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Mercedes-Benz Vision EQS Concept Hints at an EV S-class

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 08:00
  • Mercedes-Benz unveiled a sporty vision of the future at the Frankfurt auto show: the Vision EQS electric concept a car that previews an EV S-class.
  • The Vision EQS still has a steering wheel, although its Level 3 autonomy means it can operate without a driver under some circumstances.
  • More to the point, its two electric motors provide 469 horsepower and approximately 560 lb-ft of torque.

The future isn't going to be a self-driving pod. At least according to Mercedes-Benz's new Vision EQS show car it won't be. The Mercedes take on the future looks sleek and low slung with simple shapes and soft contours.

So far, the EQ models and concepts in the Mercedes lineup have been practical people movers shaped like crossovers. The EQS is different. It's overtly sporting and hints at the future design direction of the brand. Doesn't nearly every concept hint at the future of design? Well, apparently, so does this one. More specifically, it gives us a look at what a fully electric S-class might be like. EQ is what Mercedes-Benz is calling its EV lineup and the S, the S here is the same as it is in S-class. It's the flagship, the large sedan..

A blacked-out roof is not a new idea; the current Camry offers one. What's unusual here is the long and thin light that wraps around the car and separates the cockpit from the body, Mercedes calls it the 360° Light Belt. Imagine a glowing pinstripe and you won't be far off. Other lighting elements, particularly the 229 star-shaped lights at the rear of the car, seamlessly integrate into the bodywork. In front, a digital grille contains 940 LEDs that can signal a turn or simply turn into a different design.

An open and airy interior with a floating center console and armrests is supposed to create serenity. It certainly looks futuristic. The instrument panel slopes up and away from the front seats. The cabin wraps around the four seats in a way that makes them look like they've been dropped into a tub. It looks far better than that sounds. There are plenty of artificial materials, such as imitation leather, but the quality and look are impressively convincing. Sustainable luxury was a refrain throughout the car's Frankfurt show reveal. More environmental concern can be seen in the headliner, which is made from recycled plastic. In a farm-to-table-style move, maple wood trim is sourced from nearby German forests to minimize the amount of CO2 used to transport it to the factory.

To get the concept moving there are two electric motors that total 469 horsepower and approximately 560 lb-ft of torque. Both motors are fed by a roughly 100.0-kWh battery. Charging on a fast-charge 350-kW outlet bring the battery from zero to 80 kWh in less than 20 minutes. Mercedes-Benz claims that such a vehicle would be able to go from zero to 60 mph in less than 4.5 seconds.

So the Vision EQS concept is not a rocket like a Tesla Model S or a Porsche Taycan, it's not a fully driverless concept, either. A steering wheel is still in front of the driver—one that's rectangular and video-game-like, but it's still there. Full autonomy isn't out of the question, but as the concept is designed now it has Level 3 autonomy, which means it could drive itself long distances on a freeway without much driver intervention. We’re all for not giving up on driving ourselves and with the EQS, Mercedes seems to acknowledge that even in the future, luxury-car customers will still want to drive.

BMW Concept 4, Crazy Grille and All, Sets Stage for Next 4-Series

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 07:00
  • BMW has unveiled the Concept 4 at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show, saying it "offers a look ahead to the expressive face of the 4-series range," which is expected in the U.S. for the 2021 model year.
  • The Concept 4 continues BMW's recent fascination with huge, ungainly grilles that are oversized variations of the company's famous kidney-shaped grilles of the past.
  • The Concept 4's proportions and styling are closely related to the 8-series coupe's, but recent spy photos of the production version of the 4-series indicate that its looks will be less exaggerated than the show car's.

BMW has a long and strong design tradition, but it's also not afraid to push the walls of the styling box it's in—sometimes to a fault. The latest example of the company's styling overzealousness is the just-introduced Concept 4.

The Concept 4 is a one-off design exercise shown for the first time at the 2019 Frankfurt auto show. It's intended to signal to the world that a new 4-series coupe is on the way and that it will look something like this.

It shouts that message out through a huge, mouthy grille, which BMW says indicates what the front end of the upcoming 2021 4-series will look like. If you've seen the latest 7-series sedan and X7 SUV, the Concept 4's front end won't be a complete shock; the grilles of those two production models are among the largest on the market, and they look like they are screaming epithets at the other vehicles on the road.

We can't decide whether the Concept 4's grille looks more like a huge waffle iron or a sea lamprey's mouth, but either way, it's intense. However, recent spy photos of a production 4-series coupe undergoing tests on the Nürburgring indicate that the production version's styling will be toned down somewhat from that of the dramatic show car—and that probably includes the grille.

A seen in the spy photos, the production 4-series' proportions seem a bit more upright—though still sleek—and its flanks appear to be less deeply sculptured. The nose, while well camouflaged, looks to have a taller version of the kidney-esque grilles seen on the Z4 and 8-series, but not as large a grille as the Concept 4's.

The 4-series is expected once again to consist of a full range of models, including the coupe, a convertible, and a Gran Coupe four-door hatchback. The 4s will be built on the same architecture that underpins the 3-series and will be powered by a similar powertain lineup. That means they will offer a choice of a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four or a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6—both hitched to a standard eight-speed automatic transmission—and optional all-wheel drive. Also as before, expect an M4 hot rod to top the lineup.

The one feature we hope we don't get? A 4-series that has a front end with quite as much, um, presence as the Concept 4's.

The 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4/Carrera 4 Cabriolet Are Latest in a Crushing Tide of New 911 Variants

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 22:05
  • The revised 911 Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 Cabriolet join the redesigned 911 Carrera, along with the latest Carrera S and 4S in Porsche's family.
  • In Porsche-speak, the 4 is the same as the base 911 Carrera, only with all-wheel drive.
  • Deliveries of the new 911 4 models begin first thing in 2020.

If there's an ass for every seat, as the old saying goes, then Porsche has a 911 for (nearly) every (moneyed) butt. The company has an incredible number of 911 derivatives, from the base 911 Carrera on up to the 700-hp GT2 RS. With an all-new 911 having arrived for 2020, the process of re-upping all of those variants is well and truly underway. The latest to transition from old 911 to new? The Carrera 4 and Carrera 4 cabriolet.

The 4 family is equivalent to the base-model Carreras, but all-wheel-drive instead of rear-wheel-drive (hence the "4"). Porsche previously released the latest Carrera, as well as the higher-output '20 Carrera S and 4S models (the latter being the higher-output equivalent to to these 4 models). We know, it's a lot to keep track of—and that's before Porsche continues its march with ever-more 911s, including the expected GTS, GT3, GT2, and other variants.

