An explanation for the uninitiated: “Polestar Engineered” is like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M brands, but for Volvo.
Yes, once staid and conservative Volvo has not only become a lot more dynamic in recent years, but also has a performance division. Polestar was born and bread in motorsport, just like its German counterparts, and having already provided an assortment of go-fast models in previous generation S60 and V60 models, is now doing the same with Volvo’s updated lineup.
“At Volvo Car Canada, we are very excited about the addition of the new Polestar Engineered products in our portfolio,” said Alexander Lvovich, Managing Director, Volvo Car Canada Ltd. “Polestar always played a special role in the Volvo business in Canada, as in the last 2 years we achieved one of the highest levels of Polestar optimized product sales in the world. We plan to fully capitalize on this upcoming opportunity to strengthen both Volvo and Polestar brands in Canada.”
Its most recent project was based on the 2019 Volvo S60, but the S60 T8 Polestar Engineered (as it was called) sold out before most of us even knew it existed. Now we have word from Volvo Canada’s Richmond Hill, Ontario office that new Polestar Engineered variants of the V60 sport wagon and XC60 compact crossover SUV are on the way for the 2020 model year, which should cause those in the know to get pretty excited.
For starters, the new Polestar Engineered duo are once again based on Volvo’s turbocharged, supercharged and electrified T8 Twin-Engine Plug-in Hybrid AWD powertrain, which is sport-tuned to make 415 horsepower and 494 lb-ft of torque, 15 horsepower and 22 lb-ft of torque more than the regular T8 powertrain.
Thanks to software updates, torque arrives earlier making throttle response quicker for more immediate response to input, while more of that twist targets the rear wheels for greater performance feel. To be clear, along with the boosted 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the T8 drivetrain combines an electric motor at each end of the vehicle for a total of two, while its battery pack is fed in both traditional hybrid form and via plug.
Along with the handling benefits of a rear-wheel bias, performance will be further enhanced via an Öhlins-produced strut bar under the hood to aid body rigidity and allow for “more precise and responsive control,” says Volvo in a press release, while the Swedish-based suspension technology brand also designed adjustable dampers for the new models, featuring dual flow valves that respond “quickly to road imperfections.”
Additionally, traditional Polestar gold-coloured six-piston Brembo calipers add stopping power, while lightweight 19-inch forged alloy wheels, unique on all three Polestar Engineered S60, V60 and XC60 models, have been designed to provide freer cooling to those upgraded brakes.
Polestar Engineered models don’t receive the same level of visual stimulation as their aforementioned German competitors, which may help them slide under the radar both figuratively and literally, with styling enhancements including a high-gloss black grille, extended wheel arches, black chrome tailpipes, plus “discreet” Polestar badges front and back.
Following a similar theme inside, the two Polestar models will get a special leather-clad sport steering wheel and shifter, metal mesh aluminum inlays, plus signature gold seatbelts over unique charcoal-coloured Nappa leather and “open-grid” textile upholstered seats.
The V60 T8 Polestar Engineered and XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered will arrive as early 2020 models this summer, so if interested make sure to let your local Volvo retailer know.
Mercedes’ CLA has been a strong seller in its subcompact luxury segment since being introduced to Canadians in 2013, dueling it out with Audi’s A3 for top spot while up against its own B-Class, Acura’s…
Mercedes’ CLA has been a strong seller in its subcompact luxury segment since being introduced to Canadians in 2013, dueling it out with Audi’s A3 for top spot while up against its own B-Class, Acura’s ILX, BMW’s 2 Series, and others in a traditional car category that’s now under threat by an ever-burgeoning class of subcompact luxury SUVs.
Still, while Mercedes-Benz has always offered a bevy of industry segment stalwarts, it’s also become the brand of micro-niches, having invented the four-door coupe body style, so it would be highly unusual behaviour for its leadership to say so long to its plentiful car lineup just because its utilities are currently experiencing more growth. After all, Mercedes has been around longer than most of its competitors, and therefore has endured all the trends the automotive industry has ever weathered.
Speaking of endurance, or lack therefore, Lexus said goodbye to the entry-level luxury car market by cancelling its CT, Acura hasn’t bothered to update its ILX in too long to remember, everyone’s still wondering if BMW will ever offer North Americans anything in this class with four doors, and all other premium brands haven’t even bothered showing up at all, but take note that Mercedes has been selling its brand new A-Class Hatchback for two months already, and plans to add the completely new A-Class Sedan that more specifically targets the most popular four-door version of the segment-leading A3 (and will become the most affordable Mercedes model) later this year, while the fall of 2019 will also see the arrival of a fully redesigned CLA-Class four-door coupe that promises a serious move up the desirability ladder, not that the current model is particularly lacking.
“With the first CLA we celebrated a huge success by selling some 750,000 vehicles and created a totally new segment with a four-door coupe in the compact class,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales.
