Just Car Blog
|It’s Toyota Versus Acura For The Super Bowl Ad Win: Video||
We haven’t been overly enthused by this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads, but then again we’re jaded moto-journalist types. It takes a lot to impress us, and partying vampires, singing dogs and re-hashed movies from the 1980s just won’t do the trick. If only an automaker could come up with something fresh and innovative, maybe we’d actually crack a smile (and admit to it).
Enter two ads that have rocketed to the top of our “must-see” Super Bowl viewing list. The first video, from Toyota, imagines a world where everything is reinvented to perfection, like (Toyota claims, anyway) the new Camry. In fairness, we haven’t driven the new Camry yet, so we can’t say how good it really is (although given the last car’s entertainment value, anything is a step up). If it’s as good as the world envisioned in Toyota’s Super Bowl spot, we’re definitely putting one in the garage. Just as soon as we order a new couch and some fresh curtains.
Acura is hawking a car that doesn’t even exist yet, its new NSX. That’s a good thing for a couple reasons: first, it puts the upcoming NSX on display to the general public, creating interest in both the car and the brand. Next, it reminds us that a successor to the beloved NSX really is on its way, even if it will be saddled with a hybrid drivetrain. We’re not anti-hybrid, mind you, we’re just anti-hybrid sports car.
We promise to keep an open mind until we get a chance to drive the new NSX, but sadly we’re not in a position to actually buy one. Taking delivery of the very first NSX will be quite an honor, and as Acura’s Super Bowl ad points out, there are several car guys vying to park the very first NSX in their own garage. We’d be willing to bet that the ad isn’t far removed from the truth, either.
|Presenting… The 2013 Dodge Viper||
Last night at midnight, DriveSRT teased the very first image of the next SRT Viper, rumored to be making its debut at April’s New York Auto Show. As you’d expect (since Chrysler’s been careful not to let spy photos leak), the image released doesn’t tell us a whole lot.
The cabin has the same twin bubbles as the last coupe (to accommodate helmets), there’s a familiar air intake just aft of the Viper logo and the front fenders seem to carry the same muscular shape as the last car. Headlights look smaller than on the previous generation, and the teaser image doesn’t give us any idea what the new Viper’s grille will look like.
Styling details aside, there’s plenty we don’t know about the next Viper. Rumor has it that the last generation’s 8.4-liter V-10 is gone, replaced by an even larger 8.7-liter V-10. We expect the car to be a bit more refined than the last model, thanks to Chrysler’s ties to Fiat (who also owns Ferrari), but no less capable on the track.
We expect production of the 2013 SRT Viper to begin this fall, with inventory hitting dealer showrooms by year-end. If you want to stay up-to-date on all things Viper-related, you can follow DriveSRT on Facebook, and bookmark the SRT Group’s website. Since we’re fans of the car, we’ll keep you up to date on any breaking news, too.
|Live your dream car one click at a time||
The Click Car Mouse and USB Stick range that has recently launched in South Africa lets you hold the car of your dreams from a Maserati GranTursimo to a pearl white Fiat 500 in the palm of your hand.
Licensed by the car manufacturers, the Click Car Mouse is a miniature near perfect replica of the real cars they’re modelled on. They are designed to a very high technical standard using only the highest quality materials. Most models are available in both wired and wireless versions.
CarBlog received the Range Rover Evoque Mouse and Mercedes Benz 300 SL USB Stick to test out. The Wireless Optical Evoque Mouse comes packaged with a nano receiver and battery. Once setup, the mouse can either be turned on (either with or without rear and headlights depending on how much battery you’re willing to use up) or off when not in use. It has a 10 metre range and adjustable high-res optical for 800dpi and 1600dpi.
After using it for a couple of hours, the Mouse slowly began to feel uncomfortable with the angled lines of the Range Rover not exactly conducive for the natural round shape of my palm. Sometimes, my finger would even get caught underneath the right hand side mirror. As a result, I would prefer a car with smoother contours – an Aston Martin DBS perhaps. However, it is important to be aware that my hands are smaller than most and may result in a different experience for someone else. The mouse works optimally on a pad as wheels, unfortunately, do not move.
The USB Stick, with 4GB was much more appealing and it has already been put to use. It is small, light and fits perfectly into the free USB bag included in the packaging. When plugged into to the USB port in my laptop the headlights and rear lights light up.
price ranges between R350 – R500.
