Seat Time: The Name’s Q50, Infiniti Q50

July 26th, 2016 at 12:36pm

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Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake
Vehicle: 2016 Infiniti Q50
Price: From $33,950

Walking Around The Red Sport: VIDEO FEATURE

Final Impression:

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Q Branch, in James Bond film lore, was the gadget department of MI5 which created everything from his “loaded” attache case to the “weaponized” Aston Martin DB5. And though Bond was the super spy hero of the series, who didn’t enjoy the spice that Q and his “tools” brought to each movie?

And speaking of spice, that’s what the Infiniti brand is bringing to its own branch of Q products, namely the three versions of the Q50 sport sedan.

The Q, you might recall, replaced Infiniti’s G sedan back in 2013. And now Nissan’s premium nameplate is rolling out three new versions of this compact luxury car. All come with a refreshed sexy exterior styling and the safety/security systems we’ve all come to expect. What differentiates the vehicles are some Performance/Technology features, optional add-on packages and the fact that all three versions have their own new engine.

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The 2016 Q50 starts with a new base engine, a 2-Liter turbocharged inline 4 with 208 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque with 24 miles per gallon combined. Our loaner vehicle was an All-wheel drive model which was definitely fun to drive. The vehicle’s MSRP, almost $43,000 ($33,950 base), was disappointing on the interior; with the “Leatherette seating surfaces” and the faux wood trim. For $43k, you’d think you might be getting a little nicer cockpit.

But if you’re looking for a little more power, Infiniti equips the Q50 with what it calls its lightest, most powerful, cleanest and most fuel-efficient V6 ever offered. Built in Nissan’s famous Iwaki Plant in Japan — home of previous award-winning engines — you can move up to the Q50 Premium which delivers 300 horsepower and starts at $40,000.

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However, if you’re looking for the big gun, Infiniti didn’t let you down. The third model of the Q50 sport sedan is actually called The Red Sport and it’s this new V6 powertrain mentioned above with not only 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, but coming in only a couple of mpgs behind the 2-Liter with 22 combined. In addition, the luxury quotient goes up on this model with leather seats, aluminum and maple wood interior trim and three different optional packages that bring the price of the Red Sport up to $57,475.

Every engine in the Q50 family was fun behind the wheel. The choice really becomes what do you want surrounding you in the cockpit : an upgraded interior and technology that makes the car darn close to its luxury competitors, or fewer features to bring the price down.

In the end this Q50 may not be a “weaponized” Aston Martin, but if you’re driving the 400 horsepower Red Sport you almost feel like you’re flying Q’s “Little Nellie” (the Wallis WA-116 autogyro) from “You Only Live Twice” and you just may not want to come down.

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AAH #339 – Back When Fiat Did Not Want Chrysler

July 22nd, 2016 at 10:48am

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SPECIAL GUEST: Steve Miller, CEO, IAC Automotive
 
UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- A life in Automotive – Steve Miller
- Tesla Master Plan

All that and more with host John McElroy from Autoline.tv, and guest panelists, David Welch with Bloomberg, and Doron Levin of Forbes.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Lear Corporation.

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Seat Time VIDEO FEATURE: The Caddy That Zigs

July 21st, 2016 at 1:36pm

John McElroy tests the 2017 Cadillac CT6′s 4-Wheel Steer System. Check out the video above to see how it works.

Seat Time: 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

July 21st, 2016 at 9:00am

2016 VW Beetle Dune

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Seamus McElroy
Vehicle: 2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune
Price: $26,760 (as tested)

Final Impression:

As we reported in Autoline Daily earlier this year, Volkswagen is ending production of the new Beetle at the end of 2018. But before the Bug rides off into the sunset, the company just introduced a cool version inspired by the Baja Beetle, the Dune.

Compared to the standard Beetle, the Dune features new front and rear fascias, side moldings, a unique wheel design, a rear spoiler and a raised suspension. Inside the differences include sport seats with yellow stitching and a yellow front dash in the version I drove.

2016 VW Beetle Dune - Interior

The Beetle Dune is powered by a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It’s rated at 25 MPG in the city and 34 on the highway. During my time in the vehicle I averaged around 26 MPG, which is a little disappointing. But I mainly drove it in the city and it was hot and humid the week I drove it, so the AC was cranked up, which dragged down the average.

