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Woodward Dream Cruise 2019: GM Designers Show Off Their Cars

Sat, 08/17/2019 - 01:30

A highlight of the week leading up to Saturday’s Woodward Dream Cruise 2019 is the exclusive car show at General Motors’ Warren tech center. Exclusive because it is for GM’s design team only.

Not surprisingly, the majority are GM brands, but MotorTrend loves heading to the tech center to see what employees have brought to work to show their colleagues before forming a parade, complete with police escort, to a park along Woodward. Here, the public can admire the cars as part of a larger Dream Cruise show.

We expected a lot of Corvettes and were not disappointed. There were not one but two 1963 Sting Rays (in the days when it was two words like the race car that inspired it). The Sting Rays have the gorgeous hood and spine that runs down the roof to the split rear window. Only the ’63, the first year of C2, has the split window.

1963 Corvette Sting Ray

It took Jim Hall almost seven years to find the right one because he wanted enough amenities so he could drive it a lot. Thus there was a need for power brakes and steering, air conditioning, FM radio, and an automatic transmission at his wife’s request. His black ’63 has the base 250-hp, 327-cubic-inch V-8 and two-speed Powerglide transmission.

1959 Corvette Stingray

Ray Miller bought his 1959 Corvette Stingray when he was only 13, using $500 saved up from working at his dad’s gas station, the bowling alley, and cutting lawns. He restored it himself, including paint, and shows it with the hood up to display the red and white engine covers he fashioned over the LS1 motor. The car has had its motor, transmission, brakes, and suspension updated because Miller likes to drive it, a lot, and even takes it to Milan for a little drag racing. He says with the car’s Camaro drivetrain he has clocked the quarter mile at the drag way at 11.9 seconds at 118 mph. Miller used to work in the metal shop building show cars, concepts, the cars in the Transformer movies, and the restoration of the one-millionth Corvette that was damaged when a sinkhole opened inside the National Corvette Museum in 2014. When he retired in 2017, he treated himself to a ’17 Z06. In a couple years, he will look at adding a mid-engine Corvette to his garage.

1978 25th Anniversary Corvette

Among the polished and pristine Corvettes was a 1978 25th anniversary edition with nothing but track on its mind—fitting since the Corvette was chosen to pace the Indy 500 that year. It has a roll cage, metal racing seats, and side exhaust. For 1978, Chevy rolled out a redesigned body with fastback styling and anniversary badging. The new rear window improved visibility. Inside, you’ll find brown basketweave material adorning the center console.

1983 Lotus Esprit

Then there is the black 1983 Lotus Esprit that Brian Janik got in 1994 when he was 23. He finally got it on the road a year ago because, well, life gets in the way sometimes. It was the previous owner’s winter beater car and was a basket case that needed love and time before he could get it roadworthy again. He had the 2.2-liter turbocharged engine rebuilt and a combination of necessity and curiosity led to most other pieces coming off at some point. He also painted it black—he was tired of Ferrari comments when it was red.

1957 VW Dune Buggy

Gerald Broughton is a relative newcomer to GM and brought his 1957 VW Dune Buggy with a peace sign sticker on the back. He grew up with buggies and still loves them as a grown man’s go-kart. The orange buggy has a VW frame and El Lobo fiberglass body with original paint, and a 1600cc engine with a four-speed manual transmission. He is also building a 1964 Meyers Manx.

1974 Honda Civic

A fun car that takes many down memory lane: a 1974 Honda Civic. Kevin Malak is only the second owner, and the car is essentially the same as when it left the factory, just a little cleaned up. The wonderful plaid seat inserts are almost immaculate. It has a 58-hp 1.2-liter engine and four-speed manual transmission.

1972 Austin Mini

Similarly sized is Adam Bernard’s 1972 Austin Mini. Bernard also has a 1963 Buick Riviera, but he brought the mini Mini this year to mark the brand’s 60th anniversary. The front-drive car with a transverse front engine has a 1293cc, 80-horsepower engine and four-speed transmission. It is only 10 feet long, weighing about 1,500 pounds. The four-wheel independent suspension did not make for a smooth parade ride even though he has replaced the original 10-inch wheels with 12s.  But man did it look pretty doing it.

Other vehicles on display included some stunning Chevy SSRs, a lifted K5 Blazer, a dark and menacing 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R, 1973 VW Thing, and a number of Camaro, Impala, Cutlass, Chevelle, Corvair, El Camino, Biscayne, LeSabre, and GTO cars, as well as other blasts from the past.

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Categories: Property

FCA Gauging Public Reaction for Ram 1500 Big Horn Low Down Concept

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 23:00

Lifting a vehicle has become second nature for the Mopar team at FCA. But one of the automaker’s newest rolling test beds takes things in a different direction. The 2018 Ram 1500 Big Horn Low Down concept actually lowers the full-size pickup by two inches.

Mopar created the concept for the 2018 SEMA show, and FCA has been gauging reaction for about a year. A decision will be made later this year or into next year on whether to add the prototype lowering kit to the Mopar catalogue.

So far, reaction has been positive. Cheryl Woodworth, brand accessories manager, said one woman, cruising Woodward Avenue in a 1500, spotted the Low Down and excitedly called her husband to say she saw it and wants one.

Woodworth does not know where the lowering kit might fall on FCA’s priority list, but for now, the concept will keep rolling and gathering reaction. With more than a million people taking in car sights and sounds as part of the Woodward Dream Cruise, there should be a lot of data.

The Low Down has a hard tonneau cover and five-inch exhaust tips. Under the performance hood is a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine. The performance dome hood might also go into production.

On a short test drive in the Low Down, the ride was quite bouncy. But that is understandable. The concept was developed for aesthetics. Designers used the air suspension system as a quick and dirty way to lower the truck which rides on 22-inch oversized wheels.

If it were to go into production, it would be engineered properly so the ride quality is not degraded in any way. And it would have to be tested to meet all safety regulations. That likely means changes such as repositioning the sensor that triggers airbags so they don’t sit too low.

As proof that ride quality does not suffer when engineered properly, we also hopped into a Mopar-modified 2019 Ram 1500 Big Horn Crew Cab with a kit that raised the 1500 by two inches. The best part of this drive was the exhaust note. It has a performance cat-back exhaust system, and in back there are five-inch dual exhaust tips. This customized vehicle has off-road running boards, 18-inch off-road beadlock-capable wheels, a cool black hood graphic, a RamBar to mount lights and store gear, and a rear bed step to reach it all.

Both trucks have the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine.

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Categories: Property

James Bond’s 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Sells for More Than $6.3 Million

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 21:30

RM Sotheby’s did well by adding a third night to its 2019 Monterey auction roster, featuring Aston Martins exclusively. The star of the evening, a 1965 DB5 that was one of three existing screen cars from the popular 007 franchise movie, Goldfinger, sold for a huge $6,385,000 to plenty of applause from the auction room.

