD models get a mechanical LSD More than half of chassis composed of higher-strength steel 3,615 LB in base for or 3,968 with the V-6 Could go hybrid in the future Chassis can handle much more power "The entry-level model comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-banger known as the Theta II that has 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 pound-feet of twist at a very low 1,400 rpm." Unfortunately, I wasn’t afforded the option to take one of the three Stingers on display for a spin, but as they say, good things come to those who wait, right? Even without getting to hear that 3.3-liter Biturbo roar or feel how this thing really handles in a tight corner at high speed, I find myself impressed and intrigued by the specs. The entry-level model comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-banger known as the Theta II that has 255 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 260 pound-feet of twist at a very low 1,400 rpm. But, if you’re like me, and have a true thirst for power, you’ll jump up to the 3.3-liter, Biturbo, V-6 that is available in the GT model. It pumps out a cool 365 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 376 pound-feet at an even lower 1,300 to 4,500 rpm – this should make for some very fun and powerful burnouts when you turn off that traction control. Of course, Kia has yet to release official performance specs thus far, but the 60-mph sprint should come in as low as five seconds with the 3.3-liter. Fuel economy for the four-cylinder is rated at 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. If you opt for all-wheel drive, fuel economy drops by one mpg in the city and combined. Meanwhile, the 3.3-liter delivers 19 mpg in the city, 25 mpg on the highway, and 21 mph combined in rear-wheel or all-wheel-drive configuration. "Fuel economy for the four-cylinder is rated at 22 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined." On a side note, European customers will have the choice of a diesel-powered Stinger that is powered by a 2.2-liter four-cylinder. It is said to deliver 197 horsepower and 324 pound-feet of torque. With this engine in tow, the Stinger will be able to hit 62 mph in 8.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 139 mph. This sounds more like all looks and no go to me, but something tells me the fuel economy will be amazing, so it may be fair trade off. Unfortunately, those who prefer to row their own gears will find themselves largely disappointed as the Stinger isn’t to be offered with a manual transmission. In fact, it has now been exposed that Kia engineers didn’t even try to develop and manual gearbox for the sports sedan, so don’t get your hopes up for the future either. With that said, shifting duties are scheduled to be handled by the second-generation eight-speed auto that comes from the K900 sedan. It was designed by Kia engineers and makes use of a Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber torque converter, a first for any vehicle that sports a Kia badge. The plus side to this is that the transmission will handle shifting all on its own, but if you’re feeling the need to get better acquainted with those corners on the way home, you can engage manual shifting and cycle through the gears with the paddle shifters that are attached to the steering wheel. At least you’ll have that option. "When it comes to the driveline, the Stinger can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a rear-biased torque distribution" When it comes to the driveline, the Stinger can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive with a rear-biased torque distribution. The latter features dynamic torque vectoring that allows the car to monitor conditions and deliver just the right amount of torque to each wheel for just about any given condition, ultimately resulting in the best traction possible in most scenarios. In adverse conditions, automatic braking will take charge of each wheel individually to keep things from getting wild. Those equipped with rear-wheel drive come with a mechanical limited-slip differential which should help evenly distribute power to the rear wheels. When it came to the Chassis that supports the beast, Kia focused more of stiffness than it did making a light car. As such, the Stinger tips the scales at as much as 3,615 pounds with the four-banger and 3,968 pounds with that V-6 with all-wheel drive. But, that’s not a bad thing, because this makes the car excessively strong, and with 55 percent of the chassis being composed of advanced higher-strength steel, it can handle much more power than the current range-topping model. This in itself is a hint that the Stinger may, at some point in the future, be offered in a more powerful form with the ability to take on the BMW M4 head-to-head – now that’s a battle I would love to see. Drivetrain Specifications Stinger GT Engine 2.0L Twin Scroll Turbo 4-Cyl 3.3L Twin Turbo V6 Displacement (cc) 1,998 cc 3,342 cc Bore x stroke (mm) 86.0 mm X 86.0 mm 92.0 mm x 83.8 mm Compression ratio 10.0:1 10.0:1 Horsepower 255 HP @ 6,200 RPM 365 HP @ 6,000 RPM Torque 260 LB-FT @ 1,400-4,000 RPM 376 LB-FT @ 1,300-4,500 RPM Curb Weight Minimum RWD 3,611 lbs. 3,829 lbs. Maximum AWD (All Options) 3,792 lbs. 4,023 lbs. Fuel Economy Automatic transmission (RWD), city/highway/combined (mpg) 22/29/25 19/25/21 Automatic transmission (AWD), city/highway/combined (mpg) 21/29/24 19/25/21 Rumors There’s word that Kia has been discussing a future of electrification for the Stinger – there’s no official word and any details at this point, but the conversations have taken place. This means that in the near future a hybrid could come to be. Furthermore, an all-electric variant could but a big damper on the Tesla Model 3 if Kia plays its cards right. I certainly wouldn’t expect that to happen for at least a few years, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. Better Bang For Your Buck Power delivery and performance is a pretty big deal to a lot of folks, especially when you’re looking at sporty models like the Stinger, 4 Series Gran Coupe, and the A5 Sportback. But, how do they all stack up against each other? Well, the Stinger is actually the most powerful of the three, offering 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque from that biturbo, but that doesn’t mean it’s the fastest. When it comes to the 4 Series, the entry-level model is the 430i, which can be had in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel ($2,000 premium) and is powered by a 2.0-liter with 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s not much less than what’s offered by the four-cylinder Stinger, but it’s enough to push the Gran Coupe to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds – likely a bit quicker than that of the Stinger. But, if you upgrade to the 440i or 440i xDrive, you’ll get a 3.0-liter inline-six that delivers a cool 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque. It’s less than the Stinger, but thanks to weight savings and aerodynamics, the 440i can hit 60 mph in 4.8 seconds or 4.7 seconds with xDrive. That’s at least 0.3 seconds faster to 60 than what the Stinger is expected to do, but in terms of top speed, the Bimmer is limited to 155 mph while the Stinger tops out well above 160. The A5 Sportback is a little more confusing, but considering it’s not available in the U.S. as of the time of this writing, it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s offered with more diesel engines than gasoline engines. In fact, if you want a six-cylinder model, you have no choice but to get an oil burner. On the gasoline front, there’s a 2.0-liter four-banger that can be had with 187 horsepower and 236 pound-feet or 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet. 62 mph comes in around six seconds, so it’s quite a bit slower than where the Stinger and 4 Series GC sit, but it does pull 47.8 mpg, so at least you get fuel economy if you sacrifice performance a bit. On the diesel front, you can get a 2.0-liter as well, that offers 187 horsepower and 295 pound-feet, which allows the 62-mph sprint to happen in around 7.4 seconds and top speed to sit at 146 mph. It’s a turd in comparison to the Stinger or 4 Series, but it does achieve a combined fuel economy of 67.3 mpg, which could be a major selling point if you do a lot of driving. V-6 TDI models displace 3.0-liters and can be had with 215 horsepower and 