Tag: New Car

2018 BMW X3 M40i Sport Activity Vehicle

2018 BMW X3 M40i Sport Activity Vehicle

Hauling the mail is an antique slang expression not so much in vogue anymore. Used to imply that an object, or even a person was capable of moving at a high rate of speed, it is a perfectly appropriate expression for the 2018 BMW X3 M40i Sport Activity Vehicle. Now into its third generation, this cargo-toting hot-rod manages to incorporate legendary BMW M technology and the ability to carry five passengers all day.

Refinement, inside and out.

2018 BMW X3 M40i
2018 BMW X3 M40i

With the 2018 version, BMW has taken the newly redesigned base X3 and dragged it through the M high-performance garden, if you will, and the results are impressive. Now longer and wider, it includes a new uprated powerplant that raises above the standard 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbocharged engine, Instead, our X3 M40i is powered by a 3.0-liter M-Performance TwinPower Turbocharged engine making 355 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. All that power makes its way to the X3’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system through a sporty eight-speed automatic transmission.

Our X3 M40i rides on the available Adaptive M Suspension that allows the user to select between Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+ settings as far as engine mapping and shift points are concerned. Drive settings are available that range from Cushy to Ultra Firm. We chose the Sport setting that allowed us to cut a fast corner almost without any body roll. We dug the way the way the X3 went all throaty on us when we placed the setting in Sport or Sport+ for a throaty growl from the black-chrome tailpipe finishers coming out of the rear bumper.

A BMW without the full suite of dynamic driver assists would just not be the ultimate driving machine. Even if it did speak German with a southern accent thanks to having been built at BMW’s Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina. Not to disappoint, this X3 M40i was equipped with dynamic traction control, cornering brake control, dynamic brake control, dry braking function, brake fading compensation, hill descent control, dynamic damper control and dynamic stability control that is networked with the xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

Blue M-Sport brake calipers gave the X3 an extra aggressive appearance that was only improved by 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero performance tires on Orbit wheels.

2018 BMW X3 M40i
2018 BMW X3 M40i

Buyers will likely cross-shop the BMW X3 M40i against the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Audi Q5 and Cadillac XT5 SUVs.

Interior Design.

The interior of the 2018 BMW X3 M40i features a driver-centric cockpit that is specifically canted towards the tillerman so that all controls are an easy reach from the driver. A new generation of iDrive is here (we’ve come to expect it with every succeeding generation), this time more intuitive than ever, with a finger scroll surface to spell out entries via a finger’s touch. A three-zone climate control feature offers individual climate controls for the driver, passenger and rear seat occupants.

Behind the wheel

With power there as soon as you need it, the 3.0-liter inline turbocharged six offered power that was bountiful and impressive at the same time. Obviously adept at blistering the tires, it managed to tick off 0-60 mph in 4.6-seconds, which BMW says is the fastest in the X3’s segment.

2018 BMW X3 M40i
2018 BMW X3 M40i

Deep Throated. While driving the M40i as intended, we found the auditory note from M-performance exhaust system to be more like a growl. And we weren’t bitchin’ either. Our only wish was that it could be on all the time, rather than just when the engine was pushed.

As we found in Sport mode, the BMW X3 M40i was a firm, but smooth operator. Just as we like it. But that’s the desired characteristic needed when exercising this sport activity vehicle. Torque vectoring through BMW’s Cornering Brake Control, helped shorten the turning radius, allowing for quicker entry and exits from the turns themselves.

The Wrap Up

The 2018 BMW X3 M40i is BMW hollering at the world that just because you need a family hauler doesn’t mean you need to look like a tool in a minivan. In this case, the team from Munich, by way of Spartanburg, will have you looking like the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2018 BMW X3 M40i

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    6-cylinder inline

Displacement:                            3.0-liters

Power:                                          355 hp @ 5,500-6,500 rpm

Torque:                                        369 lb-ft @ 1,520-4,800 rpm

Fuel System:                              Gas Direct Injection

Fuel:                                            89 Octane

Acceleration:                            0-60mph in 4.6 seconds

Drive Type                                Rear Biased AWD

Gearbox:                                    8-speed M Performance Automatic Transmission

Tire Size:                                   20-inch Pirelli P-Zero

Unladen Weight:                     4,277-pounds

Length:                                      186.1-inches

Width:                                       74.7-inches

Height:                                      66-inches

Wheelbase:                               112.8-inches

Cargo Volume:                         62.7 cubic feet rear seat folded

28.7 cubic feet rear seat up

Fuel Economy:                       20 city / 27 highway / 23 combined

Cd:                                            0.33Cd

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”95″ gal_title=”2018 BMW X3 M40i”]


 

 

 

 

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”]

 

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Hot hatches have always been our favorite type of vehicle, followed closely by what some call a Shooting Brake, but we call a Station Wagon. Yet it seems that the great unwashed prefer Crossovers and SUVs instead. But that hasn’t deterred Hyundai from introducing the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport.