Of those new CLA buyers in Canada, more than two thirds were new to Mercedes-Benz at the height of the model’s popularity, while also important, these new Mercedes owners averaged seven years younger than the brand’s typical customer at the time. Starting this fall, Mercedes will offer Canadian entry-level luxury consumers the choice of three recently redesigned or all-new subcompact car and SUV models (four if you split the A-Class into its hatchback and sedan body styles, and five if you count any potentially remaining stock of B-Class models still around when Mercedes wraps up its tenure at the close of this model year), the CLA being the sportiest, most expressive of the bunch, and many of these customers will likely move up to pricier more profitable models within the automaker’s lineup as their careers and personal finances progress.
“The new CLA is even more emotional and sportier than its predecessor,” added Seeger. “Coupled with new operating systems, it sets a new benchmark for the entire class.”
First shown at Las Vegas’ Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, an apropos venue considering the ultra-advanced MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment interface that together with the integrated digital instrument cluster covers more than half the dash top, the new CLA looks a bit more grown up thanks to a more serious, almost frowning and forward-slanting M-B sport grille which, in its release, Mercedes claims is “reminiscent of a shark’s nose.”
The new grille, found ahead of a longer hood topped with classic Mercedes “powerdomes”, is flanked by sharper, narrower and more complex LED Multibeam headlamps featuring 18 individually-controllable LEDs, all of which is underscored by additional complexity in the lower front fascia, while the updated model sees more muscular lower haunches and its greenhouse moved rearward for a more traditional GT profile. It continues this grand touring tradition with squarer more conventional trunk cutout as part of a revised rear end design featuring narrower, more horizontal LED taillights that sit higher up above the back bumper and therefore add more visual width to the design, its slipperier sheet metal registering a wind-cheating 0.23 coefficient of drag.
“As a four-door coupe, the new CLA intrigues with its puristic, seductive design and sets new standards in the design DNA of ‘sensual purity’. It impresses with its perfect proportions reflecting the first design sketch: a long, stretched hood, a compact greenhouse, a wide track with exposed wheel arches and our typical GT rear with a strong distinctive ‘Coke-bottle shoulder’,” said Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer of Daimler AG. “In short, the CLA Coupe has the potential to become a modern design icon.”
Inside, it’s easy to see that Mercedes is targeting the younger market mentioned earlier, thanks to an edgy, sporty look including bright colours, plus those all-in-one digital displays that are large enough to cause screen envy amongst owners of the latest Apple, Microsoft and Samsung tablets. That fixed freestanding gauge cluster and central widescreen display unit eliminates the need for a cowl to shield instruments, with the rest of the completely dash panel including a sporty paddle-shifter-infused leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel ahead of the driver, a very narrow, near retro HVAC interface at centre, and an uncluttered floating-style lower console featuring Mercedes’ exclusive palm rest and new infotainment touchpad controller within easy reach. Only the circular dash-mounted air vents appear carryover, but of course their “avant-garde” turbine-like jet-engine design is entirely new and particularly striking.
That MBUX infotainment system, which debuted in the new A-Class a year ago, after a similar system was first integrated into the E-Class, is more than just a very large pretty interface with impressive high-resolution graphics capable of Augmented Reality navigation and fully customizable displays, it also provides serious computing power with integrated software that can even “learn and respond to natural speech,” says Mercedes.
This will be good news to anyone who has ever been frustrated by the majority of voice recognition systems past and current, which need very precise and often not intuitively thought out commands. Instead, Mercedes’ voice assistant reportedly communicates similarly to Amazon’s Alexa system, only needing an occupant to say “Hey Mercedes” in order to prompt any number of functions via less direct questions, plus it’s smart enough to recognize the person asking the question, rather than others in the car that might be having a separate conversation.
“The latest version of voice control for MBUX – the Mercedes-Benz User Experience – can be experienced in the new CLA. For example, the voice assistant ‘Hey Mercedes’ is able to recognize and answer considerably more complex queries,” said Sajjad Khan, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars for CASE and Head of Digital Vehicle & Mobility. “What’s more, the voice assistance no longer gets confused by other passenger’s conversations. Instead it only responds to the commands of the person who last said ‘Hey Mercedes’ to activate the system.”
According to Mercedes, the updated voice assistant is now capable of recognizing and responding to more complicated questions than previous voice recognition systems offered, citing the example, “Find Italian restaurants with at least four stars that are open for lunch but exclude pizza shops.”
MBUX can also cover a broader range of topics than previous hands-free voice systems, with an example of a sports query being, “Hey Mercedes, How did the Toronto Raptors play?” The question, “How has the Apple share price performed compared to Microsoft?” may be more concerning to Mercedes drivers these days however, stock market information being one of the subjects MBUX is well versed in. Alternatively, maybe you need a simple calculation performed while driving. Mercedes’ example might be a bit rudimentary for anyone old enough to be behind the wheel of the CLA, but possibly a child in the back seat might ask, “What is the square roof of 9?” or for that matter “How big is Texas?” when it comes to a general knowledge question, but it’s fair to expect that plenty of health-conscious Mercedes owners may want to ask, “What is the fat content of avocados?”
