Everyone who follows the auto industry knew that Tesla’s Model S would eventually get knocked from its first-place sales pedestal in the mid-size electric luxury sedan segment (which is actually a thing…
Everyone who follows the auto industry knew that Tesla’s Model S would eventually get knocked from its first-place sales pedestal in the mid-size electric luxury sedan segment (which is actually a thing now), but some might’ve expected the upstart EV replacing it at the top to be from some all-new brand like Lucid. As we all now know it was Porsche’s Taycan that took best-selling honours in this category last year, let alone every month since.
To be fair to Tesla, its flagship four-door has been with us mostly unchanged for a decade, which is a surprisingly long stint for any car and certainly testament to how advanced the original was when it came on the market in 2012. Then again, one glance at the Taycan and the Model S looks downright frumpy, which was no doubt part of Porsche’s plan when penning the now three-year old BEV.
Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition commemorates 90 years of famed racetrack
So, how should Porsche celebrate this monumental occasion? Once again breaking the track record at the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife might be a good idea, especially since the only car to do so was a preproduction Taycan Turbo back in 2019 that, while achieving a pretty impressive lap time of 7:42.34 minutes and therefore making Tesla’s four-year old 8:50-minute lap of a Model S P85D look as if it was merely cruising along in “chill” mode, got walloped by an updated 2021 Model S that ran the ring in just 7:35.579 last fall, no doubt in Plaid track mode.
Thus far Porsche hasn’t taken the bait, but they’ve nevertheless conjured up a new special edition that pays tribute to 90 years of motorsport on Germany’s second-most famous race course, the Hockenheimring, and while only available in Europe and therefore somewhat useless information for any Canadian that doesn’t also own a hunting cabin in the Black Forest or ski lodge in Chamonix, it’s a worthy racetrack to commemorate and a nicely dressed up Taycan to boot.
Hockenheimring has a long history of notable winners
The Hockenheimring, located in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, hosted Formula 1 as recently as 2019, but was a regular haunt of motorsport’s supreme series from 1977 to 2006, except for 1985 when the German Grand Prix was held at a reconfigured Nürburgring circuit, which had lost F1 in 1976 due to safety concerns.
The great Michael Schumacher achieved four Formula 1 victories at the Hockenheimring, while plenty of other racing greats have competed in DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters), a.k.a. the German Touring Car championship, World RX (rallycross), EuroNASCAR, and the World Endurance (Sportscar) Championship, in which Porsche has run away with many class victories and championships.
Stunning Stone Grey beige earth-tone joined by beautiful Bronzite highlights
No doubt the new 2022 Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition’s most eye-catching feature is its Stone Grey exterior paint, which we dare you to call beige. As if a car that can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds could ever be considered beige, let alone one that looks as dramatic as any Taycan, but it’s also a bit browner than grey, so we’ll have to accept that Porsche used some creative license when positioning this hue within their “Heritage” colour palette’s nomenclature and leave it there.
It’s part of Porsche’s Paint to Sample program, as is Bronzite that gets used for the five twinned spokes of this unique Taycan’s 21-inch Mission E Design alloy wheels, the rims painted in Stone Grey to match the car’s bodywork. Bronzite also adorns the car’s side skirts, rear diffuser, and Taycan badges.
Island Green highlights combine with Paldao hardwood inside
The Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition’s cabin is slightly more subtle in execution than its sheet metal, much due to black leather being used throughout, except for a thin strip of Island Green leather found atop the steering wheel as a centre marking. Island Green stitching gets used in all the right places too, while Paldao hardwood inlays dress up key areas and yet more Bronzite can be found where satin-silver might otherwise be, including the steering wheel spokes, gear lever and surrounding area, HVAC vent slats, and even the rim around each cupholder.
Additionally, the Hockenheimring Edition’s carpeted floor mats get yet more Island Green highlights, while a Hockenheimring track map and special logo get embossed into the leather-clad centre armrest, as does the key fob, illuminated door sills, and projector LEDs that light up the ground below the doors. Capping this special model off, Porsche fixed a special badge with the same logo and track layout to the outer B pillars.
New Hockenheimring Edition built on ultra-quick Taycan GTS underpinnings
The new Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition, which is only available as a sedan, makes 590 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, which means that along with its aforementioned 3.7-second run from standstill to 100 km/h, it can manage a terminal velocity of 250 km/h, while GTS trim also provides the longest WLTP-estimated range of any other Taycan trim, at 504 km.
Taycan GTS Hockenheimring Edition. Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur (1:36) (Note: this video is in German):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
With the world’s automotive sector quickly transitioning from internal combustion engines and interim hybrid-electric models to fully-electric battery-powered vehicles, some of the automotive industry’s…
With the world’s automotive sector quickly transitioning from internal combustion engines and interim hybrid-electric models to fully-electric battery-powered vehicles, some of the automotive industry’s most cherished styling elements have not only become redundant, but in fact detrimental to an electric vehicle’s efficiency.
First and foremost is the front grille, which was previously necessary to cool the engine, yet now impedes aerodynamics. Certainly, some cooling is needed, particularly for the battery, but battery-builders and automakers are resolving such issues with every new generation, which means frontal openings are now only needed for cabin airflow and possibly brake cooling on performance models.
Balancing aerodynamics with design character
The issue for designers comes down to character. If automakers simply removed their cars’ grilles to enhance aerodynamic efficiencies, every new car would look faceless, like a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y. Like others in the industry, such as Volvo and its Recharge EV models, new Genesis X Speedium Coupe Concept deals with this challenge by creating a frontal grille outline filled a body panel, but the creative way it extends its unique signature “Two Lines” headlamp/side marker lighting elements around that grille in a “V” shape, similar to the equally gorgeous Genesis X Coupe Concept that came before, is innovative.
Anyone guessing whether the new Speedium is destined to be a personal luxury coupe or something with serious performance credentials only needs to look at the aggressive fender flairs and windswept Kamm tail that juts up out of the rear deck lid as if it came straight off a Shelby Cobra Daytona coupe. Yellow/green-painted brake calipers further hint at the Speedium’s go-fast personality, not to mention the massive rims and wafer-thin rubber surrounding them.
Could a four-door coupe be in the cards?
Back to personal luxury, an unusual greenhouse design shows this coupe is at the very least a 2+2, but more likely as accommodating inside as today’s four-door luxury coupes, and could very much receive rear doors, like Porsche’s Taycan, Audi’s E-Tron RS, and others before it heads to production, but it’s nice to believe a two-door variant might get the nod as well, so it could offer a potent BEV alternative to Mercedes’ S-Class Coupe, BMW’s 8 Series Coupe, Lexus’ LC, or, a bit further down the pecking order, Infiniti’s Q60.
The side profile and rear design pays a great deal of respect to the aforementioned X Concept, and being that Genesis hasn’t shown any interior images of the new Speedium, some shots of its predecessor were added to the gallery for your perusal. It’s a stunning interior, which places a visual priority on the driver via camel brown-tanned hides and equally earthy composites, compared to stark anthracite grey elsewhere. Photos of the previous concept have been included in the gallery as well, as well as videos below, just so you can see the transitional differences and similarities.
Genesis has yet to announce a production version of either the Concept X or X Speedium Coupe Concept, but we expect something bold from the Korean brand in this segment soon.
