Archive for September 2018

2018 Ford EcoSport Titanium

Another SUV from Ford

The design is somewhat outdated. But, it makes sense in this low-margin class to save on development costs

Ford announced some time ago that the future belongs to crossovers and SUV’s and it will downsize its sedan lineup, save Mustang. 
So, it is no suprise that the blue oval brand introduced the EcoSport in the sub-compact category. A model originally developed for India and Latin America and a bit outdated (from 2012) is now on sale in North America.


The 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder meets our expectations mainly thanks to its efficient range turbo.

Available in four trim lines ranging from the base S to the midrange SE and SEL, and topping out with the Titanium (our tester). The smallest Ford SUV offers either front-wheel drive or 4WD. FWD models are powered by the 1.0-litre EcoBoost used in the Fiesta. It delivers 123 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 167 lb-ft of torque at 6500 rpm. 4WD versions have a 2.0-litre four cylinder direct-injection gasoline engine, the same 2.0-litre GDI engine used in the base Focus.
Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic.


Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM, Applink, valet mode, HD radio, navigation, blind spot detection and, 7-speaker audio are included in the Titanium package

with models like the SEL getting paddle shifters, blacked out chrome, roof rails, 17-inch wheels and interior accents that match the exterior colour. With up to 30 storage pockets, bins or hooks, Ford expects to offer gthe versatility of an SUV also in mini-format. 
For $2,500 you can upgrade to all-wheel-drive paired with a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four pushing out 166-hp and 149 lb-ft. Both engines have auto start/stop and are hooked up to a traditional six-speed automatic transmission. The sporty SES gets the AWD/2.0-litre combo as standard kit.

Our tester, in Titanium trim level with the 1.0-litre engine includes 17-inch alloys, rearview camera, auto headlamps, cruise control, hill-start assist, two smart-charging USB ports and Sync interface with a 8-inch screen, moonroof, heated front seats (6-way power driver’s), proximity key with push-button start, auto climate control, reverse sensing, roof rails and the excellent Sync 3 with 6.5 touchscreen — the latter bestowing upon the car Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM, Applink, valet mode, HD radio, navigation, blind spot detection, 7-speaker audio, sport-tuned suspension and plus the Titanium package that includes leather, 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, 110-volt inverter, BLIS, rain sensing wipers, ambient lighting and Cold Weather Package (heated mirrors, heated steering wheel, wiper de-icer). The Cold Weather package is available on the SE and SES for $350.
The subcompact crossover segment is growing fast and Ford cannot afford to miss a competitive product against rivals like the Mazda CX-3, Chevy Trax, Buick Encore, Hyundai Kona, Honda HR-V and Jeep Renegade.

Driving Impressions

Our tester with FWD and the 1.0-litre EcoBoost three-cylinder can almost meet our expectations mainly thanks to its efficient range turbo. The six-speed auto is tuned to keep the engine spinning below 2,000 rpm on light-throttle loads, but it is quick to downshift when you give more push to the pedal.
At the end of our driving cycle, we reached an average comsumption of 9.4 liter, in a mixed mode of highway and city.

For having such a short wheelbase, the EcoSport has a commendably smooth ride, although on asphalt only. Less appealing from the outside with its somewhat aged design, The Ecosport is more attractive once you sit behind the steering wheel. Handling is firm, the steering is responsive and build quality implies more solidity than at first glance.

Outward visibility is a bit compromised due to thick A-pillars. In the rear, it is cramped and even two passengers will not feel in comfort for long rides. 
Headroom isn’t too bad, though.

Probably the most annoying feature is the side-hinged “swing gate” with two stop points for access to 592 litres of cargo space behind the second row. There’s a clever tri-level load floor and a big recess molded into the gate. Folding down the second row opens it up to 1416 litres. This volume is still acceptable in the smallest SUV class.


The Ecosport is probably not the best and the cutest in its class. However, it makes business sense to offer an already existing model with minor adaptations to a new and rising market, instead of developing a new product in a class where profit margins are very thin.
Finally, Ford stands for trucks, SUV’s and crossover above anything else.

Article and photos by Varol McKars

2018 Ford F-150 Lariat Diesel

Even if Ford would produce the F-150 only, the Blue Oval Company still be among the top ten producers worldwide.
Having said that, the F-150 offers literally hundreds of combinations (at least) in terms of engine, body style, and equipment levels. Surprisingly, until very recently Ford did not offer a diesel engine.

