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2022 Audi E-Tron GT, 2022 Infiniti QX60, 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor: This Week’s Top Photos

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2022 Mini Cooper SE

Audi this week finally revealed its super sedan based on the platform of the Porsche Taycan. It’s called the E-Tron GT, and there’s both a standard version and spicier RS version from Audi Sport.

2022 Mini Cooper SE

Another reveal this week was Mini’s updated 2022 Cooper SE electric Hardtop. While the powertrain hasn’t changed, buyers have the option of a paint fade for the roof, shown here with three colors.

Teaser for 2022 Infiniti QX60

Teaser for 2022 Infiniti QX60

Nissan has redesigned the Pathfinder and the popular crossover, just like its predecessor, will twin a new QX60 from Infiniti for 2022. The design of the new QX60 has already been previewed in concept form and this week we learned some of the first specs.

Microlino

Microlino

A Swiss company by the name of Micro is developing an electric car whose design has been influenced quite heavily by the iconic Isetta—right down to the front-opening door. The car was originally due to start production in 2018 but Micro this week revealed a reengineered version that’s much safer than before.

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

2021 Ford F-150 Raptor

We learned this week that the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 Raptor will be available with two different frames. Which frame buyers will get will depend on whether the truck is ordered with the standard 35-inch tires or the optional 37s.

2021 Ford Ranger Tremor

2021 Ford Ranger Tremor

Another Ford pickup truck in the headlines this week was the 2021 Ranger equipped with the available Tremor Off-Road Package. The package adds raised suspension, Fox 2.0 monotube dampers, redesigned front knuckles, and 17-inch wheels shod with 32-inch Continental General Grabber A/TX all-terrain tires, and we’ve tested it.

2023 Ferrari Purosangue test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Ferrari Purosangue test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Ferrari was spotted testing its upcoming SUV. To be called the Purosangue, it will be a high-riding Prancing Horse boasting four doors and four seats. Right now we’re still at the test-mule stage, but the basic shape of the SUV is already clear.

Porsche Taycan Turbo S sets indoor land speed record of 102.6 mph - February 2021

Porsche Taycan Turbo S sets indoor land speed record of 102.6 mph – February 2021

And finally, Porsche set a new world record with its Taycan. The record was for the highest speed achieved indoors by any vehicle, and the Taycan’s figure was in the triple digits.

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Most US buyers of the Porsche 911 GT3 are opting for the manual

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2022 Porsche 911 GT3

While car enthusiasts are quick to profess their love for manual transmissions, sales figures often disappoint. That’s not the case with the 2022 Porsche 911 GT3, as the majority of U.S. buyers are opting for a three-pedal setup, reports Bloomberg.

Globally, the take rate for the manual transmission is 30%, but in the U.S. its 70%, Porsche spokesperson Luke Vandezande told Bloomberg. That’s much higher than the overall 911 lineup’s 20% to 25% take rate for the manual transmission.

The GT3 comes standard with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which is the quicker option, allowing for 0-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and a Nürburgring lap time of 6:59.927. But the optional 6-speed manual is more aligned with the character of the car.

2022 Porsche 911 GT3

Instead of chasing the most impressive numbers, the GT3 emphasizes the driving experience. That’s why it sticks with a naturally aspirated engine and rear-wheel drive, even though turbocharged engines and all-wheel drive are common across the 911 lineup. The GT3 relies on downforce and weight reduction (curb weight is 3,152 pounds, Porsche says) to go fast, while preserving the purity of the driving experience.

Buyers seem to understand that. More importantly, they are willing to put their money where their mouths are. Recall that Porsche launched the previous 911-generation GT3 without a manual, only to bring it back in 2017 due to demand from fans.

The 2022 911 GT3 arrives in dealerships this fall, with a price to be announced closer to that date. Also in the works is a more hardcore GT3 RS, and a GT3 Touring without the standard car’s massive rear wing.

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is an impressive 3-row SUV priced from $38,690

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Jeep will go from no three-row SUVs to offering two in very short order. The new 2021 Grand Cherokee L starts sales this summer followed by the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer as a 2022 model in the fall. The move fills a gigantic gap in Jeep’s lineup as 75% of mid-size SUV sales are of the three-row variety and the two-row Grand Cherokee wasn’t going to earn enough market share.

There will still be a two-row Grand Cherokee, but for families the Grand Cherokee L is the way to go. Both vehicles will bring a new unibody platform, as well as a seven-slot grille that’s canted slightly forward and really stands out, even in this flooded SUV market.

The Grand Cherokee L will be offered in four trim levels—Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit—and pricing will start at $38,690 for a rear-wheel-drive configuration and $40,690 if you want all-wheel drive. Both figures include destination.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Gas only for now

The two engine options at launch are familiar. The base engine will be the 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 found up and down the FCA lineup. The optional choice will be the Hemi 5.7-liter V-8, here making 357 hp. It will be offered on all trims except the Laredo. Both engines are mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Jeep hinted at a hybrid powertrain for the Grand Cherokee L as soon as next year, but it’ll be all gas for at least the first model year.

