2020 KIA Stinger GT

The History Behing KIA and Stinger

I, Varol had the impression that this sporty design would never be outdated.

I will make a clear statement: The Stinger is the most beautiful, eye-catching “sedan” I drove for at least the last 12 months. And let me go back to a distant past to tell a different story.

Early nineties, as I was still living in Turkey and immigrating to Canada was not on our agenda, And I already knew the KIA brand. As Turkey was getting used more and more to imported cars, an industrial group was selling KIA vehicles in the country. TV and print advertisements with celebrities appearing almost every day on TV and newspapers, KIA was getting more and more attention. Still it was necessary to offer gifts like a set of winter tires and financing of up to four years, it order to sell those cheap Korean cars without a known history.

Times have changed. KIA is now a well-recognised brand not only in Turkey but also in Europe and North America. As I had an interview with Mr. Peter Schreyer, “The Man In Black” during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS ) in 2012, he was the Chief Designer At KIA and spending his life at three locations: At KIA’s deisign studios in Germany, California and the company’s head office in Korea. As the North American Reporter of the weekly “Otohaber” by then, I remember him telling me “We want create cars, which are reliable and beuatiful that people will be proud to drive” By this time, KIA vehicles already has started to have an attractive design. By then the Stinger was being developed and with Peter, also Gregory Guillaume had his hands on this project. Guillaume, now KIA’s Chief Designer once said that the the design was inspired by the Coca Cola bottle.

Peter Schreyer, Man In Black in 2012. Great products are on the way.

When Albert Biermann, the former VP of BMW’s M Performance Division, joined KIA in 2017, the Stinger was almost ready for launch. Still, Mr Biermann was able to provide some contribution in driving deynamics, engine and suspension tuning. He added some BMW genes.

Albert Biermann is now the executive vice president of performance development and high performance vehicles of the Hyundai Motor Group, to which the KIA brand belongs. It is also worth noting that the Stinger shares the same platform with the Genesis G70, the luxury brand of the Hyundai Group.

And after a couple years, when I saw the Stinger for the first time during NAIAS in 2017, I had a sense that the mission is accomplished, without any doubts.

My first encounter with the Stinger at the 2017 NAIAS in Detroit

Three years after its introduction in North America, the Stinger is still fresh and modern to such extent that it makes you think if this vehicle would be a classic car.

This vehicle deserves every aspect of being a sports sedan except, it is not a sedan, but a hatchback. The design is timelessly beautiful and looks more as a sedan with flowing lines, until you open its hatch.

Engine And Powertrain

The 3.3L V6 twin-turbo engine delivers 365 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission

The Stinger offers a 3.3L V6-cylinder twin-turbo engine that delivers 365 horsepower and 510 lb -ft of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed transmission that communicates well and thus providing a smooth drive. This drivetrain platform is not only used in the Stinger, but in some Genesis models.

Most of the time, you will not feel the need to shift manually via the paddles. Instead, switch to Sport Mode for more driving enjoyment. In Canada, only twin turbo V6 and All-Wheel-Drive options are available. However, in the states, you will be able to find Rear-Wheel Drive as well as Inline 4 cylinder turbocharged engine which only comes with the base trim.

AWD system works pretty good, as this is a Gran Tourer, the engine is placed longitudinally, that means it is a rear biased all wheel drive system.

Inside and Outside – Driving Impressions

The driving dynamics, the acceleration, steering input, suspension all sing the same song of sportiness. A car that KIA could only dream of even 10 years ago. The long wheelbase makes you feel driving a car at a higher category, but we are in the compact, sports sedan class led by BMW 3 Series.

The cockpit is sporty yet ergonomic and practical

The ergonomic dashboard has legible instruments, the control buttons easy to reach and command, the tablet-style infotainment screen is not distracting. And as soon as you seat behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel in very comfortable and supportive sports seats with a low seating position, you are ready to move a “driving machine” built around the driver.

We drove the car on the relatively empty 400 series of highways and at some curvy and twisted roads of the Halton Region. The acceleration does not require any extra effort. The real joy of driving comes into play at the sideroads beyond boring highways. Select the Sport mode to deeply enjoy the sportiness of this car and enjoy its German roots.

Pricing and Conclusion

Rear visibility is restricted due to sloping rear window: A sacrifice to sportiness

KIA is still not a brand directly associated with sportiness and performance. The Korean brand offers a portfolio consisting good quality, well designed and built everyday products especially, SUV’s, and crossovers. In this regard the Stinger is a halo car and strong symbol telling us about the future direction and how much the brand is capable. It was not a coincidence that Stinger was chosen as “The Best Car Of The Year” by AJAC in 2019.

Dan’s comments about the Stinger

After testing several cars this and last year, I can easily say Kia Stinger is the Swiss Army Knife of the car world. The Stinger does everything good, but nothing particularly best which you should not expect to get something “best” within $40,000-$50,000 price range.

If you are one of those people who still like Sedans or Liftbacks, this car may be a great option for you. It offers great practicality and trunk opening like an SUV, while still being able to handle corners greatly. I am a person not a fan of SUVs as you have to sacrifice driving dynamics to get more practicality, unless you go really exotic which most likely you have to spend $100,000 or more. Without spending this kind of money, for the half price, this car can still offer plenty of legroom, headroom, decent cargo size, but with much lower center of gravity and better driving dynamics.

You should keep in mind, this is not a track car, it isn’t engineered nor designed for very extreme situations. However, it is very capable when it’s on backroad, or when you do spirited driving. Due to its big size, it is not very agile, but it feels much smaller when you drive it on the road.

At the end of the day, it is a Gran Tourer and it is very easy to drive it at high speeds, especially on the highway. Seats are very comfortable but at the same time side bolsters hold you in corner very good, probably one of the most comfortable one in this price range. Compared to Genesis G70, though they use the same platform, Stinger has more rear legroom, which is better if you drive with your family or kids. I was able to sit behind myself (6’1″) and my knees were not touching to the front seat. It may not be a class leading legroom size (compared to FWD alternatives like Camry or Accord), but it is quite impressive for an All Wheel Drive vehicle that has this kind of legroom. However, due to it’s coupe-ish design, rear headroom isn’t the best. My head was touching to the headliner especially when you sit upright.

The sleek and long silhouette means less headroom in the rear

Being a Gran Tourer, the drivetrain is also tuned for this kind of circumstances. Twin Turbo V6 engine is a perfect match with Kia’s 8-speed transmission, shifts are fast and engine offers great torque down low rpm or in the mid range. Kia was able to find a great equilibrium when it comes to drivetrain choice. In our G70 test from last year, we criticized fuel consumption was too high, and that car has same engine and transmission. With the Stinger, it is not really that different, unfortunately. We were unable to get lower fuel consumption than 15.0L / 100 km, which is quite high in today’s standards. As a reference, we were getting average fuel consumption around 12.5L / 100 km with BMW M340i with the same driving style, which also the car has very similar power/weight ratio.

Brembo brakes are a sign of high performance and sportiness.

However, there is no perfect car and Kia Stinger is not perfect either. This platform is slightly getting older, and it starts to show it’s age, though it has a very modern design elements both exterior and interior. We wish that they didn’t use fake vents all around the hood, and front bumper. It doesn’t look bad from distance, but when you get closer, it looks cheesy. Also, there is an interior feature that needs to be improved: For instance, there is no “Lock” button in the trunk, so every time you use the trunk, you have to go back to the front door to lock the doors. This lock button in trunk is getting very popular in latest generation vehicles as it is very convenient feature, and we are sure it will be available when the Stinger is refreshed in the future.

The tablet style infotainment screen seems a little bit small in today’s standards

Let me explain why Kia Stinger is an excellent car for every day driving and spirited driving on back roads, but not a great car if you treat it like a track toy (which you shouldn’t anyways). First of all, the stability control. Unfortunately, if you have the All Wheel Drive version, Kia won’t allow you to fully disable the Stability Control. It always wants to get involved, which is not a pleasant experience if you want to reach Stinger’s handling limits. We found that this is not the case with Rear Wheel Drive version, which is unfortunately not available in Canada.

Also, Automatic transmission won’t get into fully manual mode, it just wants to upshift when you reach the rev limiter. One last area that needs to be improved is the adaptive dampers. Though it is tuned very well, the difference between driving modes is not very distinctive in terms of suspension stiffness, we wish that it was a little bit stiffer in Sport mode. Since this is a GT car, so we don’t blame Kia for this decision. If those things don’t bother you, you will be very happy in the long term, as rest of the car is very well done.