Previously, the Carrera 4 (and 4S) models were differentiated from the baseline Carreras by way of wider bodywork. With every 2020 Carrera now wearing girthier bodies, that distinction is gone; both the Carrera and Carrera 4 share the same width dimension. Now, you'd be hard-pressed to tell how many driven wheels a Carrera has without checking its badges for reference.

Underneath the 4's visual sameness you'll find some updated hardware. Ahead of the same 379-hp twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter flat-six used by the regular Carrera (get it, because the engine's in the tail?) Porsche installed new front-axle components. The unit that apportions engine torque to the front wheels has been beefed up with reinforced clutches, stronger actuators, and water cooling. This supposedly helps with the front axle's durability and load capacity, which we take to mean it can take more abuse and handle more horsepower than before.

In an unexpected turn, the Carrera 4 is said to be only as quick as its two-wheel-drive sibling. (In the past, our testing has shown the all-wheel-drive Carrera 4 models to be slightly quicker than their two-wheel-drive counterparts.) Porsche estimates that the 2020 model with the new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is capable of reaching 60 mph in 3.8 seconds with the optional Sport Chrono package. Without it, the 4 hits 60 mph in a claimed 4.0 seconds flat. Those figures are the same given for the Carrera.

The rest of the Carrera 4 package mirrors that of the 2020 911 lineup, down to its squared-off hood, full-width taillights, all-new interior, and standard Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) electronic dampers. A sports exhaust is available, as is what's sure to be a lengthy list of extra-cost personalization options. Speaking of, you'll want to bring money in addition to your butt to your local Porsche dealership if you're interested in the 2020 Carrera 4 and 4 Cabriolet. The coupe starts at $106,050 and the Cabriolet runs $118,850, before you get suckered into Porsche's extensive option catalog.

Volkswagen's ID.3 Electric Car Is Cute—and It Can Wink at You

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 19:13
  • Volkswagen claims it's entering a brand-new era with a new identity, and its standard bearer is this ID.3 electric hatchback.
  • The new car, first in a planned lineup of ID-badged models, made its debut in a preview for the Frankfurt auto show.
  • It's also the first to wear VW's new more two-dimensional logo.

Volkswagen has been talking about entering a new era for some time now, and the company is now finally unveiling the first member of its electric-car family in production form.

The ID.3 you see here is an electric hatchback that won't be coming to the U.S. market, but it nonetheless has big implications for VW's plan to build out an entire family of EVs that it will start selling here within the next few years. The first of these to arrive in the U.S. will be a mechanically similar but larger electric crossover based on the I.D. Crozz concept, and the long-anticipated revival of the Microbus will follow after that.

We thought it was pretty weird when Volkswagen touted the expressive "eyes" of the first ID concept. Now the bizarre, humanoid winking function is found on the production car. The LED headlights flutter in an impersonation of a wink or a blink when the driver approaches the parked ID.3.

VW says the chunky C-pillar is meant to be evocative of the Golf. Otherwise, the ID.3’s proportions are noticeably taller and more upright, with short front and rear overhangs and large wheels. It is about the same size of the Golf but is said to offer considerably more interior room due to the packaging advantages of the MeB electric platform. A simplistic interior features a large digital gauge cluster and central touchscreen, with few physical controls. There’s a lot of storage space in the center console.

Multiple battery options will be offered, with a 45.0-kWh option having 205 miles of range and a 77.0-kWh battery providing 342 miles. Keep in mind that these range numbers are on the European WLTP cycle, which is conducted differently than the EPA range. These battery sizes will likely translate to the first U.S.-bound ID crossover that will arrive in 2020. In the meantime, the ID.3 starts at under $33,000 in Europe and orders are open now.

Volkswagen's New Logo Is Here

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 18:20

Volkswagen has unveiled a new logo that the company says will enter it into a new era. According to VW, the Beetle was the first era, the Golf was the second, and the electric ID lineup represents the third.

More two-dimensional than before, the new logo has a far simpler appearance. The overall shape with the stacked V and W remains, but the font and circular surround is different.

VW says the new logo represents a "friendlier" attitude for the company. It will be accompanied by other changes to the marketing strategy, such as a woman's voice stating the brand name in a so-called “sound logo” for the first time.

The logo will first appear on the ID. 3 electric car and will roll out to the rest of the VW lineup by mid-2020, VW said.

Watch Ex-CIA Agent Drive Chevy Camaro Backward, Fast, Kicking Off Run for Congress

Mon, 09/09/2019 - 17:47
  • Valerie Plame, a former CIA operative famously outed by the George W. Bush administration for political reasons, has announced she's running for Congress from New Mexico.
  • Why this matters to us is that, in her first ad, she drives a Chevy Camaro backward at reasonably high speed to drive home her message about government needing to change direction, etc.
  • Plame concludes the video by saying, "Yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this."

We bet you haven't ever seen a political ad with the kind of production value—or so much revving Chevy Camaro—as this fresh spot for ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame's 2020 run for Congress. The entire show-business vibe is tickled further by the plot points: a car speeding down a dirt road backward, the CIA agent at the wheel having had her cover blown by a high-level political operative in the Bush White House, and her insistence that she's gunning for the current president.

Look, we're not trying to wade into political waters here. What Plame stands for and how you might feel about it isn't for us to comment on. What caught our eye, as car folks, is simply that her campaign ad looks like some kind of movie trailer. Yes, she brings up being screwed by the government when Lewis "Scooter" Libby leaked her identity to a journalist in 2003, essentially blowing her cover. She also talks about some campaign promises. What matters is that, through the entirety of the commercial, Plame is driving a Camaro (okay, a previous-generation, apparently modified Camaro) backward at a decent speed. Other 2020 intenders, take note: This is how to do a campaign ad people will pay attention to.

    Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa Resigns, Will Repay Company for Stock Options He Admits Taking

    Mon, 09/09/2019 - 15:44
    • The CEO of Nissan has resigned, only a few days after the departure of the head investigator in the ongoing prosecution of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.
    • Saikawa reportedly admitted to having received, in 2013 when he was executive VP, nearly a half-million dollars in stock options he wasn't entitled to.
    • Saikawa, who had demanded Ghosn's immediate ouster when the executive was first arrested last November, said he will repay the funds, according to an official statement from Nissan.

    Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa resigned Monday just days after the company's internal auditor who had led the Carlos Ghosn investigation resigned. Pictured at top, in happier days, is Saikawa with former chairman Ghosn during a shareholder meeting in June 2018.