Applause came first when the ex-Bond DB5 rolled onto the block in the Portola Plaza Hotel event space after a short teaser video played, showing the car screeching around twisting roads with appropriately Bond-esque music and cinematography. Bidding started quick and steady, with six bidders vying for the car both in the room and on the telephone, though once bids crested $4.5 million, then $5 million, the remaining bids were given more thoughtfully. In all, it took nearly five minutes before the car was hammered sold to a bidder in the room.

As what may be the most famous car in the world, James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 (chassis number DB5/2008/R for the trainspotting types) was made just for the Goldfinger movie, with its incorporated prop machine guns, armored shield, navigation system, and various other gizmos having been installed when the car was being built. Later, the DB5 was used as a promotional car for the next Bond movie, Thunderball. It was restored in Switzerland in 2012 and the car’s props are said to be functioning as they were made to do for the film.

The DB5’s pre-sale estimate, given by RM Sotheby’s, was $4 million to $6 million, so the final result of $6.38 million with commission (high bid of $5.8 million) did well against it. So well that it set a new auction record price for a DB5.

The RM Sotheby’s auction was held in conjunction with Aston Martin Works. RM Sotheby’s auctions continue through Saturday evening with two cars that could possibly break the $20 million dollar mark: a 1939 Porsche Type 64 prototype and a 1994 McLaren F1 LM-spec.

The post James Bond’s 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Sells for More Than $6.3 Million appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Infiniti QX55 to Join Lineup as Coupe-Like Crossover

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 21:00

Ahead of the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Infiniti announced a new addition to its SUV lineup, the QX55. Based on the teaser sketch that Infiniti released, the QX55 appears to be a coupe-like variant of the recently released QX50, which means it’s got the BMW X4 and Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe in its sights.

“The Infiniti QX55 is a stunning new SUV coupe in the heart of one of the industry’s fastest growing segments, globally,” said Mike Colleran, deputy chairman of Infiniti, in a statement.

The last time Infiniti had a coupe-like crossover was the 2017 model year, the final year of the QX70, formerly the Infiniti FX. When it first arrived back in the 2003 model year, the Infiniti FX was a rear-drive-based five-seat luxury crossover underpinned by the FM platform used in vehicles like the Nissan 370Z, Infiniti Q50, and Q60. The first generation Infiniti FX was available with a 3.5-liter V-6 in the FX35 or a 4.5-liter V-8 in the FX45. Both variants came with a five-speed automatic transmission. The second generation FX, which was later renamed to QX70, received a more powerful 3.5-liter V-6 and the 4.5-liter V-8 was replaced by a 5.0-liter unit. A 3.7-liter V-6 eventually replaced the 3.5-liter unit for the 2014 model year, which was also when the FX became the QX70.

The upcoming Infiniti QX55 appears to have a fastback roofline instead of a more conventional hatch like the FX/QX70. Its overall silhouette indicates that it may take cues from sedans, and its greenhouse appears to be quite narrow, too. Infiniti hasn’t said when the QX55 will make its official debut, but it did say that it will go on sale in summer 2020. Although pricing hasn’t been announced, we expect the Infiniti QX55 to be pricier than the QX50.

Source: Infiniti

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Categories: Property

2020 NASCAR Mustang Breaks Cover

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 20:00

Ford has all but reduced its definition of cars to one word: Mustang. That philosophy extends to the racing world as Ford has worked to replace its race car fleet with Mustangs. That continues with this week’s reveal of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Mustang race car which will start competing next February.

Ford Performance Motorsports now has Mustangs designed to compete in race series around the world including hot rods, stock cars, and endurance racers. When the 2015 Mustang went global, Ford Racing decided to go global with the pony car as well.

The 2020 Xfinity Series Mustang is the fifth new motorsports Mustang unveiled in the past year. It joins the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, National Hot Rod Association Funny Car division, Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, and grassroots Cobra Jet. And all of them have racked up wins. The Mustang replaces a car for Xfinity Series that had not been updated since it debuted in 2010.

Development has been done by engineering and aerodynamics teams at the Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina, and their work is also being used by the automaker’s production vehicles such as the Ford GT and Shelby GT500. Innovation trickles down to other production cars including Shelby GT350 and ST models.

“We’ve always talked about Mustang being a car that was born to race, and it’s been gratifying to see it performing so well in multiple series around the world,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “It’s a credit to all of our engineers and teams that have worked so hard to make Mustang a championship contender right out of the box.”

Rushbrook unveiled the Xfinity Series NASCAR Mustang at an event on Woodward where cars have been cruising daily in the lead-up to the official Dream Cruise on Saturday that is expected to draw 1.5 million people who love automobiles.

In addition to the new motorsports Mustangs, Ford also competes with the Mustang GT4 in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series in North America, and the FIA British GT4 Championship in Europe.

The relationship between Ford and NASCAR goes back to the 1950s, said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR managing director of racing operations and international development, who came to metro Detroit for the unveil. “We’re looking forward to seeing what the newest generation of the Mustang will do on the track,” Kennedy said.

Before the revealing of the all-new Xfinity Series Mustang, the previous Xfinity Mustang started racing full-time in 2011, winning the driver’s championship three times and the owner’s title on six occasions.

The new NASCAR Mustang will debut at the Daytona International Speedway on February 15.

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Categories: Property

2020 Bugatti Centodieci Channels the EB110

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 19:20

The 2020 Bugatti Centodieci celebrates a car that has long divided Bugattists. Most default to the neat little Type 35 grand prix cars, or the gigantic Type 40 Royales, or the impossibly elegant Type 57 Atlantic coupes when asked to nominate the marque’s definitive cars. The EB110 and EB110SS models, conceived by Italian entrepreneur and enthusiast Romano Artioli, who acquired the rights to the Bugatti name in the late 1980s, have never been treated with the same respect as the masterpieces of the automotive art from Le Patron himself, Ettore Bugatti. Until now.

“With the Centodieci, we pay homage to the EB110, which is very much a part of our tradition-steeped history,” says Bugatti president Stephan Winkelmann. “With the EB110, Bugatti catapulted itself to the top of the automotive world once again.”

Essentially a rebodied Chiron with slightly more power, the Centodieci channels the spirit of a car that in truth has a lot more in common with today’s Bugattis than the prewar icons. Just 128 EB110 and EB110SS models were produced between 1991 and 1995 in an extraordinary factory built by Artioli in Campogalliano, Italy. Powered by a mid-mounted 3.5-liter, quad-turbo V-12 engine that delivered 603 hp in SS trim, this all-wheel-drive, carbon-fiber Bugatti would sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just over 3 seconds and reach a top speed of 218 mph.

The all-wheel-drive, carbon-fiber Centodieci’s mid-mounted turbocharged 8.0-liter W-16 develops 1,578 hp, the 99-hp bump over the regular Chiron facilitated by improved cooling of the engine’s oil system. It’s also 44 pounds lighter than a Chiron, thanks to more extensive use of carbon fiber and a lightweight windshield, giving it a power-to-weight ratio of about 2.5 pounds per horsepower. Bugatti claims 0–60 mph in less than 2.4 seconds, 0–124 mph in 6.1 seconds, and 0–186 mph in 13.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 236 mph. The Centodieci also generates the same downforce as the track-focused Divo and, says Bugatti, delivers similar levels of lateral acceleration.