Instrument cluster looks clean and center screen is very easy to use

Interior of the Stinger is very well laid out and easy to figure out what’s going on when you see the button layouts. If you are familiar with the Hyundai products, you would feel home when you get inside the Stinger. There are lots of soft touch plastics and leather. All crucial features have hard touch buttons, and you see typical Hyundai/Kia infotainment system that is very user friendly and it offers pretty much everything that infotainment system can provide. It also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Unlike the newer Hyundai/Kia vehicles, the Stinger doesn’t come with digital gauge cluster, again this is something that shows this model’s age, which we believe it will be updated when it gets refreshed. We must admit, gauges and screen in the instrument cluster is very easy to read and navigate around the menu.

The sports leather seats are comfortable and supportive

I would definitely call the Stinger as the “Equilibrium Queen” as it offers a great balance of driving dynamics, daily drivability, road comfort, reasonable quality and pricing, everything all together within its limits. It may not be able to offer 10 out of 10 in any category, but it is still capable to get 9 out of 10 in almost every category (maybe except the fuel economy), which is very hard to find in any car under $60.000 range. This is why we would highly recommend Kia Stinger if you are one of those people who don’t need or like Sport Utility Vehicles and want something that can do almost everything very good.

For more detailed and the most-up-to-date information, please visit: http://www.kia.ca

Article and Photos By Varol McKars and Dan Gunay

2020 BMW X7 M50i

BMW X7 – The German Behemoth

As SUVs get bigger, BMW decided to enlarge their icon, X5 and created the X7. Is the X7 really the bigger version of X5 or practical version of the 7-Series? Though they may look similar wit the X5, the X7 is definitely a German Behemoth that offers unique luxury and comfort if you pay the premium.

With its 6-figure starting price, it does almost everything good and to be honest, it must be good to be able to compete in this very competitive segment. However, this makes our job more difficult to find any flaws unless you are very picky. In our test, we will not only review the good sides, but will try to explain what can be improved for the next generation or during the mid-cycle refresh.

Exterior and Interior

Is it the bigger version of the iconic X5?

Aside from overall sizes, one of the biggest differences from the iconic X5, it is the only 3-row SUV option in BMW’s model lineup. This means it is significantly bigger than its smaller sister.

Rear design matches perfectly with the front

Though it is big, it carries same design elements compared not only to X5, but almost all BMW lineup. If you remove BMW emblems, it is noticeable from 2 miles away that this is a BMW. Same huge BMW grille, headlights, taillights, rims – BMW keeps it is traditional design all around the car.

M package offers bigger brake calipers which makes the X7 stop quicker

Things are not really much different when you get inside the X7 and this is where it gets disappointing. The reason is not that it is bad, in fact it is an excellent interior, but too generic and it is almost same with almost all BMW lineup. A premium SUV with 6 figure price tag must have unique interior that should not make you feel like you are sitting in $40,000 3-Series. Again, our concern is not the interior quality, but the interior and mostly dashboard design.

Excellent interior quality, but have many common parts with cheaper BMW products
Typical button layout in the center console

If we look from the positive side, if you are currently driving a smaller BMW and would like to upgrade to X7, this will still feel like you are at home. From the first minute, you will know all button layout, infotainment system with few small difference.

Lots of legroom and headroom in the second row

As previously mentioned, material quality and craftsmanship is on par with 6-figure premium SUV, nothing surprising there. It can also offer great legroom and headroom all around the car, even in 3rd row. I (6’1″) can easily sit behind myself in the second row, and even in 3rd row if I adjust them correctly and my knees won’t touch to front seats which is quite impressive.

Lots of space in the third row either, but you may need to move 2nd row a little bit forward to fit the adults
A/C buttons are located in the ceiling for the 3rd row seats
You can fold down the 2nd – 3rd row seats from the trunk

What’s even more impressive is the luxury all around the car. BMW didn’t cut any corners when it comes to features and luxury even in the 3rd row. 2nd row seats are power-adjustable and their movement range is excellent. 3rd row seats are also electric but they are not as adjustable as the second row, which is understandable. However, we were hoping to find ventilated seats in the 2nd row rear seats, as this is getting very common feature in 3-row SUV segment for even half of the X7’s price tag.

Lots of cargo space when 3rd row is down.
You still have plenty of cargo space even if you carry 7 passengers

Engine and Drivetrain

This section is also an important factor why someone would pay 6 figures for this type of vehicle. Our tester is the M50i version which has 4.4 liter twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. It produces 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. The peak torque is available from 1800 rpm all the way up to 4800 rpm, that means it is flat all around the mid RPM range and it makes all types of driving experience much better and smoother.

Under the hood, there is a V8 4.4L Twin-Turbo engine that pumps out 523 horsepower

This impressive engine is matched with BMW’s famous 8 speed torque converted automatic transmission and traditional rear biased All Wheel Drive system. This combination is enough to give it a 0-60 mph time under 4.5 seconds, which is very good for a vehicle that weights over 5500 lbs.

V8 + Twin Turbo + All-Wheel-Drive + 5500lbs = When you have all of these in one paragraph, that means there is a penalty for having everything all together. It is the fuel consumption. In our tests, we couldn’t get it lower than 15.0L / 100 km even on the highway. Our average consumption was around 18.0L which is pretty high but acceptable as if you are on the market for a vehicle that has 6 figure price tag, fuel consumption should not be your priority.

Driving Impressions & Features

Despite its weight and size, driving the X7 is easy and surprisingly not boring. Having a masterpiece engine and drivetrain contributes it’s driving dynamics a lot. Of course, you should not expect a supercar driving characteristics, but it is very good for what it is. At the end of the day, it is a huge car with a V8 and everything is tuned for comfort and smoothness. BMW achieved to have 7-series in SUV platform, and you feel it as soon as you start driving it.

No matter how big it is, it still feels very dynamic despite its weight

As mentioned above, lots of common parts used in other BMW models and that includes thick steering wheel. I am personally not a fan of thick profile steering wheel, and this is no exception. BMW is capable of providing great equilibrium when it comes to being sporty and comfortable with their suspension tune. X7’s suspension leans more towards road comfort despite having M Sport Package.

Same digital gauge cluster used in almost all new BMWs.

Feature list is too long to go through, but I will mention the most important ones:

X7 M50i has an adaptive suspension that can raise or lower itself when you are not moving. However, you can only drive it in standard mode and we wish that it should be adjustable when you are actually driving it for better fuel economy or more off road capability.

Another one is the digital gauge cluster, this is something nice to have, but we wish it is more adjustable. You can still change and customize few things, but not on par with its rivals. In terms of how it looks, it is a hate or love situation, some people are fan of the older generation analog gauge cluster. We are okay with the digital one, but concerned with long-term longevity.

X7’s infotainment is the latest generation and very user friendly

Infotainment system also deserves few words. It is BMW’s latest software and very easy to use especially if you are familiar with BMW’s infotainment system. If you are a totally new user, it may take few minutes to figure things out, but definitely not an overwhelming experience. We are also glad that BMW did not integrate air conditioning screen with the infotainment. In our book, this is an important thing as if the infotainment screen doesn’t work, you will still be able to use air conditioning.

Speaking of integration, as always, it comes with Apple CarPlay but not with Android Auto. This should be changed as BMW should not force its users to replace their smartphones. Android is an open source platform and it should not be too costly to implement it into BMW’s infotainment system. It has been several years that BMW doesn’t have this feature, even Apple CarPlay was not free recently and thankfully they changed their mind about it. It is time to add Android Auto, BMW! You are already too late!

Technology and feature wise, X7 has almost all features that are available with BMW as of 2020, and some important ones – such as Adaptive Cruise Control – works as good as other BMW models. For the whole list, please go to https://www.bmw.ca/en/all-models/x-series/x7/2018/bmw-x7-inspire.html

Price and Conclusion

As of March 2020, BMW X7 starts at C$94,000 with the smaller engine. If you choose the M50i, it starts at $114,050 and this is a really big jump. Unfortunately, this doesn’t end here, as if you choose our tester’s color, which is called Ametrine Metallic, it costs extra $1,000. Our tester also had the Premium Package, which has Panoramic Glass Sunroof, Luggage Compartment Package, Ventilated Front Seats, Diamond looking glass shifter column, Walknappa Leather Dashboard, Ambient Air Package, Massage Function for Driver and Passenger, BMW Drive Recorder and BMW Individual Interior Color. All of these features in one package costs additional $8,000.

