Infiniti gave its only relevant sedan a mid-cycle refresh last year, updating the Q50’s grille, front fascia, headlights, taillights, rear bumper and more, so 2019 doesn’t see any visual changes other…
Infiniti gave its only relevant sedan a mid-cycle refresh last year, updating the Q50’s grille, front fascia, headlights, taillights, rear bumper and more, so 2019 doesn’t see any visual changes other than a new Canada-exclusive standard “I-LINE” cosmetic treatment specifically for the now renamed I-Line Red Sport 400 model.
Just like eyeliner, the I-Line upgrade, which was actually derived from “Inspired Line,” blackens the grille surround in the same fashion as last year’s glossy black fog lamp bezels and diffuser-style rear bumper cap, while the rear deck lid spoiler gets upgraded to high-gloss carbon fibre and wheel wells are filled with a special “custom imported” glossy black finish set of 19-inch alloys. I-Line trim further helps to visually differentiate Infiniti’s sportiest 400-horsepower Q50 from lesser trims in the lineup, a smart move considering the $7,700 leap from the already quick 300 horsepower Q50 3.0T Sport AWD.
Both 300 and 400 horsepower versions of the Q50 source their power from the same turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine in different states of tune, while the other big change for 2019 is the elimination of the Mercedes-Benz-sourced 2.0-litre four-cylinder that continues to make 208 horsepower in other markets where it’s still offered, like the U.S.
All remaining trims utilize Infiniti’s seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and downshift rev matching, the latter a rarity in this class, while Infiniti’s “Intelligent” all-wheel drive system comes standard as well.
Keeping up with the Jones’s, 2019’s biggest Q50 addition is the inclusion of Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW) and Forward Emergency Braking (FEB) as standard equipment, which means these critical accident avoidance systems are now part of the Luxe model, Luxe being the base trim level in the Q50’s recently revised grade structure.
Without going into detail about each trim, the Q50 3.0T Luxe AWD starts at $44,995 plus freight and fees, and the model in our garage this week, the Q50 3.0T Signature Edition starts just a hair higher at $46,495, whereas the aforementioned Q50 3.0T Sport AWD enters the picture at $48,495, and newly revised I-Line Red Sport 400 starts at $56,195.
With all of that out of the way, there’s nothing remotely base about the twin-turbo V6 behind the Q50’s trademark grille, thanks to the 300 horsepower noted a moment ago, and the direct-injected mill’s equally impressive 295 lb-ft of torque (well, almost equally impressive). I’ve waxed poetic about this engine before, and I’ll probably do so again in my upcoming review, not to mention go on at length about the seven-speed gearbox and “Intelligent” AWD system, that’s actually pretty smart.
Some upgrades specific to our tester’s Signature Edition trim that you might find interesting include the exact same performance-oriented exterior styling details as the Sport, particularly the sharper gloss black lip spoiler and deeper black fog lamp bezels up front, and a less aggressive version of the black and body-colour diffuser-infused rear bumper mentioned earlier, while both models make use of the same more conventional silver-painted 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/40 all-season run-flat performance tires, an upgrade over the base Luxe model’s 18-inch rims on 225/50 all-season run-flat performance rubber.
Lastly, both trims get silver “S” badges on the front fenders, but strangely the Signature Edition gets a unique rear deck spoiler just above its own “Signature Edition” decklid badge, whereas the Sport makes do with no rear spoiler at all, although it gets a silver “S” badge next to its Q50 nomenclature.
Signature Edition and Sport trims also feature the same Sport Type seats with driver-side powered lumbar support and powered torso bolsters, plus manual thigh extensions for both front occupants, while both models’ surrounding decorative inlays are finished in genuine Kacchu aluminum.
Pretty well every other feature is shared with the Q50 Luxe, which is why there’s only $1,500 separating the two trims, so along with all of the items above the Q50 Signature Edition includes standard auto on/off LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps and front turn signals, LED brake lights, aluminum “INFINITI” branded kick plates, proximity-sensing keyless entry, pushbutton ignition, Infiniti’s “InTuition” for storing climate, audio and driving preferences within each “Intelligent Key”, welcome lights on the front exterior door handles, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a garage door opener, micro-filtered dual-zone auto climate control, Infiniti InTouch infotainment with 8.0-inch upper and 7.0-inch lower displays, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite audio with HD playback, RDS and speed-sensitive volume, two USB ports, a heatable steering wheel, heated front seats, powered front seats, a powered moonroof, and more.
Of note, a number of features that were previously optional are now standard with the move up to the base V6 powerplant, including remote engine start, Infiniti InTouch navigation with lane guidance and 3D building graphics, the Infiniti InTouch Services suite of digital alerts and remote services, voice recognition for audio, SMS text and vehicle info, power-adjustable lumbar support for the driver, and 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks with a centre pass-through.
At the other end of the trim spectrum, the only real changes to previously noted Sport trim are actually performance oriented, such as steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a unique sport-tuned dynamic digital suspension, and identical sport brakes to the Red Sport 400, which boast four-piston front calipers and two-piston rear calipers, while the two sportiest trims also get exclusive front seat-mounted side-impact supplemental airbags.
Speaking of features not available with this Signature Edition, only Sport trim gets the option of electronic power steering, while Infiniti’s exclusive drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) system is available on all trims except for the Signature Edition, as is the auto-leveling adaptive front lighting system (AFS) with high beam assist, a power-adjustable steering column with memory, an Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), premium 16-speaker Bose Performance audio with Centerpoint technology, front and rear parking sensors, Intelligent Cruise Control with full speed range (ICC), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Blind Spot Intervention (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) with Active Lane Control, and Backup Collision Intervention (BCI) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA).
Features not available with the Signature Edition, optional with the Sport and standard with the Red Sport 400 include auto-dimming side mirrors with reverse link and memory, plus Infiniti’s Advanced Climate Control System with auto-recirculation, Plasmacluster air purifier and Grape Polyphenol Filter.
All of this seems to place the Q50 Signature Edition in a unique value position, offering plenty of Sport trim features yet limiting its choice of options to colours, of which include the same five offered in Sport trim, and interior themes, which just like the Sport can be had in Graphite (black) and Stone (grey) interior motifs. By the way, the base model can be had with a Wheat (tan) interior, while dark-stained gloss maple hardwood provides a more traditional luxury ambiance, plus you’ll lose the option of Mocha Almond (brown metallic) paint when moving up into the sportier Q50 trims, but you gain Iridium Blue in both Signature Edition and Sport trims, whereas Red Sport 400 buyers get exclusive Dynamic Sunstone Red.
