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2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

“Come to Indy and drive this purpose-built, street-legal drag-racing car,” they said.

The lawn isn’t getting mowed. Floors aren’t being mopped. Dishes remain piled up. We are zeroed in on tackling the most powerful production car America has ever produced.

We’re talking about the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Most of its steamy details were divulged over a 12-week roll-out leading up to the New York auto show this past April. But, to recap: Demons come off the assembly line sporting a wide-body kit, a drag-strip-tuned adaptive suspension, and an engine that makes 808 horsepower. This supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 is an evolution of the Hellcat’s 707-pony Hemi but with beefed-up internals and a larger, 2.7-liter rotary-screw blower (up from 2.4 liters) from supplier IHI, tuned to make 14.5 pounds of boost. The car comes on four drag radials, but the eight-speed ZF 8HP automatic turns only the rear wheels. Speaking of transmissions, this one features the first transmission brake on a production car—more on that in a bit—as well as a few other drag-racing tricks.


Out of the Crate

After plunking down $86,090, buyers can fit a bunch of extra bits on their Demons to get the power figure up to 840 horsepower when burning 100-octane gasoline. All the add-ons, including skinny front wheels, can be had for just one dollar as part of what Dodge calls the Demon Crate.

“It’s not a GT350R or a 1LE,” declared Tim Kuniskis, head of the Dodge, SRT, Chrysler, and Fiat passenger-car brands. No kidding. This is a car built to run 1320 feet at a time. But you can legally drive it to the strip and back, too. Unfortunately, we would not be driving a single inch on public roads. We drove the Demon exactly 19,641 feet, or 3.7 miles, in the course of making three passes at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Such a precise distance is known because we brought along a VBOX data logger in the hope of getting a better idea of just how quick the Demon is. But with such little exposure, we couldn’t clock a time we feel comfortable publicizing.

It isn’t that we don’t believe SRT’s claim that a Demon ran a 9.65-second quarter-mile. It’s just that we believe those circumstances were outside the typical conditions a weekend warrior might find. You know, like a perfectly prepared launch box at sea level and a warm track but cool and dry ambient air, as well as a little bit of luck. We test in street conditions, so when we do get around to formally testing a Demon, it will not be quite as quick as that. We expect the car to run a quarter-mile in the low-10-second range. Knock off a few tenths if it’s fitted with the skinny front wheels and tires and is running on 100-octane fuel. The zero-to-60-mph time will be darn close to pipping the Porsche 918 Spyder’s 2.2-second record.


Get Ready, Get Set . . .

Before they cut us loose on the strip, SRT engineers walked us through the arduous process of getting the Demon ready for a pass. A graph in the central touchscreen can tell you when the engine is cool enough for an optimal pass. The After-Run Chiller circulates coolant after shutdown so it can continue cooling when parked. With thermal criteria satisfied, get the car into Drag mode by double tapping the SRT mode button, then pressing the high-output button to get the full 840 horses if you’re running high-test fuel. Drag mode disables the cabin A/C, routing its cooling power to the SRT Power Chiller, a device that can drop the intake temperature by as much as 18 degrees by cooling the liquid in the air-to-liquid intercooler circuit.

What happens next is the vehicular equivalent of a Mortal Kombat finishing move. Hit all the right buttons in the right sequence, and you will destroy all other production cars. Get it wrong and the car just kind of shakes a little and barely moves.

Creep up to the burnout box and activate line lock to do a four-to-five-second burnout. This involves holding the OK button on the left side of the steering wheel. Roll up to the staging lights and ready the TransBrake, which is always active—and available only—in Drag mode. Its engagement requires both feet and both hands. Mash the brake pedal with your left foot, and pull and hold both shifter paddles. To remove any lash in the driveline and to preload the driveshaft and trans with torque, inch up to the line a bit while still holding the brakes. Then release one of the paddles and the brake pedal. Now the transmission is essentially in first and second gears simultaneously and the car will not move unless you rev past 2350 rpm, the system limit. Easier said than done with a light-switch throttle.

At this point the TransBrake is still engaged, and the only thing holding the car in place is one of your hands—an odd feeling. The exhaust note is odd here, too. SRT calls it Torque Reserve, but it is essentially a two-step ignition. Think of it as an anti-lag system, only it is happening on the intake side and not downstream in the exhaust.

With the Demon set and the equivalent of “up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A” entered, Torque Reserve injects fuel into some cylinders but keeps all the valves moving—it’s essentially cylinder deactivation to allow the supercharger to build maximum boost without the engine making maximum power.


. . . Go!

