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2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Track Test: The Ultimate Mustang

Motortrend News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 09:00

Since its introduction in 2015, the current-generation Mustang has moved Ford’s nameplate upmarket in terms of performance—culminating in the latest, greatest 2020 Shelby GT500. In MotorTrend testing, we’ve found that the S550 platform has evolved from mere pony car to comparing favorably with premium GT offerings from foreign nameplates.

However, we’ve also learned that, on the racetrack, most current Mustangs still fall a little short—excepting the rev-happy, finely balanced Shelby GT350 that finished second in our recent Best Driver’s Car competition.

Enter the biggest, baddest Mustang ever, with a newly supercharged heart. The just-released GT500 comes with great expectations, because the numbers on paper grab attention. So does the price. Ford offers both the standard version, and the Carbon Fiber Track Pack, a hefty $18,500 option.

How do they measure up? We went to VIRginia International Raceway to grab the reins and yell, “Giddyup!”

Boy howdy, does the GT500 ever run for the roses. Ford claims 625 lb-ft of torque and a muscular 760 hp, and every one made itself known as the Mustang devoured the long back straight at VIR, touching 170 mph, lap after lap. No power fade here, like some other American blown V-8’s making similar numbers (ahem, Corvette C7 ZR1).

The Ford engineers expressed pride in their control of temperatures, both in the intake manifold and throughout the driveline. The GT500 is another one of the new breed of supercars (yes, even a Mustang now deserves that moniker) that actually make the straightaways a thrill, even to a well-versed warhorse like me.

It’s still the Coyote-based 5.2-liter V-8, supercharger mounted up top, but interestingly, back to the cross-plane crank down below. This is a welcome return, due to my own concerns about vibration from the GT350 version at extended high revs. It belts out a stirring bellow, or calms to quiet as a mouse, with just a switch of the electronic valves in the dual exhaust, allowing you to decide whether or not to wake the neighbors.

What did pro racer Randy Pobst think of the new C8 Corvette on the track? Find out here.

All that thrust goes through a new Tremec dual-clutch seven-speed that exhibited fine behavior on the street, as well as flat out. Manual shifting during a hot lap is just a distraction, and the GT500’s auto mode rivals Porsche’s PDK (yes, really) and does everything I would do, anyway. It even had the savvy to hold a higher gear in places, rather than constantly throw out raucous downshifts. On straights, there’s a rewarding “over-torque” feature that gives a little extra shove on each shift, like a manual power-shift. Yet, in corners, I felt the Tremec smooth those out. Impressive. The track program is really dialed in. Again, justified pride from the Ford guys.

The shifter is a twist knob, however, like many garden-variety Fords, and I personally hated it. Not sporty! If we cannot have a manual, Ford, at least let us grab a stocky retro lever and slap this super-pony into drive.

This massive thrust twists a trick carbon-fiber driveshaft into a Torsen gear-type limited slip—a good choice for a front-engined chassis, because it doesn’t lock up much off power. This helps get the GT500 pointed into the turn, and it’s also a non-wear item, unlike the clutch-type diffs.

The powertrain is the same on both models, controlled by four driving modes: Normal, Sport, Track, and Drag, which further includes a line-lock for tire warming and crowd-wowing burnouts, plus launch control for you quarter-milers. And that launch control has an always-on mode for street driving, so you don’t have to fiddle with buttons at a green light. I enjoyed that in downtown Raleigh. It’s hard to find fault with this dual-clutch in all modes, except that I cannot speak for Drag mode.

Stopping this rig were perhaps the largest rotors (16.5 inches) and Brembo calipers I’ve yet to experience. Over 4,200 pounds and 760 ponies demand them. While the big Shelby could dive deep, deep into the tight corners with which VIR shuts down its long straights, it was here I could find my only real complaint: a bit of a long brake pedal, which was a little disconcerting for me at 170 mph. No fade, but some squish. They even bled the brakes for me, yet both test cars felt spongy. This was surprising because I recall complaining that the GT350’s brakes were too strong, requiring only a big toe. Perfect would be somewhere in between.

On to the suspension, the street GT500 first. Mounted with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S street tires and alignment, this Shelby did a terrific job of turning that monstrous power into forward acceleration. The power dominates the driving experience, and demands a slow squeeze on the throttle, which had a very linear delivery in Track mode, a proper e-throttle strategy.

