Tag: newcars

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD Review

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD Review

2018 Kia Stinger GT2

Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler

Back in the day, when General Motors was King, Chevrolet was their bread and butter brand while Pontiac was “where the action was.” At the Hyundai Group, we think it’s appropriate to consider Hyundai Motors in the Chevrolet role while Kia is “where the action is,” as seen with their new 2018 Kia Stinger GT2. Why, the action is so here that even Steven Tyler and Emerson Fittipaldi are interested!

The Upselling of an image.

kia stinger gt2
kia stinger gt2

As has been mentioned more than 10,000 times on the Internet already, the Kia Stinger GT2 is based on the Kia GT concept car that debuted at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Impressed for sure, it merely showed some ideas that were bouncing around the design studio. Jet forward seven years and what we actually got Instead looks like a huffed-up version of the Kia Optima, with a steroid supplier on speed dial.

With a Kia Optima parked side-by-side with our Stinger tester, it is clear that they only share a passing familial resemblance, which included the familiar tiger-nose treatment at the grille. While the Optima is a front drive vehicle, the Stinger is a rear- or all-wheel-drive (AWD) Grand Touring machine. Oh, did we mention it has a liftback? So right from the get-go it’s the anti-SUV.

kia stinger gt2
kia stinger gt2

Walking around the vehicle, we notice the wide under-bumper intake for the intercooler flanked by vertical intakes for the air curtains to help trim the airflow over the front wheel wells. There is a lot of detail to like in the LED headlight area which leads to a character line stretching from the front to the rear, ending at the slightly upturned spoiler/deck/trunk lid. There are interesting doo-dads throughout, but we think the side gills tend to fussy things up, where they don’t need fussying up. Along the way, we notice design inspiration from vehicles like the Audi A5, BMWs 4series Gran Sport and even the Jaguar XF sedan.

Trimmed out.

The 2018 Kia Stinger is available in five trim levels starting with Base, Premium, GT, GT1 and highline GT2 models. Of course, we lucked out with the GT2 version (cue the smug grin). We loved the Hichroma Red metallic paint which set off our black Nappa Leather interior nicely.

kia stinger gt2
kia stinger gt2

The interior trim was a step up over anything we have seen in Kias past, and although it looked as though lifted from the interior of an early 2000-era Mercedes Benz sedan, it was nice but not ostentatious.

Being the GT2, that meant that the Stinger was dripping with every possible option from the Kia parts bin including the 3.3-liter twin turbocharged V6 engine that produced 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. That engine, which it shares with the new Hyundai G70, seemed perfectly matched to this five-door, five-passenger Grand Touring sedan that somehow managed to tip the scales at nearly 4000 pounds.

Under the hood.

kia stinger gt2
kia stinger gt2

Although the Stinger’s base engine is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, twin scroll turbo engine producing 255 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Stinger really cries out for the 3.3-liter twin turbo V6 that was in our tester. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Our GT2 was equipped with an electronically controlled suspension which adapted on the fly to a specified a drive mode which included Smart, Eco, Comfort and Sport along with custom, which allowed you to pick one from column A, one from column B and so on.

The View from others.

It seemed that the general public got the advanced notice that the Kia Stinger GT2 would be arriving soon. Perhaps that’s why we had so many comments from onlookers, enthusiasts, car salesmen and just regular man on the street types who usually were heard to utter, “that’s a Kia?” We’d nod yes, and acknowledge their polite thumbs up signal with a quick wave before we were off.

Behind the wheel.

Hoofing away from a stoplight had us suddenly pushed back into the adjustable bolstered seats that managed to keep us settled as the skinny pedal unleashed the 365 horses up front. Power continued to pour out from the twin turbo V6, accompanied by a lusty brrrrrrrrrrrrrp from the quad pipes out back. This was like no other Kia we have ever driven.

Stepping into the sport mode found the Stinger holding tight through the turns in a way that almost brought a flashback of what it was truly like to driver a real rear wheel car. Oh, how we miss that! The steering was firm but not overly so, which made us feel as though we were in control at every moment. Kudos, too, to the paddle shift levers that control the eight-speed automatic gearbox. The Stinger felt planted, allowing us to apply power whenever we wanted. When we tired of driving in anger, or when the spousal unit told us to quit hooning and cool it, we were just satisfied to absorb the quietness that came from a well-designed and insulated interior.

Something Special.

From the moment we got into the Stinger, it was clear that we were settling into something special. It was a way of showing that the brand had finally arrived. Many years ago, Kia was what you could charitably call a brand of last resort. Somewhere along the way, a “come to Jesus” moment happened in Seoul, with someone saying “we are done being the laughing stock of the automotive industry.”

The result was transformational, and through the stewardship of such industry “lumineers” like Kia president and chief designer, Peter Schreyer, Kia Motors Europe designer Gregory Guillaume, performance maestro Albert Biermann and numerous others, it is very clear we are not talking about the same company.

2018 Kia Stinger GT2 RWD V6

Story and photo by Mark Elias

Base MSRP: $49,200. As tested: $50,100

No options, includes $900 destination fee.

