Tag: Cars

2018 Genesis G80 Sport

2018 Genesis G80 Sport

Punching above its weight class is always a way to be noticed. Think of the slight schoolyard kid who packs a wallop when confronted by the playground bully. That’s a perfect analogy to the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport.

Now in its second year of production, you may have remembered a previous version known as the Hyundai Genesis. At the time, it was part of a high-zoot tag team partnership with the Hyundai Equus. Both were good, but with the breakneck speed of advancements the brand, and the industry seemingly make, they were quickly surpassed both on the outside and within. In that sense, this new luxury spinoff from Hyundai is punching above, and actually landing a few blows along the way.

Muscle-bound.

Exhibit A: The G80 Sport sedan. It’s a muscular four-door that admittedly shouldn’t show up for track days at your local racecar country club and day spa, but does manage to transport its occupants in luxury, while managing to not squeeze its owner’s bottom line. Oh, and did we mention its 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty?

Genesis G80 Sport
Genesis G80 Sport

Clearly the best value in midsize luxury cars today, it competes against the Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class, and BMW 5-series. It is loaded with nearly everything a salaryman could hope for as he climbs the corporate ladder. The 3.3-liter twin turbocharged V6 is a direct injection powerhouse that makes 365 horsepower and a genuine 376 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to Hyundai’s eight-speed automatic transmission that does everything asked of it, even if the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters are a little on the smallish side. Zero-to-60 mph times come on in 5.3-seconds for this somewhat heavy (4,519-pounds) lead sled, but it still imparts a sense of power by way of the growl that comes on while added pressure is loaded on the skinny pedal. Quiet isolation is this sedan’s strong suit.

In the oft chance that you don’t speak turbo, the G80 can be equipped with either a 420 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 or a 311 horsepower 3.8-liter V6.

The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport includes nearly every item on the Genesis options list except for the available winter-oriented AWD system, which comes with a heated steering wheel and a $2,500 price tag. A huge standard panoramic sunroof lets enough UV light in to insure your dermatologist is able to send all four of his children to college. One thing we would love to see in the Genesis lineup is an alignment with a major watchmaker for an added sense of caché. Mercedes-Benz dances with IWC. Bentley rides with Breitling. Ferrari shuffles with Panerai. It goes a long way to help boost a car’s bonafides, especially in this luxury segment, where attention to detail is everything.

Genesis G80 Sport
Genesis G80 Sport

The 2018 Genesis G80 Sport is a real charmer, but it’s not without a few minor quibbles. We found at various times the volume on the stellar Lexicon (by Harman) audio system with Clari-Fi would creep up prompting us to reach towards the centerstack for a quick readjustment. Soon we discovered we were riding along with the air conditioning blowing a balmy 85-degrees. That’s’ a result of Genesis designers placing the climate control dials where the volume and tuning knobs of the audio system are traditionally located.

Genesis G80 Sport
Genesis G80 Sport

Secondly, and this might be a bit more subjective, and perhaps a result of not being gifted with an adequately padded gluteus, but to our bottoms, the Genesis interior designers apparently received their degrees from the Major League Baseball College of Seating Design. The seat cushions in the Genesis are as hard as a bench in the dugouts of Chicago’s Wrigley Field (Home of the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs).

But does it go?
Power from the 3.3T spooled up rather quickly, putting out almost V8 power with the mileage of something you would expect in a Hyundai Accent. Not really, but you get our drift. While the Comfort settings did the job for the most part, we found the Sport gate to be much more engaging on backroads where we had a chance to see this Genesis unwind. When you hit the Drive Dynamics button to go from Eco to Comfort to Sport, things firm up in the steering and throttle departments. The suspension, whether it actually does or not, felt like it firmed up, too.

Critics commented how audacious it was that a South Korean econo-car company felt like it was time to compete with the big boys. Along the way, there have been fits and starts but they seemed to get fixed quickly as the Genesis brand does not seem content to work things out over the long term.

We find their rate of progress to be part of a plan that includes punching above that weight class, and making a name for themselves in relatively short order. With the 2018 Genesis G80 Sport, they are on a fast track.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2018 Genesis G80 Sport
Base MSRP: $55,250 As tested: $56,225.
Includes: Destination fee, $975.

