The Truth About Cars » gt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:11:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » gt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Can Ford Control Ford GT Ownership Through Applications? Lexus Did http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/can-ford-control-ford-gt-ownership-applications-lexus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/can-ford-control-ford-gt-ownership-applications-lexus/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 19:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1155385 If Ford wants to control sales of its extremely small production of Ford GT and vet its owners, it only needs to look at the Lexus playbook from 2010 to see how. On Thursday, Ford’s Group Vice President for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair told a group of last-gen Ford GT […]

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Ford-GT-1

If Ford wants to control sales of its extremely small production of Ford GT and vet its owners, it only needs to look at the Lexus playbook from 2010 to see how.

On Thursday, Ford’s Group Vice President for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer Raj Nair told a group of last-gen Ford GT owners that it would ask potential owners to submit an application through the automaker to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the supercar. Official pricing for the car hasn’t been announced, nor has the criteria for ownership been made public.

Ford said it would only make available 250 cars each year worldwide. There are more than 3,200 dealerships in America alone and more than 7,500 worldwide.

If all this sounds familiar (as in, 500 Lexus LF-A cars at $400,000 for thousands of Toyota dealers) you might be right.

In 2010, Autoblog detailed the extraordinary process that potential LF-A buyers had to go through to qualify to buy the car.

Included was a “lease” option with $60,000 in deposits required before getting the car, $297,000 due upon receipt of the car, and a $93,000 option to buy the car after the 24-month lease expired. The “lease” amount was $12,398.44 per month.

Ford hasn’t announced how much it will sell the Ford GT for, or how it would collect that money, but it appears that every part of the buying process for the supercar will be unique to the Ford GT alone.

In 2005, when the last generation of Ford GTs were sold in America, the first cars were going nearly $100,000 over the MSRP price, as chronicled by the defunct FordGTPrices.com. As production ramped up on that car in 2006, prices eventually normalized to MSRP, but as the former site’s administrator Paul Allen told us, the 4,000+ volume of the last generation car and the 250-per-year production of this car makes it a whole different animal.

In its bulletin to dealers, Ford said it would make available to dealership owners a separate number of cars — available by application as well — for them to buy. Those cars would still come from the 250 produced each year, but a Ford spokesman declined to say how many would be allocated to dealer owners.

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2015 Ford Mustang GT Review – No Longer A One-Trick Pony (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-ford-mustang-gt-review-no-longer-one-trick-pony-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-ford-mustang-gt-review-no-longer-one-trick-pony-video/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1149057 2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium 5.0-liter, DOHC V-8, CVVT (435 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 400 lbs-ft @ 4,240 rpm) 6-speed Getrag MT82 manual 15 city/25 highway/19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 18.2 mpg (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: GT Premium Trim, Ruby Red Paint, 401A Package, Performance Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation, Recaro Seats Base Price: $30,875* As Tested: $45,470* * All prices include $900 destination charge. Ford’s Mustang is […]

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2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-010

2015 Ford Mustang GT Premium

5.0-liter, DOHC V-8, CVVT (435 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm; 400 lbs-ft @ 4,240 rpm)

6-speed Getrag MT82 manual

15 city/25 highway/19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

18.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: GT Premium Trim, Ruby Red Paint, 401A Package, Performance Package, Adaptive Cruise Control, Navigation, Recaro Seats

Base Price:
$30,875*
As Tested:

$45,470*

* All prices include $900 destination charge.

Ford’s Mustang is as American as the hot dog and KFC Double Down, but for 2015 it received an internationally-focused makeover. Since 1964, the Mustang has been the place to find a large V8, a manual transmission and a solid rear axle. That solid axle has been a point of contention for foreign auto journalists who frequently compared the Ford’s handling to a pickup truck, and decried the GT as a one-trick pony: the car that was excellent in a straight line at a drag strip — and that was about it. That’s a problem when Ford’s new mission is greater harmony in their lineup worldwide.

While 2015 retains the large V8 engine, manual transmission and rear wheel drive we’ve all come to know and love, it brings the first completely independent suspension to every Mustang in over 50 years. Also big news for 2015 is the resurrection of a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, something we haven’t seen since the Fox body Mustang of the early 1990s. In a nod to our friends in Old Blighty, a factory-made right hand drive model is also in the works. All of these changes are because this Mustang is suddenly thrust into a much bigger pool of competitors.

Can Ford teach this pony some new tricks to compensate?


Exterior
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Mustang is the Aston Martin meets Fusion meets Mustang styling. The sheetmetal looks more elegant and more intentional than before. While the 2014 looked cartoonish from some angles, the 6th generation ‘Stang doesn’t seem to have a bad angle to be found. It’s clear Ford not only spent more time styling their new 2-door, but is also spending more on stamping the metal as we have more curves and angles providing visual interest. The front quarter panel for instance rises up, then curves back down to meet the hood panel, giving the front of the Mustang something of a “proto-fin.” We’re hyped that 2016 will bring back turn signals integrated into the hood vents (visible to the driver) in certain trims.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-014

All Mustang models now come standard with HID headlamps, a nice touch in a segment that generally lacks modern lighting. Out back, the sequential turn signals are now made from LED strips inside large vertical plastic housings with deep recesses between the lamp modules. The look is striking, but proved more effort to clean than I had considered.

The sleek profile belies the sixth generation’s shrinkage of about two inches versus the out outgoing model. The loss in length helps the Mustang slightly in international markets where the Ford is considered a large two-door. In terms of comparisons, the Mustang is nearly a foot longer than the BMW M235i we recently reviewed, about the same size as a 435i, and a foot shorter than a Dodge Challenger. The main reason for the long body, of course, is the massive engine bay designed to longitudinally accommodate large engines.

There was a great deal of speculation about Ford’s right-sizing program. Would a weight reduction be part of the package? The answer is no, the Mustang has actually gained a little weight in this generation. Contrary to the earlier rampant “weightgate” speculation, curb weight is up just 20 to 80 pounds, depending on how you compare a 2014 trim to a 2015 trim.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-004

Interior
The one area that didn’t receive as much attention is the interior. The style is fresh and instantly recognizable as a Mustang, but we only get an incremental improvement in the feel of the parts. There are still plenty of hard plastics lower in the interior including the center console and areas where your knee and leg are likely to rest. (Remember that the Mustang starts under $24,000.) The new steering wheel is loaded with buttons, but thankfully I found the layout intuitive. Lovers of thick-rimmed steering wheels will be disappointed to find that the tiller is no thicker than the Ford Edge we recently tested.

When looking at the Mustang parked next to a BMW 2-Series, you might assume the Ford would be larger inside. You would be wrong. The Mustang and the 2016 Camaro have about the same amount of front and rear seat legroom as the baby Bimmer, with the Mustang actually being slightly smaller inside. This mainly has to do with the position of the engine in the Mustang and the size of the engine bay which makes the nose longer to give it a proportion similar to a British sports coupé. Meanwhile, BMW pushes the engine a little further back making the overall packaging more compact. On the upside, the Mustang has more footwell room making it more comfortable for folks with larger feet.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-011

Our tester had the nearly $1,600 optional Recaro seat package. If you track your car regularly, and need the aggressive bolstering, and are about my size or smaller, get them. Everyone else should avoid them entirely. The standard seats are softer and more comfortable, they offer more lumbar support and the Premium trim of the Mustang would normally get memory-linked power seats, adjustable lumbar support as well as heating and ventilation. All of those features are given up for the Recago logo, and it’s just not a good trade. A quick spin in a dealer provided GT without the Recaro seats, but with the Performance Package, confirmed that the firmer suspension is also easier to live with if you get the base seats. The difference is more pronounced when you consider the Mustang comes with very comfortable seats in every other version, beating the current Camaro and Challenger easily, and are actually quite competitive with the standard seats in the 2-Series, 4-Series and Lexus RC.

Hop in the back and you are reminded the Mustang is best described as a “2+2 coupé” where the last digit is a little smaller than the first. While not as tight as a Jaguar XK, the back seat should be reserved for small children or your legless friends. With the driver’s seat adjusted comfortably for my 6-foot frame, there was a 3-inch gap between my seat back and the rear seat bottom cushion. (I prefer an upright position when driving a manual.) Convertible shoppers will be pleased to know that rear headroom actually increases if you chose the rag top. At 13.5 cubic feet, the Mustang’s trunk is also similar in size to the BMW 2-Series, but Ford thankfully uses hidden hinges to make the most out of the trunk. You should know that the optional ShakerPro speaker package consumes just over a cubic foot of space.

2015 Mustang My Ford Touch

Infotainment
Our pony car had Ford’s optional MyFord Touch infotainment system. This software is due to be replaced in 2016 by Ford’s completely redesigned SYNC3 system. MFT is one of the most maligned infotainment systems on the market, but it is also one of the most fully featured. Even in 2015, there are still mainline brands that don’t offer voice command of your USB-connected music library. At this point, Ford has addressed most of the major issues that plagued MFT, except for the speed. Interacting with the touchscreen requires patience as screen changes are considerably slower than the Hyundai, Chrysler and GM alternatives. SYNC includes an integrated telematics system that emails vehicle health reports, allows you to call a concierge, request emergency assistance and knows when your airbags have gone off. On the downside, this system is dependant on a paired Bluetooth phone to actually make the calls — so if you’ve forgotten your phone and you get in an accident, the car can’t dial for help.

Our tester included the optional navigation software and the up-level ShakerPro branded speaker system. The 12-speaker system uses a trunk mounted subwoofer, a dash-mounted center channel speaker and a 550-watt 9-channel amp. The system is certainly tuned with a significant bass punch, but overall it is still well balanced. It had no problems rocking my Vanilla Ice album all the way to A1A Beachfront Avenue.

