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Friday
Nov012013

November 2013

November 29, 2013: Ross Brawn is out at Mercedes, rumors abound about new F1 competition rules, and Luca di Montezemolo confirms Ferrari special status. Is Formula One all it seems… or less? Speaking of money, if you have a lot of spare change lying around, check out some of the items at this week’s Historic’s at Brooklands auction. If that’s too rich, you can shop BMW’s 2014 gift collection. Or, if a vacation is in your future, check out what you can rent from Hertz in the Netherlands. Honda’s 2014 Valkyrie breaks cover, BMW Motorad pulls the wraps off its 2014 K 1600 GTL, and Reevu introduces a heads up display system in its helmets. Jaguar Land Rover announces a partnership with Intel for infotainment R&D. We test the 2014 Ford Fiesta SE and come away impressed with the improvements, but not much else. Plus, in the spirit of the holidays, our own Al Vinikour creates his own drinking and driving public service announcement.

 

November 19,2013: Friend and colleague Keith Adams was at the U.K. launch of the new Mini earlier this week, and we asked the editor and creator of AROnline if he would write a few words about the event for us. He did, and we present them here. When you're done reading his post, go one over to AROnline for a fascinating tour through the histories of Austin, Rover and companies and cars that made up the once vibrant British car industry. But be forewarned: Keith's site is addictive.

 

November 15, 2013: We start off this week with a simple question: Does any automaker have the “testicular fortitude” necessary to capture the youth market? Maybe not. Nissan takes a shot at a battery-powered sports car, and comes up with a DeltaWing for the road. Thankfully, its mid-size Altima sedan is much less radical and much more suited to its intended buyer’s needs. Brembo builds carbon ceramic brakes for the Camaro Z28. Hyundai releases plans to sell crate motors through authorized dealers. Classic Motor Cars in England stretches a Jaguar E-Type for a lanky American customer. Caterham’s new e-bikes and motorcycle causes Chris Sawyer to reminisce about failed plans for Lotus motorcycles. Harley-Davidson introduces a pair of global street bikes. BMW unleashes a road going version of the S 1000 RR. A 1911 Vulcan comes out of its former owner’s front hallway and goes off to auction. Lincoln unveils the 2015 Lincoln MKC compact crossover. Ford builds a new Ka for emerging markets. Chrysler takes a deep breath of CNG storage. And Al Vinikour takes aim at the miscreants who make ignition switches so difficult to use.

 

November 1, 2013: We borrowed a Passat TDI from Volkswagen, and drove from Michigan to Virginia to see how far it would go on a tank. The answer might surprise you. Eager to decrease emissions and increase

 fuel economy, Volvo is launching its Drive-E family of engines. The 2.0-liter fours will replace Volvo’s current crop of fours, fives, sixes and V8s. AP Racing has a new line of brake calipers and kits built around its racing technology. The new line of Radi-CAL brake calipers is the first foray into the aftermarket and factory performance market for the English firm’s race-bred braking systems. Honda’s HondaJet is in production, with the first saleable unit nearing completion pending full FAA approval. Meanwhile, Honda U.K. is sending its “Mean Mower” to the SEMA show, its first foray outside the U.K. While there, it might just harass Chrysler’s and Fiat’s latest SEMA concepts. Unfortunately, its trip Stateside means it will miss this weekend’s Veteran Car Run that reunites three early 1900s Napier race cars. Should all that travel prove exhausting, we’ve got a Fiat 500-based sofa that fits the bill for your rest and recreation needs. That’s if you can Al off the couch. He’s been leafing through automotive porn, and dreaming about the cars he wants to add to his virtual collection.

 

 

Friday
Oct042013

October 2013

October 18, 2013: Honda’s 2014 Accord Hybrid gets 50 mpg in the city, but you need more than great gas mileage to entice people to buy. Does the Accord have what it takes? For that matter, does BMW’s new 4 Series Convertible? Is it worth the higher number or is it just an updated 3 Series with a higher price tag? Prices are high for a nautical brand that bills itself as the “Aston Martin of the seas” and is now available in America. Ditto the Bentley-brand furniture the automaker recently introduced. On the technology front, Volvo has a new structural energy system it thinks could change the game for EVs and hybrids. Harley-Davidson issues a recall for faulty clutches on certain bikes built this year. BMW introduces a new sport bike, the R nineT. Angry bulls and crazy stuntmen chase a Volvo truck through a small Spanish town. An English entrepreneur discovers a family secret when he buys a vintage car for the London-to-Brighton Run. And a convalescing Al Vinikour rambles on about turn signals, and the people who use them.

 

October 4, 2013: Early this week we were in Minneapolis, Minnesota to drive the 2014 Toyota Corolla. As the second-best selling Toyota, it’s an important vehicle in a fast-growing sector. Does it deliver on Toyota’s

promise to make its cars more exciting and fun to drive? We find out. Mini has spilled the beans about many of the changes taking place beneath the skin of the 2015 Mini Cooper. From new powertrains to a new architecture it shares with BMW, the new Mini is all-new. Arguing about the viability of electric cars and their place in the automotive firmament is old hat, as proven by the latest installment of Cars In Context TV. Looking for a luxury crossover with room for seven that won’t deplete the kids’ college fund? Infiniti just might have the answer with its JX. And Al Vinikour gives his two cents worth about impatient, inconsiderate drivers, and what he’d like to do with them.

 

 

Friday
Sep062013

September 2013

September 20, 2013: It’s been a week since the Frankfurt Motor Show, and two things stand out in the clutter of concepts and new cars. The first is Ford’s decision to launch a trim level above Titanium for the Mondeo, and the introduction of a lightly disguised new S-Max people mover. Both could have a big impact on Lincoln’s future. The second is Ducati’s 899 Panigale. Need we say more? Next, a recent discussion with a VW insider gives deeper insight into the company’s recent moves, and how it maintains its competitiveness. Despite the seeming non sequitur, there’s a lot of similarities between NASCAR’s Richmond race indignity and Mercedes’ plans to build luxury pickups. Really. Speaking of indignities, TVD friend and Cars In Context TV host John Clor comes to the defense of Ford’s Mustang II with both passion and logic. When it comes to this reviled vehicle will either matter? Also, we spend a week with the Lexus LX 570, and get to the heart of this luxury SUV’s reason for being. We also spend time with Hyundai’s Elantra GT, and come away surprised, just not pleasantly. Plus, Al Vinikour gives us his take on modern, button-festooned steering wheels.

 

September 6, 2013: Last time, we took a look at the rumors and facts surrounding Ford’s eagerly anticipated 2015 Mustang. This time we look at some of the designs that never made it off the drawing pad 

or from clay to steel. Two Toyotas are on the road with us this week. First up is the Toyota Venza, a vehicle that, Toyota says, defies definition. Second is the Lexus GS350 F Sport. Is it a true sport sedan or just a high-resolution digital copy? One thing that’s not a copy is Evanta. This tiny English craft shop builds some of the most desirable recreations around, and a lot more. Speaking of  British heritage, the folks at BMH have a couple of new parts for your old MGB. Cars in Context TV is back for another round, this time looking at the death of the small pickup truck and its possible resurrection. Also, two new technologies break cover. This first is a Dutch transmission without any gears that has an interesting origin. The second is a new way to get electricity from waste exhaust heat. Finally, Al Vinikour, as ever, asks a pointed question about a simple problem.

 

 

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.