Well that was a more comprehensive overview than I had planned, so I’d better show a tiny bit of restraint and call it quits for this garage piece until the full road test review gets published later. We’re still driving it after all, so make sure to browse through the gallery provided above, and remember that all of the prices quoted in this review can be found in detail, broken down into trims with packages and options, at CarCostCanada, along with important manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing (yes, the price they pay) that could save you thousands. Check them out and be sure to come back here soon for the review…
It’s not too often that the cheapest and stingiest choice ends up being the most enjoyable, but such is the case with Nissan’s Micra. Cheap? How does $10,488 sound? If you were in the market for…
It’s not too often that the cheapest and stingiest choice ends up being the most enjoyable, but such is the case with Nissan’s Micra.
Cheap? How does $10,488 sound? If you were in the market for this little city car last year it probably sounds $500 too high, because the Micra was one of Canada’s only new sub-$10k cars for its entire four-year existence (except for the $9,995 Chevy Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage when it went on sale to clear out end-of-year stock), but thanks to a new standard 7.0-inch centre touchscreen featuring an integrated backup camera and some other updates, it’s a bit pricier this year. You can see all of the trims and check out previous years’ pricing at CarCostCanada, where you’ll also find rebate info and dealer invoice pricing.
Its new list price still beats inflation (according to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator), as well as the Mirage by $510, and now that I think of it the Micra also beats the Mirage by 31 horsepower, 33 lb-ft of torque, 400 cubic centimetres of engine displacement, one cylinder, one rear suspension stabilizer bar, one-inch of standard wheel diameter, 20 millimetres of standard tire width, 32 litres of additional passenger volume, 41 mm of front headroom, 29 mm of rear headroom, 0.5 inches of standard centre touchscreen, six litres of fuel tank volume, and the list goes on.
All said it would be unfair not to mention that, while the Mirage is about as sporty as a Kenmore dryer on spin cycle, its claimed fuel usage nears hybrid levels of efficiency at 6.5 L/100km combined city/highway in manual form and just 6.2 with its optional continuously variable transmission (CVT), compared to 7.9 L/100km for the Micra’s five-speed manual and 8.0 for its available four-speed automatic.
The Mirage beats the Micra in a number of other notable ways too, such as standard auto off headlamps, LED taillights, body-colour mirror caps, exterior door handles and liftgate handle, a chrome rear garnish, standard power door locks with remote access, power-adjustable side mirrors, powered front windows, air conditioning, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, two more standard stereo speakers, a driver’s knee airbag, 79 additional litres of cargo capacity behind the rear seats, 511 more litres of cargo space with the seats folded, two more years or 40,000 more kilometres of basic warranty, five more years or 60,000 more km of powertrain warranty, etcetera, while year-over-year sales of the Mirage were off by just six percent compared to 39 percent for the Micra.
That last point might make it look as if more people like the Mitsubishi, but just 2,351 Canadians took a Mirage home last year compared to 5,372 that opted for the Micra. It’s easy to see they didn’t make their choice by comparing standard features and fuel economy, because the Mirage clearly comes out on top in these categories, so why all the Micra love?
Take both cars for a drive and you’ll immediately understand. The Micra is so much fun you’ll be wondering why everyone’s making such a fuss about SUVs, whereas the Mirage feels best when idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic. If the latter describes your commute and you never plan on driving up to Whistler or Kelowna via the Coquihalla for a weekend getaway, by all means go all in on the Mitsu, but if you want a car that has the power to keep up with traffic while climbing steep grades, let alone is sporty enough in stock trim to compete in its own spec racing series, choose the Micra, and while you’re at it watch a few segments of the highly entertaining Micra Cup (see below for Race 1 of the 2018 season).
Rather than applying lipstick to a pig and trying to pass it off as the prom queen, Nissan invested its Micra money into a formidable direct-injection 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine good for 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque, compared to 78 and 74 respectively for the Mirage, plus a sporty feeling five-speed manual transmission with nice, progressive clutch take-up, wonderful steering feel, a front strut, rear torsion beam suspension with stabilizer bars at both ends, 15-inch wheels on 185/60 all-season tires, and overall driving feel that punches way above its 1,044-kilo welter curb weight.
Of course, how a city car takes to the corners may not matter as much to some folks as others, but let me know how you feel about that after you’ve just managed to avoid an accident thanks to the fleet footedness of your much more agile Micra. Due to such well-engineered suspension systems, I’m thankfully able to share a number of near misses that could have been bent metal at best, so handling is as much of a safety issue as braking performance, which I must say is pretty good on both cars despite their front disc, rear drum setups.
I know, many buying into this class will likely care more about colour choices and styling than performance and safety, and when it comes to visual appeal I think the Micra has an edge in this respect too. While both are quite seasoned, this generation of Mirage Hatchback having arrived on the scene in 2012 and the current Micra in 2011, albeit in Canada during the spring of 2014 as a 2015 model, the little Nissan looks well proportioned and actually quite sporty from all angles.
Inside my base S trimmed tester, the word spartan comes to mind. Maybe minimalism might be kinder, because it does brighten things up with silver metal-like accents in key areas, and a nice, sizeable 7.0-inch centre touchscreen filled with a colourful interface, this especially true when placing the shifter in reverse and enjoying the big new backup camera on the display, while Bluetooth audio, Siri Eyes Free, and plenty of other functions provide a fully up-to-date user experience, but the black cloth seats come up a bit short on creativity, and the three-dial HVAC system is, while perfectly functional, easy to use, and adorned with blue and red highlights on the temperature knob and some backlit orange elements elsewhere, hardly exciting.
The steering wheel is new, and in its most basic form gets a fresh set of metallic silver audio system and Bluetooth phone switchgear on its leftmost spoke, but the two-dial gauge cluster hasn’t changed for as long as I’ve been testing this car, my first review being a 2015 version of this very Micra S, with its only option being a sparkling coat of Metallic Blue paint. This 2019 tester’s $135 worth of Magnetic Gray paint aside (the price of optional paint hasn’t gone up one cent), the gauge package is large and easy to read in any light, while the little LCD gear selector, odometer, fuel gauge, and trip computer display, capable of showing current and average fuel economy plus distance to empty) is kind of cool in a retro Seiko digital watch sort of way.
I reviewed 2016 and 2017 examples of the top-line Micra SR too, the former in a beautiful blue-green Caspian Sea hue (that’s still available), and the second in a less playful Gun Metallic grey (that’s been replaced by this car’s aforementioned Magnetic Gray—Metallic Blue is now only available in upper trims, incidentally), but Charcoal Cloth (black) is the only interior colour choice, albeit upper trims get some patterned colour woven into the seat inserts that’s a big move up in visual stimulation.
What else do you get with the base Micra? The new infotainment system and steering wheel switches aside, the Micra S comes with thoughtful little luxuries like rubberized knobs for the manual winding windows, cool little toggles for manually adjusting the side mirrors (although you’ll need to stretch across the car or ask for help to set up the one on the passenger’s side), carpeted floor mats front to back, and did I mention the genuine cloth seats? Of course, I’m poking a little fun at the expectations of our first world life, because very few cars available on the Canadian market have wind-up windows these days, let alone require a key to get into each front door as well as the rear hatch. Seriously there’s not even an interior latch to remotely release it, but once it’s unlocked you have the luxury of opening and closing it at will.