2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-003

Drivetrain
The big engine news for 2015 isn’t that the 3.7-liter V-6 lost a few ponies, or even that Vanilla’s five-point-oh is still available; it’s that we have the first four-cylinder Mustang in quite some time. To make room for the new EcoBoost mill, Ford de-tuned the V6 slightly to 300 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 280 lb-ft of twist at 4,000. That means that unlike the Camaro, the four-cylinder is an upgrade, not the base engine. Checking the EcoBoost box gives you 310 horsepower at a lower 5,500 rpm and a whopping 320 lb-ft at a low 3,000 rpm. But I’m here to talk about what separates this American from the European and Asian options. Five. Point. Oh. Revving up to 7,000 rpm and featuring twin independent variable valve timing, the Coyote V-8’s only modern omission is direct-injection. Power comes in at 435 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 400 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm. (The recently announced 5.2-liter V-8 Shelby is a perfect example of naturally aspirated engine designs vs turbo engine design. The 2016 Shelby GT350 will bump power by 91 horsepower but torque by only 29 lb-ft. Compared to the twin-turbo German V8s, the horsepower is similar but torque is notably lower.)

Unusual in 2015, even in performance cars, is your choice of manual or automatic transmissions on all models (in 2016, the Shelby will be manual only) and your choice doesn’t interfere with the options packages. That means you can get the GT and EcoBoost Mustangs with radar cruise control, all the goodies and still get the 6-speed stick. (There have been some complaints about the Getrag MT82 manual transmission but I didn’t experience an unusual shift feel during my week. Be sure to let us know if you’ve had a problem with yours in the comment section below. There has been quite a bit of forum buzz regarding “clunks and thunks”.) Also a little unusual these days is the option of multiple rear axle ratios. For those that are unfamiliar, axle ratios are the final “link” in the chain for your drivetrain. The transmission’s 3.65:1 first gear ratio is multiplied by the rear axle you chose — 3.31, 3.55 or 3.73 — to get the effective total ratio of 12:1, 12.9:1, or 13.6:1. (All three ratios are available in the EcoBoost model but just the 3.55 and 3.73 are offered in the GT). That has a big impact on acceleration and fuel economy since the 6th gear ratios have the same variance. The available axle ratios are why fuel economy has dropped in the V-6’s EPA test, as Ford is no longer offering the 2.73:1 rear axle in the V-6 like they did in 2014. This means the base V-6 in 2015 is much peppier, but the MPGs drop two steps. This is where the EcoBoost model steps in with 31 or 32 mpg combined (depending on the transmission) despite giving you more power, more torque and a more aggressive rear axle ratio than the base 2014 V-6. On the downside, power and economy figures for the 5.0 and 2.3 are based on premium unleaded.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-001

Drive
Over twenty years ago, I was learning to drive on my neighbor’s 1988 2.3-liter four-cylinder Mustang LX with a shot clutch. My how times have changed. Back then 300 horsepower was a pipe dream, the GT’s 6.3 second 0-60 time was rad to the max and a 32 mpg Mustang was as likely as a blue unicorn. Even ten years ago, the thought that the Mustang would be serious competition to the imports was wishful thinking, but the sixth-generation pony offers 300 horses standard, the mid-range model gets over 30 mpg on the highway, and every version is faster to 60 than it was in 1988. Combined with a more refined and capable suspension, this is that unicorn.

The 2014 Mustang’s rear end got upset on broken pavement and felt heavy in the corners. The 2015 feels composed and significantly lighter in comparison, despite actually being heavier. The GT still feels slightly front heavy in the corners, no surprise with a large V8 under the hood, but the EcoBoost model feels much better balanced. Thanks to the gearing and tire selection, all versions are tail happy when prodded. Next year brings us a new Camaro with a Cadillac ATS-derived chassis and suspension, something that bodes very well for the bowtie brand as well. However, this is 2015 and the current Camaro is a notch behind the outgoing Mustang. Absolute handling is obviously a factor of your tire choice, and ours was equipped with the optional Pirelli PZero summer rubber in a staggered 255/40R19 front, 275/40R19 rear setup. In an interesting twist, the suspension is quite firm but there’s more body roll than you’d expect.

2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-007

If you’re a traditionalist, fear not. The Mustang, especially our GT tester, is still about well-priced straight-line performance. The V-6 will sprint to 60 in 5.8 seconds, the turbo will do it in 5.6, and our GT in a swift 4.6 seconds with launch control enabled and the 6-speed manual. A nice touch: Unlike many cars out there with launch control, Ford keeps it crazy simple. Once enabled in the LCD between the speedo and tach. it stays on. Period. That means you don’t have to worry about fiddling with menus; you just floor it, release the clutch and let the nannies do their thing. The car retains the setting even through ignition cycles. You can improve things further by double-tapping the traction control button and enabling sport mode which allows a little more action in the rear. (Note: Ford says that both systems should be used on the track only. Sure…) Of course, you’ve probably also heard about Ford’s nifty line lock feature that allows perfect burnouts every time without wearing your rear brake pads.

The GT’s 7,000 rpm redline means that the ‘Stang sings like a high-revving European sports coupé more than a Camaro or Challenger. Since all the ponies come to a trot at 6,500 rpm, you’ll spend a great deal of time at those lofty heights. The good news is thanks to the throttle mapping and general character of the 2015, it revs easily, happily and sounds great while doing it.

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-009

Thanks to electric power steering, the Mustang’s wheel is as numb as most of the competition, although BMW and Nissan manage to transmit more road feel in the M235i and 370Z. Skipping the Performance Package makes the GT more driveable on a daily basis in terms of suspension tuning, and in that form the body roll seems well-balanced with the spring firmness. The downside of skipping the pack is the reduced grip. If I were shopping in this segment I’d probably skip the package and use the cash to swap in some sticky rubber. If you do get the package, I suggest some stiffer sway bars.

Ford set the base price for 2015 low — very low. At $23,800, the Mustang undercuts the Camaro and Genesis Coupé by $3,000 and the 370Z by nearly $6,000. That means that for the price of the base 2.0-liter, 275-horsepower 2016 Camaro, or the Genesis Coupé V-6, you could get a 2.3-liter EcoBoost ‘Stang with an option or two. A base Z will cost you more than a well-equipped V-6 Ford or only about $2,500 less than a Mustang GT. At $32,850, the BMW 228i is a whopping $7,550 more than the more powerful EcoBoost model, and the M235i is $11,850 more than a Mustang GT. Why all this focus on the M235i? Because the Mustang actually reminded me a great deal of the small BMW. The Mustang finally feels light and nimble, and at the same time the M235i feels far more substantial than small BMWs of the past. While the BMW does feel more refined, the delta has never been smaller. With previous generations, one could have argued that the BMW’s greater refinement was worth $10,000. With this generation, I wouldn’t pay more than $1,000 for the extra feel in the BMW. That’s a problem because in order for the M235i to be as fast as our $45,470 tester, you would need to add the 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, both of which would make it less fun. Better in the rain, but less fun. The added hardware also makes the M235i xDrive tip the scales at 3,695 pounds, just 10 pounds lighter than the Ford, and still considerably more expensive. Although the BMW’s suspension is better sorted and more settled, if you shod them with identical tires, the Mustang will be right on the 2-Series’ bumper.

Is the Mustang perfect? No. I wish the interior was a little more comfortable and the automatic transmission needs a few more gears in order to match the competition. Hyundai, BMW, GM and Chrysler have gone 8-speed and even Nissan is one cog higher at 7 in the 370Z. That means there is still a toll to be paid for selecting the automatic, while the competition’s slushboxes promise improved fuel economy and improved acceleration. Still, the Ford holds true to what the Mustang has always promised: performance at a reasonable price. The big news is that those reasonable prices come with surprisingly few compromises and it’s entirely possible to consider the Mustang as a value alternative to a German coupé. Comparing a Pony Car to a compact German coupé used to be ridiculous, but this pony is a blue unicorn that’s learned a few tricks.

Ford provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.0 Seconds

0-60: 4.6 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13 Seconds @ 112 MPH

2015 Ford Mustang Exterior 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-001 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-002 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-003 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-004 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-005 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-006 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-007 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-008 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-009 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-010 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-011 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-012 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-013 2015 Ford Mustang Exterior-014 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-001 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-002 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-003 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-004 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-005 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-006 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-007 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-008 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-009 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-010 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-011 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-012 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-013 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-014 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-015 2015 Ford Mustang GT Interior-016 2015 Ford Mustang Trunk 2015 Ford Mustang Trunk-001 2015 Ford Mustang Trunk-002 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-001 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-002 2015 Forg Mustang GT Engine-003

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2016 Mazda CX-3 Review – Nomenclature, Be Damned http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-mazda-cx-3-review-nomenclature-be-damned/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2016-mazda-cx-3-review-nomenclature-be-damned/#comments Thu, 13 Aug 2015 19:28:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1141002 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD (U.S.)/GT AWD (Canada) 2.0-liter SKYACTIV DOHC I-4, direct injection, dual S-VT (146 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 146 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm) 6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic w/ Sport mode and paddle shifters 27 city/32 highway/29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 30 mpg on the camping-gear-laden test cycle, 80 percent highway […]

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2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (1 of 25)

2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring AWD (U.S.)/GT AWD (Canada)

2.0-liter SKYACTIV DOHC I-4, direct injection, dual S-VT (146 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 146 lbs-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm)

6-speed SKYACTIV-Drive automatic w/ Sport mode and paddle shifters

27 city/32 highway/29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

30 mpg on the camping-gear-laden test cycle, 80 percent highway (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: i-ACTIVSENSE Safety Package (U.S.)/Technology Package (Canada), i-ACTIV all-wheel drive (U.S., AWD is standard on GT trim in Canada)

Base Price:
$20,840* (U.S.)/$22,680* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$29,040* (U.S.)/$32,490* (Canada)

* All prices include $880 destination fee (U.S.) or $1,995 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).

