Tag: Hybrid

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

The BMW 3-Series is already a legend for obvious reasons including packaging, handling and all around sportiness. With the 2018 BMW 330e, is it a case of too much of a good thing, or is it another option for fanboys of “the Ultimate Driving Machine?”

What’s it all about?

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

The 2018 BMW 330e iPerformance is the semi-electrified version of the existing BMW 3-series four-door platform. Essentially designed to specifications of what others call a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), it is powered BMW’s well known inline four-cylinder twinpower turbocharged engine producing 180 hp at 5000-6500 rpm, and 215 lb-ft of torque at 1350-4250 rpm. This four-cylinder works in conjunction with BMWs permanent activated synchronous electric motor that adds an additional 87 hp for a cumulative total of 248 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque. That sense of urgency spurts out from the four-cylinder/electric power unit to an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift levers.

Power for the electric motor comes from a lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery mounted below the trunk floor. Plugging the included wall outlet charger offers the same stimulating qualities found while watching paint dry; plug into a level II supercharger, and the task can be completed in a more palatable 2.2-hours.

Our BMW 330e iPerformance sedan, as equipped, was capable of a top speed of 140 mph. This eDrive sedan allowed speeds

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

up to 75 mph on electricity alone when set in Max eDrive mode. Auto eDrive, which was the more subtle of the drive modes, allowed electrical operation for speeds up to 50 mph. Anything above that caused the package to revert to hybrid operations. There are other user-variable settings that reduce the effectiveness of the air conditioning and other electrical operations inside the vehicle, while extending the attainable electric mileage figures.

The 330e is available in a single trim level. It will likely be cross-shopped against the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Lexus ES300h.

The view from within.

The view inside the 330e is typical BMW, as we’ve grown to enjoy through the years. If you liked the 2017 model, you’ll love the 2018 too, and most likely the 2019 as well. This sample included Venetian Beige Sensatec (“pleather”) upholstery. Our tester was ordered with the Convenience Package ($1,750), with keyless entry, a moonroof, lumbar support and Sirius XM satellite radio with a one-year subscription. Also on tap was the BMW Shadow Sport Edition package ($1,350), that added 18-inch bicolor wheels, a sport leather steering wheel, sport seats, anthracite wood trim, park distance control, ambient lighting and LED fog lamps. The only other extras were Apple CarPlay ($300) compatibility and BMW navigation ($1,700).

The BMW 330e includes a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty, and 8-year/80,000-mile High Voltage Battery Warranty.

On board safety was rather basic and included BMW’s front and rear head protection system, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags and knee airbags for driver and front passenger.

Behind the wheel:

Adding in the lithium-ion battery tends to really pork up the standard BMW 3-series platform. As it were with our 330e, this four-door five-passenger Sedan ended up tipping the scales at nearly 4,000 pounds, or as they say at across the pond, 2-tonnes. But all things considered, 0-60 mph in 5.8-seconds is not terrible, just saying.

We found the 2.0-liter/electric power unit to be most effective while in highway driving mode. It’s quite evident, while driving with the huge slab of batteries under the trunk floor, that the 3-series’ handling dynamics have been jostled just a bit, thanks to the higher, and rearward-mounted center of gravity that has been thrown into disarray by the Li-ion cells. Normal driving situations are just that, normal. But we like the added benefit that comes with the four-cylinder gasoline engine when sudden energy is requested from the bridge. A jab of the accelerator causes the engine to step down, with the results being very similar to recent Formula One cars and their kinetic energy recovery system (KERS system). Sure, the sudden burst is only temporary, but it is an exhilarating boost, nonetheless.

And if we were an owner, we would be mighty chuffed over the combined 30 miles per gallon city/highway ratings. Those figures are nothing to sneeze at, taking 3.3 gallons of fuel to drive 100 miles. But the real bragging comes from the electricity plus gasoline fuel economy ratings that yield a 71 mile-per-gallon equivalency. Sure it’s probably EPA conservative, but those are still numbers you can crow about.

2018 BMW 330e iPerformance

Base MSRP:  $45,600          As tested: $52,245.

