From the November 2022 issue Car and driver.
The Ford Eluminator concept truck ruined me. Ever since Ford announced their electric motor, I’ve dreamed of putting one (or two) in a ’90s Bronco. But then I got to ride my very own retro 1978 Ford F-100 on the street in Charlotte, and it’s so good that nothing I could build will ever compare. The Eluminator drives like Mustang Mach-E GT Performance with a cool old truck body draped over the undercarriage, which is exactly what it is. It’s tough, nimble, and extremely fast, and I could never hope to build anything like it. But Ford could, and certainly should, because the Elluminator comes with an attribute that can be elusive for electric cars: individuality.
If you drive one electric car all the time, you’ll never notice that they all drive the same. When I was with us EV of the year While testing, I started to despair when I switched between the Lucid Air and the Volvo C40 Recharge and realized that both handled like a Tesla Model S Plaid, which drives just like the Rivian R1T. There are certainly variations in the suspension, steering and brakes, but put the accelerator to the floor and what happens next is only a degree different: smooth, quick acceleration. I like the no-wait bursts that electric cars allow, but the monotonous behavior is a real bummer. This means that in order for an EV to stand out, the rest of the car has to be amazing. Like it’s shaped like a 44-year-old conventional pickup or a BMW iX.
BMW is conducting an A/B test of sorts on customers, offering traditional electric cars (the i4) alongside avant-garde lunar pods like the iX. Give me the freak car. In the i4 M50, you look around the cabin, see a 3 Series sedan, and then feel sad when it doesn’t behave like an M3. In the iX M60, your frame of reference is erased with a crystal-trimmed switchgear, an electrochromic roof and a soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer. Even the body shape doesn’t lend itself to easy comparison – I think it’s a sneaky wagon that has 811 lb-ft of torque. Drop the suspension two inches and it’s an M5 Touring from another dimension.
While BMW positions its gas and electric sedans as separate models, Genesis is brave enough to offer combustion engine and electric versions of the same G80 vehicle. I drove them back-to-back and figured I’d prefer the electric car—with 365 horsepower, it sprints to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, 0.6 seconds faster than the V-6 car. Alas, speed is not everything. The electrified G80 (catchy name alert!) is quiet, refined and effortlessly fast. But when you climb in after driving the G80 Sport with the V-6, you’re instantly reminded of the sensory involvement you’ve been missing: You hear the torque build up and the transmission go haywire when upshifting, accompanied by a harmonic burp of exhaust This is dinosaur technology, I know. But in an otherwise ordinary car, the engine is the centerpiece of the experience. Electrified G80 is a beautiful cipher. It’s so embarrassing due to its EV nature, it took me about five minutes after unscrewing the rear license plate to look for the charging port before I consulted the owner’s manual and learned that the corner of the grille opens for charging. This begs the question: why does an electric car have anything like a grille at all?
As for electric cars, the more foreign the better. Let’s make them look like a 1978 F-100. Let’s make them look like flying saucers. Give me a neon purple backlight that gets brighter when I step on the gas pedal. Put the steering wheel in the middle of the front seat of my four-wheel-drive convertible. Let’s make a clean break on the freak side. General Motors has already brought back the Hummer. But it’s a job for Saab.
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