The Montreal International Auto Show is not Canada’s largest exhibition of new vehicles, but it does boast the distinction of being the first event in the country’s annual auto show schedule, which means it hosts a number of important Canadian vehicle debuts every year.
Three of the four new models set to arrive in Canada’s showrooms in February were recently unveiled in Montreal. That trio that comprises Subaru’s first-ever plug-in model; an all-new Nissan Sentra; and Volkswagen’s latest mid-size SUV, the Atlas Cross Sport.
February’s fourth new arrival is the BMW M8 Gran Coupe, the latest variant of the brand’s 8 Series flagship.
BMW M8 Gran Coupe/Competition
BMW rounds out its 8 Series range with the addition of the M8 Gran Coupe, a four-door version of the stylish grand tourer that shares its turbocharged V8 with the previously launched M8 coupe and cabriolet.
Created to appeal to buyers looking for more practicality than is offered by the M8 two-door, the M8 Gran Coupe is longer, wider, taller, and rides on a stretched wheelbase, all of which add rear-seat space.
The M8 Gran Coupe comes to Canada in standard and Competition variants, with the latter adding 17 hp (for 617 hp total) and a broader torque curve (it peaks at the same 553 lb-ft, but at 5,860 rpm instead of 5,600 rpm). An M Driver’s Package removes the standard car’s 250 km/h speed limiter, letting the car run to a maximum of 305 km/h, and buying you professional driver training at the BMW M driving school. Other notable figures include a 0–100 km/h sprint time of 3.3 seconds, which drops to 3.2 with the Competition package.
A performance-tuned version of the xDrive AWD system is biased toward the rear axle, but can send power forward when the rear tires lose traction. An active rear differential can also apportion torque between the left and right rear wheels. An adaptive M suspension is standard with driver-selectable Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes.
Deceleration duties are up to six-piston front brakes and single-piston rears; an optional carbon-ceramic brake package brings bigger rotors that are better resistant to the extreme heat of racetrack driving.
As of this writing, BMW hasn’t released the M8 Gran Coupe’s price, nor its full list of standard features. However, we know it comes with forward collision detection, city-speed emergency braking, and the iDrive 7 infotainment system, including a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, and a 10.25-inch central display screen. Among the M8’s options is the driving assistance professional package, which bundles lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, surround-view cameras, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
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2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport
Volkswagen’s family of crossover models grows by one in February with the arrival of the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport, a five-seat version of the brand’s largest SUV.
The Atlas Cross Sport shares its name and platform with the seven-seat Atlas, but it casts a smaller, sleeker shadow. Volkswagen trimmed a total of 71 mm from the front and rear overhangs, chopped the roof by 58 mm, tweaked the styling front and rear and re-shaped the car’s tail. The result is a less dramatic interpretation of the SUV coupe concept popularized by BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Despite those changes, the Atlas Cross Sport actually boasts more rear-seat legroom than its larger sibling, thanks to the combination of a wheelbase shared with the Atlas and the elimination of the third-row seating. The Cross Sport gives Volkswagen a direct competitor to the Chevrolet Blazer, Honda’s Passport, and the Ford Edge.
Volkswagen offers its new crossover with two powertrains. The entry point is a turbocharged four-cylinder making 235 hp, and optional is a 3.6L V6 good for 276 hp. Both are standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive.
For $38,995, entry-level Trendline trim’s standard safety features include forward collision detection with automatic braking and blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert. Inside is a 6.5-inch infotainment display that supports the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto platforms, heated front seats, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror. Eighteen-inch wheels and tires are standard.
Comfortline ($45,195) upgrades to an 8.0-inch touchscreen, passive keyless entry, LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, an eight-way power driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and leatherette upholstery.
The range-topping Execline trim ($54,495) brings 20-inch wheels, power-folding side mirrors, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, ambient interior lighting, and rear side window sun shades.
2020 Nissan Sentra
New from Nissan in February is the eighth generation of its Sentra compact sedan, whose comprehensive redesign brings styling inspired by its larger Altima and Maxima siblings; a new, more powerful engine; and a more agile independent rear suspension that promises more agile handling.
Lower and wider than its predecessor, the Sentra’s appearance is dominated by the brand’s V-motion grille and further distinguished by a floating roof design. It’s the most dramatic aspect of the car’s look, but it was never going to be tough to improve on the outgoing car’s dowdy styling.
The Sentra’s cabin gets a major redraw, too. A new tablet-like touchscreen sits atop the centre stack, above a trio of round air vents. Nissan says its designers paid close attention to the car’s touch points – like the steering wheel, switches, and controls – to create a premium feel in all trim levels.
Familiar features include an available Around View Monitor 360-degree exterior camera system, and NASA-inspired Zero-Gravity front seats. The Sentra also comes standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite, comprising forward collision warning/pedestrian detection with automatic braking, rear automatic braking, automatic high-beams, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning.
Sentra’s new engine is a 2.0L, four-cylinder whose 149 hp and 146 lb-ft of torque are bumps of 25 hp and 21 lb-ft compared to the outgoing 1.8L engine. Of four trim levels – S, SV, SR and SR Premium – just the entry-level grade comes with a manual transmission. A continuously variable automatic (CVT) is optional in S and standard in all others.
Nissan’s Sentra pricing starts at $18,798 for S with the stick shift, and $20,598 with the CVT. SV will likely be the line’s volume seller, at $21,998; SR goes for $23,998, and SR Premium is a $25,998 car. Nissan has yet to detail what options (if any) will be offered when the 2020 Sentra reaches Canadian showrooms in February.
2020 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV
Subaru’s latest addition is its first-ever plug-in vehicle, the Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Based on the Crosstrek compact crossover, the new PHEV variant adds a pair of electric motors and up to 27 km of EV range to the brand’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.
Built around the Crosstrek’s 2.0L engine and continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the new PHEV drivetrain uses one of the two motors to help drive the car and provide regenerative braking, while the other primarily functions as a starter and generator to help recharge the battery. Predictably, the Crosstrek PHEV is the model’s most fuel-efficient variant, boasting a combined fuel consumption estimate of 6.7 L/100 km and a promised total driving range of 774 km on a fully charged battery and a full tank of gasoline.
Subaru Canada says the Crosstrek PHEV is also the quickest version of the car, but they don’t say by how much, nor do they tell us what the car’s total power output is.
The Crosstrek PHEV is available in a single configuration, building on the top-end Limited trim and adding $8,600 to its MSRP, for a $42,495 total. Subaru began its rollout of the Crosstrek PHEV with a January 16 reveal at the Montreal auto show and a Quebec-wide sales launch on January 17. However, the company didn’t say when it expects the car to reach dealers across Canada.