Just Car Blog
|Subaru Reveals The Production BRZ||
Toyota jumped the gun a few days back, leaking images and video of the FT-86 (called the GT 86 in Japan) sports coupe. You knew Subaru had to follow, so here are the images of the production Subaru BRZ, which will be officially unveiled at this week’s Tokyo Motor Show.
The Subaru may look a bit plain compared to the Toyota, but the Toyota GT 86 shown was likely a higher-trim model with an included body kit. If more aggressive looks are your style, we’re pretty sure that Subaru will be happy to sell you air dams, spoilers, side skirts and splitters to improve airflow and appearance.
Like the Toyota, the Subaru will get by with modest power and light weight. Despite rumors of additional horsepower in Subaru models, base BRZs will come with the same 200 horsepower and 151 lb.-ft. of torque that the Toyota GT 86 produces. If that’s the bad news, here’s the good news: the BRZ weighs in at less than 2,700 pounds, and features a low center of gravity for superior handling. On paper at least, the BRZ looks like it will stack up well against Mazda’s MX-5, long the king of bang-for-the-buck handling.
Both six-speed manual and six-speed automatic gearboxes are available, and the automatic transmission features both “Sport” and “Manual” modes. As you’d expect from a sport-oriented automatic, paddle shifters are included and the transmission will match revs while downshifting. Like Volkswagen’s DSG-equipped GTI, we suspect the automatic transmission BRZ may be slightly quicker around a racetrack than the manual.
There’s still no word on U.S. pricing or availability, but we’ll update you as soon as we get the information.
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2013 Subaru BRZ, Automotive, Kurt, News, Subaru, Tokyo Motor Show on 11 29th, 2011
|Toyota Fun-Vii Concept Revealed||
Ahead of its official debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota has unveiled its new Fun-Vii concept car. The skin of the bullet shaped car for the “not too distant future” serves as a massive display that can change its colour and display graphics, images, and custom messages for other drivers and bystanders. The skin can be changed using a specialised app and have its interior adjusted as well – the three-seat cabin has a continuous display which spans from the dashboard to the floor. Overall the vehicle measures 4,020mm long, 1,745mm wide and 1,415mm tall with a wheelbase of 2,750mm.
Intervehicle connectivity can detect potentially hazardous situations like making the driver aware of a car in its blind spot or one that is about to break suddenly. The system can also link with surrounding vehicles to locate friends.
As if this isn’t enough, Toyota also envisions that the car will be connected to the internet which has the advantage of bringing information to the driver and providing entertainment content to the driver and the passengers on board.
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Concept car news, Uncategorized on 11 29th, 2011
|Dodge Journey and Fiat 500 recalled for safety issues||
Chrysler has decided to recall a total number of 340 vehicles consisting of Dodge Journeys and Fiat 500s built between the 24 and 26 October of this year. The recall is as a result of contaminated brake fluid that was put in during the vehicles’ assembly. According to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, these vehicles “may experience a degradation of the sealing components within the brake system.” The consequences of this incident could lead to the loss of breaking ability and result in a crash.
To resolve the problem, Chrysler will be replacing, free of charge of course, any vehicle components that would have come in contact with the contaminated hydraulic fluid. The official safety recall is expected to begin in December.
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News on 11 29th, 2011
|Video: Lenco BearCat LAPD SWAT Vehicle in Jay Leno’s Garage||
The folks at Lenco, known for outfitting military, SWAT and other law enforcement armored vehicles, send Jay Leno a Lenco BearCat LAPD SWAT vehicle to check out. This armored mammoth-of-a-vehicle sits on a Ford F550 chassis, is powered by a twin-turbo 6.7-liter diesel engine, weighs almost 9,000 pounds and has opening portholes big enough for your weapon of choice, or your favorite bear claw donut at the drive through.
Hit up the video below as LAPD SWAT office Mark Nee takes Jay Leno for a full tour and test-drive in the Lenco BearCat Armored SWAT vehicle.
