The future is here, or at least Porsche wants us to know they’ve got our electric recharging needs covered when it comes time for us to invest in a new EV. The German performance marque has been doing…
The future is here, or at least Porsche wants us to know they’ve got our electric recharging needs covered when it comes time for us to invest in a new EV.
The German performance marque has been doing well with their new Taycan four-door coupe and Taycan Cross Turismo five-door crossover, even outpacing sales of Tesla’s competitive Model S in Canada this year, with 576 units sold compared to 452 for the American electric brand, so therefore promoting its recharging network only makes sense.
In the case of Electrify America, which is connected to Porsche’s U.S. operations via VW Group ownership south of the 49th, your personal benefit may only be realized during weekend excursions across the border or the occasional extended road trip in the same direction.
Either way, when Electrify America’s combined capability with its affiliated European network (Ionity, a collaborative effort between BMW, Daimler, Ford and the VW) is tallied up, more than 1.21 gigawatts of fast-charging power is made available to Taycan owners, meaning you’ll be able to get where you want to go easier and faster than ever while traveling in the U.S.
Commemorating this achievement, Porsche produced a humourous short video starring the ultra-modified DeLorean sports car from 1985’s “Back to the Future” film (watch it below). Those familiar with the classic comedy might remember a young Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly) playing a video tape of an older Christopher Lloyd (Emmett “Doc” Brown) explaining that he’d need 1.21 gigawatts of power to send the DeLorean back through time, at which point a younger mid-50s-era Doc expressed bewilderment (over and over) that it would take “1.21 gigawatts!” of power to achieve such a feat (enjoy a YouTube video of the scene below).
The two companies make up the largest DC fast charging networks in the U.S. and Europe respectively, with 670 stations to Electrify America’s credit, and 372 location under the Ionity banner (so far).
DC fast charging is the best way to refuel your Taycan, being that the 800-volt super-EV only requires 22 minutes to replenish its battery from five to 80 percent. Thanks to the Taycan’s 270-kW charging speed, you’ll spend “less time spent charging and more time traveling,” claimed Porsche in a press release.
Additionally, the Taycan’s Plug-and-Charge system, which Porsche jokingly stated is “second only to Mr. Fusion for convenience,” all you need to do is plug it in for charging to begin automatically. Better yet, Taycan owners receive “30 minutes of free charging for the first three years of ownership” at Electrify America locations. Porsche claims that it’s easy to locate recharging stations too, thanks to a “Charging Planner” featured within the Taycan’s Porsche Communication Management (PCM) infotainment system.
Porsche earned over 20,000 Taycan buyers worldwide in 2020, while even better, the sport-oriented automaker had already sold 19,822 of its ultra-quick EVs by Q2 of 2021. With sales growth like that, a growing network of fast chargers will be a necessity.
The Porsche Taycan x Back to the Future (1:00):
1.21 Gigawatts – Back to the Future (6/10) Movie CLIP (1985) HD (3:15):
It’s been a strong year for Porsche’s new Taycan so far, and the German performance brand isn’t about to let the all-electric model’s momentum ebb anytime soon thanks to new updates for the 2022…
It’s been a strong year for Porsche’s new Taycan so far, and the German performance brand isn’t about to let the all-electric model’s momentum ebb anytime soon thanks to new updates for the 2022 version of both its regular four-door coupe body style and the new sport-wagon-like Taycan Cross Turismo.
Number one of the update list is a revision of the sixth-generation Porsche Communications Management (PCM 6.0) infotainment system within the centre stack, which now adds Android Auto to a smartphone integration package that already included Apple CarPlay.
Android Auto permits users of Google Android-based smartphones to completely connect to the centre display for greater ease of use. A 2022 Taycan owner can now simply plug their Android handheld device into the assigned USB-C port and follow the necessary prompts, at which time a modified version of their phone’s features, apps and personal info is displayed within the in-car touchscreen.
Porsche has updated the new PCM 6.0 operating system’s graphic design as well, with five menu options on the left side of the display rather than merely three, while each icon can now be organized separately.
What’s more, the 2022 Taycan’s Voice Pilot auditory assistant is now capable of better understanding instructions in everyday language, plus the PCM 6.0 satellite navigation system is quicker to respond to inputs, and also displays info with more clarity thanks to the just-noted graphics refresh.
Better yet, owners of 2022 Taycans will also be capable parking and retrieving their car remotely via their smartphones, by downloading Remote Park Assist. Remote Park Assist, which can remotely park perpendicularly and parallelly, will automatically detect a given parking space by first measuring it with ultrasonic sensors and cameras, and if ample space is available will park the Taycan by using the Porsche Connect app’s smartphone prompts.
Also important for this higher end premium class, new 2022 Taycan owners can now utilize more personalization options, such as Paint to Sample and Paint to Sample Plus. Along with the 17 standard paint colours already offered, Porsche will provide the choice of 65 Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur colours (so far) when opting for Paint to Sample, the palette including a number of past favourites like Acid Green, Moonlight Blue Metallic, Riviera Blue, Rubystar, and Viola Metallic.
The Paint to Sample Plus option, on the other hand, lets customers provide a unique sample of any colour, after which their Taycan will be doused in a coat of colour-matched paint from the factory.
Call it the seven-year itch, but Porsche is updating its popular Macan compact luxury SUV for 2022. This will be the Macan’s second refresh, the first update affecting 2019 to 2021 models. That version…
Call it the seven-year itch, but Porsche is updating its popular Macan compact luxury SUV for 2022.
This will be the Macan’s second refresh, the first update affecting 2019 to 2021 models. That version received exterior styling modifications, including the current crossover’s three-dimensional tail lamps, plus changes to the cabin, specifically a reworked centre stack that added a bigger 10.9-inch, high-definition touchscreen with a reconfigured infotainment interface up top, a fresh set of quick-access controls just below, and new HVAC vents underneath both.
For 2022, the Macan boasts an even more dramatic exterior redesign, plus an overhaul of the lower centre console, while under the skin it gets powertrain upgrades as well as some suspension tweaks to improve handling.
Some of those behind-the-scenes changes are likely due to the need to incorporate an electric drivetrain in the next couple of years. We reported on this in detail recently, noting the upcoming Macan EV is currently testing in real-world conditions. This will likely be the Macan’s top-of-the-line power unit, in various stages of tune, and might just receive the “Turbo” and “Turbo S” trim designations when available, just like it does with the quickest Taycan EVs. Therefore, it makes sense that Porsche has dropped its Turbo trim line for 2022, now only offering the GTS as its more potent SUV challenger.
Before getting your mittens in a twist, take note that the new Macan GTS receives a 59-horsepower and 22 lb-ft gift for 2022, thanks to Porsche integrating the 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 from last year’s Macan Turbo between the front struts of the lesser trim line, the result being the exact same 434 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque found in 2021’s top-tier Macan. Thus, the Macan GTS can be flung from zero to 100 km/h in an identical 4.3 seconds, when equipped with its Sport Chrono package, while the SUV’s top track speed has also been increased from 270 km/h with last year’s Turbo to 272 km/h for this year’s GTS, possibly due to aerodynamic benefits from the updated styling.
Thanks to the new upgraded 2022 GTS, it only made sense for Porsche to enhance the powerplants downstream too, resulting in the old 2021 GTS’ 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6 making the move over to the new 2022 Macan S. This engine continues to make 375 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, which is a 27-horsepower and 31-lb-ft boost over the 100-cc larger V6 used in last year’s S, that 3.0-litre unit now cancelled. All in all, the new Macan S matches the old Macan GTS in a straight line, zipping from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds with its Sport Chrono package upgrade, while its terminal velocity is now said to be three seconds faster at 259 km/h.
