Tag archives for Miscellaneous
Hybrids and electric vehicles may not stimulate the senses as much as, say, a highly strung V-10 with a six-speed manual transmission, but at least said alternative-power vehicles look more exciting today than they ever have before. Today’s Tesla Roadster was nowhere near physical conception two decades ago, and today we are graced with a bevy of electric-motor-assisted and electric-motor-driven vehicles that look as visually appealing as their conventionally powered counterparts. What do you believe is the best-looking hybrid or electric vehicle?
Thanks to Futurearchitect for today’s TOTD!
Eight Cars We’d Be Surprised to See With Lambo Doors
By Benson Kong
Picking which cars will become classics is a lot like playing the stock market: it takes a little insight and a lot of luck. Insurance company Hagerty thinks it has found ten new cars on sale today that will become sought-after classics in the future.
“This year’s Hot List is comprised of vehicles from a wide variety of market segments and manufacturers, but they all share one thing in common — a certain ‘cool’ factor that will be remembered by car enthusiasts for many years to come,” explains Hagerty president and CEO McKeel Hagerty. Take a look at the list below, and let us know whether you agree with the company’s picks in the comments section.
SRT Viper: Hagerty selected it because it celebrates the mantra of “no replacement for displacement” even as other automakers downsize engines. We said the 8.4-liter V-10 engine, “has always been a thundering powerhouse, but it now packs the explosive immediacy that a proper ten-cylinder engine deserves.”
Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible: This swan-song for the sixth-generation Corvette was essentially a Z06 convertible. Hagerty says that the last year of any Corvette is especially valuable; we say the 505-hp, 7.0-liter V-8 — “is still in our minds the best Vette engine” — will attract power-hungry future buyers.
Audi RS5: Hagerty the RS5′s sultry styling as a reason why it will eventually attain classic status, but we think there’s another reason: performance. Even though it came third in a comparison test, we found “the Audi is unbelievably quick;” it trounced a BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, and Porsche Boxster S on a track.
Porsche Cayman S: No argument here; we love the redesigned Porsche Boxster, and its hardtop cousin, the Cayman, is one of the cars we’re most excited to drive this year. “Like the updated Boxster, the new Porsche Cayman is more powerful and more efficient than the outgoing version,” we said. It will do 0-to-60-mph in as little as 4.4 seconds and reach a top speed of 175 mph.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible: Forget the Corvette 427 — this 580-hp supercharged monster is the most powerful convertible Chevrolet has ever put into series production. We love it just as much as the coupe version: “Whether the roof is made of steel or polyester doesn’t change the fact that the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is a fabulous sports car that delivers both big performance and big fun.”
Tesla Model S: Hagerty was presumably influenced by the fact that we named Elon Musk’s luxury machine our 2013 Automobile of the Year. “More than any electric car that has come before it, the Model S feels and drives like a gasoline car of the same price,” making it a game-changer that’s sure to become a future classic.
Mini Cooper John Cooper Works GP: With only 500 destined for the U.S. market, this hopped-up Mini will certainly have exclusivity on its side. Need another reason the JCW GP will become a classic? It has 211 hp and can reach 150 mph, more than enough performance from such a petite hatchback.
Subaru BRZ: We agree with Hagery’s recognition of the BRZ as “one of the lightest sports coupes” on sale today, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the car is mechanically paired with the Scion FR-S. Still, it’s clearly a thrilling car that will resonate with enthusiasts for years to come. “A sports car doesn’t need to look good in the stats box, it just needs to be a great drive,” we said. “And the BRZ is a great drive.”
Volkswagen GTI: A two-time Automobile of the Year recipient, Hagerty agrees with us that the GTI is “fun, cool, and practical.” The German hatchback expertly fuses performance with day-to-day livability, and just like all GTIs since 1976, it has a devotee cult of followers. “The key to that code, of course, is the blend of athleticism, practicality, and performance that was the basis of the original GTI,” we said.
Ford Focus ST: The GTI has a challenger in the form of a turbocharged Focus. The go-fast hatch represents the first time in a decade that Ford has brought a high-performance compact to America, and Hagerty believes that alone will attract collectors. “The Ford ST is not exactly a world-beater in terms of refinement, handling balance, or ergonomics,” we said. “But it does offer a lot of car and performance for the money.”
