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Is Audi Looking To Buy Alfa Romeo? 29
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in alfa-romeo, audi, Auto Addiction, Automotive, Editorial, Kurt, rumors on 03 29th, 2013
2014 Alfa Romeo 4C - image: Alfa Romeo
2014 Alfa Romeo 4C - image: Alfa Romeo

2014 Alfa Romeo 4C – image: Alfa Romeo

We’re filing this one in the “unconfirmed rumor” bin, but it’s strange enough that it just may be true. Ward’s Auto is reporting that German automaker Audi is close to reaching a deal with Fiat to acquire the assets of the Alfa Romeo brand, as well as Fiat’s Pomigliano assembly plant.

While Pomigliano currently assembles the Fiat Panda, it was constructed in the 1960s as an Alfa Romeo assembly plant, meaning the facility would be going full-circle. Word is that Audi may also be looking to acquire the Magneti Marelli auto parts brand, which is an easy way for Fiat to raise much-needed cash. It would certainly be odd, however, if Audi controlled the supply of spare parts and accessories for the Fiat brand.

A spokesman for Audi, Juergen De Graeve, said only, “There is no substance in the news,” which is essentially the same thing the brand said about rumors it would acquire motorcycle manufacturer Ducati, right before the deal was inked. For its part, Alfa Romeo is only saying, “we do not comment on speculative rumors.”

Alfa Romeo is currently a brand in turmoil, and it’s not adding much to Fiat’s coffers. Given Fiat’s struggles in the European market, a sale of Alfa Romeo to the Volkswagen Group would help its bottom line, while likely assuring a solid future for the Alfa Romeo brand, which needs more products and better distribution to survive.

We’re not buying into this just yet (after all, Monday IS April Fool’s Day), but we’d be the first to admit that it’s possible. Given the potential benefits for all parties involved, we hope the rumors turn out to be true.



2013 World Car Award Winner Named In New York 29
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in auto show, Automotive, Jaguar, Kurt, New York auto show, News, porsche, Tesla, Volkswagen, World Car Awards on 03 29th, 2013
2015 VW Golf - image: Volkswagen
2015 VW Golf - image: Volkswagen

2015 VW Golf – image: Volkswagen

As the name implies, the World Car Awards are a global venture, with automotive journalists from all over the world selecting the most impressive vehicles in multiple categories. Proving that New York is a world city (and that the New York Auto Show has global significance), the awards are typically handed out in the lead-up to the Big Apple’s premier automotive event.

There are currently four categories awarded, including World Car of the Year, World Performance Car, World Car Design of the Year and World Green Car. Since the competition is global, it’s possible that winning vehicles won’t be sold in the North American marketplace.

That’s not the case for 2013, since we’ll be able to (eventually) purchase all the winning vehicles on these shores. Taking top honors as the World Car of the Year was the redesigned Mark VII Volkswagen Golf, which has already launched in Europe but won’t be seen here until 2014.

2014 Porsche Cayman - image: Porsche

2014 Porsche Cayman – image: Porsche

The win marks the second in a row for the German automaker, whose Volkswagen Up! took the top prize in 2012. The new VW Golf beat out some impressive challengers, including the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Porsche Boxster / Cayman and the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86.

Don’t feel bad for the Porsche Boxster / Cayman, however, as it took top honors in the World Performance Car category, beating the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and the Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ / Toyota GT 86 in the process.

2014 Jaguar F-Type - image: Jaguar

2014 Jaguar F-Type – image: Jaguar

2013 Tesla Model S - image: Tesla

2013 Tesla Model S – image: Tesla

The Jaguar F-Type was chosen as the World Car Design of the Year, over the new Mazda6 and the Aston Martin Vanquish, while the Tesla Model S took first place in the World Green Car category, beating the Renault Zoe and the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid.



2014 Hyundai Equus Redefines Affordable Luxury 28
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Hyundai Equus, auto show, Automotive, Hyundai, Kurt, New York auto show, News on 03 28th, 2013
2014 Hyundai Equus - image: Hyundai Motor America
2014 Hyundai Equus - image: Hyundai Motor America

2014 Hyundai Equus – image: Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai calls its Equus sedan the “most shopped premium luxury sedan” in the U.S. market, and it’s easy to understand why. Compared to rivals like the BMW 7-Series, the Lexus LS, the Jaguar XJ and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, it delivers much of the same luxury at a fraction of the price, and looks good doing it.

