It was only a matter of time before Jeep gave the extended wheelbase “L” treatment first offered for the then-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L to its more luxury-lined Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer models, so as expected a 305-mm (12-in) longer and more accommodating version of the 4×4 brand’s full-size family hauler showed up at February’s New York International Auto Show (NYIAS).
Overall, the Wagoneer L/Grand Wagoneer L now measures a sizeable 5,758 mm (226.7 in) from bumper to bumper, which makes it even lengthier than the Chevrolet Suburban/GMC Yukon XL twins, albeit not by much. In fact, the ultra-long Jeep is just 25 mm (1-in) longer than the 5,733 mm (225.70 in) Chevy, and an even greater 38 mm (1.5 in) more than the 5,720 mm (225.20 in) GMC, while at least as importantly the new Wagoneer L/Grand Wagoneer L’s wheelbase grows a significant 178 mm (7 in) over the regular-length variant, now measuring 3,302 mm (130 in) from axle to axle.
Jeep’s largest ute provides more space behind the third row than Chevy’s Suburban
While 104 mm (4.1 in) down on the two GM SUV’s wheelbases, which span 3,406 mm (134.10 in) apiece, the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L offer 1,252 litres (44.2 cu ft) of cargo space behind the third row for a surprising gain of 77 litres (2.7 cu ft) over the Suburban/Yukon XL when measured behind the third row. Unfortunately, the advantage wanes when comparing cargo volume behind the second and first rows, the Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L’s 2,514-litre (88.8 cu-ft) capacity being 142 litres (5.0 cu ft) shy of the big GM haulers with respect to the former, whereas its 3,707 litres (130.9 cu ft) of maximum cargo space is 390 litres (13.8 cu ft) less accommodating.
What will matter more to Jeep fans is the size difference when comparing Jeep to Jeep, or rather Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer to Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L, with the longer version gaining 447 litres (15.8 cu ft) of additional cargo volume behind the third row than the standard-wheelbase Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer, which is about 50 percent more, while 510 litres (18.0 cu ft) can be had behind the second row, and lastly 1,039 litres (36.7 cu ft) when both rear rows are folded flat (take note that a large hump interferes with loading floor space in models that incorporate a fixed centre console in the second row). Of note, “Trail Rails” can be added to strap cargo down in back.
Extra curb weight offset by new twin-turbo inline-six with up to 510 hp
The extra length adds about 90 kilograms (200 lbs) to the Wagoneer L/Grand Wagoneer L’s overall mass, which isn’t all that much considering the extra volume, plus it shouldn’t be all that noticeable on the road thanks to a new available 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, dubbed internally as “Hurricane”.
This new engine will be standard fare in extended L models, with a total of 420 horsepower in the Wagoneer L and a whopping 510 hp in the Grand Wagoneer L, while torque figures are 468 and 500 lb-ft respectively. The two models share towing capacities of 10,000 lbs (4,536 kg) with the shorter wheelbase variants, much due to their robust body-on-frame Ram 1500 donor chassis, while Jeep claims a 15-percent improvement in fuel economy when comparing the less potent version of the inline-six to Chryco’s current 5.7-litre Hemi V8, the latter putting out a substantive 392 horsepower with its eTorque drivetrain, while it’s rated at 13.8 L/100km combined city/highway in the 2022 Wagoneer.
Of note, the regular-wheelbase Wagoneer will keep the 5.7-litre Hemi as its base engine for 2023, while the shorter Grand Wagoneer will also continue to come standard with the optional 6.4-litre V8, that engine incidentally good for 471 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque.
New inline-six shares 8-speed auto and AWD with lesser variants
According to Jeep, 96 percent of the new twin-turbo six-cylinder engine’s components are interchangeable between 420 and 510 hp versions, which of course reduces costs that can be passed down to consumers. Increased power therefore comes from boost and compression differences, while more power is reportedly available for future upgrades.
What’s more, the new engine can be paired with a plug-in hybrid system, so we can probably expect a more formidable, more fuel-efficient and cleaner electrified version in the near future, while this engine can also be fitted to any current rear-wheel drive model, making it ideal for other models in the Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler or Ram lineup.
All of the above noted engines come mated to Chrysler group’s well-proven eight-speed automatic transmission, while each model and trim benefits from four-wheel drive in Canada.