So, which of these will become future classics, and which hot cars did Hagerty forget? Sound off in the comments section below.
By Jake Holmes
Technophiles often want to own the newest technology, but don’t always have something to do with yesterday’s device. Tesla, however, will be making it easy for current Roadster owners to upgrade to a Model S.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Tesla has created a buyback program for current Roadster owners who are looking to move into a new Model S. Tesla’s program works just as any other trade-in deal would work, and has been created to help simplify the process for Model S/Roadster customers, according to Tesla representative Christina Ra. Since some Model S variants are actually priced well below the Roadster, it is possible for an owner to receive more on a trade than the cost of the new car. “In that case, we’d write you a check,” vonReichbauer, Tesla’s director of finance, told the Chronicle.
Pricing for the Model S hatchback starts at $57,400 for the 40 kWh battery, steps up to $67,400 for the 60 kWh car, and $77,400 for the 85 kWh model (all prices are before any government tax rebates). The EPA has already rated the 85-kWh Model S at 89 MPGe and a range of 265 miles. Currently, the only Model S versions being built are the top-spec Signature Performance models that use the 85-kWh battery; an upgraded interior, suspension, and wheels; and the exclusivity of being just one of 1000 units built. Once all the Signature models are built, the automaker will begin to produce the Model S and Model S Performance versions.
Having a cache of Roadsters will also help Tesla, the Chronicle points out. Having another vehicle to sell alongside the Model S until the Model X crossover debuts will help the automaker keep retail sales going. It’s expected that a Roadster would be resold for anywhere around $73,000 to $94,000 depending on age and mileage of the car.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
The Motor Trend 2013 Car of the Year-winning Tesla Model S may be priced out of reach for most consumers, but that’s not the case anymore. Motor Trend is partnering with the popular social game Car Town, allowing players to own the Tesla Model S by visiting our Facebook fan page and following the instructions.
“Any true automobile aficionado will want this kind of horsepower in their stable,” said Dennis Suggs, president and CEO, Cie Games, creator of Car Town. “We’re proud to be offering our first Tesla straight from the pages of Motor Trend to the virtual garages of our car-loving players.”
And that’s not all. Aside from an in-game pop-up of the Motor Trend magazine, there are monthly Motor Trend community design contests — from designing a Motor Trend branded truck to transforming a Car Town garage into Motor Trend headquarters — with three finalists earning a Motor Trend branded Scion FR-S.
Car Town has nearly 50 million lifetime players on Facebook, and the related game Car Town Streets has proved popular on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Check out the Motor Trend Car Town Community Design contest page here, and the official Car Town Facebook page here. To see how you can get a Tesla Model S in your Car Town garage, head here.
The Motor Trend Channel’s Wide Open Throttle news show kicks off its fourth episode, starting out with more than a dozen models coming from AMG in the next few years, electric-powered BMWs, and spy shots of the upcoming seventh-generation Corvette just around the corner, and Tesla’s sporty new Model X electric crossover.
We’re all fans of high-performance models, so whenever we hear more are coming, we get excited. Among the most intriguing is the rumored Porsche 911-fighter, the new SLC model in 2014, expected to be powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 producing 550 horsepower with a rear-mounted transaxle.
Corvette traditionalists will be relieved that the C7 Corvette will still be front-engine, rear-drive, and V-8-powered. But the biggest news, other than the direct-injected fifth-generation small block V-8 under the hood, is a dramatically improved interior.
Stay tuned to the Motor Trend YouTube channel for fresh automotive content, updated daily.
The Citroen DS-19 and the 2013 Tesla Model S duke it out in the latest Head 2 Head episode. The pairing seems odd at first, but host Jonny Lieberman argues that the Model S and the DS are packed with innovation, making both contenders worthy of a comparison.
Lieberman argues that the Citroen might be the most innovative car in the 20th century for many reasons. For starters, the car’s futuristic body is constructed of fiberglass and aluminum, and its oleo-pneumatic, auto-leveling suspension was unlike anything the public had seen back in the 1950s. And the list of innovations continues: its Citromatic transmission (which Lieberman explains in the video), high-mounted brake lights, and lightweight chassis construction.
Next is the Model S, which was the recipient of our 2013 Car of the Year award. Most of you are probably well versed when it comes to this innovative Tesla, which provides drivers with road-trip-worthy range and supercar-like acceleration, all while producing zero emissions. Both cars are impressive indeed, but only one is declared a winner in this Head 2 Head. Watch the video, and let us know which car you’d rather own in the comments below.
