“We’re thrilled and honored to earn both Truck and Utility of the Year from the NACTOY jury for the Ford Maverick and Bronco, especially among such a strong field of competitors,” stated Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas & International Markets Group, Ford Motor Company. “But we’re also proud because these awards are well-deserved recognition for the tremendous amount of work, focus and energy our teams have invested in designing, engineering and building exciting vehicles for our customers. This also reflects the overwhelming reception we’ve had from our Maverick and Bronco customers alike.”
To earn this highest honour, the Civic edged out the redesigned Volkswagen Golf GTI and Golf R, which are basically the same car in different trims (there’s no longer a regular Golf for 2022), plus the stunning new Lucid Air electric luxury sedan, a recent competitor to the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan.
“The Honda Civic has long set the standard by which other compact cars are measured and this all-new Civic raised that bar in every conceivable way,” said Michael Kistemaker, assistant vice president of Honda national sales, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. “We’re especially proud for the Civic development team in Japan and our production associates at our plants in Greensburg, Indiana and Alliston, Ontario where the 2022 Civic Sedan, Hatchback and Si are built.”
Where the new Civic gets a dramatic styling update, its other changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary, which was a smart choice for a car that outsells every competitor most months, but the two new Fords are completely new additions to the domestic brand’s lineup, and necessary considering they no longer sell many cars. The Bronco goes head-to-head with the Jeep Wrangler as a serious 4×4-capable off-roader, while the Maverick is forging into an entirely new car-based compact pickup truck segment, only shared with Hyundai’s new Santa Cruz.
The Maverick beat the Santa Cruz in the final NACTOY showdown, as well as the larger Rivian R1T electric truck. It comes standard with a hybrid drivetrain, is available with a potent turbo, decent fuel economy, and features some smart cargo carrying innovations.
The Bronco didn’t have an easy fight in its SUV category either, with the all-new Genesis GV70 and pure-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5 challenging. While none of these specifically compete against each other in real life, they all excel in the sport utility sector, and only one could be the winner.
“This year’s group of semi-finalists includes some of the most interesting and innovative cars, trucks and utility vehicle candidates in recent memory,” said NACTOY President Gary Witzenburg, “and a larger number of new trucks than we’ve seen in many years. And it features more electric vehicles than we’ve ever seen, all of which our jurors will continue to test and evaluate prior to our next vote.”
More than 50 automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada took part as jurors in this year’s NACTOY awards. To qualify, a vehicle needs to be completely new or significantly updated for the current model year. All finalist evaluations are based on design, driver satisfaction, innovation, performance, safety, technology, and value.
Just in case Porsche’s new 2022 718 Cayman GT4 RS isn’t intense enough for you, a new Clubsport model adds a handy helping of track-ready components after almost completely gutting the interior, resulting…
Just in case Porsche’s new 2022 718 Cayman GT4 RS isn’t intense enough for you, a new Clubsport model adds a handy helping of track-ready components after almost completely gutting the interior, resulting in one of the most enticing OEM race cars the auto industry has ever produced.
Let’s face it. The 718 Cayman GT4 RS is already one of the best road-going performance cars available, thanks to a lightweight mid-engine layout, plenty of 911 components, and a 4.0-litre horizontally opposed six pulled from the fabulous GT3 RS, this mill good for a sensational 500 horsepower and 343 pound-feet of torque. The engines spins to a stratospheric 9,000 rpm, makes peak thrust at 8,300 rpm, maximum twist at 6,000 rpm, and comes with a special six-speed manual transmission that’s said to be pure bliss to shift.
The new Clubsport version does away with the DIY gearbox, however, substituting it for a quicker shifting seven-speed dual-clutch PDK with paddles, which is more ideally suited for track use, while additional racecourse-ready performance parts include a gargantuan swan-neck rear wing that teams can adjust for optimized downforce or increased straight-line speed, while under this special Cayman are two-way adjustable shocks as well as a set of anti-roll bars that can be tweaked individually too. Likewise, the Clubsport’s ride height, toe, and camber can also be adjusted as required, plus teams can opt for one of three pre-set spring rates with either the front or rear axle.
Clamping down on velocity, performance calipers bite into sizeable 15.0-inch front rotors that are actually cooled by the big NACA vents atop the 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport’s hood, while enhancing braking control and handling further is race-tuned stability control system.
A quick peek inside shows an interior devoid of the types of leather, microsuede, carbon fibre and electronics normally found in a 718 Cayman GT4 RS, instead replaced by white painted metal for most surfaces, along with a welded-in roll cage, one sole Recaro driver’s seat with a six-point racing harness, and a fire extinguisher. The Clubsport gets a built-in air-jack too, while an optional 138.2-litre (30.4-gal) fuel cell can be included for longer races.
All added up, it only makes sense that removing the high-end hides, metals and electronics should decrease the price, right? Hardly. In fact, all the Clubsport fittings nearly double the window sticker, from a base of $160,600 for the 2022 718 Cayman GT4 RS, to $229,000 USD, or approximately $293,400 CAD for the race-spec version.
The new Clubsport is nevertheless considered a good value within racing circles, however, something you’ll know all too well if you’re actually considering buying one. Everyone else would be better served behind the leather-wrapped wheel of a regular 718 Cayman GT4 RS, and currently Porsche is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent, while CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $1,000 off of retail. Check out how the CarCostCanada system works, and remember to download their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.