At full gallop, the balance was a pleasure if the driver remained very responsible with the great power under that right foot. Responsive and stable. The MagneRide shock system soaked up the curbs and bumps, but floated a bit under the loads of pro speeds. Happily, though, when the PS4S tires did break loose, it was mostly a gradual, even enjoyable experience.

More on the new GT500:

I was so pleased with what this “base” GT500 could accomplish on non-race performance tires. Just don’t slam the gas down, as it’s a beast. Several times, I rolled smoothly into what I felt must be full power, only to find there was yet loads more. Yikes! But you just have to love it. Even so, the standard model was steady and well behaved when hot-lapped at top speed—if a little soft in damping.

“Just you wait for the Carbon version,” the engineers said, with knowing smirks. R-compound Sport Cup 2s. Lower and firmer springs/bars/shocks. Wing and aero. Carbon wheels, and more.

Leaving pit lane, I felt the thrill of anticipation, knowing how good that incredible chest-compressing urge would feel, combined with all the track-prep in this version of the big-boy Shelby. Pretty much, prayers answered. The float was gone and grip was way up, especially evident at the front (they had added negative camber, too).

The GT500 has that magic combination of steering response at the limit: the ability to tighten its line while loaded laterally in the middle of the corner, without losing grip at the back. The controllability that results is a pleasure that satisfies, all in spite of a considerable weight of 4,220 pounds. The ultimate Mustang wears its size well, with the strength and agility of an all-pro linebacker. This size means there is a lot of weight transfer in transitions, and the Carbon Fiber Track package version felt much more controlled than the standard model on track.

Lead chassis dynamics engineer Steve Thompson was also responsible for the GT350 that took a very honorable second place at Best Driver’s Car. His shocking trackside revelation: The GT500 has less damping, not more.

Of course, there’s stronger support from the springs and bars. I also expect the far lighter and very beautiful carbon wheels are part of the reason why the GT500 is such a track carver, too. The tremendous reduction in unsprung rotating mass they provide actually reduces the suspension forces that the shocks control and makes everything the GT500 does quicker and easier. This is also, no doubt, part of why this Shelby can match the brake points of much slower and lighter cars.

And this track version had real aero. The wing is straight from Ford’s GT4 race car, and the hood has a giant vent to send radiator air over the roof, not under the floor, where it causes lift. For track work, there’s a rain tray to remove, which normally shields the engine from the wet. These features do real work—they aren’t just decorative—and pay off the most in maneuvers like the awesome 140 mph-plus Climbing Esses at VIR.

Is the CFTP worth the bucks? If you plan to track your Shelby, absolutely yes. We saw about a 5-second decrease in lap times, with the same horsepower, which is huge. Does the standard version work? Also absolutely yes. These GT500s both move well from street to race course. The Carbon package just offers better everything.

The incredible performance capability of these two new Shelbys moves the Mustang into the supercar realm, it pleases me to claim. They will not disappoint. In fact, they both provide such thrills that they are a good value even at these prices, driving with confidence-inspiring and consistent speed that is rare to find at any price.

The post 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Track Test: The Ultimate Mustang appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

St Modwen warns potential legal claim will hit NAV

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 08:56
St Modwen has warned that its net asset value will be hit by a potential legal claim against the company related to a legacy development that was sold 15 years ago.
Categories: Property

TR takes profits after UK share rally

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 08:30
TR Property Investment Trust, which invests in European listed property companies, has taken profits in big UK and London-focused REITs in recent months, after a rally in domestic real estate share prices.
Categories: Property

Deka strikes £145m deal for B&M's 1m sq ft warehouse

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
Germany’s Deka Immobilien is set to purchase B&M’s 1m sq ft warehouse in Bedford for more than £145m in a deal that will be seen as a vote of confidence in the UK market ahead of Brexit.
Categories: Property

Deka strikes £145m deal for B&M's million foot warehouse

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
Germany’s Deka Immobilien is set to purchase B&M’s 1m sq ft warehouse in Bedford for more than £145m in a deal that will be seen as a vote of confidence in the UK market ahead of Brexit.
Categories: Property

Charles Archer to lead Rivercrown’s debt investment management team

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
Rivercrown, the company formerly known as CR, has appointed Charles Archer from Legal & General to lead its debt investment management team.
Categories: Property

Property funds run down cash levels as outflows continue

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
M&G Property Portfolio is not the only fund to have seen cash levels fall in recent months as outflows have continued.
Categories: Property

