Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 Summer Product Reveals: Part 7



Alexander Carabitses

(Image credited to Audi)
This past week's product onslaught featured a number of significant vehicle debuts, a few of which nobody saw coming. However, before I begin, I want to mention that this will be the final Car News Commentary post for the next two weeks, as I embark on a well deserved two-week vacation.  Upon my return in early August, content will resume as normal.


2018 Fiat Panda City Cross:  This vehicle is baiscally a Front-Wheel Drive version of the AWD Panda Cross (a crossover version of the Panda).  That's it.
(Image credited to Fiat)

2018 Honda Grace/City: For those who were unaware, Honda sells a sedan version of the Fit hatchback in other parts of the world, with the car being called Grace or City (depending on what country one lives in).  For 2018, the car sees a few minor design tweaks, both inside and out, in order to coincide with the mid-cycle refresh of the Fit.
(Image credited to Honda)

2018 Ford Mustang Pony Package:  After debuting the 2018 Mustang during the public days of the Detroit Auto Show in January, Ford has just launched the Pony Package, which features a retro look that's only available on ecoboost-powered models.
(Image credited to Ford)

2018 Ford Tourneo/Transit Custom: The first of the Ford vans to receive a mid-cycle refresh, both the Tourneo Custom and the Transit Custom (Ford's midsize van that the US does not get) receive a new front fascia and a much more refined cabin than any Ford van before them.  Expect to see the refreshed versions of Ford's other vans debut in the coming months, although I'm not sure when they will hit US shores.  As far as US availability of the Transit/Tourneo Custom is concerned, I'd say that there's a fifty-fifty chance that we see it, considering that Mercedes currently sells a midsize van in the US (the Metris), which itself has been targeting the compact Transit Connect in its marketing campaigns.
(Image credited to Ford)
(Image credited to Ford)

Volkswagen Gen. E Concept: What we have here is a random hatchback design study, featuring an electric powertrain with a 248 mile range.  Also, the car was presented with a robotic charger (i.e. a charger on wheels) because God forbid a person has to plug in their electric vehicle manually.
(Image credited to Volkswagen)

2018 LEVC TX: London has a new edition to its taxi fleet with the TX.  This model is significant because of its plug-in hybrid powertrain that allows it to run for 70 miles on electric power alone and another 330 miles on the gasoline engine before needing to refuel. Of course, the company was sure to make it look like a traditional London taxi, and I must admit that it looks a hell of a lot better than the Nissan NV200 taxi that NYC taxi fleets are stuck with.  The car will hit the streets of London later this year, while the Netherlands will receive its order of 225 units early next year.
(Image credited to LEVC)


2018 Hyundai i30 Fastback: For those who were unaware, the Hyundai Elantra is not sold in Europe, so to compensate, Hyundai has pulled this product out of its back pocket: the i30 (Elantra GT) Fastback. It features a rear liftback, rather than a hatch or a trunk, and due to its proportions, it looks awkward.  Expect the vehicle to go on sale, in Europe, in late 2017.
(Image credited to Hyundai)

2018 Hyundai i30 N:  This is another model that's due to go on sale in Europe by the end of the year.  Serving as the brand's gateway into the compact hot hatchback segment and the brand's first vehicle to be tuned by the N performance division, the car makes 271 horsepower and gets from 0-62 mph in 6.1 seconds.  However, those numbers only come about after one orders the Performance Package; base models will make 246 horsepower.  Hyundai has, of course, sharpened the handling in order to make this version of the i30/Elantra GT more engaging to drive.  Unfortunately, some "intelligent" product planners decided that the US should not get this model and that we will be more than content with an N version of the next-generation Veloster.  I'll write it off as a shameful mistake and a missed opportunity.
(Image credited to Hyundai)

Aston Martin Valkyrie: After first debuting last summer, this outlandish Aston is back with a few updates that make it more "production ready", although one would never be able to tell that this will be en-route to production in the next few years. New for this year are openings between the cabin and the front wheel arches that are supposed to improve downforce. More interesting is the fact that both the headlights and the badges were reengineered to weigh less than before. As far as the interior is concerned, it looks to have been modeled after an actual Le Man racer. No official specs were announced by Aston Martin, although the brand alluded to the fact that the car should feature a 6.5-liter V12 engine and an electric motor under the hood.
(Image credited to Aston Martin)

2018 Zarooq SandRacer 500 GT:  Just as you thought things couldn't get more bizarre than the Valkyrie, an automaker from the United Arab Emirates just launched this off-road machine that is both incredibly cool and incredibly stupid.  Expect it to be powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 525 horsepower and 487 lb-ft of torque when it goes on sale for the modest price of $450,000.
(Image credited to Zarooq)