Source: Jay Leno’s Garage
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Armored Cars, Automotive, Ford, Jay Leno, Jay Leno's Garage, LAPD, Lenco, SWAT, video on 11 28th, 2011
|Old Versus New Cadillac Crash Test Video||
Americans tend to associate the size of vehicles with safety, which (partially) explains our love for big SUVs and pickup trucks. There is some logic behind this, since physics tells us a larger, heavier object will do more damage in an impact than a smaller and lighter one. Still, mass alone isn’t enough to keep occupants safe, as this video from Speed TV’s Stuntbusters illustrates rather well.
In 1962, automotive crash science was in its infancy. Most cars were years away from coming with seat belts, padded dashboards and collapsible steering columns as standard features, and things like crumple zones, high strength steel passenger compartments and airbags were the stuff of science fiction. When a crash occurred, the force of the impact was transmitted back into the vehicle, usually with devastating results to those inside.
As you watch the video, found on Autoblog, keep in mind that cars have gotten even safer in the decade since the 2002 Cadillac in the video was built. The ultimate goal of automakers is to eliminate crash fatalities, which may not be achievable as long as drivers shun seat belts and turn off features like stability control. If you spent any time on the highway over the Thanksgiving weekend, you know that the roads aren’t getting safer; lucky for us, then, that the cars driving on them are.
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Cadillac, crash test, Kurt, video on 11 28th, 2011
|2012 Toyota Tacoma V6 Double Cab TRD Off-Road Review & Test Drive||
‘RESTYLED INSIDE AND OUT WITH TOYOTA’S NEW ENTUNE’
The Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup truck is still the best selling brand in theU.S.by a wide margin and this year offers a restyled exterior, a restyled and upgraded interior for added comfort, usability and Toyota’s new Entune audio/infotainment system.
For 2012 the Tacoma shows a fresh face with a redesigned hood, grille, headlamps and front bumper. Inside, customers will find a new instrument panel design with a revised gauge cluster, along with a new steering wheel. A redesigned center stack adds new A/C/heater controls and power point locations.
The 2012 Tacoma interior also gets a new look with a black high-contrast center console, switch plate covers, dash and upper door trim. The double cab features new heavy-duty all-weather flooring.
This all adds up to more comfort and function with the addition of a larger, higher-resolution display for the optional back-up camera (3.3 X 2.4 inches), a new temperature gauge, optional rearview mirror with compass and Homelink, vanity lamps added to sun visors, an additional overhead storage compartment and two front-deck ‘D’ rings for added versatility.
The double-cab V6 models offer a more advanced display audio system with today’s most in-demand connectivity features. These include navigation, Toyota’s new Entune services, Sirius XM satellite radio, HD radio with iTunes tagging and text/e-mail-to-voice. This premium infotainment system plays through a JBL GreenEdge audio system with seven speakers. GreenEdge technology helps reduce fuel consumption by lowering the electric power demand on the vehicle.
The Toyota Entune system is a collection of popular mobile applications and data services, with three years of complimentary access. Once a smart phone is connected to the vehicle using Bluetooth wireless technology or a USB cable, Entune features are operated using the vehicle’s controls or, for some services, by voice recognition. Entune includes ‘Bing’ and Pandora; iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com and OpenTable, as well as real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports and stocks.
The 2012 Tacoma lines offers two engines: a 2.7 liter DOHC four-cylinder that produces 159hp and 180lb.ft. of torque, and a 4.0 liter DOHC V6 that provides 236hp and 266lb.ft. of torque. In both engines variable valve timing wit intelligence (VVT-i) provides strong low-end and mid-range torque to successfully carry large loads in the cargo box and to bust through tough trails off-road.
And electronic throttle control system with intelligence helps optimize performance and fuel economy. The V6 can be teamed with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission. Four-cylinder models offer a choice between a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic.