Since the Equus’ U.S. launch in 2010, the biggest changes have been under the hood, where the Tau V-8 has grown in size from 4.6 to 5.0-liters, and the transmission has grown from six to eight gears to aid both performance and fuel economy. In other words, changes have been minimal – until now.

The 2014 Hyundai Equus sports a revised front end look, which ties it back to the rest of the product line like never before. In the past, it was hard to tell that the Equus came from Hyundai, but now there’s somewhat a family resemblance to the Azera and Sonata sedans.

Inside, the Equus gets a new instrument cluster, upgraded cabin materials and expanded rear seat control options, which may prove especially helpful in long-wheelbase models. Hyundai claims the Equus delivers more passenger room than the Lexus LS 460, which is just one more reason to add the car to your shopping list.

Hyundai ups its safety ante in 2014 as well, making features like blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and cross-path detection standard. Opt for the range-topping Ultimate version, and you’ll also get things like a heads up display, a cornering camera and a multi-view camera system.

Hyundai’s air suspension returns, in recalibrated form, as does the current car’s drivetrain. The Equus’ Tau V-8 makes 429 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to move the big car with some enthusiasm. Perhaps its a good thing then, that the “Sport” mode has been reworked for better handling, while the “Normal” mode gets improved ride comfort.

Hyundai isn’t saying when the revised Equus sedan will hit U.S. dealers, nor is it releasing pricing information just yet. We’ll update you on both closer to the model’s launch.



2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 Reveal Stuns New York Auto Show 28
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Camaro Z/28, auto show, Automotive, Chevrolet, Kurt, New York auto show, News on 03 28th, 2013
2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - image: GM Corp
2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - image: GM Corp

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – image: GM Corp

Thanks to spy photographers, loose-lipped employees and the speed of information on the internet, it’s virtually impossible for an automaker to tee up a surprise new product. Generally speaking, by the time something new does hit the auto show floor, it’s been dissected to a molecular level by journalists the world over, who will typically complain that it’s underpowered, devoid of interior style and utterly worthless since it won’t be sold in a station wagon variant.

When Chevy pulled the wraps off the 2014 Camaro Z/28 yesterday, few people saw it coming. Call it sleight of hand; after all, Chevy had recently dropped the all-new Corvette and Corvette convertible, along with its SS muscle sedan. We were expecting a moderate refresh for the 2014, not a dedicated track animal that’s capable of showing taillights to the almighty Camaro ZL1.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - image: GM Corp

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – image: GM Corp

The 2014 Camaro Z/28 comes packing a tuned 7.0-liter LS7 V-8, liberated from the Corvette Z06 and rated at “at least” 500 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. If you’re looking for floppy-paddle shifting, look elsewhere, since the Z/28 comes only with a six-speed manual transmission. Final gearing is 3.91:1, which Chevy calls ideally matched to the LS7’s power output.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - image: GM Corp

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – image: GM Corp

The Z/28’s suspension has been tuned to deliver 1.05 g worth of cornering capability, thanks to adjustable spool-valve dampers, stiffer spring rates and suspension bushings and 19-inch wheels with 305/30ZR19 tires that shave 42-pounds of the weight of the 20-inch units used on the ZL1. If that’s not enough to blow your mind, consider this: the Z/28 also gets carbon ceramic brakes (which sounds like a great idea until you price replacement rotors).

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - image: GM Corp

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – image: GM Corp

Weight savings is the key to the Z/28s performance, so the car deletes the audio system, sound deadening, tire inflator kit and air conditioning (which can be added back in as a stand-alone option). Window glass is reduced thickness, and neither HID headlights nor foglamps are available. The Z/28 retains its back seat, but eliminates the trunk pass-through and uses lightweight high-density foam. The net result is that the Z/28 weighs some 300 pounds less than the ZL1.

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 - image: GM Corp

2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 – image: GM Corp

Unlike Z/28s of the past, this version is more about going fast than looking cool. We suspect that many buyers will learn the hard way that driving a race car on the street isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, no matter how fast it is on the occasional track day. Still, color us impressed with the depth of Chevy’s performance Camaro range, and we certainly hope that Ford has a few tricks up its sleeve for 2015.