Taste is a fickle thing. What’s cool today is lame tomorrow. Few things vex automakers more than this aspect of human nature, because new and even updated cars can take years to reach showrooms while the instant gratification generation loses interest. The following are perfect examples of the trouble automakers find themselves in.
These vehicles are as much rumor as they are fact. They’ve been rumored, alluded to, teased, promised, and delayed more times than we can recall, and have achieved a nearly mythical status that often evokes guffaws and cries of “I’ll believe it when I see it” from our staff. Whether the pet project of an executive, the demand of a vocal group of hardcore fans, or a technology that just isn’t viable yet, all of these vehicles have managed to hang around in limbo for years, feeding fans’ hopes and driving everyone else nuts. In no particular order, we present 10 of the longest-running broken promises in the automotive industry today.
Tesla Model S
After a string of high-profile growing pains, things have gone quiet over at Tesla. The company is working furiously to get its Model S electric sedan (pictured above) to showrooms by 2012. This might not seem like an unrealistic goal, until you consider the fact that Tesla doesn’t even have a factory to build the car in yet. The company is rumored to be deciding between three empty factories in the Los Angeles area that it would have to retrofit before ever beginning production, a process that’s estimated to require nearly two years working around the clock. Add to that the fact that the company hasn’t yet revealed a production-intent model of the car, and it’s not hard to believe that the Model S will miss its big dance number.
Mahindra & Mahindra Pickup
Though known globally for its rugged, inexpensive small trucks and SUVs, India’s Mahindra & Mahindra is completely unknown in the U.S. and looks to stay that way for a while. The company has been promising to bring its diesel pickup here since 2007 with tentative launch dates in 2009 continually pushed back. We hear now that the company is hoping to get trucks in dealers by December, but we’re not holding our breath, since we heard the same thing this time last year. We can only hope for the best for the shuttered Chrysler dealers who signed on as Mahindra dealers and are still awaiting product.
Global Ford Ranger
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the current Ford Ranger. It’s just ancient. The current model has been on the road more than a decade with only minor updates, and is long overdue for a replacement. When we’ll get one, though, is anybody’s guess. Global markets have had updated Rangers for years and we’ve spotted the latest redesign out testing more times than we can count. While it’s obvious that Ford is working on a new Ranger, we have no idea when it will actually see our showrooms, if ever. Of course, if the F-100 project rises from the dead, we may never see the next Ranger, but at this point we’re not sure which of those scenarios is less likely.
The world’s cheapest car costs the rough equivalent of $2000, and if Indian manufacturing powerhouse Tata has its way, you’ll see one in the U.S. Of course, for that to happen, Tata will need to catch up with Indian market demand first. Delays, cost overruns, and the relocation of the primary factory all put the Nano behind schedule, but it’s finally on the streets of India, glued-on rear hatch and all. And it’s catching fire. Tata’s got a recall out for some faulty wiring that’s led to several car fires, and even without that issue there’s serious concern that the little bean-shaped car wouldn’t meet U.S. crash standards anyway.
Re-Badged Ram Pickup
First it was Nissan that wanted in on the Ram pickup’s act. Building the Titan in-house wasn’t especially cost-effective for Nissan considering its low volume, so Nissan made a deal with Chrysler to build a new Titan that would essentially be a re-skinned and re-badged Ram. The project was on and off for some time until Chrysler entered bankruptcy and put the kibosh on the whole affair. With Nissan out of the way, word has it that Hyundai is sniffing around Auburn Hills looking for a Ram with a shiny Hyundai badge on it. Chrysler reportedly said no to that request, but it doesn’t matter since Hyundai’s issued an official press release denying any pickup plans for the “foreseeable future.” Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to press on with the Titan on its own.
GM RWD Large Car
We can probably thank former VP of Awesome Bob Lutz for this one, along with his replacement Mark Reuss. Both are big proponents of Holden and the work they’ve been doing down under, particularly on the Zeta large passenger car platform. After the Aussie-based Pontiac GTO flopped, they tried again with the Zeta-based Pontiac G8 only to see the brand put out to pasture. Still, they did get the Chevrolet Camaro built on the Zeta platform, but it’s said to be migrating to another platform with its first redesign. With the G8 gone, rumors continue to fly around GM fan sites of RWD Impalas, Buicks, and other large GM cars. Lutz fanned the flames before his departure, but now that he’s left the building, we’re not holding our breath.
