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Road Test: 2019 BMW i8 Roadster | 2018 BMW i3
Goss' Garage: Batter Up Batteries
FYI: Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary
Eye Spy: Aston Martin DBS Superlegerra Volante
Quick Spin: 2019 Ford Edge
Quick Spin: 2019 Bentley Bentayga V8
Road Test: 2019 Kia Forte
2019 BMW i8 Roadster:
Engine: 1.5 liter
0-60 mph: 4.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.6 seconds @ 111 mph
EPA: 27 combined MPG & 69 Combined for MPGes
Energy Impact: 7.1 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 3.2 tons/yr
2018 BMW i3:
Torque: 199 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.9 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.5 seconds @ 90 mph
There’s no getting around it, BMW just does things a little bit differently than everyone else. And that’s no different when it comes to plug-ins, with offerings that range from the humble i3, to the supercar i8. Let’s see if the “i’s” have it.
The i8 Coupe streaked its way onto the automotive scene for 2015; not only helping to launch BMW’s i electric-based sub-brand, but ushering in a whole new era of plug-in performance cars. For 2019, the i8 advanced hybrid gets some updates, as well as this even flashier Roadster version.
But a powertrain refresher is in order first. Centrally chassis located is an 11.6 kWh lithium-ion plug-in battery pack.
It allows 141-horsepower, up 12 for ’19, due to more efficient battery cells, from the electric motor driving the front wheels. As before, the rear wheels are driven by a 1.5-liter I3 turbo gasoline engine. Total output is now 369-horsepower.
You can expect about 18-miles of EV-only driving, and the typical drive modes allow you to choose when to deploy it, or you can let the car decide.
The most notable new addition is of course this Roadster body, with its power-operated cloth top. It takes just 16-seconds to neatly fold into a new storage well almost directly behind the seats. Occupying roughly the space where the rear seats are in the Coupe.
Not to worry, doors still swing up and away easily; allowing good access, as well as providing the wow factor for that grand entrance when you arrive.
No other major changes inside, save for some new storage areas where the rear seats were; and new carbon-fiber trim, which oddly enough, wasn’t an option before.
With an added 170 pounds of weight, the Roadster does get some unique suspension tuning; but not that you’d notice, as it cuts through cones just as capably as the Coupe, with essentially zero body roll. Thanks to an ultra-rigid carbon-fiber and aluminum structure.
While we’d like a little more feedback, the steering has a good weight to it. The i8’s tires are relatively narrow for such a high performance car, but we still found plenty of grip… and grins as well. With launch control engaged, the i8 leaps off the line with refined aggression; hitting 60 in just 4.1-seconds. That’s 3/10ths quicker than we achieved in the coupe.
Likewise, the ¼-mile was also faster by 3/10s at 12.6 and 111 miles-per-hour.
Despite its supercar looks, and near supercar performance; away from the track, the i8 behaves more like a graceful grand tourer. It’s not intimidating, as it’s easy to drive and even easier to love.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 27-Combined MPG, and 69-Combined for MPGes. We plugged in whenever possible, and got an impressive average of 73.5 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
That’s a great Energy Impact Score of 7.1-barrels of yearly oil use and 3.2-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing starts at $164,295; $15,800 over the Coupe.
Too rich for your blood? Well, BMW has another option for you, the i3, and there’s much to talk about here as well.
2018 added a sportier i3s variant that includes wide-body exterior upgrades with wider tires, more aggressive suspension tuning, and a more powerful motor.
S-Trim output climbs from 170 to 184-horsepower and torque from 184 to 199 lb-ft., it’s never been more fun to zip this little EV in and out of traffic.
As before a 647cc twin gasoline-fueled Range Extender generator is available.
The i3s’ extra oomph was immediately noticed at out test track. After a somewhat tentative launch, the power floodgates opened and we hit 60 in just 6.9-seconds; a full second quicker than we achieved back in 2015.
For such a tiny car, there’s great stability throughout the ultra-quiet 1/4-mile; wrapping it up in 15.5-seconds time, at 90 miles-per-hour.
Now as for its range, there’s even better news. For 2019, there’s a larger 42.2-kWh battery pack that boosts EV distance from 115-miles to a claimed 153. With the Range Extender, one should easily manage over 200 miles per charge and fill-up.
i3 pricing currently starts at $45,445; ranging to $52,495 for an i3s with the Range Extender.
