FEED - MotorWeek
Track Test: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupe
Goss' Garage: Modern Stereos
Two Wheelin': Indian Scout Bobber
Motor News: Nissan and VW AI | Alexa Integration | Fisker
Long Term Update: Chrysler Pacifica | Mazda CX-9
Road Test: 2018 Range Rover Velar
In MotorWeek Podcast 175, John Davis and the gang go over the winners of MotorWeek's 2018 Drivers' Choice Awards. Plus, the group answers a viewer question about lug nuts.
We hear a lot about a future where cars will drive themselves. But, even before that, researchers envision autos doing more of the thinking through Artificial Intelligence.
Nissan is working on B-to-V, or “Brain-to-Vehicle” technology. Here, a driver wears a device that monitors brain waves. By tapping into the brain’s signals, their system can predict what the driver is going to do… and do it quicker… like emergency steering or braking.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen is teaming up with tech company NVIDIA to develop “Intelligent Co-Pilot” for their forthcoming I.D. BUZZ electric minivan. Here, sensors monitor both the inside and outside the vehicle. VW believes Artificial Intelligence can learn how to assess situations, analyze the behavior of others on the road, and then make driving decisions.
Nearer term, face recognition may soon replace a keyfob for unlocking your car.
And, even sooner, Amazon’s Alexa is coming along for the ride in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Starting in some models this year, drivers will be able to talk casually to Amazon's cloud based service rather than using the precise words and phrases most other voice recognition system demand.
California based Fisker Incorporated is among the latest to enter the electric car arena. But, it’s how they will power their future EVs that could have the biggest impact on the automotive industry.
Fisker plans to launch this wild Emotion electric sedan in 2019. They claim it will have a range of 400-miles between charges by using a denser lithium-ion battery pack. Beyond that, the company has filed patents for their research with solid state batteries. Fisker thinks this digital technology could ultimately increase electric driving range beyond 500-miles, while decreasing the charging time to a minute or less.
Of course, time will also tell if these innovative ideas become everyday realities. And that’s it for this week’s Motor News.
The infotainment systems in modern cars are pretty amazing. Now why do we call them infotainment systems? Well info for information, tainment for the entertainment they give us. But they are very different from anything that we have had in the past.
See in the past we had a radio, such as we have here. May have some features built into it, may have some auxiliary things and so on. But it was self-contained. You pulled it out and put a new one in that had the features that you wanted and that was it.
Well that may not work these days. You see, because what we have here, this might look like the unit, but what it actually is is a screen. It’s like a monitor that you would have for your computer or anything else. Controls are down here in a separate module and there are probably other modules located around the car that work into this and supply information to it and give you the ability to control various things.
So, in situations like this, what you may be able to do, you might be able to add some information systems to it, maybe you want to add a backup camera or something like that. That can usually be done. One of the things, if you do have a system where you can change it over, make sure that it is compatible with steering wheel controls, if your car has steering wheel controls. And you have to go through all of these different things.
One thing that you can do on just about any car, and that is upgrade the speakers, which on a lot of these basic systems, that of and by itself will be like an upgrade to the whole system. So you have to do your homework. You probably can do something, but you may not be able to do all that you want without spending a ton of money. And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.
While adventure bikes and scramblers have been all the rage of late, another retro theme has started to emerge, the Bobber. Don’t know what a Bobber is? That’s okay, our Two Wheelin’ Guru Brian Robinson is here to help!
BRIAN ROBINSON: “While there were numerous failed attempts at reviving the Indian brand over the years, since taking control in 2011, Polaris seems willing to do whatever it takes to truly make it happen, including shutting down their own Victory brand to put all of their resources into building bikes like this”
This is the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber. Those keeping up with cruisers, will know that the Scout is the entry-level into Indian; but entry-level doesn’t have to mean boring, truly the case with this midsize cruiser.
If you ever wanted to look like you just rode out of a 1950s biker movie, this is a good place to start. The simplistic answer to what makes a bobber, is the bobbed or chopped fender look that gained popularity in the 50s when a surplus of military motorcycles began making their way on to the streets, paralleling the Hot Rod craze on the car side of things.
Furthering the look, usually entailed chopping off everything shiny or not necessary, putting on some cheap fat tires, and getting everything as low as possible.