Includes:  BMW Convenience Package, $1,750; BMW Shadow Sport Edition Package, $1,350; Apple CarPlay, $300; BMW Navigation, $1,700; Destination fee, $995.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                Inline 4-cylinder

Displacement:                          2.0-liter

Power:                                     185 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm

Torque:                                    215 lb-ft @ 1,350-4,250 rpm

Fuel System:                           Gas Direct Injection

Power Unit:                             Electric Synchronous Motor

Power:                                      87

Combined Power:                  248

Combined Torque:                310

Fuel:                                        Premium

Acceleration:                          0-60mph in 5.8 seconds

Drive Type                              RWD

Gearbox:                                 8-Speed Automatic

Tire Size:                                 180 inch Low Rolling Resistance

Unladen Weight:                    3,900-pounds

Length:                                    182.8-inches

Width:                                     71.3-inches

Height:                                     56.3-inches

Wheelbase:                              110.6-inches

Cargo Volume:                        13 cubic feet

Cd:                                             0.29

Combined:                               30 mpg

MPG Gasoline / Electric       71 mpg equivalent

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”120″ gal_title=”2018 BMW 330e iPerformance”]

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2018 Lexus LC 500h : Green Grand Tourer?

2018 Lexus LC 500h : Green Grand Tourer?

Do you like being watched and looked at? Being in the 2018 Lexus LC 500h is kinda like being inside the cage at the zoo. People look and point at you along the way. It was a similar feeling to what we experienced driving around our HQ in West Palm Beach, FL.

But, honestly, we didn’t mind.

Because damn it, we were behind the wheels of one of the sexiest shapes to come out of the Lexus design shop in quite some  time. Available in a buyer’s choice of the Lexus LC 500, with a 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine, or, as in the case of our tester, as the LC 500h , which is a gas electric hybrid powered by a 3.5-Liter V6 gasoline engine add to electric motor generators that combined to produce 354 total horsepower. The hybrid has a top speed of 155 mph, clicks off naught to 60 mph in 4.7-seconds, and manages 26 miles per gallon city/ 35 miles per gallon highway with a combined total of 30 miles per gallon overall.

And before you go thinking of a Toyota Prius with its hybrid drive system, fuhgeddaboutit.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

The Lexus LC 500h incorporates Lexus’s hybrid synergy drive which uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with the paddle shifters, coupled to a more traditional four-speed slush box which does it’s best to keep the 3.5-liter V6 running in the middle of its powerband’s sweet spot. We are not quite sure how they’re able to do it, but the gearbox is able to simulate the operation of actually being a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Perhaps the engine is a tiny bit thin when it comes to sheer grunt from the tailpipes, but maybe that’s why Lexus engineer chose to pipe some of that noise back into the cabin through an intake manifold baffle on the top of the engine.

The Lexus LC 500h rides on a multilink suspension that provides control by steering handled through an electrically assisted rack and pinion kit in front. An optional rear-steering system is part of the LC’s Performance package for a more-agile steering system. Lexus officials told us the car was more rigid than the LF-A supercar.

As for cross shopping, buyers will likely conside fellow green cars, the Acura NSX, BMW i8, and Porsche Panamera Hybrid.

Looks matter.

The spindle grille, while looking awkward on other Lexus models appears more comfortable here. Think of it as growing into one’s skin. As people reach a certain age they become more agreeable with their outer appearance. That’s the case here as the LC 500h  nose actually looks to belong.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

From the side, it’s a hunkered-down look reminiscent of drawings done in school while we were supposed to be paying attention to math and science lessons. Long nose, short tail, and shoulders that could rival any cut-and-buffed athlete, it is a well-executed look at what a grand touring near-supercar should be. As an added bonus, the hood, fender and door panels are aluminum, while much of the rest of the car is composed of composite material.

Lexus LC 500h
Lexus LC 500h

Inside the LC 500h, are a few hits, and a couple of misses, too. Two well-crafted seats are there with a wide variety of adjustments. We loved the wide view of the high-definition TFT screens but wish they found another input device from which to control it. The Lexus touch pad is not amongst our favorites. And those rear seats? Don’t even think about sitting back there unless you have a chiropractor on speed dial. They are better suited to a duffle or camera bag, or even a bambino in a safety seat. But overall? As much as we like the rest of the interior with its tan finish, we can’t help but think that it is not as pretty as that found in the Dodge Viper before it made its exit from the automotive scene. That car’s Italian heritage shone through with a tan interior from a company that supplies Ferrari. The result? Sublime.

Behind the wheel.

Our drivetime in the LC500h was a tale of both the green and high-performance worlds. A tale of two cities, if you will. Driving around town found us making the most of the Multi Stage Hybrid system with two electric motors assisting the Aktinson-cycle six-cylinder engine.

Acceleration was potent with a slight electric whine that actually contributed to the overall effect, and that wasn’t a bad thing. The car uses a two-stage continuously variable transmission (CVT) that combines with an Aisin brand four-speed gearbox that actually allows the LC500h to stretch its legs more with greater (sports car) feel.