The new 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport (12:18):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
With an automotive world shifting away from gasoline- and diesel-powered internal combustion engines, and toward battery electric or other types of alternative fuels like hydrogen, plus major FIA-sanctioned…
With an automotive world shifting away from gasoline- and diesel-powered internal combustion engines, and toward battery electric or other types of alternative fuels like hydrogen, plus major FIA-sanctioned motorsport series, such as Formula One, its Formula E offshoot, and sports car prototypes competing in the World Endurance Championship, utilizing various degrees of hybrid to full-EV powertrains, it was only a matter of time before Porsche, one of the globe’s leaders in customer racing car production, started looking at electrifying on a smaller scale.
Enter the Mission R Concept, a very real prototype of a possible future customer racing car that just might end up filling the well-worn shoes of Porsche’s 718 Cayman, which, along with the 718 Boxster and venerable 911, have become ideal track cars for “one-make” spec series, such as the Porsche Supercup that supports F1, and a Cayman GT4 Clubsport-spec series that ran ahead of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) and British GT series in 2019.
Certainly, something along the lines of the Mission R Concept could support any one of the just-noted motorsport events, especially now that Porsche is rumoured to be interested in powering the next-generation of F1 cars, although it’s more likely the new model would support Formula E, in which the German performance brand currently competes with its TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team.
The Mission R Concept casts a similarly sized shadow as the 718 Cayman too, other than being slightly wider and significantly lower than the road-going model. It’s not a mid-engine sports car either, instead incorporating an electric motor at each end to provide equal balance and all-wheel drive. These receive power from a 80.0-kWh battery, the resultant energy combining for a maximum of 429 horsepower at the front axle and 644 at the rear. To save you the trouble of calculating in your head, that’s 1,073 horsepower, albeit this lofty number is only available in Qualifying mode, with Race mode “only” providing 671 horsepower.
According to Porsche, the Mission R Concept can maintain race pace for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on many variables including track battles, while it’ll actually beat one of today’s F1 cars off the line, the svelte newcomer capable of sprinting from standstill to 100 km/h in just 2.5 seconds, compared to 2.6 seconds for the open-wheel racer, not to mention 2.8 seconds for a Formula E car.
It had better be careful not to embarrass the latter open-wheel car on its own turf, either, because the Mission R’s top track speed exceeds a Formula E car’s 280 km/h (174 mph) capability with a terminal velocity of 299 km/h (186 mph)—F1 doesn’t need to worry about being upstaged, however, with the fastest on the grid capable of speeds upwards of 360 km/h (224 mph). Porsche also claims the Mission R Concept can match one of today’s 911 GT3 Cup cars on a road course, so it’s easily up to the job of a customer race car, let alone outperforming any potential competition.
“Porsche is the brand for people who fulfil their dreams,” commented Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG, in a press release. “This is also true in motorsports. We experience our innovative strength on the race track, demonstrate courage in pursuing new avenues and delight car owners with sporting performance. In addition to our involvement in the Formula E World Championship, we are now taking the next big step forward in electric mobility. The concept study is our vision of all-electric customer motorsports. The Mission R embodies everything that makes Porsche strong: performance, design and sustainability.”
The Mission R is not only quick around the track, but its 900-volt electrical system and the Porsche Turbo Charging setup makes it lightning quick during charging. A nearly depleted battery only takes 15 minutes to replenish from five to 80 percent, making the Mission R’s storage cell even faster to refill than the 22.5-minute duration required when recharging a Porsche Taycan from five to 80 percent via its 800-volt system.
Introduced earlier this month at the IAA motor show in Munich, the Mission R was purely designed for the track. This is made clearly evident by its exposed carbon-fibre composite exoskeleton, which is completely integrated into the car’s structure in order to improve rigidity. The purposeful appearance is the result of Porsche’s engineering and design teams working together on the project from the start, the lead designer having also worked on the Vision Spyder concept we covered in detail last year.
Speaking of a purposeful appearance, the Mission R’s bevy of cooling ducts aren’t just for show, but instead are vitally important for maintaining a stable battery temperature when the electrical system is being pushed hard. The large frontal grille even features active louvred air intakes that open and close as needed, while the rear wing incorporates a Drag Reduction System (DRS) that can be opened to minimize drag on straights, and then closed to add downforce when corners arrive.
Additionally, the materials used to make the Mission R’s key components have sustainability in mind, with the front lip spoiler, side skirts, and the diffuser made from natural fibre reinforced plastic (NFRP) utilizing farmed flax. NFRP makes up much of the cabin too, while special 3D-printed foam components add another element to the design.
Yet more intelligent tech can be found in the Mission R’s digital primary display that’s incorporated into the steering wheel’s centre hub, while just above and slightly behind is another monitor for the side and central/rear cameras. Even more unexpected are remotely adjustable interior cameras that allow fans to see all the livestreaming action in the cockpit during a race. What’s more, a touch display beside the driver’s seat allows for biometric data information.
While all of this “concept” talk is exciting, news that the Mission R might be more than just a design study will be welcoming news to anyone that’s made it this far into today’s story. In fact, Porsche has been testing a running prototype on the track with hopes of delivering a customer race car by 2025 or 2026. This said, the Mission R has not been cleared for production yet, but the concept definitely lines up with the brand’s future EV strategy, while such a car makes a lot of sense considering Porsche’s customer race cars legacy.
