The Truth About Cars » Performance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 30 Aug 2015 23:20:15 +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 » Performance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com What’s Wrong with Buick, from a Former Buick Owner http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/whats-wrong-with-buick-from-a-former-buick-owner/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/whats-wrong-with-buick-from-a-former-buick-owner/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1140074 We tend to armchair quarterback what’s wrong with specific automotive brands quite a bit in the TTAC comments. Meanwhile, there are people in the real world who get caught up in what’s actually wrong with some of these brands’ products by buying them — for example: the Buick Regal GS. Jeremy writes: I owned a 2013 […]

The post What’s Wrong with Buick, from a Former Buick Owner appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Buick-Regal-GS_17

We tend to armchair quarterback what’s wrong with specific automotive brands quite a bit in the TTAC comments. Meanwhile, there are people in the real world who get caught up in what’s actually wrong with some of these brands’ products by buying them — for example: the Buick Regal GS.

Jeremy writes:

I owned a 2013 Regal GS manual, bought brand new in Jan 2014 and sold (at a loss) on December 31 2014.

This should be good.

The big deal for me, and maybe not other people, is I live in the City of San Francisco. Some of the reason I got rid of it was due to hills and parking issues. 

I never see Regals here in SF — occasionally a Verano or a Lacrosse, but never a Regal. Funny thing: I just spent four days in Michigan and I could not blink without seeing one. 

I’ve replaced it now with a 2012 Mustang (Automatic L).

Things I did not like:

  • The sunroof open was loud – bad wind noise. I don’t think all cars are like this
  • Fucking hill start assist is terrible. Just try parallel parking on a hill with Hill Start Assist.
  • 20 inch low profile tires = Scratch the rims every time I had to park.
  • Hard to parallel park. I can park my Mustang with my eyes closed.
  • The front greenhouse visibility sucked.
    The Buick Infotainment is useless. The navigation is not as good as what’s on my phone, I never use XM, and I could not use the voice recognition features over Bluetooth. If you were playing music over USB, Bluetooth disconnects. Ford SYNC without navigation keeps  Bluetooth connected all the time and interrupts the Now Playing with phone alerts and navigation from the iPhone.
  • The dealer experience was horrible. Maybe it was just who I bought it from, but I was not happy. I had to get a bumper cover replaced — it was hit while it was parked — and the dealer I bought it from told me to take it somewhere else. Seriously.
  • Body Roll!
  • This car was going to be stupid expensive to maintain.

But, it’s not all bad. 

Things I did like:

  • Fast/fun to drive.
  • Handles well.
  • Valets were all like “WTF?!?!” when they got in and saw the 3rd pedal.
  • Electronic parking brake.
  • Comfortable
  • There is actually a tuning community for the Regal.
  • Door locks.
  • Push button start

The Regal and the Verano are almost the same car, and there is not enough to differentiate them to the uninformed general public. The Verano even had a stick, but was at least 10k cheaper. Stuff a V6 in the Regal.

Marketing is their big problem. Why buy a Buick? That’s repeated in the comments over and over and over — but really, why?

They should celebrate the difference of the brand, market to mid-30 somethings, and highlight the stick shift options. Be different. Somehow. Why did I want one?  It was a Stick, it was fast, and no one knew what it was. A great sleeper. Capitalize on that. The Regal GS should have been a halo, and sold as one. Instead it was just expensive.

The Nevada Open Road Challenge should be done every year. It should be on TTAC, Jalopnik, and all over Reddit. You could make one hell of a commercial out of that.

Build a community. Hold track days. Encourage mods, pictures, etc.

Also, the tri-shield should be in color, like it is in China.

That’s all I got.

Jeremy

What do you think, B&B?

The post What’s Wrong with Buick, from a Former Buick Owner appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/whats-wrong-with-buick-from-a-former-buick-owner/feed/ 164
2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-bmw-x6-m-paid-full/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-bmw-x6-m-paid-full/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 15:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1138914 2015 BMW X6 M 4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V-8 with direct injection and variable valve control (567 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 2,000-5,500 rpm)8-speed M Sport automatic 14 city/19 highway/16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG) 16.8 mpg combined, 60 percent highway, 40 percent asshat (Observed, MPG) Tested Options: Driver Assistance Plus – $1,900; Executive […]

The post 2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015BMWX6M-1

2015 BMW X6 M
4.4-liter, twin turbocharged V-8 with direct injection and variable valve control (567 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 553 pounds-feet of torque @ 2,000-5,500 rpm)8-speed M Sport automatic

14 city/19 highway/16 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.8 mpg combined, 60 percent highway, 40 percent asshat (Observed, MPG)

Tested Options: Driver Assistance Plus – $1,900; Executive Package – $4,500; Enhanced Bluetooth and smartphone – $500.

Base Price:
$103,050 w/ $950 destination charge
As Tested Price:
$109,950 w/ $950 destination charge

For most people who find themselves burdened with the choice between fast and big: Salud, you’ve made it somewhere. For the small number of people who scoff at those physical encumbrances: pay your taxes, please. You’re using the road more than the rest of us. 

Imagine, if you can, a Venn diagram of two relatively equal circles representing a traditional buyer’s decision between two cars that, everything else being equal, represent the physical problem of mass and its direct effect on velocity. Two unrelated sets of realities — speed and size — very rarely converge in the physical world, unless those sets are colored Castrol red, Bavarian blue and of course, purple, I guess.

I’m making this point because the BMW X6 M seems, well, kind of pointless. On paper, the big SUV doesn’t scream that it wants to be taken off road (and dent those 21-inch wheels?!) nor does it seem like it wants to go that fast. After all, 5,185 pounds is large enough to have its own weather system.

The curve toward the speed of light, Albert Einstein taught us, gets exponentially steeper toward the top because moving any mass closer to the speed of light requires infinitely greater energy, but I’m not sure that Einstein ever gazed at BMW’s 4.4-liter, twin-scrolling turbocharged V-8 lump under the hood of the X6 M.

2015BMWX6M-7

Powertrain
The mill, which is new despite having the same displacement as the old engine, outputs 567 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque, up 12 horsepower and 53 pound-feet from the last generation. The subdued symphony of turbos and pounding pistons rockets the two-and-a-half ton machine up to 60 mph in about four seconds. Yikes.

Married to a traditional 8-speed automatic, the X6 M swaps cogs fast enough to keep up with its angry motor. The decision to use a normal torque converter instead of a dual-clutch box makes sense for two reasons: first, takeoff is much smoother in the traditional automatic; and second, there’s virtually no benefit to shaving milliseconds in a car that has no business at the track anyway.

Yes, yes, I’ve seen and heard the “can,” but astride the X6 M’s massive shoes and hulking 5,000-pound mass, one really ponders “should.” Chewing through the X6 M’s wide, 325-millimeter rubbers in the rear is no pleasure; you’re defying physics to catch up with the pack, not mastering the machinery.

Since BMW started applying its M badges — and presumably M mechanicals — to SUVs in the States in 2009, more than 20,000 examples have rolled off the lots and on to the streets. That’s hardly commonplace, but it is brisk for a series of cars that cost six figures to start — the X6 M starts at $103,050. The X6 M has company too: Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo, Range Rover’s coming SVR, Maserati’s upcoming unnamed SUV, and Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT8 (and likely Trackhawk) all play in the super-sized performance SUV category for near-to-makes-no-difference $100,000.

The X6 M will play ball with them all, if only because its engine qualifies as one of the engineering marvels of the known universe.

