The luxury crossover market is booming with new entries and the Range Rover Velar is bound to draw attention thanks to its dramatic good looks and well-appointed interior. We recently spent a week with a Velar R-Dynamic SE and found out that luxury comes at a price. How does it look? In a word, phenomenal. Land Rover Design Director Gerry McGovern and his team deserve a lot of credit for creating one of the best looking crossovers on the market. While this is where I would normally say styling is subjective, it’s hard to argue about the Velar as it has already walked away with a number of awards including the 2018 World Car Design of the Year. The Velar R-Dynamic SE isn’t exactly what I would order, but the model still gets plenty of attention thanks to its Firenze Red exterior that contrasts with the R-Dynamic Black Exterior Package. The model also rides on a set of 20-inch wheels with a gloss black finish, which nicely completes the two-tone design. Perhaps one of the … [Read more...] about 2018 Range Rover Velar 2.0T Review: Is The Four-Cylinder Version A True Luxury SUV?
AMSTERDAM – It's not every day when a test-drive includes picking up flowers from a nursery, or shuttling passengers from an international airport. Then again, it's not every day that Mercedes-Benz introduces a brand-new version of the Sprinter, the German automaker's workhorse utility van. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter represents a total reboot, both inside and out, with particular attention paid to adding safety features and tech upgrades not normally associated with the world of square-edged, work-duty vans. And while it's highly unlikely that a Sprinter customer cares much about design, one added bonus is that the latest model happens to be relatively good-looking, too. (Well, at least in the world of vans it is.) A narrower grille, slimmer headlights and available LED exterior lighting add a touch of class to the Sprinter. Don't get us wrong, this is no AMG GT in terms of come-hither exterior design. But, believe it or not, during our test-drive in the Netherlands, which … [Read more...] about 2019 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter First Drive Review: Boxy and beautiful
RWS? A rear-wheel steer Audi R8? No, a rear-wheel drive Audi R8. The S stands, rather misleadingly, for Series. But what we have here, besides an R8 lacking a pair of front driveshafts, is very interesting. Why’s that? Because of what R8 Rear Wheel Series represents. When was the last time Audi did a rear-wheel-drive sports car? You have to go so far back for it to be pointless. Back to a time before the legendary Quattro, before even sports cars were invented. To all intents and purposes this is Audi’s first ever rear-wheel drive car. And that matters. It shows, in a way that far outstrips the fact Audi is only making 999 of them, that the days of dull Audis are over, that it wants to be taken seriously as a builder of purist sports cars. At least I hope it does. If not we’ll just chalk this one up as another colossal missed opportunity. Despite its limited-edition status, the RWS is Audi’s cheapest R8. If you order one, you can choose … [Read more...] about Audi R8 RWS review: new rear-drive R8 driven
Riviera known as Portofino, where pastel-painted cottages mix it with celebs and super yachts. For Ferrari, however, it's a gap of 10 years between the launch of the California, its first front-engined V8 sports car and this, the Mk. II version, the Ferrari Portofino."California is such an iconic name," says Nicola Boari, head of Ferrari product marketing. "Trying to stay close wasn't a good thing. Portofino is discreet, it's not as splashy as Monte Carlo."The California was aimed at a new breed of Ferrari customer: younger, with a family, women. In one sense it's done that job well, in another it's failed. Boari admits with a shrug that not many women have actually bought a California, but for a car launched just as Lehmann Brothers was gasping its last, the car has attracted a new sort of customer just the same and attracted 35 percent of Ferrari's total sales. Last year, that numbered 8,398 vehicles."Same sex, but a different type of customer," says Boari, adding that California … [Read more...] about 2018 Ferrari Portofino First Drive Review | Forget all about the California
Audi A7 is a stone-cold fox, plain and simple. From its rakish squint to its faceted tail, the new Sportback updates the design-centric theme that originated in 2009 with striking, fresh sheetmetal. But while the original A7's big hatchback layout was a novel packaging exercise paired with a somewhat compromised rear-seat experience, the new model takes a number of technological leaps forward that add some much-wanted substance to that style.For starters, the new A7 shares enough advanced features with the tech-laden A8 to make it among the most sophisticated sedans on the planet — though Audi isn't sharing all of those bells and whistles with the U.S. market (more on that later). When the A7 drops in the fourth quarter of 2018, it will be launched with the same trick 3.0 TFSI V6 found in the A8, at least until the sportier S8 arrives with a gruntier V8. Producing 340 horsepower and 368 lb-ft of torque, the entry-model V6 is a mild hybrid that uses an integrated starter/generator … [Read more...] about Audi A7 First Drive Review | More than just a prettier face
