More stories

  • in

    1975 Volkswagen Rabbit Test: The Follow-Up to the Beetle Was a Whole Different Car

    From the April 1975 issue of Car and Driver.If you’re still interested in VW’s insect collection, you’ll find it off in some dark corner of the showroom. (Dealers have 1975 versions of the Beetle with fuel injection for both the stripped price-leader and the French-subtitle edition, La Grande Bug—alias Super Beetle.) Center stage has been commandeered by the marque’s latest species, the Rabbit. And take our word for it: For VW, this new machine is an evolutionary revolution. While the Beetle was basically a bad design cajoled into civility, the Rabbit bursts upon us optim­ized from inception, with almost all its rough edges filed off.It’s an example of the old clean-sheet-of-paper approach, for the Rabbit is practically the opposite of its aged forerun­ner. Instead of an aft-mounted, air-cooled engine driving the rear wheels, the Rabbit has a water-cooled, front engine powering the front wheels. The Rabbit and Scirocco share the 1471-cc engine with the Dasher, but it is mounted transversely instead of longitudinally in the former two. Efficiency in packaging is the payoff. Except for the Honda Civic, the Rabbit is the shortest sedan money will buy in the U.S. and a hefty eight inches shorter than that old small-car yardstick, the Beetle. Yet its interior is more expansive and a whole lot more usable. The biggest gains over the Beetle are in front legroom (plus two inches), rear kneeroom (plus four inches) and, most important, six inches of extra breathing space between the front doors. The Beetle’s narrow front seats give it that intimate feeling; take a deep breath and you touch elbows with your passenger. But now there is an inex­pensive VW with what amounts to a “precision-size” interior. In fact, the Rabbit is just as spacious inside as the Mercury Monarch in every dimension but one—width, where the Mon­arch has a five-inch advantage. (But remember, the Monarch is rated for five while the Rabbit is a four-seater.) Long before da Vinci’s time, the box was proven to be the optimum container shape. Centuries later, the Rabbit con­curs. Its sides are straight and its windows flat. The roof towers upward until every passenger is accommodated on some of the tallest seats available in any car. Luggage goes in an aft extension of the main module, while the propulsion/steer­ing unit gets an up-front box all its own. The single-overhead-cam four isn’t particularly innovative, with a belt-driven camshaft and non-crossflow head, but it is an eager beaver in a day of spineless emissions-controlled engines. The engine is a small 1471 cc (89.9 cubic inches) on the inside but a healthy 70 net horsepower on the outside. And with only 1970 pounds to lug around, 70 horsepower does quite nicely. Our test car was lumbered down with an automatic transmission and a tight torque convertor, which made it feel arthritic off the mark. But even so, the Rabbit trimmed 0.2 seconds from the quarter-mile time of the last Beetle we tested (a 1973 four-speed Sport Bug) while adding a healthy 5.7 mph to the trap speed. With a four-speed Rabbit, you should expect ac­celeration approaching the Scirocco’s 18.1-second and 75.4-mph quarter-mile time—which is quicker than the Honda Civ­ic, Toyota Corolla, Datsun B-210, or V-6 Mustang II. And all the while, the new VW delivers phenomenal fuel economy. Here again the C/D test car’s automatic revealed the sizable penalties of shift-free driving. We measured 20 mpg on the C/D Driving Cycle for the test Rabbit, while the EPA certification tests showed 24 mpg urban and 38 mpg highway economy for the four-speed version. That EPA rank­ing was second only to the Honda Civic and Datsun B-210, so it’s important to realize that the automatic costs more than its up-front price of $250. At least you get a good three-speed transmission for the money. Under part throttle, you pass from gear to gear with barely perceptible upshifts. But there isn’t much tightening up for hard runs, so upshifts seem excessively soft and slippery. Another worthy refinement to the automatic would be the ad­dition of a part-throttle downshift. These are offered as icing-on-the-cake concerns rather than major gripes, because in general the Rabbit is a harmo­nious piece of machinery. Front-wheel drive usually means a handling vice-and-virtue trade-off, but not in the Rabbit. You get the good high-speed tracking that front-wheel drive usual­ly delivers, but you don’t have to put up with heavy torque­-steer, wheel fight, or crippling understeer in exchange. The steering remains sensitive—more to the wheel than the throt­tle—up to the limit of adhesion and it is primarily body roll that keeps you from pushing faster in the turns. Most of the car’s roll stiffness comes from what VW calls a stabilizer rear axle, which is actually one trailing link per wheel welded to a connecting T-section member. As the car heels over, body roll must twist against this member with its designed-in stiff­ness. There is no complementary anti-sway bar for the front, however, so when pushed the Rabbit corners like a boxer at a fire hydrant—with one rear wheel in the air. Because the rear brakes are prone to early lock-up even in a straight line, this also upsets the car’s braking/cornering manners. These foibles make the Rabbit only little less than a ball to drive. In fact, whole populations of drivers will live for years with this car, strongly impressed by its generally nimble disposition and its sensitive feel of the road through the steering wheel and brake pedal. It slips through city traffic like a bicy­cle and thrives on the parking-space remnants most cars pass by. You can stuff enough groceries for a football team through the rear hatch while the back seat folds and pivots forward out of the way. The only thing you’ll need a trailer for is objects too heavy to boost across the high lift-over. Convenience is not without its price, but that discussion should be prefaced by a listing of current Beetle tariffs: The stripped Bug will cost you $2895 these days, while the high­line La Grande Bug goes for an inflated $3395. Sandwiched neatly in between is the Rabbit, starting at an attractive $2999. But VW doesn’t want you to buy it like that. Base-car profit is paper thin, so just like Detroit, Volkswagen now has upgrades by the yard. You’ll of course need the $296 Per­formance Package to trade in the undesirable drum brakes for a front-disc setup, and it also includes steel-belted tires like the tight-gripping Semperits on the test car. Inside, you get vinyl seats instead of hair-shirt fabric upholstery and attractive carpeting to cover painted metal sidewalls in both the passen­ger compartment and trunk. Only after you’ve made that first $296 installment are you eligible for the next hit: $204 for the Deluxe Interior/Comfort Group. This adds a second level of heat and sound insulation over the first step you get with the $296 package. (Even with this double coverage, though, the Rabbit is noisy, with sub­stantial intake air boom whenever the engine is full-throttled.) The latter group also includes a few true desirables, such as full carpeting, a power booster for the brakes and adjustable seat backrests. Strangely enough, there are several items hidden among the options that one used to expect as stan­dard equipment: electric windshield washers, a two-stage blower in the heating/ventilating system (that didn’t generate noticeable ventilation air) and chrome bumpers. So the base Rabbit is a real stripper, meaning you have a $3499 car be­fore you get what used to be considered essential. One other option worth noting is the $30 passive restraint system. This replaces conventional lap/shoulder belts with but one diagonal belt with its outer end connected to the up­per rear corner of the door frame. As you open up the car, this webbing swings out of the way and you just slide in under­neath it with no buckling required. In place of a lap belt, there is a padded knee restraint that juts out a few inches from the instrument panel to prevent submarining on frontal impacts. VW tests with experimental safety vehicle prototypes show that the idea is indeed viable. The diagonal belt alone is suffi­cient for side impacts as well as roll-overs, and the thickly padded knee restraint is better at preventing certain injuries than a lap belt. The system should make seat belts a lot more palatable, and VW hopes to satisfy pending passive restraint (air bag) laws with this kind of approach. More VW Rabbit Reviews From the ArchiveWhile that is a near-future threat, the immediate concern for VW is selling cars. And with the Rabbit, that means generat­ing its own new reputation. It is obviously no Beetle—even the running boards are gone—so that cancels a fervent fan club. You can’t peel off its body and dress it up like a GT40, and it would make a terrible dune buggy, so the Rabbit is going to have to make it strictly on its virtues as a car. The sub-$3000 base sticker will help, but it’s hard to sell the public on just plain good transportation when for years they’ve thrived on a four-wheel institution.SpecificationsSpecifications
    1975 Volkswagen RabbitVehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door hatchback
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $3099/$4166Options: performance package, $296; automatic transmission, $250; deluxe interior, $204; AM/FM radio, $120; tinted glass, $65; leatherette, $50; rear window defogger, $35; passive restraint, $30; emission control, $17
    ENGINESOHC inline-4, iron block and aluminum headDisplacement: 90 in3, 1471 cm3Power: 70 hp @ 5800 rpmTorque: 81 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION3-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/trailing armBrakes, F/R: 9.4-in disc/7.1-in drumTires: Semperit Hi-Life M401
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 94.5 inLength: 155.3 inWidth: 63.4 inHeight: 55.5 inCurb Weight: 1970 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 13.1 sec1/4-Mile: 19.6 sec @ 72 mph90 mph: 43.0 secTop Speed (observed): 93 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 210 ftRoadholding: 0.78 g  
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINED More

