Car & Driver
- As instrument panels and infotainment screens get ever more cluttered, Volvo has a plan to relocate its head-up display (HUD) to a higher plane, according to a new patent application.
- The new HUD is likely to be projected onto an auto-dimming or electrochromic glass surface for visibility.
- It also has potential uses for autonomous vehicles, since the driver's eyeballs will be spending less time glued to the road.
Volvo is taking head-up displays to a whole new level, according to this application the automaker has filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. And when we say whole new level, we mean both literally and figuratively, because this patent involves a head-up display that's not on the windshield, but on the roof of the car.
The patent application, which has a filing date of August 13, 2019, is assigned to Volvo Car Corporation, erasing all doubts as to which branch of Volvo the system could be applied to. Most HUDs use a series of mirrors in conjunction with a projector to display an image in front of the driver on the windshield; Volvo’s patent is no different, except for the location of the system.
The patent illustrations show a projector system right above the driver that displays information about the car on an "optically transmissive roof window." We believe the reason that Volvo doesn’t just call it "glass" is probably that the company will modify the glass to allow for better projection in all light conditions. If you've ever driven a vehicle with the HUD active while wearing sunglasses, you would have noticed that it can be hard to see the image being displayed. Perhaps Volvo is trying to tackle the issue through the use of an auto-dimming glass or variable-opacity electrochromic glass, which we recently experienced on the 2019 McLaren 720S Spider. As far as the projection system goes, Volvo says it will most likely be LED based, with options for brightness and position customization based on driver preference.
We can only guess what would be displayed up there. It would most likely be nonessential info, given that it's not a great idea to take your eyes off the road while driving. Volvo states that the reason for the invention is to declutter the front display systems and reduce the number of pages that need to be dug through to find certain information. As cars get more complex, there is more and more information available to drivers, but the space in which it can be displayed has stayed the same for the past 60 years.
One cool feature that Volvo mentions in the patent is the ability to check the vehicle's status without actually having to go back outside and into the vehicle. The company claims that when the system is on, anyone could look down at the roof from a vantage point above the car (like the second floor of a home or buildling) and know if the car is locked or, in the case of an EV, the battery life and charge status.
Another possibility for a roof HUD system might be for autonomous driving. Drivers who decide to sit back and and let the car drive itself could look up for information about their speed, distance, and time of arrival. This patent does precede Volvo's plan for Level 4 autonomy by 2021, so there is a strong likelihood of this roof HUD system debuting soon on a concept car.
We're curious to see what the final product looks like, and how it works, and just how much our necks will hurt to look at it.
- Croatian automaker Rimac is sharing details of homologation testing for its electric hypercar, the C_Two, with this crash-test video.
- Also this week, the company received an additional investment from Porsche, which now holds 15.5 percent of Rimac; Porsche is interested in the startup's electrification technology.
- Want to see more? Next time you're in Croatia, Rimac offers factory tours to the public.
When you get up in the morning and produce a fully electric hypercar with a claimed top speed of 258 mph, you better make sure it's got the proper certification before letting customers strap in. The Croatian electric supercar upstart, to continue its open-door policy of letting its fans and customers watch the production process each step of the way, has launched a video showing testing for part of its global homologation.
Once Rimac completes the long and expensive process of meeting global safety and quality certifications, it can sell this 1888-hp hypercar anywhere Ford, GM, Nissan, or Porsche can sell their cars worldwide. It's a big push because Rimac has since already marketed the C_Two as a car that’s both street and track friendly; not putting it through global homologation tests would mean it would be a track-only car for customers in the United States.
Rimac has already received support from Porsche and Hyundai. Porsche ramped up its investment to a 15.5 percent share today, interested in Rimac's electric and autonomous-vehicle tech and looking to expand their cooperation in battery technology. In May, Hyundai backed Rimac with $90 million to develop Hyundai’s first high-performance EV.
Rimac is estimating customer deliveries of the C_Two will start in 2020.
- The Audi A5 coupe, convertible, and Sportback models are getting a restyling for 2020; the higher-performance S5 is also included in the update.
- Along with the sharper look, these models also get a new infotainment system and a few other additional features.
- Look for the 2020 Audi A5 lineup to arrive in the U.S. sometime early next year.
Like its A4 sibling, the Audi A5 is now being freshened with a different look that, at least to our eye, is ever so slightly more attractive than before. There are also new tech features on board, including a different infotainment system, and—in Europe at least—new hybrid systems for the various powertrains offered. In the U.S., we expect the A5 will stick with its turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four with 248 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque.
The visual changes apply to A5 coupe, cabriolet, and Sportback models, and the higher-performance, V-6–powered S5 derivatives thereof. The LED headlights are reshaped, the grille is wider and flatter, and the air intakes are larger. There's also an attractive new shade of green paint that we're hoping makes its way to America.
Inside, Audi has dropped the previous MMI infotainment system's center-console-mounted knob controller with a 10.1-inch touchscreen that controls all functions. This enables new connectivity features and upgraded navigation, although we wonder if it will be quite as intuitive to use as MMI was before.
Audi has yet to release U.S.-specific information on the 2020 A5 and S5 lineup, but we expect these models to arrive on our shores sometime in late 2019 or early 2020. Prices should rise slightly compared to the current car's, which start at $45,195 for the A5 coupe and Sportback, $52,195 for the A5 cabriolet, $53,395 for the S5 coupe and Sportback, and $68,295 for the S5 cabriolet.
- Sports-car racer Brian Redman has been reported missing in the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
- Redman and his wife, Marion, are alive but stranded according to information received by their son James, who posted the news on Facebook on Thursday afternoon.
