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    2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 Has Less Engine, More Power

    Before anyone assembles an angry mob and breaks out the pitchforks in response to this latest example of engine downsizing—a twin-turbo V-6 displaced by a turbo four in the 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43—know that we have been here before. AMG has been producing four-cylinder engines since 2013, although fitting them transversely to cars like the dinky GLA, CLA, and A-class rather than north-south as in the new C43. Looking further back, Mercedes has even produced a four-cylinder performance derivative of one of the C43’s direct descendants, the stylish 190E sedan, which got 2.3- and 2.5-liter versions fitted with Cosworth-designed 16-valve cylinder heads in the 1980s. But while the 2.5-16 made 195 horsepower, the new C43’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four unleashes 402 horses. So, it must be more than twice as good, right?The new engine effectively replaces the 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 of the last-generation C43. It has lost cylinders and capacity but not power, using an advanced electrically assisted turbocharger to beat its predecessor’s peak output (although the maximum 369 pound-feet of torque is lower). The turbo, built by Garrett Motion, uses a compact electric motor between the turbine and the compressor that acts directly on the shaft. It can add a claimed 6 kW of assistance and spin at speeds of up to 170,000 rpm. It can also harvest a small amount of energy from gas flow, although only fleetingly. More regen comes from a 48-volt belt-integrated starter-generator that can also add modest levels of assistance at lower speeds.

    Mercedes-AMG

    The turbo’s e-motor allows boost to build even when exhaust gas isn’t flowing, to help reduce response delay. In the C43’s more aggressive dynamic modes, it will also keep the blades spinning when the throttle is lifted. It’s essentially an electric version of the pop-bang anti-lag that makes rally cars sound like a shooting range. As in the brawnier AMG models, the nine-speed automatic gearbox uses a wet clutch rather than a torque converter to improve response. The standard all-wheel-drive system has a permanent torque split of 31:69 front to back, and rear-wheel steering and active dampers are both standard.While the new C43’s engine is more sophisticated than its predecessor, it’s less charismatic. The exhaust note is entirely in keeping with a potent four-cylinder engine, managing some pops and chuckles when the throttle is lifted, although some of that is digitally enhanced through the audio system. But it’s much more muted than previous AMG models, even when being pressed hard, and it fades to imperceptibility at cruising speeds.

    Mercedes-AMG

    The electric turbo makes its contribution almost invisibly. It is possible to hear an enhanced induction whine at lower speeds as the turbo builds boost even when the engine is only turning slowly. Pushed harder, throttle responses are indeed clean and lag-free, with no hint of delay even when lifting off and reapplying the gas rapidly. Yet despite its boosted booster, the new engine isn’t especially keen to rev. The car we drove in France hit its spark-cut limiter shortly before the marked 7000-rpm redline, and it shifted a good 500 rpm shy of that point with the transmission left in Drive. While the autobox swaps cogs smoothly and intelligently, there was a noticeable pause when requesting manual downshifts via the steering-wheel paddles.

    Mercedes-AMG

    That said, the C43 is hugely fast and dynamically secure. The engine’s linear responses and unbreakable traction mean it never felt edgy or loose when pushed hard. AMG’s claim of 4.6 seconds to 60 mph is almost certainly pessimistic, given that we hustled the old V-6 C43 coupe to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds, and the new car has gained a launch-control system to help it get off the line. While there hasn’t been a significant reduction in overall weight—this C43 is a porky 3900 pounds, according to its maker—the reduced front-end mass of the lighter engine is obvious in tighter corners, where the new car felt keen to turn in. The steering is good, as you would hope from an AMG, with more low-level feedback than in the regular C-class and forceful weighting beyond that as lock is added. Grip levels were impressive, too, with our sample car’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires finding huge adhesion in both dry and wet conditions. Yet despite the rear torque bias, there was little sense of any kind of rear-led handling balance, even in tighter corners—the C43 is one of those cars that sticks and goes. The ride was firm at low speeds, regardless of which drive mode was controlling the adjustable dampers, although our test car was riding on the largest available 20-inch rims. Overall, the C43 felt closer dynamically to the virtues we would expect from an Audi S4 than any of its rortier and more exciting AMG predecessors.

    Mercedes-AMG

    The C43 seems to be leaving plenty of headroom for the brawnier C63 that will follow, using a more powerful version of the 2.0-liter engine in conjunction with a hybrid system. But there is still much to like about this lesser model beyond the fact that it will cost less. Like the regular C-class, it has a well-finished cabin with a high level of standard technology. The MBUX operating system that powers the vast 12.3-inch portrait-oriented central touchscreen is not the most intuitive of user interfaces, and the steering wheel’s need for four spokes plus two round binnacles to accommodate all of its controls is another usability fail, but owners will doubtless quickly acclimate to the most commonly used functions—and there’s now a physical AMG shortcut button to get straight to the dynamic settings. One strange ergonomic decision is the shared shape and mirrored positioning of the combined wiper and turn signal stalk on the left, and the gear selector on the right of the wheel. This is almost certain to cause confusion for anybody used to a more traditional stalk layout. While the C43’s switch to its smaller engine hasn’t come at the cost of performance, it certainly hasn’t added anything to the experience. And it faces off against the larger and more characterful engine in the six-cylinder BMW M340i xDrive. The C43 has more power than the BMW does, but this downsized engine does feel like the answer to a question that hasn’t yet been asked, at least on this side of the Atlantic.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 4MaticVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    PRICE
    Base: $63,000 (est)
    ENGINE
    Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 121 in3, 1991 cm3Power: 402 hp @ 6750 rpmTorque: 369 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    9-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 112.8 inLength: 188.6 inWidth: 71.8 inHeight: 57.1 inPassenger Volume: 93 ft3Trunk Volume: 12 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 3900 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 4.0 sec100 mph: 9.9 sec1/4-Mile: 12.4 secTop Speed: 155 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 22/19/28 mpg