    In a statement, the Nissan board of directors said that Saikawa's last day will be September 16 and that chief operating officer Yasuhiro Yamauchi will be interim CEO until the end of October, when the company expects to find a replacement. Nissan said Saikawa had "indicated recently his willingness to resign." Another damning report from Nissan's internal investigation against Ghosn has also damned Saikawa, who was overpaid by more than $450,000 in stock options in 2013 while he was an executive vice president, the report said.

    On Friday, Automotive News reported that Christina Murray, vice president of internal audit, had resigned "recently." She had been working with Nissan since the company began investigating Ghosn in October 2018 and was promoted to her current role in April. Nissan made no mention of Murray's resignation in its statements on Monday. When Tokyo police arrested Ghosn in November for financial improprieties, Saikawa—who was said to have been himself in Ghosn's crosshairs months earlier—reportedly demanded Nissan's board oust him immediately.

    Saikawa had asked former representative director Greg Kelly—whom Nissan blames for approving and hiding Ghosn's allegedly illegitimate retirement payments—to increase his compensation that year. Kelly, according to Nissan, forged documents that showed Saikawa exercising his stock a week after he had already done so, which boosted his after-tax stock payment by 47 million yen (about $472,000 at the September 2013 exchange rate). Nissan said it found six more current or former directors and executive officers who received stock overpayments in this same fashion. Saikawa has indicated he will repay the amount, but Nissan will not charge him and others with misconduct "since they were unaware of the improper methods used by Kelly and others to increase their compensation."

    Since the investigation began last October, Nissan alleges that Ghosn received more than $186 million in improper compensation—not all of which he was paid—and plucked another $140 million for personal and illegitimate expenses, according to the company's latest statement on the investigation. Ghosn's trial is yet to be scheduled.

    Cargo Ship Capsizes with Thousands of New Cars on Board

    Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:02
    • A cargo vessel carrying several thousand new cars capsized on Sunday off the coast of Georgia, and four crew members are missing.
    • According to Reuters, Hyundai and Kia vehicles were the cargo on board; the Korea Herald said the vehicles were headed to the Middle East for export and that some were Kia Motors cars while others were from "other global carmakers."
    • The Coast Guard is continuing rescue efforts today.

    A massive cargo ship potentially carrying over 4000 new vehicles capsized in Saint Simons Sound near the Port of Brunswick in Georgia early Sunday morning.

    The M/V Golden Ray is a vehicle cargo vessel that local news reports say was carrying 4200 vehicles as it left the harbor on its way to Baltimore. Reuters is reporting that they were Hyundai and Kia vehicles; we have reached out to the automaker for confirmation.

    For reasons not yet understood, the ship turned and fell on its port side before making it to the open ocean. There were 24 people on board when it fell sideways into the water: 23 crew members and one pilot. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued 20 of the crew members before rescuers noticed a fire with black smoke coming out of the cargo hold and decided it was too dangerous to attempt further efforts. Four people remain unaccounted for. As of Sunday afternoon, there was no active release of pollution, the Coast Guard said, but it and other agencies are monitoring the situation. The question of the ship's stability is an ongoing investigation, according to the Coast Guard.

    Automakers have dealt with the loss of an entire ship's worth of vehicles before. In 2006, as C/D reported at the time, a cargo ship called the Cougar Ace capsized when it was near Alaska on a journey from Asia to North America with $103 million worth of brand-new Mazdas on board. The 23-member crew needed to be rescued, and all 4703 cars were eventually crushed.

    The Golden Ray was built in 2017 and was sailing under the flag of the Marshall Islands. It has the capacity to carry 6933 vehicles and is owned by GL NV24 Shipping and operated by Hyundai Glovis. Both companies are based in Seoul, South Korea. Rescue efforts are ongoing.

    Ferrari 812 GTS Has 789 HP and a Retractable Hardtop

    Mon, 09/09/2019 - 08:00
    • Ferrari has announced the 812 GTS Spider, a convertible variant of the 812 Superfast.
    • Excepting a few special-edition models, the 812 GTS is Ferrari's first series-production front-engine V-12 convertible in 50 years.
    • Ferrari expects the car to go from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds.

    Ferrari unveiled the 812 GTS, its latest V-12 spider, in Maranello today. The car is based on the 812 Superfast, with which it shares its exterior and interior dimensions and its 6.5-liter, 789-hp V-12 engine. It features a power-folding hard-top and a rear end that was completely redesigned to accommodate the convertible top. Ferrari claims it is the most powerful production spider in the world.

    Like in the 812 Superfast, the V-12 engine has an 8900-rpm rev limit, and makes its peak 789 hp at 8500 rpm. Torque hits its 530 lb-ft peak at 7000 rpm, with 80 percent of torque available at 3500 rpm. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission has been programmed for faster shifts, and now has shorter gear ratios to improve the 812's response to throttle inputs. Ferrari says the GTS will reach 62 mph in less than three seconds and 124 mph in 8.3 seconds. The car will have a top speed of 211 mph.

    The V-12 had to employ some tricks to comply with emissions regulations. Its high-pressure injection system reduces the number of particles that are emitted before the catalytic converter warms up. There's also a new gasoline particulate filter, and the GTS uses a stop-start system to further mitigate the thirsty V-12's demands.

    The 812 GTS's rear end features two buttresses and a tonneau cover. The mechanism that moves the power-folding hardtop lives under the buttresses, and when the top is stowed its panels rest under the tonneau cover. The top can fold or unfold in 14 seconds and will operate at speeds of up to 28 mph. An air duct that runs through the rear wheel arches in the coupe variant was lost in the redesign, so the GTS's rear diffuser has an extra flap to make up the difference.

    The 812 GTS is also the scion of a rich lineage for Ferrari. The company built its first front-engined V-12 coupe in 1948. That car, the 166 MM won both the Mille Miglia and 24 Hours of LeMans endurance races in 1949. The last time a series-production front-engine V-12 Spider rolled out of Maranello was the GTS4 in 1969, also called the Daytona Spider in honor of Ferrari's 1967 sweep at the 24 Hours of Daytona (the company counts more recent front-engine V-12 cars such as the 575 Superamerica and F60 America as limited-edition models).

    Ferrari hasn't named an on-sale date or a price for the 812 GTS, but we'd bet it'll be a bit higher than the coupe version, which rings in at a healthy $335,275.