Styled and benchmarked in Europe, the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT shares much of its design and DNA with the European Hyundai i30. Directly targeted towards the enthusiast crowd who also like the utility of a hatchback, it attempts to pick the best traits of the European ‘bahn burners. Hop in as we see if anything was lost in translation.

What’s New With The Elantra GT?

On the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT? Nearly everything. Taking cues from the i30, there is new design everywhere, starting with the Cascading Grille to the lower bumper air curtains that sweep air over the front wheels, to the rear spoiler and available LED taillights and dual exhaust system, this Hyundai is clearly no Corolla wanna-be.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Two versions of the Elantra GT exist, depending on how deep your enthusiasm is rooted. The base Elantra GT is equipped with a naturally aspirated 2.0-liter Gas Direct Injection (GDI) four-cylinder engine that produces 161-horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque. The base model comes with a six-speed manual or an available six-speed electronic automatic transmission. It rides on a unibody-constructed chassis with MacPherson struts and coil springs in front and a torsion beam axle at the rear.

The high-line Elantra GT Sport that we drove steps things up a bit by swapping the larger engine out for a 1.6-liter turbocharged GDI powerplant that cranks out 201-horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Power for the front driver comes from either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with on-demand Shiftronic manual shifting via the steering wheel-mounted paddle shift levers.

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

And then things get even more interesting.

The 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport tosses the torsion beam back into the Hyundai parts bin. Instead, it opts for a full multilink independent rear suspension, higher performance front and rear springs, sport tuned dampers, 12-inch brake rotors in front and a 15mm stabilizer bar at the rear.

The pair of Elantra GTs are slated to do battle with the likes of stalwarts like the Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla iM and Chevrolet Cruze.

Inside design.

The new interior of the Elantra GT Sport features a more contemporary view of things looking forward,

2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport
2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

and even goes slightly Mercedes-like through the use of an 8.0-inch pedestal mounted display screen. The telescoping steering column brings the tiller closer to the driver for ultimate control. Speaking of controls, they are easily reached and, we think, nicely accented by red stitching and brightwork around the cabin. An available Infinity Premium Audio System with Clari-fi music restoration software and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are all now part of the mix.

The rear seats are a tighter fit although if it is just you and a significant other, there are more than 55-cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded forward.

Safety

From a safety standpoint, the Elantra GT Sport doesn’t disappoint with available Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Smart Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist. One day they might be included at no charge.

Behind the wheel

A majority of drivers will be content with the 2.0-liter four-banger for most applications. We’re not most drivers though, and sprang for the 1.6-liter Elantra GT Sport instead. While not head snapping, we did get off on having our heads bounce off the headrests while climbing through the gears of our DCT gearbox. The Sport GT did manage to keep noise at bay during most situations and on most road surfaces, while at the same time managing to let a few high-rev engine dBs penetrate the cabin.

The handling in the GT Sport is greatly improved over the standard torsion beam setup and practically invited us to thrash it through the sweeping curves found in the Low Country of suburban Charleston, SC. The steering was well-weighted and helped to make sense of the rather firm ride. That included the feeling of virtually every piece of ballast stone that makes up some of the older streets found in this legendary town. What’s ballast stone, you may ask? It was a stone carried in empty ships to help stabilize them when not carrying a load. When they would load up with goods such as tobacco or cotton, the ballast stones were removed, and piled at dockside. Eventually there were too many of the stones to go around so they started to pave the streets with them instead.

