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Hyundai Veloster N

We personally love hot-hatches, as they offer a driving experience full of fun and yet still practical, comfortable and affordable enough you can take your family and belongings with you. Hyundai’s sports car has been popular since the end of the 1990s, especially in European and Asian markets. As automobiles get more expensive and bigger, hothatches are considered as a revolution. Instead of modifying regular mass-produced hatchbacks, car manufacturers offer “factory-prepared” high-performance versions of them for a small price premium. The hothatch market actually started with Mini Cooper in 1960s in Europe, and today it is more popular than ever. In North America, hatchbacks have historically not been popular, but this trend is slowly changing, as they get faster and more competitive with supersport cars.

Veloster N is one of the best looking hot-hatchs in 2019, light blue color makes it even better

Yes, we said Supersport cars. “Cheap” hot-hatch lap times in Nürburgring are getting closer, and sometimes even better. Hyundai Veloster N is one of them. The letter “N” is the first letter of Korean City named Namyang, where Hyundai’s headquarters is located, as well as it is primed for the Nürburgring Nordschleife. This car actually is developed by Albert Biermann, former head of BMW M division, which shows Hyundai’s effort to produce a car to challenge the big boys in its class, such as Honda Civic Type R.

Engine and Drivetrain

2.0L Turbocharged Direct Injection engine produces 275 horsepower, and it is a blast to drive

Well, it’s a hot-hatch, so we have to talk about the most important thing makes it different from a base Veloster. The Veloster N comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It weighs just above 1400 kg, so power to weight ratio is impressive, and more than enough for a small hatchback to get moving. The engine is a part of THETA family which is used in other Hyundai/Kia models, but there are significant changes such as different engine internals and turbocharger. We are impressed with the torque curve as it spools up around 1500 rpm and still lots of torque all the way to the redline. The engine is matched with 6-speed manual transmission only, and gear ratios are set perfectly for both daily and track use.

Exterior and Interior

Sporty rear bumper, bigger rear wing, two exhaust tips make it look way more agressive than the base Veloster

Veloster N exterior is looking extremely attractive especially if you are a person who likes hatchbacks. Its light blue color makes it even more distinctive in its class. Overall body lines look exactly the same with base Veloster, whereas this one has bigger wheels, sporty-looking front-rear bumpers and rear wing, which doesn’t look like cartoonish like the latest Type-R. This is one of the better looking sporty hot-hatchs in its segment. Of course, 3-door design is what makes the Veloster different and genuine. While having a coupe look, rear seats are still more accessible than a regular coupe, which makes a huge difference. Also, wheels look great, it comes with 19” rims as well as 235/35 Pirelli tires.  Well done, Hyundai.

Veloster N runs on 235/35/R19 Pirelli Summer tires

With regard to the interior features, this is where it has a lot of common points with the base Veloster, there are minor changes such as sportier seats, N badged steering wheel, different instrument cluster, N performance addition to the infotainment system where it shows performance data, and that’s it. There are no soft-touch plastics in the interior, so that’s a bummer for a car costs $35.000. For a more detailed review, please see our regular Veloster review link here . What we didn’t like about the Veloster N is, it is actually missing some vital safety features like blind-spot monitoring which is available on a base model. For a 3-door coupe, it should be a standard feature no matter what version you get. Instead of having a heated steering wheel in a sporty hatchback, we’d rather have more safety features. If it is just for cost-cutting or weight saving, we think it’s not worth it.

Other than not having blind-spot monitoring, it still has some important features, like cruise control (not adaptive), heated front seats, Infinity premium audio system, 8.0” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, rear-view camera, and Hyundai’s great infotainment system. If you look comfort features like cooled – powered seats, you should look elsewhere as this segment is simply not for you.

The interior looks modern and sporty, but hard plastics are all over the dashboard

There is a small difference in the infotainment system though, which is the N mode. Unlike many of its competitors, it offers great customization for suspension, steering, engine, traction control, rev-matching setups. You can choose for comfort mode, all the way up to track/sportiest setup for each section. Most of its competition offers few different driving modes and that’s it. Veloster N takes it to another level by offering not only multiple driving modes, such as N – N Custom – Sport – Comfort and Eco, you can customize all driving dynamics to your liking.

Seats are well-bolstered and comfortable enough for daily driving

Driving Impressions

This is where Veloster N really shines. As mentioned, it offers multiple customization options that makes the driving experience more enjoyable and suitable for all conditions. We kept the suspension usually in street mode, as it is overly dampened in N mode. Normal mode is stiff enough to remind you that this is not a base Veloster, but not super stiff that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you switch to N mode, this is where it gets uncomfortable, you shouldn’t be driving in this mode on public roads anyway. Steering feeling is nice, but again, they adjusted it so well, street mode is the way to go. Exhaust modes are different story though, we enjoyed it in fully open mode, as it sounds awesome. It makes popping sound if you rev it over 4000 rpms. Most potential buyers don’t even have to get an aftermarket exhaust system to get a better sound, as Hyundai already offers it out of the box.

Exterior design matches well with the overall driving dynamics

When we take the Veloster N to some tight corners, we are even more impressed. The electronic differential works extremely well, it is difficult to get the car understeer while cornering. If you are on the limit, you should be on the throttle to feel that the differential is trying to pull the car towards the corner. Braking performance is also good, Hyundai somehow decided to use modified Kia Optima brake calipers to keep the costs low, instead of using Brembo brakes. We didn’t have a chance to take the car to the track, but it is more than enough for spirited driving on the public road.

Driving mode differences are strikingly significant. When the driver wants to take it easy, Comfort mode makes the driver feel like he is driving a base Veloster, it is silent and comfortable enough to get you from home to work, but when you want to have fun, it can be a great weekend warrior and corner carver. This is why we love hot-hatch cars, as they offer multiple driving characters for the affordable price range, and the Veloster N took it to another level where you can literally daily drive it and take it to a track day with no problem.

Veloster N is missing some features, LED headlights are one of them

The traction control in sport mode is also not too intrusive, which we really appreciated as you wouldn’t want to completely turn it off on public road, and it is fully adjustable and you can make it more sensitive for wet conditions. Hyundai offers a great driving experience with the Veloster N, as it still lets the driver decide how much he wants the car to get involved and help the driver, while still being engaging, fun to drive and competitive in hothatch segment.

