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William Maley

Comments: Frankfurt 2015: Infiniti Q30 Joins the Growing Group of Entry-Level Luxury Models

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A new entrant is coming into the entry-level luxury class. At an event on the eve of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Infiniti revealed the 2017 Q30 hatchback.

 

The production model isn't much different from the concept at the shown at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show with a front end seen on a number of Infiniti sedans, and bold sculpting along the side. The interior is focused on the driver with a simple layout for the center stack and sport seats.

 

The Q30 comes from the partnership of Diamler and Nissan. That means the Q30 has some bits of Mercedes-Benz's compact luxury car - the A-Class. It begins with Mercedes' 2.0L turbo-four with 208 horsepower for the U.S. Other countries will get a selection of gas and diesel engines producing 108 to 168 horsepower. Front-wheel drive will come standard, while all-wheel drive will come as an option. It isn't known at this time whether or not the U.S. models will get this option. A six-speed manual and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic will be available.

 

Also coming from Mercedes is the front McPherson struts and rear multi-link suspension arrangement from A-Class. Infiniti has made some slight changes with their own settings for the shocks. A set of eighteen or nineteen-inch wheels will be available.

 

We'll have more information on the Q30 before it launches in the U.S. sometime in the second quarter of next year.

 

Source: Infiniti

 

 

Press Release is on Page 2


 

Infiniti Q30: A new type of premium compact car

  • Q30 active compact is a vital part of Infiniti's global growth plans
  • Infiniti's first global entry in the compact segment attracts a new generation of premium buyers
  • Q30 features daring design that forges a unique path for a premium car
  • Confident dynamics deliver a holistic, intuitive driving experience
  • "Premium" and "Sport" versions allow for individual expression
  • World premiere at 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show on September 15, 2015


Hong Kong – Making its world premiere at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show (September 15), the Infiniti Q30 active compact is a new type of premium vehicle for a new type of consumer. Representing Infiniti's first global entry into the fast-growing premium compact segment, the Q30 will play an important role in helping the company realize its plans for global growth.

 


Designed for a new generation of buyers who are not willing to be defined by their choice of vehicle body type, the Q30 challenges convention with its bold character and daring shape. The car stays true to the signature design cues from the original 2013 concept and exemplifies Infiniti's design-led, customer-centric approach to product development. The unconventional stance and asymmetric interior contribute to an overall design that is certain to command attention.

 

The development teams behind the Q30 have taken a holistic approach to its engineering, presenting a car that offers exceptional ride and handling. It feels comfortable yet "ready to go anywhere" thanks to the versatile dimensions, confident dynamics and intuitive technologies.

 

In addition to the base model, two bespoke versions of the Q30 will be available: "Premium" and "Sport." Each will have its own unique personality, including design, dimensions and driving performance – offering premium compact buyers a choice that is specific to their personal needs and preferences.

 

"Q30 makes a daring visual statement through its sculpted, concept car-like exterior, unconventional stance and asymmetric cabin design. The car has been engineered to exacting standards to deliver a driving experience that is unmistakably Infiniti. Q30 will accelerate the company's strategy to become a leading global manufacturer of premium cars."
Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti

 

Q30 is a vital part of Infiniti's plans for global growth

 

The launch of the Q30 active compact comes at a moment of significant opportunity for the Infiniti brand, and it will play a vital role in global growth and strengthening of its presence in key sales regions.

 

Infiniti sold a record 136,700 new vehicles worldwide during the first eight months of 2015, representing an increase of 14 percent compared to the same period in 2014. The brand also set records in China, Asia & Oceania, and EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa).

 

In August alone, Infiniti posted global sales of 16,900, an increase of 19 percent over the same month last year. This marked the best August in Infiniti's history, and the brand has now reached a 12-month streak of best individual months on record. Sales records were set in many key markets, such as Australia, Canada, China, Latin America, Mexico, South Africa and West Europe.