2015BMWX6M-2

Exterior
All of those new competitors forced BMW’s hand to remake the X6 M a little faster than it would have liked, I’m guessing.

You could be forgiven for confusing the second generation from looking pretty similar to the first. This year’s car is barely longer, wider or higher than the outgoing generation, and the 115.5-inch wheelbase is the same. From the side, the two cars are nearly identical — except for the larger wheels, which were 20-inch shoes last time around. This year’s X6 M sports an updated front fascia with a classier grille and sharper snout. Around back, the rear haunches have been overemphasized and it’s squat, quad pipes in the back relay the engine’s quiet riot to the outside world. The wider arches, deeper chin and shouty pipes hint for bystanders at what the impossibly wide tires confirm: the X6 M is a wholly different beast altogether.

If you’re looking for something practical, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for something that looks completely different on the road — well, here’s your steed.

If you asked me what was different from the last generation without much time to prepare, I’d say the rear quarter is the only thing new on the surface. A week later, I still feel the same way. Oh yeah, and the grille, I guess.

2015BMWX6M-9

Interior
Inside the X6 M is the best of what BMW’s upper echelon cars can provide. Soft leathers, comfortable seating and power everything is what we’d expect from a German luxury carmaker, but oh my goodness is it expensive. As a BMW owner, the diverging materials the company is using in their cars sadden me, but I understand why it’s happening.

Not long ago, the parentage was unmistakable in an entry-level BMW and its most expensive model. Nowadays, the difference between an entry-level 320i and this X6 M is the difference between the Four Seasons and an air mattress in your grandmother’s garage. The interior of the X6 M is gorgeous, and it absolutely needs to be.

Rear legroom and headroom is down slightly from the last generation, but anyone who’s buying the X6 M looking for practicality should be scissor-kicked by reality: its rear cargo room is comically small and there’s people you could afford to hire to haul your kids, go to the grocery store and pick up your dry cleaning. If you must: rear legroom is down to 35.6 inches and cargo area is rated at 26.6 cubic feet.

Our tester added ventilated seats, which didn’t work, a connected smartphone harness, which was too small, and a touch-sensitive navigation pad for the infotainment system, which couldn’t read my childish handwriting.

Have I mentioned how god-like the powertrain is?

2015BMWX6M-10

Infotainment
Have I mentioned how god-like the powertrain is?

(In reality, BMW’s 10.2-inch high resolution screen is infinitely sharp and responsive. I prefer Mercedes’ menu navigation and Audi’s newly found compartmentalized approach to infotainment, but BMW’s system is no slouch. The redundant buttons around its clickwheel are easy to memorize and helpful when you’re pushing the car into a mountain corner at 60 mph.)

2015BMWX6M-3

Drive
Behind the wheel, the X6 M is an incremental improvement over the last generation’s car. BMW says a half second was shaved from its 0-60 time and the stopping power has been increased by platter-sized rotors with more stopping power than morning breath, but that’s a minor detail. The X6 M’s biggest improvement, to me, is in its comfortability — or you know, when there are other people in the car.

The three transmission modes, three steering modes, three throttle modes and three damping modes all feature an “easy there, pal” setting that settles the car into a normal routine. That’s useful for when you want to pass a gas station without stopping at it (we observed 16 mpg in hard driving, 19 mpg when we eased off), and when you have kids in the car.

Get it on an open road and dial the car past “easy” and you’ll see how savage it can be. The X6 M is every bit as fun to drive as you’d imagine commanding more than 550 horsepower would be. Rocketing up to speed and maneuvering the car around twisty stuff is more fun than picking on your younger brother, and the X6 M is flatter in the corners than a Kansas accent. You can’t not love this car.

But you can’t test it very well. Despite its ability to hide its weight, the BMW X6 M always surpasses your ability and will never reveal its secret. And it’s secret is that it is fast, but it is very big and can bite back in a big way.

I love that the X6 M exists; I only need fast or big in alternating turns, but I recognize that some of you need both at the same time, to which I say, for nearly $110,000 as tested, you’re more than welcome. You’re just fine right there in the middle.

2015BMWX6M-12 2015BMWX6M-1 2015BMWX6M-2 2015BMWX6M-3 2015BMWX6M-4 2015BMWX6M-5 2015BMWX6M-6 2015BMWX6M-7 2015BMWX6M-8 2015BMWX6M-9 2015BMWX6M-10 2015BMWX6M-11

The post 2015 BMW X6 M Review – Paid in Full appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-bmw-x6-m-paid-full/feed/ 52
Fiat COO: 124 Spider Abarth Will Perform, “Otherwise It Is Useless” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-coo-124-spider-abarth-will-perform-otherwise-it-is-useless/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-coo-124-spider-abarth-will-perform-otherwise-it-is-useless/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 21:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1120233 Remember earlier this month when Mazda MX-5 Miata program chief, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, said if you wanted to complain about the roadster’s lack of power, you could shove it down the aftermarket hole of your choice? Those were good times, two weeks ago. It seems Fiat COO Alfredo Altavilla is of a completely different mindset when it […]

The post Fiat COO: 124 Spider Abarth Will Perform, “Otherwise It Is Useless” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
124 Spider_009

Remember earlier this month when Mazda MX-5 Miata program chief, Nobuhiro Yamamoto, said if you wanted to complain about the roadster’s lack of power, you could shove it down the aftermarket hole of your choice? Those were good times, two weeks ago.

It seems Fiat COO Alfredo Altavilla is of a completely different mindset when it comes to their own MX-5-derived 124 Spider, specifically any version of the car wearing a scorpion badge.

“You like performance? There will be an Abarth version [of the 124 Spider],” Altavilla confirmed to AutoExpress.

“Abarth is all about performance, and so I’ve told my team to stop working on colors and trims. Any new version of an Abarth car should deliver some sort of a performance enhancement, otherwise it is useless.”

An Abarth-tuned 124 Spider would complement a “comfortable” base model for the reborn nameplate.

The first Fiat 124 Spiders are expected to arrive in the U.S. next year.

The post Fiat COO: 124 Spider Abarth Will Perform, “Otherwise It Is Useless” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-coo-124-spider-abarth-will-perform-otherwise-it-is-useless/feed/ 39
Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115433 It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota. Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in […]

The post Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota.

Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in the BRZ is to give us what we want.

Maybe.

Speaking on Autoline Detroit (via AutoGuide), Doll said: “We may have to do some things to (the BRZ) to enhance the driving performance a little more; take it up a little bit. Because I think that’s one of the learnings we’ve seen out of that vehicle, if it had a little bit more performance to it, it could really take up the sales level even more.”

Earlier this year, officials at Subaru confirmed a STI-branded BRZ would go on sale in the United States, but didn’t reveal specs or additions beyond the current car.

In addition to admitting the BRZ needs more performance — whether that means bumping up the power or giving the car some other tweaks — Doll also mentioned a second generation of the BRZ is still up in the air and wholly dependent on the intentions of executives in Japan.