The Genesis X Concept Reveal | Genesis (1:43):
The Genesis X Concept Reveal Event in LA | X Concept | Future Vehicles | Genesis USA (17:31):
The Genesis X California Film | X Concept | Future Vehicles | Genesis USA (1:31):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Genesis
Not everyone’s favourite 911, but nevertheless the 1997 to 2006 996 is now the most affordable iteration available, yet it was one of the more notable for ushering in Porsche’s first water-cooled…
Not everyone’s favourite 911, but nevertheless the 1997 to 2006 996 is now the most affordable iteration available, yet it was one of the more notable for ushering in Porsche’s first water-cooled flat-six, riding on the first updated chassis platform since the original 911 came on scene in 1963, improving interior refinement, and completely changing the face of the world’s most iconic sports car.
The latter was almost as traumatic to Porschephiles as reformulating New Coke was to cola fans, hence the quick return from “fried egg” shaped headlights to more classic ovoid lenses, but the notorious L-shaped clusters, initially introduced on the first-generation Boxster that, being codeveloped alongside the 996, also shared much of its frontal underpinnings, have a charm of their own when combined with bespoke bodywork and a cool retro-modern paint scheme.
How to make a 996 look a whole lot better in only 30 months
The 996’ more raked windshield and overall sleeker body reduced wind resistance while aiding downforce and interior quietness, but that didn’t stop the in-house Porsche Classic workshop from tweaking the front spoiler, modifying the side skirts, adding a double-bubble roof, and completely reworking the rear deck lid with an ultra-cool 1972 911 Carrera RS 2.7-inspired ducktail.
Many of those changes paid tribute to a special 911 that came before, albeit not before this 1998 996, which incidentally was found in rough shape on a dealer lot in Colombia, Virginia. Vu Nguyen, executive director of the Porsche Club of America (PCA) spotted it, and then contacted Porsche with his idea of modding it to levels way beyond its original stealth Carrera ways.
The task took the Porsche Classic team 30 months to complete, and we think it was well worth the effort. First off, we doubt anyone has ever seen a better looking 996, GT3 and Turbo trims included. Speaking of GT3, Porsche located an original 3.6-litre engine from a later model 996 GT3, good for 381 tuned horsepower, not to mention suspension and brake components to make sure this lowly Carrera responded similarly to the much-vaunted track racer.
Beautiful 2009 911 Sport Classic was used for design inspiration
As for the design, much of the aforementioned aerodynamic bodywork was visually inspired by the fabulous 911 Sport Classic (997) of 2009, including the roof bulges, awesome rear wing, which were honed in Porsche’s wind tunnel, and much of the paint scheme. The latter a remix of Porsche’s Sport Grey Metallic, although a lighter Sport Grey was used for the twinned centre stripes, that run the entire length of the car, as well as the rocker stripes down below.
The big differentiator are the Club Blue pinstripes highlighting the outer edges of the lighter Sport Grey stripes, which just happens to be PCA’s official livery. Finishing off the look is a sweet set of 18-inch Fuchs black-painted alloy rims, designed in classic ‘70s Carrera style. The stick fitted rubber no doubt helped keep it locked onto the track at the Porsche Development Centre in Weissach, Germany, where it underwent testing prior to being released to PCA.
Where the 2009 911 Sport Classic benefited from a limited run of 250 units going to Porsche customers, the new Classic Club Coupe is a one-off for one customer only, albeit one very big customer. PCA is Porsche’s oldest and largest ownership club, so while very few members will be able to drive it, all will adore it during club meets.
Porsche Classic updated the interior too
No doubt these members will appreciate the level of detail the Porsche Classic team went into when designing and executing the interior, which also features PCA’s signature Club Blue colouring in key areas, such as the stitching on the leather key fob, and even more noticeable blue thread on the upholstery. The seats even sport embroidered “911 Classic Club Coupe” script on the front headrests, while the centre panels of the front and rear seats, plus each door panel, feature a classic Pepita houndstooth pattern woven from slate grey and black leather. The special car also gets a new steering wheel, an updated Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system, and last but hardly least, a plaque on the dashboard that reads, “911 Classic Club Coupe No. 001/001”.
Will this new one-off cause the prices of 996 models to rise? Porsche might want to consider making some of the new body panels available through its parts division, not to mention a few of the interior upgrades, because we could imagine that owners of this particular model might be eager to make them look prettier. Kits have long been available to convert their headlights from fried eggs to ovals (which are arguably more fried egg-shaped as it is), but we think a kit that actually celebrates the oddity of the 996 would be an even more welcome option.
Presenting the exclusive Porsche 911 Classic Club Coupe (1:13):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
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
Small luxury sedans and hatchbacks aren’t selling as well as they once did, but some brands are succeeding where others are either floundering or have completely given up. Take Lexus for example, or…
Small luxury sedans and hatchbacks aren’t selling as well as they once did, but some brands are succeeding where others are either floundering or have completely given up.
Take Lexus for example, or for that matter Volvo. The former was selling its Prius-based CT 200h hybrid compact hatchback into North American markets as recently as 2017 (check out our road test), but after seven years of production, plus a couple of down years with nothing in an entry-level segment at all, it was effectively replaced with the UX subcompact crossover SUV. As for Volvo, we need to go all the back to 2013 for the final 300-plus (new) C30s that found Canadian buyers, and then had to wait five additional years for its XC40 subcompact SUV replacement. Likewise, a new C40 electric crossover is expected from the Chinese-owned Swedish brand later this year or early 2022.
See the trend? It wasn’t like the compact B-segment (subcompact luxury) was ever a big deal here in Canada, at least not like it’s been in Europe where Audi’s A1 has been pulling in premium buyers for almost a dozen years, plus its similarly sized A2 before that, and larger A3 even longer, as have BMW’s 1 and 2 Series, not to mention Mercedes’ A-Class, but amongst the few small luxury-branded cars we’ve enjoyed, some are leaving for good, never likely to return.
Still, premium brands need gateway products to entice new customers into the fold, and while small sedans and hatchbacks still attract such buyers to well-established German automakers, luxury buyers are more likely to opt for a subcompact crossover SUV instead. So therefore, while the entry luxury car category won’t likely grow much larger in the coming years, it still has a faithful following that’s passionate about their stylish, low-slung little rides, so let’s see which models are pulling in the most Canadian customers.
Mini Cooper dominates the small luxury car sector
When the words “luxury” and “car” get combined, most probably don’t immediately conjure up images of the cute little Mini hatchback. After all, it was initially Britain’s answer to Germany’s peoples’ car (and the “Suez Crisis” fuel shortage) way back in 1959, a micro hatchback that was as inexpensive to buy as it was efficient to operate. BMW purchased the Mini nameplate as part of its Rover group takeover from British Aerospace and Honda (20-percent) in 1994, and since 2001 has sold a variety of body styles and models, including a compact luxury SUV, dubbed Countryman.
And just in case you don’t understand the logic behind including a brand with pricing that begins where a fully-loaded Kia Rio ends, at $23,490 for a base Cooper 3-Door, consider that most Mini owners don’t purchase stripped-down examples. To that end, a JCW Convertible will set you back more than $60k after all of its extras are tallied up. So, if 60-grand for a subcompact hatchback doesn’t qualify Mini’s Cooper for luxury car status, not to mention sharing underpinnings with some of BMW’s smaller models, it’s difficult to surmise what will.