While all this is good news from a value perspective, because Macan buyers will soon be getting a lot more performance for their money, it really only came down to a shuffling of trim name designations, but this isn’t so at the Macan’s point of entry where its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine gets some significant upgrades that provide another 13 horsepower and 22 lb-ft of torque over its predecessor, for a final tally of 261 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. Therefore, the entry model’s zero to 100 km/h sprint gets shaved by three seconds to just 6.2 when its optional Sport Chrono package is included, all be topping out 3 km/h faster than last year’s turbo-four, at 232 km/h.
Just like before, all 2022 Macans come with the seven-speed Porsche dual-clutch transmission (PDK), as well as standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel-drive, which has proven to be a good combination for quick-shifting yet efficient performance no matter the weather conditions.
As for road-holding, few Macan owners have find much to complain about, the SUV arguably being one of the better handling offerings in the compact luxury SUV segment. Just the same, Porsche chose to make it better by giving it a more direct, sports car-like feel that provides greater feedback from the steering system. To achieve this, the German luxury brand readapted the damper characteristics of its Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) so that it actively and continuously regulates damping forces to each individual wheel. PASM, which comes standard with S and GTS trim lines, is optional with the base model.
Added to this is a standard sport air suspension with the Macan GTS. This setup automatically lowers the body by 10 mm so as to enhance stability at high-speed. The air suspension is 10 percent more rigid at the front axle too, plus 15 percent firmer at the back axle, while an available GTS Sport package increases the wheel and tire package to 21 inches, plus adds Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus), and the Sport Chrono package as standard equipment, making this top-line Macan (so far) even more capable on road and track.
As noted earlier, the new 2022 Macan’s higher terminal speeds are probably due to improved aero, which includes a completely reshaped front fascia that incorporates a much stronger looking grille and corner vent arrangement, the latter being bigger and more upright in layout, similar to those featured on the brand’s legendary 911 sports car. The new Macan now looks wider and more capable, which is a visual follow-up to all the suspension upgrades.
While base and S trims look nearly identical from the front, even including the same LED headlights incorporating the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS) as standard, and standard Sport Design exterior mirrors are also included, the GTS receives an even more aggressive grille featuring unique airflow elements that change from body-colour to matte black, while this top-level trim’s sideblades once again display a scripted “GTS” trim designation. This said, that sideblade GTS script is written in body-colour when choosing new optional Python Green paint, while it can also be optionally enhanced with a new 3D structure design, available on the rear diffuser too.
As usual, the Macan visually distinguishes each trim line with special sets of tailpipes, the just-mentioned rear diffuser housing four circular exhaust tips on S and GTS models, or alternatively two rectangular ones for the base model.
Personalization is always a popular option with Porsche buyers, thus your 2022 Macan can be had in 14 unique exterior colours, including new Papaya Metallic and Gentian Blue Metallic, plus of course the aforementioned Python Green that’s only available with the GTS if it’s upgraded with the GTS Sport package. What’s more, Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur provides Individual Colour and Paint-To-Sample options, so there’s really no end to exterior paint choices.
Rounding out the entire package are larger standard alloys and rubber, now measuring 19 inches for the entry-level turbo-four model, 20 inches on the mid-range Macan S, and 21 inches for the top-tier GTS. Seven new wheel designs are now available, once again making customization more convenient than ever.
Inside, the most noticeable changes were once again made in the middle, or more precisely the sloping lower centre that’s now covered in touch-sensitive switchgear, other than the Macan’s two-zone auto climate control system’s temperature selectors that remain knurled in metal. Overall, the look is clean and minimalist, plus the two parallel panels should be easier to literally wipe clean. What’s more, the new console features a shorter gear lever for a sportier feel, while up on top of the dash, all Macans now include a standard analogue clock.
Just in front of the driver, the new 2022 Macan includes the new 911’s multifunction and GT Sport steering wheels, which is a good way to further enhance the SUV’s sports car-like driving experience. One of the buttons on the new wheels’ spokes also activates voice commands to control functions in the previously-noted full-HD 10.9-inch Porsche Communication Management system, making life with the new model easier.
Back to customization, Porsche has no shortage of interior colour options either, such as leather upholstery and contrasting seam packages in Gentian Blue, Papaya or Crayon, while the available GTS Sport package gets some exclusive design details and equipment such as Race-Tex upholstery with extended leather, a Carbon interior package, 18-way sport seats, as well as contrast stitching and GTS lettering in body-colour green when choosing Python Green exterior paint.
What does all this cost? The updated 2022 Macan starts at $58,500 (plus freight and fees), while the new Macan S is available from $70,600, and the Macan GTS from $85,500. Those wanting their GTS with the model’s ultimate GTS Sport Package will need to add $13,470 to their bill, for a total of $98,970 before any other options.
In the end, no matter which 2022 Macan trim line you purchase, it promises to be faster and a bit more advanced than its predecessor, while providing the same kind of luxury, comfortable interior accommodations, and dependable service the Macan has become known for.
Regarding the latter, the Macan earned the highest possible ranking in J.D. Power and Associates 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study’s Compact Premium SUV category, while the same study also placed the Porsche brand in second amongst 16 luxury rivals. Likewise, the Macan achieves similar results when holding its resale value, with the Canadian Black Book Best Retained Value Awards naming it best in its Compact Luxury Crossover-SUV class for both 2019 and 2020.
If anyone was expecting the new 2022 GT3 to somehow fly under the radar, think again. It’s an eyeball puller for sure. Not as supercar-like snazzy as the old (and most likely next) GT2, but it’s immediately…
If anyone was expecting the new 2022 GT3 to somehow fly under the radar, think again. It’s an eyeball puller for sure. Not as supercar-like snazzy as the old (and most likely next) GT2, but it’s immediately clear this is no ordinary 911.
Porsche just pulled back the digital curtain on its latest heartthrob, and now this brilliant blue missile is the talk of the town. A new twin vented carbon-fibre hood will give those in the know a hint that it’s time to move out of the fast lane, at which point they’ll quickly see the new GT3’s backside, gigantic swan-neck carbon-fibre wing and CFRP rear diffuser included. All of these aero aids add 50-percent more downforce than a regular 911 in their default setup, or up to 150 percent more downforce at 200 km/h when some adjustments are made.
Yes, as exciting as the GT3 is to gaze upon, it’s no doubt much more fun to drive. For 2022, Porsche has improved the car’s 4.0-litre flat-six for a considerable 10-horsepower gain resulting in 502 ponies, while torque remains 346 lb-ft. It’s all done sans turbocharging, the GT3 the only 911 offered without exhaust boost. Instead, the 4.0-litre engine relies on cubic centimeters, plenty of trick technology like the six throttle butterflies added to extract that extra 10 horsepower just mentioned, and an incredibly high rev limiter of 9,000 rpm. That’s stratospheric for a horizontally opposed engine, incidentally, this configuration normally ideal for low-end twist albeit not that great for spinning in the lofty zone, but Porsche continues to work its magic and GT3 owners are the benefactors.
The lack of a turbo isn’t the only absent component putting the GT3 at odds with all other 911 models, incidentally, the other missing link being a seventh gear in its manual transmission option. As is the norm with all 911s, the GT3 can be had with a seven-speed dual-clutch automated PDK for paddle enthusiasts, but unusually it’s a no-cost option and not wholly related to updated version introduced last year, but instead is sourced from the previous 2019 GT3 thanks to that transmission’s 18-kg mass reduction and extremely quick response to input.