A second-generation BRZ may also depend on Toyota. It’s been rumored the larger Japanese manufacturer is envious of the new Mazda MX-5 Miata — so much so that they’d be willing to use the architecture for the next Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S. If that’s the case, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

The post Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/feed/ 85
Piston Slap: What’s so Hellabad about Hellaflush? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100985   Casey writes: Hello Sajeev, I had a coworker who had an older Acura NSX that was lowered. He complained about having to buy new tires because they were worn on the inside edge (down to the belts!). He had, what I thought to be, extreme negative camber due to an improper lowering. He said […]

The post Piston Slap: What’s so Hellabad about Hellaflush? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

983841_10152678794963269_545388958358539097_n

Nice, Slammed, eXtreme? (photo courtesy: www.nsxprime.com)

Casey writes:

Hello Sajeev,

I had a coworker who had an older Acura NSX that was lowered. He complained about having to buy new tires because they were worn on the inside edge (down to the belts!). He had, what I thought to be, extreme negative camber due to an improper lowering. He said it was supposed to be like that. I have seen other cars running the negative camber and I’ve seen cars that were lowered without. So question, is there a reason to run extreme negative camber or is this just a bad lowering job? 

Sajeev answers:

I agree with your assessment. Very few, if any, performance cars come from the factory aligned aggressively enough to wear tires that unevenly. I reckon that NSX was lowered, tweaked to reflect well upon the Stancenation. To live the Hellaflush lifestyle! To embrace the image of performance, without necessarily improving actual performance.

No seriously, facades are awesome like that. Because I’d be a hypocrite if I said otherwise.

New Cadillacs and Lincolns = Cooler in Houston

Now to make inferences, and foolishly justify them.

There’s always a reason for this: a subtle lowering can improve performance and stance at the same time. On an NSX? Probably not, since it isn’t a buffalo-butted, blunt nosed family sedan jacked up to the sky by the factory. I reckon the fastest NSX on a less-than-perfect track has the factory ride height with a slightly more aggressive wheel alignment. A hellaflush NSX will lose…if that was the point.

It’s totally not the point. We all have a need to look cool, even those who claim otherwise in the comments section below. To wit, I put 1.5″ front lowering springs (factory spring rate) from these guys on my Fox Cougar to both look cool with my 17×8.5″ reproduction Cobra wheels and retain factory-like ride/handling traits. The rears have a small (1/8″) spacer because of the mishmash between wheel offset and new axles from a rear disc brake conversion. All this effort for a modest lowering job is important on a suspension as half-baked as a Fox body Ford.

I avoided the “improper” or “bad lowering job” you mentioned. Well, at least I think so.

Some folks think more aggressive suspension and wheel/tire modifications add extra cool factor to their lives. Perhaps I might be one of them, even if I bristle at the sight of most Hellaflush rides. But Hellaflush riders certainly don’t give a shit about what you or I think.

So let your coworker buddy enjoy his cool looking NSX. If you can’t resist the urge to twist the knife, take him to a track day and let serious racers give him an education that he might deserve. Or not.

UPDATE: TTAC commentator “Sketch” corrected me about the NSX’s factory tire wear issues, sadly my Google-fu failed us all. My apologies. 

 

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.

The post Piston Slap: What’s so Hellabad about Hellaflush? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-whats-hellabad-hellaflush/feed/ 61
2015 BMW M235i Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076194 We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular. The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than […]

The post 2015 BMW M235i Review (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 BMW M235i Exterior1

We’ve talked about BMW’s portfolio expanding faster than an American on a midwest diet before, but I’m going to do it again because it’s the key to understanding the 2-series in general and the M235i in particular.

The M235i is not an M2, it is not a 235i M Sport, and it is more than the former 135is. Are you confused yet? The M235i is the first of BMW’s “M Performance” vehicles which are not to be confused with “M Sport.”

Here’s how BMW’s new four-tier system works:

Things start with M Sport which is a “looks fast/handles well” package, then we get “is” which adds a dollop of performance, followed by the new M Performance where we put M in front of a three digit model number (M235i) denoting increased power, improved handling, improved braking and suspension tweaks, before going full-on-M.

In theory, the full treatment includes body modifications like wheel well enlargements, carbon fiber bits and a dual-clutch transmission. If you’re not totally confused yet, continue reading.

OK, so we have an M that’s not an M, but there’s more you should know. The only “35” version of the 2-Series is the M235i. While the other sport variants exist in BMW’s lineup, they don’t all exist in the same model, so there is no 235i M Sport and no 235is. The other thing to know is the 2-Series is very closely related to the current generation BMW 3-Series and 4-Series, sharing crash structures, large portions of the engine bay, suspension design themes and even interior components. In some ways you could even say BMW now has two different coupé and two different convertible versions of the 3-Series. That last part is important because the M235i weighs 3,535 pounds, just 100 pounds less than the 435i. More amazing is the four-door 335i is just 60 pounds heavier.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior-005

The Competition
The 2-Series lacks natural competition, but this time it’s not part of BMW’s diabolical plan. By shrinking the 3-Series and removing two doors, the 2-Series is the only RWD entry in a sea of European front drivers. While that’s not too much of a problem if you are buying a car for weekend wine tasting, it is a big differentiator when we’re talking performance metal. Therefore, I put the CLA45 AMG, Audi S3 and Euro-only RS3 in a different category. The forthcoming Mercedes C-Class coupé will compete with the 4-Series and the Porsche Cayman and Cayman S lack rear seats. If you want a small RWD luxury coupé with a back seat, this is it.

If you don’t like my re-categorization of the CLA45, ponder this: it’s the same size as the Volvo S60 Polestar, delivers similar horsepower and is based on a FWD vehicle just like the Volvo. Would you stick the S60 in the M235i mash-up? I thought not.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-003

Exterior
Although related to the 335i and weighing about the same, the M235i is notably more compact. At 175.9 inches long, our tester was nearly eight inches shorter than a 3-Series sedan or 4-Series coupé. Think of the 2-Series as the modern 318i. The lower, wider, longer look of the 2-Series certainly looks more elegant and refined than the older 1-Series, but I always thought the cartoonish proportions of the 1 were part of the charm.

Like the 318i, the 2-Series is the discount entry point for traditional BMW shoppers. We have the familiar kidney grille up front and the classic BMW side profile with a long hood and a perky trunk. The biggest clue to the 228i’s low starting price is out back where we get one-piece tail lamps that are part of the body instead of the split design where half of the lamp is on the trunk. This design change reduces costs while simultaneously reducing the dimensions of the trunk opening.

2015 BMW M235i Interior-001

Interior
At $32,100, the 2-Series is one of the least expensive BMWs in the USA, so you shouldn’t be surprised that it also has one of the least luxurious BMW interiors. That said, the 2-Series’ interior is closer to the 4-Series than you’d think in overall materials quality and fit-and-finish despite being $8,200 less expensive. (What does that say about the 4-Seires?) Compared to your average mass market vehicle around $30,000, the 2-Series’ interior looks better put together, but the luxury move toward pleather in base models still strikes me as a false economy.

M235i models get BMW’s comfortable sport seats as standard with power adjustable side bolsters, 4-way lumbar and a manually extending thigh cushion for both the driver and front passenger. Taller drivers will want to consider deleting the sunroof as seat comfort is epic but headroom is limited. Surprisingly, there’s almost as much space in the back seat as you’ll find in the 4-Series despite the wheelbase shrinking a few inches vs its bigger cousin. In fact, the 435i’s spec sheet claims just 7/10ths of an inch more room. Although the size difference between the 2 and the 4 can be explained by the smaller trunk, it’s only about one cube smaller leaving me to wonder where the eight-inch-stretch goes.

If the 2 and 4 are similarly sized inside, why get the 4? It’s all about features. BMW doesn’t offer heads up displays, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping systems or radar cruise control on the M235i for any price. 2-Series models also lack the range of color and trim options and the optional all-around camera you find on the 4. Also, while BMW describes the leather the same way on both models, the leather on a dealer provided 428i felt softer.