It is surprising to me how late Ford delivered a Diesel engine for the F-150 model range

Now, this is the sixth engine option in the model family of Ford’s best-selling vehicle. This engine has roots going back to several years ago: Ford developed a diesel engine for Land Rover and Range Rover when JLR was still part of the Ford Group.

Engine & Powertrain
This 3.0L V6 engine generates 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque at only 1600 rpm. The power is transmitted via a 10-speed transmission which is unique for this engine.
Also, note that you have to choose a higher trim level to get the diesel engine. 

The 3.0L V6 engine generates 250 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque at only 1600 rpm. The power is transmitted via a 10-speed transmission which is unique for this engine.

The diesel is available only with Lariat, King Ranch or Platinum.
Our test vehicle, Lariat 4WD had an MSRP of $81,249 including $1,800 of delivery. Our tester had some extras like the technology package.
Ford charges $7,500 extra for a diesel engine over the basic 2.7L Ecoboost gasoline engine.
We may say that Diesel means luxury for the F-150.

Driving Impressions 
Sound isolation, which is important particularly for diesel engines is very good. You have to listen carefully to hear the engine noise and identify it as a diesel. And this was a pleasant surprise. Well, also something you expect and should get from a vehicle costing north of 80 Grand.
The torque is excellent and the turbo lag you feel a little bit from standstill until the first few meters. Then, the engine and the transmission work perfectly well. It has four driving modes: Tow/Haul, Snow/Wet, EcoSelect and (surprisingly) Sport Mode.

After the one-week test drive in a mixed mode and almost no towing, we reached an average consumption of 12.6 liters.
The towing capacity is nearly 5 tonnes.
Also worth remembering that the all-aluminum body of the F-150 makes this truck very handy and you do not feel like moving a big, heavy vehicle. This was a risky undertaking for Ford, but it definitely paid off.

With a very wide model range like the F-150, it is not easy to choose the best model for you. You have to do your homework before visiting your dealer.
For business or personal use, selecting the diesel is an important step to configure your vehicle. Once you are familiar or “get-used-to” the torquey running of the diesel, you may not want to drive any other engine.

Article and photos by Varol McKars & Dan Gunay

2018 Hyundai Ioniq PHEV

Now, A Global Player In About 40 Years

I am impressed by what a progress Hyundai achieved in car design before we start talking about the technology

Hyundai is on the march on many fronts: While creating a new, luxury brand, Genesis, (see our previous two posts) the Koreans never stop improving the main brand, in every aspect and fill all the gaps on the market. Was it the subcompact SUV, the Kona before, now the Ioniq, a direct competitor to Prius Prime is on the market as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV)
If plugging-in is not a problem for you, but still cannot rely on a fully-electric vehicle, especially because of range anxiety, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV may be what you are looking for. At times, you may run entirely on gas, if you are away from the electric network.

If you can live with a range of less than 50 kilometers in your daily commute, this car is capable of offering a full-electric drive for less than the price of a full-electric vehicle.

Charging at a 110-V home outlet is not practical. So, a fast-charging station like the one at Yorkdale Mall makes more sense if you do not stay at home for very long.

Hyundai sells two options for PHEV. The base SE trim costs $31,999, while our tester, the Limited, has a MSRP of $36,499. Both models are eligible for electric vehicle rebates; Doug Ford will soon kill Ontario’s generous subsidies that give you a rebate up to $7,000.

The Powertrain

The plug-in has a 1.6-litre gasoline engine that generates 104 horsepower and 109 lb.-ft. of torque. In its combined operation mode, with the gas and electric motors working together, you get up to 164 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque.

The plug-in has a 1.6-litre gasoline engine that generates 104 horsepower and 109 lb.-ft. of torque. In its combined operation mode, with the gas and electric motors working together, you get up to 164 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft. of torque. With its continuously-variable transmission, the Ioniq sends its power to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic unit. 
Charging it for about two and a half hours on a 240-volt charger – or some eight to nine hours on a regular 110-volt outlet – you get about 47 kilometers of gas-free range. This is slightly more than Toyota’s Prius Prime, its main competitor.