Subaru’s Latest WRX Concept Leaked Ahead Of New York Reveal 27
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Subaru WRX Concept, auto show, Automotive, Editorial, Kurt, New York auto show, Subaru on 03 27th, 2013
2014 Subaru WRX Concept
2014 Subaru WRX Concept

2014 Subaru WRX Concept

Automakers are fond of embargoes, as they help to level the playing field and give all media outlets the ability to release information on new products at (more or less) the same time. Media outlets, on the other hand, hate embargoes, since every last one is scrambling to put as many eyes on page as possible. Breaking an embargo is the surest way to find yourself blacklisted by an automaker, unless you’re one of the big sites or (even better) glossy magazines, in which case manufacturers generally take a “boys will be boys” attitude and look the other way.

We’re not sure who broke the embargo on Subaru’s WRX Concept, which will make its official debut at this week’s New York Auto Show, but in a matter of hours the images were everywhere. And with good reason: if this is what the next Subaru WRX will look like, we suspect that the Japanese automaker will have a hard time keeping inventory on dealer showrooms.

2014 Subaru WRX Concept

2014 Subaru WRX Concept

The look is certainly more mature than we’ve seen from previous WRX models, and it banishes the ghosts of Impreza’s past. We’re sure that certain details (like the tiny side view mirrors, or the massive wheels and brake rotors) won’t see production, but if this is as “near production” as other outlets are reporting, the new WRX (which should drop by year end) will still be the best-looking variant to date.

2014 Subaru WRX Concept

2014 Subaru WRX Concept

Details on the car’s powertrain and output are still pending, but it’s a safe bet that Subaru will retain the flat-four “boxer” engine and all-wheel drive. Expect the next WRX to make more than the current version’s 265 horsepower and 244 pound-feet of torque, which should make the 0-60 mph trip even shorter than the current model’s 5.3 seconds.



2015 Audi A3 And S3 Models Debut In New York 27
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2015 Audi A3, 2015 Audi S3, audi, auto show, Automotive, Kurt, New York auto show, News on 03 27th, 2013
2015 Audi S3 - image: Audi
2015 Audi S3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi S3 – image: Audi

Promising a “new level of Craftsmanship in the A segment,” Audi has revealed its latest sedan offerings ahead of the New York Auto Show. Serving up understated (but familiar) good looks and a variety of powertrains, the new A3 models will be available in a variety of powertrains, including the long-awaited S3 variant. Even the A3 Sportback returns, but it sounds like Audi will only offer its five-door wagon as a plug-in hybrid in the U.S. market.

The 2015 Audi A3 will come with a choice of three engines, not including the high-performance S3 variant. Base models get a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder, rated at 170 horsepower, but buyers can also opt for a 2.0-liter turbo four that should produce in the neighborhood of 210 horsepower (final figures are still pending). If you prefer diesels, the A3 is available with Audi’s 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel, which makes 150 horsepower and copious amounts of torque. The S3 gets its own, stronger 2.0-liter turbo four, which (sadly) has not yet been rated for output yet.

2015 Audi S3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi S3 – image: Audi

2015 Audi S3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi S3 – image: Audi

2015 Audi S3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi S3 – image: Audi

All engines come mated to Audi’s six-speed S tronic gearbox, which means that row-it-yourself shifting won’t be available when the models are released. Audi’s Drive Select will be available on A3 models, too, allowing the driver to fine tune shift points, throttle settings and steering response to road conditions. Front-wheel drive will be standard, but it sounds as if A3 models will be available with quattro AWD, too. As always with Audi’s S models, the S3 will come only with quattro AWD.

2015 Audi A3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 – image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 – image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 – image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 - image: Audi

2015 Audi A3 – image: Audi

Audi’s interiors are among the best in the business, and it doesn’t look like th A3 or S3 will disappoint here, either. The cabin is highlighted by a unique wraparound dash, and Audi will give buyers the option to add things like LED ambient lighting, a Bang & Olufsen Audio System and the upgraded Audi connect infotainment system. Safety is a big selling point for the A3, too, so available features will include blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control.

Look for the 2015 Audi A3 and S3 models to begin hitting U.S. dealerships in the first quarter of 2014. As with engine output and performance numbers, look for pricing to be released closer to the 2015 A3’s U.S. debut.



