One of the original swoopy-coupe four-doors is ready to enter a new generation.
Audi tweeted out a teaser for its next-generation A7 hatchback. The tweet also promised that the new A7 would be unveiled on Oct. 19. The company gave out a teaser with its tweet, showing off the A7’s new-but-still-familiar fastback rear end.
While there isn’t much to glean from the teaser, there are a few things we can assume about the new Audi A7. In terms of looks, I’d expect it to carry some similarity to other new Audi models, like the 2019 A8. The taillights will probably carry similarities, as well, although I’m personally hoping that silly chrome strip from the A8 won’t make an appearance.
When it comes to powertrains, Audi probably won’t mess with success. It will likely carry a variety of engines from I4s to V8s, and it may also have the same 48-volt mild hybrid tech as the A8. The A8 is capable of SAE Level 3 semi-autonomous driving, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the new A7 will pack something similar, too.
The A7 will have some serious competition when it enters the market. Porsche has a brand new Panamera at dealerships, and Mercedes-Benz is slated to unveil its CLS-Class hatchback in the near future, as well.
The next major auto show is Los Angeles in late November, so the A7 will probably make an appearance in the City of Angels after Thanksgiving. We’ll be in Munich for its initial unveiling later this week, so keep your eyes peeled to Roadshow for more information on the next-generation Audi A7.
For 2018 Honda has improved the Accord in almost every way, making this a sedan worthy of your attention.
by Tim Stevens
Family sedans may be passé in this increasingly crossover SUV-dominated market, but they still offer the best blend of practicality, drivability and economy for your typical small family. And that’s why they still dominate the sales charts. Now, with fuel prices on the rise again, efficiency is returning to prominence. For 2018, the Honda Accord Hybrid offers that efficiency without compromising the other parts of the package.
In earlier Accords, selecting the Hybrid model meant making do with a trunk that yielded to the demands of battery packaging. Those big, heavy cells that provide the electric part of the driveline equation need to live somewhere, and on the 2017 and earlier models they only fit behind the rear seats.
For 2018, the Accord rides on a new chassis that makes room for those batteries beneath the rear seats. The new, smaller lithium-ion battery pack now disappears into the structure of the car, meaning exactly the same 16.7 cubic feet of trunk space as the normal sedan. That’s 0.9 cubic feet up over the 2017 Honda Accord — the non-hybrid. And, with the batteries situated beneath the seats, the Hybrid also gets the same 60/40 split rear seatback.
Up front, a new 2.0-liter, Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine provides 143 horsepower and 129 pound-feet of torque, delivering an incredible 40 percent thermal efficiency. That may not sound like much, but it’s Honda’s most efficient production engine ever. That’s paired with an electric motor that boosts total system output to 212 horsepower, 20 more than the base Accord’s 1.5-liter turbocharged four.
Interestingly that hybrid system is configured in series, meaning the car can run entirely on the electric motor and use the gasoline motor just to recharge the batteries, a la the Chevrolet Volt. But, when engine speed or acceleration demands, both motors can work in parallel to provide maximum performance.
But don’t expect too much on that front. I was able to drive an early version of the 2018 Accord Hybrid and found the acceleration to be on the relaxed side, more than acceptable but lacking the EV-style rush of torque that we’ve come to expect from cars like the Volt. But, this was just a hand-built prototype that had spent the day getting flogged by journalists, so a fresher car with a full battery pack may very well perform better.
The big question, of course, is overall economy and, sadly, that we don’t have an answer for yet. The 2018 Accord in its most efficient configuration, with the 1.5-liter engine and CVT, offers a combined 33 mpg. The 2017 Honda Accord Hybrid manages 48 combined, so don’t be surprised if the new car pushes that figure well into the 50s. Despite that, we should actually see a decrease in price. For 2018 the Accord Hybrid will be available in the base LX trim, losing some interior niceties in exchange for a lower MSRP.
The 2018 Accord Hybrid hits dealers early next year and, while I was quite impressed by my time behind the wheel of the traditionally powered sedans, if you’re not in a hurry I’m inclined to think the Hybrid will be well worth the wait.
Cooley asks, Why have any 7 Series when you can have an Alpina?
by Brian Cooley
An Alpina B7 is basically a 7 Series with a better pedigree, a class warrior among the high class. Its similarities to the M760Li are numerous: Long wheelbase, 600 or so HP, 590 lb-ft of torque, AWD and a virtually identical 0-60 time. The two diverge most heavily on base price, with the $139,000 V8-powered B7 being a bargain compared to the $157,000 V12-powered M760Li. But the real difference between them is personality.
BMW, in partnership with tuner Alpina, only makes a few hundred B7s for the US market in a given year. And where the M760Li has power rippling under every crease of its tautly-cut suit, the B7 needs to be coaxed more – then comes roaring out of hell. Its acts as though it has less to prove than its M cousin.
Front and rear air suspension are adaptive and can change height, squatting down 0.8″ when you hit 140 MPH. I didn’t get a chance to test that.
Alpina tunes in their own suspension and transmission feel along with a different power curve, much of that achieved by a revised intake, top-nested turbos, intercoolers and related plumbing to get better breathing from the N63B BMW 4.4 liter V8. Its all finished off with a unique aero kit along with color and trim choices that are flashier than the typical somber 7.
The instrument panel is mostly LCD, with distinctive Alpina colors, typography and presentation of the various drive modes.
Inside there’s the satisfying new iDrive system with a much more clear and digestible interface. And then there’s the remarkable – and pointless – gesture control. You’ll show it off once per each person who gets in your car the first time. Then you’re done.
CarPlay, yes, Android Auto, no. That’s annoying. We had optional BW audio in our car, but satellite radio still sounded pretty awful, so I’m on the fence about this $3,400 option.
Voice recognition is really good, a solid example of natural language, but strangled by its paucity of broad context and any real knowledge about me. Back to your phone and “OK, Google”.
The rear seat area can be equipped with the usual array of recline, massage, heating cooling, as well as a trick motorized tablet that ports most of the features of the front row head unit.
If you are in the market for a high performance 7 Series and want a unusual one that is something of a bargain and has its own elegant way of hammering down the road, the B7 is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, they’re probably all sold out by the time you read this.
Subscription-style access to cars is slowly growing in popularity, and Porsche is the latest automaker to take advantage of the trend.
Porsche Passport has a pretty straightforward premise — pay a set amount of money each month, and gain access to a library of Porsche vehicles that will be delivered right to your door for however long you want to drive it.
There are two tiers. The $2,000 per month “Launch” package lets you choose from eight different model variants, including the 718 Boxster and Cayman, Macan S and Cayenne. Spring for the $3,000 per month “Accelerate” package, and that expands to 22 variants, including the Panamera 4S, 911 Carrera S and Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
In order to join, you have to download the Porsche Passport app and pay a one-time $500 activation fee. After a background and credit check, you’re in. The monthly premiums include tax, registration, insurance, maintenance and detailing. There’s apparently no limit to the number of swaps you can have in a given month, and there’s no mileage limitation, either.
Porsche Passport will start as a pilot program in the Atlanta area, since that’s where Porsche Cars North America is headquartered. Vehicle deliveries will begin in November, and will likely expand based on the pilot program’s success.
Porsche is not the first automaker to do something like this. Cadillac has its Book by Cadillac program, which costs $1,500 per month and includes high-end, Platinum-trim vehicles. Volvo is experimenting with something similar with its Care by Volvo plan, announced alongside the new XC40 SUV.
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