Video: Watch CAJ unveil Best of the Best winner on Canada AM

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Graeme Fletcher and Petrina Gentile unveil the winner of the CAJ’s Best of the Best vehicle award for 2014 and why it was voted number one. Click on: Canada AM: Automotive excellence of 2014
http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=275106&playlistId=1.1641820&playlistPageNum=1

 

 

Mazda3

Mazda3 wins CAJ’s 2014 Best of the Best Award

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TORONTO, JAN. 16, 2014 – The Mazda3 is the winner of the 2014 Best of the Best award, the Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) announced live on CTV’s Canada AM this morning.

The Mazda3 beat out 11 other finalists, which included a wide variety of vehicles available to Canadian new-car buyers. The CAJ’s Best of the Best finalists don’t exclusively focus on a specific model within a family of vehicles or only “all-new” models, and they include the reigning Best of the Best winner from the previous year, which is an automatic finalist.

Along with the winning Mazda3, the 2014 finalists included the following: Audi RS7, BMW 4 Series, Cadillac ATS (2013 Best of the Best winner), Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Impala, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar F-Type, Kia Forte, Mazda6, Mercedes-Benz CLA and Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid.

The Top Three finalists were the Corvette, F-Type and Mazda3.

The CAJ chooses its finalists based on the following criteria: style, design (exterior and interior), ride and handling, performance, ergonomics, comfort, space, cargo capacity, fuel efficiency and noise, vibration and harshness (NVH).

One of the key considerations for choosing the winner is market significance — what the car will do to change things for both the automaker and the automotive market. According to the CAJ, the Mazda3 is a standout in the compact car segment in terms of fit, finish and technology and it accounts for 30% of Mazda’s worldwide sales.

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its Jurors, 11 senior automotive journalists, and its Secretary, an automotive editor and writer, who account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson and Michael Vaughan.

The 2014 Best of the Best award will be presented to Mazda for its Mazda3 today in Montreal.

For more information about the Canadian Automotive Jury, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

2014 Best

CAJ WILL ANNOUNCE BEST OF THE BEST WINNER ON CANADA AM

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The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) will announce its fifth annual Best of the Best Award winner live on CTV’s Canada AM on Jan. 16.

The 2014 Top Three finalists are: the Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type and Mazda3.

The Best of the Best is an automotive award of excellence presented annually by the CAJ, a not-for-profit group of prominent Canadian automotive journalists pledged to the highest standards of uncompromised reporting. The Jury believes Canadians are interested in Best of the Best because it recognizes “the one and only, best of the best.” Any vehicle on sale in Canada on Sept. 1 is eligible for the award.

The Best of the Best Winner trophy is an Inuit soapstone carving of a polar bear, donated by the North West Company’s Inuit Art division. The award will be presented to the winner during the Montreal auto show Jan. 16.

The CAJ has a coast-to-coast reach in all forms of media including newspapers, radio, television and online. The collective reach of the Jury is 43,253,351 weekly (according to MediaWatch Research & Analysis Canada Inc.). The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson and Michael Vaughan.

For more information, please contact CAJ Secretary Patricia Cancilla at patcaj1@hotmail.com

 

A4_014_021_JNA_FRONT-1008x567

CAJ names Top Three Best of the Best finalists

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TORONTO, Dec. 16, 2013 — The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) has announced the Top Three contenders for its fifth annual Best of the Best Awards.

The 2014 Top Three finalists are (in alphabetical order): the Chevrolet Corvette, Jaguar F-Type and Mazda3.

“The Corvette is an iconic automobile that will appeal to die-hard car enthusiasts and young buyers alike for its design and uncompromising power,” says jury member Petrina Gentile, automotive writer at the Globe and Mail.

Jury member Graeme Fletcher, automotive writer at the National Post and reporter at Motoring TV, says of the Jaguar F-Type: “There are precious few cars that look as good as they drive and vice versa. The F-Type is a dynamic piece either way — fast, fun and a head-turner of the first order.”

And last but not least, the Mazda3 gets high praise from jury member Éric LeFrançois, automotive writer at La Presse: “Through its performance and dynamics, the new Mazda3 shines brightly in a rather bland segment of affordable transportation. Its fit, finish and technology content makes it a rival to some premium compacts in the Canadian market.”