Bar-end mirrors are standard. And they can be swapped and oriented downward as seen here, the way Indian delivered it to me. Also included is a side-mount for your license plate
The requisite V-twin engine is the 69 cubic-inch version of the Scout engine; 1,133ccs and water-cooled, it puts out 100-horseopwer and 72 lb-ft. of torque.
Indian has done a fairly good job of minimizing the radiator, to keep the classic cruiser look intact.
That may not sound like a whole lot of torque, but every bit of it seems available at the first hint of throttle application.
Keep ripping through the gears, and you’ll find yourself trying to hold onto the bars as you slide off the back of the seat.
Which brings us to the next point, like most bikes designed around a styling theme, there is a price to pay. That cool-looking solo seat is not comfortable by any means. And when combined with the stretched out riding position to reach the forward controls and handlebar, as well as the minimal travel to the rear shocks, my tailbone was asking for a break way earlier than as usual.
Very limited ground clearance is also part of the picture, making it much more fun grabbing attention around the local watering hole, than scraping hard parts around corners.
But the actual dollar amount price is not bad at all, starting at just $11,499. You’ll have to pay an extra 500-bucks for the classic Indian Red paint scheme, but well worth it as far as I’m concerned.
While the 2018 Indian Scout Bobber may be more about form than function. It is indeed one heck of a form, one that everyone I came in contact with thought was beautiful. And in case you forget what it is you’re riding, Indian was kind enough to place plenty of clues all over this beastly beauty. Thanks for all of the reminders, Indian. And thanks for bringing the brand back, Polaris. We love seeing Indians on the street again, and you’ll find it hard to stop looking at this one.
Engine: 3.0 liter
Torque: 332 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.0 seconds @100 mph
EPA: 18 mpg city / 24 mpg highway,
Energy Impact: 16.5 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 7.3 tons/yr
When Jaguar entered the SUV world with the F-PACE, we raved about the excellence of their mostly ground up design. After all, they could have simply rebadged a ute from their cousin Land Rover. Now, as it turns out, it’s Land Rover doing some reverse engineering, with a new SUV based on the F-PACE, the Range Rover Velar.
If you’re not a Land Rover enthusiast, you might wonder where this 2018 Range Rover Velar fits in. Well, it’s a true midsize entry, slotting in between the larger Range Rover Sport and compact Evoque.
Engine choices are in step with the Jaguar F-Pace; 2.0-liter turbo-4s, one diesel one petrol, and a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 that rates 380-horsepower and 332 lb-ft. of torque. All work with a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission.
But lest you think this is simply old-school badge engineering, know that Land Rover engineers did indeed start with the bare bones of the F-Pace, including maintaining its 113–inch wheelbase. But from there, they created an all-new Range Rover.
And certainly a high-fashion one. With no obvious resemblance to the F-Pace; just plenty of styling cues from other Land Rovers; with a floating roof design, some snazzy fender trim, and pop out door handles thrown in for good measure. All standing on up to 22-inch wheels.
More emphasis was put on off-road performance as well. So, in addition to standard all-wheel-drive, the Velar is available with Terrain Response 2, and gets an electronic air suspension setup not obtainable on the F-Pace, at least for now anyway. And, it’s not just pretty, with a towing capacity of 5,500-lbs.
Admittedly, handling prowess has been lost in the process, as the Velar doesn’t feel quite as light on its feet as the F-Pace, but ride quality is truly sublime.
Dialing up Dynamic mode helps it feel it’s sportiest, and owners can dial in their own customized setup.
Maintaining their superior off-road image is vital to Land Rover, and the Velar is truly more capable than most will ever experience. It also feels rock solid with its aluminum monocoque chassis construction. There’s no ability to engage a low range; but the full suite of electronic aids specific for the trail, have the ability to send full power to whichever wheel is getting the most traction, getting you through just about anything you might encounter.
Of course you’re well-swaddled in Range Rover luxury while doing that, including numerous leather packages, and supremely comfortable seats. It’s a gorgeous look.
This is certainly not your father’s Land Rover, unless he had his own proprietary touch panel control system installed. Here it’s Land Rover’s new InControl Touch Pro Duo with twin 10-inch capacitive touchscreens.
With few traditional physical controls, it can be intimidating when you first hop in, but it’s a mostly-logical setup that doesn’t take too long to get comfortable with.
