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2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro Road Test

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Audi’s Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro looks fabulous, even with a utilitarian roof rack on top.

Style. Some have it, and others just don’t. A small handful, on the other hand, are not only in style, but in fact set the trends. Audi has long been one such brand, often lauded for its leadership in design and execution, while the new Q8 has become one of the automaker’s key style-setters.

While hardly an initiator in the SUV coupe category, the Q8’s edgy lines and sleek, low-slung profile has certainly made up for lost time. As you may already know, it shares hard points with a number of other Volkswagen group crossover utilities, namely Porsche’s Cayenne Coupe and Lamborghini’s Urus, while its MLB platform underpinnings can be found in Audi’s own Q7, plus the regular Cayenne, Volkswagen’s Touareg (in other markets) and at the other end of the spectrum, Bentley’s Bentayga.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s rear design is easily as attractive as its front end.

This means that along with its dashing good looks it’s an SUV that can run with the best in the industry, and believe me the Q8 can hold its own on a curving backroad. The Q8 plays alongside BMW’s X6 and Mercedes’ GLE Coupe, the former being the first-ever SUV coupe, while most others in this sector are much higher priced alternatives such as Maserati’s Levante (which is more of a regular crossover SUV despite being very sleek), Aston Martin’s DBX, and soon Ferrari’s Purosangue.

The Q8 is not only more affordable than the exotics just mentioned, but my tester’s Technik 55 TFSI Quattro trim line is considerably more approachable than the mid-range SQ8 or top-line RS Q8. Our 2021 Audi Q8 Canada Prices page shows suggested pricing of $91,200 plus freight and fees, which adds $8,650 to the price of a base Q8 Progressiv model, while Audi is currently offering up to $4,000 in additional incentives on both 2021 and 2020 models, and average CarCostCanada member savings are $3,875.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The standard LED headlamps are stunning.

The Q8 arrived for 2019, by the way, and other than an assortment of tech features that have been added to the base Progressiv trim since its initial year, 2019, 2020 and 2021 versions are mostly the same. The Q8 Technik shown on this page is pretty well fully loaded, so it’s pretty well the same vehicle as a 2021.

Obviously the Q8’s base price makes its placement within Audi’s SUV hierarchy clear, the sporty mid-sizer positioned above the Q7, the two Q5 models, and of course the Q3, at least as far as non-electrics go. Audi has a lineup of EVs now, including the E-Tron and new E-Tron Sportback (Audi-speak for an SUV Coupe), while the second Q5 I just mentioned is another Sportback, making a total of three SUV coupes in the Ingolstadt brand’s lineup.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
These painted alloys help this all-black Q8 look particularly menacing.

SUV coupes are arguably better looking, unless you’re more of a traditionalist, but there is a trade-off. It comes in the way of rear headroom and cargo capacity, the second row more than adequately sized for most adults, but the Q8’s dedicated luggage space down significantly from the Q7 and even some of the regularly proportioned five-passenger SUVs it might be up against. Even the GLE Coupe offers more room behind its rear seats, but the Q8 edges out the X6.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s cabin is impeccably finished.

Now that we’re talking about practical issues, the base Q8 powertrain delivers decent fuel economy. Driven with a tempered right foot you’ll be able to eke out 13.8 L/100km in the city, 11.7 on the highway and 12.7 combined, but that’s probably not how you’re going to want to drive it.

Sorry for the yawn-fest, but I needed to get the mundanities out of the way before talking performance. Fortunately for enthusiasts like us, Audi chose not to go all pragmatic with its Q8 powertrains, leaving the Q7’s 248 horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder off the menu and instead opting for its 335 horsepower V6 in base models. That’s a healthy dose of energy for any SUV, but even more for a lighter weight five-passenger ute like the Q8. It pushes out 369 lb-ft of torque as well, all from a 3.0-litre V6-powered with a single turbo, so off-the-line acceleration is strong and highway passing manoeuvres are effortless.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s driving environment is amongst the best in its class.

Not as effortless as passing would be in a 500 horsepower SQ8, mind you, or for that matter the near Urus levels of straight-line power offered up by the 591 horsepower RS Q8. These two put 568 and 590 lb-ft of torque down to the tarmac respectively, so launching from standstill would be exhilarating to say the least. Is 3.8 seconds to 100 km/h good enough for you? That’s as quick as Bentley’s W12-powered Bentayga, and only 0.2 seconds off the Urus’ 3.6-second sprint. The mid-range SQ8 is fast too, but 4.3 seconds from zero to 100 km/h is not quite as awe-inspiring, while the 55 TFSI Quattro’s 6.0-second run is definitely quick enough to leave most traffic behind when the light goes green.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The digital gauge cluster’s multi-info display can be enlarged to take up most o the area.

Speaking of fast, the Q8’s ZF-sourced eight-speed auto is both silky smooth and wonderfully quick-shifting when pushing hard, while Quattro continues Audi’s advanced tradition in all-wheel drive, delivering superb traction in all conditions. Adding to the experience, Audi provides Comfort, Auto, Dynamic (sport), Individual and Off Road “drive select” modes, the sportiest enhancing the Q8’s direct electromechanical steering design and nicely-tuned five-link front and rear suspension setup, resulting in a luxury SUV that’s comfortable when needed, and plenty of fun through the curves.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s centre display will impress.

Comfort is the Q8 55 TFSI Quattro’s primary purpose, however, and one look inside makes this immediately known. Its interior design typifies Audi’s contemporary minimalism, while the quality of materials is second to none. My test model’s cabin was mostly done out in a subdued charcoal grey, other than the large sections of piano black lacquered trim running across the instrument panel and lower console. These perfectly bled into the numerous electronic displays, while Audi added some stylish brown details to visually warm up what could come across as a cold grey motif. Yes, even the open-pore hardwood inlays were stained grey, although ample brushed aluminum trim and the big panoramic sunroof overhead helped to lighten the mood.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
A separate display for the HVAC system frees up space on the infotainment screen.

The aforementioned displays brightened the gauge cluster and centre stack too, with attractive graphics and brilliantly clear high-definition resolution. The former, dubbed “Audi Virtual Cockpit,” is 100-percent digital and wonderfully customizable, plus can be modded so that the centre-mounted multi-information display takes over the entire screen via a “VIEW” button located on the steering wheel spoke. My favourite choice of multi-info functions for this full-size view is the navigation map, which looks fabulous and frees the centre display for other duties, like scrolling through satellite radio stations, while multi-zone heating and ventilation controls can be found on a separate touchscreen just below.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
This is one smooth eight-speed operator.

The previously noted “drive select” modes can be found on a thin strip of touch-sensitive interface just under the HVAC display. Also included is a button for cancelling traction and stability control, turning on the hazard lights, and selecting defog/defrost settings. This switchgear, plus all others in the Q8’s well laid out interior, is impressively made.

Of course, we’ve all come to expect this level of detail from Audi, as is the case for cabin comfort. Of upmost importance to me is any vehicle’s driving position, due to a torso that’s not as long as my legs, therefore once my seat has been powered rearward enough to accommodate the latter, I often require more reach from the telescopic steering column than some models provide in order to achieve maximum control while comfortably holding the rim of the wheel. If that reach isn’t there, I’ve got to crank my seatback to a less than ideal vertical position, which is never a good first impression. In the Q8’s case, nothing I just said was even necessary, other than to point out that its driving position is near perfect.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Ready for supreme comfort? Even including a massage?

Of course, the amply adjustable driver’s seat had much to do with that. It includes an extendable lower cushion that nicely cups under the knees, a favourite feature, while together with the usual fore/aft, up/down, recline and four-way lumbar support functions was a wonderful massage feature that gently eased back pain via wave, pulse, stretch, relaxation, shoulder, and activation modes, not to mention three intensity levels. Industry norm three-temperature heatable cushions were combined with three-way cooling, making a very good thing just that much better.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
An expansive panoramic sunroof opens up the world.

With my seat pushed back far enough to fit my long-legged albeit still short five-foot-eight frame, I still had more than enough space in all directions, while I could nearly stretch out fully when sitting behind the driver’s seat in the second row. With only two seated in back, the Q8’s wide, comfortable centre armrest can be folded down. It features the usual twin cupholders, plus controls for the power-operated side-window sunshades, which can be operated by someone seated on either side of the rear bench. A climate control interface allows adjustment of another two zones in back, for a total of four. This is where you’ll find buttons for the rear outboard seat heaters.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
Rear seat comfort and roominess is above par.

I’ve already mentioned the Q8’s cargo volume, so rather than going down this memory hole one more time I’ll just reiterate that most should find it adequate. It’s very well finished, as you might expect, with full carpeting and a stylish aluminum protective plate on the hatch sill, plus bright metal tie-down hooks at each corner, not to mention a useful webbed storage area to the side. I especially appreciation folding rear seatbacks split in the optimal 40/20/40 configuration, which allows for longer items like skis to be stored down the middle while rear occupants benefit from the more comfortable heatable window seats.

2020 Audi Q8 Technik 55 TFSI Quattro
The Q8’s cargo compartment isn’t the largest in the class, but it’s not the smallest either.

I’ve already mentioned pricing and likely discounts, but you’ll need to go to CarCostCanada to find out how to access the deals. Their very affordable membership gives you money-saving info on available manufacturer rebates, factory financing and leasing deals, plus dealer invoice pricing that’s like having insider information before negotiating your best deal. Find out how a CarCostCanada membership will save you money on your next new vehicle, and download their free app too, so you can access critical info when you need it most.

All said, the Q8 would be a good way to apply all knowledge you’ll gain from a CarCostCanada membership. While practical and fuel efficient, it’s drop-dead gorgeous from the outside in, includes some of the best quality materials available, comes equipped with an impressive assortment of standard and optional features, is wonderfully comfortable in every seating position, and delivers strong performance no matter the road conditions.

Story by Trevor Hofmann

Photos by Karen Tuggay

CarCostCanada

From wild to wacky: Porsche reveals 15 “Unseen” concepts

2016 Porsche Le Mans Living Legend
We think that some of Porsche’s previously “Unseen” concepts should be built, with the Le Mans Living Legend at the top of the list.