The 2014 Best of the Best winner will be announced January 16 at the Montreal auto show.

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its 11 Jurors and Secretary, all veteran automotive journalists who, with a combined experience of more than 285 years, account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The Jury members are (in alphabetical order): David Booth, Patricia Cancilla (Secretary), Jeremy Cato, Benoit Charest, Jacques Deshaies, Graeme Fletcher,  Gabriel Gélinas, Petrina Gentile, John LeBlanc, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson and Michael Vaughan.

Road Test: 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG

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Mercedes Benz CLS 63 AMG

By Patricia Cancilla

It’s what I want for Christmas.

If all my friends and family chip in, they might be able to come up with the $127,750 Mercedes is asking for its 2014 CLS 63 AMG S-Model. Hey, I’ve been really good this year …

Here’s what you get for that seemingly lofty price tag: A bi-turbo V8 engine producing 577 horsepower at 5,750 rpm, 590 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm, AMG Speedshift MCT Sports seven-speed manumatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, 19-inch AMG five-spoke wheels, red brake callipers, power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, black Passion leather upholstery, automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, power sliding sunroof, Keyless Go push-button start, harman-kardon Logic7 surround sound system with Sirius satellite radio, Comand APS with HDD navigation and DVD changer, backup camera and a dizzying array of safety features including dual-stage front air bags, driver’s knee air bags, pelvis air bags, ABS, ESP (Electronic Stability Program), Distronic Plus, Parktronic with Active Parking Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and about two dozen other safety features. It’s a lot of stuff packed into a truly gorgeous four-door “coupe.”

The CLS 63 AMG is safe, warm and comfortable — the perfect car to test during one of the coldest weeks of the year so far (temperatures got as low as -25C with the wind chill). Along with all the mod-cons comes Mercedes’ Airmatic air suspension with adaptive damping, which provides a smooth ride over unforgiving winter potholes.

And the performance is awesome, even in the snow. Mercedes had the car “winterized” — which means winter tires but no snow brush. When I asked why not, a spokesman said: “We never provide snow brushes in Mercedes.” I guess Mercedes-Benz owners never brush off their own cars; presumably, the help supplies all that stuff, including windshield wiper fluid. But I digress …

I was talking about performance: The CLS 63 AMG S sprints from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in a mere 3.6 seconds. Its top speed is 300 km/h and, even though I dared not try to achieve such outrageous — not to mention illegal — numbers on the highway (not that I could during the pre-Christmas rush where every hour is rush hour in the city), I could feel the power waiting to be unleashed if I was ever to find myself on the autobahn. Sigh. But I did manage to take a few fast curves, which caused the car to “hug” me! And who can’t use a warm hug on a cold winter’s day? It’s Mercedes Active Seat Bolstering that does the hugging action: When you take a corner quickly, the seats “push” on the sides of your body to keep you safely in place. I have experienced this feature in other Mercedes models such as the SL, but I had forgotten about it and it took me by surprise — in a nice way.

But the best part of the CLS 63 AMG S is the sound of the engine: VROOOM! Love it! Some powerful cars just don’t sound the part, but Mercedes does it very well. It even embarrassed me a few times when I started the car after being stopped at a red light: In downtown Toronto, where cyclists and enviro-weenies glare at you as if you’re a convicted murderer if you’re driving a car — even an old beater, but with more hostility if you’re driving a nice Mercedes — it’s a natural reaction to feel uncomfortable. But I felt no such qualms outside of the city centre, where people appreciate the sound of a V8 engine and give you approving looks. VROOOM! VROOOOOM!

The car’s fuel economy is something even the tree huggers might appreciate: It averages 13.5 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.1 L/100 km on the highway. Well, maybe not, but I think those are pretty good numbers for the 1,945-kilogram Mercedes-Benz.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG starts at $113,500 and the S-Model starts at $122,250.

I’ll take mine in Tenerite Grey metallic.

2014 Toyota Corolla

Road Test: 2014 Toyota Corolla

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By Patricia Cancilla

 

Exciting.

It’s not a word I would have previously used to describe the Toyota Corolla. Reliable? Yes. Affordable? Yes. But exciting? Uh, no.

Not until now, that is.

The all-new 2014 Corolla has a visually pleasing design as well as a peppier ride than its predecessor. In fact, during the first few days of my week-long road test, I kept forgetting I was driving a Corolla.

