Monday, September 30, 2019

Defending A Legend: The All-New 2020 Land Rover Defender

Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover



Today, the Land Rover brand exists in a landscape it could not have predicted back when they constructed a Centre Steer prototype meant as a rugged postwar utility vehicle. Land Rover originally developed products directed towards more practical customers envisioning their vehicles on a farm or in other off-roading environments. Of course, today’s automotive customer is now attracted to the marque’s four-wheel drive vehicles as versatile and tough while also supported by premium equipment. The metamorphosis towards a more luxurious focused Land Rover product line largely gave way to its strictly purposeful presence in recent decades with exception of one model.

From 1983 to 2016, the Defender nameplate stood alone in Land Rover as a less spoiled sport utility vehicle embodying the traditions of the brand’s original models first sold in the late 1940s. The Land Rover Defender maintained a charmingly bulky shape that included a proven off-roading capability but attempted to blend more contemporary elements improving on-road performance and passenger comfort. However, the Defender’s classic theme would ultimately clash with tightening government regulations and requirements for new vehicles. The Land Rover Defender’s brief availability in North American ended ahead of 1998 due to more stringent safety regulations while advancing safety features in the United Kingdom led to the demise of the old-school sport utility vehicle. As prove with the discontinuation of the old Defender, often we just need to accept changing times and try to make something great out of the new world. Land Rover decided to take that approach by reviving their famed adventurous sport utility for the 2020 model year.

The all-new 2020 Land Rover Defender transitions the nameplate from a delightful relic of the past to an ultramodern showcase of versatility. Excelling to project the image of an accomplished 21st century four-wheel drive machine, Land Rover is presenting their latest vehicle with a slew of new innovations and enhanced personalization.


Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover



The 2020 Defender is shaped through stunning body panels that still capture the essence of the classic design. Short overhangs at the front and rear, a side-opening tailgate with a mounted spare tire and a unique body color-matching side pillars among the styling elements included on the 2020 Land Rover Defender that possesses a distinctive look compared to sister vehicles such as the Discovery or the Range Rover lineup. Beyond the refreshing exterior style, the Defender’s new look is based on a D7x platform utilizing unibody-style frame made of aluminum. Combining lightweight construction with rigidity that is three times greater than a sport utility vehicle using body-on-frame architecture, the monocoque used for the latest Land Rover is well-equipped to look and act the part of a terrain-conquering product. Through testing, Land Rover has subjected the 2020 Defender prototypes to a variety of extreme environments including extreme Arctic cold and high attitude terrain found in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Arriving first as the four-door Defender 110 with a two-door Defender 90 body style next year, the new Land Rover features permanent four-wheel drive and a fully-independent suspension. For the Canadian and United States market, the 2020 Land Rover Defender’s performance will be supplied by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine generating 296 horsepower or a 396-horsepower inline-six Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) power unit that incorporates a 48-volt electric supercharger. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission and a two-speed transfer box are mated with both powerplant choices. Standard equipped on the Defender X trim model is a Configurable Terrain Response that allows a driver to tailor handling through the vehicle’s powerplant, steering, differentials as well as traction control. All 2020 Defender models will also come with a system called Wade Sensing program configured to allow a driver to better manage travelling through waters. The Defender’s maximum wading depth in water is 35.4 inches. Wade Sensing can be selected within the Land Rover Terrain Response 2 menu.


Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover



In Canada, the 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 lineup will arrive in four conventional trim levels. The S trim model includes electronic air suspension with Adaptive Dynamics, 12-way adjustable front seats with heated control, 19-inch wheels and wireless charging. The Land Rover Defender 110 S also contains the all-new PIVI Pro infotainment system that incorporates over-the-air software updates. Premium LED headlights, Clear Exit Monitor, 20-inch wheels and a 10-speaker Meridian Sound System are included on the Defender 110 SE while the HSE model upgrades consist of Windsor leather seating as well as a sliding panoramic roof. The 2020 Land Rover Defender 110 X is the top-trimmed variant featuring orange-coloured brake calipers, a 700-watt sound system and an electronic active differential. A First Edition version will be a special model that includes specific interior elements, a refrigerator compartment and unique badging.

