No. 942
April 18, 2018
 

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of Ujian-nasional.info.

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On The Surface


Monday
Apr022018

APRIL 4, 2018

Rumblings from New York.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo


Manhattan. The New York International Auto Show was its usual kaleidoscope of the interesting, the absurd, and the downright confounding. Throw in the horrendous traffic that seemed to paralyze this city at will during the press days, and well, as Stevie Wonder famously said, "New York, just like I pictured it." The New York show itself put paid to the fleeting notion that the Detroit Auto Show is still a major auto show, because there were more new product unveilings in New York than in the last three years put together in Detroit. As I mentioned in this week's column, "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" on what's left of the Detroit Auto Show.

As for the product reveals in New York, VW clearly made the biggest splash with its Atlas Tanoak pickup truck concept. Not totally unexpected - at least if you had your ear to the ground - the Tanoak is a concept in name only. The Tanoak is a concept for a dual-cab, short-bed pickup truck based on an extended wheelbase Atlas. The Tanoak is 214.1 inches long and has nearly 10 inches of ground clearance. The interior is has the latest digitalized instrumentation and controls, with sport seating. VW is also touting the innovative movable cargo rail over the bed. Let me reiterate, the Tanoak is a concept in name only; I expect VW to have a production version to market in late 2019. 

(VW)
The Atlas Tanoak.

The boys and girls at Cadillac can rest easy, because they no longer own "the biggest non-starter" crown at the New York show. The XT4's short reign was blown to smithereens by the flat-out abysmal Lexus UX compact luxury crossover. As much as the "spindle" grille design signature works on the LC500 (in fact, that's the only Lexus it works on), the UX is a frightening horror show of a vehicle, a true monument to design stupidity with not one redeeming angle on it, even if you squint. I just cannot stress enough how appalling this vehicle is in person. 

(Lexus)
The Lexus UX.

Other stuff? In an ominous development, we're witnessing "peak" Porsche at this very moment, folks. The German manufacturer had on display a yellow 911 T, a lime green 911 GT3 RS, a silver Cayenne and two white Panamera Hybrids (one of them a Sport Turismo). The most alluring Porsche on display? A beautifully restored white 356 Cabriolet from Porsche Classic. What does that tell you? My feeling is that the endless variations of the 911 is a product strategy that has been played out. The modern Porsche models on display felt coldly calculated and oddly uninvolving. The GT3 RS seemed like it had been done 1000 times before (because well, it has), and the 911 T is yet another blatant money grab adhering to the traditional Porsche marketing formula, which goes like this: Decontenting + Limited Production = Piles of Ca$h. And the Panamera models were antiseptic and off-putting. Memo to the brainiacs at Porsche: you have reached a critical juncture in your history, and I'm not even sure the much-touted "Mission E" machine will be enough to save you. Ask yourselves the following: What is Porsche? Why does Porsche exist? And why should we - as enthusiasts - care? And remember, just having hybrids and BEVs does not mean the brand will survive.

There were plenty of other vehicles unveiled, but not many were memorable, let alone worth mentioning. The Camaro SS Hot Wheels Edition in orange metallic looked shockingly good, while the orange metallic Corvette ZR1 convertible didn't. Maybe it was the black high wing on the ZR1, which made it look like a refugee from The Fast and The Furious, but at any rate it didn't look right. At all. There was a new Subaru Forester, which looked perfectly in keeping with the Subaru brand. The Hyundai Kona electric was, I don't know, what's the word I'm looking for, forgettable? A new Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Tuscon (uh, present and accounted for best describes these appliances). A new Acura MDX and, well, at this point I turned off my SUV/Crossover sensors and walked away. 

Oh, and the Lincoln Aviator looked very promising, and the way Lincoln operatives talked about it was interesting, to say the least. They seem to be aiming for a detached, silky-smooth, church-quiet, "glide" driving experience, a detached serenity as it were. Well, at least it's an ethos. And don't think it's a "junior" Navigator, either. In comparison, the Aviator has more of a refined presence to it and real style. It's going to be a real hit in the market.

Best in Show? Nothing comes to mind. Well, actually there was one car that stood out: A lime green 1967 Lamborghini Miura in the classic cars display. Stunning perfection still, 51 years later.