Notably, Porsche’s motorsport division has built and sold more than 4,400 Cup cars over the last three decades, the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland event being the first spec-series when it was launched 31 years ago. Now, a total of 30 one-make Porsche cup series are held globally each year, with the latest 911 GT3 Cup, featuring 992-series 911s, already underway for the 2021 season. If the Mission R Concept comes to reality, we certainly have a lot to look forward to.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
If you want the purist of 911s, look no further than the fabulous GT3 coupe (we covered in detail here). While not as ultimately fast as the previous-generation GT2 RS, that turbocharged super-coupe once…
If you want the purist of 911s, look no further than the fabulous GT3 coupe (we covered in detail here). While not as ultimately fast as the previous-generation GT2 RS, that turbocharged super-coupe once again winning bragging rights at the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife just a week ago, this time chopping a sizeable 4.747 seconds from the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series lap time on its way to claiming fastest production car status, the naturally aspirated GT3 nevertheless churns out 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque from its 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine, and makes beautiful 9,000-rpm music while doing so.
How does the GT3 stack up on the track? Of the top-10 fastest production cars to ever course through the old 20.8-km portion of the Nürburgring track, which incidentally is known affectionately as “The Green Hell” due to its forested, mountainside surroundings, 300 metres of elevation, 73 turns, and legendarily challenging nature (racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart originally coined the phrase), five are Porsches and two are GT3s. Sitting in eighth is the current-generation (992) GT3 RS, with a lap time of just 6:55.34 minutes, while the ninth-placed car is a previous-generation (991.2) GT3 RS.
While the GT3’s track exploits are praiseworthy to say the least, it’s a race-ready supercar that can be easily seen as such by passersby (including the constabulary) while also purposely lacking a few modern-day 911 refinements, with an obvious leaning toward sport, rather than luxury. Porsche hopes its new Touring Package, available at no additional cost to 2022 GT3 buyers, will help those wanting to fly under the radar escape scrutiny, without being forced to give up on owning one of the most sought-after 911 models available.
Visually separating the regular GT3 from the new Touring Package-equipped variant is a switch to the more conventional deployable rear wing used on most other 911 models, which pops up out of rear deck lid when needed and otherwise hides away. This provides a more classic 911 coupe profile that attracts a lot less attention than the super-sized carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) one found on the original, but of course doesn’t deliver the same level of ultimate downforce, therefore reducing high-speed stability through corners. It’s a trade-off that some buyers won’t mind, however, especially when laying eyes on the specially designed rear grille. Additionally, the front fascia on Touring Package cars is body-colour, while high-gloss anodized silver-tone aluminum trim surrounds the side windows and polished metal highlights the tailpipes (Satin Black is an option for both).
The Touring Package doesn’t swap out the regular GT3’s CFRP hood and front spoiler for lesser variants of each, fortunately, and doesn’t mess with anything under that just-noted rear wing either, although a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission can now be had with either GT3 model, and like the Touring Package itself, is a no-cost option.
Silver-painted versions of the same 20-inch front and 21-inch rear forged alloy rims come shod in respective 255/35 and 315/30 ZR performance rubber with the new Touring Package, once again encircling Satin Black centre locking caps with regular Porsche crests rather than “GT3” logos.
If you choose a subtler exterior colour when for your Touring Package-equipped GT3, like Agate Grey Metallic or GT Silver Metallic, rest assured GT3 badging will still be part of the ownership experience. Still, along with the new rear engine grille, Porsche revised its designation to read “GT3 touring”. Of note, this wide-body 911 is still available with every exterior colour and shade offered for the regular GT3, including Chalk and more outlandish hues like Lava Orange, Python Green and Shark Blue.
The Touring Package interior gets upgrades too, including an extended black leather upholstery package that enhances the steering wheel rim, gear lever, centre console lid, door panel armrests, and door grips, while edging the dash and both door uppers with a special embossed surface treatment.
This said, quick glance at the racing-style seats in the Touring Package might make you believe they’re unchanged, but closer inspection shows a unique fabric used for their centre panels, plus embossed Porsche crests in place of the usual GT3 logos on the headrests. Finally, Touring Package door sill guards receive a brushed black aluminum treatment that’s also applied to some dash and centre console components.
It should be noted that GT3 Touring Package buyers can also opt for multiple two-tone cabins that add coloured leather to the interior’s lower half.
Those wanting to upgrade their GT3 Touring Package-equipped car even further will be happy to know that most regular GT3 options can still be had, including all wheel colours, the Porsche Dynamic Light System and Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus, every driver assistance system, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Smart Front Axle Lift, and all the same alternative seats, while an available Bose Surround Sound System is on the menu too, plus, of course, the Sport Chrono package.
Any added weight (which is not accounted for on Porsche’s retail site or in any press releases) hasn’t impeded performance, with both regular GT3 and Touring Package-equipped models sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in only 3.9 seconds when fitted with the six-speed manual GT Sport transmission, or 3.4 seconds with the standard paddle-shift-operated seven-speed PDK transmission. Likewise, terminal track speeds remain identical at a respective 320 km/h (199 mph) and (318 km/h (198 mph), but it’s possible that removing of the larger rear wing could allow Touring Package-equipped cars a slightly higher top speed, possibly even 322 km/h (200 mph).
The two GT3 models incorporate identical suspension setups as well, including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with ride-height lowering (by approximately 20mm). Therefore, both should provide near identical handling, although once again, elimination of the fixed rear wing will make a difference at high speeds, not to mention when scrubbing off speed via both GT3s’ sizeable 408 mm front and 380 mm rear brakes.
For a bit of history regarding the “Touring Package” name, it first came in use for a version of the 1973 911 Carrera RS, likewise providing a more luxurious trim upgrade for a model that could be seen as the GT3 of its generation. The Touring Package name was also revived for the sixth-gen 991-based GT3 in 2017.
If you’d like to bring your GT3 Touring Package experience into the office or back home, a special Porsche Design chronograph watch can be had as well. It boasts a sophisticated mechanical movement with a flyback second hand function, plus its winding rotor, seen through a caseback window, shares styling cues with the car’s wheel design. The rotor is even available in six different versions to correspond with your car’s personal configuration.
