Audi of America hosted a number of regional automotive journalists at their headquarters in Herndon Virginia where we heard from their President Scott Keogh about the current market and Audi’s focus on technologically forward vehicles. While EV’s were not in the mix, CSUV’s and Sportbacks were, as they are the current trend in the market.
Mr. Keogh spoke of how well the Q line of vehicles is doing all across the USA, from Boston to Dallas, from DC to San Francisco. Relating that the owner demographic is one of the youngest in the industry. And that is directly related to not only the vehicles providing up-to-date technology such as Apple Car Play and Android Auto as much as for the well designed and efficient vehicles, as well as the Audi dealer network that supports the Audi brand.
We have always liked the styling of Audi’s even back in the day when the brand was barely on the US roads. While today ‘s Audi’s are great looking, what impressed us is the driver and passenger comfort, due to the thought behind the ergonomics of the interior. The dash layout and control placement, the comfort of the seats, and not just the high-end S-line seats, the base Q5 seats were just as comfortable.
Driveability of the Audi vehicles was excellent in both the turbocharged 4-cylinder and the 6-cylinder powered models. Handling was tight, accurate and with excellent ride comfort in both the CSUV and A5 Sportback models. While a CSUV is not a sports car, these Audi’s provide a sporty experience behind the wheel with plenty of luxury. The only down side was that the S-Line exhaust was a bit noisy, especially for a long drive. Though a throaty exhaust seems to be what buyers of the up market performance trim vehicles are expecting.
Our overall experience with the A5 Sportback and both the SQ5 and the Q5 Compact Sport Utility Vehicles was excellent. A year ago Queer4Cars spent time in the full-size Audi Q7 and our opinion of the brand has only increased after spending time in these additional models.
Speaking of Audi experiences, we will be driving an Audi A5 on a week-long test drive in September driving from Washington DC to Cooperstown NY, on to the 911 Memorial in Manhattan, and back to DC. Stay tuned for that update.
Until Then, Enjoy the Adventure!
Words by William West Hopper, images courtesy of Audi Newsroom and William West Hopper.
More than a decade ago hybrid drivetrains were an automotive novelty since then they have become a staple in all market segments from economy cars to trucks. Their novelty became a necessity with rising gasoline prices and tax breaks, end the elimination of HOV, and toll road exemptions. Now, these vehicles have gone beyond the “look at me, I beat the commuter crowd system” status symbol, as almost every manufacturer has a hybrid version.
Electric Vehicles once an urban staple a century ago, are following suit. Today with more technology, range and initial out of pocket costs, they too are no longer just cult vehicles out of the financial grasp of the everyday driver, they are becoming common in driveways across the USA.
Hyundai has brought to market the efficient and fun to drive Ioniq, challenging Toyota’s Prius at all levels from the economy and ride to build quality and cost. Ioniq comes in three powertrains; hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric, all on the same hatchback platform that drivers find familiar.
What makes Ioniq different from the other hybrids on the market, beyond its economical operation? It is designed and built with less reliance on oil-based materials. With the use of recycled or ecologically-sensitive interior materials, door covers are made of plastic combined with powdered wood and volcanic stone producing a softer, more natural feel. Headliner and carpet have been developed using sustainable sugar cane and paints with renewable ingredients extracted from soybean oil are used to achieve lustrous metallic colors on key components.
All the while advanced technology is as much a part of the Ioniq driving experience through enhanced state-of-the-art connectivity features like Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto® and Blue Link®, as well as wireless charging for smartphones. Ioniq also offers the very latest in advanced safety, including Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, for high levels of both active and passive vehicle safety. Even the HVAC runs efficiently to use as little energy to heat and cool the vehicles.
Not only can you choose the color, but also your choice of drivetrain. High mileage hybrid, high range electric for around town or a bit of both for trips further afield.
Prices run from $22,200 for the base blue to $27,500 for the top-line Limited. Hyundai’s proprietary hybrid specific drivetrain has been engineered for this vehicle and gets 55+ MPG. Hybrid system architecture with a Kapa 1.6 GDI 4-cylinder engine, 32KW Permanent Magnetic Electic motor, and six-speed hybrid dual clutch transmission. The front of the Ioniq Hybrid is characterized by the Bi-Xenon HID headlights surrounded by C-shaped LED positioning lamps. Hyundai’s signature hexagonal grille and vertical C-shaped LED daytime running lights further convey purity of design. The hybrid rolls on either 15 or 17-inch Eco-Spoke alloy wheels.
Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid (Available 4th quarter2017)
While pricing has not been announced, this is the combination of plug-in electric for urban use and true hybrid for long distance driving, this is labeled for 27 miles in full EV mode with gasoline mpg to be announced. In addition to general exterior design details, the Plug-in Hybrid also integrates a charging portal into the left front fender for the lithium-ion polymer battery. Specially-designed 16-inch alloy wheels further differentiate the Plug-in Hybrid model.
Pricing starts at $29,500 for the base and $32,500 for the limited, depending on the state, there may be tax incentives that lower that cost. Powered by an 88 kw permanent magnetic electric motor, a 28 kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery and a gear drive. And is labeled as 135 MPGe with real world expectations of going 124 miles on a full charge. The Electric model also features HID Xenon Headlamps with Dynamic Bending Light (DBL) and LED tail lamps with a unique pattern and identity for the rear view, as well as unique 16-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels.
An electric vehicle subscription program for the Los Angeles California residents called “Ioniq Unlimited+” offers a carefree means to drive with a fixed payment that includes unlimited mileage, electric charging reimbursement, scheduled maintenance and vehicle wear items.
Hyundai offers an industry-exclusive Lifetime Hybrid Battery Warranty with Hybrid Blue Drive Systems. All Hyundai vehicles sold in the U.S. are covered by the Hyundai Assurance program, which includes the 5-year/60,000-mile fully transferable new vehicle limited warranty, Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and five years of complimentary Roadside Assistance. Hyundai Blue Link Connected Care provides owners of Hyundai models equipped with the Blue Link telematics system with proactive safety and car care services complimentary for one year with enrollment. These services include Automatic Collision Notification, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, Vehicle Diagnostic Alert, Monthly Vehicle Health Report and in-vehicle service scheduling.
The new McLaren 570S Spider combines the exceptional dynamics and the refinement of the 570S Coupé with the extra exhilaration of open-air motoring. Hand-assembled in the United Kingdom, the 570S Spider is the most attainable McLaren Spider ever.
The carbon-fiber, mid-engine, two-seat, rear-wheel drive 570S Spider is the third body style in McLaren’s Sports Series. McLaren’s integrated, two-piece retractable hardtop that when lowered delivers an even more immersive and exhilarating driving experience for the 570S Spider.
Supercar Performance The 570S Spider is a luxury sports convertible with supercar acceleration from standstill to 100km/h (62mph) in 3.2 seconds and to 200km/h (124mph) in just 9.6 seconds. The combination of lightweight carbon fiber construction and an incredibly potent 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged McLaren V8 engine, means that the 570S Spider has an impressive power-to-weight ratio and is more powerful and lighter than the competition.
McLaren’s twin-turbocharged M838TE engine positioned mid-chassis produces 570PS at 7,400rpm and torque of 600Nm between 5,000rpm and 6,500rpm. In combination with a rapid yet smooth seven-speed seamless-shift gearbox featuring Launch Control technology. Top speed is 328km/h (204mph) with the roof in place – identical to the 570S Coupé – and even with the roof lowered.
Exceptional Body Control McLaren employs racecar-style, double-wishbone suspension all-round, with steel springs, twin-valve adaptive dampers and anti-roll bars calibrated to the same exacting specification as the 570S Coupé. Body control is exceptional and the overall drive incredibly pure and rewarding, while retaining impressive comfort. Accessing the Active Dynamics Panel adds another level of personal choice, allowing the driver to choose from Normal, Sport or Track modes, for progressively softer or firmer suspension. This versatility ensures that the Spider is as at ease in everyday use as it is on a race track.
