Never mind the Subaru 4×4 wagons, Jeep Cherokees, and Suzuki Samurais that paved the way, Toyota’s RAV4 is the seminal crossover. In the strangely popular cars-impersonating-trucks category, this is the model that has remained faithful to its roots through three design renovations. The attack of interlopers and the recent economic downturn knocked the RAV off the top-seller’s perch, but it’s back this year with a full make over intended to hold a rising number of challengers at bay.
The fourth-gen RAV4 is nearly identical in size to its immediate predecessor, so the major changes pertain to its general layout and driveline configurations. The burly 3.5-liter V-6 engine is history; it arrived with the third generation and was instrumental in the RAV4 winning two of our comparison tests (once in 2008 and again in 2010). A port-injected 2.5-liter four-cylinder now is the sole power source, aided by a new six-speed automatic transmission. (Last year the base four-cylinder was paired with a four-speed automatic. A RAV4 so configured finished fourth in a six-crossover comparo last fall.) Regrettably, no stick-shift option has been offered since the 2005 model year. Power-delivery options again include front-drive or on-demand four-wheel drive.
Proof Is in the Packaging
The previous three-row seating option is gone, a move that benefits front legroom and cargo room. But the most significant configuration upheaval is relocating the spare from the rear door to a well under the cargo compartment floor, a move long overdue. The silly right-hinged access portal becomes a safer, handier, more conventional top-hinged hatch. Also, a slight shuffle of trim levels replaces the outgoing base, Sport, and Limited hierarchy with LE, XLE, and Limited nameplates.
A longstanding RAV4 advantage is that it has one of the lowest rear-compartment load floors in the compact crossover class, easing the task of lifting heavy or bulky objects—pet kennels, bags of Quikrete, cinder blocks, etc.—into the cargo hold. We measured a 26-inch pavement-to-sill dimension for the RAV4, four inches lower than the Mazda CX-5 and Subaru’s new Forester. With the rear seat folded, the RAV4 will carry a 43×74-inch panel of building material laid flat (increased from last year’s 41×64-inch limit dimension). By leaving the hatch ajar and loading panels at an angle, it’s now possible to tote full 4×8-foot sheets, a task less feasible in the gen-three RAV4 with its swing-out cargo door. Another worthy improvement is a small amount of space for hiding valuables adjacent to the high-pressure spare under the cargo hold’s floor panel. Interior release levers fold the roomy back seat in 60-40 increments to provide a nearly flat load space when passengers aren’t the priority. When they do outrank freight, rear occupants will appreciate the adjustable backrest.
Incrementally Improved but Generally Uninvolving
In spite of the inexplicable loss of three horsepower, the extra cogs of the new automatic transmission give the RAV4 added vigor in acceleration tests. The run to sixty is 0.8-second quicker at 8.2 seconds and the quarter-mile sprint is half a second shorter at 16.5 seconds and 85 mph. Passing ability from 50 to 70 mph is also improved. We found tighter skidpad grip (0.78 g compared to 2012’s 0.75 g) and a slightly shorter stopping distance (168 feet versus last year’s 174 feet), most likely attributable to the change from truckish Bridgestone Duelers to stickier Dunlop Grandtrek all-season tires on the 2013 test car. The 16-inch wheels used previously with base LE trim are gone and 17s now are included with LE and XLE versions. The top Limited trim rolls on 18-inch aluminum wheels. Ride motions are firm and there’s determined control of body rock and roll, but the RAV4’s handling doesn’t prompt visions of track-day excursions.
No past RAV4 has excelled in driving entertainment, a tradition unchanged with the 2013 model. That said, strides have been made in general comportment. We noted reduced cabin noise levels and a near total absence of engine murmur at highway speeds. Thanks to the new six-speed automatic, top-gear engine rpm is reduced by more than 10 percent. EPA mileage rises 1 mpg in city driving and by 2 mpg on the highway.
