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 improves 2020 CLA in every way

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The all-new 2020 CLA 250 Coupe shows an altogether more aggressive face, and plenty of other upgrades too. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
With a longer hood and a greenhouse pushed further back in more classic GT style, the new CLA looks plenty potent. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA should be an even better performer than its capable predecessor. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Its striking new rear design adds visual width for a more planted look. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“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.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA’s forward-sloping grille actually reminds us of classic BMWs, but sophisticated LED headlamps and an intricate latticework of F1-inspired front aero enhancements make it thoroughly modern. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
There’s no shortage of LED elements in the new CLA’s front or rear lights. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“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.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The outgoing CLA offered up one of the more intriguing interiors for its time, but this new interior immediately makes everything in the class look tired and dated. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new MBUX digital gauge cluster and infotainment combination is as advanced as anything in the industry. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Beautiful high-resolution graphics come standard, but there’s a lot more that the MBUX system offers. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“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.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The fully customizable MBUX infotainment system includes Augmented Reality navigation, and we can’t wait to try it out. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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?” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
A new touchpad replaces the old rotating dial, modernizing the MBUX user interface experience. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
An elegantly minimalist HVAC interface is only upstaged by the CLA’s fabulous turbine-look air vents. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new CLA is larger in most dimensions, especially from side-to-side. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The sporty seats certainly look comfortable and supportive, making us want to jump inside to test it as soon as possible. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
Is this the Mercedes-Benz that will cause you to step up from mainstream and buy from a luxury brand? If so, you certainly won’t be first to do so. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 Coupe
The new 2020 CLA should do very well. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

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 compact luxury sedan market segment is a tough nut to crack. It’s more or less owned by three German makes, including Mercedes-Benz with its C-Class sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible, Audi with…

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design Road Test

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The new 2019 Volvo S60 delivers big on style, especially when upgraded to T6 AWD R-Design trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The compact luxury sedan market segment is a tough nut to crack. It’s more or less owned by three German makes, including Mercedes-Benz with its C-Class sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible, Audi with its A4 sedan and tall wagon, plus its A5 coupe, convertible and four-door coupe, and BMW with its 3 series sedan and wagon, plus its 4 Series coupe, convertible, and four-door coupe, leaving a bevy of smaller players fighting over scraps. 

To be clear, most in this class are suffering from the success of their own compact luxury crossover SUV making, which means that while year over year sales of the BMW X3, for example, were up by 48.6 percent from calendar year 2017 to 2018, deliveries of the iconic 3 Series were off by 19.5 percent, and much lower volume 4 Series sales down by 5.4 percent. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
While its optional Fusion Red Metallic paint looks great, the S60’s new C-shaped LED taillights are easier to make out in a contrast hue. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Not every car in the D-segment lost ground, mind you, with the aforementioned C-Class gaining 6.5 percent, the Infiniti Q50 up 6.8 percent, and the Audi A5’s take-rate growing by an amazing 25 percent after a long-awaited redesign, but some saw significantly more shrinkage than BMW’s 3, such as Lexus’ RC coupe that dropped a staggering 37.9 percentage points, Jaguar’s XE sedan that lost 27.8 percent, Cadillac’s ATS sedan and coupe collectively down 25.4 percent, Acura’s TLX sedan off by 25.2 percent, Infiniti’s Q60 coupe down by 24.2 percent, and the Audi A4 sedan and tall crossover wagon’s popularity curtailed by a considerable 20.3 percent. 

Such steep sales declines make the Volvo 60-series’ loss of 5.1 percent seem easier to stomach, and to be yet farer to the Swedish automaker, those 60-series cars’ incredible 99.7 percent year over year increase from calendar year 2016 to 2017 made the slight downturn inevitable, the former upsurge directly resulting from years of pent-up demand for this all-new S60 sport sedan and its V60 sport wagon counterpart. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The R-Design gets a unique take on the S60’s new hexagonal grille. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

The aforementioned tough nut to crack comment has less to do with sales volatility and more about actual sales numbers, however, with both 60-series Volvos only managing 1,245 units collectively through 2018, compared to 11,556 for the bevy of C-Class models, 10,173 for the various Audis, and 9,733 for BMW’s offerings—yes, the 3 Series/4Series was once number one in this segment. 

Everything else is much farther down the pecking order, with Infiniti’s sedan and coupe ringing up 3,424 orders, Lexus non-ES offerings (the IS and RC) tallying up to 3,163 deliveries, Acura’s previously noted TLX finding 2,397 buyers, and even Cadillac’s ATS scooping up 1,615 new owners (before it gets axed), while a fair ways below Volvo’s 60-series total was Genesis’ G70 at 967 units, Jaguar’s XE at 571, and Alfa Romeo’s Giulia at 510 deliveries. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Signature “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps continue to give Volvo’s latest offerings a totally unique look, and this new design looks particularly good. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Now, before you scurry off to your local Merc, Bimmer or Audi store to sign up for one of their arguably worthy offerings, take note that earning a place in the top three doesn’t necessarily mean the car in question is better than something else on this list, or more specifically, doesn’t mean that something less popular won’t suite your personal style and requirements more agreeably. 

Case in point, this all-new 2019 Volvo S60. Volvo was once most notably known for safety above all, followed closely by bulletproof build quality. The good news here is safety is still high on the marque’s priority list, with its most recent offerings receiving Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus ratings from the IIHS, plus its bevy of standard active safety and advanced driver assistance features amongst the most comprehensive in the industry, some including automatic front collision warning with full low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, Driver Alert Control, steering support, Run-Off Road Mitigation, plus a Lane Keeping Aid and Oncoming Lane Mitigation as part of its standard City Safety package, while Volvo also goes over the top by adding an airbag for the driver’s knees, front seat whiplash protection, and pyrotechnical seatbelt pretensioners in all positions front to rear. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Sportier front fascia detailing, including fog lamps that bend around each corner, is exclusive to the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Also noteworthy, if the S60’s sensors detect an imminent head-on collision, the new oncoming braking system will automatically activate maximum braking force two-tenths of a second before impact. Volvo says this feature reduces vehicle speed by 10 km/h before that impact occurs, which could potentially be a lifesaver, and should certainly help to minimize injury. 

