Welcome to Motoring Monday for May 4th, 2015. Today we have first looks at the 2016 Lexus ES, the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE Concept, and a demonstration of the new Ford Edge Active Park Assist.

2016 Lexus ES

The 2016 Lexus ES350 and ES300h Hybrid sedan comes to dealers soon with a new safety package and a new facial design that takes the brands Spindle Grille language to its next evolution.

In its mid-life design freshening, Lexus has given their ES a more refined look with softer tones of satin chrome, more rounded and elliptical forms, and new lighting design which all has a distinctly more mature feel.

New headlamps are rounder and more sculpted in their shape, now featuring a pronounced L-shaped LED daytime running light design.

An all new fascia gives more depth to the ES with deeper fog-lamp recesses accented with chrome surrounds. New 17-inch wheels are added to compliment the new themes.

For 2016 the model also receives a new driver assistance safety package, called Lexus Safety System +.
A stand-alone package, Lexus Safety System + now encompasses a comprehensive list of driver aids and crash avoidance technologies that once were spread across multiple packages.

For one low price, you get a Pre-Collision System with automatic braking for avoiding collisions. There’s also Lane Departure Alert which has an audio-visual alert and vibration to the steering wheel. Automatic High Beam headlamps and Radar Cruise Control are also included.

Inside are a vast array of smaller refinements including a revised steering wheel and instrument cluster, new wood finishes and leather colors, and updated switchgear for the infotainment system. The ride also gets quieter with additional sound deadening and structural enhancements.

Remaining the same for 2016 are powertrains which include the 3.5 liter V6 and a 2.5 liter four-cylinder hybrid powertrain. The 2016 Lexus ES350 and ES300h arrive at dealerships late this year.

2015 Ford Edge Active Park Assist

This week spent some time with the all-new 2015 Ford Edge and even got a demonstration on a new key driver assistance feature it offers.

One of the many driver-assistance features available on the all-new 2015 Ford Edge is its Park Assist which can help in a variety of ways from parallel to perpendicular parking. Here we got a demonstration of the perpendicular parking assist.

I’d like to note the fact there were no parking space lines painted on the ground, which is one of the key items the system looks for, yet it still did the job. When lines do exist, this process works even better.

Volkswagen C Coupé GTE Concept

Pulling our strings and pushing our buttons, Volkswagen continues to tease their next generation full size sedans with yet another concept car, the C Coupé GTE.

While it had its coming out party at Auto Shanghai in China, the Volkswagen C Coupé GTE Concept shows the way forward for full-size sedan design and powertrains from the brand.

Some 200-inches long, it’s about 8-inches longer than the North American Volkswagen Passat, which itself is larger than the global versions. This puts it up closer to the Phaeton in overall footprint, a car we no longer have in America.

The design is admittedly evolutionary VW design language, but notable here is a deep cut horizontal character line which spans front to rear. It gives the otherwise slab sided presentation some needed relief.

From a rear three-quarter view, it has a well planted and athletic stance that rarely makes it from concept to production. It looks sexy none the less in a vintage BMW 7-Series kind of way.

Its cabin design gives us hope that the rather austere Volkswagen interiors will soon give way to something more warm and inviting. Here we have not only color and warmth, but some pizazz.

Digital screens are everywhere including at least two front and center, and in the rear seats for the driven passengers. Given this car is shown in China, this is aimed at those who are chauffeur-driven – or at least wish to be.

Under its hood is a plug-in hybrid drivetrain consisting of a 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injected gasoline engine, an 8-speed automatic gearbox, and electric motor sandwiched between the two.

The two power sources together offer up about 241 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This can accelerate it from 0-60 mph in about 8.5 seconds.

Volkswagen has outright said this concept points the way to their next generation full-size cars. Whether we’re talking Passat or Phaeton, we will see this face again. On that, you can rely.

Test Drives

This week we spent some time in the Sonoran Desert with all new 2015 Renegade compact crossover to see if it’s got the goods to carry the Jeep name.

While we had a front-wheel drive model instead of the more off-road oriented Trailhawk or even one with all-wheel drive, we pushed the Renegade down desert back-roads none the less to test its mettle. It is a Jeep after all.

Our base grade Sport model impressed with an interior of decent quality, fit and finish. It’s 1.4 liter multi-air turbocharged engine was a delight, offering refined power and a spirit that encouraged playtime out here.

Unfortunately the chassis proved to be a weak spot out here in the mild gravel roads with rattles and shakes that could be felt through the steering wheel over rough surfaces. We’re told however that four-wheel drive models have heavier duty chassis bits that may be better suited here.

Reality Check

At Auto Shanghai, Volvo showed us their new ultra luxury full-sized SUV, the XC90 Excellence. But they also showed a conceptual Lounge Console that raises the stakes.

To be a chauffeur-driven and pampered passenger in China is a huge big deal, so much so that automakers are scrambling to have the most, the latest, and the greatest of comforts to offer them.

Volvo takes this seriously with their conceptual Lounge Console, an accessory which replaces the front passenger seat and offers up double-happy of servitude to a would be rear passenger.

As we watch the CGI animations here it starts to make sense and seem pretty reasonable a toy. But as various features and amenities unfold it almost becomes comical in its pretend world functionality.

We have the thing becoming a wardrobe closet on wheels? With shoes, watches, and jewelry stored at the ready for a would be party or red carpet runway. Really?

How many people get dressed in their car on the way to these things let alone store tens of thousands of dollars of expensive jewelry or accessories in their cars? I mean, really.

The center console has a cooler and crystal service for booze on the go as well. The only thing we’re missing here are restroom facilities for a shower or more.

The reality check here is that in China this is as much a marketing and imagery play as it is any kind of reality. We might be jaded to the cult of marketing in America, but China is the new frontier

Money Shot

Now it’s time for our Money Shot where we take the hottest photo from this week’s auto news and we show it to ya!

The Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo, a concept car only existing previously in the virtual world of the PlayStation 3 game Gran Turismo, made its real world debut last month at Auto Shanghai. A popular download for the game, we may see someday if it becomes a popular download at your local dealer.

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