    Ferrari F8 Spider Is the 710-HP Tributo Plus Wind in Your Hair

    Sun, 09/08/2019 - 22:01
    • Ferrari announced a new convertible model in Maranello today. The mid-engined F8 Spider will replace the 488 Spider in the lineup.
    • The new car is the convertible version of the F8 Tributo but does not share the Tributo name.
    • The F8 Spider has 49 more hp and weighs 44 pounds less than the 488 Spider.

    The Ferrari family welcomed a new member today in Maranello with the unveiling of the F8 Spider. The V-8 convertible shares its twin-turbo V-8 powertrain and its looks with the also-new F8 Tributo, and makes several improvements over the outgoing 488 Spider it replaces.

    The F8 has a scorching twin-turbocharged, 710-hp 3.9-liter V-8 mounted behind the driver. The engine has a lighter crankshaft, flywheel, and connecting rods and weighs nearly 40 pounds less than the engine in the 488 Spider. Lighter exhaust manifolds also contributed to the weight loss. 710 hp arrives at 7000 rpm, while torque peaks at 568 lb-ft at 3250 rpm. A new gas particulate filter helps the F8 comply with those pesky EU emissions requirements.

    The F8's key feature is its retractable hard top, which deploys in 14 seconds and can operate while the vehicle is travelling up to 28 mph. With the top down, the roof is stored under a tonneau cover above the engine. Two buttresses rise to peaks behind the driver and passenger seatbacks.

    The car's front end has narrow LED headlights and is designed to highlight the F8's prominent S-duct, the aerodynamic scoop taken out of the hood, as in the F8 Tributo coupe the Spider is derived from. The F8 features large air intakes on its rear haunches, moved rearward compared to the ones in the 488 Spider for improved airflow to the engine. A discreet rear spoiler and color-contrast engine vents round out the design.

    The cabin is relatively minimalist but can come with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display mounted in front of the passenger seat. The driver's display focuses on the important things; there's still a classic gauge cluster with a center-mounted tachometer.

    Ferrari wants the F8 Spider to be an approachable driver's car, so it comes equipped with a host of technologies designed to help owners approach the car's limits without exceeding them. To that end, it is equipped with Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer +, which uses brake vectoring to increase control as the driver exits a corner, and Ferrari's Side Slip Control system, which is designed to help drivers maintain control of the car even if the rear end steps out.

    Ferrari hasn't yet announced an on-sale date (or a price) for the F8 Spider, but that won't keep us from dreaming about it.

    2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e Gets Bigger Battery, Added Power

    Sun, 09/08/2019 - 22:00
    • The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC-class receives fresh design details, better standard and optional features, and an enhanced plug-in-hybrid model, which will be on display at the Frankfurt auto show.
    • The updated GLC350e gets a bigger battery pack that Mercedes says will provide a longer all-electric driving range.
    • The electrified GLC also adds a new nine-speed automatic transmission and a more powerful electric motor that increases total torque output to 516 lb-ft (up 103).

    Mercedes showed its commitment to an electrified future by launching the electric EQ sub-brand and is proliferating that technology with a planned lineup of several EVs. Along with refreshed styling and upgraded features, the 2020 GLC-class adds a new and improved plug-in-hybrid model.

    The GLC350e enjoys all the same enhancements as the gas-powered models, which include a snazzier appearance and Mercedes's latest MBUX infotainment. However, the most significant improvements are applied to its battery, charging system, and powertrain.

    Mercedes replaces the old 8.7-kWh battery pack with a larger 13.5-kWh unit that the automaker says will increase the GLC350e's all-electric driving range. While the 2019 version had an EPA-rated electric range of nine miles, the agency hasn't released an estimate for the 2020 model. Still, the Mercedes crossover will compete with plug-in rivals such as the upcoming BMW X3 xDrive30e, which is also awaiting EPA certification but has a similar electric driving range according to the optimistic European cycle.

    The plug-in GLC also benefits from a new 7.4-kW onboard charger that increases the system's charging capacity versus the previous 3.6-kW setup. Mercedes says the 2020 GLC350e can fully recharge its battery in seven hours and 45 minutes using a Level 1 (120-volt) charger and replenish 80 percent of its battery in as little as two hours and 15 minutes with a 240-volt Level 2 charger.

    The GLC350e continues to be powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, but it trades the outgoing seven-speed automatic transmission for a new nine-speed automatic. The latter features a torque converter, enhanced clutches, and improved cooling that the company says help the updated electric motor produce maximum and consistent power.

    A revised electric motor also provides the 2020 GLC350e with more power than its predecessor. It grows in size from 85 to 90 kW and now makes 121 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque versus 114 and 251, respectively. That brings the 2020 model's total system output to 315 hp and 516 lb-ft. Mercedes estimates that'll help the GLC350e accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds—a half-second quicker than the model it replaces.

    The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e debuts this week at the Frankfurt auto show, and while we're told it'll reach U.S. showrooms in the middle of 2020, we'll have to wait to find out its starting price.

    Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid Gets 30 Percent Battery Boost

    Sun, 09/08/2019 - 20:20
    • Mini has released information on the new capability of its plug-in-hybrid Countryman prior to its debut at the Frankfurt auto show next week.
    • The Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 PHEV's range is now 35 miles on electricity alone, which is a 30 percent improvement over the previous model.
    • We told you some details in June about the Mini Cooper S E electric model; it will also be at the show and goes into production later this year in the U.K.

    It'll be impossible to tell from just looking at it, but the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 plug-in hybrid that'll be sitting on stage at the Frankfurt auto show will be sporting some cool new battery tech. Mini says the new PHEV uses the "very latest battery cell technology" and now has an electric range of up to 35 miles, 30 percent more than the first edition.

    The range number comes from the new New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test, which is more lenient than the EPA test used in the U.S., but even taking that into consideration, it seems like BMW and Mini have done some impressive engineering here. The first version of the S E Countryman ALL4 could only go up to 13 miles on the EPA's test cycle, yet the new version's battery capacity has only been increased from 7.7 to 10.0 kWh. The engineers have stuffed 2.3 kWh worth of capacity (around 30 percent) into a pack that's the same size and shape as the previous one, allowing the PHEV to get its 30 percent range increase without any added compromise. Well, perhaps on the price, but we'll have to see what Mini says about that down the road to know for sure.

    The Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4 produces a total of 224 horsepower that runs through a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that can go from zero to 62 miles per hour in 6.8 seconds, according to Mini's claims. Mini also says that the new pack recharges in around five hours from a standard European domestic socket, and in three hours and 15 minutes from a Level 2 charger.