The rear right door is what makes the Veloster different from the others

Conclusion

Overall, we enjoyed driving the new Veloster N. It is new in its class, and competing with old boys like VW Golf R and Civic Type R. We can definitely say the Veloster N can keep up with the competition despite being new in this class, which is surprising for us. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, there is still room for improvement, but this is a legit first attempt makes its rivals nervous about the next move. The Veloster N starts at $34.999 Canadian and that’s actually the only option that you can get. Considering its rivals have MSRP of $43.000 and more, this is a bargain and it offers best bang for the buck in this segment. We can definitely recommend the Veloster N if you are looking for a sporty hatchback as it offers a great overall package that you can use it for both track days and grocery shopping, and even some short trips.

Some of our takeaways are:

+ Great driving dynamics + customization

+ Excellent handling and engine performance

+ More practicality despite having a coupe design

+ Price – Performance ratio is the best in its class

Things can be improved

– Missing some essential safety features, such as Blind Spot Monitoring and LED Headlights

– Too much hard plastics for a car costs over $35.000 CAD.

Article & Photos by Dan Gunay

Nissan Qashqai SL AWD

The Success Story Comes To North America

There is no doubt that compact crossover sales are high in North America. This is one of the most important reasons why Nissan decided to bring the new Qashqai here. It has been on the market for several years in Europe with proven success. We drove the latest Nissan Qashqai for a week to see where it stands against the competition.

the Qashqai is a smaller version of the “good-old” Rogue, which itself is one of the most successful alternatives in the mid-size crossover market. It is named Rogue Sport in the USA, but somehow Nissan decided to use its original name in Canada, unlike the States. First-generation Qashqai was first released in 2006. It was offered all around the world, except North America. It was a major sales success especially in Europe and Middle Eastern markets. It was one of the fastest times for a vehicle built in the UK which reached a half million units in a very short time period.

Engine and Powertrain

Nissan introduced the second and current generation in 2013 and made it available in the North American market in 2017. Qashqai fills the small gap between the discontinued Juke and Rogue. Unlike in Europe with several engine options, here, unfortunately, the only engine option is the 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine, which produces 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. We wish there would be a turbocharged option at least with the top trim, as our tester feels slightly underpowered for North American highways. During our test drive, we reached an average of less than 7.8L/100 km on the highway, and around 10.0L / 100 km in the city. If you mainly commute or drive in the city, the powerband is fine and more than enough for daily driving.

2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine, generates 141 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque and good for daily driving

The 2.0L inline 4 engine is matched with the typical Nissan CVT transmission. It mimics like a torque converter automatic when you drive it hard, however, you can still feel CVT, especially in the low rpm range. Although many brands are switching to regular torque converter automatic, Nissan is one of the first brands which has been using CVT and seems like they have invested in the CVT platform for a long period of time. The engine and CVT transmission are matched well, and people shouldn’t expect the Qashqai to be the fastest one in this segment, but it offers one of the smoothest and most comfortable operations in its class. The All-Wheel-Drive system comes standard with the top trim. It is not going to be the off-road king, but well enough to handle wet/snowy situations on the pavement. We should mention, that it is front biased like the rest of the small crossover models, so it will continuously understeer if you lose traction in the middle of a corner. You can lock the All-Wheel Drive system manually, but it will automatically switch it off over 40 km/h. Most of the time, it is a front-wheel-drive car to save fuel, until it loses traction, then rear wheels get involved, like a regular on-demand All-Wheel Drive System.

Driving Impressions

If you don’t mind its slow pace, which is not slower than the average small crossover anyway, Nissan offers a content-rich overall package with the Qashqai. It is one of the most comfortable alternatives in its class. We like the overall comfort level and the suspension is tuned extremely well for harsh Canadian roads, despite having 19” rims and 225/45 tires with the SL trim. Another good thing is, cabin noise is significantly lower than the competition and we are impressed with that. It is easy to live with this crossover, means it is extremely easy to drive – to maneuver and it also offers great steering feeling. Speaking of the steering wheel, Nissan product development decided to use the same steering wheel with the other bigger models. A flat bottom part feels great, as you are less likely to hit your knee when you get in or get out.

Exterior and Interior

The exterior and overall design features look like the rest of the Nissan crossover lineup, especially from the front side. It is noticeably shorter than the Rogue. The second-generation Qashqai has been on the market for several years, but despite its age, it still looks fresh and aged gracefully as it is refreshed in 2017. Surprisingly, the Qashqai has wider and bigger dimensions than the average subcompact crossover, thus offering a wider cabin inside.

The functional and ergonomic dashboard is a sweetspot of the vehicle

The interior looks like its bigger sister – the Rogue, except it, has less cargo space and less rear legroom. It still has more than enough for a family of four. The legroom in the rear is better than most of the competition. Also, the cargo space is above average in the small crossover segment, which is 22.9 cubic feet behind the rear seats, and 61.1 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded. You can easily fit a road bike when you fold down the rear seats, and that is impressive for a small crossover, as usually, you must move the front passenger seat forward to get more cargo room to fit a bike. As we see in Nissan’s larger crossovers, it also comes with additional cargo storage area under the load floor, so you can divide and utilize the cargo area to keep the items sliding forward and backward.

As we take a look around the interior, there are some soft-touch, hard touch plastics, as well as piano black trims. Our opinion is they are all balanced out extremely well, they didn’t overuse the piano black trims all around the console, like some of its rivals. The overall dashboard design is very similar to other Nissan products, especially the Rogue, and there are some soft-touch plastics in the upper part, and hard touch plastics lower on the dashboard. We wouldn’t expect S-Class interior quality in a small crossover segment, and we would rate the Qashqai slightly above average when it comes to overall interior quality as they used soft-touch plastics in many areas. Our tester has leather seats and rear passengers get air vents which is rare in this class.

Rear Seats: Comfortable for two, third passenger only for short drives.