There is also Dynamic Handling Package which comes with Integral Active Steering and Active Comfort Drive with Road Preview, and this package is additional $4,750. Adaptive Cruise control is surprisingly extra with the X7, which you have to pay $2,000 for Advanced Driving Assistant Package that also has Traffic Jam Assistant, Driving Assistant, Steering and Lane Control, Evasion Assist, Cross Traffic Alert, Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go, and Lane Keep Assist. Last but not least, Bowers and Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System is $4,900 extra.

The total comes up to $134,700, which sounds expensive but it is on par with the competition. In fact, it is an SUV BMW specifically designed for the cream of the crop and doesn’t have to be either cheap or affordable. For almost same price, X7 M50i has the most powerful engine in its segment, and it is the fastest one. It has 30 more horsepower than Audi SQ7 and 50 more horsepower than Mercedes-Benz GLS 580. This is what matters for potential buyers more than the small price difference.

At the end of the day, it is a 3-row SUV designed for practicality. However, BMW was able to integrate its driving dynamics into this huge behemoth. It is a great combination of X5 and 7-Series. But including tax and everything, is it really worth C$150,000?

Well, it depends. If you are always carrying more than 5 passengers and need a premium SUV, then there are many options in the market. If you need one of the fastest 3-row SUVs with full size luxury car driving comfort, as well as car-like driving dynamics with unlimited budget, than this is your SUV.

However, do not forget that 3-row SUVs for “regular” people are within the price range of C$50,000-C$70,000 range, so you are paying almost two times more for all of these differences. If you just need practicality or if you are tight on budget, this is not an option for you.

For more details please go to www.bmw.ca

Article: Dan Gunay
Photos: Varol McKars

2020 Mitsubishi RVR GT AWC


The current generation RVR is a decade old but stays fresh thanks to a third facelift in 2019

For people, who are less familiar with Mitsubishi then, let’s say, Toyota or Honda, this japanese brand has a rich and deep history which is not less glorious than these global brands.

The roots of Mitsubishi goes back as far as until 1870, the foundation of Mitsubishi Keiretsu, which would later become Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, one of Japan’s industrial conglomerates. And in 1917, the Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co. introduced the Mitsubishi Model A, Japan’s first series-production automobile. Finally in 1970, Mitsubishi Motors (MM) emerged as part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

In 2011, MM was the 19th biggest automobile manufacturer worldwide.

Since 2016, Nissan owns one third (34 percent) of MM as Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan Alliance. In the last decade or so, Mitsubishi kept its presence in a hypercompetitive global automotive sector. The company focused more and more on SUV’s, following the global trends and practically halted the development of other models like the once legendary Lancer or Eclipse.

As the “Three Diamonds” (what Mitsubishi means) joined the powerful Renault-Nissan Alliance under Carlos Ghosn as CEO (by then), the expectations were higher as Mitsubishi could unleash its full potential and make utilize large scale of economics within the group. However, the Alliance itself is in a crisis in the post-Ghosn era and Mitsubishi is yet to gain advantages. These expectations aside, Mitsubishi manages to keep a model range consisting mainly of SUV’s and protects its in market share in North America. One key factor and marketing success is the class-leading warranty of 10 years.

The RVR Then And Now

The history of RVR goes back to 40 years ago. Mitsubishi had the first and second generation of RVR. The first generation was produced between 1991 and 2001 and this model was sold under the name “Space Runner” and also as; Dodge/Plymouth Colt Wagon and Eagle Summit Wagon as the result of cooperation between Mitsubishi and Chrysler. This was then a compact minivan instead of an SUV.

The second generation was manufactured between 1997 and 2002 as RVR and also under the name “Espace”.

Once a minivan: Mitsubishi Space Runner from 2000

The 2020 RVR GT AWC

Finally the current generation of RVR was introduced in 2010 as a compact crossover SUV. In the USA, it is sold as “Outlander Sport” The 2020 model is the fourth facelift, introduced prior 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Despite all these efforts, the RVR cannot conceal not only its age, but also the need for a new platform. The design reveals itself as a work of the previous decade, albeit with good build-quality with narrow panel gaps. Inside the cabin, you won’t find the high-quality soft-plastics everywhere but it is built solidly. An unexpected problem we encountered with the driver seat: It moved back and forth slighly while driving. We assume that this problem was unique to our tester.

The dashboard and interior are a bit outdated yet have good built quality. Metal shift paddles and big infotainment screen add to modernity
The front legroom is probably the best in this class
The rear legroom is not the best in class but acceptable

With a panorama glass roof in the GT trim, passengers in the rear have 30 mm more headroom than the standard model. The luggage space is also generous for this class, with 566 liters with all seats in upright position and with 1.415 liters with rear seats folded flat. The leather seat coverings give a more upscale look. The metal shift paddles and the new, bigger infotainment screen give a touch of modernity.

With 566/1,415 liters of cargo space is generous for the subcompact class

The RVR is Mitsubishi’s second best selling vehicle (nearly 6,300 RVRs were sold in Canada last year), after the Outlander PHEV, we tested earlier.

To read this test, please click:


Despite its age and not-the-best ride quality in this class, this is a solid vehicle, supported also by a 10-year, industry leading warranty.

The RVR is the only model in the subcompact class that offers a lockable 4WD system with its GT package we tested. Most drivers will not notice its absence or even ask for it. But Mitsu’ subcompact offers this feature for instances where you need serious off-road capabilities.

Engine And Powertrain

The 2.4L 4-cylinder engine delivers 268 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque

Our tester, GT AWC has a 2.4L four cylinder engine delivering 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to Mitsubishi’s latest INVECS­III CVT transmission. This combination generates sufficient torque and passing power for your daily needs. We, as AutoandRoad drivers are not fans of CVT’s, but appreciate the fuel economy it can deliver and thus making the average driver happy. Mitsubishi rates the GT versions of the RVR at 9.4 litres per 100 kilometers. Our test, consisting of urban and highway driving almost equally delivered 9.8 L/100 km, which is quite close to “official” figure.

Old design with a recent facelift

Driving Impressions

With MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link system in the rear, the subcompact Mitsu drives well, though more truckish than smooth urban cruising. In today’s reality that SUV’s are driven more than 90 percent in urban areas, a new chassis is due. It was apparent that Mitsubishi saved on isolation quality, as we noticed the engine and tire noise infiltrating the cabin at highway speeds.

The GT option offers a 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with subwoofers. A nice feature to be found at a subcompact SUV. 


After all ups and downs, the RVR remains a sensible choice if you look for a subcompact SUV

The base, FWD model of the RVR starts at C$ 22,998. Our tester with GT trim and AWD has an MSRP of C$ 33,998. This price is justifiable for a well-equipped japanese SUV that offers a 10-year warranty.

Mitsubishi is on tight budget. It means that model cycles last longer, new models arrive later and the latest technology may wait. The upside is that you buy a reliable and robust japanese product from from an old manufacturer with a warranty that gives you peace of mind and confidence

Article by Varol McKars

Photos by Dan Gunay

For more detailed and most-up-to-date information, please visit:


2020 BMW X1 28i xDrive

The second generation X1 opened a new chapter in the BMW’s history. The smallest SUV the Bavarians offer is based on a new platform, called UKL (comes from Under Class in German) with transversely mounted 4-cylinder engine and shared with the Mini Countryman, BMW Group’s sister brand.

Sharing platforms accross the models and brands within the same group is almost a must to save on engineering and production costs and enable at least some flexibility in production. Remembering also that the X1 and the Countryman are two completely different looking vehicles, this strategy worked well.

Exterior and Interior

Misano Blue Metallic looks great, but it is a $895 extra

It is hard to believe the second generation is already 7 years old, while the exterior and interior still look fresh. The X1 is the most affordable SUV in BMW’s model lineup, but keeps BMW design characteristics both outside and inside.

Rear design looks as good as the front, it doesn’t look like it is released in 2015

Our tester has the M Sport package, which comes with M specific front and rear bumper, and 19″ M Sport wheels and it is an $2250 extra. We are not sure this is really necessary for a utility vehicle, as comfort and practicality should be the priority especially for an SUV which doesn’t have much power.

19″ M specific rims only comes with M Sport Package

Sitting behind the steering wheel, you see that there are lots of common parts used in other BMWs, a mixture of common brand identity and cost cutting. Well, eventually, this is a “budget SUV” even if up to the BMW quality standards. You see less soft touch plastics compared to “higher-class” BMWs, but the Germans kept the distance to non-premium alternatives in this segment.