    The longer electric range makes the S E Countryman All4 less of a "whybrid." But if a torquey, zero-emission Mini is what you're after, then take a look at the other electrified Mini that'll be on hand in Frankfurt. Mini is promising "a stand focused squarely on electric mobility" at the show and is bringing along the new all-electric Mini Cooper S E that it unveiled this summer. This EV uses a 135-kW motor that produces 181 hp to do the zero-to-62 run in a claimed 7.3 seconds and has an overall range of up to 168 miles. That's a solid improvement over one of the OG EVs, the Mini E, which Mini tested around the world a decade ago. Those all-electric models couldn't quite reach 100 miles on a charge, but they were popular with real-world test drivers nonetheless.

    Mini will finally launch the Cooper S E, its first ever all-electric production model, next year, with production expected to start at the U.K.'s Mini Plant Oxford in November 2019.

    Tesla Gets Tax Break in China as Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai Continues Construction

    Sun, 09/08/2019 - 19:01
    • Images of a supposedly China-made Tesla battery pack have leaked on websites including the Tesla fan blog Teslarati.
    • Tesla's Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai, currently being built, is reportedly already looking to hire engineers and other employees.
    • Unofficial images said to show the plant's interior have been posted on Twitter.

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a busy time in China recently. He debated Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma at the World AI Conference in Shanghai, talking about power and problems with artificial intelligence. He managed to score a tax break for his electric-vehicle company. And the news came out that Tesla's upcoming production facility, Gigafactory 3, which is being built near Shanghai, is looking for workers, especially engineers. It's all in line with the California automaker's well-publicized preparation to build its EVs outside the United States for the first time.

    In June, Musk said that Tesla plans to make 3000 Model 3 electric vehicles a week at the Gigafactory Shanghai once production starts up. In early August, Tesla tweeted that progress on the facility was going well. Musk repeated the positive message during his visit to China. He said it was "mind-blowing" how fast everything is coming together and said he thinks it's "a good story for the world to see how much progress China can make." Groundbreaking for the new Gigafactory took place in January, and the company plans to start building EVs there by the end of the year.

    Some more pics

    — Kelvin Yang (@KelvinYang7) August 26, 2019

    And now, Tesla aficionados and insiders are leaking pictures and video of the interior of the new Gigafactory (above, which tweeter KelvinYang7 credited in turn to the Chinese social-media site Weibo). There was also a leaked image of a Tesla battery pack that was said to have been made in China, which can be seen on the Teslarati fan site. While obviously unofficial, these images reveal another side of the progress being made with the new factory. In the Twitter images, you can see Model 3 bodies in white, production robots, and lots of potential—if you're optimistic about Tesla, anyway.

    At home, earlier this year Tesla was denied an exemption from U.S. tariffs on China-made parts including the touchscreen and computer of the Model 3, but Musk had better luck with China. The tax exemption Tesla maneuvered to get from Chinese authorities, as CNN reported this week, is from a 10 percent tax on purchases. The Chinese government adds automakers to the list if they build vehicles that use "new forms of energy," as EVs do. So far, 34 automakers are on the list. Most of these companies are joint ventures between a global automaker and a domestic Chinese company, but Tesla is bucking the trend by being the only foreign automaker without a local partner on the list. Tesla operates 24 stores in China.

    As Italian Grand Prix Unfolds, a Look Back at the Alfa Romeo Racer Who Invented the Quadrifoglio

    Sun, 09/08/2019 - 10:23

    Have you ever wondered what the four-leaf clover on Alfa Romeo's Quadrifoglio models is? Why is it only on Quadrifoglio models? What does it mean? Has Alfa Romeo considered some sort of corporate tie-up with Lucky Charms?

    The answer goes back to the 1920s, but it's especially interesting today. On September 8, the Italian Grand Prix takes place in Monza, where the man who invented an enduring symbol of luck saw his own run out 96 years ago to the day.

    With World War I in the rearview mirror, Alfa Romeo resumed production of its famed racing cars and began to compete in Grand Prix racing, having drawn major attention in the early postwar years with a series of impressive performances in the numerous Italian races held across the country, throughout the year. By 1923, Alfa Romeo had a dominant car in the RL and a remarkable driver lineup. The four drivers were Enzo Ferrari, Antonio Ascari, Giulio Masetti, and Ugo Sivocci. The all-Italian squad performed admirably as a team, but Sivocci was unhappy with his performance. The former motorcycle racer had yet to win a race as a driver, so he decided he needed a change of some sort after a series of second-place finishes.

    He was inspired by the fighter pilots of World War I, who often had special emblems on their planes as lucky charms. Ferrari’s famed prancing horse has the same origin, as it was originally on an Italian war ace's plane and was gifted to Ferrari by the pilot's mother. Instead of finding an existing logo, Sivocci decided to make his own luck and designed his own symbol. He decided on a white diamond with a green four-leaf clover—a commonly known lucky charm—in the middle. He named the symbol he painted on his 1923 RL Targa Florio "quadrifoglio" (four-leaf clover in Italian).

    The Quadrifoglio turned out to be Sivocci’s lucky charm after all, as he finally clinched his first victory in the demanding Targa Florio endurance race. He came ahead of his teammates Ascari and Masetti, who were driving identical RL Targa Florios. Unfortunately, Sivocci lost his life while testing a new race car, the Alfa Romeo P1—which did not bear his signature lucky charm—at the famed Monza racetrack in Italy on September 8, 1923, just days after his 38th birthday. Alfa Romeo decided to commemorate Sivocci’s death by painting a new Quadrifoglio on all Alfa Romeo race cars. Instead of having the green four-leaf clover on a white diamond, they decided to drop a corner and place the clover on a white triangle. The loss of the corner was to honor the loss of Sivocci, who was now immortalized in racing lore, as many Alfa Romeo cars have been bestowed with the badge since his untimely death in 1923.

    The Quadrifoglio badge is still a prominent feature on both the Giulia Quadrifoglio and Stelvio Quadrifoglio's front fenders. Now, if you see one zip past you at a high rate of speed, you’ll know the origins of the name and symbol that adorn that car. The Quadrifoglio is also found among the many sponsor stickers and aero bits on the Alfa Romeo C38 (pictured above), the brand's entry in the 2019 Formula 1 season. They're racing today, September 8, at Monza in the 2019 Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, 96 years after Sivocci lost his life at the track. If you're watching it, may I suggest a bowl of Lucky Charms as a snack?

    Bugatti Launches Limited Chiron Super Sport 300+, World's Fastest Production Car

    Sun, 09/08/2019 - 09:39

    When we told you about Bugatti's record-setting 304.773-mph run in the Chiron last week, the company was already hinting that it would make a limited-run production car with similar specs. We didn't have long to wait, with the Super Sport 300+ being officially unveiled to owners who are taking part in the company's 110th anniversary tour in Europe last night.