For as long as I can remember, my parents always had two vehicles while I was growing up. The first one I can vividly remember was the precursor to GM’s dreaded Cavalier and Cobalt, a 1987 Chevrolet Chevette, with an interior as roomy as any compact you can buy today. The second conveyance in our driveway was a 1992 Suzuki Sidekick, Jay Green in color, and rugged as my father needed for his job traversing Cape Breton Island’s vast spaghetti network of logging roads.

In the early 1990s, the Chevette ended with a bang. As I laid on a bed at my grandmother’s apartment, attempting as much as a young child would to get to sleep (translation: not trying at all), I was startled by tire squealing, a loud bang, silence, then more tire squealing. The Chevette had been dispatched by a freshly licensed 16-year-old driving a Hyundai Pony and fueled by Vitamin O. Write-off total: approximately $500 — for both cars.

The Chevette, now off to the scrapyard, was replaced by a Pontiac Firefly five-door, known for its economical three-cylinder engine outputting double-digit horsepower whilst solidly achieving double-digit miles per gallon halfway to the centripulcate. As a daily runabout, it was solid, economical, and — with its wagon-esque virtues — incredibly versatile.

Back then, my parents were about the same age I am now. They were the last of the Baby Boomers and in the 1990s faced what many Millennials face today. My parents were done with school and working on budding careers and a growing family inside their newly acquired home. There are some key differences between them and me however: I have one extra dog (for a total of two), lack children and I don’t own a home.

It’s in this context that my girlfriend and I headed out on one of my family’s favorite pastimes from when I was a child — a weekend camping trip — in the millennial-focused 2016 Mazda CX-3.

Before we get to the driving, let’s talk about what actually is a CX-3 because the nomenclature is, I think, incredibly confusing to consumers. Also, I think it’s one of the reasons why Mazda is having a hard time making inroads in the U.S. market despite fostering some of the best products in the industry.

The CX-3 is a Mazda2 in drag and not a jacked up Mazda3. A jacked up Mazda3 is called a CX-5, which is kind of related to the Mazda5 so few people bought in the U.S. that Mazda killed it off. The Mazda6 is built on its own G platform derivative, dubbed GJ, and is fairly unrelated to everything else. The CX-9 is a Ford.

With that out of the way …

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (2 of 25)

Exterior
Shapely lines and a flowing beltline make the CX-3 one of the most stylish options in the sub-compact car segment. I say this because whenever we stopped along our journey to and from the campsite, there was always at least one person — if not multiple — checking out the car. And I mean really staring at it. The CX-3 turns heads without voyeurs wearing a horrified but quizzical “what the hell is that thing?” facial expression usually reserved for the Aztek and Nissan Juke.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (19 of 25)

Up front, the CX-3 wears the same updated design language as the refreshed Mazda6 and CX-5, which is a slightly angrier yet more refined version of Mazda’s KODO design DNA. The large grille has presence, even if it’s slightly ruined by its license plate soul patch. The chrome grille surrounding meets elegantly with the squinting headlights much like its brethren, and thank you Mazda for making use of LED technology without turning your headlamps into Audi knock-offs.

At its side, the CX-3 welcomes you with the aforementioned high, flowing beltline and lots of dark plastic cladding to support its rough-and-tumble marketing message. At this trim, there’s even a nice chrome runner to give the CX-3 a more upmarket appearance. All in all, the plastic and chrome say, “Yes, I can do some light off-roading … ” while its pregnant-mouse grown clearance qualify the statement with, ” … but I’d rather not today.” Wheels on this Grand Touring model measure in at 18 inches and fill the wheel wells gracefully. Base model CX-3s come fitted with 16-inch shoes that are much more restrained in their design but are a bit more sophisticated and less trendy.

Much like the Mazda3, there is more metal than glass at the rear of the CX-3. Thankfully, the car comes with a standard backup camera to compensate for the lack of rearward visibility.

As a package, the CX-3 is the sharpest of numbers in an increasingly crowded, increasingly competitive segment.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (7 of 25)

Interior
2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (4 of 25)At first, the CX-3’s interior looks like standard Mazda fare, which is good. However, you will notice one omission when you try to use the stereo … that doesn’t exist; instead of a head unit, you are presented a CD slot on the dash (why did they even bother?) along with knobs in the center console for audio operation through Mazda’s infotainment system (more on that later). The only physical tracking buttons are on the steering wheel. There are no controls on the dash at all save the CD slot’s eject button. The arrangement is definitely something you’ll need to get used to; I found myself reaching toward the dash all week long to either change a track to adjust the volume, only to realize I’m an idiot again and again before performing the task at hand through the steering wheel controls or center console knobs.

Other gripes: there is no center console cubby or armrest — console- or seat-mounted — in the CX-3. On long drives, that’s irritating when wanting to steer from the bottom of the wheel, but space is a premium in a millennial mobile.

On the other end of the spectrum, the seats are some of the nicest I’ve seen, touched and sat in in any car less than $30,000. They are beautiful to look at, hug well, and despite there firmness are still comfortable for weekend-long journeying.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (11 of 25)

Infotainment
Just like the Mazda3, the iPad-on-dash display is present in the CX-3. Love it or hate it, it’s there — and it’s standard equipment. The 7-inch Mazda Connect display is clear and crisp to the eye and still manages to arrange information and functions in a way that’s logically sound when driving. However, the way the HMI Commander Switch interacts with the screen sometimes feels backwards. You navigate options usually by turning the knob, and when you do the highlighted option is sometimes the opposite of what you meant to pick. Maybe this is my issue.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (12 of 25)While you may decry my lack of audio-specific impressions on new cars, the fact is I am fairly tone deaf, so my impressions won’t matter. The stereo sounded clear to me. Your musical mileage may vary.

The navigation, on the other hand, is something I feel fully qualified to, well, qualify. It’s dead simple to use and the visual presentation is excellent. Digging into the menus can be slightly confusing, but once you do it once or twice you’re good to go.

Yet, I still don’t understand Mazda’s aversion to letting someone use the touchscreen in motion. Yes, I understand the safety argument, but what about passengers? Why should they be locked out of using the touchscreen functionality? Also, if you are in motion 99 percent of the time you’re in the car, why even bother with having a touchscreen at all? Either unlock the screen and let me use it or get rid of it altogether. Please.

2016 Mazda CX-3 GT (3 of 25)

Powertrain
Here’s another item that further confuses consumers into thinking the CX-3 is based on the Mazda3. Underhood is the same exact SKYACTIV-G 2-liter engine as its sedan and hatchback stablemates. Yet, unlike the Mazda3, the CX-3 is not available with the optional 2.5-liter SKYACTIV mill.

The 146 horsepower and 146 pounds-feet of torque doesn’t make the CX-3 slow by any stretch, and down low the 2-liter is great for the stoplight drag race. On the highway, the SKYACTIV four does show its one flaw, though, and that’s its lack of passing power. When you are traveling on two-lane secondary roads and need to pass an RV piloted by 78-year-old tourists from Connecticut, you really need to pick your moment. Compounding the pain: The issue could be remedied with a manual gearbox, which isn’t an option in North America. Instead, we are saddled with a six-speed automatic as the only transmission offered, unlike other parts of the world.

Now, there’s nothing especially wrong with that six-speed auto. Actually, for an automatic, it’s quite good. Shifts are smooth, as is getting away from a stop. Shifting with the paddles is (gasp!) fun! Sport mode, which holds back shifts just a tad bit longer, won’t get you going any quicker at full trot. However, it isn’t as aggressive as some other sport transmission tuning I’ve experienced in the past, and it actually makes the experience more than bearable.

On our mostly highway-limited trip, the Mazda CX-3 clocked in just above its combined EPA rating of 29 mpg.

Drive
Let’s quickly get a few things out of the way so we can talk about what’s truly important about the CX-3.

  • The ride is good, though has typical Mazda firmness built in for that “sporty” feeling.
  • The seating position is great, a good mix of slightly raised without feeling you’re driving a truck or more conventional SUV.
  • Overall, it’s a great car.

Yet, as a non-car loving consumer, you might think the CX-3 is a jacked up Mazda3, and I am sure Mazda is banking on it.

“Why would I spend $18,945 on a Mazda3 when I can spend $1,000 more and get a crossover based on the same car?” those millennials might ponder to themselves.

Meanwhile, buyers are unknowingly spending $4,000-5,000 over that mythical Mazda2 that doesn’t exist in the U.S. market, taking their new CX-3 home assuming it has the same interior space as the Mazda3, then wondering why Rover keeps hitting his cone-shaped golden retriever head repeatedly on the dome light. It’s at this point the Mazda CX-3 buyer realizes they’ve been had and it’s too damn late.

It’s a good thing we decided to leave the dogs at home.

Let me be crystal clear here: The CX-3 costs more than the Mazda3, and for that extra $1,000 you get 1) less utility, 2) less choice (no manual), and 3) optional all-wheel drive that isn’t meant for off-roading.

My parents, those millennials of yesteryear, had it right. Two vehicles served as solutions to two different problems. The Firefly was a stellar little runabout. The Sidekick was great for my dad’s work and also provided a spacious enough interior to go camping with three meatbags and an additional furry meatbag. The CX-3 tries to solve both while being completely successful at neither.

Fortunately it isn’t a matter of the car itself being bad and Mazda can fix it all by just calling it what it is. Rename the CX-3 the CX-2 or Mazda2 CrossVenza or whatever. But CX-3? Truth in advertising — or in nomenclature — this Mazda is not.

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Crapwagon Outtake: 2009 Pontiac G8 GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/crapwagon-outtake-2009-pontiac-g8-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/crapwagon-outtake-2009-pontiac-g8-gt/#comments Tue, 11 Aug 2015 20:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135082 For the last few months, the esteemed commenters of TTAC have welcomed me onto their screens. I’m here to tell you that I’ve been using you. I’m using the B&B as a sounding board to help me decide on my next car, and to help generate enough factual ammunition to sell it to domestic management. So, […]

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For the last few months, the esteemed commenters of TTAC have welcomed me onto their screens. I’m here to tell you that I’ve been using you. I’m using the B&B as a sounding board to help me decide on my next car, and to help generate enough factual ammunition to sell it to domestic management.