Mini’s car lineup is powered by three-cylinder and four-cylinder turbocharged engines displacing 1.5 and 2.0 litres respectively. As noted, the 1.5 makes 134 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, and when installed in the base Cooper 3-Door, hits 100 km/h from standstill in 8.1 seconds with either the six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and manages 8.8 L/100km city, 6.4 highway and 7.7 combined with the former if driven more modestly, or 8.4, 6.5 and 7.5 with the latter. Obviously, performance and fuel economy won’t be quite as good in either the 5 Door, Clubman, or Convertible due to weight gains, a reality that affects the other engines in the lineup too.
On that note, the 2.0-litre turbo-four puts out 189 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque in the second-tier Cooper S, and once again comes with both six- and seven-speed transmissions, while the quickest and thriftiest Cooper S 3-Door manages a standing start to 100 km/h in just 7.2 seconds with either gearbox, plus fuel economy ratings of 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.1 on the highway and 8.8 combined with the manual, or a respective 8.9, 6.6 and 7.9 with the auto.
The best fuel economy of all, however, comes from Mini’s Cooper SE, which uses a 181 horsepower electric motor (with 199 lb-ft of torque) and 32.6-kWh lithium-ion battery to drive the front wheels, resulting in “fuel economy” of about 16.9 to 14.9 kWh/ 100 km (according to NEDC). Its 177-km range, makes it only suitable for urban use, however, which means you’ll need to leave it at home for longer road trips… a shame.
The Mini Cooper 3 Door and Convertible only have four seatbelts, which is probably all you’d ever want to try and fit in anyway (especially in the latter), while 5 Door and Clubman models feature seating for five, the latter housing five adults (kind of) being that it’s not only 454 mm (17.9 in) lengthier than the 3 Door and 293 mm (11.5 in) longer than the 5 Door, with a wheelbase that spans an extra 175 mm (6.9 in) and 103 mm (4.0 in) respectively, but also 74 mm (2.9 in) wider, which of course matters even more when stuffing three abreast. At 1,801 mm (70.9 in), the Clubman is also wider than anything in this class save Audi’s A3, while its wheelbase is identical to Acura’s ILX and BMW’s 2 Series Gran Coupe, plus longer than the A3’s and BMW’s diminutive i3, the latter of which is still longer than both 3 and 5 Door Minis.
As you might have imagined, dedicated cargo capacity is most generous in the Clubman too, growing from just 160 litres (6.0 cubic feet) in the Convertible, 211 litres (7.0 cu ft) in the 3 Door, and 278 litres (10 cu ft) in the 5 Door, to 495 litres (17.5 cu ft) in the Clubman, which, in fact, is the same as the Countryman SUV.
As far as sales go, Mini delivered 2,739 examples of its four-model car lineup to Canadians in 2020 (not including the Countryman crossover), and also saw another 2,111 low-slung units leave its dealerships over the first nine months of this year, which makes it look like the brand will surpass last year’s rather poor showing when 2021 comes to an end, but it probably won’t realize as many car sales as in decades past. Prior to 2020, Mini’s worst calendar year on record for car deliveries was 2004 when it only sold 2,800 Cooper hatchbacks, but most other years the brand’s cars ranged between 3,500 and 5,500 Canadian sales.
So far, there’s no serious challenger to Mini’s collective Cooper car line when it comes to sales success in this class, but as mentioned earlier in this report, the real growth in the entry-level luxury sector is happening in the subcompact luxury crossover SUV category, in which Mini’s Countryman sits ninth out of 12 competitors (see the “Top 5 Subcompact Luxury Crossover SUVs: Audi’s Q3 still in the lead… for now” story). Mini will likely need to achieve much greater success in that burgeoning category in order to keep funding the niche models in its car lineup, so as not to continue eroding what is currently a diverse offering.
Notably, Mini both expanded and contracted this car line dramatically from 2012 through 2017, with the introductions and then cancellations of the 2012–2015 Cooper Coupe and Cooper Roadster models. The 2013–2016 Cooper Paceman (a three-door crossover coupe based on the Countryman) was its attempt to widen its small SUV offering, a la BMW X2, but slow take-rates for all of these creative offerings have now turned them into modern-day collectables. To be clear, like all Minis these were brilliantly fun niche models that we were admittedly excited about initially, and while all three might now be seen as mistakes that negatively impacted the brand’s bottom line, having eaten up significant R&D money that could’ve gone elsewhere, it’s hard to criticize the brand for thinking outside of the box, or rather two-box design layout, and trying something completely different.
Still, it’s hard to keep a brand that’s as enjoyable to drive as Mini down (even its perennially low Consumer Reports reliability rating can’t do that), and while parent company BMW’s 2 Series is on a roll that could possibly see it pass by the Cooper for overall sales leadership in Canada (read about that below), diehard Mini enthusiasts (and there are many) continue to love what makes these little sprites segment best-sellers.
Mercedes’ A-Class leads sales of traditionally desirable subcompact luxury cars
Mercedes-Benz is arguably the most premium of luxury brands overall, this side of Rolls-Royce, Bentley, the Stuttgart-based automaker’s own Maybach marque, and a bunch of supercar makes like Aston Martin, Lamborghini, McLaren, and of course Ferrari, so therefore, acquiring a sleek sport sedan or hot hatch bearing the famed three-pointed star will be seen by many as quite the accomplishment. This said, the most affordable way to do so comes by way of the A-Class, made available to Canadian new car buyers as of the 2019 model year.
The A-Class, available in both A 220 4Matic four-door sedan (see our review of the A 220 4Matic here) and A 250 4Matic five-door hatchback (see our review of the A 250 4Matic Hatch here) trims and body styles, plus sportier AMG A 35 versions of each, quickly earned the top-spot in the compact B-segment amongst traditionally desirable brands, thanks to managing 2,355 deliveries amidst a difficult 2020, which saw sales of most models in this category slide south, although 2021 already looks stronger for the entry-level Mercedes model thanks to 1,517 units sold throughout the first three quarters of the year, even though this positive growth now leaves it in the negative when compared to BMW’s increasingly popular 2 Series, which was made available with four doors as of model year 2020 (more on that in a minute).
To be totally fair, CLA-Class numbers should really be included in Mercedes’ overall segment sales, because it’s really the same car as the A-Class under its sleeker, more coupe-like skin, while most three-pointed star competitors, such as the just-covered Mini Cooper and BMW’s 2 Series, lump all of their subcompact body styles under one model name. This said, combining all the 2020 A-Class deliveries with the 1,085 CLAs sold in the same year results in a total of 3,440 B-segment sales for Mercedes, along the number-one position overall. Then again, if we’re looking at total automaker sales, BMW AG’s namesake brand and Mini combined for 3,881 deliveries in 2020 (including 168 i3 EVs), which puts the Bavarian marque on top. Likewise, the German and British brands’ combined Q3 sales of 4,033 units give it an even stronger lead so far in 2021, so Mercedes has some catching up to do.
This shouldn’t be a problem, thanks to a diverse A-Class engine lineup. The base A 220 sedan comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder good for 188 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, while the same engine in the A 250 hatch makes 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Move up to the A 35 in either model, and the little 2.0-litre powerplant puts out an impressive 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, making them two of the most exciting cars in their class to drive. What’s more, all A-Class models are some of the easiest to keep in their respective lanes, no matter the weather condition, due to standard 4Matic all-wheel drive.
Paddle-shifters enhance control of a standard 7G-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which also includes a standard ECO Start/Stop system to save on fuel, resulting in a 9.6 L/100km city, 6.9 highway and 8.4 combined rating for the A 220 sedan; a 9.4 city, 6.8 highway and 8.2 combined rating for the A 250 hatch; or a respective 10.7, 8.2 and 9.5 for both AMG A 35 models.