The front seats were nicely bolstered but as we have found with other Hyundai products, rather hard to the backside, especially if you have what is generally known as a boney ass. Still, at the end of the day, as the price of its competition has risen, the new 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport hits the sweet spot in hot hatchdom today.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2017 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport

Base MSRP: $24,350 As tested: $25,235

Includes: Destination fee, $885.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    Inline four-cylinder

Displacement:                            2.0 GDI or 1.6 Turbo GDI

Power:                                         2.0: 161hp @ 6,200 rpm; 1.6: 201hp @ 6,000

Torque:                                       2.0: 150 lb-ft @ 4,700 rpm; 1.6: 195 @ 1,500-4,500 rpm

Fuel System:                              Gas Direct Injection

Fuel:                                             Regular

Drive Type:                                FWD

Gearbox:                                     6-speed Manual or 7-speed dual clutch automatic

Unladen Weight:                      3,158-pounds

Length:                                       170.9-inches

Width:                                        70.7-inches

Height:                                       57.7-inches

Wheelbase:                               104.3-inches

Cargo Volume:                          55.1-cubic feet rear seat folded

City:                                                         26

Highway:                                                32

Combined:                                             28

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”43″ gal_title=”2018 Hyundai Elantra GT Sport”]

 

2018 Hyundai Sonata First Drive.

2018 Hyundai Sonata First Drive.

Charleston, South Carolina is what we would call a seasoned city in the sense that it has been around for a while but is (hopefully) constantly undergoing a change for the better. The same can be said for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata. Hyundai flew us to the Low Country for a look-see at the refreshed new Sonata, and a first drive with its new smaller, but decidedly sportier younger brother, the Elantra GT Sport.

2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Hyundai Sonata

 Refreshing.

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata essentially received a mild refresh on the outside, but this slight restyling is more than skin deep. The new Sonata’s most obvious trait is its restyled “cascading grille,” which seemingly bears a resemblance to Audi’s “singleframe” grille, drawn by former Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. So important to the Hyundai-Kia Motor Group, the company named him as its first non-Korean president.

Schreyer and his team did not stop at the grille, though, and added more details to the new Sonata including an enhanced front and rear fascia, more flowing lines, a reworked hood, revised trunklid, improved taillights and a wider expanse of brightwork around the greenhouse. It’s just the thing to help the 2018 version break away from its more conservative 2015 predecessor.

2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Hyundai Sonata

But even more, it’s just the refresh needed to compete against the new Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, both scheduled to hit dealerships shortly.

Dressed up interior.

The interior of the 2018 Hyundai Sonata includes a newly designed instrument panel and centerstack that continues the contemporary vibe seen outside. A new 8.0-inch display with Navigation is part of our 2.0T Limited package, with a three-year subscription for Guidance Package Services, which automatically download updated maps to your system. A high-line Infinity premium audio system along with heated and ventilated seats help to round out the package. A Qi Wireless charging pad can be had for untethered charging of your android (and hopefully soon, Apple) devices.

While driving around Charleston and its surroundings, the rear legroom took us completely by surprise with its expansive space. If we didn’t know better, we would have sworn we were driving a full size sedan.

Safety

Blind Spot detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert…according to Hyundai it’s the only mainstream mid-size sedan with this as a standard feature.

 Motivating factors.

Three different powertrains are on tap for the 2018 Hyundai Sonata, ranging from the base SE with a 185-horsepwer 2.4-liter / six-speed automatic combo. It was followed by the 178-horsepower ECO version with its 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and seven-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission. At the pinnacle of the Sonata lineup was our 245-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-banger with eight-speed Shiftronic automatic transmission.

2018 Hyundai Sonata
2018 Hyundai Sonata

We found the 2.0-liter turbo mill to be energetic throughout the range, and really like the new eight-speed automatic slushbox. Switchable from Comfort, ECO and Sport modes, it also offers Smart mode which finds the gearbox’s sweet spot once a solid cruise mode has been established, as on a highway, for instance. It’s at that point that the EPA says the Sonata’s mileage improves from 22 city/ 31 highway to 23 city/ 32 highway. Yeehaw!

The 2018 Hyundai Sonata’s suspension has been beefed up a bit through the recalibrating of the electric rack and pinion system and thickening up of the rear trailing arms. It’s not a track day runner by any stretch but the bottom line is an improved Sonata that is still in the hunt against the revised Accord and Camry.