The TRD Off-Road package that I had provides a carefully tuned balance of off-road performance and on-road handling. Chassis modifications include an electronic locking rear differential, progressive-rate front coil springs, specially tuned Bilstein shocks front and back, a 28mm front stabilizer bar, and 265/70R17 inch BF Goodrich Rugged Trail tires wrapped around custom 17X8 inch alloy wheels. The cargo box features a 400Watt/ 115 Volt power-point. Inside are sport bucket seats with adjustable lumbar support and unique stain proof/water resistant fabric, an overhead console with compass and outside temperature readout, a back-up monitor, metallic tone instrument panel, leather trimmed/tilt/telescoping steering wheel/shifter, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable speed wipers/washers, auto-dimming reaview mirror, dual map lamps, grab handles at each A-pillar, and thick cut-pile carpeting. On the outside are foglamps, engine skid plate, chrome grille surround and rear bumper, overfenders and TRD Off-Road graphics.
Slowing the new Tacoma V6 double cab 4X4 TRD down from speed are 12.5 inch vented disc clamped with big dual pistons calipers up front and 10 inch drum brakes in the rear. Keeping you in control during braking are standard ABS, EBD, BA, TRAC, and VSC. You guide the new 2012 Tacoma via a power-assisted rack & pinion steering system that gives great feedback from the road and quick response to your inputs. Ground clearance is an excellent 9.1 inches.
The TRD Off-Road package with the automatic transmission comes standard with both Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC). HAC operates by independently controlling the brakes at each wheel as needed to help prevent the vehicle from rolling backward or slipping sideways during a transition from a stopped position to climbing a grade. An automatic limited-slip differential (auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention to help reduce tire slippage at the rear wheels, is standard on all Tacoma’s.
DAC uses engine braking to regulate downhill speed and independently control the brakes at each wheel to help improve directional control. DAC automatically de-activates if you depress the brake or throttle pedals, press the DAC button, or shifts into neutral. TRD Off-Road packages feature a locking rear differential that can be activated by a switch in the cab.
Standard safety features include driver/front passenger airbags, seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts for all seating positions with front pretensioners/load limiters, front/rear crumple zones, steel beam in each door, tire pressure monitor system, and driver/front passenger active head restraints.
Competition is fierce in the mid-size pickup truck segment and with the new look inside and outside, the proven Toyota off-road credentials; the Tacoma should keep ahead of the pack.
- Price: Base Tacoma Double Cab V6 $26,455 As-Tested $35,105.00 including destination
- Engine: 4.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 236 horsepower @ 5200 rpm / 266 ft-lbs. torque @ 4000 rpm
- Wheelbase: 127.4in.
- Total length: 298.1in.
- Total width: 74.6in.
- Total height: 70.1in.
- Track: f/r-63/63.4in.
- Approach angle: 35
- Departure angle: 25
- Breakover angle: 20
- Fuel tank: 21.1 gallons
- Turning circle: 40.6ft.
- Headroom: f/r-40.2/38.4in.
- Legroom: f/r-41.7/32.7in.
- Max towing when properly equipped: 6,500lbs.
- Curb weight: 4,185lbs.
- EPA mileage: 16mpg/city, 21mpg/highway
Posted by Harvey Schwartz in Automotive, featured, Pick-Up-Truck, Test Drives, TOYOTA, Toyota Tacoma, Truck, Trucks on 11 28th, 2011
|Report: Mercedes-Benz To Drop Maybach Brand||
In the “we’ve seen this coming for some time” department, Mercedes-Benz has reportedly decided to axe its under-performing Maybach premium brand. Launched to much fanfare in 2002, the brand never produced the 800 unit per year global sales that Mercedes-Benz needed to be profitable. Long-overdue for a refresh, the lack of a pending redesign seemed to be proof that Mercedes was intent on pulling the plug, even before a formal decision was made.
Autoweek cites unnamed but high-ranking sources in Mercedes-Benz, who have confirmed that the brand will be pulled from the market in 2013. To fill the void, Mercedes will expand the S-Class product line to include three wheelbase variations, multiple engine choices and even a range-topping S600 Pullman edition, which should give buyers a similar level of luxury to the Maybach sedans. Given the current state of the global economy, expanding a base product line makes more financial sense to Mercedes than maintaining an ultra-premium product line with declining sales.