 As mentioned previously, our tester is the top “SL” trim, which offers pretty much anything available in a Qashqai.  We are really impressed with the Nissan’s ProPilot Assist and we wish it was available in all trims as it is an important safety feature. The ProPilot Assist system is capable to fully stop and go, and it works smoothly. Also, you don’t have to tap the gas pedal every time the car in front of you moves forward, you just need to press the “+” button to start moving. The SL trim also comes with LED headlights, a built-in Navigation system, 7.0” touch-screen display, Voice Recognition, SiriusXM, Push-button start along with Intelligent Key System, Remote Engine Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, 6-way power driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar support, optional Bose Premium Audio system, and so on. We think if you are interested in Qashqai, but not sure about which trim you should pick, you should definitely go with minimum SV, preferably SL. Some extras like Bose Premium Audio System is really worth getting it and makes the driving experience more enjoyable. We think that the infotainment system could be better, as it looks old, but we are glad that they offer both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Conclusion

Overall, we like driving the Qashqai a.k.a. Rogue Sport. It is a great alternative if you are looking for a daily driver, or want to get from A to B. Many reviewers all around the internet will complain about how underpowered the Qashqai is, but we, unfortunately, have few to no faster alternatives in the small crossover segment. Most of the competitors still use naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engines such as Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and they are not any different than the Qashqai in terms of acceleration. We wouldn’t complain about the CVT in this segment, as most of the potential buyers simply don’t care, so it is a great way to cut the costs and totally understandable to keep the price down. Nissan Qashqai starts at just above $20.000 mark, $20.198 Canadian to be exact. It can go all the way up to $35.500 Canadian if you choose the top trim as well as All-Wheel-Drive option. We think many people should go with higher trims as it offers advanced safety systems included. We would recommend the Qashqai if you are looking for great comfort, smooth driving, All Wheel Drive (optional), excellent practicality as well as some modern features and above-average interior quality.

Some of our takeaways are

+ Great comfort and overall drivetrain smoothness

+ Easy to live with – drivability

+ Overall features (especially the SL trim) and above-average interior quality

+ Large legroom – headroom and cargo capacity despite its size
+ Exterior design looks fresh, despite its age

Things can be improved

– Old looking infotainment system

– The dashboard is aging well but looks older than the competition

– More engine options, preferably forced induction alternatives

– ProPilot Assist system should be available in all trims

Article and Photos by Dan Gunay

Ford Edge ST

Performance On Steroids

The new grill is the backbone of the mid-cycle facelift of Ford Edge

Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUV’s) have been getting extremely popular that even car manufacturers offer different types of it. Unfortunately, not many brands offer a CUV or SUV fun to drive. Some even don’t even care about driving pleasure, they just put a CVT to a naturally aspirated engine. Though their most important feature is family hauling, Ford offers Edge ST for people who are looking for a more performance-oriented utility vehicle. Ford stopped selling other performance-oriented vehicles such as Focus ST-RS, or Fiesta ST but kept the Edge ST in the market, which also shows that there is still a potential.

Engine and Powertrain

Let’s start with the main difference between the Edge ST, which is the drivetrain. Edge ST replaced the Edge Sport, but still has the same 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine, which is producing 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. It comes with an All-Wheel Drive system and 8-speed automatic transmission. In our tests, we really enjoyed the overall powerband and smoothness of the EcoBoost V6 engine, it feels significantly faster than average SUV. You can reach from 0 to 100 under 6 seconds, which is quite impressive and even faster than some “hot hatch” cars. Our tests show that it consumed 10.0l/100 km on the highway, and 12.0l mixed driving, which is not too bad considering this is one of the most powerful alternatives in this segment.

Driving Impressions

All Wheel Drive system is mostly front biased, and it tends to understeer when you push it hard. Maybe we are expecting too much from a CUV, but we would prefer some oversteering from a car with ST badge. Also, the transmission is not a good match with that impressive engine. Although gear ratios are short and suitable for quick acceleration, it isn’t fast when you want to shift manually. Upshifts and downshifts are smooth, but when you use paddle shifters, you feel that it is not really the fastest and sometimes it can be jerky. 7-8th gears are great for highway cruising.

We really like the suspension setup of the Edge ST. It is not easy to find the sweet spot if we are talking about a sporty SUV, as it must provide great comfort and little to no body roll. Ford Edge ST achieved this, and we weren’t expecting this level of the sophisticated suspension system. Yes, AWD system isn’t our favorite, but the suspension system is so good that it is hard to complain about the overall driving experience. It is firm, but not overly firm which is still good for long family trips.

Design

The Edge’s design is slightly outdated, yet still beautiful

The exterior design of the Edge ST is attractive, in our opinion. Wheels and bumpers are the first two things differentiate itself from the regular Edge. When we go to the interior, it is almost the same, except the seats, steering wheel, and instrument cluster. Even the latest facelifted Edge with no ST badge looks great, ST version offers a bit better visuals and sportier look.

The interior makes a high-quality impression even if some cheap plastics can be found at certain spots

The interior of the Edge ST, as mentioned, similar to the regular Edge, so that means they still use mainly hard plastics and some piano black plastics. Interior design shows its age, as latest generation Edge is on the market for a few years already. One thing that we really didn’t like is, paddle shifters feel extremely flimsy. This is something that Ford needs to update. For regular Edge, it may be acceptable, but for ST? Definitely not.

A sporty vehicle can also be very functional and utilitarian

ST badged seats look great, but it may not be the most comfortable seat in the market. I wouldn’t say it’s a disadvantage, as people who look for sporty CUV, that’s what you should get. It offers great side support and thanks to the great suspension setup, Edge ST feels more like a car than a CUV or SUV. We are really hoping that they are going to get rid of that infotainment system with the next-generation Ford Edge. However, for now, it looks old and outdated and it is no different than regular Edge or other Ford vehicles. Some other important features are, adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay – Android Auto, built-in Navigation, Bang & Olufsen premium sound system, heated-cooled seats, and heated steering wheel. Feature-wise, it is good and more than enough for many people. One feature we didn’t like is the digital rev gauge, as it looks cheesy. We would prefer 100 percent analog or percent digital for speedo and rev gauge instead.