Those fortunate enough to have attended a major auto show (remember those?) will know that some of the most exciting new reveals are concept cars and prototypes, yet for some reason Porsche has hidden away most of its non-production gems, until now that is.

As part of a new “Porsche Unseen” project that includes a hard cover book and website, Porsche dusted off 15 of its previously hidden concepts, showing some that were clearly inspired by the brand’s motorsport success and others that influenced today’s production models. There’s a number of gorgeous modernized historical recreations too, not to mention others that pay tribute to the brand’s previous rally racing triumphs. All were organized into four appropriately named categories, including Hypercars, Little Rebels, Spin Offs, and What’s Next? So without further ado let’s delve into each one in order to see all that Porsche has been hiding from us over the past decade-and-a-half.

Hypercars: Will any of these concepts influence Porsche’s next supercar?

2013 Porsche 917 Living Legend
Porsche made more hypercar concepts than any other.

The Hypercars category is by far the largest, incorporating six concepts that’ll easily get your head spinning. The first arrived in 2013 and the most recent was created in 2019, with the result being six glorious years of would-be supercars. Before we start complaining about none in this six-pack getting the green light for production, we should remember the brilliant 918 Spyder that was actually being produced during much of this era. Still, how we’d love to see production runs of some of these others. At the very least, these concepts will inspire future designs, which might have to be good enough.

2013 Porsche 917 Living Legend: Gorgeous race car for the street

2013 Porsche 917 Living Legend
You might have seen this 2013 Porsche 917 Living Legend before, and it looks just as stunning today.

We covered the stunning 917 Living Legend at length previously in these pages, as it was the only car from this collection to see daylight thanks to Porsche’s 50th anniversary “Colours of Speed” exhibition that took place at the brand’s museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany in 2013. If the name didn’t give it away, its modernized take on the legendary 917 KH race car makes its heritage known immediately.

The famed model was responsible for Porsche’s first Le Mans win (that now total 19) in 1970, so it’s only appropriate that the concept wears a revised version of the original’s Salzburg red-and-white paint scheme. The 1:1 industrial plasticine model fittingly marked Porsche’s return to the top-level LMP1 class of FIA-sanctioned sports car racing.

2015 Porsche 906 Living Legend: Once again pulling inspiration from motorsport

2005 Porsche 906 Living Legend
A racer for the street or track? The 2005 906 Living Legend follows a motorsport theme that dominates Porsche’s concepts.

Following a motorsport theme, the 906 Living Legend was heavily inspired by Porsche’s 906 race car that took part in the 1966 Targa Florio road race. Specifically, the 906 Living Legend’s front lighting elements can be seen in the cooling ducts, not unlike those on the original, while its red and white livery references the classic racer too.

“The design process for such visions is very free,” stated Porsche’s Chief Designer, Michael Mauer. “It is not necessary to keep to pre-defined product identity characteristics. For example, the headlights were positioned in an air intake as a futuristic light source. When we were later developing an identity for our electric models, we took another look at these designs. The radical idea of simply integrating a light source in an opening instead of a glass cover seemed appropriate for us. We are now approaching this ideal.” Additionally, Mauer said, “Modern hypercars are greatly dependent on their aerodynamics and openings resulting from the enormous ventilation requirements.”

2017 Porsche 919 Street: From racetrack to perceived public roads with little modification

2017 Porsche 919 Street Concept
If the 2017 Porsche 919 Street Concept looks like an LMP race car, it’s no coincidence.

The 919 Street, created in 2017, is in fact a road-going 919 Hybrid LMP1 race car, in 1:1 clay model form at least. The track-only 919 Hybrid, which laid waste to all LMP1 sports car challengers, achieving four consecutive FIA World Endurance Championships from 2014 to 2017, was an ideal starting point for any road-going hypercar.

Therefore, Porsche kept the basic design of the race car’s bodywork and underpinnings intact, including its carbon-fibre monocoque and 900 PS hybrid drivetrain, not to mention its overall dimensions including its track and wheelbase, which are identical. It’s hard to imagine why Porsche didn’t build this beast, as every example would’ve been snapped up by collectors in minutes.

2019 Porsche Vision 918 RS: This one owes its existence to the 918 Spyder supercar

2019 Porsche Vision 918 RS
The 918 RS might depict a future Porsche hypercar.

Porsche was seriously considering producing the 918 RS, however, having moved the concept along all the way to the development stage. As you may have guessed (or read in the title), this 1:1 hard model rides on the backbone of Porsche’s hybrid-powered 918 Spyder, but unlike the ultra-fast roadster this one wears a permanent roof.

The fixed head coupe profile wasn’t the only original bit of bodywork either, with as plenty of other upgrades were made to give the 918 RS its own unique look. Is this the future of Porsche hypercars? Being one of the most recent, we think it provides a hint of what the Stuttgart brand has in store.

2019 Porsche Vision 920: A future LMP1 car?

2019 Porsche Vision 920
Don’t expect to see the Vision 920 on the street, but we may catch a glimpse of something similar on the track.

The Vision 920 is more about looking into the future than the past. Hopefully it’s imagining something track-ready for Porsche’s next foray into sports car racing, as the car looks armed and ready for FIA LMP (Le Mans Prototype) sanctioned events. In true dedicated race car fashion, the solo driver occupies the centre position behind a wraparound jet-fighter like windshield.

Likewise, all the aerodynamic ducting and exposed suspension hardware make this motorsport concept appear like a future series champion, so let’s hope they build it and head back to Le Mans.

2019 Porsche Vision E: Is this Porsche’s future? 

2019 Porsche Vision E
Another track star, the Vision E combines the best from Porsche’s Formula E car with year-round usability.

Porsche left sports car prototype racing to focus on the all-electric Formula E series, which is probably why the Vision E concept exists. It’s powered by an 800-volt, fully-electric power unit, although unlike Formula E cars this more road-worthy alternative is fully-enclosed to had its single occupant from the elements.

Tiny motorcycle-like fenders make it kind of legal, theoretically, although being that it was just a 1:1 hard model we’ll never know. Porsche did move it all the way up to the development stage, mind you, but so far nothing similar has shown up in any future model section of the German brand’s website.

Little Rebels: These are the little cuties we know you want most

Few brands pay greater tribute to past triumphs than Porsche, but then again, few brands have such storied pasts to draw upon. The Little Rebels category pulls design elements from a few Porschephile favourites, so make sure to let us know which one you’d like to have in your driveway.

2013 Porsche 904 Living Legend: Autocross star in the making

2013 Porsche 904 Living Legend
Porsche was on a roll in 2013, and this 904 Living Legend is a clear example of concepts done right.

Can we get a vote? Is the 904 Living Legend your favourite so far? It certainly ranks high on our list of cars we’d love to see Porsche build, even if it’s already eight years old. Interestingly, this retrospective sports car was actually based on the VW XL1 streamliner, a fuel-economy-focused diesel-powered (are we allowed to mention that word anymore?) prototype.

Porsche dug into a different VW group brand to source the 904 Living Legend’s engine, however, resulting in a high-revving Ducati V2 motorcycle engine that no doubt has little problem moving this 900-kilgram two-seater like a rocket.

While our fingers are crossed something similar gets created with Porsche’s fabulous turbocharged four-cylinder stuffed into the engine compartment, resulting in a German interpretation of Lotus’ Elise, or more accurately a modernized version of the late great 1963 Porsche Carrera GTS (it’s inspiration after all), we’re not ponying up down payments just yet.

2016 Porsche Vision 916: Beautiful, fast and clean 

2016 Porsche Vision 916
The Vision 916 is 100 percent electric and gorgeous.

The Vision 916 might look like supercar, but in reality, the sleek two-seat coupe is a lot more down to earth. In fact, the Vision 916 features a 100-percent electric battery and hub-motor drivetrain, combining for blisteringly quick acceleration and zero emissions.

Porsche says it was inspired by a six-cylinder-powered version of the ‘70s-era 914, dubbed 916, which was never produced for mass consumption, but we can’t see much of a resemblance to the squared off mid-engine model.

2019 Porsche Vision Spyder: Boxster of tomorrow?

2019 Porsche Vision Spyder
We’d be happy if Porsche pushed 718 Boxster styling in the direction of this Vision Spyder concept.

The more rectangular Vision Spyder, on the other hand, has 914 written all over it, and we’re hoping it influences the next 718 Boxster. Yes, Porsche’s entry-level roadster still looks great, but every model needs updates, and pushing 718 series design in the Vision Spyder’s direction certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The 1:1 hard model receives a classic silver, red and black motorsport livery that would cause any Porschephile to be hopeful for a potential spec racing series, or at least provide some happy thoughts about future weekends at a local autocross course.

Just like today’s 718 series, this Vision Spyder receives its ideal handling balance from a mid-engine layout, while some styling highlights can be traced back to the 1954 550-1500 RS Spyder. As noted, we’re also eyeing some 1969-1976 914 in this design, particularly in its angular elements and fabulous looking roll hoop.

Spin-Offs: These ones are closer to reality

When you think of spin-offs, what comes to mind? Normally the term conjures up the next Star Wars prequel or sequel, or perhaps another Marvel comic strip coming to life. In Porsche-speak, however, it’s all about modifying an existing model to the nth degree, so that its purpose becomes expanded beyond its original scope.

2012 Porsche 911 Vision Safari: The ultimate rally car?

2012 Porsche 911 Vision Safari
Which Porsche enthusiast wouldn’t want a 911 like the Vision Safari? Bring it on!

Those who’ve loved Porsche for multiple decades may remember the phenomenal 959, which when after debuting in 1986 became the fastest production car in the world. Being four-wheel drive, Porsche went about raising and beefing up its suspension in order to take the car rallying, which resulted in immediate first, second and sixth place finishes in the 1986 Paris-Dakar rally—7,500 of the most grueling miles any car could endure.

Seeing something similar based on the even more attractive 991 body style is even better, especially when factoring in that it probably wouldn’t set its buyer back anywhere near the $6 million USD needed to pick up a race-experienced 959.

