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F1 Surprise: McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton Moving To Mercedes In 2013 28
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, F1, Formula-One, Kurt, lewis-hamilton, News on 09 28th, 2012

Lewis Hamilton – image: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

With just a few races remaining on the 2012 calendar, Formula One now heads into its “silly season,” where drivers on the bubble scramble to find rides for next year, while top-shelf stars near the end of existing contracts quietly shop their wares among other (presumably higher-paying) teams.

While rumors of Lewis Hamilton’s departure from McLaren have been circulating for months, it was hard to imagine the British driver moving to another squad. That’s why the news of Hamilton’s departure comes as such a surprise, especially since he’s headed to Mercedes (who currently supplies engines for McLaren). Taking Hamilton’s place alongside Jenson Button (who’s staying put for 2013) will be Sergio Perez, an impressive driver with lots of talent who has lacked a winning car to date.

As you may have guessed, Hamilton will be replacing Michael Schumacher at Mercedes, who will once again hang up his Nomex at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Hamilton will race alongside Nico Rosberg (a friend and former teammate from Hamilton’s karting days) at the Mercedes squad.

Perez’s departure leaves a vacancy at Sauber, a team that has shown a bit of promise in 2012. Don’t expect to see a big-name driver chosen to fill that seat, even though Ferrari’s Felipe Massa will likely be out of a job at the end of the season.

McLaren Reveals P1 Supercar In Paris 28
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, mclaren, McLaren P1, supercars on 09 28th, 2012

McLaren’s P1 supercar – image: McLaren

It’s now official: the McLaren P1 will be the successor to the McLaren F1 as the company’s attempt to build the world’s finest supercar. Using the Paris Auto Show as its stage (which, incidentally, was McLaren’s first-ever appearance at an international auto show), McLaren revealed the P1 to a crowd of journalists and honored guests.

McLaren’s P1 supercar – image: McLaren

In the words, of McLaren’s Executive Chairman, Ron Dennis, “The McLaren P1 will be the result of 50 years of racing and road car heritage. Twenty years ago we raised the supercar performance bar with the McLaren F1 and out goal with the McLaren P1 is to redefine it once again.”

McLaren’s P1 supercar – image: McLaren

McLaren would only talk in generalities about the car, so specific horsepower figures remain unknown. For the time being, McLaren’s Program Director, Paul Mackenzie, would only admit that the design goal was to produce more than 600PS (about 592 horsepower) per ton, which should indeed produce the race-car-like performance that McLaren is after.

McLaren’s P1 supercar – image: McLaren

Like the F1, the P1 will be mid-engined and built around a carbon fiber monocoque and roof structure that McLaren calls the MonoCage. Body panels will also be crafted of carbon fiber, and many will also serve to provide downforce or cooling ducts. As the P1’s Chief Design Engineer Dan Parry-Williams explains, “Everything is there for a reason – true form improves function. Every duct, every surface, does a job, either in aero or in cooling.”

McLaren’s P1 supercar – image: McLaren

To improve grip and high-speed stability, the P1 will employ active aerodynamics, creating as much as 1,320 pounds of downforce, even below its maximum top speed. It’s hard to miss the oversize rear wing, which we presume will automatically deploy above a certain speed threshold (though we suspect it’s manually deployable, too).

McLaren’s P1 supercar – image: McLaren

Further details on specifications and performance will be released early next year, around the time that McLaren opens up its order books. Deliveries are set to begin by the end of next year, as 2013 marks the legendary constructor’s 50th anniversary.

2013 Lincoln MKS EcoBoost Review & Test Drive 28
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, featured, Lincoln, Lincoln MKS, Test Drives on 09 28th, 2012

For 2013 the Lincoln MKS receives major updates in styling and refinement with a slight bump in fuel economy. In an effort to improve an identity within the Luxury car market, the all-new 2013 Lincoln MKS takes all of the embodied principals from the outgoing model and improves upon each one. The outcome is a much more elegant luxury sedan poised to compete.

My test drive of the new 2013 Lincoln MKS started with a drive from Miami to Jacksonville, FL. Having stepped out of a previous vehicle with much harder seats and stiff ride, the MKS was instantly a welcoming ride to put on the highway.