295 pound-feet or 292 ponies and 457.3 pound-feet of twist. Performance figures aren’t readily available for all engines, but you can opt for a six-speed manual if you want to row your own, or a seven-speed S Tronic dual clutch with paddle shifters. For those of you who like to cruise and enjoy the luxury without the fun of spirited driving, you can opt for the eight-speed auto that is said to offer smooth shifts. BMW 430i Gran Coupe BMW 440i Gran Coupe Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TFSI Audi A5 Sportback 2.0 TDI Audi A5 Sportback 3.0 TDI Engine 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline 6-cylinder 2.0-liter Inline four-cylinder 2.0-liter Inline four-cylinder 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine Horsepower 248 HP @ 5,200 RPM 320 HP @ 5,500 RPM 252 HP @ 5,000-6,000 RPM 190 HP @ 3,800-4,200 RPM 218 HP @ 4,000-5,000 RPM Torque 258 LB-FT @ 1,450–4,800 RPM 330 LB-F @ 1,380–5,000 RPM 272.9 LB-FT @ 1,600-4,500 RPM 295.0 LB-FT @ 1,750-3,000 RPM 295.0 LB-FT @ 1,250–3,750 RPM Transmission 8-speed Sport Automatic 8-speed Sport Automatic 7-speed dual-clutch 6-speed manual 7-speed dual-clutch Acceleration 0–60 mph 5.6 4.8 6.5 7.9 6.4 Top speed 130 mph 130 mph 155 mph 148 mph 152 mph Fuel economy city/highway/combined 23/2/4/27 21/32/25 Curb Weight 3,668 Lbs 3,799 Lbs 3,240 Lbs 3,306 Lbs 3,615 Lbs Safety If you know anything about the Kia brand, you know it wouldn’t bring a car like this to the market without integrating a fair amount of safety and driver assistance features to keep things safe. As such, the Stinger has a number of advanced features, including an all new (and first for any Kia) Driver Attention Alert system that can determine whether the driver is tired or distracted and deliver audio and visual alerts to encourage a rest stop. But, that’s not all. It also features a forward collision system with automatic emergency braking and pedestrian protection to go with advanced cruise control, lane keep assist, and rear cross traffic alert. While some may have been hoping to see more autonomous features, it’s nice to see that Kia isn’t shoving that crap down your throat with its first real performance offering. Surely, it will come in time, but this car is slated to be a driver’s car. Pricing We originally speculated that the Kia Stinger would command at least $41,000 to sit right in line with its main competition, the BMW 4 Series GC and the Audi A5. That would have been logical from most standpoints, but Kia decided to dial things down a bit more and keep its resident performance car in a price bracket that doesn’t require excessively deep pockets or an outrageous car note. All told, the Stinger will start out at a relatively low $31,900 for the base model. Moving up to the Premium trim increases your entry point by $6,000 to $37,100. The Stinger GT comes in at $38,250 while the GT1 commands $43,250. The range-topping Stinger GT2 comes in at $49,200. Of course, this doesn’t include the $900 destination fee and, like the other guys, AWD will set you back an extra $2,200 on any given model. Still, not a bad price point from bottom to top and lots of value for your hard-earned buck. 2018 Kia Stinger $31,900 2018 Kia Stinger Premium $37,100 2018 Kia Stinger GT $38,350 2018 Kia Stinger GT1 $43,250 2018 Kia Stinger GT2 $49,200 All-wheel drive $2,200 Destination $900 Sometimes It’s All About That Green Stuff So, maybe you find yourself limited to a budget for your next whip. If so, then you’ll find that pricing is really tight in this segment, so you’ll probably want to look at things like design, and performance to really help you make a decision about which model is best for you. As of the time of this writing, the Stinger has yet to be priced, but journalists everywhere shoot out numbers that range anywhere from $40,000 for the entry-level model up to right around $60,000 for the range-topping stinger. When it comes to BMW’s offerings in this segment, you can get the 430i for as little as $41,950 or $43,950 with xDrive. Going with the 440i, which offers better acceleration than the others will hit the bank for at least $48,300 or $50,300 when equipped with all-wheel drive. When it comes to the Audi A5 Sportback, pricing varies a bit depending on the specific market. Over in Europe, however, it’s offered in three different trims. The entry-level model comes with the low-end 2.0-liter TDI and starts out from $40,641 in SE form, but increase to a starting point of $42,978 in Sport trim or $45,007 in range-topping S Line trim. These prices have been converted at exchanges rates as of Jan 18, 2017. It should be noted that the two upper trim levels can be had with any of the engines available, but pricing can increase to more than $50,000 for the S Line with all of the available options. BMW 430i Gran Coupe $41,950 BMW 430i xDrive Gran Coupe $43,950 BMW 440i Gran Coupe $48,300 BMW 440i xDrive Gran Coupe $50,300 Audi A5 Sportback SE $40,641 Audi A5 Sportback Sport $42,978 Audi A5 Sportback S Line $45,007 Other Options So, perhaps you’re considering the Kia, but you’re not interested in owning a BMW 4 Series Grand Coupe or an Audi A5. That’s okay, though, because the Stinger has what it takes to be cross shopped with a handful of models, like those listed below. Lexus GS The Lexus GS isn’t a noob on the market, with the first-gen model being introduced way back in 1991. Of course, the GS wouldn’t have what it takes to compete with a model like the Stinger if Lexus hadn’t pulled itself together and released the current-gen model in 2015 – the first generation to wear Lexus’ iconic spindle grille as we all know it. On the outside, it features a wildly aggressive front end with sharp points and deep lines while the side and rear profiles are rather toned down in comparison. Like the Stinger, the GS is offered with a four-banger and a V-6. But, the four-banger displaces just 2.0-liters and delivers 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, Lexus claims a 7-second sprint to 60 mph and a top speed of 143 mph. Move up to the GS350 or higher will get you a 3.5-liter V-6 with at least 311 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. In this configuration, 60 mph comes as quick as 5.8 seconds while top speed maxes out at just 130 mph. In this configuration, you can have all-wheel drive if you so desire, but if you really want power, you need to upgrade to the GS 450h and that’ll need you a few extra ponies with an output of 338 horsepower. You’ll get to 60 in 5.6 seconds and top out at 137 mph, but will be limited to all-wheel drive. Of course, these specs are a little lower than those promised by the Stinger, so the only motivation I can think of is not wanting a German or Korean car, and being more interested in aggressive looks than power under the hood. Pricing starts at $46,310 which could be comparative to the four-cylinder Stinger (maybe) but climbs to as much as $69,995 for the range-topping 450h F Sport. Read more about the Lexus GS here. Infiniti Q50 The Q50 is a baby in Infiniti’s stable, being introduced for the 2014 model year and updated in 2016 to keep up with the competition. But, you’ve got to be careful when considering the Q50 as you could find yourself paying as much for way less power if the Stinger really starts out around $42k See, the Q50 starts out at $33,000 and climbs to as much as $44,300 in 2.0t form. This model comes with a 2.0-liter four-banger with a meager 208 horsepower on tap – far less than that promised by the entry-level Stinger. So, if you really want comparable power, you need to go with the 3.0t that pumps out 300 ponies from a 3.0-liter V-6. It starts out at $40,650, which could offer more bang for your buck if you’re considering an entry-level Stinger, but can climb to as much as $46,500 when fully loaded with all of the bells and whistles. Then again, if the Stinger commands more like $60k, you could opt for a Q50 Red Sport 400 with 400 ponies on tap and an enticing exterior package for as little as $48,700. But, if you want all-wheel drive exclusive wheels and other niceties, you’ll be asked to pony up $50,700. Oh, and by the way, as far as looks go, the Q50 takes an approach similar to that of the Stinger – it’s got lines in all of the right places, but isn’t wildly aggressive. It is pleasing to look at, however, and you’ll find that it does compare well in the looks department. Find out more about the Infiniti Q50

