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Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Hyundai Veloster

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 23:45

The Hyundai Veloster has always been one of the most peculiar-looking vehicles on the market. For the 2019 model year, Hyundai overhauled the design, integrating it more into the rest of its lineup while keeping the model’s personality intact. But the question is: Did Hyundai go overboard in either one of these two areas?

The Veloster’s new face falls in line with the look of other new Hyundais. It gets the brand’s signature “cascading” grille that features sharper angles than the grille on the previous Veloster. New wedge-shaped headlights contribute to a bolder, less curvy look. The 2019 Hyundai Veloster also receives new lines on the hood that extend far out unlike the lines on the old model that are centered near the windshield.

Hyundai kept the Veloster’s unusual three-door setup, with one door on the driver’s side and two on the right side. But looking from the side profile, you’ll realize plenty of other things have changed. First of all, the new Veloster’s roof slopes down less sharply now. You can see this change in the shape of the side windows. The roofline has also been lowered, and the nose appears lower and longer than before. Overall, the look is slightly softer.

In the back, you’ll notice the Veloster ditches the rounded taillights of the old model for a more modern look. Although it still has two exhaust pipes situated next to each other in the middle of the rear end (if it’s a Turbo or R-Spec model), the Veloster features a new, bolder integrated diffuser design. Also, notice the taillights now blend into the rear window. On the old model, there was a clear separation.

As is often the case, the most dramatic changes happen inside the interior. Hyundai revamped the entire design of the center console. A square infotainment screen sits atop the dashboard, with a few neat rows of buttons below. The ignition button has also been repositioned closer to the steering wheel. You’ll also notice Hyundai changed up the position of the air vents as well as the design of the shifter.

Do you think the 2019 Hyundai Veloster is refreshing or revolting? Let us know on Facebook.

 

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Hyundai Veloster appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

The Toyota Supra Road Car Probably Won’t Be at Geneva

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 20:45

Yesterday, we reported that an early copy of the Japanese magazine Best Car may have leaked details of the new Toyota Supra before its official debut. We’ve already seen our fair share of lightly camouflaged Supra prototypes, including the new spy shot above, so when Toyota finally reveals the new car, the design won’t be much of a surprise. But despite Toyota’s official teaser suggesting the reveal will be in a few weeks, it may be a little more complicated than that.

According to translations sent in by several readers (and one editor’s mother), Toyota only plans to show off a GTE-class racing version of the Supra at the Geneva Motor Show. The road car, on the other hand, won’t debut until the New York auto show at the end of next month. This, of course, depends entirely on Best Car‘s information being accurate, but SupraMKV forum staff seem to believe it is.

For fans anxious to see the new Supra’s interior, which engines and transmissions will be available, and potentially even a few performance statistics, this news probably comes as a disappointment. Sure, the race car will probably look a lot like the road-going Supra, but the interior will likely be stripped, and power output could be significantly different. If you want an idea of how the Supra road car will look, check out the spy shot above, provided by SupraMKVwhich appears to show a Supra prototype wearing production-spec wheels.

Even if we do have to wait a little longer to see it in production trim, after more than 15 years of waiting, the new Supra is finally almost here, and that’s definitely worth getting excited about.

The post The Toyota Supra Road Car Probably Won’t Be at Geneva appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Aspark Owl Electric Hypercar Does 0-60 MPH in 1.6 Seconds

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 19:30

We offered bemused coverage of this unknown Japanese electric supercar when it first appeared at last year’s Frankfurt show claiming 2-second 0-62-mph acceleration from pretty modest-sounding power and torque output. Then the other day Aspark’s communications rep emailed me a PDF of a Vbox file containing the 100-Hz raw data output from two brief acceleration runs—both of which hit the magic 100-km/h mark in under 2.0 seconds.

This piqued my curiosity enough to convert the PDF info to Excel and crunch it as if our own hot shoe Walton had been at the helm. And holy holeshots, Batman: Subtracting our standard 1-foot roll-out (by which point the Owl was already flying at 6.3 mph), Aspark’s data translates to a Motor Trend-spec 0-60 time of 1.6 seconds for both runs. For comparison, the 2017 Tesla Model S P100D with Ludicrous mode was traveling 5.9 mph in the first foot of its Motor Trend record-setting 2.28-second 0-60 run.

First caveat: The tires used were Hoosier racing slicks, not DOT street-legal meats with rain-tolerant tread grooves. In Aspark’s first test session, the tires were warmed in a heater box, then quickly installed prior to the test runs. The video of this most recent second test session indicates a tire warming burnout, but curiously the car was restrained for this using giant ratchet straps connected to the front wheels, so the front drive shaft must have been disconnected or somehow declutched. (Yes, the motors are both located near the rear axle, with a shaft running forward to power the front axle.)

Second caveat: Electricity for this test is coming primarily from ultra-capacitors, not from batteries. Ultra-caps can be recharged extremely quickly, making them great for capturing lots of regenerative braking on a race track, and they can be discharged extremely quickly (as when geysering electrons at motors for a sub-2-second 0-60 run). The sales literature mentions that the final product will employ a combination of batteries and ultra-caps, but its claimed 93-mile driving range surely must carry a higher ratio of batteries to ultra-caps than this test mule did here. This could hamper the car’s ultimate acceleration rate.

The claimed total mass of the Aspark Owl is just under 1,900 pounds, and the horsepower and torque of the two motors totals 429 hp and 563 lb-ft. I plugged all these figures into another program, along with a roughly estimated drag coefficient and frontal area (aero isn’t too important below 60 mph), and the computer indicated that this acceleration rate would demand 435 hp. Close enough to assure us Aspark isn’t sand-bagging on the power number.

Less clear at this point is the driveline setup. The brochure claims a 174-mph top speed with a maximum motor speed of 4,000 rpm. Given the claimed final-drive ratio of 4.44:1 and the tire sizes (275/30R19 front, 335/30R20 rear), a two- or three-speed gearbox at least will be needed to hit that speed, though a 1:1 first gear would reach 72 mph.

Who knows if this car will ever reach “series” production (it’s rumored $4,000,000-plus price will certainly limit demand), or if any of said sales will be in North America. But any potentially street legal car hitting 60 mph in under 2 seconds seems worthy of at least this much attention.

The post Aspark Owl Electric Hypercar Does 0-60 MPH in 1.6 Seconds appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

2018 Porsche 911 GT3 First Test: Beauty Beheld

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 09:00

I stopped counting at 11, any significance to the number a happy coincidence. I always record my conversations with Randy Pobst, held in the doorway of whatever car he’s just lapped. It’s best to get him while everything’s fresh, before anyone says anything that might color his impressions. Today, his impressions were things of beauty.

“There’s very little to complain about,” he said. “It behaves so beautifully. The balance is so beautiful. You still have to be a little bit careful not going to power too soon. You still have to remember you’re in a 911 in situations like that.”

