By on October 3, 2017

nismo-leaf

Nissan appears to be considering adorning the Leaf with a NISMO nameplate and appearance. Unveiled on Monday at Nissan’s Futures 3.0 event, the stock 2018 model provides improved performance, range, and less nerdy looks. However, Nissan wants further improve the Leaf’s image with a NISMO-trimmed variant.

Oh goodie.

While we get that economy models can morph into fun-to-drive little darlings, we also scrunched our noses at Toyota’s performance-enhanced GR Prius last month. Not every car can be the next GTI and, if automakers would like to build something that could be, they’ll have to provide us with more than a bodykit and a set of custom wheels.  (Read More…)

By on July 14, 2017

Hyundai i30N Nurburgring 24h - Image: HyundaiIn Hyundai’s mind, consumers now know the brand builds reliable cars. Quality cars. Attractive cars. “But now we have the knowledge to add sportiness to that image,” says Klaus Köster, Hyundai’s European director for high performance vehicle development.

The Hyundai i30 N, essentially a high-performance version of the Hyundai Elantra GT that Americans will soon be able to purchase in less powerful iterations, is instantly becoming the foundation for a Hyundai brand that wants to be taken more seriously for its athleticism.

Just as the i30 N spent much of its development time at Hyundai’s six-year-old technical center beside Germany’s iconic Nürburgring circuit, now every Hyundai will be assessed at the Nürburgring.

The Santa Fe’s ‘Ring time probably won’t be published. (Read More…)

By on June 30, 2017

2017 Audi RS3 sedan red - Image: AudiWhether A3 and Q5 and Allroad drivers in 2017 know it or not, much of Audi’s modern reputation is built upon a foundation cemented by the Audi Quattro rally car in the 1980s.

In the capable hands of drivers such as Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, and Walter Röhrl, Audi brought dominant traction to the World Rally Championship and eventually found traction in the marketplace as well.

Fast forward to 2017 and Audi consistently reports meaningful growth in the North American market. Audi sales in the United States have grown in seven consecutive years, more than doubling since 2010. And while U.S. auto sales are dipping in the first half of 2017 — including declines at the only three premium brands that outsell Audi — the Audi brand is up 7 percent, year-over-year.

Audi’s methodology has been well and truly copied by many of its rivals. Quattro isn’t the only all-wheel-drive brand in town. Badges for 4Matic and xDrive are common on the trunklids of many a Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

How then can Audi stand out from the pack? With its high-performance models, the RS variants, Audi may well drop Quattro all-wheel drive on some models in a bid for rear-wheel-drive performance supremacy. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

2018 Porsche 911 GT3, Image: Porsche

The secondhand market for sporting automobiles is a bubbling cauldron of volatility with one assurance — rarer is always better. Being racy doesn’t hurt resale value, either. That’s why track-focused manual transmission Ferraris go for an exorbitant premium on the secondhand market against their more casual counterparts. It’s also why certain the versions of the 911 can be resold at over double their original MSRP. But Porsche, like many high-end performance manufacturers, is getting sick of customers purchasing their vehicles for the sole purpose of flipping them.

The German automaker says it’s extremely aware of what is going on in the secondhand market and actively wants to take steps to crack down on for-profit flipping. It has also, perhaps inadvertently, made some headway already by bringing the 2018 911 GT3 to market with a manual transmission — potentially devaluing the manual-only 911 R. This has annoyed some capitalists hoping to resell the R at triple its original value. To that Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT division,  says “we’re not a hedge fund.”  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

My, how time flies. Nearly half a decade has passed since Mazda, undoubtedly an automaker that believes in performance, last offered a Mazdaspeed product.

Not since 2004 and 2005, when 5,142 Mazdaspeed MX-5s were delivered in the United States market, has Mazda’s most obvious performance car been available in a power-up version.

Not since the first-generation Mazda 6’s 2005/2006 Mazdaspeed tenure has Mazda’s midsize sedan been offered in performance guise.