Each dial bezel is finished in Agate Grey Metallic, however, plus all dials receive a matte black surface, but each chronograph hand matches the bright luminous yellow colour of the GT3’s tachometer needle for another nice tie-in to the actual car. Attaching the beautiful watch head to your wrist is a strap made from the same embossed leather as that used in the Touring Package-equipped GT3, along with some black decorative stitching. This new chronograph is made in Porsche Design’s own Swiss watchmaking factory, and is only available to GT3 customers.
The New Porsche 911 GT3 with Touring Package (2:13):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Focusing on practical considerations when spending between $120,000 and $220,000 on a new car might not seem rational to those not able to do so, but not providing stowage for multiple bags of golf clubs…
Focusing on practical considerations when spending between $120,000 and $220,000 on a new car might not seem rational to those not able to do so, but not providing stowage for multiple bags of golf clubs can be a dealbreaker for plenty of would-be buyers in any class.
Enter Porsche’s Taycan Cross Turismo, a more pragmatic approach to the blisteringly quick, sport-luxury EV revolution. Building on the Taycan four-door coupe introduced last year, Porsche has raised and extended the rear roofline, resulting in a sort of sport wagon-like shooting brake design, not unlike the German brand’s own Panamera Sport Turismo.
Altogether, the new Cross Turismo adds 793 litres (28.0 cu ft) of available cargo capacity for a new maximum of 1,200 litres (42.4 cu ft), which is a big step up from the regular Taycan’s 407-litre (14.4 cu-ft) trunk; not including the 81-litre (2.8 cu-ft) “frunk” (front trunk) included with both models.
If you still need more room, Porsche will supply you with a specially made roof-top cargo carrier that’ll hold fast up to 200 km/h, just in case you want to do a few laps on the track when before heading home from skiing (those who ski at Quebec’s beautiful Mont Tremblant may want to invest in this accessory, being that the fabulous Le Circuit Mont-Tremblant is only a few minutes away in St. Jovite).
Just like the regular Taycan, the new Cross Turismo can manage such speeds and more (from 220 to 250 km/h depending on trim), due to housing the same 800-volt battery-electric plug-in power unit. The impressive lithium-ion Performance Battery Plus provides a total capacity of 93.4 kWh, which should allow the new wagon-style model similar maximum range to the regular Taycan four-door coupe, at about 320 kilometres between charges depending on weather conditions, driving styles and other factors.
One hundred kilometres of range can be had after just five minutes of charging when hooked up to a DC fast charging station, by the way, but expect considerably more time invested for the usual 80-percent top-up during a normal 240-volt charge.
The time to charge will change depending on model chosen too, as will the Taycan Cross Turismo’s performance from standstill to 100 km/h. The “laggard” of the bunch is the base Taycan 4 Cross Turismo, which still blasts past 100 km/h in a speedy 5.1 seconds thanks to its 375-horsepower dual-motor electric powertrain. Upgrade to the 4S Cross Turismo and you’ll see a full second get chopped off its zero to 100 km/h time, due to 482 horsepower at all four wheels.
Porsche hilariously uses its “Turbo” moniker for top-tier trim designations, incidentally, but take heart that few on-road rivals will be laughing at your car’s silly name when it leaves them trailing behind in literal dust. The near top-line Taycan Turbo Cross Turismo makes a respectable 616 horsepower that results in a scant 3.3-second sprint from zero to 100 km/h, while the Turbo S Cross Turismo’s mind-blowing 750-horsepower power unit breaks the 3-second barrier completely, managing the feat in just 2.9 seconds with launch control engaged.
All Taycan Cross Turismo trims use an identical chassis and adaptive suspension design as the regular Taycan coupe, not to mention standard all-wheel drive for excellent all-weather traction. Even better, Porsche provides a standard “Gravel Mode” as well, which adjusts the car’s throttle response and chassis control for optimal grip on slippery surfaces.
What’s more, Porsche will add even greater crossover SUV-like presence to the new Taycan five-door via an available Off-Road Design package that increases ride height by 30 mm (1.2 in) while providing a more capable appearance with mud flaps and other rugged upgrades.
Speaking of appearances, the new Cross Turismo pumps up the regular Taycan’s flanks with SUV-like matte black cladding around the wheel cutouts, along the rockers, and at each end, the latter extremities enhanced further via silver undertrays.
Take note that customers will start taking delivery of the new Taycan Cross Turismo this summer, so contact your local Porsche retailer if you want to be one of the early adopters. Pricing starts at $119,900 for the base Taycan Cross Turismo 4, and moves up to $126,800 for the Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, $178,000 for the Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo, and finally $218,000 for the top-line Taycan Cross Turismo Turbo S.
Of note, the Cross Turismo’s base power unit is not available in the regular Taycan coupe, so the two models’ base pricing aren’t wholly reflective of each other. Where the 2021 Taycan 4S starts at $120,500, it uses the Cross Turismo’s more potent 4S powertrain. A more direct price comparison can be made against the $126,800 Taycan Cross Turismo 4S, showing a reasonable $6,300 price increase for the newer crossover body style. Cross Turismo Turbo and Turbo S trims are an even better deal, only costing $3,000 more than their Taycan coupe equivalents.
A quick glance at CarCostCanada’s 2021 Porsche Taycan Canada Prices page will show the differences, and allow you to configure the current coupe model as well. Porsche is offering the 2021 Porsche Taycan coupe with factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent, by the way, while all CarCostCanada members will receive access to additional important information, such as manufacturer rebates when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands more on any vehicle currently sold in Canada. Learn how an inexpensive CarCostCanada membership will save you money when purchasing your next new vehicle, and while you’re at it, be sure to download their free app so you can have all this critical info at your fingertips when you need it most.