So, let’s play the game again, shall we? This week, like last, Chris decides he wants a GM muscle car. Can’t buy new since the SS might as well be vaporware. Mark argues that the new Sierra with the 6.2 is a new hotrod, and he may have a point – but I’m just not a truck guy. I need four real seats, too.

The Pontiac G8 might be the answer. Our hornblower-in-chief Bark M. occasionally misses his G8, even though he’s wandered toward the Blue Oval since. The G8 GT may not have the extra power of the hard-to-find and still-pricey GXP, but 361 horses is plenty for a daddymobile. This one has turned nearly 93,000 on the odometer, so some maintenance may be due soon, but $18,000 looks rather enticing. What else can I buy for that kind of money?

Yes, someone will certainly point me toward a Charger. For some reason, the older ones don’t really appeal to me. Sorry.

I’ve never been a big fan of white cars, but this looks impressive. I’m ashamed to say I never knew the car had a Saab-like, console-mounted ignition switch. I wonder if this Aussie import avoided the GM ignition switch debacle?
Bark thinks the GT won’t be collectible. I’m not so sure. HiPo GMs always have a following. Sure, the GXP is still fetching close to MSRP six years later, but I think this car will have a future beyond the used car lots.

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Report: Kia Won’t Make GT Until 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-kia-wont-make-gt-until-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-kia-wont-make-gt-until-2017/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 20:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1136370 Fresh after news Thursday that Hyundai wouldn’t be making a new sportscar and Kia would be, the latter Korean automaker said it has put on hold its plans to make a four-door coupe until 2017, AutoExpress is reporting. The first sportscar from the Kia brand would likely be on the Genesis platform and could offer […]

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Fresh after news Thursday that Hyundai wouldn’t be making a new sportscar and Kia would be, the latter Korean automaker said it has put on hold its plans to make a four-door coupe until 2017, AutoExpress is reporting.

The first sportscar from the Kia brand would likely be on the Genesis platform and could offer a range of engines all the way up to a V-8.

The GT4 is still a half-decade away, apparently.

The Kia GT, dubbed “baby Panamera” by some, was slated to arrive next year, but plans for that have been scrapped, AutoExpress reported.

“We have very high intentions to put these models into production — we’re working on it,” Spencer Cho, Kia’s general manager of overseas marketing, told the publication.

Kia-GT4-Stinger-side

Any reports of the GT4 should met with healthy skepticism, the B&B pointed out yesterday. Engineering for that car may not have started — that only takes 3 to 4 years — and the business case sounds shaky.

Nonetheless, it looks like the GT may actually see the light of day, albeit a year later than we thought.

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Kia Prepping New Sports Car by 2020; Hyundai Isn’t http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-prepping-new-sports-car-2020-hyundai-isnt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-prepping-new-sports-car-2020-hyundai-isnt/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135418 Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t. The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands. According to […]

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GT4 Stinger

Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t.

The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands.

According to Kia’s chief in the UK Paul Philpott, the car would be based on knowledge gleaned from the Stinger GT4 concept car.

According to the Autocar report, the architecture for Kia’s car would be all new and not based on any current Kia model.

553_GT_Concept

In April, Kia America’s head of product planning Orth Hedrick told Drive that the automaker would be bringing a car similar to its GT concept into production soon. It could be based on the Genesis Coupe and sport a V-6 under the hood. If that’s true, the new sports car due by the end of the decade would likely be a smaller, two-door version similar to the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT-86.

At the other side of the building, Hyundai UK chief Tony Whitehorn admitted to Autocar that another sports car wouldn’t likely be in that brand’s future: “Not many people make money out of sports cars. The sports car market is shrinking dramatically, and even firms with heritage and a great product are struggling. Aside from the Audi TT and Mazda MX-5, it is a tough place to be.”

So it sounds like Hyundai will be firmly planted in its sub-brand N, which will launch around 2017, for the next few years.

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2017 Ford GT Entering 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2017-ford-gt-entering-2016-24-hours-of-le-mans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2017-ford-gt-entering-2016-24-hours-of-le-mans/#comments Fri, 12 Jun 2015 13:43:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1091553 Nearly 50 years ago, Ford threw down against Ferrari at Le Mans, sweeping the podium in so doing. Come 2016, Ford aims to do the same with the 2017 Ford GT. The 2017 GT will compete in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season in LM GTE Pro, as well as the 2016 TUDOR United […]

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Nearly 50 years ago, Ford threw down against Ferrari at Le Mans, sweeping the podium in so doing. Come 2016, Ford aims to do the same with the 2017 Ford GT.

The 2017 GT will compete in the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season in LM GTE Pro, as well as the 2016 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, where it will make its debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January.

The two-team effort will be led by Chip Ganassi Racing, who will campaign four GTs at Le Mans, with Roush Racing responsible for preparing the exotic’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for endurance competition; driver announcements will come later.

Our own Ronnie Schreiber will have more on the Ford GT’s return to Le Mans later on; for now, these photos and the promo video will do.

2016 Ford GT FIA-WEC Gallery
FORD_LE_MANS_6 FORD_LE_MANS_5 FORD_LE_MANS_4 FORD_LE_MANS_8 FORD_LE_MANS_3 FORD_LE_MANS_1 FORD_LE_MANS_7 FORD_LE_MANS_2 FORD_LE_MANS_9 FORD_LE_MANS_10 FORD_LE_MANS_14 FORD_LE_MANS_13 FORD_LE_MANS_12 FORD_LE_MANS_11 FORD_LE_MANS_17

2016 Ford GT IMSA-TUDOR Gallery
FORD_LE_MANS_IMSA_1 FORD_LE_MANS_IMSA_3 FORD_LE_MANS_IMSA_5 FORD_LE_MANS_IMSA_8

[Photo credit: Ford]

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Kia GT Concept Closer To Becoming Production-Ready http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/kia-gt-concept-closer-becoming-production-ready/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/kia-gt-concept-closer-becoming-production-ready/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 10:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1039233 Over three years ago, the Kia GT concept made its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Soon, however, the four-door coupe could hit the production line. According to Drive.com.au, Kia America product planning chief Orth Hedrick is very close to being production-ready, and would likely fare well in North America despite the distance in […]

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Over three years ago, the Kia GT concept made its debut at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show. Soon, however, the four-door coupe could hit the production line.

According to Drive.com.au, Kia America product planning chief Orth Hedrick is very close to being production-ready, and would likely fare well in North America despite the distance in time because it is a sedan, and because of its “younger, more emotional message to the market”:

I think for us the GT is a sedan so it has a lot broader appeal than a two-door coupe. They don’t do well here. They do really, really good for 18 months and then they really fall off. You can get just as much emotional experience in a sedan, a more practical car, than a coupe. But it communicates something very, very clear to market with a coupe in your line-up.

Hedrick adds that the announcement officially confirming the GT’s production would come soon. The concept is powered by a turbocharged V6, with the rear wheels doing the driving.

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DeltaWing Entering GT, Eyeing Future Showroom Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/deltawing-entering-gt-eyeing-future-showroom-debut/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027369 Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road. The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on […]

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DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis

Coming soon to a track near you, DeltaWing will bring its signature design to the GT class, and eyes set on the showroom down the road.

The latest racing variant is expected to demonstrate on the track “that with far less horsepower than many of today’s best sports cars, a two-seat performance car based on the DeltaWing® architecture would deliver the same performance, yet with previously unimagined fuel economy and efficiency.”

The GT will, like the DWC13 Coupe campaigned by DeltaWing Racing Cars, be a coupe using weight distribution to its advantage, thanks to its narrow nose and wide backside putting 30 percent up front, the rest in back. The project won’t interfere with the team and its efforts in IMSA’s TUDOR series.

Meanwhile, that same basic design forms the basis for two- and four-passenger prototypes that could lead to a road-legal version of the DeltaWing. Preliminary data suggests the design would net “an unadjusted EPA fuel economy rating of nearly 74 mpg Highway and over 57 mpg combined rating,” adding that if one could buy a DeltaWing from the showroom today, they would have a vehicle that was not only the most fuel efficient conventionally powered vehicle in the United States, but would also meet the 2025 54.5 mpg standard. The ratings are for a DeltaWing powered by a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter engine placed in the four-passenger variant.

Aside from traditional ICEs, the company says the prototype could be fitted with hybrid, diesel, CNG, hydrogen and electric power, with results ranging from better range for diesel, EV and FCV versions, to a 42 percent reduction in emissions for gasoline models.

DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 1 DeltaWing GT race car - early concept 2 DeltaWing GT race car concept chassis DeltaWing common chassis

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Chicago 2015: Ford GT Presents Its Canadian Passport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-ford-gt-presents-canadian-passport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-ford-gt-presents-canadian-passport/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 23:21:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=999058 The Blue Oval has no use for 50 shades of gray, not when two will suffice for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show debut of the Ford GT. Per our friends over at AutoGuide, the big news this time around for the 3.5-liter turbo-six exotic is that it will be assembled in Canada. Multimatic Motorsports in […]

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Ford-GT-2

The Blue Oval has no use for 50 shades of gray, not when two will suffice for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show debut of the Ford GT.

Per our friends over at AutoGuide, the big news this time around for the 3.5-liter turbo-six exotic is that it will be assembled in Canada. Multimatic Motorsports in Markham, Ontario — just north of TTAC Zaibatsu HQ in Toronto — will be in charge of putting together the GT, lending further credibility to the rumor that Ford wants to throwdown at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. The group campaigns a pair of Mustang Boss 302Rs in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

As for other details about production and pricing since its jaw-dropping world debut in Detroit, analysts believe a few hundred units will leave Multimatic annually, each with a price tag of around $200,000. Ford remains silent about either figure, however.

