22 Mar, 2018
Cadillac CT6 V-Sport introduces 550hp twin-turbo V8

Long after the demise of Northstar V8, General Motors finally builds a new DOHC V8. It debuts on the new Cadillac CT6 V-Sport, but in different tunes it will serve also the lesser CT6 and, you guess it, the forthcoming mid-engined Corvette!

The new V8 has yet to get a name, but its codename is GF18 (Girl Friend in 18?). With a 86mm bore and 90.2mm stroke, it displaces 4192 cc. Like BMW, Audi and Mercedes V8s, it features hot-V architecture, i.e. the pair of twin-scroll turbos sit in the V-valley for a tighter packaging and shorter piping. It is served with direct injection and dual-VVT, of course, and GM's pioneering cylinder deactivation technology ("Active Fuel Management") returns. Predictably, the engine is all-aluminum and fitted with forged steel crankshaft and con-rods.

In the CT6 V-Sport, the engine runs 1.4 bar boost pressure and produces 550 horsepower, accompanied with a remarkable 627 lbft of torque which matches exactly the more powerful Mercedes E63 S. The peak torque is produced at a relatively high 3200-4000rpm, but at least 90 percent of which is available between 2000 and 5200 rpm.

Non-V-Sport model of the CT6 will have the engine detuned to 500hp and 553 lbft. Both engines mate with the new GM-Ford 10-speed automatic transmission.

Apart from engine, the CT6 V-Sport has its magnetic ride control suspension, active rear-wheel steering, 4WD torque split, stability control and electric power steering all recalibrated. Besides, it gets upgraded tires, Brembo brakes and the addition of a mechanical LSD at the rear axle.

That said, these modifications are insufficient to get the car up to the level of the new BMW M5 and E63 S, otherwise Cadillac would have badged it CT6-V instead of V-Sport. However, the most promising is still the new twin-turbo V8. I can't wait to see how it will make the next Corvette a 911-beater.

8 Mar, 2018
Concept cars in Geneva

As always, Geneva motor show is the most popular place to demonstrate concept cars. This year the following 5 get my highest regards:

Aston Martin Lagonda Vision concept

Aston Martin is to revive Lagonda as a brand of electric-powered luxury saloons and crossovers. According to its design chief Marek Reichman, the Lagonda Vision concept is 80 percent close to the production car slated to go on sale in 3 years. As it is a pure EV, it is free of the packaging constraints of conventional cars, thus Reichman can give it a radical wedge shape reminiscent of the 1970s Lagonda. However, I reckon it might have worked even better as a Lamborghini saloon. In fact, there seems to be some influences from the Lamborghini Marzal concept that made debut in Geneva show half a century ago. No technical spec. is revealed.

Hyundai Le Fil Rouge

"Le Fil Rouge" means "common thread" in English. The very beautiful concept previews a new styling theme for the brand that will substitute the current "Fluidic Sculpture". Western and Japanese rivals should be scared.

BMW M8 Gran Coupe concept

Another concept that comes without any technical specifications, though this car is slated to become the production 8-Series Gran Coupe in the near future. It is a good design, if not as beautiful as last year's 8-Series coupe concept. I suspect rear headroom will be quite limited if the production car keeps it that way.

Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion

Another beautiful electric concept saloon, but it comes from a brand you won't expect: Volkswagen. Problem is, its styling has no connection at all to the tradition of VW. Instead, I think it suits Audi very much. If Audi jumped straight from the 1991 Quattro Spyder concept to this one, it would have been a seamless evolution. What a pity Audi's styling goes so wrong in recent years...

While the styling might be somewhat unrealistic for production (in particular those flush windows and suicide rear doors), it previews an EV platform that is close to production reality. It is powered by a 102hp front motor and a 204hp rear motor, while the 111kWh battery that occupies the floorpan offers a range of 665km (413 miles). Besides, the car is said to have Level 5 fully autonomous driving, no wonder it simply has the steering wheel ditched.

Pininfarina HK GT

Last year, Pininfarina designed the H600 concept luxury saloon for its Chinese client Hybrid Kinetic Group. This year it is followed by the HK GT concept, a 4-seat luxury grand tourer that could teach BMW M8 Gran Coupe a lesson or two. It has some interesting spec. to match, too. The 1860kg plug-in hybrid car runs 4 motors, each with its own 2-speed gearbox, for a combined 804 horsepower. It is good for 155 mph and 0-60 in 2.8 seconds. The battery capacity is only 20kWh, but a micro gas turbine built by HKG itself sustains the electric power and extends the range to 600 miles (1000 km). That said, I think the car is used to demonstrate the micro gas turbine technology, so it is unlikely to be produced.

