For 2021, the “Recharge” name arrives in the Volvo line-up, representing the latest step for the brand towards getting one million electrified cars on the road by 2025.

In 2021, “Recharge” has a couple of meanings – it can mean fully battery-electric, as is the case with the 2021 XC40 Recharge small crossover or it can mean plug-in hybrid (PHEV), as seen here with the S90 T8 Recharge sedan.

It is available only as an Inscription trim, meaning fully-loaded and starting at $76,050. My tester, however, has a host of options that run the price up to just under $90K, which is no small price to pay.

Some of the features added are: massaging front seat and ventilated rear seats; power operated trunk; HUD; rear air suspension; heated steering wheel; 360-degree parking camera and more. Most of that stuff I can understand having to pay extra for, but to have to pay extra for a heated wheel in a top-trim car in Canada that starts at over 75 grand? That’s a little on the rich side.

The Recharge is a real Swedish smorgasbord, though, when it comes to its powertrain. It’s not just turbocharged, not just supercharged and not just EV-powered – it is, in fact, all three of these things. They combine to offer 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque, fed either to the front wheels, the rear wheels, or all four wheels.

How is that, you ask? Well, read on.

The S90 doesn’t have your typical AWD set-up in that there is no driveline from the engine to the rear wheels. Instead, the rear axle is powered by its own 87 hp motor, so there’s your AWD. There’s also your RWD, too, because when in full-EV mode (which Volvo says is good for 34 km), only the rear wheels get power. The gas engine, meanwhile, will send power to the front wheels and to the front wheels only if the battery is depleted. You can let the computers decide for themselves how to power the vehicle, or you can select from four different drive modes that prioritize certain elements; Pure mode, for example, keeps the S90 in full-EV mode if you have the juice. Hybrid mode optimizes fuel economy and Power mode makes use or both the gas engine and EV motor but also quickens gear shifts and stiffens up the suspension.

All that tech – and the weight it adds — could have gotten in the way of the drive, but truth be told, it really hasn’t. It should come as little surprise that the S90 drives smoothly – it’s a flagship Volvo, and Volvos, if nothing else, are very smooth-riding cars – but what the super- and turbocharging do is make for a very smooth power curve. The supercharger gets things going at low revs, while the turbocharger steps in as revs climb. Add the EV power on top of all that, and you have a big sedan that can hustle, and do so fairly efficiently (I saw 9.4 L per 100 km during my test) while it’s at it.

Speaking of the range: 34 km is fine, but I rarely saw more than 23 km or so on a single charge. It was a somewhat cold test week, though, which is going to affect range and being a PHEV, you can plug-in every night and assuming you have a short commute, you could very well be driving in EV mode almost all the time. That’s the beauty of a PHEV and the S90 goes the extra mile by providing both a “Hold” and a “Charge” mode for the EV system.

Review 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge

What these do is either maintain battery level or use the gas engine to charge the battery. Why would you want to modify this? Well, if you’re on a road where the gas engine is at its most efficient – eg, an open highway – you can select “Hold” and save your EV power for when the gas engine is least efficient, that is to say in traffic once back in town.

I just wish it wasn’t so hard to get to both the EV controls and a number of others, including the lane-departure system, cross-traffic alert and so on. All of that is accessed through the vertical nine-inch infotainment display, but you have to swipe left – I think – from the main screen, then navigate a text-heavy display that tends to pull your attention away from the road ahead more than I’d like.

One thing I don’t mind admiring, though, are the interior accoutrements. All the materials are of top-notch fit and finish, the Orefors crystal shift lever fits the environs well and I love the Bowers & Wilkins audio both for its sound quality and just how slick its speakers all look, punctuated by a roundel atop the dash. A little unsure about the start/stop joystick, though; it’s finicky in its operation, it seems like it might break and a button would just make more sense.

This is one comfortable car, though. The front seats are adjustable a number of ways and the massage feature is nice to have but the real story – the real story – is actually the back seat. It is a massive place to sit with limo-like legroom and a centre armrest that’s big enough to make it almost seem like the rear seat is actually two separate buckets as opposed to a single bench. Rear seat occupants also have their own controls in addition to heated seats – and if speced – cooled seats as well.

Review 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge

Review 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge

Better still: even with all that room back there, the trunk measures 500 litres, more than enough for your wares and the charge cable with its very Swedish-chic carry bag.

The real star, though, is the powertrain. It’s a well thought-out PHEV and the added super- and turbocharger rounds everything out and shows that Volvo has delivered a flagship sedan that’s not just about the high-techniness of its EV elements. It’s a car that can provide a fun drive, too.

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With Amazon now the go-to platform for people ordering and having delivered goods to their doors, it should not be a surprise that Mitsubishi Motors would use the world’s premier online consumer platform to debut its all-new Mitsubishi 2022 Outlander.

The first-ever vehicle to be launched on Amazon Live, the new 2022 Outlander marks a new direction for this fourth-generation SUV to reach North American shores in April of this year. The Outlander was launched in Canada in 2002, and continues to be one of Mitsubishi Motors’ best selling vehicles. Globally, the Outlander has sold some 2.6 million units.

The new 2022 Outlander will feature a next-generation Dynamic Shield with daytime running lights and turn signals positioned in the upper area so as to improve their visibility to oncoming vehicles. The headlights will be positioned below and angled to throw more light onto the road. Drivers will have a choice of Diamond Series paints, such as Red, White and Black. Black Diamond is a new colour that consists of three coats of which a layer containing glass is added to give the 2022 Outlander a jet-black look.  Also available are five basic colours for a total selection of eight body colours.

A new 2.5-litre engine – producing 181 hp at 6,000 r.p.m., and 181 lb-ft of torque – comes with an 8-speed sport mode CVT and an electronically-controlled 4WD and S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) system.  A six-drive mode selector placed in the centre console, gives drivers the power, speed and control to handle all road conditions. The Brake AYC (Active Yaw Control) will provide front and rear wheel distributed control and the Outlander’s sensors will be able to detect the steering angle, yaw rate, driving torque, brake pressure, wheel speed to correctly identify driver operation and vehicle status, thereby giving greater control and stability to the Outlander. MI-PILOT Assist integrates Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keep Assist (LKA) adds to the increased driving comfort and safety.