Being one of the few truly American luxury sedans on the market, the new MKS starts its life once again as somewhat of an underdog. With a sleeker look from the distinctive grill, almost resembling the teeth of a whale, is a unique characteristic to set the MKS apart from anything else on the road. Not to mention, the new design language of Lincoln tends to mimic the new whale-grill look throughout the lineup. Taking the sheetmetal design lines drawing back and then slightly up to what appears to be a high roofline, and then to the relatively raised rear end, makes for a smooth flow pleasing the eyes. Just like the great mass found in the Ford Taurus SHO, which uses virtually the same underpinnings as the MKS, gives the Lincoln a bold statement on the road and the driver the assurance of some substance under the hood. The redesigned rear end features contoured LED tail lamps and a new large decklid to improve access to the trunk.

Speaking of substance under the hood, my 2013 Lincoln MKS was the EcoBoost all-wheel-drive trim featuring Ford’s 3.5-liter twin turbo direct injection V6 engine producing 365 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the beefy V6 is 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. During my drive from Miami I saw a steady 24.5 mpg cruising just above the speed limit.

The MKS EcoBoost trim rides on 20-inch wheels, 19-inch wheels standard on the base 300 horsepower 3.7-liter V6 MKS trim (up from last year’s 273 hp), still provided a smooth ride. The ride quality was superb, thanks to the MKS EcoBoost’s computer controlled continuous dampers making instant adjustments to balance body roll and bounce. The dampers allowed a sport setting through the dashboard set of menus and could be set to access by placing the 6-speed automatic transmission into sport mode. The 6-speed transmission is well-adapted to the twin-turbo engine. It will even hold gears long enough for the turbos to spool up for optimal performance and efficiency under light acceleration conditions. Manual-shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel adds a bit of sport to the MKS, however, the transmission does a good enough job of proper up-shifts when needed especially when in sport mode.

Other performance and road-going characteristics of the new 2013 Lincoln MKS include its optional all-wheel-drive system, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure system and an overly sensitive Driver Alert drowsiness detection system. The lane departure system was enough to intrude on your driving style if you ever merge into another lane without using the signal. Basically, the MKS will nudge the steering wheel in the opposite direction once it sense you cross a lane (lane markings in the road). If you continue to cross the lane markings, the system will ever-so-politely vibrate the wheel, almost violently. I could see this being beneficial if you really were lacking your early morning dose of caffeine. The Driver Alert system, going off of driver steering and throttle inputs, sometimes mistakes your jerky reactions as a sign to alert you to “take a rest”. My drive from Miami involved several occasions of the system falsely telling me to “take a rest”. If you must know, I was already well awake and alert.

Driving the MKS near the limit does require some extra attention because it is prone to understeer easily, more than likely due to its 4,200 pound curb weight. Steering response and feedback don’t help either with a slightly mushy and numb feel. Although, this is somewhat expected from a large luxury sedan.

Lincoln has a level of pride in some of the new gadgetry in their vehicles. Just like Ford’s MyTouch system, Lincoln’s MyLincoln Touch with SYNC usually has a love-hate relationship with the driver and passengers. I found that the latest MYLincoln Touch system in the MKS, also mentioned in my review of the new Lincoln MKX, is not any worse than other infotainment and vehicle integration controls in other luxury vehicles. However, using the MyLincoln Touch system can turn into an aggravating situation at times. Some of the menu buttons do not respond as quickly as you would like on the center LCD screen, and is seldom prone to glitches preventing functions until you revisit the same task. Otherwise, the MyLincoln Touch LCD screen, dual dashboard menu readouts and the button-less touch-sensitive center-stack is a comprehensive system after you have been through 15 or so minutes of a learning curve.

Interior space, including legroom and headroom, is plentiful in the new 2013 MKS. Cargo room and trunk space (18.4 cubic feet) is generous, too. The front seat positioning is much better in the MKS than what I found in the MKX crossover that I recently reviewed. The feeling of driving a big car is present when you first step into the MKS. Nevertheless, you get a sense of control once you start driving the new MKS, especially when you have the power of a V8 in a much more efficient force-fed V6 engine.

