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It’s not very often that I would recommend the dual-clutch or automatic version of a performance car over a six-speed manual. However, in the case of the 2020 Renault Megane R.S. Trophy, I would absolutely recommend the EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) over the stick shift.

Roughly seven months ago, when much of the world was locked down during the first wave of the coronavirus, I had the pleasure of driving the Megane R.S. Trophy with a manual for a week. Despite a few quirks, it was a pleasure to drive. The EDC variant is even better.

A powertrain sent from the heavens.

Like the manual, the EDC-equipped model features a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 296 hp (221 kW) and 310 lb-ft (420 Nm) of torque. This is one of the finer engines powering any modern hot hatch but more on that later. Drive is sent exclusively to the front wheels.

Going into my week with the EDC model, I was a little apprehensive, particularly since I had driven the VW Golf GTI TCR with its DSG just a couple of weeks beforehand (review coming soon) and was left wondering if Renault’s dual-clutch could compete. It doesn’t just compete with the VW’s – it is actually better.

A six-speed unit, the transmission is silky smooth at low speeds and free of any of the hesitation of others similar transmissions on the market. Sure, the paddle shifters are mounted oddly high on the steering column but all is forgiven the moment you start driving the Megane RS Trophy in anger.

The hot hatch also comes equipped from the factory with an exceptional exhaust system that produces a lovely burble at idle, even when you’re driving in the ‘Neutral’ mode. Change things into Race or Perso modes and the aural experience is enhanced threefold as the exhaust opens up. Pin the throttle and things only get better.

The drive

The six-speed manual offered for the car is good but not great, especially when compared to the exceptional stick shift of the Honda Civic Type R. The most immediate difference you’ll notice with the EDC is that on upshifts, it prompts a lovely crack from the exhaust. What’s even more thrilling is the fact that the gearbox even gives you a small kick in the chest when changing up through the gears. Sure, it’s not quite like the kick you get from a Lamborghini Aventador in Corsa mode, but that’s not a fair comparison and, anyway, it does add some lovely drama to the experience. Downshifts are also a pleasure where, once again, the exhaust fires to life, producing the type of whipcrack sound that not even a Hyundai i30 N can match.

Read Also: Driven – 2020 Renault Megane R.S. 300 Trophy Is Raw, Uncompromising, And Addictive

With the EDC, the Megane RS Trophy feels rapid in a straight line. Renault claims it will hit 100 km/h (62 mph) in 5.7 seconds, matching the Civic Type R. Our test car come fitted with the available R.S. Monitor that provides all kinds of telemetry data, so we decided to put it to the test. With launch control enabled and a healthy dose of wheelspin, I was able to match Renault’s official time.

With launch control switched off, I recorded a time of 5.12 seconds to 100 km/h (62 mph), a figure I found a little hard to believe. Is the onboard telemetry system a little optimistic? Possibly. It’s worth noting our 5.12-second run was recorded on a stretch of private road with a temperature of 36 degrees Celsius (96.8 degrees Farenheit) outside, resulting in a very sticky piece of pavement which eliminated most slip from the tires.

As with any good RenaultSport product, the R.S. Trophy also thrives in the corners. The limited-slip differential puts the power to the ground well and immediately inspires confidence in the driver. Grip from the Bridgestone S001 tires seems endless. However, if you’re a little too eager on the throttle through a corner, not even the LSD can prevent the car’s grunt from spinning up the front wheels and pushing you wide.

The ‘controversial’ stuff

One area of debate about the car relates to its four-wheel steering system, or as Renault calls it, ‘4Control.’ You can adjust how this system behaves in the Perso menu through the Dynamic Drive System. In its most active mode, ‘Neutral,’ the rear wheels turn up to 2.7 degrees at speeds of under 60 km/h (37 mph) while in ‘Race’ mode, they turn at speeds below 100 km/h (62 mph). Regardless of which setting you choose, the car darts into the corner with so little effort and with such small movements of the steering wheel that it initially feels unnerving. However, once you get used to using such minute steering inputs, it adds a unique character to the car. We can’t help but thinking, though, that some people will not like it.

Another aspect of the car that has ruffled a few feathers is the suspension, namely due to the fact that it is not adjustable like so many other class-leading hot hatches. To try and rectify this, RenaultSport has fitted hydraulic bump stops, but even still, the car rides firm.