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    First Drive: 2023 Cadillac Lyriq Is a Departure in More Ways than One

    The new Lyriq is arguably the prettiest Cadillac in a long time. From a unique front face that will soon become instantly recognizable to its long, sleek lines and beautiful detailing, it could be seen as the modern counterpoint to the Cadillacs of the ’50s. They were distinctive and widely admired, though with a completely different design language than this Lyriq. It seemed for a time that Cadillac wanted to be like BMW, but not anymore. (One might say that of BMW as well.) The Lyriq sets Cadillac on a different direction.Going back to its traditional positioning might seem odd given that the Lyriq is Cadillac’s first electric vehicle. (We’re not counting the brand’s short-lived plug-in hybrids: the already largely forgotten ELR coupe and CT6 PHEV.) It uses GM’s newly developed Ultium platform, which incorporates the current standard arrangement of a wide and flat battery pack sitting under the passenger compartment. The battery housing is used to enhance the stiffness of the body structure, and its central position contributes to a near 50/50 weight distribution and a lower center of gravity.
    This Ultium system is designed around modules, each containing 24 flat lithium-ion cells measuring 4.3 by 22.8 by 0.4 inches. Depending on the application, the battery can use eight to 24 of these modules, stacked in a single or, as in the GMC Hummer EV, a double layer. The modules contain connections for liquid cooling and employ an encrypted wireless network to communicate with the electrical controller, reduce wiring, and to facilitate post-vehicular use. The Lyriq uses 12 of these 8.5-kWh modules for a total battery capacity of 102.0 usable kWh.Initially, this electricity will energize a single motor rated at 340 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque driving the rear wheels of the Lyriq. The EPA estimated range is 312 miles. The first of these cars will be delivered this summer. Early next year, an AWD version will add a second motor to power the front axle and raise output to 500 horsepower. The range of that version will likely be 20–30 fewer miles than the rear-wheel-drive car.Such output falls short of the astounding power and torque offered by some competitors (such as the pricier BMW iX), especially as the Lyriq is a good-size machine. With a length of 196.7 inches and a height of 63.9 inches, it’s three inches longer and about the same amount lower than a current Porsche Cayenne. Those proportions actually make it look about a foot longer than said Porsche.
    The Space InsideThe Lyriq’s and Cayenne’s interior dimensions also line up, with about the same passenger volume and very similar luggage space. But the shape of that interior is quite different. The Lyriq has a wheelbase of 121.8 inches, quite long for its overall length and nearly eight inches longer than the Porsche’s. Coupled with the lower overall height and the five or so inches taken up by the battery pack, that makes for a passenger compartment that is shorter, floor to ceiling, but considerably longer than the Cayenne’s. It feels more like a tall car than the typical crossover.

    This is not necessarily a bad thing, as the Lyriq’s interior is as stylish as its exterior. The driver sits facing a 33.0-inch-wide, curved LED screen that extends more than halfway across the dashboard. The portion directly in front of the driver provides a configurable instrument cluster, while the area to the right takes care of the usual infotainment functions. Thankfully, there are hard buttons for the HVAC controls. And all of the seat-related switches are on the doors. But there’s perhaps too many items relegated to the screen, and some of the menu logic is frustrating. For example, opening the glovebox requires a menu selection and then a side screen swipe before you can see the open touch point.
    The finish inside is elaborate with a combination of open-pore wood, laser-cut metallic overlays, and backlighting. The knobs that control the HVAC vents have Genesis-style knurling. And the designers have also provided plenty of storage, with a blue-leather-lined drawer in the center stack and a large tray under the cantilevered center console, which also contains a storage bin.Sliding behind the wheel, the power-adjustable steering column goes admirably low—more so than that in quite a few cars—but it doesn’t extend quite far enough. Scooching up the seat to bring the wheel closer reveals that the seat cushion is a bit short and not extendable as it is on many vehicles in the premium segment. But the visibility of the instruments and infotainment sections of the big screen are excellent. Back-seat space is copious, but that seat cushion is fairly low and is also short, as it is in front. A lot of your weight ends up concentrated on your rear end. Luggage space is average for a machine of this kind—28 cubic feet behind the second row, 61 cubic feet with that seat folded. Unfortunately, it’s not supplemented by any frunk space.
    Recharging the LyriqThe volume forward of the cabin is reserved for the 19.2-kW onboard charger as well as the second motor for the AWD version. There’s no spare tire under the cargo floor, but the charging cord is stored in a neat little vinyl briefcase. One nice feature is that the cord comes with interchangeable plugs for the wall end. You can plug the Lyriq into the usual 120V/15A household socket, or into a 240V/50A socket, without needing any additional adapter on your wall. And this arrangement makes it possible to potentially get different plugs to match the myriad 240V sockets out there.If all you have is the 120V outlet and you deplete your Lyriq, charging it will take more than three days. But if you have one of the 240V/50A sockets, that will come down to about 12 hours, an easy overnight charge. And if you purchase the optional wall charger and install 240V/100A service to charge at 19.2 kW, you can recharge a flat battery in around six hours. The Lyriq can also use a DC fast-charger, which should fully charge a battery in about an hour or, more usefully, add 76 miles of range in 10 minutes.
    Silent RunnerAfter pressing the start button and moving the short column-mounted shift lever into “D,” the Lyriq moves off smoothly. In the way of most BEVs, the powertrain is immediately responsive and feels effortless in normal driving. The Lyriq is also impressively quiet, with no powertrain noise and precious little wind or road noise.Such silence was one of the design goals of the Lyriq engineering team and was achieved by trying to limit any sources of sound, absorbing what sound was created, and, on versions equipped with the optional AKG 19-speaker audio system, using active noise cancellation to offset what sound does get through. The active noise-cancellation system uses vibration sensors at each suspension corner to determine the frequency of the sounds that will be intruding in the cabin. Dual speakers placed in each front headrest provide the offsetting sound near the passengers’ ears, where it is most effective.