Beauty, being subjective, is of course in the eye of the beholder, and it was all Randy could get a hold of.

“It was a beautiful experience, like there was a light from heaven shining down on the car going around the track,” he said. “It was that kind of … otherworldly kind of perfection. Incredibly enjoyable. Not much to complain about.”

Perfection, too, is in the eye of the beholder and not an absolute. Perfect though he might find the 2018 Porsche 911 GT3, Randy did indeed find something to complain about.

“If you drive really aggressively on your turn-in, you can definitely over-rotate it and get it sideways,” he said. “It would be very easy for the average guy to go to power too early and create understeer. The driver has to be consciously aware of being in a 911, leaving that weight forward. Release the brake, but don’t go to power. Trailing throttle, high entry speed, off throttle or still braking. Put some weight up there, and it likes it.”

Treat it right, and that GT3 will treat you to a 1:24.66 lap around Willow Springs International Raceway’s “Big” track. At least, if you’re Randy Pobst. “It was so easy, I didn’t have to think through it a whole lot,” he said.

Of course, that’s if you’re driving one with the functionally telepathic PDK gearbox. With a stick shift, even Randy the Rocket loses a few tenths to the tune of a 1:24.96 lap. Either way, you’ve still crossed the line ahead of a 750-hp Aventador SV, 650-hp Corvette Z06, a 650-hp 650S, a 610-hp Huracán, a 600-hp GT-R NISMO, and a 577-hp AMG GT R. All with just 500 hp and 339 lb-ft of naturally aspirated torque.

It’ll shock a few of those cars on a straight track, too. Under the watchful eye of our VBox, the PDK-equipped car hit 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds with the six-speed manual just behind at 3.5 seconds. Keeping your foot in it, the seven-speed dual-clutch will post an 11.2-second quarter mile at 126.6 mph with the stick shift nipping at its bumper with an 11.5-second elapsed time at 125.2 mph. Let’s reiterate: that’s a naturally aspirated, 500-hp car with well under 350 lb-ft of torque running a standing quarter just shy of the venerated 10-second mark.

As mentioned earlier, these cars can turn, too. Put them on a skidpad, and the 23-pound lighter dual-clutch automatic car will pull 1.07 g while the nominally heavier manual strains the eyeballs with 1.11 g. A run around our figure-eight course demands a mere 22.7 seconds from the former and just 22.5 from the latter, each at 0.93 average g.

How is the slower-shifting manual car faster? It’s all in the gears. Taller ones, to be specific. With a 9,000-rpm redline, the manual car can ride out the short straights of the figure eight just kissing the limiter while the PDK goes for an upshift just before the brake zone, followed immediately by a downshift. Not having to shift always saves time, even in a box as good as the PDK. Speaking of braking, stopping these cars from 60 mph requires just 99 feet for that PDK and 98 for the slightly lighter manual.

Advantageous as it might be in the tight quarters of the figure eight, Randy found it an unfortunately liability in the ultimate quest for lap time.

“That is a lot more work,” he said, fresh off laps in the manual car. “Way more difficult to do a perfect lap with the manual transmission. I seem to end up halfway between gears a lot, and it was easier to destabilize the car in the brake zone. It’s tricky to do the brake and entry perfectly when there’s a downshift in there. It’s much more tricky to throw a downshift at it than not to. It’s reminiscent of what we have to deal with, with manual transmissions, having to decide what gear you need, and it takes more practice to do it perfectly in one lap. I didn’t get into the magic zone like I did with the PDK, maybe because of the extra work.”

Good work, though, if you can get it.

“The shifter is great,” he said. “It is very accurate; light. It has that slick, Teflon, mechanical feel. Never worried about getting the wrong gear. The only trouble was trying to be as perfect when I have to change gears.”

As we well know by now, if your lap time puts food on the table, you need a dual-clutch transmission. Freed of manual transmission planning and procedures, Randy could focus more on the rest of the car.

“Holy crap, the tire grip,” he nearly shouted after a few PDK laps. “Oh my God. I was so impressed with the tire grip, my God! I think I might’ve set my Turn 8 speed record. They are just so flippin’, sticky. It just felt so, good. I think it has some real live aero, because of the way it sticks and it’s stable at high speed, in Turn 8, especially.

The stream of consciousness was running deep and strong now.

“It’s a little free on entry, and it’s absolutely beautiful in the way it would come into the corner,” he continued. “It definitely has more front grip off-throttle than on. It just entered the corners really, really beautifully then it puts down power extremely well. There’s no wheelspin, anywhere. I never got yaw. It never got beyond a very pleasant, mild rotation. I mean, it was just beautiful. It was a beautiful thing, sublime.

“The braking is so strong. Not moving around at all. I was just braking really late, and the grip was just staying with me. The braking grip was just amazing.”

The professional racer is impressed, then, but what of the listener and chronicler, who hasn’t won the 24 Hours of Daytona? For myself, I find the GT3s an intoxicating challenge. That initial looseness on turn-in, that free feeling Randy describes, gives you butterflies at first. You know full well it’s a 911 and the engine would just soon enter the corner first, so you approach it gingerly. You quickly find, though, it’s just a little rotation like the man said. You can carry more speed. You don’t need to brake as much next time, or as early. The car has so much more to give, and you find a little bit more each time by.

It’s aggravating to realize how much time you’ve left on the table, and the need to find it is all consuming, and so the GT3 goads you on. With every lap, you push your brake point a little later, carry a little more speed into the corner, and get back on the power a little sooner, feeling out the point when a little rotation becomes a big rotation and a bigger repair bill. You want to spend all day improving your lap time by tenths of a second, consciously aware there could be full seconds on the table but also of the nearly $150,000 starting price. The GT3 wants you to be faster, but it’s going to make you work for it. It’s rewarding work.

The end.

What’s that? You’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t exclusively track your GT3? You drive it on the street? OK. Well, just ignore the words “lap” and “time” in the last two paragraphs and you’ll be fine.