Porsche/Volkswagen Small Roadster
A few years back, Volkswagen unveiled the surprisingly cool Concept BlueSport Roadster, a diesel-powered, mid-engine, two-seat sports car that promised a happy compromise between fuel efficiency and sportiness. Most everyone loved the idea, but it didn’t get enough love from VW brass to hit the streets. Then the whole Porsche/Volkswagen takeover debacle occurred, and suddenly there were rumors of a joint project between the companies, a la the old Porsche/Volkswagen 914. Word has it Porsche is looking for a new entry-level car below the Boxster, and sharing it with Volkswagen would seriously curtail the bill. The car’s been stuck in rumor phase ever since, and we don’t see it coming out any time soon.
A Viable Hydrogen-Powered Car
Sure, GM and Honda have built small fleets of hydrogen fuel-cell cars, and Mazda’s tricked a couple of its cars into burning the stuff straight up, but none of them has much of a prayer of mass production. Hydrogen remains expensive to harvest, volatile to store and use, and lacks anything even resembling a refueling infrastructure that could be used by more than a handful of enthusiastic early adopters in Southern California. Though the technology is impressive, it’s likely to be forgotten as battery-powered and range-extended cars like the Chevrolet Volt take to the market, what with their ability to take advantage of the massive electrical infrastructure in the U.S.
Any Car from a Chinese Automaker
China has dozens upon dozens of automakers in its home market, but only a few have a shot at becoming real powerhouses like their international brethren. The frontrunners, in a bid to expand their reach into what is now the second-largest car market in the world, have all declared they’ll bring their cars to the U.S., and soon. Geely, Chery, and BYD have all made and broken this promise more times than we care to recall, and they show no signs of slowing down. BYD even shows up in Detroit every year promising to bring its cars to our shores in the near future. While we don’t doubt that a Chinese car will someday be offered in the U.S. market, we aren’t planning any comparison tests yet.
The Entire Alfa Romeo Lineup
After an embarrassing withdrawal from the U.S. market in 1995, Alfa fans have pined over the possibility of a reintroduction. The legendary Italian automaker teased us with a small number of 8C Competizione supercars a few years back, but ever since the promise of Alfa’s triumphant return has been a string of broken promises. Things looked bleak until last year when Fiat, Alfa’s parent company, took control of bankrupt Chrysler. Alfa’s back! Or is it? The brand’s return has continued to fluctuate ever since the merger and its status has changed twice already in 2010 alone. For now, the plan is to have Alfas in U.S. showrooms in 2012, but we expect that story to change a few more times before then.
Toyota/Subaru FT-86, Carbon E7, Dodge Viper replacement, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Fisker Karma, Hummer H4, Dodge Hornet/subcompact car and nearly every electric car start-up and cottage supercar-maker out there.
By Scott Evans
“This kicks the ass of any Ferrari except the Enzo.” — Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk regarding the Tesla Roadster.
We took a good long look at Tesla’s SEC filing and IPO road show presentation on Monday, and there was a lot to cover. One detail we skipped was this quote from Tesla’s commander-in-chief Musk, a man known for his over-the-top statements. He and Tesla have made a lot of bold claims about their company and their product, but this just might be the boldest.
Musk says his Roadster can go toe-to-toe with any Ferrari that isn’t an Enzo. Can it? We dug through our test numbers and pulled out the top-shelf Tesla Roadster Sport and seven Ferraris we’ve tested to find out. Unfortunately, we only have partial numbers on some of the cars, because getting a free Ferrari to flog on the track is difficult for even us. For comparison’s sake, we even threw in the mighty Enzo itself.
Take a look at what we measured for all the cars and tell us what you think of Musk’s proclamation.