The A-Class’ near-longest 2,729 mm (107.4 in) wheelbase means both front and rear seating is comfortable for this small car category, while its fractionally narrower than average 1,796 mm (70.5 in) width (not including mirrors) shouldn’t make much of a difference from side-to-side.
At 243 litres (8.6 cu-ft), the sedan’s trunk is the smallest in the class, however, other than the two aforementioned Mini 3 Door models, but the hatchback’s cargo compartment is larger than average at 370 litres (13.0 cu ft), plus both provide more space when the rear seat is folded forward, made even more convenient with a 40/20/40-divided split.
Due to very few negatives, most A-Class customers are very satisfied with their purchases, as evidenced by the model’s top ranking in the “Compact Luxury Car” category in AutoPacific’s 2021 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, while J.D. Power named it runner-up in the “Small Premium Car” segment of its latest 2021 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study (the sportier CLA-Class earned the top position). Last but hardly least, Vincentric placed it on top of the “Luxury Compact” class of its Best Fleet Value in Canada Awards, something it also achieved in the U.S.
Interestingly, none of the cars in this top five list even rated in the “Entry-Luxury-Car” category’s top three for Canadian Black Book’s latest 2020 Best Retained Value Awards, but this is (at least partially) because CBB includes pricier C-segment models, such as Mercedes’ own C-Class that claimed the highest accolades, as entry-level models. Likewise, Lexus’ mid-size ES, which was one of the runners-up, is considered entry-level by CBB too.
Ironically, being that residual values are all about pre-owned cars, with CBB’s awards going to three-year old vehicles, the ES was tied with Lexus’ now discontinued CT 200h. Obviously, Lexus models hold their value very well amongst small luxury cars, but then again, Mercedes does too, so it’s possible we’ll see the A-Class replace the CT for top-three residual value leadership when it’s been on the market long enough to qualify.
Expect major upsurge in Audi A3 sales when redesigned model arrives for 2022
Audi deserves credit for being the first German luxury carmaker to offer a four-door sedan in this compact B-Segment, with the advent of the redesigned 2015 A3 that was also available in higher performance S3 tune, plus as an A3 Cabriolet (Acura’s EL was the first entry-luxury sedan when it arrived in 1997, while the A3 was a five-door hatch from model years 2006 to 2014). An even more potent RS 3 sedan made this class of subcompacts shine in 2018, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Moving into the 2022 model year after technically not providing a 2021 car, the Cabriolet has been discontinued and all-new redesigned A3, S3 and RS 3 sedans are on the way. These should help boost the Ingolstadt-based brand’s future prospects in this waning segment, thanks to sharper styling, a modernized interior, and upgraded performance.
Now in its fourth generation, the new A3 rides on the same MQB platform used for the eighth-generation 2022 Volkswagen Golf (which kind of qualifies for entry-level luxury status on its own, at least in GTI and R trims), making it slightly longer, a bit wider and fractionally taller than the outgoing model, but the sedan’s 2,636 mm (103.8 in) wheelbase doesn’t change, so the extra 40 mm (1.6 in) of length has mostly gone to cargo capacity that’s up 64 litres (2.2 cu ft) to 348 litres (12.3 cu ft), from just 284 litres (10.0 cu ft) in previous years.
Just like its predecessor, the Canadian-spec A4 and S4 will receive one S Tronic seven-speed dual-clutch automated gearbox shared between them, plus two different versions of the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, although staying true with the times means that a 48-volt mild hybrid system has been added to the mix. While fuel economy will no doubt improve, aided further by coasting capability the shuts the internal combustion portion of the drivetrain off when not needed to maintain speed (i.e. going downhill), the hybrid system will also boost base performance from 184 horsepower to 201, although torque actually inches downward from 222 lb-ft to 221. This should result in a quicker zero to 100 km/h sprint time than the current car, which is rated at 6.2 seconds, but so far Audi hasn’t announced such numbers for the new model.
The 2022 S3, on the other hand, can dash from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds, shaving a tenth from the old car’s sprint time thanks to a move up from 288 horsepower to 306, whereas its electronically-limited top track speed of 250 km/h is identical to the outgoing model.
Lastly, a new RS 3 is on the way, with a reported 401 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque from a turbocharged 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine. It catapults from a standing start to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds before topping out at 290 km/h (180 mph), while the new car’s handling will be improved with a torque-vectoring rear axle dubbed Torque Splitter, which was designed to reduce understeer while maintaining the Quattro AWD system’s legendary high-speed grip.
Identically to the outgoing A3, 2022 Canadian-spec trim levels include Komfort, Progressiv and Technik, but the new car now comes standard with Quattro AWD, which has caused base pricing to increase substantially from $34,500 in 2020, to $38,900 (plus freight and fees) this coming year. The S3, which already included Quattro as standard, will now start $47,900. This is actually a decrease of $500 due to base Komfort trim now becoming available (Progressiv was the S3’s previous base trim). Of note, Audi is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives when purchasing a new 2022 A3.
Improvements inside the 2022 A3 include a 10.3-inch version of Audi’s superb Virtual Cockpit digital gauge cluster as standard equipment, plus a new 10.1-inch fixed infotainment display at centre, or a 12.3-inch upgrade, instead of the old pop-up unit that, while kind of awesome in its own way, is about as useful as pop-up headlights now that most jurisdictions require us to run with our front lamps on during the day. Therefore, as much as we might miss the main monitor powering up out of the dash during startup, or better yet, disappearing altogether on a night drive, the new larger display is more in keeping with today’s technology-first world, while it also integrates much more advanced high-definition capability along with updated graphics.
AS far as awards go, the outgoing A3 earned runner-up in the “Small Premium Car” category of J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS), which was won by BMW’s 2 Series.
Gran Coupe has given BMW’s 2 Series line the shot in the arm it’s always needed
BMW’s 2 Series made the greatest B-segment gains in sales over the past year, mostly due to the aforementioned Gran Coupe. While year-over-year 2 Series deliveries only grew by 13 percent in 2020, up from 1,202 to 1,358 units, sales have already increased by more than 33 percent over the first nine months of 2021, now totaling 1,811 units for a current ranking of third in class. Of course, we need to factor Audi’s lack of 2021 A3, S3 and RS 3 models into any future prognostications, which, as noted earlier, caused their deliveries to almost completely disappear, thus we’ll need to see how well the new A3, and the completely redesigned 2 Series Coupe, fare in the coming year.
Yes, while the four-door variant of this model only gets minor package and standalone options changes for 2022, the two-door coupe has undergone a ground-up redesign, and most should like what they see. For starters, BMW chose a more conventional twin-kidney frontal grille compared to its larger 4 Series counterpart, which can best be described (in the kindest way possible) as controversial.
The “G42”, as it’s known internally, will once again feature rear- and all-wheel drive layouts in the U.S. and other markets, albeit so far only the latter has been announced for Canada. Additionally, no 255-horsepower 230i variant is expected in the land of the almost free either, but instead we’ll only get the 382-horsepower inline-six engine mated to a standard paddle shifter-controlled eight-speed automatic transmission—yes, no six-speed manual is available in either market, at least until we see a new M2 (which, fingers crossed, will hopefully have a DIY gearbox). That’s 47 additional horsepower than the outgoing M240i, incidentally, so despite its torque figure dropping down to 369 lb-ft, it still manages a quicker zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 4.1 seconds, while its top track speed remains limited to 250 km/h (155 mph).
