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    2022 Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid Represents Tradition in Transition

    The trickle of electrons at Bentley is soon to become a flood, as the automaker prepares to fully electrify its entire lineup by the end of the decade. While this is a goal shared industry-wide, it’s a rather monumental shift for Bentley, whose reputation has been defined in large part by its massive—and thirsty—engines. Hence the existence of the Flying Spur Hybrid, a 5600-pound steppingstone placed between the shores of those gargantuan powertrains and the horizon of total electrification.As befits this interim role, visual changes are kept to a minimum, with only fender-mounted “Hybrid” badges and a J1772 charging port concealed behind a door on the left rear flank. Distinct quad oval tailpipes complete the exterior transformation. Inside, the infotainment and driver screens now feature EV-specific readouts. We were particularly intrigued by the EV Range overlay function on the navigation map—a translucent green zone hovers over the vehicle’s position, outlining the boundaries of electric driving range. As the battery level drops, the zone shrinks accordingly. On the center console, an EV button cycles through the three electric drive modes: all-electric EV Drive, Hybrid, and Hold, which maintains battery charge to be deployed later.

    The Flying Spur follows in the footsteps of the Bentayga, which first tiptoed into the hybrid waters back in 2019 as Bentley’s first electrified model. Both employ plug-in systems, as the larger battery delivers motivation that a regular hybrid can’t provide. Here, the Flying Spur uses a 410-hp version of the corporate 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6. It’s the first six-cylinder found under the hood of a Bentley sedan in 64 years. A 134-hp electric motor occupies the space between the engine and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. With a combined output of 536 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque, the hybrid powertrain delivers numbers that are on par with its rowdier 542-hp V-8 big brother.
    As a result, the hybrid’s performance should also be similar, despite a couple-hundred-pound weight disadvantage. With both motors singing and all four wheels pulling, the Flying Spur hybrid should be able to reach 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. (We recorded a 3.5-second time for the Flying Spur V-8.) Top speed is limited to 177 mph, versus 198 for the V-8. While Bentley emphasized that the EV system is optimized for urban journeys, it also touted the hybrid’s ability to cruise at speeds up to 80 mph in EV Drive mode. Official numbers have yet to be released, but we’d estimate the 14.1-kWh battery will deliver about 21 miles of range. Nor are EPA fuel-economy estimates available, though one would hope to see them notch a significant gain over the V-8’s 15/20 mpg city/highway numbers. The joy of electric thrust lies not in its mechanical voice, but in the absence of it. Bentley touts that the cabin of the hybrid is 50 percent quieter than that of the V-8’s at 50 mph. On its own, the electric motor produces 295 pound-feet of torque, all of which is available from a dead stop. It’s more than capable of sustaining the big Bentley’s momentum through traffic. When rolling along in EV Drive mode, the Flying Spur Hybrid provides a marvelous glimpse of what an all-electric Bentley might be like.
    It’s only when you sample Hybrid mode that this graceful serenity is upended. Prod the accelerator and the V-6 unceremoniously crashes the party. Gruff and guttural, the engine’s unrefined character is in total contrast to the rest of the underlying package. We found its presence to be particularly obtrusive when in Hold mode, droning away constantly at what amounted to a heightened idle speed. Occasionally, the gas engine and electric motor jockeyed for position, resulting in a brief hiccup as the computer scrambled to make peace between the two. And a pronounced transition between regular and regenerative braking made it difficult to smoothly modulate to a stop. Keeping the battery charged avoids this morsel of powertrain inelegance. The 7.2-kW onboard charger can fully replenish the battery in approximately two and a half hours, according to Bentley. We suspect most owners will rely on a dedicated home charger rather than cool their heels at a public unit. That’s just as well, as the Flying Spur’s charging-port placement and substantial length make it challenging to squeeze into crowded bays, as we discovered. Speaking of maneuverability, the Spur’s rear-wheel steering and the 48-volt active anti-roll bars are not on the options list, as the bulk of the hybrid components now occupy the space normally reserved for them.
    As a result, you feel every bit of the 125.7-inch wheelbase going through turns. While navigating the twisty canyon roads of the Transverse Ranges just outside Ojai, California, we discovered that the hybrid was happiest with a more deliberate corner entry. Despite the lack of the active anti-roll system, the rest of the chassis still retains the Flying Spur’s improbable sense of dexterity, thanks to the three-chamber air suspension and adaptive dampers. When the road unwinds, the default Bentley drive mode provides a commendable dynamic balance, though it’s a bit floatier than we’d like. Conversely, the dampers in Sport are a tad too choppy. We’d lobby for a setting that split the difference. Bentley Plus, perhaps. In a recent survey of its customers, Bentley discovered that roughly half of them expressed interest in either purchasing a PHEV or EV vehicle. But at this juncture, the hybrid version of the Flying Spur is missing those few key traits that make the gas-powered variants so delightfully engaging. For those early adopters, however, the hybrid’s rough edges might be a tolerable tradeoff.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Bentley Flying Spur HybridVehicle Type: front-engine, mid-motor, all-wheel-drive, 4- or 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    PRICE (C/D est)
    Base: $190,000
    POWERTRAIN
    twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 2.9-liter V-6, 410 hp, 406 lb-ft + AC motor, 134 hp, 295 lb-ft (combined output: 536 hp, 553 lb-ft; 14.1-kWh lithium-ion battery pack; 7.2-kW onboard charger)Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 125.7 inLength: 209.3 inWidth: 77.9 inHeight: 58.4 inPassenger Volume (C/D est): 104 ft3Trunk Volume: 12 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 5600 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 4.0 sec100 mph: 8.8 sec1/4-Mile: 12.3 secTop Speed: 177 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 20/18/22 mpgCombined Gasoline + Electricity: 48 MPGeEV Range: 21 mi

