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Friday
Sep122014

September 2014

September 26, 2014: We finally got on the roads above Los Angeles in the 2015 Mustang during a time when temps in the valley reached an indicated 108 degrees. Judging from the reactions to the car, the air temperature wasn’t the only thing that was hot as Mustang and Camaro drivers, passersby and even exotic car drivers stopped and asked about the car. Does it meet or exceed the expectations set by the hype? We take an in-depth look. What does it take to start a new sports car company? We speak with former Caterham CEO and Lotus alumnus Ansar Ali about his past, and how it led to the creation of Zenos Cars. Then we examine the technology that makes the Zenos E10 a fascinating, high-tech, and surprisingly practical track day car. And if this little soap opera doesn’t satisfy you, we look at Pocket Classics’ lineup of pint-sized collector cars that even adults can enjoy. Toyota’s Tundra visited our offices recently, and left us wondering why it doesn’t sell in larger numbers. And Al Vinikour talks about his battle with spare tires, and why full-size spares are preferable to the alternatives.

 

September 12, 2014: We took a short break after the Labor Day holiday, but are back like Nixon in ’68; tanned, rested and ready. For those looking for a story on Mazda’s latest Miata, you will be disappointed. The seminal sports car has been covered to the point of annoyance elsewhere, and we’re not about to add to that until more solid information is available. Continuing on around the theme of annoyance, Jaguar finally pulled the wraps off the XE sedan after what seemed like an eternity of teases and information leaks. It wasn’t a subtle launch. Mercedes-AMG also pulled the covers off its GT and GT S two seaters, and we distilled a wordy press release about the car down to its bare essentials for your enjoyment. Speaking of having fun, earlier this week we were out at the Monticello Motor Club to drive the new Lexus RC350, RC F Sport and RC F. It’s an impressive car that’s indicative of where the brand intends to go, but you may be surprised by some of our initial impressions as to which model is best. Elsewhere, Ferrari chairman Luca Montezemolo was shown the door by Fiat Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne, but not before he collected a $35 million severance package. We look at what’s going on behind the scenes at the home of the Prancing Horse. Thankfully, the newly retired Montezemolo didn’t have the bad fortune to cross the street with his stash in front of our own Al Vinikour. It seems Al has a problem with folks who dawdle in the crosswalk, and isn’t afraid to share his solutions with anyone who’ll listen.

 

Friday
Aug082014

August 2014

August 22, 2014: As we went to press, a usually reliable Malaysian website was reporting that Lotus soon will be building a large sport sedan and SUV. We look at what’s wrong with this thinking, and why it could be a disaster. Far from a disaster, BMW’s introductory video for the new M4 is nevertheless not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Mercedes has a new old technology for its diesel engines — steel. Jaguar leaks more information about the XE, and we have video to go with the words. It also is launching a limited edition watch to go with the six Lightweight E-Type recreations it will be building. Speaking of looking to the past, we review Sandro Martini’s novel about the personalities involved in grand prix racing pre- and post-war. It’s fascinating. Less fascinating, but nonetheless interesting, is Toyota’s tough off-roader, the 4Runner. It’s a one of the last traditional off roaders available. Plus, Al wonders where all the road repair money is really going, since it’s not being used to fix the roads.

 

August 8, 2014: The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Monterey Historic Races are just around the corner, and BMW is pulling out the golden oldies. Also at Pebble Beach, Aston Martin will pull the wraps off its Vantage S Convertible, DP-100 Vision Gran Turismo concept, as well as the revised Vanquish and Rapide S. On the tech front, Mercedes-AMG reveals the twin-turbo motor that will power the new AMG GT. And NTS Works shows its new Lifetime Rebuildable Battery that could make EVs more affordable. In other news, Toyota introduces the 2015 Yaris subcompact, which has a nice new nose. We test the Lexus IS350 F Sport and come away very impressed. The editor spends some time in front of the camera, and makes ecomentalists' heads explode. Honda introduces a pair of COTA trial bikes, while Tachyon builds a camera specifically for use on motorcycles… or in car. Speaking of cars, Al muses on doors that open, but never wide enough.