Of course, this one-off concept would be worth a fair penny if Porsche decided to sell it, but that’s not likely to happen. Instead, they might want to combine an updated version based on the latest 911 Turbo with a spec off-road series. Hey, we can hope.

2013 Macan Vision Safari: Porsche should build this awesome 4×4

2013 Porsche Macan Vision Safari
Update its styling to the gen-two design, and a production Macan Vision Safari is a no-brainer.

While an off-road capable 911 sounds awesome, a 4×4-ready Macan makes more sense from a sales perspective. If that sounds too farfetched to contemplate, stretch your mind back to when the original Cayenne arrived. It was actually quite handy off-road, so we know Porsche isn’t against getting dirty when it needs to.

Despite being based on the first-generation Macan, this Vision Safari concept shows just how amazing a muscled-up version of Porsche’s entry-level SUV could be. Look a little closer and you might notice that this 1:1 scale hard model isn’t only about big tires and bulky body-cladding, it’s also been transformed into a two-door coupe. We’d like it with four doors too, so hurry up and build it, Porsche.

2014 Porsche Boxster Bergspyder: the perfect mid-engine track star

2014 Porsche Boxster Bergspyder
The perfect track star, Porsche’s 2014 Boxster Bergspyder would be ideal for a spec series.

Back on tarmac, Porsche’s 2014 Boxster Bergspyder would be better suited to smooth surfaces than anything unpaved. Based on Porsche’s lightweight roadster, with yet more mass removed via a barchetta-style permanently open roof, the elimination of the passenger seat (two’s a crowd anyway), and substitution of critical components with lighter weight composites, the Bergspyder has track star written all over it.

Additional updates include 911 Speedster-like shorten windscreen pillars along with cool dual roll hoops ahead of a Carrera GT-style double-bubble rear deck lid for a truly exotic look. The cabin’s primary gauge cluster comes straight out of a 918 Spyder, while a useful helmet shelf sits where the passenger would have previously.

If you thought dropping the Boxster’s weight down to a featherlight 1,130-kilos was good news, the inclusion of the Cayman GT4’s high-revving 3.8-litre flat-six is pure icing on the cake.

2016 Porsche Le Mans Living Legend: this is the one we want the most

2016 Porsche Le Mans Living Legend
How can they not built it? We think the Le Mans Living Legend is fabulous in every way.

The Le Mans Living Legend is a Boxster/Cayman-based sports coupe that pulls memories from the ‘50s. Inspired by the stunning 1953 550 Le Mans racing coupe, this one-off boasts a mid-mounted V8 with “excessive sound development,” or so says Porsche. It’s mated to a manual transmission, which is surprising yet ideal, and without doubt would clean up on any competitors that would dare to race it.

The divided rear window is a design element we’d love to see somewhere in Porsche’s future lineup, not to mention the classic exposed fuel cap mounted smack dab in the centre of the hood. Beautiful is an understatement, so let’s hope Porsche has plans to build it.

What’s Next? One that’s already here and another only displaying technology

The Vision Renndienst (Race Service) and Vision Turismo are the only two concepts that fall under the “What’s Next?” menu, but don’t let the name of this category make you think we’re about to be inundated with little electric delivery vans wearing Porsche badging.

2018 Porsche Vision Renndienst: It’s what’s underneath the skin that matters

2018 Porsche Vision Renndienst
Porsche should build the Vision Renndienst, but with a VW badge.

A Porsche minivan? While this cute little runabout wears Porsche’s famed crest up front (albeit a faded grey version with a transparent background), the Vision Renndienst is more about the all-electric skateboard platform design it sits upon.

Styled after the race service vans used in early racing programs, the Vision Renndienst has accommodations for six occupants, with the driver up front in the middle, either facing forward or rearward for relaxing while being driven autonomously.

A neat concept that would probably be better accepted with a big VW badge on the front panel, the Vision Renndienst nevertheless points the brand toward an electric future, a common theme these days.

2016 Vision 960 Turismo: Meet the Taycan’s early prototype

2016 Porsche Vision 960 Turismo
The 2016 Vision 960 Turismo was a technological predecessor to the Taycan EV.

The Vision 960 Turismo is an all-electric four-door coupe, looking for all purposes like a 918 Spyder supercar in front and a Panamera in the rear. The 1:1 scale model looks fabulous, although so does the Taycan in a much more modern way, so therefore it appears Porsche made the right decision to look forward with its first electric, rather than backward.

The 15 “Unseen” Porsche prototypes are currently on display at Porsche’s museum in Stuttgart, while a 328-page “Porsche Unseen” hardcover book that includes photos from Stefan Bogner with accompanying text by Jan Karl Baedeker, can be purchased in the Museum gift shop. It’s published by Delius Klasing Verlag and made available at Elferspot.com (ISBN number 978-3-667-11980-3) too.

As for now, sit back, relax and enjoy the “Porsche Unseen: Uncovered” video below that follows.

Porsche Unseen: Uncovered (47:52):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

CarCostCanada

Subaru gives its 2022 BRZ a total redesign with more power

2022 Subaru BRZ
What do you think of Subaru’s new 2022 BRZ?

The 1960s and early ‘70s was the era of cheap, affordable sports cars, with today’s entry-level offerings few and far between. Fortunately for car enthusiasts, our Japanese friends haven’t given up on the sportiest market yet, with Subaru having finally silenced doomsayers projecting the demise of the BRZ and its Toyota 86 clone, by introducing the fully redesigned second-generation coupe.

Currently, every BRZ/86 competitor is Japanese except for Fiat’s 124 Spider that’s based on Mazda MX-5 underpinnings (powertrain excluded), which is like overhearing Japanese spoken with an Italian accent while eating cannelloni flavoured sushi (hmmm… that might actually be good), and while today’s Nissan 370Z can be bought for a song in its most basic form, chances of a $30k 400Z are unlikely. For those not requiring as much forward thrust in order to have a good time, mind you, the upcoming 2022 BRZ could be the ideal answer.

2022 Subaru BRZ
While the details have completely changed, the BRZ’s basic layout and purpose remains.

The completely reengineered Subie will arrive with more power, however, bumping engine performance up from 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque to 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft, which is an increase of 23 and 28 respectively. That won’t placate grumblers vying for the WRX STI’s 310-hp mill, or even the regular WRX’ 268 hp, but it’s respectable for this class.

The increased power comes from a new naturally aspirated 2.4-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder, which is 400 cubic centimetres larger than the outgoing 2.0-litre powerplant. No turbo is attached, but keep in mind this is the same basic engine as used for the mid-size Legacy, Outback and three-row Ascent SUV, which with turbocharger attached makes of 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Therefore, a more potent performance model is once again possible for Subaru or mechanics with tuning chops.

2022 Subaru BRZ
What about those taillights? Can anyone else see some Acura NSX influence here?

More important than straight-line power in this category is low mass, and to Subaru’s credit only 7.7 kilograms (17 lbs) were added to this larger and more technologically advanced car, the 2022 BRZ weighing in at 1,277 kg (2,815 lbs) in base trim. Exterior measurements increase by 25 mm (1 in) to 4,265 mm (167.9 in) from nose to tail, while the 2,575-mm (101.4-in) wheelbase has only increased by 5 mm (0.2 in).

The change is the result of its Subaru Global Platform-sourced body structure, which makes the new model 50 percent stiffer than the old BRZ. In a press release, Subaru claims that key areas of strengthening included “a reinforced chassis mounting system, sub-frame architecture and other connection points,” while the car’s front lateral bending rigidity is now 60-percent more rigid, saying to “improve turn-in and response.”

2022 Subaru BRZ
More power, a near identical curb weight, and suspension improvements should make the new BRZ a serious performer.

Despite all the upgrades, the BRZ’s general suspension layout stays the same, with front struts and a double-wishbone setup in back, but the new model gets updates aplenty nevertheless, and now rolls on standard 17-inch alloy wheels with 18-inch rims optional, wearing 215/45R17 and 215/40R18 rubber respectively.

As was the case with the outgoing BRZ, a short-throw six-speed manual transmission will come standard with the 2022 model, while the same six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles and downshift rev-matching is part of the 2022 package too. A standard limited-slip differential remains standard issue for the new BRZ too, so hooking up all that power won’t be an issue.

2022 Subaru BRZ
Like the exterior, the new BRZ’s interior is completely redesigned.

Performance aside, what do you think of the new look? So far, critics have been mostly positive, appreciating the 2022 model’s more aggressive character lines, while the interior has received universal praise. Yes, the current car has aged reasonably well, but it’s been nearly a decade so any modernization would likely be an improvement. Along with a complete instrument panel redesign, a 7.0-inch digital colour display has been integrated within the all-new primary gauge cluster, while over on the centre stack is a new 8.0-inch touchscreen housing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, plus the usual assortment of entertainment and information functions.

2022 Subaru BRZ
This looks like a very good place to spend time, whether on the road or track.

Even with all the 2022 upgrades, no one is expecting a major BRZ price increase, but you probably won’t be able to snag the current 2020 model’s $3,000 worth of incentives when the new car rolls out. Obviously, Subaru is trying to make today’s BRZ too good to pass up, and for those who still love the outgoing model it might be a good idea to grab one at a discounted price while you can. Visit CarCostCanada’s 2020 Subaru BRZ Canada Prices page to learn more, and also be sure to find out how their affordable program can save you thousands off your next car purchase via learning about manufacturer rebates when available, special factory financing and leasing deals, as well as dealer invoice pricing that makes the usual negotiation dog and pony show hassle free. Be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store and Google Play Store too.

Also, enjoy the three videos Subaru provided below:

The 2022 Subaru BRZ Global Reveal (5:54):

The 2022 Subaru BRZ. Sports Car Purity, Subaru DNA (2:11):

Scott Speed Test Drives All-New 2022 Subaru BRZ (4:33):

Story credit: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Subaru

CarCostCanada

Porsche increases battery size and EV range of the 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
All 2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid models get a bump in battery size for increased range.

Just in case you’re having a déjà vu moment, rest assured that you previously read an article on this site about Porsche E-Hybrid battery improvements, but at that time we were covering Panamera variants and now it’s all about the electrified Cayenne.