Some of the interior enhancements include a linear instrument panel with the upper part covered in soft padding wrapped in leather. Interior colour variations of genuine leather seats of light grey and black are available. Seat heaters, three-zone automatic climate control, and rear door sunshades are also available.

A 12.3-inch full digital driver display equipped with full-color TFT shows can be customized by the driver and a 7-inch multi-information display can show simple arrow navigation in the central information display. An available large 9-inch screen is used for the centre display and is equipped with Smartphone-link Display Audio navigation system. For the first time, Mitsubishi has provided a 10.8-inch full-colour Head-Up Display (HUD) that can be turned on or off.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported and the Outlander comes with a standard 10-speaker sound system, and a BOSE premium sound system is available for the higher trim levels.

2022 Outlander

The 2022 Outlander offers three-row, seven seats, that can be flexibly arranged. The second-row seats have a sliding and reclining function, as well as a 40:20:40 split division. The centre console tray also has a wireless phone charging function (15W) and USB charging ports Types C and A are at the ready, on the front and back of the centre console.

Story compiled using information provided by the manufacturer.

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Just when you thought that Porsche couldn’t possibly manage to improve its street legal race prepared GT3 anymore, out pops the new 2022 911 GT3 and improve it they have.

The naturally aspirated flat-six boxer engine now produces a phenomenal 502hp and 345 lb-ft of torque, that puts all the power down to the rear wheels through either a seven-speed PDK transmission or an optional six-speed manual gearbox. The engine, which is almost identical to the track only GT3 cup race car, benefits from six independent throttle bodies that increase the sharp throttle response adding to the already racing pedigree performance. The GT3, using the standard PDK transmission, can now reach 100km in a blistering 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 314km/h.

The biggest change in the GT3 is the introduction of a new double-wishbone front suspension that has been redeveloped from the Le Mans winning RSR – the first time a double-wishbone system has been added to a Porsche production car. This increases handling especially when entering corners at high speed and manages relieve some of the pressures placed on the dampers ensuring the front wheels stay secure and flat on the surface throughout cornering especially on uneven surfaces.

To manage the new front set up the rear suspension has been upgraded with additional ball joints being added to the lower wishbones to help relieve the additional high stress levels incurred at the back end. Special shock absorbers have been added in the rear to increase performance especially when on track. Rear-wheel steering is still standard that increases cornering stability at high speed and aids in tight maneuvers when at low speed.

To handle the additional handling capabilities the front brake discs have been increased by 28 mm to 408 mm, but while being larger the weight has been reduced by 17 per cent. Additionally, new road legal, high performance track-ready tires have been approved as an option for the first time.

Up front the GT3 benefits from an adjustable front spoiler lip and diffuser with cooling intakes being integrated into the lower part of the carbon fibre hood. New side skirts specifically designed for the new GT3 have been added ensuring smooth airflow around the wheels.

What makes the new GT3 stand out is the huge manually adjustable swanneck rear spoiler and a newly designed rear diffuser, this combination – when set up for track use  – can increase the downforce by up to 150 per cent.

Don’t expect any of the luxuries normally associated with Porsche in the cabin. The interior is sparse with all the focus on racing and speed. Four-way adjustable seating is made available as standard with lighter carbon fibre,  full bucket seats being offered  as an option.

2022 911 GT3

New to the GT3 is the new PDK gear shifter in the centre console that can be used to change gears by pushing forward or pulling back and can be used as an alternative to the steering wheel mounted shifter paddles.

A much improved instrument cluster now includes a Track-Screen function that condenses the amount of information shown to the bare minimum. All of the information  that a driver needs to see during high performance driving or racing is now tightly situated around the analog tachometer that allows the driver to take in all needed information with one single glance.

Just to prove how much the new 911 GT3 has improved from the last model, a time of 6:59.927 was achieved around the 20.8 km long Nürburgring Nordschleife which is 17 seconds faster than the outgoing model. To make this even more impressive it was achieved during a regular fine tuning session of the vehicle.

The 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 should be available in the fall of 2021 with pricing being made available closer to then.

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Chevrolet revealed a heavily revised Bolt over the weekend, along with a new Bolt EUV that turns the electric into a 150 mm-longer crossover with new styling, though (not unusually for an EV) front-wheel drive only. The battery pack is the same 65 kWh unit as before, but Chevrolet has eked out slightly more range, 417 km for Bolt EV and 402 for EUV. It will come with a charge cable that can handle standard 120V or 240V dryer-style plugs. The EUV uses most of its extra space for rear passengers, giving them 72 mm more knee room, and offering slightly less cargo space than the 1,611 L of the Bolt EV.

The interior is extensively revised, and the Bolt EV’s asymmetrical seats are gone. They’ve been replaced by more conventional designs with more premium fabrics. There is a larger 10.2-inch infotainment screen that adds the wireless versions of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (with standard wireless charging on EUV) and more conventional push-button drive selector. The EUV also adds an available sunroof to the model for the first time. As part of an expanded range of driver assistance features offered on both versions, the EUV will get Super Cruise, GM’s hands-off driving assistant. The Bolt starts from $38,198, nearly $7,000 less than 2021, with the EUV from $40,198.

 

Subaru’s WRX arrives for 2021 and keeps the same base price it’s had since 2016. $29,995 for the 268 hp turbocharged AWD sedan that now offers automatic headlights. Sport trim offers new proximity key and push-button start while Sport-Tech gets red-painted Brembo Calipers. From $40,395, the 310 hp WRX STI is up just $100, and top models come standard with a Bilstein performance suspension that was previously limited to only special edition versions of the car.

Subaru WRX

 

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 will be the first in the brand’s new line of EVs, and while it’s not yet been revealed, the automaker did tease the innovative interior. Driver and front passenger will get a flat floor and a sliding center console that Hyundai calls a “Universal Island” which lets driver and passenger exit from either side of the car. The front seats also get leg rests for a nap during charging and the automaker says that even the rear seats can be “operated and repositioned” making them easier to access. Eco-conscious touches inside include a new leather process and dye using plant oils as well as sugar cane fibres, wool, and fibres made from recycled bottles for the interior. It will be revealed February 23rd.

