Automobile Magazine http://www.automobilemag.com No Boring Cars! | Reviews, Auto Shows, Lifestyle Sun, 23 Jul 2017 08:11:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta Does Sweet Smoky Drifts http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ferrari-laferrari-aperta-does-sweet-smoky-drifts/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ferrari-laferrari-aperta-does-sweet-smoky-drifts/#respond Sun, 23 Jul 2017 08:11:54 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177773 LaFerraris aren’t usually manhandled. They’re stored in a hermetically sealed garage, under a satin sheet, as their owner sits idly by and waits for their car’s value to triple in just a few short years. They’re never driven in anger, they just sit. Thankfully, the owner of this specific LaFerrari Aperta and standard LaFerrari didn’t...

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LaFerraris aren’t usually manhandled. They’re stored in a hermetically sealed garage, under a satin sheet, as their owner sits idly by and waits for their car’s value to triple in just a few short years. They’re never driven in anger, they just sit. Thankfully, the owner of this specific LaFerrari Aperta and standard LaFerrari didn’t get the memo.

The two LaFerraris recently took to the Italian Alps for a road trip, but along the way, the owner of the LaFerrari Aperta decided he’d become Ken Block and rip the open-top hypercar up the switchback roads, drifting from corner to corner thanks to the LaFerrari Aperta’s 963 horsepower hybrid V-12.

It should be noted that this particular LaFerrari owner is known for his antics behind the wheel and drifting up a mountain pass isn’t something that’s too outside his wheelhouse. His Instagram handle after all is “powerslidelover.”

What’s truly astounding, however, is the ease at which the slide is initiated. You’d think a race-bred Ferrari like the LaFerrari would be twitchy, always trying to reclaim grip. But from the video here, it could almost be a stand-in for a number of Formula D pro cars as it sashays from side to side. We’re very glad this man uses his LaFerrari Aperta this way. It restores our faith in humanity.

As for the car in question, the Ferrari LaFerrari is supposedly the most Ferrari Ferrari ever to be built by Ferrari. That’s why Ferrari named it, the Ferrari TheFerrari. However, the new prevailing theory is that the most Ferrari Ferrari ever isn’t actually the Ferrari LaFerrari, but the Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta, as it opens the roof to the LaFerrari’s best feature, it’s naturally aspirated Ferrari V-12.

And from the video below, we tend to agree that the Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta is the most Ferrari Ferrari ever.

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Dream Theater: A Rally Mazda RX-8 with a Screaming, Flame-Spitting 3-Rotor 20b http://www.automobilemag.com/news/dream-theater-a-rally-mazda-rx-8-with-a-screaming-flame-spitting-3-rotor-20b/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/dream-theater-a-rally-mazda-rx-8-with-a-screaming-flame-spitting-3-rotor-20b/#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 09:22:01 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177762 Mazda has an all too brief history in the world of rally. In 1984, just a year before the pathologically insane era of Group B came to an end, Mazda’s Rally Team Europe, began work on a rotary powered Group B RX-7 homologation. It featured an all-wheel drive system, a 13B twin-rotor Wankel screaming out...

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Mazda has an all too brief history in the world of rally. In 1984, just a year before the pathologically insane era of Group B came to an end, Mazda’s Rally Team Europe, began work on a rotary powered Group B RX-7 homologation. It featured an all-wheel drive system, a 13B twin-rotor Wankel screaming out 300 horsepower, and a modified Weber 51 IDA carburetor. But before it could ever turn a wheel in anger, the class was abolished, and the car moth-balled. Thankfully, there are still some who remember.

Built by Markus Van Klink, who’s won historic rally championships down under in a RX-7, for rally and hillclimb racing, this rally-fied Mazda RX-8 features a four-rotor 20b engine that sends a claimed 370 horsepower to the rear wheels and the rear wheels alone. The end result is a flame-spitting, gravel-chucking, devilishly delectable rally car that sends shockwaves of rotary noises through forests.

In the clip, you’re treated to the wonderfully manic noises from the 20b rotary engine. The high-revving engine doesn’t sound too different from its four-rotor cousin that powered the famed 787b Le Mans-winning racecars. Maybe the RX-8 sounds slightly tamer than the wild 787b, but not by much.

The purpose-built machine also features a massive rear wing, that looks as if it was lifted from the last generation Rally America Subaru WRX STI competition car, gravel spec tires, a set of Method Racing wheels, a sequential gearbox, and hydraulic handbrake. It also has a driver that apparently doesn’t have a lick of self-preservation as he slides the RX-8 at ludicrous speeds through a particularly heavily tree-lined section of gravel road.