View other models in the Car Click range in the gallery below:
|The Other Race You (Probably) Missed This Weekend: Video||
This weekend was the 50th anniversary running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and the race brought out an incredible assortment of talent to compete in both the Daytona Prototype and GT classes. It was a “who’s who” of international road racing, and Speed TV deserves credit for its non-stop coverage of the event.
There was another, lesser-known race over the weekend, which pitted both amateur and pro rally drivers against one another in some of the worst imaginable conditions. The Rally America series kicked off its 2012 season this weekend, with the 38th annual Sno*Drift rally in Atlanta, Michigan. Conditions were treacherous, with road surfaces ranging from gravel to glare ice. Since the Rally America series doesn’t allow studded snow tires, the race was more about smoothness and driving style than it was about horsepower.
David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew took the win for Subaru Rally Team USA, followed by the Rockstar Energy team of Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard. For the first time in series’ history, the event was streamed live over the Rally America website, and the series even used night vision cameras to capture the in-the-dark stages.
Next up is Missouri’s 100 Acre Wood rally on February 25 and 25th. If you’re interested in attending (or watching the live stream), head on over to the Rally America website for details.
|California To ‘Require’ Sales Of Electric And Plug-In-Hybrid Vehicles||
Just when you thought that legislators in the Golden State had come to their senses, something happens to reaffirm our opinion that California may be the least-car-enthusiast-friendly state in the country. After showing some degree of sanity by agreeing to adopt the proposed EPA mileage standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025, California has announced that, by 2025, a minimum of 15.4 percent of sales must be of electric, plug-in-hybrid or hydrogen powered vehicles.
To frame that mandate with a dose of reality, let’s look at the two commercially available electric cars. In 2011, Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs in the United States; excluding trucks, that represents just 1.6 percent of its car sales in the United States. Chevrolet sold 7,671 Volts, which represented just one percent of its new car sales in the U.S. market.
Do we need to tell you that legislation requiring manufacturers to sell X percent of green cars is absurd, akin to requiring grocery stores to sell 15.4 percent of food from the produce aisle? While the penalties for non-compliance aren’t clear (yet), automakers can’t dictate whether or not customers will buy a “green” vehicle over a more conventional one. Sure, they can influence this via marketing, but at the showroom level it’s always the consumer who has the final say, unless, of course, the freedom of choice element is removed.
As Autoblog and Automotive News (subscription required) report, some ten additional states (including New York and New Jersey) will likely follow California’s lead, requiring automakers to significantly ramp up sales of green vehicles. Automakers, oddly enough, back the plan, but with good reason – by mandating sales of electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles, manufacturers get an artificially inflated market to sell into.
|2012 Chevrolet Sonic LTZ (2LZ) Review & Test Drive||
For years Chevrolet played the small car game, but their cards were often coming up short when vetted against the over-seas competition. This year, Chevrolet introduces the 2012 Sonic. An all-new small car from the ground up that is poised to compete worldwide.
The all-new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic brings the subcompact segment back home for General Motors in a way that reaches across the pond. The 2012 Chevy Sonic is essentially a replacement for the ill-fated Daewoo-breed Chevy Aveo. Without even driving the Sonic, at first glace, I can say with a certainty that the Sonic will be a much needed improvement.
As a world market competitor, the new Chevy Sonic will have no problems keeping up with the competition. The new Chevy Sonic gets a choice of two fuel-efficient yet peppy 4-cylinder engines. My 2012 Sonic LTZ was equipped with a 1.8-liter 138 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque engine, same as found in the base Chevy Cruze. A 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is available on two out of six specific trim levels (1LT, 1LZ) for the Sonic with a late availability. With the 1.8-liter 4-cylinder Ecotec engine mated to a 6-speed automatic, I was able to muster out a solid 33 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in the city.
For a subcompact vehicle the Chevy Sonic has many trim levels, six total. Quite possibly Chevrolet’s explanation for this is giving consumers plenty of personalization options. Sure, a subcompact hatchback should have a wide array of trim levels and configuration options. The 2012 Chevy Sonic does not disappoint providing a long list of options including my (LTZ) 2LT trim level test vehicle’s heated ‘leatherette’ seats, Bluetooth connectivity w/ streaming audio, remote vehicle start, and front fog lights. This list is not abundant by any means. This is after-all, a subcompact vehicle.
When I think of a subcompact vehicle, I tend to think of something like the Fiat 500 I had a couple weeks ago. The Chevy Sonic is rather large for a subcompact, which is a good thing considering how well I can fit my 6-feet 3-inch frame into the driver’s seat. Interior volume on the Sonic rivals that of a compact vehicle. The rear seating area is also decent for a vehicle classified as “small”. The place where space may be considered somewhat compromised, is in the rear cargo hatch. Over-all, the interior of the Chevy Sonic is comfortable and refined, especially for its class.