Handling on our test loop found a GT car that felt at home going right and left, and accelerating cleanly out of a turn, to boot. Despite its electric gimcrackery under the hood, we loved the sound and feel of the engine power unit as it pushed the envelope of hybrid performance. As gorgeous as it is, it is not a svelte young thing. We never were quite able to achieve the 30-mpg average that the EPA tells us to expect but we could easily live with the 27.5 mpg that we actually saw.

2018 Lexus LC 500h
2018 Lexus LC 500h

About the Lexus touchpad: We find it touchy, finicky and in some cases downright dangerous, what with everything else going on around and within, and dealing with other traffic. Some items were so buried in the menus that we actually needed to pull over to adjust them.

Still, this is a Grand Tourer that will accommodate a wide variety of driving styles. Available in extremely limited numbers, there is almost a guarantee that you will be the only one in your neighborhood, heck, in your region, who owns one. 

2018 Lexus LC500h

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP:  $96,510. As tested: $102,039.

Includes: Convenience Package, $1000; Heads Up display, $900; Premium Paint, $595; Touring Package, $1,790; Cargo Net, $249; Destination Fee: $995. 

Key Specs                                            LC 500h

Cylinders:                                            6 + two electric motors

Displacement:                                     3.5-liter

Power:                                                 354 hp (combined)

Torque:                                                256.7 @4,900 rpm

Fuel System:                                       Direct Injection

Fuel:                                                    Premium

Acceleration:                                       0-60mph in 4.7 seconds

Drive Type                                           RWD

Gearbox:                                             Multi-stage Hybrid

Tire Size:                                             245/45RF20, Rr: 275/40RF20

Unladen Weight:                                4,521-pounds

Length:                                                187.4-inches

Width:                                                 75.6-inches

Height:                                                53.0-inches

Wheelbase:                                         113.0-inches

Cargo Volume:                                   5.4-cubic feet

Cd:                                                       0.33

City:                                                     26

Highway:                                             35

Combined:                                           30

 

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”111″ gal_title=”2018 Lexus LC 500h”]

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2018 Kia Niro PHEV First Drive

2018 Kia Niro PHEV First Drive

We look for any excuse to travel the world, so when Kelley Blue Book contacted us about driving the new 2018 Kia Niro PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), on a road trip from Kia headquarters in Irvine to the Golden Gate city of San Francisco, we jumped at the chance. Along the way, we found out what life behind the wheel of a Plug-in Hybrid was really like and were able to do some good for those, who through circumstances beyond their control, found themselves homeless through the forest fires in Ventura California. The New Niro PHEV offered the best of the Gas and Hybrid worlds with plug-in battery power that would carry it approximately 26-miles, and then a gas powered four-cylinder that would help to regenerate more energy to those same cells. Read more about the Kia Niro PHEV at Kelley Blue Book….

2018 Kia Niro PHEV
2018 Kia Niro PHEV

The rules were “there are no rules” so we set out on a journey that took us through the corporate jungle of Irvine, through the urban sprawl of metropolitan Los Angeles, to Fresno and beyond. My driving partner, Dan Frio and I, started calling out through the local Red Cross and Salvation Army offices to find who needed assistance or supplies. In Ventura Strong, a local support group in Ventura County, we found just the people that were in need of our help. After stopping at a local Costco for supplies including more than 440 bottles of water, and numerous cleaning items, we were packed to the gills. There was only enough space for our suitcases directly behind the driver and passenger seats in front. Every other gap and cubbyhole in the Kia Niro was filled.

We found the Channel Island Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Ventura City, California as our supply drop off point. A majestic building in its own right, the Masons in Ventura had converted the upstairs meeting rooms into small scale department stores for local residents to come through to select clothing free of charge. It was the perfect gesture of helping one’s brother, especially when they had escaped the Ventura fires with literally the shirt on their back. The lodge was a beehive of activity late into the night.

The signs posted around town saying “Thank You, Firefighters” were surely not lost on us.

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”91″ gal_title=”2018 Kia Niro PHEV”]

 

2017 BMW i8 AWD, Unplugged

2017 BMW i8 AWD, Unplugged

BMW i8 AWD
BMW i8 AWD

Looking totally like a Baller, we’re cruising through Palm Beach in what is essentially a Darth Vader helmet on wheels. This is the BMW i8.

