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Video: Bugatti Explains The One-Off L’or Blanc 30
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Bugatti, Bugatti L'or Blanc, Kurt, video on 04 30th, 2012

Without new models in the pipeline, Bugatti has been limited to building even more exotic one-off creations with truly staggering price tags. Take the Bugatti L’or Blanc, for example, which was created in cooperation with the porcelain artisans at Berlin’s Koenigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (KPM). The selling price for this particular work of art ? A reported $2.5 million.

As Motor Authority explains, the car is surfaced in aluminum and carbon fiber, painted to match designs created in the KPM studio. Handcrafted porcelain details (not our first choice for automotive applications) are used throughout, including the EB logo, the fuel filler cap, door handle trim, center console tray and the rear bulkhead. The material has been tested to withstand the type of rigors encountered on the road, but we still don’t see a porcelain ornament withstanding a 200 mph stone impact.

The car marks the start of a partnership between Bugatti and KPM, so expect future models to sport such fine art ceramic detailing as well. As for us, we’d be happy to pay less money to get exterior trim that’s a bit more durable and less expensive to replace.

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Just Because: Lamborghini Aventador J Promotional Video 30
Apr
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Aventador J, Lamborghini, Lamborghini Aventador, video on 04 30th, 2012

Even though no one will ever get their hands on the exclusive Aventador J, it does not stop Lamborghini from promoting their outrageous machine proving what they are capable of building. As a continuation to a previous promo video, Lamborghini shows us the end highlighting the one-of-a-kind Aventador J.

The 700-horsepower roadster will go to one lucky owner reportedly paying $2.74. That figure may be a drop in the bucket for the 1-percenters here in America but for us common folk, all we get are hi-res images and a promotional video below.

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A Newly Re-Funded Lotus Resumes Production 30
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Lotus, News on 04 30th, 2012

Lotus' concept for the next Elise. Image: Lotus

If you’re a fan of Lotus, here’s some good news to kick off your week: the temporary production freeze has been removed, and new parent DRB-Hicom has funded Lotus to resume production of Elise, Exige and Evora models. Better yet, there’s funding for Lotus to resume development of its flagship Esprit model and V-8 engine that will power it.

As Autocar (via Autoblog) explains, Lotus had been under a production freeze, prompted by the sale of former parent Proton to DRB-Hicom. Even prior to the sale, rumors were flying that Lotus would be put on the block as a separate entity; while a crown jewel for former owner Proton, Lotus never managed to earn a profit for the Malaysian automaker.

Lotus head Dany Bahar denies that the company is for sale, and we’re adopting a “wait and see” attitude. For now, two things are clear to us: Lotus will be worth more to prospective buyers after the development of the new Esprit and updated Elise, and everything in the world is ultimately for sale, if the price is right.



Video: Big Muscle Drives A 1968 Camaro… CTS-V? 27
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Big Muscle, Camaro, Chevrolet, Kurt, video, Videos on 04 27th, 2012

There are only a finite number of 1968 Camaros, in coupe or convertible form, left on the planet. Owning one generally requires careful stewardship, to preserve the car for future generations. If you want to keep it original, that means there’s very little you can do to improve the car or make it safer.

If that’s the purist school of thought, there’s also the pro-touring school of thought, which says, “the old cars were the coolest, so why not do everything you can to improve performance and handling?” Enter Bob Hall, the owner of what may well be the coolest 1968 Camaro convertible on planet earth.

First, that’s no stock 327 V-8 beneath the hood. Instead, Hall’s ride uses an LSA V-8 pulled from a wrecked Cadillac CTS-V. Thanks to an overdrive pulley on the stock supercharger and a custom tune, the car makes some 800 horsepower at the crank, which translates to 648 horsepower at the rear wheels. The suspension and brakes have been updated to handle the additional power, and Hall regularly drives the car in autocross competition.

Inside is a very tasteful blend of old (the original gauges) and new (carbon fiber center console, Recaro seats). In fact, part of Hall’s intent was to not make any changes that couldn’t be undone, essentially preserving the car for future generations. That may change in the future, though, as Hall is looking for a way to get more tire underneath the car.

