2019 Audi A7 First Drive: South African Soundtrack
Driving the stylish new A7 hatchback in Cape TownI was heading down a narrow, craggy lane outside of Cape Town, South Africa, when we approached a group of children walking along its dry grassy edge. I slowed. They were maybe 10 or 11 years old, dressed in a palette of primary colors - yellow or green shirts; red or blue pants; I guess they'd just gotten out of school. Turning around, they glanced at us in the rolling black-grilled, laser-headlighted, hulking electric-blue 2019 Audi A7 and instinctively spilled into our path, loping into a sort of spontaneous dance.
© Provided by Driving.ca This hasn’t happened since 1990. Actually, officially, it was January 11th, 1989, and the upsetting of apple cart I am talking about happened in Detroit. The North American International Auto Show to be exact. Cobo Hall, way in the back if I remember rightly.
Auto buffs of a certain age will know immediately I am referring to Lexus’ applecart-upsetting LS400 and how much it upset the founding fathers of the modern luxury set. Although we weren’t sure until we actually tested the big V8 project the following September, we had an inkling that Toyota’s “Circle-F” project was going to be a thorn in the sides of BMW and Mercedes-Benz. (I was going to make metaphor with something referring to “pole” and “up” so as to truly capture the discomforting contortions the LS was putting the Germans through, but the editor insisted I make this a PG-rated road test.) The point, in case your missing it, was that this was the first time the Japanese made a car better than the Germans. Not good for the money. Not cheaper, more reliable or more fuel efficient. Just plain better. Asian automakers have been chasing that same excellence ever since.
The Genesis Essentia is a Stunningly Gorgeous Electric Concept
Now this is how you design a concept carBuilt to be an all-electric grand tourer, the two-door Essentia shows what Genesis designers can do when they're allowed to really let loose. The headlights remind us of the ones we saw on the GV80 concept at last year's New York Auto Show, and the grille is still generally shaped like the one on the G70, but if it weren't for the Genesis name on the back, we doubt anyone would know they're looking at a Genesis. From the sleek curves of the sheetmetal to the butterfly doors and even the copper wheels, the futuristic Essentia appears to have been designed almost entirely from scratch.
I won’t try to convince you that Genesis’ new G70, the car I am about to rave about, is going to have as much of an impact as the original LS400. For one thing, the Teutonic trio (now that Audi has been added to the rostrum) are not in the state of disrepair they were in the last decade of the 20th century. For another, our expectations of Asian automakers is vastly different. We expect them to be good. We expect them to be technologically au courante. Indeed, we expect them to be competitive.© Provided by Driving.ca
But the G70, rekindling the original spirit of the Lexus, is better. Again, not better for the money (and, yes, it still has something of a price advantage). Not more reliable (which it probably will be) or more fuel efficient (oops, we may have slipped backwards a bit there). Simply better.
Genesis Prices G70 Sports Sedan
he G70 will arrive through the brand's new sales outlets and in-home experience later this month, with all-inclusive pricing starting from $42,000.Genesis has priced its first compact sports sedan. The G70 will arrive through the brand's new sales outlets and in-home experience later this month, with all-inclusive pricing starting from $42,000.
One thing that does differ from that Lexus of old is that, while it was the LS400’s engine that was the card that trumped the Germans, in the G70’s case, it’s the chassis. Simply put, the new G70 is the kind of ultimate driving machine BMW used to put out with casual regularity but, for some reason decided mainstream consumers didn’t want any more. Indeed, the completeness of the Genesis chassis package is breathtaking, racking up superlatives in virtually every area of comportment.
Credit for that must go to Albert Biermann, the former VP of BMW’s M division that the Hyunda/Kia empire kidnapped a few years ago and, who, according to Genesis’ manager of product strategy, Patrick Danielson, “had a hand in every single aspect of the chassis’ development.” That means the steering, despite being electrically boosted, is as communicative as BMWs of yore. The chassis, shared with Kia’s similarly excellent Stinger, is super stiff, the perfect platform on which to build performance sedan. And the suspension is that magical combination of soft enough for bumps and tight enough for apexes that BMW used to have sole proprietorship of. Indeed, to be very specific about my commendation of Genesis, the top-of-the-line G70 3.3T Dynamic with its Custom vehicle setting configuration set to Sport for steering and chassis electronics, but set for Comfort-designated suspension compliance — a set-up specifically recommended by Danielson — is the best combination of road-holding and suspension compliance to be had in the entry-level luxury sedan segment today.
2019 Subaru Ascent First Drive
Filling out the lineup
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Even on the track, the all-wheel-driven 3.3L acquits itself quite well. Oh there’s a little “push,” but nowhere near as much as you’d expect from a car that is, after all, not meant for such roundy-round shenanigans. Genesis does offer what they claim is a more track friendly car, the 2.0T Sport, complete with rear-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual transmission. It may be a little tighter and a little sharper round the sharpest hairpins, but truth be told, I preferred the 3.3L version of the Sport in almost every regard. So, opt for the lesser motor if you must have a manual trannie, but otherwise the higher-spec car is the optimum choice.
