Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Subaru New XV (GT)

Subaru's crossover utility hatchback, the XV, is now based on the fifth-generation Subaru Impreza. You know, the latest version with the design that is nowhere near as close to the concept car but won the Japan Car of the Year with its new platform and safety tech that sets the standards for medium-sized cars in Japan. Now, let's take a closer look on Subaru's latest version of the Impreza-based crossover hatch that tries to shrug off against the likes of the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi RVR, Honda Vezel, and even Toyota's C-HR as well.

2018 Subaru XV
2018 Subaru XV

Like all the others, the all new XV's design has no resemblance from the concept car it was based upon and to them, it looks more like the previous model at all. On the plus side, the XV looks more of a rugged Impreza Sport which was based upon and it's not half bad to look at it especially on the weekends.

2018 Subaru XV interior
On the inside, benefitting from the new platform, the new XV is now roomier enough to accommodate just about everything in the event of outdoor activities, shopping trips, picking up kids after school, and so much more. To help differentiate the new XV's interior from the normal Impreza, it has been given orange stitching on the dashboard so that you know that this is the new XV, not a normal Impreza, per se. Oh, and for additional extra, you can have the XV's interior look more adventurous enough to get their day-off started.

2018 Subaru XV
Like the normal Impreza, the new XV is powered by  a choice of either a 1.6L or a 2.0L boxer engine, both mated to a Lineartronic CVT with a Manual Mode engaged when the Sport Mode in its SI-DRIVE was engaged. Having this feature sounds good to us but just like as experienced in the normal Impreza, it's nowhere near as engaging as the past Imprezas but since this is the XV, who cares about not being sporty for a rugged crossover hatchback? 

A crossover like this one doesn't need to act like a sportscar. It wants to get down and dirty and courtesy of its X-MODE feature, it allows the new XV to increase drivability by optimising integrated control of the engine, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system and brakes to provide additional control when tyres slip and lose traction on a slippery road surface, including downhill.

In terms of fuel efficiency, the XV promises 16.4km/L of fuel efficiency by JC08 Mode standards, which sounds like mediocre compared to the C-HR, Juke, or the Vezel, but these so-called crossovers can't just match the new XV's character that is not afraid to play rough.

If the XV's all about playing rough, its new safety tech makes it want to play nice on the road, courtesy of its EyeSight Ver. 3, as well as High Beam Assist, Steering Responsive Headlights, and Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection, Because the new XV is using the Subaru Global Platform, pretty much like the new Impreza has, this award-winning platform promises the XV to be more rigid, more maneuverable due to its low center of gravity that benefits most boxer-powered cars, and well pretty much about it.

Should you buy it? The new Subaru XV starts at 2,138,400 Japanese Yen and its surprisingly more affordable than the Toyota C-HR. Sounds good and unlike the C-HR, this new Subaru XV is all about taking out for the great outdoors while trying to cross out what's in their Golden Week bucket list...or doing stuff that's not on the list. Nothing like kicking the bucket list with the new XV.

Available colors: Crystal White Pearl, Ice Silver Metallic, Dark Grey Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Pure Red, Dark Blue Pearl, Quartz Blue Pearl, Sunshine Orange, and Cool Grey Khaki.

Photo: Subaru

Sixth-Generation Hyundai Grandeur (IG) Hybrid

2018 Hyundai Grandeur Hybrid

Last November, Hyundai launched the latest sixth-generation Hyundai Grandeur to commemorate three decades of one of Hyundai's longest-running nameplates in history with innovation fit for today's drivers. Following the arrival of the sixth-generation model, which comes with a choice of petrol and diesel engines, the hybrid variant has arrived for this generation for those who value fuel efficiency without giving up performance.