An available adaptive M suspension will make the most of a 51-mm (2-in) longer wheelbase, its track also growing by 54 mm (2.1 in) up front and 31 mm (1.2 in) at the back, with near 50:50 weight distribution for almost ideal balance, so handling should be just as crisp. Overall, the 19-kg (42-lb) heavier, 1,755-kg (3,869-lb) 2 Series coupe grows 88 mm (3.4 in) longer and 66 mm (2.6 in) wider than its predecessor, although its 2.5-mm (1.0-in) height reduction makes for slipperier styling.
The longer wheelbase should aid cabin comfort, particularly in the rear, while those up front will benefit from deeper bolsters when upgrading the seats. Some standard niceties include three-zone automatic climate control, showing BMW really does have plans to market this 2 Series to folks with more than one friend, while an upgraded iDrive infotainment system boasts up to 10.3 inches of screen space, with new functions including an upgraded voice control system that can distinguish between driver and passenger commands, plus Connected Parking that notifies the driver of a given destination’s parking issues.
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is also standard, with the latter providing full Google Maps integration, but iPhone users shouldn’t feel left out, because they can use NFC connectivity for up to five devices. Additionally, a mobile app makes the new 2’s LTE wi-fi function available from further away, providing the ability to check the car’s location or status, lock or unlock its doors as needed, and even access its external cameras for security’s sake.
The 2 Coupe’s new standard audio system provides 10 speakers and 205 watts of power, but audiophiles will want to upgrade to the Harman Kardon Surround Sound system thanks to its 14-speaker, 464-watt output. Additionally, a colour head-up display system has been added to the options list, projecting current speed, speed limit, and even passing restrictions onto the windshield ahead of the driver.
The new 2022 M240i xDrive is expected to show up at Canadian dealers in November, with pricing starting at $56,950, but as noted earlier there hasn’t been any announcement about the rear-wheel drive 230i. In fact, only the all-wheel version is currently offered on BMW Canada’s retail website, and CarCostCanada’s 2022 BMW 2 Series Canada Prices page isn’t showing a RWD version for 2022 either. This may mean the much-loved and considerably more affordable rear-wheel drive 2 Series coupe won’t be coming north of the 49th.
Likewise, only the M235i xDrive version of the four-door Gran Coupe can currently be seen at CarCostCanada, while the 2022 version of this car isn’t showing up at BMW’s website at all. Instead, the automaker’s new car configurator just allows the 2021 model to be built, with two engine options, the other being the lesser 228i Gran Coupe, which at $38,990 remains the most affordable car in BMW’s Canadian lineup for the time being. If BMW has chosen not to bring its least expensive sedan to Canada, and instead price the most affordable 2 Series at $51,400, expect to see 2 Series sales drop off dramatically moving into the new year.
At least the 2021 2 Series represents good initial value, while all 2 Series trims do well when it comes time to trade in. As noted earlier, it earned the top spot in the “Premium Compact Car” category of J.D. Power’s 2021 Canada ALG Residual Value Awards, and making it an even better bet, the 2 Series took best-in-class honours in the same third-part analytical firm’s 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), within its “Small Premium Car” segment. Additionally, it earned a best-in-class score in the same category of the coveted 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) too. That’s a lot of metal in the trophy cabinet, and reason enough to consider a new 2 Series if your budget allows, or a 2021 model while new ones remain available.
Mercedes takes fifth in sales with its sporty CLA four-door coupe
The previously mentioned Mercedes CLA-Class earned a solid fifth place in the compact B-segment, with 1,085 deliveries last year and 1,031 more over three quarters of 2021. Longer, wider and lower than the A-Class sedan, the CLA makes up for its size increase by being powered by the 221-horsepower version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which is also used in the A 250 Hatch. It boasts an identical 258 lb-ft of torque too, but its 75 kg (165lbs) of extra mass means that it’s slightly slower off the line than the hatchback, but its wider track should make up time in the corners.
The gap in off-the-line acceleration narrows to an unnoticeable 0.1 seconds in AMG CLA 35 trim, however, this model using the same 302 horsepower 2.0-litre turbo four as found in both AMG-tuned A-Class models, but the even more formidable AMG CLA 45 leaves all of its lesser siblings far behind with a sprint from zero to 100 km/h of only 4.1 seconds, thanks to 382 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque from a heavily massaged version of the same 2.0-litre engine. The CLA 45 gets another cog in its dual-clutch gearbox too, totaling eight, aiding its higher top speed of 270 km/h (168 mph), while 4Matic all-wheel drive is once again standard.
For 2022, the CLA 250 4Matic starts at $43,600, while the AMG CLA 35 4Matic can be had from $52,100, and AMG CLA 45 4Matic from $62,900. Mercedes is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives on 2022 CLA models, while CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $3,000.
How the rest of the subcompact luxury car field stacks up
Acura’s ILX remains a very competent offering in this class, despite its age (see a recent review of the ILX here). It received the brand’s new “Diamond Pentagon” grille as part of a refresh for 2019, and received a boost in sales that year because of it. Deliveries dropped by 58.6 percent in calendar year 2020, with just 774 new buyers compared to 1,871 the year before, but 2021 has seen some strength with 729 down the road as of September 30th, and now with a new 2023 Integra expected to debut soon, Acura’s future in this class is brightening, as is the future of the entire segment that’s soon bolstering its ranks with another new entry. Moving into 2022 it will be last in the class, however, being that BMW’s i3 EV is being discontinued.
On the positive, the ILX achieved runner-up status in the “Small Premium Car” category of J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), which means the new 2022 ILX, which moves into the new model year without any notable changes, should be just as well built. It continues forward with one, single, high-revving, naturally aspirated 201-horsepower 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, a quick-shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with standard paddle-shifters, front-wheel drive, standard Jewel-Eye LED headlamps, a twin-display infotainment system inside, and a full assortment of AcuraWatch safety and convenience features including Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, and Road Departure Mitigation, much like the rest of the cars in this class.
ILX prices start at $31,400 in base trim for 2022, and move up to $33,900 for the Premium model, plus $35,400 for the Premium A-Spec, and finally $36,800 for the top-line Tech A-Spec. All ILX trims represent very good value in this segment, especially considering the model’s size and performance, while 2021 models are an even better deal, not only because they’re priced slightly lower, but also due to Acura currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives, while CarCostCanada members are averaging big savings of $6,375.
Finally, a special mention should be given to BMW’s all-electric, or optionally range-extender-enhanced (REx) i3, which despite being an elder statesman in this class, and on its way to pasture, provides one of the most inviting interiors in any class, plus supercar-like carbon-fibre composite construction, all for a 2021 base price of $44,950, or $53,600 with the REx. BMW is also offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives, while CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $2,000 from that list price, plus government rebates are available due to its battery plug-in powertrain. As noted previously in this article, the little Bimmer only sold 168 units last year, while just 111 examples have found home in 2021 so far.
There probably won’t be many if any new compact B-segment cars added to this category in the near future, unless Tesla or one of its EV rivals decides to offer an even smaller four-door sedan than the Model 3, or if Mazda’s 3 sedan and hatch move even further upmarket than their near-luxury top-tier GT has already gone, with higher pricing to match, but we may see alternative body styles of current models remerge, such as an A3 Sportback to counter Mercedes’ A-Class Hatch (see our review of the A 250 4Matic here), being that such layouts very popular in Quebec where European tastes remain dominant. Audi may also want to consider its A1 Sportback, especially if fuel costs keep rising and target entry customers’ expendable incomes are impacted by market instability, while BMW might be wise to consider its five-door 1 Series for the same reasons.