At over 2,600 pounds, the new Chevy Sonic may be considered heavy for its class. Surprisingly, that does not upset its drivability. The new Sonic is still nimble enough to throw around corners and with the 1.8-liter engine mated to a competent 6-speed automatic transmission, the Sonic performs considerably well. Some of the Sonic’s performance attributes are due to its well-weighted steering along with its 17-inch wheels and tires.
The all-new Chevy Sonic is gaining momentum in the aftermarket world. Having driven the new Sonic, I can conclude that it has an excellent foundation to build off of. This may be a special note to the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine option for the Sonic. Not to mention, the aggressive design of the Sonic will make it easier for aftermarket aesthetics to be pleasing to the eye of a critical enthusiast.
Outside of the new Chevy Sonic is an original design. The front headlights bulging from the front fascia make it one of the better looking Chevy designs. Even the larger front fog lights add a sporty style to the Sonic’s over-all appeal. The sheet metal lines across the hood and down the side blend well making the Sonic look sleek and daring. The rear end is probably my only quarrel with the Sonic’s design. It is almost as if Chevy needed to make a compact car into a subcompact so they just cut off the rear hatch area.
The new Chevy Sonic’s interior is familiar especially after having driven the Chevy Cruze just weeks ago. Where the Sonic changes things up is in the gauge cluster. The new cluster has a large rpm gauge with a digital LCD screen including the speedo and readouts for other pertinent vehicle information. The cluster is rather simplistic but works well to give the Sonic a performance perception.
Over-all the all-new Chevy Sonic manages to exile those preconceived notions that Chevrolet’s subcompact cars are cheap. The Aveo, on the other hand, was a vehicle that may have helped tarnish a growing brand. Now that General Motors has taken the crown for the #1 seller in the world, vehicles like the Chevy Sonic will do wonders to keep them on top when it comes to fun, economical and cute small cars.
The new 2012 Chevrolet Sonic 5-door hatchback has a starting price of only $14,635 for the base model while my Sonic LTZ test vehicle came with an as-tested price of $19,255.
Copyright: 2012 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base Sonic LS Hatchback $14,635 As-Tested Sonic LTZ Hatchback $19,255
- Engine: 1.8-liter 4-cylinder Ecotec 16-valve 138 horsepower @ 6300 rpm / 125 ft-lbs. torque @ 3800 rpm
- Wheelbase: 99.4in.
- Total length: 159.0in.
- Total width: 68.3in.
- Total height: 59.7in.
- Fuel tank: 12.2 gallons
- Headroom: f/r-38.7/38.1in.
- Shoulder room: f/r-53.4/53.0in.
- Curb weight: 2,684 lbs. (6-speed automatic)
- 0-60mph: 9.0 seconds
- EPA mileage: 25mpg/city, 35mpg/highway (automatic transmission)
|Pagani Zonda Wrecked in Hong Kong||
Due to its outstanding performance, raw beauty and exclusivity the Pagani Zonda is arguably one of the most favoured supercars ever built. So whenever one has a near-death experience or worse, makes it to Zonda heaven, the reaction from car enthusiasts is always one of bereavement.
Unfortunately a recent event was reported of a Pagani Zonda, allegedly owned by one of the top executives at Dolce & Gabbana in Hong Kong, crashing near Tsim Sha Tsui. Local news reported that the driver lost control of the vehicle causing it to collide into a tree and then as if that wasn’t bad enough, into a traffic light. Fortunately the driver was not injured.
The photographs below are evidence of serious front and rear end damage with torn suspension and dangling wheels, however its hard to see if there is any major structural damage to the carbon fibre monocoque. News reports have since said the vehicle is not a total loss.
Source: World Car Fans
|50th Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona Captured by Michael Shank Racing #60 Ford/Riley||
A.J. Allmendinger in the #60 Michael Shank Racing Ford/Riley takes the checkered flag for the Daytona Prototype class and Richard Lietz in the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 brings it home for GT-class at the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona.
For the golden year anniversary, the Rolex 24 hour race marks its 50th year with an open field of Daytona Prototypes and GT-class Grand-Am series racecars.
It was a diverse group of great teams and drivers from all over the world behind the wheel of machines powered by Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Porsche, Ferrari, Mazda and others. Dominating the podium was Ford/Riley vehicles for Daytona Prototypes and Porsche GT3 vehicles for the GT-class.