Mazda Skyactiv-X Spark Controlled Combustion Ignition process, for example. But Infiniti's VC-Turbo four-cylinder engine, which makes its debut in the 2019 QX50, is truly a work of engineering fortitude. The engine realizes the long-held ambition among engine manufacturers to create a way to alter the compression ratio on the fly, a boon to both power and fuel efficiency. It's a brilliant bit of science that's, unfortunately, still in search of the right car.Don't get us wrong, the QX50 is perfectly competent — it's an exceedingly quiet and comfortable cruiser. However, it's no longer the driver-pleasing machine its predecessor was. That car, originally known as the EX35, was built atop Nissan's sporty FM platform, a front-midship, rear-wheel-drive layout putting the engine aft of the front axle line and giving the vehicle the athletic driving dynamics of a sport sedan. In fact, it was basically a G37 hatchback, and it was sold as the Skyline Crossover in Japan. A shortened FM … [Read more...] about 2019 Infiniti QX50 First Drive Review | A high-tech engine flies under the radar
2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA, the Japanese automaker let us have a crack at another tuned model, the 2018 BRZ tS. The extra letters standing for "tuned by STI," the folks at Subaru Technica International gave a warming-over to the company's sole rear-wheel-drive offering.Interestingly, the entire 2018 BRZ lineup benefits from having the tS at the top of the pack. One of the improvements for the STI-tuned version is increased chassis rigidity. To account for the added stress on the body from its 18-inch wheels — the first time wheels that large have been offered on the BRZ — the frontend rear bulkheads were strengthened. That extra support makes its way into every BRZ, though, not just the tS.At the corners, the BRZ tS's lightweight 18-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, selected by Subaru after "extensive" testing with the STI chassis tuning. Hiding behind the 15-spoke rims are a set of Brembo brakes borrowed from the BRZ Performance Package. Tying it … [Read more...] about Subaru BRZ tS First Drive Review | tS is for track star
Subaru set a record for the fastest sedan lap at the 'Ring in a race-spec STI Type RA, which completed nearly 13 miles in less than seven minutes. The new 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA is inspired by that record-breaker (and those before it), and it will finally come to the United States as a special edition limited to just 500 units. We traveled out to the California desert to test it on mountain roads, as well as a recently built private race track at the Thermal Club.Subaru built its first "Record Attempt" (that's what the RA stands for) vehicle in 1988, a Subaru Legacy that drove more than 62,000 miles over 18 days at an FIA track in Phoenix. Since then, Subaru has introduced a number of WRX/STI Type RA models, with several attempts to set record laps at the Nürburgring. While Japanese customers got the opportunity to buy consumer versions of the Type RA, fans in the United States never did.Until now. The nameplate finally comes to the rest of us, improving upon an already … [Read more...] about 2018 Subaru WRX STI Type RA First Drive Review | A taste of Japan
Cherokee, which for 2014, moved from the solid-axle brick of yore to the shark-nosed, independently suspended crossover of modern-day. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing. We found it to be quite a competitive machine at the time, and one that was plenty capable.But time marches on, and five model years later, Jeep has updated the Cherokee. The polarizing shark nose has been toned down, with all the headlight elements integrated into single units on either side. The hatchback has been revised and now sports a cutout for the license plate. Besides improving the looks at the back, Jeep says it allowed them to expand the rear cargo area to 25.8 cubic feet, an increase of 1.2 cubes, because moving the license plate space allowed them to pull the latch assembly farther out. It should be noted, though, that the Cherokee still doesn't have as much cargo capacity as the new 27.2-cubic-foot Compass.Besides the cosmetic changes, the new Cherokee gets a new engine, a 2.0-liter turbocharged … [Read more...] about 2019 Jeep Cherokee First Drive Review | Still the most truck-like crossover SUV
2018 Buick Regal TourX. It's a wagon, after all, and if there's anything we automotive writers have been clamoring for is more wagons."Forget those SUVs," we've implored. "This wagon over here is better! Just as much cargo space, better to drive! And have you seen it in brown?"Well, it seems like our collective proselytizing is starting to pay off, or perhaps far more likely, consumer tastes are shifting a bit to appreciate the wagon. Sure, they need to be lifted a bit and sport plastic fender flares to add a wee bit of SUV-ish flavor, but who the hell cares? Beggars, choosers, etc. It's a wagon, and we should be happy it's here.And we are, the Regal TourX is a pretty good one that thankfully offers more than just its mere existence. It especially delivers on the space front, which is refreshing since most of today's wagons are not as cargo friendly as the collective "we" would like to admit. An Audi Q5 regrettably does have more cargo space than an Audi A4 Allroad.Yet, the TourX has … [Read more...] about 2018 Buick Regal TourX First Drive Review | Pop the champagne, it’s another wagon!