Automotive

2019 Honda Pilot Starts at $32,445

Honda has released pricing information on the refreshed Pilot. With updated styling, more convenience features, and an updated nine-speed automatic transmission, the 2019 Honda Pilot arrives in dealerships today. Prices start at $32,445, up $550 from l…

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This Aston Martin BD4GT Zagato Is Now the Most Valuable British Car Ever

Aston Martin’s 1961 ‘MP209’ DB$GT Zagato became the most valuable British car ever at Goodwood’s 50th auction on July 13. The ex-Essex Racing Stable car sold in the room to an anonymous European buyer, who paid £10,081,500 (approximately $14 million USD). The car is one of only 2 legendary ‘VEV’ Zagato’s that were created by the aforementioned stable.

The car had been owned by a single family since 1971, who kept the car in perfect condition. The car is also notable for being driven by F1 world champion driver Jim Clark, who used the vehicle in the RAC Tourist Trophy at Goodwood and in the Paris 1,000 KM in Montihery. These facts helped make the vehicle the most covetable Aston Martin models from the ‘60s, which helped push up the sale price. Look at the gallery above to see more images of the car.

In related news, Aston Martin recently revealed the all-new Cygnet V8 Racer.

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McLaren Plans to Go Full Hybrid by 2025

McLaren has announced that it plans on every vehicle in its lineup being a hybrid model by 2025. There will also be eighteen additional models, a huge jump for the 6 currently available. Some of the cars will be completely new models while others will be derivatives of existing vehicles.

In addition to this news, CEO Mike Flewitt also spoke about driver assistance technology, saying it would be “augmentation” instead of “autonomy,” saying that the features would be “designed in for safety, legislation, and emissions.” COO Jens Ludman expanded on this idea, saying that the idea is that it’s like “having a virtual coach who could show you how to improve on a track.”

In related news, McLaren recently revealed the race-ready 2019 600LT.

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Senior Uber Employees Accused of Discriminatory Behaviour

After CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down amid a number of scandals last year, Uber‘s corporate culture is back in the spotlight with the resignation of its Chief People Officer. Liane Hornsey has left the company amid allegations that she continually shot down internal complaints about racial discrimination during her time at the company.

Amid this scandal, another senior Uber official has also been criticized for his behaviour. The ride-sharing app’s Chief Operating Officer, Barney Harford, has been accused inappropriate statements, including bigoted comments about an interracial relationship in an Uber commercial as well as claiming that he couldn’t tell the difference between two black women.

Uber also recently received a temporary license in London after it was banned last year.

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Rolls-Royce Developed Its Own Air Taxi Concept

Both Airbus and Uber have made waves as of late with the development of their respective Air Taxi inventions, however, may face stiff competition in the near future from who many believe to be a rather unlikely source. Rolls-Royce recently unveiled its EVTOL (Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) concept, capable of ferrying up to five passengers, while traveling up to 500 miles at a top speed of around 250mph. Despite its name, electric power is only part of the equation with gas turbines put in place to help power up its six propellers.

The design centers its focus on “personal air mobility,” however, can be used for a multitude of purposes, including taxi transit, private transportation, cargo delivery and various military purposes. As it currently stands, only 3D renders have been developed, although it is said that the vehicle contains wings that can rotate 90 degrees, while also having its propeller extensions conveniently fold away once at the desired altitude. While still a concept for the time being, Rolls-Royce claims that the tech needed to jumpstart the ambitious project is already in development — meaning, we can potentially see initial prototypes in action quite soon.

In case you missed it, Honda upgraded the HondaJet with new “Elite” model.

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2019 Genesis G70 First Drive: Image is Everything

Rumor has it that the traditional four-door sedan is in the throes of a prolonged death spiral, squeezed into irrelevance by crossovers on one end and EVs on the other. But apparently Genesis hasn’t gotten the memo. Although its own SUVs are right around the corner, the 2019 G70 comes ready to stake a claim in the still-breathing entry sport luxury sedan market on its own terms.

It’s a risky yet necessary gamble on the part of Genesis, which launched about three years ago as a standalone luxury brand above parent company Hyundai. With the G70, Genesis is aiming straight for the middle of a crowded pool filled with German and Japanese competition.

The G70 looks to stand out by straddling a line between athleticism, refinement, and elegance. As if that weren’t enough, the Genesis also tries to deliver an authentic character, as well. So in reality, it’s less of a straight line and more the challenge of a classic Venn diagram. It is possible to achieve all four qualities without compromise?

Visually, the G70 certainly looks the part, especially out back. The sedan neatly sidesteps the ongoing trend of a horizontal taillight treatment that seems interchangeable at a glance from one car to the next. Instead, the G70 sports shapely clusters reminiscent of the Rock of Gibraltar, enhanced by horseshoe-shaped LED bars at the edges. From the rear and sides, the G70 exudes a confident, muscular stance. More like this, please.

The front end is less successful, bowing to the very themes it studiously avoids elsewhere. Despite the angry angles and sporty stance, I can’t help but think I’ve seen all of these design cues before. All that seems to vary is the shape and size of the grille from one make to the next.

At least the interior follows through on the promise of purposeful simplicity. Three large, round knobs provide dedicated control over the dual-zone climate control, with seat heating and ventilation buttons nestled between each one in logical formation. Just above that are eight buttons tied to the infotainment system, bracketed by volume and tuning dials on either side. Clean, simple, easy. But although the 8.0-inch screen is responsive to touch (even while wearing gloves), it could benefit from some kind of redundant input. My hand tends to fall to the circular Drive Mode controller where I instinctively twist it to select a menu, only to adjust throttle and steering programs instead.