Subaru WRX

 

A new offering of the Ram 1500 promises increased fuel savings. The Ram 1500 Tradesman HFE EcoDiesel has a rated 7.1L/100 km highway rating, which makes the Ram the most efficient on the highway. It’s 0.2L/100 km better than the standard Ram EcoDiesel and will be offered as a Crew Cab with rear-wheel drive.

Subaru WRX

 

Jaguar Land Rover has announced it will be making a massive electric jump, with Jaguar going all-electric by 2025 and Land Rover adding six new EVs by 2025. That move includes Jaguar dropping the electric XJ that was said to be quite close to reveal, in favour of a new platform and more modern systems. The first all-electric Land Rover is set to arrive in 2024, with all of the brand’s nameplates to offer a pure EV model by the end of the decade. JLR says it will do this while increasing profits and will not close plants in the UK.

Subaru WRX

 

Mercedes-Benz is planning an all-new version of the C-Class, with the compact set to be unveiled on February 23rd. The new car will be equipped with the second-generation of the brand’s MBUX user interface following its launch on the flagship S-Class. The system should add more integration into the passenger compartment. This will also be the first Mercedes-Benz offering, “to be electrified throughout.”

Subaru WRX

 

Kia will also be launching a new model on February 23rd, with the new Carnival making its debut. The newest version of Kia’s minivan will offer class-leading power, blind-spot view monitor, and other family-friendly features. Kia said it would also be the first to wear the brand’s new logo.

Subaru WRX

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Welcome to the Monday Morning Racing Roundup on Tuesday. We’ll get to that Daytona 500 nonsense in a moment.

But first . . .

Last week was a rough one. Three superstars from the world of auto racing died: Dick Bradbeer, vice-president of marketing for Labatt back in the early 1970s when it held the rights to promote Formula One racing in Canada; Jeremy Hinchcliffe, father of IndyCar racing star James Hinchcliffe and a racer in his own right; and Frank Orr of the Toronto Star who wrote hockey in the winter and auto racing in the summer in the 1960s and ‘70s.

You could call Dick Bradbeer the “Godfather of Hospitality” at Formula One races. Prior to 1972, F1 races – most of which were in Europe – were devoid of hospitality units or garages, with the teams arriving in transporters and working on the cars on the grass outside the trucks or in tents. Only when the racers and the beautiful people who followed them got to Monte Carlo for the Grand Prix there did the tuxedos and fancy dresses come out for the annual party thrown by the Automobile Club de Monaco, which was the social highlight of the year.

So, that year (’72), Bradbeer parked a trailer – a plain, ordinary, sleeps four, travel trailer – on the inside of Corner One at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (then called Mosport), which did not have a liquor licence. There was no signage; no nothing. Over the course of the weekend, newspapermen, ad agency reps, team managers, sponsors and other A-listers (except for the drivers) would be quietly invited by Bradbeer to wander down to Corner One and enjoy a bottle of Labatt “Blue” lager or “50” ale on the sly inside that trailer.

That was the beginning. By the following year, “hospitality” of one kind or another was prominent at Grands Prix and other major races all over the world and I don’t think that Bradbeer, a brilliant marketer, ever got the credit he deserved for getting that particular (but very expensive) ball rolling.

RIP, Dick. Freeloaders the world over owe it all to you.

Jeremy Hinchcliffe was a businessman, recreational scuba diver and motorsport participant/fan who was vacationing with his wife in the Turks and Caicos Islands in mid-May, 2015, when a friend sent him a text asking how his son was doing. That was how he found out that James had hit the wall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was in hospital, near death.

A little more than two weeks later, I was with my friend and fellow motorsport reporter Jeff Pappone and we were in the lobby of the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. It ‘was Indy 500 weekend and the joint, as they say, was jumping. And who do we bump into but Jeremy Hinchcliffe (whose room there in the emergency had been arranged by Jeff, who had connections).

We went to the bar of the Don Shula Steakhouse on the Westin’s second floor where Jeremy knew just about everybody. Asked whether James would ever make a comeback, Jeremy answered in the affirmative. “Of course, he’ll be back,” he thundered. ”He’s a warrior!”  And the very next year, for the 100th anniversary of the running of the Indianapolis 500, James Hinchcliffe went out for four laps with his foot to the floor and put his car on the pole. A warrior, indeed.

I was talking about Jeremy with my friend Jeff Sunday and he reminded me that Jeremy raced several cars over the years and drove a variety of classics in the Vintage Automobile Racing Association of Canada. In 2005, he even teamed up with son James to race a 1969 Lotus 7 in an endurance event at CTMP, where the pair finished second.

Two years ago, James Hinchcliffe named that Lotus 7 when asked to choose a favourite among all the cars he’s raced. “This car was special because it was the car that my dad had built to race,” he told Inside Track Motorsport News in 2019.

“He’d always loved Lotus 7s back in England,” James told the magazine, “and had always wanted to race one. So when he finally found one that he was able to turn into a race car, it meant a lot to him, and so it meant a lot to me as well. Plus, it was a lot of fun to drive.”

Jeff reminded me that that seven years after hanging up his helmet, Jeremy received a 2012 VARAC Lifetime Membership Award for his contributions to vintage racing and for being a member, director and former driver.

Away from the track, businessman Jeremy founded and built NOCO Fuels Ltd. into a successful company and his love for racing was reflected in the company’s support of local motorsport events at speedways around the Toronto area. The NOCO name also appeared on his son’s cars during his climb up the motorsport ladder.

Jeremy also played a key role in preserving Canada’s racing history, buying and restoring the Van Diemen RF91 Formula Ford that was driven by Greg Moore in the 1991 Esso Protec Formula 1600 Championship. Jeff said that Jeremy donated the car to the Canadian Motorsports Heritage Museum in 2009 but, unfortunately, the museum never materialized and Moore’s Formula Ford, along with a Player’s/Forsythe Racing Reynard 98i-Mercedes he drove to victory in the 1998 Michigan 500 ended up in the hands of a private collector.