Standard features of note that have not yet been mentioned include tilt steering, micro-filtered ventilation, variable intermittent wipers, an intermittent rear wiper, two-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA audio with Radio Data System (RDS) and speed-sensitive volume control, a USB port and aux-in jack, a four-way manual driver’s seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks, and more.
If you want air conditioning and/or cruise control, not to mention an upgraded steering wheel featuring switchgear on its right spoke, simply opt for the Micra S with its available automatic and these features come standard. That upmarket move requires a surprisingly hefty $3,810 resulting in a new total of $14,298 before freight and fees, which, once again to be fair to the Mitsubishi, is $2,100 more than the Mirage CVT that already includes the autobox-infused Micra upgrades as standard. The thing is, you’ll be hard pressed to get up a steep hill in the Mitsubishi, while you’ll be hard charging in the Micra.
The fancier cloth isn’t all you get when moving up from the Micra’s base S trim to its $15,598 mid-range SV or $17,598 top-tier SR grade, with the former trim’s standard features list swelling to include the automatic transmission, body-coloured mirror caps and door handles, power locks with auto-locking, powered windows, heated power-adjustable side mirrors, chrome interior door handles, cruise control, air conditioning, four-speaker audio, a six-way manual driver’s seat with a folding armrest, etcetera, while factory options for this trim include a $400 SV Style Package with 15-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.
The top-line Micra SR gets the same rooftop spoiler and its own set of aluminum wheels, although its standard machine-finished rims grow to 16 inches and ride on 185/55 all-season rubber, while the rest of its standard features list includes upgraded sport headlights and taillights, front fog lamps, side sill spoilers, chrome exterior accents, a chrome exhaust tip, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shift lever with the manual transmission (which once again comes standard), even nicer Sport cloth upholstery, and more.
Paint colours aside there aren’t any factory options for the Micra’s two upper grades, but Nissan provides plenty of dealer-installed accessories no matter the trim, and some really celebrate the car’s sporty nature. For instance, there are Colour Studio packages that include contrasting coloured mirror covers and sport stripes available across the line for $219, or alternatively you can swap out the body-colour door handles on SV and SR models with the same contrasting colour from the aforementioned City Package by choosing the $461 Trend Package, while the $599 Intensity Package ups the ante with a contrasting coloured rear hatch finisher and a custom “Premium Package” emblem.
Alternatively you can get all of the above individually, as well as colour centre wheel caps, a rear rooftop spoiler (for S and SV trims), a chrome exhaust tip (ditto), etcetera, plus a whole host of more conventional accessories like all-season floor mats, a cargo mat, bicycle and ski/snowboard/wakeboard carriers, and more.
I should mention that the Micra and Mirage aren’t the only hatchbacks vying for your attention in this class. As noted earlier, Chevy’s little Spark is also a credible competitor for about $500 less than the Micra, while it bridges the gap (more like a chasm) when it comes to performance thanks to 98 horsepower and 94 lb-ft of torque (still 11 hp and 13 lb-ft less than the Micra), and fuel economy that’s rated at 7.2 L/100km combined, plus it offers an identically sized 7.0-inch touchscreen with standard CarPlay and Android smartphone integration, etcetera. It was redesigned for 2019, which spurred the strongest year-over-year growth within Canada’s entire small car sector (including larger subcompact and compact models) at 24.2 percent, resulting in 4,945 units and second place in the city car segment.
At the other end of the positivity spectrum Fiat’s much pricier $22,495 500 lost even more ground than the Micra at -68 percent and just 269 units down the road during the same 12 months—year-over-year Micra sales were down 39 percent, incidentally. The Smart Fortwo, which doesn’t really face off directly against any of these five-place competitors due to having just two seats, now being solely electric and thus starting at $29,050 and wearing a new EQ badge, saw its sales shrink by 13.9 percent to 317 units last year, while the entire city car segment has been contracting in recent years due to the cancellation of the all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEV last year and the Scion iQ the year before.
Glancing back at that list of rivals and it’s not too unreasonable to surmise some future cancellations. Truly, if it weren’t for Daimler’s brilliantly innovative Car2Go sharing program (it was first) it’s highly unlikely the Smart brand would exist anymore, at least in our part of the world, while both Fiat, which is repositioning itself as a boutique premium brand like Mini, and Mitsubishi, that’s only having any notable success with Outlander compact SUV that saw growth of nearly 50-percent last year due to a plug-in hybrid version, may not make it through the next inevitable recession.
I mean, if Fiat only managed to sell 596 vehicles brand-wide up until October of 2018, which is a 73 percent drop from the year prior, and then conveniently forgot to mention the brand in its monthly and yearly totals in November and December, there’s a pretty good chance they’re about to say arrivederci to the North American markets sooner than later. We sourced the information from Automotive News Canada that reported 645 calendar 2018 sales for a 72.4 percent downturn compared to the 2,339 units sold in 2017, but that’s still got to be beyond challenging for the Italian brand’s 55 independent retailers.
I’ve driven all of the above so therefore it’s easy for me to understand why the Micra is Canada’s best-selling city car, not to mention more popular than plenty of other small cars including the Mini Cooper at 4,466 units, the Honda Fit at 3,520 (although a flood at its Mexican assembly plant was the cause of its 29.9 percent downfall), Chevrolet Sonic at 2,836 (which will soon be discontinued), Volkswagen Beetle at 2,077, Ford Fiesta 1,323 (also cancelled), and Hyundai Veloster at 1,077 units (but it’s more of a niche sport model). I’m not saying this final list of cars aren’t more appealing than the Micra overall, but when value is factored into the mix, only the Honda Fit measures up.
While we most likely won’t see a redesign of our Canadian-exclusive Micra anytime soon (most other markets received an all-new Micra in 2017), because it’s not available in the U.S. and therefore may not warrant the investment, it’s possible that a change in market conditions could see it quickly become even more popular than it already is with price- and interest rate-sensitive first-time and fixed-income buyers. Still, as much as I’d like to get my hands on the more up-to-date version, the current Micra offers so much value for its asking price and provides so much fun at the wheel that it’s impossible to beat, and now that Nissan has given this base model new life with a fresh infotainment touchscreen it’s even better than ever, putting the new 2019 Micra S high on my budget conscious shoppers recommendations list.
Nissan Micra Cup 2018 – RACE #1 (37:56 – Note: race starts at 4:55):
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands…
Who could have known? Porsche 911 owners drive too fast. Even in the wet. With such knowledge at hand it only made sense for the German luxury brand to protect its most valuable assets, the thousands of dedicated customers that loyally come back time and time again to renew their pledge at the 911 altar.
