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    Son of a Niche! SUV Coupes

    Style over substance and I’m not buying it.

    In my previous article, I praised four-door coupes. I love how they look in exchange for lost practicality while making up for the latter with charm and class. This is fine because they’re usually based on regular coupes or sedans. Great. Unfortunately, BMW had to mess things up. They had the excellent X5 and thought to themselves with a German accent: “We need to appeal to even fewer people. What if… we make the X5 ugly and harder to see out of?” Hence, the BMW X6 was born. Excellent, thank you, BMW. It sold well and now Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Acura at one point, and even Lamborghini have SUVs with raked rooflines. There must be a reason why I like sedan to coupe to four-door coupes compared to these SUV-coupes, right?

    When BMW first introduced the X6, Top Gear had Jeremy Clarkson review it on their show. He said the same things I was thinking. The X6 is a worse version of the X5 that isn’t good off-road. Now, I know that they set up some things to make the review of the X6 more scathing, but two points hit home. It’s an uglier version of the X5 that isn’t as good and has worse visibility. You would think that a power-house journalist like Clarkson, combined with that review, would have BMW scared that their new vehicle would go down in history as one of those “one-hit wonders.” Nope. That didn’t happen.

    Instead, BMW sold enough to “justify” a few different events. Mercedes-Benz got onto the bandwagon. They created the GLE coupe as well as the GLC coupe. It was the same concept as the X6: Make the SUVs uglier, less space, and “look like a coupe.” Out of all the Japanese manufacturers, Acura went in with the ZDX, one of the ugliest SUVs to walk the earth. It was based on the MDX and was given a body that no one wanted. If you’ve seen more than two ZDXs in the flesh, leave a comment below. BMW then created a smaller of the X6, dubbed the X4, to go against Mercedes’s GLC coupe. Audi jumped in the fray with their Q8 SUV. The Germans really like making niches that no one asked for. Now, Porsche has created the Cayenne coupe. Excellent. 

    At this point, I usually try to give some good points to balance the article. I’ll try my best to get a few in here. Since these are all SUVs, most have standard or optional all-wheel drive to help in the Midwest or states that get a good amount of snow. They also have high ground clearance and tall driving positions like a regular SUV so you can see over cars. You must remember that these are close to or the same as their regular SUV counterparts. The X6 gets a fire-breathing X6M version with over 500 HP from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8. Unnecessary but fantastic. I understand that style is in the eye of the beholder, which is why people go after these vehicles.
        
    If you can’t tell, I am not a fan of these, which BMW labels “Sports-Activity Coupes.” Do you want a SAC in your life? I know I don’t. The regular SUVs they are based on are usually more handsome, have more space, and cost a good amount less. There are powerful versions and hybrid versions, so people have a choice. Why were these created? Because why not. Would I recommend an X6 over an X5? No. Never. Will people still buy? Sure. These help companies like Porsche continue to make sports cars. Regular SUVs do the same. Wait… should you get a regular SUV over the limited hatchbacks and wagons we have available in the United States? I think… you should read my next article to find out.

    What are your thoughts? Do you own or like SUV coupes? Are you like me and think they’re pointless? Leave a comment below and like/interact with Cheers and Gears on social media! 
     

    Could Hummer Be Coming Back?

    ....It might be a line of premium EV trucks and SUVs...

    As part of General Motors' tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers, there is a planned $3 billion investment into the Detroit-Hamtramck plant to make electric trucks, SUVs, and vans. The program, called BT1 is part of a larger $7.7 billion investment in GM's plants over the next four years. 
    The BT1 program includes an electric truck for GMC and an electric SUV for Cadillac for the 2023 model year. But before that happens, in 2021 a low volume BT1 pickup will start production under a different brand while a performance truck follows in 2022, and then an electric SUV in 2023.  Rumor has it that these low volume BT1 vehicles could be sold under the Hummer brand, not used since 2010, but that decision has not been finalized.
    If GM did bring the Hummer brand back as an EV brand, it would have instant name brand recognition and a leg up on rival startup Rivian who has a truck due out in 2020. GM would not need to spend as much money to market the brand.
    The vehicles on the new BT1 platform would use a "skateboard" architecture that bundles the batteries and electric motor together. The architecture is highly flexible allowing GM to build vehicles in front, rear, or all-wheel drive configurations. 