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    Ford to Push Technologically Advanced Cars to Stop Share Price Landslide

    Ford CEO, Jim Hackett, is looking to lead a technological revolution, saying that “dumb cars” have no place and Ford isn’t going to be left behind. The revolution begins by focusing on assisted, autonomous, and electric vehicles now and in the future. With Ford’s share price in a downward spiral over the past few years, GM, on the other hand, has seen share increases. Of course, the most technologically advanced automaker, Tesla, recently crept past Ford and GM when its valuation hit $58.7 billion – ultimately making it America’s most valuable car company. As such, Ford investors have been putting on the pressure for the brand to focus on the latest technology and be less dependent on large truck sales as its primary source of income. "Hackett believes that cars still have a future on the road, but dumb cars will fall behind." Hackett believes that cars still have a future on the road, but dumb cars will fall behind, which is already happening with a lot of Ford’s models as other brands surpass the brand in that regard. At the Michigan CEO summit in Detroit, Hackett said, “Fords future is not about giving up the car. We have to evolve these things to be ever smarter. For a while, we didn’t see the computer as an integrated aspect. Now, think about it, my vehicle is a rolling computer.” And, we have no choice but to agree as every other automaker is integrated was we now consider “basic” assistance and autonomous systems as standard equipment or, at the very least, an available option at relatively low cost compared to just a few years ago. After all, when a company like Tesla, which doesn’t even know what profit smells like, can become America’s most valuable automaker ahead of long-living brands like Ford and GM, it’s time to put up or shut up. "In recent years, Ford has introduced things like drift mode in the Focus RS, line lock, and a diff-locking handbrake" Of course, it’s not that Ford isn’t pushing to some extent. In recent years, the brand has introduced things like drift mode in the Focus RS, line lock, and a diff-locking handbrake, among other technologies. Now, however, it’s time for the brand to step its game up. It needs more EVs, it needs more hybrids, and it needs more autonomous tech. If not, the brand is going to continue to slide, and one of America’s oldest car companies could eventually fade in the history books as a once great but failed automaker. Does Jim Hackett have what it takes to stop Ford’s landslide and bring it back to par with its main rival GM? Let us know what you think and what you would like to see in the coming years from the blue oval. ReferencesFord Focus Read our full review on the 2017 Ford Focus RS. Read our full speculative review on the 2018 Ford Focus.

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  • Craziest Thing This Week: The Pope Blesses a Lamborghini Huracan

    Pope Francis is no stranger to receiving gifts. That comes with the territory of being the leader of the Catholic church and arguably one of the most powerful men in the world. But the famously frugal pontiff isn’t one who enjoys the lavish side of life so when he recently took possession of a one-off Lamborghini Huracan, a gift from the Italian automaker itself, the pope did what the pope usually does: he donated it away. It’s a bitter blow for papal paparazzi who were hoping to see the pope roar around the cobbled streets of Rome, aviator sunglasses in tow. But the pope’s preference for the simple things in life isn’t anything new. This is a man who traditionally opts to get driven around in Fiats and Fords when he’s on the road so getting inside a Lamborghini is a non-starter to begin with. So instead of taking ownership of the one-off Huracan, the pope decided to receive it from Lamborghini out of courtesy, sign the hood, and give it to RM Sotheby’s, which will then auction the supercar with the proceeds going to three of the holy father’s favorite charities. Considering how much value is placed on items that carry the pope’s signature, expect this one-off Lamborghini Huracan to fetch way more than it’s usual price of $200,000. Continue after the jump to read the full story.Nothing out of the ordinary for Pope Francis "RM Sotheby’s will auction the supercar with the proceeds going to three of the holy father’s favorite charities" You have to admire Pope Francis for resisting the urge to take ownership of this Lamborghini Huracan. I certainly wouldn’t do it, though I suppose that’s why he is who he is and I am who I am. Acts like this aren’t entirely new for the men who have assumed the role of the papacy. Francis himself has given away plenty of gifts in the past, including a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in 2013. Just like with the Huracan, Francis declined to receive the gift, opting instead to sign it and send it to a Bonhams auction. That bike ended up fetching a whopping $327,000 with the proceeds going to a hostel and soup kitchen for the homeless at Rome’s main train station. And who can forget St. John Paul the Great (formerly Pope John Paul II) declining Ferrari’s gift of a 2005 Ferrari Enzo? It wasn’t just a “standard” Enzo either; it was actually the 400th and last Enzo ever built. The provenance alone propelled that particular Enzo to sell for $6.05 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction. "This one-off Huracan features a a predominantly white body with matching papal gold trim all throughout." It’s hard to estimate how much this one-off Huracan is going to sell for, but I expect it to handily exceed its retail price of $200,000. Apart from the fact that it has Francis, signature on the hood, this particular example also went through the Italian automaker’s Ad Personam division. That’s why it’s wearing a predominantly white body with matching papal gold trim all throughout. There hasn’t been any mention of it wearing any badges or decals signifying its association with Pope Francis, but if it did, those are going to drive the price up even more. Let’s not forget either that the Huracan is powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine that produces north of 600 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Yep. Underneath all that provenance is a car that can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds and hit a top speed of 211 mph. It’s still a supercar, folks, so bid accordingly. "The Huracan is powered by a 5.2-liter V-10 engine that produces north of 600 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque." Besides, the higher the figure the Huracan sells for, the better it’s going to be for the three charities that will likely split the proceeds. One of these charities helps rebuild homes and churches for Christians who were displaced out of Iraq by Islamic State terrorists while the other two focuses on providing medical aid in Africa and helping migrant women who are trafficked and forced into prostitution. ReferencesLamborghini Huracan Read our full review on the 2017 Lamborghini Huracan. Read more celebrity news.

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    The 2019 Ram 1500 Is Getting A Split Tailgate!