2018 Porsche 911 GT3 6-speed manual 7-speed PDK BASE PRICE $146,350 $145,650 PRICE AS TESTED $147,890 $160,900 VEHICLE LAYOUT Rear-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe Rear-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 4.0L/500-hp/339-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6 4.0L/500-hp/339-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6 TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 7-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,270 lb (40/60%) 3,247 lb (39/61%) WHEELBASE 96.7 in 96.7 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 179.6 x 72.9 x 50.0 in 179.6 x 72.9 x 50.0 in 0-60 MPH 3.5 sec 3.1 sec QUARTER MILE 11.5 sec @ 125.2 mph 11.2 sec @ 126.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 98 ft 99 ft 0-100-0 10.9 sec 11.4 sec LATERAL ACCELERATION 1.11 g (avg) 1.07 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 22.5 sec @ 0.93 g (avg) 22.7 sec @ 0.93 g (avg) 2.4-MI ROAD COURSE LAP 1:24.95 sec 1:24.66 sec EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 13/21/16 mpg 15/20/17 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 259/160 kW-hrs/100 miles 225/169 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 1.24 lb/mile 1.15 lb/mile

The post 2018 Porsche 911 GT3 First Test: Beauty Beheld appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

Celebrity Drive: Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 09:00

Quick Stats: Pete Nelson, host, Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters”
Daily Driver: 1994 Land Rover Defender (Pete’s rating: 8.25 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: New Jersey to Colorado
Car he learned to drive in: 1971 Volvo wagon
First car bought: 1973 Ford F-Series pickup truck

Although the movie “Born Free” made people long to go to Africa on safari, it sparked a different dream for a young Pete Nelson in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Decades later, Nelson’s green 1994 Land Rover Defender 90 is not only a childhood dream fulfilled, but it’s a safari-ready ride that’s fitting for someone with a show on Animal Planet.

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

“I’m looking at my sweet car right now. I’m so in love with it,” says the star of “Treehouse Masters.” “All my life since I was seven years old and ‘Born Free’ came out, I loved the lions of course, but the cars they were driving, those sweet little Land Rovers all over Africa, so ever since then I’ve wanted and I’ve been toying with getting one.”

After putting a card on the windshield of a Defender about four years ago, Nelson recently got a call from the owner saying he was open to an offer.

He loves that when he’s driving the Defender, it’s just him and the music that’s playing from the hidden CD player.

“I was so delighted because you can’t see the player inside,” Nelson says. “When I bought this I didn’t even know it was there and then you open up this console and then a very utilitarian metal box, you open that up and there’s a CD player,” Nelson says. “It’s a loud car and when you have your music playing loudly, you don’t hear the car anymore, you just hear the beautiful music.”

Nelson wanted to give the Land Rover a 7.5 rating, but after thinking about how much he liked the CD player and sound system, he revised it to an 8.25: “I’m a carpenter, so we’ll go down to the quarter inch,” he says, with a laugh.

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

Other nuances of the Defender remind him of a simpler time. “It’s [got] manual windows so you’ve got to slide the window open physically to stick your arm out and make your turn signal,” he says, laughing. “If I was just going to be an engineer and take the love away for a moment, the blinkers don’t work. There’s a fun side to that: I’ve got to stick my arm out and give the left turn right turn signal with my hand. It’s a cold, wet environment out here in the Northwest, it’s funny because I sort of enjoy doing it, but it’s very inconvenient.”

The Defender, which has a rough ride, also has a manual transmission. “I’ve gotten used to automatics, so I’m back to using the stick shift, which I really love,” Nelson says. “It’s a torque monster, this thing has power, it’s crazy torque, so going uphill you can feel the power in your foot.”

Nelson, who says he isn’t looking forward to the older Defender potentially breaking  down, calls himself an aesthete. “I love my pretty things and the color is this beautiful forest green, it’s one of my favorite colors,” he says. “There’s a black rag top and the roll bars are all black and the tires aren’t so overly large, so it seems like an understated but beautiful little workhorse.”

2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser

Rating: 8.5

Before the Defender, Nelson drove a 2007 Toyota FJ he still has; he says the SUV reminds him of a toad.

“I really love that car. As far as towing, I have a little tear drop trailer that I drag behind and it’s a little much for that FJ, but that’s one of the reasons I’m excited about the Defender 90—is the towing capacity.”

A 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is shown here

As someone who is into aesthetics, Nelson has always admired Toyota FJ Cruisers. “They just have such a different look to them and …  I always love the idea of being able to go deep into the woods and do some four-wheel off road driving. I say that but it’s a lot like my fishing, I talk about fishing a lot but I rarely fish. I rarely go off road, but just knowing that it would be a possibility is comforting to me,” he says, with a laugh.

“Just in my own driving around the Northwest here,” he says, “you get to this point where it’s ‘Oh my gosh, am I going to roll this thing?’ and you don’t and [you] feel greatly relieved. But this is a car that can be brought to those extreme angles.”

In today’s technologically reliant automotive world, Nelson doesn’t feel like he’s missing out by driving older cars. In fact he relishes it.

“I’m kind of old school. I still buy CDs. I’m the last human being who seems to buy compact discs and I love it. I bring them with me on the road and I have to go into the rental place, Enterprise, and say, ‘Is there a CD player?’ and I have to reject cars based on whether or not they have CD [players] anymore,” he says, laughing. “I have thousands of CDs and I’ve got quite a vinyl collection too. But when I see the screen pops up, as long as I’ve got my CD player in the car and my phone with Google Maps, because that works so well these days, I don’t need anything else.”

Car he learned to drive in

Nelson learned to drive around the streets of northern New Jersey in his mom’s 1971 Volvo wagon that they called Admiral Nelson.

“Admiral was so admiral, it was a workhorse. It was manual, so I learned how to drive on that stick shift and it was bumpy beginnings. I remember running over a squirrel the first real run with my dad in that wonderful Volvo station wagon. The squirrel dashed across the road, it was so devastating, the poor little squirrel, just ran it over right there in my first driving lesson with my dad,” he says. “We were both feeling terrible about it, but clearly it was over. It didn’t suffer.”

His dad was his driving instructor. “I remember it like it was yesterday, driving on those backroads in Bergen County. My dad actually drove a separate car. My dad had a 1972 BMW 2002, that little sports car that he loved and so did I. They’re kind of funny looking cars, but they’re zippy,” he says.

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

As a kid in New Jersey, reaching the age of getting one’s driver’s permit, no matter which family car he got to drive, was a major milestone he looked forward to.

“When you’re 15 years old and growing up, at least in New Jersey, you feel like you’re already an adult, you’ve seen a lot it seems. Knowing what I know now, I didn’t see anything. But you still feel like you’re an adult and you’re just dying to get out of the nest, and the car represents that final leap of independence. I was so excited, I could not wait, I would count down the days before I could get my permit at age 15.”

First car bought

The first car Nelson bought was a 1973 Ford F-Series pickup truck he negotiated from $850 down to $825 when he was 17. The pickup came at a pivotal point in his young life.

“I was hoping to be a carpenter, I knew that was something that I would do at least during the summers. I had a great education, so I was going to school and I don’t think my parents imagined that I would be a carpenter,” he says. “My dad is the last thing from a carpenter, but it was something that I had an aptitude toward.”

Nelson kept the pickup truck for quite a few years. “Nobody was lending me any money to buy it, I bought it with my hard-earned money and I’m very proud of it,” he says.

