There’s no doubt that the Toyota C-HR is a great little crossover, with aggressive styling that helps the CUV stand out from the competition. Sadly, the C-HR is all show and little go, with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 144 HP and 139 lb-ft of torque, and a CVT transmission sending power to the front wheels.
We had a chance to drive the C-HR last year when it first came out, and I praised the crossover for it’s quick steering, tight handling, and lack of body roll, but lamenting that “this excellent chassis doesn’t get utilized to it’s fullest,” and that more power would take the C-HR to a whole other level.
Clearly I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, as Toyota unveiled a 600-horsepower Toyota C-HR R-Tuned concept at SEMA last year, a racetrack-tuned crossover that showed the public what the C-HR was capable of from a tuning perspective, delivering supercar performance for a fraction of the price. The car was the talk of SEMA, and I could only imagine what it was like on the track.
So you can only imagine my excitement when Toyota invited me out to Willow Springs (a track that has long been on my automotive bucket list) to experience the C-HR R-Tuned firsthand on the very same track where it set a scorching 1:25.22 lap time last fall, beating out supercars like the Ferrari 488 GTB, Porsche 911 GT3, Nissan GT-R NISMO, and McLaren 650 S Spyder, to name a few.
After we arrived at the track and signed the necessary waivers, we got to learn more about the Toyota C-HR R-Tuned and what makes it the exotic-slaying track monster that it is. And what we learned is that while this car is still four-cylinder-powered and retains its front-wheel-drive setup, this CUV is far from stock.
Dan Gardner and his team at DG-Spec replaced the stock 2.0-liter engine with a 2.4-liter Toyota 2AZ-FE with Dezod-supplied forged internals, a titanium and Inconel valve-train, and a custom DG-Spec Garrett turbo system that pushes power output beyond 600 horsepower at approximately 23 psi of boost.
The stock CVT was tossed in favor of a five-speed Toyota E-Series manual transmission, with an OS Giken limited-slip differential. Brembo racing brakes with 14″ rotors and 4-piston billet aluminum monobloc calipers up front, and remote-reservoir, triple-adjustable DG-Spec Motion Control Suspension motorsports dampers help in the braking and handling department, along with a host of other custom, go-fast goodies.
Finally, to help augment the mechanical grip made by the massive 275/35R18 Toyo Proxes RR tires, an air-dam, side dams, adjustable front splitter and imposing rear wing with gurney flap were grafted into the body to endow this C-HR with an honest 300 pounds of downforce at triple-digit speeds.
All in all, the C-HR R-Tuned is a pretty bad-ass machine, and honestly photos don’t do the car justice, as it looks even more menacing in person. This was going to be one fun day!
Before hopping into the C-HR R-Tuned, we got the chance to drive some stock C-HRs around The Streets of Willow Springs, with some pro drivers riding shotgun to show us the optimal lines and give us pointers along the way. Surprisingly, the C-HR proved to be very capable on track, even though it could have used an extra 60HP or so to really dial up the excitement.
Later on, I was able to convince them to let me take the C-HR out on Big Willow, and holy crap that was a ton of fun! This course can get you into a lot of trouble if you’re not careful, but the C-HR was perfectly suited for it, and I ran along the back straightaway with my foot to the floor, hitting about 105mph before braking for that long sweeper at the end.
Seriously, who knew a stock CUV could be so much fun at the track?!
Between sessions, I watched as the other group took turns in the C-HR R-Tuned, which they pitted against a brand new Nissan GT-R. As you can imagine, the poor GT-R didn’t stand a chance, with the C-HR R-Tuned passing it halfway through the first lap and never looking back.
After lunch, it was finally my turn to hop into the 600HP C-HR R-Tuned and race it around Big Willow. Sadly, on the previous lap the car started smoking and Dan had to nurse it back to the garage. Turns out a liquid-filled bearing on the C-HR overheated, causing it to throw a belt.