(Genesis images)
Genesis unveiled its Essentia Concept in New York. The all-electric, high-performance concept "elevates and reimagines the 'Athletic Elegance' design paradigm, while providing a vision of future Genesis product performance and technology," according to Genesis PR minions. “We understand our obligation as a luxury car manufacturer to create objects of desire, sparking passion and inspiration by emphasizing a culture while exceeding expectations in terms of technology and connectivity, bringing our outside world seamlessly to the inside of the vehicle,” said Manfred Fitzgerald, Global Head of the Genesis Brand. “This is what the Genesis Essentia Concept is all about, and we are thrilled to introduce our interpretation of an all-electric, two-door Gran Turismo here in New York.” (Wow, there's a mouthful.) Essentia is the brand’s first BEV and features a lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque, a multi-motor electric powertrain and a custom-tailored interior. “The Genesis Essentia concept defines our vision for an electric Gran Turismo that integrates Athletic Elegance and Genesis DNA as defining parameters,” said Executive Vice President Luc Donckerwolke, Head of Genesis Design. “A Gran Turismo typology highlights our ambition as a luxurious car brand for the connoisseurs and it is the perfect base to project our DNA in the future.” Editor-in-Chief's Note: I'm sure this elegantly-rendered piece of vaporware was fun to do, but I am also quite sure that it didn't assuage Genesis dealers one bit, the ones who are wallowing in the brand's disarray and wondering if it can be pulled out of its downward spiral. -PMD


(Cadillac)
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Cadillac unveiled its "first-ever" XT4 in Manhattan Tuesday night at its "bunker," aka Cadillac House. Why the Cadillac PR minions chose to use the hoary "first-ever" moniker defies explanation, as it is hands-down the most tedious and unoriginal buzz phrase in current PR speak (nicely done by the way, you unmitigated hacks). But then again, Cadillac operatives should add "hopelessly late" to their lexicon, too, because the compact XT4 SUV is so late to the market that it's remarkable that anyone will even care by the time it hits showrooms. This is what Chief Cadillac Guru - President Johan de Nysschen - had to say: 
“The first-ever 2019 Cadillac XT4 expands our successful SUV lineup to a segment where Cadillac has never been before. And it sets off a dramatic expansion and elevation of the product range, that will see a new Cadillac virtually once every six months through 2021.” And Cadillac PR minions added this: "Simple and sculpted lines draw the customer in and accentuate the XT4’s powerful proportions and aggressive presence. The interior is the Cadillac design aesthetic distilled: the thoughtful and artistic integration of technology and appealing style. The cabin is exceptionally refined, with expected segment-leading rear-seat spaciousness." The sawed-off XT4 will be priced starting at $35,790. Wow. Really? This is what I say: The "first-ever" Cadillac XT4 is automotive cynicism personified, an homage to the expected and uninspired, and living, breathing proof that Cadillac is so lacking in originality at this juncture that it can only be described as being excruciatingly painful. Other than that, congratulations ladies and gentlemen, it's the biggest non-starter at the New York International Auto Show. -PMD
(Lotus images)
When a manufacturer really has nothing else to keep things going in-between new model launches, creating "special editions" is a time-honored tradition. Lotus is no different. Calling it "Without equal and a class apart," Lotus has unveiled the new Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25, suggesting it "is a collector’s piece like no other and a fitting tribute to one of the most successful and influential Formula 1 cars of all time." Wow. That's a lot. Based on the Exige Cup 430 introduced late last year, the two-seat Type 25 refers to the Lotus Type 25, the single seat racing car that dominated the 1963 Grand Prix season. Driven by some of the greatest names in racing, including Jim Clark, Mike Hailwood, Chris Amon, and Richard Attwood, the Lotus Type 25 was in competition from 1962 to 1967, changing the look and feel of racing cars forever. It was the first Formula 1 car to use a revolutionary fully stressed ‘monocoque’ chassis design, and Lotus founder Colin Chapman used it as a springboard to create other machines like the Lotus Type 33 and Type 49. Jim Clark won three F1 races in its first year, just missing delivering the Constructors’ Championship in the final race of the 1962 Grand Prix season. For the 1963 season Jim Clark and the Lotus Type 25 reigned supreme, winning seven of the ten championship races, with seven pole positions and six fastest laps, and recording the first Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships for the Lotus team. Powered by Lotus a 3.5-litre supercharged and charge cooled V6, producing 430HP and 440 Nm, the Lotus Exige Cup 430 Type 25 goes from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, and its carefully optimized aerodynamics package generates up to 220 kg of downforce. Just 25 editions will be produced - available in metallic Lotus Racing Green or Old English White - each accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity signed by Jean-Marc Gales, CEO, Group Lotus, and wearing a matching plaque detailing its number in the limited production run. Owners have the option of collecting their Exige Cup 430 Type 25 from the famous Hethel factory as well as guided tours of Lotus’ modern vehicle production facility and of the Classic Team Lotus facility. A signed hardback copy of the acclaimed book: Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion by Eric Dymock signed by Clive Chapman, and Bob Dance, a principal mechanic for Jim Clark during his Formula 1 race career, accompanies every car.
 