    The Super Sport 300+ will come with the same naked carbon finish as the record-setting car, with an equally snazzy set of orange stripes. (Buyers will be able to specify other finishes, but there would seem little point buying an undercover version of the record-setting car.)

    The roadgoing version will have a similarly tuned engine as the record-setting car, with a 1578hp version of Bugatti's monstrous quad-turbocharged W-16 mill. That is the same output as the forthcoming Bugatti Divo, and represents a REF hp improvement on the standard car. Bodywork changes include an extended tail section reminiscent of McLaren's "Long Tail" models.

    There are other differences between the 300+ and the actual record-setting car, which was shown on the Bugatti Tour complete with grime and bug-splatter from the track. The road-legal Super Sport won't have the full roll cage that was fitted to the car Andy Wallace drove at Volkwagen Group's vast Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany, and it will also come with the passenger seat that was taken out in the speed run Chiron to accomodate computer and timing equipment. It will also have a standard ride height - the 300mph car sat lower - and Bugatti admits it will have a speed limiter, although hasn't said what that will be set to yet. It seems likely that the determining factor will be the maximum speed that the car's Michelin tires can digest for anything other than very short periods. Although not confirmed yet, we also presume the 300+ will have a working air brake, something that the record-setting car didn't use.

    But for buyers determined to get close to Wallace's speed, Bugatti is also hinting it may offer the option of both a truly unlimited car and time on the track at Ehra-Lessien so that owners can experience what life at five miles a minute feels like. Given Wallace's description of what achieving the record entailed, including finding a surface change at the test track that earned the nickname "the jump," we suspect relatively few owners are likely to take Bugatti up on this offer.

    Just 30 will be built, with a base price of about $3.9 million at current exchange rates. That's a relatively modest increase over the regular 261-mph-limited Chiron, which is now going to seem positively lethargic.

    Electric Ford F-150 Could Be Here as Early as 2021

    Sat, 09/07/2019 - 20:00
    • Ford's head of electrification is hinting that the electric F-150 could be on the market as soon as 2021.
    • The EV version of the top-selling vehicle on the market is expected out within a year after Ford's Mach E, a Mustang-inspired crossover EV, which will debut in 2020 as a 2021 model.
    • It remains to be seen whether the electric F-150 will come out ahead of startups Bollinger and Rivian—or Tesla—to be the first pickup EV on the market.

    Ford has never explicitly stated when its upcoming all-electric F-150 will actually debut, but the tea leaves are coming together to suggest that 2021 is going to be the year America's best-selling vehicle finally gets its zero-emission powertrain.

    The latest indicator comes from Ted Cannis, Ford's global director for electrification, who said in a recent interview with Automotive News Canada that the electric F-150 will follow the Mach E, a Mustang-inspired electric crossover that is going to be introduced in 2020. The electric truck is supposed to follow "as soon as a year later," which takes us to the 2021 date. All a Ford spokesperson would tell Car and Driver is that the all-electric F-150 will arrive "in a few years" and that we will have to keep waiting for an announcement about specific timing.

    Perhaps the EV version of the biggest-selling vehicle on the market will help consumers get a handle on what, exactly, electric vehicles are all about; Ford says its studies show 42 percent of Americans think electric vehicles need gasoline to run. In other words, there's some educating still to do, despite the increased numbers of electric vehicles on the market and all the media attention being lavished on them.

    Whenever it gets here, the electric F-150 will arrive a full decade after the first mass-market EV, the Nissan Leaf, which debuted in 2010. Ford did play in the small-electric-car waters for a bit with the Focus Electric, but overall the automaker hasn't exactly dominated the EV landscape. Cannis's renewed media push this week (he also wrote a post on Medium describing how Ford is going to solve the EV puzzle) implies the company is ready to change that narrative. "Who says electric vehicles can't drive in snow?" is one of the "EV Myths Busted" videos the automaker released this week.

    Cannis's message is that by being late to the EV party, Ford can capitalize on the lessons that other automakers have spent millions to learn. Ford intends to prove to the currently uneducated masses that electric vehicles can be exciting, reliable, and safe—"awesome to drive," in his words. These are the pros that EV fans have been saying for years—especially the fun factor—and is another lesson Ford is learning from those who drove before.

    In July, Ford released a video of a prototype of the F-150 EV towing a train full of other F-150s that together weighed over a million pounds. The stunt was a success, and that's the kind of marketing that we can expect to see from Ford as it rolls out its EVs.

    Of course, even though EVs have been available for 10 years, the truck segment remains EV-free for now. Exactly when the other hinted-at all-electric pickup trucks arrive is a bit vague. Tesla CEO Elon Musk says he will unveil his company's offering later this year. Rivian, an EV startup that Ford has invested in, said it is launching in late 2020. Startup Bollinger is going to start making its truck in the Detroit area at some point. And GM has confirmed development of an electric truck, but that's about it.

    In other words, 2021 might be just the right time.

    Every Day Is a Car Show When You Appreciate Old Cars

    Sat, 09/07/2019 - 18:00

    God knows social media sucks. Careers implode on Twitter, families destroy each other on Facebook, and Instagram is an excellent medium for sharing photos that will one day lead to social ostracism and personal embarrassment. But there is one thing that all those platforms are wonderful at doing: sharing photos of cars.

    My particular online drug is Facebook. Mostly that's because I'm old and so are most of the people who care enough to look at anything I post. When a friend passes (James Sly and Jim Souza, I miss you guys), I will post a remembrance. When my articles go up on C/D, I share them there because I only get to do this as long as people read it. I've had political threads that go on for weeks of relatively cordial engagement—and a couple days of brutal bomb throwing. But what I post most often is photos of cars.

    My standards are low enough that the camera on my iPhone SE is acceptable. And when I see something interesting, I don't hesitate to take a photo, write a quick note—one-word posts are ideal—and put it up. Then some of the creaky oldsters among my 3245 Facebook "friends" will post replies that mostly confirm how freakishly old we all are. For someone who works alone in California isolated 2000 miles away from myC/D colleagues, this is what in my life passes for human contact.

    Incidentally, if you'd like to be my Facebook friend, I have room for another 1755 friends on my personal page. Beat the rush.