Style, not substance, is the Centodieci’s main selling point, however. (And in case you’re wondering, only 10 will be built, and all are already sold, despite its staggering before-tax $9 million price tag.) Whereas the Chiron has a uniquely relaxed beltline that falls away from the top of the front fender toward the rear of the car, the Centodieci’s gesture is aggressively wedged in traditional Italian supercar style. Yes, every panel, every surface, every detail on the Centodieci is different, and it’s 0.4 inch wider, 0.4 inch lower, with 0.6 inch more tumblehome in the side glass, but it’s this gesture that most makes it look like a completely new car.

The hardest thing about doing an homage, says Bugatti design chief Achim Anscheidt, is not to be trapped by the past. “We faced a number of technical challenges in terms of the development and design of the Centodieci,” he acknowledges. “The EB110 is a very flat, wedge-shaped and graphically quasi-two-dimensional super sports car of the late 1980s. Transporting this classic look into the new millennium without copying it was technically complex, to say the least.”

The “cheese grater” venting at the B-pillar is an obvious nod to the EB110SS, but other tells are more subtle. The iconic horseshoe grille is much smaller than that of either the Veyron or Chiron, but it’s larger and better integrated into the design than the tiny, almost afterthought, grille on the EB110. The venting across the rear of the EB110 has been reinterpreted as a blocky, geometric light graphic spanning the Centodieci’s rump. And the NACA ducts on the top surface of the rear fenders on the EB110 can now be found on the roof of the Centodieci, directing cooling air into an engine bay that, unlike the Chiron, is now covered in glass. The Centodieci acknowledges the past but also stands on its own as a contemporary design.

The EB110 was unveiled on September 15, 1991, the 110th anniversary of the birth of Ettore Bugatti. The Centodieci, which means 110 in Italian, celebrates the 110th anniversary of the company he founded in Molsheim, France, in 1909.

Read More:

Ghost in the Machine: Visiting the Abandoned Bugatti EB110 Factory

Bugatti EB110: What it’s Like Driving One of the Original Hypercars

The post 2020 Bugatti Centodieci Channels the EB110 appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

Ghost in the Machine: Visiting the Abandoned Bugatti EB110 Factory

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 19:20

The last time I walked through these doors, this was a functioning car factory. Now I feel like a tomb raider. An early ’90s keyboard and computer sit on the deserted receptionist’s desk, plastic yellowed with age. Off to the left is the dramatic circular space that once housed a showroom, engineering office, and design studio over three levels. To the right is the shop floor where skilled technicians painstakingly hand-assembled the Bugatti EB110.

I first came to Campogalliano in 1992 to see Romano Artioli’s dream made real. Barely five years earlier the Italian businessman had secured the rights to the Bugatti name and shortly after announced plans to build a modern mid-engine Bugatti supercar.

Although he was well aware of its French heritage, Artioli chose Campogalliano to be the headquarters of the reborn Bugatti for one simple reason: Situated just northwest of Modena, it was in the heart of Italy’s “supercar alley,” home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and De Tomaso, with a ready supply of engineers, technicians, and craftsmen well versed in the art and science of creating exotic high-performance sports cars.

Designed by architect Giampaolo Benedini, Artioli’s factory merged art with industrial design, from the blue-paneled exterior of the R&D center, fronted by vents whimsically styled to look like something off an ocean liner, to the serrated walls of the assembly hall whose glassed edges allowed it to be flooded with natural light while keeping out the Italian summer heat. The lobby glistened with white Carrara marble, crystal, and stainless steel. EB logos were frosted on the windows, and even cast into the drainage grates around the property.

In terms of fit and finish and fanatical attention to detail, Campogalliano set a benchmark later matched only by Ron Dennis’s McLaren Technical Center in Woking, England, and, more recently, Horacio Pagani’s Atelier, a few miles away on the other side of Modena.

Campogalliano broods silently in a blistering heatwave as I wander through what’s left of the factory. Pods that once provided workers with power, air pressure, and light as they assembled EB110s still hang from rails in the assembly hall ceiling. Next door, amid oil and dust and exposed foundations, is where state-of-the-art CNC machines milled the cast-aluminum parts of the EB110 engine, including the five-valves-per-cylinder heads.

Upstairs in the bright, airy hall where workers ate lunch off white china plates with blue EB logos, two full-size design renderings—one of a gull-winged mid-engine supercar, the other of a front-engine coupe that’s an obvious homage to the Type 57 Atlantic—are slowly decaying into the yellow painted walls, like old frescos in a medieval church. Artioli’s office, surprisingly modest in size, is a dusty, sun-bleached gray, the occasional Venetian blind drooping sadly over a grimy window.

Back in the faded glory of the lobby, I stop and listen. And for a moment I swear I can hear the snarl of a quad-turbo V-12, just as I did all those years ago. The ghost in the machine …

Read More:

2020 Bugatti Centodieci Channels the EB110

Bugatti EB110: What it’s Like Driving One of the Original Hypercars

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Categories: Property

Bugatti EB110: What it’s Like Driving One of the Original Hypercars

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 19:20

“Above 6,000 rpm it accelerates like an F16 on afterburner. The V-12’s basso low-speed growl changes to a hard-edged scream as the revs build, punctuated by the metallic fissst-pshaw of the wastegates blowing off excess boost as you lift off to shift.”

I wrote that 25 years ago after testing the Bugatti EB110 for Australia’s Wheels magazine. Today 0–60 mph in less than 3.6 seconds and a 209-mph top speed is run-of-the-mill supercar territory, but back then it was edge-of-the-envelope stuff. Only the McLaren F1 and Jaguar’s XJ220 were faster, and not by much. The 552-horsepower EB110 was one of the original hypercars.

Yes, it was fast. But I also remember the EB110 as easy to drive. Fast or slow, on a winding road or a crowded city street, it was smooth and civilized, the ride remarkably compliant, the power steering beautifully weighted. The all-wheel-drive system’s 27/73 front/rear torque split helped deliver prodigious traction and near-neutral handling, with just a touch of controllable oversteer right on the limit.

It was more functional than pretty. Architect Giampaolo Benedini, who designed the factory in which it was built, was drafted in to make Marcello Gandini’s original outlandish design more palatable. The EB110 has flown under the radar for quite some time, not the least because it was seen by many at the time as a shamelessly opportunistic attempt to cash in on one of the world’s most iconic automotive names. And one that ended ignominiously in bankruptcy in 1995.

But the EB110 deserves recognition and redemption. For a brief, shining moment in the early 1990s it was an ultra-high-performance sports car like nothing else on earth. “If it’s comparable, it’s no longer a Bugatti,” Ettore Bugatti once said.  He would have understood the EB110.

Read More:

2020 Bugatti Centodieci Channels the EB110

Ghost in the Machine: Visiting the Abandoned Bugatti EB110 Factory

The post Bugatti EB110: What it’s Like Driving One of the Original Hypercars appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Drako GTE Debuts as a 1,200-HP, Hyper-Handling EV Supercar

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 19:00

On Friday morning at The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering during Monterey Car Week 2019, upstart Drako Motors unveiled its striking new all-electric supercar, the GTE. And whatever your feelings regarding its exterior styling, it boasts several attention-grabbing numbers: 1,200 combined horsepower, a 206-mph top speed, and a base price in excess of $1 million.