Hold the revs at about 1700 rpm and simultaneously let go of the paddle and bury the accelerator. The first launch is downright shocking. If you want to simulate the sensation of a 1.80-g launch—the peak acceleration that Dodge claims—have a friend punch you square in the sternum an instant before you jump off a building. This car hits that hard out of the hole, and although gravity gets you only a little more than halfway to 1.80 g, the sensation will be close enough.

It is easy either to bog the engine or light up the rear tires. Both scenarios are suboptimal. Get it right, which we didn’t achieve in our three turns behind the wheel, and the Demon will lift its front tires off the ground for a few feet.

For the past six months, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the chance to drive this car. We’re going to have to wait a little while longer to get the full experience. We can say this for sure, though: Even if you trailer this car to a drag strip, it won’t disappoint.

2018 Ford Fiesta 1.0T

Large automakers often aspire to produce world cars, models they can sell in many territories with minimal variation. Yet, outside of luxury cars, the actual number of true world cars has always been pretty small owing to the costs associated with meeting various national regulations. While the current Ford Fiesta stands as one of the best examples of the genre, selling well on both sides of the Atlantic and farther afield, its club membership soon may be revoked. Europe is getting a new and better Fiesta, but there are no confirmed plans to bring it to America.

The Fiesta has always been a European car since it was launched in 1976. The new iteration will be the seventh distinct generation—only the first- and current sixth-generation cars were offered in the United States, which has contributed just a small portion of total sales that now have surpassed the 18 million mark worldwide. As both Ford’s biggest seller in Europe and the longtime number-one best-selling car in the United Kingdom, it’s no surprise that Ford has invested big in this spiffy new one.


Party of Three

The new Fiesta proves that Europe’s enthusiasm for downsized powerplants shows no signs of abating. Apart from a 1.5-liter diesel inline-four, which is expected to make up less than 10 percent of sales, the new Fiesta will be powered entirely by three-cylinder gasoline engines. Entry-level versions will use a naturally aspirated 1.1-liter unit that will come in 69- and 84-hp states of tune, with a smaller but punchier EcoBoost turbocharged 1.0-liter positioned above and available in 99-, 123-, and 138-hp flavors. (Ford offers the current Fiesta with the 123-hp EcoBoost triple in America.)

European buyers will be able to choose between two- and four-door hatchbacks, but there won’t be a sedan in the new lineup, and we would likely see only the four-door with a trunk. Sales will be strongly biased toward manual transmissions, but there is the option of a six-speed automatic, which will be offered exclusively with the 98-hp 1.0-liter engine.

Mechanically, the new Fiesta sticks as closely to the current car’s recipe as a novice chef. The new car grows a bit on the same global B-car architecture that has been in use since the sixth-gen model arrived in 2008. There’s a 2.8-inch stretch in overall length although just a 0.2-inch increase in wheelbase, with suspension still by struts at the front and a torsion-beam axle at the rear. Ford, as always, remains adept at trimming pennies from engineering expenses: Naturally aspirated Fiestas will have only five speeds in their manual transmissions, and the less powerful models will ship with rear drum brakes.

The exterior design is evolved, marked by a variation of the current Fiesta’s toothy Aston Martin–esque grille at the front and larger, horizontal taillights at the rear. The interior feels substantially different, with nicer-feeling plastics, better control ergonomics, and a significant increase in equipment. Ford is keen to push the availability of big-car features to buyers looking for smaller cars, with the new Fiesta offering adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, parking assist with a 360-degree camera, automatic high-beams, and a camera-based pedestrian-detection system with automated emergency braking.

While mid-spec models get a 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, range-topping versions get a sizable 8.0-inch screen running Ford’s latest Sync 3 infotainment package, with the screen “floating” on a separate binnacle above the central air vents. Space is good for front-seat occupants, with plenty of adjustment for both the seat and the steering wheel. Rear-seat room feels similar to the current car—tight for adults but reasonable for children.


Improved Agility

It’s on the road where the new Fiesta puts clear sky between itself and the current-gen, U.S.-spec car. While the Fiesta has always been rewarding to steer, this one feels better in every key regard. Humble grip levels are offset by keen responses, giving this Ford an agility that few economy cars can match. Ride quality also is excellent, especially for something with such a modest wheelbase, and although the steering is light, genuine feedback is passed to the rim. It’s impressively quiet, too, Ford having set out to give a hushed cruising experience. The overall effect is a car that feels both subjectively bigger and more expensive than it actually is.