Since the new S-Class models won’t hit the market until 2013, you still have a little over a year to buy a Maybach if you can raise the price of admission. The “entry-level” Maybach 57 starts at $372,500, the mid-line Maybach 62 is priced from $423,500 and the range-topping Maybach Landaulet Cabriolet stickers at a mind-numbing $1,380,000, excluding taxes, title and licensing, of course.
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Maybach, Mercedes Benz, News on 11 28th, 2011
|Merc announces the end of Maybach||
According to Mercedes-Benz, the German auto manufacturer has recently announced the closure of Maybach.
Daimler’s upmarket division that was resurrected in 2002 to compete against BMW’s Rolls-Royce and VW’s Bentley subsidiaries, failed to meet sales expectations with its 57 and 62 core models. The decision was also facilitated by the breaking down of the deal with Aston Martin to aid in the development in future Maybachs. The Maybach brand never took off in the way Mercedes hoped and sales never rose anywhere near four figures.
Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche made the announcement on Saturday during an interview with a German newspaper in which he said that he had lost patience with Maybach and with no more models being developed, stocks are expected to deplete by late 2012.
Merc is expected to develop a new range of top-end next generation S-Class models including a new, range-topping S600 that brings back the Pullman moniker.
source: car magazine
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Popular, Super car news on 11 28th, 2011
|Toyota Officially Reveals 2012 Toyota GT 86 (FT-86) Sports Car w/Videos||
Toyota’s sports car excitement seems to have been officially resurrected in what is now called the new Toyota GT 86. The official revealing of the long awaited FT-86 concept in its production skin will still take place at the Tokyo Motor Show (Nov. 29th). Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda could not wait to take the wraps off one of the most highly anticipated cars for the enthusiast market, so here it is.
To clarify naming of what we have grown to know as simply the FT-86, Toyota will be calling it the GT 86 in European markets and just the ‘86’ in Japan. Stateside we still expect the Scion FR-S name to hold true.
Official quick specs for the Toyota GT 86
- 2.0-liter boxer with D4-S injection (direct and port injected)
- 197 hp @ 7,000 rpm and 151 lb-ft (205 Nm) @6,600 rpm
- 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions
- 17-inch wheel/tire package standard
- 4,240mm (167 in.) long, 1285mm (50.6 in.) high, 2,570mm (101 in.) wide
- 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution
- 475mm (18.7 in.) center of gravity
The GT 86 is expected to go on sale in June of 2012 beginning in\ the UK market. Details for the US sale date have not been confirmed as of yet but we expect to see the FR-S in our showrooms not far after its UK release.
Toyota has released new specs for the GT 86 along with a fully detailed press release highlighting the why behind the what for Toyota’s long awaited lightweight sports car. Hit up the new videos, details and official images below.
All images are courtesy of Toyota. Some taken by Toyota at the Fuji Speedway Toyota GAZOO Racing Festival.
Toyota GT 86 Press Release
MORE PASSION, MORE FUN: TOYOTA RECAPTURES THE JOY OF DRIVING
World debut for Toyota GT 86 sports car at the Tokyo motor show
- Entirely driver-focused sports car, designed to recapture the fundamental joys of motoring
- World’s most compact four-seater sports car, delivering very low centre of gravity and excellent power-to-weight ratio
- A return to Toyota’s sporting roots, with a front-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive package
- Powertrain combines 197bhp 2.0-litre flat-four boxer engine with torque-enhancing D-4S injection technology
- Design achieves outstanding aerodynamics while recalling Toyota’s sports car heritage
- New car to be called the GT 86 in Europe, in tribute to Toyota’s GT car heritage
- On sale in the UK in June 2012
The anticipation is over: Toyota’s new GT 86 sports car makes its world debut at the Tokyo motor show on November 30. The compact 2+2 model, one of the most keenly awaited new cars of the coming year, will go on sale in the UK in June 2012.The GT 86 has been conceived as an entirely driver-focused machine, designed to deliver the core qualities of the classic sports car experience. That means precise, instant response to the smallest throttle and steering inputs and the kind of performance that appeals to those for whom driving is a passion, not a necessity.