2017 BMW i8 AWD
2017 BMW i8 AWD

The BMW i8 is a parallel hybrid-electric near supercar that offers all the functionality of a Prius, a lot more horsepower and a 1000-percent improvement in the looks department. As the country song goes, “She’s got her daddy’s money, her mama’s good looks…” And 357 combined horsepower and 420lb-ft of torque between the 1.5-liter three-cylinder petrol engine and what BMW calls the eDrive electrical machine motor. Coupled with the Aisin Six speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive powertrain, it makes for a mighty powerful vehicle in a sleek sexy package. Its nearest competitor is likely the Lexus LC500h.

On its own, the i8 electrical drivetrain manages to supply enough battery power to go about 14 miles. Using the occasional charging cord, it will take approximately 12 hours to recharge the lithium-ion batteries to their fully charged capacity. Top speed from the electrical motor will go to 75 mph, while the gas engine can cruise all day (as long as there is fuel in the tank) at an electrically-governed 155 mph. What’s up with BMW and their 155 mph top speed fetish?

Getting in requires practice and should be completed while no one is looking until you have become confident in your abilities. Also, men should avoid wearing kilts, and ladies should avoid miniskirts or dresses when getting in or out of the vehicle, lest you are into al-fresco entry and exit experiences. It starts with the large-ish side sills that are a huge structural component of the i8’s carbon-fiber tub and construction. Style counts, and is better achieved for the driver by placing his or her right leg into the footwell first, followed by a slight swing of the buttocks over the side sill with a quick lift of the other leg to follow. It is easier to do than describe.

2017 BMW i8 AWD
2017 BMW i8 AWD

Sure it’s listed as a four-seater but as for the back seats, they are uninhabitable for the most part. Stick a dog, a six-pack or overnight bag back there instead.

Behind the wheel, all the usual accoutrements found in contemporary BMW models are right here. iDrive, in their latest form is in place and offers complete functionality versus earlier generations. Sitting lower than most vehicles in the lineup, the i8 feels closer to a go-kart than any of the others, although we have used that description so many times throughout the years. Still, the road handling manners are sublime. We love the lack of sound this gull-winged beauty possesses, but when we feel a bit randy, all it takes is a stomp on the skinny pedal to unleash a (half) band of demons from the gas engine. Work with us here: it’s only three cylinders.

Cornering is an exercise in thinking where you want the car to go. A second or two later, it is there. Power from the combined package works together to offer acceleration, that although not in the category of Tesla’s “insane setting,” still lets you achieve a certain speed, all while looking better doing it.

For $150,000 and a 76-mpg electrical equivalent mileage rating, what more could you possibly ask for?

2017 BMW i8

Type: Two-passenger hybrid-electric sportscar

Power: Three-cylinder 1.5-liter twin-power turbocharged engine, 228 hp, 236 lb-ft torque

1 electric motor, 129 hp, 184 lb-ft torque

Combined: 357 hp, 420 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Drive: AWD

Batteries: Lithium-ion

Length: 184.9-inches

Width: 76.5-inches

Height: 50.8-inches

Wheelbase: 110.2-inches

Ground Clearance: 4.6-inches

Cargo: 4.7 cubic feet

Curb weight: 3,455 pounds

Top speed 155 mph

Fuel Economy: 76 MPGe

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”83″ gal_title=”2017 BMW i8″]

 

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid First Drive.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid First Drive.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq First Drive

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Durham, North Carolina. Think of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq as a carton of Neapolitan ice cream. You know, the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors neatly sorted inside a single container of Edy’s or Breyer’s finest. It’s simplistic but it sums up Hyundai’s latest offering into the field of alternative fuel vehicles.

While it’s not 31 Flavors, or even close, there’s something for everyone in this new compact alternative fuel vehicle. Just how green do you want to be is really the only question you need to answer.

A massive undertaking.

Designed with over 500 development engineers, this might be Hyundai’s Manhattan Project. But you have to admit they were smart about it. Instead of designing individual body styles to accommodate different forms and techniques for propulsion, Hyundai engineers developed one body that could accommodate a traditional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric powertrain versions without radically altering the basic design.

And it is a handsome looker, at that.

The basic tenets are all there, starting with the hexagonal trademark grille that has fronted most vehicles in the Hyundai lineup for the past several years. New techniques including the use of front wheel air curtains, active air flap grills, rear spoilers, aero panels and undertray diffusers all do their part to help the Ioniq achieve a wind-cheating Cd of .24. That’s swoopy indeed. And no need to go mondo-bizarro in the body design: The Ioniq appears like a wind swept-modified version of its Elantra sibling.