Porsche Builder Magnus Walker Revisits Jay Leno’s Garage: Video 26
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Editorial, Jay Leno's Garage, Kurt, Magnus Walker, porsche, Porsche-911, video on 03 26th, 2013
Magnus Walker's 1972 Porsche 911
Magnus Walker's 1972 Porsche 911

Magnus Walker’s 1972 Porsche 911

If you’re a regular reader, you know we’re big fans of Urban Outlaw and Porsche artist Magnus Walker. We’ve previously brought you segments on his business (the Urban Outlaw documentary) and on his 1971 Porsche 911 (via another episode of Jay Leno’s Garage). Walker is back for another visit at the Big Dog Garage, and this time he’s brought his 1972 Porsche 911 72STR 002.

“But there’s no such animal,” Porschephiles are likely to protest, missing the point entirely. Walker doesn’t build concour-quality restorations; instead, he describes his handiwork as “sport-purpose” and “hot rod inspired.” That’s no period-correct 2.4-liter flat-six tucked in the car’s engine bay; instead, it’s a much more modern de-stroked 3.2-liter engine. The hood is louvered, hot rod style, because it aids with cooling and because it looks good, too.

Walker has his own signature design traits, too. The fuel filler is relocated to the center of the hood, race car style, while both front and rear turn signals are integrated into the bodywork. The door handles, drilled for (modest) weight savings and a trick look, come from an earlier, short-wheelbase 911, as do the window cranks, chrome-trimmed gauges and chrome rear view mirror.

Inside, function outweighs form. Aftermarket supplier Rennline supplies bits like the drilled floorboards and shifter, while the shift knob is made from unpolished wood (a nod to the shift knobs used in the Porsche 917). Racing bucket seats and six-point harnesses may be short on comfort, but they’re long on support needed for track days and autocross. Walker even has a removable bolt-in roll cage, which can be removed to add space and shave pounds.

Light weight is the key to performance here. With ten gallons of gas in the tank, Walker says the car weighs in at just 2,200 pounds, which makes the 3.2-liter engine’s output of 275 horsepower seem like more than enough. It sounds great under throttle too, so we fully understand why the car lacks an audio system (aside from the weight savings).

Walker’s customization (including the three-color paint scheme) isn’t for everyone, but we completely understand the appeal of a Porsche resto-rod. In fact, we can see one parked in our own garage, since we’re of the simpler-is-better school when it comes to sports cars.



2014 BMW 6-Series Convertible Coming In Frozen White Edition 26
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 BMW 6-Series, Automotive, BMW, Kurt, News on 03 26th, 2013
2014 BMW Frozen Brilliant White Edition 6-Series Convertible - image: BMW
2014 BMW Frozen Brilliant White Edition 6-Series Convertible - image: BMW

2014 BMW Frozen Brilliant White Edition 6-Series Convertible – image: BMW

If matte paint is your thing and you’ve been looking for a reason to buy a BMW 6-Series Convertible, here’s some good news: the Munich automaker will release a limited-production Frozen Brilliant White edition of its 650i ragtop for 2014.

Available in 650i and 650i xDrive models, BMW’s latest special edition will be built in a production run of just 100 units. Outside, it wears Frozen Brilliant White paint, accented by Frozen Black mirror caps, a black grille, a black cloth top and two-tone, 20-inch wheels.

Inside, the car gets black Nappa leather upholstery and Gray Poplar wood trim. The standard equipment includes the M Sport Package and the Executive Package, while xDrive models also come with the Cold Weather Package. Pricing for the rear-drive 650i models is set at $106,695 (including destination), while the all-wheel drive 650i xDrive will run you $110,095.

2014 BMW Frozen Brilliant White Edition 6-Series Convertible - image: BMW

2014 BMW Frozen Brilliant White Edition 6-Series Convertible – image: BMW

In other 2014 6-Series news, BMW will now offer U.S. buyers a manual transmission option for all M6 versions, including coupe, convertible and Gran Coupe. The six-speed gearbox includes rev-matching logic in Efficient and Sport modes, while Sport + mode allows the driver to do his own blipping of the throttle. If track days are your passion, the M6 now offers optional carbon ceramic brakes, too.

Finally, all 6-Series models will ship with the latest version (4.2) of BMW’s iDrive navigation and infotainment system, while 640i models will be available with xDrive all-wheel drive for the 2014 model year.



Lincoln MKZ Inventory Levels To Soon Hit Normal 25
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Lincoln MKZ, Automotive, Editorial, Kurt, Lincoln on 03 25th, 2013
2013 Lincoln MKZ
2013 Lincoln MKZ

2013 Lincoln MKZ

When you’re counting on a single model to sustain the life of your brand before other new products hit the pipeline, getting the launch right is absolutely essential. Supplier delays can kill momentum, and nothing can cool demand for a luxury sedan quicker than quality issues (real or perceived) with the initial batches delivered.