 

"These excellent results provide a strong foundation for future growth globally and in key regions, and the launch of Q30 means we're well positioned to carry forward this momentum."
Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti

 

The Q30 gives Infiniti the best platform from which to achieve its goals in key markets globally. It will become the company's first ever vehicle built in Europe at newly upgraded production facilities in Sunderland, United Kingdom. Representing a £250 million investment, plant extensions totalling over 25,000m2 will provide Infiniti with the production facility to satisfy the demands of premium vehicle manufacturing. A successful recruitment program has recently been completed, filling over 300 new jobs to support Q30 production.

 

Q30 is the beginning of Infiniti's push to expand its product line-up

 

With the launch of the Q30 active compact, Infiniti has started to deliver on the promise to expand and refresh its product portfolio within new premium segments.

 

Staying true to the concept revealed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Q30 is an in-house development designed and engineered to meet exacting Infiniti standards.

 

"Q30 is integral to Infiniti's commitment to offering a broader range of premium products in new segments, and is part of an intense product launch period that will see us further enhance our offer to an increasing number of customers."
Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti

 

Infiniti is adding new product at the right time, as data show that the premium compact segment is among the fastest expanding globally, and it is set to continue its growth trajectory as we approach the end of the decade.

 

Infiniti entering the compact segment for the first time

 

Representing the first vehicle of its kind for the company, Infiniti has dared to be bold and ambitious with the Q30 active compact. The car defies categorization with its rare shape and elevated stance. Its expressive design targets premium customers seeking urban individuality.

 

"From the very beginning of product development, it was clear that Q30 presented an outstanding opportunity for Infiniti. The company's inspiration was to create a vehicle that mirrored the existence of a new generation of premium buyers."
Francois Bancon, Infiniti Vice President Product Strategy

 

Combining unique height and dimensions with coupe-like proportions, the Q30 conveys a "ready to go anywhere" attitude while maintaining an "at home in the city" versatility – perfect for those wanting to create their own unique experiences.

 

Generations X and Y are a new breed of premium car buyers. For these buyers, a car is an expression of "self" rather than "status," and they insist on setting their own standards through unique, category-defying products. For them, personalising a brand is a means to individual expression – a "made for me" approach that is at the core of new luxury.

 

To satisfy these demands, every decision that went into crafting the Q30 was made for the individual. For example, the alloy wheels allow for true personalization, with a laser-cutting process enabling the precise application of an accent colour of choice. The process is so precise that the bespoke colored lines can be as thin as 0.3mm, offering a subtle way of making the car your own.

 

Complementing the bespoke nature of Q30, perceptual quality levels meet the expectations and high standards of buyers in the premium compact segment. Superior fit and finish details, both visible and tactile, are available across all grades. For example, a satin chrome-plated trim, rather than plastic chrome, gives Q30 a "cool-to-the-touch" feel, even in hot temperatures, while consistent use of black lacquer trim across wheel arches and side sills highlights the Q30's elevated stance, contributing to the strong, unique road presence of the vehicle.

 

Q30 takes a design-led approach that forges a unique path

 

Staying true to the design cues from the original 2013 concept, the Q30 active compact exemplifies Infiniti's design-led approach to product development.

 

"Infiniti is an expression of design. We want our customers to feel the hand of the artist at work in the sculpted, muscular aesthetic of our cars. Q30 design is marked by turbulent character lines and sculptural shapes that look stretched over bone and muscle. The effect is a spontaneous feeling of harmonious design that can be appreciated at a glance."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

 

An important, differentiating characteristic of the Q30's design is its combination of elevated stance with an overall height that is comparable with models in the traditional compact segment (1,495mm for base and Premium and 1,475mm for Sport). The result is a highly distinctive, coupe-like silhouette, which is further emphasised by a shallow side glass area.

 

The Q30 takes Infiniti's signature design cues and evolves them into new dynamic shapes. The double-arch grille with 3D mesh, for example, has grown from the Q50, with a more fluid movement into the headlamps. The dramatic curves and turbulent lines flow up the signature double-wave bonnet, over the fenders and across the bodyline into the strong shoulder of the car. The signature C-pillar arcs forward in a dynamic crescent shape that emphasises motion, even when stationary. The contrast of the long, low-slung roofline, conjuring an image of a rakish shooting brake in silhouette, and elevated stance add to the visual impact.

