MARCH 7, 2018
Monday, March 5, 2018 at 09:11AM
arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gif  FCA. Automotive News is reporting that FCA turned down $22 billion from Geely's founder and chairman Li Shufu, according to its sources. One scenario had FCA warming up to the $22 billion offer, but then FCA refused to part with Alfa Romeo and Maserati for that number, so Li Shufu pulled the plug on his interest. This will prove to be a big mistake on FCA's part. 

(VW images)
VW is really geeked about its new I.D. VIZZION concept, apparently. Based on the MEB platform, the I.D. VIZZION concept "showcases sedan design of the future," according to VW PR minions. The new concept has an electric all-wheel-drive system delivering 302 horsepower and an anticipated range of up to 413 miles on the European cycle (a giant we'll see). The I.D. VIZZION uses biometrics to open doors and adjust settings for known occupants, it features Level 5 autonomy, operating solely with voice and gesture control, and it is capable of "learning" via artificial intelligence. The design seems interesting, but everything else about the vehicle leaves us cold and uninterested. That's not all, of course, it never is with VW's concepts of late. The I.D. VIZZION is what VW sees as possible by 2030, when a "digital chauffeur" can assume control of the vehicle without a steering wheel or visible controls. The concept drives, steers and navigates autonomously in traffic, enabling passengers to sit back and enjoy the ride. A virtual "host" would know the personal preferences of the vehicle guests and it will adapt to each of them individually. Interaction with the I.D. VIZZION is possible via augmented reality and newly designed mixed reality eye wear—the HOLOLENS - developed by Microsoft®. We can hardly not wait.
(Porsche images) 
Porsche has unveiled the Mission E Cross Turismo at the Geneva Motor Show. Porsche PR minions say that it is "a concept study of an all-wheel-drive electrically-powered 'Cross-Utility Vehicle,' whatever that is. We stopped reading the press release when it actually said, "Designed for individuals with an active lifestyle... " Ugh. The concept vehicle, which is 194.8 inches long, uses 800-volt fast-charging and can also be charged via induction or a charging dock, and integrates seamlessly with a Porsche home energy management system. Two synchronous electric motors with a system output of over 600 hp (440 kW) accelerate the Mission E Cross Turismo to 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds and to 124 mph in under twelve seconds. Porsche says that this performance "is in addition to a continuous power level that allows for multiple launches in succession without losing performance, which is unprecedented among electric vehicles." The road-ready Mission E Cross Turismo is a continuation of the Mission E concept that Porsche presented in Frankfurt in 2015. The production car will make its debut in 2019.
Lexus has introduced the 2019 Lexus UX in Geneva, its first-ever compact luxury crossover. The UX is the first Lexus to use the brand’s GA-C (Global Architecture – Compact) platform. The super-rigid structure and low center of gravity help the UX "deliver exemplary handling agility and ride comfort, along with a distinctive driving personality," according to Toyota. The 2019 Lexus UX will be available in two versions: the UX 200 powered by a new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine coupled with a new Direct-Shift continuously variable transmission (CVT), while the UX 250h pairs the same 2.0-liter gas engine with a new, fourth-generation hybrid drive system.
The new Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe has made its debut in Geneva. Mercedes-AMG PR says that, "The systematic expansion of the AMG GT family with the 4-Door Coupe opens up the sports car segment to those looking for a vehicle for day-to-day use, but who are unwilling to go without the unparalleled performance of Mercedes-AMG." Was this car absolutely necessary? No, but as is their wont, the Niche-Meisters at Mercedes just can't help themselves.
BMW PR minions are saying that the BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe "illustrates the meaning behind the letter 'M' at BMW in impressive style: it stands for 'more, more of everything." And, “The BMW 8 Series will take over as the new flagship model of the BMW line-up and, as such, combines unsurpassed sportiness and elegance,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “The BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe offers a look ahead to the most exotic and alluring variant of the new BMW 8 Series.” To us, it looks like more of the same ol' same ol' from BMW. They're talking to themselves here, which is tedious. 
Audi showed its e-tron prototype in Geneva camouflaged with a specially developed design film that showcases the high-voltage drive system. The production version of the Audi e-tron prototype can fill up on electricity at fast-charging stations with up to 150 kW charging capacity in just under 30 minutes. Audi is testing hundreds of development e-tron vehicles under extreme conditions worldwide. The Audi e-tron SUV will hit the European market at the end of this year. The U.S. debut has yet to be announced.
(Aston Martin images)
Aston Martin has revealed its Lagonda Vision Concept in Geneva, a near-future study that previews the design language that could potentially be seen in production Lagonda models. Aston suggests that Lagonda will be the first luxury brand exclusively driven by zero emission powertrain technologies, marking the beginning of a new range of state of the art, emission-free luxury vehicles. Production is planned to start in 2021. "We believe people associate luxury in their cars with a certain traditional and even old-fashioned approach because, to date, that is all that’s been available to them," commented Aston Martin President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andy Palmer. "Lagonda exists to challenge that thinking and prove that being modern and luxurious are not mutually exclusive concepts." 
Automobili Lamborghini unveiled the Lamborghini Huracán Performante Spyder in Geneva, with PR minions working overtime saying it was, "the sublime combination of peerless technological innovation, performance and open-air driving." Powered by a 5.2-liter, naturally-aspirated V10 with 640HP (470 kW) at 8,000 rpm, producing 600 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm - and with permanent all-wheel drive - the Performante Spyder accelerates from 0-62 mph in 3.1 seconds, 0-124 mph in 9.3 seconds and with a top speed of 325 km/h, matching the Coupé's performance numbers. 70% of torque is already available at 1,000 rpm. With a total dry weight of just 1,507 kg, the Spyder returns a weight-to-power ratio of 2.35 kg/hp, with weight distribution front/rear of 43/57%. “The Huracán Performante Spyder takes the zenith of Huracán developments, combined with the enhanced emotion of driving a convertible,” says Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automobili Lamborghini. “The Huracán Performante already provides the most heightened feedback and emotion from road and track, and the Huracán Performante Spyder puts the driver even closer to asphalt and air, as well as the unique resonance of a naturally-aspirated Lamborghini engine.” With a total dry weight of just 1,507 kg, the Spyder returns a weight-to-power ratio of 2.35 kg/hp, with weight distribution front/rear of 43/57%.

