OpenRoad's top three picks from Vancouver International Auto Show 2018

This year marked the 98th edition of the Vancouver International Auto Show (VIAS), and as a testament to its growing popularity the event took over the entire Vancouver Convention Centre West for the first time adding 30,000 square-feet of exhibition space. In this post, we’ve rounded up some of the top vehicle debuts that happened at VIAS 2018. Read on.

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback

A proper hatchback version of the best-selling Corolla finally returns to the Toyota lineup. Built on the Toyota New Global Architecture that also underpins the Prius and CH-R, the hatch on display looked stunning painted in a vibrant blue colour. Performance specs have yet to be released but we know it will sport a 2.0-litre Dynamic Force Engine mated to a choice of a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission.

2019 Honda Insight

2019 Honda Insight

Showgoers got to check out the production version of the third generation Honda Insight, a hybrid model originally introduced back in 1999. Formerly a coupe, the electrified vehicle has been reborn as a premium sedan and shares the same platform as the 10th-generation Civic. The Insight combines a 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle engine and an electric propulsion motor together generating 151 horsepower and 197 lb-ft of torque, and a fully independent suspension setup ensures the car is as nimble as it is efficient.

2019 BMW X4 front

2019 BMW X4

The second generation BMW X4 made its initial North American appearance at VIAS, bigger and more refined than the outgoing model. The crossover has grown 81 millimetres in length and 37 millimetres in width while dropping three millimetres in overall height resulting in a solid, planted appearance. The signature kidney grille now has a 3-D quality to it, and the thin, horizontal foglamps integrated with the lower air intakes replace the previous round units. A new option for the X4, customers can get an M performance M40i variant putting down 355 horsepower and 365 lb-ft of torque via an inline six mill.

2019 BMW X4 rear

Biggest reveals from Geneva Motor Show 2018


One of the more extravagant auto shows to make the annual rounds, the 88th Geneva Motor Show did not disappoint this year with huge unveils from the likes of Toyota, BMW, Audi and others. Read on.

Toyota GR Supra Concept

Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept

It seems like people have been talking about a replacement for Toyota’s legendary sports car for ages now, and the Japanese automaker adds fuel to the fire with the debut of the GR Supra Racing Concept. Created by Toyota Gazoo Racing, this two-door, front-engine rear-wheel drive concept is constructed almost entirely out of lightweight composite material. Performance parts by BBS, Brembo and OMP can be found sprinkled throughout the vehicle. The number “90” on the doors is a reference to the “A90” codename for the upcoming fifth-generation version.

Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion concept

Volkswagen I.D. Vizzion

The latest VW I.D. concept to come out of Wolfsburg is the Vizzion, an autonomous electric vehicle demonstrating what transportation could be like in the year 2030. It’s the first Volkswagen to be built without a steering wheel or pedals — the EV utilizes a “digital chauffeur” that navigates, steers and even automatically sets the climate controls by learning individual occupant preferences. Front and rear electric motors provide all-wheel drive and a combined output of 302 horsepower.

BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe

BMW Concept M8 Gran Coupe

Showing what is possible with a new BMW lineup flagship model, the company says the “M” in M8 stands for “more,” as in more of everything. The opulent four-door features several design flourishes like gold-coloured kidney grille trim, an aggressive front apron, severely flared fender arches, duckbill-style spoiler and a quad exhaust system. The entire body is sprayed in a Salève Vert colour that changes from green to greyish-blue depending on the light.

Audi A6

Audi A6

After a long seven years since the last redesign, Audi’s executive A6 sedan is about to enter generation five. Sporting sharp, defined body lines indicative of the new styling language also seen on bigger brother the A8, the car will launch in Europe as a 2019 with both a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 and a diesel utilizing mild-hybrid technology. A turbo 2.0-litre four cylinder will also be available at a later date.

BMW Concept Z4 goes back to bare essentials

At this year’s Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, one of the most extravagant automotive shows in the world, BMW presented its take on a brand new roadster. Called the Concept Z4, the open-top two-seater hints at what a production model will look like when unveiled next year.

Since being introduced 15 years ago, the Z4 became a little bit heavier and more comfortable over two generations. The manufacturer has promised a return to sportier beginnings for the next iteration.

BMW Concept Z4 rear angle

“The BMW Concept Z4 in an all-out driving machine,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design. “Stripping the car back to the bare essentials allows the driver to experience all the ingredients of motoring pleasure with supreme directness. This is total freedom on four wheels.”

bmw concept z4 domes

A long wheelbase, low-to-the-ground stance, stubby rear-end and other traditional styling points have been kept. A shorter hood than previous models allows the driver to sit closer to the centre of the vehicle for better balance and feel. The built-in rollover hoops have been integrated into “domes” that slope towards the back provide a retro aesthetic.