    Rumorpile - AMG C63 To Lose V8 in Favor of Four-Cylinder Hybrid

    ... No more V8 rumble, but still lots of torque...

    Rumor has it that the next AMG C63 will be the first of a number of models to ditch their V8 in favor of 4-cylinder hybrid power. According to Autocar, the C63 could also lose a rear-wheel drive option, going instead with standard all-wheel drive. 
    The engine would be an electrified version of the new M139 turbocharged 2.0-liter.  In it's most powerful current form, it is the most powerful 4-cylinder in production anywhere putting out 416 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and that's without any electric boosting.  The engine was engineered to be mounted transversely or longitudinally and also with an eye on hybridization.
    For the C63, the M139 engine would adopt a 48 volt starter motor similar to the one used in the CLS 53 4Matic.  On that car, the motor provides an additional 22 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, however in the C63, it would be tuned for even more power to reach up to a total system horsepower over 500. 
    One main advantage to this setup would be a significant reduction in weight over the front axle.  Additionally, the engine/motor combination has a lower center of gravity, that would be expected to improve handling and control. 
    Moving the C63 to a hybrid powertrain is consistent with Mercedes' desire to reduce fleet CO2 emissions.

    Ford Taking the Worry Out of EV Charging

    ...offering a wide network of plugs to their EV customers...

    When the Ford Mustang inspired EV SUV goes on sale sometime next year, one challenge it will have to overcome, no matter how good it looks, is charging anxiety by potential customers. 
    Ford is offering an antidote, a way to take away to charging anxiety.  Ford is developing FordPass Charging Network, an easy way to pay as you drive to charge. The network includes more than 12,000 locations with over 35,000 plugs. The FordPass Charging Network is also in collaboration with Electrify America to provide DC Fast Charging.  On a 150-kW charger, drivers can add 47 miles of range in just 10 minutes, and fully charge their battery in the time it takes to have a sit down meal at Olive Garden. FordPass app will help guide drivers to an available charging station and allow for payments directly from the car's dashboard. Ford is offering two years of complimentary access to the FordPass Charging Network to all new Ford EV buyers.
    For those who prefer to charge at home, Ford is offering Ford Connected Charging Stations, a higher powered charger than the standard 240-volt home charger, the Ford charger uses 48 amp service to recharge at a rate of 32 miles per hour rather than the 22 miles of range per hour the 240-volt home charger would provide.  Ford is partnering with Amazon Home Services to offer installations of either standard home chargers or the Ford Connected Charging Stations. Amazon will provide upfront pricing estimates and will allow customers to schedule a licensed and vetted electrician online. 
    Ford is investing $11.5 billion in EV development through 2022.

    2020 BMW 2-series Gran Coupe Debuts

    ....Not your father's BMW...