  • in

    2024 Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo Test: Grand Tourific

    From the May/June issue of Car and Driver.Are any initials more misused than the G and T of a purported grand tourer? Most GTs are either sports cars with a smidge more seat cushion or luxury coaches with a string of extra ponies to pull the weight. Those variations have their charms, but a true grand tourer should combine comfort, performance, and practicality in a way that makes the driver—and passenger—want to extend every road trip. The 2024 Maserati GranTurismo Trofeo takes its moniker seriously, with a long and lean profile, an interior plush enough to spend days in, and 542 well-muscled horses to make short work of the long way. We’ll quickly pour out a tribute to the departed V-8 powerplants, because the GranTurismo’s curved hood covers a toned-down version of the Nettuno twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 from the Maserati MC20 supercar. Or, if you want to step it up, there’s the electric 818-hp three-motor GranTurismo Folgore. Don’t cry over spilled cylinders, though, because if any engine can make hexophiles out of octostans, it’s this smooth six-pack with bountiful low-end torque in every drive mode and a confident howl under throttle punctuated by sizzling-bacon pops at each upshift. Sure, it’s not quite as deep a song as Maserati’s outgoing eight-cylinder, but the tune it sings is a bop, and we’re feeling it. The Nettuno isn’t just a good-sounding engine; at the test track, it dug in with all 479 pound-feet of torque to lay down an 11.5-second quarter-mile, crossing the line at 121 mph after reaching 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds. For Joe Walsh fans who may be wondering, yes, it will do 185. Technical editor Dan Edmunds says he saw 189 before he ran out of straightaway, but “My Maserati does 189 and is still pulling” doesn’t rhyme as well with “Now I don’t drive.”The Trofeo’s engine is backed by ZF’s eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Around town, the ZF makes quick and painless gearchanges, and in manual mode, the paddles give instant response and those fun exhaust crackles. Maserati offers four wheel designs for the GranTurismo, all 20 inches in the front and 21 inches in the rear. Our test car wore the standard gloss-black Pegasos wrapped in Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires. We kept those Pirellis in motion and saw 17 mpg. The EPA ratings for the Trofeo are 21 combined, 18 city, and 27 highway, but the feds don’t drive like we do. Although it’s a heavy car at 4207 pounds, the Trofeo makes tidy turns with minimal wallow and averaged 0.97 g on the skidpad. On big straightaways, it will tear forward or cruise politely, with enthusiasm tempered only by your ankle angle. Adaptive air springs make a noticeable change from Comfort mode’s breezy float to the lowered, more connected feel of Corsa. We found ourselves preferring the low-key charms of the in-between GT mode, which seems to make the car hover over small cracks and bumps in the road surface while still keeping body motions tight through corners. Passengers preferred it too, and we had plenty of willing riders. The exterior of the GranTurismo is gorgeous—a similar shape to previous models but with a more cheerful lift to its straked front grille and a profile that narrows and flares with the elegance of a bias-cut silk gown. Its broad flanks make room in the trunk for whatever you need to carry on your ideal road-trip adventure, and inside, the front seats are large and supportive, while the rears are . . . there. A small person would fit okay; a hatbox would fit better. The seats themselves are perfect, with an almost old-fashioned amount of padding that makes long drives in the Trofeo as comfortable as a couch nap, and the car’s sensible ride height means exiting is grunt-free. It was also a pleasant change from scrapey sports cars to be able to pull into gas stations and steep driveways without even thinking about the approach angle. Most of the interior layout is equally user-friendly. Although we worried about accidentally hitting the engine start/stop button on the steering wheel, that was never an issue. The 12.2-inch digital instrument cluster is clear and easy to navigate, as are the 12.3-inch infotainment screen and the digital climate controls below. The instrument display changes with drive-mode selection, and the center-mounted clock in the dash can switch to a compass or a g-meter in a clever melding of retro and modern. More Maserati GranTurismo ReviewsLife’s been good to the Trofeo so far, but we do have some complaints. The shifter buttons, which divide the top screen from the climate-control screen, feel cheap, and most gear selections took at least two attempts. As the whole panel moves with any action, it’s hardly a feeling you want to experience more than necessary. Maserati’s driver-aid tech is a pricey add-on, and while we can live without lane-keeping assist and drowsy-driver warnings, modern features like adaptive cruise control and 360-degree cameras really shouldn’t be a $4500 option. With the Trofeo’s $191,995 base sticker and this car’s $212,615 as-tested price, we’d expect Maserati to throw in adaptive cruise and some better-feeling switchgear. But when it comes to the GT initials, the GranTurismo wears them well. SpecificationsSpecifications
    2024 Maserati Gran Turismo TrofeoVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $191,995/$212,615Options: Grigio Maratea Matte paint, $4500; ADAS package 1 (active blind-spot assist and active lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic detection, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, Drowsy Driver detection), $4500; 19-speaker Sonus Faber audio system, $4000; Technical Assistance package (head-up display, digital rearview mirror), $2600; carbon-fiber Macrotwill leather seat covering, $2500; Trofeo Sport Design package (lightweight aluminum sport pedals, illuminated stainless-steel door sills, Maserati logo), $1450; Trofeo Comfort package (power front seats, kick sensor for power trunk), $1070
    ENGINEtwin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 183 in3, 2992 cm3Power: 542 hp @ 6500 rpmTorque: 479 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 15.0-in vented disc/13.8-in vented discTires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4F: 265/30ZR-20 (94Y) XL MGTR: 295/30ZR-21 (102Y) XL MGT
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 115.3 inLength: 195.5 inWidth: 77.0 inHeight: 53.3 inCurb Weight: 4207 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 3.2 sec100 mph: 7.7 sec1/4-Mile: 11.5 sec @ 121 mph130 mph: 13.4 sec150 mph: 19.3 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.8 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.1 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.9 secTop Speed (mfr claim): 199 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 148 ftBraking, 100–0 mph: 299 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.97 g 
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 17 mpg
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 21/18/27 mpg 
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINEDLike a sleeper agent activated late in the game, Elana Scherr didn’t know her calling at a young age. Like many girls, she planned to be a vet-astronaut-artist, and came closest to that last one by attending UCLA art school. She painted images of cars, but did not own one. Elana reluctantly got a driver’s license at age 21 and discovered that she not only loved cars and wanted to drive them, but that other people loved cars and wanted to read about them, which meant somebody had to write about them. Since receiving activation codes, Elana has written for numerous car magazines and websites, covering classics, car culture, technology, motorsports, and new-car reviews. In 2020, she received a Best Feature award from the Motor Press Guild for the C/D story “A Drive through Classic Americana in a Polestar 2.”  In 2023, her Car and Driver feature story More

  • in

    BYD Seal EV First Drive Review – Seal The Deal Of The Day!