Also designed make life with a new CLA easier and more accommodating, the upcoming model grows by 48 millimetres (1.9 inches) to 4,688 mm (184.5 in) from nose to tail, and rides on a 30-mm (1.2-in) longer wheelbase that now measures 2,729 mm (107.4 in), while it’s also 53 mm (2.1 in) wider at 1,830 mm (72.0 in), not including the side mirrors, and fractionally (2 mm/0.1 in) lower overall at 1,439 mm (56.6 in).
According to yet more measurements provided, the result of its mostly increased exterior dimensions is a roomier and therefore more comfortable cabin, with front occupants getting 17 mm (0.6 in) more headroom, rear occupants benefiting from a hair’s-width (+3 mm/0.1 in) of additional head space, and width measurements experiencing the greatest improvement thanks to shoulder room up 9 and 22 mm (0.3 and 0.8 in) respectively front to back, and front to rear elbow room increasing by 35 and 44 mm (1.4 and 1.7 in) apiece.
Despite the new CLA’s longer wheelbase and greater overall length, front legroom is actually down by a millimetre while rear legroom grows by the same nominal measurement, plus the trunk is also surprisingly smaller, albeit by just 10 litres (0.3 cubic feet) to a nevertheless still commodious 460 litres (16.2 cu ft), but this said the load compartment opening’s width expands by a considerable 262 mm (10.3 in), while the load floor is now 113 mm (4.4 in) wider and 24 mm (0.9 in) deeper.
Under the opposing deck lid, the updated CLA will once again come standard with Mercedes’ 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, currently featuring 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque yet making the same twist and 13 horsepower of additional thrust in the new A-Class, which will more than likely be the go-to powerplant for this future CLA. It will come mated to the premium brand’s in-house developed and produced 7G-DCT twin-clutch automated transmission, while both front- and 4MATIC all-wheel drivetrains will be available. An AMG-powered version is expected after the base CLA 250 debuts, with performance that will likely match or exceed the current model’s 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The new CLA’s increased width makes a difference to the chassis’ track too, widening it by a substantive 63-mm (2.5-in) up front and 55-mm (2.1-in) in back, while it also receives a reduced centre of gravity for what should be especially sporty driving dynamics. Suspension specifications include Mercedes’ Direct-Steer system and front hydromounts, plus a decoupled multi-link rear axle that minimizes noise, vibration and harshness levels, while larger stabilizer bars help reduce body lean when pushed hard. The standard tires should measure 225/45R18, with 225/40R19s being optional.
As with all new Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, plus most luxury competitors, advanced driver assistance systems play a big part in enhancing ease-of-use and safety, so the CLA will include standard Active Brake Assist automatic braking, and included in the optional Intelligent Drive Package is Active Lane Keep Assist that helps drivers remain centered in their chosen lane while also keeping them from wandering off the road, plus additionally it will include Pre-Safe Plus with rear traffic warning and automatic reverse braking.
The Intelligent Drive Package, pulled from the ultra-advanced Mercedes S-Class, does more than that, mind you, thanks to its ability to drive the CLA autonomously for short distances. This is a semi-autonomous system requiring “cooperative driver support,” says Mercedes, but in certain situations it can drive itself.
The redesigned 2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA, which will be built at the Kecskemét assembly plant in Hungary, will arrive this coming fall, at which time it just might reclaim top spot in the subcompact luxury car hierarchy, although Mercedes’ more traditionally sedan-style A-Class will more than likely assume that position. After all, the more upright four-door will start at just $34,990 (see all new A-Class Hatchback and Sedan prices and features on CarCostCanada), about $4k less than the current CLA, so it has a significant advantage in the sales department. Still, with all the big upgrades made to the new CLA it should easily reclaim its loyal following while attracting a fresh set of adventurous newcomers to the Mercedes-Benz brand.
Until the new model arrives, be sure to check out our comprehensive photo gallery above and these six Mercedes-Benz-supplied videos below:
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): World Premiere | Trailer (1:21):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) World Premiere at CES in Las Vegas | Re-Live (18:40):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) World Premiere at CES | Highlights (1:50):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): The Design (1:06):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019) and Jan Frodeno: In the Wind Tunnel (1:41):
Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé (2019): Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) (1:03):
The Cayenne has long been respected as one of the sportiest crossover SUVs in the entire automotive industry, both in performance and styling, but that hardly held Porsche back from joining the crossover…
The Cayenne has long been respected as one of the sportiest crossover SUVs in the entire automotive industry, both in performance and styling, but that hardly held Porsche back from joining the crossover coupe fray, evidenced by the all-new 2020 Cayenne Coupe.
Prior to the Cayenne’s arrival in 2002, BMW’s X5 firmly held the sportiest SUV mantle, but at least from a design perspective the Bavarian automaker arguably took that title back in 2007 with the introduction of the X6 Sports Activity Coupe, a model that ushered in an entirely new niche market segment.
The brave albeit short-lived Acura ZDX quickly followed the X6 in 2009, after which came the Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class Coupe in 2015, the Lamborghini Urus in 2017, and the Audi Q8 last year.