The interior compartment of the new Defender creates an atmosphere of luxury while also exhibiting the vehicle’s backpack-like, off-road utility ambitions. Spaciousness and simplicity inside are a call-back to the flexibility traditionalists have come to expect from Land Rover. Interior designers of the 2020 Land Rover Defender insured the traditional utilitarian style was given a place in the more modern cabin. Exposed structural components and the appearance of body panel details around the interior door trim enlightens new passengers to the charm of past off-roading greatness. The modern space inside the 2020 Defender can 110 be occupied by a five or six-passenger seating arrangement as well as an available 5+2 passenger layout. Modern premium refinements including standard central touchscreen as well as a variety of seating trims and veneers are matched with rugged, durable features such as rubberized flooring.


Photo Credit: Jaguar Land Rover

Land Rover is also allowing riders to customize their Defender starting with a selection of four accessory packs. Explorer Pack, Adventure Pack, Country Pack and Urban Pack options provide a selection of features adhering to the styling themes. Another appearance option available for the first time by Land Rover through the 2020 Defender is a Satin Protective Film that can be applied over select paint colours.   

Excepted to arrive in North American showrooms for spring of nexy year, the Canadian starting price for the 2020 Land Rover Defender is $65,300 for the 110 S model. For extra luxury and off-road capabilities, the top-trimmed Defender 110 X will have a retail price of $93,600.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Fond Addio to the Fiat 500 in North America

Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


Introduced to the United States and Canada in 2010, the Fiat 500 represented the first physical addition to Chrysler’s merger with the Fiat Group in the North American marketplace. The classically-styled, European-derived vehicle made a handsome entrance supported by its chic appearance and a slick advertisement campaign. However, despite a strong debut for the subcompact car, sales have steady decreased over the years. After nine years visiting to left side of the Atlantic Ocean, the Fiat 500 will be departing.

When locking down their 2020 model year for the Fiat brand, parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles made a statement on the discontinuation of the Fiat 500 range. For 2019, the subcompact car lineup consisted of the base model hardtop, 500c Cabrio, performance-oriented Abarth and the all-electric 500e (sold in limited markets). Dealerships of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ will continue to maintain an inventory of 2019 subcompact car lineup that is expected to carry over into the 2020 calender year. Withdrawing the Fiat 500 product assortment, the Italian-themed brand will sell only three models in North America for the next model year. Fiat will continue to offer the 124 Spider, 500L and the 500X in their leaner market line.


Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI



Inspired by the original Fiat 500 that achieved almost 3.9-million in sales between 1957 and 1975, the current version of the compact car was introduced in 2007. Initially sold in Europe, the Fiat 500 was also available in Mexico starting in late 2008 while the United States and Canada waited two years longer for the vehicle. While the new iteration of the Fiat 500 incorporated a sleek Italian style reminiscent to the legendary subcompact that came before, the recreated model would differ greatly to better accommodate 21st century motoring. In addition to using more sophisticated mechanical and electronic technology for improved performance as well as comfort, the modern Fiat 500 featured a front-mounted engine as opposed to the rear powerplant found on the original model. The new variant of the car was also larger than its predecessor measuring 22.7 inches longer.

From 2011 until the midway point of this year, current era motorists in the United States and Canada were able to sample the spirit of smaller cars from the late 1950s through to the 1970s among three major revived marques. The Fiat 500 once-again was positioned in a rivalry between the Volkswagen Beetle and the MINI all existing in modernized forms. Volkswagen’s farewell to the Beetle for 2019 in addition to Fiat dropping the 500 ends the modern renaissance of an iconic small car battle. 


Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show 789 Fiat 500
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles decision to phase-out the Fiat 500 was a certainty for some time just from observing vehicle sales. In the United States, sales of the Fiat 500 peaked in 2012 with a sale volume of 43,772 vehicles but the Italian-styled subcompact car’s popularity steady slid since. Annual sales for the product dipped to 12,685 in 2017 and nosedived to 5,370 in 2018. Sales of the Fiat 500 in Canada for the 2016 calendar year were recorded at 2,965 but fell to 269 vehicles at the end of 2018.

The slumping demand of the Fiat 500 also coincides with the decreasing emphasis for passenger cars in North America as customer tastes seek taller and more rugged offerings. General as well as Ford Motor Company have both made drastic changes recently by reducing their sedans and smaller cars in favour of crossover vehicles. In the case of the Fiat brand, they’re retaining two crossover-style models as well as a niche sports car.