It looks the same as the normal sixth-generation Grandeur. You still have the same old front view, same old Charger-esque rear view, and the classy interior fit enough for a cut-price luxury saloon, but the Grandeur Hybrid is powered by the Theta II 2.4L petrol engine connected to an electric motor and a li-ion battery as well as being mated with a 6-speed automatic gearbox. It produces 159ps of power output while the electric motor produces 38kw of power, resulting to a combined power output is 210PS and combined fuel efficiency of 16.2km/L. Take note that these figures is as similar to its compatriot, the Kia K7 Hybrid, which has the same powertrain as this.

Like the normal Grandeur, the Grandeur Hybrid features Hyundai SmartSense, which comprises of numerous safety features such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Detection, Driver Attention Alert, Advanced Smart Cruise Control and Around View Monitor.

The all-new Grandeur Hybrid starts at 36,830,000 Korean Won and it's slightly more costly than the previous Grandeur Hybrid as well as the Kia K7 Hybrid. Sounds too odd for the pricing of the car that promises fuel efficiency, performance, and tech delivered for today's drivers in South Korea.

Photo: Hyundai Motor Company

Let's Do The News! (April 12, 2017)

- 700 residents of Inabanga, Bohol, were forced to evacuate due to ongoing attacks against suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

- Days after the deadly Batangas quake, different parts of Mindanao were struck by strings of quakes yesterday. The last was felt in General Santos City with magnitude 5.6 at 11pm Tuesday.

- The EU denied reports that they had suspended free trade negotiations with the Philippines over human rights violations due to President Duterte's war on drugs.

- Some parts of the of the country will spend a rainy Holy Week as a Low Pressure Area has been spotted outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility and could enter by Maundy Thursday. According to PAGASA, there is a very high chance that it will turn in to a tropical depression named Crising. If the direction's maintained, it will affect Eastern Visayas and Mindanao and could make a landfall in Eastern Visayas or the Bicol Region on Black Saturday and or Easter Sunday.

- Neil Gorsuch, US President Donald Trump's pick for US Supreme Court judge, has sworn in to his position despite opposition which resulted the Republicans' abolition to the filibuster of Trump's nominees. In the aftermath of Gorsuch sworn into office, there is a probability that Democrats will win back the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections and if they did, it will increase the chance of blocking the US President's nominees and bills.

- Alleged reports told that over a hundred gay men have been arrested in a "purge" in the Russian region of Chechnya and being held to concentration camp-style prisons.

- After cryptic teasers, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon has been unleashed and this is the most powerful V8 production car in the world with 840HP unleashed from its supercharged 6.2L V8 engine sourced from the Hellcat, resulting to 0-60mph time in 2.3 seconds and 9.65 seconds in a quarter mile run. It is the first to lift the front wheels at launch and set the world record for longest wheelie from a standstill by a production car at 2.92 feet, verified by the Guinness World Record.

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon

- The second-generation Buick Enclave crossover has unveiled prior to this week's New York Auto Show premiere. It is the first to feature the new Avenir line of Buicks featuring luxury treatments that set them apart from normal Buicks.

2018 Buick New Enclave

- The first teaser trailer of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok film has arrived.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

THREATS FROM NORTH KOREA: SoKor warns of NoKor provocations as U.S. navy group approaches

South Korean acting president warned of "greater provocations" by North Korea as tension on the Korean peninsula rises over concern the North may conduct a test of its military hardware in coming days.

The US Navy strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is en route to the western Pacific with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, the South Korean acting leader, ordered the military to intensify monitoring on the North's activities and to ensure close communication with the United States.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government should investigate the possible transfer of funds to North Korea’s leadership, according to a deputy home minister after reports told that the head of the Malaysian conglomerate had for years funnelled cash to Pyongyang.

Reports cited a North Korean defector as saying that Han Hun Il, the North Korean founding chief executive of Malaysia Korea Partners, had funnelled money to Pyongyang’s leadership, the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, for the past two decades.

The MKP's bank subsidiary in Pyongyang is also under investigation by the United Nations for possible violations of sanctions barring foreign companies from setting up joint ventures with, or taking an ownership interest in, North Korean banks.

