An off-road Lexus? To some this might sound like an oxymoron, but in reality two of Lexus’ priciest luxury SUVs started life as ultra-capable go-anywhere Toyota Land Cruisers.  The Land Cruiser name…

Lexus reveals rugged GXOR Concept at FJ Summit

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
The GXOR Concept shows Lexus in a much more adventurous light, and could make the slow-selling GX 460 much more appealing. (Photo: Lexus)

An off-road Lexus? To some this might sound like an oxymoron, but in reality two of Lexus’ priciest luxury SUVs started life as ultra-capable go-anywhere Toyota Land Cruisers. 

The Land Cruiser name is legendary, and in many markets considered a premium sub-brand of the world’s second-largest automaker. While most Canadians conjuring mental images of iconic Land Cruisers will look back to the now classic 1960–1984 FJ40 series, the larger and longer 1967–1980 FJ55 followed by the much more popular 1980–1989 BJ60, or the most recent 2008–present J200 that does double-duty as the Lexus LX 570, the model shown here is based on the 2009–present J150, or Land Cruiser Prado. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
The GXOR gets plenty of off-road gear to overcome treacherous terrain, plus an ultra-rugged tent trailer. (Photo: Lexus)

Known North American luxury consumers as the Lexus GX 460, this somewhat long-in-tooth albeit still very capable mid-size three-row 4×4 also shared underpinnings with the current Toyota 4Runner and FJ Cruiser (the latter no longer available in North America) in its previous third-generation J120 design (2002–2009), which should help anyone familiar with those no-holds-barred SUVs believe in this Lexus’ off-road prowess. 

It’s no wonder, therefore, that 4×4 enthusiasts looking to add luxury to their off-road lifestyle have opted for the GX 460, so now Lexus is paying homage to these faithful fans with this special creation, and even giving them partial credit for bringing the new GXOR Concept to life. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
Lexus should consider selling this tent trailer too. (Photo: Lexus)

“Concept vehicles are typically created to generate excitement for the enthusiasts, but sometimes, it’s the enthusiasts and their vehicles that give life to the concept,” stated Lexus. “The Lexus GXOR Concept (GX Off-Road) is fueled by the passionate Lexus GX owners that have discovered and embraced the SUV’s perfect combination of ultimate luxury and unrivaled off-road capability.” 

No wonder the Japanese luxury brand chose to launch the new GXOR Concept at the annual FJ Summit in Ouray, Colorado, the 12th of such events having taken place from July 17–21 this year. Similar in concept to a Jeep Jamboree, the FJ Summit provides an opportunity for Toyota 4×4 owners to test their personal driving skills as well as their Toyota/Lexus 4×4’s prowess on challenging trails, gives classes taught by experienced off-road instructors in order to hone those driving skills, and much more. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
All-terrain tires, a lifted suspension, and full skid plates below make for one capable 4×4. (Photo: Lexus)

Despite the GX 460’s impressive capability off-road, and its passionate group of diehard followers, its popularity with the general SUV-buying public has faded in recent months and years, with Q2 2019 sales down 25.41 percent compared to the same six months last year, resulting in only 138 buyers for last place in the mid-size luxury SUV segment (other than the now discontinued Lincoln MKT), while all 12 months of 2018 only found 376 customers after a high of 662 units in 2015. 

To be fair, plenty of competitors have been losing ground this year, with Q2 2019 Tesla Model X sales off by 30.00 percent for 840 units, Audi Q7 deliveries down 36.13 percent to 1,674 units (possibly due to the new Q8’s arrival), the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class dropping 36.66 percent to 762 units, and the same German luxury brand’s GLE-Class plummeting by 42.00 percent to 2,413 units. Even the mighty Lexus RX (and new long-wheelbase RX L) saw a sales drop of 8.50 percent through Q1 and Q2, but its 3,982 deliveries kept it well in front of the entire mid-size luxury SUV pack. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
The cargo compartment gets filled with Goose Gear custom drawers and containers plus a slide-out National Luna fridge. (Photo: Lexus)

To put the GX’ 2018 calendar year sales of 376 units and 2015 high of 662 units into perspective, Lexus sold 9,329 RX crossovers last year, which was its second-best result after a high of 9,402 units in 2017. The RX also outsold Lexus’ next-most-popular NX compact luxury crossover, which had its best sales of 7,859 units last year. Hence, anything that could potentially spur on GX sales would be helpful. 

Enter the GXOR, which while only a concept makes the luxury model’s 4×4 credentials clear to those who might not be in the know, while its ardent fans could potentially build something similar from all of this prototype’s available aftermarket components. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
The GXOR’s roof rack is loaded with off-road goodies. (Photo: Lexus)

On that note, the GXOR’s plentiful upgrades include a custom CBI Stealth front bumper with an integrated Warn 9.5 XPS winch, a Safari snorkel for feeding air to the engine while wading through deep water, Lexus F Sport 18-inch alloys wrapped in General Tire Grabber X3 275/70 all-terrain rubber, a raised Icon 2.5 CDC suspension with remote reservoirs plus billet control arms with delta joints, full underbody armour skid plate protection, CBI frame sliders, a Redarc Tow-Pro brake controller, and lastly an EEZI-AWN K9 roof rack that comes complete with a Rigid 50 LED front light bar, a 160-watt Overland solar panel power supply, Alu-Box storage cases, and Maxtrax recovery boards. 

Inside, the GXOR Concept keeps the GX 460’s already luxurious finishings while adding an Icom 5100A ham radio up front for remote communication, whereas the cargo area is partially filled with a Goose Gear custom drawer system featuring storage compartments and a slide-out National Luna refrigerator. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
The GXOR gets an Icon 2.5 CDC suspension system featuring remote reservoirs as well as billet control arms with delta joints. (Photo: Lexus)

Finally, the GXOR Concept is shown towing a Patriot Campers X1H trailer featuring a power-operated pop-up tent, a hot water system, and more, while its electrical components are powered via the just-noted solar panel. 

On that note, Lexus doesn’t say whether or not the GXOR Concept’s 4.6-litre V8 keeps the production model’s 301 horsepower and 329 lb-ft of torque or receives some performance upgrades, but it certainly should be strong enough to haul the hefty looking trailer either way. 

2019 Lexus GXOR Concept
Lexus should consider offering a dealer-installed GXOR kit. (Photo: Lexus)

“To all of the GX enthusiasts that use their rigs to escape on epic adventures, and proudly share the #GXOR, this concept build is for you,” added Lexus to its GX 460’s fan base. “Thank you for inspiring us to Experience Amazing.” 

As with all concepts and prototypes, the question of potential GXOR production needs to be addressed. Considering how successful Mercedes-Benz has been with its rugged G-Class, and similarly how Land Rover Defender enthusiasts have been getting excited about that model’s upcoming arrival, something like this GXOR Concept could find reasonable sales traction if offered in production trim, or at least as a dealer-installed kit. The latter would allow retailers to modify unsold GX 460s, which might bring some much-needed attention to the model. 