Rockwell teams up with Gateway Housing Association to provide affordable housing at Westferry scheme

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
Rockwell has partnered up with Gateway Housing Association to deliver its affordable housing at 82 West India Dock Road, Westferry, Property Week can reveal.
Categories: Property

Mace launches new modular construction method

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
Global consultancy and construction firm Mace has adopted a new modern method of construction.
Categories: Property

Strettons releases a 47-lot catalogue for election-day auction

Property Week News Feed - Thu, 12/05/2019 - 00:00
Strettons has released a 47-lot catalogue for its last auction of 2019, featuring a mix of properties with guide prices ranging between £2,250 and £1.9m.
Categories: Property

First Drive: 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe Feels All Too Familiar

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 23:01

Another week, another Mercedes-AMG. The launch of a new AMG-badged Mercedes was once a rare event, eagerly awaited by enthusiasts. But now, with the global Mercedes-AMG franchise comprising a staggering 63 vehicles, it’s fast becoming routine. And, as the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4Matic+ Coupe (whew!) shows, just a bit formulaic.

The GLE 53 Coupe is a go-fast Mercedes SUV by the numbers. Under the skin is the AMG-massaged version of Daimler’s 3.0-liter mild hybrid twin-turbo inline-six, along with AMG’s Speedshift TCT nine-speed automatic transmission, AMG’s Performance 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system, and the optional AMG active anti-roll system. It’s all familiar AMG hardware in a mildly face-lifted wrapper dominated by the toothy grimace of the new AMG family grille. Other cosmetic changes include standard LED headlights, and new slimline taillights, along with a redesigned front apron, flares on the wheel openings, and a new rear fascia underpinned by the obligatory four cannon-sized exhausts.

 

Inside, the GLE 53 Coupe gets the redesigned interior from the 2020 GLE and GLS, featuring the giant standalone pod for the two 12.3-inch high-definition screens—one a configurable instrument display, the other a touchscreen for the MBUX infotainment interface. AMG touches include the flat-bottomed Performance steering wheel and aluminum gearshift paddles, AMG-specific graphics on the dash, and AMG functions in the MBUX menu that display track data and performance telemetry. Again, it’s all stuff we’ve seen before on cars like the current AMG E-Class and the AMG GT 4-Door.

We liked the new engine in the AMG GT 53 4-Door we tested earlier this year and putting it under the hood of a big, heavy SUV hasn’t dimmed its appeal. With 429 hp at 6,100 rpm and 384 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 rpm to 5,800 rpm—augmented for short periods by 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque from the compact e-motor mounted between the engine and the transmission—it punches the GLE 53 Coupe from 0-60 mph in a claimed 5.2 seconds with a delicious straight-six snarl. Top speed is limited to 130 mph, unless you order the optional summer tires, in which case the limit is raised to 155 mph.

The e-motor, dubbed EQ Boost, contributes to that performance in more ways than one. It acts as a starter-generator for the 48V electrical system that, among other things, powers a small electric turbocharger that produces boost until the larger exhaust gas-driven turbocharger gets up to speed, improving low-end throttle response and refinement, and helping create that impressively broad swathe of torque for the nine-speed transmission to get its teeth into. Even with the throttle mapping in the least aggressive settings—in Comfort or Slippery modes, for example—the GLE 53 Coupe’s powertrain feels remarkably alert.

 

In addition to Comfort and Slippery, GLE 53 Coupe drivers can choose from five other drive programs, including the familiar Sport, Sport+, and Individual modes complemented by two off-road-specific settings: Trail and Sand. AMG’s own vehicle dynamics protocols—Basic, Advanced and Pro—are integrated into each, influencing the control strategies of the electronic stability control or the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive systems. The spectrum ranges from extremely stable to highly dynamic, the latter Mercedes-AMG engineer speak for power oversteer. In the Trail and Sand modes, when the ESC is deactivated, drivers can choose between get-me-though and yee-hah! settings, aka Traction and Slide.

The different modes also change damper rates and ride height, courtesy of the AMG-tweaked air suspension. Selecting Sport or Sport+ modes stiffens the ride and lowers the ride height by 0.6 inch. In Comfort mode, the GLE 53 Coupe automatically snuggles 0.6 inch closer to the tarmac from a speed of 75 mph to reduce aerodynamic drag and fuel consumption and improve stability. For mild off-road work, the ride height can be raised by up to 2.2 inches at speeds up to 43 mph.