While the timing couldn’t have been worse for me, it’s a race car, and these things happen, it’s just the name of the game. The DG-Spec mechanics worked feverishly to get the car patched up, and while I wasn’t able to do a full lap, I was able to experience the C-HR’s explosive acceleration (0-60 in 2.9s) and braking (1.2g of braking force) before shutting it down and calling it a night.
Overall, I could not have been more impressed with the Toyota C-HR. It’s a well-handling, practical crossover that stands out from the crowd with it’s edgy styling. And as we saw with the R-Tuned version, the platform is ready for whatever modifications you decide to throw its way.
So who’s ready to buck convention and build a tricked out, souped up Toyota C-HR “hot hatch” like no other?
2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo Blurs The Line Between Coupe And Wagon
BMW seems determined to change the definitions for automotive segments. All of their even-numbered X vehicles, for example, are “sport activity vehicles”–not quite crossovers and not quite coupes. The new BMW 640i Gran Turismo is along that same vein, being not quite a four-door coupe and not quite a station wagon. It’s something in between that.
The BMW 640i GT is, regardless of what segment it fits within, a beautiful car. For a week, we drove the Gran Turismo and were glad to see that it wasn’t the odd mashup the old 5 Series GT had been. This new GT is based on the 6 Series sedan, so it’s a bit larger and more powerful.
The 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo is powered by the same 3.0-liter turbocharged six that is in the 640i Gran Coupe. That engine produces 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. Power runs to an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is standard. The GT needs that power, as it’s fairly bulky, weighing in at over 4,200 pounds at the curb. It’s size and weight are balanced by a long wheelbase of 121 inches, though, and the engine produces its power early in the RPM band, making for quick acceleration.
From zero to 60 mph, the BMW 640i GT sprints to speed in about five seconds. That’s a pretty fair shake in anyone’s book. Handling in the 2018 640i Gran Turismo is also good, thanks to that long wheelbase and bulk, which translate to predictable glides through turns and easy power delivery thanks to AWD. There are better, faster options for fast driving and cornering, of course, but given its size and versatility, the GT does very well for itself.
Where this new BMW really shines is in everyday driving. The 640i GT is really comfortable, confident, and easy to live with. It gives enough feedback on the road to remain engaging, but doesn’t insist on spirited driving at all times or that the driver and passengers feel every road bump and crevice. It’s smooth and well-balanced. Add on the Dynamic Handling package and it gets even better, with more road-hugging (still sans the jarring) and steering appeal.
There’s a single trim level for the 2018 BMW 640i Gran Turismo, but it’s very well-equipped in its base $70,000 price point. It includes things like LED lighting, 19-inch wheels, keyless everything, rear air suspension for load-leveling and road absorption, a panoramic sunroof, auto-dimming mirrors, and infotainment. That tech is on a big 10.2-inch touchscreen with two USB ports and a wireless charging pad. Not to mention a 12-speaker stereo system. Forward collision warning, low-speed automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning are also standard.
In the upper crust, all-the-goodies model we drove, the price jumps to about $84,000, but adds the Dynamic Handling package, aluminum interior trim, power-adjustable rear seats, 360° parking sensors, automated park assist, seat massage, Harman Kardon/Bowers & Wilkins sound, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, and more.
The 2018 BMW 640i GT has a great feel on the road, is exceptionally comfortable inside, and has a bit more style and versatility than a standard sedan. It’s fastback look is unique and really cool, compared to the standard sedan or a larger hatchback. Cargo space stands at about 45 cubic feet with the rear seats up and about 60 cubes with them folded down.
Seating in the back is great for adults, if there aren’t more than two. Three across is a bit of a squeeze and the center seat doesn’t have much legroom either. Kids will be fine in the back of the BMW 640i GT.
The 2018 640i Gran Turismo is a great vehicle that’s a big step up from the 5 Series-based GT it replaces. It’s nicer to look at, more enjoyable to drive, and uniquely cool in its own right. We’ll take it.
The 2019 Acura NSX Receives Mild Facelift, Better Chassis, And Orange Paint
It has only been a few years since the Acura NSX was finally released, but not content to sit on their laurels, the company has introduced a handful of updates for the 2019 model to make the high-performance supercar even better than before!