Like last year, both the regular Cayenne crossover SUV and the sportier looking Cayenne Coupe will receive Porsche’s E-Hybrid and Turbo S E-Hybrid power units, but new for 2021 are battery cells that are better optimized and improve on energy density, thus allowing a 27-percent increase in output and nearly 30 percent greater EV range.

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe
Although it looks as if it should be faster, the 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe is a fraction slower to 100 km/h than the regular body style.

The new battery, up from 14.1 kWh to 17.9, expands the Cayenne E-Hybrid’s range from about 22 or 23 km between charges to almost 30 km, which will force fewer trips to the gas station when using their plug-in Porsches for daily commutes. Likewise, the heftier Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid gets an EV range bump up from approximately 19 or 20 km to 24 or 25 km.

Added to this, Porsche has reworked how these Cayenne plug-ins utilize their internal combustion engines (ICE) when charging the battery. The battery now tops off at 80 percent instead of 100, which in fact saves fuel while reducing emissions. Say what? While this might initially seem counterintuitive, it all comes down to the E-Hybrid’s various kinetic energy harvesting systems, like regenerative braking, that aren’t put to use if the battery reaches a 100-percent fill. Cap off the charge at 80 percent and these systems are always in use, and therefore do their part in increasing efficiency.

2021 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid
The regular Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid body style and the Coupe are identically quick.

Additionally, the larger 17.9 kWh battery can charge quicker in Sport and Sport Plus performance modes and default or Eco modes, making sure the drive system always has ample boost when a driver wants to maximize acceleration or pass a slower vehicle.

Net horsepower and combined torque remain the same as last year’s Cayenne plug-in hybrid models despite the bigger battery, with the 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid retaining its 455 net horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque rating, and both Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid body styles pushing out a sensational 670 net horsepower along with 663 lb-ft of twist.

2021 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid
No matter the 2021 Cayenne body style or trim line, the view from inside is impressive.

Standard Cayenne E-Hybrid models can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.0 seconds when equipped with the Sport Chrono Package, before maxing out at a terminal velocity of 253 km/h, while the Sport Chrono Package equipped Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe requires an additional 0.1-second to achieve the same top speed. Alternatively, both regular and coupe Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid body styles catapult from standstill to 100 km/h in an identical 3.8 seconds, with the duo also topping out at 295 km/h.

The 2021 Cayenne E-Hybrid starts at $93,800 plus freight and fees, while the Cayenne E-Hybrid Coupe is available from $100,400. After that, the Turbo S E-Hybrid can be had from $185,600, and lastly the Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe starts at $191,200. You can order the new electrified Cayenne models now, with first deliveries expected by spring.

Take note that Porsche is offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent, so be sure to visit our 2021 Porsche Cayenne Canada Prices page to find out all the details. CarCostCanada also provides manufacturer rebate information, when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on your next purchase. Learn how it all works by clicking on this link, and also download our free app.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Porsche

CarCostCanada

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550 Road Test

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The new second-gen G-Class stays true to its iconic design and purpose.

Few vehicles ever earn “icon” status. They’re either not around long enough, or their manufacturers change them so dramatically from their original purpose that only the name remains.

Case in point, Chevy’s new car-based Blazer family hauler compared to Ford’s go-anywhere Bronco. One is a complete departure from the arguably iconic truck-based original, whereas the other resurrects a beloved nameplate with new levels of on- and off-road prowess.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
For crossover buyers the G will be too boxy, but to serious SUV fans it’s just right.

Land Rover has done something similar with its new Defender, yet due to radically departing from the beloved 1990-2016 first-generation Defender 90 and 110 models’ styling (which was based on the even more legendary 1948-1958 Series I, 1958-1961 Series II, 1961-1971 Series IIA, and 1971-1990 Series III) it runs the risk of losing the nameplate’s iconic status.

In fact, a British billionaire eager to cash in on Land Rover’s possible mistake is building a modernized version of the classic Defender 110 for those with deep pockets, dubbed the Ineos Grenadier (Ineos being the multinational British chemical company partly owned by said billionaire, Jim Ratcliffe). That the Grenadier was partly developed and is being produced by Magna Steyr in its Graz, Austria facility, yes, the same Magna Steyr that builds the Mercedes-Benz G-Class being tested here, is an interesting coincidence, but I digress. The more important point being made is that Mercedes’ G-Class never needed resurrecting. Like Jeep’s Wrangler, albeit at a much loftier price point, the G-wagon has remained true to its longstanding design and defined purpose from day one, endowing it with cult-like status.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The G 550’s LED headlights look much the same as the old model’s from a distance, but inside they’re much more advanced.

The G-Class was thoroughly overhauled for the 2019 model year, this being the SUV’s second generation despite more than 40 years of production, so as you can likely imagine, changes to this 2020 model and the upcoming 2021 version are minimal. The same G 550 and sportier AMG G 63 trims remain available, but the more trail-specified 2017-2018 G 550 4×4 Squared, as well as the more pavement-performance focused 2016-2018 AMG G 65 haven’t been offered yet, nor for that matter has the awesome six-wheel version, therefore we’ll need to watch and wait to see what Mercedes has in store.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
This G 550’s wheel and tire package meant it remained on-road.

The 2019 exterior updates included plenty of new body panels, plus revised head and tail lamp designs (that aren’t too much of a departure from the original in shape and size), and lastly trim modifications all-round. The model’s squared-off, utilitarian body style remains fully intact, which is most important to the SUV’s myriad hardcore fans.

While I’m supposed to be an unbiased reporter, truth be told I’m also a fan of this chunky off-roader. In fact, I’m actually in the market for a diesel-powered four-door Geländewagen (or a left-hand drive, long-wheelbase Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series diesel in decent shape), an earlier version more aligned with my budget restraints and less likely to cause tears when inevitably scratching it up off-road. Of course, if personal finances allowed me to keep the very G 550 in my possession for this weeklong test, I’d be more than ok with that too, as it’s as good as 4×4-capable SUVs get.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Simple and small, yet filled with LEDs for faster response to brake input.

While first- to second-generation G-Class models won’t be immediately noticeable to casual onlookers, step inside and the differences are dramatic. The new model features a totally new dash design and higher level of refinement overall, including the brand’s usual jewel-like metalwork trim, and bevy of new digital interfaces that fully transform its human/machine operation. Your eyes will likely lock onto Mercedes’ new MBUX digital instrument cluster/infotainment touchscreen first, which incorporates dual 12.3-inch displays within one long, horizontal, glass-like surface.

The right-side display is a touchscreen, but can alternatively be controlled by switchgear on the lower centre console, while the main driver display can be modulated via an old Blackberry-style micro-pad on the left steering wheel spoke. Together, the seemingly singular interface is one of my industry favourites, not only in functionality, which is superb, but from a styling perspective as well.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Everything about the new G’s interior is better.

The majority of other interior switchgear is satin-silver-finished or made from knurled aluminum, resulting in a real sense of occasion, which while hardly new for Mercedes is a major improvement for the G-Class. Likewise, the drilled Burmester surround sound speaker grilles are some of the prettiest available anywhere, as are the deep, rich open-pore hardwood inlays that envelope the primary gauge cluster/infotainment binnacle, the surface of the lower console, and the trim around the doors’ armrests.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Compared to the outgoing G-Class, the new model is over the top in refinement and luxury.

The G isn’t devoid of hard composites, but centre console side panels that don’t quite meet pricey expectations aren’t enough to complain about, particularly when the SUV’s door panel and seat upholstery leatherwork is so fine. My test model’s interior also featured beautiful chocolate brown details that contrasted its sensational blue exterior paint well.

Driver’s seat bolstering is more than adequate, as are the chair’s other powered adjustments, the only missing element being an adjustable thigh support extension. Still, its lower cushion cupped below my knees nicely enough, which, while possibly a problem for drivers on the short side, managed my five-foot-eight frame adequately. At least the SUV’s four-way powered lumbar support applied the right amount of pressure to the exact spot on my lower back requiring relief, as it should for most body types. Likewise, the G 550’s tilt and telescopic steering column provided plenty of reach, resulting in a near perfect driving position despite my short-torso, long-legged body.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The left half of the large driving display is for the primary instruments and multi-info display, controllable via steering wheel switchgear, whereas the right half is an infotainment touchscreen.

As part of the redesign, Mercedes increased rear seat legroom to allow taller passengers the ability to stretch out in comfort. What’s more, those back seats are nearly as supportive as the ones in front, other than the centre position that’s best left for smaller adults or kids.

All of this refinement is hardly inexpensive, with the base 2020 G 550 priced at $147,900 plus freight and fees, and the 2021 version starting at an even heftier $154,900. This said, our 2020 and 2021 Mercedes-Benz G-Class Canada Prices pages are currently reporting factory leasing and financing rates from zero-percent, which could go far in making a new G-Class more affordable. The zero-interest rate deal seems to apply to the $195,900 2020 G 63 AMG as well, plus the $211,900 2021 G 63 AMG, so it might make sense to buy this SUV on credit and invest the money otherwise spent (I’m guessing commodities are a good shot considering government promises of infrastructure builds, inflated currencies, runaway debt, market bubbles, etcetera, but in no way take my miscellaneous ramblings as investment advice).

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
All of the G 550’s buttons, switches and knobs are superbly crafted.

By the way, along with information about factory financing and leasing deals, CarCostCanada provides Canadian consumers with info about manufacturer rebates when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Find out more about how CarCostCanada’s very affordable membership can work for you, and remember to download our free smartphone app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store, so you can have all of this great information at your fingertips anytime, anywhere.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
If you’d rather not use the touchscreen, Mercedes offers this well-designed controller on the lower console.