    One-pedal driving is part of the Lyriq experience, and the driver can select low and high regenerative braking modes and also turn the function off. In high mode, the car can provide as much as 0.3 g of deceleration, which is more than enough for most driving situations. In an additional twist, there is a pressure-sensitive paddle on the left side of the steering wheel, with which one can generate regenerative braking, regardless of which mode of one-pedal driving is selected. This also works well, though it could stand a bit more travel to provide smoother operation.The brake pedal is very good at blending the regenerative and the mechanical braking, and it’s reasonably weighted, though devoid of feel. The same goes for the steering, which is accurate enough, but feels dead on-center. The Lyriq does offer drive modes, but even in Sport, only the efforts increase, not the feedback.
    Our examples were equipped with the optional 275/40 Michelin Primacy A/S tires on 22-inch wheels and delivered a comfortable ride on the smooth roads around Park City, Utah, where we had our drive. On one stretch, where the pavement was slightly wrinkled, we definitely felt that through the seat of our pants. It will be interesting to see how the Lyriq rides on pockmarked pavement. The standard fitment will be 20-inch wheels and tires, though Cadillac’s engineers claimed there was little difference in ride comfort between the two options.While we didn’t get a chance to run the Lyriq hard on winding roads, it corners with minimal roll and responds nicely to the helm. The Lyriq has an all-new suspension with five-link geometry in front as well as the rear, along with “frequency-dependent” shocks, which add an additional valving circuit to provide more refined damping control. Those Primacy tires are hardly sporting sneakers, and with a curb weight around 5700 pounds, the Lyriq is not going to be a back-road hero. But within its limits, it performs well. Passing on two-lane roads is not a problem, but as speeds increase, you can feel that there are only 340 horses pushing nearly three tons.
    Pricing and DeliveriesThe first deliveries will commence this summer for the limited-production Lyriq Debut Edition, which was priced at $59,990. Cadillac boss Rory Harvey said that the cars sold out in 10 minutes but did not offer a production figure (internet rumors suggest around 1500 units). The orders for standard 2023 models opened in May and were said to have sold out in four hours. They started at $62,990 with deliveries in the fall. AWD versions cost $2000 more and will appear in the first quarter of 2023. One bonus with all these models is two years of unlimited charging at EVgo stations or a $1500 credit toward the electrical installation of setting up charging at your home. Since the 2023 models are already spoken for, Cadillac has now opened the order book for 2024 models, with deliveries expected to start in spring of 2023. Based on this demand, the combination of electric propulsion; elegant, sophisticated styling; and a comfortable and practical configuration seems to be a natural for Cadillac. Better than trying to ape BMW.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2023 Cadillac LyriqVehicle Type: mid-motor, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base: $62,990
    POWERTRAIN
    Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 340 hp, 325 lb-ft Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 102.0 kWhOnboard Charger: 19.2 kWTransmission: direct-drive
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 121.8 inLength: 196.7 inWidth: 77.8 inHeight: 63.9 inPassenger Volume: 105 ft3Cargo Volume: 28 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 5700 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 6.1 sec100 mph: 14.4 sec1/4-Mile: 14.6 secTop Speed: 118 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 89/92/82 MPGeRange: 312 mi

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    2022 Ford Bronco Everglades Is Ready to Get Wet