    The town I live in, Santa Barbara, is thick with old cars. Not only is the weather kind, the roads are salt-free so cars last here. But more than that, the car culture runs deep. The first "official" drag race took place out near the airport in 1949, the Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles were built here, and dealerships like Washburn Chevrolet were deep into racing during the 1950s and 1960s. Beyond that, while not everyone in Santa Barbara is rich (I'm not), there are enough rich people around that amazing classics and exotics are hiding in plain sight.

    Late last night I took my dog Bama out for a walk, and there was an original-to-the-hubcaps mid-Sixties Porsche 912 parked at a nearby gym. A few days ago there was a Mazda Bongo Brawny cab-forward, RHD/JDM truck parked at my usual coffee shop. In Santa Barbara old Jeeps are best presented in decreptitude, classic BMWs and Alfa GTVs are daily drivers, and there are seemingly more ancient Mustangs than new ones. I am totally spoiled.

    Occasionally I'll take a photo of a new Porsche 911 Turbo S or McLaren, but it's the old stuff still being used as transportation that is the best. It's always so much better to see an old car on the road than it is to see one parked at some show with its owner next to it snoring in a lawn chair.

    Car shows have never done much for me. So a car is parked on the lawn. Big whoop. But seeing an old car that's still being used as a car is always thrilling to see. Cars at car shows are often museum pieces, restored and preserved. Meanwhile, cars that are still being used are still making history. How they look at any particular moment doesn't mean it will look the same in a couple of months with another couple thousand miles on the odometer.

    In lieu of collector cars, I have two kids and a writer's income. So it's not like I'm tempted to buy a lot of collector cars. But even if I could, I'm not sure I'd want any. Maybe an early 911S to explore the back roads, or something I love for personal reasons like a '94 Mustang GT. Instead, I keep my eyes open and look for interesting cars and trucks still nobly being used as cars and trucks.

    The old, odd cars and trucks of Santa Barbara are more important to me than the beaches or parks. And while this town's concentration of ancient metal may be extreme, it's not a big city. I'm sure there are plenty of cars orbiting around wherever it is you are right now. And there's a pretty good chance you're posting photos of them on the internet. Because I can't be alone in this.

    Can I?

    I’ve seen plenty of Hemi 'Cudas on lawns, but there’s this weathered 1986-ish Plymouth Caravelle sedan that parks at the mall across the street from where I live that is just awesome. Because the Caravelle was so awful, you likely forgot they ever existed. But there's one still alive, right by my house. So much more interesting than detailed valve covers or reproduction muscle-car graphics on fresh paint.

    Elon Musk Is Sending a Tesla Model S to the Nurburgring

    Sat, 09/07/2019 - 14:40

    UPDATE 9/7/19: You didn't really think this drama was over, did you? Is it ever when a person of Elon Musk's prominence posts rash tweet or two? Yesterday, Road & Track reported that officials at the Nürburgring said that the Nordschliefe was "fully booked for through the season. I think that there is no availability for Test to set up a record attempt in the next days." You see, doing a timed lap on the 'ring isn't really a run-what-you-brung track day. Perhaps, when Musk tweeted out that there would be a Tesla Model S at the Nürburgring next week, he just meant it was there to take selfies in front of the local castle and maybe grab a delicious steak.

    In other, possibly related news: Musk acknowledged by way of another tweet that "...Taycan does seem like a good car. Nürburgring track time is great." There, settled.

    • Elon Musk whipped up a tweetstorm last night mocking Porsche's naming convention for its new all-electric Taycan Turbo and implying he'll challenge the German newcomer on its own turf with the Tesla Model S.
    • The Model S will have to lap the 12.9 miles in less than seven minutes, 42 seconds to take down down the Porsche Taycan Turbo S.
    • Our limited experience lapping a Model S P 85D at our 2016 Lightning Lap event at Virginia International Raceway is not promising. It went into a reduced-power mode after only 40 seconds.

    Never one to allow the publicity spotlight to shine too long on others, Elon Musk took to Twitter last night to announce that Tesla will have a Model S at the Nürburgring Nordschleife next week.

    Model S on Nürburgring next week

    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2019

    Although Musk did not specifically say so, this is an apparent response to Porsche's recent announcement of a pre-production Taycan Turbo S's impressive 7:42 lap time around Germany's fast and gnarly 12.9-mile racetrack. Porsche has a long history at the 'Ring developing cars and posting fast laps at the one-time Formula 1 track, including recently posting the outright lap record in a modified version of the 919 prototype race car.

    Tesla has no history at the track, or at least none that has been made public. Lapping any road course has not been part of Tesla's publicity playbook. The one time we subjected a Model S to hot laps at a racetrack, the laps proved to be too hot. We managed one lap in our long-term 463-hp 2015 Model S P85 D at the 2016 edition of our annual Lightning Lap event. The fully charged Model S made it 40 seconds into its lap before it went into a reduced-power mode that provides roughly half of the vehicle's maximum power. Just as with Tesla's acceleration times, the first 40 seconds of that lap were impressive. It matched the pace of a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. But a final lap time of 3:17.4 meant it was nearly 14 seconds behind the Dodge by the finish line, an eternity on the 4.2-mile Virginia International Raceway Grand Course. The Model S's brakes were also a weak point on the track, going very soft very quickly.

    Musk's tweet offered no additional information about what spec the Nürburgring Model S would be—or anything else, for that matter. But presumably the biggest challenge for Tesla is its ability to handle the heat generated by full-tilt driving. Excess heat in the battery pack is almost certainly what sent our Lightning Lap Model S into low-power mode. Porsche designed the Taycan with an 800-volt operating system which, in addition to saving weight and reducing charging time, allows for a lower current draw during high-power driving, reducing heat. Typically, electrics operate on a 400-volt system.

    In fact, Musk never actually claimed the car would go for a Porsche-challenging lap time. We've reached out to Tesla for additional information on the effort and have not received a response as of this writing.

    Ever the provocateur, Musk also tweeted out: "Um, @Porsche, this word Turbo does not mean what you think it does." He is, of course, not wrong that the full-electric Taycan Turbo and Turbo S have no turbochargers. For its part, Porsche has had no official response; perhaps the German automaker is content to let the Musk-generated brouhaha get settled at the track.

    Um @Porsche, this word Turbo does not mean what you think it does

    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 5, 2019

    Watch the Mercedes-Benz EQC Electric Crossover Get Built, Painted, and Finished in Germany

    Sat, 09/07/2019 - 13:00
    • The 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC is the first entry in what Mercedes intends to be a full-fledged sub-brand of 10 or more electric vehicles; the EQV minivan is expected out sometime next year.
    • It's an electric version of the GLC compact crossover with a range of about 290 miles on the generous European test scale.
    • The EQC is scheduled to come to the United States in late 2020, but you can watch it come off the line now in a manufacturing process called "double marriage." (We hope you like robots.)