Being that the latter two, along with Audi’s Q7, Bentley’s Bentayga, and Volkswagen’s own Touareg, share VW group’s MLBevo platform architecture, this Cayenne Coupe’s arrival was only a matter of time. More importantly, it could very well become the most successful of the three VW group luxury crossover coupes, let alone all others in this uniquely positioned slice of the luxury SUV market due to Porsche’s enormous brand power and seemingly forever rising star.
“The Coupé includes all the technical highlights of the current Cayenne, but has an even more dynamic design and new technical details that position it as more progressive, athletic, and emotional,” said Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG.
Whether you think of the new Coupe as a sportier Cayenne with less cargo space, or alternatively as a raised Panamera with a more rugged personality and better off-road prowess, the new model also provides Porsche with the opportunity to grow the size of its traditional Cayenne when the next generation arrives, if it so chooses, just like BMW has made its X5 more family friendly over the years, even adding a third row.
“The significantly more steep roof line that falls away to the rear makes the Cayenne Coupé appear even more dynamic, and positions it as the sportiest-looking model in the segment,” added Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche.
To be clear, everything below the new Coupe’s 20-millimetre lower roofline, which includes a new front windscreen and shallower A pillars, is pretty much 2020 Cayenne, other than its much more tapered rear side windows, reshaped second-row doors, new rear quarter panels, and a revised back bumper, the latter of which now includes an integrated license plate holder. The result is a slight 19-mm (0.7-inch) increase in overall width, which along with the lower ride height adds to its more aggressive stance.
Additional Cayenne Coupe highlights include an adaptive rear deck lid spoiler, individual rear seats split by an open centre console bin, plus two different roof choices that include a standard 2.16-cubic-metre fixed glass panoramic sunroof with an integrated roller blind, or an optional carbon-fibre panel.
Like with the regular Cayenne, the Cayenne Coupe will be first to its market segment with an adaptive rear spoiler, the former SUV using a roof-mounted version for its top-line Turbo model. The active aerodynamic aid comes standard with the new Coupe, extending by 135 mm (5.3 inches) when the SUV hits 90 km/h. In addition, a smaller rooftop spoiler joins the active rear deck lid spoiler to optimize airflow. The system, which is dubbed Porsche Active Aerodynamics (PAA), both increases downforce on the rear axle to improve handling, and improves high-speed aero efficiency for less wind noise and better fuel economy.
Incidentally, if you want your Cayenne Coupe with a carbon roof you’ll need to opt for one of three lightweight sports packages, which also include various Sport Design features, special 22-inch GT Design wheels, classic hound’s-tooth Pepita checked fabric seat inserts, plus carbon and suede-like Alcantara interior accents. Additionally, the Cayenne Coupe Turbo gets a sport exhaust system.
That upgraded exhaust manages waste gases for the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine as the regular Cayenne SUV, which is good for 541 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque. With an official zero to 100km/h sprint time of 3.9 seconds the new Cayenne Coupe Turbo’s acceleration will only be bested by the aforementioned 650-horsepower Lamborghini Urus that manages the feat in just 3.6 seconds, leaving the 567-horsepower X6 M and 577-horsepower AMG-Mercedes GLE 63 S Coupe needing 4.2 seconds apiece to achieve the same feat. Of note, the smaller 503-horsepower AMG-Mercedes GLC 63 S Coupe zips from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds, while the identically powerful BMW X4 M requires 4.1 seconds to hit the same mark. Incidentally, the Cayenne Coupe Turbo gets a claimed terminal velocity of 286 km/h.
If you’re wondering where Audi’s new Q8 fits into the realm of slant-back SUVs, with one sole 335 horsepower turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 at its beck and call it’s clearly targeting the entry-level portion of the mid-size luxury sport utility coupe segment, and to that end the new base Cayenne Coupe comes fitted with identical output to the Audi, plus the same as found in the standard Cayenne.
The entry model’s turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 is therefore good for 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque, which allows for a 6.0-second run from naught to 100km/h in standard guise, or 5.9 seconds with one of its lightweight sports packages—the Sport Chrono Package comes standard across the entire Cayenne Coupe line. Interestingly, Porsche claims 5.9 seconds to 100km/h for the regular base Cayenne when fitted with its Sport Chrono Package, which actually makes it 0.1 seconds quicker than the new Coupe. Likewise, the base Cayenne has a top speed of 245 km/h, whereas the entry-level Coupe’s terminal velocity is a claimed 243-km/h. Splitting hairs? Of course, but that’s par for the course in this high-priced, high-performance game.
Additional standard equipment on the new Coupe includes speed-sensitive Power Steering Plus, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), and 20-inch alloy wheels, all costing more with the regular Cayenne.
Pricing in mind, the 2020 Cayenne Coupe will start at $86,400 plus freight and fees, whereas the Cayenne Coupe Turbo will be available from $148,000.