    The next-generation Ram 1500 will be raising the bar for pickup truck cargo beds when it debuts for the 2019 model year. A spy photographer just caught a 2019 Ram tester with an uncamouflaged tailgate that is clearly split vertically. The tailgate will be able to open like a regular tailgate while also opening sideways like French doors. The Honda Ridgeline’s tailgate opens like this, though as a solid piece without the split. "The step bumper can actually be used as a step, too, allowing for an easy climb into the bed." The handiness factor is huge here. Think about it: The tailgate can be swung open for better access to items deeper into the bed. The step bumper can actually be used as a step, too, allowing for an easy climb into the bed. The 60/40 split would also make it possible to carry longer items while still having a closed tailgate for loose cargo. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Ram’s split tailgate. Allpar.com actually found patent drawings of a 50/50-split tailgate on the U.S. Patent Office’s website, which is in the public domain. Though the percentage of the split is different, it’s presumed the production tailgate will operate in the same manner. Ram isn’t new to innovation in the cargo bed. When the current generation of Ram trucks debuted in 2009, it brought the RamBox Cargo Management System – a lockable and watertight storage box within the walls of the cargo bed. No other pickup has such a feature, though the Chevrolet Avalanche came close. Only the Honda Ridgeline with its InBed Trunk has more watertight and lockable in-bed storage. What do you think? Do you like this tailgate design? If this is an extra-cost option, what would you be willing to pay? Let us know in the comments below. ReferencesRam 1500 Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Ram 1500. Read more upcoming the upcoming 1500 in our the 2019 Ram Departs From Classic "Big-Rig" Design story. Read more Ram news.

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    Saleen to Bring New S1 Sports Car to L.A Auto Show

    Founded in 1983, Saleen is mostly known for creating various tuning packages for the Ford Mustang. More recently though, Steve Saleen began modifying Dodge Challengers and Chevrolet Camaros too, and even launched an upgrade for the Tesla Model S electric sedan. But Saleen also built a supercar. Launched in 2000 as the S7 it became one of America’s iconic supercars and received a lot of praise for its impressive performance and that it went on to win a few important racing championships. But despite having a few successful decades, Saleen had to cope with severe financial issues in the 2010s. A merger with Chinese firm Jiangsu followed, which expanded Saleen’s presence in markets outside the U.S. Now, the California-based brand announced its first original design since the S7. It’s called the S1 and will make its U.S. debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show. Unveiled in China earlier this month, the S1 is significantly smaller than the S7 and gains Saleen access to the small sports car market. But despite being an original design on the outside, the S1 is actually based on the Artega GT, which was produced between 2009 and 2012. The German automaker went bankrupt in 2012 and Saleen bought the rights to the GT’s platform. Interestingly enough, the underpinnings are actually based on the ones that Lotus developed for the Evora in the late 2000s. Just like the S7, the S1 uses a Ford engine, this time around a 2.3-liter EcoBoost unit similar to that found in the Mustang EcoBoost and Focus RS. The engine was tuned to generate 450 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque. There’s no word on U.S. availability, but Jiangsu Saleen plans to build some 150,000 units per year starting mid-2018, when its factory in Rugao, China will be completed. An electric version of the S1 is also in the books, but no information has been released as of this writing. We should find out more at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show later this year, so make sure you stick around for an update.ReferencesSaleen S7 Read our full review on the 2001 Saleen S7. Read more 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show news.

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  • The Devel-Sixteen is Here, but it’s Still just a Prototype

    For years, we’ve been teased by Devel about its 300-mph, 5000-horsepower, supercar and the company has finally delivered at the 2017 Dubai motor show. The car isn’t exactly in “production” form quite yet and won’t be complete for another 12 to 18 months, with testing, but it’s much closer than the plastic, Hot-Wheels-wannabe car we saw a few years back.The Devel Sixteen Comes Correct but Still Lacking Truth be told, this revised prototype is much more believable, and now that we’ve seen video of the engine hitting some crazy horsepower figures (5,007 in the latest video on a company dyno,) there’s a lot of merit behind the car that could not only break the 300-mph barrier but put vehicles from Koenigsegg, Buggati, and McLaren to shame. As of now, one of the biggest concerns is where Devel can source tires from, considering a pair of rubbers that can handle speeds as high as 300 mph are far and few between – it’s the reason why the Bugatti Chiron hasn’t been able to reach its full potential. Devel-Sixteen Engine on the Dyno On that note, Devel says it’s “considering” two tire manufacturers, but declined to mention names in a discussion with CNN in Dubai. Unfortunately, there’s more bad news too – the Devel-Sixteen won’t be street legal and is intended to be more of a dragster or track car. Of course, we’re talking about a 12.3-liter with a quad, 81 mm, turbo setup that delivers a gut-wrenching 5,007 horsepower, so that’s not that big of a surprise – it’s essentially a jet-fighter on wheels. Devel Sixteen Prototype Specifications 12.3 LITER V16 QUAD TURBO 5,007 HP, 36 PSI 3,519 LB-FT @ 6,600 RPM, 36 PSI 3,006 HP @ 6,900 RPM, 20 PSI (92 93 PUMP GAS – DAILY USE) 2,407 TORQUE @ 6,400 RPM, 20 PSI DEVEL SIXTEEN BILLET ENGINE BLOCK DEVEL SIXTEEN CYLINDER HEADS DEVEL SIXTEEN CRANKSHAFT DEVEL SIXTEEN BILLET CAMSHAFT (ROLLER CAMSHAFT, STREET TUNE) 2 VALVEs PER CYLINDER (32 TITANIUM VALVE) 81 MM QUAD TURBOOther Models are on the Way Sometimes you have to roll with the punches, and the fact that the Sixteen isn’t going to be street legal is a bit of a bummer. But, not all hope is lost. See, the manufacturer also opened a whole new can of worms. Apparently, Devel is working on two more models, one with a V-8 that will deliver some 2,000 horsepower and another with a V-16 and quad turbos that will deliver some 3,000 horsepower. Projected speeds have yet to be mentioned, but you can probably guess somewhere around 245 mph and 280 mph, respectively. On that note, however, don’t get too excited unless you have very, very deep pockets. Devel says the price for the V-8 model with start at $1.6 million while the V-16 model will start at $1,8 million. There are no plans to limit production of either model at this time, and both are expected to be 100-percent road legal. As for where the Sixteen or it’s slightly less-powerful children will make their high-speed debuts, that remains a mystery, but the man behind that brand has said “the U.S., the U.K, Germany… it could be anywhere.” I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty promising and quite exciting too. We’re following the Devel brand closely, so check back soon for a full review on the Devel-Sixteen and all breaking news as it happens. References Read our full story on the Devel Sixteen Debut. Read our full review on the 2014 Devel Sixteen Prototype.

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    BMW i8

    Launched in 2014, the i8 was on BMW’s drawing boards since the mid-2000s. First unveiled as the Vision Efficient Dynamics in 2009, it was updated to the i8 Concept in 2011, before being showcased as a production-ready prototype in 2013. In 2012, BMW also revealed a Spyder concept car. More than three years have passed since its official debut, and the i8 is already a big hit with hybrid sports car enthusiasts. Despite this, BMW has yet to offer a mid-cycle update like it did with the i3, but it’s planning to launch a drop-top, Spyder version at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show, Whether more oomph is on the table for the current i8 is still a mystery, but there’s a lot of buzz about a significantly more powerful next-generation model flying around for quite some time. Given BMW’s current strategy, a brand-new i8 isn’t likely to arrive sooner than 2020, so information about the upcoming sports car is scant, to say the least. However, there have been claims that the new i8 will go fully electric and the I Vision Dynamics concept that was unveiled in 2017 likely previews the sports car’s new design. I gathered all the information available in the speculative review below, while our designer created a rendering of what the second-generation i8 might look like. Keep reading to find out all the details we have so far and stay tuned for updates on this car. Continue reading to learn more about the second-generation BMW i8.Exterior

