Friday, 28 June 2019


The Viper sometimes gets derided for being crude and low-tech, which may well be true. Its engine sounds like a tractor and cabin ergonomics leave much to be desired. Still, those brave enough to pilot the beast are rewarded with remarkable performance. And, when fitted with ACR trim and the Extreme Aero package, the Viper drives-according to Randy Pobst-like a race car. But sadly, this Viper ACR Extreme Aero, headed to auction at Barrett-Jackson, has never seen a racetrack.
This example was built in 2017, the Viper's final year of production. It's fitted with the signature 8.4-liter V-10, making 645 hp and 600 lb-ft. Behind that block is an old-school six-speed manual, which, in today's world of dual-clutch gearboxes, makes the ACR's portfolio of racetrack lap records all the more impressive. Those include at Laguna Seca, with a time of 1:28.65 set by none other than our man Randy.
Exclusive to 2017 was available paint-to-sample finishing, a $2,000 option in which a buyer could select nearly any conceivable color for their Viper's exterior. This one wears Mexico Blue, a saturated azure tone more commonly seen on Porsches. The car has also been covered by full paint protection film since new.
ACR (an abbreviation for American Club Racing) was a $19,000 package which increased the Viper's racetrack readiness. It added carbon ceramic brakes-15.4-inch, six-piston front and 14.2-inch, four-piston rear-to better handle repeated braking zones. Its 295- front and 355-wide rear Kumho Ecsta V720 tires are near-slicks developed specially for the car, and at the time provided the widest total footprint of any production vehicle. Ten-way adjustable Bilstein coilovers doubled the spring rates of lesser Vipers and raised the ACR's limits of grip.
Still not enough? The $6,900 Extreme Aero package made the Viper ACR even racier-just look at that wing. It's absolutely gigantic, among the largest ever fitted to a production car. The wing worked with an adjustable front splitter, carbon-fiber dive planes, and six-strake extended rear diffuser to provide over 1,500 pounds of downforce at 150 mph. Genuine competition-developed stuff, meant only for serious track day enthusiasts.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019


"We're not afraid of change," BMW stated at its future-tech focused #NEXTGen event in Munich this week. And that's especially clear with the Vision M Next concept, a striking plug-in hybrid that's as quick as an M8 yet can go around 60 miles on EV power alone. You've seen the photos and learned about the concept, but keep reading to learn about what the new BMW is like in person plus what angle Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group Design, especially likes.


More than just text in a press release, the Vision M Next's dual-opening grille is faithful to the brand but really does have a sense of depth to it. Behind the silver grille trim you'd expect and the laser-etched pattern you might not, Thrilling Orange paint brightens up the trim behind the silver-accented grille. The effect powerfully emphasizes the latest evolution of a key BMW design element.


In person, I'm still not a fan of the headlights. I don't mind that the headlights aren't placed side-by-side the grille—as on almost every production BMW sold today except maybe one—but I'm not a fan of how small the headlights appear compared to the enormous dual-opening grille. If you see the Vision M Next at an auto show, judge it for yourself.


Could you tell from the photos that the black on the lower side skirts is composed of recycled carbon fiber? Besides being a cool idea, the textured appearance this provides is subtle and effective.


The rear wheels are one inch larger than the 21-inch fronts, and although it's possible that staggered look had some subconscious effect on my appreciation of the BMW concept's design, the more obvious orange accents on the rear wheels captivated me. Even though I'm still not sold on the "silk-matt" Cast Silver paint over Thrilling Orange accents, I like the idea of painting the rear wheels as a way to draw attention to the car's performance (BMW says the car can use rear-wheel drive or an EV-based all-wheel drive).