Congrats to Bob Hall for building such a masterpiece, and congrats to Mike Musto for finding the rhythm with Big Muscle. Here’s to more of the same in the coming weeks.



Ford Releases Power Figures For The 2013 Shelby GT500 27
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2013 Shelby GT500, Automotive, Ford, Kurt, News on 04 27th, 2012

The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. Image: Ford Motor Company

Last November we told you that Ford would launch a revised Shelby GT500 for 2013, complete with a 650-horsepower supercharged V-8. It turns out we were a bit wrong about the Shelby’s horsepower; according to the latest information from Ford, the new Shelby GT500 will actually produce 662 horsepower and 631 pound-feet of torque, which makes the car’s 5.8-liter V-8 the most powerful production V-8 in the world.

Think about that last fact for a second – the most powerful production V-8 in the world graces the engine bay of a Mustang, not a Ferrari or an Aston Martin or a Maserati. It beats the Camaro ZL1 by a significant 82 horsepower and 75 pound-feet of torque, and it even beats the Corvette ZR1 in output, at a little more than half the price (although we’re pretty sure the ZR1 will still be faster around a racetrack).

If that wasn’t impressive enough on its own, the new Shelby GT500 will even avoid a gas guzzler tax rating, and actually delivers better fuel economy (by one mpg city and highway) than the car it replaces. Compared to the Camaro ZL1, the Shelby GT500 will return one more mpg around town, but a significant five mpg more on the highway. Not that any buyers shop either car for its fuel economy, of course, and driven as intended fuel economy in the single digits is likely.

Ford is still claiming a top speed of “200 mph and beyond,” which is seriously impressive given the car’s blue collar roots. We’ve driven early GT500s on the track, so we can’t wait for a turn behind the wheel of the 2013 version, which (on paper at least) sounds like the most serious muscle car ever built.

Chevy, the ball is now officially in your court. Let’s see what you can do with the 2014 Camaro ZL1.



Video: Stock 2013 Nissan GT-R Consistently Runs 10 Seconds in Quarter Mile 27
Apr
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in 2013 Nissan GT-R, Automotive, Drag Race, Drag Strip, nissan, nissan gt-r, video on 04 27th, 2012

When we took the liberty of pushing the new 2013 Nissan GT-R to the limit at Palm Beach International Raceway (PBIR) and drag strip, our official run times were not recorded. For all we know, we could have been putting down consistent 10-second runs in the quarter mile. One GT-R owner, who recently took his new 2013 ‘Godzilla’ to the same track, was able to lay down a best run of 10.87 seconds in the quarter mile… all from a stock GT-R. Interestingly enough, the GT-R was able to lay down this time consistently run after run.

This time is on par with the short list of test drivers to get behind the wheel of a new 2013 Nissan GT-R and record official quarter mile times. We even listed these official times in our first drive of the 2013 GT-R.

Although some aftermarket tuners take the GT-R to near quad-digit horsepower levels, they have a hard time laying all of that power to the ground. The new 2013 Nissan GT-R is better than ever sporting 545 horsepower and 463 ft-lbs. of torque. One could argue that in stock form, the GT-R is at its best. The new GT-R’s 0-60mph time is only 2.7 seconds, just 0.2 seconds slower than the multi-million dollar Bugatti Veyron.

When it comes to the new Nissan GT-R, we are pretty sure MC Hammer said it best… “You can’t touch this”.

[sources: worldcarfans via dragtimes]



A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Pagani: Video 26
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Drive, Kurt, Pagani, video, Videos on 04 26th, 2012

Horacio Pagani believes that art and engineering aren’t mutually exclusive, and his passion for both can clearly be seen in every automobile that bears his name. While the video below is long (nearly half an hour), we think it’s well worth watching, as it gives you a very intimate look at the man behind one of the world’s most exclusive supercar manufacturers.

While brands like Lamborghini and Ferrari churn out thousands of cars per year, Pagani builds less than two-dozen. In fact, at its current facility, production is limited to just 20 cars per year, which is why the manufacturer will soon occupy a larger facility. Its capacity? Around 40 cars per year.

