THE NEW SEAT IBIZA

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Seat’s latest take on its long-running supermini is a mature and slightly predictable-looking effort – in styling, it’s a sharp remix of the Leon and Ateca. But don’t confuse its unsurprising looks with a less than progressive approach to its engineering.

The Volkswagen Group’s all-new MQB AO platform gets its first public outing in the fifth-generation Ibiza, big news for Seat.

The company is already making bullish claims about its packaging efficiency, claiming that despite being smaller than its predecessor, it has made great strides in terms of packaging efficiency and comfort.

It also says that the Ibiza, ‘comes loaded with the latest technology features, outstanding dynamics, and impressive improvements in interior space and comfort,’ and is a vital part of its portfolio review.

Our full A-Z preview guide to the Geneva motor show

Big claims for the new 2017 Ibiza… can they be delivered?

The ingredients are all there. Seat is being bold with the five-door-only Ibiza, because it needs to be. Parent Volkswagen wants growth in southern European markets, and a strong Seat will enable that to happen. Its fortunes and positioning within the group have improved considerably since 2010, and under the company’s new CEO Luca de Meo, are set to continue.

New 2017 Seat Ibiza

It’s grown in width over the old Ibiza by 87mm, but is shorter and lower – so it’s not a story of continued growth in overall dimensions. Space efficiency is improved thanks to a 60mm stretch of the wheelbase (now 2654mm). So, you get more rear leg- and headroom, and a larger boot (up 63 litres to 355), although Seat has yet to confirm whether there’s a weight penalty or not compared with the previous Ibiza.

All engines are now Euro6 compliant, and come from Wolfsburg’s latest line-up. So, there’s the 1.0 TSI with 94 or 113bhp, the new 148bhp EVO 1.5 TSI unit first shown in the Golf will be along in ‘late 2017’, and the venerable 1.6 TDI diesel engines will be offered in 78 and 93bhp form.

There’ll be a mix of five- and six-speed manuals, and a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG-auto gearbox will be available too.

2017 Seat Ibiza

Will it be another MQB hit on the road?

Again, on paper it looks like it. Seat promises great things from its new baby, and that is said to come from its new MQB A0 platform and 30% greater torsional stiffness of its monocoque.

The suspension layout will most likely ape the layout of the larger MQB cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf and Seat Leon, although Seat has yet to confirm whether its new small car will get a similar independent rear suspension layout.  Either way, you can expect similar dynamics from the Ibiza, with an emphasis on sporting handling.

The FR version gets a stiffer set-up and four mode settings: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Individual, and the more comfort-oriented Xcellence trim will also offer this system, with an additional softer setting. Expect the driving modes menu to be exploited further when the hot Cupra version is rolled out, with a track-biased set-up – expected to be later in 2017.

It looks sharp, but is it a bit too derivative?

Seat would say no, and that the new Ibiza is an ‘important brand pillar’ alongside the Leon, Ateca and the upcoming Arona small crossover – so it would carry over elements of their styling. But the overt similarity with the Leon will play well with those looking for a more mature supermini experience.

It’s dripping with clever details – the sort of stuff you expect in premium products. So you get similar triangular LED headlights to the Leon, larger wheels, up to 18-inches in diameter (and that’s before the Cupra), sharp LED rear lamp clusters, and chrome trim in the top models.

2017 Seat Ibiza interior

Much of the tech on board filters down from the larger Leon model. The top of the range Xcellence version, for example, includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Full Link connectivity system, an Air Care filter that isolates the occupants from any type of allergens, Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link.

Other grown-up options will include Adaptive Cruise Control, keyless entry, a rear-view camera (on a supermini!) and a 300W premium audio option from Beats Audio.

That’s all well and good, but isn’t it a bit boring for a supermini?

Predictable, yes. Boring? On first impressions, no. The new Ibiza is a more grown-up kind of small hatch, promising to be a scaled-down C-segment car with a supermini footprint – and a sign that Seat has found its feet within the confines of the Volkswagen Group.

We’ll reserve judgement of its success until we get behind the wheel, but the signs are promising. In short, expect a sportier-driving, higher-quality, more user-friendly package from Seat.

It’s going to be a nicer place to spend time, with much more tech at its fingertips. Surely the big problem for Volkswagen now is – what can it do to make the Polo good enough to beat it?

2017 Infiniti QX60 AWD

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Infiniti was fairly early to the three-row luxury crossover game with its JX, which has been continuously updated—and renamed—to become the 2017 QX60. Sharing its underpinnings with the Nissan Pathfinder, the QX60, like its less-luxurious counterpart, offers front- or all-wheel drive and a hybrid variant.

Instead of trim levels, Infiniti offers a number of packages on the QX60 that build on the base model: Premium is the volume package, while Premium Plus adds navigation and is a requirement for a host of safety items bundled together in the optional Driver Assistance Package.

More power headlines the changes for 2017 after a 2016 refresh.

The QX60 sits squarely in the center of the luxury crossover market and goes head-to-head with the Acura MDX, Volvo XC90, and Audi Q7.

Dubbed VQ35DD, the rejuvenated engine shares less than half of its parts with last year’s V-6. Horsepower is now rated at a stout 295, and torque rises to a healthy 270 lb-ft (gains of 30 and 22). A continuously variable automatic transmission again shuffles torque to the drive wheels, which are either the front two or, as in the example tested here, all four. Although we’d prefer a traditional planetary automatic, Infiniti’s CVT is a generally agreeable unit that imitates step shifts when heavy throttle is applied so as to avoid engine droning. Furthermore, a dedicated manual mode gives the driver seven preset ratios to swap among, while a dial on the center-console tunnel offers four driving modes: Standard, Sport, Snow, and Eco, the last of which engages Infiniti’s intrusive Eco Pedal on QX60s equipped with either the Driver Assistance package or—as installed on our test car—the Deluxe Technology package. The Eco Pedal works by adding resistance to the throttle, thus discouraging the driver from exercising a heavy foot. We generally left the QX60 in the Standard setting, although we occasionally switched to Sport for its slightly sprightlier throttle response. Sport mode also brings a tendency to rev the engine past 3500 rpm, where there is indeed more power accompanied by noticeable coarseness.