Sit Down and Navigate
Firmly bolstered front buckets provide lateral and longitudinal support worthy of a sports car. (Having no such models in its lineup except the FR-S sold by the Scion sub brand, Toyota allowed its orthopedic experts to play here.) There’s a dead pedal, albeit one that’s a bit short for males, and the steering wheel is shaped and finished to suit those who take driving seriously. Bottom trim levels get a urethane-clad wheel, while Limited buyers move up to leather for the wheel, shifter, and seats. The cockpit also includes a hand-operated parking brake and a manual slot for the console-mounted shifter. While the instrument-panel design is dramatically sculptural to a fault, all controls and displays are within easy reach and information is delivered with impeccable clarity. The major over-the-top touch is faux carbon fiber on the console and door panels.
Standard fare includes a 6.1-inch LCD touch screen with a backup camera and Bluetooth connectivity. A comprehensive Entune multimedia system with voice control, navigation, and satellite radio is optional on both the XLE and the Limited. Newly available, but only to Limited purchasers, are blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems.
Customers shopping here will so appreciate the new infotainment gear they’ll probably never notice that the RAV4 is not much fun to drive. While the electrically assisted steering (not new this year) provides quick response, there’s nearly no feedback. The transmission upshifts on its own free will no matter where you place the lever. Pressing the Sport button allegedly sharpens throttle response, increases steering effort, and delays upshifts, but the changes are so subtle that they’re difficult to detect. Sport mode also sends 10 percent of the available torque to the rear wheels when any turning is involved to mitigate understeer. An Eco button plays on green guilt—why exactly did you buy something this large and heavy to haul you and your dog?—by diminishing throttle response to help you maintain your rightful place in the slow lane.
Overall, the new RAV4 is comprehensively better than the version it replaces, but we regret Toyota’s persistent inattention to driving enjoyment. Competitors, especially Mazda, have realized that an SUV can deliver on the sport part of the moniker without shadowing the utility half of the equation.
WE all love a clean engine, right? The problem with modern vehicles is that their powertrains have many electronic control modules, actuators, switches and a vast number of connectors. And none of those components like water. Spraying these delicate electric components with jets of H2O or steam will most likely result in a non-starting engine at best and, in a worst-case scenario, expensive repairs.
That’s why you’ll see disclaimer boards at car washes that state that engine cleaning is at the owner’s risk. Advancement in powertrain complexity calls for a change in cleaning technology, which is why there’s now an alternative – dry-ice cleaning.
Dry ice in the form of small pellets (1,5 and 3,0 mm for automotive use) is loaded in a specialised machine and fired at the dirty object at speeds of up to 360 km/h. Compressed air at about 6,0 bar is the driving force behind the pellets (see Polarjet 600) and the low temperature of dry ice (approximately -78 degrees Celsius) freezes the dirt on impact and dislodges it from the surface.
The process of easing the adhesion force of the dirt is enhanced by the kinetic energy of the dry ice and the fact that the coefficient of expansion of the offending material is different to that of the carrier material. The biggest advantage of using dry ice is that it sublimates – it changes from a solid to gaseous state (CO2) without entering a liquid phase – and therefore poses no risk to the engine’s electronics.
To put the technology to the test, we asked Hans Kaiser, the sole importer of Polarjet machines, to treat the engine of a 2007 Toyota Prado 4,0-litre V6, which had undergone many off-road excursions but not many engine-bay cleanings, to a “dry clean”. To remove seven years of dirt and grime without water was going to be a difficult task. Hans connected a portable, diesel-powered compressor with a dehumidifier unit to the Polarjet machine filled with dry-ice pellets … and pressed the button.
In little over an hour, 12 kg of dry ice was used to clean the engine thoroughly. Thanks to the non-abrasive nature of the process, there was no damage to the vehicle. Most of the dirt and grime dropped to the floor and a rag (or compressed air) took care of the rest. When the task was completed, the engine started promptly.
The test proved that it is quite possible to clean a modern engine without the risk of incurring water-related damage. At about R1 200 per cleanse, the downside is cost; the equipment is pricey and scarce. However, as the public’s awareness of the benefits of this technology grows, the costs of “dry cleaning” should come down.