Ford-GT-10 Ford-GT-1 Ford-GT-2 Ford-GT-3 Ford-GT-4 Ford-GT-5 Ford-GT-6

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Piston Slap: Flat Plane Crankshaft Design? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-flat-plane-crankshaft-design/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-flat-plane-crankshaft-design/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 12:37:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=956042   GCH writes: Sajeev: Could you/somebody please explain what a “flat plane crankshaft” is in the new Mustang GT350, and older Porsches and Ferraris? I have seen numerous references to it online and in print but nobody, including Wikipedia explains it in non-calculus terms. Sajeev answers: Dumbing it down sadly glosses over hundreds (thousands?) of […]

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My 98 booming with a trunk of funk, Don’t Believe the Hype. (photo courtesy: Ford)

GCH writes:

Sajeev:

Could you/somebody please explain what a “flat plane crankshaft” is in the new Mustang GT350, and older Porsches and Ferraris?

I have seen numerous references to it online and in print but nobody, including Wikipedia explains it in non-calculus terms.

Sajeev answers:

Dumbing it down sadly glosses over hundreds (thousands?) of salient details in casting technology and/or computer-aided design. But I left Engineering school for a reason, so let’s simplify: rest a flat plane crankshaft on a table and it’s flat like a sheet of paper.

Ford Powerstroke 6.0 crank (photo courtesy: mkmcustoms.com)

Ok, maybe not “paper flat” with those boomerang counterweights at the ends…but compared to the crossplane crank in most V8 passenger vehicles?

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LS9 crankshaft. (Photo Courtesy: General Motors)

Crankshafts, like damn near everything else in our lives, benefits from the KISS principle. A flat plane crankshaft has the potential for significant weight savings to optimize a motor’s moment of inertia and more even firing to benefit the exhaust stroke, allowing for more revs/horsepower. And that unique sound!

But NVH control is a problem: hence widespread adoption of crossplane crankshafts.

Which means flat plane crankshaft-ed Mustangs shall be completely pointless moot when trapped, idling at a red light in American surburbia…which is precisely where 88.7% of Mustang GT350s shall live. 

The stock Coyote V8 is a better option, cool/brag factor aside. Why? Because it’s got a damn good crank, and here’s 8000+ reasons why:

Click here to view the embedded video.

When comparing modifications side-to-side, will a modified GT350 rev harder and make more horses than a similar GT?  Probably.

Will it, in the process, lose valuable low-end torque needed on the street?  Probably.

So go kick some GT350 ass with the Mustang GT’s phenomenal aftermarket support, of which many retain the factory warranty. Come on Son, were you expecting breathless PR boosting for Ford’s latest hot one from TTAC?

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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New or Used: First World Problems! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/new-or-used-first-world-problems/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/new-or-used-first-world-problems/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2012 17:32:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463592 Travis writes: This might seem a little frivolous, but this is a genuine dilemma that I’m currently facing right now. I’ve been looking to replace a 2006 Pontiac GTO that I’ve had for 4 years. It’s been fun, comfortable, and mildly expensive to maintain in the last year with random small but non-typical GM parts-bin […]

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Travis writes:

This might seem a little frivolous, but this is a genuine dilemma that I’m currently facing right now. I’ve been looking to replace a 2006 Pontiac GTO that I’ve had for 4 years. It’s been fun, comfortable, and mildly expensive to maintain in the last year with random small but non-typical GM parts-bin stuff falling apart. I got into an accident a few days ago which pushed around the engine enough to declare the car a total loss. Lucky me me for being safe, also lucky me for not having to sell my car while also getting partial refunds on the $2700 that’s been dropped into it in the past 3 months.

I was planning on replacing it with a low mileage 2011 Mustang GT with the Brembo package. A smallish loan would cover the distance between the two cars pricewise, and I’d have a fun newer car that fulfilled everything the old one did while still being under bumper to bumper warranty.

Insurance is giving me more than I had expected and I have the option to buy back the GTO and sell it to a salvage yard if the price difference is worth the hassle. With the extra cash, the reimbursement of repairs, and possible profit on the vehicle itself, with that same loan I’d be taking out, I could afford a new 2013 GT with the Brembos and have at least a grand or two left over. Being able to comfortably afford a nice new vehicle is not something I’ve ever really had the option of in my life. My family is big on hand-me-downs, and when I got the GTO I took it over the option of getting something reasonable like a new Honda Fit. In 3 or 4 years, I’ll be inheriting a 2011 Corvette Grand Sport from the father. I know these are first world problems, and I can just imagine the jokes already but I’m seriously at a bit of a loss. The practical side of me is saying get a 2011 and don’t take out a real loan, find cash elsewhere to make up the small difference. The fun side of me is saying spoil yourself with something new that you can afford and don’t worry about anything falling off and eating your wallet for years to come. The super-sensible side of me is saying get a slightly used Malibu LTZ with a 2.4, pocket a load of cash, don’t take out a loan, and don’t enjoy driving for 3 or 4 years until you get a free corvette. What say you two?

Also, the Corvette is an automatic.

Steve answers:

Two recommendations for you.

The first is to do a little research. In the salvage auction business, there are two companies that are the 800 pound gorillas. Copart and Insurance Auto Auctions.

I would go to their web sites, call up the local branches, and see if you can get a good general idea of the vehicle’s worth. Then I would arrange the vehicle sold at one of their auctions. That way you have a large group of salvage yards, rebuilders and exporters bidding on the vehicle instead of just one.

The second is to wait for the Corvette. I would find a vehicle that satisfies your fun-o-meter while giving you a bit more practicality for whatever future needs, unexpected or otherwise, may arise. A three old sport/luxury vehicle with low miles that still comes with a healthy CPO warranty would be a pretty strong consideration.

The brands and models are endless. Audi, Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes, Volvo. You may even like a Lincoln or a Saab. I would shop around a bit and find yourself a ride worth keeping for at least the next three to five years.

Sajeev answers:

I’d buy what you want now, and immediately sell Dad’s slushbox Corvette when you get it…especially if it doesn’t have Magnaride.

Or buy some beater for 3-4 years, get Dad’s Vette and sell ’em both for a Z06/ZR1 with Magnaride. But that’s just me.

Sure, these are total #firstworldproblems. No biggie: we do this all the time.  When it comes to money and non-appliance issues, you really need to decide what you want to drive.  Mustangs are great all-around machine on the street, but a Corvette is better elsewhere.  It’s time to buckle down and decide what sporting machine you’d actually want to part with your money for.  That’s a decision for you.

That said, off to you Best and Brightest!

 

 

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Junkyard Find: 1969 Opel GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1969-opel-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/junkyard-find-1969-opel-gt/#comments Sun, 16 Sep 2012 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460157 Strangely, the Opel GT is one of the more common 1960s German Junkyard Finds. I find many more Type 1 Beetles, of course, and the Mercedes-Benz W110 shows up fairly regularly, but I’ll see several Crusher-bound GTs every year. Here’s a two-tone Brown GT I spotted in California a couple of weeks back. The 1.9 […]

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Strangely, the Opel GT is one of the more common 1960s German Junkyard Finds. I find many more Type 1 Beetles, of course, and the Mercedes-Benz W110 shows up fairly regularly, but I’ll see several Crusher-bound GTs every year. Here’s a two-tone Brown GT I spotted in California a couple of weeks back.
The 1.9 liter SOHC four put out a pretty decent 102 horsepower in the 1969 GT.
It appears that some sort of Opel-eating monster took a big bite out of the trunk lid.
This car has been used up, though drivetrain and chassis parts may still have some life left in them. I’ve let Team Tinyvette know about this car, and they’ll be paying it a visit in order to harvest its very fragile transmission.

The GT was marketed as sort of a miniature Corvette, while the Manta was more of a German Camaro. Here we see a rotund Stalingrad vet trying and failing to squeeze into a GT.

15 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 01 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1969 Opel GT Down On The Junkyard - picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Question: What’s the Most Ridiculous Use of “GT” Badging? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/question-whats-the-most-ridiculous-use-of-gt-badging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/question-whats-the-most-ridiculous-use-of-gt-badging/#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 14:30:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=452153 A Grand Touring car is— or used to be— a big, fast, luxurious machine made for long drives to high-roller destinations. Once automobile manufacturers figured out that they could stamp out GT badges just as cheaply as Brougham emblems, we started seeing some truly silly GTs on the street. Say, the Hyundai Excel GT. Or […]

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A Grand Touring car is— or used to be— a big, fast, luxurious machine made for long drives to high-roller destinations. Once automobile manufacturers figured out that they could stamp out GT badges just as cheaply as Brougham emblems, we started seeing some truly silly GTs on the street. Say, the Hyundai Excel GT. Or the Plymouth Scamp GT, which wasn’t even a car. Even with those examples to choose from, my vote for the most absurd GT has to go to the Pontiac Vibe GT. Do you think a decadent, Quaaludes-and-Chartreuse-addled Italian countess would have driven a grubby little badge-engineered Toyota econobox to Monaco at an average clip of 115 MPH?
Though, on second thought, the Scamp GT may have the Vibe GT beat for Least Appropriate Use of GT Badging. What do you think?

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Review: 2011 Ford Mustang V6 Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/review-2011-ford-mustang-v6-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/review-2011-ford-mustang-v6-take-two/#comments Thu, 20 Oct 2011 18:23:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410624 My brother wasn’t the most adventurous member of the family. When we were kids he was always whining: “mommy I don’t wanna go in the hot air balloon”, “mommy, I don’t wanna ride the pony”. These memories came flooding back when I stepped out of a cute, light little Fiat 500 and into the high-beltline […]

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My brother wasn’t the most adventurous member of the family. When we were kids he was always whining: “mommy I don’t wanna go in the hot air balloon”, “mommy, I don’t wanna ride the pony”. These memories came flooding back when I stepped out of a cute, light little Fiat 500 and into the high-beltline V6 Mustang. As the Mustang pulled up, my first thought was: mommy, I don’t wanna ride the pony. My problem with the Mustang V6 wasn’t the car itself, it was the driver: me. Maybe it’s because when I was a kid my Mustang was killed by the Mustang II. Maybe it was because the last 5.0 was really just a weak-sauce 4.9. Before I even got behind the wheel, I was asking myself: what is the point of the pony car? Is it just to look cool? Deliver easy burnouts? Why not buy something else? The new V6 ‘stang is headlined as the holy grail of RWD car shopping; 300+ HP, 30+ MPG or as I like to say: all the hoon, half the gas. Because of the hype I had to see for myself if the V6 pony car is the perfect RWD companion, or should if $22,000-32,000 would be better spent on something else. Let’s find out.