That’s simply because, while the by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four is competitive — its 252 horses are equal to the class-leading Audi S4 — the twice turbocharged V6 is a real stonker. More robust than anything remotely competitive — the 400-hp Infiniti Q50 Red Sport being the sole exception — the 3.3L’s 365 ponies are backed up by a stout 376 pound-feet of torque, which is available as low as 1,370 rpm. Yes, throttle response is instantaneous. Mated to the quick-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, it makes for an impressive powertrain.
2019 Acura RDX First Drive: The Hitman
Doesn’t talk much, always gets the job doneRegardless of franchise, the character is always the same: square jaw, finely tailored suit, obsessed with precision and discipline. He's generally dispassionate and ruthlessly effective. If he were a car, he'd be the 2019 Acura RDX.
Said automatic is also, however, the source of one of the G70’s most glaring faults, one so obvious that one has to wonder how it slipped by quality control. Slip into Sport mode, then floor the throttle and the transmission will, as it is supposed to, skip down a gear or two. And, once you let off, it holds that lower gear — again, as it supposed to. Things then get a little untidy because it is supposed to, after three or four seconds, of constant throttle, figure out that you’re no longer calling for Full Banzai mode and it’s supposed to, without prompting, shift up again. That is what is supposed to.© Provided by Driving.ca
What it actually does is keep on holding the lower gear ad infinitum as if you’ve switched to manual mode. Just cause I’m contrary, I kept it screaming in second for about 15 seconds and the ECU — because this is obviously a software glitch — never figured out that we were done playing silly buggers. I do, however, suspect the problem will be nothing but a 15-minute chip reflash and, Bob’s-your-uncle, the trannie will be right as rain.
As for more proletarian concerns — such as interior décor and exterior design — know that the G70 is very much a triumph of substance over style. The actual layout of the G70’s cabin breaks no new ground. Indeed, it might even be — with touchscreen controls and redundant buttonry — a little busy. But the materials and execution are exquisite. BMW wishes its 3 Series had leather so soft. Mercedes will be envious of the G70’s extensive — seats, dash and doors — quilted stitching. And, if the actual design of the cabin is conservative, Genesis Canada’s choice of colours for its Nappa leather is not; besides the standard tan and black, there’s a host of purples and greens that truly stand out. There’s a level of superior quality to this Genesis’s cabin that used to be the sole purview of Audi.
2019 Mercedes-Benz C300 First Drive: A Car That Talks to Itself
Significant tech upgrades provide new connected services, safety featuresTake a quick glance at the exterior of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C300, and you'd be forgiven for not spotting any conspicuous visual changes. Squint, and perhaps you might notice the revised shape of the bumpers, or the way the standard LEDs brighten up the head- and taillights at night. But that's about it.
As for equipment, the G70, even in base form, has all the gear: wireless charging for cellphone, an impressive array of automatic driver aids (lane departure warning, driver attention warning, etc.) — and, in every model save the base “Advanced” model, at least 15 speakers with which to boom your base. The one exception to this rule is that, for some reason, navigation is an option — yes, at $42,000! — and not standard until you move up to the $47,000 Elite model.
As for the exterior, it is quite comely. The only issue and truly my only complaint with the G70 (the transmission thing, a I said, is almost assuredly to be cured before the first car is delivered), is that the styling is a bit derivative. Yes, as I said, it’s easy on the eyes. But the front grill reminds of Lexus’s aggressive spindle, the front wheel arches look vaguely Infiniti-ish and the entire side profile is kinda, sorta 3 Series. This car, indeed, this brand, is deserved of its own, completely unique design statement, one that matches what the engineers have wrought with the chassis.
And, as I have lauded, it will be the chassis that is the G70’s calling card. Oh, the price is competitive — the base model starts at $42,000 and the all-singing, all-dancing 3.3T Sport rings in at $57,000, all including PDI and five years maintenance, mind you — and the powertrains willing, but the fact it sports a chassis that outperforms the very best the Germans have to offer is the real reason you’ll want a Genesis. Be a brand slave all you want, but never believe that you German touring sedan handles or rides better.
2019 BMW M2 Competition First Drive: A Fresh Slice .
Entry-level M anointed with a new engine, suspension, and titleNow, BMW has taken that power of multiplication to its performance lineup. M Competition is a new standalone model, slotting a notch above the entry-level M Performance and storied M models, and below the hardcore CS and GTS (soon to be CSL) performance rungs. That's a total of five separate performance levels. Take that, Audi and Mercedes-AMG, with your piddling two offerings each.