While tempted to do a deep dive into all of the additional standard features found on this 2019 S60, let alone our sporty R-Design trimmed example, I’d better go over some of its other highlights first. Most of the S60’s design details, like its “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights have been covered in previous Volvo reviews, as have its C- or hook-shaped LED taillights that are similar, at least, to those found on the larger S90. I have to admit to liking the overall shape and design of the S60 best, but this may only be due to its newness, plus the sportiness of this R-Design trim level. In truth, I find both new sedans very attractive, at the very least matching and in many ways surpassing some of their key competitors. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
These 19-inch alloys on Pirelli rubber will add $1,000 to your bill. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I won’t go into detail as to the size difference between these two cars, this S60 clearly fitting into the most popular compact luxury D-segment, and the S90 within the larger luxury mid-size E-segment (going up against the E-Class, 5 Series, A6, et al), but take note this S60 has grown considerably when compared to its 2010–2018 predecessor, now stretching 133 millimetres (5.2 inches) longer from nose to tail at 4,761 mm (187.4 in), with a 96-mm (3.8-in) longer wheelbase measuring 2,872 mm (113.1 in), but strangely it’s 15 mm (0.6 in) narrower at 1,850 mm (72.8 in), while sporting a 53-mm (2.1-in) lower roofline than the outgoing model. 

The longer wheelbase improves rear legroom, which critics charged as a shortcoming on the old S60, and I must say the rear seating area is now much more accommodating with plenty of space to stretch out and get comfortable, plus it provides superbly comfortable outboard positions with excellent lower back support. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Upon closer inspection, it’s easier to see the nice detailing and sharp edges added to the new S60’s taillights. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Such is even truer for the driver’s position, which in R-Design trim receives a six-way powered and wonderfully contoured sport seat with four-way powered lumbar support that allows ideal adjustment for the exact lower back pressure point, providing relief on long trips, or for that matter after a long day’s work, while a power-extendable lower cushion nicely cups below the knees for additional comfort and support. Two-way memory sets a favourite position for instant recall, this standard across the entire S60 line, while R-Design exclusive Fine Nappa leather upholstery with contrast stitching covers all seats from front to back, making for a luxurious look and feel. 

As attractive as they look I highly doubt your eyes will rest upon the seats at first entry, however, as the rest of the S60 R-Design’s interior is so spectacular you’ll likely be swept away by the elegant horizontal dash design and beautifully sculpted details everywhere else, let alone its three-spoke R-design leather-wrapped steering wheel, R-Design metal pedals, R-Design carpeted floor mats, R-Design metal sill mouldings, 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, impressive vertical infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation, four-zone automatic climate control with rear controls, etcetera, while the black headliner is a nice touch too. Still, the S60 R-Design’s special Metal Mesh decor inlays are particularly eye-catching, as is all of the S60’s jewellery-like switchgear, the rotating instrument panel knobs, glittering ignition switch, and equally dazzling drive mode selector appearing as if provided by one of the auto sector’s ultra-luxe brands, such as Bentley. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Slide inside one of the best interiors in the compact luxury D-segment. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Much of this glitz and glamour was initially introduced in the dramatically redesigned 2015 XC90 that formed the basis for most everything we’ve seen from Volvo since, so while the S60’s take on the Swedish automaker’s brand-wide interior design theme is nothing new to me or others familiar with the all things Volvo, the lavish luxury infused into each new 2019 model will likely produce eye-bulging levels of shock and awe amongst those trading up from their second-generation S60s. 

Expanding further on this line of thought, I previously spent three wonderful weeks in the V60 sport wagon, upgraded to top-line Inscription trim, which while slightly more expensive than the R-Design, in either V60 or S60 guise, is hardly more replete with features. Think of the Inscription as a more elegant take on luxury and the R-Design offering up a sportier edge, while the base Momentum is plenty impressive as well. Volvo should soon be offering the S60 in T8 AWD Polestar trims too, this model boasting the brand’s hybridized plug-in powertrain that ups performance to 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque via the same turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder as offered with T6 powered models. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The cabin detailing is superb, especially when uplifted with the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

That thought segues into currently available powertrains, with both T5 FWD and T6 AWD combinations under the S60’s hood and at its wheels. The T5 FWD is solely available in Momentum trim, featuring the same 2.0-litre four without the supercharger for a healthy 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque driving the front wheels, while the T6 AWD is optional with Momentum trim and standard on the R-Design and Inscription, and thanks to the aforementioned supercharger joining the turbo, it makes a much more satisfying 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque while powering all four wheels. 

As is normally the case in this class, both engines come standard with auto engine start/stop that reduces emissions while improving fuel economy by shutting down the engine when it would otherwise be idling, this helping the base T5 FWD to achieve a claimed 9.9 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 8.4 combined rating, whereas the as-tested T6 AWD is good for an estimated 11.1 city, 7.3 highway and 9.4 combined. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The S60 R-Design’s cockpit is as comfortable as it’s impressively finished. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Possibly more important to you is how the S60 R-Design drives, and to that end it’s even more dynamic than the V60 Inscription I enjoyed over the holiday season. It’s plenty quick off the line, with all four of its optional 235/40R19 Pirellis immediately locking onto asphalt and its formidable little powerplant whipping through its conjoined eight forward gears with effortless ease, both quickly when set to its sportiest Dynamic drive mode, and smoothly no matter which selection is chosen, Comfort and Eco also on the menu, while the R-Design model’s standard paddle shifters thoroughly enhance the hands-on experience. The engine and exhaust makes a nice snarly combination of notes at full throttle as well, but otherwise is as hushed as the car’s ultimately refined interior, the S60 R-Design balancing performance and pleasantries on an equal scale. 