Top tips for engine cleaning
- Follow a top-down approach.
- Use as little water as possible.
- Use engine cleaner on a small brush to dislodge stubborn dirt and grime.
- Wipe down with a clean cloth.
- Check all engine fluid levels and condition of piping while you’re at it.
- After cleaning, apply a product that protects the components and repels dust (Hans uses Swissvax Motor Shine).
New X-Trail is available in three grades, the familiar ST, ST-L and Ti – in two or all-wheel drive form. It is also comes in five or seven-seat guise, but for some incomprehensible reason the seven seater is available only with two wheel drive.
Initially, there’s a choice of two engines – 2.0 or 2.5-litre petrol fours (a 1.6-litre turbo diesel joins the line up later in the year). Prices for X-Trail kick off at $27,990 for the 4×2 five-seat ST with the 2.0-litre engine and six-speed manual transmission.
To access the auto, you have to also step up to the larger 2.5-litre engine, a hike of $2500 at $30,490 for the same model. Add all-wheel drive and the total is $33,980. The seven-seat ST is priced from $31,580 or the ST-L from $37,190 (you can’t get a seven-seat Ti), while top of the range Ti with all the trimmings is $44,680.
Standard equipment includes cloth trim, air conditioning, push button start, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights and a 5-inch computer monitor with Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity through the Nissan Connect app.
The EZ Flex seating system with a second row that splits 40/20/40 as well as slides and reclines offers plenty of flexibility, along with a multi-level luggage system in the boot which hides a space saver spare. Higher grades add leather, climate air, satnav, digital radio and Around View Monitor.
The previous model shared a platform with the Dualis and Renault Koleos. The new X-Trail sits on the new CMF Nissan-Renault shared platform and with the addition of a seven seater is likely to see the demise of the Dualis +2.
The 2.0-litre engine features direct injection and delivers 106kW of power and 200Nm of torque while the 2.5 still relies on older multi-point injection and is good for 126kW and 226Nm.
The auto is a 7-step CVT design that continuously varies the drive ratio to provide a balance between power and economy and allows the driver to change gears manually via the shifter (no paddles).
Suspension is Mac strut at the front and multi-link at the rear, 17 or 18 inch alloy wheels, with electric power steering and a form of predictive stability control called Active Trace Control – as well as Active Ride Control which modulates the dampers. Fuel consumption for the 2.0-litre manual is 8.2 litres/100km while the 2.5 gets a claimed 7.9.
The previous model got four stars. This one has not been rated yet, but in all likelihood will qualify for a full five stars with six airbags, standard reverse camera and a full suite of driver assistance systems. The Ti adds Blind Spot Warning, Moving Object Detection and Lane Departure Warning.
We drove the 2.5-litre model in two and all-wheel drive from. Even with the larger engine, performance was uninspiring, bordering on risky when overtaking. The CVT is designed to slip into stepped mode when driven enthusiastically but to get the most out of the car it is necessary to operate the CVT in manual mode even then the spread of ratios was unsatisfying.
Pushed hard the transmission is overly noisy but will change up when it reaches the rev limit, with the trip computer showing well over 16.0 litres/100km. But, driven sedately, we finished the day on a creditable 7.3 which is relatively impressive for a car this size.
The wagon corners flat and handles well, with plenty of grip but the ride quality while not harsh could become wearing over a longer period with plenty of rebound. The lighter entry level ST with 17 inch wheels and 65 instead of 60 series rubber felt more communicative, more agile and offered a more comfortable ride on back roads.
With lockable all-wheel drive and 210mm of ground clearance, the 4×4 model retains a moderate level of off road ability – but perhaps not as much as before. In looks, it’s certainly a far cry from the boxy X-Trail that we know, continuing the stylish design idiom that started with the Murano several years ago.
It’s a quantum leap forward in terms of styling and the interior fit and finish. But the CVT needs more work and the ride quality could use some refinement. With its looks, price and seven seat capacity however the new X-Trail will have no trouble finding friends.