Rear seat passengers don’t miss out on the luxury treatment either, and space is among best in class.
As is cargo room, 34.4 cubic-ft. behind the 2nd row, 70.1 with the 40/20/40 split seatbacks folded flat.
All of that makes this Range Rover as functional as it is beautiful.
As for track work, our supercharged V6 Velar hopped off the line eagerly with good all-wheel-drive grip. The rear really squats down as you take off, hitting 60 in 5.5-seconds.
And right away, you realize Jaguar kept all of the cool exhaust notes for themselves, as here you just get some droning engine noise. Shifts are quick and smooth however, taking you through the ¼-mile in 14.0-seconds flat at a nice even 100 miles-per-hour.
It was a difficult task determining what exactly its capabilities are in the handling department. The chassis feels proficient enough, but as soon as there’s even a hint of understeer, the “safety at all costs” computer initiates “priority slow down procedures” and starts triggering the brakes.
It does exhibit only minor body roll throughout the cones however, with medium to light steering.
And just 102-feet is all it took to bring this thing to a halt from 60. Some nose dive is to be expected bringing 4,471-lbs. to a complete stop that quickly, but even that was relatively minor.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the V6 are 18-City, 24-Highway, and 20-Combined. We averaged a fine 21.7 miles-per-gallon on the required Premium. That makes for an Energy Impact Score slightly below the average for all cars, with annual oil consumption of 16.5-barrels and CO2 emissions of 7.3 tons.
A wide range for this Rover has prices starting at just $50,895, and stretching to at least $78,095 for an R-Dynamic HSE V6; our tester was closer to $90,000. Yikes!
Still, if you’re like us, your first response to the middle-weight 2018 Range Rover Velar may be “just what we needed, another luxury SUV”. But, Land Rover has been building posh off-roaders for longer than anybody, so it’s always good to see what they’re up to next. Now it’s up to the rest of the segment to see if they can keep up with the Velar.
Engine: 4.0 liter
Torque: 516 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 11.5 seconds @ 129 mph
EPA: 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway,
AMG’s GT arrived for 2016, following the highly-regarded SLS supercar. It was actually the higher performing S version that we got our hands on first; and since then, it was followed by a Roadster as well as an even higher-performance GT C.
This 2018 GT R is their most serious effort yet, aimed at enthusiasts who plan on spending more days at the track than touring the countryside. And don’t think of it so much as a cranked up S or C, it’s more like GT 2.0, with a full systems reboot.
The R-gmentation starts with an extensively modified suspension, weight reduction, enhanced aerodynamics, and available carbon ceramic brakes.
Wrapped around those brakes are lightweight forged wheels; 19-inch in front, 20 in the rear with 325-series Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
And, from there, the engineers had a chance to really step out. Carbon-fiber fenders cover those wheel-and-tire packages, and are 1.8-inches wider in front, 2.3 in back.
The front-mid-engine layout keeps the profile long and low, with the proportions just right.
We were a little disappointed to see this Mars Red tester show up instead of the available “AMG Green Hell Mango” livery. But, that’s the exhibitionist in us talking.
A new grille up front is influenced by AMG’s GT3 race car, while the entire nose is more V-shaped. A broader front splitter, air curtains, cooling slits in the wheel liners, redesigned rear fascia, and large fixed wing are among the aerodynamic enhancements. That wing, as well the side mirrors can be constructed in carbon fiber if you so choose.
In addition, active aero elements behind the front fascia and underbody, funnel air for either max cooling or max downforce depending on the situation. All to make a supremely track-worthy Benz if there ever was one!
So, it’s off to the nine turns of Roebling Road Raceway to get the full scoop.
Much like music is more about flow than precision or technique, stitching corners together at a race track is more about rhythm than ultimate power delivery or spec sheets. And in the same way you can’t always describe why you like a particular song, the GT R just feels right on the track.
As mentioned, the aluminum front and rear double-wishbone coil-over suspension has been totally revamped, allowing for more adjustments; besides the normal AMG Dynamic Select drive modes.
In keeping up with the Porsches and Lamborghinis, AMG has also added rear-wheel steering for even quicker turn-ins. It also helps the rear to work with you more than against you when it comes time to powering out of corners.
AMG Traction Control has a whopping nine levels of intervention for finding the sweet spot for both your abilities as well as current track conditions.