The all-wheel-drive Drako GTE comes from the Silicon Valley–based auto-engineering firm founded in 2015 by three tech entrepreneurs. It has four permanent-magnet hybrid synchronous motors (225 kW/302 hp each) to produce that 1,200 hp and blistering acceleration. Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes and, in road configuration, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires add to the extreme performance.

More important, the GTE incorporates the company’s proprietary Drako DriveOS, a software system that replaces conventional mechanical axle differentials with computer-managed four-wheel torque vectoring; the motor at each wheel can be instantly and independently controlled for maximum traction, stability, and handling responsiveness, the company says. The entire system is controlled by a single ECU, making it far less complex than the computer networks in most modern vehicles.

Shiv Sikand, Drako Motors executive vice president and co-founder, says, “I believe we’re on the cusp of a revolution with the use of four-motor electric cars. And we aim to lead that charge.”

Company president and CEO Dean Drako started working with Sikand around 2002, after a friend suggested the two engineers and tech entrepreneurs “would make a good team.” After starting a software company that’s still going strong, Drako and Sikand—both avowed car crazies—turned their attention toward building a car of their own.

“I have a couple Ferraris, a BMW M5 or two,” says Drako. “But I’ve always been a fan of the electric car, always wanted to have one that has the track-capable performance of a traditional sports car. But I’m disappointed with the look of so many electric cars. They look funny. And the makers say, ‘Well, it’s a different thing.’ But the reality is nobody wants a different thing. They want the same thing but better. That was a lot of the motivation for building our car.”

“We want to evoke the passion, the sexiness, of long-bonnet, V-12 sports cars,” agrees Sikand. “We want to show that you can have beautiful, inspiring cars that are high-tech. When you lift the hood of our car you’ll think, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this!’”

That car, unveiled after roughly six years of development, is based on a Fisker Karma platform, but every panel except the doors is new. Indeed, the sensuous lines of the carbon-fiber bodywork were penned by ex-Pininfarina design director Lowie Vermeersch, who helped create such stunning shapes as the Ferrari 458 and the Alfa Romeo 2uettottanta concept car before founding his own design house, GranStudio, in Turin, Italy. But what lies underneath—namely, an innovative battery, four electric motors, and that proprietary Drako DriveOS software to run it all—truly sets this new supercar apart.

The GTE doesn’t mark the first-ever use of such electric architecture, mind you. In 2013, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the four-motor, 740-hp SLS AMG Electric Drive—a car that set the lap record at the time for an electric car around the Nürburgring Nordschleife with a time of 7 minutes, 56 seconds, handily beating the Audi R8 e-tron. Yet after selling fewer than 100 examples of its half-million-dollar supercar, Mercedes essentially abandoned the program.

The Drako GTE aims to pick up where the SLS Electric Drive left off, while also taking the four-motor concept to an entirely new level. Drako promises that effortlessness at the wheel is the GTE’s secret sauce.

“Our obsession has been the new control methodology,” says Sikand. “With electric-motor propulsion at each wheel, you can apportion the torque any way you want. Now, we’ve seen this—Porsche has their torque-vectoring rear axle, for example—but it’s still fundamentally primitive. Or these electronic differentials that control clutches electronically; you’re still doing retardation with hydraulic brakes, and the latency is long. With our system you’ve got a virtual triple differential with no brakes needed. There’s zero latency. And our system is proactive. We’re computing a new torque value every 10 milliseconds to all four wheels, taking into account steering angle, slip angle, wheel-speed sensors, accelerator, and brakes. The tech is not only very intuitive for race-car drivers, but for the general public you can build a very safe car—particularly for inclement conditions.”

Four switches on the console—what Drako calls the Quattro Manettino—allow a driver to adjust the torque-vectoring level, front-to-rear power distribution, braking regen level, and settings for six different road-surface conditions.

The post 2020 Drako GTE Debuts as a 1,200-HP, Hyper-Handling EV Supercar appeared first on MotorTrend.

Categories: Property

2020 Subaru WRX, BRZ Get a Price Bump and More Standard Equipment

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 17:30

Subaru’s two performance models get some significant updates for 2020. First off, the 2020 Subaru WRX returns with the brand’s EyeSight safety suite as standard on models equipped with the optional CVT. Meanwhile, the 2020 Subaru BRZ sees the return of the tS model with some slight changes that make it look less boy racer than the original iteration.

Pricing starts at $28,395 for a base WRX with the standard six-speed manual transmission, up $315 from last year. Getting the CVT requires moving up to the Premium trim and will cost you $32,595. The optional Performance package, which is exclusive to the Premium trim with the six-speed manual, receives a major update for 2020 with the addition of Brembo brakes on all four corners and Recaro-branded eight-way power adjustable sport seats. A 268-hp 2.0-liter turbo-four returns as the sole engine option for the 2020 Subaru WRX.

The more potent 2020 Subaru WRX STI returns with keyless entry and start, 19-inch alloy wheels in dark gray, and redesigned engine bay cooling ducts in the front bumper. Pricing starts at $37,895 for the base WRX STI and $42,595 for the WRX STI Limited, which gets extra standard features like a Harman Kardon audio system, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, Recaro front seats, and embedded navigation. A 310-hp 2.5-liter turbo-four paired exclusively to a six-speed manual remains the only powertrain combination for the 2020 Subaru WRX STI.

Finally, the rear-drive 2020 Subaru BRZ returns with a starting price of $29,745 thanks to the discontinuation of the Premium trim. The Limited, which is now the new base model, comes with a long list of standard equipment including the Starlink infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, embedded navigation, heated front seats, two USB ports, and full LED headlights. The available six-speed automatic transmission costs $1,100. The Performance package, which is available only on BRZs with the six-speed manual, adds Sachs Performance shock absorbers, dark gray 17-inch alloy wheels, and Brembo brakes in all four corners for a reasonable $1,195.

The Subaru BRZ tS is back for 2020 and will be limited to 300 units with a starting price of $32,395. Key suspension upgrades include an STI-tuned front and rear Sachs dampers and coil springs, an STI V-brace, Brembo brakes in all four corners, extra draw stiffeners on the chassis and sub-frame, and 18-inch bronze alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport performance tires. The tall rear wing has been ditched in favor of a low-profile one, and the front grille and rear bumper get Cherry Blossom Red accents. Ceramic White will be the only exterior color available on the 2020 Subaru BRZ tS.

Source: Subaru

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Categories: Property

2020 Toyota Corolla Goes Dark With Nightshade Edition

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 00:45

The Toyota Corolla is known for its conventional looks, but a new special edition model hopes to change the script. For 2020, the sedan and hatch receive a Nightshade Edition with blacked-out exterior accents. Other updates have also been announced for the Corolla Hatchback.