We can expect a limited supply of new Wagoneer L and Grand Wagoneer L models to arrive in Canada later this year, although serious buyers may want to consider ordering as early as possible, considering expected continuations of supply chain interruptions.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Jeep
If you want the purist of 911s, look no further than the fabulous GT3 coupe (we covered in detail here). While not as ultimately fast as the previous-generation GT2 RS, that turbocharged super-coupe once…
If you want the purist of 911s, look no further than the fabulous GT3 coupe (we covered in detail here). While not as ultimately fast as the previous-generation GT2 RS, that turbocharged super-coupe once again winning bragging rights at the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife just a week ago, this time chopping a sizeable 4.747 seconds from the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series lap time on its way to claiming fastest production car status, the naturally aspirated GT3 nevertheless churns out 502 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque from its 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine, and makes beautiful 9,000-rpm music while doing so.
How does the GT3 stack up on the track? Of the top-10 fastest production cars to ever course through the old 20.8-km portion of the Nürburgring track, which incidentally is known affectionately as “The Green Hell” due to its forested, mountainside surroundings, 300 metres of elevation, 73 turns, and legendarily challenging nature (racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart originally coined the phrase), five are Porsches and two are GT3s. Sitting in eighth is the current-generation (992) GT3 RS, with a lap time of just 6:55.34 minutes, while the ninth-placed car is a previous-generation (991.2) GT3 RS.
While the GT3’s track exploits are praiseworthy to say the least, it’s a race-ready supercar that can be easily seen as such by passersby (including the constabulary) while also purposely lacking a few modern-day 911 refinements, with an obvious leaning toward sport, rather than luxury. Porsche hopes its new Touring Package, available at no additional cost to 2022 GT3 buyers, will help those wanting to fly under the radar escape scrutiny, without being forced to give up on owning one of the most sought-after 911 models available.
Visually separating the regular GT3 from the new Touring Package-equipped variant is a switch to the more conventional deployable rear wing used on most other 911 models, which pops up out of rear deck lid when needed and otherwise hides away. This provides a more classic 911 coupe profile that attracts a lot less attention than the super-sized carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) one found on the original, but of course doesn’t deliver the same level of ultimate downforce, therefore reducing high-speed stability through corners. It’s a trade-off that some buyers won’t mind, however, especially when laying eyes on the specially designed rear grille. Additionally, the front fascia on Touring Package cars is body-colour, while high-gloss anodized silver-tone aluminum trim surrounds the side windows and polished metal highlights the tailpipes (Satin Black is an option for both).
The Touring Package doesn’t swap out the regular GT3’s CFRP hood and front spoiler for lesser variants of each, fortunately, and doesn’t mess with anything under that just-noted rear wing either, although a seven-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission can now be had with either GT3 model, and like the Touring Package itself, is a no-cost option.
Silver-painted versions of the same 20-inch front and 21-inch rear forged alloy rims come shod in respective 255/35 and 315/30 ZR performance rubber with the new Touring Package, once again encircling Satin Black centre locking caps with regular Porsche crests rather than “GT3” logos.
If you choose a subtler exterior colour when for your Touring Package-equipped GT3, like Agate Grey Metallic or GT Silver Metallic, rest assured GT3 badging will still be part of the ownership experience. Still, along with the new rear engine grille, Porsche revised its designation to read “GT3 touring”. Of note, this wide-body 911 is still available with every exterior colour and shade offered for the regular GT3, including Chalk and more outlandish hues like Lava Orange, Python Green and Shark Blue.
The Touring Package interior gets upgrades too, including an extended black leather upholstery package that enhances the steering wheel rim, gear lever, centre console lid, door panel armrests, and door grips, while edging the dash and both door uppers with a special embossed surface treatment.
This said, quick glance at the racing-style seats in the Touring Package might make you believe they’re unchanged, but closer inspection shows a unique fabric used for their centre panels, plus embossed Porsche crests in place of the usual GT3 logos on the headrests. Finally, Touring Package door sill guards receive a brushed black aluminum treatment that’s also applied to some dash and centre console components.
It should be noted that GT3 Touring Package buyers can also opt for multiple two-tone cabins that add coloured leather to the interior’s lower half.
Those wanting to upgrade their GT3 Touring Package-equipped car even further will be happy to know that most regular GT3 options can still be had, including all wheel colours, the Porsche Dynamic Light System and Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus, every driver assistance system, Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB), Smart Front Axle Lift, and all the same alternative seats, while an available Bose Surround Sound System is on the menu too, plus, of course, the Sport Chrono package.
Any added weight (which is not accounted for on Porsche’s retail site or in any press releases) hasn’t impeded performance, with both regular GT3 and Touring Package-equipped models sprinting from 0 to 100 km/h in only 3.9 seconds when fitted with the six-speed manual GT Sport transmission, or 3.4 seconds with the standard paddle-shift-operated seven-speed PDK transmission. Likewise, terminal track speeds remain identical at a respective 320 km/h (199 mph) and (318 km/h (198 mph), but it’s possible that removing of the larger rear wing could allow Touring Package-equipped cars a slightly higher top speed, possibly even 322 km/h (200 mph).