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    2022 Radical SR10 Relishes Life on the Track

    Those with big budgets and a desire to show off their credentials as wannabe race drivers have no shortage of options these days, what with pretty much every supercar coming to market with a hardcore variant honed for track use. Yet while cars like the McLaren 765LT and Lamborghini Huracán STO largely serve as tribute acts, the Radical SR10 is very much the real thing: a turnkey, off-the-shelf race car you can buy from one of eight dealerships in the United States and which is eligible for Radical’s own racing series. As a slick-tire-wearing toy capable of generating more than 2.0 g’s of lateral grip and posting similar lap times to a top-flight GT3 race car, it’s also more than capable of dominating the sort of high-end track events where stripe-wearing supercars congregate.

    Radical is based in Peterborough, England, but around two-thirds of its production comes to the U.S.; the company reckons there are around 1000 of its cars on this side of the pond. Radical offers a graduated range of cars which operate on the same principle employed by dealers in illicit substances: once you’ve had a taste, you’ll want more. All have similar bodywork, clearly inspired by prototype Le Mans racers, with the entry-level SR1 and midline SR3 models both employing Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle-sourced four-cylinder engines developing 182 and 226 horsepower, respectively. But we’ve come straight to the top of the range to drive the not-street-legal SR10, which features a heavily reworked turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder from Ford. Output is strong, at 425 horses and 380 pound-feet of torque, and the engine is tasked with motivating just 1600-or-so pounds of car.
    That’s roughly the same mass as the SR8 model, which formerly topped the brand’s lineup and sported a hand-built V-8 created from combining two Suzuki 1.3-liter four-bangers on a common crankshaft. But although the SR10 is much less exotic, it has more torque and is cheaper to buy and run—qualities that have helped make it Radical’s fastest-selling car since it went on sale in 2020. The company says that both the EcoBoost engine and the racing-spec six-speed sequential transmission can run for at least 40 hours of hard track use between rebuilds—ample longevity for a typical race season.Our drive took place on the 2.9-mile Portimão Circuit in Portugal, a thrillingly three-dimensional track where several of the fastest corners feature blind elevated entry points. Upping the excitement was a pack of other Radical cars that we shared the track with, many piloted by experienced racers. The SR10, however, proved to be a rather friendly, unfrightening introduction to slick tires and downforce. As with almost all of Ford’s EcoBoost applications, the SR10’s engine was the least special part of the experience, a provider of speed rather than character. The four-pot’s abundance of torque is its defining trait, accompanied by a soundtrack that turns louder and angrier as it approaches its 7000-rpm redline, yet it never finds any compelling harmonics (at least not through the padding of a race helmet). But there is so much midrange muscle on hand that even short-shifting well before the rev limiter barely diminishes the rate of acceleration. Radical claims the SR10 can hit 60 mph in just 2.4 seconds and tops out at 180 mph.
    Radical’s chassis has no difficulty handling huge amounts of thrust. It took about half a lap to bring the SR10’s Hankook slicks up to temperature, but this was the only time traction felt less than total. Even then, the SR10 didn’t come off as skittish. Once warmed the tires started to deliver the sort of grip that inspires comparisons with Velcro and requires mental adjustment for anyone more accustomed to lapping conventional road cars. One of the first challenges for novice Radical pilots is building faith in how early full power can be deployed on corner exits.The car’s front end is equally incisive, the SR10 spearing toward apexes and resisting understeer even as we carried increasingly optimistic speeds into Portimão’s tighter turns. Communication through the unassisted steering is shouted rather than whispered, and the wheel requires serious muscle, especially at higher speeds as downforce levels increase. Radical has slightly raised the steering column for the 2022 model year to improve elbow room when turning the wheel, but amateur pilots may prefer to specify the optional power steering that our example lacked. Alternatively, cancel your gym membership. For drivers purely chasing lap times or who prefer particular handling characteristics, the SR10’s front and rear pushrod-actuated suspension is highly adjustable.
    Braking is the area where the SR10 feels most different to what could be termed more normal cars. Radical fits cast-iron racing discs, and although these lack the initial bite of the brakes on production supercars, they have no difficulty retarding the SR10’s modest mass. But the lack of ABS makes it easy to cross the fine line between peak braking effort and lockup, with the latter being rather easy to induce as downforce levels diminish when slowing from higher speeds. Our car’s tires were markedly less round at the end of our stint than they were at the beginning.For 2022, Radical is offering a factory halo-style impact protection frame inspired by the ones seen on Formula 1 cars. This wasn’t fitted to the demonstrator we drove, but we did get to experience it from the passenger seat of another SR10 piloted by one of the company’s pro drivers. The halo surrounds the cockpit like a very small roll cage and makes getting in and out far harder. Initial impressions were that it made the SR10 feel surprisingly claustrophobic despite its lack of a roof, but it only took a couple of laps for our brains to filter it out, as frontal visibility is only slightly affected. Radical has yet to confirm pricing for the revised SR10, but presuming it stays close to the $161,900 ask of the previous version, it will remain, in absolute if not relative terms, a performance bargain for those looking to hone their skills on the track.