During my week with the car, I covered roughly 1,400 km (870 miles) with a mix of twisting coastal roads, long stretches of highways, and technical mountain passes. On bumpy roads, the suspension can grow tiresome but for the most part, I had no complaints. Admittedly, I own a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R so am probably more tolerant of harsh-riding vehicles than most. Objectively, though, the non-adjustable suspension system puts the Megane R.S. Trophy at a disadvantage to its rivals.

The cabin of the Renault matches up well against the competition. There are some lovely dashings of Alcantara, as well as various carbon fiber accents. The configurable accent lighting is also a nice touch, as is the 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster. The seats are firm but hold you in position well. Unfortunately, the seats didn’t adjust quite as low as I would have liked. A nine-speaker Bose audio system with a subwoofer and digital amplifier is another nice touch.

In terms of fuel efficiency, Renault claims the Megane R.S. Trophy consumes just 8 l/100 km (29.4 mpg) over the combined cycle. We recorded 10.2 l/100 km (23.9 mpg) which, considering how we were driving the car, is impressive, although our roadtrip did include long highway stints that brought that figure down.

Our test car was priced at AU$56,990, including the AU$1,000 Liquid Yellow paint but excluding on-road costs.

The Megane R.S. Trophy EDC is a special car. Not only is it better than the manual but it is one of the finest hot hatches on sale. Sure, it is a little uncompromising but that only adds to its charm. In 5-7 years, I think I might just have to start searching the classifieds for one…

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A quick look through Lancia’s current lineup reveals that it only makes a rebadged Fiat called the Ypsilon. Italian exterior designer Sebastiano Ciarcia thinks that’s a shame, so he’s reimagined a Delta for modern times.

“As a proud Italian car enthusiast, I’ve always been truly disappointed regarding what the brand Lancia has become today,” Ciarcia writes. “For me the Delta has always been an icon, something like an Holy Grail that you can’t replace; however at the same time I couldn’t accept the reality and I really wanted to create a good successor for it.”

Read Also: Maserati’s Project Rekall Brings 1990s Shamal to 2020

And he’s done just that, taking inspiration not just from the Delta, but from its motorsport derivatives as well, to design this modern interpretation. Indeed, he wrote on Instagram that the project begun after he had started watching a lot of old rallying on YouTube.

Specifically, he names the Group B’s legendary Delta S4 as a strong inspiration. That car’s super-and-turbocharged engine could get the Delta to 60 faster than an F1 car.

Ciarcia writes, though, that he still wanted the car to be grounded in modern design.

“The final design wants to be a modern reinterpretation of the car without being too nostalgic or retro,” he says. “Instead an evolution of the previous design that emphasizes all the main feature lines and DNA to bring the original character back in the vehicle.”

The results are impressive. The nods to the Delta S4 are clear, especially at the back where there are louvers in the rear glass. And although the wheel arches are reminiscent of the box flares of the ‘80s, they only hint at them, rather than slavishly trying to recreate them.

In Ciarcia mind, the DELTA would run thanks to an AWD hybrid powertrain. The engine, apparently located in the middle of the car, would be on display thanks to rear glass.

As fans of the good old Lancia ourselves, we would like to see Stellantis bring the Delta to the modern age. Sadly, with Lancia all but dead, there’s absolutely no indication that this is ever going to happen.

Note: These renderings are the work of Sebastiano Ciarcia and are in no way related to or endorsed by Lancia

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▲若非側滑門露餡,否則多數人都會認為Carnival「是一輛SUV」!

為何要強調「七人座」MPV?而不是八人或九人座MPV?因為會選擇此類車款的消費者,多數都希望是「第二排獨立雙座椅」,這樣第三排的乘客不需要折疊第二排座椅,就可以從第二排的中央走道上下車,省去許多麻煩事,除非家中有八人乘坐需求,否則罕有不選擇七人座MPV的消費者。

上回介紹過小改款Honda Odyssey,這回就來分析大改款Kia Carnival,先前已經說過此車不會是Odyssey的直接對手,除了Honda品牌優勢與Odyssey的MPV龍頭地位之外,大改款Kia Carnival其實是走大空間、大格局,以車身尺碼設定來看,Kia Carnival真正槓上的車款乃是Toyota Sienna。

七人座MPV《小改款Honda Odyssey》《大改款Kia Carnival》2021相約台灣(一)