Likewise, the just-noted six-speed manual gets pulled forward from the past, although this unit is the same as used in the fabulous 718 Spyder and 718 Cayman GT4, unlike every other 911 that uses Porsche’s seven-speed manual. The six-speed is lightweight as well, features rev-matching capability to make novices sound like heel-toe pros, and is lauded by all critics for its sublime operation. So good is the six-speed manual, that 68.7 percent of Canadian GT3 buyers previously went with the DIY option. This also speaks well for the type of performance enthusiast the GT3 attracts, one that appreciates the classic thrill of a mechanical masterpiece over speed for the sake of speed. The PDK is quicker, needing just 3.4 seconds to reach 100 km/h from standstill, while 200 km/h requires a mere 10.8 seconds.
Whether you choose the manual or PDK option, both come standard with an entirely new double-wishbone front suspension. As is appropriate for the GT3, the new front suspension design was developed by Porsche’s sports car racing team for the Le Mans-winning 911 RSR. The GT3 is its first application in a 911 production car, allowing a more rigid spring setup and greater camber stiffness that does a better job of isolating the dampers from transverse forces that might otherwise upset the apple cart, so to speak. Porsche promises better handling overall, which is what matters to us.
The GT3’s five-arm rear suspension is upgraded too, now including more ball joints for the lower wishbones as well as spherical bushings, and special shocks. This means the new GT3 is a much better track car, but it also translates into a better every day commuter and a much more capable companion when straight lines start to wind in the outskirts of your city.
With this in mind, the quicker responding front and rear shocks are joined by standard rear-wheel steering, the latter capable of turning the rear wheels up to two degrees in the same or opposite direction, depending on whether they’re improving high-speed stability or aiding parking manoeuvres.
What’s more, the old GT3’s already large 380 mm front brake rotors are now upsized to 408 mm, while also weighing 17 percent less, and just like the upgraded brakes can potentially save the GT3’s owner from misjudging the rate of closing speed before a corner, Porsche has included a front axle lift system for saving the carbon fibre front lip spoiler from scraping the pavement below when overcoming large speed bumps are steep driveways.
The lip spoiler, new hood, massive wing and rear spoiler aren’t the only exterior components made from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, by the way. Additional body panels include the rear fenders and, optionally, the roof. Porsche also makes “road-approved circuit rubber” available, while buyers can even add a rear roll cage via a Clubsport package (not available in all markets). There’s no extra charge for the all-new battery, mind you, which is 10 kilos lighter than the one used for the outgoing GT3. When reduced mass is combined with all the engine grunt noted earlier, the new manually-shifted GT3 has an impressive power-to-weight ratio of 2.8 kg/PS.
That weight can be reduced more, although most buyers probably won’t want to delete the rear wing. If you find it a bit over the top for your liking, however, a Touring package will swap it out for the power-adjustable spoiler used in the regular 911.
You can bet Porsche left the rear wing intact for its timed lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which at 6:59.927 minutes leaves it just outside of making the famed racetrack’s top-10 best production cars ever list. To be fair to the GT3, four of the 10 cars that beat its time are Porsche products, including the mighty 911 GT2 RS that managed a shocking 6:47.25-minute lap, plus a previous-generation GT3 RS that ran the ring in just 6:56.4 minutes. Nobody should expect a turbo-less 911 to beat Porsche’s renowned 918 Spyder either, and it didn’t, but it was certainly close to the supercar’s 6:57-minute time, while another GT2 RS managed a respectable 6:58.28 minutes. More importantly, the new GT3 lapped the punishing road course faster than every Ferrari and McLaren that ever attempted a run, not to mention every Chevy Corvette or Nissan GT-R. Only Radical SR8s (if you’ve never heard of this barely street-legal track car, you’re not alone), two Lamborghini Aventador SVJ LP770-4s, and a Mercedes-AMG’s GT Black Series managed to lay down faster laps, with the Merc being quickest of all comers.
If you ask most sports car buyers, 911s are more comfortable for daily use than any mid-engine exotic, and therefore easier to live with than all of the above, except for maybe the Mercedes. As you might expect, all of the new 911s improvements are included with the GT3, plus the model’s usual mega dose of suede-like Alcantara on the steering wheel rim, seats, etcetera. Those seats were designed with performance in mind, but they’re still suitable for day-to-day use.
Now comes the time to decide. There will be no fence-sitting with this car, because every last one will be snapped up quickly. Added to the rarity of any GT3, looms an era that may soon make its naturally aspirated 4.0-litre engine a much-lamented thing of the past, so make your mind up quickly and then immediately talk to your local Porsche Canada dealer. The new GT3 will be available to order soon, with cars being delivered in the fall.
What matters most to you in a performance car? Zero to 100 km/h? Top speed? Handling? The ideal mix of everything?
Most will give the nod to the latter, wanting a perfect combination of acceleration, ultimate speed and road-holding, and to be fair this is probably best with respect to road cars and performance SUVs. Still, achieving a high mark in every category requires compromise all-round, yet
In fact, it’s tied for fastest off the line in its compact luxury SUV class (with Mercedes-AMG’s GLC 63 S), comes close to tying for the segment’s top track speed (BMW’s X3 M Competition beats it by 1.6 km/h), and holds more track lap records than any SUV currently made. About the only thing it can’t do is beat a Jeep Wrangler up Cadillac Hill.
That Alfa Romeo is infused with more racing pedigree than most of its competitors doesn’t hurt matters either, the brand even fielding a Formula One team, which can’t be said for all of its key competitors except Mercedes-AMG—Aston Martin’s larger and much pricier DBX isn’t a direct competitor.
That hardly matters, however, as the DBX only bests the Stelvio Quadrifoglio in terminal velocity, managing 291 km/h (181 mph) compared to 283 (176), the one parameter most of us will never attempt to verify. The little Italian is dominant from standstill to 100 km/h, leaving the Brit behind like it’s standing still, the two brands’ official 0-100 km/h times claimed to be 3.8 seconds to 4.5. That’s not even remotely close.
No doubt Aston will follow up this first foray into family hauling with a more formidable version of the DBX, just like Porsche provides its Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid and Bentley defies physics with the Bentayga Speed, but for the time being we can’t deny the numbers, and the Stelvio Quad even beats these bad boys off the line. To be very clear, it’s not the quickest SUV of all. That honour is bestowed upon Lamborghini’s Urus, capable of whisking past the 100 km/h mark in just 3.4 seconds, while independent testers are even claiming faster sprint times.
I won’t pretend that jamming my right foot down on the Quad’s pedal when first away from stoplights wasn’t fun, especially when factoring the sensational audio track that accompanied the G-forces slapping my backside into the ideally shaped leather- and Alcantara-covered driver’s sport seat, but for me a vehicle’s performance matters more through the curves than merely in a straight line.
Believe me, I tried to go slow. I really did. I somewhat succeeded in maintaining the posted limit around town and on rural freeways, where I know evil radar gun-toting fun-suckers lay in waiting, but failed miserably when past my city’s suburbanites and within its wilder valley region, where perfectly paved patches of ultimately straight tarmac stretch diagonally across farmland to join tiny communities with circuitous secondary backroads and faster-paced connecting highways. This is where the Stelvio Quadrifoglio was born to rule, and where I became enamoured with its shockingly quick capabilities.
Rotate the Quad’s DNA drive mode selector to the “d” position for a sportier Dynamic range, or twist it one position farther for “RACE” mode, resulting in even greater intensity (just why Alfa uses both lowercase and uppercase designations for this dial is anyone’s guess, but it disturbs my inner need for grammatic equilibrium), and get ready for outrageous speed and one of the most delectable crackling and popping exhaust systems anywhere.
Alfa shoes the Stelvio Quad in 255/45R20 front and 285/40R20 rear Pirelli P Zero performance tires that can hang onto most any type of manmade road surface, these combining ideally with a wonderfully sorted chassis that defies the SUV’s top-heavy profile. Don’t get me wrong, as its roofline is relatively low as far as sport utilities go, but it’s no sport wagon either.