The two GT3 models incorporate identical suspension setups as well, including Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) with ride-height lowering (by approximately 20mm). Therefore, both should provide near identical handling, although once again, elimination of the fixed rear wing will make a difference at high speeds, not to mention when scrubbing off speed via both GT3s’ sizeable 408 mm front and 380 mm rear brakes.
For a bit of history regarding the “Touring Package” name, it first came in use for a version of the 1973 911 Carrera RS, likewise providing a more luxurious trim upgrade for a model that could be seen as the GT3 of its generation. The Touring Package name was also revived for the sixth-gen 991-based GT3 in 2017.
If you’d like to bring your GT3 Touring Package experience into the office or back home, a special Porsche Design chronograph watch can be had as well. It boasts a sophisticated mechanical movement with a flyback second hand function, plus its winding rotor, seen through a caseback window, shares styling cues with the car’s wheel design. The rotor is even available in six different versions to correspond with your car’s personal configuration.
Each dial bezel is finished in Agate Grey Metallic, however, plus all dials receive a matte black surface, but each chronograph hand matches the bright luminous yellow colour of the GT3’s tachometer needle for another nice tie-in to the actual car. Attaching the beautiful watch head to your wrist is a strap made from the same embossed leather as that used in the Touring Package-equipped GT3, along with some black decorative stitching. This new chronograph is made in Porsche Design’s own Swiss watchmaking factory, and is only available to GT3 customers.
Few sports car concepts excited the motoring masses like the original Porsche Boxster prototype did when debuting at the Detroit auto show in 1993, and not many cars introduced 25 years ago have been as successful, or are even around anymore.
In order to mark the occasion, Porsche has made a new 2021 718 Boxster 25 Years edition available for order now. The new model combines classic design elements from the original concept with the myriad upgrades found on the sportiest version of today’s 718 variant, resulting in a much more modern yet very classy little two-seat roadster.
For those who like the classic look of a traditional sports car, the new 25 Years edition will be all upside, until they find out that it’s limited to only 1,250 units. Alas, you’ll need to be ultra-quick to claim yours, especially if you want to choose the metallic silver version that’s most closely related to the original Boxster show car.
The new 2021 version comes in three colours, black and white also on the menu, but gold highlights complement the front fascia, side engine vents, and “25” year insignia fixed to the rear bumper cap beside to the usual “Boxster” script. Porsche sprayed the gorgeous set of five-spoke alloys in gold too, while the race-inspired aluminum gas cap unfortunately hides from view beneath a cover, instead of being fully exposed like the original.
Just like the original Boxster, the new commemorative model’s powered fabric roof is finished in a deep red and boasts embossed “Boxster 25” script on each front outside section so that it’s displayed when folded down. This rich red colour makes up the majority of the interior, which includes unique leatherwork and special red carpeting. What’s more, the dash trim inlay on the passenger’s side provides a base for this special edition model’s “Boxster 25” plaque, which comes with 0000/1250 numbering, while another “Boxster 25” badge adorns each floor mat.
The new 718 Boxster 25 Years provides a sharp contrast to the car that underpins it, Porsche’s 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 that’s blackened all of the usual bright and brushed metal bits, including the wheels. At the heart of both cars is a 911 GT3-inspired naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six good for 394 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque when mated to the standard six-speed manual, 317 lb-ft of twist when hooked up to the seven-speed dual-clutch automated PDK.
With its Sport Chrono Package that paddle-shift actuated transmission will get up and go from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.0 seconds flat, while the DIY shifter will take 0.5 seconds longer to achieve the same feat. Likewise, the manually shifted 718 drop-top moves off the line to 160 km/h in 9.2 seconds, whereas the PDK version once again slices a half second from the same sprint for an 8.7-second time, all ahead of respective top track speeds of 293 and 288 km/h.
The GTS 4.0, 25 Years and all 718 Boxster models for that matter, rival the mighty 911 when it comes to performance, especially when it comes to handling, and out-manoeuvre their competitors as well, which is one of the reasons the entry-level Porsche has had so much success over the decades. Such steady sales chart performance is rare amongst its sports car contemporaries, with the number of discontinued rivals littering the automotive landscape.
Names like XLR (or Allanté) won’t likely be offered on the new market again, while other premium drop-tops to fall by the wayside include Buick’s 1990-1991 Reatta Convertible, Volvo’s 1996–2013 C70, Chrysler’s 2004–2008 Crossfire, Tesla’s 2008–2012 Roadster, and Mini’s 2012–2015 Roadster (the regular convertible is still available). Not all of these were two-seat roadsters, and some didn’t compete directly with the Boxster, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been casualties amongst the entry-level Porsche’s more direct challengers.