Until this happens (or doesn’t), enjoy our complete gallery of GXOR Concept photos above, plus a video that Lexus provided below. Also, to find out how affordable the 2019 Lexus GX 460 is, check out CarCostCanada where you can see complete pricing of trims, packages and individual options, plus learn about available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. 

Lexus GXOR | GX Off-road Concept Build (2:45):

Two cars in one, or at least that’s the arrangement you’ll need to accept if you want to get your hands on a new 2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato, shown here in its best renderings yet.  You’ll…

Aston Martin reveals stunning new 2020 DBS GT Zagato

2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato
Check out the gorgeous new 2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato, a car that requires you to purchase the even more stunning ’60s-style DB4 GT Zagato as well. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Two cars in one, or at least that’s the arrangement you’ll need to accept if you want to get your hands on a new 2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato, shown here in its best renderings yet. 

You’ll also need to shell out $9.8 million CAD (£6 million GBP), which is a bargain when factoring in that a classic 1962 DB4/GT Zagato sold for a cool $15.4 million CAD (£9.45 million) a few years ago. 

Of course, rare classics with racing pedigree are almost always worth more than a new car, even one as hard to come by, as visually stunning, and as brilliantly fast as the new DBS GT Zagato. Still, there’s another reason I referenced a classic Aston Martin Zagato. 

All 19 2020 DBS GT Zagato customers (the same number of original 1960-1963 DB4 GT Zagatos built) will also be taking home a continuation DB4 GT Zagato, which is a true classic ‘60s era Aston, albeit produced new from old chassis number allocations. 

2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato
That’s one big, beautiful and innovative active grille. (Photo: Aston Martin)

The two cars make up Aston’s “DBZ Centenary Collection”, the more modern of the pair based on Aston Martin’s already fabulous DBS Superleggera, which stuffs a big twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 behind its gaping maw of a front grille, capable of churning out a formidable 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The powers that be at the company’s Gaydon, UK headquarters haven’t made mention about any straight-line performance increase in the upcoming DBS GT Zagato, despite the original ‘60s car making significantly more than a conventional DB4, but it has other attributes that nevertheless make it very special. 

Any similarities to the now three-year old Vanquish Zagato were intentional, with Aston even painting the launch model shown here in what appears to be a near identical deep Volcano Red metallic (or something close) with rich gold trim highlights (the DB4 Zagato in behind wears a more fitting Rosso Maja red), the glittering secondary Au hue even embellishing the twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels. 

2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato
Long, low and lean enough for you? The DBS GT Zagato is based on the already svelte DBS Superleggera. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Other design details pulled forward from the Vanquish Zagato include its gigantic front grille, double-bubble floating black roof panel, pronounced rear fenders, and rocket booster taillights, but that’s not to say this new Zagato-badged Aston is merely a redo of a past model. Of course, the DBS Superleggera under the skin influences its design much more than any previous model could, its longer, lower and leaner body featuring more creases and sharp-angled folds than the earlier Aston, which was decidedly more rounded and curvaceous. 

Ultra distinctive is a gold-coloured active grille insert that’s actually comprised of 108 individual segments of carbon fibre. When the new DBS GT Zagato is not in use, these tiny pieces come together to form what appears to be a solid, flush panel, although when the ignition is turned on these little pieces reposition in order to allow front ventilation, a process that makes the grille “flutter”, says Aston. 

2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato
Aston won’t hold back on carbon fibre when crafting this new Zagato. (Photo: Aston Martin)

Other unique details include extremely long and deeply sculpted side vents, these also adorned in gold, while the side sills don’t feature this supercar segment’s usual carbon fibre extensions, but rather tuck rounded rocker panels under the body as in days of yore. Of course the headlights are much more in line with modern Aston Martin design than anything from the Vanquish’ era, while those intricately detailed aforementioned taillights get fitted neatly within a sizeable horizontal black panel that hovers above an even larger wing-like rear diffuser. 

Everything black is open-weave carbon fibre, of course, even the roof that’s actually a single piece stretching from the windshield’s edge to the base of the rear deck lid, with its noted twin-hump design followed by a complete lack of rear visibility. This car was made for Franco “What’s-a behind me is not important” Bertollini (Raúl Juliá – The Gumball Rally, 1976), although while there’s no rear window, nor even louvres to see out the back, Aston did include a rearview camera for backing up, mounted in a centre mirror-style monitor similar to General Motor’s Rear Camera Mirror. 

1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
This is the 1960s-style Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato you get as a bonus. (Photo: Aston Martin)

As for the beautiful DB4 GT Zagato, which made its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month (we’ve expanded on this story’s gallery with 20 detailed solo photos of this breathtaking classic in its most modern production trim), it’s the latest in Aston Martin’s line of continuation cars, which began with 25 DB4 GT Continuation models that sold for $2.4 million CAD (£1.5 million) each in 2017, and (it doesn’t get much better than this) 25 recreations of the classic movie car from the 1964 James Bond (Sean Connery) film Goldfinger, complete with all the cool offensive weaponry and defensive armour that made the eccentric Q (Desmond Llewelyn) a hero to gadget freaks everywhere. The Goldfinger DB5 Continuation will arrive in 2020, just like the two new Zagato models featured here, but for only $4.5 million CAD (£2.75 million) each. 

1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Now when you’re at your local Aston Martin retailer, just say “I’ll take two!” (Photo: Aston Martin)

If you’re still scratching your head about the stratospheric price of the two combined Zagato models featured in this story, consider for a moment the original 1962 DB4/GT Zagato’s price noted earlier wasn’t even the most expensive DB4 GT Zagato to be auctioned off. After the original 19 examples were created from 1960 to 1963, Aston Martin built four more on unused chassis allocation numbers in 1988, all of which were dubbed “Sanction II” models, while in 2000 the automaker created another two cars to “Sanction II” specification (which meant they received a larger 352-horsepower 4.2-litre engine), albeit renamed them “Sanction III”, these latter examples fetching $18.6 million CAD ($14,300,000 USD) in 2015 and $16.5 million CAD (£10,081,500) in 2018, making them some of the most valuable cars ever sold. 

Of course, it would be unwise to invest as if these 19 new DB4 GT Zagatos will grow in value like their earlier siblings, but then again if past success is any reflection on future prospects, the lucky new owners should be sitting rather pretty in a few years, if not immediately after taking delivery, while they might even end up receiving their all-new 2020 DBS GT Zagatos for free.