Source: Reuters

Let's Do The News! (April 11, 2017)

- The residents of Mabini, Batangas are still afraid in the aftermath of the Magnitude 6 quake struck the area last weekend. According to the town's Mayor Noel Luistro, most of the residents of Mabini continue to stay outside their homes due to trauma, and fear of another earthquake. He added that they continued to be hit by aftershocks after the strong seismic event.

- Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada declared April 12 as a non-working holiday for all employees of the Manila City Hall. However, he warned the public to refrain from posting their travel plans for the Holy Week in their social media accounts, as it increase chances of getting their houses robbed.

- Urban poor group KADAMAY rushed to the Quezon City Hall in order to appeal for the release of their members who are imprisoned in Camp KAringal. Almost a hundred members barricaded and pounded the city hall on April 10. The group asked city mayor Herbert Bautista to release the 41 Kadamay members who are currently detained at the QCPD after their group tried to occupy a private property in Tandang Sora, Quezon City.

- The member nations of the G7 will be joined by Middle East allies on Tuesday in a push to isolate Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, hours before the US Secretary of State flies to Moscow.  G7 foreign ministers hosted by Italy invited their counterparts from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar to sit down in the morning and discuss Syria.

- A senior Myanmar government official denied there was ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in the troubled northwestern state of Rakhine, where military operations forced 75,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Attacks on Myanmar border guard posts in October last year by a Rohingya insurgent group ignited the biggest crisis of country leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s year in power.

- Chevrolet celebrates 65 years of the Corvette with special edition Carbon 65 variant for the Z06 and Grand Sport models. Limited to 650 units globally, the Carbon 65 blends visible carbon-fiber exterior elements with the special Ceramic Matrix Gray exterior color and special interior appointments, including a new carbon-fiber-rimmed steering wheel.

- Overwatch's climatologist, Mei, joins the Nendoroid lineup. Donning her "Classic Skin Edition", This Nendo's available for order and arrives this October.

- In case you missed it; the mythical Pokemon Marshadow's announced. It will make a special appearance in the upcoming Pokemon the Movie 20: I Choose You! as well as the Pokemon Sun and Moon games soon.



Monday, April 10, 2017

Super GT 2017 - Okayama

The 2017 season of the Autobacs Super GT kicked off in Okayama and while the GT500 class is becoming more interesting than the last time with the arrival of the new Lexus LC500 race machines as well as improved versions of the GT-R GT500 racing machines and the NSX GT machines, the GT300 class still has the usual mix of Japanese and European racing machines in the lineup and in this first round, it becoming more of a talk of a town after the race because the two winners are becoming the trending topic in this season.

In the GT500-class, the newest arrival from Lexus, the LC500, showed its fighting chance among drivers using this new machine that replaced last season's RC-F racing machines and as demonstrated by the #37 KeePer TOM'S LC500, which won this race, this new machine really shows its wonders in the Super GT race.

Meanwhile, in the GT300-class, the biggest winner is the #4 GOODSMILE HATSUNE MIKU AMG GT race car, which marked its first win after four years. What a surprise to see a race car in Miku colors coming back in the race as if its ready to honor ten years of Hatsune Miku. Call it a coincidence but who cares...


Next race is at Fuji Speedway on the 4th of May.

2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup - O'Reilly Auto Parts 500

It maybe Spring Break right now but the drivers of NASCAR shows that there is no break to their usual oval racing routine, especially when they're in the biggest state in America to show everyone who's in charge of the Texas Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 race of the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup.

Long before the race, Austin Dillon's #3 car faces trackbar issues and lost 12 laps before his car is fixed and return to the track. Later on, during the race, Erik Jones makes contact with Chris Buescher while entering the pit road. As Ryan Blaney won the 1st stage of the race, things get heated up in Texas and at the end of the second stage, which Blaney also won, Jimmie Johnson came out from nowhere and after Blaney sliding through his pit box on the final stop on Lap 300 and losing track position, placing him on 12th place, Johnson scored his seventh win at Texas Motor Speedway.