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

During his junior year of high school, he made money by working with a carpenter to learn the basics of building things such as decks. “I needed a pickup truck so I could go to the lumberyard and look like a real carpenter, so I was very proud of that car. It went through a lot of oil, oh my god, I kept a case of oil in the back because there were some engine issues,” he says, laughing.

The next summer, Nelson started a company called Cheapo Deck Company. “My dad was like, ‘You don’t want to call it Cheapo Deck Company.’ I said, ‘They are, they’re cheap.’ I would build them for $500 with wood that was untreated, so they would only lasted about two years because New Jersey has some rough winters, but you get what you pay for. I was also unaware that using that cheap wood would cause the lifespan of your deck to be quite limited,” he says, with a laugh.

Nelson had the Ford pickup truck when he went to college as well, driving it back and forth from New Jersey to Colorado, until he had to finally let it go during his sophomore year at college.

“Finally it threw a rod. I was coming from my grandparent’s house in Long Island, it was on the George Washington Bridge and I limped off the bridge and pulled it over to the side of Route 4 and I convinced my buddy to come with his dad’s Riviera and drag this pickup back to my house,” he says, adding his dad then gave it away.

Favorite road trip

Nelson’s favorite road trip was the one he took in his old Ford pickup with a high school buddy who went to the same college as Nelson in Colorado Springs.

“We struck off from New Jersey and drove through Kansas where we were apprehended for fireworks,” he says.

They were 18 and bored, he says, and decided to buy roman candles and bottle rockets in Indiana or Illinois.

“It was mid-August, so rolling across Kansas we decided we would fire these bottle rockets at all these cows that were lining the highway. It wasn’t long before the cops pulled up behind us and said, ‘OK, out of the truck.’ We were fully handcuffed and everything on the back of this pickup truck,” he recalls.

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

The cop was initially told someone was firing guns out into the field. “Then they found our bottle rockets and after a while he just let us be on our way. So it was a little bit of a scare, but we didn’t end up serving time,” Nelson says, with a laugh.

Nelson’s friend didn’t know how to operate the manual transmission, but that didn’t stop the two from splitting the task of driving on this long trip.

“I’d never forget, I would put it into third gear and then he would climb on top or next to me and I would slide out so that we could just be going along at 50 mph and he could just take over and drive. We never missed a beat,” he says, laughing. “He never had to learn how to drive a stick shift, he just slid in while I had it in third gear and took over. That was our drive to freshman year at Colorado College.”

Another incident Nelson remembers from that trip involves the truck’s tires, which were bald because he couldn’t afford new ones. “We hit one of those Kansas rain storms and all of a sudden we were hydroplaning … and we just spun around like a wing nut on the elevated highway and came to a stop on the divider. We didn’t damage anything. Somehow we survived and off we went and we were like, ‘Wow.’”

Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters”

Although his Defender is the most recent childhood dream fulfilled, Nelson’s life in itself has been living out a dream. He realized early on that working with wood, building things, and being a carpenter was his raison d’etre.

“I would get very excited and passionate about building a little boat model, or even a deck on the back of the house in the suburbs of New Jersey,” Nelson recalls. “I was always in love with that idea of creating things like that, but then I was going to school and this was the ‘80s and all of a sudden it was about, ‘You’ve got to make a living. How do you make a living in the real world?’”

He thought specializing would be the way to go. “I had this crazy idea when I was 25 after graduating with my economics degree, ‘OK, if you have to specialize and I love carpentry, what if I became a treehouse builder?’ I was always headed toward the idea of being a house builder. I loved building single family houses, I loved design.”

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

But since everyone builds houses, he thought treehouses would be his path. “Once again, my father was like, ‘Are you crazy? That’s absurd.’ And it was for many, many years. But I always found a way to build a treehouse here and there while I was doing my regular home building,” he says.

In 1994, Nelson created a coffee table book that showed grown up treehouses that he wanted to build for people. He’s since written six similar coffee table books and Animal Planet approached him in 2011 to do a show.

“I kicked it around for a while and finally was convinced they would be nice to us and represent us in a way that was real, and we don’t fight because were building tree forts.”

The show is now airing in its 10th season and they include visiting treehouses by other designers as well. “We’re having such a blast going around the country and even around the world like Norway, Japan, Brazil, and Germany.”

Nelson doesn’t think viewers tune in just to see the treehouses, though. “I’m biased, I always love to think that it’s the treehouse, but it’s not. It’s the story of the people who have called me,” he says.

He says his clients are all very compelling. “They have this treehouse dream, but they don’t know the first thing about putting wood together and creating something like this, so they call me and we fulfill a childhood fantasy.”

Photo courtesy Discovery Communications

This season, Nelson travels from Paris to the south of France to visit a fellow treehouse builder Alain Laurens and see his work. “We’re in castles that have extraordinary treehouses in the backyard of the castle that looks better than any castle at Disneyland,” he says.

Although Nelson feels fortunate to be able to live his passion, he’s also worked hard at this treehouse dream.

“The fact is that I’ve had a very clear vision of what I want to do with my life and where I want to be … I can’t change the world, but I can do small things with all my heart … and I’m really grateful. We’re living a little dream right here and I know it.”

This season of “Treehouse Masters” airs on Animal Planet Fridays at 9 p.m. until March 2.

READ MORE CELEBRITY DRIVES HERE:

The post Celebrity Drive: Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s ‘Treehouse Masters’ appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

This 2019 Ram 1500 Sport is for Canada Only

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 02:00

Earlier this week, Texas once again got its own special version of the Ram pickup in the form of the 2019 Ram 1500 Lone Star edition. But us yanks can’t hog all the unique region-specific trims. At the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, our neighbors to the North debuted a 2019 Ram 1500 Sport, which will be exclusive to the Canadian market.

The Ram 1500 Sport gets unique styling that includes a monochromatic exterior treatment available in nine colors, black billet bar grille with big matte black Ram lettering, standard bi-LED headlights with black inner housings, black window trim, and blacked out badges. The Sport trim rides on standard black 20-inch alloy wheels, but Canadian customers can also choose 22-inch “Black Noise” wheels. Around back, the pickup has dual exhaust tips tucked under the bumper.

A 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 making 395 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque comes standard mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Sport is available in rear- or four-wheel drive and can be had in either Quad or Crew Cab configurations. The Sport also gets a unique interior that includes an all-black cabin with satin black chrome accents and a black headliner. The center stack gets a diamond plate look with real metal trim borrowed from the Ram 1500 Rebel, and the gauge cluster hood receives Diesel gray French accent stitching.

FCA says the exclusive pickup was designed for Canadian truck buyers, who helped make the last Sport trim the most popular light-duty Ram model in Canada. Pricing and fuel economy will be revealed at a later date, but if you live in the U.S., it doesn’t really matter anyway as you’ll have to lust after this truck from afar.