Similar kudos can be attributed to the S60’s underpinnings, the R-Design’s exclusively lowered sport suspension boasting firmer dampers for tauter, flatter handling through fast-paced corners that results in stable, predictable manners even when flung carelessly into tight off-camber curves, while it doesn’t get unsettled when tossed back and forth through serpentine stretches either. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
This stunning 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster comes standard with the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It rides on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that Volvo uses for its larger S90 luxury sedan chassis, plus most everything else in the brand’s current lineup, with aluminum double wishbones in front and an exclusive integral link rear suspension design featuring a transverse lightweight composite leaf spring at back. Driver-selectable low, medium and high personal power steering settings combine with the aforementioned driving modes to make the most of any situation, whereas the brakes match handling and acceleration ideally as well, proving strong when called upon and always smoothly progressive, the entire car never forgetting that, while a capable sport sedan, refined luxury, supported by a compliant suspension setup and ultra-comfortable seats, is paramount in the class. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
The Volvo Sensus centre touchscreen is all about big, attractive gesture controlled goodness, that’s easy to use and fully functional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To that end the $52,400 S60 R-Design, which normally rides on 18-inch alloys, pulls plenty of as-yet unmentioned features up from the $42,400 base Momentum T5 FWD model, such as Road Sign Information (RSI), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, a powered panoramic glass sunroof, a Clean Zone Air Quality system and a humidity sensor, rear parking sonar, a rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, voice activation, dual USB ports, Bluetooth phone connectivity with streaming audio, Volvo On-Call with remote start and vehicle tracking, 170-watt 10-speaker audio, satellite radio, heated front seats with driver’s memory, a 120-volt household-style power outlet in the rear console, power-folding rear seat headrests, and more inside, while standard dual chromed tailpipes are joined by a unique R-Design front grille, plus auto high beams and active bending for the aforementioned LED headlamps, fog lamps with active bending, high-gloss black exterior trim including the side mirror caps, door handle puddle lamps, proximity-sensing keyless access, and the list goes on. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Unique Metal Mesh inlays can be found throughout the cabin, including the scrolling lids atop the centre console. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I loved my tester’s $900 optional Fusion Red Metallic paint, one of five optional colours as well as no-cost standard Black Stone, while all R-Design models get Charcoal black for the interior. If you end up going for Momentum trim you can choose from seven exterior colours and a variety of interior motifs, while Inscription trim provides the choice of eight colours albeit fewer cabin combinations, although the Momentum’s upgradable upholsteries are optional at no cost with the Inscription. 

Those 19-inch alloy wheels mentioned before were a $1,000 upgrade, while additional options included a $1,150 graphical head-up display unit that projected useful information, like navigation directions, onto the windshield for an easy, safe overview, plus the 15-speaker, 1,100-watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system was soundsational, and well worth the $3,750 required, even if you choose it for its gorgeous aluminum speaker grilles alone. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
No competitor does jewel-like metal-edged switchgear as well as Volvo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Volvo also added a $1,250 Climate Package that features heated Aquablades windshield wipers, a heatable steering wheel, and heated rear seats; plus a $1,500 Convenience Package with Volvo’s really impressive Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system featuring Adaptive Cruise Control, plus a Homelink garage door opener and a compass integrated into the rearview mirror; and finally an $1,800 Vision Package with very helpful 360-degree surround parking camera, easy to use Park Assist Pilot semi-autonomous self parking, always welcome front parking sonar, even more appreciated auto-dimming power-retractable side mirrors, and blindspot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert that could potentially save you from backing into oncoming traffic. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
These superb Nappa leather-covered sport seats are exclusive to the R-Design. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In case you were wondering, the $53,900 S60 Inscription includes most everything from the R-Design, other than the sportier features mentioned earlier, while in their place it adds a classy chromed waterfall grille, chromed window trim, unique 10-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, beautiful matte Driftwood Décor interior inlays, a tailored instrument panel with stitched soft-touch detailing, perforated Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and more. 

I sourced all 2019 Volvo S60 pricing from CarCostCanada, incidentally, where you can find detailed prices on each trim level, all packages, and every standalone option for the S60 and every other Volvo, not to mention most other new vehicles sold in Canada, plus otherwise hard to get rebate information and money-saving dealer invoice pricing. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Gotta love this massive standard glass sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

My only S60 complaint is a missing overhead sunglasses holder, plus not enough space on the centre console to place my average-sized Samsung S9 smartphone within easy visibility while driving, which was probably planned from onset by this safety-conscious automaker so as to reduce distracted driving. The most forward of two large cupholders, otherwise hidden below a lovely scrolling console lid, solved that problem, with the latter big enough to hold my ever-present water bottle securely, no matter how aggressively I took to corners. 

The S60’s 391-litre (13.8 cubic-foot) trunk was also large enough for my needs and about average for the class, and while its 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks included a centre pass-through for skis and other long cargo, I would have preferred a larger opening via a 40/20/40 divided seat configuration instead, but this is still a lot better than no pass-through at all, which is how most Japanese offerings come. 

2019 Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design
Rear seating is comfortable and plenty accommodating. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In closing, anyone considering a car in the compact luxury D-segment should take a close look at this new 2019 Volvo S60, as it’s a serious contender that delivers at an extremely high level in every way, from styling to performance, leading technology to safety, and overall comfort to accommodating spaciousness. Also important, it’s wonderfully different than anything from Germany or Japan, and for that reason the S60 may very well strike a chord with those who especially appreciate uniqueness and exclusivity, let alone a level of opulence few in this class can measure up to.

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…

Porsche reveals sporty new 2020 Cayenne Coupe

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
New for 2020, Porsche just revealed the Cayenne Coupe, ready to go up against the BMW X6, Mercedes GLE Coupe, Audi Q8, and even the Lamborghini Urus. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
A more raked back windscreen, 20-mm lower roofline, and more radically sloped C/D pillars and rear glass make for a dramatically different Cayenne. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Despite its sleeker shape, Porsche has design the new Cayenne Coupe to accommodate four passengers in comfort, plus all of their cargo. (Photo: Porsche)

“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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The new 2020 Cayenne Coupe makes a distinctive statement on the road. (Photo: Porsche)

“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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The new Cayenne Coupe uses active aerodynamics to add rear downforce while simultaneously making the SUV slipperier through the air. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
A more common rooftop spoiler works in tandem with the adaptive rear deck lid spoiler. (Photo: Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
An optional carbon fibre roof panel comes as part of three available lightweight sports packages. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Two powertrain options make for a dual-personality crossover coupe, one with sporty, spirited performance and another that dominates most rivals. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The new Cayenne Coupe’s interior mirror’s the recently redesigned regular Cayenne’s in most respects, especially when it comes to the instrument panel. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
Special 8-way sport seats, with available hounds-tooth cloth centres, are unique to the Cayenne Coupe. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
This large fixed panoramic sunroof comes standard. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe
The rear cushions are positioned 30 mm lower to increase headroom, while a console bin divides passengers. (Photo: Porsche)

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):

It’s déjà vu all over again, or at least that’s how I felt when picking up my 2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD tester. I’d spent a week with an identical model less than a year prior; even down…

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD Road Test

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The 2019 Rogue SL Platinum looks just like the 2018 Rogue SL Platinum, but Nissan has made some key features more affordable. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

It’s déjà vu all over again, or at least that’s how I felt when picking up my 2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum AWD tester. I’d spent a week with an identical model less than a year prior; even down to its top-line trim level and most popular Pearl White paint. 