The GT 86 is built on a new platform, with a highly aerodynamic bodyshell stretched tight over the car’s mechanical elements. Rather than fitting a heavy, large capacity powertrain, Toyota has opted instead to go back to its sporting roots, installing a compact, front-mounted, free-revving petrol engine that drives the rear wheels.
This four-cylinder “boxer” unit generates 197bhp at 7,000rpm and maximum torque of 205Nm at 6,600rpm, giving the GT 86 brisk, engaging performance.
The powertrain is matched to the world’s most compact four-seat design to create a car that benefits from light weight, low inertia and a low centre of gravity to achieve the best possible power-to-weight ratio. For the driver that means lively, accessible performance and dynamic character with minimal intrusion from electronic systems.
The GT 86 measures 4,240mm long, 1,285mm high and 2,570mm wide, dimensions which make it the most compact four-seater sports car available today.
Both the powertrain and the driving position have been set as low and as far back as possible to achieve the best balance: the car has a near-perfect 53:47 front-to-rear weight distribution. The flat-four engine format and the driver’s hip point – the lowest of any current Toyota production model – together give the GT 86 an ultra-low centre of gravity, at just 475mm.
The GT 86 makes the most of a light kerb weight, making it easy for drivers to exploit its nimble handling and cornering poise. The suspension features MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear. The car rides on 17-inch wheels and is fitted with ventilated disc brakes fore and aft.
World’s first horizontally opposed engine with D-4S
The GT 86′s engine is the result of a joint Toyota and Subaru development programme that brings together their technical know-how and mutual passion for sports cars.
Toyota has added its D-4S injection technology to Subaru’s new, horizontally opposed, naturally aspirated 1,998cc four-cylinder boxer engine. This system features separate twin injectors for both direct and port injection, and a high 12.5:1 compression ratio, increasing power and torque across a wide range of engine speeds without sacrificing fuel efficiency and environmental performance.
The flat-four engine has equal bore and stroke of 86.0mm and drives through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The manual offers quick, precise shifts using a tactile, short-throw lever; the automatic transmission can be controlled using paddle shifts mounted on the steering wheel.
Power is distributed to the rear wheels via a limited slip differential to give the best possible grip in all driving conditions. The ABS and switchable vehicle stability control systems have been tuned specifically to deliver dynamic stability at the limit of the car’s performance envelope with minimal electronic intervention to help preserve the purity of the driving experience.
The design of the GT 86 successfully works within the technical constraints of achieving the most compact dimensions possible, a low centre of gravity and aerodynamic performance inspired by motorsport technology, while also displaying evocative, sweeping styling that recalls Toyota’s sports car heritage.
Toyota’s new design language informs the styling, as in the way attention is focused on the lower part of the car with the large lower grille. Elsewhere the “keen” approach can be witnessed in the clear, expressive lines.
The lower grille’s “scorpion” look gives the GT 86 a more powerful appearance, with further sporting details including the model-specific 17-inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, twin exhausts and the “86″ piston logo that denotes the car’s special powertrain configuration.
On board, the ergonomics and function of every element the driver interacts with have been scrutinised to make driving the car as natural, instinctive and rewarding as possible. For example, the steering wheel has a 365mm diameter, making it the smallest ever fitted to a Toyota, and it is trimmed in buckskin, developed from exhaustive feedback from test drivers on how to achieve the best steering performance and grip.
The three-meter instrument cluster is arranged around a large tachometer, its design benefiting from close attention to the positioning of the displays, markings and typeface. The result is the best possible visibility and readability. The driver-focus of the cockpit is further reinforced by the carbon-effect trim, all-black roof lining, red stitching on the upholstery, aviation-style rocker switches and lightweight, aluminium pedals.
Toyota’s 50-year sports car heritage
The GT 86 may be launched as the world’s only current sports car to feature a front-mounted, horizontally opposed engine and rear-wheel drive, but it cannot claim to be the first. That honour is held by Toyota’s two-cylinder boxer-engined Sports 800, which the company began developing in 1962. Since then, Toyota has established a long history of producing exciting, driver-focused sports cars with a front-engine, rear-wheel drive format that have proved as popular with the public as they have been successful in competition.