- Redman, 82, is a British sports-car legend who competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Targa Florio, Le Mans, and the Formula 1 and Formula 5000 series. Today, he is a frequent participant in historic racing events including the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.
The 82-year-old sports-car racing veteran Brian Redman was reported missing in the Bahamas earlier this week as Hurricane Dorian attacked the region. On Thursday, his son received word that Redman and his wife, Marion, were alive but stranded in an area of the islands called Dickies Cay/Man O'War, where they had been staying in the home of a family friend. James Redman is asking for help rescuing the couple on his Facebook page:
Among Redman's victories are the 1970 Targa Florio, where he drove a Porsche 908, as well as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Nürburgring 1000 KM, and, in F5000, the first Long Beach Grand Prix, driving a Lola T332. He was Formula 5000 champion three times between 1974 and 1976.
Redman has been a reliable presence at historic-racing events around the world since retiring from racing. We are hoping for his safe return and we will update this story as soon as new information comes in.
- Buick has refreshed the China-market Verano sedan, and it looks good.
- The Verano left the U.S. market in 2017, and GM has no plans for its return.
- In addition to the Buick's clean lines, it gets a turbocharged three-cylinder (!) engine.
Buick's compact Verano sedan broke up with the U.S. market in 2017—and after that, it went and got itself a revenge body. Consider us jealous of the updated, surprisingly attractive Verano. It's being introduced to China, a country with a well-known affection for Buicks.
The old Verano, the one we saw between the 2012 and 2017 model years, was fine. You could say it had a good personality; outwardly, it was sort of dumpy. The compact premium car next door, if you will. Its replacement—which is essentially a reskinned version of the Cruze sedan that Chevy just killed off—never came to America, being sold instead only in China since 2016. That car is what you see here, albeit refreshed heavily with new headlights, taillights, and bumpers.
Buick's designers really stuck the landing on the Verano's cosmetic update, particularly when you consider they had to keep and work with the Cruze's basically tadpole-like body shape. There are many similarities between the new Verano's look and that of its larger sibling, the Regal Sportback (which is sold here in the U.S.), including its squinty headlights; large, upright grille; and long, lean body lines. The resemblance is a very good thing.
Too bad, then, that we won't see this updated Verano here in America (and also too bad the wee Buick got so hot since leaving us). The Buick car lineup here has been pared to only the Regal Sportback and GS models, the LaCrosse, and the soon-to-die Cascada convertible. Maybe it's for the best—for, as eye-catching as the Verano's new look is, its turbocharged three-cylinder engine might be too surprising for many Americans who are used to, well, four cylinders or more. Enjoy, China.
- Patrick Eldridge of Jacksonville, Florida, drove his Smart Fortwo into the house as part of hurricane preparation this week.
- The owner drove the car through double doors and into the kitchen, and it seemed to fit easily, as reported by the Miami Herald.
- Eldridge isn't the first person to have driven a beloved car into an indoor living area for protection; it was done by a BMW owner in Florida in 2016.
Smart cars are notorious for being able to squeeze into tight parking spaces on crammed metropolitan streets. And up until now, there hadn't been news of anyone trying to finagle one into a kitchen. Patrick Eldridge of Jacksonville, Florida, has done it. He bet his wife he could park the Smart Fortwo in their kitchen to prevent Hurricane Dorian's winds from blowing the 2000-pound car away. Before you ask, the garage was already occupied by his wife's vehicle.
Hurricane Dorian is moving its way up the East Coast, and many residents and business owners are taking precautions to keep their beloved property safe. Coastal dealers are temporarily closing their doors, and Miami exotics dealer Prestige Imports is storing its inventory 56 stories off the ground in an oceanfront penthouse unit at the Porsche Design Tower in Miami.
The Smart fit through the home's double doors and rested peacefully in the kitchen away from the damaging winds of the now Category 2 hurricane that passed right by Jacksonville Wednesday on its way north. Jessica Eldridge said that there was room for the car, but it was in her way when she served dinner, and her dogs were definitely confused.
Eldridge isn't the only Florida resident to take these drastic measures. During Hurricane Matthew of 2016, Randy Jalil of Port St. Lucie, Florida, brought his BMW E30 M3 into his living room to protect it from damaging winds.
Some auto owners aren't being as cautious, though. The owner of a Jeep Grand Cherokee deserted the SUV on a beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, leaving it to the waves and some photo ops.
As of noon today, wind gusts of 78 mph were reported in Charleston, South Carolina, as the hurricane moves north.
- The New York Times has published a report claiming that online retail giant Amazon's insistence on quick delivery times has led to 60 known accidents and 10 deaths since 2015 involving delivery contractors.
- Citing a ProPublica investigation, the Times story says Amazon "argues that it bears no legal responsibility" for these accidents, some of which occurred in cars, trucks, or vans not marked as Amazon vehicles.
- Amazon requires that 999 out of 1000 deliveries arrive on time, according to the news report, and trains its contractors much less than rivals such as UPS and Fedex.
A new report takes the giant online retailer Amazon.com to task for sidestepping responsibility in a number of crashes involving contractors working as Amazon delivery drivers. The watchdog group ProPublica has published the results of an investigation, asserting Amazon exercises so much control over contractors that it crosses the line into being a de facto employer—and thus should bear liability for their actions.
Considering that Amazon delivered, according to the report, 2.3 billion packages last year in the United States, it is surprising that more accidents have not happened. This year, ProPublica said, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service will deliver more than two-thirds of those, but contractors are expected to deliver about 23 percent in 2019. Yet, the report claims, Amazon is allowing insufficiently trained people to work as delivery drivers.
