The Hyundai Santa Cruz concept, pictured, is the design inspiration for a production model, and Kia will follow suit about a year later with its own version. Photo: Hyundai

The Hyundai Santa Cruz concept, pictured, is the design inspiration for a production model, and Kia will follow suit about a year later with its own version. Photo: Hyundai

Insights into Chevrolet, Fiat, Jaguar and more!

An industry insider spills the beans on new product, tech and personalities

You can spec your 2020 Corvette Stingray right now:

Chevrolet spent more than a couple of years whetting enthusiasts’ appetites for the new mid-engine Corvette through numerous detail leaks and photos of camouflaged test vehicles. With the car’s recent reveal, however, the information floodgates have now been opened wide and with it the ability to head online and fiddle with what’s called the Corvette Visualizer. The 360-degree interactive page at www.chevrolet.com provides a complete 3D view of the car’s interior and exterior so you can examine every angle, select any of the available colours and share what you’ve designed with other ’Vette enthusiasts. The base price in Canada is just under $70,000 with deliveries anticipated for early 2020.

The Corvette Visualizer lets you equip your new 2020 model the way you want, after which you can share with your friends online. Photo: Chevrolet.

Fiat to (finally) restyle the 500, add a new electric offshoot:

The Sleuth’s intel gatherers have uncovered news of the first significant change to Fiat’s tiniest member since it first arrived in North America for the 2012 model year. Although details remain sketchy, the 2020 500 will be restyled at both ends, but will increase in size only slightly. Also anticipated is Fiat’s latest 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 177 horsepower in the all-wheel-drive 500X. It’s likely to be exclusive to the sporty Abarth model while the rest of the lineup carries over with the 135-horsepower turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder. The electric 500e that’s currently available in California and a few other states will receive much the same updates as its gasoline counterparts, but will be built on a dedicated platform designed for other upcoming Fiat EVs. The 500e will also receive a significant range increase from the current 84-mile (134-kilometre) maximum and it will eventually be available to the rest of the automaker’s North American dealer network.

The current Fiat 500, pictured, has soldiered on essentially visually unchanged since its arrival for the 2012 model year. The updated version will be only slightly larger, however. Photo: FCA.

Is there an electric Escalade on the way?

Along with a Silverado and Sierra EV? That’s the hot rumour originating with The Sleuth’s sources. Along with plans for a high-performance version of next-generation 2021 Escalade — with a 650-horsepower 6.2-litre supercharged V-8 — the luxury Caddy wagon might also be available as an EV a year or two later. The Sleuth is hearing that the Escalade EV’s battery system would provide a maximum range of 400 miles (640 kilometres), which could equal the range for the electric Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups that are also expected in the next two to three years (the three vehicles share platforms).

Jaguar will launch a fourth utility vehicle:

Word has reached The Spy Guy that the Britain-based automaker will introduce a new tall wagon sometime in 2021. The J-Pace will join the compact E-Pace and midsize F-Pace models, in addition to the electrically powered I-Pace that broke cover for 2019. The newest addition will be sized to accommodate three rows of seats and will complete with the similar vehicles such as the BMW X7, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLS and the 2020 Cadillac XT6. The J-Pace will also employ Jaguar Land Rover’s latest MLA platform, which will also underpin the next-generation Range Rover and Range Rover Sport as well as the new Land Rover Defender. Most, if not all of these models will offer gasoline engines as well as plug-in hybrid and battery-electric propulsion.

What works for Hyundai also works for Kia, and that includes a pickup:

The Spymaster’s sources spilled the beans concerning Kia’s plans to join its Hyundai partner in the crowded midsize-pickup category, competing with the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Toyota Tacoma. Although the vehicle will be built off the same chassis as the Hyundai Santa Cruz that’s expected to arrive for the 2021 model year, Kia’s version that will follow a year later will have a totally different (as in more conservative) look.

Ups and downs

Up: Spend a night in the Wienermobile:

If you’re heading to the Chicago, Ill., area, you might consider booking a stay in one of Oscar Mayer’s well-known rolling advertisements. The fully furnished eight-metre-long hot dog has a pullout couch that sleeps two, a mini-refrigerator and an outdoor setup with Adirondack chairs, faux grass and a portable bathroom.

A night’s stay costs US $136 and can be reserved through Airbnb.com. Photo: airbnb.com.

Up: The return of the Saleen S7:

The limited-production mid-engine supercar originally created by former racing driver and Mustang modifier Steve Saleen was built from 2000 to 2009. The S7’s 7.0-litre V-8 was rated at 550 horsepower, and with twin turbochargers it put out 750. Now backed by a corporation based in China, a new S7 Le Mans will soon be available with an estimated 1,500 horsepower. It’s claimed to hit 62 mph (100 km/h) from rest in 2.2 seconds and attain a 298 mph (477 km/h) top speed. There’s no word as yet as to price or availability.

Photo: Saleen.

-written by Wheelbase Media

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