2015 BMW M235i Interior-005

Infotainment
The 2-Series gets essentially the same infotainment options as the 3-series and 4-series. Like the 3 and 4, basic Bluetooth and USB/iDevice support is standard. For $500 BMW adds the ability to pair two phones at the same time, browse your Bluetooth media library, voice command contacts and music, and use the BMW Mobile Office software. (Calendars, voice memos, emails, tasks, etc.) This “Enhanced USB” package used to be bundled with BMW’s navigation software, but not for 2015. If you want all that functionality and navigation, add that to the $2,150 navigation package that also adds smartphone app integration. The current app suite allows you to Facebook, tweet and stream internet radio from your iPhone to the car’s radio. Although iDrive is the most expensive infotainment system in this small segment, the tasteful high-res graphics, fast interface and superior phone integration also make this the system to beat – if you can afford it.

Because of the 2-Series’ entry-level position in the BMW line-up, the up-level sound system delivers 360-watts and 12-speakers instead of 600-watts and 16 speakers as in the 4-Series.

2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-001

Drivetrain
228i models use BMW’s familiar 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder tuned to 240 horsepower and 255 lb-ft while M235i models get a tweaked version of BMW’s single-turbo inline six. The 320 horsepower is the same as the outgoing 135is while torque bumps up to 330 lb-ft. If you opt for rear wheel drive, both engines are mated to your choice of a 6-speed manual transmission or a ZF 8-speed automatic. Sadly, selecting BMW’s xDrive system nixes the manual.

The availability of xDrive in M Performance models can be seen as a way to placate all-wheel drive fans while keeping “true” M models pure. Purity aside, driving all four wheels is the fastest way to speed with the M235i xDrive scooting to 60 mph 2/10ths faster than the RWD model. Purists will likely want to wait for the M2 which should be tuned to between 360 and 370 ponies.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-002

Drive
The M235i offers an interesting dilemma for the driving enthusiast. If you want the fastest model, that’s the one with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The slowest is the rear wheel drive model with the manual. My how times have changed. What hasn’t changed is the most fun is had in the row-it-yourself rear driver. Our tester scooted to 60 in 5.0 seconds, which is a hair behind BMW’s quoted 4.8 seconds, mainly because traction is an issue and I wasn’t as willing to roast the clutch as some. Get the 8-speed auto and the sprint drops to 4.6 seconds. The AWD M235i xDrive will accomplish the task in 4.4. That’s faster than the S3 and, depending on the transmission, a hair faster than Mercedes’ CLA45 AMG. Thanks to the 200 pounds gained compared to the outgoing 135is, the M235i’s extra twist doesn’t compensate and it’ll be a hair slower. Want a Cayman that fast? Be prepared to shell out for a Cayman S, GTS or GT4.

Although the M235i weighs about the same as the 335i and the 435i, BMW manages to make it feel different out on the road. The quick steering rack, slightly shorter wheelbase and tweaked suspension design make the M235i feel more nimble. You’ll notice I said feel. If you put the same rubber on a 435i that our M235i wore, it’d likely post identical skidpad numbers. Anyway you slice it, the old 1M will out-handle the M235i. The combination of electric power steering and BMW’s variable gear ratio steering rack (dubbed Variable Sport Steering) can make the M235i twitchy and a hair lifeless at highway speeds. That said, the RWD M235i has more steering feedback and better poise than the front-heavy CLA45 or S3 can ever hope for. Adding AWD to the M235i doesn’t make it feel like a CLA45 or S3. The CLA45 and S3 have to keep the center coupling locked most of the time in order to avoid FWD dynamics, while the M235i xDrive keeps the power to the rear unless its needed up front.

2015 BMW M235i Shifter

All M235i models get BMW’s adaptive M suspension tuned more towards the daily driver side of things than I expected. Drop the suspension into Sport mode and things firm up, but no mode in this suspension will make it as hard as the M4, something I’m grateful for. While this also means a hair more tip, dive and body roll than a “true M car,” it means the M235i xDrive is a 4.4 second daily driver – rain or shine.

Because BMW has been slowly morphing into the new Mercedes, none of what I have said so far surprised me. What did surprise me was the M235i’s price tag. Priced between $43,100 for a base RWD model with either transmission and $55,825 for a fully loaded AWD model, the BMW seriously undercuts the spendy CLA45 AMG and is just $2,000 more than the slower Audi S3. The Porsche Cayman is almost as different from the M235i as the CLA45 AMG is, but be prepared to spend at least $20,000 more on a Cayman if you want similar performance figures.

2015 BMW M235i Exterior

BMW has created one of the best performance buys around with the M235i. But, if you’re looking for a light, “chuckable” BMW, you will need to keep waiting. The M235i is a hoot, but like most modern BMWs, it’s more grand tourer than sports car.

After a week with the M235i, one thought came to my mind: this is the perfect Mercedes SLK. It’s faster and more fun than an SLK 350, significantly less expensive without feeling that much cheaper, and has a usable back seat. This isn’t the raw and direct coupé BMW enthusiasts are longing for, and that’s exactly why I like it. As much as I appreciated my time with the 6-speed rear wheel drive M235i, I have to admit if my money were on the line I would buy the M235i xDrive. I still think that the myriad of BMW performance trims is insane and confusing, yet I have to wonder what a 500 horsepower M550i xDrive would be like.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.3 Seconds

0-60: 5.0 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.8 Seconds @ 106 MPH

2015 BMW M235i Cargo Pass Thru 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Engine.CR2-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior.CR2-003 2015 BMW M235i Exterior 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-001 2015 BMW M235i Exterior1 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-002 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-003 + 2015 BMW M235i Exterior-005 2015 BMW M235i Gauges 2015 BMW M235i Gauges-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior.CR2-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior 2015 BMW M235i Interior-001 2015 BMW M235i Interior-002 2015 BMW M235i Interior-003 2015 BMW M235i Interior-005 2015 BMW M235i Shifter 2015 BMW M235i Trunk 2015 BMW M235i Trunk-001

The post 2015 BMW M235i Review (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-bmw-m235i-review-video/feed/ 84
Nissan IDx is Super-Dead, But Parts May Live On in FWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072786 Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx. That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z. While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview […]

The post Nissan IDx is Super-Dead, But Parts May Live On in FWD Platform appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept

Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx.

That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z.

While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview in Nashville, Tennessee, we had a chance to prod Loing on what could be the future of IDx considering its overwhelmingly positive reception in Tokyo and Detroit.

Nissan IDx Freeflow / IDx NISMO

“IDX is an interesting project; a show car that received good reception. But, to go from concept to production, the reality always kicks in,” Loing said about the future of IDx as we saw it revealed in Tokyo.

The reality is auto manufacturers are finding it difficult – or impossible – to build a small, rear-wheel drive performance vehicle and make money. Either a current platform, like that of the 370Z, needs to be shrunk down, or a whole new platform needs to be engineered to serve one niche vehicle.

2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Unfortunately, at least for Nissan, the 370Z platform isn’t an option.

“Small, sporty cars are very attractive for consumers but not in huge numbers. To do them properly – in our case – you can’t rely on an existing rear-wheel drive platform, because its dimensions are for a much larger powertrain. So, for us, it would mean developing a different rear-wheel drive platform and then we are bumping into the same obstacles every other automaker has: the volumes of a small, sporty car are not enough to justify the investment,” said Loing.