So, whether you’re looking for grand touring luxury, wrapped in the exotic experience of the BMW i8 Roadster and Coupe; or a sporty city car, now with the i3s’ extra performance kick, BMW has you covered. Performance and efficiency, delivered the way only BMW can do it; the i’s have it indeed.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 132 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.1 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.4 seconds @ 87 mph
EPA: 30 mpg city / 40 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 9.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 4.4 tons/yr
There’s no shortage of great small cars to choose from right now. Well, add another one to the list, the all-new Kia Forte. Sure, it had some work to do to, to catch up to the likes of Civic and Corolla, but the folks at Kia have been busy. Let’s see how well their efforts will be rewarded.
This 2019 Kia Forte is the 3rd generation of Kia’s compact sedan. And we can easily say it’s the first one that had us wanting to drive it the moment we laid eyes on it.
Increased refinement was one of their key targets for this go around; as well as an obviously sportier design, which takes cues from their sport sedan knockout Stinger. And it does share many of the Stinger’s highlights; such as its headlight design, and sportback-like profile, with long hood and short rear deck, which goes a long way to mask the front-driver proportions.
Most measurements have increased. Wheelbase does remain the same, but overall length is up by more than three inches. Both width and height have also grown slightly.
The 2.0-liter I4 engine under the hood has not changed as far as output, remaining at 147-horsepower and 132 lb-ft. of torque. But, some updates have been made to improve efficiency.
And what’s attached to it is definitely new. It’s a CVT, but not just any CVT. This one is Kia’s own design they’ve dubbed IVT, or intelligent variable transmission.
The hardware is all typical CVT, but the software attempts to mimic a true automatic; with simulated gears providing pre-programmed upshifts under full throttle, and clear downshifts when you call for more power.
You can also get a 6-speed manual, but only in base FE trim.
As Donald Rumsfeld masterfully iterated, sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. What we didn’t know, is that with the same power as before, and the same wheelbase; could the new Forte really perform all that differently at our test track.
Well for starters, the structure has been stiffened significantly over last year, with more high-strength steel; and there’s a whole new suspension bolted to it.
Now, you could say that handling has never been the Forte’s forte, but we digress. What we will say, is that the revised geometry of the McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension, has certainly made the Forte more responsive.
We’re not talking about a sport sedan here, and there’s certainly still room for improvement; but driven at the sedate pace we expect most Forte drivers to employ, it turns in adequately quick and feels relatively solid.
Things are more of a letdown in the acceleration department. There’s just no sense of urgency from this 2.0-liter. It was a lengthy 8.1–second trip to 60 for us, though that is over half a second quicker than our last Forte sedan tested in 2014.
Under full acceleration, the new CVT certainly behaves like a traditional automatic; ramping up to redline and then falling back down to around 2,500 RPM or so. Lather, rinse, repeat. True, it doesn’t feel or sound like a CVT, but now it just feels like a really lazy automatic. The ¼-mile ended in 16.4–seconds at 87 miles-per-hour.
Not thrilling, but there are rumors of at least one sportier version of the Forte on the near horizon.
The interior layout is very familiar to what we’ve seen from Kia and even Hyundai of late. An 8-inch touchscreen is standard on all Forte’s as is automatic climate control; part of a simple and uncluttered interior that is supposedly aeronautically inspired.
Accommodations are spacious with interior volume that is very generous for its class. So, its nicely comfortable for the driver, their co-pilot, as well as those in the rear. The trunk is well finished for the compact class, and boasts a whopping 15.3 cubic-ft. of space.
Due to the CVT and engine updates, Government Fuel Economy has improved; now sitting at 30-City, 40-Highway, and 34-Combined. We averaged a quite impressive 37.0 miles-per-gallon on Regular.
That’s a very good Energy Impact Score; with 9.7-barrels of yearly oil consumption, accompanied by 4.4-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing starts at $18,585 for FE trim, but our top of the line EX tester goes for only about 4-grand more at $22,885.
While the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla will likely always be the giants in the segment, the 2019 Kia Forte has become more appealing than ever; both visually, and with a more refined driving experience. In case you haven’t heard, compact sedans are the new midsize family cars, and the new Forte is clearly in the game.
