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Monthly Archives: April 2019

The BMW i4 EV Interior Is Just Your Average Joe

bmw i4 (1)

The new BMW i4 EV has been spotted testing a couple of times before and its prototype gave us a good glimpse of how it will look like outside. These recent photos are going to give us more to talk about though. For the first time since we were first teased of its coming, the BMW i4’s interior came front and center.

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And does it really surprise us that it looks like an average BMW? In fact, it is so normal that there was nothing that stood out to us in the new spy shots. Since the BMW i4 looks like a regular BMW from outside, the fact that its cabin hasn’t been upgraded to a funky little number should not come as a shock.

We’re just a little curious why BMW did not follow the same path as the i3. Though the BMW i3 is a bit dated at this point, its interior is still funky cool and modern. But with the i4, even if it comes from its i division, the German automaker seems to want to return to being just a normal luxury car.

While most of the interior is still covered with camouflage, we now have a clear view of the infotainment screen, the climate control, and the gear shift. These major components of the car’s cabin are enough for us to judge that the i4’s interior is anything other than ordinary.

The direction that BMW took with the i4’s interior is in stark contrast to what the Tesla Model 3 is working on. Tesla is reportedly thinking of reinventing the typical car interior though we don’t have any proof that the EV maker is set on that path. Once both cars are on sale, we’ll see if BMW was right about keeping its EV’s cabin simple and practical.

There’s still a long way to go before we see the final production version of the BMW i4. The car is slated to enter production in 2021 and BMW has high expectations for it, promising a 372-mile range as the minimum. The car is said to be able to hit 62 mph from a standstill in under four seconds.

Porsche Taycan Spy Photos Revealed More of The EV’s Front End Design

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We have seen Porsche Taycan prototypes before but never the way these spy photos were taken. It feels like we have been waiting for this moment for a long time. Mind you, we only want to have a glimpse of how the Taycan will look like from the front end.

Luckily, one member of the managed to come across the electric vehicle from Porsche in its full prototype glory, with only a bit of camouflage covering the car. It is only now that we can have a glimpse of the true shape of the Taycan’s headlights and if these spy shots are any indication, we say these headlight units are very aggressive and almost un-Porsche like in its dynamism.

While we expect the headlights to flow naturally with the rest of the bodywork, this is not going to happen with the Porsche Taycan. Porsche has gone the route of an edgier design. The lightning units have been tucked away in a little nook, effectively distorting that image we have of the Taycan as having a singular flowing design.

The sculpting from the headlight units angles downward to where the lower front fascia is located. This created an aggressive look that’s distinct only to the Taycan.

The lower bumper is devoid of camouflage also and the spy photos showed that there’ll be a huge opening there. While we expect the opening to be large because this is an electric car, maybe the one on this prototype is a little too large for our liking. Still, we expect this one’s done for aerodynamic purposes or to help cool down the electric powertrain. If it’s going to make the Taycan easier to handle then, we suppose that’s a good gamble.

The final design for the Taycan should be ready in time for the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall. Then, the all-electric Porsche will start production for the 2020 model year.

Peugeot Expert Van Gets Trim And Engine Updates

peugeot expert van

The mid-sized Peugeot Expert van is getting trim and engine updates to meet forthcoming van emissions legislation this 2019. The new trim levels added to the range are called the Grip and the Asphalt, both of which are designed for construction and long-distance travelers.

The Expert Grip boasts that its ride height has been raised by 20mm and there’s also a sump guard to protect the underside of the van. It also has a traction control system (similar to the one we see in Peugeot’s SUV range) for improved handling in slippery conditions. The trim level also comes with Mud & Snow tires.

Inside, the Moduwork bulkhead allows long objects to be loaded in the cabin. The middle seat can also be transformed into a table when the seat is folded back.

On the other hand, the Expert Asphalt is packed with more features and safety technologies. It rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and body-colored plastic trim. In the cabin, you’ll find a heads-up display, sat-nav with voice control, and a rear camera.

Buyers can opt for the Safety Pack, which adds speed limit recognition and automatic adaptation, lane assist, and a tiredness monitor to the already impressive standard safety tech. The Driver Assist Pack can be added for autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and collision warning.

Under the hood, the Expert will have PSA’s 1.5 BlueHDi diesel to replace the previous 1.6 BlueHDi. The new engine is more powerful by a mere 5bhp but the emissions rating will meet Euro 6.2 emissions legislation that will be implemented starting September this year.