Those who follow the electric vehicle industry have been excited about the upcoming 2020 Taycan since the Mission E concept arrived on the 2015 Frankfurt auto show stage, and thanks to the first two stints…

2020 Porsche Taycan EV world tour from Shanghai to Goodwood to NYC

2020 Porsche Taycan
The new 2020 Porsche Taycan started its three-continent world tour off in Shanghai, China. (Photo: Porsche)

Those who follow the electric vehicle industry have been excited about the upcoming 2020 Taycan since the Mission E concept arrived on the 2015 Frankfurt auto show stage, and thanks to the first two stints of a three-continent “Triple Demo Run” the low-slung four-door coupe appears to be almost ready for prime time. 

The first event was held at the beginning of this month on a handling track at the Porsche Experience Centre (PEC) in Shanghai, China, while just last weekend the new Taycan silently whisked up the hay bale-lined “Hill Run” as part of the UK’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Soon, on July 13th, the automotive tripleheader will wrap up at the season finale of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in New York City. 

Porsche Carrera Cup Asia driver Li Chao took to the wheel around the 1.4-km Shanghai racetrack in a road-ready albeit pre-production Taycan, this version wearing a red dragon on its rooftop, which was the least camouflaged version of the car seen up to that point. 

2020 Porsche Taycan
The Taycan’s performance was demonstrated on the handling track at the Porsche Experience Centre (PEC) in Shanghai. (Photo: Porsche)

“The exceptional performance typical for Porsche was a clear development objective for the Taycan. You can sense that right from the start,” commented Li Chao, particularly impressed by the Taycan’s handling. “From uncompromisingly sporty to surprisingly comfortable, the chassis of the new Taycan covers a wide range and successfully combines the precise handling of a sports car and the long-distance comfort of a saloon. In addition to its low centre of gravity, the rear-axle steering also plays a crucial role. The Taycan steers into corners very directly and has plenty of grip.” 

The Taycan incorporates a fast-charging 800-volt architecture and a 90-kWh lithium-ion battery, combining for 592 horsepower (600 PS) and a terminal velocity of 250 km/h-plus, while possibly even more impressive the new four-place sport sedan sprints from zero to 100 km/h in under 3.5 seconds before achieving 200 km/h in less than 12 seconds. 

2020 Porsche Taycan
Porsche Carrera Cup Asia driver Li Chao, at the wheel in Shanghai, praised the Taycan for its “exceptional performance.” (Photo: Porsche)

Videos (below) of the Taycan touring through Shanghai, and another bearing a blue and grey Union Jack on its rooftop as it charges up the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb help verify the new car’s ultra-quick acceleration. 

“The Taycan’s power delivery is awesome,” said multiple racing winning past-F1 driver and LMP1/Porsche 919 Hybrid World Endurance Championship (WEC) contender Mark Webber, who was piloting the Taycan for the Goodwood event. “I took part in this event in a Porsche 911 GT2 RS two years ago, so I already knew that it all comes down to power and traction. But, even for a thoroughbred racing driver like me, it is amazing how the Taycan – even though it’s still a prototype – accelerates off the start and out of the corners.” 

This upcoming weekend’s New York City demo run will have current ABB FIA Formula E Championship driver and 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (at the wheel of a WEC Porsche LMP1 car) Neel Jani in the driver’s seat, so make sure to check that one out on your favourite video streaming website. 

2020 Porsche Taycan
The second “Triple Demo Run” stint saw the Taycan speeding up the Goodwood Festival of Speed hill climb. (Photo: Porsche)

As exciting as the multi-continent debut of the Taycan has been so far, and despite its obviously quick acceleration, extreme handling prowess, arguable good looks, and the highly respected Porsche name on its backside, much talk about the Taycan has centered on whether or not this newcomer will find sales traction, at least to the levels of EV darling Tesla.  

Tesla has owned the electrified sport-luxury sedan market since the Model S arrived in 2012, the shapely albeit somewhat dated looking mid-size model doing so well on the sales charts that it’s beaten all but BMW’s 5 Series and the mighty Mercedes-Benz E-Class in recent years. Canadian Model S sales were off by 6.3 percent last year and a whopping 56 percent during Q1 of 2019, but thanks to all the Germans spiraling in the same downward trajectory but Audi, the American brand has still managed to hang on to third in the rankings. 

2020 Porsche Taycan
The Taycan silently sprints to 100km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, so it didn’t hesitate up the Goodwood Estate driveway. (Photo: Porsche)

I shouldn’t say all Germans, because Porsche saw 40.1 percent growth from its Panamera last year, a car that was also only flat over the first three months of 2019 with a fractional loss of 0.8 percent, and while Tesla’s Model S outsold the Panamera by nearly three to one throughout 2018, and 2.5 to one during Q1 this year, the success of both models bode well for the new four-door Taycan. 

In case you were wondering, the Panamera (which is currently available with various conventional gasoline internal combustion engines as well as two plug-in hybrid powertrains) is nearly identical in key dimensions to the Model S, other than being slightly longer from nose to tail, while the Taycan’s dimensions have yet to be disclosed. If the final production model comes close to the Mission E concept, however, it will be a bit shorter albeit substantially wider and dramatically lower than both, but nevertheless fit within the same mid-size E-segment category. 

2020 Porsche Taycan
F1 veteran Mark Webber was at the wheel for the UK event. (Photo: Porsche)

So here’s the question: As good as the Porsche Taycan appears to be, can it somehow manage make a real dent in Tesla’s very real sales leadership? It makes sense that luxury competitors such as Jaguar might have trouble luring in EV buyers, even with their potentially more appealing crossover-style I-Pace offering, being that the British brand already struggles to sell significant numbers of its conventionally powered models, but Audi, one of the hottest luxury brands, recently brought an all-electric crossover SUV to market too, and the E-Tron hasn’t exactly lit up the sales charts either. 

Specifically, electric vehicle sales in the U.S. increased by a whopping 120 percent in June, but almost all the credit goes to Tesla that accounted for 83 percent of market share thanks to 20,550 Model 3 (a compact D-segment sedan), 2,725 Model X (a crossover SUV), and 1,750 Model S deliveries. Not including Tesla, EV sales were up 30 percent in June, which is good, but the numbers of each model were small by comparison. 

2020 Porsche Taycan
The Taycan has been tested on all parts of the globe, and will soon be ready for production. (Photo: Porsche)

Out of a total 29,632 EV sales, 23,914 were Teslas and 4,718 were from other brands. Those other brands weren’t exactly reaping in the rewards of their efforts either, with Nissan merely finding 1,156 new Leaf buyers, Chevy luring in just 1,190 new Bolt owners (its poorest result so far this year), Honda surprisingly finding 1,092 Clarity FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) leasers, previously-noted Audi actually slipping to 726 new E-Tron customers (after 253 sales in its first month of April, and 856 in May), BMW enjoying its best month of the year with 473 i3 sales, Jaguar achieving its second-best month with 236 I-Pace deliveries, Toyota leasing out 166 units of its Mirai FCV, Hyundai selling 127 Kona EVs, and the deliveries of models such as the Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen E-Golf, etcetera, unaccounted for due to being lumped in with the conventionally powered models that bear the same name. 