Friday, 21 June 2019


You'll find a wide variety of vehicles at collector car auctions-from ultra-rare exotics to coveted classics to completely bonkers custom creations. This Hellcat-powered 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Custom 6x6 falls into the latter category. Take your run-of-the-mill 2016 JK Wrangler Unlimited, create a custom bed, add a third axle, and drop in a 707-hp 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 from the DodgeHellcat twins and you've got the basic underpinnings of a truly insane one-off.
2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Custom 6x6 Hellcat rear three quarters 01
2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Custom 6x6 Hellcat front three quarters 01
2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Custom 6x6 Hellcat side profile 01
This highly modified Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 75th Anniversary Hard Rock Edition will cross the auction block at Barrett-Jackson's Northeast sale. Nicknamed Inferno, the one-off Wrangler has three solid axles linked by a custom driveline designed to put its 707 ponies down to the ground. The locking differential from the stock Wrangler has been kept but the suspension gets a 5.0-inch lift, King shocks, and 35-inch off-road tires on 20x12.5-inch wheels. The builder finished the SUV in a special color called Inferno Red and added a carbon-fiber grille with an integrated LED light bar and custom wheel arch extensions. Inside is a custom leather interior with embroidered inserts.
With just 125 miles on the clock, this custom Wrangler likely hasn't seen much action since it was completed. How much it'll sell for is anyone's guess at this point. There are a few other options when it comes to three-axle off-roaders, but this one is exceptional. There's the Mercedes-AMG G63 6x6, but that's got "only" 536 hp and 561 lb-ft of torque. More than 100 examples were built between 2013 and 2015, priced just over $400,000 a pop. There's also the Ford F-150 Raptor-based Hennessey VelociRaptor 6x6 with 600 hp and a planned production run of 50 for the U.S. and 50 for overseas markets, each starting at $349,000. As a one-off, this six-wheeled, 707-hp Jeep is as exclusive as it gets. Expect a bidding war when it hits the block on Saturday, June 29.
Barrett-Jackson's 4th Annual Northeast Auction is being held June 26-29, 2019, at the Mohegan Sun Casino and Resort in Connecticut. The collector-car sale will showcase hundreds of coveted vehicles, and the experts from MotorTrend will be there to bring you all the action LIVE from the auction block. You can catch Barrett-Jackson Northeast on MotorTrend Network every day of the auction and download the app for exclusive, live coverage. Need more viewing options? You can also tune in to our live stream from your web browser on June 27June 28, and June 29.


Thursday, 20 June 2019

BMW expands 8-series lineup with Gran Coupe

BMW is broadening its flagship model range with the launch of an 8-series Gran Coupe. The 2020 8-series Gran Coupe will go on sale in September, but pricing in Canada hasn't yet been announced.
BMW Canada spokesman Marc Belcourt said in an email that pricing will "be shared with our retail network within the coming weeks."
The four-door, five-seater - a first for the 8 series - is a nod to changing consumer tastes and opens the 8-series lineup to a larger market than a two-door offering would.
Old-school coupes have lost favour as buyers have moved to more practical four-door models, said Sam Fiorani, vice president with AutoForecast Solutions.
"Today's four-door coupes give buyers the sporty image and performance they want with a usable back seat that is traditionally lacking in these flagship models," Fiorani said.
The addition of the Gran Coupe body style will expand the 8-series' reach into territory occupied almost solely by the Porsche Panamera, he said.
It is also expected to go head-to-head with the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7.The  
The 8-series Gran Coupe rear-wheel-drive (840i) and all-wheel-drive (840 i xDrive) variants will both be available in the United States when sales begin. They are powered by BMW's TwinPower Turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine. It weighs 5.9 kilograms (13 pounds) less than its predecessor, produces 335 hp and can propel the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in just under five seconds.
However, the M850i xDrive will be the model available in Canada at launch in September, Belcourt said.
"No final decision has been taken on if or when additional variants could be offered in Canada," he wrote.
The M850i xDrive performance variant has a TwinPower Turbo 4.4-litre, V-8 turbo engine that delivers 523 hp and can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. A new aluminum alloy provides a stronger engine block, BMW said.
Both engines feature an updated eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission.
The Gran Coupe is 22.85 centimetres (nine inches) longer, three cm (1.2 inches) wider and 5.6 cm (2.2 inches) taller than the 8-series coupe, and features a wheelbase that is 20 cm (7.9 inches) longer.
With a rear track of 167.1 cm (65.8 inches) - which is three cm (1.2 inches) wider than the 8-series coupe - the Gran Coupe stands on the widest rear track of any BMW. In fact, the assembly line at the Dingolfing, Germany, plant where the car is produced, had to be modified to accommodate the new, wider platform.
In addition to the larger proportions, the exterior design allows for a roomier interior.
The Gran Coupe windshield features less rake than in the coupe to allow the roofline to raise to a higher point above the front seats, providing increased headroom. Rear legroom in the Grand Coupe increases by 18 cm (7.1 inches), while rear headroom expands by 8.6 cm (3.4 inches).
The 8-series Gran Coupe also relies on lightweight materials to keep weight down and improve handling.
Aluminum construction is used for the doors, hood, roof, front bulkhead, engine subframe and rear bumper support. The trunk lid is made from dent-resistant plastic while the cabin dashboard support is made from magnesium and parts of the centre driveline tunnel are made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic. The M850i xDrive offers an optional carbon fibre roof that replaces the glass moonroof and lowers the weight and centre of gravity.
The 2020 8-series Gran Coupe features an array of sensors and technologies that take the drudgery out of driving.
The optional Driving Assistance Professional package includes a semi-automated driving system that allows for hands-free and pedal-free driving on limited-access highways and at speeds slower than 65 km/h (40 mph).
The Steptronic Sport transmission's controller networks with the vehicle's navigation system, enabling it to take the planned route into account. Navigation data is used to downshift early, for example, when approaching an intersection to use engine braking to slow the car. The intelligent controller is also able to avoid unnecessary gear shifts between two corners that follow in quick succession, making it possible to drive through at a quicker pace.
Greg Layson from Automotive News Canada contributed to this report.