Rear seating area is plentiful where the seats are mounted a little high but have good support. The power rear sunshade and rear perforated leather outboard seating areas are quite inviting for rear seat passengers.

The dashboard is kept clean due to the MyLincoln touch-sensitive stack. Small wood trim, chrome accents and a stitched leather dashboard all add to the luxury appeal of the MKS’ interior. Even the power telescoping and heated leather steering wheel gets the top inlayed with a wood accent to accentuate the soft appeal of the interior. The MKS also gives the driver a lot of customization such as the ability to change the ambient LED lighting colors and adjust the pedals saved to the memory seat settings. One particular qualm, also found in other new Lincoln vehicles, is their new turn signal stalk. The stalk takes a bit of extra effort to access the turn signals where it will make you inadvertently access the high-beam headlights. Hopefully everyone forgave me for flashing my high-beams every time I prepared to take turn. I didn’t do it on purpose.

The all-new 2013 Lincoln MKS is a confident class contender that deserves a thorough look even if it is still playing catch up to the German likings of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E class. In the American spectrum of luxury sedans, the new Cadillac XTS would be a level-playing segment contender for the new MKS.

The new 2013 Lincoln MKS has a base starting price of $42,810 for the 3.7-liter V6 trim. My MKS EcoBoost trim adds another $5,000. Add full list of options found in my MKS EcoBoost trim with the all-wheel-drive system, elite package and about 6 additional standalone options and you will end up paying about $58,000.


Copyright: 2012 AutomotiveAddicts.com


  • Price: Base MKS FWD $42,810.00 / As-Tested est. $58,000
  • Engine: 3.5-liter Twin-Turbo EcoBoost V6 DOHC 24-valve 365 horsepower @ 5500 rpm / 350 ft-lbs. torque @ 3500 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 112.9 in.
  • Total length: 204.1 in.
  • Total width: 75.9 in.
  • Total height: 61.6 in.
  • Track: f/r-64.9 in./65.1 in.
  • Fuel tank: 19.0 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-39.7 in./38.6 in.
  • Legroom: f/r-41.9 in./38.6 in.
  • Cargo capacity: 18.7 cu.ft.
  • Turning circle: 39.4 ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,200 lbs. (est.)
  • 0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 17 mpg/city, 25 mpg/highway

Enter Now! The Focus ST Experience 28
Posted by Kelly Levinsohn in Automotive News on 09 28th, 2012

The ST Experience is giving over 200 people the opportunity to encounter the All-New Focus ST before anyone else, at their local track, with pro racing drivers.

Each winner will also receive an ST cap, keyring and full blown online race video featuring themselves.

One lucky person will also win an exclusive international behind-the-scenes tour of the Ford Focus Factory in Germany and secret testing ground in Belgium, to experience how the Focus ST is designed, manufactured and tested.

This isn’t a competition with a million entries and one prize. There are 200 CHANCES to experience the All-New Focus ST.

Don’s miss out on your chance to win and enter at www.STexperience.co.za

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Austin’s Circuit Of The Americas Gets FIA Approval 27
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive on 09 27th, 2012

FIA’s Charlie Whiting inspects the Circuit of the Americas – image: Circuit of the Americas

The final hurdle blocking the return of Formula One racing to the United States has been cleared: on Tuesday, FIA’s head of racing, safety and technical matters, Charlie Whiting, granted Austin, Texas’ Circuit of the Americas “Grade 1” status. That means the circuit meets or exceeds the standards of F1’s governing body, and the race scheduled for November 18 will proceed as planned.

Whiting was enthusiastic about the track, saying to Autoweek that, “Everything that I’ve seen so far has been absolutely first class, and the progress that’s been made since the last time I was here is amazing. It’s built to the highest quality, exactly as we expected, and I’ve got absolutely no complaints whatsoever.”

Whiting took the time to walk the length of the 3.4 mile circuit, inspecting the smoothness of the asphalt, the size of run-off areas, curbing, guard rails and safety fences. Permanent structures were inspected, too, and also received glowing reviews. All that remains to finish before the November race is painting and landscaping, and Whiting will be back on site for a final inspection the week before the event.