 

Above the base Q30 model, two grades – "Premium" and "Sport" – permit opportunities for further individual expression through exterior design.

 

The Q30 Premium includes LED front fog lamps, body-colored and heated door mirrors, as well as chrome dual rectangular exhaust finishers. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels add to the Premium grade's striking appearance.

 

The face of the Q30 Sport is slightly different, thanks to a shapely bespoke bumper and gloss black front grille. Custom body-colored sidesills give the car a striking, in-motion look, while a sporty rear bumper is joined by dark chrome dual rectangular exhaust finishers. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels complete the confident look of the Sport model.

 

The Q30 Premium's elevated stance (170mm at the front axle) allows for a higher hip point (531mm), which aids ingress and egress. The A-pillar design is intentionally slim, contributing to enhanced visibility for a confident driving experience. Q30 Sport stands a little lower (155mm at front axle), providing for agile ride and handling.

 

The Q30's coupe-like design belies its interior space and functionality. Cabin room is highly competitive, notably the boot capacity of 13 cubic-feet (368 liters VDA), which ranks among the best in the premium compact segment.

 

"The Q30 is not the little brother or sister to siblings from larger segments. The car features a unique posture and shape that conveys the type of spontaneity and independent spirit that can only be matched by its owner."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

 

Infiniti's bold approach to design continues inside the Q30, where buyers will find an expressive interior that challenges traditional standards of symmetry in automotive design.

 

The beautifully styled, asymmetric surfaces feature wave shapes and dynamic lines that twist apart and flow away from the driver. This "dissymmetry" alters the conventional perception of occupant areas, creating a more pleasant environment in which to spend time.

 

"Infiniti wants to offer an environment in which the driver stays connected to the driving experience and where passengers feel relaxed in an open, aesthetically pleasing space. All occupants will appreciate a high level of artistry in the flowing, asymmetric lines."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

 

Custom-designed trims deliver a personalized, self-expressive interior design. "City Black" blends black upholstery with purple stitching, ideal for the all-night urbanite. "Cafe Teak" combines classy brown and black upholstery with black stitching, providing a modern twist on traditional concepts of premium. "Gallery White" endows Q30 with a fashionable, high-contrast appearance, featuring white leather with red accents. All three "designer" trims accentuate the Q30's stand-out interior and will add to the car's appeal for open-minded premium buyers looking for a new, creative approach to cabin design.

 

Infiniti interior designers have also selected the highest quality materials and processes available to create a modern-looking and luxurious cabin. For example, a super-soft, highly tactile material lines high-impact areas of the interior, such as door trims and the center armrest, while "Dinamica®," a new Italian suede-like material used increased increasingly in the high-fashion industry, has been applied to the roof-line and pillars.

 

Interior noise levels in Q30 add to the overall cabin comfort. Infiniti sound engineers used the official Articulation Index, a standard way of measuring the level of speech intelligibility provided in a space, to measure the quality of occupant conversation within the cabin. Q30 features a 10-percent improvement in audibility over the leading segment competition at a speed of 120kph.

 

Quietness in the cabin is aided by Active Noise Cancellation, which emits sound waves from the four door speakers to negate any instances of booming noise emanating from the 2.2-liter diesel engine (Europe market only). Sound-damping materials further reduce the impact of unwanted noise, either from the engine or exterior elements, while the closed sections of the high-rigidity body structure protect the Q30 from any negative noise and vibration generated by broken or inconsistent road surfaces.

 

Further interior comfort is guaranteed thanks to an advanced seat design. The seatback has been carefully engineered to match the curvature of the spine, providing consistent spinal support and minimising pressure on back muscles. A wider fitting shape on the seats distributes weight more evenly, while the softness of the seat cushion provides enhanced support and comfort. Internal testing by Infiniti engineers showed that the Q30 seat back section distributes load more effectively than its competitors in the segment.

 

For drivers wanting to add to the dynamic feel inside the Q30, sports seats with integrated headrests are available for the first time in an Infiniti, featuring eight-way adjustment and power lumbar support. The Q30 Sport features a leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel, as well as aluminium pedals and footrests, adding to the in-control driving experience.