Based off the SE trim with the CVT transmission, the 2020 Toyota Corolla Nightshade Edition features many black exterior accents, from the front fascia to the door handles, mirror caps, rocker panels, and rear spoiler. The Corolla Hatchback Nightshade Edition adds black elements to the headlamps. Finishing off the look are black 18-inch wheels on both models.

Buyers can choose three colors on the Nightshade Edition sedan: Super White, Classic Silver Metallic, or Black Sand Pearl. Midnight Black Metallic replaces Black Sand Pearl on the hatchback. The Corolla Nightshade Edition will start at $23,705 for the sedan and $23,245 for the hatch. They join four other Nightshade Editions in the Toyota lineup: 4Runner, Camry, Highlander, and Sienna.

Read more:
2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid Gets Prius-Rivaling Fuel Economy
Why the 2020 Toyota Corolla XSE Is the Best Corolla Yet
Photos: See the 2020 Toyota Corolla in Different Trims

The 2020 Toyota Corolla Hatchback starts at $21,245 and adds a few new features. Android Auto will join Apple CarPlay as a standard feature. SiriusXM All Access Trial is also standard now; it was previously optional. New available features include a black roof, and a spare tire removal option on the SE trim to maximize cargo space.

Source: Toyota

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Categories: Property

It Makes How Much? We Dyno the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Fri, 08/16/2019 - 00:31

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 might have the best-sounding engine of any new production car. If you don’t believe us, take a listen. Ford calls it the Voodoo, and it’s much different than the engines in its more pedestrian pony car brethren. Its flat-plane-crank architecture is unique among V-8s from the ‘States, as is its astronomical 8,250-rpm redline.

In the 2019 GT350 and GT350R, the Voodoo is rated at 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque at the crank. We decided to take the GT350 from our Best Driver’s Car competition and strap it to a dyno to find out how much power it’s making at the wheels. Drivetrain losses are exceedingly difficult to measure but we’ll estimate a 15-percent loss between what the engine is producing at the crank and how much power makes it to the road. Based on Ford’s numbers, we should be expecting a dyno readout of 457 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque at the wheels.

Last time we measured a GT350 on a dyno in 2015, it put down a very healthy 467 wheel horsepower. This one is even stronger. Here’s what the dyno tells us: an average of 494 hp and 382 lb-ft at the wheels over three separate runs in fourth gear. Accounting for the drivetrain loss, our results translate to 568 horses and 439 lb-ft at the crank from the Voodoo V-8; that’s 42 hp and 10 extra lb-ft more than its ratings from Ford.

The dyno chart, which graphs power and torque against engine speed, shows a big spike in torque for the Mustang around 3,300 rpm. That’s when this engine comes alive—much later in the rev range than most turbocharged engines and larger-displacement V-8s. Torque remains near its peak at 382 lb-ft between 3,300 and 6,000 rpm, at which point it begins to drop off. The power curve is relatively linear. Peak power doesn’t arrive until the Voodoo is approaching its sky-high 8,250-rpm fuel cutoff.

If our tester is any indication, you not only get one of the best-sounding engines in the business with the 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, you also get more power than advertised.

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Original 1968 Ford Mustang Bullitt Movie Car Heading to Auction

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 23:56

If Steve McQueen was still with us, you know he would have jumped at the chance to own his co-star—the 1968 Ford Mustang GT that he drove in the classic cop film Bullitt. The original Highland Green beauty is going on the block at the Mecum Kissimmee 2020 auction in Florida and is expected to sell for big bucks.

Its whereabouts were unknown for over four decades until it resurfaced at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show and we learned that it spent a good deal of time with a lucky family in New Jersey. Sean Kierman inherited the car from his father, and his family is finally ready to part with their most cherished possession.

“Through a lot of conversation and prayer my family and I have decided to sell our car, the 1968 Mustang GT fastback known as Bullitt. I can promise that we have thought this through together and decided that this is the best decision for the family,” announced Kierman via Instagram. “Bullitt has been part of my family for 45 years and we have celebrated her in the grandest way possible, and now it will have a new role and new meaning to the future owner.”

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Through a lot of conversation and prayer my family and I have decided to sell our car, the 1968 Mustang GT fastback known as Bullitt. I can promise that we have thought this through together and decided that this is the best decision for the family. Bullitt has been part of my family for 45 years and we have celebrated her in the grandest way possible, and now it will have a new role and new meaning to the future owner. Mecum Auctions will handle the sale of the car and it will headline the Kissimmee, Florida auction in January 2020. The announcement of the car will be made in Monterey, California by myself surrounded by long time friends on August 14th at 3pm Pacific. I have accomplished what I set out to do with the car; Tell my Dad’s story in the best way possible and share the car with the world. I had no idea what to expect when we unveiled the car in January 2018 in Detroit, but since then everyone has been absolutely excited and respectful to see the car and hear the story. I have met many awesome people along the way and have heard many amazing stories. Thanks to each and every one of you, and I will continue to be very active in the automotive/Mustang community. Also, I plan to take a much bigger role in Parkinson’s research and surrounding charities such as Drive Toward a Cure. The following events are where you can come and see Bullitt and myself before January 2020- Kentucky Summer Nights, Somerset Kentucky – August 24th Mecum Dallas Auction – September 4th–7th Charlotte AutoFair – October 17th–19th SEMA – November 5th- 8th MCACN – November 23rd-24th

A post shared by The Real Bullitt (@therealbullitt) on Aug 14, 2019 at 5:56pm PDT

The car is one of two Mustangs featured in the 1968 movie and it was used for one of the most famous car chase scenes of all time. Kiernan’s mother used the car as her daily driver for years before it was disassembled in 2001 by the family.

Kiernan put it back together after his father died in 2014 and it has since toured around the U.S. and beyond.

If you have a large pile of cash available, get yourself down to Florida for the Mecum Kissimmee 2020 auction in January. McQueen would totally understand.

Source: Mecum

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Categories: Property

Volvo is Looking to Add Two More SUVs to its Lineup

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 21:42

It seems like Volvo is set to grow its SUV lineup in the wake of strong sales. In an interview with Auto Express, Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson revealed that the Swedish automaker is considering adding two more models to its SUV lineup.

“Our strategy has been growth, but not through adding pure volumes,” Samuelsson told Auto Express. “We have been going in hard and being better in segments where we have a really strong offering. That is the basic assumption. And now we also have the production capacity to grow this company. But we are not excluding the idea of additions, especially in very core segments, like the SUV. I think we are looking into this possibility now. You should not exclude the idea that there might be a bigger one, but maybe also a smaller one. We will surprise you about that in the future”

A smaller SUV would slot under the XC40 while a larger model would sit above the XC90 as the new range topper. If both SUVs do get the green light, the entry-level model will likely be underpinned by the CMA platform and be similar in size to the Audi Q2, which slots below the Q3 and isn’t sold in North America. An all-electric Volvo XC40 is expected to arrive for the 2020 model year.