We flew over the circuit on a trip to Austin in July, and even we’re amazed at how much progress has been made in a few months. While the track may be good to go, Austin residents will tell you that a hotel room shortage could prove to be a problem, as will access to the track and parking at the facility. We won’t be attending this year’s race, but will certainly head to Austin in the future to watch F1 on U.S. soil.

Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive Electrifies At 2012 Paris Motor Show 27
Posted by Darryl in auto show, Automotive, Electric, Mercedes Benz, mercedes benz sls, Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive on 09 27th, 2012

The Benz SLS AMG is already a monster on the road, although it is not too much of a choice track star, it still turns heads regardless. In a new-found sibling rivalry, Benz has unleashed a SLS Electric Drive version of the vehicle featuring a total output of 740 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque.

All of the Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive’s power is made possible due to four synchronous electric motors powering all four wheels. Each electric motor weighs about 99 pounds and turns out 177 horsepower more than the current SLS AMG’s 6.2-liter V8 engine.

Two independent gearboxes providing direct drive to each axle is capable of directing power output to all four wheels managed by an AMG Torque Dynamics system, which can select individual wheels to send power based on traction. The system has three different modes: comfort, sport and sport plus.

The SLS Electric Drive is said to run 0-62 mph in 3.9 seconds. To keep things planted, the SLS Electric Drive gets horizontally-mounted dampers and springs in place of the normal SLS AMG’s double wishbone setup. The electrified blue-chrome color and specific 19-inch front wheels, 20-inch rear, give the SLS Electric Drive a distinctive look as to not be at all confused by a petrol SLS AMG. The new SLS Coupe Electric Drive is expected to have a range of about 150 miles with “mixed” driving.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS Electric Drive is expected to start sales in Germany next year with a starting price of 416,500 euros.


Ferrari F70 Chassis Showcased at 2012 Paris Motor Show 27
Posted by Darryl in auto show, Automotive, F1, Ferrari, Ferrari Enzo, Ferrari f70, video on 09 27th, 2012

The highly anticipated successor to the Ferrari Enzo is well on its way to make a launch in the spring of 2013. As a teaser as to what we should expect to see in the new Ferrari F70, is an F1 carbon chassis for the limited edition Ferrari on display at the 2012 Paris Motor Show this week.

The F70 is expected to tip the scale 154 pound under the Enzo (20% lighter) due to extensive hand-laminated carbon fiber usage. The technology of the passenger compartment area is taken directly from Ferrari’s F1 composite tech to increase structural performance but minimize weight.

Look for additional details to come as we approach spring of next year for an official reveal of the new Ferrari F70.

Jaguar Debuts The F-Type In Paris: Video 27
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2014 Jaguar F-Type, auto show, Automotive, Jaguar, Kurt, Paris Auto Show, video on 09 27th, 2012

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type – image: Jaguar

After countless spy shots and spy videos of the Jaguar F-Type wrapped in newsprint camouflage, Jaguar has finally taken the wraps off its eagerly awaited sports car. As we expected, the new F-Type is a stunner, and it sounds like it has the potential to reestablish Jaguar as a builder of legitimate sports cars.

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type – image: Jaguar

Three models will be offered, starting with the 335 horsepower, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 powered base F-Type. Next up the food chain is the F-Type S, which makes 375 horsepower from the same forced-induction 3.0-liter engine. If that’s still not fast enough for you, a supercharged 5.0-liter version, called the F-Type V8 S, will make around 495 horsepower.

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type – image: Jaguar

Base models will run the dash from 0-60 mph in 5.1 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 161 mph. Stepping up to the F-Type S lowers the 0-60 mph time to 4.8 seconds, while raising top speed to 171 mph. Finally, the F-Type V8 S delivers a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds, along with a top speed of 186 mph. Both F-Type S variants come with limited-slip differentials, but only the V-6 version’s is mechanical (the V-8 gets an electronic limited slip differential).

