Have you checked out Kia’s latest SUV lineup lately? It’s gone from all curves to sharp angles and complex creases, not unlike its sister-brand Hyundai’s updated crossover lineup.
The hierarchy of Kia SUV models now includes the entry-level Seltos, the always future-think Soul (which includes an EV option), the second-rung Niro (which provides plug-in hybrid and EV variants), the compact Sportage, the mid-size three-row Sorento, and finally the larger and longer mid-size three-row Telluride, with only the Niro and Sportage needing updates to the brand’s edgier new design language.
Heck, even the new Carnival minivan (which replaced the Sedona) looks like a chunky SUV now, while the always sharp looking Stinger was also updated for 2022, whereas the mid-size K5 (nee Optima) sedan received its redesign for 2021, as did the subcompact Rio (although not as thoroughly) that’s now only available as a hatch (you might find a heavily discounted 2020 Rio sedan if you look far and wide enough). The compact Forte sedan and hatchback, on the other hand, are expected to be refreshed for 2022, soon putting the entire South Korean brand at the leading edge of modern-day styling.
While all of the new Kia SUV designs are advanced looking, the new Sportage might just be the most futuristic of all. Such was the case for the outgoing Sportage when its third-generation debuted back in 2010 and fourth-gen model arrived in 2016, the latter looking a bit like a scaled down Porsche Cayenne. This made sense considering all the German designers filling up the brand’s studios, as does the new 2023 version’s similarities to Audi’s Q8 and Lamborghini’s Urus.
This means the new fifth-gen Sportage should catch the gaze of passersby, although some of these will merely be trying to figure out where the headlamps are. In fact, these are integrated into two boomerang-shaped LED clusters beside the wide glossy black front grille, which itself is situated under a couple of narrow, horizontal nostril-like vents. While a somewhat radical redesign, it should still be pleasing to most compact SUV buyers that tend to want sporty yet practical alternatives to their less-appealing cars.
From the side view, the new Sportage provides more aggressive sculpting on the door panels than most rivals, plus a narrow greenhouse on top, for increased visual length, while some stylish detailing on the lower rockers gives it that critically important SUV look.
The new Sportage appears more conventional from its hind end, thanks to body-wide taillights that add to its wide-looking stance, plus a thin mid-section that almost makes it seem as if it was stretched into place. All of these delicate details support a substantive rear bumper that’s visual extended from the just-mentioned black rocker panels, continuing upward to enclose about two-thirds the CUV’s backside, before being capped off by some angular metal-like trim mirroring a similar treatment on the side rockers and lower front fascia, the latter items surrounding two LED fog lights. The entire package rolls on some similarly edgy alloy wheels that look quite large in the as-shown trim, and featuring machine-finishing with glossy-black pockets.
“Reinventing the Sportage gave our talented design teams a tremendous opportunity to do something new; to take inspiration from the recent brand relaunch and introduction of EV6 to inspire customers through modern and innovative SUV design,” commented Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Design Center, in a press release. “With the all-new Sportage, we didn’t simply want to take one step forward but instead move on to a different level in the SUV class.”
Kia calls its new design language “Opposites United”, a theme that continues inside the cabin where uniquely shaped HVAC vents and horizontally-organized instrument panel trim joins up to form parentheses-like structures that incorporate a very large dual-display primary gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen within.
The large single-screen setup pulls forward a driver display/infotainment design used recently by both Kia and its parental Hyundai brand, which must be said is similar to Mercedes’ MBUX dash design. Ironically (this being a Kia), it incorporates some camera technologies that are much more advanced than anything on offer from the German luxury brand, particularly its rear-facing camera system that automatically shows right/left rearward views when flicking either turn signal.
A row of switches continues the horizontal theme just underneath, integrating a well-organized two-zone auto HVAC interface at its mid-point, all before a gently sloping piano-black lacquered centre console gets stuffed full of drive functions such as an engine start/stop button, a rotating gear selection dial, a driving mode selector, and more, while switches for the heatable and cooled front seats, plus the heated steering wheel can be found right next door. A wireless charging pad probably sits under a lidded compartment just in front of this cluster of controls, plus all the expected USB ports and other connectivity/charging alternatives.
“When you see the all-new Sportage in person, with its sleek but powerfully dynamic stance, and when you sit inside the detailed-oriented cabin with its beautifully detailed interior and first-class materials, you’ll see we have achieved those goals and set new benchmarks,” continued Habib. “In the all-new Sportage, we believe you can see the future of our brand and our products.”
So far, Kia hasn’t shown off any other details, such as the new Sportage’s front and rear seats or its cargo area, but interior capacities should be similar to the new Hyundai Tucson that shares the Sportage’ underpinnings. That compact crossover SUV has grown in size since also being renewed for 2022, now stretching 4,605 mm (181.3 inches) from front to back, making it 155 mm (6.1 in) lengthier than its predecessor, with a 86 mm (3.4 in) longer wheelbase at 2,751 mm (108.3 in), while it’s about half an inch (12-13 mm) wider and similarly taller than the 2021 crossover it sent packing.
Kia’s Sportage has long shared its mechanical setup with the Tucson too, so we’re expecting a version of the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant that currently puts out 190 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque in the 2022 Hyundai. The new Tucson also features an efficient eight-speed automatic gearbox across its entire trim line, which should be the only transmission used in the Sportage too, while Hyundai’s compact SUV includes both FWD and AWD alternatives, common in this class.
Of course, we’ll get more details when the new 2023 Sportage arrives, which should be sometime in calendar year 2022, at which point we should also find out if it receives an off-road focused X-Line variant, and/or the Tucson’s electrified power units, which currently include both hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives.
For the time being, Kia is offering the latest 2022 Sportage with up to $1,000 in additional incentives, while buyers of 2021 models get up to $2,500 off. Also notable, CarCostCanada members are currently saving an average of $2,386, so check our 2022 and 2021 Kia Sportage Canada Prices pages for all the details, including complete trim pricing with all available options and colours.
It helped that Genesis’ earliest two models were already in production as the Hyundai-branded Equus and Genesis Sedan, one of two cars, including the Genesis Coupe, that carried the new brand’s name for eight years before its steering wheel hub and trunk lid removed Hyundai’s stylized “H” for Genesis wings (which were already displayed proudly above the front grille), and “GENESIS” lettering was replaced by G80 badging at back.
Since then, all three early cars have been updated with fresh new styling, including a new pentagonal “Crest Grille” plus double-slatted LED “Quad Lamps” fore and aft, and heavily reworked interiors, resulting in a wholly cohesive design language to at least rival its key Japanese rivals, while the new G80 will soon be available with a two-motor pure electric drive system.
Granted, Genesis has a long way to go before it starts matching Lexus sales in Canada, with 1,737 units sold at the close of Q2 2021 compared to 12,405, but it’s closing in on Infiniti’s 3,189 total after the first six months of this year, and has already bypassed Jaguar’s 1,204 deliveries and Alfa Romeo’s 434. Lincoln is also in target with only 3,629 units sold as June ended, and this comes before any GV70 deliveries get added to the Genesis mix.
Interestingly, the sporty 2022 GV70 is not the least expensive compact luxury SUV on the market, a tactic often chosen by upstart luxury brands trying to attract new buyers by providing all the bells and whistles for a better price. Instead, the new model gets an all-inclusive price of $49,000, including freight and delivery fees (or $49,150 all-in as shown on GV70’s retail website landing page).
The new GV70, in fact, is ninth most expensive in a compact premium crossover segment that’s now 16 competitors strong. That places it near the mid-point, although it’s important to point out that most competitors don’t include destination/delivery fees or the $100 A/C tax in their advertised prices. Therefore, after factoring in the latter (and using an average of $2,500 for those brands that made it difficult to locate this information on their retail websites), the new GV70’s retail price is more competitive thanks to a ranking of seventh most affordable.
By the numbers, alternatives priced lower than the new GV70 include the $44,298 Cadillac XT5 (plus $2,500 in fees for a total of $46,798), $44,505 Acura RDX (plus $2,475 in fees for a total of $46,980), $44,600 Lexus NX (couldn’t find their fees so adding $2,500 for $47,100), $45,495 Infiniti QX50 (plus $2,220 for $47,415), $45,200 Lincoln Corsair (plus $2,250 for $47,450), and lastly the $46,550 Audi Q5 (plus $2,395 for $48,945).
Genesis’ willingness to let eight brands advertise lower pricing in such a highly competitive market is a bold move, but it just might be calculated one, in that its mid-pack pricing could cause loftier perceptions of its brand identity, and therefore leave cheaper alternatives looking like they’re not good enough. After all, parent company Hyundai has long been seen as a value brand amongst its more established mainstream rivals, and while that’s changing because of impressive entries such as the Genesis and Equus models that came before, plus today’s Santa Fe, Palisade and the list goes on, it’s still important for Genesis to not allow such a more-for-less mindset and instead develop its own brand desirability.
An approximate $20,000 price gap, from least expensive to priciest, is a sizeable chasm for compact luxury SUV shoppers to cross, but it should be mentioned that any one of the compact luxury utilities named above comes close to the revered Velar’s starting price when amped up with options, while even the cheapest on this list can go much higher. What’s more, some boast more equipment in their various base trims than others, not to mention stronger performance, greater interior room, etcetera. In other words, it’s not a direct apples-for-apples comparison.