It’s no secret that Ford’s Lincoln brand is struggling to find an identity, if not struggling to even survive. Its Town Car was once the darling of livery fleets from coast to coast, but that’s been put out to pasture and the MKT really hasn’t caught on with car services. Its Mercury equivalent, the Grand Marquis, was the poster car of the AARP set, but Lincoln hasn’t managed to convert these buyers into MKS sedans, either.

When the MKZ was first shown in 2012, it was clear that Lincoln intended to draw in a whole new demographic with its stylish midsize sedan. Everyone, journalists included, wondered when they could get behind the wheel of one. Lincoln even blew the bank on advertising, going long with a wasted Super Bowl spot that left viewers scratching their collective heads. Perhaps it was a good thing that dealers didn’t have MKZ models to drive, since the ad was hardly a call to action to test drive an MKZ.

Last month, Ford admitted that final inspection backlogs at its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, were partly responsible for MKZ delivery delays. In an effort to speed up delivery, Ford shipped completed MKZ sedans from Mexico to its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, for the final quality inspection. Inventory was then trucked to dealers rather than shipped via rail, which would have taken longer but cost less. Put another way, Ford has spent a great deal of money on each MKZ, ensuring that quality is up to par and delivery to dealerships is prompt.

Last week, Automotive News (subscription required) reported that Ford has worked through the backlog of final inspections, and that inventory of MKZ sedans at Lincoln dealers should reach normal levels by month end. While that’s a good thing for customers patiently awaiting delivery, we can’t help but wonder if it’s too little, too late. Lincoln’s costly Super Bowl ad blitz is now a distant memory, and we wonder how much more the brand will need to spend to attract customers into Lincoln showrooms.

There are other new products in the Lincoln pipeline, but none are scheduled to appear in 2013. If buyers decide the MKZ isn’t right for them, what are the odds that Lincoln can up-sell them into an MKS or MKT? (Hint: we wouldn’t take those odds.)

Getting the MKZ in the hands of dealers (and ultimately, customers) is an important first step for Lincoln. As to whether or not it’s too little, too late, only time will tell.



Recall Alert: Acura MDX, RL And TSX Models 25
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Acura, Acura MDX, Acura RL, Acura TSX, Automotive, honda, Kurt, News, Recalls on 03 25th, 2013
2005 Acura MDX
2005 Acura MDX

2005 Acura MDX

Do you drive a 2005-06 Acura MDX, a 2005 Acura RL or a 2004-08 Acura TSX? If you answered yes to this question, be prepared to receive a recall notice on your vehicle from Honda. MDX and RL models are being recalled for an unintended braking issue, while TSX models sold or currently registered in snow belt states are being recalled for a corrosion issue that could affect the car’s ECU.

The braking issue on MDX and RL models (which also affects 2005 Honda Pilot SUVs) ties back to a capacitor that may have damaged during Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) control module assembly. Vehicles with the damaged capacitor may show intermittent, light application of the brakes without driver assist. If the driver applies the brakes while the VSA system is malfunctioning, the brakes may bring the vehicle to a sudden stop.

To remedy this, Acura and Honda dealers will install a new partial wiring harness that includes a replacement capacitor. As a loose ground may further complicate matters on Honda Pilots included in this recall, Honda dealers will tighten ground wires as well.

The TSX recall affects vehicles in states that use salts for de-icing. Drivers can track in road salts, which leach through the footwell carpeting and can cause a short in vehicle’s Electronic Control Unit (ECU), leading to potential stalling.

To remedy this, Acura dealers will inspect affected vehicles and replace ECU assemblies (under warranty) as needed. All cars in the recall will also get a waterproof cover for the ECU, designed to prohibit re-occurrence of the issue.

Owners with questions or concerns can contact Honda’s customer service at (800) 999-1009, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Safety Hotline at (888) 327-4236.



Charity Auction Offers Fast-Track Delivery Of Lamborghini Aventador Roadster 22
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Charity Auctions, Editorial, Kurt, Lamborghini, Lamborghini LP 700-4 Aventador Roadster on 03 22nd, 2013
Lamborghini LP 700-4 Aventador Roadster
Lamborghini LP 700-4 Aventador Roadster

Lamborghini LP 700-4 Aventador Roadster

If you put your money down today on a 691-horsepower, V-12 powered Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster, you’d be looking at a delivery date in the spring of 2014. Despite the car’s $448,295 price of admission (including a destination charge of $2,995 and a Gas Guzzler tax of $3,700), demand for the open-air supercar is far outstripping supply.