Mythos Black Mamba.

Full disclosure? Having interesting/fast/desirable cars dropped off for us to review is a privilege. Although you'd never know this based on the attitude that (some) members of the media display, which suggests that they're entitled to these cars and view the manufacturers and the people who deliver them as somehow being subservient to them. We don't see it that way and besides, we don't have that problem since we don't get many press cars to drive (Gee, I wonder why? -WG). Think about this: a press car is delivered in immaculate condition and full of gas. You aren't making a payment on it and you're not having to deal with insurance, licensing fees, etc. etc. So keeping things in perspective while writing impressions about a car can be difficult for some. I really don't have that problem, however. I've been in and around this business long enough to keep things in perspective, and I've had the opportunity to drive enough cars (and trucks) to be able to bring my opinions forward without all of the attendant noise getting in the way. 
Case in point? The 2018 Audi TT RS Coupe. On paper it is everything and more. 400HP, 354-lb-ft of torque, 7-speed high-performance S tronic gearbox, quattro all-wheel-drive, 3300 lbs. and a look that moves decidedly closer to the Audi R8 supercar. The good stuff? The TT RS definitely looks the part. Our Mythos Black Metallic tester bristled with aggressive bodywork made even more so with the optional Black Optic Package (details below -WG) and its beautiful 20" forged alloy wheels. And some of the front-end detailing is very much R8 with a little hint of the Lamborghini Hurracan. The new TT design may not have the design purity of the first-generation car, but it's still executed crisply and it still has notable presence on the road. And the interior is, well, what can I say? It is simply exceptional. The intelligent layout, the tasteful materials, the overall stylistic touches - the RS Design Package even has Crescendo Red-accented seat belts, which is a very nice and unexpected touch - the TT RS is simply gorgeous. 
So the TT RS definitely looks the part, but how is it to drive? Some reviewers have suggested that the TT RS needs to be looked at as some sort of "junior R8." I can assure you that it most definitely isn't, however. I look at the TT - any TT - as a testament to the VW Group's talent at using its vehicle architectures to maximum effect. Remember that the same vehicle architecture that underpins the myriad Golf models is also utilized for the TT. So, I look at the TT as a VW Golf GTI in sports car bodywork with all-wheel-drive. And the TT S is most akin to the VW R, while the TT RS feels like a R pumped up to maximum horsepower and performance in sexy clothes. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. The TT RS is slick, quick and satisfying. It does all of the sports car-type things very well, it looks the part and feels the part up to a point, but make no mistake you - can feel the weight of its all-wheel-drive and it isn't anywhere near as satisfying to drive as a Porsche 718 S Coupe. But then again how can it be? The 718 Coupe is a purely-rendered rear-wheel-drive sports car and no matter how you cut it, the TT RS isn't in the same league.
There is one place where the Audi is in range of the Porsche 718 S Coupe, however, and that is the price. With a base of $64,900 and a optioned-up price of $80,200, the TT RS is expensive. While perusing the Porsche 718 S Coupe pricing, I found that its base price is $67,700, and I quickly built a minimally equipped S (with PDK gearbox) that came to a sticker of $79,400. Which one would you buy for the money? I know what I would do. Listen, the TT RS is a really desirable car, up to a point. But $80 grand? No. I would consider the Audi TT S, which starts out at $52,950 with 292HP and enjoy it for what it is, a nicely designed sports car that you can live with every day. But once you get into 80 grand territory, there are too many other automotive options to consider.

2018 Audi TT RS Coupe quattro S tronic: 
$80,200 ($64,900 Base Price; Mythos Black Metallic, $575; Black interior with Crescendo Red stitching; 2.5-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged I5 with 400HP and 354 -lb-ft of torque; 7-speed S tronic transmission with quattro all-wheel-drive; 19" 5-arm design galvano silver wheels with 245/35 summer performance tires; Audi magnetic ride, RS tuned; Matte Alu-optic exterior kit with quattro script and fixed rear wing spoiler; LED daytime running lights; LED taillights with dynamic turn signals; Leather/Alcantara sport steering wheel with RS badge, two satellite buttons and shift paddles; Audi virtual cockpit; Heated Fine Nappa leather front S sport seats with diamond sticthing; LED interior lightingSiriusXM All Access service with three-month trial subscription; Parking system ; Dynamic Plus Package - Carbon fiber engine cover, Direct TPMS, Front ceramic brakes, OLED taillights, RS fixed sport suspension (deletes Audi magnetic ride), 174 mph top speed limiter - $6,000; Technology Package - Audi MMI Navigation Plus, Audi connect with online services (six-month subscription), Audi smartphone interface, Audi side assist, Bang & Olufsen Sound System - $3500; Black Optic Package - 20" 7-spoke design high-gloss anthracite forged wheels, 255/30 summer performance tires, Black optic exterior kit with quattro script, High-gloss black exterior mirror housings - $1750; RS sport exhaust system with black tips, $1,000; RS Design Package - Leather covered center console and door armrests Red accents on air vents and front safety belts, RS embroidered floor mats, $900; Carbon fiber inlays, $600; Front filler panel, included; Destination charge, $975). 

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