No, you wouldn’t mistake this for an expensive sports car, but there’s plenty of zip in the compact’s 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine rated at 132 horsepower. The Corolla handled very well in stop-and-go city traffic and it was more than capable during high-speed passing manoeuvres on the busy highways.

The driving experience was made even more exciting — at least in the S model I tested — by the CVTi-S transmission, which gives the car a sportier feel during both city and highway driving. The seven-speed sequential shiftmatic mode can be actuated through the shift gate or via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Along with being a pleasure to pilot, the 11th generation of Toyota’s best-selling compact sedan is also more spacious than ever. With a 100-millimetre-longer wheelbase and 99-mm-longer overall length than the previous model, the new Corolla feels incredibly roomy inside. The front seats have a longer, lower cushion and a 15-mm increase in the range of adjustment in all directions. It is now much easier to custom-fit the driver’s seat, resulting in a much more comfortable ride. That’s much appreciated by this vertically challenged motorist!

And yet, the car’s sleek, new rounded design makes it look smaller on the outside than its boxier predecessor, giving the Corolla a sportier, more attractive stance. The S tester came in a bright Barcelona Red Metallic hue and sported 17-inch alloy wheels, giving the sedan an almost sexy exterior. Yes, sexy (almost). Bet you never thought you’d hear a Corolla described that way either!

All Corollas come with standard features such as LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights, colour-keyed door handles and outside mirrors, a 60/40-split fold-down rear seat, power door locks with automatic locking feature, power windows with driver-side one-touch up/down, eight air bags and Toyota’s Star Safety System, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist as well as the standard Smart Stop Technology brake-override system and an electronic tire pressure monitoring system.

There are four trim levels available: the CE, LE, S and a new ECO version, which offers better fuel economy via a more efficient 1.8L engine with VALVEMATIC technology and CVTi-S transmission.

The Corolla S model I tested came with a leather-wrapped tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, Softex simulated leather heated seats (which I could’ve sworn were the real thing until I read otherwise on the spec sheet), a power tilt and slide sunroof, 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display audio with Bluetooth and six speakers, automatic air conditioning, eight-way power-adjustable driver seat and more. All this for $24,204 CDN. (The base CE starts at just $15,995.)

There’s good reason the Corolla has been the world’s best-selling compact sedan for the last 47 years, according to Toyota: price. But it used to be a boring box on wheels. Now, there’s an exciting new design and fun-to-drive factor to go along with that frugality.

Launched in June, the made-in-Canada Corolla is available in dealerships now.

KPE_4146

Preview: 2015 Audi A8

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Benoit Charette

Présentée il y a à peine un mois au Salon de l’auto de Francfort, l’Audi A8 2015 sera dans les concessions européennes ce mois-ci. Chez nous, il faudra attendre à la fin de l’été 2014 pour cette grande berline qui sera un modèle 2015. En une phrase, cette Audi A8 n’est ni tout à fait la même, ni tout à fait différente du modèle actuel, une mise à jour de mi-carrière.

Même style

Arrivée en 2010, cette 4e génération d’A8 conserve exactement les mêmes proportions, la même ligne et repose sur la même plateforme que le modèle actuel. Les quelques subtils changements physiques se limitent à une nouvelle grille de radiateur, un bouclier avant retouché, quelques nervures supplémentaires sur le capot et une courbe un peu plus agressive sur le pare-choc arrière qui offre un aménagement plus efficace pour le coffre arrière. Au chapitre de l’éclairage, Audi propose la technologie Matrix pour les feux DEL. Avec ce système, chaque grand phare est composé de 25 diodes électroluminescentes qui peuvent s’éteindre et s’allumer indépendamment pour s’adapter au tracé en fonction des informations contenues dans la navigation. Toutefois, cette première mondiale sera réservée aux véhicules européens et ne traversera l’Atlantique. L’intérieur demeure lui aussi sans changement majeur (ce n’était pas nécessaire). Audi ajoute à la liste des options un affichage tête haute qui faisait défaut à cette grande berline et une nouvelle forme de siège en cuir au tannage naturel qui n’est pas du meilleur effet.