But despite the presence of Drive Mode, Genesis is opting for an overall less-is-more approach with the G70. Albert Biermann, head of vehicle performance at Genesis, avoided the temptation to pile on a litany of tech to achieve basic handling and performance goals. Instead, his team’s focus was to nail the fundamentals. Biermann insists that all the “fancy options” competitors offer tend to go largely unused and unnoticed by most customers, even if having those features implies an enhanced level of performance. “Maybe it is a bit more of a challenging route,” Biermann concedes, “[but] we have a different strategy.”

That strategy pays off. The G70 has impeccable road manners and no tactile sign of a tradeoff, even on the base model. On some of Maine’s more neglected roads outside of Portland, I find myself pointing the G70 toward visible imperfections just to see if I can unsettle the suspension. Bumps are absorbed and dispatched with little drama. There’s just the right amount of feedback through the wheel, neither too jittery nor too isolating. Refinement and elegance: achieved.

Athleticism arrives in the form of a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6, with 376 lb-ft of torque coming online as early as 1,300 rpm and sticking around until 4,500 rpm, generating robust midrange punch. Even a slight prod of the throttle summons a suitable swell of power on demand, generating more than enough speed. Genesis estimates a 0–60 time of 4.5 seconds. Standard 13.8-inch Brembo discs up front and 13.4-inch vented rears feel firm and confident, even after repeated stabs to the pedal at high speeds.

Stepping down to the 2.0-liter turbo-four is a bit of a compromise, but not in terms of refinement or character. Its numbers are noticeably lower, with 252 hp achieved at a lofty 6,200 rpm and 260 lb-ft found from 1,400 to 4,000 rpm, but keep the revs up and it’s a willing partner. Have some patience from a start, however, as it doesn’t have the same off-the-line punch as, say, the 2.0-liter fours found in Audi’s A4 or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. There’s a pronounced, agonizing lag before the turbo finds its spin and breathes life into the cylinders.








Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic which delivers shifts without drama, and there’s even a mechanical limited-slip differential (standard on 3.3T and 2.0T manual, optional on 2.0T RWD). All-wheel drive can be had on either engine. Feeling a bit rebellious? Engage Drift Mode on either drive system and light up the rear wheels in a cloud of rubber vapor.

Of course, the true ace-in-the hole can be found in the 2.0-liter G70 Sport model, which comes standard with the aforementioned Brembos (but at all four corners) with upgraded pads, and an enhanced exhaust system. Oh, and—get this—a stubby lever in the middle of the console, connected to an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual transmission. Throws are light and direct, and the transmission helps to make the most of the 255 horsepower under the hood—3 hp more than you get with the automatic.

As welcome as this powertrain combo is,

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First Drive: 2019 Genesis G70

CAPE NEDDICK, MAINE—Attention, fellow car enthusiasts: It looks like the car we’ve been asking for has finally arrived.

It’s a rear-wheel-drive performance sedan, with optional all-wheel-drive for your Rust Belters. It has a suspension designed to prioritize handling, the development of which was overseen by an ex-BMW staffer—and not just any ex-staffer, but the former head of the M division.

It’s also a luxury car, mature enough that the world won’t accuse you of having a mid-life crisis, lavish enough that your friends won’t think you’ve hit the skids, and subtle enough not to threaten the delicate balance of office politics.

It’s a sedan with a reasonably-sized back seat and trunk, so your significant other can’t veto it on the basis of impracticality.

Most importantly, you can get it with a manual transmission. That’s the thing for which we’ve all been clamoring, right?

This car is the 2019 Genesis G70, the new entry-level model for Hyundai Group’s new luxury division. The G70 is a distant relative of the deservedly praised Kia Stinger; the base architecture is shared and the powertrains are pretty much identical, though the G70 is shorter in both length and wheelbase and slightly lighter. The Hyundai Group engineers on site at the press preview were reluctant to discuss the differences between the two (several told us they’d been instructed by the PR folks to only talk about Genesis), but I was able to glean that the G70 is meant to have a more performance-oriented tune than the Stinger (which surprised me—more on that in a bit).

The Genesis folks whisked us to the rocky seaside of Maine for the press preview, where they spent lots of time extolling the bonafides of both the Genesis brand’s cachet and the G70’s performance. I’ll gloss over the former—lots of multi-million-dollar multi-media faff intended to build a reputation where none exists—and concentrate on the latter. To me, it was the drive that mattered, and what a drive it was, through the curvy back roads to the Club Motorsports track in Tamworth, NH.

For those unfamiliar, the Club Motorsports circuit is more of a roller coaster than a track. Built on the side of a hill by someone who clearly thought of racing drivers as expendable, it has steep grades that put strong demands on engines and brakes. The mix of sharp and broad curves rewards a good line and a steady rhythm, but blind crests and limit sightlines make it easy for the amateur (that would be me) to lose the line, the rhythm, and the car ahead of you. It’s a deceptively challenging track, and the G70s we flogged acquitted themselves well.

We thrashed both rear- and all-wheel-drive versions of the G70, all powered by the 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbo V-6 we’ve come to know and love in the Kia Stinger GT. Genesis claims a 4.5 second 0-60 time for rear-drive models, and while the Club’s steep hills taxed the V-6 to its max, it ran like its backside was on fire on the level front straightaway. The eight-speed automatic did a good job of picking gears, and I never felt the need to reach for the standard-fit paddle shifters.