BMW Concept Z4 front end

Enthusiasts will notice a handful of elements borrowed, but reinterpreted, from other cars introduced into the design, like the front bumper air intakes as well as the air breathers behind the front wheels. Headlight and kidney grille placement has been influenced by the former Z8. BMW’s love of carbon fibre has translated into crafting parts of the front end, the rear diffuser and other trim pieces with the lightweight composite material.

BMW Concept Z4 interior

Keeping in line with the driver-focused mentality, the minimalistic cockpit wraps around the occupant behind the wheel. Two high definition screens flow into one another to make up the instrument cluster and infotainment displays, which show vital vehicle information, navigation and more. The entire dashboard is finished in black to avoid creating distraction. 

Comparing three electric vehicle incentives in three countries

Considering an estimated one million battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will be sold globally this year alone, it seems likely that they’re here to stay. Manufacturers are pouring resources into further development of the segment — Honda snuck in the Clarity plug-in before the New Year, and in 2018 there are several anticipated launches like the Jaguar I-PACE crossover and BMW X7 full-size SUV.

Governments around the world, facing pressure to lower emissions, have been onboard the electric bandwagon for quite a while now, some going as far as putting an expiry date on sales of gasoline-powered cars. As such, many, like the three places we’ve listed below, are serving up enticing incentives in the form of cash rebates to tempt consumers to switch over.  


Turns out the Great White North is not a bad place to be for EV lovers. In B.C., the Clean Energy Vehicle Program means buyers can benefit from up to $5,000 off eligible models, which include favourites like the BMW i3, Hyundai IONIQ and Volkswagen e-Golf. In Quebec, it’s as much as $8,000 off a green set of wheels, and even people buying and installing home charging stations get a 50 per cent off break, to a maximum of $600. Those residing in Ontario receive a whopping total $14,000 discount on approved automobiles via the Electric Vehicle Incentive Program.

United States

In the U.S. both federal and state governments offer financial assistance to lessen the blow of buying an EV that, particularly at full MSRP, can be quite prohibitive. The Internal Revenue Service provides a tax credit between $2,500 and $7,500 to lower the upfront purchase cost, the exact amount dependant on vehicle class and battery size. On top of that, certain states stack additional credits on top as well.

United Kingdom

Through the plug-in car grant initiative introduced in 2011, our relatives in Europe can see 35 per cent of their EV price tag slashed, up to a £4,500 maximum, on the spot when purchasing an eligible auto. Similar to Quebec, a further grant of £500 was introduced in March for EV owners who install a dedicated charge point in the garage.

Sports car showcase at Los Angeles Auto Show 2017

la auto show sign

Visitors looking for go-fast vehicles at this year’s LA Auto Show did not leave disappointed. Photos by Benjamin Yong/Porsche Canada.

Taking place in the Golden State where some of the best driving roads anywhere are found, this might be why so many new sports cars make their first appearances at the Los Angeles Auto Show (LAAS). Porsche is one manufacturer in particular that loves to drop a few high horsepower surprises at the event — which just wrapped up the second week of December — as we discuss below.


Porsche 911 Carrera T

Nope, the T doesn’t stand for turbo, as you might think. Try Touring, as in a lightweight 911 perfect for long-distance driving, say, down the Pacific Coast Highway. Porsche has been on a nostalgic kick lately, first with the 718 series and now the 911 T echoing a special model from 1968. It’s based on the standard Carrera but boasts a 20-millimetre-lower ride height, shorter shift lever, rear axle steering system, slightly revised body aero and different colour options.

The weight loss program consists of thinner door and rear window glass, less sound deadening, deleted back seats as well removal of the Porsche Communication Management (the last two may be reinstalled if requested for no extra charge). Altogether, the modifications help the car shed approximately 20 kilograms. Propulsion is provided via a twin-turbo flat six pumping out 370 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque.

porsche panamera turbo s e-hybrid sport turismo

Porsche Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo

Called “the most versatile sports car in the Porsche line-up,” or also known as the vehicle with the longest name, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo produces a vast net 680 horses by combining a boosted 4.0-litre V8 engine and a 100-kilowatt electric motor. The sedan has a fuel-free range of approximately 50 kilometres, a top speed of 310 km/h and an average fuel consumption of just 3.0 L/100 km.

bmw i8 roadster

BMW i8 Roadster

As if the i8 wasn’t already cool enough, BMW premiered a roof-less version in the Roadster. Only 60 kilograms heavier than the Coupe thanks to smart engineering like a carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastic windshield frame. The soft-top can be raised or lowered while the car is traveling up to 50 km/h and can completely open or close in 15 seconds. Internals have been upgraded so pure electric driving range is upped to 53 kilometres.