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    The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL Reaffirms Its Place in the World

    The night before the test drive, the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL63 parked outside appeared to be daring us to compare it to any SL that’s come before. A smoother and softer shape, the new SL retains the long-hood and short-deck proportions of its predecessor, but with much trimmer overhangs. It looks less brickish than the previous square-jawed design, the front curvier, the back sculpted and sloped. The net effect is that the new car appears smaller than the old one despite growing in length. The last-generation SL seemingly abandoned its role in the lineup as technology and styling leader to become just another pricey convertible. Sales plummeted. Toward the end of production in 2020, the SL’s sales were a tenth of what Mercedes sold in the ’90s. With the new SL, Mercedes is aiming to return its sporty convertible to, if not legend status, at least relevance.

    Mercedes-AMG

    The car may constitute a small portion of Mercedes’s sales, but the SL is a symbol for the brand, a way to showcase the elegance and technology it has to offer, and a tie to the past. “You don’t want to have the SL go away on your watch,” said AMG CEO Philipp Schiemer, admitting that it was both intimidating and thrilling to take on the responsibility for the new version. “It’s motivating,” he said. “It’s something different from the last one, different also from the GT. Fast, but also usable. Comfortable. And beautiful.”The new car’s beauty is more than skin-deep. The SL’s new underpinnings are pretty enough to put on display and consist of a mix of aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, and steel—they also boost torsional rigidity by 18 percent over the previous SL. The new structure features a 4.6-inch-longer wheelbase, making room for tiny rear seats, and the retractable hardtop of the last two generations is gone. Switching to a cloth top saves 46 pounds and lowers the center of gravity.

    Mercedes-AMG

    With the fully lined cloth top folded away—it takes 15 seconds and can be done at speeds up to 37 mph—the interior welcomes you in. While most new cars try to highlight their digital goodies, the SL almost hides them, aiming for a more analog vibe. It’s a simple cabin design by modern Mercedes standards, as it lacks a dash-wide screen or quilted pillows. An 11.9-inch touchscreen slants between two turbine-style vents, and the digital cluster is shrouded by protrusions from the leather-wrapped dash. There are few physical controls in the SL. Climate, stereo, navigation, phone, and roof position are all handled through the center screen. The SL screen is likely to get particularly smudgy, as several of the controls are not just one-touch, but require a sliding motion.It’s roomier inside but still an intimate space, though not the dark confessional of many sports cars. The rear seats are not suited for adults but are useful for small children, soft luggage, or beagle puppies. It’s better up front where the performance seats of our SL63 were bolstered and narrow but plush and comfortable enough to satisfy an S-class customer.

    Mercedes-AMG

    Those sporty-but-not-too-sporty seats mirror Mercedes’s goals for the new SL. To acknowledge that the new SL was developed by the brand’s performance division, the model is now a Mercedes-AMG, not a Mercedes-Benz. A clear challenge for the SL is to differentiate itself from the increasingly radical AMG GT two-seat roadster, but the car also can’t be too luxurious or cushy because such an SL would be anathema to the AMG brand.Both versions of the SL certainly get AMG-grade goods under the hood. AMG’s twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 makes 469 horsepower in the SL55 and 577 horsepower in the SL63. We estimate the SL55 will hit 60 in 3.4 seconds, with the more powerful version dispatching with that task in 3.1 seconds. The V-8 itself is subtle, tuned to grumble rather than growl, with no juvenile pops from the exhaust. Your neighbors might be annoyed at how quickly your SL tears down the street, but they won’t be bothered by the sound. The aggression level of this car is all in its price and its fierce face. Both engines mate to AMG’s familiar nine-speed automatic that replaces the torque converter with a multi-plate clutch pack. Both come with all-wheel drive to make it easy when pulling away from the ski resort in Saint Moritz—just be sure to switch on the heated headrests.