Our tester with the M package comes with a sporty steering wheel, seats with more aggressive side bolstering, and light gray-white aluminum trim all over the dashboard. M seats are not the most comfortable for long rides as we found that side bolsters are too aggressive for a utility vehicle that produces less than 250 horsepower. It would be a wiser choice to skip the M package completely as you would be saving a couple thousand dollars and regular seats would likely provide a more comfortable driving experience.

It ages gracefully, with some older BMW design elements

Another selling point for utility vehicles is the rear seat legroom and cargo space. Unfortunately this is not the strongest point for the X1, as you won’t be able to sit behind if you are taller than 5’9″. Sport M seats have thicker profile thus leaving less legroom in the rear. However, it still has sufficient overall legroom if you are an average sized family, or if you have smaller kids.

Engine & Drivetrain

2.0L Turbocharged engine produces 228 hp and 257 ft-lb of torque

At the end of the day, this should be an “Ultimate Driving Machine”, shouldn’t it? Well, things are not same as it used to be. Second generation X1 changed it’s engine layout which is transverse, that means it is a Front Wheel Drive based vehicle.

Even though you get an All Wheel Drive version, which is standard in Canada, this still doesn’t change the fact that it always sends the power to the front first, so you will be getting understeering unless you give less throttle input when you are on the limit. That doesn’t mean you cannot go sideways on slippery surfaces like a rear wheel drive car, you just need to be more patient.

Though the infotainment system is very capable, essential features like A/C have hard buttons

The 2020 X1 28i only comes with only one engine option and transmission. The 4-cylinder 2.0L turbocharged engine (which is available accross the model ranges) delivers 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This power and torque curve is adequate for your daily drive with a compact SUV, but you should not expect a fast car. The engine is tuned for more torque in the mid range, and it is very usable power for regular driving.

xDrive + Snow Tires = Very safe but it can also be fun!

Like most other BMWs, the X1 comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. It works perfectly almost all other BMWs and X1 is not an exception. This transmission mated to the 2.0L turbo engine offers great fuel economy. We were able to get around 9.5L / 100 km in our test, which is very close to the “official” measurement figures.

Driving Impressions & Features

Usually, if we are talking about a BMW, there are lots of features but you need to pay the premium to have all of those. In our tester, we were missing some crucial ones. For instance, there was no blind spot monitoring, brake hold assist, adaptive cruise control, wireless charging. Those features are available in non-premium brands within $25-30,000 range. In 2020, blind spot must be available in a premium brand that has over $50,000 price range, let alone adaptive cruise control.

X1 has high seating position as you would expect from an SUV

Also a Premium Package is available that comes with heated steering wheel, power folding side mirrors, automatic trunk, comfort access, aluminum roof rails, panorama sunroof, auto dimming mirrors, sport seats, lumbar support, LED headlights with cornering function, park assistant, head-up display, and navigation which costs $5950.

BMW Infotainment system is easy to use and very responsive

On the road, the driving position felt more SUV-like to the X3 and X5 and that is very interesting. As this is a smaller SUV, we were expecting to feel more car-like driving dynamics however that was not the case. Steering feeling was numb, and we noted a delay with the throttle response especially in Comfort mode. Our tester with the M Sport Package, comes with stiffer suspension and bigger rims, leading to relatively less comfort. However, we must admit, suspension tune is excellent but on the stiffer side. If it was our car, we would definitely opt out the M package, as it is just for looks, and the priority should be comfort and practicality rather than how it looks.

Pricing & Conclusion

The X1 28i is the most affordable BMW though with some flaws. Despite its premium pricing point, you definitely feel that it is an entry level model, even if still a BMW. Some important features, that come standard even with compact hatchback cars, are missing. As long as you are okay with those, you will be getting a premium car with great driving dynamics, and the BMW quality.

The X1 28i xDrive starts at $42,100 and goes north of $50,000 range. Our tester had a sticker price of $52,645 which had the Premium Package Enhanced, M Sport Package, and stand alone options like Dakota Leather and fancy metallic paint.

For more detailed and the most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.bmw.ca

Article and Photos by Dan Gunay

2020 Ford Escape

In the most competitive segment of the autos in Canada and in most parts of the world, Ford introduced the new Escape. FoMoCo is relying more and more on SUV’s, CUV’s and trucks while moving away from passenger cars excluding the Mustang. The new Escape is a courageous step.

With 279K vehicles (rounded) sold in Canada in 2019, Ford is the best-selling brand here for 11 years in a row. Out of this number, nearly 40K was an Escape. So the stakes are high.

Exterior and Interior

A well-designed and executed dashboard leaves little room for error

Ford Escape has completely new design inside and outside this year. Though it is a subjective matter, I am not a fan of the newer design. It looks much like a raised Focus. If we have to rephrase this, it looks much more civilized and previous generation Escape looks much more rugged and more like a proper SUV. Like it or not, it represents overall Ford design elements really well. If you take off the Ford badge, people would still recognize this is a Ford product. Also, 19″ Aluminum rims looks excellent in my opinion, but it only comes with the top trim.

19″ aluminium wheels are standard in titanium trim level

Interior design is another story. Like exterior, it is completely new, nothing looks similar to the previous generation. It looks much more civilized like the exterior, however this one fits better for the Escape, as the potential buyers are looking for more luxury in this kind of competitive segment. The dashboard has lots of soft touch plastics and leather, maybe not on par with premium German rivals, but pretty good for what it is.

Rear legroom is one of the most important factors for an SUV, as this is a utility vehicle, there has to be plenty of space for families and hauling. Latest generation Escape has significantly more rear legroom compared to it’s previous generation. 2020 Escape is approximately 2 inches longer compared to the 2019, as well as longer wheelbase. The only thing that 2020 Escape falls behind compared to 2019 is the cargo capacity, which is a slight decrease from 68 cubic-feet to 65.4. However, with the sliding second-row seats, Ford offers a smart solution. According to the volume of cargo and the number of passengers you can significantly increase the cargo space when you need or provide more legroom for the rear-seat passengers. And advantage that neither the RAV-4, nor the CR-V can offer.

The cargo room is less than in Toyota RAV 4 and Honda CR-V, however, with sliding second-row seats, Ford offers a more flexible and smarter solution: More room for cargo or passengers depending on the needs.

The steering wheel is probably the only item that looks similar to the one in the previous generation Escape. The buttons are easy to use, and doesn’t take much time to get used to it. The only thing that I wasn’t a fan is the type of leather chosen to use in the steering wheel. It is extremely stiff and doesn’t feel like a leather. It feels more like a polyurethane cheap plastic, so this is where Ford needs to look into it.

The top Titanium trim comes with digital instrument cluster which offers a clear view of the most important information without distraction

The top trim comes with digital gauge cluster, and it is easy to see when it is sunny, and it is not going to hurt your eyes when it is dark. It is not 100% customizable, but it changes its colors depending on driving mode and there are lots of information available. Though we must say, there is a little bit lag when you switch driving modes, and considering this is a brand new car, this shouldn’t be the case.

Probably the most significant change after the overall interior design is the infotainment system and 8 inch touchscreen. Compared to the previous generation, this is also a completely different software, and it works perfectly. This is where Ford really paid attention and unlike the previous gen, it looks much more up-to-date. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and they both work smoothly. The touch screen works accurately and it is very responsive.

There are multiple different categories placed in the bottom which you see Audio, Phone, Nav, Apps and Settings. In the main screen, it is divided to three different sections. You can see your media, nav and other information gathered in one screen. You can also adjust driving assistance settings through the infotainment system. Overall, we enjoyed using the infotainment system, it is a significant update, and can keep up many years without looking outdated.

Engine and Drivetrain

2.0L, 4-cylinder turbocharged Ecoboost engine delivers 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque.

New Escape comes with 4 different engines, 2 hybrid and 2 gas powered options. Base trim comes with 1.5L Ecoboost, which is turbocharged 4 cylinder direct injected engine. Base engine pumps out 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. Top trim gas version comes with 2.0L Ecoboost engine, which is also turbocharged, produces 250 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque with premium fuel. Gas versions come with 8-speed automatic transmission.

Electrified versions of Escape come with naturally aspirated engines. There is no AWD option for Plug-in Hybrid. Both come with Electronic-Continuous Variable Transmission. Both engines have high compression ratio for higher torque curve, and surprisingly they have multi-port injection which means no maintenance like direct injection.

Escape’s AWD system is pretty sophisticated, it sends power whenever front wheels lose traction and the operation is smooth. However, at the end of the day, it is a front-biased all wheel drive system which is focused on fuel economy, rather than the driving pleasure.