Electro-hydraulically assisted power steering, Carbon-ceramic brakes, and Pirelli P ZERO™ CORSA tires are standard, while the latest chassis software both enhances the driving experience and increases safety. Developed originally for Formula 1™, Brake Steer aids cornering and reduces understeer by subtly applying braking force to the inside rear wheel as the driver turns into a corner. Performance Traction Control calibrated by McLaren provides precise control in extreme situations, while the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) system includes a ‘Dynamic’ mode with reduced intervention and increased ‘driftability’, allowing drivers to enjoy the 570S Spider’s dynamic potential with confidence.
Topless Style, Elegant as the Coupe’ Electrically operated from the driver’s seat using one simple control, the roof folds effortlessly to stow beneath a beautifully crafted tonneau cover that rises automatically to accommodate the lowered panels and returns to its closed position with the assistance of soft-close technology. The roof can be opened or closed in just 15 seconds, at vehicle speeds of up to 40km/h (25mph
McLaren 570S Spider Technical Specifications
M838TE engine, 3.8 litre twin-turbo V8, 3,799cc
Longitudinal mid-engined, RWD
Power PS (bhp/kW @ rpm
570 (562/419) @ 7,500
Torque Nm (lbs ft) @ rpm
600 (443) @ 5,000-6,500
7-Speed seamless-shift gearbox (SSG)
Independent adaptive dampers, dual wishbones with Normal, Sport and Track modes
Customers can choose from standard six-way-adjustable or optional eight-way adjustable electric memory seats, with luxurious Nappa leather or performance-oriented Alcantara® trim available at additional cost. Lightweight carbon-fiber-shelled sports seats, the same as those fitted to the McLaren P1™, can also be specified.
Three new exterior colors celebrate the Spider’s introduction, with Curacao Blue, Vega Blue, and Sicilian Yellow joining the existing Sports Series palette and giving Spider customers a choice of 20 colors in total. The new hues dramatically showcase the complex forms of the aluminum bodywork and unique-in-class dihedral doors, particularly when combined with added visual impact with an optional Dark Palladium grey contrast finish on the roof, windscreen pillars and rear buttresses.
An all-new, 10-spoke lightweight forged alloy wheel design (19-inch front, 20-inch rear) has been crafted as an option for the new 570S Spider. For further differentiation, a new brake caliper color, Liquid Black, is also available.
Summer 2017 Availablity The new McLaren 570S Spider will make its public debut on 29th June at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, West Sussex, UK. The 570S is available to order now from more than 80 McLaren retailers worldwide, and the first cars are scheduled to be delivered to customers in August. Each 570S Spider is hand-assembled at the McLaren Production Centre in Woking, England.
About McLaren Automotive: McLaren Automotive is a British manufacturer of luxury, high-performance sports, and supercars, located in Woking, Surrey. For the past 30 years, McLaren has pioneered the use of carbon fiber in vehicle production,
and since introducing a carbon chassis into racing and road cars with the 1981 McLaren MP4/1 and 1993 McLaren F1 respectively, McLaren has not built a car without a carbon fiber chassis.
McLaren Automotive Partners To support the development, engineering, and manufacture of its range of innovative and highly acclaimed sports cars, McLaren Automotive has partnered with world leading companies to provide specialist expertise and technology including, AkzoNobel, Kenwood, Pirelli, Richard Mille and SAP.
With Father’s Day coming up there is nothing like talking about something that guys appreciate, a good pickup truck. Attending a recent Automotive Media multi-line drive event, it was the full-sized pickups that got my attention. Diesel powered full-size pickups from GM and RAM as well as a gas powered Ford F-150 in studly Raptor trim, each was very different to drive, and for a different lifestyle.
GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD with the Dura Max Diesel.
Ford F150 Raptor, lots of bulges in all the right places
While each had pretty much the same footprint, dual cab, standard bed, it really is the options and the lux touches that make today’s trucks so mainstream. No longer are these just for the man who makes his living working with his hands who needs a truck as a tool for hauling. Today these trucks are ready for the loading dock or to the porte-cochere, hauling towing, or going out to show off.
While pickups were once only a tool for hauling and towing and wearing muddy boots and scruffy clothes is fine, now you might have to shower & shave when driving some of these trucks. Like the driver, these pickups also hang up the work gloves and clean up for date night.