RIP, Jeremy. You were an original and a great family man.

Frank Orr was one of the great characters of our time. Mark Zwolinski of the Star wrote a fantastic obituary (you can read it by clicking here) but it was mostly about hockey, which is natural because Frank was in the Hockey Hall of Fame. I knew him primarily because of car racing.

I could tell a hundred stories about Frank but for the purposes of this tribute, I will tell you one, which will illustrate his kindness. It was 1972 (that year, again) and the start of the Grand Prix had been held up because a heavy fog had settled over CTMP (er, Mosport back then) and it was too dangerous to turn the F1 cars loose.

I was on the Globe and hanging around with Frank that day. We’d had a great time at Indianapolis earlier that year and the Grand Prix, being held that September, clashed with the first game in Moscow of the ’72 Canada-Russia Series. Frank had covered the first four games in Canada, then stayed home to write about the Grand Prix while Trent Frayne went to Russia for the Star. Frank and I watched the game on a 12-inch black-and-white TV in the office of Mosport owner Harvey Hudes. (Frank’s quick wit: Gilbert Perrault scored an incredible goal for Canada by deking a defenceman out of his socks and going around him to score. Said Frank: “He put that puck in his mouth and took it out his —.”) The fog lifted – organizers finally told the 25 drivers to take their cars out and blow it away – and the race got going about 90 minutes late, finishing just before 6 p.m. I was in a jam because I had to file to the Globe by 7 p.m.

A press conference was scheduled for the second floor of the old tower inside Corner 10. It was bedlam in there. Everybody who ever had anything to do with organizing anything at Mosport was in attendance. The working press had all lost their places up against the glass at the front of the room because women were picking up the typewriters and putting them on the floor to make room for their children to sit. It was crazy.

The organizers had put a table in the middle of the room and had placed three chairs on top of the table where the podium drivers would sit. Peter Revson, who’d finished second, was up there but Jackie Stewart, the winner and third-place finisher Denis Hulme hadn’t arrived.

So I found my typewriter and, after being told to get lost by the person who was occupying my work space, I sat down on the floor with my typewriter on my lap and started to write. Frank sees this and can’t handle it. “C’mon, kid,” he says. “I have an idea.” Somehow, he got hold of a chair and he put it on the floor in front of the table about two feet away from Peter Revson’s shoes. Then he took my typewriter and put it on the table right in front of those shoes. Then he sits me down in this chair and says, “This is better. Now you can work.”

I look up and Revson is looking at me with a bemused look on his face. I had interviewed him during his rookie year at Indianapolis in 1969 when the first week of qualifying was rained out and everybody had a lot of time to kill. I doubt if he remembered my name but he remembered my face.

“How’ve you been?” he asked.

“I’ve had better days,” I said.

“Want a quote?” he said.

“Sure,” I said.

“These people couldn’t organize a two-car parade.”

“Thanks,” I said, “but I can’t use it. I have to work here.”

“Okay, how’s this? He grinned. “Everybody here seems to be in a fog.”

I told him he was very funny. But I also said I couldn’t use that one either.

“Well, I tried,” he said.

“That you did,” I said, and then Jackie Stewart arrived and I went back to work.

None of that would have happened without Frank. He was such a lovely guy.

R.I.P., Frank.  Great talent and a very funny (and helpful) guy.

They say that everything comes in threes. I hope this is it for awhile.

DAYTONA 500 

Fourteen laps into Sunday’s Daytona 500, they had a Big One. Fifteen or 16 cars were involved. One of the cars and drivers eliminated was Ryan Newman, who was nearly killed at Daytona year ago. Maybe he should think of retirement. You can only dodge so many bullets.

Just in case you missed the first Big One, they had a second one on the last lap. Eight cars were involved this time, including the two leaders racing for Team Penske. Joey Logano was leading, with Brad Keselowski second. Keselowski appeared to back off ever so slightly to get a run and was hit by Michael McDowell, who was running third. Almost simultaneously, Logano moved to block Keselowski and they collided. BOOM! McDowell managed to avoid the two of them and emerged the winner of the Great American Race in his 358th Cup start. Chase Elliott was second and Austin Dillon finished third.

This Big One was particularly violent, with a flash fire going into the cockpit of Austin Cindric, who had won the Xfinity Cup stock car race at Daytona on Saturday. He was okay but it was a close call – ironic, since his father, Tim Cindric, president of Penske Racing, had steered his son away from Indy cars, suggesting stock car racing was safer, That might have been a wakeup call.

It has been 20 years since Dale Earnhardt died at Daytona and through planning or just plain luck, there has not been a fatal accident in any of NASCAR’s three travelling divisions – Cup, Xfinity or trucks. But you can’t keep piling up cars at 200 miles an hour race after race, year after year, without the law of averages catching up with you at some point.

Racing is dangerous enough without the restrictor plates that see the cars performing in packs, three-wide and literally inches apart. Some people find this exciting. I find it scary because I worry about the drivers. One of these days, Alice . . .

Other than the massive wrecks, it was a pretty routine race – other than a long rain delay, which didn’t see the restart get the green flag till 9:30, and the checkers fly till nearly midnight.

Notes:  

One of the things NASCAR could do (if it wanted) would be to eliminate “bump drafting.” That little manoeuvre is what starts most of the big wrecks in the first place.

After noting that it was 20 years since Earnhardt died, Mike Joy said, “NASCAR took the lead in driver safety,” and nobody’s been killed since. I don’t know why those guys do that. Actually, I do know: they work for NASCAR and they kiss —. NASCAR did a couple of thing – 1), they disallowed teams from installing safety equipment the way the drivers wanted rather than the way the manufacturers said it should be installed (Earnhardt had changed the angle of his seat, for instance). 2). They did put some money into research that led to the SAFER barrier but that was after Tony George entirely financed the first crack with a team at Wayne State University and, when it failed, approached the University of Nebraska at Lincoln to take what had been learned in Detroit and improve on it. It was then that George approached NASCAR to help out and they put in some money but, for all intents and purposes, the SAFER barrier was an Indianapolis Motor Speedway production. “Took the lead?” Hardly.