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    Watch A Brutal Crash At The ‘Ring Involving Over A Dozen Cars: Video

    We all know the Nurburgring is one of the most dangerous tracks in the world. Mixing maximum speed with huge elevation changes, blind corners, and highly technical challenges, it’s no wonder Jackie Stewart dubbed this place The Green Hell. Throw in a slick racing surface and open lapping with amateurs, and things can get really ugly. Case in point, this 2-minute, 8-second video showing a first-person perspective of an incident that occurred earlier in the month, wherein a group of cars create a massive pileup around a fast section leading to Hatzenbach. After spotting cars stopped on track and a huge cloud of smoke, the driver shooting the video pulls off to the outside of the track, exiting his vehicle before attempting to flag down incoming cars and warn about the impending parking lot. Some cars manage to avoid crashing, while others spin out helplessly. One Porsche even slides backwards into the stationary racer that the cameraman had exited just moments prior. The video was originally posted to Facebook by RE FS420, and has been making the rounds on the internet ever since. According to BridgeToGantry.com, the original cause of the incident was a blown coolant hose on a 911 GT3 RS, which spilled fluid on the track, resulting in several drivers losing control. In total, 14 cars were involved, with two drivers requiring hospitalization, one of which needed to be cut free from his Audi and airlifted to emergency care. It’s a chilling reminder of what can go wrong when pushing a car to its limits. Stay safe out there, folks.References Porsche 911 GT3 RS

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  • Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by Spofec

    The Novitec Group is arguably the biggest tuning company in the world. It’s tentacles run long, thanks in large part to sub-brands that cater to a specific automaker. We’re familiar with Novitec Rosso that works exclusively on Ferraris. We’ve also touched base with Novitec Torado with Lamborghini, Novitec Tridente with Maserati, and Spofec, which is responsible for developing programs for Rolls-Royce models. For this instance, the focus will be on Spofec and it’s latest tuning masterpiece, the Dawn Overdose. You probably realize by now that the focus of this program is the Rolls-Royce Dawn. No surprises there. What you might find surprising though is the level of work that was put into creating a kit that not only adds a significant amount of extra power to the Dawn, but also gives it a wide-body kit that gives the lavish convertible a whole new level of physicality to it. The Dawn Overdose is an all-encompassing kit so if you happen to own Rolls’ newest luxury top-down and you’re itching to give it upgrades fit for a car of its status, there are few tuners who can do it about as comprehensive as the tuning company that literally gets its name from the “SPirit OF ECstasy.” Best hurry though because only eight units of the Dawn Overdose will be made created so if you miss out on any of these eight, you’ll be completely out of luck. Continue after the jump to read more about the Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose by SpofecExterior Wide body kit made from carbon fiber Front fenders add 5.1-inches of width New rocker panels with air intakes Front and rear fascias are more aggressive Wider body accommodates extra-wide, 22-inch wheels "A new carbon fiber wide body kit helps create a more muscular look to the Dawn." Working on a car like the Rolls-Royce Dawn can be especially tricky for a tuner. The challenge itself isn’t so much about giving the luxury convertible a new look, but in accomplishing that while trying to navigate around the design elements that already make the Dawn stand out. This is, after all, a Rolls-Royce creation, so it’s not like a tuner can just take out certain elements of its design, change it, and then say it’s an “improvement.” Fortunately, the people at Spofec are well-versed in the art of customization, having already build a more subtle upgrade for the Dawn in the past. Now, it’s taking it a step further with a new carbon fiber wide body kit that helps create a more muscular look to the Dawn. The kit itself includes a host of significant components, none more visually apparent than the large fenders that contribute an extra 13 cm (5.1 inches) to the overall width of the Dawn at the front axle. It’s a jarring physical transformation by itself, but the good news is that Spofec complimented it by also adding a bigger front bumper. It’s the same story at the back where new air rocker panels have been added into the mix, each carrying its own air intake on each side. The rear bumper also gets an upgrade in size to maintain the consistency of the carbon fiber wide body kit while the addition of a carbon fiber spoiler lip is instantly recognizable. "The Dawn Overdose gets a new set of 22-inch SPOFEC SP1 alloy wheels that were specifically created for this program" Finishing off the exterior upgrades for the Dawn Overdose kit is a new set of 22-inch SPOFEC SP1 alloy wheels that were specifically created for this program. Th wheels themselves measure 10.5Jx22 and are wrapped in 295/30 ZR 22 tires. Seeing as only eight of these kits will be made, I’d venture a guess that the wheels themselves are going to be about as exclusive as they come. Interior "There are a rich number of choices to pick from, at least if you’re looking to dress up your Dawns to match your personality" Interior upgrades are always the trickiest ones to gauge because of the level of customization and personalization that can be offered with programs like the Dawn Overdose. It’s no different here as SPOFEC’s offering for this section of the 2+2 luxury sedan involves a great deal of personalization from the customer. That said, there are a rich number of choices to pick from, at least if you’re looking to dress up your Dawns to match your personality. On that note, Spofec has an endless variety of premium and bespoke materials to choose from, be it fine leather, Alcantara, noble-wood inlays, and enough carbon trim components in a range of designs and colors that will literally make your head spin. The example that we’re seeing here provides us a good sampling of what we can expect fro the Dawn Overdose program. It’s hard to make out what kind of shade it is, but it is more like tan leather than it is brown leather that covers just about every square inch of surface inside the cabin of the Dawn. Regardless of the technicalities surrounding the collar’s exact name, it is obvious that it’s made of premium craftsmanship, the likes of which we can only get from a tuner that’s as in sync to its clientele’s needs as Spofec. Drivetrain Tuned 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine Turbo pressure increased Ignition an injection timing remapped New N-Tronic tuning module Power increased by 115 HP & 118 LB-FT Total Output: 686 HP & 723 LB-FT 0-to-62 mph in 4.6 sec; 0.3 seconds faster than stock "That adds up to an increase of 115 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of twist over the Dawn’s standard power of 571 ponies and 605 pound-feet of torque" If you’re familiar with the way any of the tuning companies under the Novitec Group operate, then you’ll know that all of them rely on a specific tuning kit to get those engine upgrades up and running. The kit itself is called “N-Tronic,” the tuner’s go-to, plug-and-play, processor-controlled tuning module that’s responsible for tuning the engine control unit on the Dawn’s 6.6-liter twin-turbo V-12 engine. Specific mapping for injection and ignition to go with moderate increases to the boost pressure help the Dawn increase its output to 686 horsepower and 723 pound-feet of torque. Do the math, and that adds up to an increase of 115 horsepower and 118 pound-feet of twist over the Dawn’s standard power of 571 ponies and 605 pound-feet of torque. Pretty impressive for a car that already packs quite a punch by itself. An eight-speed automatic transmission is till the gearbox-of-choice and all that power is sent to the two rear wheels. The result of that power increase is a Dawn that can sprint from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.6 seconds, ridiculous for a car of its size. It’s also 0.3 seconds quicker, which tells you the quality of Novitec’s N-Tronic tuning module. Unfortunately, top speed sticks at 155 mph because it’s electronically-limited and Spofec didn’t think too much to even uncap it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing given that 155 mph is plenty fast enough for me. Suspension and Brakes Air suspension tuned to lower by 1.57 inches below 87 mph Spofec carbon-ceramic braking system sheds 84 pounds from stock Larger rotors measure 405 x 30 mm in the front and 395 x 38 mm at the back "Spofec is adding an air suspension system to the program, one that’s capable of dropping the convertible’s ride height by as much 40mm" Needless to say, with this much going on as far as the Dawn’s performance capabilities are concerned, the need for suspension and brake upgrades are warranted. That’s why Spofec is adding an air suspension system to the program, one that’s capable of dropping the convertible’s ride height by as much 40mm, or around 1.57 inches. This feature is only available though up to speeds of 87 mph so anything higher than that, the whole body goes back up to its original level. Complementing the air suspension unit is a new carbon-ceramic braking system from the tuner itself. This system comes with vented discs measuring 405 x 30 mm at the front and 395 x 38 mm at the rear axle. More to that, the whole unit actually weighs 38 kilos (84 pounds) less than the standard version. That’s the kind of functionality mixed in with quality use that I can get behind on. Pricing Somewhat expectedly, pricing figures for the ultra-exclusive Rolls-Royce Dawn Overdose program are available on a need-to-know basis. That’s usually the case with programs that offer a significant amount of personalization, largely because the scope and subsequent price of a specific upgrade may vary depending on the amount of owner-directed customization that goes on in the build of this kit. CompetitionRolls-Royce Dawn by Mansory It’s true that most of the non-standard Rolls-Royce Dawns we’ve seen over the years are of the special edition variety. That seems to be a specialty of Rolls-Royce anyway considering that I’ve literally lost count of the number SE Dawns that have been released since the car itself made its debut in 2015. But there have also been tuners that have worked on developing programs for the luxury convertible, one of which is a pretty familiar name to al of you. Mansory’s program for the Dawn was presented for all the world to see back in April 2016. Among other bits and pieces, that program featured its own handful of aesthetic and aerodynamic upgrades. It received a new front spoiler with larger air intakes and LED daytime running lights, a carbon fiber front lip, and a lightweight hood. On the performance front, Mansory relied on its own versatile engine tuning module, one that was able to increase the convertible’s output up to a staggering 740 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque. Yep, that’s an increase of 177 ponies and 162 pound-feet of twist, a clear-cut indicator that the Mansory-tuned Rolls-Royce Dawn is going to lay down and roll over for everyone. Even better, the increased power of the car also helps it print from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.5 seconds. It’s 0.4 seconds quicker than the standard model, though more importantly, it also beats out Spofec’s performance time by 0.1 seconds. It even has a higher top speed of 177 mph on account of the speed limiter getting its own update. Read our full review on the 2016 Rolls-Royce Dawn by Mansory. Conclusion I don’t think I’m the best authority when it comes to aftermarket tuning programs that come out of the Novitec Group umbrella. Not that I don’t consider myself to be well-versed in them, but more because I’ve always had a similar reaction whenever I see a Novitec program in the news. It’s hard not to be impressed with the time and dedication that were put into creating this kit, but more importantly, there’s that consistency in creating incredible work that Spofec has become known for. I’m sure that if you own a Rolls-Royce Dawn, the itch to get more out of it has probably crept up in your mind. Well, now you won’t have to think too much anymore because what Spofec is offering for the 2+2 luxury convertible is about as good as it gets for everybody involved. Love it Subtle aero kit works without going overboard Personalized interior Good power gainsLeave it Limited to only eight units worldwide Hard to come by as it is Other options availableReferencesRolls Royce Dawn Read our full review on the 2017 Rolls Royce Dawn. Read more Rolls Royce news.