The Boxster was introduced in 1996, just three years after Alfa Romeo’s classic Spider was eliminated from our continent. The stylish German was joined that year by Mercedes’ SLK, both of which followed BMW’s Z3 that initiated the compact luxury two-seat roadster renaissance a year earlier. Audi’s TT followed in 1998, combining for Teutonic dominance in the segment. After initial popularity and a relatively successful three-generation run overall, the TT will be discontinued at the end of its current model cycle, this move following the SLC (the SLK’s successor) being dropped at the end of 2020.
BMW’s Z4 (the Z3’s successor) will be the only luxury roadster nameplate that remains when the SLC disappears, 718 Boxster aside, but the wholly new fourth-gen model now shares components with Toyota’s Supra, so it’s not fully German, let alone European. The latter comment is a nod to Jaguar’s F-Type, a slightly larger rival that entered the market in 2013 and was fully updated for 2021, competing with the Boxster in its entry-level turbo-four and V6 variants.
Those wanting to get their hands on a new 718 Boxster 25 Years shouldn’t expect to get a discount, although the special financing rate should be available. You’ll need to apply it to a pricier 718 Boxster however, the usual $96,900 base price of Porsche’s GTS 4.0 raised to $106,500 when adding all the 25 Years updates. Anyone serious about purchasing should stop reading and call their local retailer now, leaving the rest of us to enjoy the complete photo gallery above and four videos below.
Boxster 25 Years: Walkaround (6:29):
Boxster 25 Years: Forever Young (1:37):
The Boxster at 25: An Homage to its Inception (4:59):
Porsche wowed performance car fans with its shockingly quick 2021 911 Turbo S back in April, and we made a point of covering every one of its 640 horsepower. Now it’s time for the slightly less outrageous…
Porsche wowed performance car fans with its shockingly quick 2021 911 Turbo S back in April, and we made a point of covering every one of its 640 horsepower. Now it’s time for the slightly less outrageous 911 Turbo to share the limelight, and we think that its 572 horsepower 3.8-litre flat-six will be enough to create a buzz of its own.
After all, the regular Turbo provides 32 additional horsepower over the previous 2019 911 Turbo, which is enough to shoot it from zero to 100km/h in a mere 2.8 seconds when upgraded with the Sport Chrono Package and mounted to the 911’s lighter Coupe body style. Then again, you can go al fresco and still manage 2.9 seconds from standstill to 100km/h, both times 0.2 seconds less than each models’ predecessor.
The 911’s acclaimed “boxer” engine makes a robust 553 lb-ft of torque in its newest generation, which is 30 lb-ft more than previously. That makes it more potent than the previous 911 Turbo S, upping torque, horsepower and acceleration times, due in part to new symmetrical variable turbine geometry (VTG) turbochargers that feature electrically controlled bypass valves, a redesigned charge air cooling system, and piezo fuel injectors. This results in faster throttle response, freer revving, better torque delivery, and sportier overall performance.
The new 911 Turbo incorporates the same standard eight-speed dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox as the 911 Turbo S, while both cars also feature Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive as standard equipment too. It’s all about high-speed stability, necessary with a top track speed of 320 km/h (198 mph).
Additionally, the new 911 Turbo gets similarly muscular sheet metal as the Turbo S, its width greater than the regular Carrera by 46 mm (1.8 in) up front and 20 mm (0.8 in) between its rear fenders. This allows for wider, grippier performance tires that measure 10 mm (0.4 in) more at each end. The front brake rotors are 28 mm (1.1 in) wider than those on the previous 911 Turbo too, while the same 10-piston caliper-enhanced ceramic brakes offered with the Turbo S can also be had with the less potent 911 Turbo. Yet more options include the previously noted Sport Chrono Package, as well as a Sport suspension, Porsche Active Suspension Management, and rear-wheel steering.
Porsche has upgraded the 911 Turbo’s cabin over the Carrera with some performance goodies too, including standard 14-way powered Sport seats and standard Bose audio, while a Lightweight package removes the rear jump seats and swaps out the standard front Sport seats for a unique set of lightweight buckets, while also taking out some sound deadening material for a total weight-savings diet of 30 kilos (66 lbs).
Also available, the 911 Turbo Sport package includes a number of SportDesign enhancements such as black and carbon-fibre exterior trim as well as clear taillights, while a Sport exhaust system can also be had. The options menu continues with Lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, night vision assist, a 360-degree surround parking camera, Burmester audio, and more.
The 2021 Turbo Coupe and 2021 Turbo Cabriolet will arrive at Canadian Porsche dealers later this year for $194,400 and $209,000 respectively, but take note you can order from your local Porsche retailer now.