Des moteurs plus puissants et moins gourmands

Pas moins de cinq propositions mécaniques accompagnent l’Audi A8 pour 2015. L’offre débute avec un V6 3,0 TFSI suralimenté de 310 chevaux. Vient ensuite un Diesel 3,0 litres de 258 chevaux d’une sobriété et d’une puissance surprenante. Le V8 biturbo de 4,0 litres passe de 420 à 435 chevaux en diminuant encore un peu sa consommation (qu’Audi annonce à 9,2 litres aux 100 km). L’opulent moteur W12 est toujours disponible sur demande seulement en concession. Sa puissance ne bouge pas à 500 chevaux. Finalement pour les âmes sportives, la fabuleuse S8 avec son V8 biturbo de 4,0 litres et 520 chevaux vous fera gémir de bonheur sans vider votre portefeuille grâce au système de désactivation des cylindres qui limite la prise de carburant à environ 10 litres aux 100 km. Pour 2016, Audi annonce également une A8 hybride combinant un 2.0 TFSI et un moteur électrique. Ils afficheront, ensemble, une puissance de 245 chevaux. Tous les moteurs sont équipés de la boîte Tiptronic 8 rapports et les transmissions sont toutes Quattro avec une répartition de 60 % sur l’arrière et 40 % sur l’avant, sauf pour la future A8 Hybride qui sera une traction à moteur à essence et une propulsion électrique.

Un charme à conduire

En se posant la question de la pertinence de l’A8 sur le marché, une réponse me vient à l’esprit. Ce ne sont pas toutes les versions qui méritent que l’on s’y arrête. Prenons le modèle V6 3,0 litres. Il est inutile de regarder du côté de l’A8, ce moteur sied mieux à l’A6 ou l’A7 à un prix plus abordable. Même chose pour le moteur TDI qui fait de l’aussi bon boulot dans une A6. Si vous allez vraiment dans une A8, il faut prendre le moteur V8 qui consomme à peine plus que le V6, mais vous offre un plaisir de conduire et une dynamique inégalé. Avec l’Audi Drive Select, qui permet de choisir entre cinq modes de conduite : auto, dynamic, confort, individuel et efficience, la suspension pneumatique de série autoadaptative et le châssis sport avec direction adaptative (en option) qui donne un caractère plus nerveux à l’ensemble, vous serez au paradis. Le comportement est FA-BU-LEUX. Le châssis ultra-rigide demeure très confortable et aplanit les routes les plus mauvaises. La prise de roulis est pratiquement nulle et jamais vous n’avez l’impression de conduire une bête de deux tonnes. La puissance est toujours là, peu importe le régime et la boîte à huit rapports me laisse sans mot. Un avertissement, si vous allez conduire la S8, assurez-vous d’avoir le budget pour en supporter l’achat, car vous ne voudrez plus conduire rien d’autre après. C’est une drogue dure. J’ai remis ma voiture d’essai en juin dernier et je me réveille encore en sueur la nuit tellement elle me manque.

Forces

V8 étonnant et performantComportement sans failleConfort et équipementsSobriété des mécaniques


Faiblesses

Peu de changements physiqueTechnologie Matrix DEL pas disponible chez nousUne liste d’options qui demeurent toujours très longue

FICHE TECHNIQUE

(3.0 ) V6 3,0 L TDIDACT

PUISSANCE 258 ch à 5000 tr/min

COUPLE 428 lb-pi de 1750 à 2500 tr/min

BOÎTE(S) DE VITESSES automatique à 8 rapports avec mode manuel

PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h 5,9 s

Vitesse maximale 209 km/h (bridée)

CONSOMMATION (100km) 6,0 L

(3.0 ) V6 3,0 L TurboDACT

PUISSANCE 310 ch de 5500 à 6500 tr/min

COUPLE 326 lb-pi de 2900 à 5300 tr/min

BOÎTE(S) DE VITESSES automatique à 8 rapports avec mode manuel

PERFORMANCE 0-100 km/h 5,5 s

Vitesse maximale 209 km/h (bridée)

CONSOMMATION (100km) 13,6 L

(4.0) V8 4.0 L Turbo DACT

PUISSANCE 435 ch à 5000 tr/min

COUPLE 444 lb-pi à 1500 tr/min

BOÎTE(S) DE VITESSES automatique à 8 rapports avec mode manuel

PERFORMANCES 0-100 km/h 4,4 s

Vitesse maximale 209 km/h (bridée)