While this video makes us want seat time in this particular RX-8, it also makes us yearn for the days that Mazda still built rotary-powered sports cars. And while there are rumors the company may bring the rotary and RX-moniker back from the dead, we’ve seen little to support these rumors, aside from the nowhere-near-production-ready RX-Vision concept we saw at the Tokyo Motor Show not too long ago. Let’s just cross our fingers that one day we see these interesting machines once again on the road.

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Just Listed: 1972 Datsun 510 Survivor http://www.automobilemag.com/news/just-listed-1972-datsun-510-survivor/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/just-listed-1972-datsun-510-survivor/#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 02:11:11 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177798 While it’s becoming increasingly difficult to track down clean, untouched Japanese cars from the 1980s and 1990s, it’s downright impossible to find clean examples of certain models from the 1960s and 1970s. Leave it to Bring a Trailer to unearth those unmodified oldtimers that still exist, like this 1972 Datsun 510. There are plenty of...

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While it’s becoming increasingly difficult to track down clean, untouched Japanese cars from the 1980s and 1990s, it’s downright impossible to find clean examples of certain models from the 1960s and 1970s. Leave it to Bring a Trailer to unearth those unmodified oldtimers that still exist, like this 1972 Datsun 510.

There are plenty of restored or survivor 240Zs, Hakosuka Skylines, Celicas, and S600s, but next to no stock examples of commuter cars that were once considered painfully unremarkable. The boxy little Datsun 510 is a perfect example of this. When new, the 510 was part of a line-up of inexpensive and reliable compact cars that weren’t thought of as fun little sport sedans as they are today.

The secret to the Datsun’s fun is the relatively nimble chassis and robust powertrain. Since new, the 510 has dominated the B-Spec racing circuit, both contemporary and historical. It’s the 510s role as an excellent canvas for modifications and racing that’s caused an epidemic of frankencars with modified bodywork, engine swaps, and stripped interiors.

This verdant little ’72 is a rare exception. For the most part, the two-door is as it left the factory 35 years ago, albeit with a thick layer of patina. BaT lists this as a survivor, meaning it wears little-to-no modifications or replacement components since it was new.

To wit, the seller believes the paint, glass, trim, and interior is original to the car, nearly unheard of in a 510. In fact, the only modification listed is a swapped five-speed manual transmission from a late-1970s Datsun 200SX. The conversion is believed to have occurred in the ‘70s. The numbers-matching 1.6-liter four-cylinder remains stock as well, with only 92 hp on tap.

There are patches of rust around the body, but the car presents well and would be a shoo-in for local car shows and Datsun meet-ups.

Check out this 1972 Datsun 510 before it’s snapped up on Bring a Trailer.

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Lamborghinis Descend onto the Transfagarasan Highway http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lamborghinis-descend-onto-the-transfagarasan-highway/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/lamborghinis-descend-onto-the-transfagarasan-highway/#respond Sat, 22 Jul 2017 00:15:08 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177789 The road is known locally as Ceausescu’s folly. Around the world it’s known as one of the best driving roads thanks to three former BBC presenters. To everyone else, the Transfagarasan Highway is just a beautifully scenic stretch of road that connects Romania’s historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia. But it’s because of those three...

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The road is known locally as Ceausescu’s folly. Around the world it’s known as one of the best driving roads thanks to three former BBC presenters. To everyone else, the Transfagarasan Highway is just a beautifully scenic stretch of road that connects Romania’s historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia.

But it’s because of those three presenters, which every car nut aches to one day drive the sinuous stretch of mountain highway in something low, loud, and lean. Unfortunately, most don’t have the luxury of purchasing a ticket to Romania and then scoring some half-million-dollar supercar to play around with for a couple days.

However, the owners of three Lamborghinis — a Huracán Performante, and two Huracán LP-580-2s, a spider and a hard top — do, and decided they’d go for a nice road trip through Vlad the Impaler’s ancient home.

Like three angrily growling Skittles, the blue, green, and yellow Huracáns descended upon the steep hairpin mountain switchbacks, yowling as their driver’s pushed the high-strung naturally aspirated V-10s to their upper octaves. It is a symphony in V-10 sharp.

The road, if you can even call it a road, it’s more like an spiritual experience, was built in the Carpathian Mountains in the early 1970s during the brutal rule of Nicolae Ceausecscu, the country’s second, and last, Communist leader.