From the outside, the Mustang checks all the right boxes for me: it’s big, it’s bold, it’s brash. The same could be said of the Camaro, except that somehow the Chevy’s form ends up being a tad cartoonish for my tastes. The Camaro reminds me of that kid in high school that tried too hard to be cool and ended just up being weird instead. The Challenger is as true to the old muscle car form as any, and is perhaps my favorite style-wise in this segment. The 370Z’s simple lines are in many ways the most conservative in the segment, and the Hyundai Genesis being fairly unique among coupes. Of course style is very much a matter of personal taste, and the Mustang’s look may not be to your liking. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Let’s talk engines. While the Mustang’s design has historically evolved slowly over time with evolution not revolution describing the chassis and drivetrain changes, 2011 is different. While last year’s Mustang received the same 210HP 4.0L V6 and 4.6L “modular” V8 (that trace their history back to 1968 and 1991 respectively), the 2011 model year brings not one, but two new engines to the plate. While the power-hungry in the crowd will gravitate towards the new 5.0L “Coyote” engine with its 412 or 444 horses (GT vs Boss 302), the 305HP 3.7L V6 is what we’re here to talk about.

Ford’s 3.7L engine is a member of Ford’s new V6 family introduced in 2006. This family includes the 3.5L engine in the Ford Edge and the 3.5L twin-turbo direct-injected V6 in the Taurus SHO. For Mustang duty, Ford opted to fit the 3.7L variant with dual variable valve timing, skipping over turbos and direct injection no doubt to keep costs low, the V6 ‘stang starts at $22,310 after all. This means Ford’s new V6, like those from Japan, needs to rev to produce the advertised numbers. For someone that’s driven Ford’s previous generation pony cars, this high-revving nature takes some adjusting to get used to.

The exhaust note of the new Mustang doesn’t sound like other high-revving V6s like the 3.7L from Nissan which is like a siren call enticing you to rev the nuts off the engine. Instead, the Mustang reminds me of a mid-90s Pontiac with an exhaust tuned to highlight a low burble. Noise aside, there’s no arguing with the numbers, the new V6 produces 305HP at a lofty 6,500RPM (up a whopping 46%, or 95HP from the old 4.0L V6). Because the V6 isn’t force-fed, the torque gain is a more modest 15% increase to 280lb-ft at 4,250RPM.

While many reviews bemoan the high-revving needs of the V6 compared to the V8-packing GT, the numbers match up against the competition favorably with the Genesis 3.8 sporting 306HP @ 6300RPM and 266lb-ft at 4,700RPM, the 370Z packing 332 at 7,000RPM and 270lb-ft at a very lofty 5,200RPM and of course the Camaro V6 at 312HP at 6,500RPM and 278b-ft at 5,100RPM. Combine this with recent reports that Ford is underrating the V6’s power output and the blue oval’s latest baby-pony is certainly running with the “string”.

If the numbers make you leery, I can assure you that V6-burnouts are extremely easy and quite satisfying. Easy and satisfying are the two words that frequently came to mind when engaged in shenanigans I would normally never admit to engaging in. Suffice it to say the new V6 is far livelier than ever before, and while you do need to keep the revs up to keep the fun going, doing so is a cinch. Instead of spending money on a new independent rear suspension, Ford chose to fit the Mustang with a set of features that are just about worth the trade-off. First among them is the slick new 6-speed manual transmission, the same as GT buyers get. Shifts are incredibly short and the feel is almost up to BMW standards. Base V6 buyers also get true dual exhaust, a limited slip rear diff, side-impact airbags for when your sideways shenanigans end up in a tree and the usual assortment of power windows and locks. Ford didn’t just fiddle with options, they also stiffened the chassis and tweaked almost every aspect of the suspension.

When the going gets twisty, he base V6 Mustang can end up feeling like it’s writing checks its brakes and suspension just can’t cash (something that could never be said of the old V6). Fortunately Ford offers a solution to this problem in the form of the $1,995 “V6 Performance Package” which buys you GT brakes, GT suspension, sway bar, strut tower brace, performance rear axle, and 19-inch summer rubber. If you are buying the V6 mustang for any reason other than price, this option is an absolute must-have and the only reason a gear-head should buy the base V6 would be if you plan on modding your pony extensively.

Out on the road, the live rear axle works flawlessly on smooth roads but broken pavement unsettles things in a way you don’t experience in more expensive chassis setups like the 370Z or Infiniti G coupé. Still, the Camaro with its crashy ride is far worse, and the Dodge is just too soft and heavy for performance aspirations. The unsettled feel on mountain roads I frequent, combined with the numb electric power steering meant it took a few days to really start pushing the limits of the car, which are actually fairly high despite the less-than-polished road manners. Without access to a slalom or skid-pad I can’t speak absolute numbers, but the horizontal grip is quite possibly the best among the V6 competition. It’s the feel that sells the Mustang short, and makes it feel like your car is secretly plotting to kill you in some spectacularly diabolical fashion. Mind you, the Dodge Challenger V6 has absolutely nothing up its sleeve, neither does the Hyundai Genesis, and that makes them rather boring in comparison. The Camaro on the other hand just feels like it’s going to kill you in some sloppy un-planned affair that will end up in the tabloids.

Inside, the mustang shows off Ford’s recent attention to interior quality with suitably squishy dash bits, optional real aluminum trim, and all the modernity you expect in a car from the 21st century wrapped in a suitably retro wrapper. While I find the lack of a telescoping steering column a fairly large omission (especially due to the reclined seating position) taller drivers are likely to be fine, short drivers, not so much. At 6-feet tall, the Mustang’s high belt-line and far-away steering wheel position made me feel like I was driving my dad’s Oldsmobile when I was a kid, not the feeling I look for in a car. Fortunately for the gadget lover, a retro wrapper doesn’t mean old-school electronics. Well, OK, so the Mustang is “stuck” with the old SYNC navigation system for the moment. Personally however, I call that a good thing as it is far, far more responsive than the MyTouch system that has been receiving fairly bad press lately for sluggishness and frequent system crashes.

The only downside to the older SYNC system is the lack of a second USB port, no internet connectivity and a few differences in the voice command system, all of which I wager 99% of buyers will never miss. As always with SYNC, voice commanding your iPod or USB device, the navigation system or radio is just a button press away, the best thing since sliced bread and without real competition from anyone. Once Hyundai brings the new UVO system to the Genesis, the Korean coupé will give the Mustang a run for its money, but that’s later. Also on offer is an up-level Shaker audio system on which “Ice Ice Baby” sounds particularly bitchin, dual zone climate control, and an interesting gimmick in the form of “My Color”. MyColor allows the driver to select from a pre-defined selection of colors for the gauge cluster, or you can create your own “custom” colors by entering R G B values in the on-screen menu. Check out the video below for more.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Of course, comparisons are essential when you see a V6 Camaro or Challenger in the Starbucks parking lot. In this three-way-shootout the Mustang shines. The Dodge can be almost dismissed early due to the 600lb heavier curb weight and much larger proportions. (Due to the added heft, the V6 Mustang is more comparable to the V8 Challenger R/T.) The Camaro is a close contender and you could be forgiven for buying a Camaro because you like the look, you would however be buying the slower vehicle as the V6 Mustang is quicker (with the right manual driver of course). If however you see an Infiniti G Coupe or Nissan Z in the parking lot, just stare at your latte and get in your ‘Stang without making eye contact; they will beat you at the stop-light-races every time.

Perhaps the most appropriate comparison of all however is to the “other” Mustang, the GT. It goes without saying that Ford’s new 5.0L V8 sounds better, delivers more torque, more horsepower, faster 0-60 times and some totally rad 5.0L badges. (I know, I’m a child of the 70s, so sue me.) Pricing and fuel economy are the real reasons you would shop the V6 over the GT. The V6 starts at $22,310 which is about what you’d pay for something like a Chrysler 200 and $7,000 less than a base Mustang GT. Adjusting for feature content (aside from the fire breathing V8), the V6 still enjoys a $5,000 lower starting point. For me, the $695 reverse sensing system is an absolute must because of the poor rearward visibility. The $1995 performance package is a no-brainer since it basically gives you GT brakes, suspension, rear diff, etc.  This brings my personal realistic base price to a still reasonable $25,000. Stepping up to the “Premium” V6 (as our tester was equipped) gets you the snazzier instrument cluster with MyColor lighting, better looking 17-inch wheels (which are replaced by the performance package), the up-level Shaker audio system, SYNC, Satellite radio and an auto dimming rear-view mirror for a fairly hefty $4,000 over the base V6. If, however you would like things like heated power seats, dual-zone climate control and navigation, you have to start with the Premium trim. Our tester was an essentially fully loaded V6 premium (manual transmission) that rang in a $32,320, or the same price as a GT with only a few options.

I think we all agree we live in the muscle car renaissance. This new generation of muscle car delivers the brash style we Americans seem to crave and six-cylinder engines that would easily dust the majority of “muscle cars” from the last 20 years. However, this is 2011 and not 1991, and the rest of the automotive landscape has changed as well. In this light the V6 is not a high-performance muscle car; that would be the GT. It is however a blast to drive, a fairly good value, and more than enough pony for most shoppers, including perhaps that brother of mine.