The final podium standings for the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 at Daytona include the following:
- #60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian / Ford Riley – A.J. Allmendinger, Ozz Negri, John Pew, Justin Wilson
- #8 Starworks Motorsport / Ford Riley – Ryan Dalziel, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish, Alex Popow, Enzo Potolicchio,
- #6 Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian / Ford Riley – Jorge Goncalvez, Michael McDowell, Felipe Nasr, Gustavo Yacaman
- #44 Magnus Racing / Porsche GT3 – Andy Lally, Richard Lietz, John Potter, Rene Rast
- #67 TRG / Porsche GT3 – Steven Bertheau, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Goossens, Wolf Henzler, Spencer Pumpelly
- #59 Brumos Racing / Porsche GT3 – Andrew Davis, Hurley Haywood, Leh Keen, Marc Lieb
|Video: Canada Cracks Down On Street Racing… Taxis?||
It’s a well known fact that our neighbors north of the border have very little sense of humor when it comes to street racing. In fact, those of us in the country to the south would have concerns about even passing another car on a Canadian highway, lest we be stopped for racing, or worse, “stunt driving.”
Apparently that’s a problem for taxis in Toronto, too, and a pair of drivers recently found themselves on the wrong side of the law. As Autoblog, via Autoblog Canada, reports, the two cabbies were pulled over for “stunt driving” down Toronto’s Younge Street, which has the distinction of being the longest street in Canada. As you’d guess, Younge Street once had a reputation for being a street racer’s paradise, as least when it wasn’t snow-packed.
Stunt driving comes with a seven-day license suspension and allows police to impound the vehicles involved. We’re sure the cab companies have already gotten their property back, but we’re less sure about the job security of the drivers involved in the incident.
We don’t condone street racing, especially on pedestrian-clogged avenues. However, we’ve spent plenty of time in the back seat of NYC taxis and lived to tell about it. If you want to see stunt driving, climb into the back of a New York City cab at rush hour, and tell the driver there’s a $20 tip if he can get you cross town in fifteen minutes or less.
|Supercar Builder SSC Drops Shelby Name||
Even for those of us in the business, it occasionally got confusing: there was Shelby, which was really Shelby American, and there was Shelby SuperCars, which had nothing to do with Shelby. Shelby American, located in Nevada, builds fast-but-pricey Mustangs and continuation Cobras with Carroll Shelby’s stamp of approval. Shelby SuperCars, located in Washington, builds the SSC Ultimate Aero, the cars that (briefly) took fastest-car-in-the-world honors away from the Bugatti Veyron.
Shelby SuperCars was founded by Jerod Shelby, who shares no lineage with Carroll Shelby. We probably don’t need to tell you that Carroll Shelby wasn’t happy about another performance automobile brand with a shared name, so the two companies have finally come to terms on nomenclature. According to Left Lane News, Shelby SuperCars will now be known only by its common name, SSC.
In SSC’s defense, the brand has always emphasized SSC over Shelby SuperCars, so there really isn’t much of a change. Formally adopting the SSC moniker will allow the company to build a new corporate identity strategy that avoids confusion with any other brands.
SSC is hard at work on its latest project, the 1,350 horsepower Tuatara, which it hopes will again take top dog honors back from Bugatti. We’re confident SSC will reach that goal, because with a name like Tuatara, you’d better be fast.
|Nissan Juke-R Gets Taken For a Drive in Dubai||
Watch Mike Spinelli as he drives the new Nissan Juke -R concept down in Dubai this week on Road Testament.
The Juke-R, first launched back in October, that caused some controversy among the Nissan executives, is a mashup of the Juke and the GT-R with an unusual distended body created to accommodate the advanced all-wheel-drive system, twin-clutch transmission and 3.8-litre twin-turbo 480-horsepower V6 engine.
View Mike in action in the video below:
|Video: Audi’s Vampire Super Bowl Commercial Brings New S7 to the Party||
Even if your favorite team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, Audi continues to be a star among automotive enthusiasts- so at least WE have something to cheer about. In probably one of the cleverest Super Bowl commercials to come from Audi, they demonstrate what happens when the all-new Audi S7 shows up to a party full of vampires.