With the current Z doing quite well, at least in the eyes of Nissan as top-dollar NISMO models make up nearly 20 percent of units sold, going down-market is going against the market. Also, based on Loing’s remarks about size, it doesn’t look like we will be getting a smaller Z car next time around.

But, since it was the IDx’s design garnering the most attention, could it transfer to something else?

“It wouldn’t be the same design because, of course, the proportions are based on a rear-wheel drive platform,” Loing explained. “But that kind of retro 510 inspired design was very well received in Japan and in the U.S. (when Nissan debuted in Tokyo and Detroit), and to some extent in Europe as well. So, yeah, that could be an option – among other ones, it could be an option.

“I think we may still have some room (to add a retro-inspired car). We have a wide lineup.”

And with the new Maxima pumping out 300 horsepower to the front wheels alone, a FWD performance compact is possible.

Renault Megane RS 275

“If you look at the Alliance, Renault has some extremely strong front-wheel drive cars that are very sporty; Megane RenaultSport, for example, holds the front-wheel drive record on the Nurburgring. So, yes, it is possible within the limitations of front-wheel drive today.”

But, is that something Nissan is considering? Loing held his cards close to his vest.

“You will have to come back in a few years to see if it has materialized or not. *laughs* But, we do show cars to test reactions all the time, so those reactions are included in the debate on future global products. Sometimes they will be the deciding factor to go one way or another. Sometimes they won’t.”

The post Nissan IDx is Super-Dead, But Parts May Live On in FWD Platform appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/feed/ 46
Edmunds: Millennials Savvier Car Shoppers Via Mobile Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/edmunds-millennials-savvier-car-shoppers-via-mobile-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/edmunds-millennials-savvier-car-shoppers-via-mobile-technology/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1032593 According to a study, Millennials not only prefer to shop for cars via mobile devices, but also at the dealership. Per Edmunds, who commissioned the study earlier this year, 73 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 34 proclaim to be more knowledgeable about the car-buying process than their parents, while over half “actively advise their […]

The post Edmunds: Millennials Savvier Car Shoppers Via Mobile Technology appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Millennials In The Back Of A Subaru BRAT

According to a study, Millennials not only prefer to shop for cars via mobile devices, but also at the dealership.

Per Edmunds, who commissioned the study earlier this year, 73 percent of Millennials aged 18 to 34 proclaim to be more knowledgeable about the car-buying process than their parents, while over half “actively advise their friends and family” on the process, compared to 37 percent of older Americans.

The study says this is due to the generation’s profieciency with mobile devices in researching the vehicles of their choice prior to purchase, from reading reviews and researching prices, to tracking down models for sale. Eighty percent of Millennials were found to have used such tactics for at least one shopping task.

Meanwhile, 64 percent stated they “valued the in-dealership experience” of face-to-face interaction with dealers, and 96 percent said that it was important to test-drive a vehicle before purchase. Purchases skew towards the used market, where 78 percent of Millennials go for their purchases, 72 percent have considered EVs or hybrids, and 66 percent hope to one day own a car that does all the driving for them.

Regarding technology, while smartphone integration and Wi-Fi are important, such features rank behind price, fuel economy and performance.

The study consisted of two surveys conducted in January and March of 2015, with 1,500 and 1,000 adults between 18 and 34 years of age who made a vehicle purchase within the previous three months polled.

The post Edmunds: Millennials Savvier Car Shoppers Via Mobile Technology appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/edmunds-millennials-savvier-car-shoppers-via-mobile-technology/feed/ 37
Piston Slap: Mazda’s Rust and Tire Size Trust Gap? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-mazdas-rust-tire-size-trust-gap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-mazdas-rust-tire-size-trust-gap/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:42:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=939433 Greg writes: Hello Sajeev, David Holzman says I should write to you about my Mazda concerns. 1. Concern #1. In two out of three dealers there was significant rust at the center of the wheels due to the wheel caps not having been put on. I only took three pictures, but essentially: at New Country […]

The post Piston Slap: Mazda’s Rust and Tire Size Trust Gap? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
0821141123

Curb Appeal? (photo courtesy: Greg)

Greg writes:

Hello Sajeev, David Holzman says I should write to you about my Mazda concerns.

1. Concern #1. In two out of three dealers there was significant rust at the center of the wheels due to the wheel caps not having been put on. I only took three pictures, but essentially: at New Country Mazda in Saratoga Springs NY 100% of the Mazdas had no wheelcaps on in the lot and were all showing various degrees of rust. That includes the one in the showroom, you can see it in the pic with the tile floor.

I only took three pictures, I wasn’t intending to do a 60 minutes expose. The other two pictures were taken at Orange Motors in Albany NY. At Orange Motors about 40% of the cars had no wheel caps. One had light rust and the other shows advanced penetration of the surface–not quite sure what we’re looking at, an axle nut and lug of some sort maybe–but this is rust that won’t wipe off, on a 2015 Mazda 6, and I don’t have anything comparable on my 2004 Corolla. Yes, I know that brakes get rusty–I see what’s going on every time I change my tires in the winter and spring–but I just don’t have anything like this.

I contacted Mazda North America with the pictures but they are extremely non-committal. I find it odd that a car company would be happy with dealers’ not installing wheel caps and showing rust on the show room floor. But that’s just me.

So the question: should this issue be a deterrent to purchasing a Mazda 6?

2. Concern #2. While I was talking to the Mazda North America “marketing experience” rep (the title was something like that) I indicated that I was having a hard time getting a dealer to commit to the idea of selling me the intermediate trim level Mazda 6 (the Touring) with 17″ alloy rims instead of 19″. The reason I am concerned is that currently tirerack.com is showing only two available tires for the Mazda 6. I would prefer series 55 to series 45 tires in order to have increased protection from the abundant pot holes in my area. But the OEM default for the Touring and Grand Touring is series 45. Not only are the series 45 tires less protective, they increase road noise and all seem to have low 200 to 300 tread wear ratings. But if you have series 55 tires you have about two dozen different choices, with a wide range of prices as well as considerable choice in speed and wear ratings.

One dealer indicated that he might be willing to switch the rims and tires from a Sport to a Touring to accommodate my request, but the Mazda North America rep said this was not recommended because of some design differences in the undercarriage between the Touring and Sport models. Is that true? I was not able to get detailed information from the rep who seemed to be more of a marketing person.

This is not just a question about the tires. If I want certain things that seem like a good idea, such as a back up camera, and I really need to stick to the “Sport” trim level to get 17″ rims, then I can’t get a manual transmission and also have the back up camera. So I’m thinking hard about the Accord LX manual, but the lack of a 60/40 split rear seat makes it tough for me, that’s a feature that I need from time to time, and when I need it I really need it.

Anyhow I’m wondering why Mazda is being so coy about 17″ rims on the Touring trim level, and it is also important for me to figure this out because I would like to get some steel rims with snow tires for the winter months. Here the choice of snow tires is also sharply limited in 19″ alloy rims, but 17″ steel is pretty easy to find snow tires for. And of course steel makes more sense for winter use.

Hope that’s not all too complicated.

Thanks,
Greg

Sajeev answers:

Let’s get to it.

Concern 1: Not a concern.  While it is bizarre that Mazdas are displayed sans center caps, that rust is on the hub. Not the wheel, behind the wheel.  Hubs (or brake rotors with integral hubs) are not rustproofed like other items, because these thick metal castings need 100+ rusty years for actual damage.  Just like surface rust on an engine block, it means nothing.