2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class: Because Mercedes no longer gives a crap about its true heritage and would rather be dominant in every segment of the market, the brand trotted out this joke of a vehicle. The new Mercedes X-Class is essentially a rebadged Renault Alaskan and Nissan Navara (i.e. the next Frontier), which means it has a payload capacity of 1.2 tons and a towing capacity of 3.8 tons. It will be powered by two 4-cylinder diesels, be offered with either an automatic or a manual transmission, and will come with standard RWD (AWD is an option).  Th exterior design is less offensive than the body style, which is a good thing, although seeing that ridiculously large three pointed star on the grille will take a lot of getting used to.  The interior is spartan, which makes it clear that Daimler intends for this to be a work truck, rather than a luxury vehicle.  If that remains the case, then it's unlikely that this vehicle would do well in the US, due to the truck know-how of Detroit and the brand loyalty that Ford, GM, and Ram buyers have for their respective brands. This is probably why the company has yet to announce US availability of this vehicle, as the truck will go on sale in Europe this November and other world markets next year.
(Image credited to Mercedes-Benz)

2018 Jaguar E-Pace: This is Jaguar's entry into the subcompact luxury crossover space, meaning that it will do battle with the BMW X1, Mercedes GLA, Infiniti QX30, and Audi Q3. Right off the bat, I must say that this looks better than any of the competitors that I mentioned, but that isn't too difficult to do when your competition either looks like an MPV or a raised hatchback.  As it is, the E-Pace has problems of its own, particularly at the back end, where the vehicle looks to be lacking any form of rear overhang.  Still, I will reserve final judgment until I see one in person.  The interior looks to have been modeled after the F-Type, which is a good thing. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the quality is subpar, given the segment that the vehicle competes in and also considering that the interiors of the XE and F-Pace suffer from the same problem. With regards to powertrains, US customers will only be able to choose a 2.0-liter turbo four that makes either 246 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque (0-60 in 6.6 seconds), or 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque (0-60 in 5.9 seconds).  Both all-wheel-drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox come standard.  After debuting the vehicle by having it do a record-setting barrel roll, the brand announced that the vehicle will hit US showrooms in early 2018, with the MSRP set at $39,595. Finally, I should note that this will be the first Jaguar not to be assembled in the UK, as production will take place in China and Austria.
(Image credited to Jaguar)

2018 Honda Accord: Honda's bread and butter sedan is all-new from the ground up and due to hit showrooms in the fall of 2017.  Honda took the liberty to cut between 110 and 176 lbs off of this model, while also lowering the center of gravity and improving the suspension to make the driving experience more dynamic.  Sure, the 1.5-liter and 2.0-liter turbo-four cylinders are nothing to be excited about, but they still produce a decent amount of horsepower at 192 and 252 respectively.  Also note that the hybrid is back and the coupe is dead.  I'd go as far as to rate the interior design as being the best in its class.  It certainly looks to have been inspired by Audi's interior design, as Audi seems to be everyone's design benchmark as of late. However, the exterior is not best in class.  While the overall proportions look good and borrow heavily form the Chevrolet Malibu, the chrome front end looks to have been ripped right off of an older Acura and placed onto a wide cavern.  It's as if Honda is trying to give buyers a slap in the face for not accepting that old design language in the first place.  Just give up and let the damn beak die already!
(Image credited to Honda)

2018 Audi A8:  After making a cameo appearance in the new Spiderman movie, the all-new Audi A8 has officially been revealed.  The most impressive features about the car are the one's that you cannot see, such as AI Traffic Jam Pilot (a semiautonomous system that takes care of steering, acceleration, and braking at speeds under 37 mph), AI Remote Parking and AI Remote Garage Parking (features that will park the car for the driver without he or she having to be in the car).  The car will be offered with V6, V8, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrid powertrains, while the W12 returns as well. Inside, drivers will find a luxurious, contemporary, and somewhat dark cabin (black leather and trim make it look more eerie than sporty) that does not feature an MMI nob.  That's because the car features one touchscreen for the radio and then a second one for the climate control.  As one would expect, the rear seats of the cabin in upscale trim levels look like a great place to be. Unfortunately, the exterior has been designed in a way that will allow it to appear new for the first model year, but only the first model year.  Aside from the hexagonal grille, it honestly looks to have been inspired by the Lincoln Continental, particularly at the back end.  Expect the car the car to hit German showrooms by the end of the year, priced at $103,000.
(Image credited to Audi)

That wraps up another week's worth of product introductions.  Thank you for reading, enjoy the rest of your week, and remember that I will be back in early August.

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