    Facing a stretch of muddy water about the length of a football field, we felt fearless behind the wheel of the 2022 Ford Bronco Everglades. Not only because it comes factory equipped with an air-intake snorkel and a heavy-duty Warn winch—in addition to the formidable Sasquatch off-road package—but also because Ford brought us in to test the limits of the new special-edition Bronco, and we took that as a challenge to get it stuck or sunk or both.We were unable to sink the Bronco Everglades during our drive on Drummond Island, located off the easternmost tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (maybe if we had driven it directly into Lake Huron . . .). Our handsome Eruption Green example forded the aforementioned waterway with nary a snag or a leak, only the harmless sound of water splashing beneath its washout vinyl flooring. To make the Everglades the most seaworthy Bronco, Ford raised the vent tubes for both axles, the transmission, and the transfer case. Combined with the custom-designed snorkel, this allows the vehicle to drive through up to 36.4 inches of water. That’s 2.9 inches more than the Bronco Sasquatch (0.6-inch less than the towering Bronco Raptor) and 2.8 inches more than a Jeep Wrangler.
    Although an island in the UP sounds like a strange place to launch a new Bronco named after the Everglades National Park in Florida, the area has some advantages over the Southern wetlands. We didn’t have to worry about losing a leg to a crocodile or being suffocated by a Burmese python, and we got to enjoy the island’s robust trail system and rugged terrain. In this Northwoods version of a water park, the Bronco Everglades wrestled with a lot of mud and ruts. Coincidentally, Mud and Ruts—one of seven selectable G.O.A.T. drive modes—automatically activates the rear locker and puts the four-wheel-drive system into 4Hi. Paired with 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory mud-terrain tires (aired down to about 35 psi for optimal traction here), this setting helped the Bronco easily churn through rutted sludge.Our speed on the muddiest, wettest trails stayed mostly in the single digits. Perhaps that type of slow and steady pace influenced Ford’s decision to fit the Bronco Everglades exclusively with the 300-hp turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder—the 330-hp twin-turbo 2.7-liter four-pot is not available here. Likewise, we’re surprised that the 10-speed automatic transmission is also mandatory since Ford recently made ’22 Sasquatch models with the 2.3-liter engine available with the seven-speed manual in response to popular demand.
    Regardless, the Everglades’ powertrain deployed its 325 pound-feet of torque well, especially when we were clawing up and down a particularly rocky section with front and rear lockers and 4Lo engaged. We did have the benefit of a spotter to guide us—good thing, given that the Everglades is missing the front-mounted camera available on other Broncos. Unfortunately, due to the location of its winch, the Everglades doesn’t get that useful view.The lack of front-facing camera stinks, and we hope Ford can find a way to add one, but the standard winch is arguably more important. It could mean the difference between getting unstuck and calling search and rescue when you’re off-roading alone. Granted, there are countless aftermarket options, and Ford Performance sells a Warn winch kit for $3500. This factory-fitted unit has a 100-foot synthetic line and can pull up to 10,000 pounds. We originally wanted to get stuck and try out the winch, but when we arrived at the gnarliest obstacle of the day, we became more interested in conquering this hilly, muddy, rutted section. A well-chosen line and a lot of throttle got us through on the first attempt, but not without dislodging a piece of the rear overfender on the driver’s side. We did get to see the winch save other drivers who weren’t so lucky.
    When it’s not scaling rock walls, winching out of the mud, or swimming, the Bronco Everglades is an enjoyable daily driver like the rest of its kin. Despite a body-on-frame construction and a solid rear axle, the Everglades has a surprisingly civilized ride on pavement. Too bad its bluff shape causes considerable wind noise at highway speeds. It handles better than a Wrangler, though, thanks to a more sophisticated steering system and front-suspension setup. The Bronco we drove felt plenty quick charging down backcountry roads, and its high-rise air intake emitted a satisfying intake sound with the passenger’s-side window down and the throttle uncorked. The snorkel’s other neat trick is the reversible plates that can be easily switched between the front and back, but ours always faced backward. The snorkel and winch are prominently displayed on the Everglades, but other specific elements define its design. All models have four doors and a hard top, but look closely to see squared wheel arches that don’t appear on any other Bronco. It also has 17-inch aluminum rims reminiscent of steel wheels. We think they look cool but wonder why Ford doesn’t offer a beadlock-capable version as on other Sasquatch models. At least the Everglades won’t be confused with any other Bronco—it’s the only one with a distinct topography graphic stamped on its front fenders, though we can’t decide whether it’s cheugy. The Everglades is also the only model available with the new Desert Sand paint color.
    Inside, there aren’t many details that distinguish the wetlands-themed Bronco from its brethren. Every Everglades has comfy seats covered in material that’s marine grade but still manages to look nice. If only we could say the same for whatever wraps the steering wheel (if that’s real leather, something was wrong with the cow). At least the crisply rendered display in the gauge cluster and the massive 12.0-inch touchscreen are pleasant distractions. The Sync 4 infotainment system is as intuitive as it is attractive, with wireless Apple CarPlay working consistently and seamlessly during our drive. The Bronco’s physical switchgear and useful cubbies further contribute to a functional cabin.The 2022 Bronco Everglades starts at $54,545, slotting between the $52,770 Wildtrak four-door and the $70,045 Raptor. Deliveries are set to start this summer. However, there’s a catch: Ford is making the Everglades available only to people with an existing Bronco reservation for the 2022 model year. The company hasn’t confirmed whether it will offer the model again for 2023. Those who can get their hands on one will be empowered to explore deeper water and drive through more difficult obstacles than owners of other Broncos—the Everglades encourages fearless off-roading.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Ford Bronco EvergladesVehicle Type: front-engine, 4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base Everglades: $54,545
    ENGINE
    Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 138 in3, 2264 cm3Power: 275 hp @ 5700 rpm w/regular (300 requires premium)Torque: 315 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm w/regular (325 requires premium)
    TRANSMISSION
    10-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 116.1 inLength: 198.9 inWidth: 79.4 inHeight: 78.7 inPassenger Volume: 104 ft3Cargo Volume: 36 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 5220 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 7.0 sec1/4-Mile: 15.5 secTop Speed: 100 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 18/18/17 mpg

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    2022 Jaguar F-Type P450: Late, Great, V-8

    Jaguar is looking for a new job. After a century of building beautiful, internal-combustion-engine cars, it’s pulling a Blues Brothers handbrake turn and is getting into the battery-electric space. Ask Jaguar where it’ll be in three years and its answer, like any good interview candidate’s, is intentionally vague. Jaguar promises an EV lineup in 2025 but is saying little more. When we visited the company’s North American headquarters in Mahwah, New Jersey, though, it wasn’t to see an EV. We came to drive an eight-cylinder F-type coupe and hammer it through the Hudson Valley. For 2022, the F-type lineup goes all V-8. Replacing the previous supercharged V-6 and turbocharged inline-four is a detuned version of Jaguar’s greatest hit of the last decade, the 5.0-liter supercharged V-8 originally built by Ford. In the F-type P450, which now serves as the entry model, the engine puts out 444 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. With that monster engine, plus the limited-slip differential, larger brakes, and 20-inch wheels pulled from the former P380 R Dynamic, the 2022 F-type justifies its $8300 premium over last year’s four-banger base car.
    We’re keenly aware that a C8 Corvette could dust it, and at way less than our car’s $86,850 price as-equipped, but onlookers likely aren’t thinking about test data when you pull up in an F-type. As it has been since it launched for the 2014 model year, the F-type echoes the museum-grade sculpture of its esteemed predecessor, the E-type—one of only nine cars in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