    Mercedes-AMG

    When you get tired of dawdling through the scenery, the SL63 we drove moved right past speed limits faster than you can blink. Bringing the SL back to legal speeds is easy thanks to the optional carbon-ceramic brakes that not only looked good behind the 21-inch wheels but are strong enough to bring the car to a stop so quickly there might have been a momentary pause in the movement of time. Multiple drive modes give you a variety of throttle responses and steering efforts. On a curvy road, the SL feels competent but not organically connected, like it’s overthinking its objective. We can’t help but wonder if there’s too much going on beneath the surface. Torque vectoring, rear-wheel steering, and an active suspension work together, but not always in concert. With all three doing their things, we found twitchiness, smoothness, sluggishness, and comfort, all in the same car. Maybe it’s too smart for its own good.The new SL does recapture a lot of the allure absent in the last SL. The ’22 SL is gorgeous, fast, and comfortable enough to make sense in a lineup that also contains the AMG GT. Pricing is yet to be released, but we expect the all-AMG lineup to start at about $135,000 for the SL55 and rise to over $175,000 for a loaded SL63. The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL should be at dealerships in time for convertible weather this spring.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Mercedes-AMG SLVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door convertible
    PRICE
    Estimated base: SL55, $135,000; SL63, $175,000
    ENGINES
    twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, 469 hp, 516 lb-ft; twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, 577 hp, 590 lb-ft
    TRANSMISSION
    9-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 106.3 inLength: 185.2 inWidth: 75.4 inHeight: 53.5 inTrunk Volume: 8 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 4000 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 3.1–3.4 sec100 mph: 6.8–7.3 sec1/4-Mile: 11.1–11.5 secTop Speed: 183–196 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 17–18/15–16/20–21 mpg

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    2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD Is Comfortable, Composed, and Quick

    We liked the Kia Imagine concept, which debuted at the 2019 Geneva auto show. It was well proportioned, with taillights evoking the Kia Stinger and an oversized variation of the brand’s “tiger nose” grille. But it seemed to fall somewhat short of the almost limitless potential afforded by the Hyundai Group’s flexible E-GMP electric platform. When Kia decided to fast-forward it into production, design chief Luc Donckerwolke ordered a comprehensive redesign. He placed a group of designers in a remote location in Bavaria and left them with a model of the Lancia Stratos for inspiration.Seems his approach worked: With its slim and low front end, long greenhouse, sculpted fenders, and an ultra-aggressive rear end with surprising light effects, the Kia EV6 looks unlike anything else on the road. And that includes its closest siblings, the retro-futuristic Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the softly styled Genesis GV60. The Kia EV6 does pay homage to the Stratos—not just its tail end, but also the helmet-like greenhouse.

    This spring, the Kia EV6 is hitting the U.S. market in three trim levels: The EX RWD comes with a 58.0-kWh battery and 167 horsepower from a rear motor; the EX+ RWD and GT-Line RWD are fitted with a 77.4-kWh battery and get 225 horsepower from the same motor; and the EX+ AWD and GT-Line AWD keep the 77.4-kWh battery and add a front motor for a total of 320 horsepower. (A 576-hp GT is set to arrive later.) The 320-hp GT-Line AWD is the model we just drove in Europe, and we’re told it will be virtually identical to the U.S.-market version. As you approach the EV6, the door handles extend automatically. You enter it like a low-riding car; Kia calls the EV6 a crossover, but it’s less convincing than those from Audi, Ford, and Volkswagen. Although the wheelbase has been shortened by four inches compared to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, it’s still long compared to its overall length. And that means generous interior space both up front and in the rear. There’s a frunk as well, but underhood you find a medium-sized plastic box instead of a fully clad luggage space.
    We like the comfortable seats, which are covered in grippy black microfiber with light gray accent stripes. There is a clever USB port on the seatbacks for the rear passengers, who enjoy plenty of room themselves. The floating center console houses the start/stop button, a round gear selector, and a wireless phone charger. Two screens, the center one touch sensitive, stretch in front of the driver. The steering wheel is a futuristic two-spoke design. This interior does not try to emulate conventional cars, instead underscoring that the EV6 is something different.It’s worth taking the time to toggle through the different styles for the digital instrumentation, to adjust the space-age artificial sound or turn it off, and to familiarize yourself with the driving modes and recuperation settings. The Meridian audio system sounds great. However, we were not impressed by the look and performance of the navigation system nor with the menu structure of the infotainment system.
    Like every electric, the Kia EV6 is plagued by considerable heft; stated curb weight for the all-wheel-drive version is around 4500 pounds. But with 320 horsepower and an instant 446 pound-feet of torque on tap, that’s not much of a problem. The sprint to 60 mph should take roughly 4.5 seconds, and we can attest to a governed top speed of an indicated 115 mph, which is reached remarkably quickly. Typical of electrics, there is immediate response to pedal input, and in this EV6, there’s also enough oomph to keep the power rush going. The brake recuperation can be adjusted through the steering-wheel paddles.The EV6 AWD is EPA rated at 274 miles of range, which we found ambitious, at least the way we were driving. At speeds around 80 mph, you’re lucky to squeeze 200 miles out of it. That range is good for an EV but doesn’t change the game.
    At least the 800-volt architecture and 350-kW DC fast-charging capability should allow for speedy recharging; Kia promises “nearly 70 miles added in less than five minutes” and the ability to charge from 10 to 80 percent in under 18 minutes. Our real-world experience from Europe, though, suggests that the advertised charging performance can only be achieved in mild temperatures, not in the cold of winter.The Kia EV6 has a strut front- and multilink rear-suspension setup, and we were impressed with the execution and tuning. The steering is precise, understeer is kept under tight control, and roadholding is great not least thanks to the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires on 20-inch wheels. The brakes are capable and easy to modulate, and unlike the Ioniq 5, the EV6 doesn’t tend to bob and bounce when driven aggressively on bumpy surfaces. There is surprisingly little body roll, and this car feels a lot lighter than its actual weight.
    Of course, the Kia EV6 comes with a suite of assistance systems, which work well enough to provide helpful feedback but don’t mislead you into a false sense of security. Long trips are a pleasure thanks to the quiet cabin, and we noticed zero squeaks and rattles.Even with more and more EVs on the market, the Kia EV6 is a very attractive proposition. It combines mass-market build quality with the sporty appeal of a Tesla Model 3, and it is a lot more attractive than the VW ID.4 and Audi Q4 e-tron. Pricing has not been announced yet, but we expect it to begin in the mid-$40K range, while the GT-Line AWD could approach $60K.