Other notable changes from regular Cayenne to Coupe form include a sportier set of eight-way power-adjustable performance seats with more pronounced side bolsters, while rear passengers will sit 30 mm (1.18 inches) lower to allow for extra headroom.
As noted earlier, that tapered roofline also negatively impacts the Cayenne Coupe’s cargo capacity, but it’s only off by 145 litres (5.1 cubic feet) compared to the regular Cayenne, the base Coupe good for 625 litres (22.0 cu ft) behind its 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks and the larger model capable of 770 litres (27.2 cu ft). Lowering the second row opens up 1,540 litres (54.4 cu ft) of gear-toting space compared to 1,710 litres (60.4 cu ft) with the regular Cayenne, for a difference of just 170.0 litres (6.0 cu ft), which means the new Coupe is almost as practical as the regular Cayenne.
Of note, the Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s cargo capacity drops by 25 litres (0.9 litres) to 600 litres (21.2 cu ft) with the rear seats upright, and by 30 litres (1.0 cu-ft) to 1,510 litres (53.3 cu ft) when folded. Also notable, current Panamera owners tempted by the new Cayenne Coupe will find 125 litres (4.4 cu ft) of additional luggage space when comparing base models, while those with the Panamera Sport Turismo will gain 105 litres (3.7 cu ft) of extra cargo carrying capacity.
The new 2020 Cayenne Coupe will be arriving in Porsche dealerships later this year, but preordering will make certain you’ll be first in line.
And while you’re waiting, make sure to check out our comprehensive photo gallery above (we’ve got all the images and pictographs on offer) as well as all of the latest videos below:
The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – Design Film (1:33):
The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – First Driving Footage (0:59):
The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – Shaped by Performance (1:44):
The new Porsche Cayenne Coupe – Highlight Film (1:55):
The new Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe – First Driving Footage (1:00):
Who isn’t excited to see the new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera on the road, let alone experience one first hand? While the latest sports car of sports cars might look to some like a mild makeover of a classic…
Who isn’t excited to see the new 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera on the road, let alone experience one first hand? While the latest sports car of sports cars might look to some like a mild makeover of a classic design, it’s a radical departure to those who live and breathe Porsche.
Most applaud its fresh new styling, although some have criticized its backside when its attractively tapered deck lid transforms into a rather unorthodox rear wing, but no matter how much you like or dislike the car’s design, the method behind Porsche’s madness is hard to argue against.
Less noticeable than the protruding rear wing are a set of active shutters that hide within the front corner grilles, which open above 70 km/h to minimize aerodynamic drag, while at 90 km/h the just noted rear spoiler gets raised into its most fuel efficient Eco position to once again reduce air resistance, although the aero system’s purpose changes from eco stewardship to maximum speed and grip at 170 km/h, when the front shutters open and the rear spoiler moves farther upward into its Performance position.
What’s more, as part of this Performance position the PASM (Porsche Active Suspension Management) sport chassis automatically drops down by 10 millimetres in order to improve its aero efficiency further, this sole feature adding four seconds per lap to the 911’s Nürburgring performance.
The 911’s adaptive aero also adjusts for new Wet mode, plus the active rear spoiler will literally spring into action when emergency braking is needed by automatically canting farther upward into its “Air Brake” mode, adding downward pressure over the rear wheels for greater braking grip.
How does it work? Like the previous 911, the new model’s sculpted body panels provide precise paths for oncoming air to flow overtop, underneath and around the entire car so as to minimize drag and maximize downforce, a balancing act that’s always challenging to perfect, but the new 911’s adaptive aerodynamics take it a step further by letting that air vent into the front corner intakes, pass through each radiator, and then flow around the front wheels like an air curtain in order to reduce turbulence.
This airflow continues along the 911’s doors before moving up and over the rear fenders into the engine vents mounted below the rear window, which feeds the 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine’s new air-to-air intercoolers, after which it gets directed down and out rear vents at each side of the back bumper.
For a more visual insight, make sure to watch the video provided by Porsche below, and don’t forget to check out the photo gallery above, where we’ve included some close up shots of the rear wing as well as some illustrations of frontal and rear airflow.
The Porsche 911 – Adaptive Aerodynamics (2:56):
A significant coup for last month’s Canadian International Auto Show was the introduction of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a car rooted in the legendary brand’s racing heritage. The track-only…
A significant coup for last month’s Canadian International Auto Show was the introduction of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a car rooted in the legendary brand’s racing heritage. The track-only Cayman, which was revealed in January at the Daytona International Speedway, made its first official motor show appearance at the Toronto event.
The updated 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is now in its second generation, the first arriving on the motorsport scene in 2016 sans “718” script on the rear deck lid. Unlike the previous version, the new GT4 Clubsport can be had in two forms: first as a “Trackday” car set up for “ambitious amateur racing drivers,” and second as “a ‘Competition’ variant for national and international motor racing,” the latter to notably be used for this year’s GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series.
Ahead of pointing out differences, both 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport models receive an updated version of the old 3.8-litre flat-six “boxer” engine, now good for 425 horsepower at 7,800 rpm, a 40-horsepower improvement over the previous 2016 car, while torque is now 4 lb-ft greater, to 313 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm.