0821141329Not buying a Mazda 6 for this reason is silly.  And let’s hope the rust issues from 5+ years ago are history.

Concern 2: One man can’t make a difference.  No matter the groundswell seen in my inbox and the last few Piston Slaps revealing a sad new Truth About Cars: big wheels and low profile tires are kinda seriously dumb.

Forget about the base model wheels on a higher trimmed model.  And don’t rock the boat, nobody at the factory wants to say anything to make YOU happy that’ll get THEM in hot water.  Until smaller wheels (and bigger sidewalls) become a must-have feature, the bigger ones will continue to boost the profit margins of all manufacturers. (not just Mazda)

Your dealer (or the aftermarket) offers the right move: 17″ wheels with the correct minus sized tire (discussed here) will give you the same circumference and a similar (probably the same) footprint.  The “not recommended because of some design differences in the undercarriage between the Touring and Sport models” is hard to verify without seeing in person (or asking a Mazda PR rep) but I doubt it. Again, see my comment about non-committal statements to save one’s own bacon.

You can’t blame someone for toeing the company line to keep their job…can you? We’ve all been there!

The real question we need to answer is twofold:

  • When will manufacturers abandon tall bodies that need tall wagon wheels and pointless sidewalls?  
  • When will they offer more diverse options for buyers who refuse to be pigeonholed by restrictive trim packages? 

That requires a serious commitment from high level execs for cash (design new cars with old car proportioning) and…well honestly I don’t know who would approve the solution to the latter. Good luck with that.

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. 

The post Piston Slap: Mazda’s Rust and Tire Size Trust Gap? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/piston-slap-mazdas-rust-tire-size-trust-gap/feed/ 99
Piston Slap: A Scion’s Ideal All Season Tire? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-8/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:10:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935850 TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes: Hi, Sanjeev! The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs […]

The post Piston Slap: A Scion’s Ideal All Season Tire? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
wheels-Scion-tC-blogSpan

TTAC Commentator Sam Hell Jr. writes:

Hi, Sanjeev!

The first car I bought for myself was a 2011 Scion tC. Compared with some other decisions I made three years ago (cough, cough, career in human resources, cough), this one’s turned out okay — to date, I’ve put 40k on the odo with no repair costs but regular maintenance, and the hatchback utility and decent fuel economy have both matched up well with my needs. I’ll probably have the tC paid off this year, and I’m looking forward to debt-free living, so the car and I are stuck with each other for some time to come.

My biggest complaint is with the car’s interstate manners. I take a handful of significant road trips every year, and at freeway speeds on anything but pristine pavement (of the kind one does not often traverse on I-80), the ride gets jittery, and the tire noise is, well, tiresome.

I’m still running the stock 225/45R18 high-performance Toyos; based on the treadwear, I’ll be shopping for tires sometime in the next 12 months. I’m willing to trade some responsiveness for a little more comfort and quiet.

Would moving over to a grand touring tire like a Michelin Primacy be a reasonable option for me? Or would I just turn my noisy econohatch into a noisy econohatch with less-capable handling? (All-seasons are my only option — I live in northwest Ohio, and I don’t have anywhere to store a second set of tires.)

Follow-up question — are there some other reasonable steps I’m overlooking which might make this car a little less Celica and a little more Solara?

Thanks so much for your time — I’m a big fan of your columns!

Sajeev writes:

You don’t like being in command of people’s careers as An Almighty HR Professional?  I enjoy blackmailing certain super-cheaty racers as a judge in The 24 Hours of LeMons. You can do that too!

Just get the dirt on key executives, or middle managers hot-to-trot up the corporate ladder. Think about it: you could be bribing your way to a 2-car garage with ultra-plush Mercury Grand Marquis levels of comfort in a matter of months. After a year, LSX-FTW swap on both vehicles! Problem solved!

Sanjeev writes:

Oh that’s just lovely advice, you are such a wise man.  No wonder everyone wants ME to answer their letters, even with YOUR mindless rantings in tow. My friends: listen to Sanjeev.  Sanjeev knows Toyotas.

Sanjeev knows that your tires are old enough to need replacement, no matter their tread life.  Their noise level is tiresome, quite common for worn-out high performance rubber.  You can probably downsize to a Scion/Corolla 16 or 17″ wheel for maximum effect, maybe you’ll regret the lack of coolness in your cool Scion-branded Toyota. Why is Sanjeev right about this?  Because he did a mere tire change after Sajeev failed in his choice for his mother’s Lexus GS430.

Sajeev put a “high performance” all season tire, they drove everyone nuts after 3 years.  So Sanjeev wisely installed a less aggressive “touring” all season tire. Now everyone is happy. Because now it’s a proper V8-powered Lexus, with tires that will last longer, ride better (probably) and stay quieter. So, with Sanjeev’s blessings, switch to a more conservative all season tire!

 

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.

The post Piston Slap: A Scion’s Ideal All Season Tire? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/piston-slap-8/feed/ 42
Piston Slap: Run Flat Tires and Parties A, B, C http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-run-flat-tires-parties-b-c/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-run-flat-tires-parties-b-c/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:25:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920929   TTAC commentator WheelMcCoy writes: Hi Sajeev, With MINIs, fun is directly proportional to repair bills. A couple with a 2009 MINI Cooper S bought an extended warranty which expires in February 2015. They hope to sell their MINI around then, but the run flat tires are worn down to their wear bars. To tide […]

The post Piston Slap: Run Flat Tires and Parties A, B, C appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

(photo courtesy: new.minimania.com)

TTAC commentator WheelMcCoy writes:

Hi Sajeev,

With MINIs, fun is directly proportional to repair bills. A couple with a 2009 MINI Cooper S bought an extended warranty which expires in February 2015. They hope to sell their MINI around then, but the run flat tires are worn down to their wear bars. To tide them over for 6 or 7 months, I suggested they buy some good handling low tread wear all season tires (they are in the Northeast) and an air compressor with goo. With normal tires, I’d argue they’d enjoy their MINI even more and might even want keep it after the extended warranty. But they are inclined on getting expensive run-flats to not hurt the resale value. Most likely, they will trade-in rather than sell on their own.

Appreciate your input and any alternatives we haven’t considered.

Sajeev answers:

Be it friendly advice on cars, careers, love, or whatever, a conversation between Party A and Party B about Party C is often a waste of everyone’s time.

I am not telling you to mind your own business. Far from it!  Just make sure they aren’t getting reamed on the replacement tires’ price. That is, they need help saving money on the tires they want.

Considering the repair bills and America’s love of new vehicles, I reckon your (valid) truth isn’t applicable to your friends. If they want to trade in, instead help them get the most cash for the least effort.  That said, depending on where (and when) they trade in, the receiving party might not notice the tire type. But if they trade MINI for MINI, go ahead and get factory tires.

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. 

The post Piston Slap: Run Flat Tires and Parties A, B, C appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/piston-slap-run-flat-tires-parties-b-c/feed/ 85
Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754369 Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings. Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are […]

The post Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Exterior-004

Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings.

Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are Japanese, while the two top Detroit brands — Buick and GMC — tied for 12th; Ford and Jeep tied for last place.

The top-rated brand for the second consecutive year was Lexus, scoring 79 out of 100 for their lineup deemed “quiet, plush, and very reliable” by Consumer Reports. Following the luxury brand were Acura, Audi, Subaru and Toyota (tied for fourth place), Mazda, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW and Volvo (tied for 10th).