Four-wheel drive will come standard across each of the four trim levels, but Jeep will offer three 4×4 systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II. The most robust Quadra-Drive II system will be optional in Overland and standard in Summit models. It’s the system you want for serious off-roading, with its 2-speed active transfer case and rear electronic limited-slip differential. Each of the 4WD systems comes with front-axle disconnect that makes the Grand Cherokee L rear-wheel drive most of the time, which should help fuel economy slightly.

Overland and Summit models will also feature a Quadra-lift air suspension with five height settings. The standard ground clearance in normal mode is 8.3 inches, which drops to 6.5 inches when the vehicle is parked for easier cargo loading and ingress/egress. The highest off-road setting boosts ground clearance all the way up to 10.9 inches and gives the Grand Cherokee L approach, departure, and breakover angles of 30.1, 23.6, 22.6 degrees, respectively. These figures trail those of the current Grand Cherokee (36.1, 27.1, 22.8 degrees) when equipped with air suspension despite the two-row SUV’s slightly shorter 10.8-inch ride height.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

My, what a Ram interior you have

Jeep’s counterparts over at Ram had a “come to Jesus” moment a few years ago, with the Ram 1500’s surprisingly opulent interior turning a corner for that brand. Jeep’s next two vehicles, the Grand Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee L, appear to be flexing the same kind of luxury.

The Grand Cherokee L doesn’t have four screens like we saw in the Grand Wagoneer concept, but the two that it does have are sizable. A 10.1-inch digital gauge cluster is standard. It’s flanked by an 8.4-inch standard touchscreen in the center stack that is upgradable to a 10.1-inch touchscreen (optional on Limited and Overland, standard on Summit). Powering both screens is the Android-based UConnect 5, which comes with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and the capability for over-the-air updates. Twelve USB-A and USB-C ports also come standard, which is overkill, but it will keep all of the family’s devices topped off on road trips. A color 10-inch head-up display and a top-down camera that shows the back seats will also be offered.

All trim levels will come with standard second-row captain’s chairs, which have tilt-and-slide capabilities and 7 inches of seat travel. An optional bench seat will bump seating capacity to seven. The Grand Cherokee L will offer some second-row amenities not often seen in this class, with heated and ventilated seats, and four-zone automatic temperature control with personalized fan-level settings.

If there is one interior concern, it is the third-row’s space, or lack thereof. Third-row leg room only measures 30.3 inches, which won’t be enough to fit adult passengers comfortably. For some added context, the Ford Explorer has a small third-row for this class and it has 32.2 inches of leg room. It’s possible that the amount of travel the second row offers could alleviate some the space crunch, but it doesn’t look promising at first glance.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Thank goodness, safety is finally standard

A sticking point with Jeep and, frankly, FCA vehicles on the whole has been a lack of standard safety features. The Grand Cherokee L appears to be the first step in fixing this issue. It will come with a long list of standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and rear parking sensors.

Jeep will also offer a digital rearview mirror, a night vision forward camera, a surround-view camera system, and parking assist. Jeep also plans to introduce a Level 2 autonomous hands-free highway driving system on the Grand Cherokee L, but it won’t arrive until the 2022 model year. We asked if vehicles sold before then would be able to upgrade to that system either via an OTA update or at a dealership, but Jeep declined to provide further information.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

And now we play the waiting game

Early returns for the Grand Cherokee L are promising, it passes the eye test, offers advanced technology, and has the off-road chops (on paper at least) to be a true Jeep. As for how it drives, we’ll have to wait and see.

For more on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, read the in-depth reviews at The Car Connection.

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Flying taxi startup Joby Aviation to go public via SPAC deal

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Joby Aviation eVTOL

It’s not just electric-vehicle startups taking advantage of the current interest surrounding SPAC deals, or reverse mergers as the deals are also referred to.

Joby Aviation, based in Santa Cruz, California, is one of the handful of startup companies in the race to develop electrically powered, low-noise flying taxis capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), and on Wednesday it announced plans to go public via a reverse merger with Reinvent Technology Partners, a special purpose acquisition company whose shares are already listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The deal is expected to close later this year and will value the merged company at approximately $6.6 billion. Joby is expected to receive approximately $1.6 billion out of the deal, which it will use to fund operations through to the start of commercial operations, currently estimated for 2024.

Joby Aviation eVTOL

There’s still a lot work to be done, including finalizing development of the flying taxi, gaining certification, and constructing a 450,000-square-foot plant. Construction of the plant is slated to begin later this year.

Joby’s flying taxi is designed to seat four passengers and operates on electrical power alone. Joby quoted a range of more than 150 miles and speeds up to 200 mph, and the company said it has already conducted over 1,000 successful test flights.

The company was founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, who is also its CEO, and it boasts Toyota as an investor. The Japanese automaker, which is linked to rival flying taxi company SkyDrive, invested $394 million in Joby in early 2020. Uber is also a key investor, and Joby only last December acquired Uber’s flying taxi division known as Uber Elevate. Joby also last December became the first company to receive airworthiness approval for an electric VTOL aircraft as part of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program, designed to accelerate the commercial adoption of electric aviation.

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