Anytime or anywhere in mind, the G 550 can pretty well get you everywhere in Canada, anytime of the year. There’s absolutely no need to expend more investment to buy aftermarket off-road components when at the wheel of this big Merc, as it can out-hustle most any other 4×4-capable SUV on the market. While I would’ve liked even more opportunities to shake the G-Class out on unpaved roads, I certainly enjoyed the number of instances I did so, and can attest to their greatness off the beaten path. I’ve waded them over rock-strewn hills, negotiated them around jagged canyon walls and between narrow treed trails, coaxed them through fast-paced rivers and muddy marshes, and even felt their tires slip when dipped into soft, sandy stretches of beach, so my desire to own one comes from experience. Just the same I didn’t want to risk damaging my G 550 test model’s stylish 14-spoke alloys on pavement-spec 275/50 Pirelli Scorpion Zero rubber, so I kept this example on the street.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The G 550’s driver’s seat is sublime.

The G 550’s ride was sublime even with these lower-profile performance tires, which goes to show that car-based unibody designs don’t really improve ride quality, as much as at-the-limit handling. The G-Class’ frame is rigid after all, as is its body structure, while its significant suspension travel only aids ride compliance. Therefore, it made the ideal city companion, its suspension nearly eliminating the types of ruts and bridge expansion joints that intrude on the comfort levels of lesser SUVs, while its extreme height provides excellent visibility all around.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Even rear passengers get the royal treatment, the Burmester audio system’s speaker grille’s beautifully made.

Those who spend more time on the open highway shouldn’t be wary of the G 550 either, as its ride continued to please and high-speed stability inspired confidence. I would’ve loved to have been towing an Airstream Flying Cloud in back to test its 7,000-lb rating (and given me more comfort than my tent), but I’m sure it can manage the load well, especially when factoring in its 2,650-kg (5,845-lb) curb weight.

Despite that heft, the G 550 performs fairly well when cornering, the previously noted Pirellis proving to be a good choice for everyday driving. I’ve previously driven the AMG-tuned G 63 on road and track, so the G 550’s abilities didn’t blow me away, but it certainly handles curves better than its blocky, brick-like shape alludes.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
Mercedes increased rear passenger legroom in the second-gen G-Class, making it more comfortable for larger occupants.

Braking is strong for such a big, heavy ute too, and while the G 550’s 416-horsepower 4.0-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 can’t send it from standstill to 100 km/h at the same 4.5-second rate as the 577-hp G 63, its 5.9 seconds for the same feat is nonetheless respectable, its 450 lb-ft of torque, quick-shifting eight-speed automatic, and standard four-wheel drive aiding the process perfectly, not to mention a very engaging Sport mode.

Engaging might not be the best word for it, mind you. In fact, I found the G 550’s Sport mode a bit too aggressive for my tastes, bordering on uncomfortable. It helps the big SUV shoot off the line with aggression, but the sheer force of it all snapped my head back into the seat’s pillowy headrests too often for comfort’s sake, but only when trying to move off the line in particularly quick fashion. When first feathering the throttle, as I usually drive, and then shortly thereafter dipping into it for stronger acceleration, it worked fine. I wish Mercedes’ had integrated a smoother start into the SUV’s firmware, but the requirement to use skill in order to get the most out of it was kind of nice too. All said, at the end of such tests I just left it in Eco mode for blissfully smooth performance and better economy.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
The G’s cargo door swings to the side in order to support the rear-mounted full-size spare, but unlike Jeep’s Wrangler it provides easy curb-side access.

Fuel sipping in mind, no amount of technology this side of turbo-diesel power (how I miss those days) can make this brute eco-friendly, with Transport Canada’s fuel economy rating measuring 18.0 L/100km city, 14.1 highway, and 16.3 combined. It’s not worse than some other full-size, V8-powered utilities, nor does it thirst for pricier premium fuel, but this might be an issue for those with a greener conscious.

Speaking of pragmatic issues, the G-Class is a bit short on cargo capacity when comparing to some of those full-size SUV rivals just noted, especially American branded alternatives such as the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator. Then again, the G fares better when measuring up to similarly equipped European luxury utes, with the 1,079-litre (38.1 cu-ft) dedicated cargo area a sizeable 178 litres (6.3 cu ft) greater than the full-size Range Rover’s maximum luggage volume. Interestingly, both luxury SUV’s load-carrying capacity is an identical 1,942 litres (68.6 cu ft), which is ample in my books.

2020 Mercedes-Benz G 550
There’s lots of room for gear in the back of the G, but take note the rear seats don’t fold flat.

After my week with Mercedes’ top-line SUV, I can’t complain. Certainly, I would’ve liked a larger sunroof or, even better, something along the lines of the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited’s new Sky One-Touch Power Top that turns the entire rooftop into open air while still maintaining solid sides and back with windows, but this might weaken the G’s body structure and limit its 4×4 prowess. I also would’ve liked a wireless phone charger, and would have one installed if this was my personal ride.

Hopefully my next G-Class tester will be more suitable to wilderness forays, possibly as an updated gen-2 G 550 4×4²? Previous examples included portal axles like Mercedes’ fabulously capable Unimog, but in just about every other respect I was thoroughly impressed with this well-made luxury utility, and glad Mercedes stayed true to this model’s iconic 4×4 heritage. To me, the G-Glass is the ultimate on-road, off-road compromise, and I’d own one if money allowed.

Story and photos by Trevor Hofmann

CarCostCanada

Genesis expanding luxury lineup to include new 2022 GV70 compact crossover

2022 Genesis GV70
The upcoming 2022 GV70 looks a lot like Genesis’ larger mid-size GV80.

Only last year we were wondering when Hyundai Motor’s new Genesis luxury division would enter the profitable crossover SUV sector, and now we not only have the GV80 mid-size model, but an all-new GV70 compact is on the way as well.

The GV70, which will be introduced for the 2022 model year, should arrive towards the end of this year, and if any of the brand’s other new models are a sign of things to come, it’ll be worth the wait.

2022 Genesis GV70
Sleek and stylish GV70 lines should make this small crossover SUV a crowd pleaser.

If you were expecting anything other than a shrunken GV80 you’ll be disappointed, because the new GV70 merely takes Genesis’ latest design language to more affordable proportions. Squarely fitting within the compact luxury crossover SUV category, to duke it out with such stalwarts as Mercedes’ GLC, Audi’s Q5, Acura’s RDX, BMW’s X3 and the like, the GV70 proudly wears Genesis’ now trademark twinned horizontal LED headlamp clusters and similarly straked LED taillights at the rear, albeit forgoes the GV80’s front fender garnishes that follow the same pattern (there was likely no room to fit them into the smaller SUV’s design). We think the design looks cleaner without them, but no doubt many will disagree.

2022 Genesis GV70
Long and lean, the new GV70 should seat five comfortably and haul ample cargo for the class.

While the engine vent-style fender trim is a minor differentiator, the GV70 takes some significant departures from the GV80 inside, where the entire lower portion of the instrument panel appears inspired by surfboarding. The oval interface sits just under the gauge cluster before stretching across to the centre stack area, houses a bevy of controls that would normally be found on separate panels to the left of the driver’s knees and further down the centre console, but instead are placed on this horizontal housing. The design works aesthetically, and appears to follow a traditional layout as far as control placement goes, with the overall appearance being the only departure from the norm.

2022 Genesis GV70
The GV70 breaks the mould with its new instrument panel design.

Up above, a fully digital instrument cluster can be found in the usual spot ahead of the driver, plus a large centre display is placed upright atop the dash, with infotainment and driving controls beautifully integrated within the lower console. The interior succeeds in making everything next to Mercedes’ GLC look outdated, which is a good way to cause newcomers to take notice of the Genesis brand.

Following compact luxury SUV tradition, the new GV70 shares underpinnings with the sporty G70 compact sedan, so it will no doubt be a lot of fun for its driver and require good seat bolstering for any passengers that come along for the ride (the GV70 seats up to five), as Genesis’ entry-level car is one of the better handlers in its highly competitive class.

2022 Genesis GV70
The surfboard-styled interface below the primary instruments houses switchgear normally separated onto separate panels.

As far as engines and transmissions go, we expect the base powertrain to be Genesis’ 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 290 horsepower and 310 and lb-ft of torque in G70 trim, while an updated V6 will probably power higher priced GV70 models, the current six-cylinder putting out 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque in the GV80.

Speaking of new, Genesis has promised two new models per year until they fill up their lineup, so we can expect an even smaller subcompact luxury SUV as well as a smaller entry-level car, mostly likely along the lines of Audi’s popular A3 (it is the top seller in its class after all), but no one knows how many market segments (and niches) the brand will attempt to fill.

2022 Genesis GV70
Infotainment is a Genesis strong suit.

For the time being, Genesis offers the compact G70, mid-size G80 and full-size G90 sport-luxury sedans, as well as the new GV80 mid-size luxury crossover SUV, which can all be priced out with trims and options by going to their individual pages within CarCostCanada, where you’ll also be able to find out about any manufacturer rebates, manufacturer backed leasing and financing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Learn how a CarCostCanada membership works too, and be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store in order to have all of this key information at hand when you need it most.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo credits: Genesis

CarCostCanada

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum Road Test

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Is this little luxury SUV cute or what? It’s also very luxurious, plenty of fun to drive and seriously practical.

If you haven’t considered the XC40 before, you’re in for a treat. It’s the smallest Volvo available, fitting into the subcompact luxury SUV segment and therefore going up against BMW’s X1, Mercedes’ GLA and B-Class, Lexus’ UX and others, plus due to the Swedish brand no longer offering a compact hatch (the C30 was discontinued in 2013 and its V40 successor was never imported), this little crossover is now its entry-level model.

I, for one, am a big fan of this little SUV. It’s stylish, fun to drive, thrifty, well made, and as innovative as crossover sport utilities come. In case you didn’t know, the XC40 has been around since the 2020 model year, and full disclosure forces me to let you in on the fact that this test model is actually a 2020. Fortunately, changes to the 2021 XC40 are minimal, with my tester’s Amazon Blue exterior colour choice unfortunately being discontinued this year.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
The Amazon Blue colour and the white roof option have been relegated to the history bin for 2021.

As much as I like it, Amazon Blue won’t be popular with manly men, as it’s a bit on the feminine side. This said, I’ve seen a few around and they’re quite catching. In fact, this metrosexual boomer had no issue being seen in the powdery blue SUV, especially when push came to shove and I was able to scoot away from stoplight oglers as if they were standing still.