With so much familiar hardware from the AMG parts bin working together, it’s probably only natural the GLE 53 Coupe doesn’t really surprise in any way. From the velvety brutishness of the power delivery to the elephantine tap-dancing of the chassis along tight and twisting roads, it’s exactly what you expect of a modern AMG-badged SUV. It felt big, powerful, and heavy on our test route, a point-and-squirt performance machine that rewarded smooth throttle and steering inputs and a firm foot on the brakes.

Our tester rolled on the standard 21-inch wheels (22s are an option) fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Winter tires, 275/45 at the front and broad 315/40 on the rear axle, because of the snowy conditions at our overnight stop in Hochgurgl, a ski resort 7,000 feet up in the western Austrian Alps. It was also fitted with the optional active anti-roll system, which kept it admirably flat through corners. Ride quality in Comfort mode is acceptable, though you feel those big heavy wheels pattering at times. Sport and Sport+ modes tighten up the vertical body motions, but at the expense of secondary ride quality. Choppy U.S. freeways wouldn’t be a pleasant experience.

Like it or not, big SUV ‘coupes’ are a thing these days, aimed at those willing to sacrifice some load-lugging capability and rearward visibility in the pursuit of a sporty aesthetic. The Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe, which gets a U.S. release date of next spring and will be priced at about $75,000, is designed to put some muscle behind that aesthetic. The problem is the softly rendered GLE Coupe sheetmetal looks more zaftig than zingy, especially around its ample hind quarters, despite the AMG costume jewelry. And, crucially, it’s slower than the 434-hp, V-6-powered Porsche Cayenne S Coupe, which not only looks sportier but also steers better, and has better brake feel and a more alert and composed chassis.

It’s hard to find a reason for the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 4Matic+ Coupe’s existence, other than the fact that Daimler seems determined to offer an AMG version of every Mercedes-Benz it builds. Whether it makes sense or not.

The post First Drive: 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 Coupe Feels All Too Familiar appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Electric Ford F-150 (And More?) Secrets Detailed in Patent

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 22:45

Despite Ford’s openness that it’s working on an electric F-150 pickup truck, this potential segment-shaker has many secrets yet to be revealed. Now, though, thanks to patent filings shared on macheclub.com, we gain insights on how batteries in the F-150 EV might be arranged in a new and novel way.

The patent describes a method of integrating batteries into a body-on-frame platform. It’s similar to a skateboard chassis that’s become common for all-electric vehicles, in which batteries are mounted low in the floor. In Ford’s application, crossmembers are mounted between the left and right frame rails. Those crossmembers provide distinct battery housings, and are additionally supported by a metal plate. This is noteworthy for a few reasons. 

Whereas in many EV chassis the battery pack is a single, large unit placed centrally between the axles, the crossmember approach allows the batteries to be placed in separate areas of the frame. In the abstract, Ford says a “plurality of power storage modules are disposed within a plurality of compartments,” which could have benefits for weight distribution, manufacturing simplicity, and NVH reduction.

Additionally, the conventional approach of placing a single, heavy battery pack in the floor can cause shear stresses on a vehicle structure. In Ford’s patent, the crossmembers do more than simply house the batteries—they provide reinforcement to the frame rails, helping make the structure stronger. The patent reads, “Each crossmember is welded to the left frame rail, and the right frame rail, and the plate. The plate is welded to the left and right frame rails.” This subsequently allows the frame rails (made of steel or aluminum) to be thinner and lighter.

The number of battery-containing crossmembers is defined by the length of the frame rails. This implies that longer trucks could have more power and range on tap. Is Ford already thinking about applying this approach to heavy-duty-sized pickups?

Ford indicates that a single motor could be mounted to the frame “forward or rearward of the power storage units,” but the potential addition of a second drive motor opposite the first is mentioned numerous times. Also described is an arrangement for powering each wheel individually, using its own motor.

Interesting about this whole thing is how it’s similar and different from what’s been displayed by Rivian, the electric vehicle startup in which Ford invested $500 million. Rivian’s skateboard chassis is also body-on-frame, but uses a more conventional large single battery pack, not the divided crossmember construction method described here. However, Rivian has stated that its vehicles will be available with individual motors for each wheel.

Perhaps there’s intellectual property sharing going on between the brands, and anything could change by the time their respective electric trucks reach production. Doubtless they’re locked in a release date race with the Tesla Cybertruck. Suffice to say, whatever Ford does with the electric F-150 will make it unlike any truck to ever wear the Blue Oval.