That quantity is just about right for Horacio Pagani, who seems to have a personal relationship with each and every one of his customers (who he refers to as family). It’s clear that employees are family, too, as evidenced by the number of Pagani tattoos proudly displayed by the craftsmen who build the cars.

No expense is spared in the construction of a Pagani, and no detail is overlooked. The carbon fiber monocoques use a unique carbon fiber cloth that contains embedded strands of titanium, which adds to the tub’s overall strength and ability to dissipate energy. Sure, it’s significantly more expensive than conventional carbon fiber cloth, but that’s beside the point. It’s the best material available, so that’s what Pagani uses.

Most of us will never have the $1.4 million or so it takes to put a Pagani Huayra into your collection, but that’s beside the point. For those of us with 10w 30 in our veins, knowing that a genius like Horacio Pagani is building cars without compromise is enough.



A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Pagani: Video 26
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Drive, Kurt, Pagani, video, Videos on 04 26th, 2012

Horacio Pagani believes that art and engineering aren’t mutually exclusive, and his passion for both can clearly be seen in every automobile that bears his name. While the video below is long (nearly half an hour), we think it’s well worth watching, as it gives you a very intimate look at the man behind one of the world’s most exclusive supercar manufacturers.

While brands like Lamborghini and Ferrari churn out thousands of cars per year, Pagani builds less than two-dozen. In fact, at its current facility, production is limited to just 20 cars per year, which is why the manufacturer will soon occupy a larger facility. Its capacity? Around 40 cars per year.

That quantity is just about right for Horacio Pagani, who seems to have a personal relationship with each and every one of his customers (who he refers to as family). It’s clear that employees are family, too, as evidenced by the number of Pagani tattoos proudly displayed by the craftsmen who build the cars.

No expense is spared in the construction of a Pagani, and no detail is overlooked. The carbon fiber monocoques use a unique carbon fiber cloth that contains embedded strands of titanium, which adds to the tub’s overall strength and ability to dissipate energy. Sure, it’s significantly more expensive than conventional carbon fiber cloth, but that’s beside the point. It’s the best material available, so that’s what Pagani uses.

Most of us will never have the $1.4 million or so it takes to put a Pagani Huayra into your collection, but that’s beside the point. For those of us with 10w 30 in our veins, knowing that a genius like Horacio Pagani is building cars without compromise is enough.



Mercedes-Benz Confirms Upcoming SLC Sport Coupe 26
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Mercedes Benz, Mercedes-Benz SLC, News on 04 26th, 2012

Members of the Mercedes-Benz coupe family. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is perhaps best known for building luxury cars, with the occasional emphasis on sport through tuning arm AMG. While cars like its SLS AMG command a space at the upper end of the sport / grand touring coupe market, the three-pointed star has wanted a more affordable, harder-edged coupe to compete with the Porsche 911 for quite some time.

Rumors of such a car have been circulating for years, with the occasional spy shot of what appears to be an SLS in 3/4 scale making the rounds. Now comes word from Britain’s Auto Express that such a car does indeed exist, and will hit the market under the SLC name.

Confirmation comes from Mercedes-Benz design head Gorden Wagener, who spoke with Auto Express at this week’s Beijing Auto Show. Details are lacking, but there are several givens: the car will be priced to compete with the Porsche 911, it will offer a range of engine options (including both a V-6 and a V-8) and it will come to market wearing an AMG badge. As a concession to cost, it will likely use conventional doors instead of the gullwing doors found on the SLS AMG.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, patience is required. While test mules have been spotted, word is the car won’t see production before late 2013 or early 2014, and will likely be launched in Europe before making its way to this side of the pond.



Mercedes-Benz Confirms Upcoming SLC Sport Coupe 26
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Mercedes Benz, Mercedes-Benz SLC, News on 04 26th, 2012

Members of the Mercedes-Benz coupe family. Image: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is perhaps best known for building luxury cars, with the occasional emphasis on sport through tuning arm AMG. While cars like its SLS AMG command a space at the upper end of the sport / grand touring coupe market, the three-pointed star has wanted a more affordable, harder-edged coupe to compete with the Porsche 911 for quite some time.