CANADIANS AT DAYTONA 

Quebec driver Raphael Lessard won the first stages and finished second in the second staged of the Campers World truck series race Friday night and was in a position to win the whole thing when he was wrecked toward the end of the race. He was classified 23rd. Jason White of Sun Peaks, B.C. was 19th. Steward Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake was caught up in a huge wreck and was classified 32nd. White, a regular runner in the NASCAR Canada Pinty’s stock car series, finished 14th in an ARCA stock car race Saturday afternoon. Also Saturday afternoon, a NASCAR Xfinity Series stock race was held and Quebec’s Alex Labbe was 40th after suffering engine problems early in the race.

OTHER RACING  

Red Bull has made a deal to use Honda power unit technology from 2022, it was announced at the weekend. Translation: Red Bull will build its own engines (er, power units) after the 2021 season. A new company called Red Bull Powertrains Ltd. will use the Honda technology to produce the engines for Red Bull and its sister team Scuderia AlphaTauri.

Michael Andretti is now involved in eight racing series around the world – IndyCar, Indy Lights, IMSA, Formula E, Extreme E and Australian Supercars. (We just have to get him involved in the Pinty’s Series.) His latest venture (for those of you who are counting) is a partnership with Michel Jourdain in the Mexican Super Copa (Touring Car) series. Drivers and sponsors to come later.

Megan Gilkes, the talented Richmond Hill girl who raced in the W Series two years ago, will be racing in British Formula Ford this season and hopes to do the Formula 1600 race at the Grand Prix of Canada – if it happens, of course.

Fernando Alonso was hit by a car while out riding his bicycle in Switzerland. He suffered a broken jaw and was released from hospital. Fans breathed a sigh of relief as he will be ready to go when the F1 season opens in Dubai in late March. Oh, and Sir Lewis Hamilton signed a one-year contract with Mercedes to give him his eighth world championship (f he doesn’t screw up and the car is as good as it has been in other years). Toto Wolff said, with a straight face, that the one-year deal will give them time to determine the length of his next, and last, M-B contract. I have a friend who is willing to bet good money that Hamilton is already talking to Ferrari about 2022 and on. I agree with him.

Finally, Canada is the latest country to join the GT4 family as SRO Motorsports and RACE Events Inc. have signed an agreement that will bring the internationally recognized class to the Canadian Touring Car Championship for 2021 and beyond. The CTCC presented by Pirelli will add a separate GT4 class that will complement its existing Touring Car and GT Sport categories, the CTCC announced in a release.

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The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle slated to arrive this summer will not only offer many upgrades that owners and EV fans have asked for, but it will also cost a lot less – specifically, $6,800 less than the current Bolt starting price of roughly $45,000.

As such, Chevrolet’s all-electric five-door that’s currently priced very close to BEV hatchbacks from Hyundai, Nissan and Kia looks set to become the undisputed mainstream EV value leader at its starting price of $38,198 outside Quebec (and even after roughly $2,000 in Destination and other mandatory fees, given similar fees also apply to its mainstream EV market rivals).

And that’s before the $5,000 Canadian federal EV rebate, as well as other provincial rebates available for owners in B.C., Quebec and the Yukon.

Even the taller, wider and longer Bolt EUV – the all-new ‘SUV’ version of the Bolt hatchback – will come in at a starting price substantially lower than the outgoing Bolt hatchback. The slightly heavier Bolt EUV will have an estimated range of 402 km on a full charge, will offer roughly three extra inches (72mm) of rear legroom compared to the Bolt hatchback, and will start at a base price of $40,198, the company said upon publicly unveiling both Bolt models on Valentine’s Day.

The base Bolt will continue to offer the same impressive 417 km of range from its 65 kWh battery, also used in the Bolt EUV, and both will offer the same 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, which has made the Bolt worthy of ‘hot hatch’ acceleration (0-100 km/h times in the mid-six second range), but which will likely be a tad slower in the slightly larger and heavier Bolt EUV.

The all-new Bolt EUV is truly the big news of the announcement, and as the new top of the range version, it will offer unique technologies and options still unavailable on the base Bolt: one, an available sunroof, and two, the optional Super Cruise system, which will be the first time a non-Cadillac will offer this system (though it won’t offer all the latest tricks that Cadillac offers on the latest Super Cruise systems).

The Bolt’s Super Cruise system allows hands off the steering wheel highway cruising by using a camera to ensure that the driver is still paying attention to the road, and ready to take over beyond the slowing down, speeding up and gentle turns the Super Cruise system can handle on its own. It won’t offer the ability to change lanes with a turn signal tap as on Cadillac Super Cruise systems, but with LiDAR mapping on over 320,000 km of highways, the advanced adaptive cruise control system is available on top-line Bolt EUV Premier models.

Unfortunately, for folks who would like to use the Bolt for extensive road trips, GM didn’t upgrade the 55 kW maximum DC quick charging speed on either Bolt model, even Super Cruise-equipped ones. GM predicts a DC quick charging time of roughly 30 minutes to charge up to 160 km (Bolt) and 154 km (Bolt EUV), or roughly identical to the original Bolt that debuted for 2017. This unfortunately is now notably slower than DC quick charge times from upcoming SUV rivals like the Nissan Ariya and Volkswagen ID.4 (at 130 kW and 125 kW rates, respectively), but still roughly comparable with many current mainstream EV hatchbacks.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt

But GM did upgrade charging speeds available on more common Level 2 charging stations, by upgrading its charging capability from a maximum of 7kW to 11 kW. This decreases the time it takes to go from near empty to 100 percent charged to roughly seven hours, down from 10 hours from a similar 240-volt wall-mounted charge station previously.

For those who would rather forego the wall-mounted EVSE option altogether to save a bit of money, the Bolt will also now offer a Dual Level Charge Cord (standard on Bolt EUV) that provides various connector heads that can be plugged directly into a 240-volt (stove or dryer) plug, to offer charging at up to 7.2kW as before.

GM will not use its cutting edge Ultium platform or batteries on these revised Bolt models, and GM executives at a media briefing made it clear that there is no plan to move the Bolt onto the Ultium next-generation EV architecture (GM’s third, versus the Bolt and Bolt EUV that will remain on GM’s second-gen EV platform). As such, the revised Bolt will firmly be GM’s EV value offering, with an impressive amount of range from its slightly reduced 65 kWh battery, but not offering all-wheel drive, nor the latest charging technologies.