Why wait for the Superbowl to see the action happen? Check out the new Audi Super Bowl XLVI commercial below as a continuation to the teaser that we posted yesterday. You are going to like this one, I guarantee it!
|Audi’s Next Super Bowl Ad Teaser Jumps The Shark: Video||
When it comes to Super Bowl advertising, we thought we’d seen it all. Last year, we had Kia giving us aliens, Mayans and even a dash of Poseidon, while Volkswagen shamelessly ripped off George Lucas (after paying him handsomely, we’re sure). This year, Kia has supermodel Adriana Lima, Chevy has a berserk college student, Lexus has a caged GS and Audi has… vampires.
I’d say the vampire meme is played out, but it’s way beyond played out. In fact, it’s played out, buried, dug up, killed with a stake through its heart and buried again. Then it’s dug up and cremated. Does anyone other than 16 year-old-girls and drug-addled goths even think about vampires these days? How many 16 year girls and goths do you think are in the market for a new Audi?
I get what Audi is trying to communicate: it’s headlights are unique and very bright. Bright enough to send vampires scurrying up trees for cover. If that’s all you have to pitch your high-end luxury cars, it doesn’t speak well for your engineers (or your marketing team).
We’re big fans of Audi, which is probably why we’re so critical of this ad (which, in fairness, we haven’t even seen yet). Why not play up your racing success, or emphasize the stunning good looks of your cars, or the quality of your interiors instead of going for played-out pop culture cliches?
At least Kia’s giving us a supermodel with a checkered flag.
|BMW To U.S. Customers: ‘No M Diesels For You’||
After months of rumor and speculation, BMW has finally confirmed what most of us already knew. The Munich-based automaker is building not one, but a full range of M-badged diesel vehicles, including a sedan, a wagon, an SUV and a crossover. The models will make their debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show, and will go on sale in Germany shortly thereafter.
It’s likely that they’ll be sold throughout the E.U., but Motor Authority is reporting that U.S. customers are out of luck. Perhaps it’s a question of price and volume, based on the myth that Americans don’t buy diesels. More likely, however, is the issue of emissions compliance, since (until 2014) the EU has less stringent standards for passenger car diesel emissions than we do.
Whatever the reason, we’re missing out on some choice rides. The M550d xDrive sedan will usher you from 0 – 62 mph in just 4.7 seconds, while delivering an average fuel economy of 37 miles per gallon (in European cycle testing, anyway). If wagons are your thing, the M550 xDrive Touring will run from 0 – 62 mph in 4.9 seconds, returning an average of 36.7 mpg. If you want an SUV with a dash of schnell, the X5 M50d will take 5.4 seconds to get you to 62 mph, yet still return 31.4 mpg. Finally, the X6 M50d crossover will go from 0 -62 mph in 5.3 seconds, but sucks down the most fuel, delivering a still-impressive 30.5 mpg average.
All four get a new inline-six engine with BMW’s TwinPower Turbo technology (which actually uses three turbos), producing 381 horsepower and 546 pound-feet of torque. Ensuring that the power goes to the ground (instead of up in tire smoke), all four utilize all-wheel-drive and all get an eight-speed automatic transmission. A manual gearbox, as far as we can tell, isn’t an available option.
Don’t expect these to make it stateside in 2012 or 2013, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that we’ll see one or two models in 2014, after the U.S. and E.U. emission standards reach parity.
|VW could conclude Porsche takeover this year||
Despite reports that investors filed a $2.6 billion suit against Porsche over the Stuttgart maker’s attempt to gobble up VW and an arbitration application against Volkswagen, according to Der Spiegel, a VW executive has said that its ownership of Porsche could finally be concluded this year.
VW had initially predicted that the deal would be concluded by last year but then released a statement in September stating that too many hurdles and unknowns remained concerning investigations and economic consequences for the deal to get done any time in 2011. These hurdles involved previous lawsuits, including one brought by American investors in 2010, and the fact that VW couldn’t evaluate Porsche adequately until they were settled.
However, these latest reports mention nothing of lawsuits and instead, the resolution of the issues include a one-billion-euro tax payment that VW can avoid by creating a holding company by 2014 to control the Porsche stake and VW agreeing to contractually assure Porsche retains control over its models and where it spends its money. According to the above mentioned executive, this opens the door for VW to absorb the final 50.1 percent of Porsche it doesn’t currently own, for a price of €3.9 billion.
In the meantime, Reuters reports that VW and Porsche are working “at arm’s length” even though they have the same CEO and CFO and develop cars together, a fact which is testing CEO Martin Winterkorn’s patience. Earlier this month, Winterkorn was quoted as saying he wants to bring the companies closer “without needing to have a lawyer stand next to a Porsche employee every time he screws something into a Volkswagen or vice-versa.”