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Monthly Archives: July 2018

Extra Power For 2019 Mazda Miata RF Means Price Increase

mazda mx-5 miata rf (1)

For months, we have waited anxiously for information about the newest Mazda MX-5 Miata for the 2019 model year. Little by little, we got details about the car’s 2.0-liter I4 that makes 181 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque.

This increase in power (the current generation is 26 horses weaker) means an increase in price, too. The base model for the Miata RF will have a price tag of $33,240, including an $895 destination charge. That’s for the Club trim level with a six-speed manual transmission.

The price increase of $435 also gets a telescoping steering wheel, new door stops, updated cupholders and seat levers, standard rear-view camera, and 17-inch wheels. Reportedly, all of these are now coming as standard to all variants of the car.

The Club 6MT will have options such as Brembo brakes and BBS wheels for an extra $3,770, or the Brembo, BBS, and Recaro package for a cool $4,670.

On the other hand, the MX-5 Club with a six-speed automatic transmission will come with paddle shifters and sport mode for $33,840. This trim is not going to be available with the Brembo/BBS packages. The Club 6AT will, however, get the i-ActiveSense package option for $450. The package will include the Smart City Brake Support and lane-departure warning.

The Grand Touring trim will start at $34,230 with a six-speed manual transmission. This is $585 more than the outgoing model. For an extra $750, the Grand Touring 6MT can get the GT-S package that includes a front shock tower brace, limited-slip rear differential, Bilstein dampers, and a hand-painted black roof.

The Grand Touring with six-speed automatic gets a price tag of $35,305. If you want it with Auburn Nappa leather, that’s another $300.

The new MX-5 Miata RF is available in three premium colors—the Soul Red for an extra $595, the Machine Gray Metallic for $300, and the Snowflake White Pearl Mica for $200.

3 Things To Expect From The 2020 Aston Martin Mid-Engined Supercar

aston martin vanquish s

Technically, Aston Martin hasn’t launched its Valkyrie hypercar yet, but the brand is already thinking of a second supercar in its lineup. This mid-engined supercar, which is still unnamed but could be called the Vanquish, will be developed with Red Bull Racing and it will have 130 engineers and designers working on it.


A rendering of the soon-to-be-introduced mid-engined supercar showed that it will have an aggressive design. The rendering is based on the current design language of the brand and the features of the Valkyrie.

The design might have a shorter nose, a trapezoidal grille, a carbon-fiber grille frame, and a big splitter at the bottom. The headlights will be familiar, though it will now have a unique shape and LED lights under the cover. Because the engine will be mounted behind, there would be no outlets or louvers on the front hood.

Like any supercar, the still unnamed car will have a low stance and a low roof with small quarter windows. There should be plenty of carbon fiber material, especially on the mirror caps, the fender vent inserts, and the side skirts. As an option, carbon fiber will also be offered for the wheels.


Things would have to change with a mid-ship layout, so that might mean there would be no rear seats. Based on the Valkyrie, everything inside should be made with carbon fiber with Alcantara used on the steering wheel, as well as parts of the dashboard and the seats.

The unique squared-off steering wheel will be similar to other race cars, though it will now include a small display in the center alongside various buttons and knobs. There will be another screen on the passenger-side dashboard, but there will be no center console.


CEO Andy Palmer said the mid-engined supercar won’t be using a V12 engine like the Valkyrie. We expect it to have a hybrid drivetrain—the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 paired with Mercedes’ 48-volt hybrid system. There’s no word on the output yet but if Aston Martin wants to compete with the Ferrari 488 GTB and the McLaren 720S, it should be able to produce 650 horsepower.


2019 Infiniti QX50 Gets Fancy Autograph Package For Interior

2019 INFINITI QX50 interior

The 2019 Infiniti QX50 has wowed industry experts and automobile fans because of its variable combustion engine that changes the compression ratio to maximize power and fuel efficiency. The engine could also change between Atkinson and regular combustion cycles, use either a multi-point or direct injection, and features an electric motor that controls the variable compression ratio.

If you’re not a fan of engines and grease and fuel efficiency, then maybe you might want to know how the QX50 will look inside? You won’t be disappointed as Infiniti just announced its newest Autograph Package that will transform the cabin of the QX50 into something akin to a luxury beach resort, thanks to a mixture of the latest Pantone color trends.