The rear-drive cars featured the Sport package with Michelin Pilot Sport 4 summer tires, and I was surprised at how early they started howling—seemingly as soon as I turned the wheel from straight ahead—but they did deliver good grip and linear, if not super-sharp, steering response. I was surprised at how much the body rolled, but once the car took a set in the corners, it seemed content to hold it. The brakes did an heroic job, no mean feat given the downhill path into many of the corners, and while the pedal was going soft in all of the cars I sampled, they all delivered smooth and consistent braking action.

The rear-drive G70 felt stable and neutral, though with some ham-fisting of the steering wheel and accelerator I was able to goad it into a little power-on oversteer. The AWD version felt remarkably similar, minus the power-on oversteer bit—but it also lacked the rear-driver’s resistance to understeer, which surprised me as these cars had the limited-run Dynamic package with stiffer springs and better Pilot Sport 4S rubber. Genesis told us that with ESC fully off, AWD models will direct most of their power to the rear-wheels to allow proper drifting, though we were exhorted not try this out on the track.

While the track drive proved a point, it was out on the open road where the Genesis G70 proved itself. I started my day with a 3.3TT AWD model loaded up with Sport, Elite, and Prestige packages. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of Hyundai’s twin-turbo V-6, which packs a meaty punch and makes nice noises (electronically enhanced in the Sport models; I was told the sounds broadcast through the speakers are based on a test mule with an exhaust that didn’t meet mandated noise restrictions). Sport models have a launch mode that revs the engine to around 2,500 RPM, the speed at which the turbos start to do their thing. Launches were fun, but it was the broad torque curve that really impressed me.

V-6-powered Sport models have a stiffer suspension tune than other G70s, and the ride was a little too hard for my liking—not miserable, mind you, but firmer than I’d like for day-to-day driving. There was also quite a bit of thumping from the suspension, though I didn’t hear this in other G70s I sampled.

Next, I switched to a rear-drive G70 with the 2.0-liter turbo-four engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. This car also had the luxury-oriented Elite and Prestige packages plus the Dynamic package,

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How Genesis’ Dream Team Could Reinvent the Luxury Car – The Lohdown

It all started back in 2006 when Kia Motors announced that Peter Schreyer would become its new Chief Design Officer. At the time, this move seemed equally audacious and puzzling: smart hire by Kia boss Eui-sun Chung, the son of Mong-koo Chung, the billionaire chairman and CEO of Hyundai Motor Group (HMG), but perhaps foolish for Schreyer. After all, what could the smaller automaker offer besides handsome compensation, frequent flyer miles, and a top-down corporate culture? Schreyer, a legit rock star in the design world (with the back-in-black wardrobe to match), already had an impressive résumé that listed icons such as the VW Golf, New Beetle, and Audi TT. He was on the short list to replace VW Group’s design chief, Walter de Silva. Surely, Schreyer had nothing to prove.

His fast start suggested otherwise. At the 2007 Frankfurt Motor Show, Schreyer introduced the Kia “tiger nose” design cue and began unifying all styling in this aggressive new direction. Meanwhile, seemingly unrelated moves were afoot at HMG; at the 2007 New York auto show, the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan made its debut. In 2011, Hyundai Motor Europe started durability testing at the Nürburgring, and in 2012, HMG quietly established the high-performance development N division, ostensibly named for HMG’s Namyang, Korea, R&D center.

After a string of successful designs, Kia named Schreyer president in December 2012, making him the first non-Korean president (of seven) at HMG. A few months later, he added head of design for all of HMG to his title and list of duties. That same year, HMG expanded its European testing capabilities by establishing a permanent R&D facility at the Nürburgring. Then things really began to accelerate.

In another startling coup in April 2015, HMG poached Albert Biermann, a 30-year veteran of BMW and boss of its legendary M division. His new job? Leading high-performance vehicle development and testing for all of HMG, including Genesis—which was subsequently announced as a stand-alone luxury brand that November.

Any doubts about HMG’s commitment to its new premium marque were quelled by the hiring of Bentley head of design Luc Donckerwolke and Lamborghini director of brand and design Manfred Fitzgerald. When Bentley’s head of exterior and advanced design, SangYup Lee, and Bugatti Chiron exterior designer Alexander Selipanov joined the Genesis team in 2016 and 2017, respectively, the world officially took notice.

But HMG wasn’t done yet, with Biermann apparently calling the shots. In October 2017, Fayez Rahman joined as vice president of Genesis architecture development. Rahman previously led development for several BMW models, including the 7 Series, X crossover models, and M vehicles. Then in February 2018, Thomas Schemera, the former U.S. head of BMW M, joined Hyundai’s performance and motorsport division.




So what? Raiding talent from the competition is Business 101, right? Yes, but HMG’s singular focus on pulling design and engineering experts from top-tier luxury and performance brands to support Genesis is unprecedented in the history of the automotive business.

Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have long been bastions of “not invented here” syndrome, a corporate mindset that grew out of hubris mixed with the sting of critics that accused their ascendant parent companies of knowing nothing more than how to copy the design and technology of established rivals. So it was no surprise that in the ’80s, when Honda, Nissan, and then Toyota began probing the luxury space, their efforts were almost entirely homegrown and lavish.