7 Mar, 2018
Rimac C_Two: EV with nearly 2000hp!

Rimac is a Croatian electric supercar startup founded by Mate Rimac. A few years ago, it built its first supercar called Concept One, which possessed stunning specifications like 1088hp output and 0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds. 8 cars were sold before it famously got involved in the Top Gear accident. Now the company returns with its second model, C_Two (which means Concept 2 for sure). Its performance gets even more spectacular: 1914hp and 1696lbft from its 4 electric motors. 258mph top speed, acceleration from rest to 60, 100 and 186mph in 1.85, 4.3 and 11.8 seconds, respectively. Until 186mph, it is faster than any Bugattis and Koenigseggs.

The Croatian supercar is also state of the art in chassis design. It has a full carbon-fiber monocoque including the roof and rear subframe. Only the front and rear crash structures are made of aluminum. The body shell is also fully carbon-fiber. The double-wishbone suspensions have adaptive dampers and adjustable ride height. Brakes are Brembo carbon ceramics. A variety of active aerodynamic aids can reduce drag coefficient to as low as 0.28 for top speed run.

Each of the 4 motors drive an individual wheel through a gearbox (1-speed units up front or 2-speed units at the rear). The 120kWh worth of lithium-ion battery is mounted low and integrated with the chassis structure. It offers a NEDC driving range of 650km (404 miles), and charging from empty to 80% full is claimed to take less than 30 minutes. Everything sounds incredible...

Even more incredible is that the car is equipped with an advanced driving assistance system, which uses stereo cameras, radars, Lidars and ultrasonic sensors to provide collision prediction, automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control. It is developed by IT hardware supplier NVIDIA, which invests heavily into autonomous driving technology recently.

7 Mar, 2018
Toyota Auris Mk3

Toyota uses Geneva motor show to launch its European-targeted Auriss family hatch. Compared with the outgoing car, the Mk3 model gets larger again - 40mm longer, 30mm wider and 40mm longer in wheelbase, although its height is reduced by 25mm to provide a sportier look. Speaking of looks, I found its front end design slightly less aggressive than the smaller Yaris and Aygo, although the large mesh grille is still OTT, considering how few air it needs for cooling the fuel efficient engines.

The new car offers 3 engine options: 1.2-liter turbo four 116hp / 136lbft, 1.8-liter hybrid (from Prius) with 122hp and 2.0-liter hybrid with 180hp. The latter employs the brand new Dynamic Force 2.0-liter engine with D-4S dual-mode injection, and it mates with a new CVT with additional launch gear. Besides, the new car has switched to multi-link rear axle instead of the previous double-wishbones setup.

7 Mar, 2018
Bugatti Chiron Sport

Don't be too excited. The Chiron Sport is no Super Sport. In fact, its engine and performance remain unchanged. Only the chassis is enhanced, yet the degree is subtle. The suspension gets 10 percent stiffer dampers. The steering is retuned. The active rear differential is said to be optimized and now features torque vectoring - wasn't it always able to do so? I'm puzzled. Ridiculously, Bugatti said that it takes weight reduction to the extreme, using lighter rear window and exhaust deflector, carbon-fiber anti-roll bars and even the world's first carbon-fiber windscreen wipers for a total reduction of 18kg. Yes, 1995kg minus 18kg. All these small changes for a premium of €250,000, enough to buy a Lamborghini Performante, which is actually quicker in Nurburgring.

6 Mar, 2018
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door

This is AMG's first ever 4-door dedicated model. It is styled and named as if a 4-door version of the AMG GT sports car. However, the car is actually a derivative of the E-class and CLS-class, especially the latter, sharing the same platform as well as the 2939mm wheelbase. Now we understand why the new CLS is not available with full-blooded '63 model, because it needs to make space for the AMG GT 4-door sitting atop.

The GT 4-door offers 3 models: GT53 runs a 435hp/383lbft 3-liter straight-six with one turbo, one electric charger and EQ-boost mild hybrid, just the same as CLS53 or S500. Meanwhile, both GT63 and GT63 S employ the familiar 4-liter V8 with a pair of twin-scroll turbos and cylinder deactivation. They produce 585hp/590lbft and 639hp/664lbft, respectively - the latter surpasses the 612hp output of E63 S and S63.  The six-cylinder engine partners with 9G-Tronic automatic, while V8s pair with 9-speed MCT. Their top speeds are 177mph, 193mph and 196mph, respectively. 0-60 mph takes 4.3, 3.3 or 3.1 seconds. In other words, GT63 S is the fastest accelerating ever AMG model, more so than E63 S and AMG GT R !

The body shell of GT 4-door is unique. It is a sleek 5-door hatchback, unlike the CLS which is 4-door. AMG said its central and rear chassis is strengthened by some carbon-fiber reinforced plastic parts. The floorpan, suspensions and steering should be the same as CLS, but it is better equipped. All models employ the rear-biased 4matic+ system with rear-drive Drift mode (like E63 S). The base GT53 use steel spring suspension with adaptive dampers, whereas V8 employ air suspensions. Likewise, 4-wheel steering is standard on the V8, but only the flagship GT63 S gets active rear differential and adaptive engine mounts.

As for aerodynamics, the car employs active air panel up front and a multi-stage retractable and extended rear spoiler. For even more downforce, you may opt for a fixed (but manually adjustable) rear spoiler.