The video itself is all-too short, just giving us a small taste of what the road, and the cars, are like. We only see the three cars really pootling along, never the manic Jason Bourne-esque shaky cam that the BBC employed.

Hopefully, there’s more waiting to be released, as that’s something we’d absolutely love to see. At least until we figure out how to expense a trip to Romania.

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Happy 30th Birthday, Ferrari F40 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/happy-30th-birthday-ferrari-f40/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/happy-30th-birthday-ferrari-f40/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 23:29:51 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177772 Thirty years to the day have passed since Ferrari landed the twin-turbocharged sucker-punch that is the F40. On the F40’s pearl anniversary, we’re taking a short look back at what made the crimson twin-turbo supercar so iconic. Unlike Ferraris of yore that were forged and battle-hardened at Le Mans, Monza, and Spa-Francorchams, the F40 can...

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Thirty years to the day have passed since Ferrari landed the twin-turbocharged sucker-punch that is the F40. On the F40’s pearl anniversary, we’re taking a short look back at what made the crimson twin-turbo supercar so iconic.

Unlike Ferraris of yore that were forged and battle-hardened at Le Mans, Monza, and Spa-Francorchams, the F40 can trace its roots back to the uncorked rally specials from Group B. Ferrari worked with racing firm Michelotto and privateers to field four 308 GTBs in the series, seeing only minor success. Ferrari buckled down and decided to get serious, creating the legendary 288 GTO as the full factory effort.

Before the 288 could get off the ground, Group B was cancelled due to rising deaths and injuries. Development of the 288 program had progressed so greatly, however, that the automaker was sitting on five 288 GTO Evoluzione protoypes that were nearly race-ready when the FIA shut the lights off.

Enzo Ferrari, who was in his late 80s at this point, wasn’t satisfied with leaving his legacy unresolved. He ordered production, road-going variants of the 288 GTO Evoluzione, with a focus on fine-tuning the turbocharged V-8 that made its debut with the 288 GTO homologation special.

Born from the stalled 288 project, the F40 hit our collective consciousness like a hook from young Mike Tyson on July 21, 1987. The be-winged supercar was powerful, visually striking, and hardcore. Power came from a 2.9-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, producing a very impressive 478 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque routed to the rear wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.

For that power-crazed era, the F40 had the performance of a cannon blast. Zero to 60 mph takes just under four seconds, while top speed climbs to a claimed 201 mph, Ferrari’s first car to break the double-buck mark. That last figure has remained a controversial topic among the Ferrari-faithful – independent testing has remained unable to recreate that speed.

The secret behind the F40s’s performance was its lightweight construction, which included composite body panels composed of Kevlar and carbon fiber. This was a no-frills car – a quick glance around the cabin revealed raw, unfinished carbon weave and basic cloth-covered sport seats.

Aside from the glossy performance spec sheet, the F40 was a deeply special car for Maranello. A celebration of the brand’s 40th anniversary, it was the last car released with Enzo Ferrari’s approval, arriving a year before his death.

The F40 was released to massive applause, with critics and buyers lining up to throw praise at Ferrari’s new turbo bruiser. Buoyed by pent-up demand from the limited 288 GTO (of which just 272 were made), Ferrari opened the floodgates to investors and collectors, resulting in over 1,300 produced in a five-year period. Large production figures caused a crash in the market, resulting in massive depreciation and angry speculators. As a result, Ferrari now heavily restricts production of its special halo models, a practice still seen today with cars like the LaFerrari.

Now, thirty years on, the F40 remains one of the most analog, uncompromising cars to ever wear the cavallino rampante. Years have passed, but we still can’t think of another modern Ferrari that we’d rather park in our garage.

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New BMW 3 Series Edition Production Launch Starts with a Look in the Rearview Mirror http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bmw-3-series-production-starts-with-a-look-in-the-rearview-mirror/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/bmw-3-series-production-starts-with-a-look-in-the-rearview-mirror/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 22:47:30 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177411 Before the new Edition variants of the BMW 3 Series sedan and wagon make their way from the company’s Munich plant, BMW stopped to snap a few family photos. Check out these cool shots of a first generation 320i (E21) model in a beautiful shade of Inca Orange with its descendant a 3 Series Sedan...

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Before the new Edition variants of the BMW 3 Series sedan and wagon make their way from the company’s Munich plant, BMW stopped to snap a few family photos.

Check out these cool shots of a first generation 320i (E21) model in a beautiful shade of Inca Orange with its descendant a 3 Series Sedan (F30) in an Edition Sport Line Shadow with a contemporary splash of Sunset Orange paint.