And did we mention there’s more power? AMG has cranked up the boost in both of the turbos that are nestled in between this hand-assembled 4.0-liter V8’s cylinder banks, adding 74-more horsepower to 577. Peak torque is 516 lb-ft., and new dry sump lubrication keeps the oil pumping through its veins no matter how hard you’re cornering.
The rear-mounted 7-speed DCT gets revised gearing and a software update for quicker shifts, as well as additional cooling.
As for getting things done on the straight and narrow; engage Race Start, release the brake, and the car takes care of the rest; pushing a lucky owner to 60 in 3.6-seconds.
Keep the throttle buried, and amidst a symphony of V8 snorts, turbo-whine, and divine exhaust trumpeting; you’ll clear the ¼ in 11.5-seconds at 129 miles-per-hour.
One finds themselves pushed firmly into the AMG Performance seats the whole time, which also hold you just right when working your way around the whole track. By the way, colored seatbelts are an option.
There’s plenty of carbon fiber around the interior, and most controls mimic other GTs except for the new Traction Control knob.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 15-City, 20-Highway, and 17-Combined.
Base pricing for the GT R is $157,995. That’s a potentially priceless amount of performance for $44,600 over a base AMG GT.
Nurburging records never last for long. And enthusiast infatuation with performance cars is usually just as fickle. Still, if you’re looking to make your own personal Festival of Speed happen anytime or anywhere, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GT R is already there. Mercedes claims it has the most motorsports technology that they’ve ever packed into a production street car. As of right now, it is the ultimate AMG GT Coupe, and one heck of a thrill ride!
Drivers' Choice Awards: Part 1
Drivers' Choice Awards: Part 2
Goss' Garage: Wheel Allignment
Auto World: 2017 Callaway Sledgehammer
Quick Spin: 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo
Quick Spin: 2018 Volvo XC40
Drivers' Choice Awards: Best of the Year
MotorWeek’s 2018 “Best of the Year” Revealed: Kia Stinger
Announced at the Chicago Auto Show, nation’s largest consumer auto show
CHICAGO – The all-new Kia Stinger is MotorWeek’s 2018 Drivers’ Choice Award winner for “Best of the Year,” announced today in Chicago at the nation’s largest consumer automotive showcase. Over an unprecedented 37 years of bringing weekly automotive news to consumers, MotorWeek has evaluated thousands of distinctive cars, all potentially deserving of their “best of” moniker. Every year, the pressure is on to thin the herd to a handful and then to just one winner overall.
The Kia Stinger luxury-sport sedan aimed itself squarely at the compact European sport sedan segment – and with its design team based in Germany, there is little doubt that it earned its style points alongside traditional luxury-performance brands while also looking very different from other cars in the Kia stable.
“Dynamic in both design and quality, the Stinger is a superlative example of how to successfully break into the established European sport sedan market – no easy task – but the Stinger proves it has what it takes,” says MotorWeek creator and host John Davis. “Delivering on both style and drive, the Stinger is incredibly responsive with great power as well as solid handling and brakes. That’s why the Stinger won our staff’s vote in the “Best Sport Sedan” category, which then put it in the running for our ‘Best of the Year’ honor.”
By design, Kia engineers skipped the typical four-door sedan formula and went directly to the five-door coupe-roofed hatchback so popular outside of America. Then they added capable power from a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6 for the top level Stinger GT, while base Stingers get a still-potent 255-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
“Kia knows it takes some splash to get noticed in the sport sedan segment, and they’ve delivered,” says Davis. “MotorWeek followers count on our awards to steer them towards the cars that are the most fun to drive – after all, that’s the point of our awards.”
In Stinger, the fast-roofed skin cloaks a finely-balanced, rear-drive chassis. Either of the two engine choices found under the long hood is paired with an 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both powertrains can also be fitted with all-wheel drive, a great benefit for buyers in the Midwest and Northeast especially.
“While the 2.0 is no slouch, the GT’s V6 powertrain really impressed us with its overall smoothness. Even the paddle shifters work with a quick precision we didn’t expect,” says Davis.
Starting at around $32,000 for the 2.0-liter and $40,000 for the GT, Kia has married good looks and a great drive with affordability.