The post Electric Ford F-150 (And More?) Secrets Detailed in Patent appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

New cars are safer but most owners won't have them for decades, says study

The Car Connection News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 19:35
Critical life-saving safety features are arriving to new cars quicker but still take decades to trickle down to a majority of car owners. On Tuesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety-Highway Loss Data Institute reported that an analysis of cars' crashworthiness and safety systems revealed that automakers are about three times quicker to...
Categories: Property

The End of Driving: The Promise and Pitfalls of Autonomous Cars

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 18:30

Sometime recently—it was likely the first week of October, 2019—a Chrysler Pacifica minivan slowed on a street somewhere in Phoenix to stop and picked up a passenger who’d requested a ride. Unlike a normal car with an Uber or Lyft sticker on it, nobody was behind this one’s wheel to greet them. Just an empty seat. And as it drove away, the passenger could watch the wheel twirl on its own as it entered traffic.

In that moment, Waymo’s tentative commencement of driverless rides for its Early Rider participants quietly bisected American’s personal transportation into two species of automobile: human-driven ones and driverless robotaxis.

You have to flip back 126 years to find anything comparable. Several years ago, I spent an afternoon in a in Springfield, Massachusetts, library scanning through microfiche to find the local newspaper’s account of a one-cylinder Duryea creeping through the city’s streets on September 20, 1893. This was the first account of an automobile on an American public road (until that moment, everything was literally horse-powered). Ironically, Springfield was the nation’s buggy whip capital at the time, and not a single one of its citizens would have predicted how upside-down their world would be in less than 20 years.

What the End of Driving Will Look Like

However there’s no shortage of research projecting the rise of the autonomous car. A few months ago, I attended the Autonomous Vehicle Sensors Conference (my vacation!) where Dimitrios Damianos of Yole Développement (Yole) (a market research and strategy consulting outfit) presented this interesting slide that predicts how they think things will unfold:

See the brown bars (Level 0)? That’s old-fashioned, no-gizmo driving the way Instructor Doug taught you when you were 16. It’s disappearing. And being replaced by increasingly capable automated assistance (adaptive cruise control and lane centering). By the late 2020s we’ll finally see Level 4 (fully automated but geography- or conditions-constrained), and in roughly 15 years, the emergence of Level 5 (the Full robocar Monty, able to go anywhere with no steering wheel).

“Ah,” you ask, “didn’t he just say that the Waymo Pacifica—a Level 4—had just started operation?” The delayed emergence of Levels 4 and 5 in Yole’s graph pertains only to privately owned ones. For robotaxis, which Yole distinguishes from Level 4 and 5 robotic cars, it’s a whole different story.

More from MotorTrend on autonomous cars and the future of driving:

Oddly, though, there’s an unlikely voice in support of hanging on to at least some steering wheels—Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik. As he told CNN Business: “I imagine people will still drive cars, but we’ll see an incredible array of really interesting cars. Day-to-day commuting will include self-driving cars, which we hope will make our roads safer and give people back their time.”

Waymo Heat Than I Like

What does 119 degrees feel like? Like opening the oven door to get your DiGiorno pizza and the heat roils out and blast-roasts your face. Bad for the eyebrows but useful for stress-testing vehicle senor suites and cooling systems, which is why I drove out to Death Valley to spend a hot afternoon with Waymo engineers.

What was Waymo learning? If I told you, Google’s package-delivery Wing drones will swoop down like flying monkeys and Toto me away. But maybe I can get away with describing three of the problems they were studying. (Still, I’ll be walking under an open umbrella for a while to be on the safe side.)

Problem One: cool thinking. Waymo’s silicon gray matter is located under the cargo floor (mounted, I noticed, by some lovely production castings), where it generates quite a lot of heat. Actually, autonomy’s energy-intensive computing is regarded as a good match for EVs because of the intrinsic electrical power that’s available. The downside is that it sucks serious range out of their precious batteries and produces problematic heat—so much of it that they require their own liquid cooling system. In Waymo’s case, it isn’t being radiated directly to the air but instead, transferred to the Jaguar I-Pace test vehicle’s standard cooling system, and ultimately, to its existing radiator via a heat exchanger (with two pumps for redundancy as failure literally isn’t an option). Does the I-Pace’s existing cooling system have enough extra capacity to handle this? That’s what they wanted to know.