Our tester (2.0 Ecoboost) comsumed around 10.0L / 100 km, which is slightly lower than average. However, there are not many options that offer 250 hp in this market, so it is justifiable. Just don’t expect to get the best fuel economy if you are not easy on throttle pedal.

Driving Impressions & Features

Our first impression was that Ford really took its time to develop and improve the interior design compared to the last generation. Infotainment, air conditioning and all the other buttons are placed well. They are easy to reach and they used actual buttons instead of using for most essential features, which is great for longevity.

Tablet-style infotainment screens become more and more popular. It is easier to integrate to different dashboard designs and offer better visibility for the driver and passengers.

The new Escape feels and drives more like a car rather than a truck, compared to the previous generation. The steering feels above average, but nothing spectacular. Getting in and out is easier with 2020 Escape as it is slightly lower to the ground, wider and longer. Suspension tune also feels more like a car, it is very solid and there is not much body roll. Based on our test drives with several Ford vehicles, the blue-oval brand is really good at suspension tuning, slightly on the stiffer side but not sacrificing comfort at the same time. Overall, 2020 Escape has a great equilibrium of stiffness and comfort like the other models.

Compared to 2019, 2.0L Ecoboost engine used in 2020 Escape is not really different, as it has same torque characteristics and high torque in the mid range, the transmission is tuned for road comfort rather than performance. It is not responding well if you use paddle shifters, it shifts late and it feels it doesn’t like manual input. At the end of the day, it is a utility vehicle and it is meant to be driven easy, so we are not blaming Ford for tuning the engine and transmission for comfort.

However, we have to criticize Ford for not letting its drivers to fully disable the traction and stability control. We are aware this is a safety feature, but it is not helping if you are trying to take the Escape off-road. Though it comes with multiple different driving modes, that includes snow, mud and sand mode, it is not letting the driver to fully control as it tries to cut the power in loose surface, no matter what you do or which mode you are in.

In our 2019 Escape test, which you can find here, http://www.autoandroad.com/2019/08/2019-ford-escape-titanium/, we seriously criticized Ford for trying to implement half baked technologies on older platforms, which included the previous generation Escape. Adaptive cruise was one of them, as it was unable to fully stop and start and overall operation was not the smoothest. Finally, Ford offers full-range adaptive cruise control system in 2020 Escape and it works really well.

Pricing & Conclusion

2020 Ford Escape starts at $28,549 CAD and it can go all the way up to $45,000 CAD range, it depends what you need to be honest. Interestingly, Hybrid version top trim is significantly cheaper than gas version, so that would actually be a great buy considering it will be much cheaper to operate the hybrid version in the long term.

Our tester unit was the “Titanium” top trim with gas engine, which costs $40,049 CAD and it comes with all the features available in Escape. The only option for Titanium Package is the Titanium Premium Package, which offers Head-Up Display as well as Panoramic Sunroof that adds up $2,300 CAD.

To sum it up, Ford spent significant time and engineering effort for the 2020 Escape. Though this is our subjective opinion, it looks like a raised Ford Focus, which is not necessarily a bad thing. All manufacturers are trying to market SUVs for more mainstream users, and making SUVs look more civilized inside and outside, they are trying to get more market share. 2020 Escape is just one of them.

Adding Hybrid and PHEV versions also show that Ford is serious about being leader in this class, as it is getting more competitive, which only time will tell. Compared to the previous generation, I think Ford did a great job, but it is too early to say this if the new Escape is the best in its class.

For more detailed and most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.ford.ca

Article & Photos by Dan Gunay and Varol McKars.

2019 BMW X2 35i xDrive

BMW’s smallest SAC at the King’s Circle of U of T

On The Road In Toronto And To Ottawa

This article is more about the road then the auto itself.

However, let’s start with the second one:

BMW can be proud of inventing a body-style, which looked somewhat illogical, yet became so popular.

In 2008, The Bavarian company introduced the X6, a vehicle that combines the features of an SUV in a room-inefficient coupe style with a sloping roof costing valuable cargo space. BMW named anf marketed this model as SAC, sports activity coupe. By then, a famous auto journalist defined the X6 even as “a vehicle which doesn’t make sense.”

however, as more and more X6’s hit the roads, People got used and loved this “contradiction”. And many other brands, from Mercedes to Audi and Acura adopted this body style and successfully in most cases.

Endorsed by its sales success, BMW was not hesitant to carry this interpretation of SUV to other members of its model family thus creating X4 the coupe version of X3 and X2, the coupe version of X1.

In addition to our previous review of BMW X1 28i xDrive I was able to quickly review the X2, a “the sportier cousin”.
Thanks to the opportunity BMW Canada provided, I drove with the X2 (2019 model year) from Toronto to Ottawa and back on the same day. The big difference the X2’s more powerful, 2.0L, 4-cylinder, twin-turbo engine with 302 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque.

A smoother, more torquer engine and easier acceleration and passing on the highway are the rewards.

The base price of this model was $49,200, and our well-equipped tester with all bells and whistles had a MSRP of 56,650.

With this vehicle I spent an active and exciting week.

In Toronto With Sinan Meydan, Turkish Historian and Columnist

Visiting the historic main campus of the U of T with our guests from Turkey

Mr. Sinan Meydan, a famous and much respected historian and columnist from Turkey and his wife were the guests of the Ankara Library of Toronto (ALT), a cultural organization that promotes Turkish language and literature. After he met the Canadan Turkish community in Toronto at a talk show, he had only one full day to discover the city. As the President of the ALT and also as a tour guide, it was appropriate to lead him and his wife for a Toronto tour. And this BMW X2 was the host vehicle.

Enjoying tea after beer at Mill Street Brewery
The Historic Distillery District is a must-see during a Toronto tour

The compact size and the responsive steering were only two of several features the X2 offers to navigate Toronto relatively easy on a business day and in rush hours. Following a panoramic view of the Toronto Skyline from Koval’s’kyj Park at the end of Polson Street, we had a longer break at the Historic Distillery District. We walked on the cobblestone streets and tried some ales and enjoyed Montreal smoked meat and poutine at the Millstreet Brewery. BMW showed its fine-tuned, high-quality suspension as we navigated the streets with countless potholes at and near the St. Lawrence Area. After a short stop at the Nathan Phillips Square, we found ourselves at the King’s Circle to discover the Architecture and history of one of the most respected educational institutes on the planet: University of Toronto.

The Author finds his book in a distant, overseas country

Our next stop was the Reference Library, where Mr. Meydan was proud to find some of his books in the Turkish Section.

The finale was the recording of the interview for Turkuaz, an ethnic TV station broadcasting for the Canadian Turkish community.

On The Way To The Nation’s Capital

The Big Apple is a perfect stopover on the way from Toronto to Ottawa. Fresh and delicious food for dine-in and takeout
Embassy of the Russian Federation in Ottawa

On Thursday of the same week, I hit the road to Ottawa to attend the Memorial Concert Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Ausschwitz Concentration Camp at the Embassy of the Russian Federation. Thanks to Anatoly, my dear friend I had received and invitation from Alexandr Darchiev, his Excellency the Ambassador of the Russian Federation.

With Alexandr Darchiev, his Excellency, Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Ottawa and Anatoly, my dear friend

With Viktoriya Yudina as the singer, Mikhail Kuznetsov the pianist and Roufat Amiraliev the violinist, this was a great performance and a memorable concert.

With Viktoriya Yudina, the singer and Mikhail Kuznetsov,the pianist

Many people cried as Roufat played “Schindler’s List” as the opening piece of the concert.

With Roufat Amiraliev, the violinist

At the reception after the concert, guests became very emotional as a group of Holocaust survivors sang with the Ambassador. Remember that nobody knows if thse senior people would be here next year.

Mr. Ambassador dining and singing holocaust survivors

Returning to Ottawa after the reception, I was lucky enough to have Mr. Alexandr Levkovich, the famous composer as my travel companion. Time passed by so quickly as we conversed about different topics from music to international politics and economy.

The X2 delivered good fuel economy with 8,2 liters on the average

The smooth ride in the well isolated cabin of the X2 helped. The avwerage consumption after 959 kilometers of return dirve was 8.2 liters. An impressive figure for a 2.0L, twin-turbo engine.

More more detailed and most up-to-date information, please visit


Article and Photos by Varol McKars

2020 Nissan Murano

Is it just another SUV?

Well, we do not have many options in this class. Surprising, isn’t it? Compared to the other SUV subsegments, we don’t have many 2-row mid-sized SUVs. Also, 3-row SUVs are not for everyone, in fact we also think a minivan would be better option if you usually have more than 5 passengers. This is where the Nissan Murano fills the gap in a very popular segment. Murano has been on the Canadian market since 2002, and the last generation is available since 2015. It has been slightly refreshed in 2019. We will have a look how well Murano is doing in this segment.

