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
The Cayenne GTS is back, and much has changed since the model was last offered for 2018. First, the Cayenne was totally redesigned the following year in 2019, while in addition to that completely rejuvenated…
The Cayenne GTS is back, and much has changed since the model was last offered for 2018.
First, the Cayenne was totally redesigned the following year in 2019, while in addition to that completely rejuvenated third-generation SUV arriving on the scene, the outgoing Cayenne GTS was only offered in one single body style, whereas this new 2021 version can now be purchased in Porsche’s sportier fastback Cayenne GTS Coupe design.
What’s more, the old Cayenne GTS made its power from a twin-turbo 3.6-litre V6 good for 440 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, but the new version boasts a much more enticing twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 capable of 453 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque.
The addition of 13 horsepower and 14 lb-ft of torque, combined with the new Cayenne design, makes for a quicker 4.5-second run from standstill to 100 km/h when the Sport Chrono Package is included, which is a 0.6-second improvement when compared to the outgoing model, while the base Cayenne GTS is good for a 4.8-second sprint from zero to 100 km/h. On top of this, the new Cayenne GTS can achieve a top track speed of 270 km/h, which is an increase of 8 km/h over its predecessor.
The revised direct-injection V8 incorporates a new intelligently designed thermal management system plus adaptive cylinder control to meet its performance requirements, while the Tiptronic S eight-speed automatic transmission is once again employed for shifting gears. Standard Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive is also carried over into the new model.
The new Cayenne GTS’ rear bumper features a standard sports exhaust system with two circular tailpipes per side, which Porsche claims to make “a rich, sporty sound with a unique character” in a press release. What’s more, when the Cayenne GTS Coupe is upgraded with the optional Lightweight Sports Package it can also be had with a special high frequency-tuned sports exhaust system. This model is easy to point out thanks to two large oval tailpipes at the centre of its more aggressively shaped rear diffuser.
Together with the new V8 powertrain, the updated Cayenne GTS incorporates some suspension improvements as well, including redesigned Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) dampers that, combined with the standard three-chamber Air Suspension, drop the SUV’s ride height by 30 mm compared to the Cayenne S. Additionally, Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus (PTV Plus) is included as standard.
Both Cayenne GTS models roll on unique black-silk gloss 21-inch RS Spyder Design alloy wheels that encircle grey cast iron 390 by 38 mm front and 358 by 28 mm rear brake discs, clamped down upon via red-painted calipers. The GTS can also be enhanced with the tungsten carbide-coated Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) system, or even better, the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake (PCCB) system, while additional upgrades can include rear-axle steering and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active roll stabilization system.
The new 2021 Cayenne GTS and Cayenne GTS Coupe would hardly be complete without a host of styling updates from the outside in, of course, so therefore together with the previously noted alloys the SUV’s exterior design features a standard Sport Design package including the usual black accents on the front air intakes, side window surrounds, tailpipes and rear Porsche logos plus model designation. Even the LED headlamps, which include the Porsche Dynamic Light System (PDLS), are tinted in black, as is the new LED taillight bar in back.
Porsche wraps the interior door and centre console armrests in plush suede-like Alcantara too, as well as the seat centre panels, the roof liner and more, plus dark-brushed aluminum cabin accents add to the SUV’s sporty yet premium ambiance. On this note, the front sport seats get more robust side bolstering and eight-way power as standard features, not to mention “GTS” embroidery on the headrests, while the GTS insignia is also found on the primary instrument cluster’s rev counter dial, the door entry sills, and the front outer door panels. Optionally, a GTS interior package comes with Carmine Red or Chalk colour accents, including decorative stitching.
The all-new 2021 Cayenne GTS and 2021 Cayenne GTS Coupe can now be ordered from your local Porsche retailer before arriving in the fourth quarter of 2020, with pricing starting at $120,400 and $126,500 respectively.
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Porsche
Two cars in one, or at least that’s the arrangement you’ll need to accept if you want to get your hands on a new 2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato, shown here in its best renderings yet. You’ll…
Two cars in one, or at least that’s the arrangement you’ll need to accept if you want to get your hands on a new 2020 Aston Martin DBS GT Zagato, shown here in its best renderings yet.