At the time, Japan Inc. had money to burn, so spending hundreds of millions studying the premium car buyer, researching names and logos, and even establishing custom marketing and advertising agencies (as Lexus did with Team One) made cultural sense for these companies on the rise and swelling with pride. To this day, the guiding principle of the Toyota Way is “genchi genbutsu” or “go and see for yourself.” Yet despite roaring into the space with such game changers as the Acura Legend, Lexus LS 400, and Infiniti Q45, after 30-plus years, none of the Japanese premium brands has established itself as a global rival to the German establishment.








HMG could have taken the same path as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. It certainly has the war chest and homegrown talent in the areas of design, manufacturing, and technology. It also has a business culture steeped in pride and competition. But by acknowledging that veteran outsiders might know the premium space better—and building a dream team led by these experts and mentors—Genesis may just reinvent the luxury car.

More from Ed Loh:

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1970-1974: A Brutal Period for Drag Racing

October 16, 1971, was a chilly day in Lewisville, Texas. It rained that morning at Dallas International Motor Speedway, but the pavement had dried enough to make what was expected to be a historic run at the state-of-the-art quarter-mile dragstrip. And…

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Catching Up With: Hames Barclay, Driver for the Panasonic Jaguar

James Barclay, a 40-year-old South African, raced at a national level in the UK with Vauxhall and Lotus, but has also spent many years in press and marketing world, including as communications director for Bentley’s LeMans and GT3 programs. In 2015, he was appointed to run the Jaguar racing team.

The automaker’s racing effort was last seen with its tail between its legs following the 2004 F1 season, which, like the four before it, did not go well, resulting in its abandonment. But now Jaguar returns, fully committed, it says, to the all-electric format, Formula E. The team is entering its second year and Jaguar recently announced the new I-Pace eTrophy as a support series.

We caught up with Barclay while he was in New York ahead of the city’s upcoming Formula E race.

Automobile Magazine: So you’re back.

James Barclay: Jaguar announced its return to racing in 2015 but actually started formally in 2016 with our team Panasonic Jaguar Racing. Formula E has been our main motorsport activity.

The timing couldn’t have better as we moved toward electrification with our first electric car on the market, the Jaguar I-Pace. Now we’re really also excited to announce with the reveal of the I-Pace in its production form, that we’re actually gonna take the I-Pace racing and be the first manufacturer to have a factory electric racing car. We have our Formula E racecar, which is a prototype single-seater. But we are actually the first manufacturer to produce our own production-based, factory electric racing car with the I-Pace, so I think two real firsts and something we are very excited about.

AM: What modifications were made to the I-Pace for racing?

JB: As a base car, the I-Pace is actually very well suited to be a racing application. We carried over the production 90-kilowatt-hour motor. It’s very neatly packaged in the floor, a skateboard design that is very good because it has a very low center of gravity, which the racecar has as well. We use the same e-motors as the production car in the front and rear axles. The racecar is also all-wheel-drive, produces 395 hp, so performance wise, the powertrain is actually more than up to the task.

Then you can imagine the specific race things that we change. We have dedicated racing brakes. We swap out the suspension system for a coil and damper system—very high end racing equipment for the kind of rigors of a race environment and race situation such as the curb strikes and all of that type of thing. We also have specifically dedicated safety devices, FIA specification roll cage and safety systems. And we work very closely with FIA to create the car because, again, they didn’t have a rule for a production factory electric racing car. So we’ve helped FIA refine and define new rules for production of factory electric racing cars.

And then we have also interestingly used our software and control system from our Panasonic Jaguar Formula E team and the work we have done on that car. We’re actually using a carryover on some of those control systems and software from the racecar [to the I-Pace,) that is again the transfer of technology. We liked to kind of think about it as race to road to race.

AM: Are there any particular safety issues associated with a racecar that has battery power in the event of an accident?

JB: Like most combustion cars managing fuel, [batteries are] inherently dangerous, and you kind of take the right safety protocols and obviously when it comes to the I-Pace, as a production car it goes through a very rigorous and extensive crash testing procedure which gives us a fantastic basis to develop the race car off. But we have added a number of different things, like reinforcing the protective floor to the car, which helps with any strikes from underneath to protect the batteries and cells. The I-Pace battery pack has some specific safety features built into it which, again, are very good in terms of controlling and managing any issues; we’ve been able to come up with a very extensive safety regime for our production cars and it helps.

AM: What is the technology as regards to the battery in terms of making it safe for racing?

JB: In terms of the design of the battery, and around managing specific cells and the way the individual cells act if there is any run away. It just helps to control and manage and limit the effect of one cell triggering the next cell, so a lot of the way the battery pack is designed is to help isolate any specific cell issues without having a trigger effect to the others. Clever design helps minimize any issues.

One of the specific requirements we had working with FIA was to move the driver away from the side of the car, so we’ve actually moved the driver’s seat more to the center of the car, further away from the door. The steering column is moved; pedal box, too.

One of the nice things we have on the car are the new Michelin tires we’re using. We have one tire now which works in wet and dry conditions so we don’t traipse around the world [carrying tires.] It’s based on a Michelin Cup tire, a great high performance tire which works really well in all of those conditions.

AM: As electric racing develops more and there are different brands of electric cars running against each other, will you bump the power on the stock motor? Won’t there be an imperative to raise the power to make them even faster?