For around $50k, the 2022 GV70 2.5T Select AWD arrives standard with Quad LED headlights, LED tail lamps, 18-inch alloys, proximity-sensing keyless access with pushbutton start/stop and remote engine start, fingerprint authentication, an 8.0-inch LCD digital gauge cluster, a big 14.5-inch HD multimedia display incorporating Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, navigation, wireless device charging, a 12-way powered driver’s seat with power lumbar, an eight-way power front passenger seat, heated front seats, rear occupant alert, a hands-free tailgate, plus more.
Additionally, the GV70’s standard Highway Driving Assist II driver assistance and safety technology suite adds High Beam Assist, Lane Follow Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist to all the usual active and passive safety features.
As is often the case in this category, AWD is standard, while the GV70 also includes Terrain Mode Select. The base powertrain is a 2.5-litre turbo-four good for 300 horsepower and 311 lb-ft of torque, while a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 capable of 375 horsepower and 391 lb-ft of torque is available. An eight-speed automatic transmission also comes standard, as do steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
As for exterior colours, Uyuni White, Vik Black, Himalayan Gray, Savile Silver, Adriatic Blue, Cardiff Green, Barossa Burgundy, and Mauna Red are no-cost options, while base models can only be had with “artificial leather” upholstery in Obsidian Black (Genesis might want to reconsider the name it’s using for leatherette).
For $55,500 (including freight and fees), the 2022 GV70 2.5T Advanced AWD ups the ante with 19-inch alloy wheels, power-folding exterior mirrors with puddle lamps, a power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, genuine leather seat coverings (in Obsidian Black, Vanilla Beige, Havana Brown/Ocean Wave, Pine Grove/Ocean Wave, and Slate Gray/Velvet Burgundy, depending on the exterior colour), a power panoramic glass sunroof, ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats, plus a fully automatic rear climate control system.
For $59,000, Advanced Plus trim continues adding features such as a driver’s head-up display (HUD), a Surround View parking monitor, a Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM), an 18-speaker Lexicon sound system upgrade, manual rear side sunshades, and a household-style 110-volt AC power outlet for the rear cargo compartment.
Further up the range, the $63,000 GV70 2.5T Prestige AWD includes a Sport Appearance package featuring metal foot pedals, upscale Nappa leather upholstery with suede-like micro-fibre inserts (in Obsidian Black, Sevilla Red or Ultramarine Blue, depending on exterior colours), a psuede headliner, a driver’s seat power extension for the lower cushion as well as power side bolsters that cinch up in sport mode, Smart Posture Care, Parking Collision Avoidance-Assist Rear (PCA-R), and Remote Smart Parking Assist (RSPA).
For $68,500, the GV70 3.5T Sport AWD trim line combines 2.5T Advanced AWD features with the larger, more powerful engine, as well as some of the just-noted Prestige items like the Sport Appearance package, HUD, power seat cushion extension, bolsters and Smart Posture Care, Lexicon audio system, and 115-volt power outlet, not to mention 21-inch alloys, special aluminum sports trim, enhanced monobloc brakes, an improved Electronic Control Suspension with Road Preview, plus Sport leather seating.
Finally, $75,500 GV70 3.5T Sport Plus AWD trim adds an electronic limited slip differential, a bigger 12.3inch 3D TFT LCD digital instrument cluster, carbon fibre interior trim, plusher Nappa leather upholstery with stitched quilting (in all the same colours as Prestige and Sport trims), a micro-fibre headliner, and laminated acoustic rear door glass, plus the previously-noted surround parking monitor, BVM, PCA-R, RSPA, and rear sunshades. Of note, this segment’s most affordable Cadillac XT5 reaches the same price point when fully optioned, as do most of the others.
Together with the premium finishings, arguably attractive design, no shortage of features and impressive performance numbers, Genesis provides owners with at-home/work valet pick-up and drop-off concierge service, complete with a complimentary courtesy vehicle, when complimentary scheduled maintenance or other repairs are required during the first five years of ownership, or the SUV’s first 100,000 kilometres of use.
On top of this, GV70 owners benefit from Genesis Connected Services featuring map updates and more for the extent of the SUV’s five-year comprehensive warranty (with an unlimited km extension for map updates and roadside service). The five-year or 100,000-km comprehensive warranty is an entire year longer, and an average of 20,000 km greater than most premium competitors’ comprehensive coverage, plus it’s an additional two years or 40,000 km better than the majority of competitive powertrain warranties.
Still, the compact luxury SUV market is deep with capable offerings, giving Genesis’ newcomer big challenges to overcome. How it’s received is anyone’s guess, but we’ll be certain to report on its success after it’s been around long enough to do so, and of course we’ll review it as soon as a test model becomes available.
Porsche’s new Taycan is doing a great job of scooping up premium EV buyers, enough so that Tesla may want to consider redesigning its Model S sometime soon. Of course, the iconic California-turned-Texan electric carmaker isn’t likely worried, thanks to a market cap that rivals the largest tech giants, not to mention key models in all of the most important luxury segments, but at least Porsche is succeeding where many others are struggling to gain ground.
Tesla’s Model Y fills the compact luxury SUV hole in its expanding lineup, exactly where Porsche plans to directly compete with an electrified version of its already popular Macan crossover. In order to make sure the Macan EV finds as many buyers possible, Porsche is getting busy testing it on road and track, and recently released some photos and info to let us know how the process is going.
Porsche plans a 2023 launch for its upcoming all-electric Macan, which should be enough time to get the kinks out. To that end, the Stuttgart-based luxury brand had been digitally and physically testing it on its Weissach Development Centre proving grounds until recently, but now has it touring public roads in heavily camouflaged attire, so as to hide its second-generation Macan sheet metal.
“Testing in a real-life environment is now getting underway – one of the most important milestones in the development process,” commented Michael Steiner, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development, at Porsche AG.
Porsche plans to cover three million kilometres worldwide, in every possible type of condition, ahead of delivering fully electric Macans to market, and that lofty number doesn’t even include the “countless” virtual kilometres accumulated on the Weissach test track, not to mention many more miles achieved via digital prototypes.
According to Porsche, developing the new Macan EV digitally reduces capital expenditures and time, while it also minimizes the new model’s environmental impact. Rather than putting actual prototypes through their paces, a digital computational model replicates the kinds of true-to-life properties, systems and power units of the EV to a very high degree of accuracy. As part of the electrified Macan’s development, Porsche has utilized 20 digital prototypes in order to simulate all types of situations, resulting in critically important aerodynamic, energy management, operation, and acoustic data.
“We regularly collate the data from the various departments and use it to build up a complete, virtual vehicle that is as detailed as possible,” said Andreas Huber, manager for digital prototypes at Porsche, plus one of the first aerodynamics engineers to ever work with digital prototypes. “This allows previously undiscovered design conflicts to be swiftly identified and resolved.”
Reducing aerodynamic drag helps the Macan EV achieve its ultimate range targets, with even minimal flow enhancements making a significant difference.
“We started with a flow-around model when the project first started about four years ago,” added Thomas Wiegand, Director of aerodynamics development.
A team of Porsche engineers utilizes simulations so as to fine-tune each and every surface of the new crossover EV, with specific attention paid to cooling air ducts. Such calculations help the engineers arrange components that in-turn optimize efficiencies, while they also provide the required data for predicting variances in real-world temperature levels. Porsche actually claims the new testing procedures allow for extremely precise simulations of both aerodynamics and thermodynamics.
“The digital world is indispensable to the development of the all-electric Macan,” said Wiegand.
Returning to air ducts and cooling, the new EV’s motive electric system boasts a totally different cooling and temperature control concept than the conventionally-powered internal combustion engine (ICE) powered Macan. To be clear, the various ICE’s used in today’s Macan need a 90- to 120-degree (Celsius) temperature operating range, whereas the new electric-powered model’s drive system and high-voltage battery maintain a temperature window between 20 and 70 degrees.
Also unique to the electric Macan, where an ICE increases its temperature when starting and stopping during heavy traffic, the battery-powered version needs more cooling during high-power charging, particularly in warmer weather. Porsche is overcoming this challenge by calculating and digitally optimizing the “position, flow and temperature” via the digital prototypes mentioned earlier.
Digital prototype use can start quite early in any vehicle’s developmental stage. In fact, Porsche created a completely new driver interface for its upcoming second-gen Macan long before designing some of the other components. A revised driver display was included, of course, which, when ready for testing, Porsche brought to life in a “seat box” that was capable of simulating the actual driving environment.
“Simulation allows us to assess displays, operating procedures and the changing influences during a journey from the driver’s point of view,” said Fabian Klausmann of Porsche’s Driver Experience development department. “Here, the ‘test drivers’ are not just the specialists themselves but also non-experts. This allows all interaction between driver and vehicle to be studied down to the last detail, enabling selective optimization even before the first physical cockpit has been built.”
The initial physical Macan EV prototypes were developed from information learned through the digital prototype program, and once these running prototypes were on the track, they fed additional data back to the digital prototypes to continue testing with. This process allowed Porsche’s engineers to continually update both the digital and physical prototypes, refining each aspect of the Macan EV throughout the development process.
“Endurance testing on closed-off testing facilities and public roads in real-life conditions is still indispensable to ensure that the vehicle structure, operational stability and reliability of hardware, software and all functions meet our high-quality standards,” continued Steiner.
The Macan EV continues to undergo a demanding testing process, including climate extreme endurance tests, plus the need to overcome all types of topographical conditions. Of course, this would include real-world charging and conditioning of the new EV’s high-voltage battery, with everyday reliability and segment-leading performance being high on the agenda.