And after following up one of the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars of its era, the Mazdaspeed Protege, with the Mazdaspeed3 in 2007 and another in 2010, Mazda hasn’t had a hot hatch contender to battle the Volkswagen Golf GTI and R, Ford’s ST and RS models, the Honda Civic Si (and now Type R), the Subaru WRX, and Mini’s Cooper S since 2013.

So, is Mazdaspeed dead? (Read More…)

By on March 13, 2017

2018 Lexus LC500 front – Image: Lexus

Lexus has lofty goals for the new LC performance coupe, a two-car range encompassing V8 and V6 hybrid cars. The Lexus LC, Toyota’s premium division hopes, will attract 400 buyers in America per month.

That’s a big number.

Granted, Toyota sells more than 1,000 Camrys in the United States every day. In fact, Lexus sells 300 copies of the RX, America’s all-conquering premium utility vehicle, every day.

But the 2018 Lexus LC is not America’s best-selling midsize car 15 years running, nor is the LC the dominant luxury crossover in a market gone gaga for luxury crossovers. The Lexus LC, on the other hand, is a $92,995–106,295 Japanese coupe. 400 monthly sales for a two-door priced in that stratosphere is truly a big number.

And Lexus believes it will outsell the Jaguar F-Type, Porsche Cayman, Mercedes-Benz SLC, and Audi TT. Lexus believes the LC will sell roughly three times more often than the Nissan GT-R ever has. Lexus intends to attract more buyers with the LC than Mercedes-Benz can with The Establishment, the SL-Class; more buyers than BMW attracts with the vast BMW 6 Series range.

Why? Lexus certainly has its reasons. (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2016

2016 McLaren 570S Front 3/4 in front of McLaren Engineering, Image: © 2016 Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

After I spent some time with the McLaren 570s, the British supercar company’s entry-level model for North America, I asked Jack Baruth if he thought the 675LT was worth $200,000 dollars more than the 570S.

I’d driven the 675LT around Los Angeles back in January and Jack’s driven both cars as well. The 570S’ performance impressed me, but I wanted the opinion of someone with more experience driving six-figure sports cars than I do.

Jack’s reply was simple: “Yes, it is.”

I don’t have the income to afford either car, but I realized two things upon consideration. The first was Jack was correct: if I had $400,000 to spend on a car, I’d probably go with the 675LT. Though edging into diminishing returns, the differences are noticeable to even a ham-fisted driver such as myself.

The second realization: at around $200,000, the 570S is a bargain. (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

Even Mazda, we told you last week, is now selling more crossovers than cars.

One-third of Chevrolet’s U.S. volume is produced by pickup trucks. An SUV now generates more than half of the Bentley brand’s U.S. sales. Half of all Chrysler buyers choose a minivan.

Where are the sports cars? (Read More…)

By on August 7, 2015

033

A few weeks ago, on this very collection of ones and zeroes, I asked the question, “Why Does The Public Accept Car Reviews From People Who Can’t Drive?” I got several responses from you, the B&B, that seemed to indicate that a car’s top-end performance abilities don’t really matter to you when buying a car and that you can determine everything that you need to know about a car’s performance on a test-drive loop. Therefore, many of you suggested that whether or not a person is a good driver should not be a qualifying characteristic of an automotive journalist, because you aren’t particularly interested in ever driving your car in a way that would test its limits.

Okay. Hey, it’s your opinion, and I respect you for it. I couldn’t agree with it less, but I still respect it.

However, if the public really believes that the pointy end of a car’s limits on track or a curvy road don’t matter, then why the heck do so many people buy the performance variants of cars?

(Read More…)

By on February 15, 2012

A  4.2L V8 making 450 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed dual clutch gearbox. 0-60 in 4.7 seconds. Want to know more about the 2013 Audi RS4 Avant? Hit the jump to get down to the nitty-gritty.

(Read More…)

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