The interior design is largely based on the E-class and CLS-class, although its prominent transmission tunnel is inspired by AMG GT. At the rear, you can opt for either 2 individual seats or a bench seat for 3.

6 Mar, 2018
Industrial News

ECOTY: Volvo XC40

Following last year's Peugeot 3008, this year's European Car of the Year award is again won by an SUV. Volvo XC40 secures the title with 325 points, beating Seat Ibiza (242), BMW 5-series (226), Kia Stinger (204), Citroën C3 Aircross (171), Audi A8 (169) and Alfa Romeo Stelvio (163).

2 Mar, 2018
Jaguar I-Pace: SUV, hatch or sport car?

Just over a year ago, Jaguar unveiled the I-Pace concept car to the public. It was an electric crossover that bridge between SUV, hatchback and sports car. Brilliantly, the small British firm beats its giant German rivals to put the concept into produciton. This means it is only the second production electric SUV crossover in the world (following Tesla Model X), if you see it that way.

Unlike any SUV crossovers preceding it, the I-Pace has a look closer to a hatchback or even a sports car. This has to thank its electric platform, which minimizes the front of the car, enables the bonnet to be lowered and the huge windscreen to be pushed forward and angled like that of a mid-engined sports car. Furthermore, the design team led by Ian Callum was free to style the car like a sports car, giving it a flowing waist line, a very low roof line and massive wheels measuring up to 22-inch. If you compare it with all the exisitng mid-size SUV crossovers, including the sportiest Porsche Macan and its sister car F-Pace, you will find the I-Pace is significantly lower, yet it runs by far the longest wheelbase and much shorter overhangs. All contribute to its sportscar appeal.

Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar F-Pace
Porsche Macan
Audi Q5
Volvo XC60
Length (mm)
Width (mm)
Height (mm)

Like many dedicated electric car platforms, the I-Pace has all its batteries placed in the floorpan and completely inside the wheelbase. This enables its center of gravity to be a massive 130mm lower than that of the F-Pace, and it achieves a perfect 50:50 weight distribution. There are two electric motors, one at each axle and together they provide 400 horspower and 512 pound-foot of torque. Although the car is also heavy (2133-2208kg depending on trims), it has enough instant torque to achieve 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds, while top speed is regulated at 124 mph (200 km/h). Not quite as quick as the dual-motor Tesla Model X, but good enough to match Macan Turbo. The 90kWh lithium battery offers 298 miles (480km) of range measured under the new WLTP test cycles

Like many other Jaguars, the I-Pace's chassis and body is made of mainly bonded and riveted aluminum. It rides on suspensions similar to those of XE and XF, i.e. double-wishbones up front and integral link setup at the rear, supported with optional adaptive dampers and air suspension. The body shell returns a drag coefficient of 0.29, thanks in part to active shutter front grille and a fixed rear spoiler.

The flat floorpan enables the wheelbase to be stretched to nearly 3 meters. Since there is no engine up front, the cabin can be stretched forward, freeing up rear seat legroom. Headroom, however, is unlikely to be as much as other SUVs, but this should add to its sportscar appeal. The boot is massive though. At 656 liters, it is 156 liters more than Porsche Macan.

The interior looks more modern and intuitive than current Jaguar designs, but build quality may not be its strongest suit.

The I-Pace is not built in UK. Like the smaller E-Pace, its assembly is subcontracted to Magna in Austria. Price is premium, of course. In its home market, it will be sold from £59,000-70,000, compared with £46,000-64,000 for Porsche Macan, and that is already with the government EV grant of £4500 taken into account.

2 Mar, 2018
Why does AutoZine include Jaguar I-Pace?

As you know, over the years AutoZine refuses to talk about SUVs. The reasons are clear: compared with the sedans, hatchbacks and wagons offering the same spec., SUVs add unnecessary weight, drag and lift center of gravity. This means they are more polluting than conventional cars yet being slower, poorer to handle thus less fun to drive.

However, in recent years the trend of SUV shifts to crossovers and gets closer and closer to conventional cars. In some cases, like Citroen C4 Cactus, there are no discernible differences from tall-body hatchbacks other than cosmetic. I do not oppose to the tougher looks of crossovers. As long as they deliver performance, handling and economy comparable to conventional cars, there is no reason to object them.

Jaguar I-Pace is such a car. While it is marketed as an SUV crossover and targeted at Porsche Macan, it is much lower than any rivals on the market. Its frontal area is closer to conventional cars, while its drag coefficient of 0.29 is comparable to sedans. Moreover, the electric platform gives it a center of gravity lower than other cars - not just crossovers but also sedans and hatchbacks. This means it should offer sharper handling and a great deal of fun hustling it. Being an EV, its energy efficiency is also much higher than any conventional cars. In addition to its sportscar looks, it is hard to resist including it in the scope of AutoZine.

If the trend of crossover cannot be reversed, I hope the I-Pace will be a role model for other car makers.

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