“Like the Taycan, the all-electric Macan, with its 800-volt architecture, will offer typical Porsche E-Performance,” added Steiner, pointing to development goals such as the SUV’s long-distance range, high-performance fast charging, and goal of best-in-segment performance. “The all-electric Macan will be the sportiest model in its segment.”
The new Macan EV will also need to be highly efficient, of course, which is why it’s the first Porsche to make use of the brand’s new Premium Platform Electric (PPE) architecture. This said, most Macan owners will continue choosing one of the automaker’s conventional ICE’s instead of the electrical alternative, at least in its early years, particularly in markets where consumers aren’t penalized for not going green, thus gasoline-powered models will need to remain part of the overall Macan package for the unforeseen future.
“In Europe, demand for electric vehicles continues to rise, but the pace of change varies considerably across the world,” noted Steiner. “That’s why we’re going to launch another attractive conventionally-powered successor to the current Macan in the course of 2021.”
This said, the new second-generation Macan will launch later this year, with varied availability of ICE’s. The new Macan EV will follow in about three years and millions of kilometers of digital and physical prototype tests.
After first spending a week with Honda’s then-new Insight in its top-line Touring trim a couple of years ago, I really felt the Japanese automaker had a winner on its hands.
The compact sedan’s conservative good looks should have appealed to an even greater number of consumers than the edgier Civic it shares underpinnings and hard points with. Even better (to my eyes at least), its classy front fascia pulled some grille details over from the larger Accord mid-size sedan, while its tidier taillights stopped short of wrapping overtop most of the trunk lid.
Don’t get me wrong, as the outgoing Civic was a styling tour de force when it arrived in 2015 as a 2016 model, but the more subdued Insight gave… ahem… insight to the Civic’s future design direction, particularly at the hind end where those just-noted taillights look like positive precursors to those on the much more conventional 2022 Civic sedan.
Still, as it was and still is, Honda failed to properly launch this 2019–present Insight within Canada, where it suffers incredibly slow sales, not even surpassing 500 units last year. In fact, the dismal number was 496, while the first quarter of 2021 has seen just 91 examples roll out of Honda showrooms. When compared to the Civic’s class-leading 50,805 sales-total in 2020, and 7,158 units delivered during Q1 of this year, which puts the Insight just under 1 percent of Civic deliveries during 2020, and nearly 1.3 percent for Q1 of 2021, Honda’s dedicated compact hybrid can only be seen as a complete dud. But why?
After all, the two models’ sales ratio in the U.S. is much better, although still not anywhere near as evenly weighted as I initially expected, with the Insight finding 15,932 buyers south of the 49th in 2020, and 3,859 as of the end of March this year, compared to 261,225 Civics sold last year and 55,903 for Q1 of 2021. That represents 6.1 percent of Civic sales in 2020 and 6.9 percent for the first three months of 2021, which probably isn’t even good enough to justify any sort of business case for keeping the model alive.
It comes down to pricing. With a base price of $28,490 (plus freight and fees), the Insight finds itself $3,400 more expensive than the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, which starts at only $25,090. If the Insight were 10-percent more car it might make sense, but, as I already pointed out, consumers have spoken load and clear with their wallets, plus I’ve personally driven both, and that’s not the case.
My Insight tester’s top-line Touring trim was even pricier at $32,190, and once again it wasn’t any more appealing than the top-tier Corolla Hybrid with its Premium package, which costs just $27,090. This means Canadian Insight Touring buyers will need to take a $5,100 hit just to see a stylized “H” badging in all the usual places, a questionable bonus they obviously don’t desire all that much.
So why would Honda sabotage its chances of winning over important Canadian hybrid buyers just ahead of the entire market turning to electric vehicles (whether we want to or not)? Obviously, Honda’s Canadian division would love to import the Insight (or for that matter the CR-V Hybrid, which is currently not available here) for less money, but their American affiliate that produces it, can’t seem to make it cheap enough.
Honda does bring us the Accord Hybrid, however, but the Marysville, Ohio-built mid-size sedan doesn’t do as well as Toyota’s Camry Hybrid for similar reasons. Its base price is $35,805, whereas the Camry Hybrid is advertised at $30,790, and similarly to the Insight’s fancier Touring trim line, the top-level Accord Hybrid Touring starts at a lofty $42,505, which compares poorly to a fully loaded Camry Hybrid XLE that’s priced at only $39,690.
It doesn’t take a economics major to figure out that Honda Canada needs to deal with this problem if it wants to grow hybrid sales, but so far no Alliston assembly plant upgrades have been announced. If Honda Canada were able to produce the CR-V Hybrid north of the 49th, it might be able to compete with Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid (although not the plug-in RAV4 Prime) or Hyundai’s new Tucson Hybrid, but coming up with a business case to put such a plan into action might not make any sense in our market, which is just 10 percent of America’s population.
Even if such a plan made sense, the very fact Honda’s Insight is a dedicated hybrid with a number of totally unique body panels and trim, puts the smaller of these two Japanese automakers at another disadvantage. Where Toyota can theoretically produce its Corolla Hybrid at multiple plants without modifying major body stamping equipment, Honda would need to upgrade more than just the drivetrain portions of any alternative assembly plants to allow for more Insight production.
Currently, the Insight is built at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana in Greensburg, which also produces the Civic and previously pushed out the popular Civic Hybrid. If, alternatively, Honda chose to create a hybridized version of the new Civic, its many global assembly plants that are already pushing out versions of its venerable compact sedan could adapt more easily to hybrid production. Applying this (admittedly theoretical) logic to Canada’s Alliston assembly plant, might mean a Civic Hybrid could be built for Canadian consumption, thus resolving Honda’s inability to move many Insights in the great white north. As it is, Honda is fast losing its electrification edge in our market.
All said, is the Insight any good? Absolutely. If you’ve made it this far into this review, you’ll already know this Insight is nothing less than a gussied up Civic sedan, which everyone should appreciate is a very good compact car. It’s so good in fact, it consistently outsells every other car made, and we should all remember that the audience is always right (at least by “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” standards).
Behind its large, blackened grille opening is Honda’s well-proven 1.5-litre Atkinson-cycle internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric motor assistant, the latter powered by a 60-cell lithium-ion battery. All totalled up, the combination makes 151 net horsepower and an even stronger 197 lb-ft of torque. While off-the-line performance and passing power is certainly important, in the Insight’s compact class, hybrids are more about fuel economy, and the Insight delivers with a claimed rating of 4.6 L/100km city, 5.3 highway, and 4.9 combined, which will be good enough to wow most Civic owners that can only manage to eke out 7.9 L/100km in the city, 6.1 on the highway and 7.1 combined when driving the model’s most efficient variant. Still, Toyota’s previously noted Corolla Hybrid is not only less expensive at the time of purchase, but keeps giving at the pump with an estimated rating of 4.4 L/100km in the city, 4.5 on the highway and 4.5 combined. Ouch!
Still, a small number of Canadian consumers, who are faithful to Honda and therefore willing to pay more initially and continually, choose the Insight over the Corolla Hybrid, or for that matter the all-new Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, which incidentally improves on both Japanese models’ fuel economy thanks to a claimed rating of 4.5 L/100km in the city, 4.2 on the highway and 4.4 combined, plus adds insult to injury with a starting price of just $24,699 and arguably more attractive (or at least fresher) styling. So, for those willing to pay more for less of what hybrids are supposed to be about, the Insight delivers extremely smooth operation from its continuously variable transmission (CVT), an equally calming ride and a well-organized, reasonably high-quality interior.
Before delving into the latter, the just-noted CVT isn’t designed for performance enthusiasts, so Civic Si buyers need not apply, but rather becomes annoyingly buzzy when pushing hard on the throttle for extended periods. Of course, such driving negates the car’s purpose, so I can’t see many Insight buyers doing so very often. I merely did for testing purposes, and have long experienced similar results from other CVT-equipped models in the class, such as the Corolla Hybrid. Nevertheless, despite its economy-first mission, Honda decided to include a Sport setting along with its expected Comfort, Econ and EV powertrain modes, which really says a lot about the much-loved brand itself.
Another positive advantage benefiting Insight buyers over those living with a Corolla Hybrid, is an EV mode that allows traveling at posted city speeds, something not possible in any non-plug-in Toyota hybrid that engages its ICE over 20 km/h. While enjoyable to run around town in near silent bliss, this feature doesn’t necessarily aid fuel-efficiency, as pointed out earlier, so it won’t like matter to most buyers.
As for that smooth suspension, it really is good. My city’s streets are mostly agreeable, although like in any urban area there are roadways that desperately need upkeep and only limited funds and workers to maintain them. Despite its compact size, the Insight’s relatively long wheelbase and nicely tuned fully independent suspension made bumpy patches of tarmac easier to endure, while simultaneously providing capable road-holding when choosing to rev out its noisy powertrain. Fortunately, the much of the Insight’s motive mass hides below the rear seat, which aids its centre of gravity, providing decent handling characteristics. Again, Civic Si enthusiasts need not apply, but hybrid buyers would be pleasantly surprised if they chose to test one out.
For such situations, the aforementioned Sport mode is ideal, enhanced by the ability to use steering wheel-mounted paddles to shift its CVT through a number of artificially stepped “gears”. Those who prefer shifting with a traditional gear lever are out of luck, because Honda infused the Insight’s lower console with its pushbutton gear selector. I’m just fine with that thanks to those paddle-shifters, and honestly, I only used the latter for one short stint throughout my weeklong test, due to the harshness of the drivetrain when doing so. Again, while its cool that Honda added DIY paddles, they’re not all that useful in a car like this, making me wonder if the investment might have been better spent on something else, or possibly eliminated altogether in order to lower the price?