CONSOMMATION (100 km) 9,9 l (octane 91)

(6.3) W12 6,3 L DACT

PUISSANCE 500 ch à 6200 tr/min

COUPLE 463 lb-pi à 4750 tr/min

BOÎTE(S) DE VITESSES automatique à 8 rapports avec mode manuel

PERFORMANCES 0-100 km/h 4,4 s

Vitesse maximale 209 km/h (bridée)

CONSOMMATION (100 km) 15,6 L (octane 91)

(S8) V8 4,0 L Turbocompressé DACT

PUISSANCE 520 ch à 5800 tr/min

COUPLE 479 lb-pi de 1700 à 5500 tr/min

BOÎTE(S) DE VITESSES automatique à 8 rapports avec mode manuel

PERFORMANCES 0-100 km/h 4,2 s

Vitesse maximale 250 km/h (bridée)

CONSOMMATION (100 km) 10,4 L (octane 91)

AUTRES COMPOSANTS

SÉCURITÉ ACTIVE freins ABS, assistance au freinage, répartition électronique de la force de freinage, contrôle électronique de la stabilité, antipatinage

SUSPENSION avant/arrière indépendante

FREINS avant/arrière disques

DIRECTION à crémaillère, assistée

PNEUS 3.0/4.0/LWB P255/45R19 option 3.0/4.0/LWB P255/45R19 option 3.0/4.0/LBW/série W12 P265/40R20 option W12 P275/35R21 S8 P265/35R21

DIMENSIONS

EMPATTEMENT 2992 mm LWB 3122 mm

LONGUEUR 5137 mm LWB 5267 mm

LARGEUR 1949 mm

HAUTEUR 1460 mm LWB 1471 mm S8 1458 mm

POIDS 3.0 1985 kg 3.0 LWB 2000 kg 4.0 2055 kg 4.0 LWB 2085 kg 6.3 2165 kg S8 1975 kg

DIAMÈTRE DE BRAQUAGE 12,3 m LWB 12,7 m

COFFRE 374 L

RÉSERVOIR DE CARBURANT 90 L

 

 

BMW i3

BMW i3 goes the distance

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AMSTERDAM — Special to The Globe and Mail

All-electric emission-free cars are in fashion. The latest to hit the road is the i3, BMW’s first electric car under the “i” umbrella.

Two years after the i3 concept debuted at the Frankfurt motor show, reviewers finally had a chance to take the car for a spin in Amsterdam.

Powering the i3 is a rear-mounted electric motor, which generates 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, and drives the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission.

The 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides a range of up to 160 kilometres while driving in Comfort mode. But that number can be improved with brake energy regeneration as well as two other driving modes: EcoPro and EcoPro+, which increases the electric range by about 30 per cent to nearly 200 kilometres.

Performance wise, the 2014 i3 isn’t a typical electric car. It’s sporty and fun, true to BMW’s roots. Off-the-line acceleration is instant and quick, launching this little four-seater hatchback from 0-100 km/h in 7.2 seconds.

Lift your foot off the throttle and it immediately slows down. I didn’t have to use the brake often – it was one-pedal driving much of the time. A bizarre sensation, but you quickly get used to it. Comfort mode is more spirited and lively than EcoPro and EcoPro+, but I switched over to extend the range.

Inside, the cabin is eerily quiet. On the road, I worry about driving in Amsterdam’s bustling downtown core littered with pedestrians and cyclists as far as the eye can see. I wonder if they can hear me coming or whether they just don’t care as they defy death and cut off cars from every direction. A makeshift driving course in a closed parking lot lets me test the i3’s manoeuvrability. On the slalom, its weight is evenly distributed with little body roll despite its tall frame and skinny 19-inch wheels. A low centre of gravity and compact size give it a tight turning radius.

What’s most impressive is the i3’s range – it actually corresponds to your real-life driving distance, which isn’t the case with most electric cars. In the past, I have suffered serious range anxiety driving electric cars, which displayed a 140-kilometre range that quickly dropped to 80 km after a five kilometres on the highway listening to the radio. That wasn’t the case with the i3. We started off with a 133-kilometre range, drove two hours and still had about 30 kilometres to spare when we reached our destination thanks to the EcoPro+ mode, regenerative braking and coasting down hills.