    BMW has taken the wraps off the 2020 BMW 2-series Gran Coupe. It will come in two flavors, a 228 hp 228i Drive and a 301hp M235i xDrive.
    The 228i is powered by BMW's "B" modular engine family. It produces 228 horsepower from 5,000 rpm - 6,000 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque from 1,450 rpm to 4,500 rpm. The M235i increase that to 301 horsepower from 5,000 rpm - 6,250 rpm and 332 lb-ft of torque from 1,750 rpm - 4,500 rpm. The 235's engine gets larger diameter main bearings, new pistons connecting rods, a larger turbocharger, and a larger capacity cooling system. all of that gets you to 60 in 4.7 seconds, a 1.3 second improvement over the 6.0 seconds the base engine gets you.  Power is routed to all wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. Top speed for the 228 is an electronically limited 130 mph while the M235 can get to 155 when equipped with performance tires.
    Unlike the 2-series coupe, the Gran Coupe rides on a front-wheel drive platform shared with the X1, X2, and Mini Clubman and Countryman. 
    The xDrive system has an ARB (Actuator-Related Wheel Slip Limiter) and can split torque up to 50:50 front:rear.  On the M235i, the xDrive also includes a front limited slip differential. 
    The standard Active Driving Assistant includes safety features like Frontal Collision Warning with City Collision Mitigation Function and Active Blind Spot Detection, and Daytime Pedestrian Protection. Also included is the Lane Departure Warning system with active lane return, which operates from 43 – 150mph. The standard Lane Change Warning system, which prompts the driver to guide the car back onto the correct lane at speeds above 12 mph by means of a visual warning and, if necessary, a steering input. The Active Driving Assistant’s other functions include rear collision preparation and cross traffic warning, which reduces the risk of a collision when reversing into roads or paths obstructed from the driver’s view.
    Production of the 2-series Gran Coupe begins in November.
     

    Volvo XC40 Recharge Debuts

    ...Recharge will be the name for Volvo EVs...

    Volvo has unveiled the Volvo XC40 Recharge, a fully electric version of their compact XC40 SUV.  Recharge will be the brand name for all Volvo branded EVs going forward and Volvo plans to unveil a Recharge option every year for the next 5 years.  Eventually, all series will get a Recharge option. 
    The XC40 Recharge mostly looks like a standard XC40, except with a closed off front grille area. Where the engine would be is an additional "frunk" for more storage. Range is expected to be about 200 miles on a single charge, and the battery get get to 80% charge in 40 minutes on a fast-charger system.  Motor output is 402 horsepower. 
    The infotainment system is powered by Android and is fully integrated with Volvo On Call, the app that connects your phone to your vehicle. The app offers powertrain and range information at the tap of a screen. 
    Volvo is aiming to make 20 percent of their sales plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2020 and aims to be a completely climate neutral company by 2040.

    GM / UAW Reach Tentative Deal

    ...UAW council to vote on ending strike...

    The UAW has been striking against General Motors for 31 days, the longest work stoppage since the 1970s.  Now news comes that GM and the Union have reached a tentative agreement and the union council will vote today on whether to end the walkout of 46,000 workers or wait until the agreement is ratified by union members. The Union and GM plan to discuss the deal after the vote has taken place.
    We will update this article as more news comes. 
    Update 1:20 pm:
    Healthcare remains as-is. Temporary employees have a path to full employment All current hourly workers will receive raises to at least $32.32 by the end of the contract term Wages subject to increases of 3% a year New hires reach full pay in 4-years instead of the current 8-years $11,000 signing bonus for full-time hourly workers Detroit-Hamtramck (Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Impala) remains open. Lordstown and two transmission plants in Maryland and Michigan remain closed.  Employees from closed plants can retire early or opt for a $75,000 buyout. Workers who retire early will receive a $60,000 bonus and start collecting pension in January or February.

    Niche Time: Four-Door Coupes

    They’re less practical than sedans, but does that matter?

    Thanks, Mercedes-Benz. You created a car that literally no one asked for. What did they do? Well, in the early 2000s, they went to their E-Class, removed the hideous body, and replaced it with a different body. The new body looked like a coupe, but it had…four doors. With this, Mercedes-Benz created the “four-door coupe.” Let’s be honest—this vehicle, called the CLS, was beautiful. AMG created powerful versions that made the CLS even more appealing. Mercedes-Benz created a segment that nobody really asked for, but it worked. Granted, it cost more than the E-Class and was less practical. Both cars have been redesigned within the last few years, but these vehicles pose a question: Is a four-door coupe worth it?