As for the pushbutton (and pull-tab for reverse) gear selector, it looks appropriately modern and frees up arm space above the console, which otherwise is fitted with a big rubberized tray for holding your oversized smartphone. Honda includes two USB charge points plus a 12-volt power supply just above, all of which come together at the base of a centre stack that’s also laid out well, with a stylish dual-zone auto HVAC interface, a slim strip of switchgear for turning on the three-way heated front seats, recirculating air, and defog/defrost functions.
The centre stack is topped off with a large enough 8.0-inch touchscreen, which will be all-too familiar to current Civic owners. It features colourful, user friendly digital controls that are organized in an attractive tile design, with some of its functions being Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a navigation system (in my Touring tester) that proved very accurate, a fun-to-watch engine/battery power flow indicator, audio functions for a great sounding stereo, and the list goes on.
Of course, the display uses smartphone- or tablet-like finger gestures, so you can tap, swipe or pinch to your heart’s content, while Honda also framed this touchscreen with some useful switches for accessing key info quickly. The left-side row features a button for the home screen, plus one for returning back to the previous function, and another for transitioning between day and night modes. There are also two for browsing radio stations or MP3 tracks, while a rotating volume knob joins a volume controller on the left-hand steering wheel spoke. All of the infotainment system’s quick-access buttons receive backlit names just underneath, but makes sense until using them at night, when pressing the lighted name does nothing at all. Instead, you need to press the little, narrow button on top of the name, which is invisible in the dark. Yah, not the smartest application of an otherwise intelligent concept.
The Insight’s primary instrument experience is all positive, on the other hand. Honda was early to adopt a fully digital driver’s display, the arching cluster incorporating a multi-information display (MID) featuring useful hybrid info, such as a battery charge indicator, on the left, and a speedometer and gas gauge combo to the right. Well-made, smartly organized steering wheel switchgear controls the MID, which is par for the course with Honda products. Above everything is an overhead console integrating two incandescent reading lights, plus an emergency assist button, a HomeLink remote garage door opener, and the usual powered moonroof rocker switch. And yes, I would have rather seen an oversized glass sunroof in place of the Insight’s smallish opening, but some electrified cars don’t offer sunroofs at all, so I’d best not complain.
Back to positives, the Insight’s cabin approaches Acura ILX levels of fit, finish, and materials quality, with a dash top surfaced in nice pliable composites, plus a padded and French-stitched leather-like bolster ahead of the front passenger that flows across the instrument panel and down the sides of the centre stack. Certainly, I would’ve appreciated if Honda had finished the driver’s compartment as nicely as the front passenger’s, but at least both sides of the lower console gets the same soft-touch pampering treatment, which perfectly matches the sliding armrest in the middle.
The front door uppers get the same premium covering as the dash top, by the way, while the door inserts just below receive a similar stitched leatherette to that on the instrument panel bolster. Most everything looks and feels like it was produced by an entry-level luxury brand, like Acura, but I should say that Honda isn’t alone in raising the level of refinement in its compact models.
Honda has produced some of the better seats in the industry for a long time, however, and this Insight Touring’s driver’s perch is no exception. It provided excellent inherent support and no shortage of adjustability, resulting in a very comfortable office chair, while the tilt and telescopic steering column just ahead proved extendable enough to reach my shorter arms and torso when the lower cushion was pushed back far enough to make room for my longish legs. This ideal driver setup is not always possible from other compact models, and would be something I’d be willing to spend hundreds if not thousands for, so kudos to Honda for getting this right.
Along with excellent positioning, my tester’s steering wheel rim felt nice and meaty, with comfortable indents for thumbs and an overall performance-oriented feel. It’s as if Honda pulled it out the aforementioned Civic Si, rather than something designed to blissfully cruise past gas stations. All-round, the cockpit area is comfortable, spacious and lends a sense of control, which is exactly what most in this class are looking for.
Rear passengers should be nearly as comfortable, and despite not covering the tops of each window sill with soft-touch synthetic like those up front, the rest of the door panels were near duplicates, and a reasonably large armrest topped off by unreasonably small cupholders made things comfier for those stuck in back. Likewise, two-way rear seat warmers added wintertime heat to the outboard cushions, but there were no air vents next to the rocker switches on the backside of the front console or anywhere else in back, nor for that matter reading lights overhead.
The trunk’s 416-litre (14.7 cu-ft) volume should be large enough for most peoples’ needs, while extra gear can be placed below the cargo floor if small enough. This is where Honda stows the Insight’s tire repair pump, which is necessary for fixing a flat, being that no spare is offered. Expanding on the trunk’s usefulness are 60/40-split rear seatbacks, and no centre pass-through for loading longer items such as skis down the middle.
If an Insight seems like the car for you, keep in mind that Honda is currently offering up to $1,000 in additional incentives. You can learn more about this discount on our 2021 Honda Insight Canada Prices page, which also provides comparative trim pricing, plus the ability to build the car with all available options. While you’re there, be sure to check out how the CarCostCanada system works, so you can utilize dealer invoice pricing to save even more when negotiating your best deal, plus download the free CarCostCanada app so you can have all of this valuable information on-hand when you need it most, whether at a Honda dealership pushing for a more agreeable Insight price, or walking across the street to a Toyota or Hyundai dealer in order to check out their electrified Corolla and Elantra offerings.
As far as alternative fuels go, hydrogen shows a lot of long-term promise, particularly when used to create electricity via a fuel cell. This allows for a virtual rolling electric power plant that charges up a battery and then drives the wheels through electric motors, just like a regular electric car.
The technology has actually been in the works for decades, with one of the first automotive applications being the Ford Focus FCV that I drove in 2005. That was when Ford was working alongside Daimler-Benz and Ballard Engineering, the latter firm specializing in hydrogen fuel cells. At the time I felt hydrogen would quickly supplant regular plug-in electric cars that hadn’t really taken off yet, because it only made sense that people wouldn’t want to live with the inconvenience and downtime of hours-long recharging. Little did I realize at the time how infrastructure challenges would put H2 technology on hold for decades, with 2021 seeing just three refueling stations spaced around my city.
It actually ended up taking another decade and a half before I could schedule a weeklong test with a hydrogen fuel cell-powered car, that innovator being Toyota’s unusual looking Mirai sedan. It’s a slightly larger than Prius-sized sedan that, similarly to my previous experience, worked exactly like a regular electric vehicle until it came time to fill it up. Back then, however, Toyota took care of refueling because the aforementioned H2 refuelling stations hadn’t been retrofitted yet (they all sell gasoline too), so I was only told about how convenient it was. More recently, with the very Hyundai Nexo on this page, I was able to pump my own H2.
The zero-emissions Nexo took about five minutes to fill up, incidentally, and while a bit more complex than pumping gasoline into a car, a few attempts would get most anyone up to speed. As for the price, it seemed comparable to regular unleaded, although it would take more data and plenty of time to calculate whether life with a Nexo provides any financial advantages. Up to this point it hasn’t really been about pump savings anyway, but more so about the practical development of an alternative fuel that only emits water vapour yet is as easy to live with as a conventional combustion powertrain.
One thing I really appreciate is Hyundai stuffing all of its advanced H2 hardware into a body style and compact size most will find agreeable, not to mention styling it so as not to offend the majority of buyers. That might sound like a no-brainer, but if so, we wouldn’t have cars like the aforementioned Mirai and Honda’s equally divisive Clarity running around. The compact crossover SUV body style meant it would be immediately acceptable to consumers all over the world, while its extended wheelbase and mid-size length made certain that its battery and other electronics wouldn’t impinge on second-row passenger room and cargo volume.
For comparison’s purposes, the Nexo is 190 mm (7.5 in) longer than the outgoing Tucson, but it’s near identical in width and height. While increasing interior spaciousness, the extra length also aids ride quality and highway stability, plus arguably looks a bit leaner.
Styling is a personal thing, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide which Hyundai SUV looks best, but I find the Nexo plenty attractive, unlike the two visually offensive competitors noted a moment ago. It features a slightly older version of Hyundai’s latest grille design, and a set of LED headlamps that seem inspired by the popular Kona subcompact SUV, while the sheet metal from front to back is ultra-smooth, especially when seen in my tester’s stylish matte grey paint scheme.
A few interesting details include a thin accent strip between the grille and hood that lights up at night, plus a set of Land Rover-inspired pop-out door handles that keep the body lines flush in order to lower drag. Lastly, the 19-inch five-spoke alloys don’t look aerodynamically wonky, like so many others in this class.
Take a seat inside and you’ll immediately appreciate that this SUV was designed to be a forerunner for Hyundai’s electronics when introduced two years ago. Ahead of the driver is a similar twin-display instrument cluster/infotainment system as Mercedes-Benz’ MBUX (which has just been completely updated in the new S- and C-Class models). A digital gauge cluster sits on the left side of a long, horizontally-positioned display, controllable with steering wheel-mounted switchgear, while a touchscreen rests to the right. Anyone who’s peeked inside a modern Mercedes will quickly see the similarities, and while I wouldn’t go so far to say Hyundai’s is better, they deserve commendation for including left- and right-side rearview cameras within the gauge cluster, which come into action by flicking the turn signal stalk. These are now commonplace features in both Hyundai and Kia vehicles, setting them apart from most rivals.
While the gauge cluster and infotainment display is about as advanced as this sector gets, the sloping centre stack comes across a bit more antiquated thanks to being filled with switchgear, including P, N, D and R buttons that engage the SUV’s 120-kW (161 hp) electric motor. That thrust is complemented by 291 lb-ft of twist, all of which gets pulled from a 40-kWh battery. While it looks like an SUV, only FWD is available, although Hyundai would probably find a way to add AWD if the Nexo were to go mainstream.