You’ll also need to shell out $9.8 million CAD (£6 million GBP), which is a bargain when factoring in that a classic 1962 DB4/GT Zagato sold for a cool $15.4 million CAD (£9.45 million) a few years ago.
Of course, rare classics with racing pedigree are almost always worth more than a new car, even one as hard to come by, as visually stunning, and as brilliantly fast as the new DBS GT Zagato. Still, there’s another reason I referenced a classic Aston Martin Zagato.
All 19 2020 DBS GT Zagato customers (the same number of original 1960-1963 DB4 GT Zagatos built) will also be taking home a continuation DB4 GT Zagato, which is a true classic ‘60s era Aston, albeit produced new from old chassis number allocations.
The two cars make up Aston’s “DBZ Centenary Collection”, the more modern of the pair based on Aston Martin’s already fabulous DBS Superleggera, which stuffs a big twin-turbocharged 5.2-litre V12 behind its gaping maw of a front grille, capable of churning out a formidable 715 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The powers that be at the company’s Gaydon, UK headquarters haven’t made mention about any straight-line performance increase in the upcoming DBS GT Zagato, despite the original ‘60s car making significantly more than a conventional DB4, but it has other attributes that nevertheless make it very special.
Any similarities to the now three-year old Vanquish Zagato were intentional, with Aston even painting the launch model shown here in what appears to be a near identical deep Volcano Red metallic (or something close) with rich gold trim highlights (the DB4 Zagato in behind wears a more fitting Rosso Maja red), the glittering secondary Au hue even embellishing the twinned five-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels.
Other design details pulled forward from the Vanquish Zagato include its gigantic front grille, double-bubble floating black roof panel, pronounced rear fenders, and rocket booster taillights, but that’s not to say this new Zagato-badged Aston is merely a redo of a past model. Of course, the DBS Superleggera under the skin influences its design much more than any previous model could, its longer, lower and leaner body featuring more creases and sharp-angled folds than the earlier Aston, which was decidedly more rounded and curvaceous.
Ultra distinctive is a gold-coloured active grille insert that’s actually comprised of 108 individual segments of carbon fibre. When the new DBS GT Zagato is not in use, these tiny pieces come together to form what appears to be a solid, flush panel, although when the ignition is turned on these little pieces reposition in order to allow front ventilation, a process that makes the grille “flutter”, says Aston.
Other unique details include extremely long and deeply sculpted side vents, these also adorned in gold, while the side sills don’t feature this supercar segment’s usual carbon fibre extensions, but rather tuck rounded rocker panels under the body as in days of yore. Of course the headlights are much more in line with modern Aston Martin design than anything from the Vanquish’ era, while those intricately detailed aforementioned taillights get fitted neatly within a sizeable horizontal black panel that hovers above an even larger wing-like rear diffuser.
Everything black is open-weave carbon fibre, of course, even the roof that’s actually a single piece stretching from the windshield’s edge to the base of the rear deck lid, with its noted twin-hump design followed by a complete lack of rear visibility. This car was made for Franco “What’s-a behind me is not important” Bertollini (Raúl Juliá – The Gumball Rally, 1976), although while there’s no rear window, nor even louvres to see out the back, Aston did include a rearview camera for backing up, mounted in a centre mirror-style monitor similar to General Motor’s Rear Camera Mirror.
As for the beautiful DB4 GT Zagato, which made its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month (we’ve expanded on this story’s gallery with 20 detailed solo photos of this breathtaking classic in its most modern production trim), it’s the latest in Aston Martin’s line of continuation cars, which began with 25 DB4 GT Continuation models that sold for $2.4 million CAD (£1.5 million) each in 2017, and (it doesn’t get much better than this) 25 recreations of the classic movie car from the 1964 James Bond (Sean Connery) film Goldfinger, complete with all the cool offensive weaponry and defensive armour that made the eccentric Q (Desmond Llewelyn) a hero to gadget freaks everywhere. The Goldfinger DB5 Continuation will arrive in 2020, just like the two new Zagato models featured here, but for only $4.5 million CAD (£2.75 million) each.