Be sure to check out the gallery (above) for photos of each and every subcompact luxury car mentioned in this Top 5 overview, plus use all the linked model names throughout the article to find out more about each car. Also, be sure to find out how CarCostCanada can save you thousands off your next new vehicle purchase, and remember to download their free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Manufacturer supplied photos
The fabulous 911 GTS is back, and just like in 2019, the last time Porsche offered the performance-first model with the car’s previous seventh-generation 991 body style, it comes in five distinct variations.…
The fabulous 911 GTS is back, and just like in 2019, the last time Porsche offered the performance-first model with the car’s previous seventh-generation 991 body style, it comes in five distinct variations.
The 3.0-litre flat-six engine’s displacement is unchanged as well, as is its twin-turbo forced induction system, but a new sport exhaust, together with reduced interior insulation, provides louder, more exhilarating sounds, while the GTS’ engine output has been pumped up by 23 horsepower to 473, while torque has increased by 15 lb-ft to 420, both thanks to 2.3 psi of additional boost.
The massaged powerplant slices 3/10ths from the old GTS’ launch time when utilizing its eight-speed PDK dual-clutch gearbox together with the standard Sport Chrono Package (which includes dynamic engine mounts, launch control, and Sport Plus mode), combining for standstill to 100 km/h sprint time of just 3.4 seconds in base Carrera GTS coupe trim, all before a 1-km/h-faster 311 km/h top track speed.
The AWD-enhanced Carrera 4 GTS is even quicker off the line, launching from zero to 100 km/h a mere 3.3 seconds, but its terminal velocity is a hair slower at 309 km/h. The Carrera GTS Cabriolet can achieve the same top track speed as the Carrera 4 GTS, although at 3.6 seconds to 100 km/h it’s the slowest of the five. This said, the Carrera 4 GTS Cabriolet and Targa 4 GTS coupe each shave a 10th from the most affordable GTS convertible, with 0-100 km/h sprints only requiring 3.5 seconds, and their top speeds maxxing out at 307 km/h.
Of note, those wanting a DIY transmission can opt for Porsche’s seven-speed manual, at no difference in price from the PDK. The short-throw shifter is a full 10 mm stubbier than the gear lever in the regular 911, but this isn’t the drivetrain to get if drag racing is your thing, as straight-line acceleration is down some 0.7 to 0.8 seconds (depending on the model) compared to the PDK. Instead, the manual is best for those who enjoy the art of driving.
The best of such moments can often be found when a given road starts to wind, and to that end the new GTS includes a Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system that was pinched from the newest 911 Turbo, while coupe and convertible models now roll on a 10-mm lower sport suspension that to improves aerodynamics and provides enhanced transitional response.
The GTS’ 20-inch front and 21-inch rear Satin Black alloys were pulled from the 911 Turbo S, however, as were their 245/35R20 front and 305/30R21 rear summer performance tires, while the high-performance brakes hiding behind the spokes were initially developed for the regular 911 Turbo. These boast red-painted six- and four-piston aluminum monobloc fixed calipers, with 408- and 380-mm cross-drilled and internally vented rotors front to back.
Additionally, a new Lightweight Design package, that chops up to 25 kilograms from the model’s curb weight, can be had for the first time on a GTS, featuring a set of carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) full bucket seats, lightweight side and rear window glass, deleted rear seats, plus more.
As far as aesthetics go, the SportDesign package is standard on all GTS models, so therefore the front fascia, side sills, and rear styling is unique when put side-by-side with other 911 models. Additionally, black is once again the theme from the outside in, most noticeable with the cars’ tail lamps that feature darkened lenses, while the Targa features a darker roll hoop with black lettering on both sides.
Inside, black suede-like Race-Tex microfibre surfaces the steering wheel rim, shift knob, centre seat panels, door handles, armrests, and the centre storage compartment lid/armrest, aiding grip and adding plush style. What’s more, buyers can opt for optional red stitching in key areas, or just keep it black on black.
Being based on the new eighth-gen 911, the new GTS features the upgraded Porsche Communication Management (PCM) 6.0 infotainment system, that features a more user-friendly interface design, faster response to inputs, plus Android Auto smartphone integration (joining Apple CarPlay that was already available).
Porsche improved the PCM’s voice assistant as well, which can now recognize natural speech more easily. All a user needs to do to activate the upgraded system is say, “Hey Porsche,” and then follow the prompts. Another PCM 6.0 bonus is the Porsche Track Precision app that lets track driver’s time laps and much more, plus a tire temperature display is also part of the standard package when choosing a GTS.
The new 911 Carrera GTS: More of What You Love (2:41):
The new 911 Carrera GTS: Drone POV (1:00):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Is there a meaner looking sports car available anywhere? OK, an argument can be made for some multiple-six-figure sports and supercars, but within the more affordable mainstream volume-branded sector,…
Is there a meaner looking sports car available anywhere? OK, an argument can be made for some multiple-six-figure sports and supercars, but within the more affordable mainstream volume-branded sector, the Challenger is one tough looking customer.
Of course, Dodge follows up the Challenger’s menacing appearance with a range of powertrains that borders on the otherworldly. There’s nothing particularly exciting about its base 3.6-litre V6, except for the ability of a budget-conscious buyer being able to get into this fabulous looking car for just $36,265 (plus freight and fees), the SXT and GT models’ 303 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque just barely capable of making their respective 1,750-kilo (3,858-lb) and 1,772-kg (3,907-lb) curb weights feel sporty. It gets even more challenging to do so when all-wheel drive is added to the mix, due to the just-noted models’ curb weights bumped up to 1,840 kg (4,057 lbs) and 1,847 kg (4,072 lbs) apiece, but muscle car fans wanting more get-up-and-go can always opt for a V8.
RT trim is the most affordable way to get into Dodge’s 5.7-litre Hemi, which is good for a healthy 372 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque through the rear wheels, while only adding 117 kg (258 lbs) to the rear-wheel drive GT. The mind-blowing SRT Hellcat, on the other hand, and downright insane Hellcat Redeye make concerns about mass less of an issue, at least in a straight line. The former makes a sensational 717 horsepower and 656 lb-ft of torque from a 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi V8, while the latter puts out an absolutely outrageous 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque from a higher output version of the same engine, both of which are available in either the Challenger’s regular body style or the Widebody design introduced for 2018.
The R/T Scat Pack 392, also available in both body styles, splits the difference between the regular R/T and Hellcat with a 6.4-litre supercharged Hemi V8 making 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, an engine that adequately compensates for the car’s 1,924 kg (4,242 lb) curb weight by launching it from standstill to 100 km/h in about four seconds before attaining a top track speed of 273 km/h (170 mph). My Scat Pack 392 Widebody tester adds a bit more mass, 33 kg (73 lbs) to be exact, resulting in 1,957 kg (4,314 lb), but once again this additional weight more than makes up for itself in handling performance, thanks to meatier 305/35 ZR-rated Pirelli P Zero rubber on 20×11-inch Devil’s Rim forged aluminum wheels, which compare well against the regular Scat Pack 392’s 245/45ZR20 performance tires.
