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Test-drive stories by NITISH S. RELE –motoringtampabay.com









That Tesla is a leader in electric vehicles is a given. But the frontrunner isn’t going to be able to keep the position for long if Hyundai has a say. Or several says (i.e. EVs), for that matter. After all, the Korean carmaker can proudly claim its Ioniq 5 electric SUV as the 2022 World Car of the Year, as well as tout the Kona electric, Tucson PHEV (plug-in hybrid) and regular Santa Fe hybrid. To showcase and experience the diverse lineup, we were recently invited to drive the vehicles in the lush Coconut Grove/Miami neighborhood along the bay and surrounding areas.

The top 5 Southern region markets for electrified vehicles are Miami, Tampa, Orlando while BEV (battery electric vehicles) are again Miami, then Orlando and Tampa. It is no wonder that Hyundai held the ‘electrification’ media experience in ‘The Magic City.’ The strategy is to sell one million Hyundai electrified vehicles per year worldwide, revealed Loren Wong, assistant manager of Product Planning at Hyundai Motor N.A. Looking further, the auto manufacturer will produce 11 EVs by 2030. Toward that end, the company has planned a dedicated EV factory in Bryan County, Ga., with production to begin in 2025. And Hyundai is already offering a two-year complimentary charge at any Electrify America station.

Also present was Andre Carter of Hyundai division Supernal, an advance air mobility company, that seeks to address congestion and pollution. Its aim is to develop a family of electric air vehicles such as a battery-powered and autonomous Electric Vehicle Take-off & Landing or eVTOL (4-5 passengers) for intra-city passengers by 2028. “We are taking the time to create a safe, light-weight commercial eVTOL that provides our future passengers with the security and comfort they find in their own cars,” said Carter.  

Supernal is aware that the novel electric air vehicle concept cannot be dropped into cities unless a system has been fashioned that works for everyone and effortlessly integrated into current transit networks. Why Miami? Because Mayor Francis Suarez has been receptive to public-private partnerships integrating into his city. Carter terms the air mobility concept as “subway in the sky.”
While the Ioniq 5 can go up to 300 miles on a full charge, the Kona electric stretches to 258 miles, thanks to lithium-ion battery packs and electric motors. Fast charging times range from just 18 to 55 minutes for 80 percent. With an electric motor and battery pack, the Tucson PHEV travels in electric-mode only for about 33 miles before fuel kicks in. And the Santa Fe hybrid ekes out 37.1 mpg in city, beating EPA estimates of 33.

As noted earlier, an array of hip Hyundai EVs is gearing up to hit the market – the midsize Ioniq 6 sedan and the larger Ioniq 7 SUV – are just two examples. It’s only a matter of time before the Korean carmaker takes the lead in the EV market, leaving the rest of the rivals far behind!


LEXUS LC500 Its origin goes way back to 1982. Then the Benz 190 was labeled as ‘Baby Benz.’ Over a decade later, the ‘kid’ earned the C-class designation and worldwide sales of more than 10.5 million units with China holding the lead for the past six years. The rest, as they so lovingly say, is history.

But Mercedes engineers have not just kept up with history but taken a step ahead by redesigning the C300 for 2022 inside and out. Under the hood of the steel unibody structure still resides a 2.0-liter inline-4 cylinder turbo engine putting out 255 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 295 pounds-feet of torque @ 3200 rpm. An integrated starter-generator with a 48-volt capacity provides mild hybrid power delivery of an extra 20 hp. Zero to 60 is possible in just 6 seconds with top speed of 130 mph in this fine, snug and effective ride. The 4MATIC all-wheel-drive vehicle is mated to a standard 9-speed automatic, which can be driven in eco, comfort, sport, sport+ and individual modes. The independent four-link axle front and multilink rear suspension works splendidly to absorb unpleasant highway bumps and sudden sharp turns. Returning a weighted response to the driver’s input is razor-sharp, electromechanical power rack-and-pinion steering.