Few things on modern cars are as important as its battery and that’s because everything works with electricity on todays cars. That means we have to have a really clean battery all the time. All this grease and dirt and everything laying on top of it. We clean it away using some type of grease cutting detergent and clear water to rinse it.
But the really important thing is where the cables connect to the post. That’s where the electrical energy gets from the battery to the car. They have to be clean and tight at all times so we have to remove them and clean them. No you do not use baking soda and just pour it with some water over the connection because all that does is clean the outside it doesn’t clean the electrical inside.
So you have to remove the cables, you have a battery terminal brush or some brush like we have here and you clean the inside of the cable, the outside of the post. Both should be shiny metal. Then you put it back together.
Time again you’ve heard “use petroleum jelly.” Don’t. Because petroleum jelly has a very low melting point. The under hood of a car hood these days is very hot. This stuff melts, it gets down between the cable and connection and you have a poor electrical circuit.
What do you do? Here on this battery, we use felt pads. You can buy sprays. Gels and so on to go on there specifically for that purpose. They don’t melt, the don’t create problems.
While the battery is disconnected you want to be sure you don’t lose the memories on the car? If you have a booster pack like this, you can buy this adapter. It plugs into the computer interface under the dash, saving all the memory.
Now another thing, if you have a car that sits for an extended period of time. On the car itself when the car is running, the alternator charges the battery. Keeps it fully charged. You want to do the same thing when the car is not being used. That means you need a battery maintainer. Not a charger. Chargers can damage batteries. Maintainers work just like the alternator to keep the battery fully charged for extended periods of time without damaging it.
If you have a question or a comment drop me a line right here at Motorweek.
This year marks a big milestone for a miniature car brand that’s loved by kids of all ages, as well as coveted by collectors worldwide. I’m talking about Hot Wheels, as it turns 50 years old! So, what better time to examine the past, present and future of this iconic nameplate. Our Stephanie Hart had the rare chance to go behind the scenes at Mattel... where Hot Wheels got their start.
STEPHANIE HART: Hot wheels was born in 1968. Mattel’s co-founder Elliot Handler dreamed of a better toy car for boys-a car that looked cooler and performed better. He got his wish! A General Motors car designer and a rocket scientist came up with the first ever trackable toy car.
20-thousand different designs would follow. A whopping six billion hot wheels produced over the last fifty years.
The miniature toy cars are created here at Mattel headquarters in El Segundo, California.
Bryan Benedict: Ok let’s get another layer going in here.
Stephanie Hart: Bryan Benedict is one of fifty Hot Wheels designers. The team is made up of experts from many different industries. Like major auto manufacturers, entertainment studios and the toy industry.
Bryan Benedict: What I’m working on here is kind of like my idea for a new supercar so it’s not something that exists it’s just something out of my crazy mind.
Ted Wu: Half the cars designed here are imaginary. The other half are based on existing vehicles.
Ted Wu: Here at the Hot Wheels headquarters we can actually create 3-d versions of what the guys are thinking and then we work with our manufacturers in Asia to actually create the final product you see in stores
Stephanie Hart: The whole process takes twelve to eighteen months.
The iconic orange track system has always been a part of the Hot Wheels brand. More than six-thousand miles of orange track are produced each year. Why orange you may be wondering? Well Hot Wheels says it’s because kids are attracted to bright colors.
Stephanie Hart: It’s easy to feel like a kid again especially with this big orange track. Alright let’s give it a go. Not bad.
Chris Down: Everybody that has played with hot wheels in their head imagines what it would look like or what it would be like to drive it on the road or to see it in real life.
Stephanie Hart: He read our mind. Enter the Hot Wheels garage. It’s pretty top secret and security is tight.
Not many people are allowed inside… so we’re really excited!
Stephanie Hart: From the 1:64 scale die cast, to the real thing… let’s take this car out for a spin.
Bryan Benedict: This 20-18 limited edition Hot Wheels Camaro is commemorating Hot Wheels 50th anniversary. Twenty vehicles make up the Hot Wheels fleet. This is the way to go in California. Top down.
Stephanie Hart: And these life-size Hot Wheels are another level- literally. Three - broke world records.
Stephanie Hart: And get a good look at this one! “may the force be with you” this Star Wars Hot Wheels pumps out 175 horsepower and hits 180 miles per hour.