The All-New Taycan Cross Turismo (1:29):
Taycan Cross Turismo: Digital World Premiere (17:40):
Taycan Cross Turismo – Inner Space (2:30):
The Camouflaged Taycan Cross Turismo Hits the Road (1:57):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Few sports car concepts excited the motoring masses like the original Porsche Boxster prototype did when debuting at the Detroit auto show in 1993, and not many cars introduced 25 years ago have been…
Few sports car concepts excited the motoring masses like the original Porsche Boxster prototype did when debuting at the Detroit auto show in 1993, and not many cars introduced 25 years ago have been as successful, or are even around anymore.
In order to mark the occasion, Porsche has made a new 2021 718 Boxster 25 Years edition available for order now. The new model combines classic design elements from the original concept with the myriad upgrades found on the sportiest version of today’s 718 variant, resulting in a much more modern yet very classy little two-seat roadster.
For those who like the classic look of a traditional sports car, the new 25 Years edition will be all upside, until they find out that it’s limited to only 1,250 units. Alas, you’ll need to be ultra-quick to claim yours, especially if you want to choose the metallic silver version that’s most closely related to the original Boxster show car.
The new 2021 version comes in three colours, black and white also on the menu, but gold highlights complement the front fascia, side engine vents, and “25” year insignia fixed to the rear bumper cap beside to the usual “Boxster” script. Porsche sprayed the gorgeous set of five-spoke alloys in gold too, while the race-inspired aluminum gas cap unfortunately hides from view beneath a cover, instead of being fully exposed like the original.
Just like the original Boxster, the new commemorative model’s powered fabric roof is finished in a deep red and boasts embossed “Boxster 25” script on each front outside section so that it’s displayed when folded down. This rich red colour makes up the majority of the interior, which includes unique leatherwork and special red carpeting. What’s more, the dash trim inlay on the passenger’s side provides a base for this special edition model’s “Boxster 25” plaque, which comes with 0000/1250 numbering, while another “Boxster 25” badge adorns each floor mat.
The new 718 Boxster 25 Years provides a sharp contrast to the car that underpins it, Porsche’s 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 that’s blackened all of the usual bright and brushed metal bits, including the wheels. At the heart of both cars is a 911 GT3-inspired naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six good for 394 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque when mated to the standard six-speed manual, 317 lb-ft of twist when hooked up to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated PDK.
With its Sport Chrono Package that paddle-shift actuated transmission will get up and go from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds flat, while the DIY shifter will take 0.5 seconds longer to achieve the same feat. Likewise, the manually shifted 718 drop-top moves off the line to 160 km/h in 9.2 seconds, whereas the PDK version once again slices a half second from the same sprint for an 8.7-second time, all ahead of respective top track speeds of 293 and 288 km/h.
The GTS 4.0, 25 Years and all 718 Boxster models for that matter, rival the mighty 911 when it comes to performance, especially when it comes to handling, and out-manoeuvre their competitors as well, which is one of the reasons the entry-level Porsche has had so much success over the decades. Such steady sales chart performance is rare amongst its sports car contemporaries, with the number of discontinued rivals littering the automotive landscape.
Names like XLR (or Allanté) won’t likely be offered on the new market again, while other premium drop-tops to fall by the wayside include Buick’s 1990-1991 Reatta Convertible, Volvo’s 1996–2013 C70, Chrysler’s 2004–2008 Crossfire, Tesla’s 2008–2012 Roadster, and Mini’s 2012–2015 Roadster (the regular convertible is still available). Not all of these were two-seat roadsters, and some didn’t compete directly with the Boxster, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been casualties amongst the entry-level Porsche’s more direct challengers.
The Boxster was introduced in 1996, just three years after Alfa Romeo’s classic Spider was eliminated from our continent. The stylish German was joined that year by Mercedes’ SLK, both of which followed BMW’s Z3 that initiated the compact luxury two-seat roadster renaissance a year earlier. Audi’s TT followed in 1998, combining for Teutonic dominance in the segment. After initial popularity and a relatively successful three-generation run overall, the TT will be discontinued at the end of its current model cycle, this move following the SLC (the SLK’s successor) being dropped at the end of 2020.
BMW’s Z4 (the Z3’s successor) will be the only luxury roadster nameplate that remains when the SLC disappears, 718 Boxster aside, but the wholly new fourth-gen model now shares components with Toyota’s Supra, so it’s not fully German, let alone European. The latter comment is a nod to Jaguar’s F-Type, a slightly larger rival that entered the market in 2013 and was fully updated for 2021, competing with the Boxster in its entry-level turbo-four and V6 variants.
Those wanting to get their hands on a new 718 Boxster 25 Years shouldn’t expect to get a discount, although the special financing rate should be available. You’ll need to apply it to a pricier 718 Boxster however, the usual $96,900 base price of Porsche’s GTS 4.0 raised to $106,500 when adding all the 25 Years updates. Anyone serious about purchasing should stop reading and call their local retailer now, leaving the rest of us to enjoy the complete photo gallery above and four videos below.
Boxster 25 Years: Walkaround (6:29):
Boxster 25 Years: Forever Young (1:37):
The Boxster at 25: An Homage to its Inception (4:59):
Just as the glitter and confetti from all our New Year celebrations is being swept up, Ford and Hyundai have been sweeping up 2021’s North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) awards.
