On Motoring Monday, we’re talking the top cars from the Frankfurt Motor Show including the new Infiniti Q30 compact, the 2017 Jaguar F Pace crossover, and Audi’s answer to Tesla, their eTron Quattro.
And in our Reality Check, we dive deep into the EPA’s allegations against Volkswagen with their TDI diesel engine.
First Look: Infiniti Q30
After many concepts, the production version of the new Infiniti Q30 active compact was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week.
Infiniti’s first entry into the fast-growing premium compact segment, the new Q30 five-door hatch, shares its underlying platform architecture and engines with the Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA.
With its bold and artistic styling, Infiniti is aiming the new Q30 at young buyers who want expressive looks and dynamic driving performance, but don’t need a large luxury sedan to make their statement. And I think they did a good job going from concept to production car without losing its flavor.
The new Q30 will fill a void in the brand’s lineup, particularly in the United States, where we haven’t really had an entry level model since the original G20 which was shared architecturally with the Nissan Sentra. Anyone remember that one?
For the U.S. Market, the Infiniti Q30 is expected to share the same 2.0 liter turbocharged gasoline engine found under the hood of the Mercedes-Benz CLA which has 208 horsepower. This should give the Q30 enough power to be fun, and the economy you’d expect in a compact car.
Inside, the cabin is as expressive as its exterior with bold lines, curves and high quality materials all around. And techno-crazed buyers will not be disappointed either, with a raft of both standard and optional toys to be had.
The Infiniti Q30 will go on sale in selected markets later this year, with sales here in the US to start likely after the first of the year. Pricing not yet announced, likely to be perhaps just under $30,000.
First Look: 2017 Jaguar F Pace
Jaguar is reaching for new customers with their first-ever luxury crossover SUV, the F Pace which we’ve shown you in concept form before. And at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the production model was revealed.
Sporting Jaguar style from front to rear in a new shape we’ve never seen from the brand before, the all-new aluminum bodied Jaguar F-Pace mid-size crossover will go head to head with vehicles like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC just to name a few.
It shows the brand spreading its wings and realizing new goals since the divorce from Ford some years back, taking risks in design but also taking bold steps in new market segments as well.
And under the hood, the Jaguar F-Pace will come with a variety of new hardware options starting with a 2.0 liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder good for 180 horsepower. Gasoline V6’s will include a pair of supercharged 3.0 liter mills with either 340 or 380 horsepower.
Backing these up will be a fully independent rear-wheel drive based chassis made of lots of light-weight aluminum. The latest in dynamic controls and its overall light structure weight is likely to give better handling than you’d expect from a crossover this size.
Sitting inside will be everything you expect from Jaguar as well in terms of the smell of fine leather hides and the sheen of top quality veneers. But there will also be enough digital revolution in every aspect to keep it not only competitive but a class standout.
These include touches like a virtual 12.3-inch high-definition instrument cluster with full-screen navigation display, laser head-up display, and an available 10.2-inch touchscreen touch screen. infotainment system.
Pricing for the new Jaguar F Pace starts at about $41,000 for the diesel models, and just over $42,000 for V6’s. They arrive here in U.S. showrooms next spring.
First Look: Audi eTron Quattro Concept
Audi said recently they were planning to compete head to head with the Tesla Model X crossover. So it should come as no surprise, the debut of the Audi e-tron Quattro Concept.
Boasting a 310 mile range and all-wheel drive to go along with its good looks, Audi says the sleek and angular all-electric concept crossover vehicle is destined for production early in 2018. And like Tesla Model X, the e-tron Quattro has multiple drive motors, three to be exact.
One drives the front wheels and two separate units drive each rear wheel with torque vectoring capability. Maximum power is around 500 horses and there’s 590 pound-feet of torque. This Audi says can take the e-tron Quattro from 0-60 mph in about 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 130 mph.
A large lithium-ion battery pack sits under the floor of the passenger compartment which can charge fully in as little as 50 minutes with a DC fast charger. And, Audi is also looking at a wireless inductive charging solution as well.