With such low sales it makes sense that the manufacturers listed aren’t profiting from their multi-billion investments in battery-electric models, while even Tesla has struggled to make any sustained profits in this burgeoning EV market sector. Will the Taycan finally break into the mainstream like Tesla’s Model S? Of course, we’ll need to wait and see how the luxury market responds after the final production version arrives on the auto show circuit in September, and goes on sale later this year. 

Until then, make sure to check out our full photo gallery above and the three videos below showing the new 2020 Porsche Taycan in action: 

 

Kicking off in China: the Porsche Taycan prototype visits Shanghai (1:00):

Porsche Taycan prototype visits Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019 (1:41):

Hey Porsche, watch this video. Love, Electricity (1:03):

Porsche has been criticized, possibly unfairly, for not allowing its entry-level models to measure up to the mighty 911 in decades past, pointing to the now 50-year-old 1969-1976 mid-engine 914 (a collaborative…

Porsche reveals new 2020 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4

2020 718 Cayman GT4
The 2020 718 Cayman GT4 is Porsche’s most powerful entry-level sports car yet, boasting a 4.0-litre H-6 that makes 414-hp. (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche has been criticized, possibly unfairly, for not allowing its entry-level models to measure up to the mighty 911 in decades past, pointing to the now 50-year-old 1969-1976 mid-engine 914 (a collaborative effort with VW) and 1976–1988 front-engine 924 (this time jointly developed with VW/Audi) as blemishes in its storied history, but naysayers haven’t been anywhere near as loud since the Boxster and Cayman arrived. 

This said, some have knocked the brand’s new lineup of horizontally opposed four-cylinder turbocharged powerplants found in the fourth-generation 718 series, yet while their barks haven’t been quite as ferocious as the six-cylinder 911’s growl, their bite has certainly silenced said critics, especially when tuned to S and GTS levels. 

The Cayman and Boxster were ideal performers from onset due to their relatively light curb weights and inherently well-balanced mid-engine designs, and every new iteration becomes even more capable of high-speed road and track performance no matter the trim. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
The new 2020 718 Spyder might look like a Boxster, but along with unique styling details and 414-hp, it’s one seriously potent supercar killer. (Photo: Porsche)

Like with the previous generation, the many more fans of the latest 718 Boxster and Cayman will also be pleased to learn that 2020 models will receive their most potent production trims yet, now even capable of outpacing plenty of 911 models. 

To give you some background info, the 718 Cayman, which is currently available from $63,700, can be had in base 300-horsepower Cayman trim that’s good for a zero to 100km/h sprint of only 5.1 seconds, or alternatively 4.9 seconds with its paddle shift-actuated automatic PDK double-clutch transmission, or a scant 4.7 seconds with the PDK and an available Sport Chrono Package, while it can optimally reach a top speed of 275 km/h. Additional Cayman trims include the $78,600 350-horsepower S, which can scamper from standstill to 100km/h in just 4.6, 4.4 and 4.2 seconds respectively, plus is capable of achieving a top speed of 285 km/h, and finally the $92,600 365-horsepower GTS that can run from zero to 100km/h in 4.6, 4.3 and 4.1 seconds respectively, plus can hit a 290-km/h track speed. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
The new Cayman GT4’s large fixed wing is 20-percent more aerodynamically efficient than its predecessor. (Photo: Porsche)

For 2020, the just-noted 718 Cayman triple-threat is once again joined by the top-tier GT4, a previous version having initially been introduced in 2015 for the 2016 model year. The new GT4 replaces the aforementioned lesser trims’ 2.0- and 2.5-litre turbocharged H-4 engines with a downgraded albeit still brilliantly formidable version of the 911 GT3’s naturally-aspirated 4.0-litre H-6, which produces a stellar 414 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque, resulting in a 29-horsepower advantage over its GT4 predecessor thanks in part to a stratospheric 8,000-rpm redline, while it’s mated to a six-speed manual gearbox just like the 911 GT3, all resulting in sprint time from standstill to 100km/h of 4.4 seconds, as well as a best-ever top speed of 304 km/h. 

The 718 Spyder, which also updates a previous 2016 model, shares all of the Cayman GT4’s mechanical upgrades (and is therefore 39 hp more powerful than the previous Spyder) resulting in an identical 4.4-second sprint from standstill to 100km/h, albeit a slightly slower 301-km/h top speed, but unlike the coupe this roadster is a standalone model that doesn’t use the Boxster name despite being formed from its basic architecture; the Boxster notably available in all the same trims as the 718 Cayman, albeit starting at $66,100 due to its convertible top. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
The Spyder features two “streamliners” atop its unique rear deck lid, plus an adaptive rear spoiler that pops up at 120km/h. (Photo: Porsche)

Additionally, the two cars’ six-speed manual transmissions include a downshift rev-matching “Auto Blip” function that automatically syncs a given gear to engine-speed when dropping a cog, a feature Porsche intelligently allows drivers to individually activate or deactivate by pressing a button, while both models incorporate completely new exclusively designed sport exhaust systems that work their way around complex rear aero upgrades while underscoring the “exciting flat-six sound of the engine,” said Porsche in a press release. 

With respect to styling, some of the new 718 Spyder’s key visuals look as if they were inspired by the 918 Spyder, as well as the recently introduced 2019 911 Speedster, the now legendary supercar helping to influence its lower front fascia and similar albeit much more pronounced double-bubble buttress-like rear deck lid, and the limited edition 911 inspiring the 718 Spyder’s sportier GT-style frontal treatment and double-humped rear deck “streamliners”, plus the new model’s horizontal black hood vent, “Spyder” lettering on the blunt B-pillars instead of “Speedster”, a similarly shaped auto-deploying rear spoiler, and an aerodynamically-engineered rear diffuser. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
Both new cars get special interior upgrades including a lot of suede-like Alcantara trim. (Photo: Porsche)

The 718 Cayman GT4 carries forward some similar styling and aero treatments to its 2016 forebear, including an aggressively shaped front fascia, a black hood vent of its own, a massive fixed rear wing, a wind-harnessing rear diffuser, and a special alloy wheel design, all created to minimize weight while maximizing downforce, with Porsche even painting both GT4 launch cars in what appears to be an identical yellow, just like they once again used white for the new 718 Spyder launch model. 

Focusing back on aerodynamics, all of the 718 Cayman GT4 exterior upgrades combine for a 50-percent increase in downforce, yet no negative impact on drag. Most of this aero effect can be attributed to its new diffuser and rear wing, the latter item producing 20-percent more aero-efficiency than the previous wing. On the GT4’s other end, a big front lip spoiler is bookended by a set of air curtains, which help to channel air around each front wheel. 