2010 Tesla Roadster Sport
0-60: 3.7 secs
1/4 Mile: 12.6 secs @ 102.6 mph
60-0 Braking: 113 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.98 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight: 24.6 secs @ 0.81 g (avg)
Power: 288 horsepower/295 pound-feet
Base Price: $130,450 (with $7500 Federal tax credit)
2008 Ferrari F430
0-60: 4.2 secs
1/4 Mile: 12.3 secs @ 120.7 mph
60-0 Braking: 107 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.95 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight: 24.6 secs @0.80 g (avg)
Power: 483 horsepower/343 pound-feet
Base Price: $191,775
2008 Ferrari F430 Scuderia
0-60: 3.1 secs
1/4 Mile: 11.2 secs @ 126.7 mph
60-0 Braking: 93 ft
Power: 503 horsepower/347 pound-feet
Base Price: $272,306
2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
0-60: 3.2 secs
1/4 Mile: 11.3 secs @ 126.4 mph
60-0 Braking: 104 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.95 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight: 25.0 secs @0.79 g (avg)
Power: 612 horsepower/448 pound-feet
Base Price: $317,595
2010 Ferrari 16M Scuderia Spider
0-60: 3.8 secs (sub-optimal surface)
1/4 Mile: 11.8 secs @ 122.7 mph (sub-optimal surface)
60-0 Braking: 96 ft
Power: 503 horsepower/347 pound-feet
Base Price: $313,350
2010 Ferrari California
0-60: 3.5 secs
1/4 Mile: 11.9 secs @ 117.4 mph
60-0 Braking: 100 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.99 g (avg)
Power: 454 horsepower/357 pound-feet
Base Price: $192,000
2011 Ferrari 599 GTO
0-60: 3.4 secs (mfr)
Power: 661 horsepower/457 pound-feet
Base Price: $450,000 (est)
2011 Ferrari 458 Italia
0-60: 3.4 secs (mfr)
Power: 557 horsepower/398 pound-feet
Base Price: $213,500 (est)
By Scott Evans
Haven’t we heard this one before? An auto manufacturer opens a dealership owned by them (and not a franchise) and gets called out by various dealer organizations and state governments for violating franchise laws. Tesla is now coming under fire for that very reason.
Automotive News is reporting that the manufacturer-owned stores that Tesla has been opening up across the country are in a direct violation of various states’ franchise laws. Some states completely prohibit dealerships run by automakers, while others – like California – require a certain amount of distance between factory-owned and dealer-owned stores.
Dealer groups are worried that “If a manufacturer sees that Tesla is successful with this kind of business model, who’s to say they don’t break out their own EV product lines and create a separate system that bypasses dealers?” Bob O’Koniewski, the executive vice president of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, told AN.
Despite saying that it does not want to revolutionize the car-buying experience, Tesla has taken a different tack from other automakers. The upstart automaker hired George Blankenship as the VP of sales to head up the retail experience – Blankenship previously created the look and feel of Apple’s retail stores and has given Tesla’s in-mall retail shops a similar feel. Litigation against Tesla is currently being pursued in Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York; however, some states (such as Texas) has no laws regulation car dealership ownership.
Chrysler faced the same kind of scrutiny that Tesla is now facing when it opened a factory-owned dealership in California last year. After a legal battle, Chrysler acquiesced and sold the retail store to a local dealer.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)
Are electric cars always slow, planet-saving vehicles? Not necessarily. Contributor Ezra Dyer recently pitted a Tesla Model S electric sedan against one of Germany’s hottest performance four-doors — the 2013 BMW M5 — in an impromptu drag race, and the result was closer than anyone expected.
Dyer subjected the two luxury sedans to a 0-to-100-mph drag race at Gingerman Raceway in western Michigan. While we won’t spoil the result, it’s worth looking at how the two cars compare on paper. The 2013 BMW M5 has a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 engine with 560 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission directs that power to the rear wheels. The EPA says the car swills gas at a rate of 14/20 mpg (city/highway).
The 2013 Tesla Model S Performance uses a rear-mounted electric motor rated for 416 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. That’s less grunt than the BMW, but the key is that the motor produces all of its torque instantly, whereas the M5′s torque band peaks at 1500 rpm. The Tesla’s electric motor is backed up by an 85-kWh lithium-ion battery that the company claims will allow for a driving range of about 300 miles per charge.
When it comes to price and weight, there’s little difference between the two. The BMW M5 seen here wears an as-tested sticker of $106,695 (after destination) and weighs 4387 lbs, while the Tesla Model S Performance costs $102,270 and tips the scales at 4640 lbs.
So, which will take the drag-racing crown: a twin-turbocharged gasoline performance sedan, or a futuristic electric luxury car? Watch the video below to find out.
By Jake Holmes