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    The 2022 Mercedes-AMG EQS 4Matic+ Hits Hard but Rides Soft

    There’s a reason one of AMG’s most famous cars was nicknamed “Hammer.” The performance arm of Mercedes has a reputation of coming down clenched in a fist, pulverizing competition with the loudest, biggest engines and steely precision. So, when it came time to tackle its first electric performance sedan, a tuned version of the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz EQS580, AMG was faced with a dilemma. Is it enough to just turn up the power, or does an AMG EV need to offer a little more growl with its glide? Would you settle for more whoosh-whirr?In appearance, the AMG EQS is only subtly different from the EQS580. Its rainbow-arch profile and short-nosed proportions don’t lend themselves to the usual wide-haunched and snarling shape of an AMG machine. Closer inspection brings hints at aggression with bars of vertical chrome instead of the starry-sky grille up front and a flick of ducktail spoiler at the trailing edge of the sloped rear deck. Other details, such as gloss-black accents, a chrome-trimmed front splitter, side air intakes (which redirect air ahead of the front wheels for better aerodynamic efficiency), and diffuser-style rear end will likely be spotted only by hardcore EQS watchers. The AMG badging is the biggest tip-off that they aren’t just facing a mere 516 horses, but a stampede of up to 751. During typical driving the motors put out 649 horses. Activating launch control uncorks the remaining 102, which should result in a 60-mph time of 3.4 seconds, according to AMG.

    Mercedes-AMG

    The motors whizzing the EQS past the speed limit are beefed-up versions of those in the EQS580. Whereas gas engines brag about coated pistons and titanium valves, electric motors get hot-rodded with upgraded windings that allow them to take a stronger current and thus produce more power. There’s a sameness to electric acceleration, but AMG makes an effort to hold onto its history of rear-wheel-drive excitement in Sport and Sport+ modes. Here, engineers gave the AMG EQS a slight rear bias to the torque delivery, and the stability control system allows for a little slide. In normal driving, the torque distribution is checked and adjusted 10,000 times a minute—so, about as often as you look at your delivery update after ordering a pizza—to prevent even a second of inefficient power delivery. With that great power comes great responsibility—for the cooling systems. To keep the motors at a happy operating temp, there are liquid-cooled channels through the shaft of the rotor, as well as AMG-specific ribs that act as a heat sink on the stator, and ceramic fins on the inverter to do the same. The direct-drive transmissions are kept at the appropriate temperature via an oil cooler.

    Mercedes-AMG

    On our drive, the coolers were twiddling their ceramic-finned thumbs. It was an icy-cold day above Palm Springs, California, and the mountains were swaddled in a witchy mist. The conditions may have been challenging for the driver, but the EQS moved with confidence even around the slippery turns. It doesn’t feel small. The AMG-ification of this car didn’t include any major weight reduction—its curb weight is more than 5600 pounds—but it tucks its tail in and takes the corners with flat-footed authority. Rear-axle steering does its part to virtually bend the AMG EQS around turns, but the biggest difference from the standard car is in the control of the big body over bumps and rises. While the suspension is still multilink front and rear sprung by air bags, the components themselves are AMG-specific. Bushings, bearings, and mounts were redesigned or modified from other AMG models. Rebound and compression damping adjust independently of one another separately, allowing for a larger spread between comfortable cushioning and sporty control. The result is that the float and dive of the other EQS trims are gone.

    Mercedes-AMG

    The AMG EQS we drove came with carbon-ceramic rotors behind its 22-inch wheels. Six-piston calipers clamp the 17.3-inch front discs, but only if you press the pedal hard enough. You can adjust the regenerative braking via steering-wheel paddles to a maximum of 300 kW. This is enough stopping power to send you forward in the seat almost as violently as flooring the accelerator will push you back into it. The EQS will bring itself to a stop if it is in max-regen mode and following a vehicle ahead, but without a car in front, it creeps without a foot on the brake. This is important only to the most hardcore of one-pedal drivers. We found a lighter regen setting provided the most natural feel to the brake pedal and offered the most comfortable ride for our passenger. Mercedes has yet to announce the range on the AMG EQS, but with a slightly higher coefficient of drag—0.23 to the ultra-slippery 0.20 on the EQS580—we expect it to be less than the EQS580’s EPA estimate of 340 miles. However many miles you travel, the 400-volt, 107.8-kWh, lithium-ion battery in the AMG EQS has been rewired for higher charging capacity and shorter charging times—around 20 minutes for nearly 190 miles—at compatible DC fast-charging stations. At home or work, where speedy fill-ups aren’t a concern, smart charging monitors temperature and load to maximize battery life.