Thursday, 13 June 2019


High-performance in its purest form wrapped in the discreet attire of the Mercedes E-Class: The new BRABUS 800 supercar based on the latest Mercedes E 63 S 4MATIC+ once more masterfully implements this principle.
The new BRABUS 800 can also be enhanced with sporty and elegantly styled naked-carbon aerodynamic-enhancement components, which were fine-tuned in the wind tunnel and consequently further optimize the handling stability at high speeds. The precise-fit BRABUS bodywork components come with a choice of high-gloss or matte coating. BRABUS surrounds for the large air intakes in the left and right side of the front bumper and the BRABUS front spoiler lip, which likewise attaches to the bumper, are available to give the front an even more distinctive design. The BRABUS designers shaped the aerodynamic enhancement component to reduce front-axle lift at high speeds, which further optimizes the handling stability.
For an optimal aerodynamic balance, the trunk lid of the sedan is fitted with a rear spoiler. The carbon diffuser insert for the rear bumper perfectly frames the two dual design tailpipes of the BRABUS sport exhaust. Of course, BRABUS will be happy to prepare an acoustic treat for owners of any E 63. The stainless BRABUS stainless sport exhaust with ceramics-coated tailpipes for all E 63 variants has not only a positive effect on the performance by reducing the exhaust backpressure. The integrated exhaust flaps also allow influencing the exhaust note at the touch of a button in the cockpit.
The BRABUS looks of course also include tailor-made alloys, which have been safety certified for all E 63 models in various sizes with diameters of up to 21 inches. The range culminates in the BRABUS Monoblock “PLATINUM EDITION” forged wheels, which are available in different designs. The display vehicle sports Monoblock Y design wheels. Fitting the model name, this design fascinates with nine pairs of polished double-spokes that extend all the way to the outer flange and form nine “Ys” there. This measure benefits not only the thrilling appearance of the BRABUS 800, this tire/wheel combination also makes the handling even more agile. The BRABUS suspension module for the standard air suspension lowers the ride height of sedan or wagon by about 20 millimeters (.8 in) and can further amplify this effect.
BRABUS offers the largest range of safety-certified performance upgrades and increased displacement engines for Mercedes-Benz vehicles worldwide. The power unit engineers from Bottrop have now developed another tuning level for the Mercedes E 63 S 4MATIC+. Generating even more power required modifications to the hardware of the engine peripherals. The development included calibration and endurance tests on state-of-the-art stationary engine test benches as well as extensive testing on the racetrack and in traffic. All these tests were used to recalibrate the mapping for injection, boost pressure control and ignition, which is introduced into the engine control unit by an auxiliary control module.
The result of these modifications gives the BRABUS 800 its name: An extra 188 hp means 800 hp at 6,700 rpm for the turbocharged V8. The tuned engine also has a significantly higher peak torque: an extra 74 lb-ft translates into impressive 737 lb-ft at a low 3,600 rpm. The driving performance is correspondingly outstanding for a sedan: From rest, the BRABUS 800 with 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive takes just 3.0 seconds to reach 62 mph. The top speed of both body styles is limited electronically to 300 km/h (186 mph). BRABUS 800 versions with an even higher top speed are in development.
The BRABUS tuning program includes the opportunity to add an exquisite BRABUS fine leather interior package. The interior appointments are tailored to customer specifications from a combination of especially soft and breathable Mastik leather and Alcantara. The range of colors is virtually endless and the designers in Germany are also able to fulfill any special requests regarding the upholstery design. In addition, there are tailor-made aluminum components such as the BRABUS RACE paddle shifters, pedals and door pins.