The 95-kW fuel-cell stack provides electricity production on route, as noted earlier, so therefore recharging is continuous, as long as there’s enough hydrogen in the tank. Depending on conditions, the EPA claims the Nexo is good for approximately 570 to 610 km (355 to 380 miles) when topped up.
As noted earlier, the Nexo drives like an electric vehicle, although the normal silence was interrupted by a subtle vacuum-sucking sound when pushing hard on the throttle. I only went for the gusto while testing, mind you, so for most commuting I found it nice and quiet.
Nevertheless, when a fast getaway was needed the Nexo provided plenty of get-up-and-go, taking off from a standstill as enthusiastically as dispatching slower moving highway traffic. What’s more, it went about its business in a wholly refined fashion, never interrupting the bliss with any jarring responses. Ever so smoothly it whisked from zero to 100 km/h around 8.5 seconds (I used my Seiko chronograph to time it, so don’t hold me to the exact number), which is a half-second faster than Hyundai managed, but the difference may have more to do with my less than scientific method, combined with their usual conservativism. While this won’t likely impress too many Tesla owners (or for that matter Chevy Bolt owners), but it had no problem staying ahead of most surrounding traffic.
Handling was the Nexo’s more pleasant surprise. I veered off a local freeway onto a serpentine backcountry road that winds along a river near my home, at which point it was evident that Hyundai’s engineers took advantage of the SUV’s low centre of gravity. This is due to battery being housed below the floorboards, and thus it really hung on through fast-paced curves, while its electrically-assisted rack and pinion steering system was quite responsive for its compact crossover class.
I found the Nexo’s ride quality even better, with much credit going to its conventional front Macpherson strut and rear multi-link suspension layout, plus nicely sorted tuning. This meant that potholes, frost-heaves, bridge expansion joints and other road intrusions hardly impacted those within, which all resulted in one of the better ride/handling compromises in this segment; especially notable when factoring in its large 245/45HR19 all-season rubber.
The Nexo feels well-made and rock solid too, with absolutely no body creaks despite benefiting from a large glass sunroof above, while wind or road noise was kept to a minimum too. Again, I was pleasantly surprised by this compact SUV’s refinement.
I’m guessing that the focus on refinement is why Hyundai didn’t include a sport mode. Alternatively, selecting Normal is the default performance mode, while Eco makes everything even smoother and more fuel-efficient.
On this note, the two paddles on the steering wheel aren’t for shifting gears, but rather the one on the left is for applying the brakes and sending regenerative kinetic braking energy to the battery simultaneously. The Nexo comes to a full stop when continuing to pull this paddle back, as long as you’re not moving too quickly before application. Also, the strongest of the system’s three settings needs to be chosen first, but that’s the job of the right-side paddle, along with cancelling any rolling resistance by easing the regenerative brakes off. Most electric cars use such systems, so anyone that’s driven a popular EV will quickly acclimatize to this hydrogen-powered SUV.
Like those just-noted EVs, the Nexo is filled up with features to help offset its higher price point. Together with the superb digital gauge cluster and infotainment touchscreen mentioned earlier, my Nexo tester came with a surround-view overhead parking camera, an accurate navigation system with nicely detailed maps, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a wireless charging pad, plus more.
As for luxury, we shouldn’t expect too much now that Hyundai Motor also has its Genesis premium brand, but the mainstream brand did cover the dash top in a nicely textured soft-touch composite, just like the front and rear door uppers, plus the door inserts and armrests.
I like that it included a heatable steering wheel, while its powered driver’s seat was comfortable and provided three-way heatable and cooled cushions. The powered lumbar support was only two-way, but fortunately it found the right spot on my lower back to relieve my traffic stress.
The longer wheelbase I mentioned before makes a big difference when it comes to legroom, while the Nexo’s width is reasonable for the compact SUV segment. Three could probably sit across the rear bench if needed, but two would be more comfortable, and that would mean inside elbows would benefit from its folding centre armrest with two integrated cupholders, as well as the outboard seat warmers. There’s a three-prong household-style power outlet on the backside of the front console too.
As for cargo, the dedicated space behind those rear seats is good for up to 850 litres (30 cu ft) of gear, plus it can be expanded to 1,600 litres (56.5 cu ft) when those 60/40-split rear seatbacks are folded down. I would have preferred a 40/20/40 split rear seat, for stowing longer items such as skis down the centre, but such conveniences are rare in this class. I appreciated its mostly level load floor as it was, not to mention the slim storage compartment below the carpeting.
So, what’s it all cost? This is where I recommend you get yourself a stiff coffee, or possibly something stronger, because Nexo’s entry price might induce sticker shock. How does $71,000 (plus freight and fees) sound to you? Yah, there’s a price for being an early adaptor, which is made steeper when factoring in that you’re not really saving anything at the pump. At least a $52,000 Tesla Model Y will let you say goodbye to gasoline forever, or for that matter Hyundai’s own Ioniq Electric, which will only set you back $41,599.
My Ultimate-trimmed tester was actually a bit pricier at $73,500, which I learned by checking the 2021 Hyundai NEXO Canada Prices page right here on CarCostCanada. While you’re looking, be sure to check out the other models mentioned in this review by following the links connected to their names.
Also, find out about how a CarCostCanada membership can leave more money in your wallet when buying a new vehicle. A membership will help keep you up to date on factory rebates, manufacturer leasing and financing deals, and most importantly provides you dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when negotiating your best deal. Remember to download the free CarCostCanada app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store too, so you’ll always have this vital info on hand.
It’s finally the C’s time to shine. As part of a thorough fifth-generation C-Class redesign, the new model will bypass first-gen MBUX electronics to be second in the lineup to feature Mercedes’ entirely new separated digital gauge cluster display and infotainment touchscreen.
That’s probably the biggest 2022 C-Class news, next to the updated model’s completely new sheet metal, mostly because the latter could’ve easily been guessed by looking at the recently updated fourth-generation A-Class sedan that debuted in 2018.
The new (W206) C-Class is the A’s obvious bigger brother, at least when the two model’s sedans are placed side-by-side. The A can be had in a sporty hatch as well, while the C is offered in coupe, convertible and wagon body styles. We’ve only seen the sedan and wagon thus far, and sadly the latter car won’t make the journey across the Atlantic later this year, news that no doubt has fans of low-slung, elongated five-door Mercs feeling woeful.
At least the new C four-door should put a smile on those who prefer keeping their cargo snuggly secured away in a locked trunk, as it’s one very stylish sedan. It boasts Mercedes’ new frowning oval grille (the previous sport grille was turned up at its ends, resulting in a happier countenance), also seen on the just-noted A-Class, plus the leaner looking CLA. Moving outward, a new set of more sharply angled Performance LED headlamps stretch farther around each front fender, while a reworked lower front fascia comes across cleaner for a more minimalist approach. Additionally, the hood incorporates a pair of sinuous character lines, pulling memories of the ‘50s-era 300 SL, which is certainly no bad thing.
Peering down each side, Mercedes abandoned the outgoing C sedan’s gracefully penned beltline crease, which used to sweep downward through the rear door ahead of disappearing under its handle. This said, the new model appears more slab-sided, although the lower crease remains, which kicks upward as it moves rearward.
Quite possibly the most obvious differentiator between old and new Cs are the taillights, the latest iteration featuring two-piece triangular lenses that wrap horizontally around the rear flanks, compared to the outgoing model’s less distinctive ovoid lamps. Look no further than the A-Class sedan for their inspiration. Finally, the new C-Class gets fresh sets of 18- and 19-inch alloys, along with a revised palette of exterior paint colours.
Those lured to a new car via modernized electronics may have already flocked to Mercedes in recent years, being that the brand’s two-in-one MBUX driving/infotainment display has been second to none (except for Hyundai/Kia that adopted a similar design for many of their latest models). As noted earlier, Mercedes is skipping over the initial MBUX system for an altogether different approach to design and functionality. Instead, it will keep a similar fixed tablet-style display for the car’s primary gauge cluster, but will host the majority of infotainment info on a much larger individual display in a more conventional location, a bit lower on the centre stack, which should be easier to reach for some drivers. Anyone moving from the current C’s analogue dial and digital multi-information setup to the new all-electronic layout shouldn’t be put off, but some elevating their lifestyle from an A-Class may be chagrined after getting used to the first-gen MBUX design. Then again, if new design is good enough for Merc’s full-size S-Class flagship, it should be acceptable for C-Class users, the smaller sedan being the second car in the Stuttgart-brand’s lineup to complete rework its entire instrument panel layout.
The centre display is an elegantly crafted bit of electronica, particularly how it appears to seamlessly meld into a high-gloss carbon fibre weave surface treatment as it curves into the lower console, save for a thin strip of bisecting analogue buttons. The larger display is a touchscreen, just like the outgoing C’s smaller monitor and Merc’s first-gen MBUX unit, the extra digital acreage necessary now that a console-mounted touchpad is nowhere to be seen. Fans of minimalism will like how it looks, but others who preferred a best-of-both-worlds approach will probably complain.
According to Mercedes, the new display integrates haptic feedback for more fingertip feedback, while updating the system software now takes place over-the-air. Mercedes has included mention biometric authentication too, via either voice command or fingerprint scanning, while touching the scanner will initiate pre-selected memory adjustments to the driver seat, radio station, etcetera. The ability to purchase apps (and no doubt additional items in the future) from the Mercedes Me store can be done via fingerprint scanning too, while the C’s new head-up display utilizes augmented reality to project real-time visuals on the windshield in front of the driver.