Dodge RAM Big Horn Crew Cab 4X4 a hands down favorite of mine, because it is exactly what a pickup is supposed to be, a hard working truck. This one was well trimmed out for passenger comfort, and not overly dressed up. If you jumped in in mudy boots, dirty jeans and a perspiration soaked shirt, you will feel at home, and the power 40/20/40 leather sport bench seat will welcome those clean chinos and a sporty polo shirt for a non-work drive.
The RAM 2500 with the Crew Cab is truly a massive behemoth, With the extended cab and full size bed it is big and long making it not the most maneuverable in tight quarters. Powered by a 6.7-liter I6 Cummins® Turbo Diesel Engine with a 6-Speed Automatic and full 4-wheel drive. No question this truck will get the job done, just like a rugged working man would, with a price tag as tested of just under $66K.
The Big Horn Package is $1800 option combined with the $2795 Night Special Edition includes both functional and attractive accessories. 20 x 8 inch Black painted wheels replace the Big Horn’s Polished Aluminum Wheels, Anti-Spin Differential Rear Axle, Fog Lamps, Remote Start power 10-waydriver seat and a lot more niceties that will quickly become necessities the more you use them.
Luxury Group added $1045 to the bottom line with added lights, some LED and a color 7-inch Multi-View Driver Info Display. The Off-Road Package brings forth a Transfer Case Skid Plate, Bilstein® shocks tow hooks, spray-in bed liner and hill decent control which proves this vehicle is already set up as a towing rig.
While work may be the focus, as brute power are this truck’s strength. But there are plenty of niceties that make it fine for going out on Saturday Night.
GMC Sierra Denali 2500 HD Diesel, Full size and dressed up for both work and play. While not as flashy in sheet metal as the Ram or the Ford, it has well-tailored lines that hide the massive brute strength, like a guy in a well fitting suit. The Sierra’s muscles are all there under the nicely pressed shirt, with work gloves tucked neatly in the pants pocket. No need here to be a showoff!
The quite capable Sierra is the right mix of comfort and luxury as well. Ready when needed, to get down and dirty. At a price tag just shy of $70K no question it has a few more fancy touches, though you can take some of those off, why would you do that?
Powered by an HD Duramax 6.6-liter diesel providing the highest horsepower in the segment. The Sierra comes across as capable and well-mannered as they come. Loaded this one has everything from the leather seats and 8” color touch screen with IntelliLink. Onstar with built in Wifi to make the rolling field office fully functional. A wireless charging spot for the phone (not all devices are compatible) and built-in gooseneck hitch capability shows us that GM is thinking like the offshore competition. Twenty-inch wheels (pretty fancy ones) and a corner step rear bumper along with capless fuel filler are just some of the features that make the GMC stand out.
Ford F-150 Raptor – While the others developed their bulk from working hard, this dude is the really good looking guy in the tight muscle shirt that catches everyone’s eye on a Saturday Night out at the bar. The Raptor had all the right bulges, in all the right places, though when it came to laying pipe this is more of a show truck than a work truck.
Mostly because it was running the 3.5 Liter Ecoboost gasoline engine, and the others were running oil burners. This test vehicle was very pretty to look at and lots of fun to fondle, with all of its buttons and switches! Just not sure I how comfortable I would be putting this truck out in a muddy job site, the other trucks might call him a prissy-truck. While he has the muscle, he got it in the gym, not sweating it out on the job site.
The Raptor is very much the other side to pickup truck ownership that is not designed for work, it is designed as a show truck, one that you would not want to take out in the field and load it with scrap iron, but rather take it out of the garage for a Friday Night on the town or to the
Cruise-in. The Raptor is the perfect example of how the Pickup Truck has evolved in America, and how Americans are flocking to pickups not just for doing the tough jobs, but to be a part of an American lifestyle that drives pickups for shopping trips to the big box store. Hey, no matter what, the Raptor can park in my driveway anytime!
Three very different Pickups, for three very different lifestyles. All can haul and tow, all can carry passengers, all look good, it just depends on what you want out of your Pickup. Me, I like all three, and once you have owned a pickup, it is hard not to own one! Or at least crave owning one!
American drivers like spacious SUV’s to carry passengers and cargo. And with Minivans losing ground to the SUV with 3-row seating, we think that VW has a hit here with the new 2018 Atlas.