2014 Nissan X-Trail
Price: from $27,990 ( varies in different countries )
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol four 106kW/200Nm, 2.5-litre petrol four 126kW/226Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, CVT auto
Mercedes has unveiled its answer to the VW California camper van: the new V-class-derived Marco Polo bijou home on wheels.
As the exploratory name suggests, the Mercedes Marco Polo is for adventurous types who want to take their home with them on outdoor trips and camping holidays. Not sure we’d take one from Venice to the Far East though, like its namesake…
Unveiled at this week’s Caravan Salon in Düsseldorf, the Marco Polo has been developed in partnership with Mercedes-Benz partner Westfalia. It’s a company that Daimler used to own, but which has subsequently gone back to independent ownership. There’s no holding these outdoor types down.
Mercedes Marco Polo: based on the V-class
The latest Mercedes V-class is given a pop-up roof which creates space for a double bed on top of the cabin, stretching to 2050mm long and 1130mm wide. The main ‘bedroom’ is in the V-class’s loadbay, the two-seater bench converting into a double bed the same size as the one up top.
Cleverly, the downstairs bed has electro-pneumatic bolsters built into the chairs – letting them change shape for more lateral support when used for sitting and deflating to create a flat bed for sleeping.
Cooking with gas: the new Mercedes Marco Polo
Like the VW California, the ‘Merco’ Polo is equipped with the niceties of camping clobber to make this a more luxurious alternative to camping under canvas. The kitchen area is decorated with LED lighting and smart piano black surfaces, designed to wipe clean and look like one of those cool, urban kitchens you see on cookery programmes.
The kitchenette has two gas burners, a 40-litre fridge and a 38-litre water tank mounted inboard to protect liquids from frost. And it’s like a Swiss army knife in here; tables fold out of nowhere and the front two seats swivel around to create a dining area for four.
Mercedes will sell the Marco Polo with three diesel engines, stretching from the base 200 CDI’s 134bhp to a range-topping 187bhp diesel.
Sales start at the end of July 2014 in Germany; sadly the UK distributor has no plans to offer the Marco Polo in Great Britain, officially at least.
World Cup résumé
Germany: 18 appearances, 3 championships (1954, 1974, 1990), 4 runners-up (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002), 4 third places (1934, 1970, 2006, 2010)
Argentina: 16 appearances, 2 championships (1978, 1986), 2 runners-up (1930, 1990)
Germany: Joachim Löw
Argentina: Alejandro Sabella
How they got here
Germany: 2-1 in group stage (def. Portugal, 4-0; tied Ghana, 2-2; def. U.S., 1-0); def. Algeria, 2-1, in round of 16; def. France, 1-0, in quarterfinals; def. Brazil, 7-1, in semifinals.
Argentina: 3-0 in group stage (def. Bosnia, 2-1; def. Iran, 1-0; def. Nigeria, 3-2); def. Switzerland, 1-0, in round of 16; def. Belgium, 1-0, in quarterfinals; def. Netherlands, 0-0 on penalty kicks, in semifinals
Germany: 64 attempts on target, 17 goals (14 open play, 3 set piece), 71 fouls committed, 4 yellow cards, 0 red cards
Argentina: 61 attempts on target, 8 goals (7 open play, 1 set piece), 64 fouls committed, 6 yellow cards, 0 red cards
World Cup head-to-head history
Germany leads, 4-1-1 (does not include 1-1 tie with East Germany in 1974). Argentina def. Germany, 3-2, in 1986 final. Germany def. Argentina, 1-0, in 1990 final.
Player to watch
Germany: Thomas Müller. The second-leading goal-scorer with five (behind Colombia’s James Rodriguez, with six), Müller is so much more than a specialist who lingers near the front and waits for service. He has covered the most ground in the World Cup (68.8 kilometers), a reflection of the fact that he is an indefatigable mover who can play a number of positions, depending his team’s need. In fact, Müller has described himself not as a striker or as any of soccer’s traditional positions, but as a Raumdeuter — literally, a “space interpreter.” Müller has a preternatural ability to make runs into unexpected openings in a defense, and his goals have been not so much spectacularly athletic moments, but the results of someone who knows exactly where he needs to be.