Along with the introduction of the completely redesigned 2020 911 at the Los Angeles auto show in November of last year, Porsche announced a new Wet Mode designed to assist would-be owners that get over their heads in standing water.
As it turns out, the deep end that can cause a 911 or most any other sports car shod in ultra-wide 21-inch performance tires to lose grip can be merely a single millimetre (0.04 inches) in depth, and it doesn’t need to be raining either, so don’t think the optical sensors used for your car’s rain-sensing wipers can be reallocated to detect sheets of water covering the road.
Porsche’s new Wet Mode can detect standing water, however, via acoustic sensors positioned within the front wheel arches just behind the tires. Rather than see water on the road, Wet Mode sensors listen for water spray, and if decibel levels get too strong the 911’s multi-information display will suggest you turn on Wet mode via a button on the new “button bar” above the centre console, or if equipped with the available Sport Chrono Package, by twisting the steering wheel-mounted “DRIVE MODE” selector.
That would be the rotating dial and “Sport Response” button just below the steering wheel’s right-side spoke, which can also be used to select “Normal”, “Sport”, ‘Sport Plus’ and ‘Individual’ driving modes. For the 2020 911, and without doubt more Porsche models to come, it also includes the new Wet mode, allowing drivers to select a safer setting when traveling over water-soaked pavement that could cause aquaplaning, or hydroplaning.
“Wet Mode was developed to provide the driver with consistent support in wet conditions,” said August Achleitner, a.k.a. “Mister 911” who headed up development of the new 911 and took part in its launch just before retiring. “It does not restrict the maximum power of the engine or limit the top speed, and should therefore also not be used as insurance for driving too fast in very wet conditions. Instead, it should be seen as an assistance system in the truest sense.”
Achleitner, who’s been with Porsche since 1983, earned his alternate title by being responsible for 911 model series development since 2001, and interestingly Wet mode was actually first developed back in the ‘90s.
When put into play, Wet mode applies more sensitive preconditioned settings to all of the 911’s driver assistive systems, such as Porsche Stability Management (PSM), Porsche Traction Management (PTM), and the car’s active aerodynamics, before combining their collective capability toward wet weather management. Specifically, the active variable rear spoiler extends to its performance position at just 90 km/h (sooner than in dry conditions), adding downforce to the rear tires, while frontal cooling air flaps open to increase downward pressure over the front wheels.
While the engine doesn’t relinquish any power, Wet mode delivers thrust more evenly in order to minimize engine torque buildup, with the end result being maximum traction at each wheel. What’s more, if piloting an all-wheel drive 4S model, additional torque gets transferred to the front axle for even more balanced distribution.
Of course, both Sport mode and the PSM Off function can’t be activated in Wet mode, while the new eight-speed PDK transmission’s shift strategy and the electronically controlled rear differential’s locking ratios automatically adapt to a smoother, more linear power delivery too.
Porsche claims “more confident handling” when using Wet mode in inclement conditions, and also states that Wet mode is ideal for snowy conditions as well.
While driver assistive technology this effective would be welcome in any car, it’s especially important in a sports car as capable as the new 911 that, thanks to 443 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque behind the rear axle, can sprint from standstill to 100km/h in just 3.7 seconds in Carrera S guise, or 3.6 seconds when benefiting from the Carrera 4S model’s all-wheel drivetrain, or 3.5 and 3.4 seconds respectively with the Sport Chrono Package, before attaining top speeds of 308 and 306 km/h (190 and 191 mph) apiece.
To learn more about the new 2020 911’s Wet mode watch the video below, and also remember to browse through our photo gallery above for some fabulous shots of water spraying behind the new 911 during wet weather testing.
Learn how the Porsche Wet Mode works (1:43):
The Qashqai might only be second-most popular amongst Nissan models in Canada, but since arriving two years ago it has quickly swept into first place within its subcompact crossover SUV segment thanks…
The Qashqai might only be second-most popular amongst Nissan models in Canada, but since arriving two years ago it has quickly swept into first place within its subcompact crossover SUV segment thanks to 19,662 unit sales during calendar year 2018, a 119.2-percent increase over the previous year.
All the more reason to give the upcoming 2020 Qashqai a mid-cycle refresh, featuring Nissan’s more rugged looking Vmotion 2.0 grille surrounded by revised headlamps with LED signature daytime running lights, a more dynamic lower fascia, and a new sculpted hood design up front, plus available 19-inch alloy wheels down each side and reworked rear styling with sharper looking combination taillights. From front to back the new Qashqai has been modernized with a sportier yet still classy look for a subcompact SUV.
The Qashqai received Intelligent Emergency Braking (IEB), radar-based Blind Spot Warning (BSW), Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA), and Nissan’s Rear Door Alert (RDA) system, that reminds if you’ve left something or someone in the back seat, across its the entire for 2019, and these important safety features continue into the 2020 model year, but even better the upgraded Qashqai will get the entire Nissan Safety Shield 360 system in base S trim too.
Nissan Safety Shield 360, currently available in SV and SL trims, upgrades the Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, plus adds Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning (LDW), and High Beam Assist (HBA) to the 2020 Qashqai’s list of advanced driver assistance systems, for a full slate of Nissan Intelligent Mobility strategy functions.
Of note, Nissan made its ProPilot Assist semi-autonomous single-lane “hands-on-wheel” driving system standard on the top-line Qashqai SL for 2019, while making it optional on the SV model. ProPilot Assist has the ability to completely drive itself, but due to safety concerns only lets you remove your hands from the steering wheel for about eight seconds at a time. Still, it can reduce driving fatigue by limiting the need to apply acceleration, steering and braking inputs and, together with the aforementioned Nissan Safety Shield 360 system, may even help to avoid a potential accident.
“Our Qashqai is a critical vehicle in Nissan’s popular CUV lineup; slotted strategically between the Nissan Kicks and Rogue,” said Steve Rhind, director of marketing, Nissan Canada Inc. “We’re committed to keeping our crossover/SUV portfolio fresh – which also includes the redesigned Murano, new Pathfinder Rock Creek Edition and flagship Armada. Nissan is on a roll and we’re not letting up heading into 2020.”
The current Qashqai also received a standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen for 2019, complete with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio, live navigation, plus mobile apps and services. The upcoming 2020 Qashqai appears to have the same centre display included, which would certainly keep it up to date with others in the subcompact crossover SUV segment.
Like the current Qashqai, the new 2020 model will once again be available with both front-wheel and “Intelligent” all-wheel drivetrains, depending on whether choosing base S, SV or SL trims. Today’s 141-horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine will continue as the standard powerplant for the 2020 model year as well, mated to either a six-speed manual transmission in base S trim, or with an optional Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). Expect additional trim and pricing information closer to its launch date later this year.