Stephanie Hart: Check out this 1969 VW Beach Bomb. It’s creating a lot of waves. It’s killer. And it’s die-cast prototype is extremely valuable. We’re talking close to 150k.
Die-hard collector Bruce Pascal owns it. There are only forty known models in the world.
Bruce Pascal: It’s absolutely amazing though if you think about it your grandfather played with them, today their son played and their grandchildren. It’s multigenerational just not that many toys that are such an American success story.
Stephanie Hart: Capturing the hearts of collectors and kids for half a century.
While reflecting the car culture, that’s constantly changing.
The Hot Wheels die-cast car is the number one selling toy in the world, are produced every second. And its price remains the same, fifty years later, just a cool one dollar a drive!
The all-new 2019 Honda Passport 5-passenger V6-powered SUV made its world debut at the opening of the LA Auto Show's press events. Going on sale early next year, the two-row, mid-size Passport provides a precise combination of on-road driving refinement and off-road adventure capability along with best-in-class interior space. The all-new Honda Passport will slot between the compact CR-V and three-row Pilot in Honda's popular SUV lineup. The model's reinforced unibody frame, powerful direct-injected i-VTEC® V6 engine, fully independent suspension and nimble steering make it an ideal choice for driving long distances or around town. In addition, the robust off-road capability offered by the available Honda i-VTM4™ torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and its four-mode Intelligent Traction Management system means Passport can tackle the kind of tough terrain normally reserved for less refined body-on-frame or off-road focused SUVs.
At Drone Week in Amsterdam Audi, Airbus and Italdesign are presenting for the first time a flying and driving prototype of “Pop.Up Next”.
This innovative concept for a flying taxi combines a self-driving electric car with a passenger drone. In the first public test flight, the flight module accurately placed a passenger capsule on the ground module, which then drove from the test grounds autonomously. This is still a 1:4 scale model. But as soon as the coming decade, Audi customers could use a convenient and efficient flying taxi service in large cities – in multi-modal operation, in the air and on the road. Without changing vehicles, passengers will enjoy their leisure time, relax, or work.
“Flying taxis are on the way. We at Audi are convinced of that,” says Dr. Bernd Martens, Audi board member for sourcing and IT, and president of the Audi subsidiary Italdesign. “More and more people are moving to cities. And more and more people will be mobile thanks to automation. In future senior citizens, children, and people without a driver’s license will want to use convenient robot taxis. If we succeed in making a smart allocation of traffic between roads and airspace, people and cities can benefit in equal measure.”
To see what an on-demand service of this kind could be like, Audi is conducting tests in South America in cooperation with the Airbus subsidiary Voom. Customers book helicopter flights in Mexico City or Sao Paulo, while an Audi is at the ready for the journey to or from the landing site. “Services like this help us to understand our customers’ needs better. Because in the future, flying taxis will appeal to a wide range of city dwellers. With Pop.Up Next we are simultaneously exploring the boundaries of what is technically possible. The next step is for a full-size prototype to fly and drive,” said Dr. Martens.
In what is likely to become a tidal wave of major honors, MotorTrend has named the Genesis G70 luxury sport sedan as the recipient of their 2019 MotorTrend Car of the Year award. This marks the first time that a Genesis has taken the coveted honor. G70 competed against 19 other Car of the Year award contenders in MotorTrend's evaluation of the most competent, desirable, and capable vehicles to debut for the 2019 model year. MotorTrend also awarded the Dodge Ram 1500 it’s 2019 MotorTrend Truck of the Year honor, and the Jeep Wrangler was named 2019 MotorTrend SUV of the Year. The awards were made in conjunction with the press days for the 2019 LA Auto Show. What this spot for more on what's new in LA this year.
Volvo Cars will undoubtedly have the most unique display at this week’s Automobility LA, the event formerly known as the LA Auto Show. Rather than display its full model lineup, like every other carmaker has done, at every other car show, ever… Volvo is choosing instead to focus on the “Concept of a Car”. Visitors to the Volvo stand will be greeted by a large sign proclaiming “This is Not a Car”, along with a number of interactive demonstrations of Volvo’s connectivity services, in-car delivery, autonomous driving technology and the Care by Volvo car subscription service.