As for the new 718 Spyder’s aerodynamics, its active rear wing automatically powers upward at 120 km/h, although unlike the regular 718 Boxster’s cloth roof, the Spyder’s gets no electrified assistance at all, but rather needs manual attention to remove and stow under the rear deck lid. When put back in place, Porsche claims the roof effectively manages high speeds, providing protection from wind, rain and other outside elements. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Porsche offers many ways to dress up your 718 Spyder or 718 Cayman GT4, including various colours of contrast stitching. (Photo: Porsche)

As you might expect, Porsche has provided a high-performance lightweight chassis equal to both cars’ aero and engine performance, having turned to the brand’s extensive motorsport experience to get the balance just right. To this end the rear axle was specifically designed for new Spyder and GT4 application, although the front axle was pulled from the race-bred 2018 911 GT3. 

Additionally, Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) was added as standard equipment, as was a 30-millimetre reduction in ride height when sidled up beside regular 718 Boxster and 718 Cayman models, which provides a lower centre of gravity and therefore aids handling, but keep in mind that both new models let owners manually adjust camber, toe, ride height and anti-roll bar settings. 

The revered 911 GT3 noted a moment ago contributed its braking system to the new top-tier 718s as well, including their larger-diameter 380-mm cast iron discs and fixed aluminum calipers, while Spyder and GT4 buyers can also upgrade to Porsche’s 50-percent lighter ceramic composite brakes if desired, these boasting 410-mm rotors in front and 390-mm discs at back. Also, the two cars’ ABS, electronic stability (ESC) and traction (TC) control systems are specifically tuned to enhance performance, while typical of the German brand’s GT models, ESC and TC can be switched off in a two-stage process. 

2020 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4
Aerodynamics play a key role in the new cars’ performance. (Photo: Porsche)

Other upgrades include a standard mechanical limited-slip differential with Porsche Torque Vectoring (PTV), and unique sets of 20-inch alloys encircled by 245/35ZR20 front and 295/30ZR20 rear UHP tires. 

Although the various performance upgrades mentioned don’t necessarily make the 718 Spyder or its 718 Cayman GT4 sibling quicker from a standing start than GTS versions of their Boxster or Cayman counterparts, they’re both more capable on the track and therefore should perform better on the road as well. Notably, the new 718 Cayman GT4 can lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife “more than ten seconds faster than its predecessor,” stated Porsche. 

Adding to the two new models’ overall goodness is an improved interior that features a new GT Sport steering wheel measuring 360 mm across and sporting a yellow top centre marker stripe in GT4 trim. What’s more, both new cars get a shift lever that’s 20 mm shorter than on regular 718 models, which provides a “more direct and crisp feel” during gear changes. Additionally, new Sport Seats Plus come standard, featuring bigger side bolsters to improve lateral support, and suede-like Alcantara centres to aid grip. Alcantara is also added to the lower section of the dash, the shift knob and skirt, as well as the previously noted steering wheel’s rim. 

2020 Porsche 718 Spyder
Both new models’ unique styling will make them popular. (Photo: Porsche)

Some additional cabin accents include body-colour trim elements for the 718 Spyder and brushed aluminum detailing for the 718 Cayman GT4, while Porsche has no shortage of optional décor upgrades like usual. You can also choose a set of full bucket seats or the 18-way powered Adaptive Sport Seats Plus package, but you won’t need to pay more for air conditioning or the latest Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system featuring Sound Package Plus. This said, navigation and Porsche Connect with Apple CarPlay are on the options menu. 

Also of interest, the 718 Spyder can be ordered with a Spyder Classic Interior Package including two-tone Bordeaux Red and Black leather, extended Alcantara upholstery, GT silver metallic interior accents, and best of all a two-tone black and red cloth top, the latter especially “reminiscent of historic Porsche racing cars,” said Porsche. Instead, you can order either model with red, silver, or yellow contrast stitching. 

No matter how you want to dress one of these cars up, expect Canada’s allotment to be spoken for soon as they’re already available to order, with pricing starting at $110,500 for the 718 Spyder and $113,800 for the 718 Cayman GT, and while you’re waiting for your personal ride to arrive, be sure to check out our comprehensive photo gallery above (we’ve got all the images and pictographs that Porsche provided), while take a look below for all four videos available at the time of publishing: 

 

The new Porsche 718 Spyder. Perfectly irrational. (1:03):

The new Porsche 718 Spyder. Product highlights. (2:25):

The new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. Product highlights. (2:13):

The new Porsche 718 GT4. Perfectly irrational. (1:01):

 

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG has announced that it will offer a carbon-neutral model lineup by 2039, only 20 years from today.  The German automaker already provides environmentally-focused buyers…

Mercedes sets goal of “Carbon Neutral” model line by 2039

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC
The upcoming 2020 EQC is Mercedes’ new flagship electric, set to take on the Tesla Model X, Jaguar I-Pace and others. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG has announced that it will offer a carbon-neutral model lineup by 2039, only 20 years from today. 

The German automaker already provides environmentally-focused buyers plenty of green offerings, including 48-volt hybrid EQ-Boost models such as the CLS, E-Class Coupe, E-Class Cabriolet and upcoming GLE 580 4MATIC, as well as plug-in hybrid entries such as the GLC 350e 4MATIC, S560e, etcetera, and will follow these up soon with the mid-sized all-electric EQC crossover SUV, plus a smaller compact battery-electric car based on 2018’s Concept EQA, so they’re well on the way. 

Still, Mercedes’ new plan is amongst the most ambitious in the auto industry, and therefore is appropriately called Ambition2039. The company plans to electrify 50 percent of its new vehicles by 2030, with its fleet comprised of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric models. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE 580 4MATIC
The GLE 580 4MATIC is gets a 48-volt mild hybrid assist system that adds power and improves fuel economy. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“Let’s be clear what this means for us: a fundamental transformation of our company within less than three product cycles,” stated Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars since the baton was passed over to him by his predecessor, Dieter Zetsche on May 22nd, 2019. “That’s not much time when you consider that fossil fuels have dominated our business since the invention of the car by Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler some 130 years ago. But as a company founded by engineers, we believe technology can also help to engineer a better future.” 

Daimler made a major commitment to electrify its new vehicle range with an investment of $15.8 billion CAD ($11.7 billion USD) last year, promising to develop more than ten all-electric vehicles ahead of electrifying its entire Mercedes-Benz new car range. 

Mercedes-Benz Concept EQV
The Concept EQV passenger van runs on Mercedes’ all-electric EQ powertrain, and looks ready for production. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

In preparation to achieving this aspiring goal, Källenius committed Mercedes to working with all partners in an effort to minimize EV production costs as well as make improvements in range and performance, while the three-pointed star brand also projects diversifying its lineup of EVs to vans, trucks, and buses. Additionally, Daimler also plans to continue its investments into alternative technologies, including fuel cells, which it uses now in its GLC F-CELL, the world’s first electric vehicle to combine a fuel-cell and a plug-in battery, and expects to use in larger commercial applications like city buses. 