Before you make that call, however, check out the 2021 Porsche 911 Canada Prices page at CarCostCanada, because you’ll learn how to access factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent. You can also find out about possible rebates and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. See how it works now, and remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Android Store, so you can access all the most important car shopping information from the convenience of your phone when at the dealership or anywhere else.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
I hate to admit that with each passing year adapting to new things takes more time. This is part of the normal aging process, I know, but I dislike it just the same. Don’t get me wrong, as some new…
I hate to admit that with each passing year adapting to new things takes more time. This is part of the normal aging process, I know, but I dislike it just the same. Don’t get me wrong, as some new designs are so captivating that I’m 100-percent sold as soon as they debut, but others take more time to lure me in. Such has been the case with the 2020 redesign of Mercedes’ GLS-Class.
It’s good looking, I can see that, but the previous version, which transformed from GL- to GLS-Class in 2016, was good looking too, while the boxier original might still be my favourite. This type of long-term appeal is a Mercedes-Benz hallmark, and partly why the brand’s cars and SUVs hold residual values well.
On a more personal note, an affinity for older vehicles pays dividends when purchasing myself, as I can save a lot buying a well-kept, pre-loved 10-plus-year-old “classic” (or for that matter an even older relic, with respect to the ‘80s-‘90s-era Geländewagen W460 LWB Turbo Diesel I’m saving up for). Decades old vehicles aren’t practical for most peoples’ lifestyles, however, as they can’t easily be financed or leased, and certainly don’t come with the carefree ownership experience that Mercedes’ warranty provides.
This 2020 GLS 450 4Matic does, mind you, and I must say its technology is a lot more advanced and interior finishing even more refined than the GLS and GL models it replaces, not to mention that antiquated G290d/G300d always on my radar. The new GLS’ sportier, rounded design is growing on me too, particularly its bolder dual-slat, satin-silver and bright metal grille, sophisticated LED headlamp clusters, and horizontally positioned LED taillights.
Other than that, 2021 models will likely stay the same, the GLS 450 4Matic remaining the most affordable trim in this body style, with the GLE, incidentally, being the least expensive way to get a third row in a Mercedes model. Of course, the larger, longer GLS is much more accommodating from front to back, this being the ideal three-pointed star car for big families.
While only five-foot-eight and sized “S” for most clothing items, I still consider myself a full-size adult (add laugh track here), yet I had no problem climbing into the very back once the second-row seats were powered almost completely out of the way, after which I fit inside comfortably. Specifically, I had about four inches left over above my head and ample room for my legs and boots, with my knees just touching the backside of the middle seatbacks. Take note that it was still possible to move the second-row forward, so therefore any average-size person should not need to complain. Both rear seats were comfortable too, plus Mercedes allowed for excellent visibility out the side windows, useful LED reading lights overhead, and two USB-C ports at each side.
Second-row seating is also comfortable, thanks in part to nice big optional captain’s chairs that also provide a convenient walking space in between to reach the back row. Parents should appreciate this setup, as there’s no need to power the passenger’s side second-row seat forward when accessing the seats behind. This in mind, the driver-side second row seat doesn’t move, but most would rather have their kids enter from curbside anyway.
Both of my tester’s rear seats were powered and heated, by the way, plus the rear panel of the front centre console was filled with twin air vents, a dual-zone HVAC interface for the GLS’ four-zone automatic climate control system, and a pullout drawer-style storage bin complete with two USB-C charge ports and a household-style 115-volt socket.
Staying on this pragmatic theme, accessing the cargo compartment comes via a gesture-controlled power liftgate, which includes 355 litres usable space behind the third row, or about the size of a compact car’s trunk. The spare tire, tools and a nice set of white gloves (talk about class) are stowed below the removeable load floor, as is a retractable cargo cover that neatly locks into place out of sight. As should be expected in a Mercedes-Benz, even this luggage area is well finished, with a classily ribbed satin-finish metal sill protector, a beautifully detailed bright metal floor latch, chromed tie-down hooks, and high-quality carpeting across the floor, a third of the way up the sidewalls, as well as on the 50/50-split rear seatbacks.
Those seats can be powered down via buttons that anyone should find easy to reach, plus they drop smoothly and surprisingly fast. Oddly, however, the switches for lowering the third and second rows are found on opposite sides of the cargo area—how uncharacteristically inefficient. Still, make sure the neighbours are watching when powering down the second row, as the headrests automatically tuck away while lowering, before both captain’s chairs (or the bench seat) powers rearward to close the gap with the cargo floor in one uninterrupted motion, resulting in a near perfectly flat load floor along with 2,400 litres of open space.