Infiniti showed up at last month’s Salon International de l’Auto de Montréal with a new Canada-exclusive “I-LINE” trim upgrade for the sportiest versions of its popular Q50 luxury sedan and Q60…
Infiniti showed up at last month’s Salon International de l’Auto de Montréal with a new Canada-exclusive “I-LINE” trim upgrade for the sportiest versions of its popular Q50 luxury sedan and Q60 sports coupe.
Specifically, Infiniti is in the process of replacing the Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models available last year and earlier this year with the new Q50 I-Line Red Sport 400 and Q60 I-Line Red Sport 400, which means that buyers spending the $7,700 needed to move up from the 300 horsepower Q50 3.0T Sport AWD, or $9,500 to do the same from the Q60 3.0T Sport AWD, to get into one of the 400 horsepower I-Line Red Sport 400 models, now get more visual bang for their buck.
I-Line, which Infiniti says was derived from “Inspired Line,” blackens both models’ grille surrounds so that they more closely tie in with the glossy black fog lamp bezels and diffuser-style rear bumpers found on the outgoing Red Sport 400 cars, while the rear deck lid spoiler has been upgraded to high-gloss carbon fibre, and wheel wells are now filled with a special “custom imported” glossy black finish set of 19-inch alloys.
These changes make both I-Line Red Sport 400 models appear as if they have larger more imposing grilles, while the black alloys go further toward creating a more powerful, menacing look. The outgoing Red Sport 400 cars already featured glossy black rear deck lid spoilers, but replacing these composite lip spoilers with more sophisticated carbon fibre ones helps to elevate the two cars into BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG territory, befitting of performance models making 400 horsepower apiece.
Behind all that thrust is a twin-turbocharged, direct-injection 3.0-litre V6 that also produces 350 lb-ft of maximum torque from just 1,600 rpm, which is connected to Infiniti’s “Intelligent” all-wheel drivetrain via an advanced in-house produced seven-speed automatic transmission featuring manual shift mode and downshift rev matching, the latter function rare in this segment.
“We are delighted to showcase the I-LINE editions which have been created with a vision to be further developed into an INFINITI Canada sub-brand,” says Adam Paterson, managing director of INFINITI Canada. “We are building on the Q50 and Q60’s award-winning engine and engineering excellence, to add even more eminent style.”
Pricing for the 2019 Q50 I-Line Red Sport 400 sport sedan starts at $56,195, while the 2019 Q60 I-Line Red Sport 400 sports coupe can be had for $65,295. Both models, which are available across Canada this month, can be fully configured at CarCostCanada, with full pricing of trims, packages and individual options available, plus otherwise hard to find manufacturer rebate info and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
Also, take note that many Canadian Infiniti retailers will still have outgoing 2019 Q50 and Q60 Red Sport 400 models available, which they’ll probably be more than willing to sharpen their pencils on in order to make a deal.
Most will agree that Jaguar’s F-Type is one of the most beautiful sports cars to come along in decades, and this sentiment would be reason enough to make it one of the most popular cars in its class,…
Most will agree that Jaguar’s F-Type is one of the most beautiful sports cars to come along in decades, and this sentiment would be reason enough to make it one of the most popular cars in its class, which it is. Yet there’s a lot more to the F-Type’s success than jaw-dropping bodywork, from its lightweight aluminum construction that aids performance, supported by a wide variety of potent powertrain options, to its high quality luxuriously appointed interior, there are few cars that come close to matching the F-Type’s styling, capability or value.
Yes, it might seem strange to be talking value with respect to a near-exotic sports car, but the F-Type, already an excellent buy throughout its initial four years of availability, became an even better deal since Jaguar installed its new in-house Ingenium 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine under its long, elegant hood for the 2018 model year. While the formidable turbocharged and direct-injected engine makes a very healthy 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, it provides a considerable economical edge over its V6- and V8-powered counterparts and all rivals, while a significantly reduced base price of $68,500 didn’t hurt matters either.
Last year’s starting point represented a $10k advantage over the F-Type’s previous base price, which resulted in a much more attainable point of entry and a whole new opportunity for Jaguar. In fact, the new F-Type P300 Coupe and Convertible instantly became prime 718 Cayman and Boxster competitors, whereas pricier more powerful F-Type trims, which include the 340 horsepower supercharged 3.0-litre V6 in base form, 380 horsepower supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with both base and R-Dynamic cars, 550 horsepower supercharged 5.0-litre V8 in R guise, and 575 horsepower version of the latter V8 in top-tier SVR trim for 2019, plus rear or all-wheel drive and six-speed manual or quick-shifting paddle-shift actuated eight-speed automatic transmissions, continue to fight it out with the Porsche 911 and others in the premium sports car segment, including plenty that cost hundreds of thousands more.
The car in question in this review, however, is the 2019 F-Type P300, which starts at $69,500 in Coupe form and $72,500 as a Convertible this year. With close to 300 horsepower of lightweight turbocharged four-cylinder cradled between the front struts it should provide more than enough performance for plenty of sports car enthusiasts, especially when considering that key competitors like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Alfa Romeo don’t offer anywhere near as much output from their entry-level four-cylinder sports models, with 220 horsepower for the TT, 241 for the SLC, 241 for the (2018) Z4, and 237 for the 4C, while F-Type P300 numbers line up right alongside Porsche’s dynamic duo that are good for 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque apiece.
If you’re wondering whether the F-Type P300’s performance will match your need for speed, it can zip from zero to 100km/h in just 5.7 seconds before attaining a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph), and it feels even quicker with Dynamic sport mode engaged and its available active sport exhaust turned on. Jaguar makes its eight-speed Quickshift automatic standard in this rear-wheel driven model, and the steering wheel paddle assisted gearbox delivers super-fast shift intervals that combine with the brilliantly agile chassis to produce a wonderfully engaging seat-of-the-pants driving experience.
The agile chassis just noted refers to a mostly aluminum suspension mounted to the bonded and riveted aluminum body structure noted at the beginning of this review, a lightweight and ultra-rigid construct that certainly isn’t the least expensive way to build a car, but results in satisfyingly capable handling no matter the corner the F-Type is being flung into. The stiffness of the monocoque allows Jaguar to dial out some of the suspension firmness that competitors are stuck with in order to manage similar cornering speeds, which allows this little two-seater to be as comfortable over uneven pavement as it’s enjoyable to drive fast. Specific to the P300, less mass over the front wheels from the mid-mounted four-cylinder aids steering ease and potential understeer, making this one of the best balanced sports cars I’ve driven in a very long time.
My tester’s $2,550 optional Pirelli P-Zero ZR20s on glossy black split-spoke alloys certainly didn’t hurt matters, hooking up effortlessly after just that little bit of slip only a rear-wheel drivetrain can deliver when pushed hard through hairpins. What an absolute delight this car is.