According to Infiniti, the interior will start with warmer color tones as the rich chocolate brown replicates wood applications in a beach resort and the surrounding trees. The creamy off-white will represent the sand on the beach while the highlights of cooler dark navy blue on the center console will remind us of ocean water.

The “proper balance” between warm and cool colors will create a “comfortable, yet invigorating environment.”

The cream, brown, and blue colors used in the package came from Pantone. The colors are called Coconut Milk, Emperador, and Sailor Blue, respectively. The Sailor Blue is applied to the center console, dash, and doors. The Emperador is seen on the steering wheel, leather-wrapped dash top and doors, the outer portions of the seats, and the lower door portions. Coconut Milk, on the other hand, is used on the dash color and the seat leather.

This is a special $2,000 option for the range-topping QX50 Essential trim level. Aside from the $2,000 Autograph Package, you would also have to pay $7,500 for the Sensory package and $550 for the ProAssist package, both of which are required. In total, you’re looking at a price tag of $54,395 for the most fashionable car ever.


Hyundai Readies Release of i30 Fastback N

hyundai 130 fastback

Hyundai has been teasing us with the launch of its newest i30 Fastback N for quite some time now. Whether it is the South Korean automaker that’s truly excited about it, we do not know. What we do know is that the model is finally in its final stages of development, and it will soon join the i30 N and the Veloster N when it debuts later this year.

Hyundai took the Fastback testing around different terrains and road surfaces in Europe. Of course, the prime location to test any vehicle is on the Nurburgring Nordschleife, where the company has its own technical center. There, the model is currently undergoing rigid testing and evaluations for performance and durability before it is announced and launched to the public.

hyundai 130 fastback 2

The prototype showed that the fastback will have a sloped roofline, a bold rear lip, strong character lines, and the automaker’s signature Cascading grille. Under the hood, it should have the same engine as the i30 N hatch. This means the Fastback would be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 246 horsepower. A Performance package, which we are not sure yet will be offered, can take that output to 271 horses.

The problem is that if you’re living in the United States, you probably won’t see the i30 Fastback N. That makes sense considering Hyundai never brought the i30 N here.

hyundai 130 fastback 1

Maybe a petition is in order? Don’t fret. The standard i30 hatch is very similar and probably closely related to the Elantra GT, which we have here. The Fastback body style might be introduced to the US audience through the Elantra lineup. That will happen, of course, if Hyundai North America sees the demand for it.

If it’s any consolation, we are getting the Veloster N, which received positive reviews during its first run.


2019 Lexus ES Pricing Starts At $40,525

lexus es

The 2019 Lexus ES sedan is the seventh generation of the model and the good thing about this is we now finally know how much the starting price would be for the popular sedan. According to Lexus, the model will start from $40,525 for the ES 350, an increase of $550 over the outgoing car. The price includes a $1,025 destination charge.

There are no specifics yet on what features the ES 350 will hold, although we’re pretty sure it will come with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 302 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This will be paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which will come standard across all variants.

We still don’t know if an all-wheel-drive system will be available for the ES, which means we’re spinning on a front-wheel exclusively for now. All ES sedans will pack the Lexus Safety System suite of active safety features, which include automatic emergency braking, pedestrian and bicycle detection, adaptive cruise control, road sign recognition, and rear object and pedestrian detection during parking.

For the first time ever in a Lexus, the ES will also come with the Apple CarPlay.

If you’re looking for an environment-friendly Lexus ES, you’ll be happy to know that there would be a 2019 ES 300h hybrid that will cost $510 less than the outgoing car. It would have a starting price of $42,335. It will be powered by a 2.5-liter inline-4 running the Atkinson cycle mated to an electric drive system for a combined output of 215 horses.

Lexus said that the EPA released the rating for the 300h. It is rated at 43 mpg city, 45 mpg highway, and 44 mpg combined, making it the most fuel-efficient luxury vehicle without a plug-in hybrid system.

The ES 350 F Sport would be priced at $45,060. This marks the first time that an F Sport option will be offered for the ES model. This sportier variant will bring to the table a rear spoiler, 19-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, and a Sport+ option for the drive mode selector.