Forgive me for going on and on about the GLS’ rear passenger and cargo attributes without mentioning a word about its frontal accommodations, but let’s just say I left the best for last. Much like the second-row, the forward cabin is exquisitely finished, with the highest quality composite materials, soft perforated leathers, beautifully finished hardwoods, nicely detailed brushed aluminum trim, including drilled speaker grilles, plus knurled metal knobs, buttons, rocker switches and toggles, etcetera.
Mercedes didn’t include much piano black lacquer, and I say good riddance as the inky surface treatment scratches and collects dust too easily. There’s a little around the steering wheel controls, a location that will probably get used often enough to remove the dust and is likely too small of an area to make hairline scratches noticeable, but the same added to the lower console may not fare as well, thus I would’ve rather seen this location finished with open-pore hardwood, like seen in an E 450 I recently drove.
Just the same, the black lacquered surfacing looks good as it seamlessly melds into the massive MBUX interface that does double-duty as a primary instrument cluster and infotainment touchscreen. The former includes one of the more configurable displays in the auto industry, with multiple graphical styles from sporty or modern to classic and more, plus the ability to cover the entire cluster area with a map featuring navigation guidance, or one of the system’s other functions.
The centre touchscreen can be controlled via smartphone/tablet-like tap, swipe and pinch finger gestures, plus just ahead of a comfortable palm rest on the lower console is a similarly useful touchpad that’s a bit easier to reach than the screen itself. Both touch-capacitive surfaces work as advertised (which is unusually welcome for a console-mounted touchpad), as do the surrounding quick-access buttons and knurled metal volume knob.
Each connects through to the segment’s usual collection of infotainment features, like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, navigation with route guidance, climate controls, the audio system, phone and Bluetooth functions, vehicle setup, integrated and downloadable apps, backup and overhead parking cameras, etcetera. Mercedes employs an easy-to-use tile layout to scroll between features, with superb graphics as already noted, while the overall system speed is excellent.
Together with all the infotainment switchgear on the lower console is a black lacquered scroll-top lid that exposes twin cupholders actually capable of keeping drinks hot or cool, a very rare feature that I happen to love, plus a much-appreciated wireless charging pad for compatible smartphones, along with two USB-C ports. Those with older phones that can’t utilize wireless charging will also be out of luck for wired charging, as old-school USB-A ports aren’t offered. Of course, there’s always an aftermarket workaround.
If that’s my only complaint, this GLS is doing very well. Like those in back, the driver’s seat was wonderfully comfortable and wholly supportive, while the three-way butt warmer was downright therapeutic at its highest level. The ability to cool one’s backside in the summer would be welcome too. A third button on the driver’s side allows full adjustment of the front passenger seat too, which was helpful when picking up a taller passenger that required more legroom.
The heatable steering wheel button is found in the same place as the E-Class, but instead of twisting the end of the power steering column stalk, it’s just a rocker switch that can be pushed fore and aft. This was one of my GLS tester’s only problem areas, in that it didn’t always work. When pushed, it sometimes switched on, whereas an opposite tug usually turned it off, but other times it did neither. It also can’t be set up to turn on automatically. All said it would’ve been nice to warm my hands on the cold winter mornings that it didn’t work, but I’m guessing this was a one-off problem. Just the same, if I were on Mercedes’ engineering team, I’d look for one single solution that could be duplicated across the entire product range, plus even better, one that doesn’t involve breakable moving parts.
Otherwise, the GLS 450 4Matic is one incredibly comfortable SUV. As you might expect from Mercedes-Benz, it drives very well, with one of the smoothest rides in its three-row category. Even with Dynamic sport mode turn on it felt wholly refined, albeit a much more confidence-inspiring handler than when in default comfort mode. Don’t expect it to run away from Mercedes’ smaller utilities, however, or for that matter anything wearing the brand’s performance-oriented AMG badge, like this model’s AMG GLS 63 sibling that makes 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque, or the 483-hp V8-powered GLS 580 that puts 516 lb-of torque down to all four wheels, but the GLS 450 still moves off the line quickly and is a joy to pilot over curving backroads at fast-paced speeds.
Under this entry-level GLS’ hood is a new 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid drivetrain. Output is sizeable at 362 net horsepower and 369 combined lb-ft of torque, with the electric power unit responsible for 21 horsepower (16 kW) and 184 lb-ft of this total (although figuring out hybrid output isn’t as cut and dry as subtracting one from the other). As with all GLS models, an efficient nine-speed automatic takes care of shifting duties, and is a mighty smooth operator, while all-wheel drive comes standard.