Then I got inside, however, and was reminded of a near identical model I test drove the year prior in lovely Scarlet Ember livery, and therefore also remembered that last year’s SL Platinum wasn’t fully loaded, missing this SUV’s $500 SL Platinum Reserve Interior Package that includes a stylish stitched leatherette dash pad and replaces the regular Charcoal black or Almond beige leather upholstery with special quilted leather in an even richer looking Premium Tan hue, which comes across more like caramel or saddle brown. Either way it looks great, and ideally complements the white exterior paint, although the upgrade package is no longer available with the special metallic red exterior paint, or for that matter Nissan’s beautiful Caspian Blue. A shame. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The Rogue’s rear design remains attractive, while SL Platinum trim’s 19-inch alloys enhance the look. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Not to start this review out on a negative, because there’s very little to fault this popular compact crossover SUV on. As noted, the Rogue is Nissan Canada’s most popular model, and one look should make it easy to understand why. It was refreshed for the 2017 model year with Nissan’s wider, more U-shaped Vmotion 2.0 grille that I happen to like a lot more than the original V, while its then-new quad-beam headlamps with LED daytime running lights, and its updated LED brake lights added premium-level sophistication to the design. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
Some of the Rogue SL Platinum’s key elements, including LED headlamps, fog lights and 19-inch alloys, make a big difference to its outward appearance. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

That face-lifted 2017 model included additional styling tweaks on the outside plus updates within, a personal favourite being its flat-bottom steering wheel that still makes a sporty statement in the otherwise elegantly appointed top-line 2019 Rogue SL Platinum Reserve model. So equipped, that steering wheel is leather-wrapped with a heatable rim, a much appreciated mid-winter feature, as are the Quick Comfort heated front seats that come standard across the entire Rogue line, albeit the Platinum’s perforated leather upholstery is exclusive to this model. 

There’s actually more to the SL Platinum Reserve Interior’s seat design than quilting and the caramel colour change. The quilting is only used for the centre inserts, with perforated leather added to the inner bolsters and contrast-stitched black leather on top of those bolsters for a little more of a sport look mixed in with the luxury. The seats’ upholstery is complemented by the same Premium Tan on the door armrests, centre armrest, padded knee protectors on each side of the lower centre console, and even the aforementioned dash facing, which incorporates a similarly classy looking stitched leatherette pad ahead of the front passenger. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The $500 SL Platinum Reserve Interior Package includes this classy looking Premium Tan interior motif. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Icing on the proverbial cake comes in the form of Piano Black interior door inlays surrounding the usual chromed door handles, which match up nicely next to the same glossy black treatment rimming the dash vents, centre console, gear lever surround and otherwise leather-wrapped shift knob. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The Rogue SL Platinum’s nicely sorted cockpit includes a heatable leather-wrapped flat-bottom steering wheel. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As you may have guessed, the latest Rogue SL Platinum Reserve doesn’t just look like a premium crossover SUV, but in addition its standard feature set is replete with top-drawer gear that one-ups plenty of luxury brands. For instance, the official name given to this trim level is Rogue SL Platinum with ProPilot Assist, the latter technology standard with all SL Platinum models and really quite impressive. It’s a semi-autonomous “hands-on-wheel” driving system, which means it 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—it warns you to put your hands back on the wheel after that. Still, it’ll impress your friends and might be useful to those who find highway driving intimidating, as it helps keep the Rogue centered within its lane and, along with its Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Intelligent Lane Intervention systems, may even help avoid an accident. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
A traditional analogue gauge cluster includes a colour TFT multi-info display at centre. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

These latter two advanced driver assistance systems get pulled up to the SL Platinum from mid-range SV trim, as does Intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control, while high beam assist, rear parking sensors, Moving Object Detection (MOD), backup collision intervention and rear autonomous emergency braking join ProPilot Assist as options with the SV and standard equipment with the top-line SL Platinum model. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The centre touchscreen is filled with plenty of noteworthy features, but the dual-screen Around View parking monitor is the highlight. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with all the usual active and passive safety features, some advanced tech incorporated into upper trims from the base Rogue S include Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) with a display showing individual tire pressures and an Easy-Fill Tire Alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), plus two features normally relegated to top-line trims, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), while Rear Door Alert is an oddly named albeit very welcome feature that actually warns against leaving something or someone in the back seat unattended after turning off the engine, by remembering that you opened a rear door before setting off on your drive. Now that’s smart. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The unique saddle/caramel coloured leather upholstery looks rich, and the seats provide good comfort and support. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As cool as some of this tech is, especially watching the Rogue drive itself, applying hands to said wheel while on the highway, and then winding through some twisting backroads after tooling through town is my usual course of action. As always the Rogue didn’t disappoint, but let me insert a caveat here, I’ve never set my performance expectations too high. This is an SUV built primarily for comfort rather than all-out speed, and to that end it delivers in spades, with a nice compliant ride, smooth, progressive acceleration, and an easy, controlled demeanor on the open freeway. It can manage curves too, and provides strong braking when needed, but if you’re looking for performance there are sportier SUVs in this class, yet few are smoother than the Rogue, such refinement its specialty. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
A large powered panoramic sunroof adds an open, airy ambience to an already spacious interior. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Behind that V-motion grille is the Nissan’s dependable 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which continues to make a totally acceptable if not breathtaking 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque, while its standard continuously variable transmission (CVT) is one of the reasons behind that just noted smooth factor. It’s also partially responsible for the Rogue’s commendable Transport Canada fuel economy rating that comes in at 9.6 L/100km in the city, 7.5 on the highway and 8.7 combined with its as-tested all-wheel drivetrain, or 9.1 city, 7.1 highway and 8.2 combined when opting for front-wheel drive. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The rear seating area is very accommodating. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

As is mostly the case in this class, all-wheel drive is more about tackling slippery pavement than anything off-road, although traveling to campsites over logging roads or light-duty trails can benefit from AWD, as well as its various electronic all-weather features, such as Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS). This said others in the class are starting to broaden their appeal, with the latest RAV4 Trail featuring some real 4×4-like go-anywhere technologies, and the Subaru Forester long offering its X-Mode for extracting itself from rougher situations. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
Nissan provides handy storage for the retractable cargo cover under the load floor. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Back to earth, or rather asphalt, the Rogue is ideal for slogging through Canadian winters, hitting the slopes, or alternatively heading out on that summer camping vacation. It can tow a small camp trailer or lightweight boat weighing up to 500 kilos (1,100 lbs), plus it can carry plenty of gear in back, up to 1,112 litres (39.3 cubic feet) in the dedicated cargo area and 1,982 litres (70.0 cubic feet) when its 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded flat. That rear bench is made more passenger and cargo friendly via a centre pass-through that doubles as a centre armrest with cupholders, which allows longer items like skis to be stuffed down the middle while rear passengers enjoy the benefit of the window seats, although take note they might be grumbling on the way back from the ski hill due to a surprising lack of available rear seat heaters. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
A shelf-like removable load floor offers plenty of cargo space versatility. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Along with all of the features already mentioned, the $37,398 top-line SL Platinum gets a lot of premium-level upgrades that really make a difference when it comes to performance, safety, convenience and luxury, such as AWD, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, an electromechanical parking brake, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a heated leather steering wheel rim and leather-wrapped shift knob, memory for the six-way powered driver’s seat and side mirrors, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, a powered panoramic sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a surround parking monitor, great sounding Bose audio with nine speakers including two subs, Radio Data System (RDS) and speed-sensitive volume control, a gesture activated liftgate, and more. 