The beautiful 2000 GT, a coupe powered by a 2.0-litre straight-six engine, was first displayed at the 1965 Tokyo motor show and helped establish Toyota’s global reputation as a sports car manufacturer.
Launched in 1971, the first Celica models featured rear-wheel drive powertrains and were praised by enthusiasts for their agility. All four Supra generations came with straight-six engines and rear-wheel drive, while from 1984 the MR2 won recognition as one of the best handling sports cars in motoring history.
The inspiration for the GT 86, however, is the Corolla GT (or Levin) AE86, a car with an enduring reputation for delivering sheer excitement and capturing the fundamental joy of driving. Its front-engine, rear-wheel drive package, compact dimensions, light weight, impeccable balance and superior power-to-weight ratio made it a must-have choice for rallying and circuit driving throughout its production life, from 1983 to 1987. Here in the UK the GT claimed two British Touring Car Championship titles and a series of top-level rally victories.
The GT 86 is a genuinely lightweight machine that offers the intimacy and involvement of a car that can be driven as though an extension of the driver’s body. In this way, it perfectly recaptures the exhilarating spirit of the last of the AE86. And, with numerous customisable parts, its shares its predecessor’s aim to be an affordable car that will evolve with its owner.
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in 2012 Scion FR-S, 2012 Subaru BRZ, Automotive, FT-86, FT-86 Concept, News, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ, TOYOTA, Toyota FT-86 Concept, video on 11 27th, 2011
|Lexus IS F Circuit Club Sport||
Lexus handed its already fast IS F over to the go-fast team at Toyota Racing Development and produced the IS F Circuit Club Sport where the sport sedan received a variety of mechanical and aero adjustments and improvements. Lexus first unveiled the concept at the 2010 Tokyo Auto Salon, with some further details following on this year.
The exterior of the vehicle has been fitted with a new carbon fibre front spoiler, rear diffuser and hood, also made from the light-weight material. Along with its large rear wing, the luxury bruiser also comes equipped with lightweight forged aluminum wheels while a choice of magnesium rollers are also available. To improve handling, Toyota offers various solutions for the suspension including stabilizers and different shocks, better brake pads and a titanium muffler.
The package also offers a performance damper kit offering buyers two separate settings that independently adjust compression.
The date at which this new Lexus sport will be available and the price tag to accompany it have not yet been revealed.
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Modified car Talk on 11 25th, 2011
|2012 Jaguar XF Sportbrake Spied||
Here is one of the very first spy shots of the new Jaguar XF Sportbrake, partly in camouflage, coming in 2012. The Sportbrake, the official name of which was only confirmed today, was seen being taken for a test drive around Jaguar’s R&D base in Coventry.
This wagon shape was not in the original design plans as an XF derivative and so product planners have had a considerable task in converting the four-door saloon into an executive estate.
The interior is expected to have the usual fold-down rear seats, more rear headroom and executive toys such as electric boot operation.
Once the disguise has been peeled off, what is likely to be revealed is the most-talked-about aspect of the new XF Sportbrake: a black stylised wraparound rear pillar. Underneath the black and white camouflage, lies a traditional XF style. It’s only different from the B-pillars backwards, and CAR magazine’s sources suggest that there’s a sporty side glasshouse with a coupe graphic to counter the slightly taller roofline.
Expect to see the new Jaguar XF Sportbrake estate on sale later in 2012, when it will rival the BMW 5-series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E-class estate.
source: car magazine
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Popular, Uncategorized on 11 24th, 2011
|Consumer Reports Asks: Is VW Building Better Cars For Journalists?||
As an auto journalist, one of the perks of the job is a free new car, delivered to your door, each week. In exchange for this consideration, manufacturers want us to write objective reviews about their latest wares, emphasizing the things we liked more than the things we didn’t. That’s not to say that we won’t call out a car company for things that need fixing; instead, it’s more of an unwritten understanding that we won’t bash a particular brand because of personal bias or past quality issues.
