By on September 19, 2017

toyota prius phv gr sport

Toyota is attempting to morph itself into an edgier, bolder, and sexier brand — to varying degrees of success. However, much of the company’s makeover has been purely cosmetic. The exception is Gazoo Racing, the automaker’s motorsport division and new in-house performance arm behind Toyota’s GR-series passenger cars.

Interestingly, Gazoo literally means “image” in Japanese and some of the upgraded models have been about little else. Still, some of the limited edition cars look like hoonable maniacs when compared to the base unit. The supercharged Yaris GRMN (Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring) with over 200 horsepower is a prime example.

Aiming to go more mainstream, Toyota has decided to unfurl a range of GR and GR Sport models that won’t be handicapped by limited production numbers. Among them is the bewildering Prius Prime GR Sport, a hot hatch variant of the economy-minded hybrid. Toyota has officially lost its mind.  (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

2018 Mustang GT, Image: Ford

As evidenced by its constantly evolving truck and SUV lineup, Ford isn’t happy printing the same horsepower and torque figures year after year. Fuel economy and cargo volume are all nice and good, and God knows American consumers love space for unnecessary, child-related crap, but performance cars aren’t dead yet. Nor is the desire for ever more rubber-shredding power.

In the hopes of satisfying those not waiting lustily for the upcoming 1.0-liter EcoSport, engineers at the Blue Oval cranked the power output of its facelifted EcoBoost and GT Mustang variants a few notches higher for 2018. The company’s also making noise about speed. Specifically, the time it takes to reach 60 mph in the 2018 Mustang GT.

Ford claims a 0-60 figure of less than four seconds when equipped with newly available Drag Strip mode — a stunning, if vague, figure that should garner bragging rights if owners are capable of replicating the feat themselves. With no exact 0-60 time given, the 2018 Mustang’s 13.5 cubic-foot trunk provides ample room for those grains of salt. (Read More…)

By on July 1, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey - Image: HondaMinivans. They’re the ultimate family haulers: unpretentious, utilitarian, and usually ugly.

Minivans haven’t been slow in some time. A decade ago, the Honda Odyssey produced 244 horsepower and required fewer than nine seconds to accelerate from nought to 60 miles per hour, hardly the behavior of a contemporaneous Chevrolet Aveo.

But the rate at which minivans have been packing on the ponies and adding gear ratios has evolved quickly over the last year. The Chrysler Pacifica came first, producing horsepower similar to its Pentastar twin from Dodge but adding a handful of gears. 0-60 times dropped to 7.3 seconds.

That was nothing to sneeze at. At least until Toyota made the 2017 Sienna the most powerful van in the segment and linked its 3.5-liter V6 to an eight-speed automatic; at least until Honda launched the 2018 Honda Odyssey with 10 speeds and 280 horsepower. Now the numbers are staggering. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2017

Polestar logo, Image: Volvo Cars

Think of it as a green brand known for producing some very blue cars. Polestar, Volvo’s performance wing, will be spun off into an electrified automaker under a new plan from the Swedish car manufacturer.

Expected to do battle with the likes of Tesla and BMW’s i sub-brand, future Polestars — like their gasoline-powered predecessors — will stake out space in the performance arena, only this time in a different niche. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

2016 Hyundai Veloster Turbo white front, Image: © Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

With the Civic Type R expected to appear on lots any day now, and no end in sight to the continued popularity of the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, consumers can be forgiven for not thinking about the Hyundai Veloster.

The long-in-the-tooth model remains a valuable oddball for the automaker, but it isn’t without its flaws — namely, a super-harsh ride. Still, it’s a quirky model that adds flair in an increasingly conformist marketplace. Hyundai even saw fit to endow the Veloster with a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder in a bid to perk up its little hatch.

Despite falling sales, Hyundai isn’t giving up on the model, and a new report claims the Korean automaker could give the next-generation Veloster a heaping dose of competitiveness in the hot hatch segment. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion Sport Front 3/4, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

“Dad, you need to buy this car!” screamed my godsons from the backseat, needling their Scion xB-driving father with an outburst fueled entirely by speed-induced adrenaline and youthful innocence.

I remember being just a little older than these two kids — I was in Grade 4 to be exact — when a low-budget field trip to nowhere brought me into contact with my kindly homeroom teacher’s adolescent son. Or maybe he was 26? You can’t make a call at that age. Anyway, volunteering-son-of-teacher’s daily driver that day was a Fox-body Ford Mustang GT, gray in color.

Already a tall kid, I folded myself into the backseat, excited to not be confined to the third row of the Caprice (or Safari) wagon hauling seven other classmates to look at frogs or tadpoles or whatever it was that day. Up front, the Mustang’s 5.0-liter V8 roared to life, the clutch dropped, and I suddenly forgot all about the abundance of loose change I’d discovered littering the Stang’s floor.

So, I knew how my godsons felt when I said, “Check this out,” and hoofed the throttle of the new-for-2017 Ford Fusion Sport on the way up to their dad’s cottage. A heavier car this time, but with more power on tap. Far more room, too, and the kind of stealthy anonymity you only really appreciate in the pragmatic embrace of adulthood.