    Audi, BMW, and Porsche saw that people liked the CLS and decided to create their own four-door coupes. Some of them are labeled as “coupes.” some are labeled as “fastbacks.” Once again, most of these vehicles minus Porsche’s Panamera are based on normal sedans that first turned into regular coupes and then into four-door coupes. Once again, these are less practical than the regular vehicles off which they are based. Except for BMW, manufacturers Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz all have or will have wagon versions in the United States that are more practical and cost less. Some come standard or have optional two seats in the rear compared to three. But other than for less space, why buy them? It’s all about style!

    Audi’s A7 lineup started in 2010. It was a beautiful and sleek alternative to the A6. At the time, there weren’t any high-performance version of an A6 wagon, but there was the RS7. Fantastic car! It had the interior and build quality of Audi along with a great-looking body. The A7 lineup has been redesigned and the interior is completely different than the rest of Audi’s vehicles. No wait, it’s exactly the same interior of the A6. As of right now, the brand new RS7 has arrived to compete with the Germans. It is more of a “fastback” with a large opening in the trunk, and the rear seats do have some compromise with the sloping rear end but that is a flaw that all of these vehicles have. Would I have the RS7 over the RS6 wagon when it comes out? Hard to tell but for now, the RS7 is a fantastic car.
    BMW used to have something called the 6 Series Gran Coupe. This was based on the 6 Series coupe, which was based on the 5 Series sedan. Seeing a trend? As with Audi, the interior was the same as the 6-series coupe and the 5-series sedan. At the time, the 6 Series Gran Coupe was also a great-looking vehicle. Did it have its compromises? Absolutely. There was an M6 Gran Coupe that competed with Audi and Porsche and could be a grand touring vehicle. The 6 Series is gone, and we have the 8 Series. Soon, there will be the 8 Series Gran Coupe and I suspect it will be a bigger version of the 6 Series Gran Coupe. 
    Porsche’s Panamera is the only vehicle here that isn’t based on a humdrum sedan. The first-generation Panamera was…ugly. My goodness was it ugly. Did it have good tech and fantastic engines and semi-act like a Porsche? Yes. Did others buy it mainly for the badge and ignore it for how it looked? Yes. The second generation rectified the styling of the Panamera and Porsche created a high-performance version plug-in hybrid with over 650 HP. The interior is like the Cayenne SUV and Porsche’s own wagon, the Sport Turismo. It’s become one of the best-selling Porsches behind the SUVs, which isn’t surprising. 
    What has Mercedes-Benz been up to? Oh, they now have two four-door coupes. One is an updated CLS, and the other is a fire-breathing vehicle called the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-door Coupe. Mercedes didn’t want people to get confused about what that AMG GT 4-door is. At first, you ask “why have two when they’re about the same size and do share one engine?” The CLS is more of a lower and less performance-oriented version of the AMG GT 4-door Coupe. It has less powerful engines and is less expensive. Its sister car is all about performance and is seen as the four-door version of the regular AMG GT vehicles, although it isn’t just a stretched AMG GT. There is one engine that both cars have and they have the “Mercedes-AMG 53” designation with a 3.0-liter turbocharged incline-6 producing 429 HP. Between the two, I would save the $20,000 and get myself the $79,000 CLS. Or, spend $159,000 for the 4.0L V8 Biturbo, which has 630 HP.
    My thoughts on these vehicles: I love most of them. There are 4-door coupes such as the Volkswagen Arteon, which was the CC, but I haven’t driven one so I can’t give too much information. Out of all the vehicles I listed, my favorite ones are the Audi A7/RS7 and the Mercedes-AMG too long of a name or the AMG 4-door Coupe. Both have incredible style, technology, and performance. As I said, I like four-door coupes. That said, there is a niche within a niche that I must talk about. SUV-coupes. 
    What do you think? Do you like, own, or are interested in four-door coupes? Do you think they spoil the name “coupe” and are not real coupes? Comment below and make sure to follow us on social media. 
     

    Taycan 4S expands Porsche's Electric Line

    ...a new, lower price model...