Updated Porsche Macan Gets Sportier Looks and More Equipment

porsche macan

The Porsche Macan is getting a mid-cycle refresh that will make the crossover sportier than ever before, thanks to its 911-inspired looks. It will also get brand-new equipment inside the cabin.


The exterior of the new Macan will follow the features from the 911 sports car, just like the latest Cayenne and Panamera. Up front, there are the familiar four-point LED headlamps that are standard on every trim. The grille and the side vents have been revised with the grille featuring horizontal slats only. The side vents no longer have daytime running lights at the top. The vents below are wider and the center outlet is rectangular. These make the Macan seem wider.

The side remains unchanged, though there are new wheel designs available in either 20 or 21 inches. At the back, the revised taillights now have LED strip that we saw on the 911 and the Panamera. The rear is finished off with a new diffuser with round exhaust pipes.

There are three new colors available for the Macan: Miami Blue, Mamba Green Metallic, Dolomite Silver Metallic, and Crayon.


Porsche made big changes in the Macan’s cabin. The obvious upgrade is the larger infotainment screen, which is now an 11-inch diagonal display. The German automaker removed the A/C vents and put them in smaller units below. The enhanced PCM system also removed most of the buttons for a cleaner center stack display.

The GT sports steering wheel is another major change. It was inspired by the 911 and now has new controls, a mode switch, and the Sport Response Button. That last feature is offered with the Sport Chrono Package. Other features include Connect Plus module and optional Traffic Jam Assist, an ionizer, and a heatable windscreen.


The new Macan has an enhanced chassis that enhances “neutrality while maintaining stability and improving comfort.” The engine lineup will start with the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 252 horsepower and 273 pound-feet. The 3.0-liter V-6 should be able to produce 340 horses and 339 pound-feet or 360 horsepower and 369 pound-feet.

The range-topping Macan Turbo will use the same 3.6-liter V-6 with 400 horses and 406 pound-feet. The Performance Package will increase the output to 440 horsepower and 443 pound-feet. There will be two diesel models: one with 211 horsepower and another with 258 horsepower. Both will have 428 pound-feet of torque.



Is Toyota Planning A Third Sports Car?

toyota 86 trd

While we have been waiting for more news about the new Toyota Supra, we have found another nugget of information from chief engineer Tetsuya Tada. During a Toyota-conducted interview, Tada was asked if the company is trying to create a “big brother” for the GT86.

He replied that Toyota president Akio Toyoda has always wanted the Japanese brand to have what he called the Three Brothers: the GT86 in the middle and the Supra as the big brother. This means that the third sports car is not the big brother of the GT86. Rather, it will slot below the 86, making it slower but way cheaper.

This is not new information, of course. In 2013, Tada hinted that a third sports car might be on its way. This was not long after the 86 was launched as the GT86 in Japan and as Scion FR-S in the United States. This was also before the Supra project and name were fully confirmed. What’s interesting about it is that the 86 had sluggish sales figures in the last five years since it was launched. You would think that Toyota would turn its back from the sports car industry, but that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here.

The third sports car could be a concept Toyota had a few years back. It was called the S-FR. The S stood for “sports,” the F for “front” (as in front-engine), and the R for “rear” (as in rear-drive). The car was a well-proportioned car with scowling circular headlights, six-speed manual transmission, and independent rear suspension.

It has all the right features to become a sports car, but it will also be slower and less powerful than the 86. This description would fit a third sports car slotted under the 86. Of course, the problem would be that this sub-86 sports car might be too small for American standard.

3 Things That Make the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan Stand Out

Mercedes-Benz A-Klasse Limousine, V177, 2018

Americans can finally get their hands on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan for the 2019 model year. The US market hasn’t been able to take advantage of the German brand’s most affordable model for the longest time, but that’s about to change with the arrival of the A-Class to American soil.


Mercedes-Benz A-Klasse Limousine, V177, 2018

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan is basically a European-spec A-Class hatchback without the fifth door but with slightly updated standard equipment. It looks pretty much the same as the A-Class hatch, thanks to its triangular headlights that are on the A-Class and the CLS-Class.

Compared to the CLA-Class, which was the cheapest Mercedes model the US got, the A-Class Sedan is about three inches shorter in length though the wheelbase is 1.1-inch longer. It’s 0.3 inches taller than the CLA-Class, which means a better headroom compared to the CLA-Class. Without counting the mirrors, both models are about 70 inches in width.