Like most electric-powered vehicles, the battery can get some regenerative charging by siphoning off momentum when coasting or braking. Additionally, the e-tron Quattro has a solar roof panel which can trickle charge on sunny days.
As a premium product, and one with its sights on Tesla, the e-tron Quattro sports an adjustable and automatically adaptive air suspension. With multiple drive modes it can be adjusted to your taste or left to do its work on its own.
When it comes to design and technology inside and out, the e-tron Quattro Concept is a tour de-force of the latest OLED lighting and human machine interface (HMI) gadgetry known to man in our lifetime. While some things won’t make it to production, we expect most will.
Pricing of course is a topic left for another day far far away. But like the Tesla Model X it will compete directly with, it will likely be into the six figure range for the most part.
Test Drive: 2015 Lexus IS350 F Sport
This week we tested something also up market, but not so much in the six-figure realm. The 2015 Lexus IS350 F Sport in fact, is much more affordable.
Lexus competes head to head with the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class with a strong punch in their now well acclaimed IS sedans. And our IS350 F Sport is their high-peformance variant which sports better tires, wheels, suspension, and lots of visuals to amp up the look.
Handling, steering and overall driving performance is at a near perfect balance of being enough to make it fun and enjoyable, yet not too much to make it a handful. Translation, it’s a sport sedan you can live with every day.
Design has worn well since its introduction a few years ago both inside and out. The interior remains a class leader in my opinion not only in design and comfort, but in its stellar switchgear and infotainment controls.
You can get our full review on the 2016 Lexus IS350 F Sport by clicking the link below in the information section, or log onto our website at TestDriven.TV.
On a side note last week I was in Denver Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience where I tested over a dozen exciting new cars, trucks and SUV’s. Look for a lot of new drive reviews to come this month.
Reality Check: EPA action on Volkswagen TDI cars
In our Reality Check, last week the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), accused Volkswagen of fudging the law with software to defeat smog equipment their popular TDI engines.
They allege Volkswagen employed smog equipment “defeat devices” in nearly 500,000 2.0 liter four-cylinder TDI equipped cars sold in North America since 2009 under both the Volkswagen and Audi brands.
The complaint says the ECU has multiple software modes which run the engine clean for testing, but not clean enough to pass a test when driving normally. The EPA says this could allow the car to emit up to 40 times the pollutants allowed by law.
The investigation started back in 2014, with a discovered issue of higher than allowed levels of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). Volkswagen worked with the EPA, revising software and initiated a recall last year to address the issue.
The EPA and CARB say however that independent testing done on real-world cars last spring revealed that the new software patch in fact did not fully address the higher NOx levels because it only ran clean enough to pass during certain types of smog testing.
The Obama Administration could pursue fines in the neighborhood of $38,000 per car and seek criminal prosecution in addition to forcing a recall of the nearly 500,000 cars. The dollar figure could be tens of billions.
Volkswagen will surely be coming up with a fix as soon as possible no matter the cost, given their TDI engines are a cornerstone of their product strategy as well as their bottom line here in North America. Diesel engines have accounted for up to 90% of sales in some models.
In a statement on Sunday, Professor Dr. Martin Winkerkorn, CEO of Volkswagen said:
“The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.”
He added, “We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law.”
A stop order has been issued for the sale of all new 2015 and 2016 Volkswagen and Audi cars with the 2.0 liter TDI engines. At current it’s still legal to drive and resell used TDI equipped cars, and the 3.0 liter V6 TDI is not part of the complaint.
This is a serious matter for Volkswagen, and time will tell who knew what and when. Volkswagen does seem to take the stance they’re culpable here and how things go from this point forward is anyone’s guess.
Now it’s time for our Money Shot where we take the best photo from this week’s automotive news and we show it to ya!
At the Frankfurt Motor Show, Porsche unveiled their Mission E Concept. It’s not a diesel, but an all-electric sports car with over 600 hp, over 300 miles of range, and a charging time of 15 minutes. Oh, and it goes from 0-60 in under 3.5 seconds. And I’m sure the EPA and CARB will love it.