    Last month, Porsche unveiled the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S, the two top trims of the Taycan, priced starting around $155,000.  Now, Porsche is debuting the Taycan 4S, a new lower price model. 
    The Taycan 4S comes with a single-layer performance battery with 79.2 kWh as standard, the two-layer performance battery plus from the Taycan Turbo is available as an option.  Regardless of which battery is chosen, the Taycan can accelerate to 60 in as little as 3.8 seconds.  As of yet, range estimates for the U.S. have not been published, but assume somewhere north of 250 miles on the performance plus battery.
    All-wheel drive is standard on the 4S, with a dual motor setup and a 2-speed transmission on the rear motor, the overall motor package is smaller and lighter than in the Turbo and Turbo S.
    The Taycan can charge at up to 800 volts at a high-speed DC charging station. That can bring the charge from 5% to 80% in as little as 22.5 minutes. Porsche has partnered with Amazon to have 240 volt home chargers installed at customer's homes for an additional charge. 
    The Taycan 4S will start at $103,800 for the base model and $110,380 for the model with the performance plus battery.
    Ordering of the Taycan 4S is available immediately.

    Chevy Throws $3k On Camaro's Hood for Mustang Drivers

    ...Is $3,000 enough to make you switch?...

    If you're currently a Ford Mustang owner or lessee, until the end of October there is $3,000 waiting for you on the hood of any 2019 Chevrolet Camaro.  Chevy's Camaro has consistently ranked third in sales behind the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang ever since the 6th generation model debuted for 2016. Sales fell further in 2019 after a disastrous redesign of the front fascia on SS trim models, down 7.6% year to date.  This despite the greater availability of 4-cylinder models and packages that put the V8 in easier reach. 
    While the Camaro is down 7.6 percent, the Mustang has also fallen 10.1 percent and Challenger is down 11 percent year to date.  The Ford and the Dodge however sold 20,000 units and 10,000 units more respectively. 
    Camaro sales were just 50,963 in 2018, down from a 2011 high of 88,249, and are on pace to be much lower this year.

    Toyota Re-Imagines the Mirai

    ...from ugly duckling to beautiful swan...

    The current generation Toyota Mirai has never been a "looker". It seemed like some sort of Prius with a glandular problem.  Toyota hopes to change that and make the fuel cell vehicle sexy with the new 2021 Toyota Mirai Sedan Concept.
    The new concept sits on a rear-wheel drive platform and sports an new, more powerful fuel cell powertrain.  Toyota claims a 30-percent increase in driving range with increased hydrogen capacity. 
    Most importantly thought, Toyota un-weirded the Mirai so that it now looks like something that might sit in a Lexus showroom rather than Toyota. 
    The next generation Toyota Mirai will go on sale in late 2020.

    2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid Coming to LA Auto Show

    ...could this become the most popular PHEV?....

    Toyota has announced that they will be bringing a new Toyota RAV4 Hybrid to the Los Angeles Auto Show this year.  The difference for this hybrid is that it will be a plug-in and it will also be more powerful. Toyota promises "spirited acceleration" in their press release.  As we get closer to the show, we'll get more details on range, power, battery size, etc. 
    The RAV4 is already the best selling crossover in the segment and that could mean that the RAV4 PHEV could end up being the most popular PHEV for sale. Globally that title currently belongs to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. 
    Toyota has twice previously made full EV versions of the RAV4, but limited their sales primarily to California where they enjoyed limited success as "compliance vehicles" with 1,484 sold of the first generation and 2,600 copies of the 3rd generation.  There was no second generation RAV4 EV.

    Volkswagen Unveils the Atlas Cross Sport

    ...A downsized version of the Atlas...