    BYD Seal EV First Drive Review2024 BYD Seal EV rivals sedans like Audi A4, BMW 2 Series, Merc A Class Limousine, Toyota Camry, Skoda Superb and BEVs like Volvo XC40 Recharge, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6Being an automotive enthusiast, I always fancied saloon cars (sedans) owing to their iconic three-box design. There’s something special about driving a proper sedan and it always puts you in a good mood. That’s exactly what happened to us when we drove the new BYD Seal EV around Delhi NCR at the media drive event. Here’s our first impression of this vehicle and why we think it is the deal of the day.BYD Seal EV First Impressions ReviewIf there’s one electric vehicle manufacturer who probably gives Tesla nightmares, it is BYD. Despite being a global EV juggernaut, BYD is relatively a new brand in India. The company has E6 MPV and Atto 3 SUV on sale in India and the portfolio was recently expanded with the launch of Seal EV. It falls under company’s ‘Ocean’ lineup of vehicles. This electric sedan brings a luxury proposition at an affordable price despite being a fully electric vehicle. Hence packing all vital ingredients to emerge as the ‘Deal of the Day’. But is it, though? Let’s take a look.BYD Seal FasciaSeal EV is offered in a choice of 3 variants. Its mid-spec Premium variant brings amazing value proposition to the table. Since we are talking about variants, let’s get pricing and specs out of the way, shall we? BYD Seal EV price starts from Rs. 41 lakh for base Dynamic, Rs. 45.55 lakh for mid-spec Premium and Rs. 53 lakh for top-spec Performance variants (all prices ex-sh).BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewBase Dynamic packs a 61.44 kWh battery, 202 bhp and 310 Nm RWD single motor, 0-100 km/h sprint in 7.5 seconds and a NEDC range of 510 km. Premium variant offers a larger 82.56 kWh battery, 310 bhp and 360 Nm, RWD single motor, 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds and a NEDC range of 650 km (highest in the lineup). Top-spec Performance variant has the same 82.56 kWh battery and 310 bhp and 360 Nm rear motor as Premium. However, Performance variant gets a 215 bhp and 310 Nm front motor taking total system output to 525 bhp and 670 Nm. Range is slightly lower at 580 km but the acceleration is insane hitting 100 km/h mark in just 3.8 seconds.BYD Seal RearIs Pricing Justified?These are very impressive numbers and lend BYD Seal EV a multitude of titles in India.1. Most affordable electric sedan in India (non hatchback-derived).2. Most affordable luxury sedan in India.3. Most affordable rear-wheel-drive sedan in India (EV & ICE).4. Most affordable all-wheel-drive sedan in India (EV & ICE)5. Most affordable high-performance vehicle in India (EV & ICE).6. Most affordable dual-motor EV in India.BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewThese are some of the titles BYD has bagged for itself with Seal EV. BYD Seal offers tremendous value for what it costs. If we take luxury sedans like Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine, Audi A4, BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe along with mainstream sedans like Toyota Camry and Skoda Superb, they all cost more than BYD Seal. Also, none of them are fully electric, none of them are anywhere near as performant and none of them offer at least RWD as standard. BYD Seal annihilates its competition if we bring RTO taxes and maintenance costs of the aforementioned ICE and Hybrid vehicles.BYD Seal FrunkComparing apples to apples, only real rival for BYD Seal is BMW i4 which costs significantly more and offers significantly less performance than Seal’s top-spec Performance variant. Now the question arises, why go for legacy brands? Does BYD Seal have a lot of cost-cutting measures to strike an attractive price point? Answer is, no. We’re happy to report that the best part about BYD Seal is that it works with no surprises and idiocies. There were very few “Huh” moments with BYD Seal too, which is commendable at this price point.BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewDesign & QualityBYD Seal is a handsome-looking machine. The aerodynamic shape with 0.219 Cd might be slightly off-putting in pictures but looks much better in person. Car’s design grew on me with time, especially in the lovely Cosmos Black shade we had. Headlights are sleek and remind me of a Porsche Taycan and a Toyota Crown or a Prius. Actual ‘Double U’ lighting elements on the inside along with ‘Ripple’ LED elements in bumper stay true to its ‘Ocean’ theme. Similar Ripple design attributes are seen on front quarter panels too.BYD Seal ‘Ripple’ Aesthetics From Ocean Range19-inch aero alloy wheels look very swanky and side profile is swoopy and curvaceous. There are interesting creases on doors and bonnet lending underlying aggression and muscle. Rear gets a ‘Boundless’ LED connected tail light design. Rear bumper gets a large diffuser (real) like on a sportscar which must be contributing to the overall aero performance. BYD uses double-glazed glass with front windshield and windows for sound-proofing and they work. The silver-plated glass roof boasts 99% UV isolation and a large 1.9 m2 viewing area.BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewStepping in, you will first be greeted by metallic scuff plates at all door sills. Aiding ingress and egress for driver is a welcome function where seat moves back making it easy to climb in and has a memory function too. Once you’re in, swooping lines across the interiors and lovely quilted leather seats captivate you. These seats are well-bolstered and thoroughly hug occupant’s body. Floating centre console has a gear selector along with start/stop, parking brake, a few telephony and climate control buttons and dials to select driving modes.BYD Seal Shoulder LineCabin lighting is LEDs and there is soothing ambient lighting on the inside as well. Lights for vanity mirrors were diffused LEDs which feel upmarket. Overall ambience from BYD Seal’s interior is top-notch for the price. BYD has used soft-touch plastics extensively and almost all touch points had them. There is suede material on the dashboard which is unique in this price bracket. BYD doesn’t call it Alcantara (maybe there was no deal with Alcantara brand). Touchpoints lower down the centre console were also soft to touch, which is just nice. Headliner is finished with premium knitted material too.BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewSteering wheel and upholstery were clad with real leather. No “leather with an asterisk” nonsense here. All the buttons and rollers felt very premium and had a damped feeling to them, like a proper luxury car. BYD Seal EV gets felt lining inside the damped glovebox and storage bin under front centre armrest for a premium feel. Carpeting is also of premium quality and extends all the way till the car’s cargo area.BYD Seal EV Infotainment ScreenFeatures & PracticalityBYD’s rotating 15.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system supports wireless Android Auto and wired Apple CarPlay. Premium Dynaudio audio system gets a subwoofer at the back for a much fuller sound. Voice control yielded a fast response and ‘Hi BYD’ command triggers the system. A 10.25-inch colour TFT screen takes care of car’s instrumentation and incorporates speedo, SOC, DTE, ADAS-related info, performance metrics and more.BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewWhere space and practicality are concerned, BYD Seal EV offers a lot of room for both front and rear occupants. I am 182 cm long individual and I didn’t face any issues with legroom, headroom and shoulder room at the back or front. Seat ergonomics is spot on too, striking the right amount of comfort and support. Practicality-wise, Seal EV gets a 400L boot with wide and large hatch-style opening tailgate. There is a 50L frunk (front trunk) which is reasonably practical. All the door packets, glovebox and storage under front armrest can house water bottles and other paraphernalia without breaking a sweat. Below floating centre console, we have additional storage space with a couple of USB sockets.BYD Seal Glass RoofFeatures-wise, BYD Seal is packed to the brim. We get LED lighting all around, 19-inch wheels, keyless entry, pop-out flush door handles, electrically adjustable front seats with 4-way lumbar support for driver’s seat, a HUD, ventilated front seats, auto-dimming IRVM, rear AC vents, front and rear armrest, dual-zone climate control, PM 2.5 air purifier, NFC on ORVMs, heated ORVMs, twin wireless mobile chargers on centre console, steering mounted controls, cruise control, electrically operated rear tailgate with soft-close feature, hydraulic bonnet struts, full-fledged puncture repair kit among others.BYD Seal EV First Drive ReviewWhere safety is concerned, BYD is offering 6 airbags, 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, TPMS, TCS, auto hold, hill hold, ABS EBD and a host of ADAS suite. Speaking of ADAS suite, BYD Seal EV gets Adaptive Cruise Control, Auto Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Emergency Lane Keeping Assist, Intelligent Cruise Control, Predictive Collision Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Speed Limit Control, Front and Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Braking, Blind Spot Detection, High Beam Assist and Driver Attention Warning.BYD Seal DashboardRide, Handling & PerformanceBYD Seal EV is based on the upgraded e-Platform 3.0 architecture with Cell To Body technology. Tightly integrating battery into vehicle’s floor improves vehicle safety, stability, handling and performance. The car feels rigid and stiff and there is no point of concern with BYD’ impeccable engineering. High-strength materials used in vehicular engineering have resulted in a full-fat 5-star crash safety rating awarded by Euro NCAP.When I first saw the 45 profile tyres on Seal, I was sceptical about car’s ride quality. However, BYD Seal EV surprised me with commendable composure, offering the right balance between ride comfort and sporty handling. Front double wishbone setup and rear 5-link setup with adaptive dampers and forged aluminium swingarm on top-spec model proved to be quite impressive. There is minimal body roll on corners and nose-dive on braking. Car stays pretty composed, thanks to its impeccable 50:50 weight distribution.BYD Seal WheelsSeal EV gracefully absorbed most of the bumps and undulations our Indian roads could throw at it without any thunks. That said, I wish Seal EV packed a 55-profile tyre to prevent damage to wheels in worst-case scenarios. The 145 mm ground clearance is a point of concern, however. We didn’t scrape car’s underbelly on speed breakers. We were tacking a steeply stepped side intersection in Delhi NCR and it slightly scraped the car’s underbelly. Again, a 55-profile tyre would have made all the difference here.235/45-R19 XX tyres on BYD Seal offered great grip. Car didn’t lose traction while putting the power down from a standstill. Top-spec Performance variant gets iTAC (Intelligent Torque Adaption Control) which predicts wheel speed in advance depending on road conditions. Despite being a 4.8m long vehicle, BYD Seal EV has a pretty manageable 5.7m turning radius. Overall, BYD Seal EV feels athletic and is very confidence-inspiring and sure-footed. In and around Delhi NCR, I was searching for gaps in the traffic to launch this like a missile and it never disappointed me once.BYD SealConclusionNo car is perfect. Suppose we take BYD Seal EV for example. In that case, it lacks wireless Apple CarPlay, it doesn’t have felt lining in door pockets like VW Passat had, Android Auto doesn’t work when infotainment screen is in portrait mode and there is no sun blind for the glass roof and sun shades for rear windows, which is not a good idea for a hot and sunny market like India. Front AC vents can only be positioned from the screen or choose one of the swing modes. Driver-side air vents are smaller and didn’t move up and down, chilling my hands. Ingress and egress for tall individuals into driver seat could have been more streamlined.At this point, I’m just nit-picking because there are no deal breakers with BYD Seal EV. While there are a few minor criticisms, BYD more than makes up for it with an unbeatable price-to-performance ratio. The car poses incredible value for what it offers and is a very unique luxury proposition for the price. To answer our question, BYD Seal EV is the ‘Deal of the Day’ . If you are a prospective buyer, BYD Seal EV should be on your shortlist. More

