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Friday
Aug092013

August 2013

August 23, 2013: The Ford Fiesta started slow out of the gate, but can the 2014 Fiesta ST accelerate the small hatchback’s progress? Speaking of speed, we have in-car footage of a Dallara GP2 car winding its way up the narrow roads of a Swiss hillclimb. It’s quite a rush. Back at normal speed, the folks at Canadian General-Tower have created a synthetic interior fabric that looks and feels like top-grain leather, but doesn’t have any of the baggage. Also, we take a look at Ford’s 2015 Mustang and F-150, dispelling some rumors along the way. Meanwhile, some creative folks in Washington have created a self-balancing unicycle that you can take on an airplane. The folks at Bankrate.com list the most and least expensive states in which to own and operate a car. Plus, Al Vinikour questions the intelligence of people who make road signs.

 

August 8, 2013: Now that the i3 is out in the open, BMW pulls the wraps off the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car powered by its new three-cylinder turbo motor. Speaking of triples, GM has a new turbo three of its own that

debuts in the Opel Adam, but may make its way here as fuel economy standards tighten. Meanwhile, Hyperdrive hopes its add-on range extender makes electric vehicles more palatable by reducing range anxiety, while Caterham drops a Suzuki 660 cc motor into the Seven. Honda’s American racing arm builds a new endurance racing engine based on lessons learned at Indy. Coys holds an automotive auction this weekend with something from Schumacher, and more. We hit the road in Mazda’s CX-5, and come away impressed with this small crossover. Also, we review a fast-paced, riveting new book on the 1961 F1 season that left one teammate dead and the other America’s first F1 World Champion. Al Vinikour waxes lyrical about the divan of the sedan. Finally, Ferrari placates man’s best friend with killer kennels.

 

 

Friday
Jul122013

July 2013

July 26, 2013: VW’s diesel-powered Beetle was our mount for a road trip to Kentucky and a side trip to the U.S. Air Force Museum. How did it hold up? More importantly, how much did the fuel cost to get down to Kentucky and back to Michigan? Speaking of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, we take you on a tour of the massive complex, complete with pictures. Mitsubishi releases the first information about it 2014 Mirage, but is it the right car at the right time for the faltering automaker? Meanwhile, Mini peels back the veil covering the 2014 Mini Cooper with an audacious concept called the Vision. Toyota begins testing of its new personal mobility concept, but haven’t we seen this same idea elsewhere? Mazda goes to Indy with its Mazda6 diesel GX racer, but inadvertently shines a bright light on the problems facing the single-seater series. BorgWarner, sponsor of the trophy each Indy 500 winner receives, shows a new technology for diesel engines. And Al Vinikour weighs in on the breakup of the American family with his own blast-from-the-past solution.

 

 

July 12, 2013: This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. In honor of that event’s mixing of cars and aviation, the folks at Land Rover decided to stage a new “Battle of Britain” between the Range Rover Sport and a Supermarine Spitfire. We have the video. The Goodwood organizers also announced the return of a race it hasn’t held in years, but in modified form. On another note, EVs, despite the fact that they aren’t selling, are all the rage. J.D. Power and Associates surveyed EV owners and intenders, and have some suggestions to increase their appeal. BMW, meanwhile, pulls the wraps off the i3, its new rear-dive, all-electric city car that seats four. Meanwhile, the family of land and water speed record holder Donald Campbell have introduced a new sports car and racer that are, you guessed it, battery powered. Stretching the electric theme a bit farther, Infiniti just unveiled the steer-by-wire system it will introduce in some models of its Q50 sports sedan. It’s a real look into the future. Plus, Volvo outlines new technologies it will introduce on the next XC90. And Honda introduces two new ATVs and one new bike for 2014. Al Vinikour, always on the lookout for a way to make a buck, has a novel idea for getting driver to stop being such “jerks”.

 

 

Friday
Jun142013

June 2013

June 28, 2013: The rumor says the Dodge brand will soon be dead, but is that really such a bad thing? Maybe not. Porsche builds a pedal car for those 5 and under, but you can bet Mommy and Daddy will have to take out a loan to feed Junior’s obsession. Renault releases the first details of its 2014 F1 engine, and it’s a hybrid. No, really. Toyota may be famous for the Prius hybrid, but its Tacoma pickup eschews batteries for tons of personality, capability and charm. Mazda, meanwhile, pulls the wraps off the 2014 Mazda3, and produces a more mature, sophisticated compact car. Ford, on the other hand, goes in search of fuel economy, but finds the makings of a performance full-size pickup. Speaking of speed, Al Vinikour vents about unreasonable speed limits Michigan drivers, and O.J. Simpson.