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Seat Time: Imagine A VW w/Emojis

July 20th, 2016 at 1:29pm

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Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Katherine Gritzinger with Carmen Erickson
Vehicle: 2016 Volkswagen Passat
Price: Starting at – $22,000, as tested – $38,000

Final Impression:

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Pros – Apple CarPlay, Safety technologies-adaptive cruise, lane detection, post-collision braking, USB ports; zippy – accelerates quickly, paddle shifter nice. Large trunk and spacious backseat.

Cons – Boring styling, other drivers thought bright headlamps active during normal driving.

“Wow, this car’s cruise control slows itself down?” was my first thought when I drove the 2016 Volkswagen Passat. As a millennial a year post-college, I don’t often find myself in a vehicle model with a production date past 2010; my personal car being a 2008 Saturn Astra accruing 170,000+ miles.

The Passat put my little bucket of bolts to shame.

For starters, the Passat has adaptive cruise control that works like a charm. I drive about an hour round trip from home to the office on all kinds of roads, and it gives me quite a bit of testing time to notice the bugs in a system. As far as the Passat’s cruise goes, I’d say it’s nearly flawless. Driving home is normally a chore for me. My Astra has a manual transmission, making the heavy traffic miserable. With the Passat, I didn’t have to slow myself down or push anything… the car did it for me!

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This car has a lot of features, but I have to say that the one that stands out the most to me is Apple CarPlay and the USB port. It’s amazing to have my entire phone on the giant screen in front of me. Apple CarPlay is incredible because it allows me to navigate with the touch of a finger, or with the sound of my voice. It displays any relevant icons I might need in the same design they would be displayed on my iPhone. Even Spotify is available with an icon. A little easter egg that I noticed and LOVED as well was, when I called my boyfriend through the Apple CarPlay, his name, which is followed by a kiss emoji on my phone, was announced as “Calling Boyfriend ‘Kissing Mark’.” I loved it.

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Seat Time: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid – Achieving The 2025 CAFE Standard Today

July 19th, 2016 at 9:43am

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: John McElroy
Vehicle: 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
Price: Starting at $28,000

Final Impression:

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I almost wish that General Motors had gone bankrupt 30 years ago. Ever since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009 the company has been cranking out world-class cars and trucks. Thanks to jettisoning its legacy costs GM is now pouring money and technology into its products. And it shows. The new Malibu hybrid is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

This is the first hybrid I’ve driven that doesn’t feel like a hybrid. There is a direct relationship to how much you press on the gas pedal and what the car does. You don’t get that uncertain sense of response as the power goes from electric motor to gasoline engine and back again that is so common in other hybrids.

The same goes for the brake pedal. It feels much more direct than other hybrid cars. You don’t get that vague feedback as it transitions from re-gen mode to friction braking.

And the Malibu hybrid has one of the best stop-start systems in the business. The restart is much smoother and quieter than you’ll find on even a lot of luxury cars.

In fact, this car is so seamless most drivers would not even know they’re driving a hybrid unless you told them. There’s not much to give it away.

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GM is taking a very different approach in doing hybrids than other automakers, at least when it comes to styling. Everyone else tries to make their hybrid as distinctive as possible, with the theory that environmentally-conscious buyers want to show the world are doing their part to save the planet. But GM believes that this approach has limited the appeal of hybrids which still have less than 3% market share even though they’ve been in the market for over 17 years. So the Malibu hybrid looks like any other Malibu except for a little blue badge with an “H” on the trunk lid.

In a week’s worth of driving I averaged about 46 miles to the gallon, which is exactly what this car is rated at. In fact in one stint I got it up to 51 MPG’s. Guess what? The 2025 CAFE standard calls for cars to average 44 MPG’s, when you look at the adjusted number they have to hit (Yes, I know, the unadjusted number is 54.5 mpg).

So the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu hybrid already meets the 2025 standard. And you can buy this car today for about $28,000—though the loaded-up one that I drove was closer to $33,000.

This car is almost too good. It sure undermines the automotive industry’s argument that the 2025 CAFE standards might be too hard to meet. But now we’ll have to see if Chevrolet can convince enough Malibu buyers to check the box and put a hybrid in their driveway.

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AAH #338 – Buick LaCrosse: From Good To Great

July 15th, 2016 at 11:33am

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The all new Buick LaCrosse is not all that well known. You haven’t read any driving reviews, and it’s not even on sale yet. But this is Buick’s flagship sedan and it’s bristling with new technology. So join us for an in-depth conversation with the car’s chief engineer, Jeff Yanssens, to learn about the details on this car and how they went about developing it.
 
UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- Ford & Collaborative Robotics: will it affect manufacturing and jobs in China?
- Tesla Crash: NHTSA or SEC?
- Hacking cars

All that and more with co-hosts John McElroy from Autoline.tv and Gary Vasilash from Automotive Design and Production, with guest journalist Dave Sullivan from AutoPacific.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Lear Corporation.

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AAH #337 – Dr. Data & A Deep Dive On The Detroit 3

July 1st, 2016 at 9:57am

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- VW’s Mammoth Penalty
- Surprising Leader in Quality
- “Ube-tter” Pay Us More!

Join our host Gary Vasilash from Automotive Design and Production along with his journalist panel including: Mike Colias from Automotive News, Mike Martinez from The Detroit News and Mike Wayland, also from The Detroit News as they tackle the hottest automotive topics of the week.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Lear Corporation.

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Seat Time Potpourri: Rear, Phone and Hatch

June 24th, 2016 at 10:12am

(Spotlighting a feature, product or function on a combination of cars)

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Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.

Reviewer: Chip Drake

Final Impression:

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Sensors

2016 Range Rover HSE Td6
$106,675.00 (as tested)

Range Rover has multiple parking systems on the HSE called, simply enough, “Front and Rear Parking Aids.” The company says the front, rear and side sensors monitor four feet around the vehicle while “inner” rear sensors monitor six feet behind the SUV. They come standard on this luxury SUV and let me tell you from personal experience, they sure work!

As I backed out of my driveway, my ears were accosted by a warning tone that was about as aggressive as the alarm on the nuclear sub in “The Hunt for Red October.” The sound was so loud reverberating throughout the entire vehicle it caused me to stop; I thought I was about to hit something. In reality, the rear sensors on the SUV were actually reading two medium-sized rocks my neighbor uses to decorate his driveway. There was no way that this vehicle, being as high off the ground as it is, would have ever come close to hitting them, but then that’s the benefit of having a system like this on your Range Rover. But I do have to say that alarm is just a tad loud.

Audi_Q7

2017 Audi Q7 3.0T quattro tiptronic
$68,925.00 (as tested)

Audi’s large SUV has a number of Infotainment & Technology features including Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto. But in spite of the smartphone integration, the MMI navigation and voice control system and unlimited WiFi, what impressed me the most was Audi’s basic smartphone interface. What I mean is the first time I entered the car my phone practically jumped out of my hand to connect with the bluetooth system. The Q7 immediately began asking me questions and making the process so simple that in seconds my phone was linked with the car. That might not mean a lot to readers out there, but having used several systems in a variety of cars, from compact to ultra luxury, I’ve never had such an easy time linking a phone to an auto’s system. So thanks Audi.


2016 Mazda CX-3 Touring AWD
$26,050.00 (as tested)

There’s plenty to love about Mazda’s small CUV with its SKYACTIV suite of technologies. The ride and handling is all Mazda meaning it’s a darn fun-to-drive car with a snappy good-looking interior to boot. There are a few drawbacks though.

Let me start with 5-passenger seating. Really? Now I’m sure there are 5 people that fit comfortably in this vehicle but I don’t know them.

Then there’s the road noise. I know this is an inexpensive vehicle as CUVs go, but I really thought there was far too much of the outside coming inside for my liking.

Finally, my last issue with CX-3 might not even be the car’s fault; allow me to explain. The first time I had to get into the rear hatch it was raining. In between the significant pelting, I tried to open the rear but couldn’t find the latch. After several attempts running my hand on the tailgate where I thought it was: nothing, nada, zilch. I even popped back into the car to look for a button in the cockpit with no luck. Frustrated, I stuffed everything in the back seat and drove home. It wasn’t until the next day — with no rain — that I discovered the location of the latch release. And where do you think it was? Right in the middle of the tailgate just where the engineers put it. So I guess I’ll take the hit on this one.

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AAH #336 – Look Who’s Going Into The Automotive Hall of Fame

June 23rd, 2016 at 2:45pm

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UP FOR DISCUSSION:
- Mulally & Nader: Hall of Famers?
- Toyota’s Near Miss at Le Mans
- VW’s EV Distraction

Join our co-hosts John McElroy from Autoline.tv and Gary Vasilash of Automotive Design & Production along with our guest journalist, Bob Gritzinger of WardsAuto as they tackle the automotive issues of the week.

SPECIAL GUEST: William Chapin, President, Automotive Hall of Fame.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Lear Corporation.

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