Driving Impressions

Obviously, this range is average and will change depending on your driving style and conditions. As with any hybrid, the regenerative braking system feeds power back into the battery as you drive, but you have to plug it back in again to get that initial full charge.

Nicely, a button on the console allows you flip between hybrid and electric operation – switch to hybrid on the highway, and then use the stored charge when you exit onto city streets. Acceleration is leisurely on the electric motor alone, and the gasoline engine soon kicks in if you demand more power or if you turn up the cabin heat. I had to get rid of the heat test since it was above 20 degrees in the most beautiful days of September. Unfortunately during my test week, I had limited options for plugging-in and reached an average of of 5.6 liters.

This is a mature and well-built car no matter what driving mode you are in. The steering is sharp enough and turning circle is tight thus making manoeuvring easier. 
Both trim levels feature heated seats fore and aft, along with a heated steering wheel. Those chew up battery power, but the necessary evils in a winter country like Canada.

Design And Interior

Infotainment system with split-screen option is easy to read.

The design is more “fluid” and “easy to get-used-to” compared to the fancier design language of a Prius. The front seats are comfortable, while the rear seats are just OK in this class. The hybrid battery is at the back, but packaged in such a way that there’s still a decent amount of cargo space, albeit with a fairly high lift-over to get your groceries into the trunk. The rear seats fold down to handle longer cargo. The materials and workmanship inside is comparable to the best of non-luxury class.


The Ioniq PHEV offers good value of money. This car will make more sense with daily commutes of up to 50 kilometers within the city. You have to anallyse and calculate your driving patterns.
Hyundai is on the right path by adding another meaningful vewhicle by adding to its already wide model range.

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Article and photos by Varol McKars

2018 Genesis G70 3.3L V6

Beautifully crafted, well engineered. A new member in the club of compact, luxury sports sedans


These Koreans are serious to create a brand that will compete in the luxury segment.
If you read our previous post about the G90, the flagship sedan of Hyundai’s luxury brand, you should already have an idea about Genesis.
In our second test with the newcomer of the elite club of cars, I had the opportunity to drive the G70, the sports sedan that offers an alternative to Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Lexus IS.
This car may look just “Made In Korea”, which is true. However, it is more than this.

The cockpit is built around the driver with ergonomic controls and easy-to-read instruments. Well executed too.

The Hyundai-KIA Group made big progress to attract and deploy the finest knowledge and experience of automobiles. Peter Schreyer, the former designer at Audi and creator of the legendary TT, changed the faces of dull-looking KIA’s first and then expanded his influence to Hyundai. He is now design director of the Hyundai-KIA Group.
And recently, Albert Biermann, the former VP of BMW’s M division joined the Hyundai/Kia empire. His first signature work was the KIA Stinger, a sports sedan that shares the same platform with the G70. Genesis’ manager of product strategy, Patrick Danielson praises Biermann for his deep involvement in the chassis development.
So, with the best “brains” in the industry, this group has the resources and motivation to change the landscape of the automobile world.
That means the steering, despite being electrically boosted, is as communicative as BMWs of yore. The chassis, shared with Kia’s similarly excellent Stinger, is super stiff, the perfect platform on which to build performance sedan.
We drove the Sport model with 3.3L V6 engine delivering 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque and mated to an 8-speed transmission with manual mode. And with AWD, as you would expect in this class.
Honestly, for me this was an unfortunate situation because I had switched from the big G90 sedan to the smaller G70, skipping even the G80. A sports sedan in this class is not my top choice and it is unfair the compare G70 with the G90.
Having said that, the interior is well executed with everything (even with the optional navigation) you need. Seats are comfortable and sporty. The leather treatment, soft and with quilted stitching is comparable with the best.

The Sport model has a 3.3L V6 engine delivering 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque and mated to an 8-speed transmission with manual mode.

The drive is impressive. The chassis is a product of top-class engineering expertise and experience coming from BMW. Ride in comfort mode is very settled despite the low-profile Michelin tires. The transmission requires a software update for the Sports mode.
And at some intersection, as I was waiting for the green light, some drivers were looking curiously asking “What kind of animal is this?”
The design carries elements from Infiniti (grill) and BMW (silhouette). Realistically, for a new luxury brand, it may last up to three generations to get a full design identity and this is a very good beginning.
The price of $57,000 includes PDI and five years of maintenance.
Established players in the luxury class have good reasons to be afraid.
Watch Genesis carefully: It may not take as long as Toyota positioned Lexus.