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Updating Outdated Navigation Data

While running some errands, the infotainment system in the BMW I was driving told me to turn down a road that didn’t exist. Of course, I was confused. Clearly, the factory navigation was confused too. But the car I was driving wasn’t even a year old and the road change wasn’t recent. How could this be?

When using apps like Google Maps or Waze for navigation on a smartphone, you’re getting the latest map and POI (points-of-interest) data. That’s not the case with in-car navigation systems. Sure, companies like BMW offer free over-the-air (OTA) updates but, based upon my experience, the updates come far too slowly. Yes, there are ways to integrate your smartphone into a car—Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—but most of these systems aren’t yet as good or fully cohesive compared to a factory setup. So I decided to dig into the procedure for updating the map and POI database for factory navigation systems with a selection of manufacturers.

BMW

As noted, BMW offers no-charge OTA updates—regional map data sent via 4G—for three years. The company breaks down the U.S. into 13 regions and only one region is updated, not the complete national map database. In theory, one free national map update is available at the dealer but you need to push for this as not all BMW dealers are aware of this setup. Once the three years are up (or if you want a second national map update sooner), updates cost around $200 from the dealer.

My wife’s 2018 BMW 330i xDrive Sports Wagon was built in July of 2017 and shipped from the factory with map database ‘2017-1’ (the first of four updates in 2017). The car automatically updated to 2017-2 but that didn’t happen until March of 2018 and it was just the regional update (Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois). The rest of the database was still stuck at 2017-1. Map update 2018-1 was released in March of 2018 but BMW was still pushing out the older 2017-2 regional updates via OTA at that time.

Audi

Audi’s setup is a bit more complicated but does offer some further control and update options for the customer. As long as you have Audi Connect PRIME ($199 for six months or $499 for 18 months), vehicles can get 3-5 free OTA map updates (both national and regional updates), depending on the build date for the vehicle. These updates usually come out twice a year. You can also update the map database at no charge without an Audi Connect PRIME subscription. This is done via the My Audi website by downloading the map updates to an SD card and then uploading the information to the car via that SD card. The same number of updates applies—three to five free updates, depending on the build date of the car. Once those free updates are finished, you can work with your Audi dealership to purchase future updates.

Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz setup is quite simple but can’t be done by the owner. Updates are free via a visit to the Mercedes dealership for three years. After that, maps updates each cost around $250.

Cadillac

Map updates cost about $160 each and can be ordered online.

Volvo

With apologies to Cadillac, Volvo has the Cadillac of setups. The company offers “lifetime” (“at least until 2025”) free map updates via USB. This is done via a rather slick website. The site informs you exactly when the latest map update was released and notes the latest version so you can compare that to what’s currently loaded into your vehicle. The page also tells you the file size for the download, so you know exactly what size USB drive is needed. Additionally, you’re able to choose between a full national update or a smaller regional update. You can also download free voice control and Gracenote (music database) updates. As an added bonus, Volvo includes free INRIX (4G) live traffic as part of Volvo Cloud and there’s no current timeline for that no-charge feature to end (other companies offer free live traffic too but not with the timeline of Volvo). Owners can also have their map database updated at Volvo dealerships during no-charge software updates (though some dealers may charge for the labor for the map update).

Overall, it’s clear Volvo has the best arrangement when it comes to updating factory map databases. Given the fact that nearly everybody has a smartphone in their pocket, it’s important for car manufacturers to get with the program if they expect owners to keep paying extra for factory navigation systems. All car companies should offer customers free USB map updates via a download from a website or handle it at no extra charge when a car is serviced at the dealership. It’s yet another way to keep the customer returning to the dealership versus going to independent garages.












































 

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How Slow is Fast Enough?

“My aunt drives faster than you—and she doesn’t drive.” An old friend was visiting from out of town, and by sheer luck I happened to be piloting a brand-new Ferrari 488 Spider for a few days (timing that did wonders for maintaining my “I live like this all the time” ruse). Yet my pal wasn’t completely joking; I even detected genuine irritation in his voice. “That Bimmer just blew past us and made the stoplight while you were slogging along in second gear.” He looked over at the dashboard in front of me. “Dude! You’re barely breaking the speed limit!”

I could only sigh. We were ambling along L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard on our way to Malibu, and yet again I was dispelling a myth as old as my career: namely, that I, as someone who test-drives cars for a living, am always wheeling on the ragged edge, tach needle blasting through the redline, tires on fire, fishtailing from every stoplight and sideways on every highway entrance ramp. But then, a leisurely 45-minute cruise later, we found ourselves at the foot of one of my favorite mountain roads, a wriggling climb boasting turn after turn, great sight lines, and only the occasional glimpse of other vehicles. I gave the Ferrari the spurs.

For almost 30 seconds, my friend was silent. Then: “Stop! We’re gonna jump the cliff!”

“We’re not going fast at all,” I soothed as the 488 knifed through another bend, the V-8 howling through the open cockpit. “The tires aren’t even singing and—”

“Stop this car right now or I’ll tell everyone the New Orleans story!” I pulled over into a turnout and looked over at the passenger seat as I raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were displeased with my auntlike pace?” My buddy, now green-faced, shook his head, frowned, and gave me the finger.

Fast, you see, is a relative thing. For most of the driving public, “fast” means flattening the gas pedal on a city street or zigzagging through highway traffic. Both are the hallmarks of an amateur. Let’s face it: If you dropped a potted cactus on the gas pedal, you could make a Ferrari accelerate at max speed. Zero skill is required. (Often, there’s even less than that on display. Search “supercar fails” on YouTube. Potted cacti would’ve performed better.)