Of note, this is the first six-cylinder 718 Cayman application since the car’s 2017 model year debut, due to the current 982-generation only using a turbocharged four-cylinder in various states of tune, causing some pundits to question whether a road-worthy Cayman with a horizontally opposed six-cylinder positioned just ahead of its rear axle will bolster the 718 Cayman ranks.
That new GT4 Clubsport flat-six, which feeds on 98 octane Super Plus unleaded gasoline, packs a 12.5:1 compression ratio, integrated dry sump lubrication, racing-optimized engine and transmission water cooling with thermal management, four-valve technology with adjustable camshaft phasing and VarioCam Plus variable valve timing, a racing-optimized Continental SDI 9 electronic engine management system, plus more.
Where the previous GT4 Clubsport shifted gears through a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, the new 718 version will solely utilize Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox, albeit with only six forward gears instead of the usual seven. The new model also features a reinforced dual mass flywheel, a racing-optimized electronic control unit, a racing-optimized mechanical rear axle differential lock, plus an internal pressure oil lubrication system boasting active oil cooling.
Additional modifications over road-going 718 Caymans include implementation of the 911 GT3 Cup car’s lightweight spring-strut front suspension; front and rear height, camber and track adjustable dampers; fixed shock absorbers with the Trackday car, or three-way racing shocks with rebound and two-stage high- and low-speed compression adjustment for the Competition; front and rear forged suspension links with optimized stiffness, double shear mountings, and high-performance spherical bearings; a three-hole design anti-roll bar up front; an adjustable blade-type anti-roll bar in the back; and five-bolt wheel hubs.
The new rims are single-piece forged light alloy wheels wearing a new “weight-optimized” design, and rolling on 25/64 front and 27/68 rear Michelin transportation rubber, while Michelin also supplies the slick/wet tires that measure 25/64-18 and 27/68-18 front and rear, too.
What’s more, behind those wheels and tires are racing-spec brakes that feature four multi-piece, ventilated and grooved steel discs measuring 380 millimetres in diameter, plus racing brake pads, aluminum mono-bloc six-piston front and four-piston rear racing calipers with “Anti Knock Back” piston springs, plus a brake booster with the Trackday version or brake balance adjustment via a balance bar system with the Competition model.
Despite the GT4 Clubsport’s factory-installed (FIA Art. 277 certified) safety cage, plus its 911 GT3-inspired front spoiler and sizeable fixed rear wing, which appear mostly carryover from the previous Clubsport, the race-spec Cayman weighs in at just 1,320 kilos, making it lighter than the outgoing model.
Mass in mind, the GT4 Clubsport’s body structure is comprised of aluminum-steel composite and therefore light in weight; while additional features include a hood and rear deck lid fastened in place via quick-release latches; an (FIA Art. 275a certified) escape hatch in the roof; an FT3 fuel safety cell that measures 80 litres with the Trackday or 115 litres with the Competition model, both featuring an FIA-compliant “Fuel Cut Off” safety valve; pre-installed mounting points for a three-piston air jack system for the Trackday, or a factory-installed three-piston air jack system with the Competition; and FIA-certified towing loops front and rear.
Also, a motorsport centre console with “enhanced functionality and adapted usability” gets added to the instrument panel, a six-point safety harness is included with its single Recaro race bucket driver’s seat, which also includes two-way fore and aft adjustments as well as an adjustable padding system, and lastly provisions are made for a safety net.
While safety is critical, and improving performance paramount for any new racing car, with Porsche having clearly claimed that its new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport improves overall drivability and therefore should provide faster lap times than its predecessor, it’s surprising that Porsche also put time and effort into its environmental initiatives, not normally a key issue in this class of sports car. The end result is a production-first racecar technology that could potentially find more widespread use: natural-fibre composite body parts.
The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport’s door skins and rear wing (specifically the wing flap, sideblades, and “swan neck” mounts) are actually formed from an organic fibre mix that’s sourced from agricultural by-products such as hemp or flax fibres. Porsche says the new age components weigh approximately the same as if made from carbon-fibre, while their strength is also similar.
Specific to each model, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday gets fixed shock absorbers, plus ABS, ESC, and traction control assistance systems for easier control at high speeds, the latter of which can all be deactivated. Improving comfort and safety respectively, the Trackday also includes air-conditioning and a handheld fire extinguisher, while it can be serviced at Porsche Centres throughout Canada.
You’ll need your own team of mechanics for the Competition model, however, and one of them will need to be well versed in three-stage shock adjustment, while you’ll need to figure out how to adjust the front/rear bias of the brake balance system yourself. Additionally, your pit stop team will be able to change the tires quickly thanks to its aforementioned integrated air jacks, and the larger safety fuel cell will make sure time off the track will be kept to a minimum.
Safety features not yet mentioned include an automated fire extinguishing system, and a quick release race steering wheel pulled from the 911 GT3 R.