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Article and photos by Varol McKars

2018 Genesis G90 V8 5.0

A Veteran And A Car
Genesis is a “brand new brand” in the highly competitive luxury car segment. The club of fine cars is dominated by Germans, by Mercedes, BMW and Audi to be more specific. Jaguar, under the Tata ownership in the last few years, made big progress with British engineering and German management expertise.

The interior build quality, fit and finishing has nothing to hide from the German luxury brands or Lexus.

Toyota’s Lexus is well established and has a strong market position and reputation especially in North America. And there are Infiniti of Nissan and Acura of Honda, the two of the world’s most powerful and reliable manufacturers.
And Genesis is the luxury brand from Hyundai. About two decades ago, Hyundai was not much more than the manufacturer of cheap and mediocre cars with the boring design and average quality.
Things have changed dramatically. Hyundai now produces cars which are comparable to Toyota in quality and reliability with an inspiring design.

But, these Koreans went too far…
Genesis, first as a luxurious subbrand of Hyundai finally became an independent brand. You may say, “this is the Lexus of Hyundai.”
It will take a lot of time to be recognized as a luxury brand in this highly contested segment. It will take time to create a dealers network, which will be corporately owned. Because it is not realistic to expect from dealers this significant investment required for a luxury brand. And again, it will take time to prove the longevity and durability of the brand with strong used car values.
But Koreans are determined to create another success story:
For my first road experience with Genesis, I had to opportunity to drive the flagship sedan; the G 90. and with the range-topping 5.0L, V8 engine delivering 420 horsepower.
As if this was not dramatic enough, I had a memorable and emotional trip from Toronto to Ottawa with an exceptional passenger: Mr. Vahe Bedrossian.

Mr. Bedrossian is on his way to annual reception in Ottawa. This time, he is being driven like a king.

As almost every year since 2009, I drove this Veteran of the Korean War to the Turkish Embassy in Ottawa to attend the “Victory Day Reception”. Military attachés from many countries, including Korea attend this event. And the 89-year Vahe loves to attract utmost attention and respect during this two-hour event. This year was no different where he had a deep and long conversation with the Korean Military Attaché.

A Traditional Drive To Ottawa

Every year, I drive nearly 900 kilometers in one day to have a happy two hour for both of us.
And this year, we had the most comfortable, luxurious and relaxing ride ever.

A memorable day at the Residence of the Embassy of Turkey with Mr. Ambassador and the Military Attaches of Korea and Turkey

The G90 is not only a contender but also seeking a market share at the top echelon of the luxury market, thus competing against the S-Class of Mercedes, 7 Series of BMW and Audi’s A8.

Driving Impressions

The big infotainment screen is easy to read and control

The materials and build quality inside and out tell the Genesis cannot wait to compete with the bests of the bests. With a dashboard wrapped in leather, wood from real trees and perfect stitches, it has nothing to hide from the Germans.
The “endless” power reserves coming from the 420 horsepower, V8, 5.0L engine makes acceleration a pleasure. The big infotainment screen is controlled by a Mercedes-type joystick and this is for me much more preferable than a touchscreen control leaving numerous fingerprints on the surface. The voice-controlled navigation system is one of the best I experienced so far.
The all-wheel-drive system effortlessly transfers the huge power to the road.
And most surprisingly the average fuel consumption can go down to under 12 liters on the highway.
I did not have the opportunity to be driven in the rear seat. And this car is made not only to drive but also to be driven, as it is usual in this class. The big center armrest can be lifted to create the third seat in the rear, which will probably happen rarely. However, it is odd to have a shift lever with a separate button for park. This would be a very long article if I would list all the features and equipment details which are included in the standard price of $87,000.
This price is around 20 grand lover than a comparable Mercedes or BMW with similar equipment.


As a rear-seat guest, I had a manager from a well-known German luxury brand, who was curious to have a closer look at the G90. And he was deeply impressed with the vehicle

This is a big and historic step for Hyundai to become a truly global player. and also something comparable what Lexus did 30 years ago with its LS model.
Based on what this Korean brand achieved so far, we can expect the rise of another Lexus against the more established European brands.

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Article and photos by Varol McKars