My point is this: The notion of driving an automobile fast on a public road is ludicrous. It cannot be done. Period. If you’re well trained and prudent and on the right open ribbon of asphalt, at best you can drive an automobile briskly—completely in control and with lots of margin in hand (which is still more than the 90 percent—my friend included—have ever experienced). But actually attempting to drive fast on the street … that’s not a testament to skill. That’s a yellow flag signifying a “driver” with something to prove.

Let’s face it: If you dropped a potted cactus on the gas pedal, you could make a Ferrari accelerate at max speed. Zero skill is required.

I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career to have benefited from the wisdom and insights of some of the world’s best drivers—among them, three-time world champ Jackie Stewart, Trans-Am champ Dorsey Schroeder, and, at the Elf Winfield school in France, Simon de Lautour, the man who had previously taught future four-time F1 champion Alain Prost how to drive a race car. One lesson I learned from every one of them: There’s a Grand Canyon-wide gulf between driving on a track and driving on the street. Stewart is renowned for his calm pace and impeccable, “ultimate chauffeur” polish on public roads. Once, after participating in a race at Road America in Wisconsin, on the highway I came up behind Schroeder (who’d been my coach that weekend). As I slowly rolled by, there he was: fingertips lightly grazing the wheel, eyes up and looking far down the road, cruise control probably set right on 55 mph—the very picture of a consummate driver with nothing to prove to anyone.

Yet even on a racetrack, as I’ve learned in 30-some years in the business, there are degrees of fast to consider. Many times in my career I’ve found myself on a circuit at the wheel of a high-powered sports car or a priceless prototype, and always the conundrum arises: How fast do I push this thing to learn what I need to learn (and do the car’s engineers justice) but bring the machine and myself home in one piece? How slow is fast enough?

Recently, I flew to the Silverstone Circuit in England to test a prototype of the coming McLaren Senna supercar—a 789-hp, 2,900-pound, active-aero monster that can leave even McLaren’s vaunted P1 sucking its exhaust fumes. True to its impressive stats, the Senna proved mind-blowing—just shockingly quick, one of the quickest road cars I’ve ever driven. Indeed, after the first of our two lapping sessions, one journalist in our group—a veteran in the biz—stripped off his Nomex and headed straight back to the hotel, mumbling something like, “I’m not driving that thing anymore.” Naturally, there were a few snickers up and down the pits. But then I had a realization: “To hell with the peer pressure. Better to stand up and say, ‘Maybe I’m not up for this,’ than risk crashing, destroying a precious prototype, and possibly harming yourself and the McLaren test driver bravely riding shotgun.” It was a gutsy call on my fellow scribe’s part.

The next morning, the twin-turbo V-8 still ringing in my ears, I brought up the previous day’s Senna test with a McLaren exec flying back to the States with me. “I wish I could say I was an Ayrton Senna kind of driver,” I admitted.

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Autonomous Roborace Skillfully Climbs the Hill at Goodwood

Technology firm Roborace succeeded at making history at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Its Robocar was the first autonomous race car ever to climb the hill at the event, and as you can see in the video below, it did a pretty good job.

Automated computer systems and a variety of sensors give the car a 360-degree view of its surroundings. This technology includes an Nvidia Drive PX2 computer, radar, lidar, ultrasonic, GPS, and camera sensors. Trees block satellite signals along much of the course, making it unhelpful to rely much on GPS, however.

Under the sheetmetal, the Robocar employs four 135-kilowatt electric motors that power each wheel. All together, these motors produce more than 500 hp. The car is the work of Daniel Simon, former senior designer at Bugatti and creator of fantasy vehicles for Hollywood films such as “Tron: Legacy” and “Oblivion.”

The Robocar wasn’t the only autonomous vehicle to make its way up the hillclimb course, however. An autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang, commissioned by Siemens and the Cransfield University in the U.K., managed to climb the hill, although a bit slower and less gracefully. The pioneering autonomous hillclimbs were performed just in time for the 25th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 BMW 8 Series Coupe vs. 2018 Lexus LC

The 2019 BMW 8 Series revives a nameplate that hasn’t been seen in this market in 20 years. But the idea of a flagship coupe isn’t new. Other automakers have launched big, luxurious two-door grand tourers of their own before and since—including Lexus, which has the seductive-looking and surprisingly fun-to-drive LC 500. How does the BMW’s styling stack up against Lexus’ radical design language? Take a look below and decide for yourself.












From the front, the 8 Series is the more conservative of the two, featuring narrow LED-accented headlights and kidney grilles, and wide lower intake openings. The LC gets Lexus’ spindle grille, and this might be the best interpretation of the polarizing design feature yet. The Lexus also gets triangular headlights with clusters of three LED projectors, along with the brand’s signature check mark daytime running lights.




Both cars look sleek from the profile view. The 8 Series features a long rear quarter window that tapers into the subtlest of Hofmeister kinks. Character lines begin from the large “air breather” vents behind the front wheels and spread across the doors. The coupe’s clearly defined rear shoulders are also visible from the side. Meanwhile, the Lexus employs a floating roofline, minimal character lines, and prominent side skirts that feed into slender vents just behind the doors.