It’s easy to understand why. The car looks great, and its functional two-piece carbon fiber roof panel is far better engineered that the soft tops used on previous drop-top Lamborghinis. Performance-wise, the car can sprint from 0-60 mph in less than three seconds (aided here by its all-wheel drive), before reaching a top speed of 217 mph. If you have the price of admission, it’s easy enough to justify the car for its noise alone.

Now, thanks to charity gala One Night For ONE DROP (which works towards a goal of enough clean water for everyone on earth), you can bid on an Aventador Roadster for delivery in Las Vegas, Nevada, this August. That’s likely over six months sooner than you can take delivery in the United States otherwise, even if you have incriminating photos of you Lamborghini dealership’s sales manager. On top of being among the first in the United States with an Aventador Roadster, you’ll be supporting a truly worthy cause, too.

If you want to enter a bid above $465,000 (the current minimum), head on over to the Charitybuzz website before the auction ends on April 4. If you still want to support a worthy cause, but can’t quite swing nearly half a million for a new Lamborghini, the charity auction website is selling plenty of other stuff in support of One Night For ONE DROP. We’d gladly bid on a meet and greet with Jay Leno, including a tour of his car collection, if it weren’t already priced beyond our means.



Chris Harris Drives The SLS AMG Black Series: Video 22
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Chris Harris, Editorial, Kurt, Mercedes Benz, SLS AMG Black Series, video on 03 22nd, 2013
Chris Harris drives the SLS AMG Black Series, sideways
Chris Harris drives the SLS AMG Black Series, sideways

Chris Harris drives the SLS AMG Black Series, sideways

If you asked us to categorize the new SLS AMG Black Series, we’d have a hard time fitting the car into a single segment. Its on-track behavior clearly makes it a sports car, yet its long wheelbase and refined mannerisms (even in Black Series trim) don’t exclude it from the Grand Touring category. With the electro-nannies turned off, however, it shreds tires and wags its tail with the best of the muscle car class.

To build the SLS AMG Black Series, Mercedes-Benz (and AMG) begin with an already-fast SLS AMG GT. The car gets a bump in output to 631 horsepower (impressive from a naturally-aspirated 6.2-liter V-8), a wider track, a stiffer suspension, stickier tires and aerodynamics specifically designed to reduce lift at speed. Next comes the crash diet, which shaves 70 kilograms (154 pounds) off the standard SLS AMG, via the use of things like a titanium exhaust, a carbon fiber driveshaft, a lithium-ion battery and a carbon fiber hood.

Chris Harris is clearly smitten with the 230,000 pound (about $350,000) hoon-mobile, calling it “flipping excellent” on the track. And therein lies the problem: since only 350 will be built, with each selling for an astronomical price, few will ever turn a wheel in anger on the world’s premier tracks. In fact, our guess is that the vast majority will be purchased for investment purposes, secreted away in a climate-controlled garage to avoid depreciation.

Based on Harris’ antics behind the wheel, there’s something criminal about that. What’s the point in engineering and building a car that’s so rewarding to drive, when the vast majority of owners will never drive the car as its engineers intended?



This Is (Part Of) The 2014 Chevy Camaro SS 21
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, auto show, Automotive, Chevrolet, Kurt, New York auto show, News on 03 21st, 2013
Chevy teases the 2014 Camaro SS - image: GM Corp
Chevy teases the 2014 Camaro SS - image: GM Corp

Chevy teases the 2014 Camaro SS – image: GM Corp

Chevrolet looks like it will have a pretty epic year in 2013, thanks to the introduction of the 2014 Corvette Stingray and the 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan. While these two enthusiast-oriented vehicles are all-new, Chevrolet doesn’t want its fans to forget about the Camaro, either.

Calling it “the most significant change for the fifth-generation Camaro,” Chevrolet will unveil the updated 2014 Camaro at the New York Auto Show. It isn’t releasing any details (aside from the teaser image seen here), but it’s safe to expect a few styling tweaks, as well as a potentially updated interior.