Making its new vehicle lineup carbon-neutral only satisfies part of its agenda, mind you, because Daimler has targets on greening its production facilities too. In fact, it currently uses renewable energy for at its Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, with the result already being CO2 neutrality. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC
The EQC is sized similarly to the GLE mid-size SUV, a popular configuration that should bring it success. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

“In ‘Factory 56’, we are consistently implementing innovative technologies and processes across the board according to the key terms ‘digital, flexible, green’,” stated Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain. “We create a modern workspace with more attention to individual requirements of our employees. All in all, in ‘Factory 56’ we are significantly increasing flexibility and efficiency in comparison to our current vehicle assembly halls – and of course without sacrificing our top quality. In this way we are setting a new benchmark in the global automotive industry.” 

2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC
The EQ platform can underpin many types of different electric vehicle body types. (Photo: Mercedes-Benz)

The automaker added that each of its European factories would follow suit by 2022, pointing to its engine factory in Jawor, Poland as an example of more environmentally and economically efficient already, due to its use of renewable energies. 

Also notable, the automaker is transitioning from a value chain to a value cycle, being that Mercedes models now incorporate an 85-percent potential-recycling ratio. Also, Daimler will assist its suppliers in reducing their carbon footprints. 

“We prefer doing what our founders have done: They became system architects of a new mobility without horses. Today, our task is individual mobility without emissions,” said Källenius. “As a company founded by engineers, we believe technology can also help to engineer a better future.”

Porsche celebrated its 70th birthday by launching a sensational rendition of its first ever car, the 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster from 1948, which immediately sent the prognostication crowd into a flurry…

New 911 Speedster pays homage to Porsche’s unrivalled motorsport history

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The new 911 Speedster combines classic design elements with sensational GT3 performance. (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche celebrated its 70th birthday by launching a sensational rendition of its first ever car, the 356 ‘No. 1’ Roadster from 1948, which immediately sent the prognostication crowd into a flurry of future production model forecasts about the brilliant new 2018 911 Speedster Concept. Fortunately those claiming its imminent reality were proven correct in a recent announcement, and this 2019 911 Speedster is the result, now available to order for $312,500. 

To clarify, the new 911 Speedster is a 2019 model, meaning that it rides on the outgoing 991 version of the much-lauded GT3 Coupe, not the upcoming internally code-named 992, or 2020 911 that’s been in the news lately. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
Like it? You’ll need a cool $312,500 plus a little luck to secure one of just 1,948 examples. (Photo: Porsche)

It’s safe to say the 1,948 fortunate buyers who will begin receiving their limited edition Speedsters later this year won’t care one iota about its rolling stock, because the 991 remains a particularly attractive variation on the 911 theme, and this new Speedster possibly the most stunning of all. 

What’s more, the GT3 Coupe it’s based on won’t arrive in 992 guise for quite some time, and therefore the only way to get a 500 horsepower 4.0-litre six stuffed behind the rear axle, capable of a lofty 9,000 rpm redline and solid 346 lb-ft of torque, is to choose a current GT3 or opt for the immediately collectable Speedster, the latter actually good for a slight increase to 502 horsepower thanks to throttle bodies from the GT3 R race car. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The new Speedster makes for a distinctive profile. (Photo: Porsche)

This results in a 4.0-second sprint from standstill to 100km/h, which is only 0.1 seconds off the blisteringly quick GT3’s time, while its top speed is claimed to be 310 km/h, 10 km/h slower than the GT3. 

Factor in that the Speedster only gets Porsche’s GT Sport six-speed manual transmission, also pulled from the GT3 and saving four kilograms when compared to the seven-speed manual found in regular 911 models, and that acceleration time is even more impressive (paddle-shift operated dual-clutch automated gearboxes are usually quicker). 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
Like the hood the Speedster’s double-humped “streamliners” and entire rear deck lid are made from carbon fibre, while the front and rear fascias are formed from polyurethane. (Photo: Porsche)

Along with the GT3 powertrain, which incidentally comes with dynamic engine mounts from the GT3, the Speedster also makes use of its agile race-spec chassis featuring a specially calibrated rear axle steering system, but that’s where the similarities end, with body alterations including lower cut front and side windows, two flying buttress-style “streamliners” formed from carbon fibre composite on the rear deck totally shielding the rear seats, a carbon fibre hood and front fenders, polyurethane front and rear fascias, and a lightweight manually operated cloth top. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The Heritage Package should be a popular option, because it looks fabulous. (Photo: Porsche)

Porsche was smart to gentrify this important feature for easier daily life, because the concept had a button-down tonneau cover that probably wouldn’t have gone over so well, while the Stuttgart company also removed the “X” markings on the headlights, which symbolized tape that was often used to stop potentially broken lenses from littering the racetrack with glass and puncturing tires; the deletion of the ‘50s-style gas cap found in the centre of the concept’s hood for quick refueling from overtop the tank; and a move to stock exterior mirror housings in place of the Talbot caps that were popular back when the 356 ruled the track. Classic 356 series enthusiasts can sigh a breath of relief that Porsche kept the gold-coloured “Speedster” lettering on the thick B-pillars and rear engine cover, however, but keep in mind you’ll only find them on an upgrade package (keep reading). 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The Heritage package looks like a throwback in time from the rear. (Photo: Porsche)

Just in case you missed all the carbon fibre noted earlier, the Speedster is as much about lightening loads as it is about power. In fact, the Speedster doesn’t even have standard air conditioning or an audio system (these are optional), but with performance as its sole goal it hits the road with a standard set of stronger, lightweight carbon ceramic brakes, featuring yellow six-piston aluminum monobloc fixed calipers up front and four-piston aluminium monobloc fixed calipers in the rear, these chopping a considerable 50 percent of weight from the regular 911’s cast iron discs. Circling the brakes are centre-lock Satin Black-painted 20-inch rims on UHP (Ultra High Performance) rubber. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
Those red pull tabs on the door replace a regular 911’s handles. (Photo: Porsche)

The 911 Speedster’s interior gets the lightening treatment too, with new door panels featuring storage nets and door pulls instead of handles, while the standard black leather upholstery can be enhanced with red contrast stitching on the instrument panel and “Speedster” embroidered headrest badges. This upgrade also gets red door pulls, as well as a GT Sport steering wheel topped off with a red centre marker at 12 o’clock. The cabin also boasts a carbon fibre shift knob and doorsill treadplates, these latter items further improved with “Speedster” model designations. 

2019 Porsche 911 Speedster
The Heritage gets a unique two-tone interior, and gold “Speedster” lettering on the B-pillars and rear deck lid. (Photo: Porsche)

The new 911 Speedster will can also be had with a Heritage Design Package, which looks much closer to the concept, as well as original 356 Speedsters from the 1950s. The package includes white front bumper and fender “arrows” over GT Silver Metallic exterior paint, plus the gold Speedster lettering noted earlier, and classic Porsche crests. Also, the racing-style number stickers on each side are optional, so if you don’t like them don’t worry, but if you do you can have Porsche customize them with your favourite number. Additionally, the Heritage cabin gets a few changes too, such as two-tone leather upholstery with an historic Porsche crest embroidered onto each headrest, while key trim pieces and the seatbacks come painted in body-colour. 