Problem Two: lidar aerodynamics. You don’t think of those two words having anything to do with each other. But the characteristic spinning lidar on the roofs of Waymo vehicles is hollow and fitted with internal blades to elegantly draw air through its center for cooling. At a certain speed, though, the air passing over the roof piles up with enough static pressure against the lidar’s base to partially block the cooling air’s path. How serious is this in extreme, desert temperatures? They wanted to know that, too.

Problem Three: brake heat. Waymo’s fender-mounted cameras and lidar units are situated above the Jaguar I-Pace’s wheelwells. While the car is stopped at a red light, rising brake heat can degrade the cameras’ image quality. And for the object recognition software to best identify its surroundings, it needs to perceive everything at the highest possible definition. How badly does brake heat blur the sensors? In Death Valley, Waymo even built a plywood enclosure around the car to block any breeze while recording the data.

Notably, the Waymo team’s next stop was another data-gathering week in stop-and-go Las Vegas traffic (where Lyft and its autonomous-tech partner, Aptiv, have already tallied 55,000 safety-driver trips). Waymo’s testing in severe conditions—it was also in Florida rain storms a few months ago and Detroit blizzards earlier this year—suggests it could be aiming well beyond the simpleton, super-mapped, easily navigated geo-zones often talked about.

I’m going to unfold that umbrella now.

Peak Car

Notice that vehicle sales on Yole’s graph don’t climb forever. By about 2043 it peaks and starts to decline. Why?

A reality that we all tend to repress is that cars are typically used about 4 percent of the time, then sit, doing nothing but depreciate, for the other 96. So tech-intensive, hyper-expensive, privately owned Level 4 cars make for dizzyingly bad economics; they’ll emerge only as their cost subsides. But robotaxis like Waymo’s, will be tireless, all-day, all-night trip-making busybodies (with no gig-drivers) turning the economic calculation upside down. With little downtime between paid rides, fully automated taxis—and the people or companies buying them—can quickly make up the cost individual buyers can’t.

Eventually, there will be enough of them displacing private car rides (many multiples of their slim-looking sales numbers) to cause total sales of vehicle to start declining, marking the moment of Peak Car. Where the total sales numbers will settle in the Level 4/5 era is anybody’s guess, as is the exact ownership model.

By the way, an interesting consequence of this frantic use rate is that vehicles will wear out a lot quicker. Most guesses put it at about five years, which radically changes the durability necessary for all the components that aren’t wearing out so soon—for instance, things like rust resistance or UV degradation.

Mark Fields Wasn’t Wrong, After All

Three years ago, I sweated through a hot, blue-sky Palo Alto afternoon as Ford’s then-president, Mark Fields, made a ribbon-cutting speech at its just-expanded Research and Innovation Campus:

“The next decade will be defined by automation of the automobile, and we see autonomous vehicles as having as significant an impact on society as Ford’s moving assembly line did 100 years ago.” He then declared that Ford would skip Level 3 autonomy because of its tricky driver/car handoffs and leapfrog straight to Level 4 by 2021. We all wrote that down.

Now we’re in the final weeks of 2019, three-fifths of the way to 2021. And the best that privately owned autonomy can show for itself is Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot and Smart Summon (both distressing Consumer Reports) and Cadillac’s Super Cruise (a terrific system that’s restricted to a single lane of traffic).

Autonomy’s infamous “corner cases” are indeed trickier than we thought, and back in 2016, legacy auto execs were prone to aping Musk-speak to hopefully boost their tech image and stock multiple into Tesla territory. So now we’re back to the Level 2 to 3 then 4 and 5 incrementalism where it all started. But oddly enough, Mark Fields’ prediction of Level 4 by 2021 wasn’t laughably premature, after all. In fact, it was more than a year too late. It was just that the car he was talking about was a Waymo Chrysler Pacifica robotaxi, not a privately owned Ford.