For how long? That’s for the marketplace to decide.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

 2018 Hyundai Sonata

Base MSRP

 SE 2.4:                                  $22,050

ECO 1.6T:                             $22,650

SEL 2.4:                                $23,700

Sport 2.4:                             $25,200

Limited 2.4:                        $27,400

Limited Ultimate 2.4:     $30,300

Sport 2.0T:                          $27,600

Limited 2.0T:                     $32,450                      

Destination:                       $      885

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                4 cylinder

Displacement:                         1.6-liter

2.4-liter

2.0-liter

Fuel System:                           Gas Direct Injection

Drive Type                              FWD

Gearbox:                                  2.4: 6-speed

1.6: 7-speed

2.0: 8-speed

Unladen Weight:                    3247-3527-pounds

Length:                                    191.1-inches

Width:                                     73.4-inches

Height:                                     58.1-inches

Wheelbase:                             110.4-inches

Cargo Volume:                       16.3-cubic feet

Cd:                                            0.27

Mileage:

2.4: 25 city/36 highway/29 avg

1.6: 28 city/37 highway/31 avg

2.0: 23 city/32 highway/26 avg

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”40″ gal_title=”2018 Hyundai Sonata”]

 

 

 

 

 

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Batteries are included.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV: Batteries are included.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is nearly the life-size representation of a childhood dream: to have what is essentially a full-size slot car that we can drive around on the street. Except that in this case we are not 3 inches tall, and there is no slot for the guide shoe. Oh, and it’s not as sleek as the slot cars of our youth.

The new Bolt EV is General Motor’s latest attempt to bypass the use of dead dinosaurs in order to make it go. Instead, the Bolt EV gets its motivation from lithium-ion batteries, which supply energy to the South Korean-built GM Electric Drive unit. The entire battery unit, by LG Electronics, weighs in at approximately 960-pounds, and accounts for slightly more than a quarter of the Bolt EV’s curb weight, which is located under the floor of the vehicle cabin. Active thermal conditioning, as used in the Chevrolet Volt, helps to keep the battery at an optimal temperature for maximum life, but in the off-chance it should fail, it’s covered by an 8-year / 100,000 mile warranty.

The batteries are replenished by an onboard 7.2 kW charger for regular charging from a 240-volt wall box. According to GM, power for a 50-mile commute can be acquired in less than two hours. Using a fast charger, the Bolt can receive up to 90-miles of range in 30 minutes. The Bolt EV is complete with an enclosed 120-volt charging cord.

This Coppertop-on-wheels offers innovative charging so that the car will know whether it is home or away. Once it is plugged in, using a GPS location signal, it will know to charge according to your preset schedule. For instance, if you have programmed it to charge during off-peak hours while at home, it will do so. But if it is sensed in a different location, it will know to start charging immediately.

Available in base LT and Premier trim levels; it competes directly against the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Ford Focus Electric, Kia Soul EV and Volkswagen eGolf.

Inside information.

Our Bolt EV Premier, although green, didn’t feature that same cheapish look found in other “green” vehicles that we have come across lately. Instead, we found a leather appointed interior that was comfortable enough for the long haul, even if that was a 200-mile jaunt across state from Miami to Fort Myers area. A two-toned Dashboard featuring dark soft touch material above over a white matrix design below offered just enough “real car feel” to the overall package. Speaking of package-ing (just work with us here), we were amazed at how big this “wagon” really was, once we were all in.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV

Although it doesn’t share any architecture with others built on the GM Gamma platform, the Bolt EV is built on the same assembly line as the Chevrolet Sonic compact car. It is offered for sale in Europe as the Opel Ampera-E. But this small station wagon, as the EPA calls it, is anything but small inside, with enough side-by-side seating in the front row for two adults, as well as plenty of legroom in the rear. There is 95 cubic feet of passenger volume inside, along with 16.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 56.6-cubic feet when the seats are folded forward.

Full driver information is available in various readouts from the gauge display screen, and from the center console’s 10.2-inch tablet-like display. Looking more android than Apple, it offered everything from battery consumption to audio, telephone, navigation and vehicle information. In regards to the connected car, the Bolt EV is all-in with OnStar’s WiFi hot spot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity suites. A wireless charger is located at the base of the center console, and there is an under elbow storage bin large enough for most tablets. Software apps from ChargePoint display a list of types of chargers available in your general vicinity.

How It Drives.

Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV

Surprisingly well, thank you. The Chevrolet Bolt EV, although weighing half as much as a Bentley Continental GTC, still manages to produce enough torque to snap your head back into the headrest upon launching at the stop light dragstrip. Impressive in its might, the Bolt EV motor unit manages to produce up to 266 pound feet of torque, and 200 hp, for a 0 to 60 time of approximately 6.9 seconds.

We found the Bolt Regen system, which the General touts as providing one-pedal driving, managed to make us feel as though we were winding around a golf course in a Club Car or EZGO golf cart. Forward momentum was constant as you managed to push the accelerator; lift up, and it immediately caused you to lurch forward in just the same fashion you would while on the way to the 19th Hole. It’s just the thing to help give some power back to the battery, while in slower stop-and-go traffic.