Visually, you’ll be able to distinguish a 2019 Acura NSX model from it’s new body-color front grille (in place of the silver one) and high-gloss treatments for the front grille surround, front air intake mesh and rear bumper outlet mesh. High-gloss treatment is also applied to the available carbon fiber decklid spoiler and carbon fiber exterior package – including a front chin spoiler, side sill garnish and rear diffuser.
But that’s not all. The 2019 NSX is also available in a striking new color called Thermal Orange Pearl (shown above). Buyers can further accent the NSX with optional carbon ceramic metallic brakes with orange calipers. Standard brakes can now be fitted with red calipers.
Inside, the 2019 NSX can be optioned with an Indigo blue Semi-aniline leather and Alcantara theme. Buyers can also add a red color option for the semi-aniline (non-Alcantara) power sport seats, in addition to ebony. Additionally, a number of features (navigation, premium audio, front and rear proximity sensors, etc) are now standard options.
What we’re most excited about though is the improvements to the car’s performance, which build on an already impressive platform and turn it up to 11. While the powertrain remains the same (573 horsepower and 476 lb-ft of torque) engineers modified chassis components, tires and software tuning to make NSX even more responsive to the will of the driver, elevating performance driving in all circumstances, from daily driving to the circuit.
Chassis enhancements include larger front and rear stabilizer bars (increasing stiffness by 26 percent in front, 19 percent at the rear) and 21 percent stiffer rear toe link bushings. Rear hub rigidity has increased 6 percent. Software calibrations to the NSX’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD power unit, active magnetorheological dampers, electric power steering and VSA settings capitalize on this new hardware, as well as the grippier tire setup.
The 2019 NSX rides on new Continental SportContact 6 tires, developed exclusively for the NSX. The new tires feature a revised tread pattern, construction and rubber compound for improved handling performance in all conditions—including wet weather driving. The track-focused Pirelli P Zero Trofeo R remains an optional dealer-installed tire.
So how much will the new model set you back? The 2019 NSX starts at $157,500 (an increase of $1,500 over the 2018 model) with $4,700 in previously optional content now standard. So you’re actually saving money on the 2019 model.
The 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster Makes It’s World Debut At Pebble Beach
Now one year later, BMW returns to Pebble Beach to unveil the all-new 2019 BMW Z4 M40i First Edition, the latest chapter in the history of BMW Z Roadsters. And while it doesn’t look quite as dramatic as the concept, the production Z4 retains the athletic proportions and new emotional design language that takes the classic roadster concept into the world of tomorrow.
The open-top two-seater was designed with sporting intentions, with a central sitting position for the driver, a low center of gravity, and perfectly balanced 50:50 weight distribution.
Vertically stacked headlights, the BMW kidney grille sporting a mesh design, a long clamshell hood stretching over the front wheels, large air breathes on the front wheel arches and the distinctive spoiler integrated into the rear lid all contribute towards the characteristic look of the new BMW Z4.
The BMW Z4 M40i First Edition offers a number of unique accoutrements over a “regular” Z4, including a Frozen Orange Metallic paint job, a textile soft top in anthracite with silver effect, 19-inch alloy wheels in a two-tone design, and black mirror caps. The 2019 Z4 First Edition also includes a head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, two high-resolution digital displays, and a Harman Kardon surround sound system.
Powering the Z4 M40i First Edition Roadster is an updated version of BMW’s turbocharged 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder engine. While BMW hasn’t finalized output numbers just yet, we expect something around 380HP and 370lb-ft of torque, good for an (estimated) 0-60 time of under 4.4 seconds. A BMW M tuned sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers, M Sport braking system and an electronically controlled M Sport rear differential should make for one fun and exciting ride in the twisties.
The BMW Z4 M40i will arrive in dealerships in the second quarter of 2019, and full details on the Z4 will be announced on September 18, 2018.
What do you think of the 2019 BMW Z4 Roadster?
Photo credit: BMW