Rumors of such a car have been circulating for years, with the occasional spy shot of what appears to be an SLS in 3/4 scale making the rounds. Now comes word from Britain’s Auto Express that such a car does indeed exist, and will hit the market under the SLC name.

Confirmation comes from Mercedes-Benz design head Gorden Wagener, who spoke with Auto Express at this week’s Beijing Auto Show. Details are lacking, but there are several givens: the car will be priced to compete with the Porsche 911, it will offer a range of engine options (including both a V-6 and a V-8) and it will come to market wearing an AMG badge. As a concession to cost, it will likely use conventional doors instead of the gullwing doors found on the SLS AMG.

If it sounds like something you’d be interested in, patience is required. While test mules have been spotted, word is the car won’t see production before late 2013 or early 2014, and will likely be launched in Europe before making its way to this side of the pond.



Video: EVO Test Drives “For the Road” Pagani Zonda 760 RS 25
Apr
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Evo, Pagani, Pagani Zonda, Pagani Zonda 760 RS, video on 04 25th, 2012

The editorial director and founder of EVO Magazine, Harry Metcalfe, goes to the Pagani factory in Italy to take the Zonda 760 RS out for a drive tailing the original development car for Pagani through the hills.

The 760 horsepower Zonda 760 RS is touted as the most extreme Zonda ever, having 90 horsepower more than the Zonda Cinque and 20hp more than the Zonda R. As Harry describes it, the 760 RS is a road going car made out of requests from Pagani customers who simply wanted “more”. Check out the exclusive video below of Harry doing a full walk around and putting the 7.3-liter Zonda 760 RS through its paces before it gets shipped to its new owner.



Video: EVO Test Drives “For the Road” Pagani Zonda 760 RS 25
Apr
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Evo, Pagani, Pagani Zonda, Pagani Zonda 760 RS, video on 04 25th, 2012

The editorial director and founder of EVO Magazine, Harry Metcalfe, goes to the Pagani factory in Italy to take the Zonda 760 RS out for a drive tailing the original development car for Pagani through the hills.

The 760 horsepower Zonda 760 RS is touted as the most extreme Zonda ever, having 90 horsepower more than the Zonda Cinque and 20hp more than the Zonda R. As Harry describes it, the 760 RS is a road going car made out of requests from Pagani customers who simply wanted “more”. Check out the exclusive video below of Harry doing a full walk around and putting the 7.3-liter Zonda 760 RS through its paces before it gets shipped to its new owner.

Update: The “new owner of this beast” is reportedly F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton.



Report: Scion Says No To Factory Turbo FR-S 25
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2013 Scion FR-S, Automotive, Kurt, Scion on 04 25th, 2012

The 2013 Scion FR-S. Image: Toyota

If you’ve been holding out on buying a new Scion FR-S until a faster model is released, we’ve got some bad news for you: according to Car and Driver, such a model makes no financial sense for Scion to produce. Without forced induction, Scion can make a profit selling the FR-S in the mid-$20k range. Add a turbo, and the selling price would start pushing the $30k barrier, a price that Scion deems too expensive for its customers.

Subaru, on the other hand, has positioned its BRZ a bit more upscale, which could allow for the expense of turbocharging down the line. Such a move is still undecided, and earlier rumors reported that Subaru was developing a normally aspirated STI version of its BRZ. Cost aside, there simple isn’t a lot of room to fit a turbo, intercooler and associated plumbing under the hood.

That doesn’t mean that FR-S or BRZ buyers are out of options, since we expect the aftermarket to deliver everything from intakes through turbo and supercharger kits and exhausts in the coming months. Scion may not be willing to build a turbo FR-S, but we’re guessing that plenty of aftermarket vendors will step up to the plate.