    With the manual transmission consigned to history, we’d argue that the P450 is now the driver’s choice, since it pairs the V-8 with rear-wheel drive rather than all-wheel drive as in the 575-hp R. Jaguar hasn’t offered this combo since the 2015 R. Those earlier models were a tail-wagging handful, but this new one felt so neutral through the corners that we had to hop out and double-check for an AWD badge. (There wasn’t one, although it is available on the P450 coupe or convertible for $10,000 as part of the R-Dynamic trim.) This latest rear-wheel-drive F-type has been tuned more for understeer to make owners more comfortable at the moderately high speeds and steering angles they’re likely to endeavor on the road. With its linear torque curve and quick steering, this F-type is less twitchy and demanding and more balanced and secure when being driven quickly.
    Naturally, this car can still puff more smoke clouds than Lil Wayne on a Wednesday, and Jaguar claims a 4.4-second zero-to-60-mph time for the base P450—versus 3.5 seconds for the R. (We matched Jaguar’s claim in our test of the 2021 R coupe.) The F-type has never really been a precision tool on back roads, though there’s more feedback in the steering than with many Audi RS or BMW M cars. The Porsche Cayman remains the gold standard, but it lacks the F-type’s hard-rock soundtrack: a low rumble on the highway, a savage roar when downshifted, and delicious pops on the overrun. The F-type has quieted down some—this one’s not as vociferous as older Rs and SVRs, which were louder than Harleys—and by default the muffler bypass valves stay closed on startup. But the exhaust pops and bangs are still out in force, and they’re not synthetic. When you lift the throttle, sometimes nothing happens, while other times you’ll light off fireworks. The sounds never exactly repeat.
    Our car’s classic British Racing Green sparkled in the sunlight. The leather-lined cabin, which some drivers find cramped, has aged well with its rich materials and the latest digital screens set among toggle switches, rotary climate controls, and the grab handle that divides driver and passenger. At 14 cubic feet, the two-seat coupe’s cargo hold is as spacious as a small sedan’s; the convertible’s storage is half that, making it not so practical.Granted, the V-8’s fuel economy is marginal: 17 mpg city, 24 highway for rear-drive models and 1 mpg worse in the city with all-wheel drive. And you can’t see out the back—when the spoiler rises, it blocks a third of the tiny rear glass, and the Jaguar logo reflects the sun directly into your eyes. But then you discover the subtle details, like how the parking sensors blend into the lower tail without showing any obvious dimples. Experience Jaguar’s classically styled, gas-burning sports car—V-8-powered, as the gods intended—before the brand jumps from the balcony into the pool of would-be Teslas. We don’t know what Jaguar will become, but the F-type is everything it was.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Jaguar F-Type P450Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear- or all-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door coupe or convertible
    PRICE
    Base: $71,050; convertible, $74,150; AWD, $81,050; AWD convertible, $84,150
    ENGINE
    supercharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 305 in3, 5000 cm3Power: 444 hp @ 6000 rpmTorque: 428 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    8-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 103.2 inLength: 176.0 inWidth: 74.2 inHeight: 51.5–51.6 inPassenger Volume: 51–52 ft3Cargo Volume: 7–14 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 3900–4150 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 4.4 sec100 mph: 9.0 sec1/4-Mile: 12.5 secTop Speed: 177 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 18–19/16–17/24 mpg

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    Volkswagen Golf R Wagon: Europe's Gain Is Our Loss

    Many things in Europe are inferior to what’s in the United States. Showers are generally weak and ineffectual, hotel room air conditioning a cruel hoax, and the size of both restaurant portions and parking spaces often measly. But there are areas where Europeans enjoy clear advantages, including the ability to choose cars such the Volkswagen Golf R wagon.While Europe has many SUVs, it hasn’t given up on station wagons. So, although the Volkswagen T-Roc R offers the same powertrain in a slightly taller package, buyers are also able to select the Golf R in this intriguing longroof form. And isn’t this a more elegant and practical solution than yet another crossover?

    Volkswagen

    After driving one in the U.K., it’s genuinely hard to think of a better-rounded all-rounder than a 315-hp all-wheel-drive Golf wagon. With an unlimited budget, you might be inclined to nominate the Audi RS6 Avant instead. Alas, most folks don’t have bottomless pockets, and the VW is considerably less than half the price in Europe.From the front end to B-pillars, the Golf R wagon is unsurprisingly similar to its hatchback sibling. Behind that, it gets a longer rear door thanks to a 1.9-inch wheelbase stretch, but it’s at the back that the biggest and most obvious changes have happened. Overall length has increased by a substantial 13.9 inches to 182.8 inches. The wagon’s cargo hold is about 60 percent roomier, which equates to eight more cubic feet of volume with the rear seats in place. Weight has gone up too, with the R Wagon’s roughly 3600-pound curb weight making it about 240 pounds heavier than the hatch.

    Volkswagen

    The extra mass means the Golf R wagon is slower than the hatchback—which laid down a 3:04.3 time at Lightning Lap—but not to an egregious degree. The 5200 rpm at which the turbocharged engine starts to deliver its full 315 horses is only rarely reached under even rapid road use, whereas the maximum 310 pound-feet of torque will be experienced regularly given that it’s present from just 2100 rpm. The seven-speed DSG transmission shuffles its ratios both speedily and deftly when acceleration is called for, and although it is possible to shift manually using the steering-wheel paddles, there never seemed to be much point in doing so, and the shifters themselves are plastic and feel insubstantial. The rest of the dynamic experience also feels better adapted to highway than byway. The R wagon’s steering is accurate, and the car has a sense of high-speed stability that feels as if it would be well suited to an unrestricted autobahn. Cruising refinement is good, too, with 100 mph seeming no louder than 80 mph should be. Yet although the R’s variable-ratio steering is precise at lower speeds, it offers little natural feedback, with the more aggressive Sport and Race drive modes adding extra resistance without any increase in sensation.