    As the first model of the new EQ brand in production, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz EQC has a lot riding on its wheel arches. Mercedes promises that this vehicle will be joined soon by many all-electric vehicles, so getting it right out of the gate is not a small task.

    To prove that the EQC has what it takes to be called a Benz, Mercedes-Benz Germany has posted a video showing workers and robots putting together the all-new EQC, painting the parts, checking the results, and finally (in a very brief glimpse) driving the EV on an urban street. It feels as though the robots outnumber human workers by five to one in the video, showing just how automated the production process is.

    Mercedes says the EQC can be "flexibly integrated into the ongoing series production of vehicles with combustion engine or hybrid drive," which makes it a good fit for the Bremen facility. That's because Daimler's Bremen plant builds 12 Mercedes vehicle variants, including versions of the C-class, E-class, GLC, SL, SLC, and, obviously, the EQC. More than 400,000 vehicles are built there each year, and the plant employs around 12,500 people. Daimler will also start building the EQC in China with its BAIC joint venture, Beijing Benz Automotive, later this year.

    The Mercedes-Benz EQ brand—the extra letters stand for "Electric Intelligence"—is supposed to be made up of 10 electric vehicles by 2022, ranging from small Smart cars to large SUVs. Until the other vehicles get going, the EQC goes through a production process that no other Mercedes vehicle does. Nicknamed the "double marriage," this refers to the two steps that give the EQC its electric powertrain. The first "marriage" is when two power packs are joined together, and the second is when the packs are inserted into the body instead of an internal-combustion engine that other vehicles on the same line might be getting.

    The EQC is an electrified version of the compact GLC crossover. It is built on a modified platform that the automaker uses for the GLC crossover and the sedan, coupe, and wagon C-class models. The all-wheel-drive EQC's battery-powered powertrain produces 402 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to move the EV from zero to 60 miles per hour in 4.9 seconds, Mercedes claims. The 80.0-kWh lithium-ion battery can be fast-charged from 10 to 80 percent in 40 minutes and has a range of up to 293 miles on the NEDC test scale.

    It's not only the powertrain that's new in the EQC. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system has been given a complete update. It is compatible with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and uses a 10.3-inch display.

    The production video ends with the words, "The Next One Is Yours." If, in fact, you want that to be true, know that the EQC starts at the equivalent of about $79,000, and it is on sale in Europe now. The EQC is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in late 2020.

    These Are the Most Expensive New Cars You Can (Actually) Buy

    Sat, 09/07/2019 - 12:51
    Rolls-Royce Cullinan: $327,750

    Rolls-Royce is not the only ultraluxury manufacturer to build an SUV—Bentley, after all, builds the Bentayga—but its Cullinan does hold the honor of being the most expensive sport-ute in the land. With an imposing presence and a sumptuous interior, it's every bit the Rolls-Royce that the company's Ghost and Phantom sedans are, only taller.

    Rolls-RoyceAston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante: $335,000 (est.)

    It doesn't get much better than a droptop Aston Martin, does it? The DBS Superleggera is far from the most expensive car on this list, but just look at it—it's clearly one of the most desirable, based on its drop-dead gorgeous looks alone. The standard twin-turbo 5.2-liter V-12 with 715 horsepower is really just a cherry on top.

    Aston MartinRolls-Royce Ghost Extended Wheelbase: $350,500

    The Ghost may play second fiddle to Rolls-Royce's massive, excessive Phantom, but it's plenty luxurious and impressive on its own. Now in its second generation, the current Ghost is known as the Series II, and the long-wheelbase version with extra rear-seat room is the more expensive variant.

    Rolls-RoyceRolls-Royce Dawn: $351,150

    Elegance is abundant in this droptop Rolls. Although it's essentially a convertible version of the Wraith coupe, which itself is related to the Ghost sedan, the Dawn possesses a personality all its own, thanks in no small part to the open-air experience it offers and the numerous paint and trim options that play up its land-yacht vibe.

    James Lipman - Car and DriverFerrari 812 Superfast: $366,730

    The name says it all: Ferrari's front-engine coupe is all about speed, and its 789-hp V-12 engine has the goods. When we tested the 812, it went from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and ran the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds at 138 mph. Ferrari claims a top speed of 211 mph. The naturally aspirated twelve also makes sounds that are entirely worth more than $366,730.

    Michael Simari - Car and DriverBentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase: $367,925

    Bentley has changed a lot in recent decades, but the Mulsanne exemplifies the ultraluxury brand's old-school spirit. Big, ostentatious, and slightly dated, it's a luxury sedan in the British tradition. The extended-wheelbase model kicks the size up a notch and makes for an even more palatial experience for the rear-seat passengers.

    BentleyFerrari 488 Pista Spider: $394,324

    Ferrari's mid-engine 488 is quite the sensational machine, and the Pista is an even more special, higher-performance version of the V-8–powered supercar. The droptop Spider variant makes it even easier to hear the sensational wail of the 710-hp twin-turbocharged 3.9-liter V-8 engine. It also makes it possible to part with even more money from your wallet—the Spider costs 40 grand more than the hardtop Pista.

    FerrariRolls-Royce Phantom Extended Wheelbase: $497,525

    The Phantom makes all the other Rolls-Royces on this list look like child's toys. This is the big-daddy Rolls, and it has the price to back that up. Now in its eighth generation, the Phantom serves as the Rolls lineup's flagship model and is available in both standard- and extended-wheelbase forms. We'd choose the latter, obviously, because this is a car to be driven in, not to drive. Plus, it's pricier, which feels like the entire point of a car like this.

    Rolls-RoyceLamborghini Aventador SVJ: $526,865

    It shouldn't shock you that Lamborghinis are expensive—they're the stuff of childhood-bedroom posters, after all. But this Lamborghini is really expensive, as the juiced-up SVJ model sits at the top of the Aventador range and features a 759-hp V-12 engine.

    Car and DriverBugatti Chiron Sport : $3,260,000

    The Bugatti Chiron is more than six times more expensive than the next-most-expensive car on this list. Yes, to confirm, it is still just a car with four wheels, two doors, two seats, and a steering wheel. But if the Chiron resembles the definition of a car, it is unlike any other one out there. Its quad-turbocharged W-16 engine and untouchable exclusivity put it at the top of the heap in terms of performance. A specially outfitted example even made history by breaking the 300-mph barrier recently. Is that worth more than $3 million to you?