  • in

    2025 Ski-Doo MXZ X-RS 850 E-TEC Turbo R Is Peak Snowmobile

    Darker days may be on the horizon for combustion engines, but before they’re forced into retirement, they’re going out with—ahem­—a bang. In this golden era of combustion, there are many engines that will be forever venerated, such as Chevrolet’s naturally aspirated 670-hp 5.5-liter V-8, Porsche’s screaming 4.0-liter flat-six, and basically any modern twin-turbocharged V-8. But have we reached peak snowmobile? “We might be there,” says Ski-Doo media relations manager Steve Cowing. “But we thought we were there over a decade ago and look what we’ve done since then. So maybe we’re not done yet.”As with most of the typical frozen destinations in the United States, winter overlooked us this season at our Ann Arbor headquarters. So, we found ourselves in the higher elevations of West Yellowstone, Montana, to experience Ski-Doo’s latest and greatest trail rocket that packs all the latest technology into a single package, the MXZ X-RS 850 E-TEC Turbo R with Competition package. Methed-OutTurbocharging isn’t anything new from Bombardier Recreational Products’ (BRP) Rotax engine division. In 2019, they launched the turbocharged 899-cc four-stroke inline-three with 150 horsepower. A year later came the boosted variant of the naturally aspirated, 165-hp 849-cc two-stroke inline-two. Though it didn’t make any more power, it made all its available muscle up to the oxygen-deprived altitude of 8000 feet. Rotax evolves at a crazy pace, and in 2021 they revealed the Turbo R variant of the inline-three with 180 horsepower. Then in 2023, the Gen5 platform arrived with the two-stroke 850 Turbo R running 6 psi of boost—up two from the non-R—extracting its glorious 180 horses from a much lighter package. Ski-DooThe turbocharged four-strokes, which are designed for the trails, carry a significant weight disadvantage over the lighter two-stroke engines, and thus the boosted two-strokes were reserved for the mountain segment. That left the trail-riding flatlanders feeling left out—and loudly complaining. Ski-Doo listened, and thus the 2024 MXZ X-RS 850 E-TEC Turbo R with Competition package was born. Mechanically speaking, the 850 E-TEC Turbo R engine is the same in the Summit mountain sled as in MXZ trail platform. But how the two are ridden is a completely different game. In the mountains, wide-open throttle applications are far briefer than they might be on a trail sled riding on a retired railroad bed, where the throttle can be pinned to the handlebar for miles on end. These extended periods of fun generate elevated and power-robbing intake temperatures. But with the real estate under the hood of a modern snowmobile being so limited, and weight reduction such a high priority, plumbing an intercooler isn’t an option. Ski-Doo’s solution to keeping the intake charge cool? Methanol injection. Okay, so the Intake Cooling Enhancer (ICE) fluid is mainly water, and the methanol is present to kept it from freezing, but it’s just not as cool to say your sled has water injection. Nevertheless, when the sensors detect an above-normal intake temperature, injectors squirt microdoses of ICE to cool the charge and maintain peak power output. The ICE also removes heat from the the cylinders. How much boost juice is used depends on one’s riding style. Use lots of boost, use lots of juice. Keep out of the boost and, well, what fun is that?Ski-DooRide TimeSaddled up on the Competition, just one squeeze of the throttle is enough for a string of excited and expletive words to pour out. Thanks to Ski-Doo’s innovative airbox that breathes atmospheric conditions until it’s pressurized, there’s essentially no turbo lag (a spring-loaded valve in the airbox means that the throttle response is naturally aspirated snappy until the boost is ready). The boost rolls on with an ever-so-slight whistle from under the hood as pine trees begin to resemble lines of Morse code. We’re pretty sure we decoded “slow down.” And with a four-piston Brembo brake caliper, scrubbing speed is no issue. The on-and-off throttle responsiveness never ceases to impress, and after repeated hammering of the thumb throttle we never detected any falloff in acceleration, even well into indicated triple-digit speeds. When it comes to drag racing, the Competition has a trick up its sleeve: launch control. With the brake and throttle applied, the engine revs to just shy of the clutch’s 4100-rpm engagement point. Snow explodes from underneath as the engine spits and sputters from the exhaust as the boost builds up. With the brake released, the Competition rockets away, and the ligaments holding elbows and shoulders together stretch like Silly Putty. From the seat of our pants, 60 mph feels like it should arrive in less than 3.0 seconds. On frozen precipitation. From an out-of-the-box machine. The Competition isn’t all engine, though. When the trail coils up, Ski-Doo’s hot rod is ready to strike. For those in the know, Ski-Doo’s front end has lacked some of the precision of its competitors. For 2025, the performance models received a taller ski spindle and revised control arms that Ski-Doo claims reduce body roll by 20 percent. Paired with new skis, the Competition feels more surefooted through high-speed sweepers and less prone to being unsettled by midcorner humps and bumps. The speeds at which these machines can corner is truly impressive. Ski-DooWhile the Competition’s Kashima-coated, manually adjustable standard damper package is nothing to scoff at, the optional $1800 adaptive KYB Smart-Shox are transformational. Inputs from the body-control module are relayed to the three-position electronically controlled dampers that can adjust on the fly. When the cornering forces increase and the machine wants to lean through an apex, the outside damper firms up to keep body roll further in check. The bandwidth of the Smart-Shox is a boon for ridability as trail conditions change throughout the day. When set to Comfort, the ride is buttery smooth on a freshly groomed trail. Locked into Sport+, the ride firms up for attacking rough terrain as the trails deteriorate. With 10.4 inches of suspension travel up front and 11.5 inches in the rear, the Smart-Shox shrug off most any bump or jump. Just as magnetorheological dampers forever changed the ride quality of many General Motors products, KYB’s Smart-Shox take snowmobiling to the next level.More Snow MachinesAnd like so many things in life, even snowmobiles aren’t excluded from omnipresent connectivity. BRP’s 10.3-inch touchscreen—optional elsewhere in the model lineup—is standard on the Turbo R Competition. The crisply rendered screen keeps an eye on the machine’s vitals, features built-in GPS navigation, and can control your playlist, if listening to music out in the woods is your type of thing.With so much straight-line speed, corner-shredding capability, and a trick suspension, the MXZ X-RS 850 E-TEC Turbo R with Competition just may be peak snowmobile. And with a $22,549 starting point, it certainly should be.David Beard studies and reviews automotive related things and pushes fossil-fuel and electric-powered stuff to their limits. His passion for the Ford Pinto began at his conception, which took place in a Pinto. More