    Mercedes-AMG

    If you do find yourself sitting at a charging station, there are worse places to spend your time than the cabin of the EQS. The glassy dash display stretches to the door panels, where the mood changes from glowing tech to soft quilted microfiber. The AMG model adds performance readouts in the instrument screen as well as to the head-up display. The latter is impressive in its format, but so large and distracting we turned it off. The computer-game element of many new cars—in particular, the electrics—may offer more to talk about, but when it comes to driving, the experience is rarely improved by pulsing, flashing lights in your field of vision. On the other hand, the audio options for the EQS do add a sense of excitement to the rather drama-free experience of electric acceleration. Turning the car on and off gets a rising and falling sound like a robot’s wakeup yawn, and the Performance sound accompanies your forward motion with a deep-space thrum. We got tired of it pretty quickly, but it should impress your friends, though not as much as the launch control will.

    Mercedes-AMG

    They’ll be having a lovely time in the EQS. The front seats are roomy and adjustable to the exact angle, temperature, or level of massage you could desire, and the rear seats are just as soft and elegant, although the sloping roofline cuts into headroom. The trunk is deep enough to set up house in, or at least curl up for a nap. The AMG EQS goes on sale later this winter, and we expect it to start around $150,000, which puts it at the higher end in the field of luxury electric sedans. Of those, it beats out all competitors except maybe Lucid when it comes to interior and ride comfort but can’t compete against lighter-weight or more powerful offerings such as the Porsche Taycan Turbo S or Tesla Model S Plaid when it comes to acceleration and handling. The EQS delivers on its badge promise of power, but while it hits hard, it’s no hammer.

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    Tested: 2022 Porsche 911 GTS Gets More Hardcore

    Porsche has perfected the art of splitting hairs. The 2022 model year offers no fewer than 21 distinct variants of the 911, ranging from basic to bonkers. The GTS adroitly navigates this gamut, offering a level of performance that slots in between the Carrera S/4S and the GT3. This year, though, additional features give the GTS a harder edge, moving it closer to the GT3.

    The GTS trim has long been defined by its curated list of meaningful performance upgrades, including a stiffer sport suspension, dynamic engine mounts, stouter brakes, a sport exhaust, and, of course, more power. By increasing boost pressure from 16.0 to 18.6 psi, Porsche ups both the horsepower and torque figures by 30 over the Carrera S. With the twin-turbo 3.0-liter flat-six chuffing out 473 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, our 911 GTS test car charged to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds. The quarter-mile arrived in 10.9 seconds at a speed of 128 mph. The standard eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is eerily prescient in its operation, regardless of what drive mode is selected. Though we still prefer the engagement of the no-cost seven-speed manual option, it’s impossible to beat the automatic’s efficacy, particularly on the track.

    HIGHS: More power, less weight, exceptional execution.

    However, if that horsepower bump isn’t sufficient to conquer that last tenth of a second, the new GTS-exclusive lightweight package ($8690) promises to trim an additional 55 pounds from the curb weight, in part by removing the rear seat. Up front, you’ve got your choice of 18-way seats or the ingress-challenging but delightfully supportive carbon-fiber fixed-back buckets found elsewhere in Porsche’s GT sports-car portfolio. Rear-axle steering is also part of the GTS package, and it’s more aggressive in Sport and Sport Plus modes—perhaps too much so on the highway. While our early-build GTS lacked the thinner glass and reduced sound-deadening material included in the lightweight package, it weighed in at 3399 pounds with the optional 23.7-gallon tank ($230), or 20 pounds more than a Carrera S with the standard 16.9-gallon tank.Even with all the sound insulation in place, the 911 GTS is a raucous beast at idle, clattering away at 50 decibels in its quietest mode or 57 with the exhaust system opened up. Give it the beans with the standard sport exhaust in the loudest setting and a lawn-mower-rivaling 98 decibels shrieks through the cabin at wide-open throttle. Between the pervasive noise and the physical origami required to plop into the $5900 carbon-fiber buckets, the cockpit of the GTS is perhaps best appreciated on the track.

    LOWS: Checking the options boxes quickly pushes you into GT3 territory.