Quite a surprising way to start Spring Break with a NASCAR race in the biggest state in America; Texas.

Next race is at Bristol Motor Speedway on the 23rd of April.

Let's Do The News! (April 10, 2017)

- President Rodrigo Duterte said that he had ordered the military to reinforce, not militarize, areas in the South China Sea controlled by his government to maintain the geopolitical balance, and assured the People's Republic of China no "offensive weapons" would be placed there. Duterte wanted peace and friendship between the two nations but he wanted to bolster what territory it had in the Spratlys as islands and reefs are grabbed in the contested waters.

- The Court of Appeals has upheld a guilty verdict on US Marine for the murder of a transgender woman nearly three years ago. A lower court had found Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton guilty for the murder of Jennifer (Jeffrey) Laude in a hotel in Olongapo, outside a former US navy base northwest of the capital, in 2014.

- The Quezon City Police Department goes on high alert for this coming Holy Week.

- Yesterday, in Egypt, over 44 people were killed in the bomb blast on the symbolic Coptic cathedral and another church. The Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for these attacks and this attack is the latest on a religious minority increasingly targeted by Islamist militants, and a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has pledged to protect them as part of his campaign against extremism.

- Carmen Chacon, the first female defense minister of Spain, passed away at the age of 46.

- Scientists shown that Cyclone Debbie, which left a trail of havoc in northeast Australia and New Zealand, damaged one of the few healthy sections of the Great Barrier Reef.

- Ford will showcase their new Police Responder Hybrid Sedan at this week's New York International Auto Show. Based on the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the industry's first pursuit-rated hybrid police car is part of Ford's ambitious efforts for fuel-efficient cars.

- Infiniti will showcase their QX80 Monograph concept at this week's NYIAS, previewing the next-generation of their full-size SUV.

- What happens when the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been given Hellcat power? A Trackhawk, of course. Debuting at this week's NYIAS, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk features the same 707HP Supercharged V8 as seen from the Dodge Challenger and Charger Hellcats, making it the most powerful and fastest SUV in the world.


F1 2017: Chinese GP

The second round of the new season of the Formula One championship shows that even in early stages of the season, a new rivalry has been ignited between the best drivers in the known universe. We're talking about Hamilton and Vettel here.

The track was once in damp condition but it quickly dried up, which lead to a fevered battle among the best of the Formula One drivers. A survival of the fastest by any means where many will race, only some will make it to the finishing line by any means necessary.

Among one of the major mishaps in the Chinese Grand Prix race in Shanghai is a crash by Sauber's Antonio Giovinazzi while exiting the final corner of the track until his car aquaplane off into the pit wall. After Giovinazzi's catastrophic crash in the race, it became like every race for themselves for the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and the others.

With the gap of 6.2 seconds, Hamilton wins the race while Vettel placed 2nd and Red Bull's Max Verstappen placed 3rd. Come to think of it, having both Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo finished together in 3rd and 4th really means that the Red Bull Racing's trying to show its fighting spirit on the track even though one made it to the podium finish and the other doesn't.

The next race is set at Bahrain on the 16th of April. That's Easter Sunday to you, folks.

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

As you may have heard through now, the Mercedes-AMG GT sportscar has been given a minor change and while the latest minor change gave it more power on the S variant as well as new looks, new handling improvements, and some other stuff, there's one new addition to the latest version of the Mercedes-AMG GT lineup; a roadster version.

2018 Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster

Welcome aboard to the brand new Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster and while it delivers the same thrills as the normal hardtop version, this open-top equivalent looks more convincing to drive on the open roads without all the drama. So, what is it then, anyway?

As an open-top equivalent of the not-so-bad Mercedes-AMG GT, the new roadster variant slightly weighs more than the hardtop version but despite the added weight, the most powerful version in the open-top variant, the C, produces 558PS of power output from its 4.0L V8 BiTurbo engine, which is more than what the AMG GT Coupe S produces but less than what the AMG GT R has.