Yes, it appears as if 2021 is the blue-oval brand’s year to shine as two of its vehicles drove away with class wins, the always best-selling F-150 earning 2021 Truck of the Year honours, and the controversially named Mustang Mach-E silently accepting 2021’s Utility of the Year.
Car of the Year went to Hyundai with its new 2021 Elantra, the reality of which might cause some in Dearborn to wonder what might have happened if the much-lauded (in Europe and other markets) new Focus had been made available in our market.
Notably, the just-noted Truck of the Year finalists are merely significantly upgraded trims of models already available in 2020, leaving the winning F-150 as the only entirely redesigned model entered into this year’s North American Truck of the Year class. How this may have impacted the Truck of the Year results is not known.
How I wish it were that easy to summarize a week with one of the most impressive compact sedans ever produced by a mainstream volume brand. I’d call it the most impressive compact sedan ever produced by a mainstream volume brand, but I haven’t driven the new 2021 turbo or 100th Anniversary Edition yet, so I’ll curb my enthusiasm until these two hit my driveway.
We all have brand and model biases formed over years of ownership, or in my case 20-plus years of testing. This said, I try to limit any biases that might be based on the good or poor brand PR staff communications I’ve received over the years (although, in full disclosure, Mazda’s professionalism has been amongst the best in recent years), only sharing my thoughts on all aspects of the vehicle in question, its expected dependability, and its relevance in the marketplace.
First off (or maybe second off), the Mazda3 competitors named above are arguably the very best iterations of each model ever made, and very good cars overall. In fact, I’m sure you’d be happy with any of this segment’s top four, as well as most others on offer in this segment. I’m just saying you might be happier with the Mazda3, especially when comparing fully loaded variants.
Your opinion of this car will no doubt be influenced by its styling, so let’s get that out of the way immediately. If you prefer smaller grille designs Mazda’s compact might not be for you, but then again, most seem to agree the brand’s large heptagonal air intake is attractively shaped and tastefully integrated into the design, nicely fitting the 3’s overall look without appearing overbearing or out of place. I especially like the way its outermost chrome edges frame the lower inside corner and bottom edge of each LED headlamp, and appreciate the simple elegance of the car’s lower front fascia.
Interestingly, the Mazda3 looks widest of all the competitors mentioned above, at least to my eyes, yet it’s the second narrowest of the four, albeit only by a handful of millimeters. Sometimes this effect is created by lowering a car’s height, but in fact the 3’s roofline is 20 mm taller than the Corolla and Elantra, and reaches 39 mm higher than the lowest Civic. The 3’s styling makes it look wider, which is the result of good design, while its greater length from nose to tail lends to its sleek side profile.
Deeply carved door panels do their part too, the dramatic depth of their indent almost making the 3 look as if it’s been sideswiped ever so neatly (check out my photo of the car’s side profile in the gallery and you’ll see what I mean). The car’s rear styling is neat and tidy too, with a slender pair of LED taillights, visually supported by an uncluttered rear apron and sporty set of circular chromed tailpipes. The rear design might not win points for uniqueness, but it scores high marks when it comes to understated good taste.
Much the same can be said about the 3’s cabin when it comes to tastefulness, although to be fair it gains some strong character points too. The dash, which is completely covered in a high-grade soft composite, seems to float above the instrument panel as it flows over the primary gauge cluster and wraps around the infotainment display, its outer edges meeting albeit not melding into the front door uppers made from the same material. These swoop downward from the front to rear of each door, starting out almost entirely flat and rounding downward as they grow thicker. Unusually, the 3’s inner rear door panels duplicate those up front, complete with pliable uppers, a feature normally only found in luxury branded models in this compact class.
Just below each soft-touch door upper is a thickly padded leather-like bolster with stylish French-stitched seams down the middle, an attractive and luxurious feature that’s also found just under the aforementioned floating dash. It visually envelopes the entire interior, even more so when combined with finished in contrasting Pure White leatherette to match an upgrade that also includes white leather seat upholstery. The 3 looks particularly stylish when finished in this two-tone motif, although it can be a bit challenging to keep clean. The 3 Sport gets the same optional treatment in Garnet Red, by the way, as does the previously noted 100th Anniversary model. I should also point out that the lower front console’s top edges receive similar stitched and padded leatherette to protect the inside knees, although these are always finished in black.
The GT’s leather-covered seats feature perforated inserts for breathability, while most of their bolsters are a solid leather like the beautifully crafted steering wheel rim and each top portion of the horizontal spokes, not to mention the shifter knob and boot. Both the steering wheel spokes and shifter feature gorgeous satin-aluminum detailing too, the latter really chunky and solid feeling. The high-grade metallic trim is in fact a theme throughout the entire cabin, highlighted by drilled aluminum speaker grilles for the great-sounding Bose audio system.
While those latter items aren’t exactly unique, the thin aluminum accent spanning most of the instrument panel, even striking through the dual-zone automatic climate control system interface, is pure industrial art. This line of brightwork underscores the centre vents as well, culminating in C-shaped (at least on the driver’s side) flourishes that wrap around the corner vents. Suffice to say there’s plenty to keep an owner in love with a 3 GT long after the honeymoon is over, which is exactly why most premium buyers spend more for a luxury brand.
All said, Mazda is not a luxury brand, with pricing for the 2020 3 sedan starting well under $20k, and the front-wheel drive version of my top-line trim priced much below Acura’s ILX, a sedan that’s front-drive only and starts at $30,490. In fact, even after increasing in price by $300 from 2019 to 2020, thanks to proximity-sensing keyless entry made standard (previously part of the Premium upgrade package), the Mazda3 GT with its automatic only came to $26,500, nearly $4,000 less than the ILX (which is really an upgraded previous-generation Honda Civic under the metal), whereas the GT with i-ACTIV AWD (that only comes with an automatic) went up $100 to $30,500 this year, a near identical price to the front-drive-only ILX. By the way, the 2020 GT Premium now includes a sharp-looking frameless centre mirror, as well as the updated alloy wheels mentioned earlier.