Toyota Announces Pricing on Off-Roading-Equipped 2012 Tacoma TRD T/X Baja 25
Apr
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, News, TOYOTA, Toyota Tacoma on 04 25th, 2012

The Toyota Tacoma, on its minor refreshing for 2012, gets a new limited edition TRD package dubbed the TRD T/X Baja. Onlookers received a glimpse of a pre-production Tacoma TRD Baja edition at previous shows such as SEMA and the Texas State Fair last year. Now we get official details and pricing on Toyota’s Off-Roading Tacoma Baja edition.

The new 2012 Tacoma TRD T/X Baja comes as part of Toyota Racing Development’s initiative to provide consumers with a subtly “Raptor-ized” Tacoma capable of serious off-roading.

Some Toyota execs will call this tricked-out off-roader Toyota’s Raptor. I would not go as far as to call it that, however, the Baja Off-Road package does consist of front/rear Bilstein shocks, BF Goodrich T/A KO tires (LT265/70R16), bead-lock style off-road wheels, increased front lift by 2 inches, a TRD catback exhaust system and custom Baja graphics.

Pricing for the new 2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD T/X Baja edition (Access Cab) equipped with a manual transmission will start at just $32,990 plus a delivery fee of $810. For those shoppers who have already taken the liberty to configure a new Tacoma with just the Off-Road package, they will find out that the new Baja edition comes out to be cheaper in the end.

If you ask me, this Toyota Tacoma TRD T/X Baja edition is the way to go for a ‘lesser Raptor’ that happens to be easier your wallet. Look for the 2012 Tacoma TRD Baja to hit dealerships next month (May 2012).

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Hit up the full press release below for additional information.

Toyota Announces Pricing for Limited Edition Tacoma Pickup TRD T/X Baja Series Package

  • Inspired By Toyota’s Baja Racing Heritage
  • Enhanced Suspension For Greater Off-Road Performance
  • Special Package Adds to Updated 2012 Tacoma

TORRANCE, Calif., April 23, 2012 – – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc., announced prices today for the TRD T/X Baja Series Package. Inspired by Toyota’s Baja racing heritage, the truck reveals bold graphics with its name “Baja Series” and enhanced suspension, elevating the capability of Tacoma’s TRD Off-Road pickup to a new level of fun and function. The special limited edition package will be available on select Tacoma 4×4 pickup trucks.

The TRD T/X Baja Series Package provides the customer with a great value and high level of capability that is backed by Toyota’s standard vehicle warranty. The TRD T/X Baja Series Package is offered at an MSRP of $5,015 less a $650 Factory Credit. There is an additional savings because the package the Baja Series is built on top of, TRD Off-Road Package for the Baja Series, is priced below the regular TRD Off-Road Package.

Toyota has a rich Baja racing heritage that dates back nearly three decades and includes numerous titles at the legendary Baja 500 and 1000. Toyota’s desert racing program has inspired the development of numerous TRD off-road focused products and packages over the years including the Tacoma PreRunner and TRD Off-Road packages for both Tacoma and Tundra. Last year, Tacoma’s Off-Road Package was enhanced with the launch of the TRD T/X and T/X Pro packages. TRD now takes Tacoma off-roading to the next level with the development of the T/X Baja Series.

The T/X Baja Series will be available on both the Tacoma Access and Double Cab 4×4 models equipped with the TRD Off-Road Package. The Tacoma T/X Baja Series is equipped with a 4.0-liter V6 engine with either six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions. In addition to an electronically-controlled locking rear differential, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC) currently equipped on the TRD Off-Road package, the limited edition T/X Baja Series adds BF Goodrich T/A KO tires (LT265/70R16) and bead-lock style off-road wheels with an exclusive Gun-Metal Gray finish, TRD Cat-back Exhaust, increased front ride height of nearly two inches and unique Baja Series graphics.

The front suspension has been upgraded to include Ø66mm piston Bilstein race shocks with TRD coil springs that feature a protective zinc plated body and a one inch increase in wheel travel. The rear suspension is equipped with Ø50mm piston Bilstein race shocks with a remote reservoir to increase shock oil capacity for greater heat dissipation and damping sensitivity. The rear shocks also include a zinc plated body and a 1.5-inch increase in wheel travel.

