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A modern Safari? Porsche tests high-riding 911

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The first all-wheel drive Porsche 911 and winner of the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally

Perhaps the best sign the crossover craze has taken a step too far, Porsche is out testing a high-riding 911.

Porsche hasn’t confirmed plans to launch a high-riding 911, though the automaker’s sales and marketing chief, Detlev von Platen, said in a 2018 interview that such a car “could be a good idea.” He even said such a car could be launched as a limited-edition model.

The testers are riding on much taller suspension than normal. They are also fitted with widened wheel arches and on some of them there is a prominent rear spoiler whose design has never been seen before. Some testers, like the one featured in the video, have thick foam lining the wheel arches, a feature typically seen when testing suspension systems. It helps the engineers determine how close the wheels get to the vehicle body. It’s possible the foam was also added to hide whatever suspension setup is being used.

Porsche has been down this road before. Recall, the automaker launched the 911 SC Safari rally car in 1978. Porsche also built a trio of 911-based 953 rally cars which it entered in the Dakar Rally and eventually took home the victory.

The first all-wheel drive Porsche 911 and winner of the 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally

The popularity of those early rally cars has led to some companies offering Safari-style conversions for old 911s. Several famous Porsche tuning houses, such as Gemballa, Ruf and Singer, have also teased their own modern successors.

Porsche itself investigated the idea of a modern 911 Safari with a secret concept developed in 2012. Known as the 911 Vision Safari, the concept was based on the 991-generation 911 and never ended up receiving the green light for production. It looks like this won’t be the case with the current 992-generation 911.

Porsche 911 Vision Safari (2012)

Porsche 911 Vision Safari (2012)

The 911 Vision Safari concept featured raised suspension and flared wheel arches, just like we see on these testers. It also had underbody protection and roof-mounted lights.

A Safari-style 911 from Porsche would likely be aimed at buyers in markets like China and Russia, where drivers are often faced with poor road conditions that make it difficult to daily a low-slung sports car, hence the popularity of performance SUVs in those markets. We’re sure a few would turn up in the United States, too, given the popularity of high-riding models here. Heck, it could even prove popular in Porsche’s home market of Germany where parking with two wheels up on the curb is often necessary. Currently we expect the car to be revealed in 2022 as a 2023 model.

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Redesigned convertible on the way

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2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz has redesigned its C-Class for the 2022 model year, but so far we’ve only been treated to the sedan and wagon body styles.

Soon there will also be new versions of the C-Class Coupe and C-Class Cabriolet, with the latter recently spied in prototype form testing in Germany.

Judging by the spy shots, the C-Class Cabriolet won’t just be a shortened C-Class sedan with two fewer doors and a missing roof. The convertible looks to feature a more muscular stance and slightly slimmer headlights. It should also have a bigger footprint compared to its predecessor, due to the slightly bigger size of the new C-Class.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

The interior design should be more of a match to the sedan, meaning buyers should be treated with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 11.9-inch (with portrait layout) infotainment screen as standard.

As for the roof, Mercedes looks to be sticking with a soft-top design, though the automaker has heavily camouflaged it so we can’t see the true shape.

A reveal of the C-Class Cabriolet should happen by late 2022 or early the following year. A C-Class Coupe should arrive alongside it.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Sales of convertibles have been on the decline as more and more buyers turn toward crossovers. As a result, Mercedes has been cutting back on its drop-tops. Mercedes has already phased out its SLK-Class and S-Class Cabriolet and will soon phase out its GT Roadster. A new SL-Class is coming to replace those high-end convertibles. Mercedes also offers an E-Class Cabriolet, though it’s not clear if this model will stick around for another generation.

While it’s yet to be confirmed, we may also see a C-Class All-Terrain added to the C-Class family. This model would be a soft-roader with a wagon body, just like the larger E-Class All-Terrain that we receive in the United States, and with any luck we’ll see the C-Class version in local showrooms as well.

The C-Class sedan arrives in the U.S. in the first half of 2022, initially in C300 guise only. Powering the C300 is a 2.0-liter engine that makes 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque on its own, and is augmented by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that can add another 20 hp and 148 lb-ft for short blasts. More options are coming, including hot C53 and C63 models from AMG.