The driving position is excellent, combining a partially squared-off leather-clad sport steering wheel that’s just large enough to feel substantive without being cumbersome, with thumb spats ideally formed and a long set of alloy paddles just behind, fitted to the steering column rather than the wheel, so they’re always where you expect them to be. That column’s tilt and reach are ample too, the latter joining good seat adjustability for fitting my long-legged, short-torso body, resulting in optimal control and good comfort overall.
No wonder Alfa’s bevy of professional drivers had no problem besting track lap times across the world, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio leading all SUVs at Silverstone (2:31.6), Donington Park (1:21.1), and the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch (55.9), although in fairness I need to make sure you know that its record-setting 7:51.7-minute lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife was broken after only a few months by the previously mentioned GLC 63 S, the Merc managing just 7.49.369 minutes.
Both are quicker around the 20.832-km mountainside track than the next-best Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, mind you, which managed a respectable 7:59.7 minutes just the same, or for that matter a Range Rover Sport SVR that could only lap the course in 8:14 minutes. Until one of the aforementioned VW-underpinned super-SUVs (Urus, RS Q8, Bentayga Speed, or Cayenne S E-Hybrid) choose to take on the wee compacts, they’ll remain the undisputed kings of the “Green Hell”.
Back to being unreasonably fair, Lamborghini’s Urus took the Stelvio Q’s title away at one of my personal favourite race tracks, Laguna Seca. The 641-hp raging bull pulled off a 1:40.9-minute single lap compared to the Stelvio’s 1:43.5-minute stint, which is impressive until we start comparing bang for the buck.
Yes, the 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio starts at only $98,995, compared to $285,000 for Lambo’s SUV. The hyper-fast Merc-AMG GLC will set you back $94,900, incidentally, while a W12-infused Bentayga will cost you even more than the Urus. A happy medium might be the super-quick Audi at $126,500, but that’s still a lot of extra coin for slower straight-line speed and a bit more at the top end. Of course, there’s a lot more to any of these SUVs than pure performance, but this said the top-tier Stelvio will hardly have you feeling like you’re living in the slums.
No matter which premium branded super SUV you choose, its interior comes complete with all the contrast-stitched hides, plush faux suede, brushed and polished aluminum, and high-gloss carbon-fibre weave you can handle, not to mention premium soft-touch composites where the above materials can’t be added, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio no exception. Anyone joining you in the passenger’s seat will be impressed, with its interior design and beautifully crafted build quality.
Additionally, I was pleasantly surprised to experience a much-improved infotainment display in this test model, compared to one used in a four-cylinder Stelvio driven previously. It’s more intuitive graphically, making it easier to use, while it’s also more customizable due to a drag and drop tile/widget layout. It can do anything its rivals can, as well as compile performance stats via a number of “pages” displaying boost, torque, lateral Gs, and more.
While I’ve really liked some of the fully digital displays offered by Alfa’s competitors, I can’t say I was disappointed to see a set of analogue dials housed within sporty circular shrouds, not unlike the beautiful dual-gauge clusters found in the marque’s collectable classics. The speedometer and tachometer flanked a large high-definition multi-information display at centre, filled with loads of useful info, so it was as modern as it needed to be, but that nod to the past is always appreciated in a brand with as much rich history as Alfa Romeo.
As impressive as the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s beautifully finished interior and insane performance is, I’d be remiss for not mentioning anything about its practical attributes. This is an SUV after all, and thus it comes with a comfortable, accommodating second row featuring three seatbelts abreast, plus window seat warmers with three temperature settings, dual USB-A charging ports on the backside of the front console, excellent rear ventilation found just above, plus overall rear finishings as well executed as those up front. Likewise, the cargo compartment is as nicely finished as its compact luxury SUV segment gets, plus it’s large enough for most peoples’ needs and made even bigger via ultra-useful 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats. Alfa even includes an intelligently engineered aluminum track system for tying down your belongings, which is a good thing when considering the lateral Gs those items may be forced to deal with.
Although we’re well into the 2021 model year, there’s a pretty good chance that 2020 models may be available and this SUV hasn’t changed at all in its top-line Quadrifoglio trim, which means you can save about $2,800 right off the top, due to the latest version going up in price by that amount since last year. Alfa Romeo is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent on either model year, while CarCostCanada can provide additional info about any available manufacturer rebates, as well as dealer invoice pricing to help you pay the lowest possible price when negotiating. Find out how their system works, and also be sure to download their free app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store in order to have such critical information on your phone when you need it most.
As I went over in detail earlier, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is up against plenty of high-performance competitors, but only Lamborghini’s Urus completely outguns it. Mercedes’ quickest GLC is a better match and should be considered, but its twin-turbo V8 won’t provide the higher-pitched aural edginess as Alfa’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, which will be less appealing to some (including yours truly). There’s also the standard features and options issue, with the Stelvio Quadrifoglio mostly loaded except for about $4k worth of extras, compared to the AMG GLC 63 S that starts a bit lower, but can be configured with more than $26k of options that mostly come standard from Alfa. All of a sudden the Stelvio Quadrifoglio looks like a really good deal, even though once you’ve driven it you probably won’t care what it costs.
Story and photos by Trevor Hofmann
Well executed, affordable sports cars are few and far between these days, with Subaru’s BRZ being much-loved amongst purists. It’s compact, lightweight, nicely finished inside (for the money), adequately…
Well executed, affordable sports cars are few and far between these days, with Subaru’s BRZ being much-loved amongst purists. It’s compact, lightweight, nicely finished inside (for the money), adequately powered and fabulous through the corners, therefore the BRZ has been a performance enthusiasts’ go-to alternative since arriving on the scene nine years ago, at least for those choosing not to purchase the import sector’s best-selling Mazda MX-5, or a Fiat 124 Spider (that shares the latter car’s underpinnings), an entry-level Nissan 370Z, or of course, Toyota’s near-identical 86 (née Scion FR-S).
After no shortage of rumours that both the BRZ and 86 would get the axe after the first-generation cars ran their course, lo and behold an all-new second generation of Subaru’s version was unveiled online earlier this month, and at first glance it just might offer the right mix of ingredients to give the previously-noted MX-5 a run for its money.
Most immediately noticeable is a fresh new look that tosses aside the old car’s simpler, sporty elegance for arguably more aggressive character traits. Many of the new BRZ’s design cues pay homage to the one it replaces, such as the general shape of its front fascia, long hood line, fender bulges, arcing greenhouse, and short rear deck lid, but a great deal has changed too, and while some of its updated details could be arbitrarily, and possibly unfairly attributed to other sport coupes that have come before, on the whole its appearance stands out amongst its peers.
In an automotive world that seems to be augmenting front grilles beyond reason, Subaru chose a welcome reduction in grille size for the 2022 BRZ, or at least it looks smaller now that the bumper is more cleanly integrated within the design instead of topping off the outgoing model’s central opening. Air vents are once again housed to each side, but they now look larger and more pronounced. On the contrary, the simpler headlamp design doesn’t appear as wide, narrow and eye-like when seen from the front.
More side creases and new front fender ducts that pay respect to those found on Subaru’s own ultimate performer, the WRX STI, embellish the BRZ’s flanks, while the aforementioned fender swells and sweptback rear glass now culminate into an integrated ducktail-like deck lid spoiler that sits above the new three-piece combination taillight’s narrow, centre strip for a totally new look from behind. It doesn’t hurt that the license plate cutout has been moved much farther down the rear fascia, this causing the need to carve some space out of the more organically shaped rear diffuser that continues to house twin exhaust ports as well as a centre-mounted reflector and backup lamps, although Subaru has squared the latter lighting elements off compared to the older model’s angular design.