Conclusion

The Continental tires with sporty wheels fit the character of the most powerful Edge

Yes, we would call Ford Edge ST a “CUV on Steroids” because there is a reason. Many brands, as well as Ford, is focused on the CUV and SUV segment and they want to get the most out of this market. Sales for compact cars and even hot hatches are getting less every year, that’s why Ford decided to stop selling the Focus RS, or Fiesta ST. Ford Edge ST is a great alternative for people who were in love or dreaming of driving a hot hatch when they were younger, but they still have to buy an SUV as they get older and have a family. Ford Edge ST starts at $43,827 Canadian. If you add a few features, it can go up to $49.000 before tax, which is not cheap, but you don’t have many options in this segment. We would recommend the Edge ST if both performance and family hauling are your priorities as it combines them well.

Article and Photos by Dan Gunay

BMW i3 BEV

Overview

When you are visiting friends and low on juice, do not lose any moment to charge your i3

To complement our earlier review about the BMW i3 (with range extender), We tested the BEV, with a stronger battery yet without the tiny ICE that acts as a generator.

You can read our review by clicking the link below: http://www.autoandroad.com/2019/04/2019-bmw-i3/

Varol and Dan had a close look to understand how the future of e-BMW’s would be like

It is wise to think that BMW carefully paves the way to full-electrification by offering better batteries while gradually eliminating transitional solutions like range extender.

Getting used to non-luxury cabin may require some time. Not so with its spaciousness.

The new 120Ah 42.2kWh battery enables a range of up to 246 km.
This is a 100 percent improvement from the original 60Ah battery in the 2014 model.

Driving impressions

During my one-week test drive, I enjoyed the driving dynamics, the great acceleration (which is a general feature of EV’s with instant torque delivery) and the spacious cabin of the i3. I was also curious about the proposed range of 246 km which BMW promises. Would I reach this range? The short answer is: No. In hot summer days, you can hardly drive without AC on. and use of AC reduces the range. This is laws of physics. The best range I could reach was 210 or so. This is still acceptable if you drive i3 in the city with a lot of stop-and traffic.

Charging the i3 at a Mitsubishi dealer

We attended a weekend party with our friends on a Saturday. On this day, I was not able to go to a fast-charging station in the morning. And my wife experienced a range-anxiety as the range indicator warned us with less than 14 kilometers of range. And as we arrived there, I tightly parked the car just close enough to reach the plug at the wall with the standard cord. And I was able to charge the i3 for another 15 kilometers in nearly five hours.

So, charging with a standard 110V outlet at home helps a little, especially if this is your only car.

Pricing

The base price for the BEV is $53,660, thus $8,650 cheaper than its sibling with the range extender, which starts at $53,600.

Our tester’s price climbed to $57,600 with options such as:
Premium Enhanced Package ($7,750), Driver Assistance Package ($2,500), Sport Package ($1,400), Glass Sunroof ($1,200) and Wireless Charging with Extended Bluetooth and USB ($350) and Eucalyptus Matt Fine Wood Trim ($350).

Fully-loaded, the MSRP reaches $57,600 and still $4,645 lower than our (again) fully-loaded earlier tester with $62,245.

For a price saving of nearly 5K, you can more excitement and better planning skills.

Conclusion

When you choose an EV, it is still an expensive alternative without any government incentive. When you choose a BMW as an EV, this is definitely an expensive alternative among the EV’s. And this will probably be not your only car. Then, by not giving another 5K to have a considerable less range anxiety and more flexibility?

Choose wisely and choose the model with range extender.

Article and Photos by Varol McKars

2019 BMW X2 M35i

A “transitional” design between a CUV and a hatchback. The X2 would be an alien to the BMW design language 10 years ago, but now it is well-accepted and unmistakeably BMW too

Expanding the “X”

People always want to get everything in one package, especially when it comes to the crossover market. BMW X2 offers a great package, it is capable of doing everything, but we are going to see how good it can do in this review.

The interior has a typical BMW quality. “Magma Read Dakota Leather” is a vibrant color and emits energy inside.

The crossover market gets more and more popular and every manufacturer works to expand its model range. Even at BMW, the world’s number one luxury car manufacturer, we may have more “non-sedans” than the traditional sedans soon. Remember, that there was only the BMW X5 in the beginning of the century, and then the Bavarians eventually released the X3 thereafter, and eventually they have used X seven times across their entire model range to define SUV’s and CUV’s. Why? Because the customer is the king and also BMW had to bow to the demands of its customers.

However, remember that BMW calls this vehicle SAC, “Sports Activity Coupé”. a subcategory within the X Family.

Currently, BMW offers 7 different X models which start from the X1 all the way up to the X7. You may think that X2 is the bigger brother of the X1, but it is vice versa. The X2 has sportier – “coupe-ish” design elements which are slightly lower and shorter. So, you are buying a car, which should be a “utility” vehicle, and you have to sacrifice legroom, headroom, and overall space just for the looks.

Our tester had the M35i package, which comes with sport suspension (10mm lower than its non-M counterpart), “M” badged steering wheel and sport brakes, bigger 20” rims, sport seats making you feel closer to a sports car, rather than a utility vehicle. Mind you, this is not a real M car, just a few different changes to make it livelier.

With 302 horsepower and 332 lb-ft this is BMW’s most powerful 2.0L TwinPower Turbo engine

Engine and Powertrain

BMW X2 M35i comes with a four-cylinder 2.0L turbocharged engine, which produces 302 horsepower and 332 lb/ft of torque. It is not overwhelming but definitely not slow. It is matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission which we should say, we are really impressed. Shifts are really quick, smooth when driving slowly. When you push it hard, it is super engaging and matches really well with the overall performance of the engine.

Driving Impressions

What we didn’t like about the engine is, which is probably software related issue, throttle response is not really good, especially in the first gear. It literally takes two seconds to start accelerating. You can switch to Sport mode to eliminate most of this problem, but it is still there. What we also found in the first gear is, it doesn’t matter if DSC/TC is ON or OFF the turbocharger probably boosts less than the other gears, so it doesn’t feel like 302 horsepower all-wheel-drive car until you upshift to the second gear. Our tests show that it consumed 11.8L / 100 km and we weren’t easy on it, so it is obvious that 2.0L engine is great on gas, considering its power, the overall weight of the car and all-wheel-drive system.