Source: FCA

 

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Porsche Really Doesn’t Want to Turbocharge the 911 GT3

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 22:05

Despite Porsche’s decision to turbocharge the 911 lineup, our first drive convinced us the 911 is “a better sports car today than it has ever been.” Certain dedicated Porsche fans won’t believe us, but we stand by our conclusion that turbocharging didn’t ruin the 911. That said, if you refuse to buy a turbocharged 911, you can always spring for the GT3 or GT3 RS. They’re the only naturally aspirated cars in the 911 lineup, and from the sound of it, that won’t change anytime soon.

Speaking to Australia’s Drive, Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser, Porsche’s head of GT road cars, said he fully intends to keep the 911 GT3 and GT3 RS naturally aspirated as long as possible. “I would like to continue with it. It makes the car unique—it’s still a light engine,” said Walliser. “A normally aspirated engine still fits a sports car. You cannot achieve the same with a turbocharged engine.”

 

So why turbocharge the rest of the 911 lineup? Walliser said that decision was “mainly driven by emissions regulations.” Eventually, those same regulations may bring an end to naturally aspirated GT3s, too, but according to Walliser, “The uniqueness comes from the normally aspirated engine. As long as we can do it, we will do it.”

Interestingly, he also told Drive that Porsche’s decision to bring back the manual option is already paying off. About a quarter of all GT3s are ordered with manual transmissions, and in the U.S., it’s close to half.

As for rumors that the next 911 will be mid-engined, don’t believe them. Walliser promised the engine is “in the right place… it’s in the back.”

Source: Drive

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2019 Subaru Ascent Starts at $32,970

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 20:30

The 2019 Subaru Ascent will arrive in dealerships this summer with a starting price of $32,970, the automaker announced today. At that price, the Subaru is more expensive than the base 2018 Volkswagen Atlas ($31,675), Honda Pilot ($31,875), and Hyundai Santa Fe ($31,830).

Standard features on the Ascent include a 6.5-inch multimedia screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, three-zone auto climate control, and four USB ports. The Ascent also comes standard with EyeSight technologies, including automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and adaptive cruise control.

The next trim up costs $35,170. Upgrading to the Premium trim level brings a power driver seat, spill-resistant cloth upholstery, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear seat climate controls, heated front seats, and an upgraded 8.0-inch infotainment system. It also receives a towing capacity of up to 5,000 pounds, the maximum for the Ascent lineup. In terms of safety, Premium adds blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert over the base model.

Next up is the Limited trim, priced from $39,970. These models add leather-trimmed upholstery as well as LED steering responsive headlights, power rear liftgate with height memory, six USB ports, keyless access with push-button start, and more.

At the top of the lineup sits the Touring. This model, which goes for $45,670, boasts Java Brown leather seats and an upgraded leather heated steering wheel with a woodgrain-pattern finish. Also look for eight USB ports, navigation, a surround sound system with 14 speakers, panoramic power moonroof, and three-mode ventilated front seats.

All Ascents come with a CVT and a 2.4-liter turbo flat-four with 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Both seven- and eight-passenger versions are available in the lineup. The base model is only available in the eight-seat configuration, and the top Touring trim can only be had with seven seats.

Source: Subaru

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Leaked! This Might be the New Toyota Supra

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 19:30

The Toyota Supra is coming back. We’ve known this since BMW confirmed plans to jointly develop a sports car with Toyota. But despite seeing plenty of camouflaged prototypes since then, Toyota did an impressive job of stopping information leaks. Until now.

Over on SupraMKV, the appropriately named Mark V Supra fan forum, user Supra93 obtained what appears to be an advance copy of Best Car Magazine with  what appear to be official images and a full feature on the new Supra. Our Japanese is extremely limited, so we can’t confirm any translations of the text, but assuming these photos are authentic, we now have a good idea exactly what the new Supra will look like.

 

Other than the generally legitimate look of the magazine, this (admittedly poor) image shows a race-prepped version of the Supra. If you compare it with the official teaser shown below that Toyota released a few days ago, the rounded rear fenders, double-bubble roof, and massive wing all match up. This is also the version we’re most confident will be at the Geneva Motor Show next month, but hopefully, Toyota reveals the road car, as well.

Without its GT racing-style livery and bodywork, we see a lot of the 2014 Toyota FT-1 concept in the new Supra. The styling has been toned down a little, but overall, it’s a fairly handsome sports car.  We especially like the look of the long hood, even if the car itself is little smaller than we’d expected. Whether or not it’s a worthy successor to the fourth-generation Supra still remains to be seen, but at least it doesn’t look completely watered down.

For more photos from the magazine, be sure to head over to the SupraMKV forum where they were originally posted.

Source: SupraMKV

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Turn Your 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T Into a Civic Type R-Beater for $695

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 18:15

The redesigned 2018 Honda Accord is quick, hitting 60 mph in a Motor Trend-tested 5.7 seconds with Honda’s new 10-speed automatic and a 2.0-liter turbo-four, a detuned version of the engine found in the new Civic Type R, that makes 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the Honda tuners at Hondata, more horsepower and torque can be extracted from the turbocharged engine in different stages.

Using Hondata’s FlashPro device, the company claims gains of between 10-40 hp and has posted a dyno sheet of the Stage 1 tune that shows increases of about 10 hp and roughly 40 lb-ft. When Hondata put a factory Accord 2.0T on a dyno (see the video below), they recorded a baseline of 266 hp and 292 lb-ft to the wheels, well above Honda’s advertised power ratings. The estimated gains are based on those dyno numbers, so that puts the Stage 1 reflashed Accord at 276 hp and a healthy 332 lb-ft to the wheels using California’s 91 octane gas. That’s already more torque than the Civic Type R makes (306-hp and 295 lb-ft).

If Hondata was able to get 10 hp and 40 lb-ft from this tune, imagine the torque increase from the tune that gets you 40 hp. Well, we don’t have to imagine as Hondata posted a video of the dyno run with the Stage 2 tune showing peak torque of 375.8 lb-ft–a gain of about 80 lb-ft over Hondata’s baseline figure. Additionally, the Stage 2 reflash adds 50-55 hp in the middle of the power band, which is said to dramatically affect the driving experience.

The FlashPro only works on model-year 2018 or newer Accords with the turbo 2.0-liter engine and connects to the OBDII port without any ECU modification, but you will need a computer with a USB 2.0 connection. The FlashPro device retails for $695, and appears to enable both Stage 1 and Stage 2 tunes. However, it’s unclear if any additional aftermarket parts are required for either reflash.

Honda is slowly phasing out its naturally aspirated engines in favor of turbocharged engines. While Honda purists may cry foul over this, many enthusiasts are taking advantage of the impressive power gains that come from tuning a turbocharged engine. Check out the numbers Hondata got from the Accord’s 2.0-liter turbo-four in the video below, and also check out their baseline run to see how much power the new engine really makes.