Those hoping for WRX STI levels of grunt under the new BRZ’s lovely long hood can begin their sob session now, as Subie’s new sports car won’t see a turbo attached to its 2.4-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, at least not yet. It’s a bigger mill than the 268-horsepower base WRX’ turbocharged 2.0-litre four, incidentally, albeit 100 cubic centimeters smaller than the WRX STI’s 310-hp lump.
In fact, this 2.4-litre engine is a naturally aspirated version of the engine first introduced in Subaru’s Ascent SUV and now optional in the Legacy and Outback, so there’s always potential for the Japanese brand (or someone with tuning skills) to push its performance up to the three-row family crossover’s heights of 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Nevertheless, those wanting more power from the new off-the-rack BRZ can at least be satisfied that its stock powerplant produces 23 more horsepower and 28 additional lb-ft of torque than the outgoing model, the new specs being 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque, so it should be a lot more fun to drive.
Another BRZ strongpoint was Subaru’s ability to maintain the car’s light curb weight, which only increases by a scant 7.7 kilos (17 lbs). It now hits the scales at 1,277 kg (2,815 lbs), even though it has grown from end to end by 25 mm (1 in) to 4,265 mm (167.9 in), and has a 5-mm (0.2-in) longer 2,575-mm (101.4-in) wheelbase.
At least as positive, the new BRZ’s Subaru Global Platform-sourced body structure is an impressive 50-percent stiffer than the outgoing model. Key areas of strengthening include “a reinforced chassis mounting system, sub-frame architecture and other connection points,” stated Subaru in their press release. What’s more, the car’s front lateral bending rigidity has been increased by 60 percent, which is claimed to “improve turn-in and response.”
The BRZ’s general suspension layout remains unchanged, however, including its front struts and double-wishbone rear design, but Subaru has reportedly made plenty of updates, while its standard 17-inch and optional 18-inch alloy wheels will be shod with 215/45R17 and 215/40R18 tires respectively.
Most BRZ buyers will probably choose the standard six-speed manual gearbox that carries forward from the previous car. It once again features a short-throw shifter, while a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters and downshift rev-matching continues forward into the 2022 model as well. Also staying the same, all BRZ trims will receive a standard limited-slip differential.
New BRZ owners will be able to see those revs spinning from an all-new gauge cluster incorporating a large 7.0-inch digital display, while a new 8.0-inch centre touchscreen will house standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration along with the usual array of infotainment and convenience features.
The larger centre touchscreen is housed within a new centre stack that boasts a larger more modern trio of HVAC dials above a fresher row of silver toggle switches, while those familiar with the old car’s arcing centre air vent module and rounded outer dash top sections will be greeted by a new more linear instrument panel design overall. Circular side vents are still included, albeit now infused with a propellor-style design featuring a control knob in the middle instead of the previous conventional flap system. Additional changes go even further to differentiate the second-gen BRZ from the first, all of which should be more appealing to sports car buyers.
Prospective customers in mind, the brutal truth (that Subaru would probably rather not have mentioned) are sales numbers, which as of 2019 (let’s not use 2020’s as they’re totally out of whack) were just 647 units for the entire year. While that will sound like peanuts when compared to Subaru’s top-selling Crosstrek that found 15,184 new owners last year (up 4.4 percent), it wasn’t actually all that bad when factoring in more than 7 percent in year-over-year growth and, even better, 348 more sales than Toyota’s 86 (Ouch! Toyota 86 sales were down more than 52 percent last year). The BRZ sold 147 more units than the 300Z too (its sales down 28.5 percent), and actually came very close to unseating the MX-5’s rather lacklustre 774-unit total (and it’s sales were up almost 26 percent from 2019, when these two models almost tied for popularity).
The big winners in this category are American muscle cars, however, notably Chevy’s Camaro with 2,220 sales (albeit down nearly 18 percent), the Dodge Challenger with 2,341 deliveries (up by almost 3 percent), and Ford’s Mustang with 7,628 units sold (down a hair over 5 percent). Interestingly, Volkswagen delivered 2,910 examples of its now discontinued Beetle last year, thanks to a staggering 40-percent upsurge in YoY growth.
Yes, it’s bizarre to contemplate why VW would cancel such a comparatively successful sports car when Subaru is renewing one that regularly sells at about one-quarter the rate in both Canada and the U.S., but the Japanese brand obviously believes the sportier side of its mostly practical lineup needs an image car, despite the more formidable WRX STI still being its performance flagship.
We’re not at all upset about this news, of course, being that Subaru’s BRZ and its Toyota 86 cousin are true sports cars that already were revered amongst enthusiasts long before the 2022 updates will arrive sometime next year, and on that latter note stay tuned to these pages for a similar overview of the incoming 2022 86 when Toyota drops the details.
All said, we’re not expecting a big price increase despite the improvements, but then again, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get up to $2,500 in additional incentives on the 2022 when it hits Subaru retailers next year, at least not initially. Check out CarCostCanada’s 2020 Subaru BRZ Canada Prices page for more information, and while you’re at it, find out how their inexpensive program can save you thousands off your next car purchase, via timely information about manufacturer rebates, financing and leasing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that will really help when it comes time for you to negotiate your deal.
My goodness this thing is insane! The power, the outrageous sound of the supercharged V8’s sport exhaust, and the sensation of 550 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque thrusting head and backside into the rich red and black diamond-pattern leather-skinned driver’s seat upon takeoff while hands grasp at the leather-clad sport steering wheel, there’s absolutely nothing quite like it in the compact luxury SUV class.
With a flagship SUV like this you’d think the F-Pace would be number one in its ever-burgeoning segment, and while it’s certainly top dog… er cat within Jaguar’s model hierarchy it appears premium brand buyers are more interested in easy comfort than scintillating performance. A shame. The F-Pace and most Jaguar models deserve better than they get.
First off, the F-Pace is inarguably good looking no matter which trim is being discussed, with this SVR downright stunning. I can’t think of a better looking crossover SUV, unless the origami folds of Lamborghini’s Urus are more to your liking, or the Audi Q8 that shares its underpinnings, but the Italian, at least, is in an entirely different price stratosphere, starting at $240,569 in Canada, compared to just $89,900 for the F-Pace SVR.
Certainly a base Q8 can be had for less, but that sporty looking SUV’s $82,350 entry trim merely makes 335 horsepower, and while a wonderfully comfortable city and highway cruiser it’s not even in the same performance league. The equivalent Audi would be the near 600-horsepower RS Q8, but that upcoming super-CUV will set you back at least $110k (pricing hadn’t been announced at the time of writing, and it’s a larger mid-size SUV to boot.
Now that we’re talking competitors, Audi offers its 349-horsepower SQ5 in the compact class the F-Pace truly competes in, and while a true bahn-stormer its 5.4-second run from standstill to 100 km/h doesn’t measure up to the SVR’s 4.3-second blast, and I can knowingly guarantee (by experience) its 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 doesn’t sound anywhere near as menacing as the SVR’s 5.0-litre supercharged V8.
No, the F-Pace SVR’s truest competitor (and no doubt most popular rival due to its three-pointed star) is probably the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 4Matic+ that makes 503 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque from a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 resulting in a sprint from zero to 100km/h in just 3.8 seconds. The Mercedes maxes out at 280 km/h (174 mph) compared to the Jaguar’s slightly quicker 283 km/h (176 mph), so they almost evenly share two key bragging rights. All you’ll need to do if you want the Merc is amortize about five percent or $4,000 into your monthly payment, the German ute starting just above $93k, that is unless you end up buying a 2020 F-Pace SVR that’s now priced at $92,000 even (which means there’s only a thousand separating these beasts).