Top five manufacturer unveils at SEMA Show 2017

The SEMA Show held annually in Las Vegas typically draws more than 60,000 visitors every year.

The Speciality Equipment Market Association (SEMA) just wrapped another show in Sin City, putting on display the wildest things to come out of the auto industry both from the OEM and aftermarket sectors. OpenRoad has rounded up some mouth-watering performance dishes served up by manufacturers at this year’s event.

Toyota CH-R R-Tuned

Toyota CH-R R-Tuned

Toyota has dubbed this little crossover “the worlds quickest CUV,” which indeed pushes big power from a 2.4-litre turbocharged engine running 23 psi of boost. DG-Spec modified the CH-R to produce 600 horsepower, resulting in quicker lap times than a Porsche 911 GT3 at Willow Springs International Raceway.

Hyundai HyperEconiq Ioniq

Hyundai HyperEconiq Ioniq

The Seoul-based automaker regularly teams up with Bisimito Engineering to unveil something truly hair-raising for SEMA, like 2015’s 700-horsepower Sonata. Now, however, it’s a greener project called the HyperEconiq, a slammed, kitted-out Ioniq that achieves a combined city/highway fuel economy of 2.9 L/100 km.

Audi TT clubsport turbo concept

Audi TT clubsport turbo concept

Channelling the Audi 90 IMSA GTO racecar circa 1989, the TT clubsport turbo concept gives the coupe an entirely different look wearing boxy fenders, a manually adjustable carbon fibre polymer wing and an overall 140-millimetre wider presence. The uprated turbo motor propels the coupe from 0-100 km/h in 3.6 seconds.

Infiniti Q60 Red Alpha concept

Infiniti Q60 Red Alpha concept

The grade-topping Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is already considered quite quick utilizing a 400-horsepower boosted 3.0-litre V6 making 350 lb-ft of torque. But that hasn’t stopped the luxury brand from enlisting the services of AMS Performance to upgrade the intercooler, exhaust, ECU and other items — many soon to be available for purchase at dealerships and AMS distributors — increasing horsepower by 19 per cent and torque, 29 per cent.

BMW M3 30 Years American Edition

BMW M3 30 Years American Edition

A little over three decades ago, an automotive icon was born: the M3. And then one year later, the vehicle reached our shores. To commemorate the anniversary, BMW Group Designworks and BMW Individual have created the 30 Years American Edition featuring a red, white and blue colour theme and a whole bunch of M Performance parts from an adjustable suspension system to a handmade carbon fibre rear spoiler complete with racing stripes.

BMW X3 launches M240i performance model for 2018

The X3 enters its third generation with some new tricks and introduces an M Performance model.

The crossover that kicked off the now best-selling Sport Activity Vehicle segment at BMW, the X3, has been totally redesigned and brings some firsts for the brand. These include a factory-installed trailer hitch and the introduction of an M Performance variant within the model range. Let’s take a look in more detail.

Not really any bigger than the outgoing version, the wheelbase has however grown by 56 millimetres giving it a more established road presence. Rather than a flat kidney grille inset into the front bumper, the edges are raised providing a three-dimensional quality. Below, sleeker hexagonal foglights replace the former round units. At the back, the taillights are also shaped with a 3-D appearance and the exhaust pipes have been split into a dual setup.

2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i

As mentioned, this is the initial BMW SAV to receive a hitch straight off the assembly line. The two-inch receiver allows customers to get the most use out of the vehicle by attaching OEM accessories like a tongue, towing ball, bike rack and more to haul whatever equipment is needed for their next adventure.

Updates to the interior come in the form of more storage space, a three-zone climate control system and individually adjustable second row backrests that can be remotely released from the cargo area. The panoramic glass moonroof is a full 249 millimetres longer than before.

2018 BMW X3 M40i

The X3 xDrive30i takes the place of the outgoing xDrive28i and utilizes a 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine producing 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The new flagship M40i uses a boosted 3.0-litre mill pumping out 355 horsepower and 369 lb-ft, which is 23 per cent more torque compared to the pervious grade-topping XDrive35i. Both are mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

xDrive all-wheel drive is standard on all trims. The 2018 BMW X3 is available now.

BMW launches first all-wheel drive M5

BMW has introduced an all-wheel drive system into the M5 sports sedan, which is customizable to the driver’s preferences.

As BMW prepares to release the sixth generation of the high octane M5, let’s dive into what makes this newest chapter of the sports sedan extra special: M xDrive technology. The tailor-made all-wheel drive system retains classic rear-wheel characteristics while adding in loads of grip as needed, in a manner never quite done before.

