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The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS.CA -

More power and AWD ru­moured for Civic Type R: Honda’s red-hot hatch­back is only just now com­ing to mar­ket and The Sleuth’s sources are re­port­ing that the car’s tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four­cylin­der engine could be punched up be­yond the cur­rent 306-horse­power rat­ing. This would likely hap­pen in the form of a spe­cial-edi­tion model to give buy­ers a per­for­mance op­tion. In ad­di­tion, adding an all-wheel-drive op­tion is also be­ing given se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion. Both moves would most cer­tainly bol­ster the Type R’s po­si­tion as a com­peti­tor to the all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX STI, Volk­swa­gen Golf R and Ford Fo­cus RS (with 350 horse­power un­der­foot, the RS cur­rently reigns supreme in this group). There’s no word on when a more po­tent Type R might be­come avail­able, but if it’s given the green light, The Spy­mas­ter be­lieves it might be only a year or two away.

Fur­ther ev­i­dence that Mercedes-Benz is mov­ing in “A” new di­rec­tion: The Spy Guy re­cently re­ported that the Stuttgart, Ger­many-based au­tomaker’s new fron­twheel-drive A Class sedan (not to be con­fused with the cur­rent CLA Class model) was be­ing con­sid­ered for North Amer­ica. Since that time, word has it that an A Class pro­to­type was re­cently shown to a group of Mercedes-Benz deal­ers, not only to gauge re­ac­tion (en­thu­si­as­tic, says The Sneak­ster's moles), but to con­firm that cars will

be­gin ar­riv­ing here by mid-2018 as 2019 mod­els fol­low­ing launches in Europe and China. As well, to cap­i­tal­ize on our pen­chant for small wag­ons, M-B will add a gaso­line-pow­ered B-Class model and pos­si­bly a CLA Class shoot­ing brake (wagon) to the mix.

De­fender for the faith­ful: The Sleuth was not par­tic­u­larly shocked to hear that Land Rover will in­tro­duce a new De­fender model some­time in 2018. This most iconic of Jaguar Land Rover's util­ity ve­hi­cles dates back to the first Land Rover in 1948. Mod­i­fied and mod­ern­ized over the decades, it has not been avail­able in North Amer­ica for years. Word has it that the new De­fender will carry over a num­ber of de­sign de­tails from the pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tion, but wil use a sig­nif­i­cant de­gree of alu­minum for the chas­sis and body to pare down the weight and in­crease agility. Pow­er­train choices re­main un­known, but since the au­tomaker pro­duces both tur­bocharged gaso­line and diesel 2.0-litre four-cylin­der en­gines for its other lineup mem­bers, it’s log­i­cal that both will be avail­able in the up­com­ing De­fender.

X3 grows larger, gets more power: The Un­der­cov­ered One re­cently caught a look at the next gen­er­a­tion BMW X3 util­ity ve­hi­cle. The 2018 model will be built at BMW’s Spar­tan­burg, S.C., plant along­side the X4, X5 and X6 “Sport Ac­tiv­ity Ve­hi­cles”. Al­though sim­i­lar in de­sign to the pre­vi­ous X3, all body pan­els are dif­fer­ent and the dis­tance be­tween the front and rear wheels has been in­creased by about six cen­time­tres. There’s a more prom­i­nent grille and head­lamps, and the in­te­rior gets a com­plete make

over. In the pow­er­train depart­ment, BMW is in­tro­duc­ing a first-ever range-top-pingM40i per­for­mance model that uses a twin-tur­bocharged in­line six-cylin­der engine good for 355 horse­power. The re­turn­ing turbo 2.0-litre I-4 engine’s out­put in­creases to 248 horses from the pre­vi­ous 240 and is stan­dard in the xDrive30i.

MERCEDES-BENZ The new A Class, pic­tured, seems to over­lap with the cur­rent CLA. Will MercedesBenz phase it out?

HONDA The new Civic Type-R might be of­fered in a higher-per­form­ing all-wheel-drive ver­sion.

LAND ROVER A new De­fender will re­place the pre­vi­ous modeL with a more alu­minum-in­ten­sive struc­ture.

BMW The new X3 is longer be­tween the front and rear wheels.

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