Blue Star.

It's no secret that when BMW embarked on its journey to become all things to all people, it decidedly lost its way as a car company. As a result, the company was reduced to building pseudo BMWs, vehicles that wore the BMW emblem but didn't really do anything different from countless other cars. So enthusiasts were left to pick and choose between the "good" BMWs and the "bad" ones. I'm happy to report that the 2018 BMW 440i Coupe that we drove this week is clearly one of the "good" BMWs. Not aimed at pleasing the crossover or SUV types, the 440i is refreshingly old school with its wonderful six-cylinder engine providing the kind of thrust and smoothness that BMW enthusiasts came to crave over the years. It's easy to see why this BMW can be considered a throwback to the goodness of BMWs of the past. It's an unapologetic driver's machine that doesn't try to please everyone, which is ultimately refreshing. Like "good" BMWs of the past, the 440i just feels right with the steering, braking, power, handling - and cockpit design - seamlessly working together to bring an enthusiast a satisfying feel of the road and a driving pleasure that's worth experiencing every day. And in this day and age, that's really saying something. Is it worth the money? That's something you'd have to ask yourself. There are other competitive choices from Mercedes and Audi to be sure. And I would take a long, hard look at the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe as well. But no one will question why you chose the 440i, because it's everything that BMW used to be about, which is a very good thing. -PMD
2018 BMW 440i Coupe: $56,245 ($48,700 Base Price; Estoril Blue Metallic, $550; Dakota Black Leather with Blue stitching, $1450; 3.0-liter, 24-valve, BMW TwinPower Turbo inline six-cylinder engine with variable valve control (Double-VANOS and Valvetronic) and high-precision direct injection; [email protected] rpm and 332 lbs-ft of torque; 8-speed Sport Automatic transmission with automatic Sport and Manual shift modes and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters; Driving Dynamics Control with ECO PRO, COMFORT, SPORT and SPORT+ settings; High-performance, lightweight 4-wheel, ventilated, anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with Dynamic Brake Control and Cornering Brake control; Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) including Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off Assistant, Brake Drying, Brake Stand-by features with Dynamic Traction Control (DTC); LED headlights and LED fog lights; Power-folding heated side mirrors; 14-way power front sport seats with 4-way lumbar support and driver's seat memory; Three-spoke, Nappa leather-wrapped, multi-function sport steering wheel; Rain-sensing windshield wipers with adjustable speed and automatic headlight control; Comfort Access keyless entry; 2-way power glass sunroof; Harman Kardon Surround Sound Audio System with HD radio; SiriusXM Satellite Radio with 1-year all access subscription; USB audio connection and hands-free bluetooth; iDrive system with on-board computer; 6.5" center screen, controller with eight programmable memory buttons; Rear-view camera; Essentials Package - Park Distance Control; Premium Package - Heated front seats, Navigation system, Advanced RT TI, Remote services - $2,000; M Sport Package - 18" M Star-Spoke 400M MP Tire, Sport seats, Aluminum Dark Carbon Trim, M sport suspension, M steering wheel, Aerodynamic kit, Shadowline exterior trim, Anthracite headliner - $2550; Destination charge, $995)

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