We drove two versions of the turbocharged 1.0-liter: the basic 99-hp unit with the automatic and the livelier 123-hp edition with a manual. Although it will be a minority choice in Europe, the automatic impressed more, shifting smoothly under low-intensity use and delivering intelligent kickdowns when asked to go faster. The auto also helps to disguise the tiny engine’s tendency toward turbo lag by downshifting to spin the engine into life. The lag was much more obvious in the more powerful car below 3000 rpm, when the driver either manages the downshifts or endures the wait for boost.

Both of these boosted three-cylinder engines are willing to work harder than most small turbos, revving out to a 6500-rpm limiter without ever feeling too tight. Unlike the three-cylinder Europe-spec Golf 1.0 TSI that we recently drove, the EcoBoost Fiesta never delivers a V-6–ish three-cylinder soundtrack, the only real clue to the paucity of spark plugs being an occasionally lumpy idle.

The manual gearbox is a mild disappointment. Ford has produced some of the finest mass-market sticks in the world, but although the six-speed shifts cleanly and accurately, it doesn’t have the crispness we associate with the company’s slickest transmissions, the Focus RS being the exemplar in this regard. The clutch of our test car also engaged low—and suddenly—in its pedal travel, making smooth low-speed progress more of a challenge than it should have been.


Prices Are Not Petite

There’s a reason Europeans get a new and improved Fiesta long before we do: They will pay considerably more for it. In the U.K., the new entry-level 1.1 Style costs £12,715, equivalent to $16,600 at current exchange rates. That includes the 20 percent value-added tax (VAT), but still. The 123-hp 1.0T Titanium two-door manual that we drove listed at £18,550 with a modest smattering of options. That equates to a very solid $20,150, meaning that even before VAT it costs nearly as much as U.S. buyers pay for the range-topping Fiesta ST.

We’ve been here before. Europe got an all-new Focus hatchback in 2004 that was platform buddies with the Volvo S40 and the Mazda 3, while we had to make do with a heavy facelift of the aging original car instead. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen this time and that Ford can make the numbers work. Our Fiesta is still a fine car, but this new one is substantially better.

2018 Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid Test | Review | Car and Driver

The Toyota Camry is such a well-known commodity that each new generation brings with it the expectation of, well, more Camry-ness. More of the stubbornly consistent formula that has made it thoroughly innocuous and also the best-selling car (pickups excluded) in the United States for 15 years straight: a roomy cabin, a floaty ride, solid fuel economy, reliability that would make the Maytag repairman envious, and driving character so bland it gives vanilla a bad name.

But with this all-new eighth-generation model that is hitting the market now, Camry-ness takes a significant turn. Credit Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda, who has decreed that all of the company’s new products be infused with a modicum of stylistic passion and driving verve—far be it from us to argue—so the Camry has received a major overhaul, including a new platform, more aggressive styling, and vastly improved driving dynamics.

What hasn’t changed is that there are still two branches on the Camry family tree: the sporty-ish models (SE, XSE) and the luxury-oriented branch represented by our top-level XLE hybrid test car. The new XLE is traditional Camry ratcheted way up, to much higher levels of capability and refinement.


Nice Duds, Man

Inside and out, the new XLE gives off a premium vibe foreign to Camrys of yore. Built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture (TNGA), the 2018 Camry rides on a 2.0-inch-longer wheelbase and is about an inch and a half longer, an inch lower, and three-quarters of an inch wider. The resulting proportions and elegantly sloping roofline give it a more substantial, upscale look. Brightwork is delicately applied. But for the XLE’s unfortunate grimace of a front end, it almost could be mistaken for an entry-luxury sedan.

That impression is reinforced when you drop into the driver’s seat. Passenger space is virtually unchanged and glass area remains plentiful, so the cabin once again feels roomy, airy, and open. The interior materials, finishes, and design details are surprisingly rich. Our dark-brown XLE’s standard furnishings included quilted leather seats in a subtle, two-tone tan that reminded us of the chairs in more expensive sedans. Soft surfaces abound, and hard plastic trim pieces are well disguised.

Designer touches unexpected in a mass-market sedan are scattered about the cabin. For instance, the delicate interior door handles are the tips of the satin-aluminum spears adorning the door-trim panels. The eject button for the CD player in the top Entune 3.0 infotainment system is integrated elegantly into a thin band of bright trim so it all but disappears. A strip of faux wood flanking the sweeping center stack refracts light in a way that makes it shimmer intriguingly.


A Little Bit of Soul

The pleasant surprises extend to the way the XLE drives. It has clearly benefitted from the switch to the TNGA underpinnings—the body’s torsional stiffness has increased by 30 percent, and the old car’s rear struts are replaced with a more sophisticated multilink setup. No longer does the Camry bob disconnectedly over ruffled pavement as if someone unbolted the shocks and threw them overboard. It now lopes across the larger swells and damps out bumps swiftly and smoothly, with no aftershake. Tar strips and other road blemishes are muffled thumps heard more than felt.