20″ light-alloy double spoke wheels cost $500 as a stand-alone option
As a weird design feature, the thick C-pillar bears a BMW badge on both sides.

Handling and driving dynamics are extremely good for a crossover. X2 feels more like a car, rather than an SUV, as we detected almost no body roll when the vehicle reaches its cornering limits. Also, since it has the M package, you are slightly lower than many crossovers, so you would feel like you are actually driving a hatchback. It really looks like slightly raised hatchback BMW and it feels the same way inside.

When you get in the X2, you instantly feel that you are in a BMW. It has a typical BMW interior design. Overall quality is really good for its class. However, feature-wise, there are some important missing ones, such as cooled seats, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. Considering its price range, those features should be standard, let alone an option. It also doesn’t have Android Auto, like the other BMWs. Other than that, we have a typical BMW infotainment system, which is really good and user-friendly.

Pricing

The base price is $49.200. Our fully loaded tester had the premium package costing $5.650 and three standalone options costing $1,400 in total. These additions bring the total MSRP to $56.650

Conclusion

This is a good choice for BMW fans or new clients who want to experience BMW sportiness and M performance features in a relatively affordable way. And affordable is relative.

Article and pictures by Dan Gunay & Varol McKars

Ford Mustang Bullitt

A Vehicle Dedicated To Bullitt

Dark Highland Green is a must to give the car its character and connect it to the Movie. The only other colour option is black

It starts with a great sound of music: The Roaring of the V8 and the piping of the exhaust promise a great ride, American style.

The 5.0L, V8 engine is the same engine in GT, with an added 20 horsepower

This is the Bullitt, a Mustang bringing back the memories of Director Peter Yates’ film from 1968 with Steve McQueen shining like a star: “Bullitt”. The car-chasing scene in this movie on the streets of San Francisco is known as one of the best in the history of Hollywood. And without this scene, this movie would have vanished in our distant memories.

On its 50th anniversary, Ford brought back this legend on four wheels in dark green and with an “empty” front grill. The only badge is in the rear. It is a limited series production with a serial number on the dashboard. Our tester had the number K0667, even if Ford does not give any clue about the scale of production.

The Bullitt At A Glance

The original 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2 + 2 Fastback from the Movie “Bullitt”

The Bullitt is based on Mustang GT Premium. Ford added another 20 horsepower to the original GT engine to reach 480 hp while delivering the same torque. As you would expect, this car comes only with a manual transmission.

The optional ( $ 1,800) Recaro sports seats provide very good lateral support, but only manually adjustable in six-ways and not heated. But, to me, these seats are a bit narrow and less comfortable. Having said that I am, as a “somewhat” overweight old guy, not a typical driver for this type of car and my comments may be judgemental and biassed.

These seats make much sense if you test the limits of the car on the track.

Driving Impressions

You only see the Bullitt badge
To me, the Bullitt is not a car for the crowded Downtown Toronto, but it fills the frame beautifully

For two days, I drove the car on the highways around and in pothole-covered streets of Toronto. My final verdict is: Do not think that the Bullitt can be your only and everyday car. It is fun to drive after you painfully bow and find your position behind the steering wheel. The long doors, as they are in a sports coupe may be a barrier to tackle in tight parking spots. It may be torture to play with the shift sticks in the terrible Downtown Toronto traffic. And the potholes in hundreds of Toronto streets turn the experience very nasty.

Own it to take to the track or enjoy some twisty roads in the countryside for adventure at summer weekends.

Pricing

The Mustang GT Premium, which is the basis for the Bullitt, starts at $47,425, but in Bullitt trim the MSRP jumps to $57,525. For that, you get a 5.0-litre V8 that’s used in the regular GT, but with a twenty-horsepower bump up to 480 ponies. Other features expected to justify the price difference are; Brembo front brakes, auto-adjustable suspension, a limited-slip differential, active exhaust valves, and unique wheels with summer performance tires, plus a 12-inch customizable instrument cluster, premium audio, a navigation system, and blind-spot monitoring.  

Conclusion

A perfect choice of sports car for baby boomers who can remember Steve McQueen’s era and witnessed the birth of Pony Car in the 1960s. Or you are a millennial going off the beaten path and discover the qualities of an American sports car instead of a higher image German or Japanese name.

Following our comprehensive test with the Mustang GT, as you can read in the link below:

http://www.autoandroad.com/2019/06/ford-mustang-gt-2/

Article and Pictures by Varol McKars

2019 BMW 740Le xDrive

Another Face Of The 7 Series

BMW 7 Series with in Long-wheelbase version is a car to be driven.

BMW 7 Series, for decades, is a member of an elite class of luxury executive sedans. This is a territory occupied mostly by Germans such as Mercedes S Class and Audi A8. Some non-German models like the Lexus LS play in the same league. In its sixth generation, this BMW offers the fine driving in style and in traditional sedan format.

The typically elegant and functional dashboard is more an evolution rather than a revolution over the previous generation

The current model, launched in 2016 sets a benchmark in lightweight in particular. BMW engineers extensively used carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the structure of the passenger cell. They reduced the weight while increasing the torsion strength and bending stiffness of the passenger cell.

Engine And Powertrain

Instead of an 8 or even 12 cylinder engine as usual in this class, the 740Le comes with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an electric motor. The powertrain is completed by an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The system delivers net 322 horsepower and 369 lb-ft, thus less than a conventional 7 Series.

The combination of gasoline and electric motors gives

One advantage of the plug-in hybrid version is the ability to travel up to 40 kilometers on electricity alone when fully charged. And we tested this range up to the limit reaching 34 km. This was mixed use at around 23 degrees and with a maximum of two people on board.

And on electric battery alone, the 740Le will attain a maximum speed of 140 km/h before requiring assistance from the gasoline engine.

Driving Impressions

Before we sit behind the steering wheel, Dan and I had a slight doubt about whether a 4-cylinder engine (even with an added e-motor) can be an option for BMW’s flagship sedan. Doubts disappeared as I hit the road. This big sedan accelerates smoothly and the transition from e-drive to gasoline kick-in is seamless. And in a country where the effective speed limit is 119 km/h, this “green car” can easily keep pace with others.