“The core component of M xDrive is a central intelligence unit with M-specific software delivering integrated control of longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The new drivetrain technology — making its debut on the new BMW M5 — therefore combines all of the agility and precision of standard rear-wheel drive with the supreme poise and traction of the all-wheel-drive system,” said company representative Frank van Meel.

“As a result, the new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy on both the race track and the open road. And in various weather conditions, too.”

2018 BMW M5

The setup provides five available modes, depending on whether Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) is active. By default, 4WD with DSC is on, which still allows a certain amount of slippage to the back wheels, but will send power up front as needed for situations such as accelerating out of a turn. For tail-happy fun, though, drivers will want to switch over to M Dynamic Mode. The rear is allowed to slip even further, capable of carrying out a controlled drift in the right environment.

M xDrive is made possible via a pairing of specific software and two mechanical components: the transfer case and the Active M Differential. The former is responsible for distributing power front to rear, the latter then balancing out forces between the two rear wheels. All of this is done with nearly zero losses.

2018 BMW M5 engine

A refined version of BMW’s 4.4-litre biturbo V8 propels the upcoming M5 and features upgraded turbochargers, better cooling and a new, lighter exhaust system. An efficient eight-speed M Steptronic transmission with paddle shifters is mated to the engine, geared to provide improved fuel economy estimated at 10.5 L/100 km in mixed city and highway use. 

BMW i3 receives performance i3s variant in 2018

BMW’s award-winning i3 is already known as one of the most fun-to-drive battery electric vehicles on the market with its torquey motor and classic German handling characteristics. It’s about to get even better when the sportier 2018 i3s arrives early next year.

Both the drive system and suspension have been upgraded and as a result there is an increase to output as well as big improvements to on-road agility. Total horsepower is now 184, and torque 199 lb-ft. The i3s sits on speciality springs, dampers and anti-roll bars giving the EV a 10 millimetre lower ride height capable of cornering much flatter than the standard variant.

2018 BMW i3s rear

Drivers can control just how sporty the experience is using the dynamics control switch. After activating the new Sport mode, the accelerator instantly becomes more responsive, and the steering firmer. In this setting, the car can get from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds. A gasoline Range Extender engine remains an option.

To complement the boost in performance, the exterior is bolder than on the standard i3. To match the black roof and centre panels both on the front and rear of the vehicle, the A-pillars, parts of the BMW kidney grille and a few other trim pieces are finished in a high gloss black. Underneath the full LED headlights are coloured accent strips painted BMW I Blue or Frozen Grey that help show off the extra 40 millimetres in track width. 

2018 BMW i3s dash

All i3 models benefit from the latest iDrive 6 user interface responsible for controlling everything from communications to infotainment. If equipped with the Navigation Professional, the 10.25-inch screen features a higher-resolution display. Voice commands can be executed more simply than before via Natural Language Understanding functionality. For example, the computer recognizes casual phrases such as “find the closest gas station,” similar to how smartphone voice assistants work.

More information will be available when the 2018 BMW i3S officially premieres at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt this month. 

Getting the most out of your electric vehicle battery this summer

Operating an EV sometimes has its challenges, and one of them is being cognizant of battery limitations and adjusting your driving habits accordingly. In hotter weather especially, there are certain things to be aware of in order to squeeze out the most range possible for those impromptu drives out of town.

Air conditioning

When the sun is beating down, not using air con might seem crazy. Just remember, while running, it’s using up energy that could otherwise be allocated to moving the car. The higher the setting, the more juice is consumed. Some models have a preconditioning feature allowing you to control the climate settings remotely while the vehicle is still plugged in, or simply adjust it manually. Parking in the shade or in a covered area can also reduce reliance on the A/C.

honda cr-z stereo

Audio system

What’s a road trip without tunes? I’m not saying leave the iPod at home, but it, too, drains the battery. Leave the volume at a reasonable level and when you’re talking to someone or otherwise not listening, avoid leaving the stereo on in the background.

Cargo area

Summertime is chock full of activities requiring gear of some sort, whether it’s beach equipment, kayak paddles, a tent, the list goes on. Every extra kilogram of weight requires the car to work that much harder to get going. Don’t treat the vehicle as a rolling storage unit and remove items unlikely to be used at the immediate destination.

Eco mode

Most EVs possess an “Eco” mode that can be activated via a button press or twist of a dial. There are a variety of functions this encompasses, from limiting acceleration performance to modulating climate control all in the name of conserving power.

toyota prius eco score

Driver information

Depending on the manufacturer, the EV will have some kind of graphical representation of how energy is being distributed and utilized displayed. There may also be a menu option to provide an eco score based on the driving style observed by the computer last trip, with tips for improvement.