Mercedes-Benz A-Klasse Limousine, V177, 2018

There’s a wide variety of equipment available inside the cabin. Nothing looks cheap inside the A-Class Sedan. There is plenty of switchgear inside the A-Class Sedan that mostly can be found inside the more expensive German cars. Standard equipment includes a 7-inch gauge screen and a matching 7-inch infotainment screen, though buyers can upgrade both screens to 10.25 inches.


Mercedes-Benz A-Klasse Limousine, V177, 2018

There will only be two trims available for the A-Class sedan for now: the front-wheel-drive A220 and the all-wheel-drive A220 4Matic. Both of these variants will come packed with the same engine—a 2.0-liter gas inline-4 that produces 188 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with an electronically-limited top speed of 130 mph.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan will go on sale in the US late this year. Prices have not been announced, so stay tuned for that.

Ex-Fiat Boss Sergio Marchionne Dies At 66

sergio marchionne

Tributes are pouring in for former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne who died on Wednesday after complications from a shoulder surgery. The former chief executive of FCA and architect of the brand’s dramatic turnaround was 66 when he died.

Marchionne died in a hospital in Zurich less than a week after he has been replaced as CEO of FCA. This report was confirmed through a statement from Exor NV, the holding company of Fiat’s founding Agnelli family. Marchionne’s health deteriorated following complications from a shoulder surgery done in late June.

In another statement, FCA chairman John Elkann, who was unaware of Marchionne’s deteriorating health prior to the surgery, said that him and his family “will be forever grateful for what he has done.”

His death left a wide gaping hole in the succession for FCA CEO because he and Elkann have not discussed a possible heir to the company. On July 21, during an emergency meeting of the FCA’s board of directors, Mike Manley, formerly of Jeep and Ram brands, succeeded Marchionne as CEO. Louis C. Camilleri will take over the operations of Ferrari while Suzanne Heywood will succeed Marchionne as chairman of truck and farm-equipment maker CNH Industrial NV.

Some Italian reports said Marchionne had been suffering from a rare form of cancer, but people close to the former FCA boss said he died of cardiac arrest and did not have cancer.

Marchionne was responsible for boosting the company’s value by more than 10-fold. When he first joined the company, he restructured the auto business and separated the assets. One of his major moves was the 2015 listing of supercar-maker Ferrari NV, where he was also CEO and chairman.

He had a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to his job but his partners and his employees have come to love that about the man who former Ford Motor Co. chairman Bill Ford called was “one of the most respected leaders in the industry.”

Marchionne and his estranged wife, Orlandina, had two children, Alessio and Tyler. His partner, Manuela Battezzato, works in Fiat Chrysler’s press office.

New Aston Martin SUV To Start Production Next Year

aston martin

Aston Martin confirmed that its first SUV will enter production in late 2019 after the completion of its new St. Athan plant in South Wales in the United Kingdom. The British automaker, however, has not released any specifications for the new car.

The company’s board of directors already held a meeting at the new plant, which includes three converted former-Ministry of Defense hangars. The facility will be completed before the production of the SUV in 2019.

Media reports said that the brand’s first SUV will be called Varekai. The SUV will be based on the DBX concept that was presented in Pebble Beach, California in 2015.

Aston Martin is expected to fit the gasoline version of the SUV with its V12 engine, though upgrades might be made since the company plans to compete with the 650-horsepower Lamborghini Urus via a hybrid powertrain.

To do that, the brand will use a Mercedes-AMG four-liter V8 twin-turbo engine that pairs with an electric motor of 200 horsepower. The engines will combine for a total of 700 horsepower. If this happens, the “Varekai” will be the world’s most powerful SUV.

Aston Martin must have tricks up its sleeves if it wants to compete in the high-end SUV market. Competition is increasingly fierce in the industry as Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Uris, and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan have already made their mark in the segment. Ferrari, of course, is another one to watch out for as it plans to roll out its first SUV soon.

This is not the only SUV that Aston Martin plans to produce. Another one is in the pipeline; this time, for its premium Lagonda brand. The Lagonda SUV is expected by 2021 at the earliest. Based on the Lagonda Vision Concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2018, the SUV will be a semi-autonomous vehicle.

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