 

 

June 14, 2013: Mercedes recently pulled the covers off the new S-Class. No longer hemmed in at the top by the Maybach, the S-Class can become the car it was always meant to be: the top of the line. The question is whether sybaritic luxury touches and tons of tech are enough to take on Rolls and Bentley. Speaking of Rolls-Royce, Silver Ghost enthusiasts leave today on a recreation of the 2013 Alpine Rally. Using period cars and traveling the same route, it will be interesting to see how participants fare on this centenary event. Operation 2015, on the other hand, is a charitable program designed to keep the only airworthy RAF Avro Vulcan in the air through 2015. We have the details. Meanwhile, Toyota showed a fresh concept at the Tokyo Toy Show aimed at bringing families together. It’s a car you build with your kids, and both of you can drive. Speaking of Toyota, the company recently introduced a new Corolla. Best known for its appliance-like durability and personality, the new version injects a bit of styling into the mix. Is it enough to counter the attack of more stylish and lively cars from the competition? The other side of that coin is represented by the Hyundai Sonata 2.0T. It wowed buyers with its long list of standard features, reasonable price and breakout styling, but how is this recipe faring four years on? Ever wonder what Le Mans was like in 1956 from the driver’s seat of a D-Type Jaguar? Thanks to a regular reader, we have the video. Lastly, Al Vinikour speaks out about what should be done for inattentive and incapable drivers, and what he thinks buyers of driverless cars should do. The answer is the same for both.

Thursday
May022013

May 2013

May 31, 2013: Porsche’s long-awaited 918 Spyder finally breaks cover, and it’s the technical tour de force everyone expected. Faster than the Carrera GT that preceded it, the 918 Spyder does more with fewer cylinders while adding a hint of green. Speaking of technology, Audi relates how it has used advanced engineering to run up an enviable record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Make sure you click on the photo to see for yourself just how tightly packed these sports racers really are. On the other side of the earth, so to speak, Al Vinikour and Chris Sawyer look at two offerings from Mitsubishi, a car company that is at the top of the list (next to Volvo) of car companies analysts are betting will leave the U.S. market. Owners of MGBs, Midgets and Austin Minis may be interested in news that British Motor Heritage has replacement shells for their vehicles. The latest run of MGB shells is done, but you can get an order in for the October batch — and alloy closure panels — if you act quickly.  Once you get the MG done, you may want to show it off to your friends in the city, but balk at the idea because parking can be a real pain. Fear not. Streetline has introduced a parking app for smartphones that helps users find open parking slots. BMW just unveiled its Concept Ninety, a modern interpretation of the iconic R 90 S. Done in concert with California’s Roland Sands Design, the Concept Ninety captures the spirit and essence of the original. Next, Al Vinikour goes off about people who walk unlit on darkened side roads, and the people who run into them.  It’s an eye-opening read. Keeping with the theme of accidents waiting to happen, we give you Episode 6 of Cars in Context Television. Host John Clor and TVD editor Chris Sawyer discuss the future of performance cars in a rapidly changing world.

 

 

May 17, 2013: Sir Torquil Norman (that’s his real name and title) has underwritten the design of a car made specifically for rural Africa. The aptly named OX promises rugged reliable transport for areas that have no regular transportation or hope of rising from grinding poverty, and follows in the footsteps of the late, lamented Africar. Not quite as entry-level or as rudimentary, Kia’s Soul and Rio SX promise a lot and deliver on much of it, but fall short in some important ways. Similarly, the 2014 Lexus IS hopes to eradicate its predecessors’ shortcomings, and ignite a passion previously foreign to Lexus. Can it do it? Rolls Royce, meanwhile, turns to its Bespoke division for a special run of Celebration Edition cars. This group of craftsmen is a growing force inside the company, and produce a high percentage of special vehicles for the automaker. Worried that you might end up on the wrong side of the law in an accident? Genius has an affordable dash cam for you. Speaking of affordable, gear-head artist Sabrina Chun’s company Blackprint Design has created a line of modern automotive art that is suitable for framing, and reasonably priced. Elsewhere, the folks at Phoneshield have created a protective carrying case for iPhone 5 users that lets them mount it on a motorcycle or other vehicle, and use it to provide GPS, music, etc. BMW has introduced a new member of its F 800 GS line, the Adventure, ready made for Phoneshield buyers. The mid-size enduro/touring bike is a bit more focused on rough terrain, but is designed for those road trips that follow pavement or trail. Come to think of it, clomping around off road might be just the thing for Al Vinikour this week as the mud and dirt would hide the sin of black alloy wheels.

 

 

May 3, 2013: Last week was the first of many we will be taking off this summer. TVD is temporarily moving to a biweekly production schedule in the hopes that at least one classic car’s restoration, and a number of other more lucrative projects, are completed in a timely fashion. Nevertheless, there’s a lot in store for you this week. First up, Peugeot Sport prepares to attack Pikes Peak with endurance racing technology. Next, Volvo shows the KERS system it has been testing on the road, and is readying for production. Toyota facelifts the 4Runner, making it more comfortable, more aggressive, and surprisingly like a Mitsubishi Raider in at least one respect. Chris Sawyer tests the fantastic new Scion FR-S and comes away doubting Toyota claims about the car. He also looks at McLaren’s MP4 12C Can-Am Edition video, and reminisces about a “simply brilliant” program he put together for Lotus that never got off the ground. Then he questions the sanity of bureaucrats involved in America’s fuel economy and emissions testing. Finally, Al Vinikour takes aim at folks who turn their rides into a rolling beauty salon, and get ready for their day while rolling down the road.