There’s no denying driving an electric car in cold Canadian weather has its challenges – using the heater, windshield wipers, seat warmers – all deplete the battery and driving range. If you run out of juice, you’re out of luck. CAA isn’t going to come and bail you out with a can of electricity. But BMW has a solution: an optional range-extender model. It adds a 34-hp, two-cylinder, 650-cc, gas-powered engine to relieve range anxiety. The combustion engine drives a generator to produce electricity, increasing the maximum range by about 300 kilometres.

Charging the i3 is simple – plug into a standard 110-volt outlet for eight to 11 hours for a full charge. You can cut that time to three hours with a wall-mounted charging port installed in your home by BMW.

Visually, designers tried to retain some of BMW’s halo characteristics at the front end, while adding distinct features to distinguish the “i” sub brand. The BMW badge is surrounded by a blue ring specific to the i. The i3 has a long wheelbase, short overhangs on the front and rear, and a so-called “black belt” that runs from the hood over the roof to the rear of the vehicle to create a unique look.

Opposing suicide doors create a large opening to enter the rear seats, but it’s not as easy as it looks to get inside. The roofline is low and it’s easy to hit your head every time you enter the rear – at least, I did. Once inside, there’s sufficient head and legroom for two.

Inside, the i3 isn’t as upscale as other BMWs – cloth seats made of natural fibres and materials made from recycled items are everywhere – all in keeping with the environmental image of the i. Still, the interior is well laid out and well equipped with BMW’s ConnectedDrive tailor-made for EVs, navigation with range assistant and a display of charging stations, cruise control, heated seats, and steering wheel audio controls. BMW’s i Remote app also brings vital driver info about your i3 right to your smartphone.

The i3 will go on sale in the spring of 2014, starting at $44,950. Add another $4,000 for the range-extender engine, which is a must-have in Canada. Thankfully, provincial subsidies are available to offset the high price tag. In Ontario, you can qualify for $8,500 in rebates, $8,000 in British Columbia and up to $5,000 in Quebec.

globedrive@globeandmail.com

Tech specs

2014 BMW i3

  • Type: Four-door, four-passenger, all-electric hatchback
  • Base price: $44,950
  • Engine: 22 kWh lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor
  • Horsepower/torque: 170 hp/184 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic
  • Drive: Rear-wheel
  • Alternatives: 2015 Audi A3 E-tron, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus Electric, Smart Electric Drive, Mini E, Mitsubishi i-MiEV
GetAttachment

CAJ announces 2014 Best of the Best finalists

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GetAttachmentTORONTO, Oct. 23, 2013 — The Canadian Automotive Jury (CAJ) has announced its fifth annual Best of the Best Finalists.

The 2014 finalists reflect a wide variety of vehicles available to Canadian new-car buyers.

The CAJ’s annual Best of the Best Awards are unique in Canada. The not-for-profit organization is independently funded by its 11 Jurors and Secretary, all veteran automotive journalists who account for the vast majority of automotive industry coverage in Canada.

The CAJ’s Best of the Best Finalists don’t exclusively focus on a specific model within a family of vehicles or only “all-new” models, and they include the reigning 2013 CAJ Best of the Best Winner, the Cadillac ATS, which is an automatic finalist.

The 2014 Best of the Best winner will be announced in January at the Montreal auto show.

The 2014 CAJ Best of the Best Finalists are (in alphabetical order):

Audi RS7

BMW 4 Series

Cadillac ATS (2013 Best of the Best winner)

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Impala

Infiniti Q50

Jaguar F-Type

Kia Forte

Mazda3

Mazda6

Mercedes-Benz CLA

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

The Canadian Automotive Jury is a not-for-profit group of prominent Canadian automotive journalists, pledged to the highest standards of uncompromised reporting. The Jury has a coast-to-coast reach in all forms of media including newspapers, radio, television and online.

The Jury members are: Graeme Fletcher, David Booth, Éric LeFrançois, Jim Robinson, Petrina Gentile, Gabriel Gélinas, Michael Vaughan, Jeremy Cato, John LeBlanc, Benoit Charette, Jacques Deshaies and Patricia Cancilla, Secretary of the Canadian Automotive Jury.

petrina-infiniti-ex1+(2)

2013 Infiniti EX37: Small, stylish CUV

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By Petrina Gentile

Small SUVs save big bucks – and consumers are stepping out of gas-guzzling monster SUVs and into smaller, practical vehicles that cost less and save more at the pumps. Small crossovers are everywhere, but if you’re shopping for one, good luck.