If you’re still scratching your head about the stratospheric price of the two combined Zagato models featured in this story, consider for a moment the original 1962 DB4/GT Zagato’s price noted earlier wasn’t even the most expensive DB4 GT Zagato to be auctioned off. After the original 19 examples were created from 1960 to 1963, Aston Martin built four more on unused chassis allocation numbers in 1988, all of which were dubbed “Sanction II” models, while in 2000 the automaker created another two cars to “Sanction II” specification (which meant they received a larger 352-horsepower 4.2-litre engine), albeit renamed them “Sanction III”, these latter examples fetching $18.6 million CAD ($14,300,000 USD) in 2015 and $16.5 million CAD (£10,081,500) in 2018, making them some of the most valuable cars ever sold.
Of course, it would be unwise to invest as if these 19 new DB4 GT Zagatos will grow in value like their earlier siblings, but then again if past success is any reflection on future prospects, the lucky new owners should be sitting rather pretty in a few years, if not immediately after taking delivery, while they might even end up receiving their all-new 2020 DBS GT Zagatos for free.
Now moving into the third year of its second-generation redesign, the thoroughly improved Panamera four-door coupe is once again available in the purest of Porsche performance trims, GTS. The new GTS…
Now moving into the third year of its second-generation redesign, the thoroughly improved Panamera four-door coupe is once again available in the purest of Porsche performance trims, GTS.
The new GTS model slots in between the $118,500 Panamera 4S and $116,800 4 E-Hybrid models and the $172,500 Panamera Turbo line in both price and performance, with a starting MSRP of $146,200 plus freight and fees in the regular five-door liftback body style or $153,300 in Sport Turismo guise.
Unlike the previous Panamera GTS that stuffed a big naturally-aspirated 4.8-litre V8 with 440 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque under the hood, the new one uses the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine found in the latest Panamera Turbo, albeit detuned to make 453 horsepower and 457 lb-ft of torque, which is 13 horsepower and a sizeable 73 lb-ft of torque more than the outgoing model, resulting in a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 4.1 seconds, compared to 4.4 seconds with the previous GTS as well as the current 440 horsepower Panamera 4S (or 4.2 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono Package), 4.6 seconds with the 462 net-horsepower 4 E-Hybrid, and 3.8 seconds (3.6 seconds with Sport Chrono) with the 550 horsepower Panamera Turbo.
The Panamera’s standstill to 100km/h straight-line performance ranges from 5.7 seconds with the base 330 horsepower rear-wheel drive Panamera to 3.4 seconds in the almighty 680 net-horsepower all-wheel drive Turbo S E-Hybrid, so the new GTS fits right into the quicker side of the equation, while it also powers from zero to 160km/h in just 9.6 seconds before attaining a top speed of 292km/h (289 km/h for the GTS Sport Turismo). By comparison, the 4S takes 10.3 seconds to arrive at 160km/h and peaks at 289km/h, whereas the Turbo S E-Hybrid hits the 160km/h mark by 7.6 seconds and maxes out at 310km/h.
Like all other Panamera models, the new GTS utilizes Porsche’s new in-house designed and built eight-speed PDK dual-clutch transmission, while Porsche Traction Management (PTM) all-wheel drive makes sure that all available power is put to efficient use.
Being that most owners will never see the top speed of any Panamera, with even the base model capable of 264km/h, the GTS sets itself apart from its siblings with styling and handling. With respect to the latter, the new model utilizes a standard three-chamber adaptive air suspension preset 10 millimetres lower than the regular Panamera, with the standard Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system modified for an even sportier setup than usual. Larger 390-mm front and 365-mm rear disc brakes harness all the GTS’ forward momentum, making sure the big four-door is as capable at stopping as it is at going.
If you don’t happen to see the italicized “GTS” script on the lower front door panel or rear liftgate as it speeds past, the new model is as easy to spot from a distance as other GTS models in the Porsche lineup thanks to blackened exterior trim in place of body-colour and metal brightwork. Additionally, a standard Sport Design package means that a black lower lip spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser get added, while grey accented headlamps and taillights maintain the darkened theme. Lastly, glossy black 20-inch multi-spoke Panamera Design alloys round out the exterior look.