We don’t see any major changes to the Camaro’s engine offerings, but GM could pull a fast one on us here; after all, it just announced a twin-turbo 3.6-liter V-6 for the Cadillac CTS and XTS, and that engine would fit nicely in the Camaro’s engine bay. Who wouldn’t want SS power with better fuel economy?

It’s worth pointing out that this face-lifted Camaro won’t be all-new. The next generation Camaro will reportedly use a smaller and lighter platform (which we view as a good thing), meaning that production won’t begin until Camaro assembly moves from Ontario, Canada to Michigan. The earliest that move will take place is 2015, meaning that an all-new Camaro isn’t likely to appear before 2016.



Get A Glimpse Of The 2014 Audi A3 Sedan On Audi’s Media Channel 21
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Audi A3 Sedan, audi, Audi Media TV, auto show, Automotive, Kurt, News on 03 21st, 2013
Audi teases the 2014 A3 Sedan on its new video channel
Audi teases the 2014 A3 Sedan on its new video channel

Audi teases the 2014 A3 Sedan on its new video channel

Americans don’t like hatchbacks, or so the gospel according to German automakers goes. With this guiding principle, Audi will drop the A3 hatchback from the United States market, replacing it with the all-new A3 Sedan. While that may be bad news for hatchback lovers, it’s good news for driving enthusiasts; word is that Audi will even offer the sedan in S3 or RS3 forms (or possibly even both).

The A3 Sedan won’t make its official world debut until April’s Shanghai Auto Show, but it will be previewed in New York on the eve of the New York Auto Show. An event like this is by invitation only, but Audi is happy to hook up its loyal fans. Thanks to a new “Audi Media TV” video channel, you can catch the reveal live as it happens on March 27.

As far as we can tell, there’s no need to pre-register. Simply head on over to the Audi Media TV website at 8:00 p.m. (EDT) on the 27th and you can catch the reveal as it’s happening. You can also see a teaser shot of the A3 Sedan’s cloth-draped exterior, as well as a brief view of the new car’s quilted-leather back seat (which looks like S3 trim to us).

You’ll probably want to bookmark the Audi Media TV channel, too, since the German luxury brand will use it to screen future world premieres and press conferences. You’ll get the information at the same time we do, without all those pesky missed flights and bad hotel coffee.



Detroit Electric Announces New Battery-Powered Sports Car 20
Mar
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Detroit Electric, Electric, Kurt, News, Sports Cars on 03 20th, 2013
Detroit Electric's upcoming two-seat electric sports car - image: Detroit Electric
Detroit Electric's upcoming two-seat electric sports car - image: Detroit Electric

Detroit Electric’s upcoming two-seat electric sports car – image: Detroit Electric

Calling itself the “fourth automaker born out of Detroit,” startup electric car manufacturer Detroit Electric has just announced that it will be showing a two-seat electric sports car at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, and that it will begin customer deliveries in limited markets by the end of August.

Those are ambitious plans for a conventional automaker, let alone one dedicated to battery-electric power. Detroit Electric, however, isn’t exactly a new company; the original (which more or less folded in 1939) was one of the most successful electric car manufacturers of the early 20th century, and the brand has been working on a modern vehicle since being reborn in 2008.

The man behind Detroit Electric is Albert Lam, who was formerly head of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England (which explains why the teaser image looks so much like a Lotus). Lam also spent time leading divisions of Apple and Sun Microsystems, so he’s well-versed in both the automotive and technology sides of the business.

Detroit Electric’s plans don’t end with a single two-seater, either. By the end of 2014, it plans to launch two other “high-performance” electric vehicles. We’re a bit skeptical that no details are being provided on a car set for unveiling in just one month, and reportedly bound for production in just 150 days, but we’re willing to cut Detroit Electric some slack. After all, who doesn’t like an underdog?

The firm’s CEO, Don Graunstadt, is equally bullish on the startup automaker’s future, saying, “We are proud to become the fourth car manufacturer born out of Detroit, and the first to manufacture a pure electric sports car from Michigan. We are committed to doing our part for this great revival of Detroit through innovation, entrepreneurship and determination – what we like to call ‘Detroit 2.0′. Our investors and management team are thankful to the State of Michigan for the help provided in allowing Detroit Electric to carry on the legacy that began in Michigan so many years ago.”

Can Detroit Electric meet its highly-ambitious goals for new product launches? Can the firm succeed where others have struggled or failed? Will electric sports cars become a viable business in the near future? We’re asking these questions ourselves, and we’d love to hear your take on things.







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