Wednesday, 12 June 2019


Looking for a small SUV that's also safe? We've got you covered here. Below is a list of the safest small SUVs based on crash test ratings from the National Highway Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A rundown on the criteria for the two agencies: NHTSA puts vehicles through front, side, and rollover crash tests that combine to produce an overall star rating, from one to five. Meanwhile, IIHS offers two safety awards. To earn a Top Safety Pick award, vehicles must earn "Good" ratings in various crash tests, including the unique driver-side small-overlap front test, which simulates what happens when the front left corner of a car crashes into a tree or pole at 40 mph. The vehicles must score at least "Acceptable" in the passenger-side small-overlap front test, which is the same test on the right corner of the car. They must also nab an "Advanced" or "Superior" rating in front crash prevention technology and an "Acceptable" or better headlight rating. For IIHS' highest award, the Top Safety Pick+, vehicles must step it up with a "Good" passenger-side small overlap front rating and a "Good" headlight rating.
All entries on this list have earned both a four- or five-star overall rating from NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ designation from IIHS. (Some vehicles, marked with asterisks below, have been excluded from the list because they have not yet been rated by NHTSA.) All models listed are mass-market vehicles from the 2019 model year. Keeping these notes in mind, read on to find out the safest small SUVs currently on the market.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
Along with a roomy interior and solid handling, the subcompact HR-V benefits from good safety scores. Refreshed for 2019, EX models and above feature a safety package that includes automatic emergency braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. The model gets an "Acceptable" headlight rating from IIHS


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+
Although a bit tight inside, the Kona benefits from a firm but stable ride, nimble handling, and peppy powertrains. It's a safe and practical car for a first-time buyer or anyone who doesn't need a ton of interior space.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
The Tucson is a bit of a wallflower in its segment, but it has a strong list of standard features, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, automatic emergency braking, and lane keep assist. It also has an easy-to-use infotainment interface. The model gets an "Acceptable" headlight rating from IIHS.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
The UX stands out from the pack with its bold styling. This tiny crossover looks more like a hatchback, made all the more unusual with the oversized signature Lexus grille. Inside, you'll encounter refined materials but not a lot of space in the back seat. This cute-ute misses the Top Safety Pick+ designation because of its "Acceptable" headlight rating.

2019 MAZDA CX-3

NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
Mazda has made improvements to its subcompact crossover for 2019. With a revised suspension, upgraded steering, redesigned seats, and a bit more power, the CX-3 has finally come into its own. It gets an "Acceptable" score in IIHS' headlight category.

2019 MAZDA CX-5

NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+
With spirited acceleration and communicative steering, the CX-5 is the jock in its class. It's a canyon carver in SUV form, and we love the unexpected grunt of its engine. This SUV placed second in our recent compact SUV comparison test.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars (AWD), 4 stars (FWD)
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
This seven-seater small SUV gets good safety scores, though we wish the four- and six-cylinder engine options had more grunt. The Outlander earned a headlight score of "Acceptable" from IIHS.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 4 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick
This subcompact crossover is all about value. Starting at $19,685, the Kicks offers a quality interior with plenty of room in the rear seats and cargo area. It didn't qualify for IIHS' top award due to "Acceptable" ratings in the passenger-side small-overlap front test and the headlight category. NHTSA gave it four stars in the front crash and rollover categories, which along with a five-star side crash rating contributed to an overall four-star rating.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+
This is one of our favorite subcompact crossovers. Not only does it feature a solid ride and off-road capability, but it also offers plenty of space for people and gear, plus an easy-to-use infotainment system. We've praised its available EyeSight driver assistance feature with adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist for being among the most helpful systems of its kind on the market.


NHTSA Overall Rating: 5 stars
IIHS: Top Safety Pick+
With a cavernous cargo hold, roomy back seat, and wide-opening doors, the Forester makes great use of space. Although it's not the most powerful entry in the compact crossover segment, it benefits from a quiet ride on the pavement and solid off-road capability, plus excellent visibility. The 2019 Forester gets standard EyeSight safety technologies.
*2019 BMW X2 (Top Safety Pick, NHTSA: Not Rated)
*2019 Honda CR-V (Top Safety Pick, NHTSA: Not Rated overall, 4 stars in rollover test)
*2019 Volvo XC40 (Top Safety Pick+, NHTSA: Not Rated)
Note: IIHS classifies the Crosstrek and Kicks as small cars. To determine a vehicle's classification, IIHS takes into account its platform-mates and if the vehicle is based on a sedan; how the automaker classifies the vehicle in the Vehicle Identification Number; and the classification of its competitors on the market.