The 8 Series has a wide, planted stance when viewed from behind. Narrow LED taillights spread across the car’s shapely trunk lid, while the rear bumper sports wheel vents and integrated parallelogram-shaped tailpipes with chrome surrounds. The LC’s rear end is just as unconventional as its front, but in its own way is attractive and sporty-looking. The taillights feature a vertical element that juts sharply downward, and the rear bumper shape echoes the front with a protruding spindle design.








Just as the two coupes’ exterior designs are vastly different, so too are their interiors. The 8 Series’ cabin is an updated take on BMW’s familiar interior design language, featuring an LCD instrument cluster, glass-accented electronic shifter, and wide 10.25-inch central touchscreen with gesture controls. The LC’s cockpit is highlighted by distinctive front seats, uniquely contoured door panels with free-floating door handles and generous swathes of Alcantara, and a tiered dashboard that connects with the center console via a piece that serves as both partition and passenger grab handle.

The two cars have similar missions, yet they couldn’t be more different when it comes to design. Which flagship coupe do you think looks the best? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook!

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Eight Cars Not to Miss at the Concours d’Elegance of America

DETROIT, Michigan – Like the Pebble Beach Concours and many others of its ilk, the Concours d’Elegance of America July 27-29 in Plymouth, Michigan, is a celebration of art and fashion as well as classic cars. Unlike many of those others, this one offers enthusiasts a wide array of cars from different eras, countries, and styles.

This year, the Concours d’Elegance of America offered us a preview of this, its 40th show, to be held at the Inn at St. John’s, in Plymouth, on the campus of the College for Creative Studies. This year’s displays include a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Porsche marque, with appearances from several significant Porsche race cars, as well as drivers Vic Elford, Brian Redman, and Hurley Haywood.

You’ll have to wait until the end of the month for all that. Meanwhile, here’s a look what you can expect, courtesy the CCS sneak preview earlier this week…

1. 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

We wouldn’t normally lead off with a Rolls-Royce-era Bentley, but this one has special provenance. Some time after it was featured in the 1992 movie, “King Ghazi of Iraq,” Saddam Hussein confiscated it for his own collection. The car was all-but destroyed after Hussein fled his Baghdad palace in 2002, and the original owner sold it rather than pay for its restoration, which was restored by Vantage Motorwerks, of Miami.

1b. Current owner Jim George shows a spares kit Bentley provided to its customers for longer trips. Owners were charged for the spare bulbs, head gaskets, etc., that were removed, much like a modern hotel mini-bar. This kit was not original to this ’58 Bentley, though George says the engine and transmission were original.

2. 1930 Duesenberg Model J Cabriolet by Graber

Duesenberg sold 480 Model Js between 1929 and 1937, that received custom coachwork. Powered by a DOHC 420 cubic-inch inline eight, this Graber-bodied Model J is particularly distinctive for its more organic, swept-back styling compared with even the rakish bodywork of the most well-known Duesies of the era. This one is owned by Sam and Emily Mann.

3. 1931 Marmon Convertible Coupe by LeBaron

Marmon and Cadillac were the only two automakers to produce V-16 engines, which makes an appearance by anything by this marque quite unusual. This Marmon’s LeBaron coachwork was designed by Walter Dorwin Teague, influenced by Ray Dietrich and Frank Hershey. The 930-pound engine is a 491 cubic-inch V-16 with a 45-degree angle, and it now belongs to Terry and Jennifer Adderley.

4. 1939 Bugatti T57C Stelvio by Gangloff

Described as the first Bugatti model built under the direction of Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean, for 1934, it’s powered by a dual overhead cam, 3.25-liter supercharged inline-eight, rated 160 horsepower. This one is part of the Keith Crain Collection (Automotive News, AutoWeek).

5. 1983 Porsche 911 SC

This one belongs to the parents of Automobile Magazine contributing photographer Andrew Trahan. This Euro-spec SC is no trailer queen, driven regularly, according to Mark Trahan.

6. 1973 Dodge Demon Flip Top Funny Car

Inspiration for the street-legal 840-horsepower 2018 Dodge Challenger Demon surely came from pure drag racecars like this one, currently owned by Jim Matuszak. According to the Concours’ description, this Demon was the first Flip Top Funny Car to exceed 230 mph. It was capable of 6.3-second quarter-mile times, making it one of the most competitive drag racers of its time.

7. 1910 Ford Model T Touring by Gray and Sons

Yes, it’s a Model T with a bespoke body. Its running chassis was built in March 1910 at Ford’s Piquette Plant in Detroit, then completed with the custom touring body in Walkerville, Ontario. Shortly thereafter, Ford sold the Piquette plant to Studebaker, and moved Model T production to its new Highland Park factory. Owner is Ralph J. Boyer.

8. Ferrari GTC4 Lusso Coupe

This 70th anniversary edition is finished in Rosso Corsa paint and is owned by Lauren and David Mendelson.

And…

9. Winning Porsche poster

CCS students submitted poster designs in a contest by the Concours to recognize its honored marque this year, Porsche. The top three poster designers were named apprentice judges. This is the winning poster, by David Pichla, who just graduated from CCS, and already has a job designing interiors for General Motors.

10. And motorcycles…

This one is a 1969 Triumph Bonneville Board Tracker by Knight Cycle Works, in front of Diane Flis-Schneider, executive director of the Concours d’Elegance of America.

11. …and fashion.

LaPorcshia Winfield wears a dress made of Hudson’s department store bags, designed by Matthew, from the Paper Bag Collection.