    Volkswagen

    Chassis settings are pliant to the point of sometimes feeling soft. Our car was equipped with the adaptive dampers, which are an extra-cost option in Europe. They offer no fewer than 15 configurations available in Individual mode, but even in their firmest setting the R still had lots of vertical movement over larger bumps. The wagon has clearly been designed to be driven hard while loaded; it rode noticeably better with four occupants and around 100 pounds of luggage aboard.Like the hatchback, the R wagon has a torque-biasing rear differential intended to sharpen cornering response, and European buyers can even pay extra to add a Drift mode—a compellingly ludicrous option that our car didn’t have. The diff adds its assistance subtly, sending torque to the outside rear wheel to help the car to turn in tighter corners but without ever creating the aggressive, tip-in sensation of the last Ford Focus RS’s active system. It makes for high-speed, low-effort progress. This car is quick and relaxing as opposed to a machine that delivers frequent adrenaline highs.

    Volkswagen

    As with other versions of the eighth-generation Golf, the interior is slightly underwhelming. We loved the R’s blue plaid cloth seats and the good range of driving position adjustment. We were less keen on both the fussy user interface and the touchscreen, which is hard to operate without inadvertently brushing the touch-sensitive ledge beneath that controls temperature and audio volume. The digitally augmented engine note that is piped into the cabin also seemed to be trying to reproduce a five-cylinder soundtrack, strangely—maybe it’s harking back to the inline-five version of the fourth-generation Golf that Volkswagen once offered (again only in Europe). Although the wheelbase stretch provides a slight increase in legroom for rear seat passengers, it is still tight in back for adult passengers.In a parallel universe, one where the crossover either hadn’t been invented or had been hunted to extinction, the Golf R wagon might work well in the States. Or, indeed, anywhere that people want to combine performance, practicality, and personality. The longroof feels more grown-up than the hatchback and would be easier to live with or to put more stuff into. Its absence is our loss.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2022 Volkswagen Golf R WagonVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE (UK)
    Base: $44,000
    ENGINE
    turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 121 in3, 1984 cm3Power: 315 hp @ 6600 rpmTorque: 310 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    7-speed dual-clutch automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 105.4 inLength: 182.8 inWidth: 70.4 inHeight: 57.7 inCargo Volume (C/D est): 28 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 3600 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 4.2 sec100 mph: 10.3 sec1/4-Mile: 12.8 secTop Speed: 155 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 25/23/29 mpg

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    Tested: 2022 BMW M4 Competition xDrive Hits 60 MPH in 2.8 Seconds

    Specifications
    2022 BMW M4 Competition xDriveVehicle Type: front-engine, rear/all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $79,995/$101,995Options: M carbon-ceramic brakes, $8150; M carbon bucket seats, $3800; black leather upholstery, $2550; M Driver’s package, $2500; Executive package (remote engine start, power liftgate, gesture control, head-up display, heated steering wheel), $1800; carbon-fiber trim, $950, M Drive Professional, $900; Parking Assistance package (drive recorder, parking assistance plus), $800; Skyscraper Grey Metallic paint, $550
    ENGINE
    twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 183 in3, 2993 cm3Power: 503 hp @ 6250 rpmTorque: 479 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    8-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 15.7-in vented, cross-drilled carbon-ceramic disc/15.0-in vented, cross-drilled carbon-ceramic discTires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4SF: 275/35ZR-19 (100Y) ★R: 295/30ZR-20 (99Y) ★
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 112.5 inLength: 189.1 inWidth: 74.3 inHeight: 54.9 inPassenger Volume: 91 ft3Trunk Volume: 12 ft3Curb Weight: 3904 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 2.8 sec100 mph: 6.9 sec1/4-Mile: 11.0 sec @ 125 mph130 mph: 12.0 sec150 mph: 17.4 sec170 mph: 26.4 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.4 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.8 secTop Speed (mfr’s claim): 180 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 150 ftBraking, 100–0 mph: 302 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.02 g
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 22 mpg75-mph Highway Driving: 29 mpg75-mph Highway Range: 450 mi
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 18/16/22 mpg
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINED More

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    2023 Genesis Electrified G80 Bridges the EV Gap

    The fork in the road to the electric-vehicle revolution has purpose-built EVs on the left and converted internal-combustion platforms on the right. Genesis went left with its GV60 crossover hatchback. Now it goes right with the Electrified G80 sedan, a near clone of the 2022 G80 3.5T Sport in its paramount Prestige trim. After testing that gas-powered version earlier this year, we concluded that “the new Sport model adds a worthwhile spark to the G80’s already impressive package.” Sparing you the spark jokes, let’s simply say it’s a fine starting place for an EV.For the electric version, the G80’s M3 platform benefits from additional engineering and lighter-weight materials, including the refashioning of some steel pieces in aluminum or carbon fiber. We’re told the measures lopped 11 percent off its curb weight, which comes in at 5038 pounds, according to Genesis. And chassis stiffness went up by 17 percent. Lighter and stiffer are welcome words here, as Genesis claims the Electrified G80 is still nearly 600 pounds heavier than the all-wheel-drive gas version.