The steering, light at low speeds, actually feels connected to something now, with surprising heft at highway velocities, a strong sense of center, and crisp response when you swing the wheel into a bend. The XLE still is not a car that you hurl at apexes—skidpad grip is a reasonable 0.84 g, although the stability control jumps in early and often—but it’s in the zone now, a thoroughly competent sedan that goes about its business with an air of composure.

The Camry lineup offers three engine choices, all of them new for 2018: a base 203-hp 2.5-liter inline-four (206 hp in the XSE); a 301-hp 3.5-liter V-6; and the 208-hp (total system power) hybrid powering our test car. We found the hybrid powertrain a good fit with the XLE’s relaxed driving persona. Acceleration is seamless, and off-the-line throttle response in the Normal and Sport modes is far livelier than the hybrid’s 7.9-second zero-to-60-mph time would suggest.

Request anything more than modest acceleration, though, and the hybrid’s CVT-like arrangement allows the engine to zing up to moderately high rpm and hang there—a behavior common to continuously variable automatic transmissions (CVTs) and to hybrid powertrains. While it’s not a terrible sound, we’d still rather there were less of it penetrating the otherwise quiet cabin. Not that Toyota didn’t try: It added a manual mode that enables the driver to sift through six simulated gear steps with the console-mounted shifter, but it had little effect on either the noise emanating from underhood or the rate of forward progress.

Toyota has done better when dealing with the squishy brake-pedal feel and inconsistent response that plague many electrified cars’ regenerative braking systems. At any speed beyond about 5 mph, the XLE hybrid’s brakes feel virtually normal; the pedal is firm at the top of its travel and easy to modulate. The system does have one remaining behavioral flaw in that, at walking speeds, the brakes sometimes can be annoyingly grabby.

Those are small negatives relative to the satisfaction of making big numbers roll up on the readout in the gauge cluster and on the center stack’s hybrid-system screen. To do this, you’ll want to drive in Eco mode, which deadens throttle response and keeps engine rpm as low as possible. You’ll notice almost no regenerative braking when you lift off the throttle (coasting saves energy) and some electric-only acceleration up to 10 or 15 mph if you’re light on the accelerator. (EV mode didn’t significantly increase the time the car spent driving solely on electricity.)


Petro-licious

Toyota has thoroughly reworked the new Camry’s hybrid system for additional efficiency, and it pays off. The LE hybrid (hybrid power is not available on base L or top-of-the-line sporty XSE trims)—which benefits from smaller tires, less standard equipment, and a lighter lithium-ion battery pack—earns an EPA-rated 51 mpg city and 53 mpg highway, improvements of 9 and 15 mpg over the outgoing hybrid model. The LE hybrid’s 52-mpg combined rating matches the Prius Three’s and makes it America’s most fuel-efficient mid-size hybrid sedan.

The other available Camry hybrids, the SE and XLE trim levels, employ the older nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery technology and come in at 44/47 mpg city/highway, up by 4 mpg and 10 mpg. And those numbers are approachable in the real world. With little effort, we clocked a series of in-town errands and short trips at 37 to 44 mpg, with one editor seeing an indicated 45 mpg on his 50-mile highway commute while keeping pace with 80-mph traffic. On our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test, conducted at a steady 75 mph, this XLE hybrid delivered 44 mpg, up 2 from the 2017 model. Our observed fuel economy, which covers almost the entire time we had the car in our possession (excluding the instrumented testing and the highway test), was 40 mpg. While that last number is well below the EPA rating of 46, it’s still 5 mpg better than the Chevrolet Malibu hybrid and Honda Accord hybrid models we tested most recently—and it’s fully 9 mpg better than the observed figure for the previous-generation Camry hybrid. (Note that we’ve not yet driven, let alone tested, the new-for-2018 Accord hybrid.)

Accessing this level of efficiency requires that you sacrifice, well, nothing really—not even trunk space. Toyota moved the XLE’s 1.6-kWh battery from the cargo bay to under the rear seat, enabling a generous pass-through when the rear seatbacks are folded. All Camrys come with a version of the Toyota Safety Sense package, which for the XLE includes lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, front automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert with automated braking. Our XLE hybrid was further enhanced with a sunroof, adaptive headlights, and the optional Entune 3.0 infotainment package and its 8.0-inch touchscreen, three USB ports, navigation, nine-speaker JBL stereo, and long list of apps and features—although it lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.