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Roborace Proves Human Drivers are Optional in Goodwood Hillclimb

Technology firm Roborace succeeded at making history at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed. Its Robocar was the first autonomous race car ever to climb the hill at the event, and as you can see in the video below, it did a pretty good job.

Automated computer systems and a variety of sensors give the car a 360-degree view of its surroundings. This technology includes an Nvidia Drive PX2 computer, radar, lidar, ultrasonic, GPS, and camera sensors. Trees block satellite signals along much of the course, making it unhelpful to rely much on GPS, however.

Under the sheetmetal, the Robocar employs four 135-kilowatt electric motors that power each wheel. All together, these motors produce more than 500 hp. The car is the work of Daniel Simon, former senior designer at Bugatti and creator of fantasy vehicles for Hollywood films such as Tron: Legacy and Oblivion.

The Robocar wasn’t the only autonomous vehicle to make its way up the hillclimb course, however. An autonomous 1965 Ford Mustang, commissioned by Siemens and the Cransfield University in the U.K., managed to climb the hill, although a bit slower and less gracefully. The pioneering autonomous hillclimbs were performed just in time for the 25th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Source: Goodwood, Goodwood Road & Racing via YouTube

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All-New Toyota Supra’s Interior Spied

There’s still a lot of time before we finally get to see the all-new Toyota Supra completely unmasked. Even the Supra prototype at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was still rocking the red, white, and black camouflage for its public debut.

What we didn’t see at Goodwood was a close-up of the fifth-generation Supra’s new interior—until now.

Our spies managed to snap some revealing photos of the upcoming car’s interior and it seems to share a number of interior bits with its convertible cousin—the 2019 BMW Z4.

It makes a lot of sense since both sports cars are co-developed between the makers and are made at the Magna Steyr factory in Graz, Austria. The contract manufacturer also builds BMW’s 5 Series, the Mercedes G-Class, and several Jaguar Land Rover models.

Compared to the Z4 we’ve seen recently, the steering wheels are nearly identical and both share a new digital instrument cluster that is well concealed in these new spy shots.

Toyota’s automatic shifter looks slightly larger and is not as stubby as the Bimmer’s. The touchscreen and air vents below are the same, as well as most of the buttons and switches. It’s nearly impossible to overlook the big, round BMW iDrive controller on the center console.

Even the warnings on the black plastic sheet that covers the touchscreen and digital cluster are in German. It reads nicht entfernen which translates to “do not remove.” Well, at least the exterior will look different than the Z4, right?

The Toyota Supra is expected to go on sale next year.


















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Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Runs the Goodwood Hillclimb Like a Ninja

Over the years, the Nissan GT-R has become a bit dated due to a lack of a full redesign. Now, a collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign has resulted in a fresh reinterpretation of the sports car. The Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was recorded running the famous 1.16-mile hillclimb.

In the video below, you can hear the car’s roaring twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 engine that makes 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. That’s a good deal more than the standard GT-R Nismo, which produces 600 hp and 481 lb-ft. An upgraded Brembo brake system allows the car to handle the extra power, and the model also receives a revised Bilstein damping system. In terms of design, the car stands out with its power bulge hood, lowered roofline, “samurai blade” cooling outlet behind the front wheels, and large adjustable rear wing.




The vehicle represents the first collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign. It celebrates the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and the Italian design and engineering firm. The GT-R50 may spawn a limited-production model that would be built by hand.

Nissan factory GT3 racers Lucas Ordóñez and Alex Buncombe were tasked with driving the GT-R50 up the hill. Watch the video below to see how the model performs. Then check out the video below that to learn about the process of creating the model.




















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WATCH: 10 Reasons the WRX STI Type RA is the Best Subaru Ever

In 2017, Subaru built a special WRX STI with the single purpose of conquering the famous Nürburgring. And conquer it did, setting the lap record for a four-door sedan with a time of 6:57.5.

To celebrate the milestone, Subaru created the limited-edition 2018 WRX STI Type RA, which carries many improvements taken from or inspired by the record-setting car. Just 500 were allocated for the U.S. for 2018, with a starting price of $49,895. That’s a lot of money for a Subaru, but keep watching to find out why this Subaru is a lot of car.

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Video: Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign Runs the Goodwood Hillclimb

Over the years, the Nissan GT-R has become a bit dated due to a lack of a full redesign. Now, a collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign has resulted in a fresh reinterpretation of the sports car. The Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign debuted at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was recorded running the famous 1.16-mile hillclimb.

In the video below, you can hear the car’s roaring twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 engine that makes 710 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. That’s a good deal more than the standard GT-R Nismo, which produces 600 hp and 481 lb-ft. An upgraded Brembo brake system allows the car to handle the extra power, and the model also receives a revised Bilstein damping system. In terms of design, the car stands out with its power bulge hood, lowered roofline, “samurai blade” cooling outlet behind the front wheels, and large adjustable rear wing.




The vehicle represents the first collaboration between Nissan and Italdesign. It celebrates the 50th anniversaries of both the GT-R and the Italian design and engineering firm. The GT-R50 may spawn a limited-production model that would be built by hand.

Nissan factory GT3 racers Lucas Ordóñez and Alex Buncombe were tasked with driving the GT-R50 up the hill. Watch the video below to see how the model performs. Then check out the video below that to learn about the process of creating the model.

Source: Nissan, Goodwood Road & Racing via YouTube




















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