2019 Nissan Rogue SL Platinum Reserve AWD
The Rogue provides more larger cargo capacity than average. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

I won’t tire you by scrolling through lists of everything that gets pulled up to SL Platinum trim from the other two grades, but some highlights from both include remote engine start, proximity-sensing access with pushbutton ignition, auto on/off headlights, fog lamps, LED turn signals within the side mirror caps, roof rails, the aforementioned six-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar, a retractable cargo cover and more with the $29,098 SV, plus variable intermittent wipers, overhead LED map lights and sunglasses storage, a colour multi-information display, a 7.0-inch centre touchscreen, NissanConnect featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM Traffic, hands-free text messaging assistant, Bluetooth, mood lighting, and more with the $26,798 base Rogue S. By the way, all pricing was sourced from CarCostCanada, where all the trims, packages and individual features are itemized, plus otherwise hard to find rebate info and dealer invoice pricing is provided. 

For the most part our 2019 Rogue SL Platinum Reserve was well equipped, especially when it came to advanced driver assistance systems, plus it provided more than enough performance, a smooth, quiet ride, great fuel economy, and a fairly luxurious and comfortable cabin, while it was extremely accommodating for driver, passengers and cargo. I like the way it looks, especially as my tester was kitted out, which, along with all of the above, is likely why it’s such a strong seller, and also why it’s easy to recommend.

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…

Video: Watch how Porsche Adaptive Aerodynamics enhance 2020 911’s performance

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
The upcoming 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera includes adaptive aero elements that improve safety and performance. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
While aesthetically controversial, there’s no questioning the new rear wing’s functionality. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
When the active shutters are open, frontal air enters the corner intakes before flowing through the radiators and exiting via the wheel cutouts. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S
In its highest position, the rear spoiler adds enough downward pressure over the rear wheels to assist in braking. (Photo: Porsche

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):

I’m not going to lie to you. As curious as I am to spend a given week with seriously important big market cars like the recently redesigned Toyota Corolla, and as interested as I am to find out how…

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR Road Test

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Beautiful enough for you? Jaguar’s F-Type Coupe SVR drives even better than it looks. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I’m not going to lie to you. As curious as I am to spend a given week with seriously important big market cars like the recently redesigned Toyota Corolla, and as interested as I am to find out how far I can go on a single charge with Kia’s latest Soul EV, nothing gets me out of my editor’s chair as quickly or as enthusiastically as a hopped up muscle car, a high-revving super-exotic, or something along the lines of Jaguar’s F-Type SVR, which might be the perfect combination of both. 

Regular readers will remember that I spent a blissful week with this very same car last year in its more eye-arresting Ultra Blue paintwork, so having this 2019 model gifted to me for yet another seven heavenly days was a welcome surprise made better due to its stealth Santorini Black bodywork that thankfully doesn’t attract quite as much attention. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Gorgeous from all angles, the F-Type SVR makes a formidable visual statement. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

It’s not that I was embarrassed to be seen in it, quite the opposite of course, but rather that this car coaxes my most juvenile impulses from their hardly deep recesses all too easily, which can quickly get a person deep into trouble. 

How quickly? Well that depends on whether you’re thrown into a stupor or moved into action when first laying eyes on the F-Type SVR, as well as which sense moves you most. If you’re visually stimulated first and foremost, you might be stopped dead in your tracks as soon as it comes into view, but then again if your receptors respond more to an auditory trigger you’ll move right past first sight to initial startup, resulting in the rasp of one of the more sensational exhaust notes in autodom, which will either send you to the moon in a momentary daze or turn you toward the street to put some of that wound up energy to good use. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
The SVR’s many finely crafted details impress. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

I’m jaded, or maybe it’s just that experience tells me not to waste a moment gawking inanely at something I can relive later in pictures. Certainly one can recall memories of moments well spent, but the more one collects such moments makes recalling them a helluvalot easier. A quick glance of appreciation, out of respect, immediately followed by a quicker descent into a familiar body hug, the SVR’s performance seats are as wholly enveloping as they’re sinfully comfortable. Foot on brake pedal, finger on start button, mechanical machinations ignited and ahhh… glory hallelujah! What a sound! 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
These stunning 20-inch alloys come as part of a $13k carbon ceramic brake upgrade. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann)

Nothing roadworthy this side of an XJR-15 sounds as brutally raw, as purely visceral as an F-Type SVR being brought to life, that is until you’ve given the throttle a few more blips after opening up its two-mode titanium and Inconel active exhaust system via a wee little console-mounted button that makes a great big noise. Any sort of right foot twitch capable of spinning the crank above 4,000 revolutions per minute lets loose a cacophony of crackling barks and blats, the kind of song that’ll have gearheads singing along in dissonant unity, and zero emissions folks sneering. 

Allowing spent gases to exit more freely isn’t exactly the Tesla mantra, and to think the minds behind this wondrous high-test glutton are the very crew responsible for the Model X-beating I-Pace (well, it beats the entry-level Tesla crossover, at least). We’ve all got to love the bizarre dichotomy running rampant in today’s automotive market, where the cars we all lust after are paying for the ones that government mandates are forcing down our throats. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
The SVR’s interior comes filled with red-stitched Suedecloth and quilted leather. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Of course, thanks to companies like Jaguar and Tesla we’re all beginning to realize that going electric isn’t the end of motorized fun, but potentially a new beginning. Could there be an electrified F-Type in our future? Likely, and it’ll be the quickest Jaguar sports car ever. Still, the good folks at Castle Bromwich will need to expend terahertz levels of energy in their artificial sound lab to recreate the auditory ecstasy this SVR composes. Let’s hope they succeed, because we all know that as sensational as this 5.0-litre supercharged V8 sounds, and as fabulously fast as this Jaguar becomes when powered by it, the still impressive yet nevertheless 23-year-old AJ-8 power unit’s days are numbered. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Equal parts luxury and down-to-business performance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