It’s a large-ish midsize domestic family sedan, but kids dig it. The question is: can adults live with it? (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2017

Nissan Sentra NISMO 2017 debuta en el Auto Show de Los Ángeles

Nissan is about to embark on a global expansion plan that would double the number of models wearing the NISMO performance badge. The brand says that it is aware that enthusiasts only make up a small fraction of prospective buyers, but it doesn’t want to ignore them — especially in segments where NISMO hasn’t left much of an impression. For North America, that means trucks. However, Nissan says the it is seriously considering adding the emblem to crossovers, MPVs, and even minivans. Assumedly, since the Quest was retired in 2016, the company is referring to new models.

The timeline for the tuner sub-brand has set for itself wraps in 2020. By then, Nissan wants 100,000 NISMO specific sales annually, up from last year’s 15,000. How it plans to accomplish that is slightly worrying, however.  (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

[Image: FCA]

We won’t bore you with a rehash of the upgrades and advancements bestowed upon the 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, because we already did that last week.

With the ultimate Mopar muscle machine now exposed at the New York International Auto Show, those advancements — and the speculation surrounding the vehicle’s unknowns — fade in comparison to newly released numbers. Power and acceleration figures, to be exact.

This time, the speculation was largely wrong, as the Demon makes more horsepower than we thought. So powerful is this limited-edition beast, it has already been banned from National Hot Rod Association dragstrips. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Sedan at Sebring, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

When Mercedes-Benz brought the W201 platform here as the somewhat oddly named 190E 2.3, it was immediately nicknamed the “baby Benz.” The successor to that car, yclept “C-Class” to fit precisely within Daimler-Benz’s new idiot-compatible nomenclature, became known as the “Cheap-Class” at Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

The car you see above, piloted by Danger Girl at Sebring International Raceway in what was not a violation of the Hertz Dream Cars rental agreement, is no longer baby-sized. Nor is it particularly cheap at the as-tested price of just over $74,000. So what is it, exactly?

Well, it’s absurdly powerful; the Pep-Boys-style block “S” at the end of the C63 badge indicates a full 503 horsepower from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8. It’s remarkably well-equipped, although there are a few omissions about which one could gripe and I’ll discuss those below. It’s as competent as you’d expect, being the top-spec sedan version of a car that is surprisingly decent even in its poverty-spec, MB-Tex-equipped four-cylinder form.

Most of all, however, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a sharp reminder that AMG isn’t what it used to be, for better or for worse.

(Read More…)

By on February 2, 2017

Dodge Demon Crate, Image: [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

The latest video born of the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon teaser saga boasts a “Demon Crate” — a box that comes with 18 components, including parts, spare wheels, a mysterious “Demon Track Pack System,” and tools emblazoned with the Demon logo.

Since we now know how the Demon shed its weight, what extra customization could the “Crate” bring?

(Read More…)

By on February 1, 2017

2018 dodge srt hellcat demon

Things are getting downright kooky in Auburn Hills.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has become quite chatty in the past day, with company spokespersons confirming bizarre new details about the upcoming Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. Apparently, the beastly LX-platform variant is a real stripper.

Yes, to shed as much weight as possible from the Challenger Hellcat’s considerable mass, the mysterious Demon with make do without many of the things we’ve come to associate with modern automobiles.

Including seats. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2017

Chevy SS Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the best choice for that particular model. Here’s a candidate.

The selection for this week’s Ace of Base will likely surprise approximately zero percent of our reading population, given my known affinity for larger-than-necessary engines and interiors which comfortably house Large Persons.

The General introduced the SS arguably as a mea culpa to American gearheads who pined for the dearly departed Pontiac G8 GT. We’ll simply gloss over the missed opportunity which was the G8 ST, an apple pie and bald eagle variant of the excellent Holden Ute in Australia, lest I start weeping onto my keyboard.

(Read More…)

By on January 25, 2017

Ford GT Track

For the longest time, Ford was staunchly resistant to giving up details about the new Ford GT. With the automaker abandoning its 5.4 liter supercharged modular V8 for a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6, everyone wanted to know the numbers. However, anytime someone asked for definitive specifications, Ford shrugged its shoulders. Then, today, the company gave us some numbers and proclaimed the second-generation 3.5-liter as its most powerful production EcoBoost to date, making the Ford GT the company’s fastest car to date.

Hold the phone. Are you telling us that the extremely expensive supercar that Ford specifically engineered to be the fastest vehicle in the company’s entire history somehow managed to out-perform cars like the Fiesta ST and Focus RS on a racetrack?

Absolutely incredible.  (Read More…)

By on December 15, 2016

money (401(k) 2012/Flickr)

For a company that prides itself on clean performance, a massive lawsuit and public claims of less-than-advertised power wasn’t great PR.

Tesla just swept an annoying bit of litigation into the dustbin of history by promising a different kind of green to 126 Norwegian owners, all the while claiming it did nothing wrong. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2016

Alfa-Romeo-Stelvio-1

Automakers have an easy way of determining which new model is guaranteed to make the company money. If the answer to the simple question “Is it an SUV?” is a clear, definite “yes,” well, that’s a good enough indicator for most.

Alfa Romeo knows that in this day and age, not including an SUV in its lineup would be the kiss of death, hence the need for the 2018 Stelvio. Revealed in images on the eve of its Los Angeles Auto Show debut, the Stelvio borrows the face, platform and performance characteristics of its midsize sedan stablemate, the oft-delayed Giulia.

Sporting Italian lines that make vehicles built north of the Alps look frumpy and bureaucratic in comparison, Alfa Romeo also hopes the Stelvio temps buyers with what’s underneath its dress. (Read More…)

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