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2022 Porsche Macan prototype builds a fun bridge to an electric future

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2022 Porsche Macan prototype

Life is about to get a lot tougher for the Porsche Macan.

Introduced in 2013, the Cayenne’s younger brother propelled Porsche to new heights by making the brand accessible to a wider and younger audience. It was the right vehicle at the right time. In the U.S., it outsold the 718 duo, the 911, and the Panamera combined in 2020. Starting in 2023, however, it will face the unenviable challenge of competing for the market’s attention with its intended successor, an EV built on a new platform (called PPE internally) with new technology and a new design.

While it sounds like the fight is skewed toward the newcomer, Porsche is teaching the original Macan a few additional tricks to level the playing field. Updated 4-cylinder and V-6 engines, subtle design tweaks, chassis improvements, and a better infotainment system are on the menu for the 2022 model. What better roads to sample these changes than those surrounding Porsche’s hometown of Stuttgart, Germany?

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

Easy does it

“We wanted to make at least one change per side,” explained Christian Graf, the complete vehicle manager for the Macan line, as we walked around a camouflaged pre-production prototype.

This is where the X-ray vision promised me when I was a kid would come in handy. Pressed for details, Graf noted designers tweaked the lower part of the front bumper to give the Macan a wider look, and made small revisions to the rear end. Clearly, it still looks like a Macan.

Inside, the changes are much easier to spot. Porsche gave the center console a ground-up redesign that ditches buttons in favor of touch-sensitive surfaces, a transformation partially made possible by a new gear selector that takes up less space. A 10.9-inch infotainment touchscreen carries over, but Porsche promises yet-to-be-divulged improvements. Technology is an important measuring stick in the luxury car segment, and the Macan has to keep up.

The Macan is still marketed as the driver’s choice in the segment, and the availability of a steering wheel borrowed from the 911 adds credibility to this claim. Right-sized, it instantly makes the steering feel quicker. Porsche’s visual updates tend to be evolutionary more than revolutionary, and the Macan is not an exception to this rule.

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

All turbo, no Turbo

Porsche’s mechanical improvements, however, are normally more extensive, and the Macan doesn’t try to swim against the current here, either. The entry-level model receives a newly developed 2.0-liter turbo-4, the S gets a 27-hp bump, and the GTS welcomes 59 horses to its cavalry. One of the reasons for the big increase is that the GTS will become the range topper; the Turbo currently positioned at the top of the Macan hierarchy is headed for the history books. Reading between the lines suggests the Macan EV will follow the Taycan into turbo-less Turbo territory, but nothing is official yet, and Porsche isn’t ready to talk about how the EV line-up will look.

Mild, hot, and fire sounds like a good order for sampling Porsche’s new Macan recipe, which means starting with the base turbo-4 model. It has never been one of the portfolio’s highlights, partly because the beefier V-6s have always overshadowed it, and partly because it lacks some Porsche-ness, both in sound and performance, both factors that help separate a mainstream car from an enthusiast’s car. The folks in Zuffenhausen must have detected that disconnect because the new engine (rated at 260 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque) is punchy, linear, and markedly more refined overall than the 2.0-liter turbo-4 it replaces. Drivers can finally take advantage of having less weight over the front wheels on a winding road.

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

Next on the sampler list is the S, which swaps its 3.0-liter V-6 for a familiar 2.9-liter V-6 with two turbos. With 375 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque on tap, it’s in more of a hurry to build speed, and it feels like a natural evolution of its predecessor. The real star of the show is the GTS, however. Newly promoted to flagship status, it’s powered by a version of the same engine that makes 434 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. To add context, the 911 Carrera’s 3.0-liter flat-6 posts figures of 379 and 331, respectively. Apples to oranges, of course, but the point is that’s big power for a compact SUV.

Porsche doesn’t take the GTS designation lightly; whether they’re on a Macan, Panamera, or 911, these three letters denote a car developed with handling in mind. Engineers worked their magic on the Macan’s air suspension to make the standard ride height lower, though it’s adjustable. They also added front and rear air springs that are 10% and 15% stiffer, respectively, than the previous model’s, and they made software calibrations to widen the spread between comfort and performance. 