I love that it’s so quick when called up yet so effortlessly enjoyable to drive at all other times too. Even around town, where something more exotic can be downright tiresome, the F-Type is totally content to whisk driver and passenger away in quiet comfort. It helps that its interior is finished so nicely, with soft-touch high-grade synthetic or leather surfacing most everywhere that’s not covered in something even nicer, the cabin accented in elegant satin-finish aluminum and sporty red contrast stitching throughout.
The Windsor leather covered driver’s seat is multi-adjustable and plenty supportive too, while the leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel provided enough rake and reach to ideally fit my long-legged, short-torso five-foot-eight frame resulting in an ideal driving position that maximizes comfort and control. I’m sure larger, taller folk would fit in just fine as well, thanks to plenty of fore and aft travel plus ample headroom when the tri-layer Thinsulate filled fabric top is powered into place, a process that takes just 12 seconds at speeds of up to 50 km/h no matter whether raising or lowering.
Doing the latter doesn’t infringe on trunk space, incidentally, which measures 200 litres (7.0 cubic feet) and is a bit awkward in layout. If you want more I’d recommend the F-Type Coupe that has one of the largest cargo compartments in the luxury sports car class at 308 litres (10.9 cu ft) with the cargo cover in place and 408 litres (14.4 cu ft) with it removed.
Back in the driver’s seat, Jaguar provides a classic dual-dial analogue gauge cluster centered by a sizeable colour TFT multi-information display, which while not as advanced as some fully digital driver displays on the market is probably more appropriate for a sports car that focuses on performance.
The big change for 2019 was the addition of a 10-inch Touch Pro infotainment display, which replaces the 8.0-inch centre touchscreen used previously. Its larger size makes for a more modern look, while it’s certainly easier to make out obstacles on the reverse camera. The larger screen benefits all functions, with the navigation system’s map more appealing and easier to pinch and swipe, and only the home menu’s quadrant of quick-access feature not making use of all the available space (a larger photo of the classic red British phone booth would be nice).
The standard audio system is from Meridian and makes 380 watts for very good sound quality, while additional standard features include pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, automatic climate control, powered seats, and leather upholstery on the inside, plus 18-inch alloys, LED headlights with LED signature lighting, rear parking sensors, a powered retractable rear spoiler, and more on the outside.
The Windsor leather and contrast stitching noted earlier came as part of a $2,250 interior upgrade package that improves the upholstery overtop special performance seats while finishing the top of the instrument panel, console and door trim in the same Windsor leather for a thoroughly luxurious experience, while my tester’s heated steering wheel and heated seat cushions come as part of a $1,530 Climate pack, with an extra $300 adding ventilated seats to the mix if you prefer, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration was added for an additional $300.
Lastly, proximity-sensing keyless access made entering and exiting more convenient for $620, heatable auto-dimming side mirrors with memory made nighttime travel easier on the eyes for just $210, as did automatic high beams for oncoming traffic at $260, whereas blind spot assist might have definitely proved worthwhile at $500, as would front parking sensors at $290, while the aforementioned switchable active exhaust system was well worth the investment for another $260.
Incidentally, all prices were sourced from CarCostCanada, where you’ll find pricing on trims, packages and individual options down to the minutest detail, plus otherwise hard to find manufacturer rebate information as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands when negotiating your deal.
At the risk of this sports car review becoming terminally practical, the F-Type P300’s fuel economy is so good it deserves mention too, with both Coupe and as-tested Convertible achieving a claimed 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.8 on the highway and 9.2 combined, which beats all Porsche 718 and 911 variants by a long shot, not to mention hybrid sports cars like Acura’s new NSX.
Of course, F-Type efficiency takes a back seat when moving up through the aforementioned trims, but the more potent V6 is still pretty reasonable at 11.9 L/100km city, 8.5 highway and 10.4 combined, at least when it’s mated to the automatic. This engine allows for a six-speed manual too, which isn’t quite as praiseworthy at 14.9, 9.8 and 12.6 respectively.
Enough silliness, because we all know buyers in this class don’t care one iota about fuel economy despite all the effort that Jaguar puts into such regulatory concerns. The F-Type is really about titillating the five senses via near overwhelming visual stimulation when parked and endorphin releasing on-road acrobatics when active. Of course, 296 horsepower can’t excite to the same levels as 550 or 575, but this F-Type P300 is the perfect way to make each day more enjoyable without breaking the bank. It’s an affordable exotic that’s as worthy of the “Growler” emblem on its grille and wheel caps as the “Leaper” atop its rear deck lid.
Toyota’s 86 hasn’t changed much since being refreshed for 2017 as part of its Scion FR-S transformation, but it hardly needs any modification. In fact, when its many diehard fans caught wind that…
Toyota’s 86 hasn’t changed much since being refreshed for 2017 as part of its Scion FR-S transformation, but it hardly needs any modification. In fact, when its many diehard fans caught wind that it might be getting axed due to ever-slowing sales, the deafening outcry caused a U.S.-market Toyota spokesperson to declare that it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.
“As [Toyota president] Akio Toyoda said at the reveal of the 2020 Supra, Toyota is committed to building exciting vehicles, including sports cars. The 86 has been in the Toyota family since 2013 and the plan is that it will continue to be a part of Toyota’s sports car line-up.”
A quick look at sale numbers makes it easy to understand why many were in doubt of its future, with 2017 to 2018 calendar year-over-year deliveries down 40.2 percent in Canada, which was only outdone—to the negative—by Fiat’s 124 Spider that saw a decline of 52.7 percent, while the 86’ near identical Subaru BRZ saw its sales drop by 23.3 percent, but then again it didn’t have as far to fall. Those two models actually switched places for the first time at the close of 2018, with more Canadians choosing the BRZ than 86, the final tally being 604 for Subaru and 550 for Toyota. This last number might not seem like much when compared to the 1,825 FR-S coupes Scion sold in its first full year of 2013, but once again considering that it hasn’t changed all that much since it debuted just prior, and then factoring in that all car sales have taken a beating against the growth of crossover SUVs, the 86 is actually holding up quite well.
Incidentally, the entire front fascia was modified for 2017, and its nicely detailed LED headlamps added for a more sophisticated look. Another change saw the front fender vent elongated and the “86” insignia redesigned and placed lower on the side panel, while revised taillight lenses filled with LEDs modernized the seven-year-old model’s look.
The interior has always been pretty nice, but the 2013, 2014 and 2015 model year FR-S examples I drove never let me inside with proximity-sensing keyless access, started via pushbutton, kept me warm via dual-zone automatic climate control, skinned their seats in leather trimmed with microsuede, or covered their primary instrument hoods and passenger-side dash sections in padded and stitched microsuede like this 2019 86, while this new model boasts other improvements as well.
Certainly there are some that petition Toyota for more power, but this lightweight 1,252-kilo (2,760-lb) rear-drive sports coupe makes the most of its 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque with one of the nimblest chassis’ in its price range.