    Those who do seek out a road course won’t be disappointed. Rear helper springs pilfered from the 911 Turbo provide even more stability to an already highly composed chassis. Body roll is practically nonexistent, and we recorded a tenacious 1.06 g’s of stick around our skidpad. The standard brakes also come courtesy of the Turbo’s parts bin; our test car had the optional carbon-ceramic rotors ($8970), which only get better as they gather heat, stopping from 70 mph in 143 feet and 288 from 100 mph.As always, even choosing just a few options can torpedo the exactitude of the 911 hierarchy. With an as-tested price of $162,940, our 911 Carrera GTS nipped at the base price of a GT3, which beckons with its siren song of a naturally aspirated flat-six. Not even Porsche can split a hair that fine.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Porsche 911 Carrera GTSVehicle Type: rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $138,050/$162,940 Options: Carbon-ceramic brakes with yellow calipers, $8970; full bucket seats with rear seat delete, $5900; black leather and Race-Tex interior, $4530; Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control, $3170; rear-axle steering, $2090; 23.7-gallon extended range fuel tank, $230
    ENGINE
    twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve flat-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 182 in3, 2981 cm3Power: 473 hp @ 6500 rpmTorque: 420 lb-ft @ 2300 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    8-speed dual-clutch automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 16.1-in vented, cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic disc/15.6-in vented, cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic discTires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4F: 245/35ZR-20 (91Y) NA1R: 305/30ZR-21 (100Y) NA1
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 96.5 inLength: 178.5 inWidth: 72.9 inHeight: 50.9 inPassenger Volume: 49 ft3Cargo Volume: 14 ft3Curb Weight: 3399 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 2.8 sec100 mph: 8.0 sec1/4-Mile: 10.9 sec @ 128 mph130 mph: 11.3 sec150 mph: 15.9 sec170 mph: 23.6 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 3.9 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.2 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.7 secTop Speed (mfr’s claim): 193 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 143 ftBraking, 100–0 mph: 288 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.06 g
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 20/18/23 mpg

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    Tested: 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Excites but Falls Short

    From the January 2022 issue of Car and Driver.In the mid-’80s, William “the Refrigerator” Perry played defense for the Super Bowl–winning Chicago Bears. He was also a uniquely effective fullback. He wasn’t the quickest but was quick enough over a short distance, and his substantial mass—318 pounds, according to his 1986 Topps rookie card—would carry him through any defense in his way. Not that Ford’s Mustang Mach-E4X GT needs more names, but Fridge seems more appropriate than Mustang.[pullquote align=’center’]HIGHS: Lovely interior, practical packaging, scoots to 60 in a hurry.[/pullquote][image id=’ab7197ec-05f8-43df-b96e-441c390ca7af’ mediaId=’2777db7a-9328-4ce3-8e39-c76f5772c7ea’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’In the first nine months of 2021, Ford sold 18,855 Mach-Es. In the same period, Tesla moved about 132,000 Model Ys.’ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]The 480-hp GT comes with two motors—meaning it’s all-wheel drive—and the larger 88.0-kWh battery. Spec the Performance Edition for an extra $5000 to get 20-inch summer tires, a body kit, magnetorheological dampers, and a powertrain upgrade from 600 pound-feet of torque to 634. Like Mr. Fridge Perry, this 5001-pounder charges off the line, getting to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds (Ford claims 3.5). But its gait turns to a trot around 80 mph, which takes 6.2 seconds to reach. You need 12.7 seconds to cover a quarter-mile. The non-GT 346-hp Mach-E4X is only 0.9 second behind at the quarter (and going 2 mph faster), effectively making the GT Performance’s starting price of $66,000 a $9600 premium, a tough sell.[pullquote align=’center’]LOWS: More money for less range, not quite the overall performance expected of a GT.[/pullquote][image id=’0a376bec-2e94-46d8-89a0-35832275018b’ mediaId=’b438fdc6-64f7-420d-b47d-d8bbe0eb7cfa’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’6×4′][/image] We were also underwhelmed by this car’s 0.92 g on the skidpad and 158-foot stop from 70 mph. Yet those test results don’t tell the whole story. With the GT, Ford clearly targeted the Tesla Model Y Performance, and the Tesla owns this Mustang in a drag race. The Ford has advantages, though. Maybe not in acceleration, stopping, or lateral acceleration, but the Mach-E GT feels substantial, and its cabin is more isolated from the road imperfections that shimmy through the Y. And the GT’s downright attractive interior is well designed with premium materials. Parents of young ones will love that a rear-facing car seat doesn’t encroach on front-seat space. Plus, its body panels line up.What doesn’t line up is range across the Mach-E lineup. This GT’s 220 miles at 75 mph is 30 less than the version that won our EV of the Year (the EPA reckons 260 miles with the Performance option). Our tester also had Blue Cruise hands-free driving tech, a $1900 upcharge that works as advertised. But Mustangs should be for driving, not for riding. [vehicle type=’specpanel’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=” vehicle-model=” vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=” vehicle-year=”][/vehicle][image id=’bf222a99-967e-406f-a4d3-886f2d33b440′ mediaId=’eedd1a1e-2690-476b-9d08-e0347db4dd60′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’A car-lover’s community for ultimate access & unrivaled experiences. JOIN NOW’ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]

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    2022 Passport TrailSport Breaks Trail for Honda

    You can’t kick a rock these days without hitting some type of off-road-oriented SUV—maybe a reborn Hummer or a Ford Bronco, maybe just a Subaru Forester with a factory lift kit. It might even land on a Honda, even if Japan’s big H is better known for on-road precision than dirt-slinging shenanigans, at least when it comes to passenger vehicles. Honda wants to change that thinking, and it’s tiptoeing onto the scene as it ramps up a crop of rigs under the new TrailSport banner, the first of which is the 2022 Passport.