The choices are endless – there’s the Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, and Infiniti EX, to name a few. Narrowing down the selection can be tough.

Start with the basics – safety. A reliable resource is the U.S. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) and its list of Top Safety Picks – the best in frontal, side, rollover and rear impact crash tests. Many vehicles receive top marks, but at least it’s a starting point.

The 2013 Infiniti EX37 is one of those vehicles named a Top Safety Pick. For 2013, the Infiniti EX gets a new 3.7-litre V-6, which replaces the previous 3.5-litre V-6. The name also changes to reflect the new engine. It’s now called EX37 instead of EX35.

The 3.7-litre V-6 engine is rated at 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque. Mated to the engine is a new seven-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. The powertrain is strong; the power boost immediately noticeable. Handling is responsive and the ride is steady and composed, soaking up bumps and other degradations in the road nicely. Despite its tall, narrow body, it has minimal body lean when cornering. Manoeuvrability is excellent – its small size makes it a cinch to get around crowded city streets. Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system also handles well on rain-slicked roads; the vehicle remains secure and firmly planted on the ground.

Outside, the EX37 is sporty looking with powerful arches, a long hood, short front and rear overhangs, and trademark Infiniti touches such as a double-arch grille and large L-shaped headlights with integrated fog lights. A high-mounted rear spoiler, chrome-finished dual exhaust tips, and 19-inch five-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, part of a premium package on my tester, provides a muscular, athletic stance to the EX. But the premium package is pricey, costing $4,150. At least you get an around-view monitor, which uses small cameras to display onto a seven-inch colour screen every angle of your vehicle when reversing, a front and rear sonar system that warns when you’re too close to an object, a Bose premium audio system with 11 speakers, two subwoofers and an eight-way passenger seat.

An intelligent key with a push-button ignition lets you unlock the door without fiddling for keys in your purse or pocket. The system does it automatically, provided the key fob is nearby. Inside, the cabin is nicely finished with leather seats, a leather and aluminum shift knob, and leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for audio, cruise control, and voice commands. The dashboard and centre console are busy with buttons and gauges for every function imaginable. It’s confusing, but you get used to them quickly. White-and-purple illumination on the gauges is easy to read and creates a calming cabin atmosphere.

Heated front seats and an eight-way power driver’s seat with two-way manual lumbar support make it easy to find a comfortable seating position. Outward visibility is good, but rear visibility is hampered by thick rear pillars and a small back window. The three rear seats are also tight – two people would be more comfortable than three. With 527 litres of cargo space, it is not the largest in the segment, but a low load floor makes it easy to place and remove items in the back.

My beef is with the options. There are five optional packages available on the Infiniti EX37: Luxury, Journey, Premium, Navigation and Technology. Add a few pricey packages such as the $3,900 Journey package, which includes a moonroof, Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System, maple interior accents, and a power tilt and telescopic steering column, or the $2,500 Technology package with a Lane Departure Prevention System (LDP) with Lane Departure Warning System (LDW) and a Blind Spot Warning (BSW) system and the price can add up fast.

LDP, which builds on the LDW system, is designed to alert the driver when your vehicle is crossing the lane unintentionally with a visual display and audible buzzer. If your vehicle drifts outside the white line without using a turn signal, the LDP engages the vehicle dynamic control system to keep you in the correct lane. The BSW warns you when there’s a vehicle in your blind spot. While the technology is innovative and impressive, it’s costly. The price of my tester jumps from a reasonable $39,900 to more than $55,000. However, as long as you keep the options at bay, you’ll drive away with a stylish, small and practical CUV.

Tech Specs

2013 Infiniti EX37

Type: Four-door compact CUV

Base Price: $39,900; as tested, $55,695

Engine: 3.7-litre, DOHC, V-6

Horsepower/torque: 325 hp/267 lb-ft

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Drive: All-wheel

Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.1 city/8.1 highway; premium gas

Alternatives: BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Cadillac SRX, Land Rover LR2, Buick Encore

pgentile@globeandmail.com

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