Occasionally, we get cars that are pre-production models, which usually don’t have the same build quality (and in some cases, features) as a production car. When these cars are cycled through company engineers and press fleets, they’re sent to the crusher since pre-production models can’t be sold to the public. I’ve driven a few pre-production models that had some noticeable issues, but these were corrected by the time the car hit production. In other words, I’ve driven a few “worst case” examples, but I’ve never driven a car that was built as a “ringer,” with a higher emphasis on quality than production models.
Consumer Reports, who tends to have its own biases, is now questioning whether or not Volkswagen built “ringer” Passat sedans for the press fleet, and by way of example cites the use of plastic covers on the trunk hinges. Press fleet cars had these, but apparently customer cars do not. If this detail is covered on press fleet cars, CR ponders, what else has been changed? As Carscoop points out, this raises doubt as to whether the cars journalist drive are the same ones sold to customers.
Our take on this is a bit different, and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Manufacturers make changes to production models up to the very day a new car hits the assembly line. In the case of VW, we suppose the bean counters rationalized that deleting the trunk hinge covers could add another $2.00 per car of margin to the bottom line. Pre-production cars had them as an accident of design, not as an Oliver-Stone-worth vast conspiracy to defraud the public.
Maybe we’re naive, but we drive enough cars each year, both pre and post-production, that we’d be able to spot a ringer. It hasn’t happened to us yet, and until it does, we’ll give the manufacturers the benefit of the doubt.
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Consumer Reports, Kurt, News, Volkswagen on 11 23rd, 2011
|Brian Redman Hustles A Porsche 908/3 Around Laguna Seca||
Brian Redman is a British racing driver who defines the phrase, “been there. done that.” Redman has competed at the highest levels of the sport, in series ranging from Formula 1 through CanAm and Le Mans endurance racing. He’s driven Porsches, McLarens, Coopers, Alfa Romeos, Lotuses, BRMs and Shadows, as well as every sports car you could probably name. He’s in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, and he’s got an annual vintage car race at Road America named in his honor.
Porsche’s 908 and 908 Spyder were built to compete in FIA Group 6 competition. Originally designed as a coupe for better aerodynamics, the 908 was later changed to a Spyder (open cockpit) configuration for lighter weight. Despite having noticeably less horsepower than the legendary Porsche 917s (908s made roughly 370 horsepower, versus the 917’s 620 hp), the 908’s lighter weight and smaller size gave them an advantage on tighter racetracks.
The Road & Track video below is worth watching for two reasons: first, there’s no soundtrack, so you can actually hear the 908’s 3.0-liter flat-eight wind out, and second, because you get to see the advantage a light car with less power has over a heavy car with more grunt. Turn up the sound, enlarge the video to full screen, then sit back and enjoy.
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, porsche, Porsche 908, Porsche 917, Porsche Rennsport Reunion, video on 11 23rd, 2011
|Nissan Won’t Give Up on Cube||
Despite poor sales of just 13, 850 units up until October in 2011, dropping from 23, 000 units sold in 2010, Nissan will continue selling its quirky Cube in North America. The Cube, with a 1.8-litre engine, was released in 2009 as a competitor to the equally boxy Scion xB.
Nissan North America sales boss Brian Carolin told Autoweek at the Los Angeles Auto Show in is defence that “It’s a niche product that has found its place in the market and that it benefited particularly when gas prices were spiking earlier this year, and we were struggling to get a supply of it. We had a lot of demand for it.”
Poor sales could be attributed to production challenges following the Japan earthquake back in March of this year.
Nissan is currently offering no incentives on the Cube.
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News, Autostyle, Uncategorized on 11 23rd, 2011
|Video: Evo’s Chris Harris Reviews New 2012 Porsche 911 (991)||
Chris Harris, from EVO Magazine, takes a trip state-side to sunny California for a drive in the all-new 2012 Porsche 911. Interestingly enough, the road conditions are not up to Chris’ standards but he seems to somehow manage to have a good time test driving a vehicle that he cannot find much to disagree with. In the end Chris agrees that the new 991 iteration is not perfect, but it’s very very close to being so. Enjoy the video below!
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in 2012 Porsche 911, Automotive, Evo, porsche, Porsche-911, video on 11 23rd, 2011