Tag: Enthusiasm

By on October 14, 2011

The last time we watched a hotted-up Opel Astra GTC tear around the ‘ring, I reckoned

it’s fairly unlikely that [GM] would bring a 290 HP, limited-slip, six-speed hot hatch to the Buick brand any time soon. Or is it? The line for “Mr Euro”-style self-delusion forms here…

I’m still skeptical about a 290 HP version, but a 200-ish HP GTI-fighter is making more sense… especially after seeing mules of the Astra GTC at GM’s Milford Proving Grounds earlier this week. And GMauthority reports that

according to sources, the Astra has been green-lit to become a Buick. The name is unknown, but it’s possible that it will wear the Verano nameplate, with some sort of a specifying moniker.

The Verano sedan is tipped as a “comfort-first” model, but a sporty, premium hatch-coupe variant could help Buick drive its buyer age even lower. Especially now that Acura has let its Integra/RSX legacy wither on the vine. But then, it sounds like the Buick boys don’t need encouraging on this front…

By on October 13, 2011

Michael Karesh may have been one of the few writers to review the Hyundai Veloster without the expectation of a truly sporting drive, but even he concludes that

Those who insist on go with their show needn’t despair, only patiently wait for the turbo Hyundai’s not yet talking about.

Because Hyundai’s European executives started talking about a turbo version prior to the launch date, and Hyundai Motor America still rolls its eyes at the mere mention of a turbo Veloster, I wasn’t optimistic. But between a recent explosion of US-based spy shots of Veloster Turbo mules (both in Death Valley and near HATCI in Michigan) and a 210 HP ARK Performance-tuned Veloster Turbo heading to SEMA, I’m beginning to share Karesh’s opinion that the Veloster Turbo is an inevitability for the US market. Besides, Hyundai has earned a little fuel-burning frivolity: its year-to-date combined full-fleet fuel economy (CAFE) is 35.9 MPG, just over the 2015 standard of 35.5 MPG.

By on October 12, 2011

The idea that environmentalists in this country are waging a “War On Cars” has gained some currency within the right wing in recent years, fueled by the Obama Administration’s increased emphasis on public transportation and cycling. Of course, statistically speaking, the car is proving more than capable of defending itself, as sales and ownership levels remain improbably robust (in per-capita and per-GDP terms) despite the recent “Carmageddon.” But GM waded into the fray anyway, running the anti-cycling ad seen above in several campus publications (via bikeportland.org), likely in hopes of fighting against the kuruma banare phenomenon that began with Japanese youth abandoning cars and has progressed to a full-blown national love affair with bicycles. But cyclists are a passionate bunch, and GM’s ill-advised ad prompted a torrent of Twitter protests (see for yourself), eventually causing the automaker to apologize and pull the ad.

(Read More…)

By on October 7, 2011

What do you add to footage like this? Watching a station wagon tear through tight corners and uneven road at an improbable rate of speed is one of life’s pleasures that needs no embellishment. So don’t waste time wondering whether this 450 HP AWD assassin is coming to the US, or what it would cost if it did. There’s plenty of time for that later. For now, simply enjoy…

By on October 6, 2011

With ‘ring times back in the news thanks to a new feud between Dodge’s Viper ACR and Lexus’s LFA, GM took its forthcoming Camaro ZL1 to the Eifel Forest to record its own time. The best lap time of 7:41:27, according to Motor Trend, was set by lead development engineer Aaron Link (some outlets are reporting the time was actually set by GM NA President Mark Reuss himself), although Reuss does have some his own impressions to add, telling MT

“It’s power all the time, capability all the time, and the steering and tractability of the car is just phenomenal,” he told us. Reuss also told us that this Camaro easily (and often) hit speeds of 170 mph on the ‘Ring’s back straight, and that even from those speeds the ZL1 exhibited, “Some serious braking power.” Reuss added, “We never faded the brakes on it… It’s one of the easiest cars I’ve ever driven to drive fast and hard. Everybody’s going to have a good time with it.”