ProPublica contrasts UPS's training process in a "multimillion-dollar" facility in which new drivers "are put through virtual-reality and obstacle-course hazards" to Amazon's "delivery driver onboarding course," which is done mainly using instructional videos that, ProPublica claims, "they watch on their phones." Very little of this training, such as it is, is devoted to defensive driving tactics, the report asserts.
Should you be concerned? Well, Amazon's chief financial officer said in April that the company will invest $800 million to give all of its U.S. Amazon Prime members free overnight delivery, a move that is likely to spur more deliveries, more rushing drivers (many of the reported accidents were blamed on overtasked drivers), and more usage of "flexible" contractor-based delivery workforces. It is, after all, the age of Uber and DoorDash—and the New York Times story acknowledges that the paper itself uses contractors for delivery. Only time—and pending lawsuits—will tell whether Amazon's grip over its contractors raises to the level of being their employer, and therefore liable in the event one of its ever growing flotilla of delivery vehicles crashes.
- "Weather content"—a.k.a. rain—has been added for Red Bull Ring and Red Bull Ring Short Track venues in the Gran Turismo Sport game.
- Five 1980s and 1990s Japanese sports cars join the game, including favorites such as the 1999 Honda S2000 and the 1991 Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo.
- There are also seven new events for the game's GT League single-player mode.
Update 9/5/19: GT Sport also looks to add a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (a.k.a. Daytona) and what appears to be a '60s-era Dodge Coronet, according to photos that were leaked on Twitter and reported by gtplanet.net.
Good news for fans of racing video games: Nearly two years after its release, Sony’s Gran Turismo Sport for PlayStation 4 is still releasing free monthly content. The latest update calls for a severe chance of rain showers at the Red Bull Ring racetrack. This is the first time Gran Turismo has offered this slippery feature, or really any weather apart from sunshine or moonlight. Although it's only for a single track, it's reasonable to expect this feature will be added to other circuits in the future.
Unlike most updates, this one doesn't add any new race cars. Instead, the new additions are five Japanese sports cars from the mid-'80s to the late '90s. They aren't going to be the fastest in the game, but they're immense cult favorites, and all are worth driving.
- 1999 Honda S2000
- 1990 Nissan Silvia K's Dia Selection
- 1983 Toyota Corolla Levin 3-Door-600GT APEX
- 1999 Subaru Impreza Coupe WRX Type R STI Version VI
- 1991 Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo
The cars are fantastically rendered in full detail down to the pop-up headlights in the Mitsubishi, but in the virtual world you won't burn your hand on the S2000's aluminum shift knob after it's been sitting in the sun.
Seven new events have been added to GT League mode, for gamers who favor Gran Turismo's single-player function. Newbies will likely enjoy shorter races with slower cars, while seasoned racers could end up devoting an entire weekend on the more serious and complex endurance races. Enjoy a few seconds of it right here:
- Two major automaker groups have agreed to equip all their passenger vehicles with rear-seat occupant reminder technology, starting in the 2025 model year.
- Vehicles will start rolling out the reminder systems in new models starting in 2022.
- The reminder systems are an effort to avoid deaths from heatstroke when children are accidentally left unattended in the back seats of vehicles.
The Association of Global Automakers and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, two groups that include nearly every carmaker that serves the U.S. market, have agreed they'll put rear-seat occupant alerts into their entire passenger-car fleets as standard. The move is in response to the problem of parents and caregivers accidentally leaving children in the back seat of a hot car. The alert systems will become standard in the 2025 model year or sooner, the organizations announced this week.
The automakers have moved out ahead of Congress, which has a bill for the HOT CARS (Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats) Act in the works that would mandate this kind of alert system.
For those who are already irritated by the number of audible alerts their vehicles emit, this may not seem like good news, but no one can argue that a bit of an annoyance is worth it if it saves lives. The automaker groups said in statements that the types of alert systems they'll use will vary. "At a minimum, these prompts will include a combination of auditory and visual alerts that will activate after a driver turns off the vehicle," they said.
So far, Kia, General Motors, Nissan, and Subaru offer back-seat reminder systems on many of their vehicles, with Hyundai set to join by 2022.
Deaths when children are left in cars, even in milder outdoor temperatures, are distressingly frequent; the most recent to make the news happened on September 3 in Gilbert, Arizona, and involved a three-year-old, so the problem goes beyond infants in rear-facing seats. It only takes 10 minutes for a car's interior temperature to heat up by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and a child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's, the Association of Global Automakers pointed out. To date, there have been 39 child deaths this year as a result of a hot car, involving children from newborns to age four, according to child safety advocacy group Kids and Cars.
- The BMW 330i averaged a whopping 42 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy test, the best of any compact luxury sedan.
- It also betters many lesser-performing cars that are more focused on fuel economy, including some hybrids.
- That the latest 3-series achieved this while at the same time improving its braking and cornering results by more than 10 percent is truly remarkable.
The new 3-series' multifaceted improvements in its test numbers are ones that usually require pixie dust: The entry-level, four-cylinder 330i is at least as quick as before—in some measures, such as zero-to-60-mph time, it's slightly quicker—while chalking up huge improvements in braking and cornering grip and at the same time improving fuel economy.
We barely could believe the pixels on our TI-85 calculator when they were staring back at us in the shape of a 42 after computing the results of a 200-mile highway-fuel-economy run at 75 mph in the latest 330i. What makes its big four-two result even more remarkable is that this particular test car had all the M Sport goodies on it, including grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
That makes the 330i easily the best in the compact-luxury-sedan segment, tying the Jaguar XE, which was a diesel. It also counterintuitively shames an array of lesser-performing cars, such as the Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid (41), the Mazda 3 (39), even the BMW 530e hybrid (38). It's also just 2 mpg behind what we saw in the latest Toyota Camry hybrid.