Yes, the XC40 is mighty quick thanks to 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque in as-tested T5 trim, its eight-speed automatic shifting gears quickly yet smoothly, its all-wheel drive completely eliminating tire slip, and its lightweight mass making the most of the available energy output. This is a really fun SUV to drive, the optional 2.0-litre turbo-four always willing to jump off the line or say so long to slower moving highway traffic. This said, my test model’s Momentum trim comes standard with a less potent version of the same engine, the T4 model powering all wheels with 187 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, which should be good enough for all but the most enthusiastic of speed demons.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Volvo’s cool “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlamps come standard across the XC40 line, but the 19-inch alloys are optional.

The eight-speed auto includes a gas-sipping auto start/stop system that aids the T4 in achieving a 10.2 L/100km city, 7.5 highway and 9.0 combined fuel economy rating, whereas the T5 gets a claimed 10.7 in the city, 7.7 on the highway and 9.4 combined. I recommend Eco mode for extracting the most efficiency, of course, but default Comfort mode is quite thrifty too. Volvo also includes a Dynamic sport setting when needing to get somewhere quickly, whereas an Individual mode can be set up for your own personal driving style.

While I really like the as-tested Momentum model, especially with its upgraded 235/50 all-season Michelin tires on 19-inch wheels that certainly improve performance over the base model’s 18-inch 235/55s, I’d put my own money on an XC40 R-Design for the paddle shifters alone (although it also comes standard with the T5 all-wheel drivetrain, and is the only trim that can be had in new Recharge P8 eAWD Pure Electric power unit), these helping to make this sporty little SUV a lot more engaging at the limit.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Volvo’s vertical “L” shaped LED taillights give this model’s brand heritage away from a mile.

That’s where the so-equipped XC40 really shines, its handling fully capable when pushed hard and overall grip surprisingly steadfast, especially when considering its excellent ride quality. Even when slicing and dicing this little cutie through some local mountain backroads it never caused concern, while in-town point-and-shoot manoeuvres were a breeze made even easier thanks to the SUV’s generous ride height. It’s all due to a fully independent suspension with front aluminium double wishbones and an integral-link rear setup, composed of a lightweight composite transverse leaf spring.

Even better from a luxury standpoint, the XC40 feels like it was honed from a solid block of aluminum alloy, the body’s structural integrity never in doubt. I appreciated the SUV’s quiet, hushed, big SUV experience despite its diminutive size, this cocooning quality complemented by properly insulated doors that thunk closed in an oh-so satisfying way, and refinement that goes a step above most subcompact luxury SUV peers.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
The XC40 provides better than average interior refinement, even for the premium compact SUV class.

For a moment, pull your eyes away from the exterior’s classic crested Volvo grille, stylishly sporty Thor’s hammer LED headlamps, sharply honed front fascia, and uniquely tall “L” shaped LED tail lamps, not to mention the satin-silver accents all-round, and instead focus on this little crossover’s luxuriously appointed interior. Keeping in mind this is the XC40’s most basic of trims, Momentum gets very close to R-Design materials quality, featuring such premium staples as fabric-wrapped roof pillars, a soft, pliable dash-top covering and equally plush door panels, stitched leather armrest pads, and carpeted door pockets (that are big enough to slot in a 15-inch laptop along with a large drink bottle).

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
The XC40’s driving position and overall instrument panel layout is superb.

Don’t expect such niceties below the waistline, but Volvo uses a soft-painted harder composite that feels nice, while the woven roof liner looks good and surrounds an even more appealing panoramic sunroof featuring a powered translucent fabric sunshade. You’ll find controls for the latter on a nicely sorted overhead console, otherwise filled with LED lights hovering over a frameless rearview mirror.

Following Volvo tradition, the driver’s seats is wonderfully adjustable and wholly comfortable no to mention supportive, with more than adequate side bolstering plus extendable lower cushions that cup under the knees nicely (a favourite feature of mine). The leather used to cover all seats is above par, by the way, and they come with the usual three-way warmers up front, plus a steering wheel rim heater.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
This digital instrument cluster comes standard.

Most body types should fit into this little ute without issue, whether positioned front or back, while the rear seats expand the relatively generous cargo hold—from 586 litres (20.7 cubic feet) to 917 litres (32.4 cubic feet)—via the usual 60/40 division. This said a highly useful centre pass-through provides stowage of longer items like skis when two rear passengers want to use the more comfortable window seats.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Volvo’s Sensus infotainment is literally a touch above most competitors.

While all this is very good, Volvo wasn’t merely satisfied to provide the expected luxury, performance and styling elements to their entry-level ute and call it a day, but instead went the extra measure to include a lot of handy innovations that make life easier. Being that I left off in the cargo compartment, I might as well star this section of the review off by noting the useful divider housed within the cargo floor. Once lifted up into place to stand vertically, I found it especially helpful for stopping groceries from escaping their bags, particularly when using the three bag hooks on top to keep them in place.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Much of the detail inside is brilliantly crafted.

Moving up front you’ll find another handy hook within the glove box, which can be pivoted into place when wanting to hang a purse, garbage bag or what-have-you, while just to the left of the driver’s knee are two tiny slots for stowing gas cards. The XC40 can be had with all the segment’s best electronic helpers too, like a powered rear hatch that automatically lifts when waving a foot under the rear bumper, automated self-parking, and all the latest driver aids like autonomous emergency braking for the highway and city, lane change alert with automated lane keeping, etcetera, but some might find the XC40’s standard gauge cluster even more compelling.

It’s fully digital right out of the box, measuring 12.3 inches and sporting a graphically animated speedometer and tachometer plus a big centre information display featuring integrated navigation mapping with actual road signs, phone info and the list goes on. Like some competitive clusters, the multi-information display can be set to take over the majority of the driver display, thus shrinking the primary instruments. It’s a superb system that I almost like as much as Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Love these seats!

The latter is comprised of a 9.0-inch vertical touchscreen that comes closest to mimicking a tablet than anything else in the auto industry, especially when utilizing Apple CarPlay (not so much for Android Auto). Being that I currently use a Samsung, I keep the Volvo interface in play at all times, and absolutely love the audio “page” that not only shows all SiriusXM stations nicely stacked in sequence, but real-time info on which artist and song is playing. This way you can quickly scan the panel and choose a station, never missing a favourite song.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Rear seat roominess is generous.

The base audio system is impressive too, as is the active guideline-infused parking camera, especially if the overhead version is included, and nav directions are always spot on, while the as-tested dual-zone climate control interface is ultra-cool thanks to colourful pop-up menus for each zone’s temperature setting and an easy-to-use pictograph for directing ventilation.

A list of standard Momentum features not yet mention include remote start from a smartphone app, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, rear parking sonar with a visual indicator on the centre display, Volvo On Call, all the expected airbags including two for the front occupants’ knees, plus more, all for only $39,750 plus freight and fees.

2021 Volvo XC40 T5 AWD Momentum
Plenty of cargo space, plus a centre pass-through for added convenience.

If you’d like to save thousands more, make sure to check out CarCostCanada that will show you how to immediately knock off $1,000 from a 2021 XC40 and keep up to $2,000 in additional incentives from a 2020 model. CarCostCanada provides members with real-time manufacturer leasing and financing info too, plus manufacturer rebate info, and best of all, dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands more. Find out how the CarCostCanada program works, and be sure to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Google Play Store or the Apple Store.

No matter the price you pay, the XC40 is a compact luxury SUV worth owning. It combines a higher level of refined luxury than most peers and superb performance all-round, with plenty of style and practicality. This is a crossover I could truly live with day in and day out, even painted in my tester’s playful powder blue hue.

Story and photos by Trevor Hofmann

CarCostCanada

Nissan’s new Z car concept looks ready for production

2020 Nissan Z Proto
Nissan’s new Z Proto has the sports car world buzzing with anticipation. Will the production version share this concept’s styling? We think so.

Let’s face it. The current Z car is old. How old? In automotive years, ancient. In fact, it’s oldest design currently being offered in North America. The only older vehicles include a truck and a commercial van, the former being Nissan’s own Frontier and the latter GM’s Chevy/GMC Express/Savana cargo and shuttle vans. This said, there’s new hope on the horizon.

Nissan recently took the wraps off of a new concept car dubbed Z Proto, and while “Proto” obviously stands for prototype, it appears as close to production trim as any fantasy show car the Japanese brand has ever revealed.

2020 Nissan Z Proto
The the Z Proto’s frontal design pulls plenty of styling cues from the original 240Z, its rear appears influenced by the groundbreaking second-gen (Z32) 300ZX.

It’s sheet metal actually looks picture perfect for a seventh-generation Z, combining many of the original 240’s design cues with some from the much-loved fourth-generation Z32, while its slick looking interior is as dramatically modern as the current model is as awkward and backwards, yet comes infused with plenty of retro touches.

As is almost always the case, new Z will be larger than the outgoing model is this prototype is anything to go by, with the Z Proto measuring about five and a half inches longer from nose to tail. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will weigh more than the 370’s base 3,232 lb (1,466 kg) curb mass, or lose any of the current car’s driving capability, but more likely due to greater use of modern lightweight materials and the inclusion of a smaller 3.0-litre engine block, down 700 cubic centimeters, will actually weigh less.

2020 Nissan Z Proto
Just like the front end, the Z Proto’s side profile reminds of the much-loved 240Z and ’70s-era 260Z/280Z models that followed.

The new Z will once again share platform architectures with its pricier Infiniti Q60 cousin, which bodes well for its overall structural integrity and build quality. The new prototype now reaches 4,381 mm (172.5 in) from front to back, which is exactly 141 mm (5.6 in) longer than the current 370Z, but take note it’s actually a fraction of a fraction narrower (1 mm) at 1,849 mm (72.8 in), or identical to the Q60’s width, and 10 mm (0.4 in) lower at 1,310 mm (51.6 in).