The larger SUV could use the second generation of Volvo’s SPA platform, which is expected to arrive in three years and can reportedly handle vehicles larger than the XC90. All 60 and 90 series Volvos use the first-generation SPA architecture, which was first introduced on the second-generation XC90 for the 2016 model year. An SUV larger than the XC90 would expand Volvo’s reach in the U.S. and China where such vehicles are in high demand. With Volvo’s commitment to electrification, both the entry-level small crossover and range-topping full-size SUV should offer electrified powertrains, possibly including full EVs.

Source: Auto Express

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Categories: Property

Refreshed 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback Starts at $22,580

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 18:19

Honda refreshed the Civic sedan and coupe last year, and now it’s the hatchback’s turn to receive some TLC. The 2020 Honda Civic Hatchback goes on sale this week with updated styling and expanded availability of the six-speed manual transmission.

To give the hatchback a sharper look, Honda revised the grille crossbar and provided the headlights with a new blackout treatment. The lower bumper foglight housings now feature a body-color crossbar, as do the lower bumper openings in the rear. You’ll find a new set of wheels on every trim, painted in either black or dark gray. Honda says it improved the LED headlights on the Sport Touring model with wider and longer light beams.

The Sport Touring is also available with a six-speed manual transmission for the first time. Previously, you could only get it on the Sport trim. Buyers who don’t choose the manual will get a CVT.

The base model starts at $22,580, up $200 from last year. At this price, the Civic hatch is more expensive than the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, which starts at $21,095 with a six-speed manual or $22,195 with a CVT.

The Civic hatch Sport trim starts at $23,680 with the manual or $24,480 with the CVT, and it now has more standard features. These include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with eight speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and push-button start with keyless entry. There is also new seat upholstery unique to the model, as well as updated interior trim. When paired with the CVT, it now gets remote start.

The EX trim, priced at $25,080, adds an eight-way power driver’s seat this year as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The EX-L lands at $26,280, getting brushed black interior accents along with the Sport Touring, which starts at $29,980 with the manual or $29,780 with the CVT.

Fuel economy tops out at 31/40/34 mpg city/highway/combined on the LX, EX, and EX-L trims. Sport and Sport Touring models top out at 29/37/32 with the manual and 29/35/32 with the CVT. All Civic Hatchbacks receive a 1.5-liter turbo-four engine. Standard output is 174 hp, but Sport and Sport Touring models max out at 180 hp.

Source: Honda

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2020 Chevrolet Corvette Officially Starts at $59,995

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 12:00

Finally, official pricing for the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette is out. True to its promise, Chevrolet is making the sports car available for less than $60,000. It will start at exactly $59,995 when it goes on sale early next year.

The 2020 Corvette price has increased from the C7 Corvette Stingray, which started at $56,995. Still, the new model is definitely a bargain. The Porsche 718 Cayman S, Jaguar F-Type, and BMW Z4 sDrive M40i are included in a long list of sports cars with higher price tags.

The base Corvette Stingray is the 1LT, which comes with plenty of standard features, as listed below. The 2LT trim package starts at $67,295, while the 3LT is priced from $71,945.

Prices increase quickly with options. For $1,195, a performance exhaust raises output from 490 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque to 495 hp and 470 lb-ft. Meanwhile, a front suspension lift system can be added to the 2LT and 3LT trims for $1,495. With this system, you can press a button when approaching an obstacle such as a speed bump, and the location is stored in cloud memory. The next time you approach the location, the lift system activates automatically. Up to 1,000 locations can be stored.

The Z51 Performance Package is a $5,000 option, bringing the base model to just below $65,000 when so equipped. It is available on any trim, and Chevy says models with the package can hit 60 mph in under 3 seconds. This package adds a performance exhaust and suspension, electronic limited slip differential, front splitter, rear spoiler, larger disc brakes, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S summer only performance tires, updated axle ratio, enhanced cooling, and front brake cooling inlets.

As you probably know, you can now configure the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette on the automaker’s consumer site. See how we configured ours here. And read below for a list of key standard features on each trim level of the Corvette Stingray.


2020 Chevrolet Corvette 1LT standard features

-8-way power GT1 seats with Mulan leather
-removable body-color roof panel
-traction control with active handling and launch control
-8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
-12-inch instrument cluster display
-dual-zone electronic climate control
-rearview camera and Rear Park Assist
-keyless access with push-button start
-cruise control
-Drive mode selector: Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, MyMode, Z-Mode
-10-speaker Bose sound system
-SiriusXM three-month trial
-OnStar one-month trial

2020 Chevrolet Corvette 2LT standard features

-head-up display
-wireless phone charging
-power lumbar and wing seat adjustment
-heated and ventilated seats
-heated steering wheel
-14-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system
-navigation with traffic
-rear camera mirror with auto-dimming
-power folding mirrors
-Performance Data Recorder
-one-year subscription to SiriusXM
-side blind zone alert, rear cross traffic alert
-driver and passenger side seat memory package
-front curb view camera

2020 Chevrolet Corvette 3LT standard features

-GT2 seats with Napa and Mulan leather seating surfaces and carbon-fiber trim
-custom leather-wrapped interior
-suede-wrapped upper interior trim

Source: Chevrolet

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Cadillac CT6-V vs. BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes: Just the Numbers

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 09:00

We had some nice things to say about the new Blackwing-powered Cadillac CT6-V, but a car like this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The strongest competition comes from the Germans, specifically, the Mercedes-AMG S63, Porsche Panamera Turbo Executive, and the BMW 7 Series–based Alpina B7. Each of these four cars are giant four-door sedans powered by their respective automaker’s take on a 500+ hp hot vee turbocharged V-8, and each sends power to all four wheels. Sound like they’d be pretty similar? Not quite.

Size: Length, Wheelbase, and Weight

All of these cars are based on their manufacturers’ largest sedans, but just how big are they? Short answer: huge. The shortest car in the group is the CT6-V at 204 inches long—that’s 17 feet, or 5.2 meters for you metric-minded folk. (We’ll use the specs of the comparison test–winning Honda Civic for context because it’s also a four-door, five passenger sedan, but it’s an example you’re more likely to have experience with. A Honda Civic is 186.7 inches long and has a 106.3-inch wheelbase. Its curb weight is 2800 lb.)

The Cadillac is closely followed by the Panamera Executive at 204.7 inches, but the Porsche’s 122.0-inch wheelbase undercuts the Caddy by 0.4 inch. At 208.5 inches, the AMG-modified S-Class is the longest of the bunch, but the slightly shorter 207.4-inch Alpina has the longest wheelbase at 126.4 inches. The S63’s 124.6-inch wheelbase is right in the center of the pack.

Remember, 17 feet of luxury shant be taken lightly, and these cars are far from featherweights. The 4,850-lb Alpina is the heftiest, closely followed by the S63 at 4,800 lb. (That’s just the manufacturer suggested curb weight; the last S63 we tested weighed in at 5,105 lb.) Next comes the stretched Panamera at 4,650 lb. The comparatively dainty CT6-V is the lightest here by some margin, weighing in at just 4,500 lb. That’s the same curb weight Mercedes-AMG claims for its one-size-smaller E63 S.