The Atlas is larger than their previous offering, though not a humungous sized SUV. On the inside, you will think it is, space is everywhere, from the rear seating to the cargo area, even the center console storage is large. What makes this SUV different than others may not be the looks, we think it looks like then other boxy SUV’s on the market. The difference is that it is pure VW, clean and functional, with all the safety and tech, and none of the fluff.
Built in VW’s state of the art Chattanooga Tennessee production facility this is not a luxury cruiser. Instead, it is what VW is known for, solid practical, well-designed automobiles. When we say not a luxury vehicle, don’t worry, it still has all the touches that will not have you think you are riding in a simple tin can. Ride comfort and handling are very good. The VR6 model we drove had plenty of power for what most families will put this car through.
Exterior Design is clean and unadorned, while a traditional an almost dull rectangular box, the lines, and proportions are very visually pleasing. Rolling on 18” wheels, this is not a flashy “Look at ME” ride. But the wow factor is how well thought out it is to carry passengers and or cargo.
Interior Design is clean and modern, not frilly, but well finished and comfortable with good ergonomics for both the driver and all 3 rows of passengers. What will sell this vehicle is the passenger comfort in the second-row and the easily accessible cargo space. Rear seats easily fold forward for access to the 3rd row or fold down for cargo hauling. With both the 2nd and 3rd row folded down, there is more than enough hauling space for the trips to the warehouse store.
Slipping into the driver’s seat is easy, no stepping up contorting to get in, or slithering down. Everything is within reach and where you would expect it to be, and what you expect it to be. Switches and controls are within reach, easy to find, and use. A gear shift (eight-speed automatic only) in the center console, and stalk for the windshield wipers, no confusing what these controls do. Two screens, one for entertainment in the center that also provides in-depth vehicle information, and another one dead center between the speedometer and tachometer providing a variety of information as well as the GPS display. Seats have plenty of support and controls exactly where you would think they would be, at the side of the seat. The center console is a bit busy with the info screen, HVAC controls, and then gear shift and mode selectors as well as an electric parking brake and other switches, but that did not bother us. Visibility is good with the rear mirrors properly adjusted and using the assistance options.
The Atlas is either FWD or AWD powered by a 2-liter turbocharged or a direct injection 3.6 VR6 engine with five distinct trim levels. Base price starting at $30,500 for the turbo four, $31,900 for the FWD VR6, and $33,700 for the AWD VR6. Options can raise the sticker to around $50K. VW has included a 6 year, 72K mile bumper to bumper warranty on the 2018 Atlas, the best SUV warranty in America, and it is transferrable.
If you are looking for a modern family sized vehicle, this is one worth checking out.
It was 15 years ago this March (2002 to 2017) that MINI USA brought the iconic British pocket rocket to the United States as a modern car. Be it the memories of the iconic little car from the 1960’s, the images of them in great movies, or the fact that MINI is now a separate brand under BMW, this car has once again captured the hearts of Americans selling more than 725K of them since 2002.
Originally, a hardtop 2-door the MINI line has grown to include four unique models, MINI Convertible, MINI Clubman and MINI Countryman, as well as a fast racing John Cooper Works edition for the street, have become well known all across the country. MINI’s premium performance, daring design, and fun-to-drive dynamics have been hallmarks that put the fun back into the daily commute.
When not living in the work-a-day world MINI owners celebrate their passion for the cars through their brand exclusive enthusiasts club. This fiercely loyal owner base celebrates regularly going out on weekend drives as well as extended driving adventures. Where ever there are good driving roads, you see Mini’s in packs enjoying the open road.
MINI was ranked #1 in Sales Satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates 6 times. The brand was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Global Brands by Interbrand, and Strategic Vision named MINI as the Most Loved Mass-Market Brand in their 2016 survey.
MINI enthusiasts are strong supporters and as customers of the brand have created demand for these little cars. With that level of demand the MINI dealer network has grown from 66 dealers in 2002 to 127 dealers in 2017 across 39 states.
To mark this special anniversary, MINI USA created a brief video compilation celebrating 15 years and counting!
Words by William West Hopper Images courtesy of MINI USA
American drivers have taken heartily to the Toyota Prius since it was introduced as the first mass-market hybrid automobile, while automotive enthusiasts have continued to see it as a pariah.