Traditional Camry-ness, as exemplified by this hybridized XLE, has clearly evolved to a new, higher plane. We’ll soon see if the sportier SE and XSE versions are capable of spiking the heart rates of discerning drivers. The XLE doesn’t really do that. But it no longer makes us wish we were driving something—anything—else, either. Better than that: The Camry is now a thoroughly competent family sedan, finally good enough to make us quit complaining that we wish it were something more.

Delmar Loop Armed Robbery Suspects Seen on Surveillance Video

click to enlarge Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery escaped in this Toyota Camry, police say. - IMAGE VIA ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN POLICE

  • Image via St. Louis Metropolitan Police
  • Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery escaped in this Toyota Camry, police say.

A violent armed robbery in the Delmar Loop has police searching for four suspects.

Three of the crooks, all young men in hooded sweatshirts, ambushed a 26-year-old woman shortly before 3 a.m. on July 11 as she walked just west of Skinker Boulevard on the 6200 block of Delmar, according to police.

Two of the attackers sneaked up on her from behind and held a gun to her head before trying to wrench her purse away. The woman held on, and the men dragged her briefly before they managed to kick her away.

The thieves then sprinted to a white sedan where a fourth suspect was waiting to drive them away.

Police are still looking for the robbers nearly a week after the brazen stickup. On Monday, they released still shots from a surveillance video that shows grainy images of three of the suspects outside the getaway car. Investigators have identified the sedan as a newer model four-door Toyota Corolla, believed to be from 2014 to 2017. The car was missing its front license plate.

The woman bruised her knee during the frightening encounter but didn’t suffer any other physical injuries, police say.

click to enlarge Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery were recorded on surveillance video along with their getaway car. - IMAGE VIA ST. LOUIS METROPOLITAN POLICE

  • Image via St. Louis Metropolitan Police
  • Suspects in a Delmar Loop robbery were recorded on surveillance video along with their getaway car.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

Article source: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2017/07/18/delmar-loop-armed-robbery-suspects-seen-on-surveillance-video

Vintage cars to go on display at Preston hospice

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BlogPreston was founded by Ed Walker

Preston based 3ManFactory designed developed the website

Preston based Clook Internet host the website

Blog Preston is a Community Interest Company. Company number 08814641.

Article source: http://www.blogpreston.co.uk/2017/07/vintage-cars-to-go-on-display-at-preston-hospice/

Benz with a Bed: The Mercedes-Benz X-class Pickup Truck Is Here

Conveniently forgetting the Lincoln Blackwood and Mark LT and the Cadillac Escalade EXT—or, more likely, throwing massive shade at those American automakers—Mercedes has declared that its new X-class is “the first pickup from a premium manufacturer.” The X-class is an offspring of the alliance between Daimler and Renault-Nissan. It will be built alongside the Europe-market Nissan Navara, a decidedly average mid-size pickup with which the Benz shares mechanicals. It indeed will be Mercedes-Benz’s first entry in the segment, but it won’t be coming here.

In countries with access to the X-class, there will be a number of powertrain options. A few select markets will get the rear-drive-only X200 with a 164-hp gasoline four-cylinder, but the diesel versions are expected to be far more popular. There will be the 161-hp X220d and the 188-hp X250d, both powered by a four-cylinder turbo-diesel. The X350d, coming later next year, will have the most desirable powertrain: a 255-hp diesel 3.0-liter V-6. This version will be the only X-class with permanent four-wheel drive; all others come with an electronically engaging four-wheel-drive system that offers a rear-drive mode. There are two transmission choices, a six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic.

Mercedes-Benz X-Class (Euro-spec)Mercedes-Benz X-Class (Euro-spec)

The X-class is offered in three trim levels: Pure, Progressive (conservative customers are welcome), and Power. Power refers to the vehicle’s style; its actual powertrain is identical with the other iterations. You can get COMAND infotainment, and a version of that system with a touchpad for fingertip writing is optional. The interior materials are improved over those in its Nissan sister model, but details such as the transmission shifter reveal that the X-class’s interior is a far cry from those of other Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles in terms of sumptuousness.

Daimler claims that the X-class is “the first pickup that offers not just excellent off-road but also superb on-road performance.” That’s a steep claim even against only Euro pickups, considering the fantastic on-road performance of the Volkswagen Amarok V-6 TDI.

Daimler has set itself a high bar; we look forward to driving the X-class to see whether it measures up to the boasts. The price certainly fits the aspirations: The X-class will set buyers back nearly $36,000 when it launches in Germany this fall—and that’s before the mandatory 19 percent sales tax.