The other engine, a 2.0 BlueHDi was also upgraded while the BlueHDi 150 and 180 units are still available with the same configuration. The 180 version, in particular, has EAT8 eight-speed auto instead of the six-speed auto in the previous model.

Aside from the new Grip and Asphalt trim, the Expect van is available in Compact, Standard, Long, Crew Van, and Platform Cab variants.

Manual Transmission In The Works For Aston Martin Vantage AMR

aston martin vantage

Aston Martin is making good on its promise to develop a manual transmission to power its Vantage AMR. Since the new generation debuted in late 2017, we’ve been hearing rumors that Aston Martin is developing a manual transmission to fit into the Vantage. Two years later and we’re still waiting for the fulfillment of that promise.

aston martin

On Friday, shortly after midday, Aston Martin finally gave us a clue. A teaser photo was posted on the company’s official Twitter account. The photo shows three pedals with the clutch colored in lime green. The teaser photo also showed the AMR logo, Aston’s recently created performance division, hinting of a new Vantage AMR model.

If that’s not enough, it also used the hashtag #VantageAMR after the “Coming soon” teaser of a post. That more than confirms the speculations.

The Vantage is using a version of Mercedes-AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine that can only be paired with an automatic transmission under the AMG line. To be able to use a manual gearbox for this particular configuration, Aston Martin has to engineer it themselves.

So, that explains why it took the automaker so long to come up with a Vantage manual transmission. We bet that Aston will use the same seven-speed unit that was used in the previous V12 Vantage S.

Aside from the manual configuration, Aston’s going to tweak some design elements of the Vantage. To fit the AMR brand, there will be lime-green accents all throughout the car. The color is AMR’s signature. There should be some upgrades on the chassis and the power output, too.

There’s still no word if the Vantage AMR will be a limited edition like the Rapide AMR and the previous Vantage AMR. It could be a regular production like the DB11 AMR but until we hear from Aston Martin itself, we’ll reserve our judgment on that. Details will likely be available in the coming months since the new Vantage AMR is being primed for a reveal soon.


Justice Department Starts Criminal Investigation Into Ford’s Fuel Efficiency Testing

ford explorer st

The US Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation into Ford Motor Company’s emissions-certification processes. The investigation focuses on Ford’s road-load estimations and it does not involve the use of defeat devices, similar to what Volkswagen admitted to using to fool government emissions testing.

The road-load estimations are used to determine the fuel efficiency figures as published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to Consumer Reports, it is up to the automakers to set the parameters of the road load, which simulates aerodynamic drag, friction, and tire-related losses on a dynamometer—a device that allows a car to stimulate driving by placing its wheels on rollers.

EPA said that the car manufacturer must set the standards of the road load and they are not necessarily monitored for the correctness of their parameters. However, it is the responsibility of every automaker to ensure that the methods used for measurement conform to EPA standards.

Shannon Baker-Branstetter of Consumer Reports explained that emissions testing is often a “self-certification process” and a lot of small factors, including software settings and modeling assumptions, can make a huge difference in the actual EPA rating of the car.

She explained that automakers sometimes build parameters that are set too close to the tests that during the self-certification process, they make the most favorable and positive assumptions about the results.

The Justice department’s investigation is looking into Ford’s overstatement of fuel mileage on a “large number” of models. Ford said it willingly opened an internal investigation back in February into its emissions testing procedure after employees called the management’s attention on the anomalies in the processes. The company, who voluntarily informed the Justice Department and state and federal agencies about the investigation, said it is cooperating and working closely with government agencies.

“Because this matter is still in the preliminary stages, we cannot predict the outcome, and we cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us,” a Ford statement said.

The investigation into the emissions testing anomalies is centered on the 2019 Ford Ranger, which went on sale at the beginning of this year.



Which Looks Better: 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA vs 2019 Jaguar XE

mercedes-benz cla vs jaguar xe

Jaguar is aiming to reintroduce the XE with a facelifted version but until that has arrived, we’ll compare the current XE we have in the market; one that has been around since 2014 (though it only went on sale in 2016). The XE, however, wants a cut of the market of both the C-Class and the 3 Series, both of which are also targets of the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

jaguar xe

Design-wise, the Jaguar looks far more impressive than the Mercedes, even if the design was engineered four years back. It looks better up front, thanks to Ian Callum, who followed the direction of the contemporary Jaguars as seen on the original XF and refined throughout the years. The elongated narrow headlights have twin headlamps above the L-shaped running light. It also has Jaguar’s large-size grille with curved corners and the logo in the middle.