It's doubly impressive that the 3 achieved this level of efficiency, 1 mpg better in our fuel-economy test than the previous-gen 330i, while simultaneously improving dramatically in cornering and braking. It hung on for 0.94 g on the skidpad and stopped from 70 mph in 150 feet, both gains of more than 10 percent. This latest rear-drive 330i also beat out its all-wheel-drive 330i xDrive sibling in braking, on the skidpad, and by 4 mpg in our fuel-economy test. The new 330i's EPA fuel-economy ratings notched higher with this latest redesign, improving by 2 mpg in both city and highway (from 24/34 city/highway to 26/36).
Although we still have some reservations about the way the latest 3-series feels, particularly the steering, there's no question BMW worked some engineering magic with its impressive combination of improvements to both performance and fuel economy.
- The driver of a 2014 Tesla Model S that ran into the back of a fire engine in California in 2018 was using Autopilot at the time, according to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report this week.
- The agency's investigators reported that the driver was having breakfast while he let Autopilot take over the driving; his hands were not on the steering wheel, and he did not brake prior to the crash.
- This is not the first—and unfortunately probably won't be the last—case of drivers relying more extensively on Autopilot than Tesla expressly states they should.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that a man was having breakfast inside his Tesla when it crashed into a parked fire truck. The unidentified 47-year-old man, who ran into the back of a fire engine on Interstate 405 in Culver City, California, in January 2018, was using the car's Autopilot feature while he breakfasted on coffee and a bagel.
His hands were not on the steering wheel prior to the crash, nor did the 2014 Model S brake for the fire engine, which was stopped with lights flashing. He has not been identified in public records and is unknown if he will be criminally charged. The preliminary NTSB report released Tuesday said that because after the crash his coffee spilled and his bagel was smashed, the driver was not sure if his coffee or bagel was in his hand when the crash occurred. The agency does not assign blame in accident investigations.
NTSB report data concluded that the Tesla was driven on that day for about 30 miles over about 66 minutes, and during that time, Autopilot was engaged for 29 minutes and four seconds. "Hands were detected on the steering wheel for only 78 seconds," NTSB said.
The NTSB said Autopilot was on for the last 13 minutes and 48 seconds before the crash, of which time the driver had his hands on the wheel for a total of 51 seconds. "Place Hands on the Wheel" alerts came from the car's system four times, as did an audible warning. Cruise control was set for 80 mph. When the car in front changed lanes—presumably to move over for the fire truck—the man let his Tesla accelerate from 21 mph to 31 mph before hitting the back of the truck head-on, the report said. Fortunately there were no injuries to the "driver" or anyone in the crash zone.
In August 2018, a 37-year-old man crashed into a fire truck in San Jose at 65 mph. In May that year, a woman in another Tesla crashed into another fire truck in Utah. Other Tesla drivers believing Autopilot to be infallible and entirely self-driving have napped on the highway—or killed themselves as their cars drove them underneath tractor-trailers or straight into barriers.
- BMW will show a 2020 X6 at the Frankfurt auto show in September that has been painted in the blackest paint we've ever seen.
- Called Vantablack, the paint is normally used for coating space-borne components because of its ability to absorb light and resist very cold temperatures.
- It's unlikely BMW will offer the color on a production car, so enjoy it here.
UPDATED 9/4/2019: We've updated this story to include a short YouTube video clip of the X6 Vantablack concept car rolling into the Frankfurt auto show.
If you thought the 2020 BMW X6's design was bold, you clearly haven't seen it painted in the blackest black exterior color: Vantablack. BMW is gearing up to show the Vantablack X6 at the Frankfurt auto show next month, and we're curious to see what it looks like in person. YouTube user Phoebe Heess beat us to the punch and posted the video below, but we wish it were longer.
How is it so, so black? VANTA stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array, and it's essentially a matrix made from microscopic bits of carbon. Instead of reflecting light the way normal automotive finishes do, it absorbs the light and turns it to heat. We'd suggest BMW not leave the Vantablack X6 parked in the sun too long.
The paint has an odd effect on the X6 in that it completely erases any three-dimensionality from the SUV's design. It looks utterly flat. We know it isn't, because we've seen the new X6 painted in other colors. In Vantablack, the X6's curvaceous side surfacing, aggressively ducktailed rear liftgate, and rippled hood all disappear under a sea of black so dark it's like staring into a black hole.
We're sure this was intentional, but the super-black paint does make the X6's laser headlamps, LED taillamps, and slick light-up kidney grilles more dramatic. Against the Vantablack paint, these brightly lit elements seem to float, suspended in space.
Speaking of space and black holes, Vantablack was originally designed as a coating for space-borne components and has been used to block out light from the sun so deep-space camera lenses can get a better glimpse at faraway stars and galaxies.
If you're a fan of black cars, you will be disappointed to learn that BMW isn't likely to offer the Vantablack paint finish on a production X6 anytime soon. We imagine driving such a vehicle, one that's basically a shadow, on public roads at night could be a challenge anyway.
- Now that the camouflage is off and we've seen Porsche's new Taycan, we're taking a moment to comment on the design.
- The Taycan is wide and features some important exterior styling cues borrowed from the 911.
- The Taycan's instrument panel could be described as a modern interpretation of the classic 911 cockpit.
Now that Porsche has removed the camouflage, we can more clearly see how it fits into the family.
There are many obvious Porsche design elements at play in the Taycan. The long and thin taillights that wrap around the car slightly and the four-LED headlight are bits shared with the rest of the Porsche showroom. But there are deeper and longer-standing bits of tradition in this EV's design.