Not only the driver benefits from new C’s improvements, by the way. Everyone aboard should appreciate the added comfort from its increase width and length. Both front and rear passengers should have more space for their legs and shoulders at their disposal, which is critical in a category that includes a few rivals boasting almost mid-size dimensions.
For those put off by the larger car when parking, a rear-wheel steering system should make the process easier. Additionally, the C 300 4Matic model gets some major tech upgrades under the hood, such as a standard 48-volt integrated starter-generator (ISG), a.k.a. a mild hybrid drive system. It combines with Mercedes’ potent 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic transmission, for a total of 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor is responsible for 20 of those horses, plus 147 lb-ft of additional twist, but despite its boost in output the new car is a tad slower than the outgoing model off the line. Of course, the changes are more about fuel-efficiency, the hybrid drivetrain joined by driveline drag reducing gliding capability, plus a kinetic energy recovery system.
Strangely, we won’t see the plug-in hybrid version, which reportedly has an EV range of 100 km between charges (maybe it’s reserved for Germany’s taxi fleets), so any hopes of scoring any front-of-business reserved plug-in parking spots when at the wheel of a C-Class need to be dashed, or for that matter blasting past rush-hour traffic in the HOV lane.
Mercedes has made no announcements of ultra-potent six- or eight-cylinder AMG-tuned C-Class models either, but instead we’re hearing reports of electrically-assisted four-cylinder variants, possibly similar to Volvo’s T8 and Polestar Engineered power units. The difference between regular and AMG hybrid Cs will come down to tuning, with the former prioritizing fuel economy and the latter focused on performance.
Of course, the new C-Class will also include all the expected driver assistive systems, including sign and red-light recognition, and steering assistance to help drivers maintain a chosen lane up to 210 km/h, where legally permitted.
As noted earlier, we can expect the new 2022 C 300 4Matic arrive in Canadian dealerships later this year, but we’ll have to wait a little longer for pricing and trim details. For the time being, Mercedes is providing up to $5,500 in additional incentives on the 2021 C-Class models, while CarCostCanada members are currently saving an average of $3,950.
To learn more about how to save money with your CarCostCanada membership, check out our “How it Works” page. Members receive info about manufacturer leasing and financing deals when available, plus factory rebates when available, as well as dealer invoice pricing that can help you save thousands when negotiating over a new vehicle. Also, be sure to download the our free app from the Google Play store or Apple store too, so you can access all this critical money-saving info on your smartphone.
The C-Class: Rapid-Fire Questions to Dirk Fetzer (1:07):
The New C-Class Sedan: An Intelligent Comfort Zone (0:49):
The New C-Class Sedan: A Connected Comfort Zone (0:56):
What’s the oldest production vehicle currently for sale in Canada? The only reason you might not have immediately thought of Nissan’s Frontier pickup truck, is because it’s been so long since the Japanese brand has advertised it. After all, the mid-size model has hardly changed since it was significantly made over 16 years ago, but even that mid-cycle refresh was based on a truck that dated back to 1997. Yah, today’s second-generation Frontier is from the last century, a shocking 24 years old under the skin.
Time for a redesign? Just a bit, but thankfully Nissan will make its all-new third-gen Frontier available for sale later this year, and by first impressions it should cause a splash in the market. To be fair to Nissan, at least it didn’t walk away from the compact/mid-size truck market altogether like Dodge (Ram) did a decade ago when it dropped its Dakota.
The domestic brand (having changed its truck division’s name to Ram well before finding itself under the ownership of Stellantis, a new entity that combines Fiat Chrysler with the PSA Groupe) is reportedly looking to return to this segment like Ford did with its upsized Ranger a few years back (the old compact Ranger was discontinued in 2011), while the Chevrolet/GMCColorado/Canyon twins only suffered from a two-or-so year hiatus between first and second generations. A new Dakota should make sense, especially when considering how well the automaker has done with its Jeep Gladiator, a pickup truck version of the iconic brand’s Wrangler SUV.
Toyota’s Tacoma has long led this class for sales and ownership loyalty, despite what segment-upstart Honda has attempted with its unibody Ridgeline alternative, while Hyundai and Ford will soon try to show there’s still life left in the smaller compact pickup category with their respective Santa Cruz and Maverick models.
Yes, Nissan will have plenty of challengers to go up against when its new Frontier arrives for the 2022 model year, but from what we can see it looks like this truck will be a serious contender right out of the gate. It gets a more angular design that pays a bit of homage to the brand’s old Hardbody pickups of the 1980s and 1990s, but we think the new styling shows more respect to the full-size Titan, particularly its front door window cutouts, which, similar to the Ford F-150, are kinked to help with visibility.
The new Frontier also appears influenced by the aforementioned Canyon, at least before GMC said so long to its arguably more attractive rectangular grille. Any resemblance to the domestic truck shouldn’t be a problem for Nissan enthusiasts, mind you, because the new Frontier looks unique enough, comes across as tough and rugged, plus it shows off plenty of state-of-the-art LED lighting elements.
Modernity in mind, the old Frontier’s interior stays firmly in the past, with Nissan hardly even pulling forward any nods to yesteryear for posterity’s sake. We think is a smart move, because the brand needs to show that this truck has been totally reengineered. Now it looks so refined that Nissan should truly be drawing up a new Xterra to share its underpinnings, especially considering how hot the 4×4-capable SUV market is right now.
Nissan replaces the old model’s rounded dash with a chunkier, blockier design that should go over well with fans of industrial tools. This said everything flows together nicely, in a tastefully conservative way. Details include stitched and padded pliable synthetic bolstering ahead of the front passenger, plus a similar soft-touch application added to the grip-like sides of the lower centre console. We’re guessing the truck shown is a Pro-4X, due to its attractive orangey-red highlights and nicer than expected refinement, so we’ll wait to see how other trims are finished before making any judgements.
Despite this being near top-of-the-line, the primary gauge cluster is mostly analogue, but it incorporates a big colour multi-information display in the middle, de rigueur these days, which will no doubt come filled of useful functions, while a reasonably large standard 8.0-inch touchscreen is placed at the top of the centre stack. It includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, plus all of the other expected functions in base form, including a reverse camera. According to Nissan, the Frontier is available with a 360-degree Around View parking camera in upper trims, viewable via an even bigger 9.0-inch touchscreen. Additionally, wireless device charging (albeit without wireless CarPlay) will be an option too, as will a nine-speaker Fender audio system when choosing the Pro-4X.
The Pro-4X is the Frontier’s most capable off-road trim, by the way, and therefore also gets special Bilstein shock absorbers and underfloor skid plates that cover the transmission and fuel tank, while sharp looking red tow hooks are added to the front bumper, and an orangey-red version of Nissan’s new badge gets added to the front, rear and interior.
The 2020 model Frontier (there wasn’t a 2021 model) came in S, SV and Pro-4X trims (and can be had with zero-percent financing right now), plus a Midnight Edition that has yet to be offered for the 2022 model year. A sporty Nismo edition is reported on the way, but for the time being three main trims get the nod. What’s more, Canada gets a simplified lineup that discontinues two-wheel drive variants, other than a fleet-only base King Cab S work truck.
Yes, both King Cab and Crew Cab variants will make a return for 2022, with the former available across the whole model range, and the latter only found in base S trim. Still, a Canadian-spec Frontier can be had in Pro-4X trim with the smaller King Cab, which isn’t available south of the border (or north if you live in Windsor).
The King Cab features a six-foot bed as it always has, leaving the shorter five-foot bed for the Crew Cab, other than with the long-wheelbase SV model, which increases the truck’s wheelbase from 3,200 mm (126 in) to 3,550 mm (140 in).
The US-specification Frontier received a new 3.8-litre V6 and nine-speed automatic a couple of years ago, but our version soldiered on as is. Now our 2022 Frontier gets the upgraded engine, which makes 310 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. It should be powerful enough off the line, plenty potent for highway passing, and particularly good when off-road, making our team excited to get behind the wheel for a full road and trail test.
Hitting the trail in mind, every Frontier sold to retail customers includes Nissan’s part-time shift-on-the-fly 4WD, which provides 2WD, 4HI and 4LO modes, connecting through to an electronically-controlled transfer case. Other features include hill start assist and hill descent control, while Pro-4X models get an electronic locking differential.
Canadian-market Frontiers receive a maximum tow rating of 2,944 kilos (6,500 lbs), which isn’t quite as good as the best possible 3,408-kilogram (7,500-lb) US-spec rating, due to their two-wheel drive model that’s once again not offered here. Just the same, the Frontier’s four-wheel drive tow rating is competitive at 2,268 kg (5,000 lbs).
Also competitive, Nissan will provide all Frontier trims with its suite of Safety Shield 360 advanced driving assistive technologies in Canada, which include automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic-braking, high beam assistance, and adaptive cruise control.
Look for the new 2022 Frontier to show up this summer, with pricing and trim details to land just ahead of arrival.
We can never say Infiniti is following the crowd by introducing its new QX55 crossover coupe. After all, the Japanese luxury brand helped define this niche market segment way back in 2002 when they unveiled the mid-size V6- and V8-powered FX35 and FX45. That strong-performing SUV would eventually transform into the even more dramatic QX70, and sadly be discontinued after the 2017 model year. It remains a great used buy for those wanting a true coupe-like “sport” utility featuring elegant finishings inside.