    The G80’s heart transplant encompasses the fitment of power electronics in the place of the twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 and an 87.2-kWh battery under the floor. Available exclusively in a dual-motor all-wheel-drive configuration, the electric G80 has a combined output that measures 365 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque—an upgrade compared to the 3.5T Sport model’s 375 horses and 391 pound-feet, but it’s a wash on the road. The company quotes the sprint to 60 mph at 4.9 seconds, which is just 0.2 second behind what we recorded for the combustion variant. Hooked to a 350-kW DC fast-charger, the battery needs a claimed 22 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 percent. Plugged into a Level 2 outlet, Genesis says, empty to full takes a little over seven hours. According to Genesis, the range is 282 miles. While the electric model’s roof sits a scant 0.2 inch higher, its real identifiers are a solid crest grille embossed with diagonal lines, a lack of tailpipes, and 19-inch turbine-style wheels. There’s also an exclusive color, Matira Blue, named for the coruscant turquoise waters of Bora Bora’s Matira Beach. Down in front, the diagonal grille pattern camouflages the charge port door.
    Changes to interior dimensions are more pronounced. The raised floor needed to accommodate the low-slung battery reduces headroom by 0.8 inch in front and 1.5 inches in back. Genesis says the headroom constraints, as well as the bugbear of placing weight up high, is why the United States won’t get the solar panoramic roof that will be offered in other markets. The G80’s windswept silhouette means back-seat passengers over six feet tall will likely find their noggins meeting the headliner. Rear legroom also takes a hit, shrinking by 2.8 inches, and trunk space drops two cubic feet to 11 cubes.Nothing’s lost in the luxury department, though, as the G80’s cabin remains a swell place to hum the day away. Sustainability directives show themselves in the microsuede headliner composed of recycled plastics and an under-carpet lining fashioned from nylon scraps. Seating surfaces retain their bovine provenance, but the nappa leather gets a more environmentally friendly treatment via pine-tree bark and buckwheat used in the dyeing process. Along with black and brown interiors, a two-tone Glacier White and dark green cabin will be exclusive to the Electrified G80. That latter décor also gets forged-wood trim, wherein discarded birch from furniture making gets compressed in resin to create a marbled veneer.
    With the climate control set and a moderate level of regenerative braking dialed in, we worked off 164 miles of indicated range to cover 177 road miles. Ride quality is generally good over all but the worst stretches of pavement. Thanks to camera-guided adaptive dampers and active noise cancellation, in conjunction with ample sound deadening, the Electrified G80 puts up a fine filter to separate occupants from kerfuffle outside. At around 80 mph, though, noise from the motors can whir its way into the cabin. Accelerator and brake pedal calibrations feel less sensitive on tip-in here than in the regular G80. Along with well-controlled body motions and standard rear-wheel steering, the electric G80 is one of the sharper tools in the executive shed for exploring serpentine, tree-lined back roads. Although the all-wheel-drive system’s 50-50 front-to-rear torque split is always hooked up when driving aggressively, this sedan reverts to rear-drive during steady-state motoring in order to increase its efficiency.
    The Electrified G80 hits the market later this year, with the U.S. getting a single, fully loaded trim level. Pricing has yet to be announced, but we expect an additional premium over the $71,595 it costs for a similarly equipped G80 3.5T model. Like the GV60 SUV, sales will initially be limited to California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Even with that constraint, not every Genesis dealer will get the chance to showcase the Electrified G80. Interested shoppers are advised to go through Genesis’s concierge program, as the brand wants buyers paired with retailers outfitted with plenty of chargers and dedicated EV service bays. With the Electrified GV70 SUV due before the end of the year, Genesis said it’s rapidly working to expand its EV presence to all the 49 states where it sells cars.As for the name, Electrified G80, it’s a bit of a placeholder. The brand plans to be all-electric come 2030, at which point such descriptors won’t be necessary. “Electrified” has been penciled in for now, but that could change once Genesis has a better understanding of the car’s prospective buyers. For now, we’ll call the electric G80 a convincing option for those who’ve come to the fork in the electric road.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2023 Genesis Electrified G80Vehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    PRICE (C/D EST)
    $75,000
    POWERTRAIN
    Front Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 182 hp, 258 lb-ft Rear Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC, 182 hp, 258 lb-ft Combined Power: 365 hpCombined Torque: 516 lb-ftBattery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 87.2 kWhOnboard Charger: 10.9 kWTransmissions, F/R: direct-drive

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 118.5 inLength: 197.0 inWidth: 75.8 inHeight: 57.9 inPassenger Volume: 100 ft3Trunk Volume: 11 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 5050 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 4.9 sec100 mph: 10.6 sec1/4-Mile: 13.5 secTop Speed: 150 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 95/100/85 MPGeRange: 280 mi

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    2023 Honda HR-V Surprises with Excellent Ride and Redesign