The pop-up hood houses the four creases that highlight the frown-angled headlights, making the fascia look even more aggressive than it already is. The CLA, on the other hand, borrows from the design elements of the third-generation CLS, the first one to use an aggressive razor-shard design with triangular headlights that frame the standard grille. The CLA is unique in a sense that it comes with light units that are less pointy compared to the CLS and the A-Class.

mercedes-benz cla

When you move inside the CLA, you’ll feel like you’re in the cabin of an A-Class, which is good since it boasts of the retro-inspired A/C vents, the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, the gauge cluster with the 10.25-inch screen (on the more expensive trim levels), the MBUX, and many safety technologies that come as options.

On the other hand, the Jaguar’s interior is almost outdated with an infotainment screen on the center console and a small digital screen between the odometer and the tachometer. And while the steering wheel is still rock solid, there are dials and needles that make the cabin look antiquated.

3 Things That Separate The New 2020 Hyundai Sonata From Its Competitors

hyundai sonata (1)

Even though we were all a bit disappointed with the New York Auto Show (because it had to share the limelight with the Shanghai Auto Show), something good came out of it—the all-new 2020 Hyundai Sonata.

The Sonata is big both in design language and in technology. We can’t think of anything that’s wrong with this car so if you’re looking for a luxury sedan, this one’s for you.

1. Exterior

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The Sonata is the most aggressive model we have seen that the South Korean automaker engineered. It looks bolder and more beautiful than all its previous generations, and that’s largely because it was inspired by the Le Fil Rouge four-door concept shown at the 2018 Geneva Motor Show.

The most impressive of the new design is the lighting architecture. The headlamps have chrome strips wrapped around them. At least, that’s how the strips look like when the engine is turned off. Once the car is fired, the chrome strips will turn into Daytime Running Lights. Yes, there are hidden bulbs under those strips.

2. Interior

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When you go inside the Sonata, you know you’re paying for the ultimate luxury and comfort. The ambient mood lighting on the dashboard and the doors give a warm glow to the cabin and the “Beautiful Smart” theme feels perfect all of a sudden. Other eye-catching features are the slim HVAC vents, the 10.25-inch touchscreen display, the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and the 12-speaker Bose sound system.

The front seats are comfortable but when you move to the rear seats, because of the coupe-like roofline that slants sharply in the back, the rear headroom is cut a bit short. This might make it uncomfortable for taller passengers.

3. Drivetrain

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If there’s one concern we have about the Sonata, it’s the engine under the hood. The Sonata’s exterior and interior have been embraced and welcomed but the engine is quite underwhelming with its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 191 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 181 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

There’s another engine and it’s equally bland: a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline machine that generates 180 horses at 5,500 rpm and 195 pound-feet of torque between 1,500 and 4,500 rpm.

INKAS Releases Right-Hand-Drive Sentry APC

INKAS released a right-hand-drive version of its Sentry APC (Armored Personnel Carrier), making it the first company in the world to convert an armored vehicle from a left-hand-drive to right-hand-drive configuration. The Sentry APC also has a CEN 1063 BR7 protection level.

The Sentry APC is a tactical vehicle designed and engineered to survive extreme climate conditions and harsh terrains. It is unique in the industry in terms of its specifications, design, and assembly. It is also the only right-hand conversion that has been carried out by the same company that designed and armored the vehicle.

The Sentry APC uses a powerful Ford chassis that is a widely preferred platform within mid-scale APCs and LAPVs with eight-to-10 person capacities. An estimated third of the world’s population, which uses a right-hand-drive setup, are left without options because a Ford RHD chassis is not commercially available. It is worth noting, however, that the same chassis used on the Sentry APC is reliable and easy to maintain.

The major challenge for INKAS was to redesign and re-engineer the Ford chassis that will meet and exceed the original quality and performance characteristics. The Canada-based armor-vehicle producer had to reinforce the vehicle’s wiring, drivetrain components, steering, and exhaust systems.