Also take note, the Mazda3 GT i-ACTIV AWD goes up to $32,200 for 2021, an increase of $1,700 due to features being made standard that were only previously found in the Premium upgrade package, such as a 10-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar support and memory that also links to the side mirrors, leather upholstery, a navigation system, and tech features including SiriusXM satellite radio (with a three-month trial subscription), plus SiriusXM Traffic Plus and Travel Link (with a complimentary five-year trial subscription), and lastly Traffic Sign Recognition. Incidentally, the front-wheel drive GT auto moves up by $2,000 to $28,500 for the same reasons.
As noted earlier, there’s also been the addition of a new 2021 turbocharged GT AWD model that’s a mere $700 pricier at $32,900, so you might want to wait for that, and this upgrade in mind, Mazda dealers may want to consider how many non-turbo GTs they bring into inventory, being that soon these less potent 3s will probably only appeal to fuel-stingy commuters that want the creature comforts of a GT.
Some additional GT features include the 12-speaker Bose audio system noted earlier, plus advanced keyless entry, paddle shifters on automatic-equipped models, adaptive cornering for the auto-levelling LED signature headlamps, signature LED taillights, and 18-inch alloys, while the new Premium package includes glossy black front grille, a front wiper de-icer, an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, reverse tilt-down on both exterior mirrors, a frameless centre mirror with auto-dimming, a HomeLink garage door transceiver, a head-up display, a 360-degree overhead parking monitor, front and rear parking sensors, emergency automatic braking for reversing, and traffic jam assist.
The GT isn’t the only Mazda3 sedan to get a price boost in 2021, with the base GX model increasing from $18,000 to $20,500 thanks to standard 16-inch alloy wheels, body-colour power-actuated side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, manual air conditioning, heatable front seats, cruise control, and advanced blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, all previously only available with the Convenience package, while yet more new 2021 standard 3 gear includes auto on/off headlights and rain-sensing wipers. Of note, the same model with the automatic goes up by $2,500 as well.
Mid-range GS trim remains the most affordable way to get all of Mazda’s i-Activsense safety features, including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, plus driver attention alert. The GS increases in price by $200 to $22,900 for 2021.
Finally, a new 100th Anniversary Edition based on turbocharged GT i-ACTIV AWD trim approaches premium compact levels at $36,100, so you’ll have to be a real serious Mazda fan to pay the extra $3,200 needed to partake. For that money you’ll get special Snowflake White Pearl exterior paint, aforementioned Garnet Red leather upholstery and accents inside (normally reserved for the 3 Sport), red carpets and mats, the latter including unique 100th Anniversary embroidery, plus the same logo stamped onto the headrests, the key fob, the wheel centre caps, and each front fender.
I should also mention that both 2020 and 2021 Mazda3s are being offered with up to $750 in additional incentives according to CarCostCanada, where you can find out about all the latest manufacturer leasing and financing deals, rebate information, and best of all, dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when purchasing a new vehicle. Check out how the CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download their free app so you can have all this important information on your smartphone when you need it most.
Of note, the five-door Mazda3 Sport gets similar year-by-year updates and price hikes, except for the base model that only increases by $200 from 2019 through 2021 due to including most of the standard features mentioned above from inception, and therefore already retailing for thousands more than 2019 and 2020 versions of the base sedan. The 100th Anniversary Edition hatchback pushes this Mazda3 model into a new near-premium price point of $37,100 too, but I won’t say anything more about the five-door Sport body style as I’ll be reviewing it separately.
Sportiness in mind, however, both Mazda3 models are available with three Skyactiv-G engine choices, all of which are fun to drive, although the new turbo dusts off distant memories of the late-great Mazdaspeed3. That engine, which makes 250 horsepower and a whopping 320 lb-ft of torque, will be covered in an upcoming review as well, being that I haven’t even driven it yet, so I’ll keep my comments to the 2.0-litre variant that makes 155 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque in base trim, and the non-turbo 2.5 that’s good for a respective 186 units apiece.
Performance from these two naturally aspirated engines haven’t changed since 2019, and there’s actually plenty to like about the base engine, which incidentally can only be had with GX manual and auto trims, plus GS manual trims for 2021, and comes standard with the base GX and all non-AWD versions of the GS in 2020. Its main selling point is fuel efficiency, good for a claimed 8.7 L/100km city, 6.4 highway and 7.7 combined when hooked up to the six-speed manual or 8.4, 6.6 and 7.6 respectively when mated to the six-speed auto (note, the Mazda3 doesn’t include a continuously variable transmission/CVT like most competitors, so while it may give up some thrift compared to rivals, it arguably improves drivability).
The 2.5-litre four, standard with the GS auto, all non-turbo AWD models, and the GT for 2021, makes a noticeable difference in performance without sacrificing much in fuel economy at 8.8 L/100km city, 6.6 highway and 7.8 combined with FWD or a respective 7.0, 9.2 and 8.2 with AWD.
Paddle shifters make the most of the Skyactiv-Drive automatic, especially in sport mode, and let me say it really doesn’t need more than six forward speeds, except maybe for marketing purposes. There’s something wonderful (and reliable) about a simple six-speed auto, and considering I was testing compacts with four- and five-speed automatics when I started out in this business, this is still a comparatively advanced transmission. As noted, Mazda incorporates its Skyactiv technologies, which they say combine all the advantages of conventional automatics, CVTs and dual-clutch gearboxes together—one big fat claim.