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type – image: Jaguar

Jaguar says the interior design was inspired by the cockpit of a fighter jet, so controls are grouped by function and angled towards the driver. Don’t expect Jaguar’s usual gear selector knob in the F-Type; instead the eight-speed automatic transmission can be shifted via a console-mounted shifter or steering-wheel-mounted paddles. Sadly, a manual gearbox is not offered in any version.

The 2014 Jaguar F-Type – image: Jaguar

Look for sales to begin next summer, with pricing to be announced closer to launch.

Heffner Performance Builds Twin Turbo Gallardo Breaking 8.72 Seconds in Quarter Mile 27
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, Heffner Performance, Jason Heffner, Lamborghini, Tuners, video on 09 27th, 2012

It is almost common-placed to peruse the internet and Youtube for videos featuring ridiculously fast twin-turbo Lamborghinis, especially when it comes to forced-fed Gallardo creations birthed by tuner shops such as Underground Racing and Heffner Performance. One thing that was lacking -was a Lamborghini Gallardo to break 8 seconds in the quarter mile. Usually, running record-breaking quarter mile times is not on the mind of every twin-turbo Lamborghini owner. One exception happens to be a customer of Heffner Performance who had his sights on an 8 second run in his 2008 Gallardo Superleggera.

Jason Heffner and his mad scientist team were in for a challenging to please a customer, who happens to be an avid drag racer of exotic cars. No compromise would be made in this build, which required a pair of custom-built ball bearing turbos and MoTec electronics to produce around 1,400 (estimated) wheel horsepower. No this was not Hollywood prepping the latest Fast and Furious film, this was a real test of the engineering foundation of Lamborghini and Jason Heffner’s 14+ years of experience in tuning some of the most exotic vehicles on earth.

The build for the first Twin-Turbo Gallardo to hit 8 seconds in the quarter mile has been successful so far recently concluding with the best pass out of 8 recorded at 8.72 seconds at 169.8 mph. To our surprise, the owner and Jason’s crew all agree that there is yet even more to be had out of this monstrous twin-turbo bull. They plan on pushing the envelope even further. Be sure to visit Heffnersperformance.com for the latest happenings and build projects to come out of this one-of-a-kind shop.


Heffner Performance World’s First 8 Second Lamborghini Gallardo Release Information

A few months ago we were approached by one of our customers, who happens to be an avid drag racer of exotic cars, and asked if we could build him a Gallardo that would be capable of running eight second quarter mile times. We formulated a plan and a short while later a gorgeous grigio telesto Superleggera showed up on our doorstep. This car received our full engine treatment with CP pistons, Carrillo billet steel connecting rods, fully ported and polished intake manifold and cylinder heads and upgraded valvetrain components. We are using MoTec electronics to manage every aspect of the engine.

The turbo system makes use of a pair of custom ball bearing turbos that were built by the guys at TIAL products, a four inch downpipe, four inch air inlet plumbing, an incredibly labor intensive custom water to air intercooler and a pair of TIAL wastegates.

When it came to the wheel and tire selection we contacted the guys at ADV.1 who made us an awesome set of 18 inch 5.2.1′s which we finished in matte black and wrapped with four Mickey Thompson radial tires.

The car was driven to and from the track. We made a total of eight passes on the car, each one quicker and faster than the last. By the end of the day we had recorded an 8.72 at 169.8 mph which is quicker than any previously posted time by anyone in the world for a Lamborghini Gallardo.

I would like to thank the team here at Heffner Performance, TIAL Products, ADV.1, Sakata Motorsport Electronics and the crew at Bradenton Motorsports Park for helping make this possible. Most significantly, I want to thank our customer, Shawn (nutcase) for having us build him this incredible machine.

After reviewing the data from yesterday, one thing that we are certain of is that there is a lot more left in this car. I’m pretty sure that I actually had my foot resting on the clutch pedal which caused it to slip a bit in fifth gear. We will be posting more details on this car soon and will keep you all up to date as the car progresses. Thanks and enjoy.