Key Specs
Cylinders: V6
Displacement: 3.3-liters
Power: 365 hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 376 lb-ft @ 1,300-4,500 rpm
Fuel System: Direct Injection
Fuel: Premium
Acceleration: 0-60mph in 5.3 seconds
Drive Type Rear Wheel Drive
Gearbox: 8-Speed Shiftronic Automatic Transmission
Tire Size: 245/40R19 F 275/35/19 R
Unladen Weight: 4,519-pounds
Length: 196.5-inches
Width: 74.4-inches
Height: 58.3-inches
Wheelbase: 118.5-inches
Cargo Volume: 15.3 cubic feet
Cd: 0.27
City: 17
Highway: 24
Combined: 20

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2018 Toyota Camry First Drive

2018 Toyota Camry First Drive

It’s a car beloved and loathed at the same time. Long Toyota’s bread and butter sedan there is no denying the Camry is a best seller, despite the fact it exists in a market awash with Sport- and Crossover Utility Vehicles. But recently, others have been stealing market share. That’s why the company that Goes Places really went places with their 2018 Toyota Camry.

Now into its eighth edition, it includes more crisp folds than an Origami swan. But is it enough to keep the buyers coming back for more?

More Than An Appliance.

The Toyota Camry has had a reputation for bulletproof transportation since originally appearing on these shores back in 1983. Eventually though, it fell into that slot where those who didn’t really care about cars as anything more than basic transportation began to take it for granted. They were the appliance buyers. The ones who treat cars as a necessity, much like a refrigerator, and were as passionate about them as they were of their side-by-side Frigidaire. (Extra points if it had water and crushed ice through the freezer door.)

Although sales of all those appliances represented positive cash flow to the company and helped to reinforce a strong bottom line, it troubled Toyota scion Akio Toyoda. The grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda found that the vehicles made by his namesake company had become bland, homogenized and passionless. Realizing this, he proclaimed a change was coming. “If it’s not fun to drive, it’s not a car,” he said.

The 2018 Toyota Camry is just one result of that change.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

Perfect Imbalance.

There are many contenders in the market including such luminaries as the Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima. The company claims the 2018 Toyota Camry is inspired by the perfect imbalance of a ballet dancer. We suppose that means that while they stand on spindly legs, placing all their weight on pointed toe, they still appear balanced when viewed in toto. To a large degree, the same thing occurs with the new Camry.

Although continuing with a variation of the Camry’s winged grille appearance, it hits the market with not one, not two, not three, but four individual designs for greater grade differentiation. Starting with a basic black look in the lower L, LE, and Hybrid LE models, the Camry’s front-end graduates with the addition of sports mesh inserts, bright metallics, and a gloss black grill with mesh inserts on the highline XSE and XSE V6 versions.

The hood is now lowered 1.6-inches and features stamped-in character lines, that help to define the Camry’s new wider stance that now features a lower hip point, roofline and hood height for what Toyota claims is the appearance of a new, lower center of gravity. That’s probably true, as the new 2018 Camry rides 1-inch lower than the outgoing model.

Character lines run the length and width of the new Camry, adding a sense of complexity to the stamping process, as well as new points of interest from every view. The most distinctive of those would have to be the creases on the C-pillar, that in addition to drawing visual attention, help to taper airflow towards the rear spoiler, as well as being an accent point for the paint and roof of the new black XSE sport version. We understand the idea of differentiating a halo performance-style vehicle, but find the black accent a bit over done. It’s kind of like when painting a model car, you over-paint more than you intended, so you decide to continue further. In my experience, such model car paint jobs never ended well. While the lower trim levels continue with single exhaust pipes, the XSE four-cylinder, XLE and XSE V6 versions all utilize a dual exhaust system with quad chrome tips at the lower rear fascia.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

If I was to put a tag on it, we’d say the new Camry has a European look that reminds me of the continental stylings found on the late Saab 9-3. Yes, that’s a compliment.

Motivating Forces.

Power for the 2018 Camry comes from a choice of three engines including the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder engine with 203 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. Second is the 3.5 liter V6 that manages 301 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Both use dual fuel injection, which combines direct cylinder injection and port fuel injection depending on engine load for the most efficient fueling at any point.

The four and six-cylinder engines are both mated to a new Direct Shift 8AT (eight-speed) automatic transmission with paddle shifters. They feature direct lockup gearing from gears two through eight for what Toyota claims is the performance of an automated manual gearbox.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

The Hybrid Camry features power from a detuned version of the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force 4-cylinder dual injection engine, that puts out 176 horsepower and 163 lb-ft of torque. It combines with a Toyota Hybrid Electric motor for a combined net power rating of 208 horsepower. Gearbox duty is performed by a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a top fuel estimate of 51 city / 53 highway / 52 mpg combined for the HV LE model, which incidentally is in the range of the Hybrid Camry’s Prius little brother.

