I’m about as non-political as you can get. However, while many don’t like to mix cars and politics, these days, it’s kind of hard not to, especially when the latter is starting to have a huge impact on the former. Back in the February issue, I offered up a little editorial that was intended to gauge some reader “statistics”. For the most part, many of the points made regarding the Cash for Clunkers program were true-or at least roughly based on truths at the time-while others were, well, a bit exaggerated. Why? The intent was to see where readers stood, as well as to find out just how much they knew about it to begin with. I’d expected there’d be quite a few responses; all told to date (early December), those expectations have been far exceeded. Good, bad, or indifferent, they all mean just one thing to me: You guys are paying attention! Among all the feedback received, there was a distinct opposition between “pro” and … [Read more...] about Cash For Clunkers and the Future of Hot Rods – Behind The Wheel
S and p futures
The aftermath of Dany Bahar’s plan to take Lotus back to the big time might, to him, feel like the fuzzy waking moments after an epic night of consumption – ‘There’s a picture of me and Swizz Beatz on Facebook? I should call Bob Lutz about those five cars we said we’d make’ – but at least one part of Bahar’s masterplan did materialise: upgrading Lotus’s test track.What once looked like an airfield after a Luftwaffe strike is now a proper circuit, with a smooth surface, Armco and a real chicane to replace the tyres that you once played chicken with. And regular punters can drive it too, with a series of driver-tuition packages ranging from Level 1 (£499) up to Level 3 (£899), while one-on-one sessions and GT4 race-car level coaching is also available.I was paired with Jay Bridger, a brilliant coach. I took three key things away from my Sunday: firstly, that I had a tendency to carry a little too much speed into … [Read more...] about Lotus Evora S 2+2 (2012) long-term test review
Another one bites the dust: The Volkswagen Santana, the car that provided the foundation of China’s mass motorization, will be put out to pasture in 2012, Gasgoo reports. The car’s history in the PRC provides a unique insight into the country’s move towards motorization.In Germany, the Santana was a flop. Launched in 1981, it was stopped three years later. The story that VW foisted their unwanted factory on the unwitting Chinese was a myth. It was a lucky stroke: In 1979, a high ranking government delegation sprung a surprise visit on Volkswagen to discuss a possible joint venture.Quickly, all present and some future VWs and Audis were lined up in the “Walhalla,” the internal nickname for the presentation hall of the VW R&D department. The Chinese official pointed at the yet to be launched Santana, the translator said “den hier” (that one), and history took its course.Experimental production of the Santana started in 1983. In 1985, full … [Read more...] about Shanghai VW Santana R.I.P.
Today, October 21, 2015 at precisely 4:29 p.m., is the time when Marty McFly and Doc Brown (and Marty’s girlfriend) end up in what was in the late 1980s considered “the future” in the movie Back to the Future Part II. The car that got them there? A specially outfitted, time-traveling DeLorean DMC-12. But for as compelling as time travel is—and the 1989 vision for what the year 2015 is like—the DeLorean’s real-life history is far more cinematic. Officially, DeLoreans were sold between 1981 and 1983, but the company’s tale spans much longer and involves multiple criminal trials, the IRA terrorist group in Ireland, the British government, and even the founder of Lotus Cars, Colin Chapman. In the Beginning, There Was StainlessJohn Z. DeLorean was a former manager at General Motors who successfully ran Pontiac and Chevrolet, and just as his future appeared rosiest, he hung it all up in the early 1970s to start an all-new … [Read more...] about Back to the Future: The Rise and Fall of the DeLorean Motor Company
From the March 2016 issue The last time Lexus ran a supercar up its flagpole, people’s heads exploded. Well, the 500 LFA drivers’ heads did, but the rest of the 7 billion earthlings were merely confused. It was hard to see how the carbon-fiber tub or 9000-rpm 72-degree V-10 were going to trickle down to ES350s and RX hybrids. So this time, Lexus is cloaking its hi-po bellwether in, um, sheep’s clothing. Even Lexus’s language masks its intent with the LC500. The company is careful not to call this 2+2 a sports car, instead using descriptors such as “grand touring coupe” and “luxury sports coupe.” But the LC is studded with serious performance-car bona fides such as an engine that sits fully aft of the front-axle centerline, an active rear spoiler, an available carbon-fiber roof, even carbon-fiber inner-door panels and a composite trunk floor. Make no mistake: This is Lexus’s new North Star, one far better positioned to … [Read more...] about 2017 Lexus LC500 Coupe Dissected: Design, Powertrain, Chassis, and More