The original 3 Series replaced its predecessor, the popular BMW 02, in 1975. Things got even more interesting in the fall of 1977 when the straight six-cylinder was introduced.

Back then, options included a 5-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic transmission, air-conditioning, vent windows, sport seats, and four radio options — 8-track stereo, anyone?

The E21 had a very successful run into the early 1980s, when the now-coveted E30 3 Series replaced it in 1982. Flash forward to the present day and more than 15 million 3 Series cars have been sold since its debut four decades ago.

BMW’s latest 3 Series models are available in Edition Sport Line Shadow, Edition Luxury Line Purity, and the Edition M Sport Shadow trim.

They can be ordered in addition to the existing equipment lines and in conjunction with all available engines according to BMW.

The Edition Sport Line Shadow and the Edition M Sport Shadow add black inserts for the headlamps, dark taillight clusters, black surrounds for the kidney grille, black inserts for the lower air intake, chrome black exhaust tailpipes, and 18-inch light alloy wheels.

Additionally, the M Sport Shadow includes a M Sports suspension, M aerodynamics, and M light alloys.

If you want satin-finished aluminum bits, the Edition Luxury Line Purity is for you. Side window surrounds, air intake inserts, kidney grille bars, rear bumper cover, exhaust tailpipes, and 17-inch alloys offer plenty of aluminum flair.

Inside, sports seats in fabric or leather are offered with interior trim in Dark Aluminum Carbon with Pearlescent Chrome accentuating strips for Edition Sport Line Shadow.

The Edition M Sport Shadow gets the same treatment, but features leather sports seats with blue contrast stitching, M steering wheel, anthracite roof liner, and M doorsill trims.

Inside the Edition Luxury Line Purity offers leather trim in optional Cognac, precious wood trim with accentuating strips in Pearlescent Chrome.

BMW says that all edition models are equipped with an instrument panel with new, distinctive contrast stitching, and an instrument cluster with an extended range of features.

In addition, LED headlights and fog lamps are now standard for the special editions. Pricing has not been announced and BMW has yet to confirm whether or not these editions will go on sale in the U.S.

Check out the photo gallery of the old and new models for a side-by-side comparison. Both look really good to us but if we had to choose — the one with two-doors, window vents, and Inca Orange paint looks like a keeper.

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2019 Jeep Wrangler Diesel is Probably Happening http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2019-jeep-wrangler-diesel-probably-happening/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2019-jeep-wrangler-diesel-probably-happening/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:41:14 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177722 The folks at JL Wrangler Forums have received some new details about the next-gen Jeep Wrangler, including likely confirmation of a diesel variant. The details reportedly come from an FCA dealer meeting, and the spy shots, which appear to show a diesel-powered test mule’s Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) tank, come from a forum user. An...

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The folks at JL Wrangler Forums have received some new details about the next-gen Jeep Wrangler, including likely confirmation of a diesel variant. The details reportedly come from an FCA dealer meeting, and the spy shots, which appear to show a diesel-powered test mule’s Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) tank, come from a forum user.

An anonymous source leaked details from the meeting to the forum. According to this source, Jeep CEO Mike Manley said the next Wrangler will debut at the 2017 L.A. auto show press days in late November, with production models arriving at dealerships as early as mid-December. The leaker also revealed the JL-generation Wrangler’s drivetrain choices, which will include an updated 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 that will come standard with a manual transmission and offer an automatic as an option, a turbocharged 2.0-liter DOHC I-4 with only an automatic, and finally, a diesel engine (likely the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6) available late in the 2019 model year pending EPA certification. The report doesn’t give any details on how many gears the transmissions will have, but count on a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic.

The diesel option has been rumored for some time, and now JL Wrangler Forums has caught a prototype equipped with what appears to be a DEF tank on the passenger side of the driveshaft. We also get a good look at the SUV’s suspension, differentials, and transfer case, which all look suitably robust for a Wrangler.

Other details revealed include the removal of the two-door Sahara trim and the addition of a power sliding hard top coming late in the 2018 model year. In addition, the JL Wrangler Unlimited has a longer wheelbase, push-button start will be offered, the Rubicon will get 33-inch tires, and most current JK Wrangler aftermarket parts will fit the new JL.

There’s still plenty more we don’t know about the next-gen Wrangler, so stay tuned.