All this complex electrified wizardry results in a claimed fuel economy rating of 12.4 L/100km in the city, 10.2 on the highway and 11.4 combined, which is a big improvement over last year’s V6-powered GLS 450 that could only manage an estimated 14.9 city, 11.2 highway and 13.2 combined. Of course, these numbers are only possible with the SUV’s Eco mode engaged, which makes sure its auto start/stop system is active, while the roads would have indeed been paved when putting the GLS through its paces, but such impressive mileage is doable just the same.
Roads less traveled in mind, when Mercedes first brought the GLS to market as the GL back in 2006, it was designed to replace the aforementioned G-Class, which meant it had to offer a modicum of off-road prowess. As we now know, the G thankfully remained an important icon within the German automaker’s SUV lineup, which meant the off-road-oriented model never made it across the Atlantic. The one offered in Europe was nowhere near as 4×4-capable as a G-wagon anyway, but Mercedes nevertheless provides its largest ute with reasonable light-duty off-road chops.
Off-road mode is available from the same lower console-mounted knurled metal rocker switch that selects all the other drive modes, while there’s also a separate rocker that raises the air suspension. As tempting as it was, I chose not to take my GLS tester off-roading during my weeklong stint, as it just didn’t seem right to muddy up such a beautiful vehicle with rims and tires that were obviously meant for paved surfaces. This said I’ve enjoyed previous examples in less favourable conditions, and found that the SUV manages light- to medium-duty trails quite well. Just don’t expect it to run with a G-Class and you should be more than satisfied.
All said, I’m going to guess more people will haul a trailer than try to take their GLS off-road, and as you might expect it’s more than up to the task thanks to a 3,500-kilogram (7,716-lb) tow rating. This means it can pull small to medium sized camp trailers, possibly up to an Airstream Classic without anything heavy on board, or average sized power craft and sailboats, but nothing too extreme. When it comes to power craft, you’re probably looking at a 2,000-kilo (4,500-lb) boat carrying about 225 kg (500 lbs) of fuel, sitting on a 700- to 900-kg (1,500- to 2,000-lb) trailer. In other words, this side of a full-size body-on-frame SUV or pickup truck, the GLS 450 provides some serious hauling capability.
I don’t know about you, but after the crazy year we’ve had few things sound better than hitting the road with a boat or camper in tow. If you did so at the wheel of a GLS 450 4Matic, I can promise you a speedy, comfortable, cost-efficient trip, while living with this SUV every day would be a personal lifestyle upgrade that I’d certainly be happy to live with.
The cost to do so begins at $95,500 plus freight and fees, while extras can add up quickly. At the time of writing, Mercedes was offering factory leasing and financing rates from 2.99 percent, but there’s no doubt more cash on the hood for those willing to negotiate. To learn more about such deals, as well as possible manufacturer rebates and always helpful dealer invoice pricing, check out CarCostCanada, where members regularly save thousands on their new vehicle. CarCostCanada provides a free app for your smartphone too, downloadable from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, putting everything you need to get the best deal right at your fingertips.
Review and photos: Trevor Hofmann
A significant coup for last month’s Canadian International Auto Show was the introduction of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a car rooted in the legendary brand’s racing heritage. The track-only…
A significant coup for last month’s Canadian International Auto Show was the introduction of the new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a car rooted in the legendary brand’s racing heritage. The track-only Cayman, which was revealed in January at the Daytona International Speedway, made its first official motor show appearance at the Toronto event.
The updated 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is now in its second generation, the first arriving on the motorsport scene in 2016 sans “718” script on the rear deck lid. Unlike the previous version, the new GT4 Clubsport can be had in two forms: first as a “Trackday” car set up for “ambitious amateur racing drivers,” and second as “a ‘Competition’ variant for national and international motor racing,” the latter to notably be used for this year’s GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series.
Ahead of pointing out differences, both 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport models receive an updated version of the old 3.8-litre flat-six “boxer” engine, now good for 425 horsepower at 7,800 rpm, a 40-horsepower improvement over the previous 2016 car, while torque is now 4 lb-ft greater, to 313 lb-ft at 6,600 rpm.
Of note, this is the first six-cylinder 718 Cayman application since the car’s 2017 model year debut, due to the current 982-generation only using a turbocharged four-cylinder in various states of tune, causing some pundits to question whether a road-worthy Cayman with a horizontally opposed six-cylinder positioned just ahead of its rear axle will bolster the 718 Cayman ranks.
That new GT4 Clubsport flat-six, which feeds on 98 octane Super Plus unleaded gasoline, packs a 12.5:1 compression ratio, integrated dry sump lubrication, racing-optimized engine and transmission water cooling with thermal management, four-valve technology with adjustable camshaft phasing and VarioCam Plus variable valve timing, a racing-optimized Continental SDI 9 electronic engine management system, plus more.