It’s not a surprise that the lowest, firmest, and most powerful Macan is also the best one. The changes give Porsche’s smallest crossover (and small is relative here; we’re talking about a 4,400-pound vehicle) a sports car characer. It’s quick off the line, reasonably flat around bends, and admirably comfortable during the commute. It’s not the most powerful entry into the ever-crowded crossover and SUV segment—not when Jeep and Dodge are making family trucksters with supercar-like power look as normal as the Star-Spangled Banner on the 4th of July and Porsche is preparing a mega-Cayenne—but it likely earns the handling crown. We’ll need to put more miles on its odometer to tell.

The Macan GTS ist he kind of vehicle that leaves you wanting more time behind the wheel; that’s Porsche-ness. However, if I could take the reigns of the team putting the final touches on the Macan, I’d request a louder exhaust system. It has the soul and the legs of a sports car, but not the voice. My time behind the wheel was limited to a European-spec pre-production prototype, so the V-6 might roar louder by the time it reaches U.S. European-spec cars are quieter than their American-spec counterparts due to tighter noise regulations, and Porsche stressed development work is on-going.

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

2022 Porsche Macan prototype

On the final stretch

Porsche will introduce the updated Macan during the summer of 2021, and sales will presumably start shortly thereafter as a 2022 model. It’s difficult to know precisely how long the revised crossover will be in the range, but it will likely be sold alongside the upcoming EV model. Even if sales remain strong, however, the hostile regulatory environment in Europe will drive the final nails in the gasoline Macan’s coffin. Porsche told me that, as of writing, the general plan is to put the model out to pasture when the harsh Euro 7 emissions regulations come into force around the middle of the 2020s. Until then, the Macan will continue vying for the crown of the most engaging crossover money can buy.

—Ronan Glon

Porsche provided travel, lodging, and access to super-secret prototypes for Motor Authority to bring you this first-hand report.

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Redesigned 2022 Toyota Tundra coming soon with new iForce Max powertrain

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2022 Toyota Tundra's new iForce Max powertrain

A new generation of the Toyota Tundra is coming up shortly.

Toyota in May released a teaser image of the redesigned Tundra and confirmed an arrival for the 2022 model year, and on Tuesday the automaker said the full-size pickup truck will feature a next-generation iForce powertrain, dubbed iForce Max.

The iForce branding was first used for a 4.7-liter V-8 in early Tundras. The V-8’s displacement measures 5.7 liters in the current Tundra, though its basic design hasn’t changed much over the years. As a result it’s not only one of the most reliable V-8 engines ever built but also one of the most reliable internal-combustion engines of any type used in a production vehicle. The downside is that its efficiency and 381-hp peak power rating are a tad underwhelming compared to some of the newer competition.

It isn’t clear what the new iForce Max powertrain will be but we’ve heard that a twin-turbocharged V-6 will be offered in the new Tundra, possibly as a replacement for the current V-8. A hybrid option is also likely at some point. Toyota has pledged to fit every vehicle it sells in the U.S. with some sort of electrification. Keep in mind, electrification can be as simple as a mild-hybrid system. We definitely don’t expect the Tundra’s hybrid option to be a plug-in hybrid setup.

2022 Toyota Tundra’s new iForce Max powertrain

Not much is known about the rest of the mechanicals either, but we’ve heard the redesigned Tundra will introduce a new modular platform that will eventually underpin future versions of the Hilux and Tacoma, as well as the 4Runner and Sequoia SUVs.

The image teasing the exterior of the truck hints at a tougher design for the new generation, with some elements expected to be influenced by the recent update to the Hilux mid-size pickup truck sold overseas. The Tundra is also expected to grow in size. Those marker lights you see on the grille and flanks are required for wider trucks in the United States.

With the bigger size, you can count on there being bigger cabin options and possibly bigger bed options, too. Towing capacity should also match or exceed the current truck’s 10,200-pound max rating.

Stay tuned.

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