 

On certain grades, drivers can also stay in tune with the dynamic performance of the Q30 through Active Sound Enhancement, which monitors acceleration behaviour and gear ratio, smoothing out variations in engine tone to project a harmonious and exhilarating sound when accelerating.

 

Confident dynamics deliver a holistic driving experience

 

The Q30 active compact delivers a dynamic driving experience unique to Infiniti. Development started at the brand's technical center in Japan, before moving to Europe for final development and testing. In total, over 750 Infiniti engineers in Japan and Europe were involved in the car's development.

 

"Each mechanical aspect has been tuned in unison to make the Q30 perform as one, delivering a holistic driving experience that is both involving and intuitive. As a result, high performance is deployed consistently."
Grahame Cornforth, Infiniti Chief Vehicle Engineer

 

The priority for Infiniti engineers was to strike an ideal balance between ride and handling. The car stays firm on the road thanks to specially tuned shock absorbers, with engineers considering over 50 variations on prototype vehicles before choosing the optimal setting, while the driving remains smooth throughout. Body stiffness has been enhanced to the benefit of the driver, eliminating negative sensations and audio cues, so the Q30 experience feels and sounds controlled.

 

Infiniti engineers have designed the suspension to be both forgiving and comfortable, without sacrificing agility. Bump shock rates and shock absorber rebound rates have been specially tuned, while MacPherson front struts offer tight packaging to best handle Q30's size and weight. A multilink system at the rear offers precise wheel control in all any conditions.

 

The Q30's steering has been tuned to deliver a consistent and connected feeling, thanks to an intuitive speed-sensitive system. A light and nimble feel makes the car easier to control in busy city traffic and urban environments, reducing stress and driver fatigue, while a gradual increase in resistance according to incremental changes in speed boosts driver confidence and control.

 

"The Q30 offers excellent steering, further enhancing the overall ride and handling feel, as well as a tuned suspension and body response that's uniquely Infiniti. Thanks to this set-up, the car offers a firm and in-control driving sensation, a perfect example being Q30's ability to confidently steer the right cornering angle and 'hold the line' precisely though the corner."
Grahame Cornforth, Infiniti Chief Vehicle Engineer

 

Depending on the grade, Q30's suspension settings endow unique performance attributes. The base and Premium model are best suited to the varied, and often inconsistent road surfaces found in urban environments, the suspension set-up biased towards reducing vibration and harshness picked up from the road.

 

The Q30 Sport – with 15mm lower ground clearance than the base and Premium versions – gives a firmer ride, facilitating tighter body control and reduced roll without compromising comfort. The Sport grade has been engineered to be used comfortably on a daily basis while offering an intuitive, in-control driving experience.

 

A varied range of powertrain options is available globally, all tuned to provide exciting power delivery. In the European base model, there is a 1.6-liter engine, with either 120hp or 154hp. Also in Europe, diesel options include 1.5- and 2.2-liter engines, both four cylinder, with 107hp and 168hp power outputs, respectively.

 

In addition to these powertrain options, and the only engine offered in the U.S., Premium and Sport models add a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine producing 208hp.

 

Automatic gear shifts are smooth and seamless thanks to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The dual clutch intelligently pre-selects gears so the next shift is always ready to go, while manual mode with paddle shifters lets the driver control gear changes when desired. Well-spaced ratios promise comfortable acceleration thanks to an even distribution of power, whether at a steady or fast pace, while quick and supple changes are ensured using either the fully automatic mode or the paddle gear selectors. Torque is almost uninterrupted between changes, reducing lurching while in motion and between shifts.

 

A six-speed manual transmission will also be made available in Europe only.

 

Power delivery from all engines is smooth while responsive as Infiniti's technical engineers have ensured the Q30's acceleration is prompt and reactive – providing bursts of power when most needed, giving confidence to the driver. An in-command sensation is generated by easily controlled acceleration, enabling the driver to feel and regulate the Q30's forward motion more intuitively.