Much ado about humiliating the likes of the Jaguar F-Type R Cabriolet and the Porsche 718 Boxster S, the GT Roadster, like the hardtop equivalent features stuff derived from the GT R variant such as AIRPANEL active air management system and active rear-axle steering, not to mention the rear-axle limited-slip differential, resulting to slightly improved dynamics that is as fun to drive as a supermarket trolley strapped with fireworks and despite the slightly added weight that most open-top versions would, the AMG GT Roadster is not just a screamer on the track but also a subtle grand tourer fit for epic road trips.

With prices start at 129,180 Euros, the GT Roadster is slightly more expensive than the hardtop equivalent and more expensive than the Jaguar F-Type R Cabriolet and the Porsche 718 Boxster. That sounds awful in terms of pricing but the GT Roadster is all about being a no-nonsense open-top sportscar that can work not just on the track but on the road as well without making all the fuss nearby and thanks with the stuff inspired from the GT R as well as numerous updates to keep it as fresh as a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, it's more than welcome to take on all comers no matter the cost.

Photo: Daimler AG

Mercedes-AMG E63 (W213)

This is definitely the right time for Mercedes-AMG to unleash the fury of the most potent E-Class yet as the all-new Mercedes-AMG E63 goes into all-out war with its 4MATIC+ four-wheel drive system optimized for this mad saloon as well as the 4.0L V8 BiTurbo engine that gets even more interesting later on. Let's examine what's what about this mad E-Class and why you can expect to get envious over this.

2017 Mercedes-AMG E63
2017 Mercedes-AMG E63

At first glance, it looks more like your basic W213 Mercedes E-Class but because this is the AMG E63 we're talking about, it's got some basic AMG cosmetic treatment to ensure the madness within inside and out, making it an all-out executive saloon fit enough for a certain mob elite to wield their power over others.

Wielding the power of the new E63 is the 4.0L V8 BiTurbo engine, which is as small as the previous 5.5L V8 BiTurbo engine it replaces but when you get to the more interesting S model, the power output is 612PS and 850Nm of torque, more than what the old E63's V8 produces and sounds like more of a major plot twist for an action thriller flick. With the nine-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT MCT, it does 0-100kph in 3,4 seconds and it is electronically limited to 250kph or with an additional extra, the limit can be raised up to 50kph more, resulting to 300kph (187mph) of top speed. Sounds fast but it's not quick enough to beat the king of super saloons, the Dodge Charger Hellcat.

Let's not forget that unlike the one I said earlier, the new E63 comes with four-wheel drive but if you need a quick recap about the old E63 S 4MATIC a few years ago, this thing feels like you're struggling to follow through the right lines and it feels like getting a small hard ball dropped to your sensitive foot and you can feel the pain from within. You get the point but the issue has been resolved because the new 4MATIC+ four-wheel drive system offers improved handling capabilities and the addition of the cool new Drift Mode which works like the new Ford Focus RS as well. Both axles are now fully variable so torque distribution is seamless, allowing it to behave either as a rear-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive at any conditions and above all, you can't get enough making donuts on an open space without all the grippy fuss from the past.

With the new 4MATIC+, three-chamber air suspension system, rear differential lock, AMG Sport speed-sensitive steering, and the AMG high-performance braking system, not to mention the reinforced bodywork, the new Mercedes-AMG E63 truly comes out alive in the track like a touring car in suits and ties. It can be as thrilling as True Lies but can be as subtle as Mrs. Doubtfire when taken on the normal road and because this is like the new E-Class, all that safety mumbo-jumbo is included, especially the grouchy DRIVE PILOT semi-autonomous driving system that feels like this car's in charge, not you. Oh, please...

The new Mercedes-AMG E63 starts at 109,837 Euros plus delivery and tax and while this is as expensive as any other high-performance German saloons in its heydays, rest assured that it's going to inspire a whole new competition of high-performance AWD German sports saloons. The days of having a high-performance German executive saloon is now gone and now, a new competition has risen, thanks to the new Mercedes-AMG E63. Let's wait until BMW responds with the new M5 very soon, complete with the new V8 Turbo and AWD like the one as seen on the new E63. This can get very interesting.