    The TrailSport is pretty self-explanatory. It slots in as the new midgrade trim level within the updated Passport lineup, a $43,695 proposition that sits above the now base EX-L model and below the top-spec Elite. (Honda’s larger three-row Pilot gains a similar TrailSport variant for the new model year.) Save for a few minor equipment upgrades, this is still much the same Passport we put 40,000 pleasant miles on not long ago. However, a new hood, revised front and rear bumpers, and a blockier grille do help address one of our main complaints from that long-term test: somewhat innocuous styling that makes it a little too easy to lose the Passport in a Costco parking lot.
    The Passport’s TrailSport treatment is mostly theater, encompassing a gloss black grille and badging plus orange-accented TrailSport emblems. The orange theme extends to the inside, with contrast stitching and embroidered headrests sprucing up the sensible, cubby-laden cabin, which doesn’t quite match the level of finery in the latest Accord and Civic. Model-specific bumpers with faux skid-plate inserts also are included, as are 18-inch wheels with a greater offset that widen the Passport’s track by 0.4 inch (other models wear 20-inch rollers). Wrapping those wheels are 245/60R-18 Firestone Destination LE 2 all-season tires with more aggressive shoulder tread that provide a bit more bite on loose terrain. There’s no suspension lift, unlike the TrailSport version of the Pilot, although that model has a slightly lower baseline ride height. The all-wheel-drive Passport has 8.1 inches of ground clearance, still enough to clear many smaller obstacles, and it can tow up to 5000 pounds. In terms of efficiency, the TrailSport gets the same EPA fuel-economy estimates as other Passports, which remain 19 mpg city and 24 highway for all-wheel-drive models.
    This off-road showmanship is not for Honda’s lack of experience in getting dirty. Honda’s legendary off-road background with dirt bikes and other powersports machines needs little introduction. The company has supported a desert-racing Ridgeline pickup for several years now, and Honda engineers currently campaign an essentially stock Passport in North American rally competition. In addition to driving the TrailSport both on- and off-road, we recently rode in that rally version and came away impressed with how well it makes use of the production mechanicals. The Passport’s standard 3.5-liter V-6 continues to deliver a strong 280 horsepower and a satisfying induction honk, and it plays well with the smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic transmission, particularly if you toggle the Sport mode on the still-clunky array of shift buttons. Weighing just over 4200 pounds, all-wheel-drive Passports scoot to 60 mph in a smidge over six seconds and have ample thrust for dispatching dawdling Winnebagos on country roads. Opposite to how the Passport’s spacious interior feels more expansive than its dimensions suggest, this mid-size crossover seemingly shrinks in size on the road with a sense of well-oiled responsiveness. Along with a chassis setup that nicely balances ride comfort and cornering forces, much of its wieldiness stems from the flexibility of its variable all-wheel-drive system and torque-vectoring rear axle, both of which are standard on all but the starter EX-L model, which is front wheel drive. Depending on conditions, the system can funnel up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear end and route up to 100 percent of that grunt to either rear wheel. We’ll have to wait for a test vehicle to see how the TrailSport’s tires impact the Passport’s modest grip and braking measurements, but cranking the steering wheel off center still brings a welcome buildup in effort and some feel. Among workaday SUVs, the ease with which this Honda rotates around mountain switchbacks can even approach entertaining.
    Steer off into the hinterlands and the all-wheel-drive system helps provide dogged traction over rough ground, aided by four terrain-management selections (Normal, Snow, Sand, and Mud) for the myriad chassis and drivetrain systems. With no exterior trail cameras or additional underbody protection, you’ll want to be careful around larger boulders. Yet navigating rocky desert washes that occasionally tilted the Passport up on three wheels was surprisingly uneventful. Adroit compression and rebound tuning for the passive dampers manifests in impressive composure over mildly uneven terrain—and at speeds that we wouldn’t have expected were it not for our stint in the rally racer. While that vehicle’s lack of ABS or any sort of traction-management tech allows it to slide around with abandon, the regular model shares much of its nimbleness and capability, highlighting the Passport’s potential should Honda decide to upgrade it further. We got a glimpse of such a Passport from the company’s recent Rugged Roads project vehicle, which features a modest aftermarket lift kit, larger tires, a rear-mounted spare, and a host of other overlanding-themed modifications. For now, factory upgrades are limited to plastic fender flares, rocker panel moldings, and new 18- or 20-inch Honda Performance Development (HPD) wheels painted either black or a snazzy bronze. But Honda is adamant that grander TrailSport happenings will drop in the next year, potentially including both new models and parts that could bring enhanced suspensions, all-wheel-drive systems, and beefier off-road hardware. The current TrailSport, then, marks the beginning of the journey, and it will be interesting to see how far off-road Honda goes.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Honda Passport TrailSportVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base: $43,695
    ENGINESOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 212 in3, 3471 cm3Power: 280 hp @ 6000 rpmTorque: 262 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
    TRANSMISSION9-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 110.9 inLength: 189.1 inWidth: 78.6 inHeight: 72.2 inPassenger Volume: 115 ft3Cargo Volume: 41 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 4250 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 6.1 sec1/4-Mile: 14.7 secTop Speed: 114 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 21/19/24 mpg

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