 

Kia Stinger GT2 Key Specs

Cylinders:                       V6

Displacement:               3.3-liters

Power:                             365 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque:                           376 lb-ft @ 1300-4500 rpm

Fuel System:                 Gas Direct Injection

Fuel:                                Premium recommended

Acceleration:                 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds

Drive Type:                    RWD

Gearbox:                         8-speed Automatic with paddle shift levers

Tire Size:                        225/40R19 front, 225/35R19 rear

Unladen Weight:         4,023-pounds

Length:                          190.2-inches

Width:                           73.6-inches

Height:                          55.1-inches

Wheelbase:                  114.4-inches

Cargo Volume:            23.3 cu/ft seat up, 40.9 cu/ft seat down

City:                               19

Highway:                      25

Combined:                   21

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”115″ gal_title=”2018 Kia Stinger GT2″]

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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 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport CUV

2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport CUV

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

It’s a CUV that is combination grocery getter, kid kaddy, and pet picker upper. And everything it does is performed in a manner that screams “Pronto!”  It’s the 2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport CUV. And it’s Italian. That could go both ways, by the way…

It’s quite the ride, especially when you become so steeped in Italian culture that you begin to think of yourself as il Commendatore (The Commander). I mean really! It might be because we are so excited to see the Alfa-Romeo badge back on this side of the Ocean. So, put on your latest Prada, hop in, and buckle up. It’s going to be quite a ride!

Brass tacks.

The 2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport is, like the recently introduced Jaguar E-Pace, a “tweener,” that bridges the gap between, for example, the BMW X3 and its larger X5 sibling and the Mercedes-Benz GLC which will all likely be shopped against this EPA-classed Mid-Size SUV. It gets its power from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that sports a turbocharger to force feed it for more power.

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

Power is either a put-up or shut-up proposition. This engine deals in put-up, laying down 280-horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 306 lb-ft of torque starting at 2,000 rpm and peaking at 4,800. A ZF-built 8HP50 8-speed automatic transmission sends power via a carbon-fiber drive shaft to all four corners for all season, all-wheel drive. For those needing more in the way of oomph, there is the 505-horsepower Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio.

From the outside, we were impressed with the angular exterior looks that could clearly have come from the best styling ateliers in Milan. Starting with an aggressive lean that jutted forward to the express “eyes” which lead to the triangular shaped Alfa-Romeo intake, the car screams of its Italian heritage.

Inside, the Stelvio surprisingly casts off any apparent Italian flair in favor of an interior that appears much more minivan than master of the autostrada. Embossed headrests bearing the Alfa crest join the steering wheel insert as the only hint you are in anything from Italy, save for the larger than large aluminum paddle shift levers and the steering wheel-mounted ignition button.

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

The center console is marked by a rather non-descript shifter, that we have seen before, and is flanked by controls that change the Stelvio’s drive dynamics from dynamic to natural to sport, while a joystick-style nob takes care of the audio system on the other side. A matrix style graphic panel stretches from right to left across the dashboard and the Harman/Kardon audio aurally fills the space, but we were left a bit disappointed by the appearance overall. Give us some tan Ferrari-style leather, we say.

The cargo hold is nicely finished with strap-in guide rails, and 18.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats in the upright position. Fold them forward, and that area jumps in size to 56.5-cubic feet.

Behind the wheel

Despite the interior decoration shortcomings, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Alfa-Romeo Stelvio, which turns out to be the sports car among other SUVs in the segment. It did not have, nor through its marketing campaign, display any off-road pretensions, which is quite alright for us in the sense that this SUV will never go camping, mudding, cruising through Baja California or so on. In fairness, even if you found yourself in a Land Rover, you most likely would not take that vehicle off-road either.

While others have complained of inherent problems from this Italian designed and manufactured vehicle, we were pleasantly surprised with an SUV that just worked. No drama, difficulties, or side of the road coffee breaks waiting for Alfa service to come rescue us. Progress, we say!

Acceleration from the 2.0-liter four-cylinder was about average for the segment and provided spirited handling throughout our weeklong adventure with it. We were disturbed by the roughness that appeared with the auto start/stop function, becoming so annoyed that we ended its pain by disabling the option. During around town driving at a somewhat respectable speed, we felt the engine had a tendency to drone on. It was quickly alleviated when we force fed it more fuel. But at the end of the day, perhaps it could be attributed to the mid-profile Continental tires.

Alfa-Romeo Stelvio
Alfa-Romeo Stelvio

Still, the Alfa-Romeo Stelvio is an impressive handler, thanks to its double wishbone front suspension and newly designed and patented Alfa Link vertical rod link rear suspension. It’s quite easy to see why, despite its quirks, it is easy to have an emotional attachment to an SUV, especially when it is known by its “La meccanica delle emozioni” (the mechanics of emotion) tagline.

Bravo!

Story and photos by Mark Elias

2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio Sport

Base MSRP: $43,795           As tested: $53,585.

Includes:  Driver Assistance Static Package with Front Parking Sensors, $800; Driver Assistance Dynamic Package, $1,500; 8.8-inch Display with 3D Navigation, $1,550; Sirius XM Radio, $350; Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System, $900; Dual-Pane Sunroof, $1,350; Cold Weather Package, $795; Convenience Package, $200; 20-inch Aluminum Wheels, $750; Metallic Paint, $600; Destination fee, $995.

 

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                4-cylinder Inline twin scroll turbocharged

Displacement:                          2.0-liters

Power:                                     280-hp @ 5,200 rpm

Torque:                                    306 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,000 rpm

Fuel System:                           Gas Direct Injection

Acceleration:                            0-60mph in 5.5-seconds

Drive Type                              AWD

Gearbox:                                 ZF 8-speed Automatic with paddle shift levers

Tire Size:                                 255/45R20 Continental ContiCrossContact LX

Unladen Weight:                     4,044-pounds

Length:                                    184.6-inches

Width:                                     74.9-inches

Height:                                    66-inches

Wheelbase:                            111-inches

Towing:                                   3,000-pounds

Cargo Volume:                      56.5-cubic feet rear seat folded

18.5-cubic feet rear seat up

Cd:                                          0.32

City:                                        22

Highway:                               28

Combined:                            24

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”101″ gal_title=”2018 Alfa-Romeo Stelvio”]

 

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