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May 2014

May 30, 2014: Automobile restoration is never easy, fast or economical, but it can be worth the pain when you get a project back on track. Especially when you have help from friends, family and the truly talented. On the new vehicle front, we test Volvo’s twin-charged XC60 SUV. Is a four cylinder enough? Earlier this week, VW announced the new Euro Passat, a car different than the vehicle of the same name Americans get. We take a look at that car and what’s happening behind the scenes with the U.S. sedan. Mini showed its Superleggera Vision concept to the world at Villa d’Este, but is it the car some commentators claim it to be, or something else entirely? Bultaco, the Spanish motorcycle maker, has risen from the dead, and the result is electrifying. Meanwhile, Britain’s National Motor Museum takes time to rearrange its wares and tell The Motorcycle Story. And our own Al Vinikour talks about something from which you can go blind.


May 16, 2014: Is the 2015 VW Golf all it needs to be to support Volkswagen’s stated goal of selling 800,000 VW’s per year in the U.S.? We’re straight back from driving the car in San Francisco with our initial

 impressions. Hyundai also brought the new Genesis sedan to town, touting its new-found handling prowess. But are the ministrations of the best talent Lotus has to offer enough to pull the Genesis even with the established sport/luxury players? We review a new book about American air ace, former Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner, and legend Eddie Rickenbacker. If you’re like us, you won’t be able to put it down. Finally, Al Vinikour looks at the space some drivers leave between the vehicle in front of theirs, and wonders if this distance is the measure of the driver or proof they don’t measure up at all.


May 2, 2014: May has been a month of change, and it’s only just started. Peter Kirwan-Taylor, the chartered accountant who designed the original Lotus Elite died, and Mark Fields took the reins at Ford. Sergio Marchionne, on the other hand, has his own boardroom drama brewing. We take a look at what it may contain. Mercedes showed a Coupe SUV Concept Beijing Auto Show that will soon go into production. Mini showed a small pickup its apprentices and their instructors created that reinforces the need for an affordable, sporty, small pickup. Speaking of pickups, we test the Ram 2500, and ask if its deserving of all the accolades, while GM hires an Italian firm to make custom car covers for its full-size pickups. The General also updated its driving simulator to handle semi-autonomous driving system testing. Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson has launched a new school for beginning riders, and Al Vinikour keeps getting zapped by the sun.



April 2014

April 18, 2014: We start off this issue with coverage of the New York International Auto Show, paying particular attention to seemingly contradictory paths taken by the mid-size sedans from Toyota and Hyundai. Then it’s a quick trip to Japan to see a steel pine tree made by the hands of automotive artisans as a memorial to victims of that country’s devastating tsunami. On the technical side, Johnson Controls has released a seat coating that is stain-, dirt- and odor resistant, and is as relevant for a rental car as it is for a minivan. Volvo, on the other hand, has designed an inflatable child seat that makes keeping kids safe while traveling much easier. And Land Rover creates a virtual transparent bonnet via technology with multiple uses around the vehicle. Dan Gurney’s handsomest F5000 car, the Eagle FA74, flies again during this weekend’s Formula 5000 Festival at Britain’s Thruxton race circuit. We take a look at a devilishly clever ad U.K. televisions viewers get for Mercedes’ CLA that is built around that fellow pictured to the right. Dodge’s Dart GT gets tested, and we wonder why the world isn’t beating a path to their Dodge dealer’s door. Al Vinikour does a riff on a Freddie Mercury and Queen hit record. And we review a book on automotive branding and marketing that definitely won’t put you to sleep.


April 4, 2014: While GM CO Mary Barra has been in front of Congress this week, some pundits have called for criminal penalties — jail time — for executives and engineers involved in building defective products. We take a look at why this suggestion is a singularly stupid idea. On the lighter side, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick get in touch with their inner Elvis. Toyota takes the iRoad concept on the road to test its suitability. Honda launches a sinister new cruiser motorcycle for 2015. Silverstone hosts a Barn Find and Restoration auction on April 12th that’s chock full of bargains. Separately we test Subaru’s turbocharged Forester and a vehicle it’s pitted against, Jeep’s V6-powered Cherokee. Plus, Al Vinikour takes aim at oil burners, and he doesn’t mean diesels.



March 2014

March 21, 2014: Nissan’s Versa Note. As sleepy and safe as the Versa sedan, or is there a fun personality inside? Nissan just reintroduced the Datsun brand as its entry for emerging markets. The first model is now on sale. Ford and OPI have joined forces to create a Mustang-inspired nail polish. Really. Speaking of touch up paint, Microfinish has a new line of paint it claims is fresh, fast, and a perfect match for factory finishes. Louis Vuitton and BMW have joined forces to create carbon fiber-weave luggage for the i8 sports car, while Jaguar and French luggage maker Moynat collaborated on a special trunk for the F-Type with a prize inside. GM’s surprise, other than its recent recall, has been the speed in which it moved from a two-tier pickup strategy to following Ford’s switch to aluminum. Until that happens it must stick to its original plan. Volvo, on the other hand, has its eyes set on iron to follow the road ahead. Audi revises the quattro drive system on its R18 e-tron racer for the 2014 Le Mans in its bid to beat Porsche. Brembo downsizes the rear brakes for its F1 teams. Fiat looks into its crystal ball and sees 1957. We take a look back at the history of Nissan’s Skyline, the sedan turned supercar. Yamaha does something no other Japanese motorcycle maker has to burnish its image and sell its wares. And Al Vinikour sees spots… lots of them.


March 7, 2014: Even though, like most auto shows, the large number of pre-show releases dramatically

reduced the suspense, there were still a few interesting things to see in Geneva. You can find the full show report here. Also at the show, Nissan introduced some new tech, a combination conventional and LCD rearview mirror that’s going to Le Mans. And Lamborghini launched a limited-edition model that smells very nice. Meanwhile, BMW pulled the wraps off its production X4 Sports Activity Coupe. Ducati teamed with Google to provide a virtual tour of its museum. Workers pulled classic Corvettes out of that sinkhole at the National Corvette Museum. And Al Vinikour took the time to write about one of the most important, and infuriating, safety technologies.



February 2014

February 21, 2014: The fallout from the vote rejecting UAW representation at VW’s Chattanooga plant continues. A stunning rebuke to what seemed like a sure thing, the vote promises to have long term repercussions here and in Germany, and suggests VW’s plan to sell 800,000 cars in the U.S. by 2018 is in serious trouble. Next month’s Geneva Motor Show, among other reveals, will see the launch of three new small cars. The first is Renault’s rear-engined Twingo, a car that shares its structure and powertrain with the next smart. Peugeot announced its new 108 just before selling a stake in the 204 year-old company to China’s Donfeng. And BMW pulled the wraps off the production version of its 2 Series Active Tourer, the company’s first volume front-driver; a car that may prove snowballs don’t melt in Hell. Al Vinikour, meanwhile, takes a literal look back at the lowly rearview mirror, while Honda pulls the covers off four new motorcycle offerings for 2014.



February 7, 2014: Volvo gambled big on its modular Drive-E family of engines, but are they strong and

frugal enough to compete in the sports sedan segment? Porsche’s first electric, the Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton makes its way to the Porsche Museum in unrestored condition. Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Sunbeam land speed record car, on the other hand, arrives at Britain’s National Motor Museum fresh from a major restoration. We drive Lincoln’s MKZ sedan, but come away wondering what the Lincoln brand means. Mercedes introduces a new family van, the V-Class, but don’t expect it to come to the U.S. Bentley expands its home furnishings collection. And Al Vinikour speaks his mind about people who don’t use turn signals properly.