Source: Hondata

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2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio Priced at $81,590

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 17:15

The 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio isn’t cheap. But considering it may be the quickest production SUV around, perhaps it’s worth the $81,590 price tag.

The midsize SUV goes on sale early this year. It packs a 2.9-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine making 505 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, enough to launch it to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, according to Alfa Romeo. Standard Stelvios, which arrived in the U.S. last year, come with a 2.0-liter turbo-four making 280 hp and 306 lb-ft. We were able to hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds in a regular Stelvio, matching Alfa’s estimate.

While the Quadrifoglio is expensive, the base Stelvio starts at a reasonable $42,990. Standard features on this model include leather seats, rear parking sensors, remote start with passive entry, a power liftgate, and 18-inch aluminum wheels.

When you upgrade to the Quadrifoglio, you receive the upgraded engine as well as unique exterior styling including a roof-mounted rear spoiler and side sill insert. You also get Alcantara leather seats, 20-inch wheels, large six-piston Brembo front brakes, and DNA Pro drive mode selector with Race mode and adjustable adaptive damping performance suspension. Options include lightweight carbon-fiber shell Sparco racing seats and Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes.

Last year, Alfa Romeo announced the Stelvio Quadrifoglio set a new record for production SUVs on the Nürburgring. It posted a time of 7:51.7 seconds, making it more than 8 seconds quicker than the previous record holder, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, Alfa says.

Source: FCA

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2017 BMW M2 Long-Term Update 5: Is the M2 Too Hard, Too Hot, And Too Pricey?

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:00

We love our M2, love its size, its blistered fenders, and really love its snarling 365-hp 3.0-liter N55 twin-scroll turbo-six. What might be hard to love is its $57,795 as-tested price. Recently, we reviewed a $48,070 (as tested) 248-hp turbo-four 2017 BMW 230i and came away delighted and mightily impressed, but we still felt like Goldilocks in search of juuust right. In an effort to complete our BMW 2 Series sample platter, we got a hold of a 2017 BMW M240i ($52,875 as tested). As its name suggests, it might be stealthy M Division car in a plain 2 Series wrapper. It’s powered by the new B58 3.0-liter single-turbo straight-six, and we believe it might be a little underrated at 335 hp.

At the dragstrip, we expected the M2 to leave the M240i flatfooted at the line and never look back. Our M2 has a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic with launch control and 265-width rear tires to use it: 0–60 in 4.1 seconds. By contrast, the M240i came with the standard six-speed manual and 245-width tires. Although the M2’s N55 and the M240i’s B58 engines’ horsepower vary by 30 (advantage M2), their torque ratings are identical at 369 lb-ft (at 1,450 rpm in the M2 and at 1,520 rpm in the M240i). They left the line at virtually the same rate.

As the M2 began to pull ahead, it shifted 1–2 near 30 mph. The M240i’s taller gears mean it doesn’t need to shift until closer to 40, so it gained back a little and reached 60 in 4.3 seconds. And so it goes; with the M2 carrying a narrow lead until … what’s this? The M240i catches the M2 at about 70 mph, and they both cross the quarter-mile finish line in 12.9 seconds (M2 at 106.2 mph, M240i at 110.5 mph). How? Horsepower should rule, right?

After a 10-email volley with technical director Frank Markus, we put it down to aerodynamics. See, the M2 has greater frontal area (2.21 square meters) and higher drag coefficient (0.35) resulting in 0.75 “air resistance.” For the M240i, BMW shows 2.14 square meters frontal area x 0.33 Cd = 0.71 “air resistance.” Is that it, or is the M240i (shown below in red) the budget M car its badge declares? We say the latter.

More on our long-term BMW M2: 2017 BMW M2 2017 BMW M240i BASE PRICE $53,495 $45,445 PRICE AS TESTED $57,795 $52,870 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe ENGINE 3.0L/365-hp/369-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 3.0L/335-hp/369-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6 TRANSMISSION 7-speed twin-clutch auto 6-speed manual CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,506 lb (52/48%) 3,487 lb (53/47%) WHEELBASE 106.0 in 105.9 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.2 x 73.0 x 55.5 in 175.9 x 69.8 x 55.4 in 0-60 MPH 4.1 sec 4.3 sec QUARTER MILE 12.9 sec @ 106.2 mph 12.9 sec @ 110.5 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 101 ft 105 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.99 g (avg) 0.94 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 24.0 sec @ 0.83 g (avg) 24.6 sec @ 0.77 g (avg) REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.7/29.8/22.5 mpg Not tested EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 20/26/22 mpg 19/28/22 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 169/130 kW-hrs/100 miles 177/120 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87 lb/mile 0.87 lb/mile

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2018 Infiniti QX60 AWD First Test: Spacious But Not Quick

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 09:00

The QX60 was Infiniti’s best-selling nameplate in the U.S. in January, though it’s not the most up-to-date. Despite a refresh for the 2016 model year, the interior design remains very similar to the original model that made its debut in 2013 when the SUV was still called the JX35. The infotainment system, CD player, and layout of the dash and center console betray its modern aspirations, making it feel dated compared with many rivals. But can the aging QX60 keep up with newer competitors such as the Volvo XC90, Buick Enclave, Acura MDX, and Lexus RX 350L on the road?

The interior might be old, but the QX60 has a new engine. For 2017, Infiniti dropped in a more powerful 3.5-liter V-6 with 295 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. That engine is paired to a CVT, and on our tester, all-wheel drive. We clocked the QX60 hitting 60 mph from a standstill in 7.7 seconds.

Turns out the QX60 is slower than rivals. The quickest relevant competitor we’ve tested is the Acura MDX SH-AWD (6.2 seconds), followed by the Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription (6.7 seconds). A little farther behind, the Buick Enclave Avenir AWD hit the mark in 7.0 seconds, and the new Lexus RX 350L managed a time of 7.5 seconds.

In the quarter mile, the QX60 recorded a time of 15.9 seconds at 90.3 mph. Once again, that’s behind the MDX at 14.7 seconds at 94.6 mph and the XC90 at 15.1 seconds at 90.4 mph. The Enclave ran the course in 15.4 seconds at 84.5 mph, and the RX 350L sealed the deal in 15.7 seconds at 91.1 mph.

Despite the results of our evaluations, the QX60 doesn’t feel underpowered. Drivers have plenty of juice to work with when getting up to speed on the highway, and the strong throttle tip-in only helps its case. Not to be mistaken for a gentle giant, the QX60 emits a rather aggressive, gritty engine noise that’s far from the sultry rumble of a sports car. Although not unusual for a three-row SUV, it requires a little more turning of the steering wheel to round a corner, and tight three-point turns are an exercise in fortitude. Generally, the QX60 drives quietly and handles reasonably on city and highway streets. Road imperfections cause some noticeable body roll, and you might feel some disturbance in the front end.