Inside, the QX60 is spacious and stylish, but decidedly similar to the much cheaper Nissan Pathfinder.

Interior quality remains the primary difference between the QX60 and its Nissan Pathfinder brother. The Infiniti boasts an overall upscale aura that doesn’t quite deliver the upmarket look and feel of a pricier Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

The QX60 receives good marks for interior volume and flexibility, on the other hand. The third-row seat isn’t an afterthought, and we like how the adaptable second-row seat folds, tilts, and collapses in several combinations, giving good access to the third row even when there’s a child safety seat latched into it. That’s a feature not offered on many rivals. The first and second rows are comfortable for adults, though the third row (no matter how easy it is to reach) is best used for children. With its compact lithium-ion battery pack tucked under the third-row seat, the QX60 Hybrid loses neither cargo space nor the fold-flat seats.

QX60 offers a full suite of safety systems—including automatic emergency braking—bundled in the Driver Assistance Package, but opting for that requires adding the pricey Premium and Premium Plus groups. It’s with that package that QX60 merits the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

Infiniti has announced the 2017 model year will bring a host of updates for its popular QX60. Headlining the updates is a heavily revised 3.5-liter V-6 with direct fuel injection and other improvements, along with an updated infotainment system and an upgraded rear-seat theater package. Exterior and interior designs aren’t changing, however, as Infiniti gave the QX60 a hefty update for 2016.

The QX60 continues to be based on the Nissan Pathfinder, so it’s no surprise Infiniti’s version is getting similar updates as the 2017 Pathfinder. Both are FWD-biased, unibody crossovers with three rows of seating that can fit seven passengers.

Introduced in 2012 as the JX35, the Infiniti got a name change in 2013 as part of the brand’s nomenclature realignment. Now a member of Infiniti’s QX SUV segment, the QX60 is joined by the QX30, QX50, QX70, and the QX80.

So without further ado, let’s look at the updates for the 2017 Infiniti QX60.

Los Angeles Auto Show 2017 Jeep Compass Unveiling

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The Compass received a face-lift for the 2011 model year, which marked Jeep’s first attempt at making a baby Grand Cherokee. The rectangular headlights and seven-slat grille carry over, but are stretched and made narrower to better fill out the wider front end. Trailhawk models look more menacing with blacked out grille slats and black accents on the hood.

When viewed from the side, it becomes even clearer that the Compass is an all-new vehicle. The front end comes to more of a point on the new model, and the beltline kinks upward at the rear quarter window. The indented character line that ran across the bottom of the doors is gone, and the fenders now feature plastic cladding.

Just like the front, the rear end brings to mind the Grand Cherokee. Horizontally oriented taillights replace the previous model’s vertical lamps, and overall the rear is less angular and blocky. The old model may have the edge when it comes to rear visibility, as the 2017 Compass’ rear window is narrower thanks to the higher beltline.

What do you think of the 2017 Jeep Compass? Is it a design home run or does Jeep need to move away from the Grand Cherokee’s styling? Tell us in the comments below.

Last week, we asked you about the redesigned 2017 Mazda CX-5, and your comments were overwhelmingly positive.

Giallofly said, “Refreshing. I like the current model and the 2017 looks even better. The interior looks German and it’s nice to see another automaker use center console controls for the infotainment.”

Inside, there’s really no comparison. The outgoing vehicle’s interior looks like it’s nearly 10 years old – because it is. Meanwhile, the 2017 Compass’ cabin looks modern and stylish, again drawing heavily from the Grand Cherokee’s design. The central touchscreen ranges in size from 7.0 to 8.4 inches, and runs FCA’s latest Uconnect infotainment system.

2017 Porsche Panamera 4S Exterior, Interior and Drive

The new Panamera’s performance encroaches on supercar territory. The 4S, which shares its engine with the upcoming Audi RS4 and RS5, charges from zero to 60 mph in a claimed 4.2 seconds; the Turbo manages it in 3.6 seconds, and in both cases, the optional Sport Chrono package shaves off a further 0.2 second thanks to its launch-control function. Stated top speed is 180 mph for the 4S and 190 mph for the Turbo. But fuel consumption is said to be lower by over 10 percent in both models.

When Porsche originally decided to move forward with the Panamera, a lot of options were on the menu, including a traditional three-box sedan. But there were enough of those in the market, and not so many hatchbacks. Since then, more hatchbacks have joined the luxury arena, including the Audi A7 and the Tesla Model S. But the Panamera stands alone: More spacious than the A7 and more luxurious than the Tesla, it’s a valid contender against the Audi A8, the BMW 7-series, and the Mercedes-Benz S-class, although its shape and dynamics pit it against top versions of the Germans’ sleeker offerings, such as the Audi RS7, BMW M6 Gran Coupe, and Mercedes-AMG CLS63 S.

Easy on the Eyes
The second generation of the Panamera, which Porsche launched at a lavish event in Berlin, takes everything a step forward: It’s slightly bigger, it’s more powerful, it’s said to perform better, and it’s fitted with a cutting-edge man-machine interface. What’s more, it looks better—a lot better. When we rode along on a prototype drive in South Africa earlier this year, we got a sense of the much-improved proportions of the new car. Its roofline has been lowered over the rear passengers, and the shape of the side-window opening resembles that of the 911.

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