    Pacific Northwest loggers run the mountain roads with flat-footed confidence, even in the rain, and because it’s almost always raining, they’ve had lots of practice. It was raining during our test drive of the 2023 Honda HR-V, and the 18-wheeler in the rearview mirror came up behind us like it was auditioning for a remake of Duel. To avoid becoming a Peterbilt hood emblem, we put the pedal down. Floored, the HR-V made more noise, but, in disappointing CVT-equipped fashion, did not go noticeably faster. Just as we were preparing to be absorbed into a truck grille, the straight uphill road took a right, then a left, and then a fun series of sweeping curves. The truck slowed down, and the HR-V swept through at full speed. It was the first of several pleasant surprises from the redesigned small Honda. The HR-V is not a car with a reputation for fun surprises. Since its introduction in 2016, it has been a sensible and uninspiring choice of transportation, a vehicle meant to solve the basic problem of transportation with a little extra space. The redesigned HR-V is hoping to shed its reputation for dull driving while holding on to its promise of value and practicality. To do so, Honda moved it from the tiny and now departed Fit platform to the larger Civic underpinnings while giving it a tad more horsepower and a lot more personality. The new model is nearly 10 inches longer and three inches wider than the first-generation HR-V, with less stubby proportions and a growly front fascia—yes, you’re so tough, little SUV.
    The exterior rework brings wide LED lights in front and rear, dramatically framed inlets and patterned grilles in the nose, an angled hatch, and a clean roofline, thanks to roof panels that are laser brazed, which leaves a smooth finish. It won’t go down in the annuls of groundbreaking automotive design, but we found it sort of endearing, like an angry hamster. Inside, things are more appealing and less raging rodent. The seating position is lower and more carlike than in the outgoing model, which sat the driver high and upright. The seats are patterned fabric in the LX and Sport trim and leather in the top EX-L, offering a pop of texture across all levels. The pillowy dash echoes the Civic with an unbroken line of honeycomb mesh across all the vents. The steering wheel is thickly padded. The car is more cohesive and stylish than the previous generation, with a good mix of physical buttons and digital displays. The center console is a work of ergonomic art, with a tall shifter, deep cupholders placed forward and out of the way, and several places to store or charge a phone, including a pass-through that gives the passenger access to their own phone storage and USB charging. The EX-L trim we drove also offered wireless charging in the front tray. While upper touch points are squishy soft, the plastic lower on the door panels has a wavy corrugation. It hides scuffs, adds rigidity to the large door pockets, and is both a clever and an attractive solution to an area of the car that gets a lot of rough handling—or, more accurately, footing.

    If you’re still hung up on the lower seating position—a higher viewpoint is one reason people have moved to SUVs—we assure you that visibility in the new HR-V is vastly improved. The beltlines of door and hood are lower, the A-pillars are thinner, and the driving position is more comfortable while offering a better view. Honda says the front seats were redesigned with more internal structure to offer support and a better posture, and after a full day of outrunning trucks and chasing waterfalls in blatant defiance of TLC’s advice, we agree that whatever is happening inside the seat cushions makes a positive difference. The new seat is not only soft and supportive but also highly adjustable. Between that and the good sightlines, we’d put the new HR-V high on a list of recommended cars for folks of smaller stature. Tall drivers will still fit fine behind the wheel, and the rear seats lean back and offer more padding than the outgoing model’s. So even though this utility vehicle is small, the passengers don’t need to be. If it’s stuff you’re carrying, you may be saddened to hear that the “magic seat,” which offered the option of flipping up the rear seat bottom for more hauling space, is a casualty of the new chassis design. Unless you’re regularly taking your fiddle-leaf fig for a drive, we’d say it’s a fair trade for the much more comfortable back seat and the excellent handling characteristics of the Civic architecture. General cargo space is slightly decreased behind the rear seats, but they still fold flat, so you can carry plenty of shorter plants, a bicycle, or all your dirty laundry on your way to your parents’ place for spring break.
    Features and pricing are simplified from 2022. There are three trims, each standard as front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive a $1500 option. The base LX starts at $24,895, while the top trim EX-L requires $28,695. The engine and transmission are unchanged by trim choice, and all of Honda’s safety-related driver aids come standard on all models. The EX-L gets the eight-way adjustable leather seats, a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment interface, among other audio and tech upgrades. We liked the Sport trim’s black accents, orange interior stitching, and lower $26,895 price. The HR-V powertrain remains unsatisfying. It’s an improvement over the last one, but by so little, they shouldn’t have bothered. The previous 1.8-liter four-cylinder made 141 horsepower, got an EPA-rated 28 mpg combined, and was loud and lethargic. The new model’s 2.0-liter engine, also borrowed from the Civic, makes 158 horsepower, gets the same combined EPA fuel economy, and it is still loud and lethargic. Honda made some attempt to quiet it down with a polished crankshaft and a low-friction cam drive, but it still howls and shivers when you floor it. The CVT behind it plays make-believe as a gearbox, promising faux downshifts and stepped acceleration to distract from the hardworking four-banger, but straight-line acceleration is all bark and barely a nibble. We expect it to be a few tenths quicker. Since the Civic comes with both a turbo and a hybrid option, perhaps we’ll see alternate powerplants make their way into the HR-V.
    Where we do expect to see dramatic improvement is in handling and stopping numbers. Like many small SUVs, the previous HR-V offered all the driving pleasure of a Home Depot lumber cart. The new HR-V may not be superquick, but it’s light and cheery on the road, feeling connected while still cushioning choppy pavement. This is thanks to the Civic’s multilink rear suspension, which replaces the torsion-beam setup of the previous generation. The body also uses more adhesive for increased rigidity. Aluminum components reduce weight front and rear, and the front suspension rides smoothly on a low-friction damper mount. The steering, too, is vastly better than the previous car’s and feels light but not flimsy. We got behind the wheel of the HR-V expecting a dutiful but joyless driving experience. What we found was a charming small machine that could use a bit more push (to keep from being pushed by fast-moving tractor-trailers) but made a willing and encouraging road-trip companion. Big windows, easy-to-read displays, an attractive and comfortable interior, and a pliable chassis are the HR-V’s defining characteristics. This is still a vehicle designed to solve the basic problem of transportation, but it now fulfills that mission with lively enthusiasm, if not outright speed.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2023 Honda HR-VVehicle Type: front-engine, front- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base: LX, $24,895; Sport, $26,895; EX-L, $28,695
    ENGINE
    DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 122 in3, 1996 cm3Power: 158 hp @ 6500 rpmTorque: 138 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    continuously variable automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 104.5 inLength: 179.8 inWidth: 72.4 inHeight: 63.4–63.8 inPassenger Volume: 98–99 ft3Cargo Volume: 24 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 3150–3350 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 8.3–9.0 sec1/4-Mile: 16.4–17.0 secTop Speed: 115 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 25–26/30–32/27–28 mpg

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