Argentina: Lionel Messi. Could it be anyone other than the player widely hailed as the best in the world? Outside of perhaps Neymar, no one entered the World Cup with more pressure to be brilliant, and Messi has delivered. The embodiment of No. 10, the jersey number worn by a soccer team’s principle playmaker, Messi seems to have the ball glued to his feet as he glides his way around defenders, until the moment where he picks out an open teammate or simply scores himself. Out of Argentina’s eight goals in the tournament, Messi has scored four and assisted on another, and, in fact, many feel the team is too dependent on him. Messi is attempting to live up to the ultimate standard — Diego Maradona’s leadership of Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title – and so far he has been up to the monumental task.
Germany, 3-1. There is simply no objective basis for picking against die Mannschaft. Germany entered the tournament as FIFA’s second-ranked team, and with top-ranked Spain crashing and burning in the group stage, it is hard to argue that Germany isn’t the best side in the world. The team gets scoring from a variety of sources, excellent goaltending from Manuel Neuer and its defense has been less shaky than it occasionally looked during qualifying matches. Then there’s the fact that the Argentina had to play 30 extra minutes before deciding its semifinal match on penalty kicks, while Germany played the day before and could almost coast through the second half of its destruction of Brazil. Which is not at all to say that the Argentina has no chance. Germany has not been defeated in this tournament; however, it has been tied (by a Ghana side that lost its other two games) and won three of its matches by one goal. The rout of Brazil was shockingly thorough but probably a bit of an aberration. That said, Argentina will need not only every bit of Messi’s greatness, but extraordinary efforts from many others in order to spring the upset.
Bouchons, stationnement, rues étroites… Pas toujours évident de se mouvoir dans l’enfer des villes. Pour celles qui ne peuvent ou ne veulent se passer de voiture, la meilleure option reste la petite citadine. Compacte et nerveuse, elle est idéale pour se sortir au mieux des aléas de la circulation.
Des séries limitées pour se faire remarquer
Pourquoi se priver, d’autant qu’elles sont de plus en plus jolies !
Ces séries limitées griffées de grands noms de la mode devraient les faire chavirer les fashionitas ! En plus d’arborer le logo et autres finitions propres à la marque, elles proposent un très grands nombre d’options que les autres n’ont pas.
En ce qui concerne le tarif voir sur les sites des concessionnaires respectifs.
Till Today The most expensive 1931 Bugatti Royale Kellner Coupe was sold for $8.7 million in 1987. These cars and other older ones like that are not included in the list as they are no longer available in the market.
If you can afford it, you would probably invest a small fraction of that on a bevy of supercars for your garage. Here are 10 of the most expensive street legal production cars on the market (at least 2 available); concept cars are not included.
1. Lamborghini Veneno $4,500,000. The Veneno gets you from 0 to 60 mph in a swift 2.8 seconds allowing you to hit a top speed of 221 mph. Only three cars are being made available every year. If you want to own this hyper-supercar, you will have to be placed on a waiting list along with other aficionados.
2. Lykan Hypersport $3,400,000. The Dubai based company W Motors are planning to make seven of these. The Lykan Hypersport is powered by a flat 6 twin-turbo engine, which produces 750 horsepower, and takes you from 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds with an estimated top speed of 245 mph.
3. Bugatti Veyron Super Sports $2,400,000. This is no longer the most expensive street legal production car available on the market today (the base Veyron costs $1,700,000). Capable of reaching 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds, the Veyron is the fastest street legal car when tested again on July 10, 2010 with the 2010 Super Sport Version reaching a top speed of 267 mph (430 km/h). When competing against a Bugatti Veyron, you better be prepared!
4. Aston Martin One-77 $1,850,000. The name “One-77” says it all: beauty and power in One, limited to 77 units. With 750 hp, it is able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds with a maximum speed of 220 mph (354 km/h).
4. Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster $1,850,000. One of the most exotic cars out there is also one of the most expensive. It can go from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 217 mph (349 km/h).