Friday
Jul112014

July 2014

July 25, 2014: Porsche reveals the 2015 Cayenne line ahead of its Paris Motor Show debut. Mercedes, meanwhile, pulls the covers off the new smart fortwo and forfour, the first fruits of its highly touted relationship with Renault. We spend a week with Toyota’s Highlander crossover, and come away confused about just how large it is. Audi introduces a fiberglass spring it says will debut on a premium car later this year. Volvo continues to dribble out information about the new XC90. This time, it’s safety technology’s turn on the center stage. In the aftermarket, Mopar introduces an aluminum shaker hood for the Dodge Challenger. Also, the C7 Corvette gets a power boost from Corsa Performance’s no-drone performance exhaust and Lingenfelter’s mild to wild engine packages. We also step back in time to review author A.J. Baime’s book, The Arsenal of Democracy, and to tell time with a watch that evokes classic MG automobiles. And if that isn’t enough, Al Vinikour asks whether today’s full-size cars deserve the description when compared to the cars of his youth.

 

July 17, 2014: Today, Ford invited us out to learn more about the powertrains for the 2015 Mustang. The

kicker was that a ride in the car around Ford's Dearborn handling course was part of the deal. With no embargo on the information, we jumped at the chance, and rushed back to put it all up on the site while it was still fresh. You can read it all here.

 

July 11, 2014: Toyota’s redesigned Corolla has a larger back seat, gets better mileage and uses LED headlamps, but does it move the needle on the excitement meter? We find out. Conversely, Hyundai’s Sonata went high style the last time around, but the 2015 model is less brash and more refined. Did Hyundai take the right path? Ford collaborates with an unusual partner to build a composite F-150. Porsche readies a highly modular new range topper, but did it borrow ideas from Ford and Lotus? Magna shows how slouching in the back seat can be good for the bottom line. We review Art Garner’s fascinating new book about one of the deadliest years in the history of the Indy 500. Also, Derek Warwick, one of modern F1’s most unsung drivers, sits down to give an oral history of his time behind the wheel. Finally, Al Vinikour does his best to get something off the top of his head — the sun.

Friday
Jun132014

June 2014

June 27, 2014: Recently, a consulting group announced that 70% of all new pickup trucks by 2025 would have aluminum bodies. It’s a bold claim, but is steel really down for the count? Harley-Davidson hasn’t switched to aluminum, but its LiveWire concept is almost as radical. On the opposite of that coin is the Lexus ES350, a car that doesn’t defy convention, it defines it. This week Ford showed its 2015 Edge crossover, while Ram pulled the covers off its competition for Ford’s Transit Connect, the Promaster City. We give you a taste of the recent Motor Muster at Greenfield Village, while the English work to increase the number of professionals who car care for classic cars. Meanwhile, Al explains why he endured massive nausea while his friend drifted the streets and parking lots of Indiana.

 

June 13, 2014: Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13, is almost as unreasonable as expecting Cadillac to make the CTS a worthy competitor to BMW’s 5 Series. Yet that’s just what GM’s luxury division has done. Le Mans, however, skirted the dreaded date, and Porsche and Nissan will showcase two of the more interesting cars to run the 2014 edition of the 24 Hours this weekend. You can watch it here. Jaguar, meanwhile, turned its aerodynamicists loose with Pinarello’s latest racing bicycle, making it much more slippery for the Tour de France. Mazda announced a new Skyactiv diesel for the next Mazda2, but not an on-sale date for the Skyactiv-D Mazda6 in the U.S. Brembo shares a video outlining how Formula 1’s new hybrid braking systems work, while Infiniti’s Performance Engineering Academy has been looking for the next crop of F1 engineers. Honda’s Super Cub scooter gets a unique honor in Japan, while those visiting Britain this summer can roll with the royals and attend a concours at a royal palace. If that’s not enough, Al Vinikour goes from playing with trains to hating the sight of them.