AAH #357 – Alfa Giulia: Are You Ready For A Performance Sedan?

December 1st, 2016 at 2:30pm

Audio-only version:

It’s been years of waiting, but the Alfa Romeo brand is finally starting to take shape. Dealerships have had the 4C for a while, but now they’re welcoming the brand’s first sedan, the all-new Giulia. Join host Gary Vasilash from the site of its North American media drive in Napa Valley, California as he and guest co-host Tim Stevens from Roadshow by CNET, talk to the team behind Alfa Romeo. In addition during the news portion of the show, Gary and Tim are also joined by two colleagues as they discuss the hopes for this new performance sedan.

SPECIAL GUESTS:
01:04Reid Bigland, CEO, Alfa Romeo
17:05Richard Cox, Director, Alfa Romeo North America
27:34Fabio Di Muro, Vehicle Line Director, Alfa Romeo

38:36 - PANEL: Gary Vasilash, AD&P; Tim Stevens, CNET; Rebecca Lindland, KBB; Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver

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Seat Time: 2017 Bentley Bentayga – Ne Plus Ultra Amongst Luxury SUV’s

November 25th, 2016 at 10:00am

Bentley Bentayga, Iceland, July 2016Photo James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.


Reviewer:
John McElroy
Vehicle: 2017 Bentley Bentayga
Price: $275,180

Final Impression:

I knew that Bentley achieved everything it wanted with the Bentayga when I drove up to the main entrance at the Greenbrier, one of the poshest resort hotels in the world. People stopped and stared. Suddenly the Benz’s, BMW’s and Range Rover’s parked out front looked somewhat pedestrian, even mundane. I overhead one woman breathlessly ask, “Who’s in the Bentley?”

You want instant rock star status? Get a Bentayga. But you better bring a rock star income along with you, too. The one I drove had over $43,000 in options, which in itself is enough to buy a decent luxury car. But for those who have this kind of disposable income, the Bentayga gives get something very special for your money.

Bentley Bentayga, Iceland, July 2016Photo James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Bentayga by Mulliner 01Let’s start with the interior, which I think is the most impressive aspect of this car. It’s arresting, truly one of those open-the-door-and-take-your-breath-away designs. Bentley is masterful at choosing the perfect types of leathers and colors. And accents and contrasts. And textures and smells. It just makes you want to inhale deeply with every breath and run your hands over every surface.

Even more, it has a wonderful combination of modernity sprinkled with old-school touches. For example, it bristles with the latest in electronic interfaces but retains the damped organ-stop vent controls that Bentley used for most of the last century. From the quilted leather accents to the large burled walnut veneers that run through the tops of the doors and across the face of the dashboard, it gets awfully close to being garish but stops just in time to look impressively opulent instead.

As you look at the Bentayga’s silhouette you realize that it exhibits proportions not seen on any other SUV. It has a high belt line with chunky fenders. It has a chopped front overhang, but a stretched rear overhang. And the back lite is set at a faster angle than the windshield. In other words, there’s nothing else in the market that is shaped like it.

Bentley Bentayga, Iceland, July 2016 Photo James Lipman / jameslipman.com

Untitled-1This was not done purely for aesthetic reasons. The shape of the car provides rear seat passengers with plenty of room at the same time it provides decent luggage space.

To drive home the “sport” aspect of this sport utility vehicle, it has a pronounced curve at the leading edge of the rear fenders, reminiscent of the haunches of a jungle cat ready to leap at its prey. And just in case the haunches don’t drive that point home, all you have to do is tap into its 600 horsepower W-12 engine. I’ve never felt 5,000 pounds of steel, glass and aluminum rocket forward so quickly.

The Bentayga is currently in a class of its own, but will soon share the road with a couple of cousins. The next generation Porsche Cayenne and the upcoming Lamborghini Urus will share the same VW AG MLB platform. Though each has its own unique personality they could vie for the same class of customers. That might muddy the waters from a sales standpoint.