Interior Space: Legroom and Trunk Volume

These are luxurious grand touring super-sedans; the goal here is to be able to transport four or five passengers at high speeds over long distances in absolute comfort. That’s why they’re as huge as they are. A longer wheelbase means more room between the front and rear axles for passengers so as a general rule, more wheelbase equals more leg room. (Context: A Honda Civic sedan has 42.3/37.4 inches of front/rear leg room and 15.1 cubic feet of cargo volume.)

It should come as no surprise that the Alpina, the car with the longest wheelbase, has the most rear legroom at 44.4 inches. The S63 is next at 43.1 inches of room in back and both cars have 41.4 inches of front foot space. Cadillac’s newcomer doesn’t measure up to the larger Germans in the back seat with only 40.4 inches of legroom, but 46.4 inches up front means the CT6-V has the most combined legroom of any car here. Even in the extended-wheelbase Panamera Executive, 39.6 inches of rear legroom is the fewest among this competition, and 41.9 inches up front doesn’t do much to sweeten the deal.

Cargo volume also matters in cars like these and for trunk space, the Alpina is the winner again, with 18.2 cubic feet. It’s closely followed by the hatchback-equipped Panamera at 17.6 cubes. That said, manufacturers measure hatchback cargo volume differently than they measure a sealed trunk, so take that one with a grain of salt. Next comes the S63 with 16.6 cu-ft and the CT6-V rounds out the pack with 15.3 cu-ft of space for of junk in its trunk.

Engine: Power, Torque, and Displacement

What’s installed under their hoods is what separates these cars from more common versions of the same models. It’s not hard to explain that a four-cylinder 237-hp CT6 2.0T is a very different animal than a CT6-V with more than twice the power. Each car here has a V-8 ranging between 4.0 and 4.4 liters of displacement—relatively small compared to the C8 Corvette’s 6.2-liter non-turbo V-8.

If an engine is just a big air pump, (it is) than more displacement means the engine can pump more air, combust more fuel, and make more power, right? All things being equal, yes, but forced induction is the great equalizer. Each one of those V-8s has two turbos to stuff more air into the cylinders and they’re crammed between the cylinder banks for better throttle response and less turbo lag.

(Context corner: the Honda Civic sedan is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 174 hp and 162 lb-ft.)

Despite being tied for the smallest-displacement engine, the S63 has the most powerful and torquiest powerplant of the group. Its 4.0-liter V-8 puts out 603 horses and a monsterous 664 lb-ft. The Panamera Executive also has a 4.0-liter engine, but it’s tied with the Cadillac for the least power (550 hp) and has the lowest torque output at 567 lb-ft. Despite the Cadillac’s comparatively low power output, the 4.2-liter Blackwing V-8’s 640 lb-ft torque figure is second only to the bruiser Benz. The 4.4-liter V-8 in the Alpina B7 is the largest displacement engine of the bunch but in terms of output, it’s middle of the pack with 600 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.

Performance: 0–60 and Top Speed

The acceleration stats of these four sizeable sedans exceed those of mid-engine supercars from not so long ago. Don’t believe me? Check out our Ferrari F430 Spider review.

Cadillac claims a 3.8-second 0–60 sprint for the CT6-V but in terms of turbo V-8–powered limousines, that’s just the tip of the acceleration iceberg. The Panamera is next with an estimated 3.7-second time, but if it’s equipped with the $2,530 Sport Chrono package, drivers have an option for launch control. Specced as such, the Panamera Executive is claimed to hit 60 mph in the same 3.5 seconds that Mercedes and BMW quote for the S63 and Alpina B7.

Not that it matters to most of us, but for those with an Autobahn or abandoned airstrip as part of their commute, top speed could factor into your buying decision. The CT6-V and S63 are both electronically limited, the Cadillac to 149 mph and the Mercedes to 186 mph. Porsche’s elongated Panamera tops out at 190 mph but the real luxo-missile here is the Alpina. BMW claims a 205-mph top speed for the B7.


Without question, the biggest difference between these cars is the price. Case in point: the least expensive of the bunch, the CT6-V, starts at $95,890—almost $70k less than the $163,150 you’ll pay to get into a Panamera Turbo Executive. Plus, Porsche charges extra for features that are standard in the CT6-V, like adaptive cruise control ($2,890) or ventilated front seats ($840). The S63 is barely better, coming in at $152,595, but it’s just as easy to tack on thousands of dollars to have the features that match the Cadillac. Things are no better in the Alpina B7, and though it’s the cheapest German in the group at $142,695, it’s still 49% more expensive than the humble CT6-V.

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Is the Volvo XC60 a Better Commuter or Road Trip SUV?

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 09:00

We’re nearing the end of our time in the Volvo XC60, and it’s been smooth sailing all year. Currently at around 24,000 miles, the compact crossover has visited the dealership twice for regular maintenance. I’m impressed by the airy, eco-chic feel of my local Volvo dealership, but I’m even happier about the fact that the first three services are free of charge. This means free maintenance at the 10,000-, 20,000-, and 30,000-mile recommended intervals.

For some buyers, the XC60 is the family car, and for others, it’s the road trip car or the second vehicle. For me, it is primarily a commuter car. So how well does it perform in this role?

First things first: fuel economy. In our Real MPG tests, our Volvo managed 20.3/32.5/24.4 mpg city/highway/combined. This is considerably better than the EPA’s rating of 20/27/23 mpg. And it also outperformed the Real MPG estimates for our long-term Acura RDX (19.4/30.9/23.3 mpg). Not bad for a compact SUV. Of course, if you’re really looking to maximize fuel economy, these 10 small SUVs will do the job. One is the plug-in hybrid version of the XC60.

To be a good commuter car, a vehicle must have features that make the driver’s life easier. The XC60’s head-up display and 12.3-inch multi-configurable instrument cluster help achieve this goal. You can control many functions via buttons on the steering wheel, making the finicky infotainment system just a little more palatable for the driver. One thing works against the XC60’s effectiveness as a commuter car. When switching lanes at low speeds in traffic, there’s a slight delay in acceleration when you need it.

There are arguments to make for the XC60 as a road trip vehicle. It has a spacious back seat, although a high floor hump makes it a bit tricky for the middle seat occupant to rest his or her legs. The XC60’s cargo area will fit luggage for the whole family, and as we noted in a previous update, we generally like the cruise control system.

Up next: our final verdict on the XC60.

Read more about our 2019 Volvo XC60 T5 AWD long-termer:

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Chevrolet Corvette C4 History: The Technologically Advanced, Black Sheep of the Family

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 09:00

Love it or hate it, the fourth generation Corvette (1984 – 1996) is next in our series of Corvette history features. These cars are commonly the whipping boy of America’s sports car, however, for their time, they were highly advanced compared to their domestic peers and even outperformed some of their European counterparts. This was due to a complete overhaul of nearly every aspect of the car done by a new team of engineers and designers, who all had a new mantra to follow. You get the theme, right? It’s all about new, new, new.

This article was originally featured on HOT ROD. For more stories like this, check out the HOT ROD Network. Interested in the 2020 Corvette Stingray? Get the full story on the C8 here.