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    Infiniti QX80

    The Infiniti QX80 is getting a slight refresh for the 2018 model year. This comes after the SUV debuted in 2013 and is welcomed since the SUV segment is so hot these days. The grille, headlights, and hood receive the biggest updates, while new LED taillights, wheel designs, and color options round out the refresh. Even milder changes happen inside, though potential customers wanting the latest and greatest will find the larger rear-seat entertainment screens, revised leather-wrapped steering wheel, and larger storage compartments a welcomed addition. The QX80 is somewhat of a niche vehicle. Infiniti says it sold 14,085 QX80s in the U.S. within the last calendar year, which is an 8.3-percent increase over the prior year. Compare that to the Chevrolet Tahoe’s 2016 sales of 103,306 in the U.S. Even the Cadillac Escalade outpaced the QX80 in 2016 with 23,604 examples sold in America. Still, Infiniti says its research shows the QX80 averages the youngest buyer in the full-size SUV segment, with a high percentage being females. The brand also labels the QX80 buyer as “affluent, high-achieving entrepreneurs and business leaders, often with families, who demand space and utility, hand-crafted quality and modern design, and effortless on-road performance” – whatever that means. Basically, the QX80 is a three-row, full-size SUV for those who want to stand out. The changes for 2018 won’t magically boost QX80 sales toward the Tahoe, but Infiniti can surely expect to see growth in the segment. Let’s see exactly what’s changed for 2018.Exterior Grille more upright Longer and taller hood Revised lower fascia New LED taillights Wider side steps "The grille is more upright than before, and the hood is now longer." You’ll have to look closely to spot the differences between the 2017 and 2018 QX80s. Nevertheless, the changes do impart a bolder stance that wasn’t present before. The grille is more upright than before, and the hood is now longer. In fact, the grille moves 3.5 inches more forward, and the hood is raised by 0.79 inches. The new LED headlights are moved further up the front fascia. They also have a more aggressive, more modern canter. Infiniti calls them “human-eye” headlights. They’re said to have a triple light guide that passes through multiple lenses to better disperse the light across the road. Down low, the LED fog lights and the surrounding bodywork have been revised for a sharper look. The front fender vents even have a sharpened shape. Overall, the new front is more aggressive and squarish, which matches the roofline and crisp lines of the D-pillar. The bodywork helps harden the QX80, giving it a more macho stance. That’s something the previous bubbly front design lacked. "Three new exterior colors are added." Elsewhere on the outside, the QX80 retains most of its previous sheet metal. That’s fine, though, since the 2018 changes are only a mid-cycle refresh. The rounded wheel openings, the blacked-out roof pillars (minus the stylish D-pillar), and the integrated running boards all remain familiar elements. Infiniti did make those running boards 0.79 inches wider for easier footing. The taillights are new, though. As mentioned, they are now LED units and are far less bubbly. The chrome trim above the license plate now extends into the red lenses, while different section within the taillights have different shades of red. The lower bumper is crisper, as well. New horizontal reflectors help bring definition and better frame the trailer hitch cover. The 2018 QX80 rides on 20- and 22-inch aluminum alloy wheels. The 20s have a six-spoke design, while the 22s have an 18-spoke design. Both wheels are wrapped in wide, 275-series all-season tires. Three new colors are added to the options list – Moonstone White, Mineral Black, and Champagne Quartz – making nine choices in all with solid, metallic and pearl finishes scattered among the hues. Exterior Dimensions Wheelbase (Inches) 121.1 Overall length (Inches) 208.9 Overall width (Inches) 79.9 Overall height w/ roof rack (Inches) 75.8 Front track width (Inches) 67.5 Rear track width (Inches) 67.9 Angle of approach (degrees) 20.9 Angle of departure (degrees) 22.3 Ramp angle (degrees) 20.7 Interior Two available grades of leather Three Interior color options Updated center stack and controls Updated steering wheel New shift lever Larger rear-seat entertainment screens "As for the seating, three color choices and two leather grades are now offered." Changes to the 2018 QX80’s interior are minimal yet important. A revised steering wheel and gear shifter not only look better but should feel better to the touch. New leather options are added, and the second-row entertainment system moves from 7.0- to 8.0-inch screens and better resolution at 900 x 540 pixels. The hard-key buttons controlling the infotainment system and radio have been reorganized for easier use. As for the seating, three color choices and two leather grades are now offered. There are the standard leather and the optional semi-aniline leather with color-contrasting piping. Colors for both leather options include Saddle Brown, Wheat, and Graphite. Regardless of color, the leather comes with a handsome and plush quilted pattern that really looks high-class. Real wood trim lines the center console, dash, and other areas of the interior. Best of all, Infiniti now uses a new micro-coating on the leather that is resistant to stains and denim dye transfer. "Infiniti now uses a new micro-coating on the leather that is resistant to stains and denim dye transfer." The QX80 continues to offer seating for eight people with the second-row bench or seven people with the second-row captain’s chairs. With those captain’s chairs comes a large center console for storage and cup holders. USB and charge ports are placed on the console between the front seats. Second-row passengers can adjust HVAC settings for rear passengers from here, as well. The outboard seats in the second row are heated. The same is true for the front seats, which also have ventilation. Drivers will appreciate Infiniti finally adding a smart key that automatically adjusts over 200 settings saved to that key fob. For example, dad’s key will have his seat setting, radio presets, and navigation preferences saved, while mom’s key will have all of her stuff. Depending on which key is used depends on what settings are activated upon start-up. "With both rear rows folded, the QX80 swallows 95.1 cubic feet of cargo." Smaller yet thoughtful updates include a larger cell phone storage bin that accommodates devices up to 2.9 inches wide. The USB port has been moved to a more accessible spot. The front cup holders now hold two 44-ounce cups for us thirsty Americans. The QX80 adopts Nissan’s Smart Rear View Mirror system for improved rearward visibility. Push a button, and the rear view mirror shows a camera view from the tailgate. This is extremely handy when carrying tall passengers or large cargo. The QX80 remains massively spacious inside. The cargo area has 16.6 cubic feet of room behind the third row and 49.6 cubic feet with the third-row folded flat. With both rear rows folded, the QX80 swallows 95.1 cubic feet of cargo. Front occupants enjoy 39.6 inches of legroom and 39.9 inches of headroom. Second-row passengers get 41 inches of legroom and 40 inches of headroom. Naturally, the third row is more cramped, yet it still offers 28.8 inches of legroom and 36.8 inches of headroom. Interior Dimension Head room with sunroof front/middle/rear (Inches) 39.9/40/36.8 Shoulder room front/middle/rear (Inches) 63.8/63.5/605. Hip room front/middle/rear (Inches) 59.2/58.4/48.8 Leg room front/middle/rear (Inches) 39.6/41.0/28.8 Drivetrain 5.6-liter V-8 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque Seven-speed automatic transmission Available full-time 4WD 14 mpg city / 20 mpg highway / 16 mpg combined on RWD models 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds Top Speed of 130 mph 8,500-pound towing capacity "The 5.6-liter V-8 remains and still produces a very respectable 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque." No changes happen under the 2018 QX80’s hood. The 5.6-liter V-8 remains and still produces a very respectable 400 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. The seven-speed automatic returns, as does the standard rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive system. Those getting the 4WD system will enjoy the Auto mode. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it system that only sends power to the front wheels when the rear wheels lose traction. The 4WD system is also a part-time system, allowing the driver to select 4WD High range and 4WD Low range. High range locks in the front axles and splits power delivery evenly between the front and rear. 4WD Low range does the same but uses shorter gearing to multiply torque for better low-end grunt, which is perfect for hill climbs, churning through deep mud or sand, or recovering a stuck vehicle. The 4WD system also boasts a Snow mode. Though the QX80 does not have locking differentials, it uses its brakes to redirect power to the tires with traction. Infiniti calls it the four-wheel Active Brake Limited Slip system. "The four-wheel independent suspension uses new dampers with a 30-percent reduction in damping force for a smoother ride over rough pavement" The four-wheel independent suspension uses new dampers with a 30-percent reduction in damping force for a smoother ride over rough pavement. Keeping the QX80 from feeling sloppy is the optional Hydraulic Body Motion Control system, or HBMC. It uses high-pressure hydraulics linked between the shock absorbers to limit the amount of body roll during turns. Coming standard is the automatic rear leveling system, which keeps the tail from sagging when loaded down. This also helps with the QX80’s 8,500-pound tow rating. And if you haven’t guessed by now, the QX80 rides on a ladder frame shared with the Nissan Armada and its global variant, the Patrol. Fuel economy isn’t the best, though that’s not a surprise to someone dropping big money on a big SUV. It’s also not too far off what other full-size, three-row SUVs achieve during EPA testing. The QX80 in RWD form will get 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. 4WD models get 13mpg city, 19 mpg highway, and 15 mpg combined. And yes, the direct-injected V-8 drinks premium fuel. Drivetrain Specifications Engine V-8 Displacement 5.6 liters (5,552 cc) Horsepower 400 HP @ 5,800 RPM Torque 413 LB-FT @ 4,000 RPM Transmission Automatic; 7-speed with manual shift mode, Adaptive Shift Control, Downshift Rev Matching (DRM) Pricing Infiniti is adding $900 to the QX80’s base price. That means the RWD model now starts at $65,745 and the 4WD model starts at $68,845. Three trim levels are offered: the standard QX80, the Signature Edition, and the Limited. The Limited starts around $90,000 and will come with just about every optional feature as standard equipment. 2018 Infiniti QX80 $64,750 2018 Infiniti QX80 4WD $67,850 Options Theater Package $2,450 Split Bench Seat Package $250 Deluxe Technology Package $5,700 22" Tire & Wheel Package $2,800 Driver Assistance Package $2,900 Premium Paint $500 CompetitionCadillac Escalade The venerable Cadillac Escalade has been the choice of automotive extravagance since 1999. Over the years, its luxury levels have risen, further separating it from its Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban cousins. The current ‘Slade debuted for 2015 and remains a fresh and solid choice in this category. It can be had in two wheelbase lengths, but both offer three rows with seating for seven. Power comes from General Motors’ 6.2-liter, LT1-derived V-8. It has direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation and manages an impressive 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic transmission does the shifting and the rear wheels receive power. A full-time 4WD system is optional. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 15 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 17 mpg combined on 2WD models. Getting 4WD only alters the highway economy, dropping it to 20 mph. Cadillac keeps the Escalade riding smoothly with GM’s Magnetic Ride Control. The system’s shock absorbers have magnetic particles suspended in the fluid that vary the ride depending on how much electricity they receive. GM says the shocks can adapt to changing road conditions several hundred times a second. The Escalade still uses a solid rear axle but has an independent front suspension. Pricing for the 2017 Escalade starts at $72,090 for the short-wheelbase model. Checking all the option boxes puts the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV Platinum at $99,390. Adding other options adds even more to the price. Read our full review on the 2017 Cadillac Escalade. Lexus LX570 Like the Tahoe-based Escalade and Armada-based QX80, the Lexus LX570 is a dolled-up Toyota Land Cruiser. That’s a great thing for those fond of Toyota’s go-anywhere LC and the heritage that comes with it. Unlike Land Cruiser owners who love flying under the radar, the LX570 shouts its prestige from the rooftops. The large Spindle grille and fishhook headlights draw attention while its interior is more techie and plushy than what’s found inside the Yota. Under the hood is the same thing, however. Toyota’s aging 5.7-liter V-8. Here it makes 383 horsepower and 403 pound-feet of torque. It comes mated to a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic, and full-time 4WD with low range is standard. The Lexus also boasts advanced electronics that aid in off-road driving. There’s the CRAWL Control and Multi-Terrain Select systems, three drive modes, a locking center differential, and even a turn assist feature that locks the inside rear wheel to shrink the LX’s turn radius while off-road. The adaptive suspension also offers various ride height settings, along with variable stiffness during on-road drives. Pricing is steep with the LX570. The SUV starts at $89,980. There are no trim levels, so the price all depends on how many options and packages are added. Check all the boxes, and the 2018 LX570 will total $98,610. Read our full review on the 2017 Lexus LX570 Conclusion The changes Infiniti has given the 2018 QX80 help it look better, ride better, and offer more luxury to its seven or eight passengers. There’s no denying this mid-cycle refresh is a success. We’re always happy to see improvements. There’s also no doubt Infiniti is hoping the updated help QX80 sales, too. There is certainly room to improve on 15,000 examples sold annually. Then again, Infiniti can be thankful the QX80 far outsells the Lexus LX570’s abysmal figures; only 5,707 were sold in 2016 – and that’s an improvement of nearly 2,000 vehicles over 2015. Ouch. Still, it has a ways to go before catching up to the Escalade’s annual sales. Caddy moved 23,604 in the U.S. in 2016 – and that doesn’t even count the long-wheelbase Escalade ESV. Sales figures aside, the updated 2018 Infiniti QX80 is a solid choice in the exclusive class of luxury body-on-frame three-row SUVs. Love it Improved outward appearance Updated interior Same strong mechanicalsLeave it Thirsty for premium fuel Expensive with options ReferencesInfiniti QX80 Read our full review on the previous 2017 Infiniti QX80. Read more Infiniti news.