The brakes bite sharply, although as our test team noted, you’ll encounter a good amount of forward pitch. In our braking evaluation, the QX60 took 122 feet to stop from 60 mph, about on par with the MDX (121 feet) and better than the RX 350L (128). The XC90 took just 113 feet to come to a stop, however.

The EPA rates the QX60 at 19/26/22 mpg city/highway/combined. But our Real MPG tests showed the SUV underperforms this estimate. We achieved just 17.8/24.9/20.4 mpg. Although we haven’t Real MPG-tested the Volvo or Buick, the Infiniti came in below the Acura MDX and Lexus RX 350L, which earned 23.8 and 21.1 mpg in combined city and highway driving, respectively.

Of course, most buyers in this category will be willing to sacrifice fuel economy for interior space, which the Infiniti offers in spades, particularly in the second row. And it’s easy to get in the third row. The second-row seats move easily fore and aft by sliding the lever on the side of the seat. If there’s a child seat in the passenger side of the second row, you don’t have to remove it before climbing into the very back. This seat tilts, and the track is released so the seat can be neatly pushed forward all the way. But you have to make sure to lock all seats into position after moving them so they don’t slide around during the drive.

Speaking of safety, the 2018 Infiniti QX60 earned a five-star overall rating in government crash tests. This score broke down to a four-star rating in the frontal crash category, a five-star rating in the side crash category, and a four-star rollover rating. It also earned “Good” scores in every crash category tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, though it failed to earn a Top Safety Pick award because of its “Poor” HID headlights. It also hasn’t been rated in the new passenger-side small overlap front test, which measures what happens when the front right corner of the vehicle hits a tree or pole at 40 mph.

In the future, Infiniti will reposition itself as an electrified brand. But for now, SUVs are probably the strongest part of the brand’s identity. QX60 sales were up 38.4 percent last month, when sales of every other Infiniti vehicle, besides the QX80, dropped. Age might be working against it, but to a large degree, the QX60 is obviously satisfying customers’ insatiable appetite for SUVs.

2018 Infiniti QX60 3.5 (AWD) BASE PRICE $46,095 PRICE AS TESTED $60,670 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door SUV ENGINE 3.5L/295-hp/270-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,621 lb (56/44%) WHEELBASE 114.2 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 200.1 x 77.2 x 68.6 in 0-60 MPH 7.7 sec QUARTER MILE 15.9 sec @ 90.3 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 122 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.3 sec @ 0.60 g (avg) REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 17.8/24.9/20.4 mpg EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/26/22 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/130 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.90 lb/mile

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Volvo’s New V60 ad Might Backfire and Make you Want an old Volvo Instead

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 00:13

Today, Volvo released a 90-second teaser for the redesigned V60 wagon it plans to reveal next week. It’s short on specs, but you can probably assume the new V60 will be as impressive as the rest of Volvo’s lineup. It will probably look a lot like a smaller Volvo V90, use interior materials found in the XC60, and offer several familiar engine options. In our first drive review, we’ll probably tell you the V60 is a fantastic little wagon that you should seriously consider.

The problem is, even if you’re currently interested in Volvo’s newest wagon, you might change your mind after watching the video below. No, there aren’t major production quality issues, and no, you won’t see anything that makes the V60 look like a bad car. What you will see, however, is footage of several older Volvos that you’ll be tempted to buy instead. The emotional background music won’t help your nostalgia, either.

If you aren’t careful, the ad that Volvo made to sell a new wagon could lead to a quick Craigslist search for that 1800ES you’ve always wanted. Once you start browsing, there’s a chance you’ll find one that’s well-maintained and priced right. Before you know it, you might even find yourself handing over a cash-stuffed envelope in exchange for the keys to a Volvo that’s way older than the new V60 you’d been thinking about buying.

As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing wrong with that. But Volvo’s marketing department might not necessarily agree.

Source: Volvo via YouTube

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Spied! Ford Focus Caught Completely Undisguised in Portugal

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 21:30

When Ford introduced the 2012 Focus, it was a big deal. For the first time in years, the U.S. got the same great compact car that Europe did. Seven years later, however, the Focus we were so excited to drive is now best described as “long in the tooth.” Thankfully, a redesigned version is on its way, and based on this spy shot, it’ll be a real looker.

According to a Google translation of Hungary’s Vezess, the above photo was taken by a reader in Portugal who appears to have caught Ford shooting a commercial or promo for the new Focus. It also sounds like the workers were less than thrilled to see him. “Hi, I think I saw the new Ford Focus in Cascais,” the reader wrote in an email to Vezess. “I was not able to observe more because they were chasing me. The woman in the middle yells not to take a picture.” But take a picture he did.

Compared to the current Focus, the car we see here has a much more premium, mature look that matches previous reports that the Focus would move upmarket. We see a little bit of Mazda3 in the flared fenders and sloping roof, but from this angle, the headlights have more of a Volvo or Kia Cadenza vibe. Overall, though, we like the look, especially in this color.

Interestingly, the car appears to have been debadged, but the body lines do match previous Focus prototype spy shots that we’ve seen. If you look closely at the wheels, it also looks like a Ford logo has been covered up.

With the Focus clearly production-ready, a Geneva Motor Show debut would make sense. But based on what we’ve heard, Ford actually plans to skip Geneva and reveal the new Focus in April. Sadly, if Ford handles the Focus reveal like it did with the new Fiesta, we may have to wait on U.S. specs. If so, let’s hope the Focus ST doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Fiesta ST.

Source: Vezess

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Subaru Teases VIZIV Tourer Concept – Could it be the WRX Wagon?

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 20:45

Subaru teased its latest concept ahead of its world debut at the Geneva International Motor Show on March 6. Called the VIZIV Tourer Concept, we expect this model to be a wagon, possibly previewing an upcoming Impreza wagon or even a WRX wagon.

The Tourer Concept comes after the VIZIV Performance Concept that debuted at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show and the VIZIV Performance STI Concept that debuted at Tokyo Auto Salon, previewing the next-generation WRX and STI, respectively.

With only a shadowy image of the rear driver-side taillight, Subaru is not giving us much, but we can see a body panel gap that wraps around the taillights and highly raked rear glass–possible signs that this concept is a wagon. The previous concepts did not have these design characteristics. On top of that, the Tourer name could also be a hint that this is a D-pillared variant. The taillights are still C shaped but the design has been tweaked a little.

If it is a WRX wagon, Subie fans around the globe should rejoice as that body style hasn’t been offered since 2007. The third-generation WRX came in a hatchback version, but by the next generation the model was only available as a sedan. It’s also possible the concept previews the next-generation Levorg, a hot Legacy wagon variant that never made it to the U.S.