But is the ZL1′s time, as Reuss apparently told TrueCar, “the fastest lap time recorded by ANY production vehicle costing less than $75,000″?
(Read More…)

By on October 4, 2011

“We” being Nissan, and “this” being shortening a GT-R powertrain enough to fit a Juke bodyshell over it. It won’t ever make production, and it will probably spin dizzy, short-wheelbase circles every time it even thinks about a corner… but even the haters have to admit that this is a clever way to highlight the Juke’s unexpectedly sporty nature. But despite the argument that “there’s a history of Nissan engineers driving the business,” let’s be clear about one thing: Nissan’s involvement in this project is all on the marketing side. Once upon a time, Nissan’s engineers might have built a little monster like this out of sheer passion, in their spare time. Today, though, the work gets outsourced to specialty race engineering shops, RML in this case. It’s not a knock, that’s just how the world works anymore.

By on October 3, 2011

Yes, the Model S can fit eight… just not legally. Meanwhile, those are some pretty small kids in the old-school, rear-facing jumpseats (they’re only approved for passengers under five feet tall). But hey, it’s Elon Musk’s party, and he’s free to say whatever he likes until the car is actually on sale.

Speaking of which, it seems that the multiple versions of the Model S will not only be differentiated by range (with 160,230 or 300 miles of range) but Autocar reports there will be a performance version of the 300-mile car as well, which will hit 60 MPH in 4.6 seconds instead of the standard 5.5 seconds. The 160-mile version is reported to cost around $50k, the 230-mile version about $60k, the standard 300-mile version around $70k and the performance version will hit $80k. For a taste of the Model S’s performance, hit the jump for a brief, chauffeured test ride video.

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By on October 1, 2011

The 2012 Mitsubishi Eclipse pictured above is the very last of its kind, the final hurrah for a vehicle that hasn’t sold well in years and is apparently missed by very few. Let’s put it this way: unlike the Panther, nobody was counting down to the final production model, and nobody wrote a requiem for “the last Japanese midsized specialty vehicle.” And despite the resounding silence that accompanied the death of the Eclipse, Mitsubishi execs still found a way to kill any remaining enthusiasm for the nameplate, implicitly comparing it to a cockroach or an irritating rash. As Greg Adams, Mitsubishi Motors North America’s vice president-marketing and product planning put it to WardsAuto:

The Eclipse “always comes back around sooner or later.”

Well, I guess we’ll all stop holding our collective breath then. And with that kind of attitude, I’m sure the new model will be every bit as thrilling and enthusiast-enticing as the current one. Meanwhile, I’ll continue making myself feel old by recalling the days when a Mitsubishi Eclipse (GSX, natch) was something to get excited about.

By on October 1, 2011

Perhaps you already know a little about this car from a previous post, but let’s look a little deeper into what makes an engine swap in a Fiero so positively epic.

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By on September 30, 2011

I like to tout myself as the youngest full-time auto writer in the industry, but sometimes it backfires – like when an Acura exec came up to me on my first press trip (at 19 years old) and warmly told a few assembled journalists and PR types that he hadn’t seen me since I was this big.

On the other hand, my youth gave me particular insight into two products that launched within the last month, and are aimed squarely at my demographic – the Hyundai Veloster and the Chevrolet Sonic. Both cars launched at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, though their reception couldn’t have been more different.

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By on September 29, 2011

Recently a video surfaced from the Frankfurt Auto Show, depicting Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn puzzling over the remarkable quality of Hyundai’s latest Golf competitor, the European-market i30. But if Herr Professor Dr. Winterkorn seemed perturbed, and he certainly did, it wasn’t simply because of one car, even one aimed at the heart of his empire. The i30 is simply the latest in a string of strong Hyundai products that are rapidly erasing memories of the brand’s budget-basement roots. In an industry that likes to compare itself to the fashion business, Hyundai is hot. So much so, in fact, that TTAC readers are likely beginning to tire of hearing about it.