For starters, the Skyactiv-Drive autobox incorporates a significantly widened lock-up range to improve torque transfer efficiency while realizing a direct driving feel that Mazda reports as being the equivalent to a manual transmission, whereas fuel efficiency is improved by four to seven percent compared to the brand’s older non-Skyactiv automatic. While I can’t prove any of this from the wheel, it was certainly thrifty throughout my weeklong drive and responded well to input, shifting quickly and, like I mentioned a moment ago, a lot more positively than any CVT I’ve ever used (although the Corolla Hatchback’s CVT is surprisingly good).
Likewise, the Mazda3’s suspension ideally balances comfort and performance, but it goes about this in a surprisingly unsophisticated way. To be fair, the brand’s engineers chose to keep a simpler torsion-beam rear suspension in play rather than adopt an independent multi-link setup in back, and not just because it would save money that could be used elsewhere. First and foremost, it’s lighter, whereas the more straightforward design is easier to tune for the desired results. What you get is a smooth riding suspension that transitions to quick, fast-paced inputs nicely, only getting a bit unsettled when hammered through really bad patches of pavement at high speeds, mid-turn. This is where a multi-link design works better, but all said I found the 3’s torsion-beam setup hard to fault, even when pushed hard over broken road surfaces.
Fortunately, Mazda has isolated the 3’s passenger compartment so that most bumps, potholes and bridge expansion joins don’t translate to discomfort within. The body structure feels tight and solid, plus it seems as if this car gets a lot more sound-deadening insulation between outer and inner door panels than its key competitors. Again, it feels more 3 Series than Corolla in this respect, no offence to Toyota, or maybe more A-Class and A3-like, but either way resulting in that premium-like experience I’ve been going on and on about.
The 3’s driving position is similarly impressive, with enough reach from its tilt and telescopic steering column to make my long-legged, short-torso frame feel right at home, and certainly more in control than when piloting the Corolla, which needs more steering wheel extension for people shaped like me. The driver’s seat was a perfect fit too, its two-way power-adjustable lumbar support even pushing up against the small of my back where I need it most.
When seated just behind in the second row, the driver’s seat having been set up for a guy that measures five feet, eight inches tall with (once again) longish legs, and backrest canted rearward marginally, I benefited from approximately five inches of knee space to the seatback ahead, which is pretty good for this class, and no shortage of foot space below. The aforementioned taller than average roof height resulted in about three inches of room for growth above my head, while side-to-side space was more than adequate for two adults, along with reasonable room for a third when required.
Rear seat accoutrements include a fold-down centre armrest with two integrated cupholders, and that’s it. No heatable rear outboard seats, and even stranger, no air vents or USB charge ports on the backside of the front console. This is only odd due to Mazda finishing off all rear surfaces as nicely as those up front, as noted earlier in this review.
As for this sedan’s trunk, it’s about average in size for this class at 358 litres, and includes expandability via the segment’s usual 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks. If Mazda wanted to appeal even more to the premium crowd, 40/20/40-split rear seats, or at least a centre pass-through would help, this potentially a dealmaker for outdoor sports enthusiasts who might choose an all-wheel drive 3 over a competitor thanks to its all-weather traction, especially if they can fit their skis safely inside with four occupants onboard.
I wouldn’t mention this for a car in this class if Mazda wasn’t already one of the only mainstream manufacturers to provide 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks in its compact CX-5 SUV, meaning they’ve proven to understand how important passenger/cargo flexibility is to their buyers.
I wouldn’t call that last issue a complaint, but I do have a few negatives to bring up with the Mazda3 GT. For starters, I found the sensitivity of the auto braking and lane change alerts a bit annoying, but not as much as the nagging digital voice’s constant speed limit announcements. If this had been my personal car, I would’ve quickly found a way to turn that feature off.
Also, the dual auto HVAC system was more difficult to set to a comfortable temperature than what I normally experience in other brands. I therefore chose 20C so it wasn’t overly hot, but take note 20.5C was already uncomfortably warm. This means there was no middle ground, with 20C being on the cool side and 20.5C requiring the windows powered down a crack. I ended up setting it to 20C and using the three-way heated seats to keep my backside warm, not to mention the heatable steering wheel rim.
I’d also like to see Mazda improve the otherwise handy radio volume/tuner knob on the lower console, which rotates for the former and can be modulated from side-to-side for the latter. It works perfectly for changing AM/FM stations, but scrolling through satellite stations requires a tedious multi-step process within the infotainment system’s audio interface, each and every time you want to do so. I ended up saving my favourite stations to a list accessible from the star button just next to the volume/tuner knob, so at least a shortcut method has been provided, but I’d like to see some sort of improvement for tuning in satellite stations just the same.
You might find my little complaints more annoying to read than these issues actually are in real life, this probable after factoring in just how excellent the Mazda3 is in every other respect. If I were buying in this class, this car would be right at the top of my list and probably get the nod, albeit with that new turbocharged engine upgrade and potentially the Sport body style.
It’s hard to argue against a car that recently won the 2020 World Car Design of the Year award after all, let alone took top honours in AJAC’s 2020 Canadian Car of the Year earlier, and the 2019 Women’s World Car of the Year before that, while earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award is an accolade worth mentioning too. All that aside, I like its styling, love its interior design and materials quality, find it comfortably accommodating, appreciate its expected reliability, and always enjoy spending time in its driver’s seat. In other words, I highly recommend the Mazda3.