If you’d like to add a Speedster to your collection, make sure to contact your local Porsche retailer quickly, and while you’re waiting for it to arrive, check out the duo of videos below:

 
 
The new Porsche 911 Speedster: First Driving Footage (1:13):
 

 
The new Porsche 911 Speedster: Highlight Film (2:10):
 

 

It was just last fall that we reported on the sensational Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR setting a street-legal lap record at the famed Nürburgring Norschleife, which only remained beaten by Porsche’s own 919…

Porsche 911 GT2 RS breaks two more production car lap records

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
The 2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS stormed to a Road America production car lap record of 2:15.17 minutes. (Photo: Porsche)

It was just last fall that we reported on the sensational Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR setting a street-legal lap record at the famed Nürburgring Norschleife, which only remained beaten by Porsche’s own 919 Hybrid EVO modified World Endurance Championship (WEC) race car, and now the world’s most successful sports car manufacturer has set a new production vehicle record on the highly challenging Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. 

The 6.5-km (4.04-mile), 14-turn road course combines plenty of high-speed straights, radically sharp corners and a fair number of elevation changes, and is therefore the perfect play area for any Porsche 911, although it’s even more ideal for the track-dominating 2019 911 GT2 RS. 

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Plenty of long straights combined with no shortage of tight curves make Road America an ideal playground for the GT2 RS. (Photo: Porsche)

In an attempt to remove the Road America lap record mantle from a GT2 RS privateer that laid down a scorching 2:17.04 banker last year, the 700 horsepower GT2 RS stole the limelight with a new record-setting time of 2:15.17 minutes, slicing almost two seconds (1.87 sec) off the previous lap record. 

Making the day even more interesting, Porsche also showed what its 911 GT3 RS could do on the same track with the same driver, 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans class winner David Donohue. Despite being almost 200 horsepower less potent than the GT2 RS, yet given an even more alluring soundtrack thanks to a higher revving engine that nears 9,000 rpm at full song, the 911 GT3 RS pulled off a Road America lap time of 2:18.57 minutes, and needed just three laps to do so, which was one lap shy of what the GT2 RS required. 

2019 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
The 911 GT3 RS, shown here on the Road Atlanta track, did very well to stay close to the GT2 RS despite being down nearly 200 hp. (Photo: Porsche)

While tracking nearly four seconds off the pace would certainly look like a massive gap if the two cars were racing each other simultaneously, the GT3 RS’ ability to stay as close as it did on a track with such long straights and numerous 90-degree turns says a lot about its cornering prowess. 

Both the GT2 and GT3 RS were shod with road-legal, Porsche-approved Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R N0 tires, which are optional upgrades for RS owners, while this event’s lap time was recorded and validated by Racelogic, as was the vehicle telemetry. 

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
The 911 GT2 RS takes flight during its record-breaking Road Atlanta run. (Photo: Porsche)

Also notable, this 911 GT2 RS set another production car racetrack record at the even more circuitous Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, Georgia last month with Randy Pobst at the wheel, this time delivering a lap time of only 1:24.88 minutes, which outpaced the previous record-setting Corvette ZR1 by almost 2 seconds, as well as the previously noted Porsche 911 GT3 RS by 1.36 seconds. 

It seems like Porsche is smashing global track records at an unprecedented pace lately, no doubt because of this car’s eventual retirement when the all-new 2020 911 arrives later this year. Then again, being that a new GT2 RS based on the redesigned 911 is probably not going to arrive anytime soon, we’ll likely see more broken track records by the current model in the coming months.  

While we’re waiting for these to make news, make sure to check out our comprehensive photo gallery of the 911 GT2 RS and 911 GT3 RS on the Road America and Road Atlantic tracks above, plus in-car videos of these record-breaking events below: 

Porsche 911 GT2 RS sets production car lap record at Road America – David Donohue onboard camera (2:25):
 

 
911 GT3 RS completes Road America lap in just 2:18,57 minutes (2:28):
 

 
Porsche 911 GT2 RS Record Lap at Road Atlanta – Highlight Film with Randy Pobst Onboard Camera (2:18):
 

 
Porsche 911 GT2 RS sets production car lap record at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (1:39):
 

 
Onboard video of the 911 GT3 RS at the Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta (1:36):
 

 

Ask most Canadians to name an electric car and Toyota’s Prius will more often than not get the credit, but the true global EV leader is Nissan’s Leaf.  The Prius isn’t actually an electric vehicle,…

Nissan Canada drops two regular Leaf trims and prices 2019 Leaf Plus

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
The 2019 Nissan Leaf Plus arrives with an entry price of $43,998 plus 13-percent quicker acceleration and 50-percent more range. (Photo: Nissan)

Ask most Canadians to name an electric car and Toyota’s Prius will more often than not get the credit, but the true global EV leader is Nissan’s Leaf. 

The Prius isn’t actually an electric vehicle, but rather a hybrid that still relies on a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine to get it from point A to B, while using its battery and electric motor for very low-speed (less than 20 km/h), short-distance travel (parking lots) as well as supplemental power to reduce fuel consumption and therefore improve emissions. Toyota now produces a plug-in hybrid dubbed Prius Prime that allows longer EV-mode distances at higher speeds, but its consumer take-rate has been very modest, while the automaker has no full EV available in our market. 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
The upgraded Leaf Plus charges more for a different kind of performance, which should work well for EV fans. (Photo: Nissan)

The Nissan Leaf, on the other hand, is 100-percent electric, relying solely on its battery and electric motor for propulsion, and therefore requiring regular refills from home and/or public charging stations, instead of the local gas station like the Prius. Where the Prius has long been the world’s best-selling hybrid, the Leaf is similarly dominant when it comes to electric vehicles, having delivered more than 390,000 units since it arrived on the market in 2010. 

Wanting to make sure it holds onto that leadership title, Canadians can now purchase the 2019 Leaf with its regular battery as well as with a more potent powertrain featuring stronger acceleration and greater range. The regular Leaf will continue to use a 40-kWh battery and 110-kW (147-horsepower) electric motor resulting in 243 kilometres of estimated driving distance per complete charge, and will also remain the model’s value leader at $40,698. The new Leaf Plus, however, will house a 62-kWh battery within its floorboards, connecting through to a 160 kW (214 hp) electric motor for an estimated 363 km of range, starting at $43,998. 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
The Leaf Plus, shown in top-line SL trim, features a reworked front fascia and other upgrades. (Photo: Nissan)

“With the addition of LEAF PLUS, the Nissan LEAF is now available with two battery options and a choice of four trim levels – each featuring the many advanced technologies offered under the banner of Nissan Intelligent Mobility,” said Steve Rhind, director of marketing, Nissan Canada Inc. 