 

Ford Provided the vehicle for our review, insurance and one tank of gas

Statistics as tested

0-30: 2.0 Seconds

0-60: 5.1 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.8 Seconds @ 102.0 MPH

Fuel Economy: 25.2 MPG over 689 miles

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Vladimir Antonov: Screw Spyker, I’m Building A Jensen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/vladimir-antonov-screw-spyker-im-building-a-jensen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/vladimir-antonov-screw-spyker-im-building-a-jensen/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2011 14:39:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=411870 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 […]

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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.

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Review: 2010 Subaru Legacy GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/review-2010-subaru-legacy-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/review-2010-subaru-legacy-gt/#comments Fri, 30 Jul 2010 16:32:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=361838 When Subaru introduced the 2005 Legacy GT wagon with a turbocharged flat four, all-wheel-drive, and a manual transmission, it went straight to the short list of cars I’d buy…if I was buying a car. But I wasn’t buying a car. Apparently there were too many like me, for Subaru discontinued the manual transmission the following […]

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When Subaru introduced the 2005 Legacy GT wagon with a turbocharged flat four, all-wheel-drive, and a manual transmission, it went straight to the short list of cars I’d buy…if I was buying a car. But I wasn’t buying a car. Apparently there were too many like me, for Subaru discontinued the manual transmission the following year, then dropped the Legacy wagon altogether with the 2008s. With the 2010 redesign of the Legacy, Subaru appears to be giving the GT incarnation one last shot. While other Legacies and Outbacks are powered by naturally aspirated fours and sixes, the GT retains the turbo four—and is available only with a six-speed manual transmission. Clearly it was developed for enthusiasts. But will enough enthusiasts return the favor? Should they?

Historically, Subarus have been aesthetically challenged. Handsomely proportioned, clean-to-a-fault designs like that of the 2005-2009 Legacy have been the rare exception rather than the rule. With a hunchback profile dictated by packaging considerations and fussy fender flares that fail to disguise the slabsidedness of the bodysides, the 2010 is no such exception. Some of that old Subaru quirkiness might have redeemed this exterior. But, perhaps still fearing Farago’s pen, it’s just homely.

The interior is a little easier on the eyes, though it might set a record for square inches of silver plastic. Faux timber doesn’t exactly scream “GT,” but together with the leather upholstery it does lend the car a more upscale ambiance than you’ll find in lesser Legacies. Like the light-colored interior of the tested car? Well, only off-black is offered in the 2011.

The Subaru’s interior scores higher marks in functional areas. Ergonomics and visibility from the high-mounted driver seat are both first-rate. Perhaps this is what happens when engineers retain the upper hand. Both strengths are increasingly less common among competitors lately. The moderately firm driver’s seat is shaped for long-distance comfort. The rear seat offers far more legroom than the class-trailing previous Legacy. Cargo space is less generous. Though deep in two dimensions, the trunk is relatively narrow.

The 2010 Subaru Legacy GT’s 2.5-liter turbocharged flat four has been tuned to produce 265 horsepower, up 22 from the old car. Despite the much roomier interior, curb weight is only up about 50 pounds (comparing similarly equipped cars), so the power bump should more than compensate. Except it doesn’t. The Legacy GT might be quick, but it doesn’t feel quick. A triumph of refinement over excitement, boost comes on almost imperceptibly, with none of the punch traditionally dished out by powerful turbocharged engines. Peak power is the same as with the related engine in the WRX, but this is not the same engine. Output peaks 400 rpm lower, at 5,600. More telling, there’s more torque—258 vs. 244 pound-feet—and the torque peak, 4,000 rpm in the WRX, extends all the way from 2,000 to 5,200 in the Legacy GT. Admirable numbers, certainly, but the joy is gone. At low speeds the boxer’s distinctive song can still be heard, and at lower rpm the gradual accumulation of boost dulls throttle responses, but otherwise this engine could be mistaken for a stifled naturally aspirated six.

The shifter doesn’t help matters. It moves easily enough, and its throws aren’t overly long, but it has the cheap plastic-on-plastic feel of a bargain basement joystick. One unusual feature: your current gear is displayed between the speedometer and tach. You know, in case you can’t remember where you last moved the lever.

The new Legacy GT’s handling can most favorably be described as secure and competent. The crossover-high seating position doesn’t help here. Body control is very good, and the amount of lean in turns is acceptable, but communicative steering and quick reflexes aren’t part of the mix. Instead, the Legacy GT impresses with an unexpectedly smooth, surprisingly quiet ride. If a larger rear seat was the company’s first priority with the new Legacy, refinement must have been the second. There’s no hint that this car is related to the STI.

In recent years the Legacy GT has been available only in Limited trim, meaning standard leather, sunroof, and 440-watt harmon/kardon audio. For 2011 the price is up a little, and now starts at $32,120. Not cheap, but the next closest alternative, the Acura TL SH-AWD, lists for over $11,000 more (about $3,700 of which can be explained by its additional features, based on a price comparison run at TrueDelta.com). Not that these cars are likely to be cross-shopped. Aside from its premium branding, the Acura is far more fun to drive at the expense of a brutal ride. Other Subarus might be going mainstream, but the Legacy GT is in a class of its own. It currently has no direct competitors in the U.S.

Between this car and BMW’s similar appropriation, it seems that “GT” now connotes roominess and refinement rather than driving excitement. Neither “grand” nor “touring” suggests agile handling, so perhaps this is a more literal interpretation of the appellation. But then what’s the stick doing in the Legacy GT? The number of self-shifters seeking the new car’s bundle of attributes cannot be large. So the prognosis for the Legacy GT is not good. Subaru might rethink the car, like they did with the 2008 WRX after enthusiasts rejected it. But they’re more likely to send it the way of the Legacy wagon. Don’t want the Legacy GT to go away? Then you’d better put your money where your mouth is and buy one soon.

Michael Karesh owns and operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data

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The Ultimate Niche Machine: BMW Considering X4 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/the-ultimate-niche-machine-bmw-considering-x4/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/the-ultimate-niche-machine-bmw-considering-x4/#comments Fri, 30 Apr 2010 16:53:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=354832 You can already buy a BMW 3-Series in sedan, coupe, station wagon and X3 “cute-ute” bodystyles, and for some automakers that might be enough. For niche-crazed BMW though, it’s just the beginning. A 3-Series GT is planned in the mold of the 5-Series GT, as a midway-point between the coupe, sedan and station wagon versions. […]

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You can already buy a BMW 3-Series in sedan, coupe, station wagon and X3 “cute-ute” bodystyles, and for some automakers that might be enough. For niche-crazed BMW though, it’s just the beginning. A 3-Series GT is planned in the mold of the 5-Series GT, as a midway-point between the coupe, sedan and station wagon versions. You know, in case you can’t decide which you want. “This has never existed!” screamed Autobild… back in 2008. Of course, now it does exist in the form of the 5-series GT, which could actually end up replacing the 5-series wagon in the US market. And as the march of the niche vehicles rolls onward, there’s one more segment that the 3-series architecture still hasn’t capitalized on: the jacked-up midway point between coupe and SUV. That’s right babies, the X4.

But don’t blame BMW for considering a baby X6, which will likely resemble a jacked-up, slightly coupe-ier version of the 3er GT. After all, the Bavarians have sold over 80k X6s since launch, or twice the projected volume.That, BMW sources tell Autocar, makes an X4 far more likely to happen:

We haven’t made any firm decision. However, the X6’s success shows there is a continued demand for sporty off-roaders.

Of course, the relatively small difference between the current 1-series and the 3-series makes the niche spacing even more of a tricky task. Seriously, what are the differences between buyers of an X1, a 3er GT, an X4, and a 3er Wagon? Do we need to start making up Venn diagrams of these buyers’ priorities? Or is BMW trying to prove a kind of automotive Zeno’s paradox, in which niches can be infinitely subdivided? Where is the focus?

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Review: 2011 Ford Mustang GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/review-2011-ford-mustang-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/review-2011-ford-mustang-gt/#comments Wed, 31 Mar 2010 14:53:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=350946 Powered By Ford. There’s something special about those words, something iconic, something that evokes a grand American scope, from the first cross-country trips in a Model T to a majestic GT40 hammering down the rain-soaked Mulsanne straight. Powered by Ford. It’s the logo stamped into the cam covers of the five-liter Mustang, but you won’t […]

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Powered By Ford. There’s something special about those words, something iconic, something that evokes a grand American scope, from the first cross-country trips in a Model T to a majestic GT40 hammering down the rain-soaked Mulsanne straight. Powered by Ford. It’s the logo stamped into the cam covers of the five-liter Mustang, but you won’t need to raise the hood to understand what it means. The first time this majestic engine swallows through its thirty-two adjustably timed valves and bellows a crescendo through its twin exhaust, it will be more than crystal clear.

Down Topanga Canyon Road, I can see the road is clear several switchbacks below. I loaf along, watching and timing, waiting for the moment when I have seen everything before me. Then I drop to third gear and let this new 2011 Mustang sing to seven thousand revs. The acceleration is shocking, as is the maddened “whoop” which fills the cabin. In no time my co-driver and I have swallowed seas of traffic, fast-forwarding the windshield view to a blur, an F-15 in a sky of Cessnas. I could go on, but this is TTAC and therefore convention requires that I discuss price and value.

The price is pretty good. Under thirty grand puts you into a 5.0. Equip the car with the bare necessities — Brembo front brakes, 3.73 axle, and a deleted rear spoiler — and the cash register rings to the tune of $32,980. This is the equivalent of Frank Bullit’s old 390GT, but make no mistake: with a conservatively-rated 412 horsepower, this car would rip the lungs from the Highland Green hubcap-eater. E92 M3 owners should worry. C5 Z06 pilots will need to find a twisty road lest they be run nose-to-tail down long freeway sprints.