The current Z uses a lot of aluminum already, so expect the upcoming version to also use the lightweight alloy for its hood, door skins, and rear liftback, while it will without doubt also utilize aluminum suspension components and an aluminum-alloy front subframe, engine cradle, plus forged aluminum control arms (upper and lower in the rear), steering knuckle, radius rod, and wheel carrier assembly, all found on the current car, which is beyond impressive for its $30,498 base price.

See the similarities? Of course they were intentional, the 240Z one of the most adored “affordable” classic collectibles ever.

As you may have guessed from the engine noted above, the new Z will feature Nissan/Infiniti’s award-winning twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre VR30DDTT V6, which not only improved on performance, but makes a big difference at the pump over today’s 3.7-litre mill. The current Q60 offers both 300 and 400 horsepower versions, the latter causing many in the industry to dub the next-gen sports car 400Z, but this said it would be a shame not to offer a more affordable variant named 300Z, especially considering the model’s much-loved and sought after 1989–2000 second-generation (Z32) 300ZX. This tact would allow the Z car to be sold in a similar fashion to Porsche’s 911, with various stages of tune from the 300 horsepower 300Z, to a 350 hp 350Z, possibly a 370 hp 370Z and top-line 400Z. Who knows? Maybe there’s a market for a lower-powered $30k Z car to compete head-on with the upcoming redesigned 2022 Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ. That car will be available with a 2.5-litre H-4 making 228 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, so 240 hp turbo-four under the hood of a Z car would make a nice rival, wouldn’t it? Can’t imagine what they might call it. I think Nissan would have a lot of fun bringing out special editions of that engine with 20 hp bumps in performance. Of course, we’re only speculating, but hopefully Nissan has something like this in mind as it would be marketing genius (if we don’t say so ourselves).

2020 Nissan Z Proto
The Z Proto’s hood and grille are heavily influenced by the original 240Z, while even its LED headlamps appear to be trying to combine the circular design of earlier models with the flush lenses from the Z32 300ZX.

Of course, rear-biased all-wheel drive will be optional if not standard, and a six-speed manual will probably get the cut in the base car, with at least seven forward gears in the optional automatic version.

The Proto’s interior comes fitted with the manual, incidentally, while anyone familiar with any Z car cabin would immediately know that it’s a modernized version of Nissan’s most revered sports car. Along with trademark giveaways like the trio of dials across the centre dash top and the sloping side windows, not to mention the classic Nissan sport steering wheel with its big stylized “Z” on the hub, this prototype pulls from the current 370Z’s parts bin with respect to the ovoid door handles, their integrated air vents, and the side window defog vents on each corner of its dash. These similarities may end up only being found on this prototype, and used for the sake of expediency and cost cutting, but it is possible Nissan will carry some less critical features such as these forward into the new interior design.

2020 Nissan Z Proto
Who doesn’t like this classic nod to the past?

Today’s 370Z is actually quite refined inside, at least in upper trims, with plenty of leather-like, padded, soft-touch surfaces with stitching on the dash, centre console sides and doors, all of which appear to be carried forward into the new concept. It’s likely Nissan will likely upgrade some other areas that are now covered in hard composite, the new car probably featuring more pliable synthetics in key areas that might be touched more often.

2020 Nissan Z Proto
Does this cabin look familiar? Basically today’s Z with some fabulous electronic updates.

The so far unmentioned elephant in the room (or cabin) is the impressive array of high-definition electronic interfaces, the primary gauges shown being fully digital and very intriguing, plus the centre stack-mounted infotainment touchscreen display appearing amongst the best Nissan currently has on offer. We can expect all the latest tech such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a large rearview camera with potential an overhead, surround-view option, and this being a performance model, sport features such as a lap timer, g-meter, etcetera.

The centre stack also shows a simple triple-dial automatic HVAC interface that oddly doesn’t include dual-zone functionality, so it’s likely this was merely pulled over from the current car and will be updated in the future production Z.

2020 Nissan Z Proto
The Z Proto’s seats look good, and likely get sourced from Recaro like some of the current Z’s do.

Speaking of today’s 370Z, it can now be had with up to $1,000 in additional incentives, as shown on our 2020 Nissan 370Z Coupe Canada Prices page (or the 2020 Nissan 370Z Roadster Canada Prices page), which is a really good deal considering its aforementioned base price. And before you pick up that phone or drive down to your local Nissan dealership to negotiate, make sure to become a member of CarCostCanada first, so you can access benefits like manufacturer rebate information, updates about various brands’ in-house leasing and financing deals, plus of course dealer invoice pricing that could keep thousands in your pocket. Find out how our CarCostCanada system works, and make sure to download our free CarCostCanada app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store, so you can have all of this critical info with you when you need it most, at the dealership.

Lastly, be sure to watch Nissan’s trio of Z Proto videos below, because if this concept is anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat when the production model arrives.

Unleash the #PowerOfZ (2:18):

Hear the Z Proto roar (0:33):

Get ready for the Nissan Z Proto (0:29):

Photo credits: Nissan

CarCostCanada

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo Road Test

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The 370Z still looks awesome after all these years, especially in top-line Nismo trim.

Seen the new Z yet? The Z Proto (photo below) was introduced just a month ago, and while it might not yet be in full production trim, the car’s amazing attention to detail, particularly inside, makes it look very close to reality. So, where does that leave the current 370Z?

Let’s just call it a modern-day classic to be nice. Today’s Z is in fact the oldest generation of any car currently on the market, having been with us for over 11 years. The only non-commercial vehicle to beat that seasoned tenure is Nissan’s own Frontier pickup truck with 16 years to its credit, while GM’s full-size Chevy Express and GMC Savana commercial cargo/passenger vans are oldest of all, having dawned in 1995 and been refreshed in 2003. While old doesn’t necessarily mean bad, much has been learned in the decades that have passed, and therefore each could certainly be a lot better.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
An oldie but a goodie, the Z’s rear end design has always been aggressively good looking.

On the positive, this is the Z car’s 50th anniversary, and while I wish I had a special 50th Anniversary model to show you, complete with big, bold, diagonal side stripes, the Nismo is the best of the 2020 370Z crop, so I can hardly complain. To be clear, the anniversary car doesn’t provide the Nismo’s 18 additional horsepower and 6 extra pound-feet of torque, being limited to 332 and 270 respectively, instead of 350 and 276, but you can get it with the available paddle-shift actuated seven-speed automatic, the Nismo only available with a six-speed manual. Then again, it could be considered a moral crime to purchase the most potent version of this car with an autobox anyway.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Nismo upgrades look even better under close scrutiny.

Under the 370Z’s aluminum hood is a 3.7-litre V6 with a sensational looking red engine cover and an equally exciting reinforced three-point front strut tower brace hovering over top. Nissan should rightly celebrate this potent and dependable six-cylinder mill, and fortunately has provided an engine bay worthy of exposure at weekend parking lot car enthusiast meet-and-greets.

It doesn’t cost a lot to do it right, by the way, the base 370Z coming in at just $30,498, which is a hair over the much less powerful Toyota 86. Rather than get pulled into a comparison, which is oh-so easy with these two, I need to quickly point out that no amount of OEM options or packages can push the little Toyota sport coupe’s price up to my 370Z Nismo’s $48,998 MSRP.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The wheels might be worth the Nismo upgrade alone.

For that money the 2020 Z gets some unique red and black trim accents around the its circumference, plus really attractive 19-inch Nismo Rays forged rims surrounded by a set of 245/40YR19 front and 285/35YR19 rear Dunlop SP Sport MAXX GT600 performance rubber, not to mention a Nismo-tuned suspension featuring increased spring, dampening and stabilizer rates, front and rear performance shocks, a rear underbody V-brace, and the reinforced three-point front strut tower brace noted a moment ago. Oh, and that engine sends its wasted gas through a Nismo-tuned free-flow dual exhaust system with an H-pipe configuration.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Despite its years, the 370Z’s interior is remarkably refined.

As awesome as all that sounds, the 370Z Nismo’s black leather and perforated red Alcantara Recaro sport seats will probably get noticed first, especially because of the racing-style five-point harness slots on their backrests. There’s no shortage of red thread around the cabin either, and special Nismo logos elsewhere, such as the gauge cluster.

Plenty of comfort and convenience features get pulled up from lower trims, too, a few worth mentioning including automatic on/off HID headlights, LED daytime running lights, LED tail lamps, proximity-sensing entry with push-button start and stop, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror that houses a tiny reverse monitor for the backup camera, a HomeLink garage door opener, micro-filtered single-zone automatic climate control, a navigation system with detailed mapping and SiriusXM NavTraffic capability, a great sounding Bose audio system with available satellite radio, a USB charging port, etcetera.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The 370Z isn’t quite as much of a throwback as a Morgan, but it certainly offers up some classic touches.

If we put age aside, this 2020 370Z Nismo looks like an excellent value proposition. After all, when compared directly to key rivals from Toyota, the fully-loaded $34,450 86 GT only makes 205 horsepower on its best day, while the 382-horsepower turbocharged BMW 3.0-litre inline-six-powered Supra (I’d love to be living with that car out of warranty, not) will set you back a cool $67,690. Certainly, you can get a BMW-sourced 2.0-litre turbo four in the new Supra instead, but even that 255-hp mill is much pricier than the Z at $56,390.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Love the analogue gauges, but the orange dot-matrix displays are an acquired taste.

The top-line Supra can be launched from standstill to 100 km/h in the low to mid four-second range, which is a considerable improvement over the 370Z Nismo’s high four-second to low five-second sprint time. The 86 hits 100 km/h in the mid seven-second range, and tops out at just 226 km/h (140 mph), not that any sane person would ever try that on a Canadian road. Still, bragging rights are bragging rights, allowing owners of straight-six-powered Supras to boast about its 263 km/h (163 mph) terminal velocity, which is plenty of fun until the guy standing in front of his 370Z Nismo at the aforementioned meet-and-greet mentions his comparatively geriatric rival maxes out at 286 km/h (178 mph), a whopping 23 km/h (15 mph) faster.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Cool retro ancillary gauges are joined by a not so cool retro touchscreen display.