However, it will offer a much better interior than before, with upgraded materials at diverge from the hard plastics on all Bolt models up to now. Addressing other common concerns about the Bolt, the upcoming ’22 models will also all feature wider and more comfortable seats, plus the Bolt EUV will offer an embedded navi system, which means that drivers will still have GPS options if your phone has run out of battery or in another jacket.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt

A new push-button transmission is also part of the more upscale interior, as is a flat-bottom steering wheel more in line with the Bolt’s hot hatch acceleration. The regen-on-demand paddle is still there for additional regenerative braking that can slow the Bolt to a stop while adding electrons. A heated steering wheel and seats are standard, with ventilated front seats and heated rear seats now available along with the pano roof in the Bolt EUV Premier.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and AndroidAuto are also part of the new infotainment system, which will offer over-the-air updates, as well as Alexa functionality. The OTA capabilities will remain strictly with the infotainment system, said GM, so no powertrain or range boosts will be available in this way.

The executives also noted that the current Bolt batteries are not affected by recent 2017-2019 Bolt battery recalls given possible fires upon full charging, in which GM has recommended owners only charge to 90% until a final solution is found.

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In case you haven’t been keeping up, Mazda brought four-wheel locomotion to its popular compact car in 2019. The following year, turbo power was introduced to the nameplate. These two much-appreciated add-ons gave an already stellar compact car even more endearing quality.

But I’m not here to talk about the car. I’m sure this website has plenty of information about how the new Mazda3 Turbo drives and feels. What I want to talk about is how its all-wheel drive system operates during a stout Canadian winter. And, well, since the entire province of Quebec was being attacked by a thorough blizzard during the week I had this charming little sport compact, I had to brave the elements and give the system a good test.

AWD Crash Course

Before I go into the specifics of how the Mazda’s i-Active AWD works, allow me to first give you a crash course on the different types of systems currently on sale. The auto industry mainly utilizes reactive and predictive systems. These, by the way, do not include the four-wheel drive systems found in trucks and full-size SUVs. Those are in an entirely different category.

Due to packaging and efficiency reasons – especially in vehicles that utilize a transverse engine layout – reactive systems have gained a lot of traction (excuse the pun) in recent years. These systems, which have found their way in a wide variety of cars, crossovers and even minivans, automatically engage all-wheel drive when wheel slippage is detected. By default, the vehicle is front-wheel drive and activates the rear axle on demand through some sort of clutch system.

The biggest benefit of these systems is improved fuel economy. However, their reaction delays can prove problematic at times. While it’s true that modern sensors and computing power have significantly improved the reaction time of such systems, they still rely on their environment to react. In other words, the time it takes for the system to understand what it needs to do can split the difference between hitting that road barrier or drifting away from it.

Most modern compact crossovers, like the Honda CR-V or the Toyota RAV4, are fitted with this technology.

Predictive systems, on the other hand, are constantly engaged. In other words, they’re always prepared for wheel slippage. Also known as full-time systems, they continuously distribute power to all four wheels. This, of course, improves traction and the vehicle’s reaction times on slippery surfaces, but leads to more complication in packaging (for transverse engines). It also has a negative impact on fuel economy. Subaru prides itself of having a predictive system, but it’s also thanks to the longitudinally mounted Boxer engine that it can be done.

Now, what if you could develop a system that could blend both technologies in one? That’s precisely what Mazda tried to do in the Mazda3. And the results are rather convincing.

Mazda’s System Explained

I’m going to do my best to dumb all of this down, because it can quickly become confusing. Due to the Mazda3’s transverse engine layout and compact dimensions, it would have been inconceivable to fit the car with a predictive all-wheel drive system like Subaru.

On the other hand, Mazda also didn’t want to have to deal with a reactive system’s engagement delays. In other words, Mazda wanted the Mazda3 to handle like a Subaru, without losing out on fuel economy and efficiency.

To achieve this, the i-Activ system relies on sensors and computing power. By continuously monitoring wheel slippage, weight transfer, steering inputs and even outdoor temperatures, Mazda’s processors can – according to the carmaker – predict when torque needs to be distributed to the rear wheels. It goes even further than that. In some cases, the system will continuously send a small percentage of the available torque to the rear wheels as a preventive measure.

Mazda AWD

This is done once the computer has analyzed driving habits, outdoor conditions and a slew of telemetric parameters. In other words, very much like semi-autonomous Lidar sensors scan a vehicle’s environment, Mazda’s i-Activ system constantly compiles data in the background to predict what’s coming next. By having even only 10% of the available torque continuously distributed to the rear of the car, the system’s reaction times become far shorter than in a conventional reactive system. See it as a hybrid that combines the best of both worlds.

Does it work?

Obviously, driving through a winter blizzard always means being well prepared. Even if your car is fitted with a super sophisticated all-wheel drive system, a good set of winter tires, reduced speeds, a properly brushed off vehicle and a full tank of windshield fluid are a must.

But yes, the benefits of Mazda’s system can quickly be observed out there on the road. The immediate sensation behind the wheel is that understeer (when the car plows forward) is considerably reduced. It’s therefore much easier to rotate the car towards a given direction when sliding.

Mazda AWD

The moment you stab the throttle, the Mazda3 kicks out its stubby rear end, revealing a system that has already processed that torque must be sent to the back. The operation is seamless and, in many ways, manages to mimic Subaru’s system. There’s also a degree of balance and harmony in the way the Mazda3 carves its way through a snowy corner. This in turn increases driver confidence, hence improving overall safety.

That said, Subaru remains ahead of everyone due to the Boxer engine’s low center of gravity. I mean, you can’t beat physics.