Inside, trademark GTS design elements get applied generously, particularly soft black suede-like Alcantara and beautiful anodized aluminum accents. Both are applied to the standard sport steering wheel, with just the former dressing up each insert of the otherwise leather sport seat upholstery front to back. Alcantara gets used for all armrests as well.
Additionally, as part of the standard GTS Interior Package, Porsche covers the steering wheel hub, the upper and lower sections of the dash including the glove box lid, the edges of the centre console, and each door panel in its entirety with soft leather for a downright hedonistic experience.
The aforementioned sport steering wheel includes its own heatable element to match those in the front seats, plus each spoke is filled with multifunction switchgear that includes Connect Plus for accessing a variety of digital services, while at the backside of each spoke you’ll find a set of metal paddle shifters.
The aforementioned GTS Interior Package can also be combined with a Carmine Red or Chalk grey two-tone effect for an extra $3,980, or if you want to personalize the look further you can choose from myriad leather colourways. Porsche also offers the ability to upgrade the interior with a unique tachometer face, Carmine Red or Chalk contrast stitching throughout the interior, embroidered GTS headrest logos in Carmine Red or Chalk, matching seatbelts, etcetera.
All of the special GTS features get added to a new Panamera that was much improved for its second-generation makeover, with all 2019 models including the Porsche Advanced Cockpit digital gauge cluster as standard, not to mention advanced driver assistance systems like the highly sophisticated Porsche InnoDrive adaptive cruise control system with stop and go capability plus more.
Also, new to the Panamera range yet standard with the GTS is a full colour head-up display unit that projects vital information onto the windscreen ahead of the driver.
The new 2019 Panamera GTS is available now at Porsche retailers across Canada.
The age-old question “Porsche 911 Turbo or Aston Martin Vantage?” has taken on even greater relevance this year, due to the arrival of the all-new 2019 Vantage. Making the argument from Gaydon,…
The age-old question “Porsche 911 Turbo or Aston Martin Vantage?” has taken on even greater relevance this year, due to the arrival of the all-new 2019 Vantage.
Making the argument from Gaydon, England even more appealing, the revolutionary new Brit is $11,705 less expensive than the continually evolutionary German, at $172,495 compared to $184,200 (2018 model year pricing).
If you think that’s impressive, consider the 2019 Vantage is a shocking $50,940 more affordable than the previous generation, that being the $223,435 2017 iteration that only came to Canada in 565-horsepower V12-powered trim.
Then again, only a year prior the base 2016 V8 Vantage was priced at a mere $109,400, just above the 370-horsepower Porsche 911’s starting price, but before we stop celebrating the just-noted $50k savings and begin to lambaste the UK powers that be for upping the new 2019 model’s price by $63,095, consider its 4.7-litre V8 only made 420 horsepower and 346 lb-ft of torque compared to the new 2019 model’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that puts out 503 ponies and 505 lb-ft of twist, and then factor in that it’s a completely redesigned car from the ground up, making the outgoing model look and feel like the modern-day classic it truly was.
After all, the Vantage dates back to 2005, and during that near 14-year period it had only seen minor updates. Such is common amongst smaller industry players in the ultra-luxury sector, with similarly positioned cars such as Bentley’s Continental GT dating all the way back to 2003, despite a second-generation in 2011 that looked very much like the original.
That Continental is totally new for 2019 too, and beautiful in its own right, but we can safely say the new Vantage is a far more radical design departure from its predecessor than Bentley’s upcoming Conti is from its forebear. The new AMV 8 was heavily influenced by the sensational DB10 prototype best known for its “star car” appearance in the 2015 James Bond film Spectre, although close inspection shows a great deal of refinement from concept to reality.
The result is a major deviation from the classic Aston Martin grille design, or at least the placement thereof. To be clear, the general shape of the grille remains the same, this easier to see with Vantage models featuring the inner outline of their grille painted in a coat of bright, colourful Lime Essense, but with cars that alternatively leave this section shaded in a darker hue the lower portion of the grille seems to completely disappear into the road surface below. Certainly Aston will allow customers to play with this optical illusion via the myriad paint colours available, which should provide some wonderful results. In the end, enlarging and lowering the classic AM grille has created an entirely new, much more modern look for a brand that was probably relying too much on past glories before, while keeping all-important heritage fully intact.