As it is, this 575 horsepower beast catapults from naught to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds before attaining the seemingly unattainable terminal velocity of 322 km/h (200 mph)—that’s 1.1 seconds quicker and 122 km/h (75.8 mph) faster than the I-Pace, in case you were wondering. Certainly a driver’s license would be unobtainable for the remainder of my sorry life if I were so foolish as to attempt the former speed on public roads, and being that no such track is long enough within close proximity of my home we’ll all just need to take Jaguar’s word for it. Suffice to say that zero to all other cars at the stoplight looking like tiny coloured dots happens all of a shockingly sudden, so you’d better gather your stunned thoughts, get into the game and prepare for upcoming corners or you’ll fast be shuffled off this mortal coil. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
I’ll never complain about a beautifully designed set of analogue gauges, while the 5.0-inch MID provides good functionality. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Fortunately the F-Type SVR manages all roads serpentine as easily as it’s guided down the straight and narrow, its brilliantly quick-shifting eight-speed automatic as ideally suited to flicking up through the gears as for rev-matched downshifts. Remember when I mentioned muscle car credentials earlier? That was strictly referencing the engine, its prowess over undulating, curving backroads the stuff of mid-engine exotica. Just look at the meaty 305-section Pirelli P-Zero rubber at back and plentiful 265/35s up front, both ends supported by the lightweight aluminum chassis and riveted, bonded body shell noted earlier, and then factor in that suspension’s Adaptive Dynamics system, the electronic active rear differential, and the brake-sourced torque vectoring. Tap the carbon ceramic brakes to load up the front tires, enter the apex, add throttle and enjoy as the SVR’s backside locks into place while catapulting this leather-lined beast toward the next bend, a process I repeated over and over, as often as opportunity would allow. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
New for 2019 is this large 10.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All said, you’d think something as fabulously fast as the F-Type SVR would be a handful around town, but that’s where its exotic nature ends and more upright practicality enters. It’s actually a very comfortable coupe to spend time in, while visibility is quite good considering its sleek greenhouse and thick C pillars. The 12-way powered driver’s seat and steering column fit my long-legged, short torso five-foot-eight frame well, and due to much more movement in all directions should provide good adjustability for all sorts of body types, and I certainly had no complaints from my various co-drivers. 

On the practicality question, Jaguar provides a large hatch opening for loading in all kinds of gear, with up to 408 litres (14.4 cubic feet) in total and about half that below the removable hard cargo cover. It’s beautifully finished, as one would expect in this class, but remember that unlike the old XK the F-Type is strictly a two-seater with no rear seats to fold, so there’s no way you’ll be able to fit skis or any other long items aboard, unless you slot them down the middle between driver and front passenger. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
All F-Type switchgear is above par. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

I remember stuffing my significant other and kids into an XKR coupe years ago, and while its 2+2 grand touring profile wasn’t carried forward into the F-Type’s design, the interior’s fine workmanship and beautiful attention to detail continues. In fact, I’d say this SVR’s cabin is even better, with rich red stitching and piping providing colour to the otherwise black Suedecloth and quilted leather surfaces, while its electronic interfaces are beyond comparison. 

Classic analogue dials flank a large 5.0-inch colour TFT multi-information display at centre, unchanged from past years, albeit the Touch Pro infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack is all new for 2019, growing from 8.0 to 10.0 inches in diameter and now flush-mounted without buttons down each side. It’s properly outfitted with navigation, a backup camera with active guidelines, Pro Services, InControl Apps, 770-watt 12- speaker Meridian surround audio, satellite and HD radio, and the list goes on, while Jaguar also added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for $300. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
Fabulous looking SVR sport seats are comfortable and supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

You can get into a 2019 F-Type Coupe SVR for just $140,500, or go topless for an extra $3,000, either of which is a bargain when compared to the Porsche 911 Turbo that will set you back $43,700 more for the hardtop or an additional $54,700 for the drop-top. That easily pays for the aforementioned $13,260 Carbon Ceramic Brake Pack with plenty left over, which includes 398 millimetre rotors up front and 380 mm discs at back, plus massive yellow calipers encircled by a stunning set of 10-spoke 20-inch diamond-turned alloys. Plenty of options were included with my test car and a yet more, like LED headlights, a heated steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming centre and side mirrors, auto climate control, front and rear parking sensors, autonomous emergency braking, and lane keeping assist, comes standard, so make sure to check out all the 2019 F-Type trims, packages and options at CarCostCanada, not to mention rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

2019 Jaguar F-Type Coupe SVR
A supercar that’s practical too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

It’s difficult not to write an epic for such a phenomenal sports car, but instead of running on at the mouth I recommend you head to your local Jaguar retailer and ask them to start one up in the showroom or on the lot, turn on the switchable active exhaust, rev the throttle and then listen to the snap, crackle and pop of the exhaust. If you’re not raring to go for a drive after that, you might be better off moseying down the road to the Lexus store for a smooth, comfortable ride in ES 300 hybrid.

We’ve got the lovely Jaguar XF in our garage this week, and despite its elegantly classic sport sedan lines, beautifully deep, rich Rossello Red metallic paint, luxuriously appointed Ebony leather and…

2019 Jaguar XF S

2019 Jaguar XF S
The beautiful XF S fits its majestic background perfectly, and thankfully it’s in our garage this week. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

We’ve got the lovely Jaguar XF in our garage this week, and despite its elegantly classic sport sedan lines, beautifully deep, rich Rossello Red metallic paint, luxuriously appointed Ebony leather and Light Oyster grey contrast-stitched cabin with beautiful Grey Figured Ebony veneers, full assortment of standard and optional features, some of which are new for 2019, and the list goes on, it’s difficult to be 100 percent positive. 

The truth of the matter is, no matter how entertaining and informative I try to make this review out to be, you are one of a very small number of Canadian consumers showing any interest in this car at all. It’s partially a sign of the crossover SUV times, the success of Jaguar’s E-Pace and F-Pace plus interest in its new I-Pace EV verifying that, but to be totally honest, it’s also due to Jaguar’s declining fortunes overall. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
The XF S is long, low and lean, making a nicely proportioned mid-size statement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

This is where I give kudos to Jaguar for sticking to its guns in the luxury car business, “car” being the key word I’m referring to in this respect. The brand grew legendary thanks to classics like the forever-beautiful Mk II and XJ Series I, II and III that followed, not to mention the B-Type, C-Type and E-Type sports cars that were the inspiration behind today’s fabulous F-Type, but times are tough for all but a few luxury sedans these days. 