To be clear, Widebody Challengers only add a competition suspension with active damping, plus fender flares to allow for beefier tires, which means the track of both body styles maintains a sizeable 1,610 mm (63 in) up front and 1,621 mm (64 in) in back. All that extra rubber combines ideally with the 392’s well-sorted independent short/long arm front and multi-link rear suspension setup, making for mostly confidence-inspiring stability through fast-paced corners.
Mostly? I won’t lie, this isn’t a car for the faint of heart. What I mean is, you’ll be able to feel the Challenger’s transitional weight when flinging it through sharp curves, and while much of that mass is up front, therefore causing a tendency for the car to understeer, or push out at the front, unless getting too hard on the throttle mid-corner and breaking rear grip, it’s the exact opposite of the performance spectrum than something extremely lightweight, like the Alfa Romeo 4C (also under the Stellantis group umbrella).
This said, I pushed my Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392 Widebody tester hard around some very tight sets of mountainside curbs and never had an issue. It actually feels pretty well balanced, with that just-mentioned slight tendency to push out at the front wheels in fact confidence-inspiring, as it informs a driver of its breaking point before it’s too late, and due to this feedback, much attributed to the car’s electrically-assisted rack and pinion steering system, I was able to instantly compensate by applying a bit of input at the wheel to make the rear step out ever so slightly. So, it’s not that this car can’t perform with the best in this pony car crowd, but instead it comes down to the sensation of its mass transitioning from side-to-side so obviously, that might make some drivers feel a bit uneasy.
Of course, Dodge provides all of the latest traction and stability control functions, which help to keep the rear end in check if it were to suddenly let go, while the big fat Brembos at each corner provide plenty of stopping power with very little fade, so my only advice to new owners would be to keep the traction and stability control systems on as you gradually get familiar with those breaking points, and then when finally ready to test its boundaries, make sure it’s not on a circuitous canyon road with a rock wall on one side and cliff on the other. A local autocross course in a parking lot, where you’ll only be destroying orange cones might be a better idea, but I digress.
I’ve delved pretty deep into this review without mentioning anything about the Challenger’s transmission choices, so here goes: all V6-powered Challengers are only available with an eight-speed automatic dubbed TorqueFlite, a name that’s been used for branding all of Chrysler group’s in-house autoboxes since 1956 (when it replaced the two-speed PowerFlite), but this unit, and all eight-speeds currently available from Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, or Ram, are in fact rebranded versions of the ZF 8HP, albeit built under licence at Chrysler’s Kokomo, Indiana casting plant since 2013.
Incidentally, the first vehicle in the four-brand lineup to receive ZF’s 8HP was the 2011 Chrysler 300, but it soon expanded to the 2012 Dodge Charger, 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2013 Ram 1500, and now encompasses all vehicles in the four brands’ ranges using longitudinally-mounted V6 or V8 engines in RWD and AWD applications (hybrid transmissions included).
To say this was a good decision would be a massive understatement, as most familiar with the multitude of multi-speed automatic gearboxes on the market would claim ZF’s 8HP as the best compromise between quick-shifting performance and overall smooth-operating civility, not to mention superb reliability. The aforementioned four brands have sold well over one million vehicles equipped with the TorqueFlite eight-speed, and thanks to said dependability and just how thoroughly engaging it is use, especially when employing its Sport mode along with manual mode and its steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, I can attest that it’s a key reason you should consider the Challenger over its competitors. Then again, you might want to opt for the available six-speed manual, a gearbox I thoroughly enjoyed in a 2015 Challenger R/T 392 Scat Pack Shaker, way back in the day.
As yet one more side-note, I can’t just mention Sport mode without adding that it turns off the traction control (and includes a warning in the gauge cluster), so those who aren’t accredited professional drivers may want to put some track or autocross time into learning the car’s boundaries before doing so (as noted a few minutes ago). This said, you can modify Sport mode from the infotainment system, by entering the Apps page, then the Drive Mode Set-Up button, then Sport-Mode Set-Up, at which point you can reconfigure Sport mode to include traction control. This means you can use most of the power without constantly lighting up the rear tires at takeoff, or overcooking them when applying too much throttle in tight corners.
You can do the same to decrease engine response and the transmission’s high-performance shifting mode, but I can’t think of many applications I’d want to do that, or for that matter disengage the paddles, which is also possible. Likewise, you can make Sport mode’s more direct steering-feel less engaging via either Normal or Comfort modes, which hardly makes sense either, but I suppose it’s nice to have the option. These features are helpful in default mode, however, where you can leave engine/transmission in normal mode while making sure the paddles are still working, plus leave traction control on, and steering in mid-range Normal mode.
You can quickly review your personalized setup on the Performance Control page within the infotainment system’s Performance Pages section, the latter being a real bonus as it’s filled with active graphical info designed to get the most out of your driving experience, including digital coolant temp, oil temp, and oil pressure gauges on page one, boost pressure, air fuel ratio, intercooler coolant temp, and intake air temp gauges (plus battery voltage and trans temperature for the automatic) on page two, a timer page for keeping track of your reaction time off the line, as well as lap times and more (you can save this info to a USB to review on another device later), a g-force page for graphically displaying the amount of lateral and longitudinal force (current and best) your car is experiencing through curves, and an engine page for horsepower, torque and engine related info.
Right next to the Drive Mode button is one for “LAUNCH” control, a feature that’ll make sure driver error doesn’t impede any future drag races. After setting it up in the infotainment system by going to the same Performance Control page used for reviewing your personalized driving mode setup, go to the Launch RPM Set-Up page, set your launch revs between 1,500 and 3,500 rpm (you can also set the Shift Light rpm on this page), and then activate the Launch mode. Next, press your left foot hard on the brake to hold the car in place, floor the throttle with your right foot, and then release the brake, after which Launch control takes care of the rest, automatically optimizing traction and wheel spin balance along the way.
Just be smart about launching your Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392 on public roads. It’s a sure-fire way to get a ticket or worse, and remember, if the steering wheel isn’t straight, or you don’t completely floor the throttle, it’ll automatically kick out of launch mode and you’ll be on your own. If you want to deactivate the program manually, you can do so within the same performance page, and it goes without saying you should be in Sport mode to get the most out of Launch mode. Just in case you’re sitting in a six-speed manual-equipped car while reading this review, launch mode works the same, but instead of releasing the brake pedal you’ll be releasing the clutch. The only difference is in setup, where you’ll be setting your engine revs between 2,000 and 4,500 rpm.
As far as non-performance equipment goes, all Challengers come well-equipped with items like automatic halogen headlamps featuring halo LED accent lighting, LED taillights, proximity access and pushbutton ignition, a 7.0-inch full-colour customizable in-cluster driving display (set between two gorgeous analog dials), a tire pressure monitoring display, a centre touchscreen (7.0 inches for the base model and 8.4 inches for all other trims), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, two USB ports, six-speaker audio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel (flat-bottomed in the Widebody) and shift knob, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 10-way powered driver’s seat with four-way lumbar adjust, and much more.
Moving up through the trims will provide exterior upgrades like larger wheels and tires, an SRT front splitter, fog lamps, a functional hood scoop (or performance hood with dual heat extractors for the 392), active exhaust (V8 only), remote start (with the automatic), paddle shifters, bright metal foot pedals, heated front seats and steering wheel rim (that get quite toasty), cooled seats, navigation, a 276-watt amplifier (in the 392), satellite radio, and more, while options include a powered glass sunroof, Harman Kardon or Alpine audio, etcetera, plus loads of packages.
My Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392 tester reached near-premium levels of interior finishing too, with soft-touch surfaces almost everywhere. Even the front roof pillars are wrapped in plush Alcantara-like pseudo-suede, the same as used for the perforated seat inserts. This came as part of the Carbon & Suede Interior Package, the psuede also covering the roof liner, while the carbon fibre trim looks fabulous.
Those seats are wonderfully comfortable, with excellent side bolstering. The driver’s seat has superb adjustability, including the four-way power lumbar support noted above, which is highly unusual in this class, and not even available in some entry-level luxury models from brands like Lexus. The driver’s position is excellent too, with generous reach from the upgraded powered tilt and telescopic steering wheel, plus there’s plenty of room for larger drivers.
Rear spaciousness isn’t quite as good as the four-door Charger sedan, but there’s not all that much difference between the two cars. Headroom is actually better than you might expect, despite the narrow side windows, although rear passengers might feel a bit claustrophobic due to small rear quarter windows, but they won’t be uncomfortable. Dodge includes a flip-down centre armrest with dual cupholders, standard across the line, while the trunk is fairly large, but access is not all that easy due to a high lift-over. The rear seats fold down in the usual 60/40 configuration, making the near full-size coupe quite practical.
Yes, there are a lot of reasons to love the Challenger, especially when putting out the kind of power my tester came with. It might be big, bold, brash and some might say brutish looking, but it’s wonderfully refined inside and surprisingly easy to live with.
Sure, it’s a glutton on fuel, although its eight-speed auto helps reduce its claimed 15.9-L/100km city rating to a pretty decent 9.6 on the highway, leaving its combined rating at an estimated 13.1 L/100km. With fuel prices rising that might matter to some, but most buyers nevertheless love their Challengers. In fact, the Challenger won its “Sports/Sporty Car” category in AutoPacific’s 2020 Ideal Vehicle Awards, which recognize vehicles that best meet owners’ expectations. It also achieved runner-up status alongside the Mustang in the Canadian Black Book’s 2020 Best Retained Value Awards, so you’ll be able to hold on to more of your money when it’s time to sell.
While the base model starts at just over $36k, as noted earlier in this review, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 392 will set you back $54,465 (plus freight and fees), a very reasonable price considering all the performance and refinement included. My R/T Scat Pack 392 Widebody pushed the price up to $62,465, still a good deal for such an impressive car, and significantly less than the $79,215 Hellcat. The top-line Hellcat Redeye Widebody costs a cool $105,215, incidentally, but once again, for a muscle car that’ll take off like a supercar, it’s hard to beat both literally and from a value perspective.
Review and photos by Trevor Hofmann
With a maximum of 631 horsepower, the new Cayenne Turbo GT isn’t the most powerful super-SUV on the planet, but it’s nevertheless quickest off the line and fastest over one lap on the legendary Nürburgring…
With a maximum of 631 horsepower, the new Cayenne Turbo GT isn’t the most powerful super-SUV on the planet, but it’s nevertheless quickest off the line and fastest over one lap on the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife racetrack.
Porsche has clearly marked its territory. The 20.8-km mountainside racetrack, otherwise known as the “Green Hell,” is one of the most challenging road courses on earth, and Porsche currently owns the top podium for every sector it sells in.
With the introduction of the new Cayenne Turbo GT, available solely in the Cayenne’s Coupe body style, Porsche has once again taken the top spot away from another automaker, this time Alfa Romeo that claimed the position from the last-generation Cayenne Turbo S (958.2) last November, its Stelvio Quadrifoglio managing the feat in just 7:51.7 minutes. The new top-tier Cayenne didn’t just shave a few milliseconds off the tricked out Stelvio’s lap time, however, but in fact chopped a 12.775-second chunk from its pride, with a new SUV lap record of 7:38.925 minutes.
There’s more to making a winner that simply bolting a more powerful 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 onto its mounts in the engine bay, although upgrades to the powerplant certainly helped. Porsche upgraded the crankshaft drive, turbochargers, direct fuel injection system, induction system, and intercooler, plus specifically revised the crankshaft, connecting rods, pistons, timing chain drive, and torsional vibration dampers after starting with the regular Cayenne Turbo Coupe’s V8. The net result is 631 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, for a respective 90 hp and 59 lb-ft gain.
Porsche also added a faster-reacting eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic gearbox, plus a new water-cooled transfer case for its Porsche Traction Management all-wheel drive system, the latter improving the drivetrain’s thermal capacity under heavier loads.
Next is a centrally-mounted sports exhaust system tailpipes, unique to the Cayenne Turbo GT. It’s made from lightweight, heat-resistant titanium, made even lighter by eliminating the centre silencer.
That’s where the Urus is dominant at 305 km/h, just whisking past the Cayenne Turbo GT’s 300-km/h terminal velocity. Audi’s RS Q8 and Maserati’s Levante Trofeo claim faster top speeds too, but not by much, and we’re curious whether they can keep up with the new Cayenne over the quarter mile, where it scores an official 11.6-second run.
Keeping the Cayenne Turbo GT in constant contact with the pavement are Pirelli P Zero Corsa performance tires wrapped around exclusive 22-inch GT Design alloys, these connected to a 15-percent stiffer three-chamber air suspension, which not only receives upgraded performance-oriented control software, but also incorporates a special damper calibration of Porsche’s Active Suspension Management, as well as an improved Power Steering Plus system and a revised rear-axle steering system. Active Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control is also standard, as is a 17-mm reduction in ride height when compared to the Cayenne Turbo Coupe, while Porsche’s Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system provides stronger stopping power with less fade for yet more racetrack capable performance.
As always, aero plays a big part in the Cayenne Turbo GT’s road-holding too. To that end the new model gets a redesigned front apron featuring a more aggressive lip spoiler, plus bigger side cooling air intakes. Following the front fenders rearward, past the standard LED-Matrix headlights, shows muscular black composite wheel arch extensions, while a contoured roof feeds flowing air below a rooftop rear spoiler that pushes it down the rear glass onto a 25-mm larger rear wing, which once again deploys as speed increases, adding up to 40 kilos of extra downforce. Meanwhile, a sizeable rear diffuser directs air traveling below the Cayenne Turbo GT away from its rear end, all combining for one very well-engineered aero package.
That rear diffuser, the larger wing, the end plates of the rooftop spoiler, and the entire roof are made from lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), as are the side mirror housings.
CFRP isn’t the go-to theme inside, however, although illuminated carbon fibre door sill guards, floor mats, and owner’s manual wallet are available. Rather, Porsche applies a matte black finish to key trim areas, while some other unique features include a yellow leather stripe at the 12 o’clock position of the Alcantara-clad steering wheel rim, the latter part of an extended Alcantara package that comes standard. This includes perforated centre panels for the upgraded eight-way powered front sport seats and bucket-styled sport seats in back, while contrasting accents are available in Neodyme or Arctic Grey, and “turbo GT” script is added to the headrests.
Additionally, Cayenne Turbo GT owners will be first to experience Porsche’s updated PCM 6.0 infotainment system, which gets an updated user interface, a faster operating logic system, and full integration of Apple Music and Apple Podcasts via Apple CarPlay. On the other side of the smartphone spectrum, Android Auto is finally part of the package.
Those wanting a new 2022 Cayenne Turbo GT can order now, but you’ll be waiting until early next year for delivery. The price is $200,700 plus freight and fees, making it the most expensive SUV in Porsche’s ever-growing fleet.