Exterior and Interior

It definitely looks different and “modern”

Unless you look for “exotic segments”, you should not expect a sexy design from an SUV. They are family haulers and function are more important than the form. However, especially after the refresh, Nissan is one of the better-looking ones in this segment, though it is a hate or love design. V shaped grille, LED head lights, fog lights, tail lights, new wheels make it look fresh. It shows its age a little bit more in the interior.

Though it’s been on the market for a while, it doesn’t look that old from outside

Speaking about the interior, there are lots of soft touch plastics, leather, some fake wood, and some piano black all around the dashboard. Our tester, at the top Platinum version, comes with all features available. Unlike the Pathfinder, Nissan implemented Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in Murano, which is a big plus. Infotainment system is not laggy at all, though it looks a little bit dull. Overall, interior and feature-wise, we are impressed that 4-year-old platform can still keep up with the competition.

In our tests, legroom in the front and rear is excellent, more than enough for tall people. However, as a result of having a distinctive design, Murano has less total cargo capacity compared to its little sister, called Rogue.

Infotainment system is easy to use, like the rest of the interior
20″ Wheels are available with higher trims

Engine and Drivetrain

Murano comes with only one engine and transmission combination, which is an old but reliable platform. A naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts out 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. It is the same engine used in Pathfinder, but a little bit less power. It is a rev happy but extremely smooth engine which provides lots of mid-range torque and offers great daily driving characteristics. While more manufacturers switch to four-cylinder turbocharged options, Nissan decided to stick with V6. In our tests, Murano consumed 11.0L / 100 km and this number is not too bad, considering it’s weight and all-wheel drive system.

3.5 liter engine is the only option in Murano, which pumps out 260 hp and 240 lb-ft of torque

As a familiar feature for Nissan and some other Japanese brands, Murano comes with Continuously Variable Transmission which helps providing smooth driving characteristics ²as well. However, that means Murano has less towing capacity than most of the competition as a result, which is 1500 lbs. Unlike the Pathfinder, though they use same drivetrain, Murano has manual shifting option which is the gear ratios are extremely tall. If you stay in the first gear, it goes all the way up to 100 km/h before switching to the second gear. Also, due to its weight, which is over 1800 kgs, Murano can do 0-100 in 8 seconds, which is not that impressive. So, it is obvious that the drivetrain is 100% tuned for road comfort and smoothness.

Like the engine, it only comes with the CVT transmission

Murano comes with both Front Wheel Drive and All Wheel Drive options. FWD is only available with the absolute base trim, which actually doesn’t make sense to get an SUV if you don’t need All Wheel Drive. Anything above the base trim comes with AWD and it is a typical Nissan on-demand All Wheel Drive system. It is a Front biased system that activates rear wheels when there is insufficient traction in the front. It uses rear wheels up to 50% during acceleration, then it transfers almost all power to the front wheels. Unfortunately, Murano wouldn’t allow its driver to turn off stability control completely, which means it is not that off-road capable, or at least not as capable as the Pathfinder with center locking differential. It is definitely more than enough for paved roads, but we wouldn’t take it to any kind of off-roading as CVT is also not the most durable transmission type for severe conditions.

Features and Pricing

As previously mentioned, our tester had all the options available in Murano, in fact it has even more features compared to its bigger sister, Pathfinder. The middle trim, called SV comes with many features and it is a nice step up from the base trim. It comes with Panoramic Moonroof, Remote Engine Start System with Automatic climate control, and Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. If you choose one step above, called SL, it comes with Leather seats, 20” wheels (which looks best among the other trims), front & rear parking sensors, and Bose premium audio system.

Lots of legroom in the rear, which is a must for utility vehicle

Our test car is the Platinum trim, which comes with another type of 20” rims, Rear Intelligent Emergency Braking system, Heated & Cooled seats, and Semi anline leather seats with diamond quilted inserts. Overall, we think the SL trim is the sweet spot as it comes with many critical features, unless you need additional cooled seat option.

Although there are lots of cargo room, it falls behind compared to its sister, the Rogue

Overall, we enjoyed driving the Murano, not because of its driving characteristics, but its driving comfort. Nissan is known to build very comfortable vehicles and Murano is no exception. There are few naturally aspirated V6 and 2-row SUVs left in this class, which makes the Murano a unicorn. This V6 and CVT transmission offers excellent driving comfort and smoothness. This is a great option if you need a family hauler that is all wheel drive, lots of interior space, great functionality, smooth and comfortable ride.

The Murano is one of the smoothest and most comfortable alternatives in this segment

Murano starts at $32,898 with the base trim and front wheel drive, and it can go all the way up to $46,398 as of February 2020. We believe the SL trim offers the best price performance ratio, which is priced $43,698. Considering this generation is getting old, we are sure you would be able to find a great deal at Nissan dealer, which makes it even better option in this class.

For more and most up-to-date information, please visit http://www.nissan.ca.

Article and photos by Dan Gunay

2020 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

An SUV With Low Profile But High Efficiency

This is a vehicle for high efficiency not for a high image

We may say -with some exaggregation- that we are on the threshold of the widespread electrification of the automobile.

While the market share of BEV’s (battery electric vehicles) is still well below 5 percent in North America, we are in a transitional period that Tesla triggered for less than 10 years ago. Hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles connecting old and new technology may play an important role in this transition. All major automakers, the Volkswagen Group, in particular, have plans and ambitions to launch several new models with varying degrees of electrification over the next 2 to 5 years. Hybrids to plug-ins and BEV’s (battery electric vehicle).

It will probably take at least another decade or two before we completely get rid of ICE and while relying more and more on supporting infrastructure. Hence, depending on your mobility needs and style, hybrids (and plug-in-hybrids) could be a sensible alternative for people who drive high-mileage, such as taxi or Uber drivers or people, who drive a lot in the city traffic or in general.

Mitsubishi is probably not a brand that you will immediately associate with electrification. The third and last member of the already troubled Renault-Nissan Alliance, Mitsubishi is tight on the R & D budget and keeps its models longer on the market. Anything beyond and except SUV’s and crossovers with a Mitsubishi logo is slowly dying. This old and reputable Japanese brand almost entirely focuses on SUV’S recently, which makes sense considering the direction of the market.

The Outlander is a compact SUV and can be counted as the backbone of its model range. And the Outlander PHEV, is the best selling- SUV in North America and Europe. Because the company was and is smart enough to offer a plug-in-hybrid SUV, a product that nobody else offers (at least until now)

The “three-diamonds” vehicle has twin 80 horsepower electric motors linked to a 12kWh lithium-ion battery complemented by a 2.0L gasoline engine with 117 horsepower. As per Mitsu, Outlander PHEV’s total torque is 250lb-ft.

The Three Diamonds

The Japanese brand called “Three Diamonds” (Mitsubishi’s meaning) has a rich and deep history with cars like Lancer, a frequent winner of rallies in 1980’s, Pajero, once one of the world’s best and most durable off-road vehicles and Eclipse, a great sports car. Mitsubishi says the Outlander is the world’s most technically-advanced four-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid that, among other things, offers 100 percent electric 4WD capability. It features a 2.0-liter gas engine (uses regular unleaded), two electric motors and they say it has DC fast-charging capability that provides an 80 percent charge in under 30 minutes). And this vehicle is an SUV. Do you want anything else?

The Outlander is not a brand-new model and honestly due for replacement. another mid-life refresh will not be enough. Considering Mitbubishi’s model policy, it will not be a surprise to see this model on the markets for a couple of more years.

This third-generation model is on sale since January 2013 as a plug-in hybrid model called Outlander PHEV. Cumulative global sales passed the 200,000 unit milestone in April 2019, and according to JATO Dynamics, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the world’s all-time best selling plug-in hybrid since December 2018. As of 2019, Europe is the leading market with 126,617 units sold through January 2019. The Outlander PHEV was the top-selling plug-in electric vehicle in Europe in 2014 and again in 2015, and has ranked as Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid car for four years running, 2015 to 2018. Both in 2014 and 2015, it also ranked as the world’s top-selling plug-in hybrid, and as the third best selling plug-in car after the all-electric Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf.

An impressive performance. Not because Mitsubishi is a leader in electrification, but that acted so smart to find a niche for an affordable, electrified and practical vehicle, which could only be an SUV.

We made the Outlander PHEV part of our daily life for one week.