For the three prior generations, the Corvette was only slightly altered from the original design. Body styles changed, but the guts and engineering philosophy had not, and by the early ‘80s, the Corvette was showing its age. In fact, the C3, a car that had a 14-year production run, was essentially a facelifted C2. It was time for a change and GM knew it. There were plans to end C3 production in favor of the Aerovette, but that was quickly swept under the rug.

Replacing legendary engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, was new Corvette Chief Engineer David McLellan and Jerry Palmer stepped in as Lead Designer following Bill Mitchell’s retirement. These two, along with their teams, worked seamlessly and followed their new mantra: Form follows function. For gearheads it’s easy to only care about going fast and if you have an ugly car, make it fast so people won’t see it. At the time, the Corvette faced tough competition from the likes of the Lotus Esprit, Ferrari 308, and Porsche 944 — all cars that looked as fast as they went.

Read more about Corvette History:

Palmer’s design team set to work updating the look of the car while retaining the iconic Corvette vibe. The curvaceous fender flares remained along with the swooping hood-line, but the doors of the car were pushed outward, making for more interior space and a smoother body. Nearly nine inches were removed from the overall length of the car, most of which was cut out of the tail. Remember the one-piece removable roof from the early designs of the C3 that was tabled in place of the T-Tops? It returned for the C4, which was able to accommodate it because of the reinforced steel unibody construction, a first in Corvette’s history.

The C4 was one of the most seamless looking cars of the time, which was achieved in part via a rub strip that circled the entire car. It hid the clam-shell hood gap in the front of the car as well as the main seam in the fiberglass bodywork. GM also subjected the car to wind tunnel testing to maximize aerodynamic efficiency, the first time GM had done any testing of the sort.

It didn’t stop there. The interior was given the same meticulous treatment. The instrument panel featured digital interfaces which drivers could cycle through while sitting in the comfort of their reclining and multi-adjustable seat, another first for the Vette. The driver and passenger could enjoy tunes from a premium sound system, an element of the sports car driving experience seldom focused on by other manufacturers of the time.

All of the design elements came together, from sketches to final concept, in less than two years with Palmer leading the charge. McLellan’s engineering team had their work cut out for them. Things like Zora’s independent rear suspension was retained and updated, but the biggest change was what Chevrolet cleverly referred to as the “birdcage.” Yes, the Corvette was now a unibody car that boasted a galvanized steel skeleton for the fiberglass panels to attach to.

The front suspension now used a transverse leaf spring mounted to each lower control arm as opposed to individual coil springs, and for the first time, a rack and pinion steering system was installed which tightened up the handling. Zora’s three-link, independent rear suspension, though revolutionary at the time of its creation, was improved upon with a five-link system that further triangulated the back of the car, increasing stability and performance. A Z51 handling package was also available that included “gymkhana” type components (yeah, you read that right) for further improved handling. This, coupled with tires straight out of Goodyear’s Indy and F1 rain tire program, allowed the car to turn at 0.95g on the skidpad. Directional alloy wheels were introduced to increase brake efficiency and cooling.

Initially, the anemic 350ci small-block carried over from the C3 with a whopping 205 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque in the base models. It was coupled with the so-called 4+3 transmission- a four-speed manual transmission with a hydraulically-actuated overdrive bolted to the tailshaft. Designed to increase fuel economy during highway cruising, the hydraulic clutch was actuated in second through fourth gear and was later changed to an electronic toggle switch on the dash. This was basically what you’d call a gear splitter which was automatically disengaged under heavy acceleration.

After several years of work, the car was ready to go on the show circuit in 1983 where it was met with high praise. Sadly, Chevrolet missed a key marketing opportunity with car’s 30th anniversary being 1983, however, that didn’t seem to hinder its popularity as it entered a 12-year production run from 1984-1996.

The biggest changes to the C4 came in the form of special editions and a few engines over those 12 years. The ZR-1 from 1990-1995 was a considerable leap forward in terms of engine technology. GM teamed up with renowned UK racing outfit Lotus, which designed an aluminum block, dual-overhead cam, 32-valve V8 that made 375 hp; the most power under the hood of a Vette in a number of years. This is engine would be dubbed the LT5 and sent the ZR-1 from 0-60 mph in under 5 seconds. Other special editions included a 35th and 40th anniversary cars, Indy Pace cars, the Grand Sport, and the Brickyard 400 Parade Car, to name a few.

With all of the effort put into world class design and engineering the C4 it is a shame that it didn’t stand the test of time. In secondhand form these cars are either falling apart, have questionable electrics at best and are tough to get working with the original equipment. They can also end up meeting their demise in the hands of the dudes at Roadkill who chopped it up into what is now the “Vette Kart.” Not that that’s bad, in fact their antics helped revive interest in the cars. Unless you find a mint example, or have a love as deep as your pockets, these cars are good for a late-model engine swap. Do that and throw some new suspension parts under it and you’ve got yourself some epic, cheap thrills. Regardless of what you can do now, the C4 was a total departure from its predecessors and paved the way for even more advances to come.

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1939 Bentley Corniche Gets Resurrected by Milliner

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 22:37

Bentley has resurrected a piece of their lost automotive history with this stunning recreation of their 1939 Corniche. The idea originated when Greek race car driver Andre Embiricos ordered a performance car based on Bentley’s 4¼ Litre chassis. Engineers and higher-ups had been kicking around the idea of a performance version of the MkV for a while. A lightweight chassis and a tuned-up version of the MkV engine coupled to an overdrive gearbox was combined with a more aerodynamic look designed for better performance.

The result was the Corniche, Bentley’s first streamlined vehicle that would be the standard for the marque’s future post-war cars. Only one model was ever produced with it, unfortunately, suffering heavy damage during track testing in France in 1939. The chassis was sent to the Bentley plant located in Derby for repairs and the body was sent to a shop in France. The finished body was scheduled to be shipped out of Dieppe but was delayed and a WWII bombing raid destroyed it.

Fortunately, automotive historian and former Bentley director Ken Lea had acquired enough parts to make a Corniche reproduction model years later in 2001. This project took place in Derby, where the original chassis was sent decades before. Money became an issue in 2008 until Bentley provided funds to start work on the chassis, bodywork, and more.

They employed the help of coachbuilders Ashley & James in Lymington, Hampshire. It was a slow process until it was moved to Bentley under the leadership of Chairman and Chief Executive Adrian Hallmark with the team consisting of Ken Lea, Head of Heritage Robin Peel, Mulliner Operations Manager Ian Broomhall, and Glyn Davies of Mulliner Special Projects.

The original car designer was George Paulin and his family was gracious enough to provide his original drawings of the car. The team used them to fabricate parts and rebuild the car using original Corniche and MkV parts. The interior was put together by Head of Interior Design Darren Day and his team after doing extensive research to make sure they were using period-correct pieces. In order to get the wood trim right Mulliner Master Carpenter Gary Bedson came up with a steam booth that allowed him to bend pieces of wood to fit the spaces needed in the interior—a lengthy and tedious process. The Mulsanne body-in-white team put the finishing touches on the handcrafted panels.

This incredible piece of automotive history will make its debut at Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace in September.

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