The new QX55 is for those who want something a bit sportier than the QX50, but more practical than the Q50 sedan or Q60 sports coupe. Sure, rear passengers need to give up a little headroom, while its cargo compartment is slightly smaller, but nothing in life is without compromise, and the QX55 delivers big in many other ways.
To be clear, the QX55 loses 134 litres of cargo capacity when compared to the QX50, which leaves 761 litres compared to 895. Sliding the rear seats forward can increase dedicated luggage space, but this versatility is unoptimized by less-than-ideal 60/40-split rear seatbacks, compared to European competitors that provide the more convenient 40/20/40 rear seat split that allows longer items, like skis, to be laid down the middle while two rear passengers enjoy the more comfortable rear window seats.
Those competitors include a few well-proven contenders, such as the BMW X4 that started the entire compact SUV coupe segment off in 2014. It was followed in 2018 by Mercedes’ GLC Coupe, while the Audi Q5 Sportback is entirely new for 2021. Now Infiniti hits the market as the first non-German luxury brand to offer an SUV coupe.
To be fair, some compact luxury rivals look similarly swank, including the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Velar, Porsche Macan and Tesla Model Y, so they could very well vie for SUV coupe-like contention, but being the only compact models offered by their respective luxury brands, and providing similar passenger and cargo volumes to their more conventional category challengers, we’ll leave them off the list. They deserve honourable mentions, however, as does Genesis’ soon-to-arrive GV70.
The new QX55 can arguably be called the most attractive crossover in Infiniti’s shrinking SUV lineup (after they cancelled the QX70 they also nixed the subcompact QX30). It offers up a sizeable interpretation of Infiniti’s stylish double-arched grille, a standard set of slim LED headlamps, which Infiniti says “mimic the human eye,” plus gloss-black fog light bezels that look similar to brake cooling ducts. The look is imposing, yet classy.
Continuing rearward, dwn the QX55’s curvaceous side surfaces and arching roofline flow into a short rear deck lid, the latter said to be a “fresh interpretation of the FX silhouette” by Infiniti. It combines for a neat and tidy hind end, highlighted by “piano key” style tail lamps boasting 45 separate LEDs for quite the dazzling display after hours.
Black cladding trims off the SUV’s lower extremities, of course, running from the front wheel arches backward, sweeping upwards when reaching the rear bumper in order to outline a body-colour diffuser-style panel packed full of chromed rectangular exhaust pipes. It’s a handsome design that should be popular with those wanting something slightly more daring from a brand known to be more dependable than its European competitors.
Behind its elegant grille is the same variable-compression 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine found in the QX50, in which it makes 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It’s conjoined to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steering wheel paddles, which while efficient and reliable, is rarely a performance fan’s first choice. Canadian examples feature standard AWD, while its fuel economy is slightly lower than the QX50’s at a claimed rating of 10.5 L/100km city, 8.3 highway and 9.5 combined.
Like the engine and drivetrain, the QX55’s cabin hardly deviates from its more conventionally shaped sibling, other than the top-tier Sensory model’s lack of quilted leather upholstery. Seeming to be trying for a sportier theme, this model gets optional two-tone Monaco Red and Graphite black detailing, joined by additional red accents on the centre stack and lower console, which truly highlights the unique shape of this technology-filled cabin divider. Additionally, this swath of bright colouring gets offset by dark grey, open-pore wood trim on the dash and door panels, while these pieces butt up against satin-finish aluminum trim that combines with yet more nicely finished metal throughout the cabin.
The Japanese brand’s InTouch 8.0- (upper) and 7.0-inch (lower) dual digital displays are once again front and centre, which is a sharp contrast to most premium rivals that house their main screens like upright fixed tablets on the dash top. This choice allows for touch capacitive use along with most peoples’ preferred smartphone-style tap, swipe and pinch finger gestures, while redundant controls are located on the steering wheel spokes. The QX55 will come standard with all expected infotainment functions too, such as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and 4G LTE wi-fi connectivity for up to seven devices.
The QX55 just went on sale with three available trim levels. The first is Luxe, which at $51,995 plus freight and fees includes standard AWD, 20-inch alloys, leatherette upholstery, dark aluminum interior trim, heated front seats, a powered glass sunroof, active noise cancellation, and a bevy of advanced driver assistive systems like predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic rear braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beams.
Upgrade to $56,998 Essential ProAssist trim and you’ll get adaptive front LED headlights, an overhead surround parking camera with moving object detection, adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, blind spot intervention, and lane departure prevention, while additional features include InTouch navigation, a Bose audio system with 16 speakers, and leather upholstery.
As mentioned earlier, Sensory is the top-line trim in the QX55 hierarchy, which at $60,998 features plusher semi-aniline leather upholstery, the previously noted open-pore maple wood accents, three-zone auto HVAC, ambient cabin lighting, and a motion-activated liftgate, while this model’s tech systems are further improved with a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, full speed range and hold capabilities for the adaptive cruise control, ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving with steering assist, and finally, Infiniti’s exclusive drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system.
Infiniti’s new crossover luxury coupe faces some serious competitors, mostly because its brand name doesn’t provide the same premium cachet as more established marques like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Nevertheless, the QX55 provides impressive good looks, similar levels of luxury, competitive technology and strong performance, while the new QX55’s value proposition should be a deal-maker for those concerned about their monthly payments.
Saving money in mind, Infiniti is already offering up to $1,500 in additional incentives for the new QX55, as seen on our pricing page, where you can choose one of its three trims and configure it to your liking. Find out how you can save thousands when buying your next vehicle by becoming a CarCostCanada member, and be sure to download our free CarCostCanada app as well, so you can get info on the latest factory rebates, newest manufacturer financing and leasing deals, and dealer invoice pricing that will make negotiating your best deal ultra-easy.
If you’re considering a performance SUV, I have four words of advice: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio. Despite being compact in size, or maybe because of it, the feisty Italian is one of the fastest production utilities ever created.
How fast is it? It’s evenly matched against Mercedes-AMG’s similarly sized GLC 63 S off the line, both holding title to quickest in their compact luxury SUV class, while it edges out the segment’s second-fastest BMW X3 M Competition by 3 km/h at 283 km/h (176 mph) compared to 280 (174). Possibly more important from an all-round performance perspective, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio has earned more fastest lap records than any SUV available new today.
It doesn’t hurt that it shares racing pedigree limelight with the aforementioned three-pointed star brand, even if Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN is no Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Afla’s just older, wiser and cooler than Merc, the Italian brand having been formed in 1915 compared to Mercedes’ 1922 (a technicality, but it’s F1 and I’m running with it). Likewise, I’d rather hang out with Alfa’s older, wiser and cooler driver and F1 champion Kimi Räikkönen than seven-times world champ Lewis Hamilton too. Kimi’s chill and hilarious, while Lewis is always so serious, and so political… but I digress.
Or did I? After all, when we buy a premium branded car, especially a performance model with awesome street cred, most of us buy into the company that builds it as much as the vehicle itself. Whether we want to admit it or not, branding sells, and while Alfa Romeo doesn’t reach as many luxury buyers are Mercedes-Benz, I’m willing to wager a bet the majority of those who buy into Alfa do so with more enthusiasm. Maybe it’s an Italian thing. Alfa is all about red-blooded passion.
That Alfa Romeo is infused with more racing pedigree than most of its competitors doesn’t hurt matters either, the brand even fielding a Formula One team, which can’t be said for all of its key competitors except Mercedes-AMG—Aston Martin’s larger and much pricier DBX isn’t a direct competitor. You don’t buy one of these things because you’re being practical. Sure, a Stelvio is easier to stow things inside than a Giulia or any other premium sedan, and it seats four large adults in comfort or five in a pinch, but you can do that in a RAV4, and go pretty quick to boot, if it’s the new plug-in hybrid.
Pretty quick is one thing, but the Stelvio Quadrifoglio’s top track speed is only beaten by Aston Martin’s new DBX amongst SUVs, the little Alfa managing 283 km/h (176 mph), as noted earlier, with the Aston whisking past at a heady 291 km/h (181 mph). The Quad is actually quicker from standstill to 100 km/h, leaving the exotic super-SUV behind as if it’s standing still, the two brands’ official 0-100 km/h times claimed to be 3.8 seconds to 4.5. That’s not even in the same ballpark, let alone on the same track (although the DBX looked fabulous pulling up behind the Merc, Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari, AlphaTauri, Alfa, Alpine, Williams, Haas, and yes, Aston F1 cars as the official medical car at the Bahrain GP last weekend).
Aston will likely follow up the current DBX with a stronger performing version at some point, just like Porsche does with its various Cayenne trims. The German brand’s Turbo S E-Hybrid is monstrous, while Bentley’s massive Bentayga Speed completely defies physics, but at least for now we can’t deny the hard numbers. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is even quicker from zero to 100 km/h than those just-noted uber utes. It’s not the quickest of all, mind you, this honour going to Lamborghini’s phenomenal Urus, which is capable of jettisoning from standstill to 100 km/h in a ferocious 3.4 seconds, while independent testers have claimed even quicker times.
I’ve driven some of the above and each were crazy fun, but all said there’s something extraordinarily special about the Stelvio Quadrifoglio. It feels lighter and nimbler than most, and the music made from its snarling sextet of pistons and rambunctious quartet of tailpipes is like nothing else this side of the fabulous Giulia Quadrifoglio. Combined with accompanying G forces bashing my backside into a perfectly formed leather- and Alcantara-covered driver’s seat, not to mention similar forces trying to expel me beyond that seat’s sizeable side bolsters when pushing the envelope through twisting backroads, this SUV is shockingly good.