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    Corvette ZR1 Convertible by Xtomi

    Chevy just released its new Corvette ZR1, and the spec sheet is just this side of insane. All told, this thing is the fastest, most powerful production Corvette ever created, with a thumping supercharged V-8 under the hood, advanced adaptive suspension components and tuning, and more wing than an international airport. All good stuff, no doubt, but what happens when you take off the roof? To find out, X-Tomi Design put together a rendering, and long story short, we approve. The ZR1 convertible bears the same upgraded front fascia as its hardtop sibling, with aggressive, angular front intakes, a large splitter, and a taller hood to accommodate the bigger blower underneath. The wheels, fender vents, and enormous rear wing are also a carryover. Up top, though, you’ll notice the expanded headroom. If we’ve got your attention, then you’re in luck, because word has it a factory-made ZR1 convertible will break cover soon, possibly alongside the coupe version later this month at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Read on for the details. Continue reading to learn more about the 2019 Corvette ZR1 Convertible by X-Tomi Design.What Makes The 2019 Corvette ZR1 Convertible By X-Tomi Design Special While overall we like the rendering, we can’t help but point out that it looks a little silly with that carbon fiber monstrosity hanging off the tail – indeed, cutting the roof off the ZR1 would do a good job in screwing up its formidable aerodynamics package. Chevy says the coupe makes close to 1,000 pounds of extra stick at speed, a vital feature when considering the ZR1’s 210-mph top speed. So what effect would a convertible have on performance? 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1 "Cutting the roof off the ZR1 would do a good job in screwing up its formidable aerodynamics package." Luckily, recent spy shots seem to reveal that the factory convertible will get a few tweaks, including a less aggressive wing in back. The rest of it should be identical to the hardtop version, with as much as 755 horsepower and 715 pound-feet of torque on tap from a boosted 6.2-liter V-8. Magnetic ride suspension and a seven-speed manual transmission round it out, although we’re guessing convertible lovers will instead go for the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox. "The real question is how a roofless ZR1 will hang on the track." The real question is how the roofless ZR1 will hang on the track. The aero will likely be much less effective, and with no top, the car’s torsional rigidity will take a nosedive, affecting how it corners as a result. Basically, it’ll be pretty sloppy, especially with all that tire that’s stuffed in the corners. Chevy’s engineers might counter this with additional bracing in the flanks, but that’ll inevitably increase the car’s curb weight, once again hampering performance. Either way, we’ll keep an eye out for any further developments. What do you think? Does a ZR1 convertible make sense to you, or does it neuter this latest ultimate ‘Vette? Let us know in the comments! Drivetrain Specifications Type: LT5 6.2L Supercharged V-8 with direct and port injection Bore & stroke (in / mm) 4.06 x 3.62 / 103.25 x 92 Block material: Cast aluminum Cylinder head material: Cast aluminum Valvetrain: Overhead valve, two valves per cylinder Fuel delivery: Direct and port injection Horsepower 755 HP @ 6,300 RPM (SAE certified) Torque 715 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM (SAE certified) Transmission 7-speed manual with Active Rev Match 8-speed paddle-shaft automatic Fuel economy city/highway 15/22 mpg (manual) 13/23 mpg (automatic) Front Suspension: Short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone, cast aluminum upper and lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite spring, Magnetic Selective Ride Control Rear Suspension: Short/long arm (SLA) double wishbone, cast aluminum upper and lower control arms, transverse-mounted composite spring, Magnetic Selective Ride Control Steering Type: Variable-ratio rack-and-pinion with electric power assist Turning Circle (ft. / m): 39.2 / 11.6 Brake Type: Front and rear power-assisted discs with two-piece carbon ceramic matrix rotors; fixed six-piston aluminum front calipers and fixed four-piston aluminum rear calipers Brake Rotor Size (in / mm): Front –15.5 / 394 Rear –15.3 / 388 Wheel Size: Front: 19-inch x 10.5-inch Rear: 20-inch x 12-inch Tire Size: Michelin Pilot Super Sport run-flat (std.) Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 (ZTK) Front: P285/30ZR19 Rear: P335/25ZR20 ReferencesChevrolet Corvette ZR1 Read our full review of the 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1 Chevy Corvette Stingray Read our full review of the 2014 - 2017 Corvette Stingray Latest Corvette News Or, read our full review on the 1969 Chevy Corvette 427/430 L88

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