Engine details have yet to be released, but we expect the next STI to pack some kind of performance hybrid powertrain. The next WRX and STI will be built on the new Subaru Global Platform that the Subaru Impreza and Crosstrek already ride on.

Let’s hope Subaru sticks closely to these impressive looking concepts when the final product is finished. We were slightly disappointed when the current-generation WRX didn’t look much like the WRX concept from a few years ago.

But don’t start calling your local Subaru dealership yet. The next-generation Subaru WRX and STI are still at least two and a half years away from reaching our shores, and there is a chance that wagon variants will stay far away from the SUV- and crossover-loving North American market.

Subaru VIZIV Performance Concept and Performance STI Concept pictured below.

Source: Subaru

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Diamonds are Forever, but This Special Edition McLaren is Faster

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:30

If you’re the kind of person who celebrates Valentine’s Day, it’s usually a good idea to come up with something more creative than mall jewelry and dinner at Olive Garden. Sadly, it’s not always easy to figure out what that “something more creative” should be. This year, however, McLaren had the perfect gift idea: a Valentine’s Day-themed 570S Spider.

For obvious reasons, this McLaren 570S Spider was painted Vermillion Red. The interior, meanwhile, is black with red accents, perhaps a reminder that even true love eventually succumbs to death. But McLaren didn’t stop there. To make this car a truly special gift, McLaren Special Operations added carbon-fiber bodywork, a carbon-fiber tonneau cover, and a few MSO-specific interior touches. Pricing for this particular configuration wasn’t included, but you can safely assume it costs quite a bit more than the $200,000-plus it takes to buy a regular 570S Spider.

Sure, only a tiny number of people will ever be able to afford to spend more than $200,000 on a car. And yes, there are areas of the country where $200,000 will buy a very nice house. But on the other hand, can a house accelerate from 0-124 mph in 9.6 seconds? Does a house have a retractable roof? Even if a house did have a retractable roof, could it hit 196 mph with its top down? Because the McLaren 570S Spider sure can.

Even better, imagine the look on your significant other’s face when they realize the small box you gave them contains a car key instead of a necklace. Not just any car key, either. The key to a bright red convertible supercar. Surely true love is worth 30 years of car payments, right?

Source: McLaren

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Mercedes-AMG GT Four-Door Sheds Camo for the Wind Tunnel

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 18:45

Before its debut in Geneva next month, the four-door Mercedes-AMG GT is undergoing aerodynamic tests in the wind tunnel. And we now have a better idea of what it will look like.

We’ve spotted the four-door coupe testing in prototype form a few times now, but today Mercedes has taken off much of the camouflage. For the first time, we have a clear view of the Panamericana grille, large front air vents, and expansive roof. Although the design is more conservative, the front end in particular resembles the GT concept that debuted at last year’s Geneva auto show.

Mercedes hasn’t released official specs on the new model. But it should come with a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine that could make as much as 600 hp. Given that the concept boasted a plug-in hybrid drivetrain with more than 800 hp, we could see the final product end up with this option as well.

 

The four-door GT will compete against the BMW M6 Gran Coupe, Porsche Panamera, and Audi RS 7. Expect it to sit on the MRA platform underpinning the E-Class and pack a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8. As we previously reported, the new CLS is expected to skip an AMG 63 variant so it doesn’t step on the AMG GT four-door’s toes.

The automaker says it will complete wind tunnel tests before the car premieres at the Geneva Motor Show on March 6.

Source: Mercedes-AMG

 

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Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition Launches in the U.K.

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 16:30

Sadly, Ford will end production of the current Focus RS in April. But if you live in the U.K., and you aren’t averse to bright colors, you can own a special Heritage Edition model.

These Heritage Editions, set for a production run of 50 units, will be the very last Focus RS cars to roll off the line in Saarlouis, Germany. On a happier note, Ford says the Heritage Edition celebrates 50 years of the Escort nameplate in the U.K. A bright orange paint color makes the cars stand apart from the standard Focus RS. You can’t get this hue, dubbed Tief Orange, on the standard Focus RS in the U.S. or in the U.K.

The Ford Focus RS Heritage Edition features gray brake calipers, black forged alloy wheels, as well as the contrasting black door mirrors and rear spoiler you’ll also find on the RS Edition for the U.K. Inside the cabin, there are sporty Recaro seats, a heated steering wheel, privacy glass, rear parking sensors, and a sunroof.

Under the hood lies a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine. Thanks to a Mountune power upgrade, the model pumps out 370 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. It also features a mechanical limited-slip front differential.

The RS Heritage Edition goes for £39,895, and although the model is not coming to the U.S., that price would translate to more than $55,000 at today’s exchange rates. Meanwhile, Ford has limited the number of Focus RS cars coming to our shores. Ford committed to selling only 1,000 copies of the 2018 Focus RS in the U.S. and 500 for Canada.

Source: Ford

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2019 Ram 1500 Brings Back Lone Star Edition for Texas

Wed, 02/14/2018 - 15:30

It’s no secret that Texans have a deep love affair with trucks—and not only on Valentine’s Day. But coincidence or not, Ram chose the Hallmark holiday to reveal the 2019 Ram 1500 Lone Star edition, its love letter to Texas, at the 2018 Dallas Auto Show.

Ram describes its latest Lone Star edition, based on the 2019 Ram 1500 that debuted earlier this year, as an “all-new version of the original Texas Truck.”

“The hard-working appeal of the Ram Lone Star has made it a favorite among Texas truck buyers,” said Mike Manley, Ram head, in a statement. “Trucks are an important part of Texas life, and Ram trucks are proven to last. Ram’s long-lasting reliability has helped the Ram 1500 cement the highest owner loyalty of any half-ton pickup.”

Under the hood, the Lone Star packs a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine or a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine. If you pick the V-8 engine you’ll have the option of Ram’s new eTorque mild hybrid system, which uses an electric motor as a starter/generator for start/stop duties and more. The eTorque system will be available for the V-6 later this year. Both engines come mated to an eight-speed transmission.

Ram’s top-selling Texas truck is available in your choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, and in Crew or Quad Cab configurations. Bed options range in length from 5 feet, 7 inches to 6 feet, 4 inches. Aside from the “Lone Star” tailgate and interior badges, standard goodies include lots of chrome on the front and rear bumpers, door handles, grille, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. Fog lights, a 60/40-split rear bench seat, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls are also standard. Ram also offers monochromatic “Sport” and “Black” appearance packages if you prefer a truck that’s not too shiny.

There are four interior trims to choose from, with seating for six if you choose a front bench or five with bucket seats. Additional options offered include an active level air suspension, electric-locking rear axle, blind spot monitoring, and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

The 2019 Ram 1500 Lone Star editions will go on sale before the first day of spring. They are built in Sterling Heights, Michigan, but are only for sale in the state of Texas, buckaroos.

Source: FCA

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