The flush LED headlamp clusters look small in comparison to that grille, while the always long and elegant Aston hood appears even more extended thanks to the need to reach further downward to meet the grille. Likewise, the front fenders snuggly hug a large set of alloys, leaving a mere sliver of bonded aluminum bodywork above before bending inward to incorporate subtle functional side gill wheel well vents. These bleed rearward into the door skins that hover over wide sill extensions, the latter visually pulled around the car from the front splitter.
Those thinking the design departure is radical when watching a new Vantage approach may realize they hadn’t seen the half of it upon witnessing its hind end round the corner, the model’s single curving car-width taillight an impressive display of LED creativity in action. The rear lamp fluidly flows with the uniquely shaped Kamm-like tail design, raised up in the middle like sports car racers of the past, while the working rear diffuser under the bumper cap looks as if it could’ve been pulled directly from a World Endurance Championship (WEC) Vantage GTE racecar.
Like with the new DB11 V8, the new hand built 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged eight-cylinder stuffed under the Vantage hood hails from Mercedes-AMG, although Aston tunes it for their unique feel and sound. Standstill to 100km/h takes a mere 3.6 seconds, this aided by a 1,530-kilogram curb weight. Aston’s engineering team positioned the new engine as far forward and as low as the chassis design allowed, which resulted in ideal 50/50 weight distribution.
That balance was aided by the new Vantage’ rear-mounted, eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, while the carbon-fibre driveshaft that spins in an alloy torque tube benefits all performance criteria. The automatic is standard, which means no manual gearbox is available for the time being, but rumour has it a seven-speed DIY transmission will become the base gearbox in the near future.
Of course, Aston provides the Vantage with driver selectable modes including Sport, Sport Plus and Track, while the new electronically controlled differential is a Gaydon first, this working in conjunction with the braking system to enhance high speed handling via torque vectoring.
Being that the Vantage is the sportiest Aston in the lineup, its speed-sensitive electric power steering features a tighter lock-to-lock ratio than the larger DB11, while it’s also tweaked for more aggression off-centre. Added to this is a 2,704-mm wheelbase, the new Vantage 100-mm shorter than the DB11 and therefore more reactive to turn-in through tight, fast-paced corners.
Sharing components with its larger sibling would only make sense, and to that end 30 percent of the aluminum Vantage chassis comes from the DB11. This of course means that 70 percent of the Vantage chassis is completely unique, this portion including the rear frame that’s now solidly mounted to increase lateral rigidity. The stiffer design results in 2.2 degrees of roll per cornering G-force, which compares to 3.0 degrees with the DB11. Additionally, the newest version of Aston’s Skyhook adaptive suspension provides progressively firmer damping characteristics in its various drive modes, while that 30-percent figure mentioned a moment ago relates to the front suspension components pulled from the DB11.
As you might expect, the new Vantage interior is now fully immersed in the 21st century, so therefore along with the usual Aston Martin handmade detailing of carbon-fibre, aluminum, leather and suede-like Alcantara trim and upholstery finishings, it incorporates the latest high-resolution digital displays ahead of the driver and atop the centre stack. The latter is an 8.0-inch touchscreen, which, like in the DB11, is sourced from Daimler’s parts bin, along with its knurled metal rotating wheel controller and palm rest.
Speaking of knurled metal, Aston has kept its trio of rotating metal knobs on the centre stack, albeit now the centre one is part of the HVAC system, while a bevy of metal trimmed rocker switches fills the open spaces in between while rows of buttons line each side of the aforementioned infotainment controller on the lower console. Additionally, the ignition and gear selector buttons have been repositioned from a horizontal row high on the centre stack to an inverted “V” formation below, where the stack bends into the lower console, while shifts continue to be executed by large, metal paddles fixed to the steering column.
The steering wheel is an appropriately sporty flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped design that features just enough switchgear to appear modern yet not enough to look cluttered. It frames a fully configurable TFT gauge cluster, just like the DB11, which is an important step that once again locks Aston into the new century, yet traditionalists will miss the glorious mechanical/analogue dials that have long been part of the AM mystique.