Priced considerably higher than a street legal 718 Cayman, which starts at just $63,700, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday model can be had for $216,500, whereas the same car with the Competition package starts at $242,000.
Interested parties should contact Porsche Motorsport North America in Carson, California, or alternatively your local Porsche retailer, which no doubt would be happy to put you in touch.
For those who’d rather watch than take part, or simply don’t have a spare $200k and change available, enjoy the complete photo gallery above and two videos below:
Perfectly Addicting: The new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (2:02):
Setting a New Standard with the New Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (1:23):
Acura rolled a few eyes when introducing its somewhat wordy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive back in 2004, but as soon as the automotive press drove the brand’s then-new 2005 RL flagship luxury sedan…
Acura rolled a few eyes when introducing its somewhat wordy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive back in 2004, but as soon as the automotive press drove the brand’s then-new 2005 RL flagship luxury sedan all snickering stopped, it really was super.
A decade and a half later the Japanese luxury brand is now celebrating a significant milestone, the 15th anniversary of its industry-leading torque-vectoring SH-AWD technology. To mark the event, Acura has produced a video (see below) highlighting the advanced all-wheel drive system’s history and capability.
SH-AWD actively and continually distributes engine torque between the front and rear wheels, from 70 percent to the front and 30 percent to the rear, or 30 percent to the front and 70 percent to the rear, while additionally up to 100 percent of rear twist could be distributed to either the left or right wheel to reduce understeer and therefore aid high-speed cornering. Of course, SH-AWD has improved with each new generation, and now is either standard or available in five of Acura’s six models.
The latest version of Acura’s mechanical SH-AWD, now in its fourth generation, debuted on the new 2019 RDX last year, with 40 percent greater torque capacity at the rear axle, quicker front-to-rear torque transfer, plus 30 percent faster torque transfer between the left and right rear wheels.
Looking toward the future, the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid, the second-generation 2017 NSX, and the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid came equipped with the most advanced iteration of SH-AWD yet. The new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system incorporates electric motor torque for a more immediate application of four-wheel performance as well as much greater efficiency.
The mid-engine NSX supercar utilizes a unique design with three electric motors, two of which form a Twin Motor Unit (TMU) that distributes torque to each front wheel individually, whereas the RLX and MDX reverse the process with the gas-electric hybrid engine up front and TMU in back, distributing torque between each rear wheel, just like with the mechanical SH-AWD system. Despite the different layouts, the supercar, sport sedan and three-row SUV that feature Acura’s electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system apply identical technologies and use many of the same components.
Also notable, later this year Acura will be celebrating another milestone, one million SH-AWD-equipped vehicles sold worldwide. Past models equipped with SH-AWD have included the RL (2005-2012) that utilized the first-generation system, the MDX (2007-2015), RDX (2007-2012), TL (2009-2014), and ZDX (2010-2013) that incorporated the second-generation system with Hill Logic, VSA and TCS, the TLX (2015-present) and MDX (2016-present) that feature the third-generation system with a 25-percent lighter rear differential and more, RDX (2019-present) that boasts the fourth-generation system with a more compact and quicker responding design, and lastly the RLX Sport Hybrid (2015-present), NSX (2017-present) and MDX Sport Hybrid (2017-present) that feature the electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system.
Make sure to check out our photo gallery above to see images of all the aforementioned Acura models past and present, plus remember to watch the “What is Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive?” video below that details out the history and capability of Acura’s SH-AWD system:
What is Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive? (6:23):
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands…
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands of dedicated customers that loyally come back time and time again to renew their pledge at the 911 altar.
Along with the introduction of the completely redesigned 2020 911 at the Los Angeles auto show in November of last year, Porsche announced a new Wet Mode designed to assist would-be owners that get over their heads in standing water.
As it turns out, the deep end that can cause a 911 or most any other sports car shod in ultra-wide 21-inch performance tires to lose grip can be merely a single millimetre (0.04 inches) in depth, and it doesn’t need to be raining either, so don’t think the optical sensors used for your car’s rain-sensing wipers can be reallocated to detect sheets of water covering the road.
Porsche’s new Wet Mode can detect standing water, however, via acoustic sensors positioned within the front wheel arches just behind the tires. Rather than see water on the road, Wet Mode sensors listen for water spray, and if decibel levels get too strong the 911’s multi-information display will suggest you turn on Wet mode via a button on the new “button bar” above the centre console, or if equipped with the available Sport Chrono Package, by twisting the steering wheel-mounted “DRIVE MODE” selector.
That would be the rotating dial and “Sport Response” button just below the steering wheel’s right-side spoke, which can also be used to select “Normal”, “Sport”, ‘Sport Plus’ and ‘Individual’ driving modes. For the 2020 911, and without doubt more Porsche models to come, it also includes the new Wet mode, allowing drivers to select a safer setting when traveling over water-soaked pavement that could cause aquaplaning, or hydroplaning.