The motor sends its power to the front wheels via Chevrolet’s electronic precision shift system. A shift-and park by wire arrangement, it sends electronic cues to the CPU, which in turn does their best to approximate what we would call a natural driving experience.

The ride quality was surprisingly supple, with the Bolt EV being able to maneuver from lane to lane in a split second. Surprised by the actual handling that this wagon exhibited, it was likely enhanced by having nearly 1,000 pounds of battery at one of the lowest points on the vehicle. Your mileage may vary, but we found the car surprisingly, er, car like in feel, response, and tractability.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Base MSRP: $40,905. As Tested: $43,510.

Includes: DC Fast Charger Connections, $750; Driver Confidence Package, $450; Infotainment Package, $485. Destination Fee, $875. Federal Government tax credits are available up to $7,500.

Key Specs

Type:                                                Rechargeable energy storage system

Mass:                                                960-pounds

Battery Type:                                 Lithium Ion

Power:                                             200 hp / 150 kW

Torque:                                           260 lb-ft / 360 Nm

Warranty:                                       8-years / 100,000 miles

Acceleration:                                  0-60mph in 6.9 seconds

Drive Type                                     Front Wheel Drive Single Motor and Gearset

Suspension:                                   Front: MacPherson Strut / Rear: Torsion Beam

Tire Size:                                        Michelin Energy Saver A/S 215/50R17

Unladen Weight:                          3,580-pounds

Length:                                           164-inches

Width:                                            69.5-inches

Height:                                           62.8-inches

Wheelbase:                                    102.4-inches

Cargo Volume:                              16.9 cubic feet

Cd:                                                   0.27

Range:                                            238 (EPA) up to 260+/- YMMV

City:                                                128

Highway:                                       110

Combined:                                    119 MPGe (MPG equivalent)

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”38″ gal_title=”Chevrolet Bolt EV”]

 

2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD

2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD

New ownership at Jaguar is not that new anymore. Tata (makers of Eight-O-Clock Coffee and others) came in and dropped the brand on its proverbial head and in the process, shook things up quite nicely, we’d say. One of their grandest achievements is the latest iteration of their flagship 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD. The ability to go topless has never been more appealing than in this personal two-seat neo-spectacular near-supercar. Sure it’s a mouthful, (with a few hyphens) but please work with us here.

Available in a variety of configurations, the Jaguar F-Type has even helped to grease the skids for its newly arrived F-Pace SUV. But is it really all that? We spend a week in the F-Type R Convertible to find out.

Breathtaking.

That’s pretty much what it will do. Designed to take your breath away from 20-feet, and mold you to it once inside, the 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD is the al-fresco (topless) version of the F-Type that was introduced in 2013. A two-door, two-passenger sportscar, it is offered with several engine flavors. Our sampler featured a 5.0-liter Supercharged V8 engine built by a Jaguar team in a dedicated facility within Ford UK’s Bridgend Engine Plant. In this guise, it produces 550-horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque that is capable of motivating the all-wheel-drive F-Type to 186 miles per hour. Power is delivered to all four wheels, as sensors see fit, by a ZF-built eight-speed automatic transmission and Jaguar Instinctive All Wheel Drive.

Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

With its instinctive features, the system sends virtually 100-percent of the torque to the rear wheels for a typical sports/performance joint, in normal circumstances. Get in over your head (as determined by onboard sensors) and a center coupler can send up to 50-percent of the available torque forward to help control any possible over- or understeer that may swamp you. Like an insurance policy, it’s not always needed but good to know its there.

Also on board: Jaguar’s Intelligent Driveline Dynamics (IDD). As the company explains, it is capable of sensing rain, ice and snowy conditions on the road and provides full functionality of AWD to the F-Type. Conversely under dry, optimum conditions, it sends approximately 90-percent of the traction and torque to the rear wheels. The beauty of the system, according to company brass, is that it works seamlessly and still maintains the F-Type’s Jaguar DNA.

This Jaguar now comes in five flavors ranging from base F-Type, F-Type Premium, F-Type S, F-Type R and top flight F-Type SVR. The three former are equipped with supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engines, while the two latter are supercharged V8 powered.

While not necessarily in the same wheelhouse as a rear-engined supercar, the Jaguar F-Type could almost sit at the same table. As such, it will be cross-shopped with such legendary rides as the Acura NSX, the Audi R8, the Mercedes-Benz SL and Nissan GT-R.