But Mazda has the next best thing, all while retaining the Mazda3’s fun to drive character and class-leading fuel economy (I averaged 9.2L/100 km while I had it). Add to that punchy turbo power and build quality that would put expensive German sport sedans to shame, and it’s clear that this little Mazda has all the ingredients to have you reconsider Audi A3 ownership

The post How Mazda Turned A Reactive All-Wheel Drive System into An (Almost) Predictive One appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Despite its origins in this country as the purveyor of simple and affordable little Bugs and Buses, the VW brand hasn’t been featured very often in the Base Camp series. This is largely in part to their recent predilection for peddling Cherman Engineering and pricing their wares accordingly.

Volkswagen plays in the compact crossover market, of course, just like every other major manufacturer looking to make a buck in this popular segment. Called the Tiguan, this Teutonic tongue twister starts at a hair under $30,000. For that sum, one will find themselves in command of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 184 horsepower which is roughly average for this segment. It’s worth noting that no matter how much one spends on a Tiguan, power levels remain the same. Those ponies are funneled to the earth through an 8-speed automatic to the front wheels. Trendline is the only trim available in FWD, by the way; all-wheel drive is a $2,200 option.

Its typical crossover shape is jazzed up by standard LED illumination for the daytime running lights and rear taillamps. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels put to rest any fears of cheap looking steelies showing up on this base model, though blacked-out window surrounds are a dead giveaway that this is the cheapest Tiguan. However, colour-keyed exterior side mirrors are heated as are the washer nozzles – a thoughtful addition for cold Canadian winters. Continuing an irritating theme, only four shades of grey are available as paint choices

Front seats are heated and the single-zone climate control is equipped with air conditioning as you’d expect in this price bracket. Trendline is the only Tiguan trim not to have some sort of leather or leatherette covering on its steering wheel, a surface you’ll palm every time you drive the thing. Third-row seating is offered for $750 but only sadists and the delusional would dream of poking human beings in the way back of a Tiguan. If you want more chairs in your VW crossover, best step up to a larger vehicle.

Review 2021 VW Tiguan Trendline

Also, it’s the only trim in the lineup to be saddled with the brand’s sad-sack 6.5-inch infotainment system that’s absent satellite radio capability. It does play well with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however, so that’s a plus.

What We’d Choose

Customers would do well to closely examine the next-level-up Comfortline trim before signing off on a base Trendline. Keyless access is added, plus a power tailgate and prep for a remote starter. Front seats gain power adjustments and the climate control morphs into a dual-zone unit while the infotainment system grows in size while adding satellite radio and other functionalities. Additional leatherette touch points don’t hurt, either.

The kicker is that Comfortline is only available in all-wheel drive, jacking the price to $35,145. This is a long walk from an entry-level Trendline but only $3,150 more dear than an all-wheel drive Trendline. If power going to all four wheels is important to you, this is one case in which we recommend a trim that doesn’t reside at Base Camp.

Find rest of the Base Camp series here

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Besides being Snoop Dogg’s one-time golfing buddy, the late Lee Iacocca was also known as the father of the Mustang, Ford’s popular sports coupe that arrived just as the first Baby Boomers were graduating from driving school.

Henry Ford II was looking for a winner after the Edsel debacle and dispatched Iacocca to Europe in 1960 to check out the Taunus, Ford of Germany’s first front-wheel-drive car that was being considered for the U.S. market. Iacocca was underwhelmed, finding the car small and homely.

Back in Detroit, he proposed creating a sporty coupe out of the compact Ford Falcon. By adapting its chassis and drivetrain, Ford could turn out a fresh model for a mere $75 million (1964 dollars) rather than $400 million required to engineer an all-new automobile. But not everyone was on board.

In his autobiography Iacocca recalled a Ford product planner who had griped that making a sports car out of a Falcon “was like putting falsies on grandma.” After banishing that image, stylists managed to pen a winning design. When the Mustang debuted in April 1964, four million people visited Ford dealerships (not websites) that first weekend.

The Sixth-Gen Mustang

Remarkably, the all-new-for-2015 Mustang is only the car’s sixth generation in 50 years. The previous model employed Ford’s Thunderbird chassis for a decade, and the one before that used the Fox platform (remember the Fairmont?) for 25 years. This time the Mustang got a new platform that was 90 kg lighter to bring it closer to fighting trim.

The introduction of an integral-link independent rear suspension, a feature only found previously in the rare 1999-2004 SVT Cobra model, improves the handling and ride comfort of every sixth-gen Mustang. The front end uses a double-pivot MacPherson strut suspension, similar to that used by many BMWs. The wheelbase and overall length are much like the old car, but the new one sits 4 centimetres lower and has an 8-cm-wider rear track. It remains steadfastly rear-wheel drive only.

The cabin feels more spacious thanks to a slimmer centre console and less imposing dual-cowl dashboard. It pays homage to the past while accommodating all the latest tech gear. The Sync voice activation system simplifies operation of the audio, phone and navigation systems, but the optional MyFord Touch interface is trickier. Users find operating the system’s touchscreen can be distracting.

Outward visibility is better than in a Chevy Camaro or Dodge Challenger, although the thick C-pillars still block everything over the driver’s shoulders. The quality of the interior materials has generally improved, though not everyone is enamoured with the optional Recaro seats, which can feel overly bolstered and constrictive for some body types. The steering wheel finally has a telescoping function in addition to tilt adjustment.

The Mustang retained its coupe and convertible body styles, both considered four-seaters, but the cramped back seats remain a kids zone exclusively. The coupe’s trunk provides 13.5 cubic feet of cargo space, while the convertible offers 11.4 cubes. Standard split-folding rear seats in the coupe extend the cargo capacity.

Ford should be lauded for giving sports-car enthusiasts the choice of a four-, six- or eight-cylinder engine. Buyers could select the aluminum 3.7-litre V6 with 300 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque in the base Mustang, the EcoBoost is a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine packing 310 hp and 320 lb-ft, while the GT boasts a 5.0-litre V8 with 435 hp and 400 lb-ft. Any engine could be paired with either a Getrag six-speed manual gearbox or six-speed automatic.

Subsequent model years provided a steady stream of improvements and updated equipment. For 2016, the much-maligned MyFord Touch infotainment system was replaced by the Sync 3 touchscreen with its simplified interface and iPhone-like pinch-and-swipe finger commands.