    Volkswagen unveiled one of the loosest kept secrets in the automotive industry, the Atlas Cross Sport.  The 5-seater mid-size features a more rakish back glass to give a coupe like appearance. 
    While the Atlas Cross Sport is 2.8 inches shorter, it still rides on the same 117.3 inch wheelbase and boasts almost as much cargo space (77.8 cu. ft.) as the bigger Atlas (96.8 cu. ft.) with the seats folded.  The Cross Sport is also 2.3 inches lower to the ground adding to its racier profile.
    Inside there are a few upgrades over the Atlas with a new steering wheel with more intuitive controls, available stitching accents on the doors and seats, and available wireless charging for mobile devices. The Atlas already comes with a suite of safety technology including Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Traffic alert. Available on upper trims are Adaptive Cruise control and Park Distance Control.  The Cross Sport also adds available Traffic Jam Assist that helps maintain distances front and back, and on Cross Sports with Navigation, the system will display relevant traffic signs like speed limits, no passing zones, school zones, and work zones. 
    Powering the Cross Sport will be a selection of two engines. The 267 horsepower V6 and a 235 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder.  Either engine routes power to the wheels through an 8-speed automatic and available 4-motion All-Wheel Drive. When equipped with the V6, the Cross Sport can tow up to a rated 5,000 lbs when equipped with the towing package.
    There will be eight trim levels: S, SE, SE w/Tech, SE w/Tech R-Line, SEL, SEL R-Line, SEL Premium, and SEL Premium R-Line. More details and pricing will be announced ahead of the launch in the Spring of 2020.
     
     

    CT4 Pricing Released

    ...a bit less than the ATS...

    Cadillac released the pricing for the upcoming CT4 sedan for 2020. Ringing up at $33,990 for the base 2.0T RWD model with an 8-speed automatic, the CT4 undercuts the price of the outgoing ATS by a few grand.  This makes the CT4 roughly $7,000 cheaper than the same size 3-series or C-Class sedan or just $1k more expensive than a smaller A-Class Sedan.  Adding AWD will add about $2,500 to the price.  Buyers who want a bit more can opt for the Premium Luxury package with the 2.7-liter Turbo-4 making 309 horsepower and 348 lb.-ft of torque and a 10-speed automatic, brings the price to $38,490, adding AWD to that costs $3,200. 
    If you're most interested in the V model with more power, 325 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft of torque, that will cost you $45,490. That gets you a RWD model with Brembo front brakes, a rear limited slip differential. Adding AWD to the V-series brings the price to $46,590.
    The CT4 goes on sale early next year. 
     

    Volvo XC40 Electric gets Android based Infotainment

    ...Okay Google...

    Volvo is the first company to team up with Google to produce an Android based infotainment system. The new system will debut in the soon to be unveiled Volvo XC40 Electric.
    The new system, called Android Automotive OS features all the expected integrations like Android Assistant, Google Maps, and the Google Play Store. App installs will work exactly as they do on everyday Android phones. One of the advantages of the new OS is that it is able to do over the air updates for security and feature upgrades in the future. the system will also allow Google Maps to interact with vehicle safety system sensors, including radar and camera, to keep driving conditions in Maps up to date.
    The Volvo XC40 Electric will debut on October 16th. Expect it to largely look like the current XC40 but with a closed off grille and some extra colors available. 

    Jeep Wrangler EcoDiesel Pricing Leaks

    ...be prepared to shell out some big bucks for the upgrade....

    As we reported last month, Jeep is adding a diesel to the Wrangler lineup.  The 3.0-liter diesel will produce 260 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque and be paired only with the 8-speed automatic. Electronic Start-Stop is also standard issue. 
    As for how much it is going to cost, be prepared to shell out up to an additional $6,000 over the base model.  It breaks down like this:  $4,000 for the diesel engine + $2,000 for the automatic transmission.  All in all, it ends up being a $3,250 upgrade over a Wrangler with a Pentastar V6 and 8-speed automatic.   The diesel will only be offered in 4-door trims of Sport, Sahara, and Rubicon.  In the RAM 1500 with the same powertrain, highway fuel economy is rated for 30mpg. Expect the lighter but less aerodynamic Wrangler to match that once EPA numbers are finalized.
    Diesel Wranglers start down the production line in late November, but the order books are already open if you want to head down to the dealer and put your order in. 


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