The petrol-powered versions ride on a new-for-Camry suspension that includes a standard MacPherson strut front end with gas-filled shocks, a stabilizer bar and tower strut bracing. An electric power assisted rack-and-pinion steering system keeps things pointed in the right direction. At the rear you’ll find a new double-wishbone kit with gas filled shocks and stabilizer bar for advanced handling and comfort.

All the bits are part of the new Toyota New Global Architecture platform (TNGA) which focuses on factors that improve, via a lower center of gravity, increased visibility, improved structure and reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

Interior Decorating.

The interior of the new Camry, while much more refined, still includes many of the same bits found in the previous generation. Most improvements occur in the area of the dashboard, which is bisected by a new character line that flow-controls downward to the center console.

Depending on trim level, both front seat passengers will take advantage of the eight-way power seat adjustments. Rear seating has been improved with more legroom and improved ergonomics. A new panoramic glass roof is standard on V6 models, and available on XLE and XSE four-cylinder models as an added cost option. Technology offerings are also new, featuring Toyota’s Entune 3.0 Audio, with Siri Eyes Free, and Scout GPS Navigation. Currently, Toyota is staying away from Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality because they are still in the negotiation stages as to how much data they want to allow Apple and Google to aggregate.

2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Toyota Camry

Our highline XSE tester included the upgraded Entune 3.0 premium audio system with dynamic navigation, nine JBL speakers and Harman’s Clari-Fi software to restore music that is typically lost in the digital compression process.

Drivetime.

While quiet and docile, the 2.5-liter Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine provided plenty of pulling power from start, even displaying a bit of a throaty growl when driven in anger. We found in most situations that the eight-speed automatic transmission did not hunt for any particular gear, instead settling for the most efficient of the eight cogs while underway. Handling was greatly improved over the outgoing ninth-generation model, even displaying (can we say it?) a bit of an enthusiastic inflection to its driving manners.

Power from the 3.5-liter V6 engine was even more so. While we found most of the grunt from the 2.5-liter came on at the top of the power band, the V6 seemed intent on delivering it in the low, and mid ranges of the engine’s power band. We know it is counter intuitive, but we did end up with better road feel and handling while behind the wheel of the decidedly heavier six-cylinder XSE version. In either case though, the rigidity found in the TNGA contributed to greatly improved chassis handling dynamics.

Here’s the pitch.

In this unrestrained battle for market share, Toyota needs to hit a grand slam. With the 2018 Toyota Camry, the bases are loaded, the bat has struck the ball, and it’s heading towards the fences.

2018 Toyota Camry

L $23,495

LE $24,000

SE $25,200

XLE $28,450

XSE $29,000

XLE V6 $34,400

XSE V6 $34,950

 

2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid

HV LE $27,800

HV SE $29,500

HV XLE $32,250

 

Destination $     885

 

EPA Mileage Estimates

L 29 city /41 highway/34 combined

L, SE, XLE, XSE   28 city/39 highway /32 combined

XLE V6 22 city/33 highway /26 combined

XSE V6 22 city/32 highway /26 combined

 

HV LE (Hybrid) 51 city/53 highway /52 combined

 

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Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci

Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci

Clarion is no stranger to alternative marketing. Or iconic builds. With the Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci, they return with the fifth chapter in a story that began with the rebuilding of an iconic 1974 BMW 2002. From there, they continued with a 1991 Acura (Honda) NSX, a 2004 Subaru WRX, and 2003 Nissan 350Z. This latest chapter features a 1993 BMW 850Ci. Starting with an E31 chassis that was thoroughly ragged out by its previous owner, it was the perfect candidate for a ground up restoration. Under the guidance of Allen H Gharapetian, the company known for their array of aftermarket audio systems, has routinely tried viral marketing that is more than just a slick advertising photo of their latest audio system.

The brand brought back Ace Drift Pilot Chris Forsberg and videotaped him putting the completed 850 through its paces.

Powered by a radical-by-any-standard 5.0-liter V12, the car was ripe for a Getrag 560G 6-Speed transmission swap, assisted by a reprogrammed ECU module for the six-speed conversion. That got the car going. Stoptech drilled brake rotors were located at the four corners to bring things under control after spirited jaunts wherever they occurred.

Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci
Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci

The Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci received an attitude adjustment by reducing the altitude of the car, lowering it with new Bilstein B8 Performance Shocks and an Eibach Pro Springs lowering kit.

In the engine room is a BMW V12 engine that produces 300 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm and 330 torques at 4,100 rpm. That’s not the heady amount as seen in BMW’s 2017 M760i, but don’t forget this car was designed and built in the early 1990s.

Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci
Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci

A Clarion Builds car wouldn’t be worth its curb weight of 4,153 pounds, if it did not include a top line audio system from the parent company. The brain of the operation was a Clarion NX706 head unit with seven-inch high-resolution screen. It worked in-line with a 32 band equalizer that was part of Clarion’s Full Digital Sound (FDS) system. Output was handled by a Clarion Z25W 10-inch Full Digital subwoofer, a mid-range Clarion Z7 Full Digital speaker and Clarion Z7 Full Digital tweeters.

Radical for the time, the BMW 850Ci was a special example of a legendary ride. The fact that there are not many examples left on the road makes the reappearance of this one even more legendary.

Story by Mark Elias. Images by Larry Chen[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”29″ gal_title=”Clarion Builds BMW 850Ci”]

Oligarch for a day in the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive

Oligarch for a day in the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive

Being the halo car means nothing is spared. Or, at least that’s the way it’s supposed to be. With the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive, the company has pulled from all disciplines and departments to provide a top line offering that can go head to head with all the other halos in the business.

 Subtly understated with its matte-black finish, the M760i makes a quick U-turn from that subtlety in exchange for a little bling on the D-pillar. Spelling out V-12 means it’s the biggest engine on offer. It’s also somewhat prophetic that BMWDesignworks chose to place the V12 designation directly above the fuel filler cap. That alpha-numeric lets all others, including your business manager, know you’re a big spender.

2017 BMW M760i xDrive

Cruising in the new Borscht Belt.

We are cruising on East Hallandale Beach Boulevard-the new Borscht Belt. Forget the Catskills in upstate New York. This borscht is Russian, owing to the influx of residents from the former Soviet Union. Nightclubs keep up the tradition of over the top food and entertainment, coupled with copious amounts of vodka. With thuggish looking bodyguard types chainsmoking outside, there must be an oligarch or three in our midst as the parking lot is littered with a Phantom Roller, a couple of Bentleys, a Merc and more. Save a spot for our murdered out 2017 BMW M760i xDrive, which would not look out of place, whether you are Millionaire Russian Playboy, or not.

The M760i is one of the new “bridge the gap” series of BMW vehicles that are classified as M-Performance models rather than an actual M7. That’s why BMW sells the Alpina B7 hot rod instead. But M-Performance doesn’t mean it’s a slouch. The 760i features the brand’s first M Performance TwinPower Turbo 12-cylinder engine, which actually slots in as a 6.6-liter V12. Single scroll turbochargers sit on either side of the cylinders to help it produce 601 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, and 590 lb-ft of torque at just 1,500 rpm. Zero to 60 mph ticks off in just 3.7-seconds and is electronically capped at 155 mph. But why, damn it? That’s like being chemically castrated.

2017 BMW M760i xDrive

That power is sent through a ZF 8-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission for dynamic and sure shifting through the range. Launch control is included but really, do you seriously plan on going to a track day in this car? Paddle shift levers let you place the gearbox in manual mode where it will hold the gears until you actually shift it. Just be prepared for it to bang up against the rev-limiter if you forget, once the stoplight turns green. The xDrive system features a rear wheel bias that enthusiasts demand, and is coupled with the anticipatory chassis control and active comfort drive with road preview, that allows the M760i to utilize all its talents to minimize body roll while maximizing comfort tuning. Oh did we mention it gives great throat? When driven in anger, the 2017 BMW M760i xDrive bellows out a guttural moan that will cause the hair on your neck to stand right up.

Former Trump pen-pal, Vlad Putin, your chariot awaits.

2017 BMW M760i xDrive

As tested: $154,795.

Destination fee, $995.

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                            V-12

Displacement:                                    6.6-liter

Power:                                                 601 hp

Torque:                                               590 lb-ft

Fuel System:                                      Petrol Direct Injection

Fuel:                                                    Premium

Acceleration:                                     0-60mph in 3.7 seconds

Drive Type                                         xDrive All-wheel-drive

Gearbox:                                            8-speed Shiftronic Automatic

Tire Size:                                           20-inch

 

City:

Highway:                                          Are you serious?

Combined:

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