The dashboard is a bit outdated, but reasonable designed and does the job

Inside, everything you would need and want in today’s modern vehicles is there, whether standard or optional. As a compact crossover, its is part of the most popular and highly competitive segment in Canada. Still, you detect the (non-)existence of some features, such as a classic Radio button. We also noted something weird. Driving at night needs some improvement because interior lighting is weaker than it should be. I have to give credit to my son, who noted this first.

Our tester, top-of-the line had heated steering wheel and front seats which were very convenient in very cold mornings of January.

In terms of infotainment features, the Outlander is not short of its competitors. The 18-centimeter touchscreen, Smartphone Link Display Audio with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, FAST-key entry and push-button ignition system, rear-view camera, seven airbags, satellite radio (plus AM and FM for local stations), plug-ins for smartphones in its entirely offer all the conveniences a modern vehicle offers.

Driving Impressions

During our one-week test drive, which was mostly on snowy roads of the GTA, it handled well and showed its performance as an AWD vehicle. The seats were very comfortable and honestly exceeded our expectations.

Fast-charging stations like at Yorkdale Shopping Centre offer a big advantage for gas-free driving with a plug-in hybrid

There is a reason (or a number of reasons) why the Outlander PHEV is so popular. The all-electric range of 35 kilometers is sufficient for many riders driving between home and work in the city. The distance between my home and work is 45 kilometers and I need some “gasoline boost, which is still good. I was also lucky enough to have fast-charging stations at Yorkdale Shopping Mall, which is three kilometers from my office. So, with somewhat good planning, I could spare a visit to the gas station for a long time. I love to have a break at Yorkdale for my daily walking routine which makes an excellent opportunity to charge the car in the meantime. Even if you need some gas to complete your trip, it will be very affordable and you will never have a problem with range anxiety like with a BEV.
However, if you want to rely on your regular 110V outlet at home, you can almost forget it, since it may take very long and beyond any practicality. Of course, if you are dedicated to electric driving to such an extent, you may consider installing a fast-charging outlet in your garage.


Monitoring energy usage can motivate you for more green driving

With a starting MSRP of 44K, this model is affordable and offers a good value proposition. Our tester, in SEL trim level starts at C$ 47,500. (See the spec sheet below) Mitsubishi Canada’s 10-year, a 160,000-kilometre powertrain warranty, is also a strong argument to buy this or any Mitsubishi product.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SEL / Features and Specifications

Canada’s first twin electric-motor SUV with Super All-Wheel-Control

Canada’s only plug-in hybrid SUV to offer 100% electric 4WD capability

Canada’s only plug-in hybrid SUV with DC Fast Charging capability, (providing – 80 percent charge in under 30 minutes)

Canada’s only plug-in hybrid with a remarkable 10-year or 160,000 km powertrain warranty, 10-year/160,000 km lithium-ion battery warranty and five-year or 100,000 km comprehensive warranty

  • 8-inch Smartphone Link Display standard through price lines
  • Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 
  • Standard S-AWC 

PHEV system

Quick charge


18” alloy wheels

Halogen head lamps 

PWR windows

Mirrors with Turn lamp

4-wheel disc with ABS 

Bluetooth + USB

Cruise CTL

Heated front seats

Power driver seat

S/W Controls 

8”-inch Smartphone Link Display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

Satellite Radio

Rearview Camera

60/40 2nd Row Seat

Leather S/W + Gear shift, fast key – push button start

Hill Start Assist



Artificial suede-appointed seats

1,500 w PWR inverter

Rear Spoiler

1,500 lb towing capacity

sunroof, auto-dimming, rearview mirror, heated steering wheel, power lift gate

SE S-AWC plus sunroof

Leather appointed seats

Power front passenger seat

Auto-dimming rearview mirror

Heated steering wheel

LED headlamps

LED fog lamps

LED highbeams, power liftgate

SEL S-AWC Plus the below

8”inch Smartphone Link Display standard through price lines

Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 

Luxurious quilted leather-appointed seats 

Mitsubishi Power Sound System with 8 speakers

Adaptive Cruise Control

Forward Collision Mitigation 

Lane departure warning

Multiview cameras system

For more detailed and most up-to-date information, please visit http://mitsubishi-motors.ca

Article and pictures by Varol McKars

2020 BMW X3M Competition

Over the generations, the current BMW X3 reached almost the size of the first-generation X5, its bigger brother.

Okay, since the 1990s, SUVs are the most popular type of vehicle people prefer. They are selling like hotcakes. They offer practicality, comfort and all-wheel drive option altogether in one package. Practicality and comfort don’t sound that exciting, this is why there are many people who hate SUVs as they claim it makes their soul die when they drive it.

Driving this powerful machine on snowy side streets of Toronto was a pleasure

However, not all SUVs are the same.  Premium brands such as BMW offer SUVs with some soul in it. This week’s tester is the X3M with Competition Package. It is a utilitarian vehicle with an animal under the hood. The question is, does it deserve the “M” and “Competition” badge? In this article, we will try to find it out.

“Competition” package is approximately $12.000 CAD extra

Engine and Drivetrain

3.0L Inline 6 turbocharged engine produces 503 horsepower

As always, we should start with the heart of a car with the “M” badge. It comes with a 3.0 Liter, 6-cylinder turbocharged engine which pumps out 503 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Like many other BMWs, this has 8-speed torque converter automatic transmission. It only comes with all-wheel drive, and it is able to get to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, despite being heavier than 5500 pounds. These numbers are extremely impressive for a utility vehicle. However, if you don’t need all 503 horsepower to go to grocery shopping, you can opt-out the Competition package which comes with 473 horsepower with an only 0.1-second penalty for 0-60 mph. In our test, we couldn’t care less about fuel consumption as potential buyers also should not care about it, but we can definitely say it is over 15.0L / 100 km/h if you drive spiritedly.

Exterior and Interior

Are you a car guy, or average Joe? You will immediately identify the X3M if you are a car guy, as it comes with bigger wheels, sporty front bumper, unique black grille, grille in the front fenders, M side mirrors, unique rear spoiler, and different M specific rear bumper. Not only that, but it comes with M calipers which are significantly better and painted from the factory. Sorry, but it still looks like a regular X3 if you are an average Joe.

High-quality materials and craftsmanship is a BMW tradition

When you get inside the X3M-C, you feel high-quality materials and great craftsmanship, like a BMW tradition. Lots of soft-touch plastics, leather, aluminum and carbon trims placed all around the interior. Though it is heavily relied on infotainment system to use many of its features, there are still actual buttons that you can use for adjusting the air conditioning, radio, cruise control, suspension setup and so on. The combination of technology while keeping actual buttons for essential features mean you are not screwed if the technology fails in the future, so the X3M will still be drivable.

M seats in an SUV !? It looks great but also hugs you well.

Interior wise, X3M-C differs itself from a regular X3 by few important changes. Different trims such as carbon fiber, M specific two-colored sporty seats, M buttons in the steering wheel, few “M” badges in the interior and that’s it.

A well-executed interior with nice color combination makes night-time driving an appealing experience

Driving Impressions

It may be an SUV, but it drives like a car. Impressive!
M calipers and drilled front rotors provide excellent stopping performance.

Should I give you a spoiler? This feels like a sports car in every circumstance. You should not expect a super comfortable ride, however, the struts are super-complaint that it is not overly stiff, but there is no body roll at all. The steering feels like M3, chassis feels like M3, engine, and transmission are a beast to drive. However, the difference is, when you turn your head back, you have tons of legroom and cargo room. It is quite impressive BMW was able to offer M3 driving dynamics in an SUV. Of course, if you go to the track and compete with any M car, it would fall behind, but who buys an SUV for the track? This is an excellent car for public roads and overpowered for our highways, which are unfortunately limited at 100 km/h.

Need to go grocery store with over 500 horsepower under the hood? You’ve got it.

Let’s go back to the engine and transmission for a second. This 6-cylinder S58 engine has tons of torque in the whole rpm range. It is a rev-happy engine that goes all the way up to 7600 rpm and it shifts really quickly. Maybe not as fast as M3 or M4, but quick enough for an SUV. Regardless of which gear you are in, the car just wants to move without downshifting which makes it extremely easy to drive on the highway, back roads or city roads.

