Sunday, October 22, 2017

Miscellaneous Debuts and Some Early Tokyo Reveals



Alexander Carabitses

(Image credited to Audi)

I had anticipated that the product cadence amongst automakers would be strong this year and so far, I'm not disappointed.  Here is the latest batch of reveals.

2019 Porsche 718 Boxter/Cayman GTS:  As far as mid-cycle refreshes are concerned, this is quite predictable.  The six-cylinder is gone and has been replaced with a 365 PS/317 lb-ft of torque, 2.5-liter four cylinder engine. Both a manual and an automatic are still on offer, while aesthetic changes are quite limited, both inside and out.  Expect the Cayman GTS to cost $79,800 and the Boxter GTS to cost $81,900 when the cars go on sale in March.
(Image credited to Porsche)
(Image credited to Porsche)

2018 Louts Elise Cup 260: Lotus is the master at taking ultra lightweight cars and somehow making them even lighter, which is exactly what the brand has done with this model.  It is the lightest Elise  ever made, yet the heaviest at speed (because of downforce).  It makes 250 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque, with 0-60 mph possible in 3.8 seconds.  The car, itself weighs only 1,900 pounds, which is astonishing.  What is also astonishing is that Lotus plans on capping production at 30 units, making this a very rare piece.
(Image credited to Lotus)

2019 Buick GL6:  For those who need a reminder, Buick sells a minivan in China called the GL8.  We don't get that car and we most likely won't be getting the smaller GL6 either.  This is basically Buick's version of the Opel Zafira Tourer, which was developed by GM before Opel's sale to PSA.  As much as I like Buick's design language, it just doesn't seem to translate well on this model. One other thing:  the Opel Zafira has been on sale for nearly five years at this point, so what took so long for Buick to get its own version?
(Image credited to Buick)

2018 Jaguar XE L:  This is exactly what its name implies (a long wheel base XE) and it will only be sold in China starting at some point next year, with an official debut set for the Guangzhou Auto Show in November.
(Image credited to Jaguar)

2018 Land Rover Range Rover:  Just days after Land Rover launched the refreshed Range Rover Sport (which I touched upon in my last column), the brand pulled the wraps off of its bigger brother. The changes are quite similar: some new exterior sheet metal, minor interior tweaks, and of course the addition of a plug-in-hybrid powertrain.  Sales in the UK kick off later this year, and I would place bets on a US premier at the LA Auto Show in December.
(Image credited to Land Rover)

2018 Aston Martin DB11 Volante: Powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo Mercedes-AMG V8, the droptop variant of Aston Martin's latest car produces 503 horsepower and 513 lb-ft of torque. The car can sprint to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, while the roof can be raised and lowered at 14 seconds and 16 seconds respectively (at speeds up to 31 mph). Prices will start at $216,495, when sales kick off early next year.
(Image credited to Aston Martin)

2018 Volvo XC40:  I believe it was the summer of 2016 in which Volvo pulled the wraps off of a pair of concepts that previewed that brand's new line of 40-series compacts.  We now have the first production example, in the form of the new XC40.  Riding on Volvo's new CMA architecture, it is  exactly what one would expect in terms of both style and substance, given what Volvo has already shown it's capable of with other recent introductions. While an electric model is on the table, it won't arrive for at least another year.  Diesel and petrol versions go on sale in Europe this November with other markets to follow shortly thereafter.  Again, expect a US premiere in LA.
(Image credited to Volvo)

2019/2020 Polestar One:  What was once a tuner company for Volvo that eventually became an in-house performance sub-brand, Polestar will now make electric performance vehicles that will, at least initially, be based on Volvos.  I say initially because the first of their cars is actually based on the concept car that marked Volvo's design renaissance, a vehicle that many thought most likely wouldn't make it to production.  While this may look like a Volvo S90 coupe with different badges, that isn't the entire story, as it is what's inside that truly counts.  The car is technically a plug-in hybrid that's powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cyliner Drive-E engine that makes 218 horsepower.  Thanks to the battery, the car makes a combined 600 horsepower and has an electric-only range of 93 miles, which is better than every other plug-in hybrid on the market.  As far as styling is concerned, beauty speaks for itself.  Because Polestar will be run as an online subscription service, customers can preorder the car right now, with production kicking off in China in mid-2019 (yes, 2019).  One thing's for sure, and that is that this will be worth the wait.
(Image credited to Polestar)

2019 Audi A7:  It may seem hard to believe, but it's already time for the gorgeous Audi A7 to be redesigned, and somehow, the second generation model looks even better.  The basic silhouette is the same, but the front and rear fascias are all new; while I am not a big fan of Audi's new front end on the A8, it does look good on the A7, although I can't figure out why.  The interior also looks like a magnificent place to be, and a huge step up from the current car. Audi AI, Audi's driver assistance system, is on offer and will autonomously maneuver in and out of parking spots and garages.  The car will initially be offered with a 3.0-liter TFSI V6 that makes 340 PS and 368 lb-ft of torque, but more engines will arrive later.  The car will go on sale in Germany in February, and I anticipate US sales will begin sometime in the late spring/early summer 2018 timeframe, following a US premier in LA or Detroit.
(Image credited to Audi)

Early Tokyo Reveals

Although the Tokyo Auto Show officially kicks off in a few weeks time, both Nissan and Toyota have already revealed some of their offerings, and believe me when I tell you that, in the case of Toyota, there are a lot of them.

Starting off with Nissan, the brand has revealed two new Nismo performance models.  The first is the Serena Nismo, which is a sport trim package for the brand's minivan.  Then there's the Leaf Nismo Concept, which previews a sporty version of the Leaf, although no power upgrades are expected for this car.  I'll categorize the Serena as pointless, but I'll be kinder than usual and keep an open mind towards the Leaf, at least until a production version arrives.
(Image credited to Nissan)
(Image credited to Nissan)

As I said before, Toyota will have as many concepts as there are bones in my body.  First, there are two mobility concepts dubbed the Concept i-Ride, which is essentially a mobility pod, and the Concept i-Walk, which is some futuristic electric scooter.
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)


Then there's a trio of miscellaneous concepts that don't really serve too much of a purpose.  First there's the Toyota TJ Cruiser Concept, which is a cross between an off road SUV and an MPV, meaning that it's versatile, yet extremely boxy.  Next is the Fine Comfort Ride Concept, which can be best described as a hydrogen powered, autonomous MPV.  The exterior styling looks a lot like previous Toyota MPV concepts, but the interior is quite lavish and offers a good indication of what the interior of autonomous cars may look like.  Then there's the God-awful GR-HV Concept, a slapped together commemorative piece that's really nothing more than a botched up Toyota 86.  The front end looks to have been inspired by a heavy duty yard shovel that was placed upside down.  It is horrendous an I hope that this is the last I see of it.  Finally, there's the Toyota Crown "Concept", which is really nothing more than a pre-production version of Toyota's second largest sedan.  While the Crown isn't sold in the US, it is anticipated that this could preview the impending Lexus ES/GS replacement.
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)
(Image credited to Toyota)


Now in this slew of concept cars, there is still one production car that Toyota has managed to trot out: the 2019 Toyota Century.  This car was redesigned twenty years ago and looks nearly identical, but of course there are many substantial updates.  For those who are unaware, the Toyota Century is quite literally the Roll Royce of Toyotas, as important dignitaries, politicians, and aristocrats ride around in these.  As strange as it my sound, I quite like this vehicle and find it ashamed, albeit quite understandable, that it isn't sold in the US.
(Image credited to Toyota)

That's all that I have for now.  Thank you for reading and have a good week.

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