Make sure to come back for our full road test review to be reminded of why sports car enthusiasts the world over keep the Toyota 86 close to their hearts, even if fewer are anteing up with $30k of their own to take one home. We’d certainly love to keep ours for as long as Toyota would let us.
If you feel like we do, check out CarCostCanada to learn about exact pricing for each trim, package and option, plus don’t forget to check if there are any rebates, and make sure to find out about the 86’s dealer invoice pricing that will help you get the best price when negotiating with your local Toyota dealer…
Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in. As calendar year 2018 ended the RDX sat within the top three of 15 compact luxury SUV competitors, while the MDX was fifth out of…
Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in. As calendar year 2018 ended the RDX sat within the top three of 15 compact luxury SUV competitors, while the MDX was fifth out of 21 mid-size premium crossovers and number one amongst dedicated three-row rivals. What about cars? The ILX was mid-pack in its entry-level luxury segment, and surprisingly the top-line RLX Sport Hybrid mid-size four-door was just one of two cars to show positive sales growth in a sector that’s been getting hammered by the aforementioned SUVs, although its actual final sales tally placed it second to last out of 17 competitors. Truly, Acura’s best sales success in Canada’s car sector is summed up in the TLX.
A total of 17 models compete in the compact luxury car D-segment, led by such notable names as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Tesla Model 3 (if you can trust their sales numbers that seem very suspect), BMW 3 Series, and Audi A4, which makes the TLX’ eighth position quite credible, albeit not as good as its previous best-of-the-rest status. Despite a thorough facelift last year, some of the shine has come off this car in recent years, or at least the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 have now passed by on the sales charts. The latter Japanese sport-luxury sedan is one of a handful that grew sales last year, the other direct four-door competitor being the C-Class, which means other than the Jaguar XE that slid rearward by 27.8 percent, the TLX’s loss of 25.2 percent made for the worst backward move in its four-door compact luxury segment. Yikes!
If you remember, I started this review by claiming that Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in, not all. And to be honest, I thought this was going to be a positive story that would look good on the car and brand, because in previous years the TLX always held a solid fourth place behind the C-Class or 3 Series (depending on which one came first) and the A4, but to see it slide to sixth amongst its four-door sedan rivals was a shocker. Rather than analyze possible reasons why, I’ll steer away from that rabbit hole and instead talk about my experience with the car at hand, at which point maybe you’ll understand why I’m perplexed at its shaky sales results.
The TLX has only been with us since 2014 when it arrived as a 2015 model. It came about by combining the smaller TSX with the larger TL, in spirit at least, resulting in a just-right-sized D-segment sedan. What I mean by that is it’s still a bit larger than most competitors, measuring 61 millimetres (2.4 inches) longer than its nearest challenger at 4,844 mm (190.7 in), albeit coming up 74 mm (2.9 in) short in wheelbase length when compared to that Q50, which was the longest next to the fractionally (0.1 mm) longer wheelbase of the C-Class. Its 1,854-mm (73.0-in) width (without mirrors) is widest in its class by 12 mm (0.5 in), while its 1,447 mm (57.0 in) height is tallest by a hair, or rather 4 mm (0.15 in). So if you want more luxury car for similar money, or more precisely quite a bit less money, the TLX should be high on your list.
The 2019 TLX starts at just $34,890 plus freight and fees, which is closer to the entry-level models of all brands just mentioned than anything sized and equipped like this Acura. Some quick comparisons have the segment’s next most affordable Cadillac ATS starting at $37,845, the Audi A4 at $39,800, the Lexus IS at $41,050, the Volvo S60 at $42,400, the Jaguar XE at $43,900, the Infiniti Q50 at $44,995, the Genesis G70 at $45,500, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class at $46,100, and the BMW 3 Series at $49,000, or in other words the TLX has every competitor beaten on price by a long shot.
By the way, all pricing was sourced at CarCostCanada, which not only provides all trims, packages and standalone options, but also lets you know about available rebates that might help you save money when it comes time to make a deal, plus even better, you can access dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
Just in case you’re thinking that Acura’s most basic D-segment entry must shortchange its owner something awful for under $35k, the base TLX gets full LED headlamps with automatic high beams, remote engine start, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a colour TFT multi-info display, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an excellent multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, remote-linked two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and climate control, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, heated front seats, an 8.0-inch On Demand Multi-use Display (ODMD) above a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, seven-speaker audio, satellite radio, active noise cancellation, a Homelink universal garage door opener, a powered moonroof, and much more.
On top of that impressive list, all TLX trims boast standard AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance systems including Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Heads Up Warning, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with steering wheel haptic feedback, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), plus the segment’s usual array of active and passive safety features, including an airbag for the driver’s knees, while Blind Spot Information (BSI) with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor come as part of my tester’s second-rung Tech trim.
That’s right. We were able to test a less equipped trim this time around, ideal because plenty of buyers choose this well equipped model that still manages to slip under the base price points of most competitors at $38,590. Along with the safety upgrades, Tech trim adds rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, an accurate navigation system with detailed mapping, voice recognition, the AcuraLink connectivity system, great sounding 10-speaker ELS Studio audio, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, an always welcome heatable steering wheel rim, heated rear outboard seats, and last but hardly least perforated Milano leather upholstery replacing the standard leatherette.
Features in mind, I was disappointed that TLX buyers are forced to step up to Elite trim, which is only available with a V6 and all-wheel drive, to access a number of fairly basic luxury items such as auto-dimming side mirrors, rear parking sensors (that come packaged with the front sensors included), and a wireless smartphone charger, while LED fog lamps only come standard with the Elite and sportier A-Spec models, the latter made available with the four-cylinder and front-wheel drive for 2019. Offering these optionally would be beneficial to those who prize fuel economy more than performance, and Acura could package in the Elite model’s excellent surround view camera and ventilated front seats too.
My tester’s interior was finished in classic Ebony black, needless to say a good match to its $500 coat of optional Platinum White Pearl exterior paint, making for an elegantly sporty four-door thanks to tastefully applied bright metal and glossy black detailing outside plus plenty of satin-silver accents and grey woodgrain inlays inside. Take note that Parchment tan interior could have been selected at no extra charge, so if a lighter interior is more to your liking Acura has got you covered.
Despite its entry-level luxury asking price the TLX Tech interior’s fit, finish and materials quality is fully up to par with its D-segment peers, thanks to a soft-touch dash top that wraps down around the instrument panel, even to the lowest edges of the centre stack. Likewise, front and rear door uppers are finished with the same premium padded material, while the long, curving door inserts are nice stitched leather, as are the armrests side and centre. Acura even finishes the glove box lid off with the same pliable surfacing, only coming up a bit short on the sides of the lower console and each lower door panel, all areas that many rivals also apply harder plastic. Of course, all pillars are fabric-wrapped, and the roofliner is nicely finished in a high-grade woven fabric.