Comfort is reportedly large on ultra-luxury buyers’ wish lists, even in the more performance-oriented classes, so therefore the new Vantage passenger compartment is improved ergonomically with more headroom and legroom, plus some additional side-to-side spaciousness.
As you might expect, the new Vantage is well equipped with luxury and convenience features too, but take note you’ll still need to pay extra for heatable seats, parking assist, blindspot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, etcetera. Four option packages include Sport, Exterior Black, Tech, and Comfort, with each of these allowing for ample personalization as well.
The 2019 Aston Martin Vantage is available now, but those wanting the convertible Volante version will need to wait until 2019.
Before delving into another story here on TheCarMagazine, make sure to browse through the largest photo gallery we’ve ever put together on any car by clicking on the big photo at the top of this page, and after that check out some videos of the new 2019 Aston Martin Vantage below:
2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – The Pursuit Of Beautiful (1:50):
ASTON MARTIN RACING IS BACK! IT’S TIME TO BE BOLD (1:19):
The new Aston Martin Vantage – #BeautifulWontBeTamed (1:29):
Vantage GTE: The Birth Of A Future Champion (9:04):
New Vantage – Cold Environment Testing in Finland (1:19):
New Vantage Launch – Tokyo (2:22):
Daniel Ricciardo & Martin Brundle meet #NewVantage (1:48):
New Vantage Road and Race Car Launch (1:08):
Beautiful Won’t Be Tamed – The New Vantage (1:18):
When Max Verstappen met #NewVantage (3:11):
Infiniti started production of its refreshed 2018 Q50 sport-luxury sedan at the premium brand’s Tochigi, Japan facility on June 1, the announcement promising a Canadian market arrival time of late summer.…
Infiniti started production of its refreshed 2018 Q50 sport-luxury sedan at the premium brand’s Tochigi, Japan facility on June 1, the announcement promising a Canadian market arrival time of late summer.
“We can’t wait to bring the updated, 2018 Q50 to the North American market,” said Randy Parker, Vice President, Infiniti Americas, in a press release that accompanied the production announcement. “Its benchmark performance and athletic styling make it an important cornerstone in our product line. We are excited to get this newest sports sedan in the hands of our fans when it arrives in Infiniti showrooms later this summer.”
Later this summer? Isn’t that right about now? With back to school supplies already lining store shelves it certainly seems like summer is winding up, but technically Infiniti has until Friday, September 22 at the very latest to produce the mid-cycle made-over model.
Pent-up anticipation is reasonable, being that the current Q50 has been on the road since 2013 for the 2014 model year. Four years is hardly long-lived for a premium model, not even coming close to the brand’s QX50, which when completely replaced this fall will have been soldiering along with only minor updates since it arrived as the EX35 in 2007 (that’s 10 years for those not willing to do the math), but don’t get too excited about the renewed 2018 Q50 sedan as the changes made won’t be near as dramatic.
Most will agree the current model is already an attractive design, which is reason enough for its relatively strong sales. I say relatively strong because the Q50 is Infiniti’s second-best selling model next to the mid-size seven-passenger QX60 SUV, and also because it’s neck-and-neck with Lexus’ IS for second-best selling bragging rights amongst non-German D-segment sedans, Acura’s TLX having long held best-of-the-rest status behind BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes’ C-Class, and Audi’s A4. On the positive, the three Japanese brands regularly sweep the floor with Cadillac’s ATS and Volvo’s S60, while Jaguar’s new XE and Alfa Romeo’s equally fresh Giulia are just trying to get noticed within the compact luxury car hierarchy.
Without the need to totally recreate the Q50’s styling, or for that matter the entire brand’s Essence Concept-inspired design direction, a hybrid sports coupe prototype that was first revealed at the 2009 Geneva auto show as part of the Japanese luxury brand’s 20th anniversary, which by Infiniti’s seven-percent year-over-year gain in global sales numbers appears to be working very well, the design team was freed to mildly tweak details. The changes include a slightly reworked version of the brand’s trademark double-arch grille that now offers more texture to its wavy mesh-patterned insert, whereas more muscular character lines follow the upper outside corners of that grille across each side of the hood. These enhancements were joined by revised headlamps, featuring more eye-like illumination, and redesigned LED taillights at the polar end. While all these updates help modernize the Q50’s look, the new model’s most noticeable changes were saved for its lower front fascia, which now more clearly depicts the trim line, or rather “grade structure” being shown.