Jaguar designers Ian Callum and Adam Hatton did a momentous job reinvigorating the XJ nameplate back in 2009, the first one I saw in the metal while descending the baggage claim escalator at Pearson International literally dropping my jaw in dumbfounded adoration, but that was a decade ago and as much as I still love that big, beautiful and surprisingly agile car the full-size luxury F-segment hasn’t exactly been twiddling its thumbs while waiting for Coventry to show us all something new. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
Lacking some distinctive character from the rear, at least when compared to the lovely Jaguar XJ, the XF’s backside is certainly tasteful. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

In the meantime, Jaguar introduced the Callum-designed compact D-segment XE in April of 2015 (a 2020 refresh was just revealed), designed to fight it out with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and the like, plus the second version of its mid-size E-segment XF later that year, also penned by Mr. Callum—he does have a way with sculpted aluminum panels and composites. They’re all beautiful, more than capable of receiving compliments from true enthusiasts who appreciate special cars made by an even more endearing brand, but thumbs up and nods of appreciation from enthusiasts won’t pay the bills. 

As it is, Jaguar’s Canadian sales aren’t exactly on fire. Jaguar sold a grand total of 188 XJs in Canada last calendar year, representing 17.5 percent fewer than in 2017, while year-over-year XF sales were down a staggering 63.5 percent to just 173 units throughout all of 2018. The smallest XE was the only bright spot amongst Jag’s four-door sedan lineup with 571 sales and a downward trend of just 27.8 percent. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
That’s a powerful looking front fascia, backed up by 380-hp in top-line S trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Making matters worse, if it weren’t for the Alfa Romeo Giulia the just-noted XE would be dead last in its class, while the XF has the Acura RLX and Infiniti Q70 to thank for not bringing up the rear in the E-segment. On that happy note I’m glad to report my favourite XJ had a more respectable showing amongst its peers last year with the Audi A8, Maserati Quattroporte and Genesis G90 left far behind, but factoring in that Mercedes sells nearly five times as many S-Class models as XJs, and more than 20 times as many C-Class and E-Class variants than XEs and XFs, makes even this tiny positive a tad disconcerting. 

Year-over-year F-Type sales were down in 2018 too, but just by 4.8 percent to 373 units, causing the still gorgeous sports car to slip from fourth to fifth amongst its premium rivals (when including the Corvette), but take heart the F-Pace saw growth of 2.3 percent to 2,419 units last year, while the E-Pace found 572 new buyers despite only arriving on the scene in, um, February (of last year). 

2019 Jaguar XF S
Full LED headlamps boast auto high beams and more. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Yah, not quite the compact crossover SUV response Jaguar was hoping for. Interestingly, the new plug-in electric I-Pace might actually become the major league out-of-the-ballpark grand slam hit Jaguar’s been longing for, but we’ll have to wait and see as the 41 units they managed to sell toward the end of last year was hardly a sizeable enough sample to make judgement on. Overall, the 4,349 Jaguars sold in Canada throughout calendar year 2018 (the vast majority F-Paces) represented a 5.9-percent decline from the year before, and if it weren’t for the F-Pace, E-Pace, and an 11.5-percent gain experienced by Land Rover, resulting in JLRC growth of 5.7 percent overall, this wouldn’t be a positive story at all. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
This is one seriously sporty looking luxury sedan. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

To be fair the BMW brand only saw Canadian sales growth of 1.2 percent, Audi grew by just 2.5 percent, and Porsche by a pretty impressive 7.9 percent, while Mercedes-Benz sales actually fell by 4.8 percent. Last year’s biggest luxury brand success story goes to Volvo, mind you, but its amazing 29.8 percent growth is more representative of a phoenix rising from the ashes than anything resembling market dominance. Likewise, Alfa Romeo’s sales are up 26 percent thanks to its new Stelvio SUV, but with 1,402 total units (compared to Mercedes’ 49,413) it’s not causing many competitors concern. The same goes for Genesis, up 174.5 percent to 1,441 total cars sold (they don’t have any SUVs yet), but Tesla’s 386.4-percent year-over-year rise should cause brands like Jaguar to quake in their Doc Martins, if the California-based brand’s numbers can be trusted, and its completely unhinged, egomaniacal CEO doesn’t drive the “tech” company’s valuation underground one idiotic, questionably drug-induced “funding secured” tweet at a time. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
These glossy black twinned five-spoke alloys cost another $770 over the XF S trim’s standard 20-inch rims. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

So to make a short story long, the XF is Jaguar’s slowest selling vehicle in a market segment that’s also losing ground, which makes me (crossing my fingers) hopeful that we’ll be fortunate enough to lure in 10 percent of this model’s current ownership base (Jaguar sold 2,242 XFs over the past five years) for a total of 224 readers, plus another 100 or so interested lookie-loos, so that advertising can pay for our efforts (fat chance, I know). 

Of course, if we were to base our coverage on this type of business model I’d only be writing about full-size pickup trucks, plus a few compact sedans and crossover SUVs, so suffice to say the XF is worthy of much more attention than it’s currently receiving in this country, and no doubt Jaguar hopes that changes made to this 2019 model will help increase sales back to its 2013 levels at best (604 units), or 2017 levels at least (494). 

2019 Jaguar XF S
The XF’s narrow strips of wraparound LED taillights might best be described as tastefully understated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

So without further ado, new for 2019 is Jaguar’s updated 10.0-inch InControl Touch Pro centre display that provides a lot more area to enjoy its oh-so-British red telephone booth in a field graphics and much easier to see backup camera… but wait… the backup camera is there, but where are the graphics? Hmmm. I suppose most would rather have a larger non-graphical touchscreen than something smaller and more interesting, and you’ll probably have your smartphone hooked up to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto anyway, which are now part of the package. Then again, those who’d rather set their navigation instructions via the InControl Touch Pro interface will appreciate that voice recognition has been added to the mix, both standard in the XF’s second-rung Prestige trim. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
The XF includes all of the premium sector’s requisite ingredients, but what about design, fit, finish, and quality? We’ll tell all in our upcoming road test. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Lastly, Jaguar’s luxurious Suedecloth is now standard for the roof pillars and headliner across the entire XF line, as is a set of aluminum treadplates with illuminated Jaguar branding, premium carpeted floor mats, metal-enhanced foot pedals, chromed power seat switchgear, plus a classy and classic looking frameless auto-dimming rearview mirror. 