Like a 911, the car has wide hips at the ends and a narrow center section. The relationship of the body to the cockpit and to the fenders has long been part of the 911's secret sauce. The body is wider than the cockpit, and the fenders are wider than the body. This is something the slab-sided 996 (1999–2004 911) ignored to its own detriment. Standing at the back of the car, the fender-to-cockpit relationship is clearly 911 inspired. The longer you look at the Taycan—the side glass, the roofline—the more it seems like a 911 sedan.
While not as long as a Buick Electra 225, this is a fairly large sedan. Its 195.4-inch length is just a half-inch smaller than the Tesla Model S, but the Taycan has a much lower roofline than the Model S. According to Porsche, a hatchback would've raised the low and 911-like sweeping roofline, which is something they didn't want. So, the Taycan has a trunk. Porsche will gladly sell you a Panamera to meet your hatchback needs.
It's that low roofline, dropped on a very wide body with even wider fenders, that gives the Taycan a presence and overt sportiness that is better appreciated in person, according to our testing director, Dave VanderWerp. The lowness is striking and photos don't quite convey the size and proportions or the lowness of the nose. Large wheels are part of the deal too—Turbo S models are shod with 21-inch wheels, and the Turbo gets 20-inchers.
A look inside reveals even more 911-inspired design. As the owner of a 993 (1995–1998 911) with a Classic Grey interior, what immediately struck me about the Taycan's interior were the common bits. Not literally, of course: the Taycan has a fully modern glass cockpit with two big touchscreens, and it shares zero parts with an old 911, but there's an immediate connection to the past that Porsche is playing with and riffing on. If you've been in an air-cooled 911, you'll recognize the elongated oval that houses five round gauges, the tapered shape of the dashtop lip, and the black center section sandwiched and sunken between the gray upper and lower parts of the instrument panel. Where you'd find a passenger airbag in an old 911, the Taycan has an optional touchscreen.
Perhaps to assuage the fear surrounding a battery-powered Porsche, the Taycan brings a lot of the best of Porsche design. Freed up by fewer packaging constraints (the battery and the motors are easier to package than an engine and transmission), the Taycan can pull from Porsche's greatest hits. And that's what Porsche has done here. While the sound of it might not remind you Porsches past, at least the looks will.
- The 2020 Porsche Taycan Turbo starts at $152,250 and the Taycan Turbo S starts at $186,350.
- The Taycan is Porsche's first electric car, and it has its sights set on the significantly less-expensive Tesla Model S.
- Both the Turbo and Turbo S models will be available by the end of 2019, and Porsche says it already has thousands of orders for the Taycan.
The Porsche Taycan may break new ground as Porsche's first-ever EV, but it's a Porsche through and through—right down to its steep price. The first two models to go on sale will be the $152,250 Taycan Turbo and the $186,350 Taycan Turbo S. The Turbo has 670 horsepower and the Turbo S has 750 horsepower, and both use a 93.4-kWh battery pack (an EPA range estimate for the Taycan is still pending).
That starting price may not sound too crazy considering that the gas-powered Porsche Panamera Turbo starts at $154,350, but it makes this new EV significantly more expensive than its chief rival, the Tesla Model S. The Tesla has benefited from numerous price cuts as of late and its Performance trim, which offers 345 miles of range and a claimed zero-to-60-mph time of 2.4 seconds, now starts at $101,190. Even with all of its options, the Tesla tops out at $116,190.
Porsche has not released option pricing for the Taycan, but we assume that it will follow the company's convention and offer a wide range of hugely expensive extras. Porsche does say that the first examples of the car will come equipped with certain options such as the panoramic sunroof, meaning they will start $2610 higher. The first examples of the Taycan will go on sale by the end of 2019.
The Taycan will initially be offered in Turbo and Turbo S forms, despite the fact that it is powered by electric motors and does not have a turbocharger.Porsche
The Taycan Turbo has a combined 670 horsepower, while the Taycan Turbo S packs a whopping 750 horsepower.Porsche
We estimate an EPA-rated driving range of between 235 miles and 265 miles, although official numbers are not yet available.Porsche
The Taycan has a 93.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack.Porsche
If you charge the Taycan at one of Porsche's new 350-kilowatt DC fast charging stations, its high maximum charging power of 270 kilowatts means that the battery can go from a 5 percent charge to an 80 percent charge in just over 22 minutes.Porsche
Electric motors reside at both the front and rear axles, making for all-wheel drive.Porsche
Unlike other EVs which use a single-speed gearbox, the Taycan uses a two-speed transmission for the electric motor mounted on the rear axle, helping both efficiency and acceleration.Porsche
Porsche claims a zero-to-60-mph-time for the Taycan Turbo S of a scant 2.6 seconds, and 3.0 seconds for the Turbo. Both models have a claimed top speed of 162 mph.PorschePorsche
A full-width taillight mimics the lighting setup found on other Porsche models.Porsche
Four large screens, including an optional one in front of the passenger, dominate the interior.Porsche
The 16.8-inch digital gauge cluster is configurable, and the 10.9-inch center screen runs a new infotainment layout.Porsche
The curved, hoodless digital gauge cluster from the Mission E concept makes it into production.Porsche
The screen in front of the passenger is optional and is another access point for various infotainment functions.Porsche
Both leather and leather-free interior options are offered.Porsche
The Taycan is the first electric car with two charge ports, one on each front flank.PorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorschePorsche
The Taycan's two-speed automatic is an EV first.Porsche
Powering the Taycan are two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors.Porsche
- Porsche enters the pricey end of the electric-car marketplace with the all-new 2020 Taycan sports sedan.
- The Taycan is a fastback that's about the same length as the Tesla Model S but with a much lower roofline.
- The new car offers big horsepower and torque and a big price, which on the top Turbo S model approaches $200,000.