“Wet Mode was developed to provide the driver with consistent support in wet conditions,” said August Achleitner, a.k.a. “Mister 911” who headed up development of the new 911 and took part in its launch just before retiring. “It does not restrict the maximum power of the engine or limit the top speed, and should therefore also not be used as insurance for driving too fast in very wet conditions. Instead, it should be seen as an assistance system in the truest sense.”
Achleitner, who’s been with Porsche since 1983, earned his alternate title by being responsible for 911 model series development since 2001, and interestingly Wet mode was actually first developed back in the ‘90s.
When put into play, Wet mode applies more sensitive preconditioned settings to all of the 911’s driver assistive systems, such as Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Traction Management (PTM), and the car’s active aerodynamics, before combining their collective capability toward wet weather management. Specifically, the active variable rear spoiler extends to its performance position at just 90 km/h (sooner than in dry conditions), adding downforce to the rear tires, while frontal cooling air flaps open to increase downward pressure over the front wheels.
While the engine doesn’t relinquish any power, Wet mode delivers thrust more evenly in order to minimize engine torque buildup, with the end result being maximum traction at each wheel. What’s more, if piloting an all-wheel drive 4S model, additional torque gets transferred to the front axle for even more balanced distribution.
Of course, both Sport mode and the PSM Off function can’t be activated in Wet mode, while the new eight-speed PDK transmission’s shift strategy and the electronically controlled rear differential’s locking ratios automatically adapt to a smoother, more linear power delivery too.
Porsche claims “more confident handling” when using Wet mode in inclement conditions, and also states that Wet mode is ideal for snowy conditions as well.
While driver assistive technology this effective would be welcome in any car, it’s especially important in a sports car as capable as the new 911 that, thanks to 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque behind the rear axle, can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds in Carrera S guise, or 3.6 seconds when benefiting from the Carrera 4S model’s all-wheel drivetrain, or 3.5 and 3.4 seconds respectively with the Sport Chrono Package, before attaining top speeds of 308 and 306 km/h (190 and 191 mph) apiece.
To learn more about the new 2020 911’s Wet mode watch the video below, and also remember to browse through our photo gallery above for some fabulous shots of water spraying behind the new 911 during wet weather testing.
Learn how the Porsche Wet Mode works (1:43):
The Qashqai might only be second-most popular amongst Nissan models in Canada, but since arriving two years ago it has quickly swept into first place within its subcompact crossover SUV segment thanks…
The Qashqai might only be second-most popular amongst Nissan models in Canada, but since arriving two years ago it has quickly swept into first place within its subcompact crossover SUV segment thanks to 19,662 unit sales during calendar year 2018, a 119.2-percent increase over the previous year.
All the more reason to give the upcoming 2020 Qashqai a mid-cycle refresh, featuring Nissan’s more rugged looking Vmotion 2.0 grille surrounded by revised headlamps with LED signature daytime running lights, a more dynamic lower fascia, and a new sculpted hood design up front, plus available 19-inch alloy wheels down each side and reworked rear styling with sharper looking combination taillights. From front to back the new Qashqai has been modernized with a sportier yet still classy look for a subcompact SUV.
The Qashqai received Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), radar-based Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and Nissan’s Rear Door Alert (RDA) system, that reminds if you’ve left something or someone in the back seat, across its the entire for 2019, and these important safety features continue into the 2020 model year, but even better the upgraded Qashqai will get the entire Nissan Safety Shield 360 system in base S trim too.
Nissan Safety Shield 360, currently available in SV and SL trims, upgrades the Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, plus adds Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and High Beam Assist (HBA) to the 2020 Qashqai’s list of advanced driver assistance systems, for a full slate of Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy functions.
Of note, Nissan made its ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous single-lane “hands-on-wheel” driving system standard on the top-line Qashqai SL for 2019, while making it optional on the SV model. ProPilot Assist has the ability to completely drive itself, but due to safety concerns only lets you remove your hands from the steering wheel for about eight seconds at a time. Still, it can reduce driving fatigue by limiting the need to apply acceleration, steering and braking inputs and, together with the aforementioned Nissan Safety Shield 360 system, may even help to avoid a potential accident.
“Our Qashqai is a critical vehicle in Nissan’s popular CUV lineup; slotted strategically between the Nissan Kicks and Rogue,” said Steve Rhind, director of marketing, Nissan Canada Inc. “We’re committed to keeping our crossover/SUV portfolio fresh – which also includes the redesigned Murano, new Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition and flagship Armada. Nissan is on a roll and we’re not letting up heading into 2020.”
The current Qashqai also received a standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen for 2019, complete with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, live navigation, plus mobile apps and services. The upcoming 2020 Qashqai appears to have the same centre display included, which would certainly keep it up to date with others in the subcompact crossover SUV segment.
Like the current Qashqai, the new 2020 model will once again be available with both front-wheel and “Intelligent” all-wheel drivetrains, depending on whether choosing base S, SV or SL trims. Today’s 141-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine will continue as the standard powerplant for the 2020 model year as well, mated to either a six-speed manual transmission in base S trim, or with an optional Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Expect additional trim and pricing information closer to its launch date later this year.