As for where the remaining Detroit Three brands landed, Chrysler took up the 14th position while Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge and the aforementioned Ford and Jeep rounding out the bottom of the rankings behind Nissan, the lowest ranked Japanese brand in a tie with Volkswagen for 19th.

Ford and Jeep’s dead-last ranking is the result of technology woes for the former’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, and a “crude and outdated” lineup — including a Grand Cherokee suffering from weakened reliability, and a Cherokee that the magazine says “isn’t that competitive” — for the latter. Ford, in particular, is a “sad story” according to CR director of auto testing Jake Fisher:

The Ford Fusion, not only does it look, but it drives like a good European sports car. It really does. The problem is the reliability, and that’s what’s dragging down that brand.

Meanwhile, Fisher notes that if General Motors had “a whole lineup of Impalas,” considered the best large sedan based on road tests conducted by the magazine, the automaker would be at the top of the rankings. Overall, Fisher believes the Detroit Three as a whole are “going the right way” in terms of reliability and performance.

Regarding individual models, the Ram 1500 was rated the Best Pickup over the Silverado/Sierra twins in part due to the lack of reliability information for the latter two, while Hyundai captured the trophy Best Mid-Size SUV for their Santa Fe, Subaru holding off the Honda CR-V with their Forester for Best Small SUV, and Tesla, whose Model S holds the highest overall score ever given by the magazine: 99 out of 100, takes home the Overall trophy.

The post Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/feed/ 199
2015 Ford Mustang “Body in White” Coming w/ Ford 9″ Axle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/2015-ford-mustang-body-in-white-coming-w-ford-9-axle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/2015-ford-mustang-body-in-white-coming-w-ford-9-axle/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:32:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=682578 I was there when Ford debuted its new-for-1999 Mustang Cobra with its “revolutionary” new independent rear suspension. The IRS was a first for the Ford Mustang, and it was a move that Ford’s brass believed would allow the “new edge” Cobra to compete with cars like the BMW M3 for supremacy in the budget super […]

The post 2015 Ford Mustang “Body in White” Coming w/ Ford 9″ Axle appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Mustang

I was there when Ford debuted its new-for-1999 Mustang Cobra with its “revolutionary” new independent rear suspension. The IRS was a first for the Ford Mustang, and it was a move that Ford’s brass believed would allow the “new edge” Cobra to compete with cars like the BMW M3 for supremacy in the budget super car market. I also remember the very first question that was asked: Will a Ford 9″ bolt in? It was the first question, right out of the box … and it seems like someone at Ford remembers. The new-for-2015 Mustang is going to hit dealers with a new independent rear suspension late next year, and it seems like Ford Racing will have a 9″ live axle option ready.

According to a Ford Racing employee at PRI, the live-axle version of the 2015 Ford Mustang is expected to debut at next year’s PRI show as part of a new “body in white” program intended to attract serious racers to the platform. The body in white 2015 Mustang will also serve to take some of the shine off of bitter rival Chevrolet’s current COPO Camaro and body in white Camaro programs.

Once the live-axle 2015 Mustang racers are out “in the wild”, the parts needed to convert street-going Mustangs from independent rear suspensions to the 9″ setup should become available through Ford Racing and participating dealers. Back in 1999, SVT engineer Eric Zinkosky said the “new independent rear suspension (was packaged) in not only the same space as the solid-axle design, but we had to use the same suspension mounting points. We virtually ‘reverse-engineered’ the IRS from the known suspension hardpoints, and we had to keep everything inside the same box.” Assuming similar thinking went into the upcoming Ford Racing 9″ suspension for the bodies in white, getting a solid axle to help get a high-horsepower Ecoboost Mustang’s power down should be a lot easier than many have feared.

 

About my source: While I have opted to not give his name, this information came to me from a Ford Racing employee on-hand at the 2013 PRI Show yesterday, 12DEC2013, when I asked if I could look under the hood of the (supposedly) 4 cyl. Ecoboost Mustang spinning on the big lazy Susan at the Ford Racing stand. He said no. I told another PRI old-timer the story about the 1999 Cobra IRS reveal, which the Ford Racing rep overheard. He laughed and said, “Yeah, that’s not ’til next year. We’ll probably announce it at the same time as the body in white program …” but he got called away before he could say “That’s off the record.” Take that how you will.

 

Originally published on Gas 2.

The post 2015 Ford Mustang “Body in White” Coming w/ Ford 9″ Axle appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/2015-ford-mustang-body-in-white-coming-w-ford-9-axle/feed/ 78
Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-with-video/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2013 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=666978 If you want a high performance SUV today, you’re left with relatively little choice. GM hasn’t dabbled in the market since their Trailblazer SS / Saab 9-7 Aero and Ford never even gave it a try with the old Explorer. That means your only options for ridiculously fast boxes on wheels come from BMW, Porsche, […]

The post Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

If you want a high performance SUV today, you’re left with relatively little choice. GM hasn’t dabbled in the market since their Trailblazer SS / Saab 9-7 Aero and Ford never even gave it a try with the old Explorer. That means your only options for ridiculously fast boxes on wheels come from BMW, Porsche, Mercedes… and Jeep. Is it possible that the “bat-shit-crazy” Chrysler that I remember and love is back?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

This isn’t the first Grand Cherokee with sporting pretensions, as 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited was arguably the first fast Grand Cherokee. Despite the RWD layout making a performance version “easy to do” (in a relative sense), we wouldn’t see another until the third generation “WK” SRT8 in 2006. With a 425 horsepower 6.1L engine, it was the most powerful Jeep ever built. Sadly, a Cerberus-era interior kept it off my wanted list. After a hiatus, another SRT landed in 2012, this time with 470 horses under the hood. Although improved, the interior still underwhelmed and the Mercedes sourced 5-speed transmission was hardly a team player.

While the basic vehicle remains unchanged, 2014 brings more changes than your typical refresh. Up front we have a new nose featuring LED daytime running lamps, headlamp washers and standard HID headlamps.  Out back we get a refreshed rump with twin exhaust tips, which are far more practical than the central tips on first Jeep SRT,e because it allows a standard hitch receiver to be mounted behind a trim panel in the bumper. It’s worth noting that Chrysler rates the Grand Cherokee SRT for 7,200lbs of towing.

Now it’s time to talk about competition. When it comes to high horsepower SUVs, you don’t have many options. Sure, we have that new Porsche Macan, but it’s smaller than the Jeep and less powerful. When you do the numbers, the only 470+ horsepower beasts on the market are the closely related Mercedes ML63 AMG, the new supercharged Range Rovers, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo/Turbo S. And… That’s it. BMW has taken a break from X5M for 2014, likely to return as a 2015 model. Audi Q7? Too wimpy. Acura MDX? Weaksauce. That means that while the Grand Cherokee plays with the Explorer, GMC Terrain, Toyota 4Runner, VW Touareg and others, the Grand Cherokee SRT appeals to two different sorts of buyers. The performance enthusiast that wants an AWD Chrysler 300 SRT, and the luxury SUV shopper on a value hunt.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-002

Interior

As with the exterior, 2014 brings more interior changes than your typical refresh. The Jeep gets Chrysler’s chunky new SRT steering wheel complete with metal shift paddles, a heated soft leather rim, a flat bottom, and more buttons than Apollo mission control. The refresh also brings an entirely new stitched leather dashboard, leather coated doors, carbon fiber trim, and improved plastics all around. Below the carbon fiber, little has changed. This means we still have hard plastics which belie the SRT’s luxury credentials.