A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but what if that rose had a four-cylinder engine? That’s the dilemma raised by the new Porsche 718 Cayman S, the replacement for a car that was pretty much perfect and one that has traded its predecessor’s charismatic flat-six for a new turbocharged flat-four. We know that engines everywhere are downsizing these days, but this one feels like a personal affront. Offsetting the reduced cylinder count is the enhanced vitality of the Cayman S’s stats, which match those of the Boxster S. The 2.5-liter turbocharged flat-four has 350 horsepower—25 more than the 3.4-liter naturally aspirated flat-six in the previous Cayman S—along with 309 lb-ft of torque, an improvement of 37 lb-ft. That has cut half a second from the factory-stated zero-to-60-mph time (when equipped with the PDK dual-clutch automatic) as well as improved fuel economy. You’ll notice that the steering wheel of the car in our photos … [Read more...] about 2017 Porsche 718 Cayman S
In what’s surely the most Silicon Valley automotive news this week, a noted Tesla hacker has posited that Tesla will soon roll out a Model S electric sedan with a larger, 100-kWh battery pack, after he hacked a Model S and found references to such a model in the code. The news comes courtesy of Electrotek, which uncovered the hacker’s tweet to Tesla CEO Elon Musk noting—in inscrutable code-speak—the references to a P100D hidden in the Model S’s onboard software.If you’re confused at this point, allow us to clear things up with some background. First of all, Tesla’s model naming for the Model S sedan follows a convention where a “P” (for Performance) might be followed by a number and, if a car comes with all-wheel drive, a “D.” The number refers to the car’s battery capacity in kWh, and right now the base Model S is the “70,” for having a 70-kWh battery and rear-wheel drive. The top model, following … [Read more...] about Could a Tesla Model S P100D With a 100-kWh Battery Be Happening? A Hacker Says Yes
Surely it’s time for a new minivan from Toyota. Despite significant interior updates for the 2015 model year and significant powertrain improvements for 2017, the third-generation Toyota Sienna that launched in 2010 is still kickin’, seven years later.First, the 2015 Kia Sedona shook things up. Then the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica confounded expectations. Landing shortly is the 2018 Honda Odyssey, which won’t surprise anyone if it’s the best in its class.Clearly then, it’s your turn, Toyota. Uh… Toyota, hello? Paging Toyota. Call for Toyota on Line 1, all-new Sienna required on the Princeton, Indiana, production line.The 2018 Toyota Sienna gets a facelift. A refresh. An update. A refurb. What’s up with that?The 2015 Kia Sedona, launched late in 2014, brought a new level of luxury to America’s minivan segment. Though not a dynamic tour de force, the third-generation Sedona’s interior instantly caused segment leaders from FCA, Honda, … [Read more...] about All-New Toyota Sienna? Not Yet: Toyota Facelifts And Updates The Seven-Year-Old Sienna, Again
A company that still has yet to build its “game-changing” car will need to find another “storyteller.”That, the UK will finally have an answer to The Clash, and Cadillac has a dogfight with Silicon Valley … after the break. Faraday Future “storyteller” jumps EV ship, lands in KoreatownFormer Kelley Blue Book and General Motors communication hotshoe James Bell has left supposed electric-vehicle manufacturer Faraday Future after just four months at the Chinese-funded Silicon Valley upstart, where he worked as a contractor. Starting today, Bell is the newly minted Director of Corporate Communications for Kia Motors America.According to Bell, he’s “lucky for both opportunities” as both have “fascinating brands and product plans” and the move was a “very difficult decision.” But a four-month stint anywhere is pretty short.As for Faraday Future, it continues to produce more headlines than … [Read more...] about News Round-up: Faraday ‘Storyteller’ Jumps to Kia, The War in the Air(waves), and ‘Brexit’ Vote Tomorrow
Barely four out of every ten new vehicles sold in the United States in the first-half of 2016 were traditional passenger cars. Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics, Ford Mustangs, Mercedes-Benz C-Classes, and dozens of alternatives remain numerous — more than 3.5 million were sold in 2016’s first six months.But together, these cars make up a smaller chunk of the market now than they did a year ago, and a far smaller slice of the market than just five years ago. Cars were at parity with light trucks (pickups, SUVs, crossovers, vans) in 2011 and earned 52 percent of the market the year prior.In 2016, the market is far more open to the idea of a “SUV” or “crossover” that carries only a hint of SUV or crossover-like cues or capability, from subcompact utilities such as the Honda CR-V to performance-oriented luxury utilities like the Porsche Macan. These vehicles, using the HR-V and Macan as examples, aren’t purchased in 2016 by a customer who, five … [Read more...] about As SUVs And Pickup Trucks Surge, Which Automakers Sell An Inordinate Number Of Cars?