 

The Q30 features a host of intuitive technologies that enhance the driving experience, while providing maximum safety to all occupants. These include: Automatic Park Assist with Around View Monitor (AVM) and Moving Object Detection (MOD), making the Q30 one of the easiest cars to park in the premium compact segment; Blind Spot Warning, providing greater security and confidence at speed by warning of other vehicles out of the driver's line of sight; Forward Collision Warning with Forward Emergency Braking, reducing the stress of driving in heavy traffic or in the city; Auto High Beam Assist, a highly intuitive technology that improves safety and confidence during night-time driving; and Intelligent Cruise Control, maintaining a safe distance from the car in front, resulting in a safe and relaxing drive.

 

A special metal plating method allows the radar waves of the Intelligent Cruise Control to pass through the Infiniti badge – a first for the brand.

 

Infiniti's trademark InTouch infotainment system, first introduced on the pioneering Q50, has been evolved and upgraded for the Q30, delivering an intuitive, tablet-like experience from the driver's seat via a delivering touch-screen HMI (human machine interface).

 

The Infiniti Q30 active compact will go on sale in selected markets later in 2015.


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      Alfa Romeo is known for styling vehicles that stand out and Giulia Quadrifoglio is no exception. Up front resides the traditional Alfa triangle grille and large openings in the bumper with mesh inserts. The carbon fiber hood features gentle sculpting and a set of air vents in the channels. The side profile features more of the gentle sculpting on the doors, along with carbon fiber side skirts and 19-inch wheels finished in dark gray. The rear is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio makes its intentions known to the world with a carbon fiber lip spoiler and massive rear diffuser with large exhaust pipes sitting on either end. Finishing off the vehicle are cloverleaf badges on the front fenders and a dark blue finish. 
      At first glance, the Giulia’s interior looks elegant. The dash has a flowing wave shape that is higher on the driver’s side to make space for the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Material choices such soft-touch plastics, carbon fiber accent trim, and a small-rimmed steering wheel with Alcantara and carbon fiber help set the Quadrifoglio apart from other Giulia models. But Alfa Romeo earns some red marks as the center console is littered with cheap plastics - the controller for the infotainment system and gear lever being the key offenders.
      Our test Giulia Quadrifoglio came with the standard leather and Alcantara sport seats. A set of carbon fiber Sparco racing seats are available as an option, but it is one we would recommend trying out first. Sitting in a Quadrifoglio with the optional seats, I found that I could not fully settle into them due to my wide shoulder blades. The standard seats offer increased bolstering to hold you and a passenger when the road gets twisty. I would like to see a little bit more cushioning in the seats as it becomes somewhat uncomfortable the longer you sit in them. The back seat in Giulia is average for the class, offering a decent amount of head and legroom for those under six-feet. Getting in and out of the back seat is not easy due to a narrow opening.
      All Giulia Quadrifoglios come equipped with an 8.8-inch infotainment system. Controlling this is a rotary knob in the center console, along with using voice commands. The system itself is very frustrating for a number of reasons. For one, the system is slow when put against competitors. It takes a few moments to switch between various menus. Also, certain functions don’t work as you might expect. For example, turning the knob in the navigation system doesn’t zoom in or out. You have to scroll the navigation menu to find the Zoom command to allow this function. Other issues I experienced during my week-long test of the Giulia included,:
      The system wouldn’t play my iPod if I had it paused for more than minute or if I switched to another audio source and then back to the iPod. Connecting my iPhone 7 Plus to the system via Bluetooth took on average about 45 seconds. I had the system crash on me twice during the week I had the Giulia. One of those crashes required me to turn off the vehicle and start it back up to get the system working again. Alfa Romeo needs to go back to the garage and do some serious work with this infotainment system.
      Underneath the carbon fiber hood lies the beating heart of the Quadrifoglio, a 2.9L twin-turbo V6 with 505 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. Drive is sent to the rear-wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Quadrifoglio models have four drive modes - Race, Dynamic, Natural, and Advanced Efficiency and each one alters the engine’s behavior. Advanced Efficiency and Natural are about the same with the throttle being a bit more laid back. But that isn’t to say the Giulia isn’t quick in either mode. It has more than enough oomph to leave other cars in the dust when leaving a stop light or merging. But the engine really comes alive when in Dynamic or Race. The throttle sharpens up and the exhaust opens up to deliver a tantalizing soundtrack. Mash the pedal and hold on because this engine will throw you back. The engine sings at mid and high-rpms with speed coming on at an astonishing rate. Alfa says the Quadrifoglio can hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and I can say they are right on the money.
      The automatic transmission is quite impressive. In Normal and Advanced Efficiency, the transmission delivers smooth gear changes. Turn to Dynamic or Race and the gear changes are snappy and fast. Oddly, the automatic transmission exhibits some hesitation when leaving a stop. This is a problem more attune with dual-clutch transmissions.
      EPA fuel economy figures for the Giulia Quadrifoglio are 17 City/24 Highway/20 Combined. My average for the week landed at 19.7 mpg.
      Handling is where the Giulia Quadrifoglio truly shines. Enter into a corner and Giulia hunkers down with little body roll and gives you the confidence to push a little bit further. Steering is another highlight, offering quick response and decent weight. The only complaint I have with the steering is that I wished for some road feel.
      There is a trade-off to Giulia’s handling and that is a very stiff ride. Even with the vehicle set in Advanced Efficiency or Natural mode, the suspension will transmit every road imperfection to your backside. Wind and road noise isolation is about average for the class.
      It is time to address the elephant in the room and that is Alfa Romeo’s reliability record. Since the Giulia went on sale last year, numerous outlets have reported various issues from a sunroof jamming to a vehicle going into a limp mode after half a lap on a track. The only real issues I experienced during my week dealt with infotainment system which made me breathe a sigh of relief. Still, the dark cloud of reliability hung over the Giulia and I never felt fully comfortable that some show-stopping issue would happen. This is something Alfa Romeo needs to remedy ASAP.
       Now we come to end of the Giulia Quadrifoglio review and I am quite mixed. Considering the overall package, the Quadrifoglio is not for everyone. No, it isn’t just because of reliability. This vehicle is a pure sports car in a sedan wrapper. It will put a big smile on your face every time you get on the throttle or execute that perfect turn around a corner. But it will not coddle you or your passengers during the daily drive. Add in the material quality issues and concerns about reliability, and you have a mixed bag.
      To some, that is the charm of an Alfa Romeo. Within all of those flaws is a brilliant automobile. For others, it is something that should be avoided at all costs.
      Disclaimer: Alfa Romeo Provided the Giulia, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Alfa Romeo
      Model: Giulia
      Trim: Quadrifoglio
      Engine: 2.9L 24-Valve DOHC Twin-Turbo V6
      Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 505 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 443 @ 2,500 - 5,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/20
      Curb Weight: N/A
      Location of Manufacture: Cassino, Italy
      Base Price: $72,000
      As Tested Price: $76,995 (Includes $1,595.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Driver Assist Dynamic Plus Package - $1,500.00
      Harman Kardon Premium Audio System - $900.00
      Montecarlo Blue Metallic Exterior Paint - $600.00
      Quadrifoglio Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel - $400.00