All Drivers’ Choice Award winners are featured on Motorweek.org, and will appear on a special episode (#3723) of MotorWeek airing on public television stations beginning February 10, and on cable’s Velocity beginning February 20. MotorWeek and the 2018 Drivers’ Choice Awards are nationally sponsored by The Tire Rack, WeatherTech, RockAuto, State Farm and Hum by Verizon.
One of the auto industry’s most coveted honors, MotorWeek’s Drivers’ Choice Awards were announced at the largest consumer-driven auto show in North America, the 2018 Chicago Auto Show. In selecting the annual Drivers’ Choice Awards, the MotorWeek’s editorial staff evaluates more than 150 cars, trucks, and sports utility vehicles every year. Winners are chosen based on driving performance, technology, practicality, fuel efficiency, and value for the dollar.
2018 Drivers’ Choice Award Winners:
Best Small Car - Honda Civic**
Best Family Sedan - Honda Accord
Best Convertible - Mazda MX-5 Miata RF
Best Luxury Sedan - BMW 5 Series
Best Sport Sedan - Kia Stinger
Best Sport Coupe - Lexus LC 500
Best Performance Car - Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
Best Small Utility - Mazda CX-5
Best Large Utility - Volkswagen Atlas
Best Luxury Utility - Land Rover Range Rover Velar
Best Minivan - Honda Odyssey
Best Pickup Truck - Ford F-150
Best Eco-Friendly - Chevrolet Bolt EV*
Best Dream Machine - Aston Martin DB11, Porsche 911 GT2 RS, Mercedes-Benz G550 4X4²
MotorWeek is television’s longest-running and most-respected automotive series. Debuting in 1981, MotorWeek launched a new television genre by becoming the first weekly series to offer consumer-oriented car and truck reviews, do-it-yourself car care tips, and the latest auto industry news. Produced by Maryland Public Television, the award-winning series is now in its 37th season. The winner of numerous automotive journalism awards, MotorWeek is a reliable source of automotive news on television and on the web.
Distributed nationwide and overseas by Maryland Public Television, MotorWeek airs on 92 percent of PBS broadcast stations and can also be seen on the Velocity cable channel. Program excerpts are available to viewers on the program’s website, motorweek.org, and on its YouTube Channel, youtube.com/Motorweek. Fans can like MotorWeek on Facebook and also follow MotorWeek on Instagram and Twitter.
*Denotes Repeat Winner from 2017 **Denotes Repeat Winner from 2016 & 2017
# # #
A phrase that I hear from lots of drivers all the time, I think my car needs a front wheel alignment. Alright well, does it really? See there’s more to a modern car than just a front wheel alignment.
Now let’s see what we’re talking about. We have this little imitation car we’ve got the wheels properly aligned on it, we push it down the road and it goes straight. But let’s misalign the rear wheels. Let’s get this here, and now we can see that the rear wheels are off on an angle like that, the front wheels they’re still straight ahead. So we push it down the road now and what happens? Well the rear wheels steer the car right off of the road. Or it might steer it into the center of the road depending on how the car is out of alignment and that means that as we go down to compensate for this we have to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction so when the car is moving the steering wheel is no longer properly centered. So that’s sometimes an indication of the rear wheels being out of alignment.
So what do we do? Well we take the car into the shop and the shop has to put it on an alignment machine and check the adjustment of the rear wheels in order to know if they are in alignment or out of alignment. If they are out of alignment we align the rear wheels first. Then we use those as a reference to align the front wheels. Now we have aligned all four wheels and it is a four wheel alignment. And when we get done the steering wheel, well it should be just nice and centered no matter what we are doing other than steering the wheel. The big thing, remember, you don’t know if it needs a four wheel alignment til after it has been checked. And keep in mind that virtually all modern cars have arms and adjusters and stuff here in the back that can be turned to adjust the rear wheel so all of this works properly. And if you have a question or comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.
In MotorWeek Podcast 174, John Davis and the gang talk about a trio of American muscle cars: the Ford Mustang GT, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Wide- body, and the Chevy Camaro ZL1 1LE. Plus, Greg talks about his recent drive of the new Jeep Wrangler, and the group answers a viewer question about autonomous cars and black ice.
NAIAS Part 1: Domestic Debuts
Over the Edge: Electrified Muscle
Goss' Garage: Autonomous Maintenance
NAIAS Part 2: Import Debuts
Road Test: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek