Jaguar XF Takes the Checkered Flag With All New Special Edition Model

The Jaguar F-Type has always been the envious eye candy of many automotive enthusiasts, thanks in part to its elegant styling language, as well as the way the car recaptures some of the performance magic that once defined vintage models like the XK120, E-Type, as well as the Jaguar XK. The British luxury car maker has decided to allow lucky owners to go for the checkered flag so to speak, and has unveiled an all new special edition F-Type for them to sink their teeth into.

Dubbed the Checkered Flag edition, this unique treatment is only available on R-Dynamic coupe and convertible models, with Jaguar claiming that the package is supposed to commemorate the company’s sports car heritage which dates back to the 1948 XK120. Unlike a few prior special edition packages for the F-Type, this one is not focused on improving performance in any notable way (which is good enough as it is.) Instead, the Checkered Flag edition is purely a styling package with both body styles benefitting from a contrasting black roof, as well as both models being equipped with a luxurious Windsor leather interior that comes equipped with performance sport seats, as well as model exclusive embossed headrests. Dark brushed aluminum accents and a choice of either Red or Cirrus contrast stitching to add some pop to the cabin.

The exterior enhancements are equally mild, with 20-inch gloss black wheels being the main calling card of the Checkered Flag edition along with the scattered splashes of black trim that are scattered through out the exterior. Pricing for the Checkered Flag edition will start at $72,925, with buyers being able to choose from either the 2.0 liter 292 horsepower turbocharged four cylinder, or the optional 3.0 liter 380 horsepower supercharged V6.

Buyers looking for a more practical approach to their checkered flag infused motoring can also go for the XF checkered flag edition which brings some of its counterpart’s charm to both the XF sedan and the Sportbrake.

BMW and Daimler Seeking Collaboration?

An old adage that’s often said is that “sometimes its good to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.” While this saying has had real world reprocussions over the years, A seismic shift coud be coming if long time enemies BMW and Daimler are indeed considering a proposal to collaberate on  certain vehicle products and technology.

 

The rivalry between the two German auto giants is firmly steeped in tradition and history, with both companies duking it out against each other in the war for maximum sales, as well as multiple forms of motor sport. The idea of these two bitter enemies working together may have seemed like a vivid pipe dream five to ten years ago, but like other entities in the automotive world these days, they have a common enemy, cost. The implementation of tighter safety and fuel economy regulations have led to an accompanying increase in costs, and as a result, both BMW and Daimler are feeling the financial squeeze.

But what woud a potential agreement bring to the table? For one thing, we could see the two companies possibly collaborate on select vehicle platforms, as well as battery technology for future electric vehicles. BMW is already embarking on the former with Toyota in a seperate collaboration agreement. While it is currently limited to just the Toyota Supra and the BMW Z4, the agreement could expand into other platforms and technologies, and be a compelling preview into what a potential agreement with Daimler could morph into.

 

Negotiations are still reportedly in the very early stages, and as a result, its too early to tell exactly what potential vehicle platforms would be shared, or how much technological data the two firms would be willing to pass with one another. If such an agreement does blossom into a full fleged partnership, it would bring something that was once considered unthinkable 30 years ago into the light of day. Imagine BMW building the original 7-Series on an S-Class platform, or the iconic W201 era 190 sharing technology with an E30 generation 3 Series.

With 2018 bringing new twists and turns into the automotive landscape, companies are being forced to invest billions and billions of dollars in electrified powertrains and sleeker connectivity solutions. This has forced companies to create unlikely partnerships to stay ahead of the curve, and still be able to offer buyers the technology and mobility focused services that they crave.

While the two firms have not embarked on an alliance like the ambitious one proposed here, the two firms have joined forces in the past on smaller projects. Back in 2015, Daimler enlisted the help of Audi to purchase the digital mapping company HERE for roughly $2.9 billion. On the more immediate side of things, Bloomberg also points out that both BMW and Daimler are set to combine their car sharing programs into one cohesive unit.

Times are indeed changing, and the potential partnership of two of Germany’s biggest luxury car companies could be a very prominent sign of this trend moving full steam ahead.

Porsche Confirms 911 Going Hybrid After 2022

Seemingly confirming a wave of rumors surrounding the eventual introduction of hybrid technology into the iconic 911, August Achleinter head of the 911 model line, has revealed that the recently unveiled 992 generation 911 was indeed designed for the eventual implementation of electrification technology.

However, buyers looking to quickly jump into this brave new world will have a bit of a wait on their hands. In a recent interview with the British publication Auto Express, Achleinter confirmed the eventual arrival of the hybrid 911. “It will be the next evolution of this car, that means at least four years away from today,” he added. While this time table is subject to change, if Achleinter’s words hold true, then the hybrid 911 would make its apperance in 2022.

 

Achleinter kept his cards closely guarded when it came to providing potential technical specs, but the exec did say the eco-friendly 911 would be posistioned as a high end performance model, versus it being a pure eco-warrior posistioned against more efficiency focused contenders.

“When I am thinking about a hybrid version of the 911, I do not mean like the Panamera and the Cayenne. I mean like the 919 Le Mans car,” he clarified.

Porsche could bring two of these modes to showrooms. One would serve as an alternate choice to the standard issue Carrera, while the other would be a range topping offering that would be on par with the gasoline powered 911 Turbo. As demonstrated in both the 918 Spyder and the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, electrification can bring some much needed vigor to a performance car.

However, electrification adds weight, which in turn affects the driving dynamics of a vehicle equipped with the technology. Porsche isn’t worried though, with insiders revealing to Auto Express that lessons learned in the 918’s production run helped the company solve all of the problems associated with hybrid technology.

Next Generation Jaguar XJ To Be Huge Leap Forward

With the luxury flagship market rapidly evolving in recent years, Jaguar is revealing that its next generation XJ flagship sedan will be a big leap forward for the company when it eventually makes its global debut.

That’s huge considering that the current generation XJ has been anything but progressive since it arrived on the scene over eight years ago. Unlike its German competitors, Jaguar has focused on mainly incremental updates for the XJ, and while they have helped the big cat stay somewhat relevant, it has also caused the XJ to be stagnant in a sea of rapidly evolving predators.

That’s not stopping legendary Jaguar design chief Ian Callum, who reaffirmed his commitment to the XJ’s design revamp, while also admitting that the past has not been kind to the XJ family in a recent interview.

“I don’t think the XJ should have gone through all the traditional design phases that it did. I think that it should have been more revolutionary each time. And I think the reason was that William Lyons just wasn’t there anymore” he revealed to reps from Road & Track.

In short, don’t expect the upcoming XJ to be a rolling homage to the glories of its past, nor be a lightly reskinned version of the current model. Expect a look that has a reaffirmed commitment towards elegance, and be tailor made to age better in the long run.

 

Callum elaborated further citing how there is not that much diffrence between the current generation 3-Series and its predecessor as an example of what’s in store for the XJ.

“I won’t say too much, but it will be a bigger step than that.”

As for what’s in store for the XJ, Callum dropped a few hints, but stopped short of an outright reveal claiming that it is going to be sleeker and reaffirm its role as a car that people want to drive everyday.

We’ll have to wait until 2019 to catch our first glimpse, before it goes on sale closer to the 2020 model year.

Tesla Promises Big Reveal In Switzerland

Mysterious invitations sent out to Tesla fans and its most faithful buyers to the inaugural Grand Basel show in Switzerland this week, appears to suggest the company has massive plans, with a surprise unveiling already being confirmed by the EV maker. But what is indeed in store for the world to see?

 

Naturally, the first suspect that emerges is the 2nd generation Tesla Roadster. It certainly made a splash last year, when it was unveiled alongside the Tesla Semi at a prior company event, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk even boasting that it could make the sprint to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds. However, the company openly admitted that the roadster present was a concept car, and nowhere near production ready.

With the Grand Basel event being created around rare and exclusive automobiles, a production version of the roadster would certainly be a fitting entry for the event especially since it will only showcase 100 vehicles. A set of teasers also appears to point towards the roadster, with a dark window and red sheetmetal being predominatly featured.

However, a second vehicle could also make its presence felt alongside the roadster, the Model Y SUV. When we last saw the Model Y, it was via a lone teaser image depicting it as an SUV shrouded in darkness, with little detail being visible to discerning eyes.

Since then, information on the Model Y has dried up, and so far, no new details have emerged (despite our repeated inquiries to Tesla and Elon Musk via Twitter and email.) Unlike the decidedly more exotic Model X, the Y is expected to be a more conventional SUV offering that could also be considered a contender in the popular and still growing CUV segment.

This would help open a potential revenue stream for Tesla, especially amid the challenges that are still a looming elephant in the room in regards to getting Model 3 production to full strength.

Look for more information to be revealed tommorow when Tesla will grace the stage in Switzerland, and show the world what tricks it has up its sleeve for Grand Basel.

2019 Nissan Sentra Gains Apple CarPlay, Android Auto Capability

In an announcement late Tuesday, Nissan revealed that the venerable Sentra has a whole host of upgrades coming its way for the 2019 model year, including the addition of Apple and Android Auto capability.

The addition of these fore-mentioned features allows the Sentra to fall in line with several other Nissan models that are either all new or have been refreshed for the new model year. The additions make the Sentra SV a compelling package which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear disc brakes, adaptive cruise control, rear cross traffic alert, and a standard power moonroof. From SV spec and up, Nissan’s NissanConnect infotainment system is standard equipment along with the smartphone integration that comes bundled with it.

Unfortunately, the tune for Sentra S buyers is decidedly more analog than its upscale siblings. Buyers looking for smartphone integration to go along with the frugal 1.8 liter naturally aspirated four cylinder will not find it here, though it is one of two Sentra trims that can switch its annoying CVT transmission out for a proper six speed manual gearbox.

The other option, the Sentra NISMO is also available with a six speed, but unlike the cheap and cheerful Sentra S, the NISMO’s SR Turbo underpinnings allow it access to the NissanConnect system, so balance is somewhat restored to the universe.

As expected, Sentra pricing has crept up over the years, but the base model can still be bought for a budget friendly sticker of $18,685 which includes the $895 destination fee. Meanwhile, the Sentra NISMO in Xtronic CVT guise starts at $26,735. Both pricing schemes allow the Sentra to still

Ford Reveals Pricing For 2019 Ford Ranger, Starts At $25,395

Following the untimely release of a barely functional pricing configurator late last week, Ford has taken the wraps off the official pricing ladder for the 2019 Ford Ranger pickup and it aims to bring the fight to established players in the mid-size pickup truck segment .

Like its distant ancestor, this latest Ranger aims to make the ownership experience accessible to a wide range of buyers. The base XL model starts at $24,395 which is $300 more than what the old configurator had listed. That prior price is still available, but that’s if you opt for the XL Chassis Cab (which we suspect will appeal to a niche audience.)

As expected, choosing options and higher trim levels does increase the price which falls in sync with the Ranger having the highest base price in the segment. For comparison, the aging Nissan Frontier has a base price of $19,965 followed by the Colorado and Canyon at $21,590 and $22,095 respectively. Lastly, the Toyota Tacoma boasts a $24,740 sticker. The Ranger makes up for this disadvantage by offering the 2.3 liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine even in the base XL. This engine (albeit with some tweaks) also sees duty in the Ford Mustang and the Focus RS, and should do a good job delivering the power and capability  that truck buyers crave.

Sadly no regular cab is available for the Ranger, but Ford is promising that the Crew Cab layout will deliver plenty of space, and make the Ranger a viable choice for hauling passengers. Look for performance buyers to be pleased with the Raptor variant, but it is currently unknown when and if it will be arriving in the U.S.

In the meantime, interested buyers can configure the Ranger of their dreams with the completed configurator, which can be accessed here.

Nissan Ends Juke Production Over Dwindling Sales

The Nissan Juke has had a strong following in Europe ever since it arrived on the scene, and it even managed to create several unique concept iterations including a Juke GT-R. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for its U.S. aspirations.

Wheras Europe eagerly embraced the funky CUV, the Juke fell harder than Iggy Azalea’s music career when it came to attracting U.S. buyers. The speed of this decline is evident when you view the Juke’s most recent sales figures in both countries. In Europe, Nissan delivered 95,000 units last year, which is in stark contrast to the 10,157 examples that were delivered in the U.S. Alarmingly, this is a sharp drop from the 19,557 that were delivered during the 2016 model year.

So what happened? Part of the Juke’s woes could be attributed to its wild exterior styling. While it had a strong impact when the Juke first appeared, the look has not aged very well, and the funky lines also caused ergonomics to be compromised.

Another factor is the arrival of the recently unveiled Kicks crossover which is Nissan’s newest compact CUV offering. While the company stops short of calling the Kicks a legit Juke replacement, The Kicks does occupy the same budget entry CUV slot in the U.S. market, and it also offers more conventional styling elements, which should please a wider range of CUV buyers.

Pricing aims to be a key factor for the Kicks too with the base “S” model starting at $17,990 and the range topping SR variant starting at $20,290. All-wheel drive is not avalible yet, but all models feature a 1.6 liter four cylinder, and like the Juke, a CVT transmission helps channel the power to the front wheels.

It will be interesting to see if the Juke can continue its strong performance in Europe amidst an onslaught of new CUV offerings fron rivals including Ford, Renault, and Volkswagen.

MINI Teases Upcoming Electric Car With Design Sketches

MINI has revealed the first sketches of its upcoming electric car, which will be the first such offering that MINI has ever offered in its long and illustrious history once it makes the leap into official production.

Following in the tire tracks of the MINI Electric Concept that was revealed last year in Frankfurt, the sketches appear to reveal that the new offering will embrace many of the characteristics that helped define the core identity of the concept. These include its distinctive faux front grille (with small “E” badge,) as well as its bizarre front wheels which appear to have made the transition to production surprisingly intact.

“These initial sketches for the fully electrified MINI outline our vision of authentic design creating a bridge between the history of the brand and its electric future,” says MINI design head Oliver Heilmer.

The 3-door EV is expected to enter production sometime next year. When it does, the all-electric MINI will help mark the 60th anniversary of the original MINI’s arrival in the marketplace. It is unknown if the model will expand beyond its initial arrival as a 3-door or if it will stay in that particular configuration moving forward. The “E” brand is expected to play a bigger role in subsequent years, with potential targets including Toyota’s hybrid division, as well as Hyundai’s Ioniq range and Chevrolet’s EV offering the Bolt.

Buick Showcases 2019 Lacrosse Sport Touring

Buick’s quest to appeal to a younger clientele has been ongoing for several years, and so far it has been a smashing success. Buick aims to continue this trend with the 2019 Buick Lacrosse Sport Touring.

Like other Sport Touring models, Buick stylists tried to inject more excitement into the Lacrosse’s flanks. Less chrome trim is evident with the grille getting a body color surround and a black mesh insert. The rear is adorned with a simple spoiler as well as model exclusive “ST” badging while 19-inch wheels round out the package.

Buyers hoping for a real injection of performance this time around will be disappointed to hear that its buisness as usual on that front. Annoyingly, Buick is continuing the tradition laid out by prior Sport Touring offerings, and not offering major performance upgrades which is a shame.

This means the same 310 horsepower V6 is on board as is the standard nine speed automatic which funnels the engine’s power to the front wheels only. A pity, since the Lacrosse Sport Touring would have stood out more on the road WITH all-wheel drive in place.

Pricing for the 2019 Lacrosse Sport Touring starts at $41,220 with buyers choosing from five diffrent colors (including two kinds of silver and the sleek shade of red.) It’s a tough sell for us especially since the Regal GS has the same V6 engine, all-wheel drive, and some solid substance to its suite of performance upgrades.