A looker.

The 2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible, in our mind’s eye, appears shorter than its E-Type predecessor. Still, it’s plenty slick without being over the top. While the Jaguar signature grille reappears, the power bulged hood now features revised ventilation to allow trapped underhood air an escape route to aid in front-end stability.

Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

Designed at the same time as the coupé, the convertible has taken advantage of engineering that allowed the car’s rigidity to be a part of the initial construction rather than be cut out of it the same time the roof has been lopped off. The result is a car that is nearly as rigid as its hard-topped brother. The sidelines draw rearward in an appealingly swoopy design that culminates in signature LED taillamps and an underbumper diffuser. Oh did we mention the chrome-tipped exhaust finishers? A console-mounted button opens an internal exhaust baffle that makes the engine go from a purring gurgle to a toxic roar.

Inside lines.

With precision tailoring, occupants of the cockpit wear the Jag’s interior like a fine Savile Row suit. Constantly in flux, the F-Type’s interior has seen improvements since its introduction in 2013. While the basic design remains as it did four years ago, it has undergone refinements including updated gauges and other accoutrements. While we are not particularly warmed to the ivory and black leather color scheme, we like the way the seats fit with their adjustable bolsters and lumbar support. We did hear some whining about a hard seating surface here or there, but generally more occupants liked the seating than not.

Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

The F-Type now includes a standard 770-watt Meridian audio system with Sirius XM Satellite radio and Jaguar InControl Remote & Protect, and InControl Apps. With Remote & Protect, it’s possible for owners to check fuel level, door lock status, set the climate control temperature and even start the car remotely. InControl Protect automatically sends a call based on activation of a supplemental restraint trigger that alerts the emergency desk when a shunt has occurred.

Behind the wheel

The 5.0-liter supercharged V8 is an eight-pot jewel of an engine that offers supercar performance at a not-too-outrageous price. Sporting an oil filler cap with the legend FOMOCO imprinted on it, the engine shows off some of the lingering remnants of the technology swap that did, and may still benefit the two automakers. The F-Type’s electric power-assisted steering offers, for the first time in Jaguar brand history, a more efficient, and in this case, better steering feel than found in any previous Jaguar.

Jaguar F-Type R Convertible

The cabin remains relatively quiet while at speed, thanks to the multi-layer fabric roof, which features a mechanism that can raise and lower in under 20-seconds at speeds up to 30 mph. On the other hand, if the interior gets too quiet, an exhaust by-pass valve can be opened which makes for a throatier growl coming out of the chrome exhaust finishers located within the rear under bumper diffuser.

The ZF eight-speed Sportshift automatic transmission really threw down when asked to, with sure shifts and no hunting for a proper gear. While it operates in a seamless manner in automatic mode, working the paddle shift levers clearly appeals to a driver’s emotional side. Downshifting while heading into a tight right-hander saw rev-matching do its thing to impart a feeling of oneness with the car. It was almost as if you thought about what your next move behind the wheel would be, and the F-Type would execute it for you. Flick the switch into Dynamic mode and it instantly causes a pushback into the seats. Running on bumpy roads did soak up most of the road imperfections but some of them still made their way through the harder than average seat cushioning.

Conclusion

Between the sound, performance and looks, the Jaguar F-Type R-Spec Convertible is firing on all cylinders. Along with others under the Jaguar/Land Rover (JLR) concern, it’s clear to see that Jaguar has a range of contenders in the stable.

2017 Jaguar F-Type R Convertible AWD

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP: $108,250         As tested: $109,245.

Includes: Destination fee, $995.

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                         Supercharged V8

Displacement:                                  5.0-liter

Power:                                               550 hp @ 6,500 rpm

Torque:                                              502 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,500 rpm

Fuel System:                                    Direct Injection

Fuel:                                                  Gasoline

Acceleration:                                   0-60mph in 3.9 seconds

Top Speed                                        186 mph (limited)

Drive Type                                       AWD

Gearbox:                                          ZF eight-speed automatic with “Quickshift”

Tire Size:                                         255/35R20 front/255/30R20 rear

Unladen Weight:                           3,847-pounds

Length:                                            176.0-inches

Width:                                             75.7-inches

Height:                                            51.7-inches

Wheelbase:                                    103.2-inches

Cargo Volume:                              7.3-cubic feet (trunk only)

Cd:                                                   0.37 Cd

City:                                                15

Highway:                                        23

Combined:                                     18

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