The Taycan, Porsche's pivotal step into the high-performance and high-price end of the EV landscape, is quick, comfortable, and likely to be a serious Tesla contender. The Taycan (pronounced TIE-kahn) is at least as important to Porsche as the first-generation Cayenne, not in terms of profit, but for reshaping the arc of the company's future vehicles.
The automaker was determined not to do an electric SUV, and it knew a sports car wouldn't be able to sell in high enough numbers to satisfy global regulatory requirements. So Porsche landed on a fastback-sedan configuration. The Taycan is very nearly the same length as a Tesla Model S and 3.4 inches shorter than the Panamera, but it has a substantially lower roofline than either. But Tesla certainly deserves credit for doing the very expensive, money-losing research that's proved there's a market for luxury EVs. And sure enough, Porsche had 30,000 orders in hand globally even before the Taycan's public debut.
Electric-vehicle breakthroughs include a much higher operating voltage that enables faster charging as well as the first multispeed EV transaxle. Both of these help facilitate uncharacteristically consistent acceleration performance for an EV.
Porsche is sticking with its traditional naming convention, calling these high-power models Turbo and Turbo S even though, obviously, neither has a turbocharger. This also means that it's fairly easy to imagine how the bottom end of the model line will fill in later, with commensurately lower power figures and prices.
The Turbo S's numbers are big: 750 horsepower and 774 lb-ft of torque, and a price starting at $186,350. The less expensive, $152,250 Turbo will have 670 horses and 626 lb-ft of torque. The difference between the two is primarily at the front axle, where the S's larger inverter enables more front-motor thrust. You get those outputs for only 2.5 seconds at a time; after that, both models drop to 616 horsepower, which can be maintained for 10 seconds. The Taycan's 162-mph top speed is achieved in top gear at the motors' 16,000-rpm redline.
Rather than have a uniform, rectangular battery pack in the floor, Porsche strategically relocated two of the 33 modules that make up its 93.4-kWh pack to leave space for rear passengers' feet. It worked; rear-seat space and legroom are quite generous. Other interior tricks include a curved 16.8-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 10.9-inch center screen that runs a new infotainment layout, moving to tablet-like squares of selectable functions rather than Porsche's current setup of scrolling menus that we've found frustrating. There's also an optional second screen in front of the passenger, with duplicate functionality for infotainment and navigation. In addition to the typical leather, there's a leather-free option.
There are two areas where the Taycan may fall somewhat short of Tesla: its rated range and its lack of sophisticated semi-autonomous driver-assistance technology. There's no official EPA range estimate yet, but the European cycle puts the longest-range Taycan at 280 miles. Using the Model S's Euro-versus-U.S. fuel-economy figures as our yardstick, we predict the Taycan's highest EPA rating will be somewhere between 260 and 270 miles; that's in comparison with 370 miles for the top Tesla. Turbo S models should fall somewhere between 225 and 250 miles. But the Taycan has a trick up its rear subframe: a two-speed transmission, which, combined with the Taycan's very low 0.22 coefficient of drag, may give it the edge in extended high-speed cruising that's generally a range killer.
What about that very important component of the Porsche experience—sound? Both the light whine in Normal mode and the lower, more spaceship-like hum in Sport Plus originate at the Taycan's speaker cones, but at least they're recordings captured from actual electric motors on a test bench. It's far from the burning wail of Porsche's best, and when the Taycan is really hustling, the primary noise you hear is tire squeal. All that aside, Porsche's electric car appears to be a true Porsche and a true sports sedan.
Decades of consistent evolution and consistently excellent execution have shaped Honda's Accord into America's best family sedan. Just look at this latest example, with its long, low-slung shape and crisply designed interior. Slide behind its wheel, fire up the engine and take a drive, and you'll discover class-leading handling that's sporty and that doesn't come at the expense of a comfortable ride quality. It's little wonder why we've named the Honda to our annual 10Best Cars list a record 33 times, more than any other vehicle.
Mazda’s gorgeous 6 is proof that all family sedans are not created equal—even when you consider the segment's recent embrace of style and sportiness. This is a mid-size four-door that looks and feels a class above all others, and most people would rightfully mistake it for an entry-luxury car. But this is no BMW 3-series competitor; it is instead priced among everyday offerings. The Mazda drives as smooth as it looks, with neat handling and fluid moves. A turbocharged engine upgrade recently joined the lineup, bringing much-needed horsepower to the Mazda 6 equation, and a Signature trim elevates the already luxurious interior to new heights.Mazda2. Mazda 6
Toyota’s Camry has long been synonymous with "family sedan," a term that until recently carried bleak, appliance-like connotations. The Camry's recent redesign has recast that association in a new, less boring light. The exterior design is expressive, and Toyota squeezes some driving fun out of its mainstream four-door like it never has before. The Camry even keeps its optional V-6 engine while more and more competitors abandon this robust engine type for smaller, turbocharged engines. As such, Camry buyers can opt for a zesty 301-hp V-6 over the base four-cylinder engine; those looking for more fuel efficiency and general quietness can still opt for the fuel-sipping hybrid powertrain. Regardless of which engine you choose, this is the best Camry in years, and rightfully sits near the top of its class.Toyota3. Toyota Camry
Redesigned this year, Nissan's Altima takes a huge step forward relative to its predecessor. The car looks good, and it even offers an innovative variable-compression gas engine option and a new all-wheel drive powertrain. The reinvigorated sedan is at its best in higher-priced trims—lesser models' interior quality and driving dynamics are merely so-so—but every model adds contemporary infotainment features and driver-assistance technology. It’s too bad you can only pair all-wheel drive with the standard 188-hp four-cylinder engine, and not the high-tech 248-hp variable-compression turbo engine. Given how rare all-wheel-drive options are in this segment, however, the Altima's AWD option deserves praise, even if it comes with a less-than-ideal engine pairing.Nissan4. Nissan Altima
