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Montreal Auto Show | All against Tesla

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A benchmark brand (Tesla) against generalist manufacturers (Toyota and Subaru) who intend to fight back. All arbitrated by a young shoot (VinFast).

Subaru: setting the current

Building on its technical partnership with Toyota, Subaru is setting its sights on the all-electric segment with the Solterra. This model, developed in parallel with the Toyota bZ4X, has the particularity of offering four-wheel drive as standard. For the record, the Toyota offers a towed version of this same model. Another significant difference, the nomenclature of the range at Subaru is more extensive than at Toyota. The latter limits the all-wheel drive bZ4X to the XLS version only.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY SUBARU

Subaru Solterra

Regardless of the livery, the Solterra relies on the contribution of two electric motors (one on each running gear), which are powered by a 72.8 kWh battery. This promises a range of 360 kilometers and ensures that it can be recharged in just over nine hours on a level 2 terminal.

Offered as a utility vehicle, the Solterra displays substantially the same exterior dimensions as the Forester and a definite disposition for off-road expeditions.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY SUBARU

Subaru Impreza

Alongside the launch of its first electric vehicle, Subaru is taking advantage of its visit to Montreal to reveal the 2024 Impreza. It is exclusively offered with a hatchback body (the sedan has been discontinued) and a continuously variable automatic transmission. According to its designers, about 80% of the components of this vehicle have been optimized compared to the previous version. Although the chassis is the same, it now claims to be stiffer, while the steering rack comes from the raging WRX. To these improvements, let’s add better soundproofing of the cabin, stronger braking and more responsive all-wheel drive that generates fewer decibels under effort.

This new model also marks the return to the catalog of the 2.5 RS, a cult version associated with the first generation of Impreza. As its digital code recalls, this version is powered by a 2.5L engine that produces 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque. The more modest Imprezas inherit the 2L with 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque.

Tesla: the reference brand

Fantastical, tyrannical and loud-mouthed, Elon Musk does not only have faults. Some will prefer to retain from him his visionary spirit and his ability to rock an industry more than a century old.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY TESLA

Tesla Model Y

Today, the American firm must take up a new challenge: to face up to the competition. Until now, Tesla didn’t worry about it, but some rivals now offer a catalog of products almost, if not more extensive (and diverse) than its own. The Model 3 and Y remain the centerpieces of this brand. Although they retain the appearance of their debut, these two vehicles are subject to constant refinement, in particular thanks to updates carried out remotely. That might not be enough, however. Despite the performance of its products (above-average autonomy, mastery of operating software and network of charging stations), Tesla is struggling to renew its range, without counting on the constantly postponed launches of the Cybertruck and the Roadster. Despite their delay, these are among the most anticipated vehicles of 2023 according to a study released earlier this year by Lease Fetcher.

Toyota: the Prius still has some under the hood

Toyota has been renewing its range at a dizzying pace in recent months. The world’s number one automobile was therefore spoiled for choice when determining the model it intends to put in the foreground in Montreal. The choice fell on the Prius range. This is the fifth generation of this model which, with Honda (remember the two-seater Insight), inaugurated this two-headed mechanism combining an internal combustion engine with an electric power unit. Qualified as gimmick in its infancy, this technology quickly caught on and is now used by practically all car manufacturers on the planet.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY TOYOTA

Toyota Prius

As part of this overhaul, Toyota designers are no longer swimming in full science fiction like those flying machines of the year 2000 that we imagined in the 1950s. The new Prius is displayed in a more contemporary dress and above all more consensual than the previous one. This should allow the Prius to achieve its goal of winning over a clientele outside of the insider circle.

The fairer (read more harmonious) proportions of the Prius, however, had an unfortunate effect on aerodynamics and trunk volume. On the other hand, the longer wheelbase favors legroom here. It also allowed the designers to revisit the driving position, which is now more natural.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY TOYOTA

Toyota Prius Premium

Technically, the internal combustion and electric motors produce 60% more power than before. An equally spectacular jump in power can be seen on the side of the electric motor posted on the rear axle. In doing so, the Prius will now show more efficiency on slippery roads. You should know that the only drive mode of the Canadian Prius is four-wheel drive. On the other hand, the Prime version (read rechargeable), it is still driven by its front wheels alone. It benefits from the same technical advances as the non-pluggable version, but promises with the presence of a more efficient battery (13.6 kWh compared to 8.8 kWh) and more efficient motors. Result, a more frank acceleration, an improved electric autonomy (a gain of about twenty kilometers) and a bird’s appetite in hydrocarbons.

VinFast: an opportunity to seize

Tesla’s success has visibly inspired many to embark on the all-electric automobile adventure. VinFast is one of them.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY VINFAST

VinFast VF8

Subsidiary of VinGroup, the parent company, this young Vietnamese shoot is not at its first experiences on four wheels. Just over two years ago, it produced some 30,000 vehicles on technical bases from BMW and General Motors in a hypermodern factory capable of producing four times as many. Located in Haiphong, these facilities now produce two large 100% electric utility vehicles (VF8 and VF9). Developed on a unique architecture, these two vehicles took shape on the drawing board of the Italian house Pininfarina.


PHOTO PROVIDED BY VINFAST

VinFast VF9

Besides the size, what are the differences between these two models? The VF8 has two rows of seats compared to three for the VF9. The latter houses a larger battery (87.7 kWh compared to 82 kWh for the VF8) and also promises greater autonomy. Beyond the technical considerations, one of the main particularities of this brand is its commercial approach when it comes to the battery. This is guaranteed for a period of 10 years or 200,000 kilometers and will be replaced if its initial performance drops by 30%. Nothing unusual here except that the consumer can also rent the battery monthly, as one would do with a water heater from Hydro-Quebec. A subscription likely to facilitate resale since it is transferable to a new buyer.



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