For the 2018 model year the Q50 will be available in Pure, Luxe, Sport and Red Sport 400 trims. The latter two “grades” will be familiar to those who follow Infiniti’s products, although Pure and Luxe are trims not yet used by Infiniti (Daimler’s Smart brand was first to use “Pure” for its most basic ForTwo city car). Let’s be first to congratulate Infiniti for not including Limited or Platinum in their naming scheme, two of the most overused trim levels in the industry (the derivative “Premium” hopefully on the way off the Q50 options menu too), after which we should give them the nod of approval for more visually separating each trim line to benefit those paying more to move up into a higher-end model.
“With the new Q50 we are introducing new model grades, each offering their own look and character,” said Francois Bancon, Vice President, Global Product Strategy, Infiniti, a press release that accompanied the launch of the new model in March. “Red Sport 400 in particular lets drivers express themselves with a more assertive design that clearly conveys the car’s performance potential.”
To this end, Sport grade offers “performance-focused” exterior styling, while yet sportier visual upgrades join the model’s most potent 400-horsepower engine in Red Sport 400 trim. Items specific to the two top-line grades include a more sharply creased front bumper and wider, lower air intakes, the corner vents edged in glossy black, while the rear bumper gets a bolder black diffuser embedded at centre, with a stainless steel exhaust tip at each corner. The Red Sport 400 takes things up a notch with some glossy dark paint and body-colour two-tone detailing within the latter, while the side mirror caps also get a gloss black treatment, plus a unique set of 19-inch alloys to finish off the look.
Inside, Infiniti promises higher-grade “authentic” materials and more detailed stitching, “further elevating the level of craftsmanship” in every Q50, noted Infiniti in their press release.
“The cabin of the Q50 has been created with human artistry in mind, enabling occupants to travel in style and comfort,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Executive Design Director, Infiniti. “The refreshed Q50 takes this artistry to a new level, with hand-worked materials giving a greater sense of craftsmanship than ever before.”
For instance Infiniti now uses double-stitched padded leatherette on the instrument panel, while luxury-oriented models with hardwood inlays incorporate a more naturally genuine look and feel than the usual old-school high-gloss affect.
Sport models feature unique interiors with patterned aluminum inlays, matte dark-chromed accents, plus black cloth roof pillars and headliner, whereas the Red Sport 400’s cabin is appropriately highlighted with contrasting red thread, while Infiniti is promising a new sport steering wheel that’s better formed for performance driving, with easier access to the shift paddles in behind. The new leather-wrapped shift knob was ergonomically designed as well, enhanced with double-stitched seams, new chrome trim, and an Infiniti logo on top.
Of course, Infiniti couldn’t hold back with the red stitching effect throughout the rest of the Red Sport 400’s cabin, but at least they didn’t go so far as to brighten up each and every diamond-quilted crevice of its Bentley-esque seats’ side inserts, the result looking rich yet nicely restrained. At least as importantly those seats include a more comfortable design that Infiniti dubs “spinal support,” which we certainly look forward to testing out. Lastly, the new Red Sport 400 gets special dark chromed primary instrument dials, although those fully infused into the digital age might feel the analogue gauges are a bit of a throwback when others in the class are offering fully configurable colour TFT instruments in their top-tier models.
Despite the classic dual-dial gauge cluster, Infiniti might just pull some buyers over from its German competitors when it comes to centre stack infotainment because it chooses to use more convenient, tablet-style touchscreen interfaces instead of lower console-controlled dial, button and touchpad designs. What’s more, both vertically stacked Q50 displays are now touch-capacitive, the top one eight inches in diameter and the lower one seven. This allows the use of multiple functions simultaneously, such as the top screen for navigation mapping and the bottom one for audio control. Infiniti’s appropriately named InTouch infotainment system also lets driver and front passenger customize the car’s inner environment by storing detailed personal information for multiple drivers, such as memory seating and mirror positions, identifiable via individual proximity-sensing I-keys.