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      Back in January, Infiniti announced that it would electrify most of their lineup starting 2021. The long timeframe is to give Infiniti enough time to finish work on a new platform need for this plan. This in turn has cause Infiniti to delay the redesigns of the Q50, Q60 Coupe, and Q70 till this time.
      Speaking with Australian outlet GoAuto, Infiniti's product strategy vice-president Francois Bancon explained that he would liked to update their lineup of sedans and coupe quicker - the Q70 hasn't really changed since it was known as the M back in 2011. But the change to a new platform has caused the automaker to push them back.
      “We are going to have to change, this platform is a V6 platform, it is rear-wheel drive. We are going to have to shift because this platform is not an electrified platform. You need a battery, you need an electric motor, it’s a different package," said Bancon.
      “The oldest are the priority obviously, it’s not about one product versus another but it’s just about cascading management … and updating all of them. We would prefer to replace faster but we have some limits because it is a radical shift for us. It’s not about, well, you keep the platform but replace (the body design). When you change everything, including the manufacturing system, it is not a small change.”
      Bancon also dropped an interesting tidbit about the new platform. It will be all-wheel drive - gas engine driving the front-wheels and electric motors handling the rear. But will feature some sort of rear-bias.
      “Probably all-wheel drive, with some distribution more 50:50 (front-to-rear) than the 60:40 we have today, so probably a little more rear distribution than we have today. Since you shift electric you have a motor in the front and in the back, so rear-wheel drive does not make sense anymore. So with the new generation electrified platform … it’s a bit like Audi with its four-by-four (wheel drive).”
      The Q70 is expected to be the first model of this trio to transition, but Bancon admits that will only be for the Chinese market. The Q50 and Q60 are expected to follow.
      Source: GoAuto