Not that this revamped Mustang is helpless or hopeless on those twisty roads. As with the Mercedes SL, the faster variants are increasingly numb at the helm due to greater engine weight. Consider this the SL63 of the range; strong enough for virtually any fast-road duty but without the extra weight and ponderousness of the forced-induction version. Turn-in is light but feedback through the EPAS is surprisingly good, no doubt aided by the 19-inch P-Zero Neros. Nineteens are standard on Brembo-package cars and the California Specials. I’d prefer to combine the lighter eighteen-inch wheels with the Brembos, even at the sacrifice of 235-width tires against the 245-width big-wheels, but Ford does not offer that particular combination.

Once in the turn, the five-liter is torquey enough to adjust the cornering attitude at will. I suspect that the stability control intervenes when brakes are applied, even when it’s supposedly turned all the way off. With that said, I’m not a newspaper journo and it’s not really in my bag of tricks to stomp the brake in mid-corner. Left-foot braking into the corner is dicey enough; the Brembos are nice but they are still two sizes too small for a car of this performance potential.

It is nearly impossible to overstate the sheer charisma of this engine. Dyed-in-the-wool import snobs will simply adore the way it builds power along the rev range. It feels like the big-money four-or-five-liter engines from Audi, BMW, and Jaguar, but there’s an American helping of torque thanks to the Ti-VCT clever cams.

While the original Fox GT 5.0 was in many ways simply a flexible platform for a sterling engine, however, this Mustang continues Ford’s march of refinement. NVH is down. Interior quality is up, measurably so in these pre-production cars compared to the GT 4.6 I drove last year. SYNC is available and recommended to all but the most feverish of Luddites. The “MyKey” electronic nanny is available as well, but no amount of technology will keep teenagers from dying in this car if the conditions are wrong. It’s simply too quick to be entrusted to the inexperienced.

The rest of the car is a Mustang, and more or less as we know it: shiny metal interior, vaguely retro styling laid atop decidedly retro packaging, low seating position, decent visibility, and stronger-than-Corolla inputs required at all controls. As with the V-6, there’s a bit of a fuel-economy story here: twenty-six miles per gallon for a stick-shift with the standard rear axle.

There are few things about this car that will not be apparent during a casual test drive, and it is worth passing them along to TTAC readers. These Mustangs don’t feel natural to those of us used to perching over transverse motors in a cab-forward arrangement, but after a few dozen miles one adjusts very well and begins to enjoy being in the longitudinal center of the car. This is a fast, competent, well-sorted performance car that delivers M3-level performance at half the price. That will seal the deal for many drivers, even initially skeptical ones, but I cannot lie: they had me at “Powered”.

[Jack Baruth attended the launch for the Mustang, which was paid for by Ford]

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The Pontiac G8 Lives (In Australia) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/the-pontiac-g8-lives-in-australia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/the-pontiac-g8-lives-in-australia/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2010 20:17:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341687 Oh, the sad saga of the Pontaic G8. GM finally built a vehicle worthy of Pontiac’s sporty pretensions, only to can the whole brand months later, leaving the G8 orphaned. Which was crummy for enthusiasts, but ultimately a good thing for GM’s business as G8s were assembled in Australia and shipped over to the US, […]

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Play it again, Holden. (courtesy:autospectator.com)

Oh, the sad saga of the Pontaic G8. GM finally built a vehicle worthy of Pontiac’s sporty pretensions, only to can the whole brand months later, leaving the G8 orphaned. Which was crummy for enthusiasts, but ultimately a good thing for GM’s business as G8s were assembled in Australia and shipped over to the US, bleeding profit margin all the way. Then came news that a G8-alike would be built in North America, but would only be marketed to police fleet buyers as a Caprice. “Insult to injury!” shrieked the slighted fans of V8 RWD sedans. What they didn’t realize was that GM was still in injury mode. For the real insult, we turn now to the Carpoint.com.au [via Jalopnik], which reports that consumers can still buy new Pontiac G8s. In Australia. Sort of.

According to CP:

Holden introduced a special edition of its high performance SS-V sedan, which came with the twin-vent bonnet and sportier front bumper and grille used on the now defunct Pontiac G8 export program…

Holden introduced the special models in November 2009 when it gave the SS-V sedan, wagon and ute the Pontiac styling treatment, in a bid to clear some parts from the axed Pontiac export program.

But the limited run of Commodores has proved so popular that Holden has decided to continue building them indefinitely, according to a recent briefing to dealers.

The Carsales Network understands that customers will have the choice of the regular SS-V look, or the Pontiac look — but the Pontiac look will still attract a $1000 price premium…. Even though the limited edition SS-V models did not wear Pontiac badges, some dealers have begun ordering the Pontiac and G8 ‘jewelry’ for customers.

Sigh. Are there that many Pontiac grilles and bumpers sitting around at the Holden plants, or did a parts-clearing operation morph into yet another way for Holden to package the Zeta platform?

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Curbside Classic Dead Brands Week Christmas Edition: 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/curbside-classic-dead-brands-week-christmas-edition-1962-studebaker-gran-turismo-hawk/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/12/curbside-classic-dead-brands-week-christmas-edition-1962-studebaker-gran-turismo-hawk/#comments Thu, 24 Dec 2009 20:18:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=340085 Desperate times call for desperate measures; and sometimes the result is nothing short of spectacular. The Studebaker Gran Turismo coupe is gorgeous, despite having been cobbled together on a shoestring in six months. It’s also compromised and imperfect, a car that The Big Three would never have built. It did little to change the inevitable […]

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classic GT

Desperate times call for desperate measures; and sometimes the result is nothing short of spectacular. The Studebaker Gran Turismo coupe is gorgeous, despite having been cobbled together on a shoestring in six months. It’s also compromised and imperfect, a car that The Big Three would never have built. It did little to change the inevitable outcome of the Studebaker Death Watch, but then it probably would never have been created under other circumstances. There’s nothing like staring death in the face to focus the last remaining creative forces and take exceptional risks. Along with the Avanti, the GT Hawk is Studebaker’s gran farewell gesture. Gone indeed, but hardly forgotten.

CC 73 029 800In 1961, Studebaker was in a very desperate time indeed, having never really recovered from the 1953 fiasco. The daring “Loewy” Starlight coupe was originally intended to be a show car only. But Loewy convinced Studebaker to put it in production, despite it sitting on a substantially longer wheelbase than the sedans, and demanding a massive investment that the independent car maker could ill afford. Undoubtedly the most remarkable piece of styling to come from America in the fifties, it was a deeply influential and seminal piece.

Unfortunately, and perhaps predictably, it also overwhelmed Studebaker with assembly challenges and delays, and finally hit the market just as Ford and GM launched a massive market-share war by overproducing and heavily discounting. Rather than buying share from each other, it had the effect of severely damaging the remaining independents. The poor build quality of the ’53 Studebakers only added to its woes.

The Loewy coupe morphed into a low-volume sporty coupe, the Hawk, having sprouted an upright grill and the ubiquitous fins. It was a formidable performance car in the fifties, especially in 1956 with the 275 hp Packard 352 V8, and the later supercharged 275 hp Studebaker 289 V8. It foreshadowed the compact sporty muscle and pony cars of the sixties, but sold only in small numbers.

CC 73 034 800By 1961, the compact Lark’s brief day in the sun was over, having been eclipsed by the assault of the Big Three’s compacts. Noted industrial designer Brooks Stevens was hired in 1961 to do a six-month crash redesign of the Hawk and Lark models, with a minimal budget. By grafting a Thunderbird-like square roof unto the old hardtop Loewy coupe, a cleaned up rear end, and a dramatic wrap-around instrument panel, Stevens injected a remarkable amount of new life into the aging coupe. And the GT Hawk has become a modern classic.

Now here’s the remarkable thing about this particular car: it was bought by its owner Luke (TTAC reader “the duke”) when he was in high school. And it was his daily driver for six years. He brought it back to life after sitting in a barn for ten years, and it now has over 213k miles clocked on its original engine, the 225 hp four-barrel 289. It now awaits his return from a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in Michigan before its ongoing improvements resume. But it’s still very much a runner.

Luke gave me an exciting ride in this still sprightly GT. Weighing some 3200 lbs, the old 289 backed by a four speed stick had no problem living up to its name. With its narrow but long body, it reminds me somehow of a mid-western take on the theme that Bristol has been playing out for decades in England, still to this day. Perhaps the Avanti was the wrong car to revive after Studebaker’s death? And call me crazy, but from the rear especially, the GT reminds me also of the Citroen DS. Visually, that is, since the Studebaker’s ride is about as far away from the floating “goddess” as possible.

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The long, willowy frame of the Loewy coupes was a problem from day one, even though it was reinforced early on. These cars, especially the hardtops, are structurally challenged. The doors need a little help finding their way home, and speed bumps are not its friend. But once inside, a unique perspective opens up. The GT not only doesn’t look like a typical Big Three car of the times, it feels even much less so one sitting in it. It’s remarkably narrow, the cowl is high and close, and your feet disappear in front of you in shallow, long tunnels. It feels extremely European.

CC 73 041 800The dash is a brilliantly clean, functional affair with those classic round gauges scattered on its three planes. GM did a fine job copying it for its 1970 Camaro, among others. Everything about the GT has a very low-production, almost hand-made feel to it. Or does hand-made evoke the wrong image; cobbled-up perhaps? It’s not exactly Bristol when it comes to fit and finish. But then, they’ve been doing the same car for decades. The sheer number of stainless steel trim pieces on the exterior alone helps explains why Studebaker couldn’t really make any money on this car.

The 1962 Gran Turismo came with a $3095 sticker($21k adjusted). That was low enough to attract some 8k buyers, which along with the restyled Lark, gave Studebaker its last little sales uptick before the final death spiral. There was no way to keep its giant South Bend factory running with sub-100k annual production output. The GT died along with the Avanti when the plant was shut down in 1964, and Lark production shifted to a smaller Canadian plant for the last few pathetic years. Barely 15k GTs were made in total, but it was a very lovely swansong indeed that Studebaker sang for us.

(thanks Luke, for the invite and ride)

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