As per BMW’s statement, the vehicle has a highly sophisticated, precision-honed chassis technology combined with 50:50 weight distribution. While driving, you can feel a sharp response and ride comfort. The double-wishbone front suspension, five-link rear suspension, and Electric Power Steering are three main components of the ride quality.

For the first time, carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) combined with steel and aluminium was used in the bosy structure of the new BMW 7 SEries with a completely new production processes aaplied in this unique mixed-material construction. The use of high-tech CFRP and advanced production methods enhance the torsional stiffness of the passenger cell and and lower the centre of gravity. All these features contribute to increased ride quality and comfort.

We would say perfect if one factor hadn’t blurred this picture: The tires: Pirelli Zero low profile, run-flat tires (275/30R/21) with 19″ M Double Spoke Wheels look great and very sporty. But there is a different story when the tires a pothole on the road surface. You feel like your bones are shaken in the well-insulated cabin. Such an expensive car deserves a much smoother hit and these tires are responsible. We think that BMW must do something about it the solutions seems to replace low-profile tires altogether.

The Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake is an impressive example of Victorian Era British Luxury

I had two distinguished guests who experienced this comfort: Mr. Durmaz, a film produced and designer and Mr. Guldogan, film director, both from Turkey were our guests at the Ankara Library of Toronto for the showing of their documentary, “Şık Derviş” enjoyed the tide. I took them for a Niagara Itinerary from Toronto and they enjoyed the ride as front and rear seat passengers. Who wouldn’t love to be chauffeured in a car with extended wheelbase where backseat doubles as an office with fold out table, footrest and massaging function and you control everything via a dedicated Samsung tablet.

Mr. Durmaz, our guest from Turkey enjoyed the rear seats and was impressed
A dedicated Samsung tablet is placed for the comfort settings of the rear seats and “surroundings”

Our tester, which was equipped with Executive Lounge Tier 2 ($10,000) and Executive Package ($7,350) offers every imaginable luxury for a ride “in the sky”. Please see the spec sheet for a full list of options.

With Executive Lounge & Executive Package, the rear passengers enjoy arguably the highest possible comfort money can buy.

As we got back to Toronto after a long day and more 300 kilometers, our guests were happy and impressed with this driving experience.

Our average consumption in two days including Niagara was 9.2 liters. This is an impressive figure considering the size and weight of the car. Nevertheless, anybody who can afford a car with a base price of 118K, (our tester had an MSRP of $143,450), would not bother much about this consumption. However, this is testament that the high-tech hybrid system makes a difference.

Conclusion

This special BMW may be a good choice for executive class buyers, who value the luxury and prestige of the 7 Series while taking environmental concerns into account.

Conservative design with elegant details, like the well integrated exhausts

Article and Photos: Varol McKars & Dan Gunay

2019 Lincoln Nautilus 2.0T AWD Reserve

Lincoln’s bestselling model is, no surprise, an SUV

Ford’s premium brand Lincoln refreshed the MKX. Although the Navigator is probably the most well-known Lincoln, MKX has been the best seller of the brand. It was first introduced in the 2004 North American International Auto Show as a successor to the first gen Aviator.  It is the first Lincoln SUV which is in production since 2007. Second generation MKX went on sale first in 2016 and underwent mid-cycle revision this year.

Lincoln decided to phase out the “MK” model names, it adopted the Nautilus name in 2019. Although there is no radical change in terms of exterior and interior, it adopted front design from the Lincoln Continental. Rear design and taillights look similar compared to the previous year. Overall, exterior design looks great, especially refreshed front design along with the headlights and new grille used by other newer Lincoln models. The “Reserve” trim comes with LED headlights along with turbine style 21-inch wheels, and we think it makes the car look so much better than the base trim.

The floating middle console may be a reminder of former times as Ford used to own Volvo

Interior of the MKX/Nautilus isn’t changed that much in 2019. There are minor changes, but the main design elements stayed the same. Of course, vertical shift buttons for gear selection is the signature of Lincoln interior design. It takes a little bit time to get used to, but once you get used to it, you will love it. And it saves a lot of space in the middle console too. The interior with a combination of soft-touch plastics and real wood has high-quality craftsmanship. Reserve trim level comes with leather seats, with massage function.

The massaging function adds more comfort to the driving experience especially in long drives, but the design of front seats isn’t the best. The base part of the seat is narrow so it may not be good for overweight people. Luckily, base trim offers wider seats, but you must opt out of massage seat option. You need to visit your Lincoln dealer and see if it works for you before deciding. Not only that, but the center console also has a floating design, which looks amazing, but it takes a lot of space. We felt cramped while driving which may be a deal breaker for some people, as it is one of the most appealing features in the SUV market. Rear legroom is excellent and there is no problem when it comes to the trunk size at all.

The infotainment system still has some deficiencies. and a bigger screen would be good among other features

The refreshed Nautilus comes with the 4 cylinder 2.0L Ecoboost turbo engine as a base option, produces 245 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. This engine replaces the MKX’s 3.7 V6 engine, which was also used in many Ford vehicles. If you are willing to pay extra $3000, you can still choose V6, which is a 2.7L twin turbo Ecoboost that has 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are paired with new eight speed automatic transmission and it works extremely smooth. Our tester has the 4-cylinder option, which is good on gas, and it also has start-stop feature. The acceleration and overall power are adequate for daily driving and as long as you stay within the speed limits, we think that you may not need the V6 engine, as the inline 4 turbocharged engine has plenty of torque in the mid-range and it also offers extremely silent and smooth driving experience with no turbo lag. All wheel drive system works pretty well, it is FWD biased system, but it works flawlessly on slippery surface. The tester also has an adaptive suspension system, we tried different driving modes, but it didn’t make a huge difference as there is always tons of body roll if you push it to its limits. Comfort driving mode is the way to go.