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      The Toyota Highlander has an interesting selling point in the midsize crossover class. It is the only model that offers a hybrid version. Seems quite crazy that more automakers aren’t offering a green option due to the increasing popularity. But maybe there is a reason for that.
      (Author’s note: I don’t go into detail about the Highlander Hybrid’s exterior and interior as it is the same as the regular Highlander. If you want to get an idea of what I think, you can check out my quick drive review on the 2017 Highlander posted back in October. -WM)
      The Highlander Hybrid’s powertrain is comprised of a 3.5L V6, two electric motors, and a nickel-metal hydride battery pack. Total output is rated at 306 horsepower. This is paired up with a CVT. The electric motors are mounted on each axle and provide all-wheel drive. Despite the hybrid weighing 310 pounds more than the standard model, the instantaneous torque from electric motors disguises the extra weight at low speeds. This makes the hybrid feel slightly quicker around town than the standard model. But at higher speeds, the effectiveness of the electric motors begin to wane and the V6 begins to shoulder more of the burden. Merging onto a freeway, I found the hybrid to not be any quicker than the standard Highlander. Switching between hybrid and EV mode in the Highlander Hybrid is very seamless. You don’t notice the transition unless you have the hybrid powertrain screen up in the instrument cluster or infotainment system. Like most Toyota hybrids, the Highlander Hybrid can travel on electric power at speeds up to 25 mph for short distances. I found this was easy to sustain when driving in city areas or my neighborhood. EPA fuel economy figures on the Highlander Hybrid are 30 City/28 Highway/29 Combined for the base LE, and 29/27/28 for the rest of the lineup like our Limited tester. During my week, I was only able to achieve a disappointing 24 mpg on a 60/40 mix of city and highway driving. The Highlander I drove last year was only 2 mpg lower during my week-long test. Ride quality is similar to the regular Highlander as most bumps and potholes are ironed out. Road and wind noise are kept to very acceptable levels. Handling is not the Highlander Hybrid’s strong suit. Around corners, the hybrid shows an excessive amount of body roll and dull steering. On the upside, the hybrid does feel more planted to the road than the regular model thanks to the extra weight of batteries. Brakes are still an issue for Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. The Highlander Hybrid exhibits a vague and somewhat unpredictable feel from the pedal, which doesn’t inspire confidence.  The 2017 Highlander Hybrid begins at $36,270 for the base LE, about $2,130 more than the standard Highlander LE V6 AWD. Our Limited tester starts at $44,760, and with a couple of options and destination, the as-tested price is $46,134.  Is the hybrid worth it? In short, no. With gas prices the way they are at the moment, it will take a long time for you to break even on the extra cost of the Highlander Hybrid. Plus, I found the real-world fuel economy wasn’t that much better than the standard model. At the moment, I would stick with the standard Highlander and pocket the extra cash. Disclaimer: Toyota Provided the Highlander Hybrid, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2017
      Make: Toyota
      Model: Highlander Hybrid
      Trim: Limited
      Engine: 3.5L DOHC 24-Valve with VVT-iW V6, 2 Electric Motors, Sealed nickel metal hydride battery pack
      Driveline: CVT, AWD-i
      Horsepower @ RPM: 231 @ 5,800 (Gas); 167 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 68 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2); 306 (Total)
      Torque @ RPM: 215 @ 4,800 (Gas); 247 @ 0 (Electric Motor 1); 103 @ 0 (Electric Motor 2)
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 29/27/28
      Curb Weight: 4,861 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Princeton, Indiana
      Base Price: $44,760
      As Tested Price: $46,134 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Carpet Floor Mats & Cargo Mat - $225.00
      Body Side Molding - $209.00

      View full article
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