Overall, Hyundai has stepped up the use of aluminum and high-strength steel along with more than 475 feet of structural adhesives throughout the vehicle in an effort to increase efficiency and cutting weight at the same time.

Get up and go.

Power for the Ioniq is derived from three different power supply systems. The limited mileage Ioniq Electric is a city car that utilizes a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor producing 88kW with a horsepower equivalency of 118 ponies, and 215 lb-ft of torque. Battery power is delivered via a 360 volt Lithium-ion Polymer cell located under the rear seats. The combination of it all is delivered to the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gear transmission, and this model achieves a 136 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) and a range of 124-miles.

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid 1.6-liter engine / electric motor.

The Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid have certain similarities including a 1.6-liter direct-injection Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder that produces 104 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 109 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The standard Hybrid includes a 240 volt Lithium-ion Polymer battery that energizes a 32 kW electric motor that’s good for 43 horsepower, while the Plug-In Hybrid does the same with a 360 volt cell to charge the 44.5 kW motor that produces 60 horsepower. Net output from both engine/motor combos taps out at 139 horsepower. Not a fan of continuously variable transmissions? Hyundai has you covered with the utilization of a six-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.

More impressive is how Hyundai has managed to shrink the size of the Hybrid Power Control Unit, while making it more power-dense than its older Hyundai Sonata hybrid relatives. Speaking of power, Hyundai has incorporated an ECO Driving Assistant System for its Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Ioniqs that checks a particular drive route using 3D mapping to enable Predictive Energy Management to optimize and regenerate battery usage depending on the terrain.

Ride control on all versions utilize a tried and true MacPherson strut arrangement at the front end with multilink kits at the rear of the Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid versions. The all-electric Ioniq makes do with a torsion beam rear axle. All versions steer with a power-assisted rack and pinion system to point their noses in the appropriate direction. Michelin is the exclusive tire manufacturer for the Ioniq, with Energy Saver meats sized from 15 to 17 inches depending on the vehicle model.

From a safety standpoint, the Ioniq doesn’t scrimp. Features such as Smart (adaptive) Cruise Control, lane keep assist, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection provide partial braking from 5 to 112 mph and full braking from 5 to 50 mph.

Interior decorating.

Interior design of the 2017 Ioniq is directly in line with current standards, meaning that space-aged accoutrements that appeared in a Buck Rogers movie from 50-years ago won’t put you off. Instead, you will find plenty of features that look as contemporary as anything else on the road.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Interior.

Contemporary can also mean stodgy and boring but the Ioniq goes beyond that. Innovation is everywhere, including on the doors. What, you say? The interior door panels are made of a plastic / powdered wood / volcanic stone combination that rightly mimics traditional petroleum-based materials, just minus the petroleum. Sugar cane by-products are applied to the headliner and carpet, while soybean oil is used in the composition of the car’s metallic colors.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Other innovations include a “driver only” mode, which reduces the drag on the Ioniq system by concentrating just on the driver’s zone to the exclusion of all others. It’s just the thing when you are driving alone to and from work.

Behind the wheel.

Our time behind the wheel of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq featured sweeping turns along country roads throughout the Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle. Driving around seasoned but up-and-coming downtown Durham found a Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid that purposefully was conservative in its habits, in an effort to behavior modify your way to good gas mileage. By and large, it did the trick and we easily found instant mileage readouts of 54.3 mpg from the gas-electric powertrain, while in that realm. Behaving as a hoon will quickly see the efficiency ratings plummet, but you knew that would happen anyway, right? A quick turn onto the on-ramp of Interstate 85 saw power-assisted mileage in the range of 48 to 50 mpg while cruising at normal what the traffic flow will bear speeds.

A flick of the wrist found us motoring in a rather engaging sport mode that had the gas 1.6-liter four-cylinder operating all the time with a power-assist from the electric motor for additional traction. Much more emotional that running in ECO mode, the Sport setting had the car delaying gear shifts longer, firming up the steering wheel, and changing the characteristics of the TFT digital gauge readout. Overall though, we realized we were being irresponsible in our pursuits, which had us switching back to ECO mode in rapid order.

Talk about behavior modification, indeed.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Ioniq Hybrid Base MSRP:                $22,200

Ioniq Hybrid SEL MSRP:                 $23,950

Ioniq Hybrid Limited MSRP:         $27,500

 

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Ioniq Electric MSRP:                       $29,500

Ioniq Electric Limited MSRP:       $32,500

Ioniq Electric Ultimate MSRP:     $36,000

 

Freight charges:                               $     835

 

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”12″ gal_title=”2017 Hyundai Ioniq”]