Road Test: 2019 GMC Sierra
Goss' Garage: Know Your Cool
Over the Edge: Make an MPact
Quick Spin: 2019 Porsche Panamera GTS
Quick Spin: 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric and NEXO
Road Test: 2018 Ferrari 812 Superfast
In Podcast 193, John Davis and the gang are talking about the new BMW X4 and Ford Edge ST. Motorcycle man Brian Robinson shares his recent test of the Honda Gold Wing, and FYI reporter Stephanie Hart reports on the 50th Anniversary of Hot Wheels! Plus a viewer question about CD players in cars.
Engine: 6.2 liter
Torque: 460 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.7 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.1 seconds @ 97 mph
EPA: 15 mpg city / 20 mpg highway
It’s a great time to be in the market for a pickup truck. Not because prices are down; on the contrary, average transaction prices continue to climb at a rapid rate. It’s because there’s never been a bigger group of recently updated, modern, feature-packed, mega-capable trucks to choose from. And now, you can add an all-new GMC Sierra into the mix.
Much like its platform mate Chevrolet Silverado, the GMC Sierra is all new for 2019, and considerably larger in almost every dimension.
No doubt, it looks big, imposing, and hard to ignore; mostly due to the massive front, with its large chrome-clad grille.
That grille is courtesy of Denali trim, which delivers just about all the glitz you could want in a pickup truck. Accoutrements galore, include genuine wood and aluminum trim, and leather, naturally.
You can upgrade further, adding a sunroof, head up display, and power running boards. Chevrolet’s High Country is not quite this high.
Denali is of course much more than just a chrome explosion, it’s the highest mountain peak in North America. And you’ll feel like you’re climbing it, trying to get into this Sierra’s cabin. These retractable running boards? Yeah you’ll need them, and be prepared to hear a big clunk when they fold in; but you’ll surely enjoy the view from the very high seating position. Seats are firm, yet have good comfort for all day use.
The look of the interior is very familiar; lots of big traditional control knobs and switches will appeal to older buyers, rather than having a central controller or Ram’s gigantic tablet-like touchscreen.
Not that there’s not a touchscreen; an 8-inch one for the infotainment. It’s not the most intuitive system out there, but due to all of the aforementioned controls, you don’t need to use it for the basics. Gauges are still analog, but there is a comprehensive and clear info center as well.
GMC does have a few features not available on Silverado; most notably the MultiPro tailgate. It can fold in 2-stages to create a step for climbing into the bed; or you know, using it for actual tailgating. No traditional latch either, just SUV-like buttons.
The other exclusive, is an available woven carbon fiber bed that is coming but we’re not sure when.
Other trick features include storage in the rear seatbacks; and those running boards have another trick up their sleeves, as they can also move backward to help you access things inside the bed.
As far as full-size trucks go, the Sierra Denali is rather enjoyable to drive, though it certainly does feel big. Not in a clumsy way, but there’s just a lot of width to deal with. But it also has a very solid nature that makes it great for eating up large chunks of highway miles.
You can gobble them up in a hurry too, as going Denali adds the biggest GM V8 available. Capable of towing 12,000 lbs, the 6.2-liter delivers 420-horsepower and 460 lb-ft. of torque; mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission, controlled by a really old-school steering column-mounted shifter.
Much easier to use are the dash mounted electronic controls for the 4X4 and Traction Select systems.
Leaving everything in auto provided the best launches at our test track, as the Denali leaps off the line with strong V8 grunt. We hit 60 in a quick 5.7-seconds.
Shifts from GM’s 10-speed come fast and smooth, with nary a dip in power. We finished the ¼ in 14.1-seconds at 97 miles-per-hour.
Denali-exclusive Adaptive Ride Control is designed to provide a smooth ride, but it seems to settle things in the handling department as well, providing you keep the inputs smooth.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings with 4-wheel-drive and the 10-speed automatic are 15-City, 20-Highway, and 17-Combined. We averaged an acceptable 17.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
After starting at $34,995 for a V6, there’s a virtually limitless amount of configurations over 6 Sierra trim levels; the ultimate of which is Denali, starting at $56,195.
They say all things in life are cyclical, and nowhere is that more evident than where we are with full-size trucks right now. In short, they’re everywhere; and it seems we’re circling back to the 60’s, a time when big gas-guzzling American iron ruled the streets. This 2019 GMC Sierra Denali no doubt stakes its claim as one of the biggest, most luxurious ½-ton rides out there. And you’ll get no argument from us.