Incidentally, you can find pricing for everything just mentioned, including the 2019 and 2020 F-Pace at CarCostCanada, including trims, packages and standalone options, while you can also learn about valuable manufacturer rebate information, like Jaguar’s current factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent (at the time of writing). Additionally, become a member and you can access dealer invoice pricing on the cars you’re interested in buying, which means you could save you thousands when it comes time to negotiate. There’s up to $3,075 in additional incentives on 2020 models right now.
As far as those two German super SUVs go, I have yet to drive either, but I’ve tested plenty of BMW M models as well as AMG V8s and, while fabulous on their own, none sounds as malevolent as Jaguar’s supercharged V8. Sure, their acceleration numbers are better and their prices aren’t much higher, but performance enthusiasts can appreciate how important sound is to the overall driving experience. As for deciphering a few milliseconds of sprint time, that’s a lot more difficult from the seat of the pants.
Using the Mercedes-AMG for an example, the sportiest versions of the GLC and F-Pace provide nearly identical wheelbases at 2,874 millimetres (113.1 in) for the Jaguar and 2,873 mm (113.1 in) for the Mercedes, while their tracks are almost the same too, the SVR measuring 1,641 mm (64.6 in) up front and 1,654 mm (65.1 in) in the rear and the AMG spanning 1,660 mm (65.3 in) at both axles, but despite the F-Pace being 52 mm (2.0 in) longer at 4,731 mm (186.3 in), 79 mm (3.1 in) wider to the edges of side mirrors at 2,175 mm (85.6 in), and 42 mm (1.6 in) taller at 1,667 mm (65.6 in), plus having 100 litres (3.5 cubic feet) of extra cargo capacity behind the rear seats at 650 litres (22.9 cu ft), it tips the scales 67 kilograms (148 lbs) lighter at just 1,995 kg (4,398 lbs). That’s the benefit of its mostly aluminum construction over Mercedes’ mixed use of steels and alloys.
Two additional SUVs worthy of contention in this hyper-powerful compact luxury SUV class are Porsche’s Macan Turbo and Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the former good for 400 or 440 horsepower depending on whether buying the old 2019 or new second-generation 2020, or opting for the old model with its Performance Package (which also makes 440 horsepower), its acceleration similar to the F-Pace SVR when choosing one of the more potent options, yet its price reaching into six figures, whereas the hyperactive Italian makes 505 horsepower out of the box and sprints to 100 km/h in only 4.0 seconds, albeit with a price tag starting at $95k. Both of these SUVs are impressive, but once again their turbocharged V6 engines won’t ignite the senses like the Jag’s big, raspy V8.
You’ve really got to hear it to appreciate it. Think about the sound of a chainsaw cutting through metal, without the high-pitched annoyance of the tiny, little two-stroke screamer, and you can kind of get an idea of what I’m talking about, although it’s thoroughly pleasing whereas the chainsaw through metal experience probably wouldn’t be. Either way it’s a raucous affair, especially when the exhaust button gets pressed, which allows for freer flow and thus less backpressure resulting in more snapping, crackling and popping when letting off the throttle. It’s obnoxious like an impertinent royal, yes the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of SUVs.
While no doubt worthy of appointment to Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, Countess of Dumbarton and Baroness Kilkeel, let alone His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton and Baron Kilkeel, as the SVR’s interior is at the level of super-SUVs from the most exotic names in the industry, it’s also capable of hauling around little Prince Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor in back, and a couple of his friends along with a picnic basket or two, plus some folding chairs and no doubt a safari tent stowed in the cargo compartment. In other words, the F-Pace, SVR or otherwise, is a capable family hauler with room for more cargo than a number of its compact luxury competitors.
The F-Pace SVR is also capable of light-duty off-roading (with a quick change from its optional 22-inch black-painted rims wrapped in stock 265/40 front and 295/35 rear Pirelli Scorpion Zero all-seasons to something somewhere around 18 inches with a higher sidewall and more tread grip), although it’ll be the serpentine stretches of paved highway on the way to the campground that’ll get the adrenaline flowing.
As you might suspect it’s sensational through curves, its wide track and light weight (for its size, beefy powertrain and luxury accoutrements), plus those just-noted Pirellis (even better performing Jaguar-specific P Zeros are available from tire retailers) and brilliantly tuned (read stiffer) aluminum-intensive front strut and rear multi-link underpinnings get a more buttoned down adaptive suspension setup plus a reworked electric power-steering system, for more of a super sedan feel than anything SUV-like.
Ribbons of narrow, undulating two-lane tarmac are exactly where this SUV shines, and ironically when I prefer the extra ride height an SUV like this provides over a sports car like the F-Type SVR. Don’t get me wrong, as the F-Type remains the cat to beat through twisting backroads and racetracks alike, but when the roadway is lined with trees and sharp declines arrive more quickly than an attentive eye can discern, that extra bit of visibility certainly makes for a bit more comfort at speed, as does the more compliant suspension of the larger, heavier SUV. In such conditions, both SVRs work best when their aforementioned Dynamic driving modes are chosen over their more comforting and economical settings, this more aggressive adaptive suspension setup aiding the body against its innate tendency to pitch and roll.
I didn’t drive it like this all week, of course, the fuel cost of doing so well beyond my full-time journalists’ budget, not to mention the cost of potential points and fines against my driver’s license. While I wouldn’t want to guess the latter, the former has been given a best-case-scenario estimate by Transport Canada’s reasonably accurate five-cycle testing process being 14.5 L/100km in the city, 11.0 on the highway and 12.7 combined, which is actually better than I would’ve guessed for something this powerful and wonderfully sonorous. Alfa’s most potent Stelvio gets a rating of 14.1 L/100km city, 10.4 highway and 12.4 combined, incidentally, and it’s smaller overall with a V6 engine displacing just 2.9 litres, whereas the new 2020 Macan Turbo is rated at 14.2 city, 10.1 highway and 12.0 combined. How about the GLC 63? It’s pretty thirsty at 15.0 in the city, 10.9 on the highway and 13.2 combined, but then again BMW’s X3 M is an absolute glutton at 16.6 city, 12.1 highway and 14.2 combined, that is if anyone buying into this class really cares.
Along with the Dynamic drive mode noted earlier, which I left engaged most of the week, there’s also a Comfort mode when traversing rougher roadways or just in the mood to relax, plus an Eco mode, which I probably should’ve relied on more for the reasons stated above. The latter two driving modes allow the engine to shut off when it would otherwise be idling, saving yet more fuel while further reducing emissions. I found the large Eco screen estimating how much fuel I supposedly saved while using its greenest drive setting somewhat humourous in this hyper-fast SUV, but fortunately it includes a Performance screen is well, which is much more useful in the SVR.
The SVR’s infotainment touchscreen is more or less the same as with other F-Pace models, and I have to say a big improvement over earlier examples. It’s reasonably large at 10-plus inches across, with an interface divided into three large tiles for navigation, media and phone, or whatever you choose as it can be set up for personal preference. Swipe the display to the left and another panel with nine smaller tiles appears, allowing access to most any function you need to perform. It’s simple, straightforward and therefore easy to use, with the just-noted swipe gesture control accompanied by the usual smartphone/tablet-style tap and pinch gestures, the latter most useful while using the navigation system’s maps. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration is included, as are myriad other features (although you’ll need to pay extra for satellite radio), this system fully up to class standards.
Even better is the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that Jaguar dubs its “Interactive Driver Display.” If you want it to look like a regular two-dial primary gauge package leave it as is, but if you’d like to transform it to a big map so you can keep tabs on directions as you’re rocketing to your destination, go ahead, or alternatively you can place a single driving dial with a numeric speed readout surrounded by a traditional tachometer in the middle, plus the map to one side and something else on the other. Configure it to your heart’s content, as there’s no shortage of options to make your driving experience as convenient and colourful as possible (you can optionally change the SUV’s ambient interior colour scheme via the centre touchscreen, by the way, or project more info onto the windshield via an available head-up display).
There’s good connectivity within the tiny centre bin, including two USB-A ports, a Micro SD card slot, and a 12-volt charger. I can’t for the life of me figure out why Jaguar hadn’t made the rubberized pad ahead of the shifter, which was ideally size for my Samsung S9, into a standard wireless charging pad, but unfortunately such was the case. You can’t even get it as an option for this 2019 model or the new 2020, so those wanting their SUV that has everything to actually have everything might want to ask your local car stereo retailer (or Jaguar dealer) if they can install one and how much it’s going to cost.
Digital extremism in mind, super-SUV buyers truly care about over-the-top interior opulence, or so it seems by the five compact luxury crossovers being loosely compared in this review. The one you personally like best will be purely up to you and your individual taste, but all present dramatic cabin designs filled with the best quality materials and state-of-the-art electronics. Having lived with various trims of each of these vehicles for weeks at a time I’ll give the overall quality nod to Porsche quickly followed by BMW and Mercedes, with Jaguar having reluctantly conceded the best interiors of its SUVs to Land Rover (the F-Pace’s fraternal twin being the Range Rover Velar that’s far and away more impressive inside), while my Stelvio tester was the only vehicle in 20 years of testing/reviewing cars that’s ever left its hood release lever in my hand after trying to view the engine (which I never saw or photographed due to this malfunction).
The SVR nevertheless ups interior materials quality and its sense of occasion over its lesser trims, thanks to an available black Suedecloth roofliner and pillars, plus contrast stitch premium leather just about everywhere, the bottom half my tester’s dash and centre console, plus its armrests and seat bolsters done out in a deep, rich Pimento red, while Ebony Lozenge hides covered most everything else, including the quilted leather seat inserts that featured a sort of zigzag-diamond, hourglass pattern with a subtle bit of red dye peeking through the leather’s perforated holes. It’s a captivating look, although I’d probably choose something more subdued. I love the carbon-fibre detailing elsewhere, however (an upgrade over standard textured Weave aluminum), while all the piano black lacquered surfaces are a given these days. So are brushed aluminum accents, the SVR filled with very real bits and pieces for its plentiful interior trim accents, with the cutouts in all four seats’ backrests particularly eye-catching.
Yes, there’s a fifth seat, but it’s merely a semi-flat space, or rather a hump in between two ideally carved out window seats, simply left in place to carry an additional small adults or child when you’re forced to fit three abreast in back. I’d say the outboard positions of the F-Pace’ back seats are a bit more accommodating than in the average compact luxury SUV, which is why some keep referring to its as a mid-size. Passengers in the rear can be treated to as-tested optional quad-zone automatic climate control featuring its own comprehensive panel on the backside of the front console that’s also replete with three-way heatable or cooled seat switches, which means there’s less need to yell shotgun or sprint to the front passenger’s door, depending on how your family deals with seating hierarchy.
There will be no need to force one of those rear passengers onto the centre bump during trips to the ski hill either (which would be a dreadful waste of those rear seat warmers when they’re needed most), thanks to 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks (that can be folded via optional cargo wall levers). The 20-percent centre section folds down on its own to allow skis, snowboards, a surfboard, a stack of 2x4s or other long items down the middle while your rear passengers continue to enjoy the more comfortable heated (or cooled) window seats, exactly how it should be done in this class or any other.
Yes, next time you’re heading to the hills, or for that matter merely shuttling the kids to school, think about how much more comfortable, let alone quick it would be in a Jaguar F-Pace SVR. Imagine the time saved, and the look of your kids grinning from ear-to-ear as you show off your action hero driving skills. So what if your significant other is glaring with a slightly different expression, taking control of the sport exhaust button as you enter the school drop-off zone.
This is the most fun I’ve ever had in a compact luxury SUV (sorry Porsche), yet it can be highly civilized, reasonably economical and highly practical for everyday use. Those who want an SUV with the heart of a supercar need look no further than the Jaguar F-Pace SVR.
Dodge is the Jolt Cola of the auto sector, or for those not old enough to remember that once revered albeit politically incorrect Coke and Tab alternative that went by the motto, “All the sugar, twice…
Dodge is the Jolt Cola of the auto sector, or for those not old enough to remember that once revered albeit politically incorrect Coke and Tab alternative that went by the motto, “All the sugar, twice the caffeine!”, consider the domestic brand the automotive equivalent of an adrenaline-stoking energy drink (which the resuscitated Jolt Energy now is) amongst healthy, organic, fruity, detoxifying beverages, and then also mull over the thought (this one for the execs that eventually occupy the FCA/PSA boardroom in Amsterdam, London, Turin, Paris, Auburn Hills or wherever else they decide to meet) that if its parent automaker ever strays from this bad boy brand’s anti-establishmentarian mission it’ll be game over.
Why the concern? Dodge’s current parent, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), appears to be merging with France’s PSA Group that includes Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles (a relatively new luxury brand that pulls heritage from the highly advanced and iconic 1955–1975 Citroën DS) and even General Motors’ recently sold Opel and Vauxhall brands, the twosome currently rebadged versions of North American/Chinese Buick models and vice versa. If this happens it would become one of the largest auto groups in the world, including all the brands FCA currently controls, such as Fiat, Abarth (Fiat’s performance-oriented sub-brand), Fiat Professional (the vans sold under the Ram banner here), Lancia (at least what’s left of it, this once great Italian marque sadly down to one “fashion” city car now), Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Ferrari (from a distance), Ram (a.k.a. Dodge trucks for those who missed that spin-off), Chrysler (which is now down to just two models, one of which will soon be discontinued), and lastly the always profitable Jeep line here at home and abroad (that’s 16 separate brands, incidentally). Let’s just hope Dodge doesn’t get pulled into a global homogenization program that waters down its entries to the point of irrelevance (taking advantage of economies of scale being a key driver behind automakers merging).
Nothing quite like the big seven-passenger Durango SRT exists outside of Dodge; even Jeep’s outrageously quick 707 horsepower Grand Cherokee SRT Trackhawk is a smaller two-row mid-size model. The Durango SRT is motivated by the same comparatively tame 475 horsepower version of FCA’s 6.4-litre (392 cubic inch) Hemi V8 that powers the regular Grand Cherokee SRT, but I promise you it’s no lightweight performer. Its 470 lb-ft of torque launches the 2,499-kilo (5,510-lb) brute from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds, its SRT Torqueflite eight-speed automatic performing quick shifts whether prompted by steering wheel-mounted paddles, the shift lever, or left to its own devices. It’ll continue on with a 12.9-second quarter mile, and tops out at an incredible 290 km/h (180 mph), which is the same top track speed as the Jeep Trackhawk, and otherworldly compared to most SUVs.
All this from a family hauler that can seat seven actual adults in complete comfort while stowing their gear in a 487-litre (17.2 cubic-foot) dedicated luggage compartment behind the third row, and towing a 3,946-kg (8,700-lb) trailer behind (which is 1,500 lbs more capable than the 5.7-litre V8-powered Durango and 2,500 lbs more than with the V6). The only knock against the Durango SRT is fuel-efficiency, which is thirsty at 18.3 L/100km in the city, 12.2 on the highway, and 15.6 combined, plus a bit less off-road capability due to slightly less ground clearance, but this said who’d want to risk ruining its low-hanging bodywork or black-painted 20-inch twinned five-spoke alloys on rocks or stumps anyway, while the three-season Pirelli Scorpion 295/45 ZRs they’re wrapped in are better suited for gripping pavement than anything too slippery.