  • in

    1996 Chevrolet Corvette vs. Malibu Corvette Ski Boat

    From the February 1997 issue of Car and Driver.For 44 years now, Chevrolet has been mistakenly building the Corvette. This is absurd because any dictio­nary will tell you a corvette is not a car, but a small, lightly armed, fast warship. Well, last year, GM finally wised up and licensed the Corvette name to Malibu Boats. Located not in beautiful Malibu but in bucolic Merced in California’s central valley, the boatmaker has a three-year license to build the Corvette Limited Edi­tion Ski Boat (Limited Edition Wet Vette was somehow not considered). The Corvette is based on Malibu’s Ech­elon tournament ski boat, except that virtually everything but its hull shape was changed, including the fiberglass deck, the floor, the seating, the interior panels, the dashboard, and the instrument panel. With the approval of GM, the Torch Red boat was also given a C4-style rear-fascia treat­ment (using the taillight openings as bilge vents), instrument panel, glove box, and shifter and a dozen (count ’em) Corvette and Collector Edition emblems. Luxo touches include dash heater vents, a leather-covered tilting steering wheel, a 12-CD changer, a driver’s air lumbar adjuster, and—something the car needs badly—an in-dash ice chest. A tandem trailer, dressed up with Corvette wheels and P225/45ZR-17 tires, is also included. Callaway soups up a GM Vortec engine to give the boat Corvette-quality performance. In Old Lyme, Connecticut, the engine is stripped and reconfigured with a 3.75-inch stroker crank and a 0.030-inch overbore to bump displacement from 350 cubic inches to 383 cubic inches—the same as Callaway’s SuperNatural Cor­vette. The engine retains its roller cam fol­lowers but gets stiffer valve springs, forged rods, 10.5:1 pistons, four-bolt mains, and remapped ignition and electronic-fuel­-injection programs. Callaway refers to the engine as the SuperNatural 383 Marine. “We knew we wanted 400 pound-feet for acceleration and 400 horsepower for speed,” Malibu president Bob Alkema says. “We went to Callaway and said, ‘Four hundred and four hundred, please.'” What they got was exactly 400 horsepower at 5200 rpm and a stump-pulling 415 pound-feet of torque at 4200 revs. We wondered where we could test the boat in Merced, which is farm country. As it turns out, Malibu knows a very rich man who built his own ski lake nearby. This seemed to have possibilities, not the least of which was that he might have a very rich and bored daughter with her own boat and motor. The lake is nearly a half-mile long by 275 feet wide but just five feet deep, which means when a skier does a header after jumping the wake, his noggin strikes the bottom. Unless it strikes a catfish first. In which case you’ll be billed separately because they also raise catfish for sale here. “I smell a tax deduction,” I said to photographer Lorentzen as we drove from the airport. “I smell a fish farm,” the photographer said as we turned into the driveway. We already knew the boat wasn’t going to put any Corvette LT4 on the trailer in terms of top speed, but we weren’t so sure about acceleration. Stalking the boat with radar proved we were half-right. From 0 to 20 mph, the boat outgunned the car by a slim margin—about a 10th of a second—­testimony to the boat engine’s low-end torque. From 20 to 40 mph, the car pulled even and then forged ahead by about a half-second. But above 40 mph, the LT4 was simply gone. The crucible of street performance, 0-­to-60-mph acceleration, was thus no con­test. The LT4 romped to 60 mph in 5.1 sec­onds, whereas the Malibu Vette took 11.6 seconds to reach 57 mph, its top speed. The boat held this speed for the rest of the quarter-mile, which it covered in 18.5 sec­onds. This is unheard of in a production ski boat. Most ski boats won’t hit 50 mph. The LT4 dispatched the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 104 mph. As sobering as the drag-strip compar­ison turned out to be, the top-end differ­ence was even greater. The Corvette LT4 convertible can storm to 160 mph—some 103 mph faster than the boat. But why? Das Boot weighs 960 pounds less than the car and has 70 more horsepower. For starters, ski boats have a one-speed trans­mission and a single-pitch prop that essentially serve as governors. Tournament ski boats also carry their engines amidships to generate minimal wake, but this creates copious hydrodynamic drag. In short, boats need to get up and out of the water to go fast, which also means they tend to handle spookily at speed. (This does not bode well for the weekend warrior tanked on margaritas.) A much as the wet stuff holds the Malibu back at its top end, it doesn’t seem to contribute anything to stopping the craft. Whereas the LT4 can grind to a halt in 166 feet from 70 mph, the boat is relatively helpless at scrubbing off speed. Deceler­ating from 50 to 10 mph—the only mean­ingful range our Stalker radar gun could record—takes 231 feet. There is another way. Turns out that if no tort attorneys are looking, a ski boat can be made to spin like an AMC Pacer on black ice. (We did not, repeat did not, learn about this from anyone at Malibu Boats.) First, apply throttle until the boat achieves a velocity that seems vaguely dangerous. Then crank in full left rudder, chop the throttle, and pop ‘er into neutral. The boat snaps left in a neat 180 (picture Roberto at Indy), leaving your spleen and any other unnecessary organs on the marine-grade carpeting. There is no purpose to this, except that it drives spousal units insane and makes them vow never to ride in a boat with you and your stupid friends again. Indeed, cornering is the Malibu’s baili­wick. Running a 300-foot “skidpad” around buoys on nearby Yosemite Lake, the boat was limited by power rather than adhesion, unlike the LT4. The car aver­aged 0.87 g on the skidpad; the boat was just a click behind at 0.83 g—the equiva­lent of a Volvo 850R, which is not bad territory. And whereas the car has to be carefully balanced with the steering and throttle, the boat can be cornered at full throttle. The nose drops, the hull tilts inward, and the Malibu just sticks. Following a skier’s slalom course is a good measure of overall handling. The official ski slalom uses an entry gate, six turn buoys, and an exit gate. In ski com­petitions, the boat drives straight through the middle of the 850-foot-long course while the skier zigs and zags left and right around the buoys. At Catfish Lake, the Malibu Vette followed the skier’s zigzag course in a best time of 19.5 seconds. The steering is massively heavy when you’ve fed in lock, but it’s feather light on-center. You’d be excused for complaining that this kind of feel belongs in a million-mile Checker, not a $45,000 boat. But that’s the nature of inboards: Prop thrust is forever trying to straighten the rudder. We thought it would be interesting to run the car through an identical slalom marked by cones instead of buoys. It was. The car ran through the slalom at 21.69 seconds, or about 3 mph slower than the boat (albeit braking for the turns). This shows that in low-speed, tight maneuvers, at least, the car and the boat are close to equal. More Corvette Reviews From the ArchiveWith testing completed, there remained only one question anyone really cared about: Can you ski behind a car? It was Alkema who suggested that someone try. Shane Stillman, a Malibu product researcher and national-caliber skier, was perfectly willing to grab a ski and join the 50,000 catfish in 55-degree water the color of your Morgan’s engine oil after the head gasket blew. Alkema drove down to the water’s edge and attached 75 feet of ski rope. He hit the throttle, and when the chocolate spray set­tled, water skier Stillman sat in six inches of water, sporting a bright, new gravel rash on his legs. The LT4 had yanked him ashore. No matter. With a bit of practice, Stillman got up and skied, only to reach the end of the frontage road before he dropped back into the soup. He did this over and over—mostly because the photographer begged him, but also because it was fun.At least, he said it was. SpecificationsSpecifications
    1996 Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition ConvertibleVehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger convertible
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $46,671/$51,067
    ENGINEpushrod 16-valve V-8, iron block and aluminum heads, port fuel injectionDisplacement: 350 in3, 5733 cm3Power: 330 hp @ 5800 rpmTorque: 340 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION6-speed manual
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: control arms/control armsBrakes, F/R: vented disc/vented discTires: Goodyear Eagle GS-CF: 255/45ZR-17R: 285/40ZR-17
    DIMENSIONSLength: 178.5 inWidth: 73.1 inHeight: 47.3 inCurb Weight: 3460 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS30 mph: 2.1 sec60 mph: 5.1 sec1/4-Mile: 13.7 sec @ 104 mphTop Speed: 160 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 166 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.87 g850-ft Water-Ski Slalom Course: 26.7 mph