Now that we’re talking XF trims, for 2019 they include the $59,100 Premium, $64,500 Prestige, and $67,800 R-Sport when choosing the 247 horsepower base 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder; $67,000 Prestige, $70,300 R-Sport, $72,300 300 SPORT and $79,100 Portfolio with the 296 horsepower version of the same gasoline-powered engine; $66,500 Prestige and $69,800 R-Sport with the 180 horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel; and lastly $75,300 for my tester’s 380 horsepower 3.5-litre supercharged V6-powered model’s sole S trim. All prices, trims and standalone options can be found at CarCostCanada, incidentally, where you can also save thousands by learning about available rebates and otherwise hard to find dealer invoice pricing. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
It looks like an ideal performance driver’s cockpit, but how does it drive? (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Additionally, all XF sedans utilize an eight-speed electronic automatic transmission with Jaguar Sequential Shift manual mode, plus all-wheel drive, Jaguar Drive Control with Standard, Eco, Dynamic (sport), and Rain/Ice/Snow modes, and Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVBB), hill launch assist and more, while my XF S tester also included Adaptive Surface Response (AdSR) plus Configurable Dynamics and Adaptive Dynamics that let you choose personal engine, suspension, steering, and transmission settings. 

After this ultra-long-in-tooth intro I won’t bore you with too many more details about each and every trim level, other than to say it’s a mid-size E-segment Jaguar so all of these various XF grades are finished to a higher degree than anything in the mainstream volume mid-size class, but I’m not going to go so far as to say the XF is segment leading when it comes to fit, finish, materials quality, digital interfaces, features, roominess, etcetera. It’s very good in all of the above respects, however, and due to offering a wholly unique look and feel, plus a very different driving experience than any rival it deserves your attention. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
This fully digital gauge cluster provides a bevy of bright, colourful information. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

So let’s take a quick look at some of the features found on my specific XF S tester, such as its special “S” body kit boasting a sports front bumper, gloss black side sills and rear valance, plus a rear deck lid spoiler, 20-inch alloy wheels, 350-mm front brakes and red calipers all-round, while inside it receives special metal sill finishers with “S” branding, unique Dark Hex aluminum inlays on the instrument panel, a leather-like Luxtec-wrapped dash top, “S” embossed 18-way power-adjustable sport seats, and more. 

Other features not yet mentioned that are incorporated into the XF S include proximity-sensing access, pushbutton ignition, an acoustic layer windshield, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, an electromechanical parking brake, a power-adjustable steering column, auto-dimming, power-folding, heatable side mirrors with approach lights and puddle lamps, memory for those mirrors as well as the front seats, front seat heaters, mood lighting, a Homelink garage door opener, a 10.0-inch capacitive touchscreen, a rearview camera, navigation with detailed mapping, InControl Apps, Pro Services, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and audio streaming, a USB charge port, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback, front and rear parking sensors, and more. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
New 10-inch infotainment touchscreen is a big step up in size and functionality. (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

Additionally, along with all the expected active and passive safety features the XF S comes standard with autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist, blindspot monitoring, closing vehicle sensing, reverse traffic monitoring, driver condition monitoring, and more. 

On top of the all the XF S standard items, my tester featured $670 worth of gorgeous Rossello Red paint, a fabulous looking $770 set of glossy black twinned five-spoke alloys, a $460 Black package with a gloss black mesh grille and surround, gloss black side vents and the same treatment for the trunk garnish; a $2,200 Comfort and Convenience package with a hyperactive gesture control for that trunk’s powered deck lid (more on this in my upcoming review), as well as soft closing doors, three-way active ventilated front seats, and heatable rear outboard seats; a $1,030 Technology package with 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, Pro Services, and a CD/DVD player; a $3,680 Driver Assistance package with a 360-degree surround camera, a forward facing camera, 360-degree Park Distance Control, Park Assist semi-autonomous self-parking, adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, blindspot assist, and traffic sign recognition with an intelligent speed limiter; a head-up display for $1,330; a heated windshield and heated washer jets for $410; plus satellite and HD radio for $210. 

2019 Jaguar XF S
Comfortable and supportive? Come back for our full review to find out what we think… (Photo: Karen Tuggay)

All it was missing in order to be fully and completely loaded was a $2,230 Premium Interior Upgrade package featuring four-zone climate control with an air quality sensor and automatic air re-circulation, a lockable cooled glove box, manual side window sunshades, a powered rear sunshade, and configurable interior mood lighting; and optional interior décor trim (the carbon fibre would’ve been nice); yet even as is the base XF S model’s $75,300 asking price moves up $10,550 to $85,850, plus freight and fees of course (again, check out CarCostCanada for details). 

As good as all of this sounds, and the XF arguably delivers a lot of value for the money asked, we need to face the reality that Germany leads this category by a country mile for good reason (as does Tesla for different cult-like electrified reasons), and despite Jaguar investing quid by the whollops into the XF’s lightweight and ultra-rigid bonded and riveted aluminum body shell, which is arguably one of the most attractive in its class, and offering more engine options than the majority of rivals (albeit no longer a supercharged V8), it would need to perform barrel rolls on the spot if it really wanted to get noticed. 

I’ll cover all that’s good and my few gripes in an upcoming road test review, so until then enjoy our photo gallery above. Like I said, it’s a beautiful sedan that deserves a lot more interest than it gets, so thanks for giving it some of yours…

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…

Porsche introduces new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport at Canadian auto show

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
The new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is lighter, nimbler and faster than the outgoing version. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Styling has changed thanks to the 718 update, but teams and drivers will only care about performance improvements. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
No doubt the race-spec brakes with 380-mm discs and six-piston front, four-piston rear calipers can manage high-speed vertical challenges. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
The GT4 Clubsport utilizes 911 GT3-inspired aerodynamics to keep its nose and tail glued to the ground. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
You’ll need a trailer to get the GT4 Clubsport to events, as it’s not street-legal. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Shown here at its Daytona unveiling on January 3, 2019, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport presents itself as the ultimate track day beast. (Photo: Juergen Tap, Porsche)

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. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
The new GT4 Clubsport’s door skins and rear wing are made from an organic fibre mix that’s sourced from agricultural by-products. (Photo: Porsche)

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. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
Available with your next 718 Cayman? Only if it’s a GT4 Clubsport. (Photo: Juergen Tap, Porsche)

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. 

2019 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport
This is what a motorsport centre console with “enhanced functionality and adapted usability” looks like. (Photo: Juergen Tap, Porsche)

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):