And when brands are hot, especially on the strength of their mass-market offerings, the next logical step is to build a halo car that reflects the values that made them so popular. But Hyundai’s unconventional positioning, selling everything from a $15,000 Accent to a $60,000 Equus, and its mandate to reflect “Different Thinking” mean a traditional halo car is out of the question. Enter the Veloster. Or, as Hyundai calls it, the “reverse halo car.”

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By on September 24, 2011

Last fall, the first tests of the new Chevy Caprice PPV, Dodge Charger Pursuit and Ford Taurus Interceptor generated quite a bit of interest here at TTAC and beyond, as three all-new contestants battled to replace the outgoing Crown Victoria as America’s cop car. At the time, the Caprice seemed like the clear performance favorite, but as Sajeev Mehta has pointed out, there’s more to the cop-car equation than pure speed. Although good luck trying to tell the Detroit Three that, as all three are cherry-picking performance stats in the wake of the latest round of Michigan State Police testing.

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By on September 20, 2011

As the Saab/Spyker/Swedish Automobile mess falls deeper into chaos and hopelessness, Saab’s erstwhile knight-in-shining-armour, Vladimir Antonov has been slowly backing away from the ugly scene. Indeed, his firm CPP Holdings was supposed to buy Swedish Automobile’s Spyker Supercar division, but that deal has been on hold while Swedish Automobile concentrates on keeping Saab alive. And though the Birmingham Post reports that CPP still plans on buying Spyker eventually, it’s clear that having washed his hands of the Saab situation, Antonov is looking elsewhere in order to secure a Victor Muller-free future. But could Britain really offer a loaded young Russian an appealing sportscar brand to sink his hard-earned (or not, whatever) cash into? Anyone know what TVR is up to? Actually, it seems Antonov has gone one better than TVR, and has secured the right to make an “all-new” Jensen Interceptor from the ex-Jaguar plant at Browns Lane, Coventry. Does it get any more wealthy-Russian-trying-to-make-his-mark-on-the-British-sportscar-scene than that? According to Autocar, the new Interceptor will feature aluminum chassis and bodywork, with an attendant “ultra-exclusive” pricetag, and will be shown sometime next year ahead of a 2014 rollout. Because, oligarch.

By on September 19, 2011

The constant frustration of almost everyone in the automotive media, is getting scooped by the fanboys. And yet it inevitably, it keeps happening. While the usual German ‘ring-watching suspects were enjoying their Messe, ATSforum.com grabbed an apparent web exclusive video of the Cadillac ATS at the Nürburgring… three days ago.

Despite the endless sturm und drang surrounding ‘ring records, I think videos like this are what makes the ‘ring “matter”:  they show not-yet-for-sale cars being pushed on challenging, degraded road. As Jack points out though, the driver makes a huge difference in ‘ring times, and therefore, the performance you’re seeing in this video. Your ‘ring mileage may vary. Still, it’s worth remembering that this is a Cadillac on the Nürburgring. I’m not making apologies, it’s just… typing that still feels strange (yes, even after the CTS-V). Anyway, there’s some fairly comparable 2012 BMW 3er footage after the jump, so… y’know…

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By on September 18, 2011

One man’s waste can be any other man’s treasure… given enough hard work. For one of his many projects, Belgian “neo-conceptualist” artist Wim Delvoye took well-loved tires and transformed them into hand-carved works of art that wouldn’t look out of place in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Anyone who’s destroyed a set of tires in a day and felt a tiny twinge of guilt at the delightful wastefulness of the experience can relax knowing that they haven’t destroyed something, but merely sent it on the next phase of its life. In most cases your used P-Zeros and Potenzas will end up as astroturf or hot tar, but a lucky few will fall into the hands of an enterprising artist like Delvoye and end up as transcendent art. If I could afford to regularly destroy tires, I’d be looking for one of these to display in my garage. [via Gizmodo]

 

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