Of course, it’s not all about straight-line power. Anyone who’s spent time in a fast car knows that braking performance matters a lot more than acceleration, but don’t worry, Nissan has stopping power covered too. Up front, 14- by 1.3-inch vented rotors get the bite from four-piston opposed aluminum calipers, while the 13.8- by 0.8-inch rear discs are bound via two-piston calipers. Zs also receive high-rigidity brake hoses and R35 Special II brake fluid. The brakes are so strong, in fact, that I recommend doing so in a straight line when needing to scrub speed off quickly, because the Z’s 1,581 kilograms (3,486 lbs) of heft has been known to make its rear end a bit squirrely when getting hard on the binders mid-corner. I’ve experienced this myself, one time becoming especially uncomfortable just ahead Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew, and you don’t want to enter that one sideways.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
More of this for the next-gen Z please…

Fortunately, getting out of trouble fast is Z car hallmark, the current 370’s double-wishbone front suspension and four-link rear setup being wonderfully balanced most of the time. It gets stiffer roll calibrations and increased damping levels in Nismo trim, plus a 0.6-inch wider track, yet drives quite smoothly nonetheless. All Z’s utilize a carbon-fibre driveshaft to shave off pounds and improve throttle response, plus a viscous limited slip differential for putting power down to the ground via both rear tires.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Z’s infotainment touchscreen, it just looks old, is a bit slow and lacks some features.

If you think all of this sounds good, and it should, wait until you’ve downshifted with the Z’s SynchroRev Match equipped six-speed manual that automatically blips the throttle mid-shift to match the upcoming gear ratio. You’ll be sounding like you’re a pro at heel-toe shifting, when you might not even know what I’m talking about. More importantly, SynchroRev Match ideally makes sure that shifts transition smoothly, thus minimizing drivetrain jolt. The shifter feels great too, thanks to a nice and tight, notchy feel and engaging response, while the clutch take-up is smooth yet engaging, and the arrangement of all aluminum pedals is great for the aforementioned heel-toe technique.

As you might expect in a modern sports car, there’s much more aluminum to go around than just the foot pedals, with plenty of bright and brushed metalwork elsewhere in the cabin. Then again, calling the Z a modern sports car is giving it much more respect than it deserves, particularly with respect to the interior’s design and execution. Its red on black colour theme is nice enough, but even this top-tier Nismo variant almost makes the 86 seem fresh.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Gripe all I want about the infotainment system, these old-timer controls work well.

Don’t get me wrong, because the Alcantara seat and door inserts are pretty plush, as are the same faux-suede armrests and lower centre stack sides, not to mention the nicely padded stitched leatherette dash top and door uppers. More contrast red stitched leather-like material flows around the shifter, and not just the boot. In fact, Nissan dresses up the top surface of the lower console in what comes across like leather, giving it some of the Maxima’s premium flair.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Again, the 370Z uses classic Nissan controllers for the audio and HVAC systems.

Even the sportiest Maxima SR doesn’t come close to offering seats as completely enveloping as the 370Z Nismo’s, their aggressive side bolstering and shoulder harness holes nodding to the car’s track potential and their maker, Recaro, renowned for producing some of the best performance seats in the business. They’re manually eight-way adjustable to save weight (the passenger gets four adjustments), and while the side dials aren’t as easy to modulate as levers, they’re infinitely adjustable and remain steadfast once set. While this is good, not providing any telescoping reach from the steering column is a massive fail, especially for those of us with longer legs than torso. The result is a need to crank the seatback into an almost 90-degree angle to comfortably and safely grip the steering wheel, which while the ideal position for the track isn’t exactly the most enjoyable on the road.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
There’s a lot to like about the 370Z’s six-speed gearbox, and the nicely finished console that surrounds it.

Now that I’m griping (and you’d expect complaints about an interior that’s into its third decade), the 370Z’s electronic interfaces are downright archaic. I have zero quibbles about the analogue gauge cluster, because I happen to love analogue dials for cars and watches, being a bit of a throwback myself, the car’s trio of ancillary gauges atop the dash one of its most loved design details. I even appreciate the digital clock that harks back to my teenage era, my watch collection including a few these as well, but modern it’s not. The multi-information display left of the tachometer is more of a simple trip computer that’ll have old-school PC users conjuring up memories of pre-Windows MS-DOS video games like Digger and Diamond Caves, not to mention the unusual rows of orange dots above and below for the respective fuel gauge and engine temp. It’s so old that it’s almost cool… almost.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Fabulous Recaro sport seats are a 370Z Nismo highlight.

In comparison the Z’s main infotainment touchscreen is mind-blowingly advanced, but of course it’s rather dated compared to most anything else currently on the market. Navigation, Bluetooth phone connectivity, and other function are included, but its graphics are yesteryear, processing speed lethargic, and display resolution quality only slightly more up-to-date than the car itself. It all works well enough, nonetheless, so if you can live with merely adequate electronics, or don’t mind swapping them out for an aftermarket alternative, they’ll do fine.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
Cargo space? Don’t expect much practicality in this class.

Of course, this being a two-seat sports coupe, the 370Z isn’t big on cargo capacity either. You can stuff enough bags for a weekend getaway for sure, but the 195 litres (6.9 cu ft) on hand won’t allow for much more. Again, compromises are always required when opting for such a track-ready sports car, so consider this a simple reminder.

On the positive, Nissan is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives on the 2020 370Z, so make sure to check out our 2020 Nissan 370Z Coupe Canada Prices page for more. On that note, a CarCostCanada membership also provides information on available manufacturer rebates, manufacturer leasing and financing deal info, and last but hardly least, dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands. Learn how the CarCostCanada system works, and remember to download our free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store so you can have all of this critical information with you when haggling over your next vehicle purchase.

2020 Nissan 370Z Nismo
The 370Z Nismo is stunning under the hood.

In summary, you can get into a new 2020 370Z for less than $30,000, and while not as fancy or powerful as this Nismo variant, it comes reasonably close and you won’t lose as much when driving off the lot. Either way you’ll get a fantastic performance car with a reasonably refined interior, just not a very modern one. If you’re fine with that, it’s hard to beat the base 370Z’s starting price.

 

Review and photos: Trevor Hofmann

CarCostCanada

Jeff Zwart races rare Porsche 935 up Pikes Peak in just 09:43.92 minutes

Jeff Zwart races rare Porsche 935 up Pikes Peak in just 09:43.92 minutes
Jeff Zwart races this rare Porsche 935 reissue up the Pikes Peak hill climb in a mere 09:43.92 minutes.

We just can’t get enough of 2018’s Porsche 935 reissue or the sensational 911 GT2 RS it’s based on, so we thought we’d shed some light on an impressive entry in this year’s Pikes Peak hill climb, not to mention the man at the wheel, racing legend Jeff Zwart.

Zwart, with 16 Pikes Peak hill climbs to his credit, celebrated his 17th entry with an impressive run up the 20-km uphill course of just 09:43.92 minutes. He later admitted to going easy on the 700 horsepower, $780,000 USD rear-wheel drive car (which equaled exactly 1,025,000 CAD at the time of publishing), due to it belonging to a personal collector, but he nevertheless ended up fifth overall and second in his Time Attack 1 class, which only allows track and race cars based on production models. Zwart may have been a bit rusty too, having not driven the course in five years, but he certainly had high praise for the modern-day 935.

Jeff Zwart races rare Porsche 935 up Pikes Peak in just 09:43.92 minutes
Jeff Zwart now how 17 Pikes Peak hill climbs to his credit.

“It’s the most comfortable race car I’ve ever driven,” stated Zwart after his run. “The combination of the turbo, the bodywork and the motorsport chassis is wonderful.”

Weighing in at just just 1,380 kilos (3,042 lbs), the 935 reissue is one of just 77 created after being introduced at the historic “Rennsport Reunion” motorsport event at California’s Laguna Seca Raceway on September 27, 2018. It’s a race-prepped single-seater riding on Porsche’s 991-generation 911 GT2 RS platform, but features special 935-like body panels from nose to tail, the latter boasting a longer rear section (just like the original) for increasing downforce.

Jeff Zwart races rare Porsche 935 up Pikes Peak in just 09:43.92 minutes
The gorgeous 935 reissue has Pegasus branding denoting its Mobil 1 sponsor.

The car used in the hill climb is owned by Porsche collector Bob Ingram, while its livery included support for his son Cam’s Porsche restoration shop. It sported white, grey and red paint with Pegasus branding on its rear fenders thanks to sponsorship from Mobil 1.

Clint Vahsholt, who drove a Formula Ford in the Open Wheel category, achieved the fastest overall time in this year’s event, managing only 09:35.490 minutes, whereas the quickest Porsche was a GT2 RS Clubsport piloted by David Donn, who, also in the Time Attack 1 category, achieved a 9:36.559-minute time.

Jeff Zwart races rare Porsche 935 up Pikes Peak in just 09:43.92 minutes
Zwart claims the 935 reissue is an easy car to drive quickly.

The Pikes Peak road course in Colorado is officially 19.99 kilometres (12.42 miles) long and features 156 turns, while climbing 1,440 metres (4,720 ft) of elevation averaging 7.2-percent grades. The uphill race starts at Mile 7 on the Pikes Peak Highway before ending at the 4,302-metre (14,115 ft) elevation. Multiple vehicle classes take part in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb every year, making it very popular in the motorsport community.

Being that 935 reissues such as the one Jeff Zwart was driving on his Pikes Peak run are worth upwards of $1.5m USD on the used market, and original 935s can fetch much more, we recommend you take a look at our 2021 Porsche 911 Canada Prices page or 2020 Porsche 911 Canada Prices page to check out more down to earth 911 trims. There you’ll be able to get helpful info about factory leasing and financing rates, which are current at 0-percent, plus up-to-date rebate information as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands on your next purchase. We recommend downloading our free app as well, so you can have all this money-saving info at your fingertips when you need it most at the dealership. See how the CarCostCanada system can work for you.

Also, make sure to enjoy the awesome video footage showing Jeff Zwart racing the sensational 935 reissue up Pikes Peak:

Jeff Zwart | Full Run Onboard + Driver Interview | 2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (11:00):

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann

Photo and video credits: Porsche