    Malibu Boats Corvette Limited Edition Ski BoatVehicle Type: mid-engine, 5-passenger boat
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $45,000/$45,000
    ENGINEpushrod 16-valve V-8, iron block and heads, port fuel injectionDisplacement: 383 in3, 6276 cm3Power: 400 hp @ 5200 rpmTorque: 415 lb-ft @ 4200 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION1-speed
    CHASSISBrakes: reverse prop thrust; single anchorProp: 13-inch stainless steel
    DIMENSIONSLength: 240.0 inWidth: 90.0 inHeight: 36.0 inCurb Weight: 2500 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS30 mph: 2.4 sec57 mph: 11.6 sec1/4-Mile: 18.5 sec @ 57 mphTop Speed: 57 mphBraking, 50–10 mph: 231 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.83 g 850-ft Water-Ski Slalom Course: 29.7 mph  
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINED More

  • in

    Comparison Test: 2024 Kia Sportage vs. 2024 Nissan Rogue

    The 2024 Nissan Rogue and the 2024 Kia Sportage are not our favorite compact SUVs—we prefer more engaging offerings, such as the current and former 10Best-winning Honda CR-V and Mazda CX-5. But these two mundane models aren’t without their appeal, and Nissan and Kia moved 271,458 and 140,780 units of each in 2023 alone.The Nissan is the elder statesman of this duo, with the current SUV dating back to the 2021 model year. A light refresh for 2024 adds revised front and rear fascias and an available 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with the Google built-in interface.Following a complete redesign for 2023, the Sportage carries over largely unchanged for 2024. The latest model is physically larger than its predecessor. It also now offers hybrid and plug-in-hybrid powertrains, though a gas-only setup serves as the default option.What We TestedUnlike the Sportage, the Rogue comes strictly in gas-fed form. All variants, from the entry-level $29,810 S to the $40,090 Platinum, rely on the same 201-hp turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder that mates to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The triple incorporates Nissan’s variable-compression tech that slightly alters the pistons’ stroke to raise or lower the compression ratio from 8.0:1 and 14.0:1, optimizing the engine for greater torque or fuel economy as needed. Although the Rogue comes standard with front-wheel drive, the Platinum example we tested included all-wheel drive for $1500. A $350 black-painted roof, $445 worth of floor mats, and the $990 Platinum Premium package, which added a third climate zone for those in the back, rear sunshades, heated rear seats, a motion-activated liftgate, and a head-up display, brought this Champagne Silver Metallic SUV’s as-tested price to $43,375. View PhotosAndi Hedrick|Car and Driver2024 Nissan Rogue PlatinumOur Sportage was likewise a gas-powered model in flagship form. The $39,365 X-Pro Prestige combines the tougher-looking exterior decor, all-terrain tires, and heated windshield of the less expensive X-Pro with the amenities of the SX Prestige, such as its ventilated front seats, power-operated passenger’s seat, and 360-degree camera. All-wheel drive is standard, as is a 187-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. With just $665 in extras (an X-Pro-exclusive coat of Wolf Gray paint with a contrasting Ebony Black roof for $395, floor mats for $175, and a cargo mat for $95), our Kia compact SUV rang in at $40,030.View PhotosAndi Hedrick|Car and Driver2024 Kia Sportage X-ProHow They Drive and PerformBoth the Rogue and Sportage prioritize a cushy ride and quiet cabin, and the pair hit their strides on long stretches of clear and open highway. The Nissan was the quicker of the two off the line—no surprise, considering its engine packed an additional 14 horsepower and 47 pound-feet of torque. Getting to 60 mph took an acceptable 8.0 seconds, and the quarter-mile blew by after 16.1 seconds at a speed of 87 mph. Meanwhile, the Sportage needed a wheezy 9.1 seconds to reach 60 mph and 16.9 seconds to complete the quarter-mile at 84 mph.Neither SUV fared well passing slower-moving traffic, and the Rogue’s languid 4.6-second run from 30 to 50 mph put it 0.1 second behind the Sportage’s. Both took 6.3 seconds to go from 50 to 70 mph. Kia SportageHIGHS: Quiet cabin, cushy ride, solid value.LOWS: Sluggish acceleration, frustrating climate and infotainment controls, drab cabin.VERDICT: Not great in any way but good enough in many.Whereas the linear throttle response and amenable gearbox of the Sportage made passing maneuvers slow but steady affairs, the Rogue suffered from a laggy throttle and a sluggish CVT. This left it accelerating leisurely until the transmission lackadaisically engaged a lower ratio, at which point the SUV would finally hit the peak of its powerband—often right around the time we no longer needed the extra oomph.Bringing the Rogue to a halt was no less frustrating due to its spongy brake pedal. It suffered from an initial dead spot and only started adding adequate stopping force at the far end of its travel. The Sportage’s binders, meanwhile, applied stopping power proportional to the stroke of its squishy pedal. View PhotosAndi Hedrick|Car and Driver2024 Kia Sportage X-ProWith its 19-inch wheels shod in asphalt-friendly Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S all-season tires, the Rogue came to a stop from 70 mph in 177 feet and circled the skidpad at 0.83 g, besting the 182-foot and 0.81-g figures the Kia achieved on its BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A all-terrain rubber and 17-inch wheels. Despite its additional grip, the Rogue was the worse of these compact SUVs to wring around twisting tarmac.With more pitch and dive than the Summer Olympics, and steering that often required midcorner corrections, the Rogue struggled to maintain any semblance of cohesion in most off-highway settings. The Sportage was no dynamic darling either, but its body motions were less excessive, its chassis offered greater composure at the limit, and its steering was linear and responded accurately to inputs. It may be a bore, but unlike the Rogue, the Sportage at least avoided making spirited driving feel like a chore.Interior ComparisonNissan pulled out all the stops inside the Rogue, and its cabin looked and felt the part of an SUV with a price tag north of $40,000. Quilted leather covered the seats’ comfortable cushions, while soft-touch textiles adorned the dashboard and door panels. Scant use of silver and piano black plastic was a refreshing change of pace, adding a bit of interest to the interior without making the cabin look too busy.The inside of the Rogue offers more than just visual and tactile appeal, and Nissan’s compact SUV featured a number of generously sized storage cubbies too. This included a sizable space just below the center console and a two-position cargo floor. Nissan RogueHIGHS: Interior worthy of an Infiniti, convenience features of an Infiniti, ride quality of a Range Rover.LOWS: Laggy throttle and lazy CVT, a brake pedal spongy enough to live in a pineapple under the sea, cluster and infotainment screens’ UX.VERDICT: Easy to love in the showroom, hard to like on a test drive.Comparatively, the Sportage’s cabin was more austere and less richly appointed. Its faux-leather seats looked and felt as fake as the wood that decorates the driver-oriented dashboard and door panels. Large swaths of black plastic failed to add much in the way of visual interest, and the liberal use of piano black trim was prone to attracting fingerprint smudges and dust. The back seats in both offered plenty of room for two passengers but struggled to fit three comfortably. Unlike the Rogue, the Sportage lacked a separate rear climate zone and integrated rear sunshades.View PhotosAndi Hedrick|Car and Driver2024 Kia Sportage X-ProRegardless, the Sportage’s dual-zone climate-control system proved itself an ergonomic disaster. Rather than utilize separate climate and infotainment controls, Kia integrated both into one capacitive panel that’s bookended by two knobs. Those knobs control either the interior temperature or adjust infotainment settings, such as audio volume and tuning, depending on the mode the panel is in, effectively eliminating the muscle-memory benefits of tactile controls that allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road. After a couple of incidents wherein we cranked up the stereo volume when attempting to turn up the heat, we eventually found ourselves temporarily taking our eyes off the road to look down at the control panel to make sure it was in the correct operating mode.The Rogue may have a superior climate-control setup, but it suffers from an inferior infotainment system. Blame the 12.3-inch touchscreen’s delayed responses to inputs and the 12.3-inch cluster’s poor user experience. Rather than place the vehicle settings’ menu within the center-mounted touchscreen, Nissan hid it within the clunky cluster display.The Sportage also included separate 12.3-inch displays for its touchscreen infotainment system and digital cluster. While Kia’s user interface looked a bit dated next to Nissan’s, its overall operating experience was—for the most part—straightforward.Which Is BetterNissan knows how to create an appealing compact SUV, and the sumptuous interior and lengthy feature list of the Rogue evince this. But looking past its fancy features revealed weaknesses, chiefly the disharmonious dynamics and infotainment issues. More on the Nissan Rogue and Kia SportageThe Sportage, on the other hand, proved itself an earnest machine that was poised, predictable, and eager to please. We appreciated its lower cost of entry too, even if we felt Kia could improve the vehicle by fitting a more powerful engine under its hood and sprucing up the cabin with a less austere look and better ergonomics.Is the Kia Sportage the best vehicle in its segment? No. But you already know that. It is, however, a better compact SUV than the Nissan Rogue.SpecificationsSpecifications
    2024 Kia Sportage X-Pro Prestige AWDVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $39,365/$40,030Options: Wolf Gray body and Ebony Black roof paint, $395; carpeted floor mats, $175; cargo mat, $95
    ENGINE
    DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 152 in3, 2497 cm3Power: 187 hp @ 6100 rpmTorque: 178 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    8-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 12.6-in vented disc/11.8-in discTires: BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain T/A235/65R-17 104H M+S
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 108.5 inLength: 183.5 inWidth: 73.4 inHeight: 66.9 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 52/50 ft3Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 69/37 ft3Curb Weight: 3737 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 9.1 sec1/4-Mile: 16.9 sec @ 84 mph100 mph: 25.6 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 9.5 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.5 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.3 secTop Speed (C/D est): 120 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 182 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.81 g
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 25 mpg75-mph Highway Driving: 31 mpg75-mph Highway Range: 440 mi
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 26/23/30 mpg