The primary gauge cluster is a nice straightforward combination of metal-rimmed dials with a colour multi-info display at centre, the latter rather simple by today’s standards, but this more classic driving-focused cockpit is more than made up for in digital display acreage by Acura’s two-tiered infotainment system on the centre stack, the larger top monitor controlled by a big knurled metallic knob and row of surrounding buttons just below the smaller display, which is a touchscreen as noted earlier.
This second-generation dual-screen system was updated last year and now processes inputs 30-percent faster while also including the aforementioned branded smartphone integration, but be aware that a couple of features that function best with a touchscreen’s tablet-like pinch and swipe gesture capability, notably the navigation system’s map interface as well as both CarPlay and Android Auto, are shown up high on the larger display and therefore controlled more clumsily by the rotating knob and buttons below, while features like the climate control system, heatable front seats, and audio functions are found within the lower hands-on unit.
Other than the navigation map, the upper display’s graphics are rather drab with a basic grey/blue font and not much else to look at, while the screen resolution isn’t quite as fine as some others in the class, but this made me glad that Acura chose the more colourful map as the default function. The touchscreen’s graphics are certainly more appealing and also benefit from a higher resolution display with richer colours and deeper contrast.
Of note, you can adjust some of the climate functions via the narrow row of buttons and rocker switches just below the screen, and these are some of the tightest fitting, best damped switchgear in the business. This pretty well sums up most of the controls in the TLX’ cabin, although the buttons for the power windows and locks on the door panels seem like afterthoughts and therefore aren’t quite up to the same standard.
Adjusting the power side mirror controller on the same panel provided good rearward visibility, which when joined by plenty of glass in every direction, plus the auto-dimming rearview mirror and aforementioned multi-angle rearview camera, results in a car that’s easy to drive through congested city traffic and tight parking lots.
The multi-adjustable driver’s seat is very comfortable too, although I would have preferred four-way lumbar support to press more accurately against the small of my back, plus extendable thigh supports for cupping under the knees would’ve been nice as well. Still, the tilt and telescopic steering column extended the steering wheel far enough rearward to provide a comfortable seat distance for my legs while leaving my elbows properly bent for maximum control when resting the hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, plus all controls were within easy reach.
The rear seating area offers plenty of space too, plus excellent lower back comfort in the outboard positions. A large folding armrest provides a nice place for inside elbows when only two are seated abreast, plus the usual twin cupholders and a tiny open bin for holding snacks or what-have-you. Acura adds a couple of vents to the backside of the front console to keep rear passengers aerated, while providing three temperatures for the rear seat heaters is better than the usual two.
The TLX’ trunk provides a decent amount of space as well, measuring 405 litres (14.3 cubic feet) thanks to the car’s extra length mentioned earlier. Pull tabs release the 60/40 split seatbacks if you want to lower one side or both for longer cargo, but unless you’ve got something strong enough to push them forward with, like a set of skis, you’ll be forced to walk around to the side doors to drop them down anyway. Another shortcoming is the 60/40 split itself, which doesn’t include a centre pass-through and therefore limits the use of the seat heaters when transporting said skis or snowboard equipment—cue one whining tweenager now.
Cranking up the aforementioned ELS stereo might be a good way to drown out rear seat complainants, mind you, but then again you might find the sound of the high-revving base 2.4-litre engine more to your liking. This engine is right out of the previous-generation Civic Si, so that sonorous song and rorty exhaust note ideally complements its ability to rev all the way to 6,800 rpm. I’m not sure whether I like this V-TEC-infused mill more than the aforementioned 3.5-litre V6, and if it weren’t for the larger engine’s advanced SH-AWD, the FWD version might even be the sportier choice.
Don’t get me wrong as the V6 spits out a naughty growl of its own when getting hard on the throttle, but my nod in the four-cylinder’s direction has more to do with the excellence of its quick-shifting paddle-shift actuated dual-clutch eight-speed automated transmission than its 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. Certainly the extra 84 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque would be had to pass up, but that engine’s nine-speed automatic kills its fun-factor, taking far too long between shifts to feel remotely sporty.
Getting the most out of the TLX drivetrain is Acura’s four-position “Dynamic Mode” driver settings, featuring default Normal, thrifty Econ, Sport and Sport + modes. The latter two really make a difference when pushing the envelope, but I left it in Econ mode when dealing with city traffic, as it was best for eking the most from a tank of fuel. Acura claims 10.0 L/100km city, 7.1 highway and 8.7 combined with the four-cylinder model, while the V6, that gets an engine idle stop-start system, does pretty well at the pump as well with a rating of 11.4, 7.7 and 9.8 respectively.
Another bonus with the smaller engine is less weight over the front wheels, so it feels nimbler when pressed hard through corners and is less likely to understeer, or push out the front wheels and drive straight when the tires break traction in the middle of a turn. On this note it’s pretty hard to upset the TLX’ nicely sorted front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup, despite the car’s smallish standard 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/55 all-season tires, but this brings up another shortcoming with both base and Tech trims, Acura doesn’t offer any wheel and tire upgrades. These lesser tires are easier on the wallet when it comes time to replace, however, and they help the TLX deliver a nice compliant ride. High-speed stability on the freeway is good too, with the car tracking nicely and wind noise kept to a minimum.
Once again, four-cylinder fans who want more can now opt for the TLX Tech A-Spec, a car I hope to cover in an upcoming review because it combines what I think is this model’s sportiest drivetrain with a sweet looking set of 19-inch rims on stickier 45/40 rubber, plenty of aerodynamic styling upgrades, and other niceties inside.
As it is, the 2019 TLX Tech is an attractive car thanks to last year’s refresh, highlighted by the brand’s now trademark “diamond pentagon grille,” tidier lower fascia, and sharper looking rear apron. It already included some of the best-looking LED headlamps and an attractive set of LED taillights, the former nicely revised, while its overall profile is long and sleek. Still, those updates were added to a car that was already three years into its lifecycle and now that it’s heading into its fifth will soon require a complete overhaul in order to keep its loyal followers from looking elsewhere.
That thought in mind, one reason for the TLX’s recent sales decline could be the introduction of Acura’s all-new RDX, which has no doubt lured away more than a few would-be sport sedan buyers. It truly is better than most rivals and therefore worthy of its success, which bodes well for an upcoming redesign to this TLX. A new version should arrive sometime next year, so fingers crossed they build on all that’s good with this current version, mix in much of what makes the new RDX great, and end up with a new TLX that at the very least reclaims best-of-the-rest status.
Until then, you can do a lot worse than the 2019 TLX, especially when factoring in expected reliability and stronger than average resale values that come from such a competitive value proposition at time of purchase. The TLX Tech is a very good car for a superb price, and even when loaded up with maximum performance and features the TLX Elite SH-AWD A-Spec slips under the $50k affordability barrier and therefore undercuts most competitors by thousands, let alone tens of thousands. You should consider it seriously.