▲為了讓車身看起來更方正,Carnival採用細長的尾燈組,並與滑門軌道相連結,這是MPV慣用的技法。

▲有別於Sorento的誇張與立體造型,Carnival內裝走北歐簡約與高質感設計。

▲照地燈、定點感應電動側滑門開啟設計,都是Carnival的秘密武器。

日韓進口MPV小改款Honda Odyssey大改款Kia Carnival小改款Toyota Sienna售價144.9~169.9萬元預估145~195萬元預售238、290萬元長寬高4830×1820×1695mm5155×1995×1740mm5175×1995×1775mm軸距2900mm3090mm3060mm重量1865kg2095kg2143kg最短迴轉半徑5.4m5.9m5.7m動力系統2.4升自然進氣引擎+CVT+前驅2.2升柴油引擎+8速DCT+前驅2.5升自然進氣引擎Hybrid+CVT+前驅最大馬力175hp/6200rpm202hp/3800rpm綜效馬力247hp最大扭力23.0kgm/4000rpm45kgm/1750~2750rpm-0~100km/h約12.5秒約10秒約9秒前後懸吊麥佛遜+獨立式拖曳臂麥佛遜+多連桿麥佛遜+多連桿能源局平均油耗12.9km/L--

從表格中不難看出大改款Kia Carnival的車身尺碼和Toyota Sienna根本就是相差無幾,不過價格方面則是「相差好幾」,大概多約90萬元!Toyota當然也知道Sienna Hybrid「逼近三百萬」的價格並不算便宜,所以早鳥優惠價折讓幅度高達約25~26萬元!畢竟走豪華路線的Lexus LM300h七人座MPV售價也不過367萬元(二者動力系統相同),Sienna如不壓低售價,相信消費者難以認同。

簡單來說,大改款Kia Carnival就是以Honda Odyssey的價格,坐擁Toyota Sienna的大空間魅力!如果消費者覺得Odyssey的空間表現還不夠大,尤其是「坐艙寬度」、「頭部空間」、「第三排座椅舒適性」、「行李廂容積」等方面,那麼Kia Carnival將會是一個理想的選擇,當然Toyota Sienna也很優啦,品牌也值得信賴,只是口袋要再深一點才行。

不過Kia Carnival不只具備空間優勢,否則之前已導入台灣市場,尺碼也和Sienna差不多大小的美規「Grand Carnival」早就在台灣熱賣,不用等到2020年問世的大改款Kia Carnival來搞復興運動。那麼Kia Carnival還有哪些優點?以下列舉分析。

◎ Kia Carnival本質是MPV,但外觀依循SUV設計!

簡單來說就是一個字~帥!多數MPV都會有一個缺點,那就是車頭小、引擎蓋向前傾斜,雖利於低風阻設計,但是看起來不夠霸氣,當然也不夠帥氣。但Kia Carnival就不一樣!原廠的外型訴求,根本就是要讓人覺得這是一台SUV,具備方方正正的格局,不論車頭車尾都是如此,甚至比自家的Sorento看起來更像SUV!一次結合「大器」與「帥氣」二大優勢,再加上類豪華遊艇的C柱造型,即便小改款Honda Odyssey外型也有不小的進化,比之前的設計更精彩,但是大改款Kia Carnival則是更令人期待,此等外觀就算要和價位更高的Toyota Sienna相比,Kia Carnival完全沒有價質感不足的問題。

◎ Kia Carnival並非金玉其外,內在同樣精彩!

內裝設計雖然和Kia自家Sorento有點類似,同樣具備儀錶板與中央螢幕連結設計,沒錯,就是非常標準的「Mercedes-Benz風格」,看起來與用起來就是爽!此外Sorento引以為傲的數位儀錶板(含左右盲區影像系統)、高質感旋鈕式排檔座、科技感菱格形氣氛燈,在大改款Carnival身上當然不會缺席。但是大改款Kia Carnival仍有其獨特魅力,如空調出風口採用簡約式設計,讓坐艙空間看起來更寬敞,加上細緻的鍍鉻配件與充滿戶外氣息的長條型木紋飾板,「格調」成為大改款Kia Carnival的重要詮釋,整體質感甚至優於Sorento!

▲高級音響、後座影音娛樂系統、後座USB充電座樣樣不缺

▲4/6分離第三排座椅,外加前推快速折收機能,令對手望塵莫及!

▲Carnival 7人座 座椅配置

▲Carnival 9人座 座椅配置

▲Carnival 11人座 座椅配置

◎ Carnival的「特異功能」更勝Odyssey、Sienna!