Photo: Daimler AG

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Forza Horizon 3: Rotaries! From start to finish!

Five decades ago, Mazda shocked the automotive world by introducing their first rotary-powered sportscar, the Cosmo but later on, in present times, the howl of the rotary engine ended with the RX-8. Both these machines represents how the rotary engine began and how it all ended with no vision and no future on sight but left us with historical figures that made the rotary engine the forefront of Mazda's history.

This is a significant thing to do to try out the beginning and the end of Mazda's rotary tales since this is the 50th anniversary of the rotary engine after all, and while Mazda has no plans to revive the rotary engine, not even their awesome concept car persuade us that the resurrection is on sight, speedo boys from all over the world will commemorate this very occasion by sharing stories about how the rotary engine sparked the revolution in the motoring industry and then goes on and on and on and you get the point.

Here in the fantasy Land Down Under that is Forza Horizon 3, these turning points of rotary engine history are here to tell the tale and I drive one of these to see what is like.

Let's start with the beginning of the story, the Mazda Cosmo Sport (also known as the 110S). Launched in 1967, not only this car cemented the popularity of Mazda as a small but influential carmaker, but became consigned to the pages of automotive history because of the rotary engine that became the trump card of Mazda when it comes to stay alive in the globally competitive automotive sector.

When others can't embrace the idea of a rotary engine due to the scratching problems that caused poor seal durability, Mazda is the only carmaker in the world that made the impossible possible with thanks of the idea of employing a graphite-aluminum alloy seal. Not only that, the problems of excessive oil consumption and a lack of low-end torque were taken care of, thus led to the commercialization of cars powered by rotary engines.

Whereas pistons go up and down, the rotaries will go round and round and as a rotary engine, it can suck, squeeze, bang, and blow, procedures that how a rotary engine works and when I take a spin with the Cosmo, the sound of the rotary engine is as true as what they say. It's the engine that goes (pogo sounds) and the Mazda goes (humming). Yeah, you get the point and your gal would definitely love a rotary-powered Mazda more than you, leave you behind, and the sound you'll be hearing is the rotary engine whine.

And now, we get to the end of the rotary-engine tale, the Mazda RX-8. As a replacement to the speedo-boy favorite RX-7 sportscar, the RX-8 went on sale in the spring of 2003 with design inspired by the concept car it was based, not to mention its "freestyle" doors that function like a four-door saloon. The engine, a 654x2cc RENESIS rotary engine, may produce less than the one from the RX-7 but when you take it to a spin, that intoxicating sound of the RENESIS engine, is what keeps speedo boys come alive on the road and coming back for more.

My cousin used to have an RX-8 and he enjoyed it as a daily driver's car that he can take it to work as well as other stuff in his schedule. Now that my cousin currently drives an WRX S4, I repeat the Subaru WRX S4, not STi in case you don't know, rest assured that I'll never forget the moment he got his hands on the car that ended the rotary engine tale.

So, there we are, driving both the Cosmo Sport and the RX-8 is like reading a book from the start to the finish and these turning points of history showed everyone the key reminder of how the rotary engine changed the automotive history forever and if someone asked if there is a future for the rotary engine, don't count on it because as the bosses of Mazda told everyone, they won't be bringing back the rotary engine soon, nor a new rotary-powered sportscar, and they don't care if its the 50th anniversary of the rotary engine this year or Mazda's centennial anniversary in the year 2020.

It's sad but as Mazda, even though they no longer made a rotary-powered sportscar for now, their R&D are working overnight to ensure its imminent revival and thanks to patents reported by motoring sites elsewhere, there's hope in the horizon.

For now, let's honor 50 years of rotary engines, the engine that made it go (pogo sounds) and the Mazda goes (humming).
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