The SRT’s frowning black mesh grille, multi-vented hood, more aggressive lower fascia, side skirts, and unique rear bumper with fat chromed tailpipes poking through each side makes a strong visual statement that’s hard to ignore, with nothing changing since arriving on the scene in 2017 for the 2018 model year. It carried forward into 2019 unchanged, and will do likewise for 2020, with only some of the Durango’s lesser trims getting minor updates.
The current third-generation Durango came along in 2010 for the 2011 model year, by the way, and with the update brought back some of the curves that were missing from the angled second-gen model. More premium-level interior materials quality was reintroduced as well, with all trims that I’ve tested having been impressively finished. This is especially true of the SRT, which gets a suede-like Alcantara roofliner and A-pillars, plus contrast-stitched leatherette covering the entire dash top and much of the instrument panel, all the way down each side of the centre stack in fact, while the front and rear door uppers are made from a padded leather-like material, and armrests finished in a contrast-stitched leatherette. As you might expect, everything from the waistline down is made from a harder plastic, but it feels very durable and capable of managing punishment.
The steering wheel is a mix of perforated and solid wrapped leather with nicely contrasted baseball stitching around its inner ring, while the spokes feature high-quality switchgear and those shift paddles noted earlier, plus Chrysler group’s trademark volume control and mode switches on its backside as well. All of the cabin’s other switchgear is well done for a mainstream volume-branded vehicle too, with the larger volume, tuning and fan speed knobs on the centre stack being chrome-trimmed and wrapped in grippy rubber.
The infotainment system just above incorporates a large 8.4-inch high-resolution touchscreen that works very well for all functions. I like the simplicity and straightforwardness of Chrysler group touchscreens, and I clarify those in Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles because they’re often very different than what you’ll find in other FCA brands, like Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. Screen quality aside, as the premium Italian brands use the latest high-definition displays, I like the Chrysler interfaces best, as they tend to be easier to use and more fully featured.
Along with individual displays for the audio system, auto climate controls including digital switchgear for the heatable/cooled seats and heated steering wheel, navigation with especially good mapping and easy, accurate route guidance, phone hookup and features, plus various apps, the SRT adds another display dubbed Performance Pages featuring power torque history, real-time power and torque, timers for laps etcetera, plus G-force engine and dyno gauges, as well as separate oil temp, oil pressure, coolant temp and battery voltage gauges, much of which is duplicated over on the gauge cluster-mounted multi-information display, giving this SRT a level of digital depth few others in the industry can match.
Under the centre stack is a rubberized bin that’s big enough for any smartphone. The expected 12-volt charger and AUX plug is in close proximity, plus two even more relevant charge-capable USBs, but unfortunately no wireless charging is available. There’s another 12-volt charger as well as a Blu-ray DVD player under the centre armrest, while Dodge includes a great sounding 506-watt Alpine audio system with nine amplified speakers, or an even better $1,995 optional Harman/Kardon system with 825 watts, 19 speakers and a sub.
The throaty sound of the SRT’s V8 makes any talk about audio equipment seem unimportant, mind you, whether it’s chugging away at idle or shaking the world around it at full roar, and the way it responds to right-foot input is dramatic for such a large utility. I wouldn’t use the term catapult do describe its takeoff, but it launches without hesitation before eclipsing any remotely legal speeds within seconds. Truly, if you need more there’s probably something wrong with the way your brain processes adrenaline, while the eight-speed auto’s ability to send its formidable power and torque to all four wheels is commendable. This beefed up gearbox provides quick and purposeful shifts, yet it’s impressively smooth even when allowing revs to rise. Its manual mode with paddles provides good hands-on engagement, which was helpful when pushing hard through corners, something the Durango SRT does effectively.
The Durango’s fully independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension carries over mostly unchanged from the base SXT to this SRT, but Dodge dubs it “SRT-tuned” and adds a Bilstein adaptive damping suspension (ADS) in place of the regular model’s gas-charged, twin-tube coil-over shocks, plus it replaces the solid stabilizer bars with a set of hollow ones, the end result being a wonderfully flat stance through tight curves and good tracking at any speed. Additionally, the electric power steering is performance-tuned and braking power is increased via a set of big Brembos, making stopping power almost as dramatic as acceleration. It’s compliant suspension, general comfort, great visibility and easy manoeuvrability makes it an easy SUV to drive around town too, and thanks to not being quite as wide as a true full-size SUV, like Chevy’s Tahoe or Ford’s Expedition, it’s no problem to park in tight spaces.
To be clear, the Durango is a considerable 120 mm (4.7 in) narrower than the Tahoe and 104 mm (4.1 in) thinner than the Expedition, but rest assured that it measures up where it matters most from nose to tail. Its 3,045-mm (120.0-in) wheelbase is actually 99 mm (3.9 in) longer than the Tahoe’s and just 67 mm (2.6 in) shorter than the Expedition’s, which means adults fit comfortable in all seating positions.
Less width translates into less side-to-side room inside, of course, but it’s still plenty wide within, and should be sizeable enough for larger folks. The driver’s seat is superb, and like the others (excepting the third row) is finished with an embossed “SRT” logo on its backrest. My tester’s seats were covered in a rich looking dark “Demonic Red” with white contrast stitching to match the decorative thread elsewhere, while Dodge included perforated leather inserts to allow breathability for the ventilated seats noted earlier. The leather quality is extremely soft and premium-like, while the seat sides even feel as if they’re finished in the same quality of leather, albeit black. The instrument panel and doors are trimmed out with genuine-feeling patterned aluminum inlays for a sporty yet upscale appearance, plus ample chrome highlights brighten the cabin elsewhere. This said you can upgrade this SUV with an SRT Interior Appearance Group that replaces the aluminum inlays with genuine carbon-fibre, plus upgrades the instrument panel with a leather wrap, possibly a good way to spend $3,250.
Like those up front, the SRT’s standard second-row captain’s chairs are ultra comfortable, while Dodge has fixed a nice centre console in the middle featuring two cupholders and a storage bin. Rear passengers can access a panel on the backside of the front console featuring dual charging USB ports, a 115-volt household-style three-prong socket, and switchgear for the two-way seat warmers, while a three-dial interface for controlling the tri-zone automatic climate system’s rearmost compartment can be found overhead, along with a separate panel housing an attractive set of dome and reading lights.
All of this Durango SRT goodness comes for just $73,895 plus freight and fees, incidentally, and right now CarCostCanada members are saving an average of $6,500 on all 2019 Durango trims, with up to $5,000 in incentives alone. You’ll need to go to the 2019 Durango page on CarCostCanada to learn more, at which point you can access pricing for trims, packages and individual options, plus money saving rebate info and even dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. It’s an excellent resource, giving new car shoppers all the info they’ll need to secure the best deal possible.
My tester was equipped with a $950 Technology Group that includes adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, advanced brake assist, forward collision warning with active braking, plus lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, while a $2,150 rear Blu-Ray DVD entertainment system features a monitor on the backside of each front headrest, these folding upward from otherwise protected positions when not in use. A set of RCA plugs and an HDMI input can be found on the inner, upper side of each front seat, allowing external devices such as gaming consoles to be plugged in easily, all of which can turn any Durango SRT into the ultimate road trip companion.
That’s the beauty of it. This Durango SRT is one of the strongest performing SUVs available anywhere, yet as noted earlier it seats seven adults comfortably, stows all their gear, hauls trailers and much more. It’s the perfect four-season family hauler for speed fanatics, although you’ll want to swap out its three-season rubber for some good winter performance tires come late autumn. Other than that, load up the credit card with plenty of gas money, and you’ll literally be off to the races.