    2024 Nissan Rogue Platinum AWDVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $41,590/$43,375Options: Platinum Premium package (motion-activated power liftgate, heated rear seats, head-up display, three-zone automatic climate control, rear-door sunshades), $990; floor mats, $445; two-tone paint, $350
    ENGINE
    turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 12-valve variable-compression inline-3, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 90–91 in3, 1478–1498 cm3Power: 201 hp @ 5600 rpmTorque: 225 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    continuously variable automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 11.7-in vented disc/11.5-in vented discTires: Bridgestone Alenza Sport A/S235/55R-19 101V M+S
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 106.5 inLength: 183.0 inWidth: 72.4 inHeight: 66.5 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 54/47 ft3Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 74/32 ft3Curb Weight: 3729 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 8.0 sec1/4-Mile: 16.1 sec @ 87 mph100 mph: 22.3 sec120 mph: 41.9 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 9.0 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.6 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.3 secTop Speed (C/D est): 125 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 177 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.83 g
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 26 mpg75-mph Highway Driving: 31 mpg75-mph Highway Range: 440 mi
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 31/28/34 mpg
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINEDDespite their shared last name, Greg Fink is not related to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s infamous Rat Fink. Both Finks, however, are known for their love of cars, car culture, and—strangely—monogrammed one-piece bathing suits. Greg’s career in the media industry goes back more than a decade. His previous experience includes stints as an editor at publications such as U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Motor1.com, and MotorTrend. More

  • in

    2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE Cabriolet: Sunset Cruiser

    The sun is setting on convertibles, which is poignant because sunset is the best time to experience one. At Mercedes-Benz, recent years have seen the SLK roadster and the big S-class cabrio dip below the horizon. Now, the C-class convertible and the venerable E-class cabrio are saying their goodbyes, with both being replaced by a single model, the new CLE-class. Fret not, however, because the CLE cabriolet is a creamy confection, one that’s better looking than either of its two antecedents. The new droptop stretches 191.0 inches from nose to tail, over six inches more than the 2023 C300 and even eclipsing the ’23 E450 by nearly an inch. Its wheelbase falls between its two predecessors: an inch greater than the outgoing C-class droptop and 0.3 inch shy of the last E-class convertible. That stretch between the axles, however, exactly matches the latest C-class sedan, which is no coincidence. Pleasure CruisersLike the CLE coupe, the convertible is available as the CLE300 and the CLE450, planting a tire in the C and E camps. The CLE450’s powertrain largely mirrors that of the outgoing E450 cabrio. A turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six makes 375 horsepower and an effortless 369 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with an utterly unobtrusive nine-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Light throttle inputs bring a measured response—push deeper, and the CLE presses confidently ahead, accompanied by a muted growl. Working with the same downstream hardware, the CLE300’s turbocharged 2.0-liter four is the engine we know from the C300, making 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, it doesn’t have the high-end muscle of the sweet six, but it’s plenty adequate in low-key driving and even sounds pretty refined for a turbo four. Both integrate a 48-volt starter-generator that’s able to recuperate brake energy and contribute 23 horsepower and 151 pound-feet of torque to the proceedings, helping to mask any turbo lag. Mercedes estimates zero-to-60-mph times at 6.2 seconds for the CLE300 and 4.2 seconds for the CLE450 drop-tops.Both models offer drive modes, but they don’t mess with the smooth ‘n easy vibe. No matter the setting, the accurate steering has just enough effort, perfect for a winding climb up the corniche or whatever coastal switchbacks you find yourself on. Brake-pedal inputs are equally well managed, suffering none of the squish we called out in the C-class sedan. That car had a brake system wherein initial pedal travel activated recuperation, then further travel triggered the hydraulic system; the CLE employs a revised design that activates both systems simultaneously rather than in sequence, and the result is greater assurance underfoot. (These revised brakes are being introduced as a running change on the sedan.)Unfortunately, the two CLEs we drove were equipped with the Dynamic Body Control suspension with adaptive dampers—we say unfortunately, because the U.S. won’t be getting that option. Instead, our cars will have passive dampers and steel springs, with the CLE450 getting a firmer setup. We’ll be interested to try the U.S.-spec version, and chief engineer Oliver Metzger says the convertible was tuned to allow a bit more body motion than the C-class sedan to deliver more of an E-class feel. C-Class CabinThe interior design is essentially that of the C-class, with a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and a 11.9-inch vertical central touchscreen. For cabriolet duty, the latter can be positioned more upright to reduce sun glare (a trick borrowed from the SL). Below the display is a thin band of touch buttons, including one for drive modes and a touch slider for audio volume. The UI minimizes menu-diving in that pods for various major functions are always displayed. Augmented reality for the navigation system and a head-up display are optional. The forward-facing camera can act as a dash cam, and the 360-degree-view cameras can monitor the parked car’s surroundings. Additionally, the system can be programmed with customized series of actions: setting combinations of climate control, audio, and ambient lighting, for instance, that can be automatically activated at certain times, under specific conditions, or when called up under the “My Routines” menu.There are still physical buttons to open or close the roof, a fully automatic operation that takes 20 seconds and can be performed on the move at speeds up to 37 mph. In between the buttons to raise and lower the top is one to deploy the standard Aircap. This consists of a wind deflector that rises from the windshield header and a mesh wind blocker that powers up from between the rear headrests. The thing is, wind buffeting already is so well managed, particularly when the side windows are raised, that the Aircap is largely unnecessary and actually makes the cabin noisier. In open-top driving without it, the excellent Burmester audio system with Dolby Atmos raises its volume just enough as speeds rise, but the driver and passenger needn’t raise their voices in conversation.The front seats come standard with Mercedes’s Airscarf warm-air outlets at the base of the headrests; a massage function is optional. Mercedes claims the rear seat has 0.6 inch more legroom and nearly a full inch more shoulder room than in the outgoing C-class convertible. It’s adequately spacious—a just-barely six-footer can fit behind a similar-sized driver without having to splay their knees—but a too-upright backrest means they won’t be comfortable. The rear seat does fold 60/40, and when the top is raised there’s a pass-through to the trunk.The CLE adopts the latest Mercedes-Benz steering wheel, an unfortunate design whose dual side spokes feature touch sliders for audio volume and other touch-sensitive buttons that respond to swipe motions, which means that errantly brushing against a spoke can call up the phone menu or skip a music track. Mercedes needs to step back from the touch madness.Related StoriesOur drive of the CLE convertible took place in Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It’s the kind of warm-weather destination that draws planeloads of pasty Europeans who fly down on discount airlines and are disgorged onto waiting busses for their package holiday. Was the choice of locale an indication that the new CLE similarly democratizes behind-the-wheel sun-seeking? Sorry, no. Pricing for the CLE300 convertible starts at $65,500, while the CLE450 opens at $75K. But an open-top glam-mobile like this was never going to be cheap. And with the latest SL—now a sibling to the AMG GT—having gone all sports car, it’s nice to see that Mercedes is still interested in making this type of convertible. If it appeals to you, better make haste while the sun still shines.SpecificationsSpecifications
    2024 Mercedes-Benz CLE CabrioletVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door convertible
    PRICE
    CLE300 4Matic Cabriolet, $65,500; CLE450 4Matic Cabriolet, $75,000
    ENGINES
    turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve 2.0-liter inline-4, 255 hp, 295 lb-ft; turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0-liter inline-6, 375 hp, 369 lb-ft
    TRANSMISSION
    9-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 112.8 inLength: 191.0 inWidth: 73.3 inHeight: 56.0-56.1 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 55/34 ft3Trunk Volume, Top Down/Up: 10/14 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 4400-4600 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 4.0-6.0 sec100 mph: 11.2-13.2 sec1/4-Mile: 13.1-14.1 secTop Speed: 130 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 26/23/32 mpgJoe Lorio has been obsessed with cars since his Matchbox days, and he got his first subscription to Car and Driver at age 11. Joe started his career at Automobile Magazine under David E. Davis Jr., and his work has also appeared on websites including Amazon Autos, Autoblog, AutoTrader, Hagerty, Hemmings, KBB, and TrueCar. More