Motor Trend Pits New Cadillac ATS 2.0 Turbo Against BMW 328i: Video 27
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, BMW, BMW 328i, Cadillac, Cadillac ATS, Motor Trend, video on 09 27th, 2012

The new 2013 Cadillac ATS has been boasted as the American answer to the BMW 3 Series. The question that remains to be answered is if the new ATS would be a victor in a head 2 head battle against the BMW 3 Series. Motor Trend wants to settle this debacle once and for all by pitting the new Cadillac ATS 2.0 Turbo against the BMW 328i.

Both are rear-wheel-drive sedans and both have a force-fed 4-cylinder engine. The Cadillac ATS boasts 270 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs. of torque. The BMW 328i has 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft. of torque. We now know BMW’s power figures are a bit underrated. 0-60 mph times are 6.0 seconds and 5.5 seconds for the ATS and 328i respectfully. The ATS could have had a much better time but was hindered due to a second-gear shift at 55 mph. Quarter mile times are almost the same posting 14.1 seconds at 98.2 mph for the BMW and 14.4 seconds at 96.9 mph for the Cadillac. Specific tests only say so much about these vehicles on paper, so Motor Trend elaborates more on other dynamics of each vehicle and conclude with a winner.

Does the Cadillac have what it takes to compete with the best from Bavaria in an overall battle? Hit up the Head 2 Head video below to find out and be sure to post your opinions and comments below.

Lamborghini Teases The Paris Debut Of A New Gallardo Variant: Video 26
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Kurt, Lamborghini, Lamborghini Gallardo, Paris Auto Show, video on 09 26th, 2012

Lamborghini’s entry-level Gallardo has been produced in about a dozen different versions since the car hit the market for the 2004 model year. Excluding Gallardos built for racing (which adds even more cars to the mix), over the years buyers could choose from rear or all-wheel-drive models, with 550, 560 or 570 horsepower. There were market-specific versions, too, and even one built to honor legendary Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni.

At this year’s Paris Auto Show, which opens to the press tomorrow, Lamborghini will be exhibiting one more variant of the current Gallardo, dubbed the Nova (and unlikely to be confused with the Chevy that wore the same name). Nothing else is known about the car, but the video does show some of its oily bits up close and personal.

While a new version of the Gallardo is due in the next year or two, many feel it’s too early to show even a prototype of the next generation Gallardo. Still, “nova” in Latin means “new,” and Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary is coming up in 2013, so maybe there’s more to this car than just another Gallardo special edition. Even the font used for the Gallardo name looks new to us, so we wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Lamborghini had a really big announcement in Paris. We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE… Official images:

2014 Lamborghini Gallardo

2014 Lamborghini Gallardo Edizione Tecnica Package

Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept (Wagon) Images Leaked before Paris Debut 26
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in auto show, Automotive, Paris Motor Show, porsche, Porsche Panamera, Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo, wagon on 09 26th, 2012

You really cannot argue much against the case of car culture changing in the past few years. Consumers are taking a new-found liking to wagon-type vehicles here in America and the luxury segment is recognizing this. Porsche is one among many to please those who found a nostalgia for wagons while images of a new Panamera Sport Turismo Concept (Panamera Wagon) have leaked before its debut at the opening of this week’s Paris Motor Show.

The rumors have held true to Porsche introducing a cargo-friendly Panamera to go up against vehicles such as the new Benz CLS Shooting Brake. In its concept form, from the leaked images shown here, the Panamera Sport Turismo combines design cues from other Porsche vehicles such as the Cayenne, Boxster, 911 and even the new 918 Spyder.

I know what you may be thinking and eagerly awaiting a conformation on -it is if this new Panamera Sport Turismo will have a twin-turbo engine under its hood. That sounds like a possibility considering how Benz has AMG-fied their CLS Shooting Brake. It is only fair that Porsche answers back with a force-fed Panamera wagon, estate, shooting brake, or whatever you want to call it these days. It should be no problem for them to include the current Panamera Turbo S’ 550 horsepower twin-turbo V8 AWD drivetrain.

Expect more details after this new Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo Concept makes its official debut later this week.


