July 3, 2015: Recently, FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne has been agitating for a merger. With the release of Alfa Romeo’s new rear-drive Giulia, we take a look at how he could leverage that platform effectively between Alfa, Chrysler and Maserati to secure those three brands and save Fiat. One thing you won’t find on the new Alfas is autonomous driving technology. Nevertheless, we speak with ZF TRW’s top expert to see just how far away we are from self-driving cars becoming reality. Mini also may not have cars that drive themselves, but the brand has the drive to move upmarket, and the latest take on the Clubman is a prime example of what you can expect from “premium” Minis. Audi pulls the wraps off the latest A4, and proves that the current design language is in need of an update. Meanwhile, we pale at the sticker of our test Audi A3, but fall in love despite the cost. Motorway America’s Jim Meachen drives the new Pilot, and gives us his thoughts on Honda’s biggest crossover. We take a look inside GM’s latest Ecotec engine destined for the Chevy Cruze. Lexus goes all Back to the Future and builds a real life hoverboard. And Al Vinikour takes issue with those who grip the steering wheel with two hands.
June 19, 2015: Honda listens to its customers and brings a limited edition MotoGP bike to the street. Renault celebrates the new Alpine, but hedges on what it will look like and when it will arrive. Ligier and Exa join forces to create an LMP3 prototype from the digital future. Hyundai taps its inner artist and “explodes” a Genesis Coupe, then sends slot cars to transmit the results. Evolute Drives announces its multi-speed gearbox for EVs and hybrids. Lincoln’s Navigator L gets an update. Alfa Romeo introduces the 4C Spider when what it really needs are non-halo cars real people can buy. We talk to a MazdaPro racer who stared adversity in the face and made it blink, test an Audi SUV that’s anything but subtle, and give Al Vinikour the week off as he celebrates another birthday.
June 5, 2015: Two issues ago, we were talking about the suspension and brakes of Ford’s new GT350 Mustang. This time we’re looking at the engine, all 5.2-liters of flat-plane crank goodness. We also compile more Notes of Note, including shoes from Audi, race cars, Bristol and Fraser-Nash and more. Bienville announces it will take its Legacy motorcycle to Goodwood. Ansible builds a pretty cool driving simulator for professional virtual drivers. Porsche Classic puts the classic early 911’s instrument panel back into production. TVR comes back from the dead with the help of Gordon Murray, while another, fully developed British sports car program comes on the market. We take a first drive in Nissan’s uniquely styled 2016 Maxima, and rethink what’s truly important about the Lexus RC 350 F Sport. Meanwhile Al Vinikour discovers that America’s most dangerous combat zone is closer than you think.
May 22, 2015: We introduce a new feature this week, Notes of Note, a compendium of just some of the stuff cluttering our e-mail box that might (or might not) be of interest. On the new car front,Chevy unveiled the 2016 Camaro, a car that definitely has Mustang in its sights. Also on the new car front, Fiat introduced a new low-cost car for eastern Europe that could find its way here with a Chrysler badge. While cruising the Internet, we discovered a video that promises to show you how to quickly and safely negotiate the famed Nurburgring in your classic. Speaking of fun, we got a chance to climb inside a Michigan landmark, Uniroyal’s giant tire, and have the pictures to prove it. Porsche Cars North America opened its new headquarters, making enthusiasts cheer and competitors weep. Parent VW, meanwhile, talked about the future of the internal combustion in Vienna, and showed a few things it has up its sleeve. Fate scheduled the long wheelbase Ford Transit Connect Titanium and Toyota Sienna Premium back-to-back, so we took the opportunity to compare the yin and yang of the current minivan fleet. Also, we check out Quixx’s All Metal Polish Kit and come away impressed, while our own Al Vinikour questions the need for tachometers on most modern vehicles.
May 8, 2015: We start out this issue on a sad note with the passing of two legends in the automotive world. Tom Hoover, the so-called “Godfather of the Hemi”, passed away on April 30 at the age of 85. Closer to home, friend and former colleague Denise McCluggage died May 6 at the age of 88. Both will be missed. On a lighter note, the apprentices at Skoda’s vocational school were given the task of building a concept vehicle for the upcoming GTI gathering in Germany and they built a — small pickup truck! It’s just more proof this is a market that is begging for product. New aero packages are all the rage, apparently. Audi introduced its Le Mans aero package at the 6 Hours of Spa, while Chevy and Honda pulled the wraps off their Indy 500 aero packages at the Brickyard. Goodwood announced a new category for its Festival of Speed that features failed F1 cars. Honda showed the technology behind the new NSX at the recent SAE Congress in Detroit, while Ford invited us to the Ford Performance garage to take a walk around the new GT350. Finally, our own Al Vinikour tells a personal tale about hit-and-run driving, and what he would do to those guilty of this crime.
April 24, 2015: Dr. Ferdinand Piech has apparently met his match, having called out VW chairman Martin Winterkorn, and getting a fusillade of acrimony back form the company’s Executive Committee. However, a chance meeting on an airplane nearly a decade ago leaves us wondering if Piech won’t eventually get his way. Speaking of things that are hard to handle, Honda’s Formula 1 powertrain has failed to live up to expectations. We take a look behind the scenes and ask if Honda may have the last laugh. Former F1 team executive Nick Wirth is taking his company’s computer-aided aerodynamic capabilities to the big time, and we do mean big. Unlike politicians, Chrysler engineers bring greater transparency to their work. Ducati, on the other hand, follows the path of the ancient masters, and creates something truly sculptural. We find a 1973 Jaguar up for auction that’s been in one family, had three owners, and still hasn’t broken 10,000 miles. Is all the hype surrounding Ford’s aluminum-bodied F-150 for real, or just the aftermath of an all-out PR assault? Baume & Mercier builds a Cobra-themed watch that celebrates a major motorsport anniversary. And if that’s not enough, Al Vinikour shines a spotlight on a car option you can’t seem to find anymore.
April 10, 2015: Cadillac comes out swinging with its new CT6 sedan declaring its boldness, but looking conservative enough for a seat on Wall Street. Jim Meachen gives us a first look at VW’s long-awaited Golf (not Jetta) SportWagen. Toyota follows VW’s lead and announces the latest information on its modular family of platforms and powertrains. We take a second look at the Lexus GS F Sport, this time with all-wheel drive, but have more questions than answers. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s MKC crossover stays for a visit and shows there’s hope, and more need for the Lincoln brand to evolve. Rolls Royce announces the first test mule of its upcoming SUV, but shows a car that looks like it belongs in the British Touring Car Championship. We take time out to review a book about one of the most impressive, misunderstood, and maligned U.S. presidents. And Al Vinikour takes aim at the “logic” behind patching potholes.
Copyright 2011, The Virtual Driver