 

 

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt and 1971 Lunar Rover Face-Off http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-chevrolet-bolt-and-1971-lunar-rover-face-off/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2017-chevrolet-bolt-and-1971-lunar-rover-face-off/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:42:45 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177605 For the anniversary of the July 1971 moon landing, Chevrolet compares the 2017 Bolt to the 1971 Lunar Rover to draw a connection between the historic space vehicle and its modern electric car. In cooperation with a number of companies, General Motors engineers worked on the 1971 Lunar Rover and was responsible for designing the...

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For the anniversary of the July 1971 moon landing, Chevrolet compares the 2017 Bolt to the 1971 Lunar Rover to draw a connection between the historic space vehicle and its modern electric car. In cooperation with a number of companies, General Motors engineers worked on the 1971 Lunar Rover and was responsible for designing the electric propulsion system, suspension, mesh wire wheels, and drive controller made to accommodate lunar gloves. The infographic below helps illustrate just how far EV technology has com.

“When our team began engineering for the Lunar Rover, there were so many unknowns, including varied terrain, extreme temperatures and the effect of reduced gravity,” Ferenc Pavlics, the project’s now retired chief engineer, in a release. “We pushed the boundaries of automotive technology and worked hand in hand with the astronauts on the vehicle’s design.” Chevrolet says that it also had to push the boundaries to create the Bolt, which, according to its chief engineer Michael Lelli, needed a new architecture in order to create an affordable electric car with generous range.

Chevrolet compares the progress made by highlighting the advancements made since the 1971 Lunar Rover, which had a 57-mile range, seating capacity for two astronauts, four 0.25-hp electric motors, an 8.7-mph top speed, and an air-cooled electric motor. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt, on the other hand, has a 238-mile range on a single charge, a 200-hp electric motor, seating for five passengers, a lithium-ion battery pack with liquid thermal cooling, and a 92-mph top speed.

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Ford Delays “Some” GT Supercar Deliveries http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-delays-gt-super-car-deliveries/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/ford-delays-gt-super-car-deliveries/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 17:20:46 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177600 Supercars are complicated machines. Active aerodynamics, hugely powerful engines, and exquisite carbon-fiber monocoque structures all require precision and minute tolerances to function as expected. As such, details must be sweat if the customer is to get the best product, and it’s precisely this exacting nature which has caused Ford to halt GT deliveries. According to...

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Supercars are complicated machines. Active aerodynamics, hugely powerful engines, and exquisite carbon-fiber monocoque structures all require precision and minute tolerances to function as expected. As such, details must be sweat if the customer is to get the best product, and it’s precisely this exacting nature which has caused Ford to halt GT deliveries.

According to an official letter obtained by Automotive News to customers who’ve ordered a GT, the delay in deliveries was caused due to supplier constraints and global homologation testing issues as part of the company’s ramp-up of production.

“The craftsmanship required to build these vehicles for global markets has required that we adjust our original timing projections,” stated the letter, which was signed by Ford Performance head, Dave Pericak and Global Marketing Manager, Henry Ford III.

It must be stated that none of these delays are related to specific vehicles, but the production as a whole.

Ford began GT production at Multimatic Inc.’s Markham, Ontario plant in December. So far, Ford has delivered around 50 GTs to customers, with the original production plan being to produce a single car each day until October, 2020 when production was set to cease. Total production would be nearly 1,000 GTs. However, this delay may cause production to shoot past the October, 2020 date.

Automotive News reported that the letter said Ford would be able to provide GT customers with an updated 3-month projected delivery window within a week of the letter going out and that production would be back up to speed soon.

Ford received over 7,000 applications when the company debuted the GT. Through an exhaustive search and applicants sending video applications to Ford, the company whittled down prospective buyers to just the first 500 customers. Ford later announced that it would extend production to 2020.

We’re sure customers won’t mind waiting a little while longer, especially after our all-too brief experience behind the wheel of Ford’s ultimate supercar.

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First Drive: 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-infiniti-q50-red-sport-review-first-drive/ http://www.automobilemag.com/news/2018-infiniti-q50-red-sport-review-first-drive/#respond Fri, 21 Jul 2017 04:01:34 +0000 http://www.automobilemag.com/?p=1177232 NASHVILLE, Tennessee — With casual glance, it was easy to dismiss the 2018 Infiniti Q50 sedan’s unveiling late last winter at the Geneva motor show. But mid-cycle refreshes are important, especially in the highly competitive BMW 3 Series segment, which nevertheless is shrinking due to the growth of premium/luxury SUVs. Visually, the 2018 model year...