Mercedes-Benz-X-Class-Euro-spec-REELMercedes-Benz-X-Class-Euro-spec-REEL


Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/benz-with-a-bed-the-mercedes-benz-x-class-pickup-truck-is-here/

Tiffin woman setting trends in auto dealer business

The Red, White, and Blue Ribfest is making its way to Temperance, Michigan this week at the Bedford Public School grounds. 

Article source: http://www.wtol.com/story/35913956/tiffin-woman-setting-trends-in-auto-dealer-business

States with the highest and lowest auto repair costs – CBS News

Jerry Edgerton – feature

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Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.

Article source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/states-with-highest-and-lowest-auto-repair-costs/

Auto Interiors Firm Reinventing Space Inside Autonomous Vehicles

SUNNYVALE (KPIX 5) — A world leader in automobile interiors is planning for the day when sitting inside a car will involve many activities besides driving.

Shanghai-based Yanfeng Automotive Interiors is the world’s biggest maker of car interiors. The company is starting up a 25-member innovation team in Sunnyvale, and are trying to answer the question: what will people do in their vehicle if they no longer have to drive?

The company has four different answers to that question.

“The vision we have is that we want to put you in your living room even before you arrived home,” said Yanfeng Principal Designer Leo Schurhaus.

The first option is traditional mode, where you sit just like you normally do inside a car.

With a tap of the app, it converts to family mode: the steering wheel stows itself away, the front seats angle inward at 18 degrees, and the two rear seats move in close, to better watch TV on the front display. A built-in refrigerator comes in handy.

Then there is meeting mode, where the rear seats stow away, and the front passenger seat spins around to face the rear.

That configuration included two stowaway desks.

Finally, there is lounge mode, which mimics the viewing experience inside your living room, complete with a curved, LED display embedded in the roof.

Designers want you to reclaim time that would have been spent driving yourself around, stressed out in a car.

“We are in a position, however, to inspire car companies to build interiors that support the autonomous lifestyle,” said Schurhaus. “And we wanted you to have that home feeling while you’re facing that one-and-a-half-hour commute.”

Yanfeng insists all this is not just some designer’s pipe dream, or Silicon Valley crazy talk.

Yanfeng is ramping up for the first self-driving cars to hit the market by 2020.

“Absolutely,” said Schurhaus. “We as a company, we have no doubt this technology is coming.”

Article source: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/07/18/auto-interiors-autonomous-vehicles/

2017 Porsche Panamera Turbo review, test drive

Five metres, two tonnes and four doors shouldn’t corner, but it does! Just like the bumblebee that shouldn’t fly, the Panamera corners like a pro. And this second-generation car does so while looking great too; something the previous one didn’t quite manage to pull off. Its styling wasn’t appreciated and the bulbous, wagon-like rear was widely panned.

But that wasn’t the only criticism. Despite the Cayenne paving the way for a four-door Porsche, purists drew their daggers at the first-generation Panamera’s unveil – what was a Porsche sportscar doing with four doors, four seats and an engine up front? After all, didn’t this thoroughbred sportscar company cancel its own four-door 989 project back in 1992?

But while the purists protested, customers lapped it up and Porsche claimed that sales surpassed its expectations. Since its launch in 2009, the company sold over 1,50,000 Panameras. Seven years after the first model, Porsche unveiled an all-new Panamera. The styling was stealthier, and the profile and rear section looked more 911. The initial reaction was one of immediate appreciation, not quite what the first car enjoyed. The world was warming up to the Panamera, and it’s now here to charm Indian audiences.

Thunder Struck
For our drive, we decide to head out of Mumbai onto the fast, straight highway to Gujarat, but there’s a light drizzle and grey monsoon clouds ominously loom ahead. This would make a great picture, but will it dampen our drive? The Panamera, though, has no such doubt. It just roars onward, secure in the abilities of the Porsche Traction Management’s all-wheel drive and variable torque distribution.

I switch to ‘Sport Plus’ and the exhausts burble, clearing their throat in anticipation of a stellar audio performance. And the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 comes to life, but it isn’t as wild or loud as many would like. It’s like the car is shying away from the guttural German tone; pity! Velocity build-up, however, is warp quick, and the car despatches straights in one mad headrush. Our testing showed the 550hp V8 pushing the car to 100kph in just 3.58sec. 20-80kph in 3rd is achieved in an equally stunning 2.51sec. Of course, the V8 does have a saner side; it features cylinder deactivation, which means at light loads it runs on only four cylinders. I can’t really tell when it does – deactivation and reactivation are so smooth, or did I not run at light load at all?