5. Zenvo ST1 $1,225,000. Able to reach 60 mph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 233 mph (375 km/h). The Zenvo ST1 is from a new Danish supercar company that will compete to be the best in speed and style. The ST1 is limited to 15 units and the company even promised “flying doctors” to keep your car running.
6. Lamborghini Reventon $1,600,000. The most powerful and the most expensive Lamborghini ever built takes third place on the list. It reaches 60 mph in 3.3 seconds from 0, to go with a top speed of 211 mph (339 km/h). Its rare (limited to 20) and slick design are reasons why it is expensive and costly to own.
6. Koenigsegg Agera R $1,600,000. The Agera R goes from 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 260 mph (418 km/h). It is capable of reaching 270 mph, but this supercar is electronically limited to 235 mph (378 km/h). You will need to sign a waiver, only then does the company unlock the speed limiter.
7. Maybach Landaulet $1,380,000. The Landaulet is the most expensive sedan on the market and it can go from 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds. It is one the most luxurious cars ever made, this comes with a convertible roof that fully opens at the rear. This Maybach is made especially for CEOs and Executives who have their own personal driver.
8. McLaren P1 $1,350,000. McLaren announced that only 375 of the P1 will be made. Under the hood is a hybrid-modified 3.8 liter V8 twin-turbo engine. When combined with the electric motor, it is expected to produce 903 horsepower aided by a 7 speed dual clutch paddle shifter. Time trial estimates put the P1 to go from 0 to 60 in 2.7 seconds, while it is expected to have an electronically limited top speed of 217 mph.
9. Pagani Huayra $1,300,000. Named after the “God of the winds” in Quechua, this Italian mid-engine comes with a 6.0 liter, V12 twin-turbo charged engine that produces 720 horsepower. It can reach from 0 to 60 mph in 3.0 seconds, and possibly reaching a top speed of 224 mph.
10. Hennessey Venom GT Spyder $1,100,000. What makes the 2013 Hennessey Venom GT Spyder is its price tag, a compelling 1.1 million dollars. There is no other convertible in the world today that can match-up with this car. Not to mention that it goes from 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds.
The 458 Italia is equipped with a racing manettino switch leading toward more sporting set ups and giving the driver a wider selection of electronic controls parameters. The ICE setting saw in the F430 has been removed, while the CT setting has been added in order to deactivate the traction control and at the same time maintain the stability control. There are five different manettino positions and conditions: Low Grip, Sport, Race, CT and CTS. Low Grip setting provides maximum grip under all driving conditions, and it is particularly suited for low grip surfaces. The emphasis is on comfort and stability without compromising the handling. Sport is the best setting for day to day driving and guarantees great safety under good grip. Race is particularly suitable for track driving providing maximum performance and stability in optimal grip situations. CT helps the driver improving his driving skills in safety, by keeping active the stability control. It allows over-steer right to the edge of the car�s limits and guarantees enhanced driving pleasure and fun behind the wheel, particularly on the track. Under CTS setting, both stability and traction control systems are deactivated, giving the driver maximum freedom and control on the track. No electronic systems intervene on the vehicle stability with the exception of E-diff3 and ABS.
On the 458 Italia, the driver can decouple the suspension damping from the electronic configuration selected on the manettino. The suspension decoupling button offers improved filtering of uneven road surfaces in order to improve performance and handling on uneven broken surfaces, such as the ones at the Nurburgring race track.
The launch control button is instead designed to offer the best possible acceleration from standstill. It delivers the maximum possible torque to the ground and prevents wheel spin as the car accelerates away. Its activation is indicated in the instrument panel. To start using the Launch control, the manettino must be selected on race, CT or CTS setting. With the car still at standstill, the driver then needs to put the gearbox in manual, selects first gear, pushes the launch control, presses the accelerator pedal and then releases the brake pedal.
The stylistic interior choices developed by Ferrari Centro Stile reflect a functional, ergonomic cockpit design. The driver is set in the center of a streamlined and intuitive layout, which is very much in line with the marquees signature styling cues.