To clarify, the 2019 Leaf is available in four trims as of April, including the just noted $40,698 Leaf SV, the $43,998 Leaf S Plus, the $46,598 Leaf SV Plus, and finally the $49,498 Leaf SL Plus, along with a $1,950 freight charge added across the line. 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
Of course, special badging tells all you’re driving the more desirable “PLUS” model. (Photo: Nissan)

This means the regular Leaf S that was available as a 2019 model mid-way through last year and earlier this year for just $36,798 ($3,900 less than the new base model), and the regular Leaf SL that added features like leather upholstery (actually two-tone black and grey perforated leather and microfibre-like Bio Suede PET cloth), an Intelligent Around View Monitor, Driver Attention Alert, seven-speaker Bose premium audio, turn signal repeaters integrated within the side mirror caps, and more for just $42,698, will no longer be available for order in Canada (they’re still offered in the U.S.), although you may still be able to find them at your local dealer. 

An upcharge of $5,900 for more power and approximately 120 km (or about 50-percent) more range might seem like a steep ask for what is basically the same car in mid-range Leaf SV trim, but it’s important to note the non-powertrain/charging system differences between the regular base Leaf and Leaf Plus trims. 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
The Leaf Plus, shown in top-tier SL trim, features a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen as standard equipment. (Photo: Nissan)

For instance, buyers opting for the new Leaf S Plus receive a modified front fascia design integrating unique blue highlights, an “e+” logo plate on the underside of the charge port lid, and new rear badges depending on trim level, while additional standard upgrades include Intelligent Forward Collision Warning (I-FCW), Rear Door Alert (that reminds if something or someone has been left in the back seat when arriving at your destination), and a one-inch larger centre touchscreen measuring 8.0 inches diagonally (the base 5.0-inch display is no longer available). 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
The new larger touchscreen includes standard Apple CarPlay (shown), Android Auto, navigation, and more. (Photo: Nissan)

It should also be noted that both regular Leaf SV and Leaf S Plus models now fill their infotainment systems with standard navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and more, but only SV trims offer voice recognition, NissanConnect EV (for remotely connecting via your smartphone), two more audio speakers for a total of six, and more. 

Also notable, the $3,300 less expensive Leaf SV adds 17-inch alloy wheels compared to 16-inch alloys with the Leaf S Plus, as well as fog lamps, an electromechanical parking brake (instead of a foot-operated one), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a Homelink universal remote, an eight-way powered driver’s seat with two-way power lumbar support, a cargo cover, and a host of advanced driver assistive systems such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection (which inherently includes the SV Plus model’s Intelligent Forward Collision Warning), High Beam Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control with Full Speed Range and Hold, ProPILOT Assist semi-autonomous self-driving, Steering Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Lane Intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and more. 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
Despite the larger battery, the new Leaf Plus doesn’t give up any interior space for passengers or cargo. (Photo: Nissan)

The list of features just noted is also standard with the new Leaf SV Plus, while a shortlist of luxury items covered earlier in this story, when mentioning the now outgoing Leaf SL, also gets pulled up to new Leaf SL Plus trim, albeit with a sizeable price difference of $6,800 due to its performance and range improvements. 

This is a good time to explain that many EV owners look at range performance in a similar light to how traditional car buyers might be willing to pay more for quicker straight-line acceleration and better at-the-limit handling. Either way, the new Leaf Plus is “ensuring that there’s a Nissan LEAF to meet the driving needs of a wider range of customers,” stated a press release. 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
This convenient electromechanical parking brake is now standard on the base Leaf SV and optional with the new Leaf Plus S. (Photo: Nissan)

With respect to those more traditional performance conventions, despite hitting the scales at 1,737 kilos (3,831 lbs) instead of 1,580 kg (3,483 lbs), the new Leaf Plus is 13 percent quicker off the line than the regular Leaf, which Nissan says will allow its drivers to “confidently pass slower-moving vehicles, exit corners faster and more seamlessly, and merge easily with fast-moving traffic.” What’s more, the Leaf Plus’ top speed is 10 percent higher, which Nissan says is beneficial “for comfortable cruising.”

Many will find its faster charging capability an even better reason to ante up for the Leaf Plus. It comes with a new standard 100kW-capacity quick charging system that allows more efficient charging of up to 80-percent in only 45 minutes (according to the Nissan Canada’s retail website). If you can only find a 75-kW DC quick charger it will take just 5 minutes longer (50 minutes) to reach that 80-percent total, or an hour with a 50-kW DC quick charger (the regular Leaf needs about 40 minutes for an 80-percent charge with the same 50-kW DC quick charger, but can’t hook up to either 75-kW or 100-kW DC faster chargers). 

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
The new Leaf Plus comes standard with a 100kW-capacity quick charging system that dramatically reduced the time it takes to recharge. (Photo: Nissan)

Lastly, a regular 240-volt home charging station will completely fill the new Leaf Plus’ battery after approximately 11.5 hours, which is only 3.5 hours more than the regular Leaf requires, and take note the Leaf Plus can also receive an extra 35 km of range after about 60 minutes of being plugged into this less potent charging station. 

Utilizing resources in mind, both Nissan EVs are incredibly efficient, with their energy equivalent ratings measuring 1.9 Le/100km in the city and 2.4 on the highway for the regular Leaf, or 2.1 Le/100km city and 2.5 highway for the Leaf Plus. Of course, litres of gasoline never enter the picture, but the Le/100km rating can be used as a guide to help those new to electric vehicles understand how their energy consumption more directly compares with an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle, and how the energy use of EVs compare to each other.

2019 Nissan Leaf Plus
Whether or not the new Leaf Plus will keep Nissan ahead of the barrage of new and upcoming EVs is anyone’s guess, but variety certainly can’t hurt in this burgeoning market. (Photo: Nissan)

Also important, the more capable Leaf Plus battery doesn’t impact interior passenger or cargo volume one iota, with front and rear seating still generous in all dimensions, and the rear cargo area capable of swallowing up a sizeable 668 litres (23.6 cubic feet) with its 60/40-split rear seatbacks upright, and 849 litres (30.0 cubic feet) when they’re folded flat. 

If saving a few thousand is more important to you and your budget than increasing performance and range, or alternatively purchasing a more luxurious Leaf SL for considerably less money, make sure to contact your local Nissan dealer as they may have regular 2019 Leaf S and SL stock still available. Then again, if the charging benefits, extended range and added performance of the new Leaf Plus appeal more, these new models are now starting to arrive at said retailers across Canada. 

To learn more about all 2019 Nissan Leaf and Leaf Plus trims, packages and standalone options, including pricing on each, plus find out about available rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands, make sure to check out CarCostCanada.