Also new for 2018, the Q50 boasts an available 16-speaker Bose “Performance Series” audio system with advanced staging signal processing capable of “a precise, rich and nuanced acoustic experience,” says Infiniti, plus CenterPoint 2.0 surround-sound.
Possibly the biggest 2018 Q50 news is its suite of ProPILOT advanced driver-assistance systems, which include Active Lane Control (camera-sighted autonomous driving capability above 72 km/h or 45 mph), Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Backup Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Forward Emergency Braking, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, and last but hardly least, Infiniti’s exclusive Direct Adaptive Steering.
“Infiniti has introduced a number of world-first innovations through the Q50 in recent years,” said Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti. “As Infiniti’s best-selling model [worldwide], the Q50 has always embodied our commitment to make driver-empowering technologies accessible to a large number of customers. The new model will let customers benefit from the latest advances in active safety with our driver support technologies.”
This is Infiniti’s second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering introduced in 2016 (the first version was launched in 2013), both of which are steer-by-wire systems that mostly do away with mechanically linked parts, and have been fairly well received by owners and auto pundits alike. Infiniti considers its Direct Adaptive Steering a “building block on the way to achieving fully-autonomous driving,” and for certain it’s a bit of tomorrow’s technology today. Along with reasonably realistic feel and ultra-quick responsiveness, Direct Adaptive Steering makes it easier to add unique driving modes for comfort or sport applications, the Q50’s Drive Mode Selector letting its driver modulate steering, suspension and drivetrain settings that include Personal, Standard (default), Snow, Eco, Sport and Sport+ modes. Those rightly concerned about no longer having a steering column connected to the turning wheels can take some confidence in knowing Infiniti has logged more than a million kilometres (625,000 miles) of tests on the second-gen Direct Adaptive Steering system alone.
Powertrains are all carryover, although this shouldn’t be a surprise as they were all just updated for the 2016 model year. Included is the base 2.0t, a Mercedes-sourced 208 horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder featuring 258 lb-ft of torque that gets mated to a seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the latter two components also standard with the other two conventional engine choices.
The performance-oriented 3.0t models include two different versions of Infiniti’s exclusive new in-house VR family of 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6s, which just like the old VQ V6 is once again a 2017 Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner. The less formidable powerplant is good for 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, while as noted earlier the top-line Red Sport 400’s version manages to push out 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.
Lastly, Infiniti will continue forward with its high-energy Direct Response Hybrid powertrain consisting of its old 3.5-litre V6, 50-kW electric motor, and compact laminated lithium-ion battery. The combination makes a net 360 horsepower due to the internal combustion engine’s 302 horsepower and electric motor’s 67 horsepower (hybrid net output never adds up exactly), plus a non-advertised sum of torque, although the ICE’s 258 lb-ft and electric motor’s 213 lb-ft makes for a potent mixture, the latter available immediately at input.
Last year’s Q50 Hybrid was good for a claimed 9.1 L/100km in the city and 7.7 on the highway, which made it quite thrifty considering the performance on tap, while the 2017 Q50 2.0t was estimated to get 10.7 L/100km city and 8.4 highway, thanks partially to fuel-saving stop/start technology. Additionally, the mid-range 3.0t achieved a rating of 12.6 city and 8.8 highway, while the top-tier Red Sport 400 earned an estimated 12.3 city and 9.2 highway, the latter strangely better in the city than the less capable engine. We’ll have to wait to see if the new 2018 model’s Transport Canada ratings do as well or possibly surpass the outgoing estimates, being that the reshaped body shell’s overall aerodynamics and its numerous unique design details are capable of literally causing turmoil with fuel economy figures.
Of note, Q50s fitted with the larger engine will get Infiniti’s “Rack Electronic Power Steering” as standard, which can also be modulated via the Drive Mode Selector, while 2.0-litre Q50 models are equipped with more conventional vehicle speed-sensitive hydraulic electronic rack-and-pinion power steering.
It’s quite likely the renewed Q50 will have what it takes to boost sales beyond the Lexus IS in Canada, the difference coming down to just 65 models at the end of 2016, although 2017 Q50 sales that were purposely slowed so as not to leave dealers with unsold inventory might mean we’ll have to wait until the 2018 calendar year to find out. Stay tuned…