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee — With casual glance, it was easy to dismiss the 2018 Infiniti Q50 sedan’s unveiling late last winter at the Geneva motor show. But mid-cycle refreshes are important, especially in the highly competitive BMW 3 Series segment, which nevertheless is shrinking due to the growth of premium/luxury SUVs.

Visually, the 2018 model year facelift for the Q50 is pretty subtle. Introduced in 2014 and first updated for the ’16 model year, exterior clues are relegated to new front and rear fascias, new wheels, and new trim level designations aside from our test car, a twin-turbo V-6-powered Red Sport 400.

Infiniti also has upgraded the interior with a new stitched instrument panel, new steering wheel, an Infiniti “signature” shifter, and upgraded gauge and ambient lighting, with “significant” differences between the Red Sport 400 and the more quotidian models. There are new semi-autonomous safety features, reduced NVH, and improved vehicle dynamic control. Infiniti now offers an optional 16-speaker stereo from Bose’s high-fidelity Performance Series, and it sounds wonderfully clear and bright.

The Red Sport’s interior makes heavy use of black-colored materials and carbon-fiber-like details without coming off as dark as Johnny Cash’s suit closet.

There are new trim level names for the rest of the range, and you can expect this to roll out across the Infiniti line while you’re still trying to figure out if the Q50 corresponds to the old G35 and G37 (it does). There’s Pure (base), Luxe (mainstream premium), Sport, and Red Sport.

Pure and Luxe Q50s get a new base engine, a 208-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four. The Luxe also is available with the newly added 300-horse 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 or, in the Hybrid Luxe, the 360-net horsepower combination of a 3.5-liter V-6 with a 50-killowatt electric motor. Our subject car comes with the 400-hp version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. All come with a seven-speed automatic, and all can be had in rear- or all-wheel-drive.

Oh, and Infiniti has added rack-based electronic power steering, standard, and has made improvements to the optional Direct Adaptive Steering, the first mass-market steer-by-wire offered in the U.S. market, introduced four years ago.

“A lot of learning has gone in” on DAS, says U.S. product planner Anand Patel. And you have to give Infiniti credit for picking itself up and brushing itself off after auto journalists unanimously panned the system when it made its debut.

So the big question is, is it good?

Well, it’s much improved. Feel and feedback are okay, and it does point the car where you want it to, though it still feels a bit funny and artificial on-center. Like most cars in this category, switching the vehicle dynamic control to “Sport” or “Sport+” adds a bit more weight, while altering the shift points. The thing is, it’s at least as good as the erstwhile benchmark, the BMW 3 Series, which has lost its way and grew a layer of isolation with the latest model. Best steering in the category now belongs to the Cadillac ATS, Alfa Romeo Giulia (at least, the Quadrofoglio, which is the only variant I’ve driven so far), and maybe the Jaguar XE.

Fear not, Infinitinista. Improvement is the right direction, and anyway, you can forgo DAS in favor of a conventional electric power steering with the electronics mounted on the steering rack, as noted above. DAS is part of a $2,700 ProActive package available on all turbo-six models and if you decide to save the cash, you also give up intelligent cruise control, blind spot intervention, lane-departure prevention and active lane control, adaptive front lighting, and high-beam assist. I know I’m showing my age, but it seems like it would be easy to live without much of this if you like driving a driver’s car.

And a driver’s car, the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is. Throttle tip-in betrays a bit of turbo lag, but otherwise the car takes off like a … oh, choose your cliché. Let’s say, a runaway German train on the autobahn, but with strong brakes that can confidently reel the car in.

Ride is firm with the 19-inch wheels, but without the crash-over-bump motion that can easily afflict a high-strung sport sedan. I’m happy that Infiniti didn’t shoot for an even “20” on the wheel size. Body roll and understeer are minimal, at least as far as I could tell on ess-infested roads outside of Nashville, including The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Since it was a mere G35, Infiniti’s BMW 3 Series-fighter has been a formidable, lower-priced competitor for what once was the segment’s standard-bearer. With its most recent updates, the Q50’s answer to the M3 appears to have caught its benchmark car (a longer, more intensive drive is needed to make a more definitive assessment). Keep working on the Direct Adaptive Steering, Infiniti, and you can catch the segment’s new leaders.

2018 Infinti Q50 Red Sport 400 Specifications

ON SALE Late Summer
PRICE $51,950/$57,300 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/400 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 20/29 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 189.6 x 71.8 x 56.8 in
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
WEIGHT 3,744 lb
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
TOP SPEED N/A

 

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