Where the previous GT4 Clubsport shifted gears through a short-throw six-speed manual transmission, the new 718 version will solely utilize Porsche’s dual-clutch PDK automated gearbox, albeit with only six forward gears instead of the usual seven. The new model also features a reinforced dual mass flywheel, a racing-optimized electronic control unit, a racing-optimized mechanical rear axle differential lock, plus an internal pressure oil lubrication system boasting active oil cooling.
Additional modifications over road-going 718 Caymans include implementation of the 911 GT3 Cup car’s lightweight spring-strut front suspension; front and rear height, camber and track adjustable dampers; fixed shock absorbers with the Trackday car, or three-way racing shocks with rebound and two-stage high- and low-speed compression adjustment for the Competition; front and rear forged suspension links with optimized stiffness, double shear mountings, and high-performance spherical bearings; a three-hole design anti-roll bar up front; an adjustable blade-type anti-roll bar in the back; and five-bolt wheel hubs.
The new rims are single-piece forged light alloy wheels wearing a new “weight-optimized” design, and rolling on 25/64 front and 27/68 rear Michelin transportation rubber, while Michelin also supplies the slick/wet tires that measure 25/64-18 and 27/68-18 front and rear, too.
What’s more, behind those wheels and tires are racing-spec brakes that feature four multi-piece, ventilated and grooved steel discs measuring 380 millimetres in diameter, plus racing brake pads, aluminum mono-bloc six-piston front and four-piston rear racing calipers with “Anti Knock Back” piston springs, plus a brake booster with the Trackday version or brake balance adjustment via a balance bar system with the Competition model.
Despite the GT4 Clubsport’s factory-installed (FIA Art. 277 certified) safety cage, plus its 911 GT3-inspired front spoiler and sizeable fixed rear wing, which appear mostly carryover from the previous Clubsport, the race-spec Cayman weighs in at just 1,320 kilos, making it lighter than the outgoing model.
Mass in mind, the GT4 Clubsport’s body structure is comprised of aluminum-steel composite and therefore light in weight; while additional features include a hood and rear deck lid fastened in place via quick-release latches; an (FIA Art. 275a certified) escape hatch in the roof; an FT3 fuel safety cell that measures 80 litres with the Trackday or 115 litres with the Competition model, both featuring an FIA-compliant “Fuel Cut Off” safety valve; pre-installed mounting points for a three-piston air jack system for the Trackday, or a factory-installed three-piston air jack system with the Competition; and FIA-certified towing loops front and rear.
Also, a motorsport centre console with “enhanced functionality and adapted usability” gets added to the instrument panel, a six-point safety harness is included with its single Recaro race bucket driver’s seat, which also includes two-way fore and aft adjustments as well as an adjustable padding system, and lastly provisions are made for a safety net.
While safety is critical, and improving performance paramount for any new racing car, with Porsche having clearly claimed that its new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport improves overall drivability and therefore should provide faster lap times than its predecessor, it’s surprising that Porsche also put time and effort into its environmental initiatives, not normally a key issue in this class of sports car. The end result is a production-first racecar technology that could potentially find more widespread use: natural-fibre composite body parts.
The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport’s door skins and rear wing (specifically the wing flap, sideblades, and “swan neck” mounts) are actually formed from an organic fibre mix that’s sourced from agricultural by-products such as hemp or flax fibres. Porsche says the new age components weigh approximately the same as if made from carbon-fibre, while their strength is also similar.
Specific to each model, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday gets fixed shock absorbers, plus ABS, ESC, and traction control assistance systems for easier control at high speeds, the latter of which can all be deactivated. Improving comfort and safety respectively, the Trackday also includes air-conditioning and a handheld fire extinguisher, while it can be serviced at Porsche Centres throughout Canada.
You’ll need your own team of mechanics for the Competition model, however, and one of them will need to be well versed in three-stage shock adjustment, while you’ll need to figure out how to adjust the front/rear bias of the brake balance system yourself. Additionally, your pit stop team will be able to change the tires quickly thanks to its aforementioned integrated air jacks, and the larger safety fuel cell will make sure time off the track will be kept to a minimum.
Safety features not yet mentioned include an automated fire extinguishing system, and a quick release race steering wheel pulled from the 911 GT3 R.
Priced considerably higher than a street legal 718 Cayman, which starts at just $63,700, the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport Trackday model can be had for $216,500, whereas the same car with the Competition package starts at $242,000.
Interested parties should contact Porsche Motorsport North America in Carson, California, or alternatively your local Porsche retailer, which no doubt would be happy to put you in touch.
For those who’d rather watch than take part, or simply don’t have a spare $200k and change available, enjoy the complete photo gallery above and two videos below:
Perfectly Addicting: The new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (2:02):
Setting a New Standard with the New Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (1:23):