The post The End of Driving: The Promise and Pitfalls of Autonomous Cars appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Moody's gives predictions for CMBS in 2020

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 17:02
The threat of recession across many Western European countries is preventing loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) on new commercial-backed mortgage securities (CMBS) deals from reaching 2006-7 levels, according to Moody’s.
Categories: Property

Threat of recession keeping loan-to-value ratios low, say Moody's

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 17:02
The threat of recession across many Western European countries is preventing loan-to-value ratios (LTVs) on new commercial-backed mortgage securities (CMBS) deals from reaching 2006-7 levels, according to Moody’s.
Categories: Property

Buick Regal ends, 2020 Mercedes GLB review, EVs we're missing: What's New @ The Car Connection

The Car Connection News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 16:52
Buick Regal won't return next year as brand shifts to SUV-heavy lineup Buick to discontinue the Regal sedan and Tour X wagon after model year 2020. 2020 BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe costs about the same as the two-door, is still not a coupe 2020 BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe splits the cost difference between the X1 and X2 AWD crossovers. 2020 BMW 4-Series...
Categories: Property

Clintons’ stores safe after owners buy back retailer in pre-pack admin deal

Property Week News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 16:49
The Zeiss family has bought greeting cards retailer Clintons out of administration in a move that will see all its 334 stores in the UK continue to trade.
Categories: Property

Tested: This 1969 Toyota Corolla Has a Lexus V-8-Sized Secret

Motortrend News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 16:45

What is this thing?

I ask myself this as I deliberately drive the speed limit in an immaculate 1969 Toyota Corolla up Interstate 15 toward Victorville, California. From the outside, this looks to be a perfectly restored vintage Corolla. But a closer look reveals so much more.

The first clue are the wide fender flares that give it a more muscular look. Toyota connoisseurs with eagle eyes will then notice that this Corolla is a bit wider and longer than when it rolled out of the factory. Peering inside, its push-start button, Lexus infotainment system, and sporty seats are by no means from the year of Woodstock.

Then, from under the vintage sheetmetal, comes the deep, throaty note of a V-8 engine and the swift shifting of a modern eight-speed automatic. This car has definite head-turning appeal.

So, what is this thing?

Its official name is the 1969 Toyota Corolla IS F V-8. The more complicated answer is that it’s a restored first-generation Corolla with a 2010 Lexus IS F powertrain and chassis.

That alone should arch your eyebrows. But it’s the story behind it that truly matters.

Racer and tuner Ryan Millen, whose brother Rhys is known for being a top competitor in drifting, built this piece of art for Javier Quirós, a well-known Costa Rican businessman whose father, Xavier Quirós Oreamuno, started Toyota’s fourth-oldest distributor in the world. That’s where the back story starts.

Xavier started his business importing American Motors and Toyota cars into Costa Rica. Back in the 70s, Costa Ricans enjoyed racing around a soccer stadium, but Toyota cars were always left in the dust. Having access to both automakers, Xavier had the brilliant idea of putting a Rambler American Scrambler V-8 in a 1967 Corolla. The engine swap didn’t help Toyota at all, and after the car was retired Javier bought it and drove it every day on the streets of San José when he attended college.

“It was the worst!” Javier told MotorTrend. “The cabin smelled like fumes all the time, and it was really uncomfortable to drive.” After three years, the car was sold.

Over the past few years, a nostalgic Javier had been looking to retrieve his father’s car from the junkyard of history.

Unsuccessful in his quest, Javier decided to create his own version—this time with Millen’s help, and with a different approach. Millen didn’t want to re-create the exact same vehicle, given its high costs and hard-to-get-parts. Quirós also wanted the car to be as reliable and as easy to fix as possible. And because the Lexus IS F came with a reliable V-8, Millen proposed to have a 1969 Corolla body married to a 2010 IS F chassis and powertrain. What started as a dream for both quickly became a 12-month project for Millen.

The result is this one-of-one 1969 Toyota Corolla with a 5.0-liter engine that sends an eye-popping 416 hp and 371 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic. Even today, a modern-era, top-spec Corolla doesn’t make even close to half that kind of power.

But in order to accomplish his goal, Millen had to cut the Corolla’s body in half and add about 11 inches of width and 3 inches in length; the donor Lexus’ wheelbase was shortened by 14 inches. That, of course, presented many challenges as Millen hand-built the fenders and front fascia, and fabricated the trunk and hood out of fiberglass. The front and rear windshields came from a pickup truck, and Millen sourced other parts from all over the world—the grille came from Japan, the emblems from Spain.

The Corolla made its way from Quirós to Millen’s shop in Huntington Beach, California, while the IS F’s chassis and powertrain were bought elsewhere in California after the car was totaled in a traffic accident.

“I’ve built plenty of race cars in my life, but those are way easier to build than this,” Millen said during an interview with MotorTrend. The hardest part, according to him, was getting the proportions correct. He recalled having a thorough plan and thinking ahead before making his next move. “It’s pretty wild when you have the idea of what you want to do, and then actually doing it.”