The compact luxury sedan is 2.6 inches longer with a wheelbase up by 1 and width more than .4 than its predecessor. Also receiving a lift are elbow, head and knee room. Up front, the trademark three-pointed star on the power dome hood meets up with a larger Benz emblem centered in the A-shaped radiator grille with chrome surrounds. It is flanked by horizontal LED headlights. A lavish, elegant cabin is expected of any Mercedes with dual auto a/c, 40/20/40 rear seat, steering wheel paddle shifters, Apple CarPlay and Android wireless phone capabilities, illuminated door sills, panoramic sunroof and heated front seats. The flattened round sets of air vents with ambient lights are a sight to behold, especially at night. A central and jet-black tablet-like 11.9-inch touch screen, now tilted toward the driver, serves as a audio, navigation and phone infotainment guide. Indeed, top-notch materials and craftsmanship give the car a rich vibe.

Dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, electronic stability program, pre-safe (partial braking in an emergency), active brake assist and blind spot assist, forward collision warning, rearview camera, keyless go/start, daytime running lights and tire pressure monitoring system are standard.

There is no doubt that the revamped fifth-gen C300 augments the Benz sedan lineup. If in the market for a gorgeous sedan that provides punch around town, impressive handling/balance, and a sumptuous cabin bar none, take the C300 for a test-drive. It will be well worth your time and effort.

Tires: 225/45R18 front; 245/40R18 rear
Wheelbase: 112.8 inches
Length: 187 inches
Width: 80 inches
Height: 56.6 inches
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons
City: 23 mpg
Highway: 33 mpg
Weight: 3,957 pounds
Base price: $45,550
Price as tested: $57,270
Web sitewww.mbusa.com


VW ID.4 PRO (RWD)Last year, we test-drove the Q50 Red Sport version of this midsize luxury sport car from Infiniti with 400 horsepower. For 2023, the carmaker dispatched over the lesser trim Sensory model boasting 300 hp @ 6400 rpm. Both have the same 3.0-lier V-6 twin-turbocharged engine under the hood. But kid you not, the sedan didn’t feel much different on the road, navigating sharp curves and turns with self-assurance and grace. And except for adding Premium Care maintenance program (three years of oil changes, tire rotations, inspections), the Q50 maintains its status quo.

Putting out 295 pounds-feet of torque @ 5200 rpm, and available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the lively midsize sedan is coupled with a slick 7-speed auto gearbox. An independent double-wishbone front and a multilink rear suspension ensure safety for occupants in adverse road/weather conditions. Credit for the superbly accurate steering goes to a power-assist, rack-and-pinion system. Behind the wheels hide large rotors: front dual-piston 12.6 inches at front and rear single-piston 12.1 inches to inspire confidence in the driver. Lest we forget, you can enjoy the Q50 in personal, eco, snow, sport and standard modes.

Up front, the double-arch grille and wide hood are surrounded by LED headlights and daytime running lights. Dual chrome exhaust tips deck the rear. If anyone tells you that the Infiniti cabin isn’t on par with its German rivals, point out the top-notch materials and gloss levels. The InTouch infotainment system, which comes with dual 8- and 7-inch touch screens atop each other, is functional. Also standard are eight-way power heated front leather seats, dual auto a/c, 60/40 rear seat, overhead sunglass holder, Bose audio with 16 speakers, aluminum sill plates with ‘Infiniti’ insignia, and power tilt/telescopic steering column and moon roof. But the 13.5-cubic-foot trunk could use with slightly more space.

Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes, vehicle dynamic and traction controls, front seatbelts with pretensioners, remote keyless entry, rearview camera, zone body construction, blind spot, lane-departure and forward-collision warnings, rear cross traffic alert, auto brakes with pedestrian detection, hill start assist, energy-absorbing steering column, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights.

A clever and fine choice for a potential sport sedan buyer, the Q50 displays impressive handling, superb grip and a strong steering feel. And it is a head-turner ride to boot.

Tires: P245/40R19
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Length: 189.6 inches
Width: 71.8 inches
Weight: 3,966 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
City: 19 mpg
Highway: 27 mpg
Base price: $50,350
Web site: www.infiniti.com


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