Whatever you might think about the redesigned-for-2020 Subaru Legacy's leaner overall look, all-new interior, and new turbocharged engine option, it's still the all-wheel-drive choice in this segment. Sure, a few other mid-size sedans offer all-wheel drive as an option—but the Legacy has it standard, along with a warm-and-fuzzy outdoorsy image shared with the Subaru lineup overall. With top-notch active safety equipment, a huge (optional) touchscreen, and competent and comfortable driving dynamics, the Legacy is a solid choice.Subaru5. Subaru Legacy
Unlike several other four-doors that GM has announced it will stop producing in 2019, the Malibu sedan still has a place in Chevy's lineup. That's good for family-sedan shoppers, because Chevrolet’s mid-sizer is attractive and its suspension neatly balances secure handling with a comfortable ride. Most versions have an excellent infotainment system and numerous of driver-assistance features—lower-priced models don’t, however. An extremely efficient hybrid version highlights the trio of powertrains that also includes 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinders.Chevrolet6. Chevrolet Malibu
The Kia Optima is the Hyundai Sonata’s spicier-looking cousin—the two are mechanically similar and share pretty much the same trio of four-cylinder engines, as well as hybrid and a plug-in hybrid options. Its general refinement and upscale cabin make it an excellent value, and there is a lot of standard equipment to further sweeten the deal, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone integration and driver-assistance equipment such as automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. The Kia’s average ride and handling and the hybrid models’ back-of-the-pack efficiency hold it back in our rankings.Kia7. Kia Optima
Even though it isn’t as stylish as its immediate predecessor, today’s Hyundai Sonata remains a solid entry in the mid-size segment. Buyers can choose between a fuel-efficient 176-hp four-cylinder in the Eco model and a powerful 245-hp turbocharged four-cylinder, plus there is a gas-electric hybrid and even a plug-in hybrid. With a serene cabin and a smooth ride, the Sonata aims for the middle and succeeds, even if it doesn’t feel as special as some of the better-selling, higher-style sedans found later in this roundup. Not good enough? Wait for the all-new, knockout 2020 model; we've yet to drive it yet, but boy does it look impressive.Hyundai8. Hyundai Sonata
The Volkswagen Passat no longer hails from Germany, at least not directly. Volkswagen has been building the sedan here in the U.S. since 2011, and this version is optimized for American tastes. (A different, more upscale Passat is sold in Europe.) Standout features include its spacious back seat, copious standard driver-assistance features, and solid road manners. For 2020, the Passat is heavily updated with new styling and a fresh interior, while its previously optional 280-hp V-6 has been dropped, leaving the 174-hp turbo four-cylinder and six-speed automatic as the lone powertrain.Volkswagen9. Volkswagen Passat
Honda’s Clarity lineup poses a triple-threat: There is a plug-in hybrid (covered here), a pure-electric model, and one powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell. They all look pretty much the same—so, kinda odd. The plug-in’s gas-fueled engine primarily acts as a generator, while the electric motor is the primary motivator. Hence, the Clarity Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) drives a lot like a fully electric car. (There are circumstances under which the gas engine contributes torque to the drive wheels, but they’re rare.) With its ability to refuel at gas stations when its battery runs out (after 48 miles of EV-only driving, per the EPA), the Clarity can make it across the country without needing to plug in.Honda10: Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Toyota's futuristic Mirai is not like the other mid-size sedans on this list. Not only does it not look like those four-doors—or many other normal automobiles, for that matter—but the Toyota runs solely on hydrogen fuel and its only emissions are water vapor. No gas, no diesel, no plugging the car in for electricity. Total driving range per hydrogen fill-up is about 300 miles, and each top-up takes roughly five minutes, far better than juicing up most pure-electric alternatives. Well, so long as there is a hydrogen station nearby. Hence why the Mirai is only sold or leased in California, the only place where a nascent infrastructure supporting hydrogen refueling exists.Toyota
The Fusion is not long for this world, what with Ford's plan to stop making passenger cars. Myriad engine options include a potent 245-hp four-cylinder and powerful 325-hp twin-turbo V-6, and there are gas-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid choices. A six-speed automatic is the only transmission option for the non-hybrid Fusions, which also are available in front- and all-wheel-drive forms. (The hybrids are front-drive-only.) While the Sport model has athletic handling and the most powerful engine, it's still less engaging to drive than rivals that rank much higher on this list.Ford12: Ford Fusion
- Tesla's Phone Key app experienced a brief outage on Labor Day, locking some Tesla Model 3 owners out of their vehicles when they couldn't use it to open the doors.
- Tesla points out that the owner's manual recommends that owners carry a physical key fob or key card just in case.
- Not a big deal—unless you were the one trapped at the Supercharger for hours—but it does point out that it's good not to be completely dependent on a mobile app.
Smartphone apps go down all the time, but rarely do they affect your ability to drive your car. On Labor Day, though, some Tesla owners were unable to get into their vehicles thanks to an outage with the official Tesla app.
The app has a feature called Phone Key that turns a smartphone into, well, a key. It can be used to lock and unlock a Model 3 without ever taking the phone out of a pocket. Tesla even recommends Phone Key be used as the "primary method of accessing and starting your vehicle," according to the company's website.
But relying solely on Phone Key can be a bad idea, it turns out. Starting at around 4 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, Tesla's mobile app became unavailable for what Tesla says was a brief time. The company says that full functionality was restored soon after the outage was reported, but that was enough time for the internet to notice. Some drivers, among them Kyle Field, a Tesla owner and an editor at CleanTechnica, experienced it as a minor issue.