The T/X Baja Series will be part of a Tacoma line that was updated for 2012 with a restyled front end and a refreshed interior in all models. Exterior changes included a redesigned hood, grille, headlamps and front bumper, among other changes. Inside, Tacoma received a new center-instrument panel design with a revised gauge cluster, along with a new steering wheel. A redesigned center stack added new air conditioner/heater controls and power point locations.

The 2012 Tacoma interior also received a new look with a black high-contrast center console, switch plate covers, dash and upper door trim, while the SR5 grade featured a new seat fabric design. Tacoma offers new heavy-duty all-weather flooring option for 2012 on Tacoma Access and Double Cab models equipped with a V6 engine. The more specialized TRD Sport and Off-Road packages also feature new water-resistant fabric protection seats.

All Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series models will be built exclusively at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) in San Antonio and will reach dealer showrooms in May 2012. Prices for the Baja Series Tacoma do not include delivery, processing and handling fees (DPH), which are $810. The DPH fee for vehicles distributed by Southeast Toyota (SET) and Gulf States Toyota (GST) may vary.

2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja Series Model-By-Model Prices
Tacoma Baja Series 2012 MY, Model Code, Series, Description, MSRP, TRD Off-Road Pkg for Baja ($), Baja Series Pkg ($), Baja Series Factory Credit, New MSRP

2012, 7553, Tacoma, Access Cab 4×4 V6 MT, $25,055, $3,570, $5,015, -$650, $32,990
2012, 7554, Tacoma, Access Cab 4×4 V6 Auto, $25,935, $3,670, $5,015, -$650, $33,975
2012, 7593, Tacoma, Double Cab 4×4 V6 MT, $26,455, $3,455, $5,015, -$650, $34,275
2012, 7594, Tacoma, Double Cab 4×4 V6 Auto, $27,335, $3,555, $5,015, -$650, $35,255

All prices listed above exclude the Delivery, Processing, and Handling (DPH) fee of $810

Tacoma TRD T/X Baja Series Features
Off-Road tuned front and rear TRD Bilstein racing shocks
Electronically-controlled locking rear differential
Active Traction Control (A-TRAC)
Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC)
Downhill Assist Control (DAC)
BF Goodrich T/A KO tires (LT265/70R16) with bead-lock style off-road wheels with exclusive Gun-Metal Gray finish
TRD Cat-Back Exhaust
Increased front ride height by nearly two inches
Matte Black T/X Baja Vehicle Side Graphics
Exclusive TRD Tailgate Badge



The 2012 BMW M5, With And Without Active Sound: Video 25
Apr
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2012 BMW M5, Active Sound, Automotive, BMW, Kurt, video on 04 25th, 2012

Electronics are used to enhance almost everything in new cars these days. Traction control senses wheel slip under power and acts to regain forward motion. Stability control senses understeer or oversteer and brakes individual wheels to keep you off the guardrail (within the limits of physics and available traction, that is). Even the engine noise you’re hearing in cockpit may be artificially enhanced, just like the dancers at your local strip club.

Sound tubes that passively pipe engine sounds into the interior are nothing new. Ford’s Mustang uses them, as does the new 3.8-liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe. Volkswagen’s GTI used them until 2011, when they eliminated the tubes (likely as a cost-cutting measure). BMW’s redesigned M5 has the same idea, but takes it to a whole new level: instead of piping engine noise through a plastic tube, the M5 captures engine sound via a microphone (or microphones), then amplifies this and pipes it through the car’s audio system.

Purists, as you’d imagine, were horrified by this “feature.” Skeptics, like ourselves, saw it as just another system to fail down the line, with no real benefit whatsoever to performance. Now, thanks to a helpful poster on M5 Post (found via Autoblog), you can decide for yourself if ActiveSound is worthwhile by watching the video below.

Does the car sound better with ActiveSound on? Whether it does or not is somewhat irrelevant, since pulling the fuse also disables the audio system and reverse sensor warning system, two things that few drivers would willingly live without.







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