The Mustang earned a significant refresh for 2018, which included styling tweaks, a retuned suspension with newly available adaptive suspension dampers for improved ride quality, and a new 10-speed automatic transmission that provides quicker shifts and refined operation. An optional fully digital LCD instrument cluster allows the driver to customize the display information.

More changes are found under hood. The aging V6 engine was retired, while the EcoBoost four-cylinder gained 30 lb-ft of torque for a total of 350 lb-ft. The GT’s 5.0-L “Coyote” V8 gained direct and port injection, along with other mechanical changes, to raise the output to 460 hp and 420 lb-ft of grunt.

The commemorative 2019 Bullitt model finished in Highland Green was largely a cosmetic exercise, although the Bullitt’s V8 saw a 20-hp bump to 480 hp – thanks to a modified intake manifold – while torque remained pegged at 420 lb-ft.

 

Driving The Legend

With three distinct engines, the Mustang’s flavours range from mild to wild. The V6-powered base model – surprisingly, the lightest of the bunch – gets to 97 km/h in a speedy 5.5 seconds, which is barely slower than the EcoBoost model, albeit without the stickier tires and sport suspension bits.

The 2.3-litre EcoBoost delivers on its performance promise with a 5.2-second run to highway velocity. If there’s a down side to the four banger, it’s that it delivers a wholly unsatisfactory exhaust note that’s sure to disappoint enthusiasts. The 2018 and newer EcoBoost with more torque, shorter gearing and the new 10-speed autobox shrinks the acceleration time to 5.0.

The V8-powered GT attains an acceleration time of 4.5 seconds in standard trim with the six-speed manual gearbox. The 2018 and newer GTs equipped with the 10-speed can rocket to 97 km/h in a blistering 3.8 seconds, while the manual requires 4.3 seconds – a vivid demonstration of why the stickshift is disappearing.

Beyond the horsepower, owners agree America’s original pony car is a quiet and comfortable GT tourer that no longer beats up its occupants. The fully-independent rear suspension has transformed the Mustang by giving it a world-class ride that rivals that of the European brands. The handling is immensely sticky, supple and confident. Mustang owners finally have a refined sports car they don’t have to apologize for.

“If you don’t see yourself as a Mustang type, go test drive a new BMW 5-Series and then try the Mustang – it’s cheaper, better looking, better to drive and generally mullet-free,” noted one owner online.

Buying Used Ford Mustang

Owners Talk Reliability

Sixth-generation Mustang owners rave about the performance levels of their cars, the unexpected refinement and comfort found in the retro-styled cabin, and the car’s practical tech features. Demerits include the tiny back seats, the long, unwieldy doors and stiff ride furnished by the optional performance suspension.

Reliability-wise, the Mustang is reasonably well put-together at its assembly plant outside of Detroit, but there are some reoccurring themes in the complaints found online. Principally among them are concerns about driveline vibration when being driven at speeds between 70 and 100 km/h, as well as an associated rumble or boom.

“It’s so bad my right foot and hands go numb,” posted the owner of a 2015 model. “The dealer has been trying to fix it for 10 days. Balanced wheels, swapped wheels from a similar vehicle, tried a driveshaft from another vehicle, changed differential – which made it better, but tech said it’s still not right.”

Ford issued a technical service bulletin (SSM 45938) for 2015-2017 Mustangs, which outlined service steps for technicians: inspect the driveshaft for damage, undercoating, incorrectly seated universal joints; rotate the driveshaft by hand to feel for any binding or end play in the universal joints; correct any tire balance problems; and balance the driveshaft. Prior to the service bulletin, dealers typically replaced the driveshaft.

Another common concern is reports of doors opening randomly while the car is underway. Ford instituted a recall campaign of selected 2011-2015 Ford and Lincoln vehicles to address faulty door latches. Safety recalls 15S16 and 16S30 were issued to replace door latches with latch pawl spring tabs that are susceptible to cracking due to high ambient temperatures and solar heating.

Early builds of the 2015 Mustang exhibited paint defects on the aluminum hood, allegedly attributed to poor metal preparation. Another issue seen in early cars is a brake light switch plunger that can break off the brake pedal, causing the brake lights to constantly illuminate and potentially cause driveability issues.

Other mechanical issues used buyers should be aware of include premature air conditioner failures, broken power windows, malfunctioning radios and back-up cameras, oil leaks and random stalling exhibited by the four-cylinder EcoBoost engine.

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Toyota Canada and Lyft Canada have announced a unique partnership that will see users of Lyft in Metro Vancouver get access to Toyota Mirai sedan, on of the first mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicles, through Toyota’s KINTO Share program.

This unique partnership will form part of the province of British Columbia’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and to raise the profile of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology.

“Lyft’s mission is to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation, and to achieve this, we need to make transportation more sustainable,” said Peter Lukomskyj, general manager, Lyft in B.C. in a press release on the announcement. “This partnership will better serve current drivers and those who don’t have a vehicle but want to drive with Lyft for supplemental income, while moving us toward our goal of reaching 100 per cent electric vehicles on the platform by 2030.”

“Toyota’s KINTO Share program is proud to partner with Lyft to demonstrate a zero-emission mobility-as-a-service model in another important step toward achieving our global sustainability objectives,” added Mitchell Foreman, director of advanced and connected technologies at Toyota Canada.

Those wishing to drive one of the Toyota Mirai’s can use the KINTO Share Canada app and pick up the vehicle from one of three Toyota dealerships in the Lower Mainland. The weekly rental rate is $198 per week + taxes and fees, and includes insurance and scheduled maintenance.

Canada’s federal government in its Hydrogen Strategy for Canada has set an ambitious goal to make Canada a global hydrogen leader. British Columbia promoted hydrogen in the 2018 CleanBC plan and the 2019 Hydrogen Study, with an emphasis on transportation fuels including fuel-cell electric and other zero-emissions vehicles.

“Reducing emissions from transportation is a critical part of our plan to create a cleaner, healthier future for our children and grandchildren,” said The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, P.C. M.P. “The Government of Canada is pleased to see collaborations like this one between Lyft Canada and Toyota Canada, which will not only benefit our environment, but also help position Canada as a world leader in the uptake of hydrogen technologies.”

Toyota and Lyft

 

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