What is it about this car that garners such strong emotions?
Is it the design? Now in a third design generation, this hybrid that started a revolution has developed a more futuristic look than the rather a dull looking small econobox that first showed up in 1997. Today it is a cross between an emoji and spaceship styling, almost a throwback to the 1950’s when cars had fins.
2000 Toyota Prius, the first generation of the hybrid vehicle.
Toyota’s 3rd generation Prius is so futuristic it has fins from the 1950’s when auto design was all about the future.
Since inception, this successful model line has morphed into a sedan, mini-SUV, even a smaller hyper-miler version and now a fanciful Prime model. First gens are still on the road today which shows that Toyota has earned its legendary reputation for longevity, reliability and road worthiness.
Is the emotional response to the Prius
because it is different on so many levels?
Nothing in the automotive world has moved the needle more than the hybrid combination of gasoline and electric to power a vehicle. And today some twenty years later hybrid technology is available on almost every mainstream brand. Increasing miles per gallon has staggered for years until Toyota brought this economy car to market. We were getting in the high 40’s as we drove the 2017 Toyota Prius Three for a week.
As American’s we love all the technology, so it can’t be that!
Technology is not just propelling the vehicle down the road, it is also benefiting the driver from the extensive operational data to little things like the Qi-compatible wireless smartphone charger in the center console. From the backup camera to the heads up display. Toyota’s Saftey Sense ™ Pre-Collision system w/ pedestrian detection, lane departure alert auto high beam adjustment and full-speed dynamic radar cruise control all in a car that stickers at $30,186 including delivery.
Being different is not a bad thing.
Interior has flowing lines, though the choice of contrasting colors and fabric on the seat may be a bit garish, the heads-up display and controls were easy to use.
The only thing I had some issue with was the gear selector, a lever that went over and up/down to select Drive or Reverse, then a separate button off the stalk for Park. Once placed in reverse it prompted an obnoxious beep, like that of a construction vehicle, but only on the inside. Understandable as quiet as the vehicle is when powered on, the driver may not know it is in reverse. If the occupants are being alerted, why not those outside the vehicle too?
So it is not a sporty performance car, it was never designed to be one.
So this is not a muscle car or even a sports car. And it is light enough to be buffeted by a windy March day. My take is that while it may not be a luxury or a sexy sports car, it does exactly what it is designed to do, which is move occupants and their gear economically and safely from place to place without any fanfare. So there is nothing to hate on there.
As a guy born and bred from a time when muscle cars ruled the American road and someone who loves technology, I was excited to get the opportunity to spend some time in the Prius. It brought back the memories of the first “foreign car” my family owned, was a 1970 four-door Toyota Corona. At the time it was the latest and greatest, small classicly designed car that costs $1995.00. For its time, it had very modern amenities like bucket seats, automatic transmission, and what they marketed as very customer focused, a power outlet in the glove box for a 12 v trouble light as standard equipment. Today what car company would even want you to think you would ever need such a thing?
So maybe it is the attitude of the Prius driver, which I too had in making a right on red when a big SUV came flying up from behind honking its horn telling me to get out of the way. Yep, I was sipping fuel, and you were guzzling it
So here we are 47 years later with a Toyota that gets 52 mpg compared to the 20 mpg that the Corona managed. With an advanced technology package that makes that little trouble light plug seem archaic. Though even at the time Toyota was a brand thinking ahead at what you might need.
If you are looking for a modern, safe, high mileage sedan with good trunk space, then the Toyota Prius at the $30K sticker price is well worth consideration. – Though I still long for that Red 1970 Corona!
Toyota was nice enough to send over a 2017 Prius Three for us to spend a week driving and experiencing. With that, we were able to provide this review of the vehicle to you our readers. We appreciate their confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company, which makes us feel good about their products and support of
We appreciate Toyota’s confidence in Queer4Cars and their support of LGBQ diversity. Toyota is a #NoHate company.
Historic photos by Toyota News US Pressroom Words & Photos by William West Hopper
We are Queer4Cars, not just because we are LGBT! Come celebrate the automotive world through our eyes.