As expected from a luxury brand, Lincoln Nautilus is great when it comes to comfort. Sound isolation is at S-Class level, and it is full of features. Our tester has adaptive cruise, heated-cooled seats, infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, digital instrument cluster, adaptive suspension system, parking assistant, lane keep assist, front collision warning, 360-Degree camera, keyless entry, wireless charging pad, active noise control, blind spot monitoring and so on. We are surprised with the sound system and you should get that feature with the car. Revel Ultima Audio system has 19 speakers with 20-channel amplifier, and we think this is one of the best sound systems we ever tried so far. As always, we are not a fan of Ford’s infotainment system, it is not the worst, but it works slowly and the 360-degree camera belongs to 1990s, the resolution is not acceptable for a luxury SUV. Fortunately, they decided not to use same screen specs for the digital cluster, it works perfectly, and the screen resolution is great.

Lincoln MKX/Nautilus is one of the most successful SUVs in Ford-Lincoln’s SUV lineup and we think there is a reason for that. It has a lot of space, it is all wheel drive, luxurious, comfortable, and practical for families while offering everything in a premium packaging. It is the underdog alternative of premium luxury 2-row SUV class, as it has really strong competition. The refreshed MKX a.k.a. Nautilus starts at $48.950 CAD with the Select trim and goes all the way up to $54.050 CAD if you choose the Reserve trim. Since it is a luxury SUV, you should also add some optional features, so the total comes up to $65.000 level which is a bargain compared to its German rivals.

Things the Nautilus is good at

+ Comfort
+ Excellent premium sound system – but optional
+ Smooth and fuel-efficient engine

Things the Nautilus needs to improve

– Front legroom

– Infotainment system and screen resolution

Sharing the same platform with Ford Edge, Lincoln Nautilus has its own design language and identity after about ten years

Article by Dan Gunay, pictures by Varol McKars

2019 Ford Mustang GT

Better than ever

Unmistakebly Mustang, the Pony Car

The term “Pony-car” was very popular in the 1960s, which is still known by many people today. Ford Mustang was the creator of the Pony-car segment which was originally introduced in 1964. Ford Mustang was a pioneer which offered affordable, compact, good styling, and of course, good performance along with rear wheel drive. After the oil crisis, pony cars suffered from declining sales, as smaller and fuel-efficient cars started to get more popular until the beginning of 21st century.

Retro styled resurrection of the pony car segment started in 2005. Fifth gen Mustang was released, and eventually Dodge introduced the third gen Challenger and Chevrolet revived the fifth generation Camaro in 2010. Since then, it has been an evolution, rather than a revolution.

Current generation Ford Mustang was first available in 2015 and this is the first-generation Ford decided to use the independent rear suspension on a Mustang. This may not sound like an important change, it significantly increased handling capabilities of the current gen. In 2018, Ford redesigned the exterior and it looks modern, whereas it keeps its design elements from 1960s. It even looks more retro compared to the pre-facelift version. In our opinion, Mustang looks gorgeous like its rivals. It is hard to choose which one looks best in this segment.

The modern dashboard reveals its deep roots in the original Mustang

The interior also has some design features resembling 1960s, especially the steering wheel. The diameter of the wheel is definitely larger than usual for a sports car. There are some soft-touch materials used, but it is not that hard to find hard touch plastics especially on the door panels, something can be improved. Refreshed Ford Mustang now comes with a digital instrument cluster, which is a great feature and customizable for your needs. You see lots of information about the car, such as oil pressure, oil temperature, differential/transmission temperature, intake air temperature, G meter, lap timer, you name it. The tachometer can be changed independently or depending on the driving mode.

Speaking of driving mode, it has Normal, Sport, Track and Snow/Wet modes. Each driving mode adjusts the suspension, throttle response and the steering feel. Track mode disables the traction and stability control as well as it stiffens the suspension. You can also customize a mode for your driving needs. We personally used the steering and suspension in normal mode, and the exhaust in track mode. You read it right, you can adjust the exhaust sound by switching modes and there is a noticeable difference. I really don’t think people need aftermarket exhaust to get better sound, as it is readily available from the factory. If you opt for the Performance Package Level 2, it comes with the MagneRide magnetic suspension, and it is a well worth investment if you take it to track. Other extras come with the Performance Package are special 19” wheels along with Michelin Cup 2 track tires, Brembo brake calipers and larger rotors, unique front splitter and rear spoiler, larger radiator, strut tower brace, Torsen Limited Slip Differential, track-tuned springs and sway bar. Also, there are many advanced features such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist and so on. We are glad that performance-oriented cars can also keep up with the luxury cars in terms of tech and safety features.

Although technology-wise, everything is not perfect. We didn’t like is Ford’s infotainment system, it feels and looks outdated. This is something Ford needs to improve, as the other manufacturers have better infotainment systems available even in cheaper cars. It is leggy, low-resolution and works slowly. It would have been acceptable 3-4 years ago, but nowadays many manufacturers have not only faster and more user-friendly software but also so many features such as gesture control, Ford falls behind when it comes to the infotainment system. Rear-view camera resolution isn’t the greatest, too. At least, it comes with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The sound system is decent though, which is made by B&O. Overall, it is not the best, but not the worst either. Our tester comes with the Recaro sport seats as a part of Performance Package. However, you have to sacrifice the heated and power seats if you go with Recaro, it could be a deal breaker for some people.

Recaro sports seats are perfectly suited for a sports car like the Mustang GT

Current generation Ford Mustang comes with both coupe (or called “Fastback”) and cabriolet, as well as two different engines (except the GT350 model range) with a 10-speed automatic transmission and 6-speed manual transmission, so there are lots of combinations to choose. In regard to the engine, there is a 4-cylinder 2.3-liter turbocharged Ecoboost as a base engine, and GT model gets the big boy, which is a 5.0L naturally aspirated V8 engine which produces 460 horsepower and 420 lb/ft of torque. Unfortunately, they ditched the V6 engine few years ago, now the base model gets the inline 4-cylinder engine.