Overtaking on the straights isn’t a worry, you can safely and quickly pick out one, two and even three vehicles in one go. The optional Sport Chrono package gets you Launch Control and direct access to the four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual – via a handy steering-mounted rotary switch. ‘Sport Plus’ calls upon optimal powertrain response and all the complex electronic chassis control systems like the ride-height-adjustable air suspension, the electronic damper control (Porsche Active Suspension Management – PASM), the electromechanical roll stabilisation (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport – PDCC Sport), and rear-axle steering switch, to a maximum performance setting.

Ever fantasized about nitrous boost in the tuned street racers? Depress the Sport Response button at the centre of the mode dial and you’re rewarded with a manic 20sec burst of maximum performance. When activated, the engine response and gearbox shifts are a lot more dynamic than in Sport Plus.

The Panamera Turbo rides on air springs all around. The ride is comfortable enough and far from bone-jarring, but there is a hard edge to it in all modes (remember, this four-door has sportscar duties too). On uneven roads, this hunkered-down sedan jiggles about. However, the faster you go the better the Panamera feels, and at high speeds, especially in Sport Plus mode, it feels superbly planted. It is unfazed by crests and undulations but is sensitive to the contours of the road; you have to watch out for sharp ruts and potholes, which can use up the limited suspension travel with a sickening thud. The ride height cleverly alters from low, medium to high. Useful in our conditions, you can call upon the ‘High’ setting at any time, and we managed to clear some medium-sized speedbumps without resorting to the sideways crab crawl.

Just Push Play
The command centre is suitably impressive for a Rs 2 crore car. Gone is the vast array of buttons of the earlier Panamera and instead, you’re presented with touch-sensitive surfaces. The centre screen is a large 12.3-inch touch display that is easily one of the best systems around. It’s very intuitive to use, has a load of functions and the haptic touch makes you feel like you are pressing real buttons. It’s good to see that Porsche has refrained from using too many colours, and the largely monochrome display is very tasteful. Also useful is the ability to use two fingers to pinch and expand the navigation display, just like on a smartphone.

The traditional Porsche five-dial display is nestled behind the steering wheel but only the central tachometer is an actual analogue one. It is flanked by two 7.0-inch screens that display the other dials. The screens are customisable for various functions, including a navigation display. Oh, and the front seats have a rather interesting feature – a massage function. I never imagined getting a massage in a Porsche! Never mind, I switch it off. I’ve never liked being poked and prodded; it’s pretty distracting when you’re driving at speeds the Panamera is capable of.

Walk on Water
We reach the ghats and the clouds have opened up, the tarmac is soaked and in places, there are little streams running across the road. But I intend to have fun; I switch to Sport Plus but leave the stability control on. Public roads, torrential rain and two tonnes of metal aren’t a challenge I’m ready for. After taking some time to get acquainted with the car’s handling characteristics, I begin to probe a bit deeper. Corner after corner the Panamera simply amazes, grip levels are fantastic and cornering is astonishingly neutral. No doubt, the Porsche Traction Management system is working hard to keep the Panamera out of the woods and me in a job. Those who have driven this car on a track testify to its cornering prowess and out here in the ghats, I don’t doubt any of the superlatives used to describe it.

After a while, I’m hit by a startling revelation. So good is the new eight-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) gearbox that I haven’t reached for the paddles yet. Even in the Audi R8, the Panamera’s relative, I’ve occasionally found myself using the paddles to select the gear I want, but not in the Porsche. You’d probably need them if your name was Mark Webber, but for a lesser mortal like me, the gearbox software did the job.

In what seemed like a few fleeting moments, I cover 10km of ghats and our photographer Kuldeep still needs a few more shots. No complaints, I happily do multiple runs. It really is that effortless and rewarding a car to drive. Besides, the roads are drying up, letting me go even faster. But while the brilliant chassis dynamics melt away the size of the car, the five-metre length and near-two-metre width do demand attention on narrow road sections.

After a few hours, I do the unthinkable; I give away the keys to the Porsche and ask to be chauffeured around. Legroom at the rear is more than enough for my 5ft 8in frame. Headroom too is sufficient but with the smaller windows, tapering sides and massive central tunnel, the overall feeling of space isn’t that of a luxury sedan. You have to bear in mind this car’s alter ego. The large dual sunroofs do help in freeing up some visual space. The seats are individual buckets, power-adjustable for recline and with extendable lower thigh support. Like the ones at the front, they feature the massage function too. The rear centre console has an elegantly styled touchscreen and a few buttons that give you control over the entertainment, climate, navigation and other functions. Like at the front, the centre AC vents are electrically controllable via the touchscreen. While this is one cool party trick, it’s very frustrating to use; simply turning the vent would have been easier and quicker.