For now though, the Bentayga has the market to itself. And it has made an impression that extends well beyond the 1%-ers it’s aimed at. When driving down the highway I noticed a number of people whip out their cell phones to shoot a video of the Bentayga as it whistled past them. That was a new experience for me. I’ve never seen people shooting a video of a car that I was driving. And I test drive a lot of different cars.

It’s amazing how people the world over are turning away from traditional sedans to buy an SUV instead. It’s even more amazing to see this happen at the upper crust of the luxury segment. And that tells me the Bentayga will probably end up being the best selling Bentley ever.

 

 

 

AAH #356 – EcoSport Goes Online In LA

November 17th, 2016 at 2:30pm

Audio-only version:

NEWS TOPICS:
01:23Eric Loeffler gives a rundown on Ford’s all-new CUV, the EcoSport
16:46Chantel Lenard talks sales and marketing for the EcoSport
27:21Journalists opinions on EcoSport entering a competitive market
40:27Automobility LA: Who’s taking the spotlight?

SPECIAL GUESTS:
Eric Loeffler, EcoSport Chief Program Engineer, Ford
Chantel Lenard, Executive Director, U.S. Marketing, Ford

PANEL: John McElroy, Autoline.tv; Gary Vasilash, AD&P; Karl Brauer, Kelley Blue Book; Bob Gritzinger, WardsAuto

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Mazda CX-5: Zoom-Zoom With a Vengeance – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 8:27pm

Mazda defies all the conventions in the automotive industry. At a time when so many predict that only the giant automakers will survive, Mazda is the little company that punches way above its weight. Robert Davis, the Senior VP of Operations for Mazda North America, points out the highlights of the new CX-5. Even though the prior version came out four years ago, the new one has an all-new body, all-new interior, and a big surprise that’s under the hood.

Stelvio Rides To Alfa Romeo’s Rescue – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 7:53pm

Alfa Romeo has very ambitious plans, but they can only be carried out with new cars in the showrooms. 2017 marks the year when all the action really starts, first with the Giulia and now with the Stelvio. Richard Cox, the Head of Product Planning for Alfa Romeo worldwide, explains why the Stelvio is the right vehicle at the right time to start Alfa’s revival.

Nissan Goes To The Movies – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 6:13pm

How do you get your brand new CUV to stand out from all the others? Why, you tie it to the latest Star Wars movie, that’s what you do. Jeremy Tucker, the VP of Marketing at Nissan North America, gives us the background story of how they worked with Lucas studios to launch the Nissan Rogue along with “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”

Chevrolet Goes To Polar Extremes – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 5:24pm

Chevy’s LA Auto Show display runs from a small electric to the ultimate off-road pickup truck. We knew about the Bolt EV, but Chevrolet managed to keep the Colorado ZR2 top secret. Alan Batey hits the highlights of what this extreme truck is all about.

Audi’s Three-fer in LA – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 3:32pm

Audi unveils the S5 coupe, S5 Sportback, and Q5 crossover. It’s the first wave of an all-out product assault for 2017. Audi needs these new vehicles tot keep customers coming into its showrooms as it fights off a flurry of negative headlines over its diesel and gasoline emissions cheating.

VW Atlas: A Make Or Break SUV For VW – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 2:44pm

The gaping hole in Volkswagen’s line up has always been the lack of a 3-row SUV in the U.S. market. The all-new Atlas is all about plugging that gap. Designed specifically for American car buyers, the Atlas will play a critical role in determining whether or not VW can claw its way back after its diesel disaster.

Michigan Fights For The Autonomous High Ground – LA Auto Show 2016

November 16th, 2016 at 12:53pm

The dawn of the autonomous age could transform the automotive industry, and the state of Michigan wants to be at the forefront of this development. It’s building the test tracks and infrastructure to ensure that companies in Michigan are leaders in developing autonomous cars. Kevin Kerrigan is with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and he details the steps the state is taking.