Built to perform in rough terrain and extreme weather, the INKAS Sentry APC has been fitted with features to ensure its toughness, power, and stability on the road. It can also support modular hookups for various external technologies such as air filtration systems, fire source detection, advanced optics, and more.

Both the left-hand and right-hand configuration of the Sentry APC were designed to offer class-leading maneuverability and off-road performance while maintaining ballistic and blast protection. The INKAS Sentry APC is armored up to CEN 1063 BR7 ballistic standards, protecting it from 7.62×51 Armor Piercing ammunition as well as blasts from underneath the vehicle.

Standard features include perimeter gunports, roof-mounted turret or escape hatch, an 18,000-lb electric winch, advanced door lock mechanisms, a wide field of view from the driver cabin, and an electronic night vision system. Other optional enhancements are removable front-mounted plow for obstacle clearance, external view cameras providing a 360-degree field of view, sirens/PA systems, warning devices, crowd control features, emergency lights, and custom armoring options.


Black Edition Now Available For Audi A6 Saloon And Avant Estate

audi a6 avant black edition (1)

The Audi Black Edition trim, a range-topping variant that shows plenty of teeth with dark-tinted styling, is making a comeback. This time it will be on the latest Audi A6 saloon and Avant estate.

Audi’s Black Edition is a range-topping trim that’s based on the popular S-Line configuration coupled with darkly tinted styling designs. Perhaps the biggest change you’ll see with the trim is the new alloy wheel design. The S-Line version of the A6 gets 19-inch wheels while the Black Trim boosted this up to 20-inch V-spoke design finished in matt titanium.

The exterior design is littered with black tinted design—from the rear windows to the grille to the front air intakes to the door mirrors to the rear diffuser. These are all finished in black. On the A6 Avant, the roof rails are clad in black, too.

Inside the cabin, things are more S-Line than Black Edition. The interior is the regular S-Line trim we got to see before. It has front sports seats finished in a combination of Alcantara and leather with a perforated leather sports steering wheel.

All technology you’ll see on an A6 Black Edition was carried over from the S-Line trim. Standard to both trim levels is Audi’s latest dual-screen infotainment set-up. Buyers can opt to upgrade the system via a Technology pack, which will include Google Maps-assisted navigation, a much larger 10.1-inch lower display and Audi’s Virtual Cockpit digital instrument panel.

Whereas the S-Line trim stuck with regular LED units, the Black Edition improved on these with LED matrix headlights.

You can now get your hands on the A6 Black Edition either for the Saloon or the Avant estate. The models are priced from £44,635 ($57,563.80) for the 2.0-liter turbocharged 40 TDI saloon. That’s £2,340 ($3,018.19) more than its equivalent S-Line Model. The Black Edition trim can fit all available powertrains of the A6.

Fresh Details On The Completely Redesigned 2020 Land Rover Defender

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The Land Rover Defender was discontinued in 2016 because of safety reason (they couldn’t even fit the previous Defender with airbags) but we’re about to see a completely revamped and redesigned Defender for the 2020 model year.

A new report surfaced that said the new Defender will come out sometime in the next six months with new and cleaner engines, as well as the extensive use of aluminum on its body. Clearly, the Defender will be targeted to a more upscale market.

We’ve already seen a prototype of the new Defender at the end of 2018. Land Rover was generous enough to provide a batch of pictures of the off-roader’s camouflaged prototype. While we’re not exactly sure if the new Defender will be as boxy as the photos suggest, we do know that it will take after the Discovery model with a slightly higher ride height.

The Defender has always been known for being functional and direct to the point. It’s not a hit or a miss. When people buy a Defender, they know what they’re getting—which is, comfort-wise, means nothing. The Defender was all about performance and functionality, but the 2020 model will change that. This new off-roader hopes to marry function with style and substance and a whole lot of modern tech.

Reports based on Motortrend’s Johnny Lieberman’s Instagram post showed that the Defender would have an independent rear side and an air suspension fitted to it. Though this was not the conditions that the Defender was made for, what could Land Rover do exactly? They may alienate the farmers who really just like a functional Land Rover to roam over their lands, but the new Defender also has a chance to tap a new market and that should be fine.

The fully-independent suspension setup that Mr. Lieberman spied is similar to the one under the Land Rover Discovery. Does that mean we can expect the same 2.0-liter gasoline engines? We only have six months to wait as this one’s scheduled to debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in September. It will go on sale in 2020.

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