  • in

    2025 Toyota Camry Carefully Evolves

    Although the Toyota Camry has been usurped by the brand’s RAV4 crossover as the bestselling vehicle in the U.S. that isn’t a pickup truck, nearly 300,000 of Toyota’s family sedans still found homes last year. We’re clearly not alone in preferring the lower starting price, greater fuel efficiency, and tidier driving dynamics that sedans generally hold over their utilitarian kin. But radically altering the Camry’s formula is something Toyota doesn’t take lightly, which meant cautious evolution led the way for its ninth-generation redesign. If you don’t glimpse the 2025 Camry’s chiseled front end and gaping maw, it easily can be mistaken for the outgoing model that it mirrors in almost every dimension. As before, SE and XSE trim levels are billed as the sportier versions, featuring black grille accents and a more responsive chassis versus the LE and XLE’s chrome trim and softer setup. The big changes are under the surface, where all grades feature Toyota’s fifth-gen hybrid powertrain. An Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter four-cylinder continues to be the hybrid’s prime mover, gaining an extra eight horsepower for 184 in total, bolstered by 163 pound-feet of torque. Likewise, a more powerful traction motor (134 horses, up from 118) works with a second motor that choreographs the hybrid system’s planetary gearset so it ultimately acts like a continuously variable transmission. Total output climbs from 208 ponies to 225. Opt for the $1525 electrified all-wheel-drive system—a first for the Camry hybrid—with its own 40-hp rear-axle motor shared with the Prius AWD, and that combined figure creeps up to 232 horsepower. A lithium-ion battery with an estimated usable capacity of 0.6 kilowatt-hour sits under the back seat, and Toyota figures a combined fuel economy range of 44 to 51 mpg depending on the model (EPA estimates aren’t available yet). That’s 2 mpg worse on the low end for an all-wheel-drive XSE versus an outgoing XSE hybrid that lacked AWD and 1 mpg below the thriftiest front-drive version. But considering the last Camry hybrid we tested, a 2018 XLE model, returned 44 mpg on our 75-mph highway test and averaged 40 mpg overall, any version of the new car will be far stingier at the pump than previous gas-only models, which topped out at 32 mpg combined. The extra spring in the Camry’s step is most evident around town, where the shove of its stronger electric motor can be felt in low- to mid-throttle applications, boosting responsiveness. And with estimated curb weights held a good amount below two tons across the board, 60-mph times should remain in the seven-second range. Sadly, the sub-six-second 60-mph sprints of the outgoing 301-hp V-6 models are a thing of the past. Additional sound insulation better isolates the new Camry from wind, road, and powertrain noise, while slightly firmer suspension tunes lend all versions tighter body control when plying twisty switchbacks, all without impinging on their cushy ride (the base LE has 16-inch wheels, with higher trims getting 18s or 19s). The four-banger still tends to drone under heavy loads, but our main dynamic gripe is the steering, which seems decidedly artificial in its numb on-center feel and lack of increased effort when rounding corners. Smudge-prone piano-black trim is splashed across the Camry’s dashboard, but the rest of the interior brings pleasant upgrades throughout, including attractive, trim-specific upholstery, plus revised seats that provide ample support and long-haul comfort. Depending on the trim, digital displays range from 7.0 to 12.3 inches for the driver, while the center touchscreens running Toyota’s latest infotainment software span 8.0 or 12.3 inches. A 10.0-inch head-up display is available on XLE and XSE models. Overall cabin space remains generous, as do standard convenience and safety features, though you’ll have to pay extra for a surround-view camera system, lane-change assist, and parking assist with automatic braking. More on Toyota CamryValue has long been one of the Camry’s strengths, and the 2025 model starts at $29,495, which is nearly $2000 more than the ask for last year’s base four-cylinder LE yet $455 less than the previous entry-level hybrid model. Combined with its updates, the new Camry should be a stronger match for its longtime rival, the Honda Accord, when we stage the inevitable comparison test. A return to the top of Toyota’s sales charts is far less likely. But for the sedan faithful, this is a better Camry.SpecificationsSpecifications
    2025 Toyota CamryVehicle Type: front-engine, front- or front- and rear-motor, front- or all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    PRICE
    FWD: LE, $29,495; SE, $31,795; XLE, $34,495; XSE, $35,695 AWD: LE, $31,020; SE, $33,320; XLE, $36,020; XSE, $37,220
    POWERTRAINS
    FWD: DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 184 hp, 163 lb-ft + 2 AC motors, 134 hp, 153 lb-ft (combined output: 225 hp; 0.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack); continuously variable automatic transmission AWD: DOHC 16-valve Atkinson-cycle 2.5-liter inline-4, 184 hp, 163 lb-ft + 3 AC motors; front: 134 hp, 153 lb-ft; rear: 40 hp, 62 lb-ft (combined output: 232 hp; 0.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack); continuously variable automatic front/direct-drive rear transmissions
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 111.2 inLength: 193.5 inWidth: 72.4 inHeight: 56.9 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 53–54/46 ft3Trunk Volume: 15 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 3500–3800 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 7.3–7.6 sec1/4-Mile: 15.4–15.6 secTop Speed: 115 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined/City/Highway: 44–51/44–53/43–50 mpgMike Sutton is an editor, writer, test driver, and general car nerd who has contributed to Car and Driver’s reverent and irreverent passion for the automobile since 2008. A native Michigander from suburban Detroit, he enjoys the outdoors and complaining about the weather, has an affection for off-road vehicles, and believes in federal protection for naturally aspirated engines. More