[sources: AutoWP, CarScoop]

Matt Farah Pilots Turner Motorsport’s BMW M3 Race Car & 535HP Frozen Gray M3: Video 26
Posted by Malcolm Hogan in Automotive, BMW, BMW M3, E92 BMW M3, Matt Farah, Tuners, Turner Motorsports, video on 09 26th, 2012

Sometimes horsepower isn’t everything, which Turner Motorsports is known for demonstrating in many vehicles that they build for the racetrack and for customers. Matt Farah, once again gets to pilot some rare nicely modified vehicles – this time its Turner Motorsport’s 535 horsepower Frozen Gray BMW M3 (Will Turner’s personal car) and the 2011 Continental Tire Series Championship-winning E92 M3 Race Car driven by Bill Auberlin and Paul Dalla Lana.

The BMW M3 is already a well-balanced contender among big-power sports cars and even exotics. Turner Motorsports is known for many years of race-proven experience to take the E92 M3 to new levels extracting additional performance with carefully selected modifications, including the recently released KW DDC (Dynamic Damper Control) Coilovers. Check out the exclusive DRIVE network TUNED video with Matt Farah behind the wheel of both Turner Motorsports BMW M3s.

The End Is Near: California Green Lights Driverless Cars 26
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Autonomous Cars, california, Kurt, News on 09 26th, 2012

Google puts an autonomous Prius though its paces – image: Steve Jurvetson

A future filled with driverless cars, choking the highways as they creep along at or below posted speed limits, just edged one step closer to reality. California governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that calls for the creation of safety and performance guidelines covering the operation of driverless cars on state roads, ultimately paving the way for their approval.

Given that pioneering autonomous car creator Google is headquartered in California, the move was really a matter of when, not if. The Washington Post quotes Google co-founder Sergey Brin as saying, “the self-driving car can really dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone,” especially drivers who couldn’t otherwise take to the roads themselves. While that will certainly help the blind or disabled, it will also be a benefit for those with alcohol or drug dependencies. We’re sure bars will be the first to support autonomous cars, as they’d essentially eliminate the possible liability of drunk driving.

Not everyone is enamored by the prospect of driverless cars, though. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers feels that California is rushing headfirst into the technology before answering some key questions, like “who holds the liability when a mainstream car is converted to autonomous operation without the manufacturer’s consent?” We suppose that question will ultimately be for the lawyers to sort out, along with many others.

Don’t expect to see autonomous cars on the road next year, or the year after that, but make no mistake: they’re coming in the not-too-distant future. While we suppose they’ll have their benefits, they’ll also reduce the act of operating a motor vehicle to one more tedious chore that humans need not be bothered with.

For those of us with a passion for driving, perhaps that’s the hardest autonomous car pill to swallow.

Image credit: Steve Jurvetson, CC 2.0

To Limit Viper Dealers, Chrysler Charging $25,000 Fee To Sell The Car 25
Posted by Kurt Ernst in 2013 SRT Viper, Automotive, Chrysler, Kurt, News, SRT on 09 25th, 2012

The 2013 SRT Viper – image: Richard Prince for Chrysler Group LLC

In the old days of the Viper, any Dodge-franchised dealer could step up and order inventory. As a result, the Viper buying, delivery and service process wasn’t always ideal, potentially souring some shoppers on the new generation of Viper. To combat this, SRT boss Ralph Gilles has made efforts to limit new Viper access to Chrysler dealers willing to go above and beyond to sell the car.

That now includes a $25,000 one-time fee, which covers the cost of showroom signage, dealership training, a technician training program specific to the Viper and specialized tools needed for Viper repair. If a Chrysler dealership wants to sell SRT vehicles but can’t afford the $25,000 cost associated with the Viper, a modest $5,000 fee will get them the tools, signage and training necessary to sell other SRT vehicles, such as SRT8 variants of the the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger and Challenger and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

As Automotive News (subscription required) reports, the fee also gets the dealership preferential ordering and additional allocation of SRT8 models. There’s more to the program than simply paying a fee, as dealerships must also meet certain standards for customer satisfaction.

As Gilles explains, “The SRT cars are starting to pull in a very, very interesting demographic – much higher income, much higher education levels. The customer is becoming more sophisticated.”

In other words, Chrysler knows it has one shot at getting the SRT experience right, and it’s going to make sure its dealerships are up to the challenge. That sounds like a good idea to us.