Millen developed the car with the goal of making this Corolla a comfortable but sporty cruiser. Quirós is known for driving his dozen-plus car collection on a daily basis, and this special Toyota will not be the exception.

The adjustable spring rates were tightened for our testing at Auto Club Speedway, but Millen assures us that once the car is shipped to Costa Rica, it will be less stiff to drive. Although the powertrain was left intact, Millen added Borla mufflers and redid everything—starting from the collector under the differential, given the shortening of the chassis.

The Corolla was properly customized to Quirós’ liking. The lack of chrome is evident because the owner prefers body-colored panels. Even Toyota’s big boss and Quirós’ close friend, Akio Toyoda himself, had some input with the car—he suggested the Corolla be finished in a different tone of green. After a handful of color reviews, Quirós and Millen chose the Olive Green exterior paint.

So how does Millen’s baby handle under MotorTrend testing? “It corners with happy drift and exits corners at whatever power oversteer angle you wish,” testing director Kim Reynolds said. “Very communicative and obviously good power.”

Road test editor Chris Walton was pleased with the way the engine behaved: “Once underway, the engine really comes alive and roars. Upshifts were very smooth and slowish by today’s standards. In the end, the acceleration was right on top of an IS F. Fun!”

The lack of ABS, however, made the Corolla a bit difficult to control when entering the corners, causing the rear to fishtail a little bit. “It’s OK to deal with that in an open parking lot, but on a narrow road it could get dicey,”  Reynolds said.

Millen assures us the car will have full ABS before the car is shipped to its owner in Central America. But when I got a chance to get behind the wheel on the freeway, I was extra cautious with my speed, lest I have to give more than moderate brake pedal pressure. Its 5.0-liter engine responds well to all throttle inputs, and I was particularly impressed by the deep growl of the IS F engine in this application. Press on the throttle, and its profound sound will turn heads around you. Even when going up the demandingly steep Cajon Pass, the Corolla was happy to pass the lines of struggling 18-wheelers and delivery vans.

But besides its handling, what impressed me the most was the bizarre juxtaposition between the interior and exterior. Although the exterior is vintage and well restored, the interior feels modern and contemporary. Its sporty bolstered seats, infotainment screen, shifter, and instrument panel came from the Lexus IS F.

As such, it felt peculiar to drive, especially as you’re grabbing onto an Alcantara-upholstered steering wheel while looking out and seeing the old-school sideview mirrors mounted on the hood.

This unique approach is what distinguishes this Corolla. What Millen was able to do, and with such attention to detail, is impressive.

Besides getting tested by MotorTrend, the Corolla has already seen some action. The car was shown at Toyota’s dealer meeting earlier this year, and before it makes its way to Central America, it will be driven from Southern California to Dallas, where it will be driven by Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales at Toyota North America. Asked whether the car will be on display at the enormous Toyota Campus in Plano, Quirós said he hadn’t thought about it, but it might be a good place to reside while he waits for the export permits.

So, you might ask, what does it cost to have Ryan Millen transform an old Corolla into a modern-era, tire-melting, supercar-abusing, drag-strip demon? A cool quarter-million bucks. Quirós and Millen are not done yet. They’re starting to work on a new project that involves a 1967 Corolla two-door, similar to this one. If this Corolla IS F serves as an example, you can bet the next one will be just as good or even better. Get out your checkbooks.

1969 Toyota Corolla IS F V-8 BASE PRICE $10,000 PRICE AS TESTED $250,000 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 5.0L/416-hp/371-lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,351 lb (54/46%) WHEELBASE 93.0 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 156.0 x 72.0 x 54.0 in 0-60 MPH 4.3 sec QUARTER MILE 12.6 sec @ 112.1 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 151 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.93 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.8 sec @ 0.73 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 16/23/18 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 211/147 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.05 lb/mile

The post Tested: This 1969 Toyota Corolla Has a Lexus V-8-Sized Secret appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 BMW 4-Series

The Car Connection News Feed - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 16:16
The 2020 BMW 4-Series has us all tied up, and that’s before we’ve taken any turns. What’s likely to be its last year in the current iteration, the two-door coupe and convertible, and five-door hatchback (which BMW calls a Gran Coupe) earn a 6.0 on our overall scale. That rating is based on the 430i coupe, which is the most...
Categories: Property

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