"I opened the app to use summon to back my car into a spot with better visibility and the app did not come up," he told Car and Driver. "I reloaded it, and it came up with the login screen. Having seen a few tweets about an outage, I assumed that was the problem and added my name to the list. A few tweets later, I realized that all that was needed was to log in again."
After seeing numerous reports of a @Tesla app outage, I confirmed that I'm also locked out. Southern California FWIW.— Kyle Field (@mrkylefield) September 3, 2019
Others were not so lucky, with some Tesla owners saying on Twitter that they were locked out of their cars for up to four hours. Some were stuck at Supercharger stations, plugged in longer than necessary. Tesla says that none of these drivers would have had a problem if they had followed the owner's manual, which makes it clear they should always carry a physical key fob or key card (pictured below).
The reason the automaker recommends this is for when the phone's battery dies. In yesterday's outage, thought, the phones were working just fine. Tesla says that if an owner didn't log out of the app, then it still should have functioned correctly, since the Phone Key technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy frequencies instead of a network connection to communicate with the paired Model 3. This Bluetooth connectivity does not apply to Model S or Model X vehicles, which can use the Tesla app's lock and unlock features as long as they have a cellular signal. We surmise, therefore, that Phone Key is not a reliable technology for these particular Tesla vehicles in places where the driver can't get a cell signal, like in a parking garage.
This is not the first time that the Tesla app hasn't acted the way the company says it should. When some media control units were replaced in 2018, digital certificates were not transferred properly, which also kept some people out of their cars when they tried to use the app to unlock the doors. Tesla says this issue has been resolved.
Remember the Juke? Nissan's weird little crossover that sort of looked like the kind of vehicle a mutated insect might drive? In our market, the new and more conventionally styled Kicks crossover killed it, but the Juke lives on, sort of like a cockroach without a head, in Europe and other parts of the world.
While the U.S. market won’t be getting it, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to discuss it. The rest of the world can buy a new Juke. It remains, er, interesting looking, or at least interesting enough to discuss. There’s no mistaking it for anything but a Juke. Like old bug eyes, there are big round headlights below the high-set turn signals, but the whole look is more for the general public than entomologists. Nissan left the rear door handles up near the pillars, which should continue to confuse Uber riders. In the interest of personalization, because what Juke buyer doesn't want to make more of a statement, there are 11 colors to choose from and Nissan will let you mix and match the roof color.
Fractionally larger than before but still quite small, the new Juke boasts more legroom and headroom in the backseat. Cargo volume is up 20 percent. Nissan claims the new Juke is 51 pounds lighter, which is good because behind the modernized face is a 115-hp 1.0-liter three-cylinder turbo. That paltry output is a far cry from the 188-hp 1.6-liter turbo of the old Juke. Do it yourself shifters get a six-speed manual, those who slip it into drive get a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Optional extras include the usual safety suspects—emergency braking, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind-spot monitoring. Nissan will also offer ProPILOT on the Juke that will maintain the correct speed and keep the car in the lane with minimal driver intervention.
Without a more serious engine than the turbo 1.0-liter, we're not too heartbroken that the new Juke won't be coming to us any time soon. We might change our minds if they give it a little more power.
- Ford is recalling 483,325 U.S. vehicles, including F-150 and Super Duty pickups plus Explorer, Expedition, and Lincoln Aviator models from the 2018 through 2020 model years, over a problem with their seatbacks.
- The issue is a missing pawl in the seatback, which keeps the seat from reclining. In case of a crash, the seatbacks may not adequately restrain an occupant, Ford said.
- Dealers will replace the seat structure at no charge in the event the problem is found.
This past weekend was not exactly a holiday for Ford’s safety team but was definitely a long weekend as they issued another recall in the month of August. The first recall we covered this month was because of missing plastic and no warning lights on some 2020 Lincoln Aviators and 2020 Ford Explorers. This new recall covers a far wider spread both in terms of vehicles and models affected and is for vehicles with a lack of seat restraint in the event of a crash.
Certain 2018 through 2020 Ford F-150, 2019 and 2020 Ford F-series Super Duty, 2018 and 2019 Ford Explorer, and 2019 and 2020 Ford Expedition vehicles with a manual driver's-side and/or front passenger's-side seatback recliner mechanism, and certain 2020 Ford Explorer and 2020 Lincoln Aviator vehicles with rear outboard seats with manual seatback recliner mechanisms, are affected by this recall. These vehicles could be missing its third pawl (a bar in the seatback that prevents movement) required for seatback strength. Ford states that "a seatback with an improperly assembled recliner mechanism may not adequately restrain an occupant in a crash, increasing the risk of injury."
A pawl is a bar that is a type of latch mechanism. It engages with the gear in the seatback to prevent movement or dictate the direction of movement of the seatback. It's what allows the seatback to move back and forth when the lever on the side of the seat bottom is pulled up. In the event of a crash, these pawls are supposed to hold the seatback in place; in the case of a frontal or rear collision, without the pawl engaged, the seat could unexpectedly recline or raise depending on the direction of impact. If this happens, the passengers are not restrained in their seats properly, and the seatbelts (and airbags if deployed) would not perform in the way they were intended to, which could then cause unnecessary injury to the passengers in the vehicle.
This recall affects 483,325 vehicles in the United States. Dealers will be replacing the seat structure at no charge to customers in the event that the issue is found to exist in their vehicle. Ford reports that there are no accidents or injuries associated with the recall. Owners can learn whether their vehicle is involved in by visiting the recall page of Ford's owner website.