Unlike 3 series, this digital screen looks more traditional, but it has everything you need

We think the all-wheel-drive system deserves a few words. Like most of the BMWs, this has rear-wheel drive biased AWD system. In our tests, there was a snowstorm in Ontario so we had a chance to see its limits and how capable it is. If you disable the traction and stability control, which is extremely easy to do unlike the other German vehicles, some even won’t allow you to fully disable, the X3M-C can easily go sideways and it is a joy to drive in every type of road surface. X3M-C offers two types of different AWD tune, which is Normal and Sport mode. In Sport mode, it can transfer up to 100% of the power to the rear whereas, in Normal mode, the car will send more power to the front. Either way, you feel that it always sends power to the rear first and then the front.

Pricing and Features

X3M with the Competition package starts at $96,000 CAD.

Fast & Good & Cheap – You need to pick two of them. This rule is also applicable to BMW X3M Competition. Like the other BMW’s, you need to take the “Cheap” part out of the equation. For X3M-C, the word “cheap” is replaced with “Practical”. Normal X3M starts from $86,454.73 and if you choose the Competition pack, it starts at $96,764.73 as of February 2020. If you choose the Ultimate Package, which comes with M Carbon Exterior Package, Front & Rear Heated and Ventilated seats, M Driver’s Package, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Wireless Charging, Driving Assistant Plus, Parking Assistant Plus with Surround View, Manual Rear Side Sunshades that costs $10,000 extra and there are few more extras. So, we are looking at more than $110,000 before tax, PDI and delivery. Yes, that’s the premium if you want the “Fast, Good and Practical”.

Fast, Good and Practical – Great weekend warrior as well as an excellent family hauler.

Things could have been better:

Price – Our tester’s price is over $110.000 CAD. You should not expect a great deal if we are talking about an SUV, especially the one which is extremely capable of doing everything great. This “Fast SUV” is a niche segment and you have to pay the premium to play. If you opt-out for Competition package, which we doubt that most people need it, you can save a lot of money. However, at the end of the day, you are still paying a lot of money for an X3.

Adaptive Cruise Control – This was not as good as the latest generation 3 series. It always asks you to keep your hands on the steering wheel, unlike our M340i tester from last year. Though it stops and starts moving pretty smoothly, still we would expect the latest technology in the $100.000+ vehicle.

Exhaust system – We wouldn’t complain if this was not a Competition version. However, we were expecting a louder exhaust in our tester. This is perfectly fine for regular X3M, but it just needs to get louder for X3M-C.

Shifter paddles – Okay, for a true “M” and “Competition” car, it must not be plastic. Although it feels high quality, it must be metal, like the one in M3-M4 or any other M cars. You can always change with aftermarket ones, but why bother since you pay over $100.000 for a sporty SUV?

For more up-to-date and detailed information, please visit http://www.bmw.ca

Article and pictures by Dan Gunay & Varol McKars

2020 BMW M4 Convertible

A Famous Performance Car

Like any other BMW M car, the M4 (which was previously an M3 Coupe) is still perfectly capable of offering the Ultimate Driving Pleasure. So nothing really surprising here.

However, what makes it interesting is, BMW replaced the soft-top with a metal top, for more rigidity and road comfort, which makes it unique in its class. Same BMW used soft-top in its Gran Tourer, the 8 series, but not in M series. Isn’t that weird?

2020 is going to be the last year of current generation M4, which is based on the previous generation of 3-Series. In our test, we will see how does the M badge goes along with four-seat practicality and the bulky hard top.

When the roof closed, it is almost identical with the M4 Coupe

Exterior and Interior

BMW M4 was first released in 2014 and it still keeps main design elements both interior and exterior. Convertible M4 comes with a metal roof, which offers a more comfortable and silent driving experience at higher speeds, at the expense of more weight. Though, when the roof closed, it looks almost identical with M4 coupe. There are some major differences compared to the regular 4 series. M specific wheels, bumpers, diffusers, fenders, hood, mirrors, quad tailpipes are all different and make the M4 look better and more special.

With M bumpers, wheels, mirrors, it looks more special than regular 4-Series.

When we get inside the M4, it has typical BMW quality. Lots of leather, soft-touch plastics, and some carbon fiber trims. It is still a 4 seater but there is little to no rear legroom in the 4 series. This car is really not for 4 adults. Front seats are both supportive and comfortable which come with 14-way power-adjustable sport seats. Unlike the new 3 series, 4-Series hasn’t been updated yet, so it comes with older interior design which we still like it. There are still lots of physical buttons and they are pretty easy to use. It has a nice combination of technology implementation while still keeping buttons for essential features for longevity.

Although this generation is 6-years old, the interior still looks fresh with high-quality materials.

Engine & Drivetrain

This is the most fun part of this car. The M4 comes with a 6 cylinder twin-turbo engine that produces 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. However, as it is a cabriolet, it is approximately 500 pounds heavier which is over 4100 lbs. Surprisingly, M4 is available with a manual transmission option, but you can also choose a 7-speed dual-clutch DCT transmission. The transmission is a perfect match for a 6-speed inline engine, and they send power exclusively to the rear wheels. In the rear, it comes with M limited-slip differential, which is a must in this class.

3.0L Twin Turbo Inline-6 Engine + 7 Speed DCT: Perfect recipe for fun

If you choose Competition Package, it offers extra “whopping” 19 horsepower for a total of 444 horsepower. Though its extra weight, the M4 Convertible is able to reach from 0 to 100 km/h around 4.5 seconds. This level of power, feeding two turbocharges and added weight means more fuel consumption. In our tests, M4 consumed approximately 13.0L / 100 km in mixed driving circumstances.

Driving Impressions

Okay, at the end of the day, it is a true M car. This car is overpowered for public roads, and it will be dangerous for an average Joe if he turns off the stability control. However, if you are an enthusiast, you always appreciate having silky smooth inline-6, twin turbocharger, dual-clutch DCT (or manual), and a limited-slip differential. Unlike regular “sporty” BMWs, M4 comes with metal paddle shifters and they feel great when you shift manually. It literally encourages you to drive harder, and use it in manual mode all the time.

Having a hard top means there is a weight penalty.

Driving a Convertible is fun in the summertime, but for an M car, there are significant disadvantages. It has less body rigidity, worse weight distribution. The M4 Convertible cannot beat physics, so this is where it gets confusing. You must decide if you need convertible, or need a true sports car, or both. If you need both, this is an excellent car, but you shouldn’t expect it to be perfect for being both.

Top up or down, it looks gorgeous from outside

As it is 500 lbs heavier than the coupe, it feels slower and heavier for a true sports car. It is not as sharp, or nimble. Not only it feels slow, but having so much torque and weight gives rear wheels hard time. As it is a twin-turbo, it has lots of torque in the low rpm and you must have great road conditions to successfully transfer that amount of torque when you are accelerating. You must be really careful with the throttle or it will constantly spin the rear tires in bad weather and road conditions. This should not be a problem as you shouldn’t get a convertible if you are serious about having the best lap time in track day or autocross. If having a convertible is your priority, this is an extremely fun and powerful car and it is capable of putting a smile on your face every time you drive it spiritedly.

Features and Pricing

As always, it has lots of optional features. Our tester comes with the Ultimate Package, which is a hefty $26,000 premium for Adaptive M suspension, 20″ wheels, Storage Compartment Package, M Seat belts, Park Distance Control, Adaptive Full LED Headlights, High-Beam Assistant, Active Blind Spot Detection, Surround View, Head-Up Display, SiriusXM, Wireless Charging, Wi-Fi Hotspot, Black Kidney Grille, Competition Package, M Driver’s Package, Carbon Fibre Front Inserts and Mirrors, Titanium Exhaust with Carbon Tips, and Carbon Fibre Rear Diffuser. For all features list, please visit www.bmw.ca

Optional titanium quad exhaust tips look & sound great, a “must-have” for M4.

The infotainment system is user-friendly and easy to search around. However, it still lacks Android Auto. Unlike the 3-series, this generation 4 series hasn’t been updated yet, so it still has older technologies, so some of them are not on par with the other (newer) BMW models. For instance, the Adaptive Cruise control system is not as good as the new 3-Series. However, when it comes to features, you can’t go wrong with BMW as long as you pay the premium.

M cars are always special, but you need to pay the premium.

The M4 Convertible starts at $89,000 CAD and if you choose the Ultimate Package and M DCT automatic transmission, it goes all the way up to $118,900. It is true that you are paying a huge premium to have a true sports car heart with a convertible body. Unless you really need a convertible car, you can get a lot faster M cars for significantly cheaper. For the price, you are getting into M5 / M5 Competition territory which offers way more horsepower, more fun, more precise driving experience, more functionality, and more daily driveable car.

For up-to-date and detailed information, please visit: http://www.bmw.ca

Article And Photos by Dan Gunay