Trust me, I did my best to drive slowly. I truly did. In fact, I more or less succeeded in maintaining posted limits around the city and along rural highways, especially where joy-sucking regulation enforcers have been known to drink coffee and eat donuts while poking radar guns out windows of less inspirational Ford Explorers, but I failed miserably when beyond my city’s outer perimeter, where ideal strips of perfectly aligned pavement stretched diagonally across farmland to connect minuscule communities with circuitous secondary backroads and even quicker-paced byways. This is where Alfa’s Quadrifoglios were designed to run freely, and where I quickly learned how otherworldly this little utility is to drive.
Spin its DNA drive selector to the “d” position for sportier Dynamic mode, or turn it one position farther for “RACE”, which results in even more intense performance, and prepare for ridiculous levels of speed, not to mention one of the most enticingly exhaustive snap, crackle and pop cacophonies to ever emanate from the rear of a vehicle.
Alfa Romeo wraps a beautiful set of 20-inch alloys in 255/45R20 front and 285/40R20 rear Pirelli P Zero performance rubber, which can cling to most any kind of road surface. The specially-chosen tires combine ideally with a smartly sorted chassis that feels as if it could run rings around any competitor.
My driving position was excellent. Alfa slightly squared-off the Quad’s leather-wrapped sport steering wheel, which was just large enough to feel substantive without being cumbersome. It features nicely formed thumb spats for a good grip, these just ahead of long alloy paddle shifters that are attached to the steering column instead of the wheel. This means they’re always where they’re supposed to be, even when the wheel’s rotated in a given direction multiple times. The steering column’s tilt and reach adjustability is generous as well, with the latter matching excellent seat adjustment. My long-legged, short-torso frame fit in well, not always the case with some rivals, which resulted in good control and much-appreciated comfort.
No wonder Alfa Romeo’s team of professional drivers have had no issue setting global track lap records. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio leads every SUV made at Britain’s famed Silverstone (2:31.6) racetrack, not to mention Donington Park (1:21.1), and the Indy Circuit at Brands Hatch (55.9), but to be fair I must admit its record-setting 7:51.7-minute lap around the Nürburgring Nordschleife was recently broken by the aforementioned GLC 63 S, the hyper-Merc laying down a wickedly quick lap time of 7.49.369 minutes.
Both are faster in one lap of the 20.832-km mountainside racetrack than the next-best Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, however, which did the deed in 7:59.7 minutes, while the Range Rover Sport SVR could only manage the course in 8:14 minutes. Until one of the previously mentioned super-SUVs chooses to take these two little compacts on at the ‘Ring, they’ll likely remain top of the “Green Hell” podium.
Back to my need for fairness, the Urus nabbed the title from this Stelvio Q at one of my favourite racecourses, California’s Laguna Seca. It makes sense for the 641-horsepower super-ute to beat the little Alfa, especially when factoring in the latter SUV’s comparatively bargain-basement price, but its 1:40.9-minute record lap wasn’t all that much better than the Stelvio’s 1:43.5-minute trip around the ultra-challenging track.
It doesn’t matter which premium branded super SUV you opt for, its interior will come stuffed full of contrast-stitched leather with ultra-suede accents, brushed and polished metals, plus glossy carbon-fibre trim, and more, while high-grade pliable composite surfaces are used where one of the above coverings won’t work. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio is no exception. That said, at just under $100k it’s not going to blow away a Bentayga owner, but its interior design is nevertheless alluring, quality of workmanship excellent, and overall sense of luxury impressive.
I was happy to learn of its updated infotainment system too, the interface more user-friendly and graphically inspiring than a four-cylinder Stelvio I drove before. Its drag and drop tile/widget design made it more customizable too, while it can do most anything its competitors can, plus compile performance statistics via various “pages” showing boost, torque, lateral Gs, etcetera.
I was surprised, but not disappointed that a fully-digital gauge cluster wasn’t included, being that the analogue dials and sporty circular shrouds looked fabulous and worked well. A large speedo and tach bookended a big high-definition multi-information display in the middle, this screen complete with the usual functions.
Along with the impeccably finished cabin and outrageous performance, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is plenty practical too. It’s an SUV after all, and therefore came with a comfortable, sizeable second row with three seatbelts across, as well as three-way outboard seat heaters, two USB-A charge ports on the backside of the front console, great rear ventilation, and overall refinement as nicely finished as the front seating area.
The cargo compartment was similarly impressive, and roomy enough for the majority of peoples’ requirements. An especially useful 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback expanded on its cargo carrying capacity further, while Alfa also included an smartly engineered aluminum track system for strapping down items that might otherwise fly about (for those moments when you temporarily forget you’re supposed to be carting cargo and start driving like Mario).
Alfa Romeo is currently offering factory leasing and financing rates from zero-percent, by the way, so be sure to check out our 2021 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Canada Prices page where you can also configure your Stelvio with every available colour and option. A CarCostCanada membership will also provide information about available manufacturer rebates when available, plus dealer invoice pricing that can make sure you pay the lowest price possible during negotiations. Learn how the CarCostCanada system saves you money, and remember to download our free app from the Google Play Store or Apple Store so you can have all of this critical info immediately available.
To reiterate, the Stelvio Quadrifoglio is up against some very worthy premium competitors, but the fact that you’ll need to spend more than $250k in order to get something capable of outrunning it says everything you need to know. Mercedes’ fastest GLC is a more direct match and should be up for consideration, but its twin-turbo V8 doesn’t provide the same kind of high-strung audio track as Alfa’s 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, making the Italian more like watching (and listening to) classic F1, and the Merc more akin to today’s fast yet dull sounding hybrid machinery.
We also need to consider standard features and options. The Stelvio Quadrifoglio comes mostly loaded up with features, other than approximately $4k worth of add-ons, whereas the AMG GLC 63 S can be had for slightly less in base form, but the German model needs to be optioned up with more than $26k of extras to come in line with the Italian SUV. This probably makes the Stelvio Quadrifoglio the wiser choice financially, even though you probably won’t care what it costs once behind the wheel.
The 1960s and early ‘70s was the era of cheap, affordable sports cars, with today’s entry-level offerings few and far between. Fortunately for car enthusiasts, our Japanese friends haven’t given up on the sportiest market yet, with Subaru having finally silenced doomsayers projecting the demise of the BRZ and its Toyota 86 clone, by introducing the fully redesigned second-generation coupe.
Currently, every BRZ/86 competitor is Japanese except for Fiat’s 124 Spider that’s based on Mazda MX-5 underpinnings (powertrain excluded), which is like overhearing Japanese spoken with an Italian accent while eating cannelloni flavoured sushi (hmmm… that might actually be good), and while today’s Nissan 370Z can be bought for a song in its most basic form, chances of a $30k 400Z are unlikely. For those not requiring as much forward thrust in order to have a good time, mind you, the upcoming 2022 BRZ could be the ideal answer.
The completely reengineered Subie will arrive with more power, however, bumping engine performance up from 205 horsepower and 156 lb-ft of torque to 228 horsepower and 184 lb-ft, which is an increase of 23 and 28 respectively. That won’t placate grumblers vying for the WRX STI’s 310-hp mill, or even the regular WRX’ 268 hp, but it’s respectable for this class.
The increased power comes from a new naturally aspirated 2.4-litre horizontally opposed four-cylinder, which is 400 cubic centimetres larger than the outgoing 2.0-litre powerplant. No turbo is attached, but keep in mind this is the same basic engine as used for the mid-size Legacy, Outback and three-row Ascent SUV, which with turbocharger attached makes of 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Therefore, a more potent performance model is once again possible for Subaru or mechanics with tuning chops.
More important than straight-line power in this category is low mass, and to Subaru’s credit only 7.7 kilograms (17 lbs) were added to this larger and more technologically advanced car, the 2022 BRZ weighing in at 1,277 kg (2,815 lbs) in base trim. Exterior measurements increase by 25 mm (1 in) to 4,265 mm (167.9 in) from nose to tail, while the 2,575-mm (101.4-in) wheelbase has only increased by 5 mm (0.2 in).
The change is the result of its Subaru Global Platform-sourced body structure, which makes the new model 50 percent stiffer than the old BRZ. In a press release, Subaru claims that key areas of strengthening included “a reinforced chassis mounting system, sub-frame architecture and other connection points,” while the car’s front lateral bending rigidity is now 60-percent more rigid, saying to “improve turn-in and response.”
Despite all the upgrades, the BRZ’s general suspension layout stays the same, with front struts and a double-wishbone setup in back, but the new model gets updates aplenty nevertheless, and now rolls on standard 17-inch alloy wheels with 18-inch rims optional, wearing 215/45R17 and 215/40R18 rubber respectively.
As was the case with the outgoing BRZ, a short-throw six-speed manual transmission will come standard with the 2022 model, while the same six-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles and downshift rev-matching is part of the 2022 package too. A standard limited-slip differential remains standard issue for the new BRZ too, so hooking up all that power won’t be an issue.
Performance aside, what do you think of the new look? So far, critics have been mostly positive, appreciating the 2022 model’s more aggressive character lines, while the interior has received universal praise. Yes, the current car has aged reasonably well, but it’s been nearly a decade so any modernization would likely be an improvement. Along with a complete instrument panel redesign, a 7.0-inch digital colour display has been integrated within the all-new primary gauge cluster, while over on the centre stack is a new 8.0-inch touchscreen housing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, plus the usual assortment of entertainment and information functions.