話說Odyssey與Sienna都有第二排Ottoman舒適型商務座椅,是的,Carnival當然也有此設計,這似乎是豪華七人座MPV的共同默契,沒此功能請勿冠上「豪華」二字!至於SUV架構的Sorento即便有第二排雙獨立座椅(六人座車型),但就沒有此一機能設計。

上回提到小改款Odyssey增添「手勢感應」電動側滑門啟閉功能,Carnival則是不遑多讓,祭出「定點感應」電動側滑門自動開啟功能,只要身上有感應鑰匙,站在側滑門前原地不動3秒鐘,側滑門就會自動開啟,連手勢都省了!讓抱小孩、提重物的車主更輕鬆。此外,電動尾門也可採用此方式自動開啟,不過此一感應方式只能開啟不能關閉。

Odyssey與 Sienna都強調車內具備110V高功率電源插座,Carnival也有此一設計,無疑是露營利器,在野外煮水、泡麵、吹頭髮很方便!

小改款Sienna頂規具備第二排座椅影音娛樂系統,對於「手機毒癮症候群」的乘客來說,這絕對是更舒適、降低頸錐傷害的必要配備,Kia當然也有想到這一點,所以Carnival也有此一配備。不過個人並不覺得這是一項很了不起的設計,不如直接買個「12吋平版+藍芽耳機+頭枕固定座」又實際又經濟,而且可以帶著走,不限車內使用!

至於大家都有的第二、第三排座椅置頂空調出風口,還有第二排車門手動遮陽簾,在Carnival身上也沒有缺席,至於Sienna所強調的第三排座椅4/6分離機能設計,讓行李廂空間運用更彈性,Odyssey無此功能,第三排座椅只有4/2/4椅背分離設計,椅面沒有分離功能,只能一次通通收折至地板下方,但Carnival則是和Sienna一樣具有第三排座椅4/6分離、左右獨立收折功能,而且還具備「前推」快速收折設計,機能更勝Sienna。

不過Carnival的特異功能還沒有完!Sienna具備第三排座椅手動遮陽簾功能,Carnival也有此設計,再加上第三排乘客可以「降下側窗玻璃」呼吸新鮮空氣,沒錯,正是第三排座椅電動窗,並具備聲控功能!此點完全打敗Sienna和Odyssey!

其它特異功能還有雙前座通風加熱座椅、手機無線充電、360度環景影像系統、鑰匙遙控車身前進與後退的停車輔助系統、手機遠端遙控與車門解索系統、第二排超大型置物+野餐盒、安全下車系統(可鎖定電動側滑門並發出警告聲響)、後座USB充電座、電動滑門照地燈、雙手機藍芽連結音響主機、高級音響系統、前後雙電動天窗、Kia Pay無線支付系統可繳交加油或停車費等,最後一項為韓國當地限定。當然,Sorento所囊闊的自動駕駛系統,包括撞擊警示與自動煞車、全速域自動車距維持、車道自動居中等功能,在Carnival身上都沒有缺席。

至於座椅機能部分,大改款Carnival共有7人座、9人座、11人座三種規格,並沒有Odyssey的8人座車型。因Carnival的7人座屬於豪華款式,所以價格比9人與11人座更貴。因台灣目前比較少見9人座與11人座豪華型MPV,至於V牌或H牌的相關車型,多半都是與商用車共用底盤的廂型車,質感與舒適性略微遜色,因此不排除導入Carnival四排座椅9人座、11人座的可能性。

不過Carnivl導入台灣究竟有多少勝算?論造型、質感、空間、機能顯然沒有問題,但最終仍要回歸「配備」與「價格」二大疑點。從台灣森那美對於Sorento的操作模式來看,明顯就是「不怕價格高、只怕配備少」,但此回可能會遇到一些障礙!

Kia Sorento韓國在地售價:3024~3887萬韓元

Kia Carnival七人座韓國在地售價:3942~4354萬韓元

Kia Carnival九人座韓國在地售價:3280~4105萬韓元

由此數據不難推算,如果高檔配備不刪減的話,頂規Carnival在台售價預估將達到215萬台幣!比起Sienna頂規來說不算貴,而且選擇Carnival可以擺脫CVT的糾纏,亦能兼顧油耗與低轉速扭力表現!但是Kia想推動二百萬以上的車款談何容易?看樣子這種種的糾結,還是要等Kia Carnival在台上市那一刻才有答案!

Tags: HondaKiaSorentoOdysseyCarnival