The V8 engine sounds great and lots of torque, however, it likes to keep the revs up in the mid-high range. Although the torque is more than enough for daily driving through the whole rev range, if you like to get the most out of it, you should keep the revs over 5000 rpms. We personally really like the 5.0L V8, known as “Coyote” engine, which is a quite rev-happy and sounds great. Power is overkill for public roads, it can get you in trouble on the highway if you don’t check your tachometer frequently, as it is easily capable of reaching over the speed limits. Of course, you must deal with the fuel consumption when you have eight cylinders to feed, and to keep the revs high. You can easily see more than 16.0L / 100 km if you drive spiritedly. In our tests, we see average fuel consumption of 15.5L / 100 km which is a mixed driving of highway, city and some spirited driving. Our test car comes with 6-speed manual transmission, no matter how good the automatic transmission is, the manual is always more fun and more engaging.

Dan, our test driver was not fully satisfide with Ford’s infotainment system

Overall driving impressions about Ford Mustang GT is, it is hard to find a flaw as a sports car, considering its price. Unlike the previous generations, Mustang is now a corner carver and the grip level with 305/30/R19 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are insanely high. Magnetic suspension is a great addition which surprisingly provides comfy riding as well as great road feedback. It is not harsh when you hit a pothole, but there is absolutely no body roll when you are cornering. This is something that regular suspension setup wouldn’t be able to handle, as you must pick either stiff suspension to avoid body roll, or mushy suspension to get a comfortable ride.  Mustang GT’s MagneRide gives you best of both worlds.

If you treat the throttle pedal and steering like ON/OFF switch, the car wants to oversteer all the time, so it definitely requires some rear wheel driving experience or you have to be really easy with the throttle if you are not careful enough. The steering feel is not the greatest with extremely wide front tires, and a steering wheel with large diameter though, but still acceptable. The car is also extremely sensitive to road imperfections due to the wider front tires, it wants to dive in which requires a lot of steering input when driving normally. To be honest, it is a complete package if you are looking for an iconic fast car fun to drive, looks sporty, rides great, handles extremely well, with excellent brakes and can also be a track toy (with the optional Performance Package, indeed), look no further in this price range.

Mustang GT starts at $37.289 CAD but can go all the way up to $44.525 if you get the Premium package as of June 2019, which includes Aluminum foot pedals, ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and cooled leather seats, chrome interior parts, selectable drive modes, power seats, and SYNC 3. In our opinion, if you are willing to get the Performance Package – either Level 1 or 2, you should skip the Premium package since you lose heated-cooled power seats. Level 2 PP makes the Mustang even a better track car while keeping it as street-legal with Michelin Cup 2 tires and MagneRide Suspension system. If you opt for the 10-speed automatic transmission, it is $1,500 CAD extra, but you cannot choose automatic with the Performance Pack Level 2.

Long story short, no car is perfect, and Ford Mustang is definitely not. It has come a long way compared to 10 years ago. However, the GT offers BMW M4 level of performance for the half price, which makes it a bargain sports car and it is still one of the best alternatives in Pony class.

You can also read our review about the Bullitt. Please click the link below:

Article and pictures by Dan Gunay

2019 Hyundai Elantra 2.0L A/T Ultimate

The Elantra has a beautiful, face-lifted design in its current generation, even if our tester Dan has some nostalgia for the earlier version

There is a reason why compact cars are really popular in Canada. It is affordable, easy and cheap to maintain and good on gas. Hyundai Elantra has been on the market for several years, and it is one of the best-selling compact cars in North America.

This is the sixth-gen Elantra, which was introduced in 2017, is now refreshed and it has significantly different design. In my subjective opinion, the pre-facelift design (2017 and 2018 MY) looks better. Nevertheless, the current gen Elantra maintains its simplicity and attractiveness. In the rear, the model name pops up in huge letters in the middle of the trunk, which looks to me less appealing.

Material and build quality inside is one of the best in its class. All controls are well placed and the infotainment screen is easy to navigate.

The interior is spared from almost any change. The dashboard and cabin have mostly soft touch plastics, and impressively good finishing making the Korean almost a segment leader. Our tester car had 8-inch infotainment system with navigation. The layout is simple and easy to navigate. The 8-inch screen only comes with the top trim we tested, whereas lover trims come with 7-inch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all versions.

Elantra is a strong contender especially offering more features than its competitors. The car comes with Leather and heated seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, automatic climate, lane keep assists and adaptive cruise control. As we have seen in other models, Hyundai’s lane keep assist and adaptive cruise system work perfectly and glad to see these features offered in the compact sedan segment.

Engine / Drivetrain

Hyundai Elantra comes with naturally aspirated 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, which produces 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. The engine is extremely smooth and sometimes hard to feel if it is on when idling. It is a great engine if you are looking for a car gets you from A to B. Otherwise it is boring. It is sad that Hyundai does not offer the turbocharged 1.6L engine in Elantra Sedan. The 2.0-liter engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission, which gets the job done. It shifts crisply and smoothly. During our test, our average consumption was 8 liters of regular, which is good in its segment.

Driving impressions

Elantra has a great ride quality, despite the torsion bar in the rear. Many manufacturers use twist-beam suspension to cut the costs, as Hyundai does with Elantra sedan. Their engineers tuned the suspension so well that it is hard to feel it during daily driving. If you push the vehicle to its limits when cornering, it clearly understeers, as you would expect from an entry-level compact sedan with a torsion bar in the rear. It is not a corner carver and the suspension is more comfort-oriented, which is normal for a car made for daily driving.

Lava-Orange, our tester’s colour costs 200 CAD as an option

It comes with three drive modes; Normal, Sport and Smart. Smart mode selects Normal, Sport or Eco mode depending on how it is driven. In Sport mode, it gives stiffer steering feeling, which is just a synthetic feel that you should keep it at Comfort mode all the time.

Overall, the “refreshed” Elantra is one of the best alternatives in the compact sedan segment. It has been on the market for a long time. The Ultimate trim offers “mid-size” features in a compact class.

Elantra has also has Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ rating, a passive safety standard only few cars can achieve in this segment.

MSRP starts at 17,100 CAD and goes up to 27.549 for the top version. Our test car was in Lava Orange color option, which costs 200 CAD extra. We really like that it offers great fuel economy without relying on a boring CVT transmission as many of its competitors prefer. With a price tag well south of 30K, it is reasonably priced and, in our opinion, offers more car for your money.

Most Elantra drivers will not bother for the minor “flaws” we mentioned above and will enjoy their vehicles. It is not a sports car, but a reliable daily driving machine.