Sweet Emotion
We stop for a break and I, along with a dozen or so bystanders, begin to take in the styling. One glance and there is no mistaking this for anything other than a Panamera. But with a 5mm increase in maximum height and a 20mm reduction towards the rear, the new car has a sleeker and sportier profile; it now looks less wagon-like and is more in tune with the car’s sporty nature. Based on Volkswagen’s new MSB modular platform, the car has grown to be 34mm longer, 6mm wider and 5mm taller, with a 30mm wheelbase extension. Interestingly, there is also a long-wheelbase version christened ‘Executive’, and an estate version called ‘Sport Turismo’; yes, you read that right. Porsche sees good demand for such cars and they’re both heading our way soon.

At the front, the hood features a prominent power bulge whose lines now extend deeper into the bumper, and typical of others in the stable, it blends at the sides into strong flares on the fenders. The LED headlights have prominent four-point LED daytime running lamps. Below the lamp units are bar lights that also double as turn signal indicators. At the side, the roofline is more coupé-like and stylistically similar to the 911. The front door has a deep recess that fades out into the pronounced rear wheel arch. Like on the previous car, the front fenders feature cooling air vents. The mighty retractable spoiler is surely the talking point at the rear and its deployment mechanism looks like it was designed by Tony Stark. Below that are the narrow LED rear tail-lights joined together by an LED strip giving an impression of a continuous light unit.

The new Panamera seems all set to eclipse the success of its predecessor. It’s a very striking car that’s well-specced and thoroughly modern. In its time with us, it managed to impress everyone at the office. The athlete levels of dynamism, an engine that seems like it could power a rocket and a brilliant gearbox, all make for a very rewarding drive experience. And to think this is just a four-door with four pretty comfy seats. Sure, there’s no point buying this car if you’d be spending all your time at the rear, but if you’re the generous kind who likes to take your friends and family on thrilling drives, the new Panamera fits to a T.

For our drive, we decide to head out of Mumbai onto the fast, straight highway to Gujarat, but there’s a light drizzle and grey monsoon clouds ominously loom ahead. This would make a great picture, but will it dampen our drive? The Panamera, though, has no such doubt. It just roars onward, secure in the abilities of the Porsche Traction Management’s all-wheel drive and variable torque distribution.

I switch to ‘Sport Plus’ and the exhausts burble, clearing their throat in anticipation of a stellar audio performance. And the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 comes to life, but it isn’t as wild or loud as many would like. It’s like the car is shying away from the guttural German tone; pity! Velocity build-up, however, is warp quick, and the car despatches straights in one mad headrush. Our testing showed the 550hp V8 pushing the car to 100kph in just 3.58sec. 20-80kph in 3rd is achieved in an equally stunning 2.51sec. Of course, the V8 does have a saner side; it features cylinder deactivation, which means at light loads it runs on only four cylinders. I can’t really tell when it does – deactivation and reactivation are so smooth, or did I not run at light load at all?

Overtaking on the straights isn’t a worry, you can safely and quickly pick out one, two and even three vehicles in one go. The optional Sport Chrono package gets you Launch Control and direct access to the four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual – via a handy steering-mounted rotary switch. ‘Sport Plus’ calls upon optimal powertrain response and all the complex electronic chassis control systems like the ride-height-adjustable air suspension, the electronic damper control (Porsche Active Suspension Management – PASM), the electromechanical roll stabilisation (Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport – PDCC Sport), and rear-axle steering switch, to a maximum performance setting.

Ever fantasized about nitrous boost in the tuned street racers? Depress the Sport Response button at the centre of the mode dial and you’re rewarded with a manic 20sec burst of maximum performance. When activated, the engine response and gearbox shifts are a lot more dynamic than in Sport Plus.

The Panamera Turbo rides on air springs all around. The ride is comfortable enough and far from bone-jarring, but there is a hard edge to it in all modes (remember, this four-door has sportscar duties too). On uneven roads, this hunkered-down sedan jiggles about. However, the faster you go the better the Panamera feels, and at high speeds, especially in Sport Plus mode, it feels superbly planted. It is unfazed by crests and undulations but is sensitive to the contours of the road; you have to watch out for sharp ruts and potholes, which can use up the limited suspension travel with a sickening thud. The ride height cleverly alters from low, medium to high. Useful in our conditions, you can call upon the ‘High’ setting at any time, and we managed to clear some medium-sized speedbumps without resorting to the sideways crab crawl.   

Article source: http://www.autocarindia.com/car-reviews/2017-porsche-panamera-turbo-review-test-drive-405443