Dominating the dash is the latest 8.4-inch uConnect infotainment system joined by a 7-inch LCD disco dash.  The LCD gauges put the Jeep well ahead of BMW and Mercedes and, interestingly, only a notch below the full 11-inch LCD used in Range Rovers. Finishing the transformation is an Audi-like shifter in the center console. Sadly the SRT doesn’t get the Alcantara headliner that the Grand Cherokee Summit gets. Combined with the easily scratched plastic shifter surround, the SRT is obviously not running with the luxury pack but it is a notch above the crossover rabble and feels  worth the $63,995 base price. More on that later.

The  front seats are modified versions of regular Jeep thrones with more bolstering and are available in your choice of “baseball glove” brown or black with Alcantara inserts. (The full-leather seats will run you $1,995 more.) Although the seats are less comfortable than those found in the Merc, Rover or Bimmer, I had no problem finding a comfortable position on multi-hour drives. Unlike less expensive versions of the Grand Cherokee, the SRT’s seats seem to be designed for you to sit “in” the seat rather than “on” the seat, something that I was pleased to note.  Rear seat passengers will have little to complain about with reclining rear seat backs, air vents and the same soft-touch leather door treatment as the front. New for 2014 are two high-current USB power ports in the center console so your kids can charge their iWidget without cigarette adapters.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-005Infotainment

In addition to improved voice commands for USB/iDevice control, uConnect 2 offers smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart Radio or Slacker Radio. You can have text messages read to you and dictate replies (if your phone supports it) and search for restaurants and businesses via Yelp. In addition to all the smartphone-tied features, uConnect 2 integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network into the unit for over-the-air software updates and access to the new Chrysler “App Store” where you will be able to buy apps for your car. Since there’s a cell modem onboard, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices as well. Keep in mind speeds are 3G, not Sprint’s WiMAX or LTE network.

Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services which include traffic, movie times, sports scores, fuel prices and weather reports. As with uConnect data services, there’s a fee associated after the first few months so keep that in mind. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports. The navigation interface is easy to use, but notably less snazzy than the rest of the system’s graphics. The SRT trim gets Chrysler’s home brew 9-speaker sound system with a 506-watt amplifier. The sound is acceptable for the price tag but I’d buy the 19-speaker, $1,995 Harmon Kardon Logic7 system if I were you. Quite similar in timbre to the Logic7 systems BMW uses, the system holds its own compared to the up-level audio packages in the luxury set. Because BMW’s X5M is on hiatus, the infotainment win in this segment has to go to the SRT. COMAND is well past its prime and Porsche and Land Rover’s infotainment systems are unintuitive and lag in terms of feature functionality.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-001

Drivetrain

The first Jeep to wear the SRT badge used a 6.1L V8 that was accused of having a narrow power band, a “peaky” torque curve and poor fuel economy. To address this, Chrysler released a new 6.4L V8 in 2012. Instead of revising the 6.1, the engineers went back to the drawing board and created a new engine based off the second-generation 5.7L Hemi. This means that unlike the luxury competition, you won’t find overhead cams, direct injection or 32 valves. Don’t let Top Gear or the iron block fool you, this engine is a modern design with some tricks up its sleeve. Despite the push rods, Chrysler managed to fit variable valve timing, a variable length intake manifold, cylinder deactivation, alloy pistons and 16 spark plugs. The combination is good for 470HP and 465 lb-ft of torque.

Thanks to the “Mercedes years”, Chrysler was still using a Mercedes 5-speed transmission behind the 3.6L V6 and the 6.4L V8 in 2012 and 2013. While not a bad transmission, the 5-speed’s ratios were not well mated to the 6.4L V8. In order to get SRT levels of performance, a different final drive was fitted making the engine spin over 2,400RPM at 70 MPH. The new ZF 8-speed automatic allows a lower effective first gear, a more balanced ratio spread and a taller final gear so the engine can at 1,900 RPM at 70. Directing power to all four wheels is an MP 3010 electronic proportioning transfer case. The driver can select from five drive modes that control the torque split, shift pattern and the dynamic suspension system. Auto gives the softest suspension, slowest shifts and sends 40% of the engine power to the front for balanced handling. Sport stiffens and makes the shifts crisper, while sending only 35% of the power to the front for more rear bias. Track provides the stiffest dampening and sends 70% of the power to the rear for even more of a RWD feel (2012 and 2013 models topped out at a 35/65 split). Should you like things 50/50, Sport and Tow modes provide balanced power front and rear. One thing you still won’t find however is a torque vectoring rear axle, Jeep retains the electronic limited slip unit found in other Grand Cherokee models.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-016Drive

The Grand Cherokee SRT has all the right numbers for bat-shit-crazy status, but can it deliver? In a word: Yes. Backing that answer up is a blistering 4.1 second run to 60 and an eye-popping 1.37 second 0-30 time. But can it truly compete with the Germans? Despite the new interior and 8-speed automatic (basically the same transmission Porsche, BMW and Range Rover use) the SRT isn’t as refined, inside or on the road. Driven back to back with the competition, the SRT feels more like the Range Rover or the Mercedes than the tighter BMW or Porsche. The Merc comparisons are especially interesting since the ML and the Grand Cherokee share plenty of design DNA.

Although Mercedes has fitted a more powerful twin-turbo V8 (515 HP / 516 lb0-ft or 550 HP / 560 lb-ft), the Merc feels less connected to the road than the Jeep. Part of this is due top the air ride suspension Mercedes uses and part of it is due to the narrow 265 width standard tires. While you can get 295s all the way around, it’ll cost you dearly as the ML63 is easy to option over $100,000. Factor in the dated COMAND system and the 7-speed auto that is 1 gear shy of everyone else and the ML comes in last.

Land Rover’s Ranger Rover Sport continues to march to a different drummer. Although the 5.0L V8 produces 510 HP and 461 lb-ft of twist, the Rover’s mission is more luxury than sport. The English mountain climber retains all the off road hardware of the lesser models, all season tires and a high ground clearance. Thanks to the supercharged engine’s lack of torque compared to the rest, the Range Rover is also the slowest to highway speeds. While the Range Rover would be my choice if I had the cash, the fact that it isn’t really the same kind of animal puts it in fourth place.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-008

Porsche’s Cayenne is, without question, a beast. With sharp handling, an excellent weight balance and a well-trimmed interior you’d logically expect the Touareg’s rich cousin to take top billing. However, there’s a big value problem. In order to get 4-second 0-60 performance like the rest, you have to throw down at least $146,000 for the Turbo S model and getting crazy with the option sheet can bump your out the door by more than $25,000 without trying very hard.

BMW’s X5M would take top billing if it was still made, but, for the moment at least, there is no X5M for shoppers to contemplate. The outgoing X5M model’s torque vectoring axle, insanely wide tires, low stance and underrated twin-turbo V8 are a lethal combination. The fact that the outgoing X5M was also cheaper than the ML63 and the Cayenne certainly helps the value proposition as well. That is, if you can call a six figure vehicle a “value.”

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-015

That means that the $70,135 Jeep (as tested) is my pick for 2014. And now let’s talk about why. The fact that you could literally get two for the price of a Cayenne is huge, and that’s because I’m all about value. Value isn’t being the cheapest (although the Jeep wins that award by over $30,000 in this mash-up) it’s about delivering the same or similar experience for less, and that’s something the SRT has down. But there’s also something rough and rugged about the Jeep that elicits more charm. The Jeep’s interior is more utilitarian, the throttle blips on down shift lack the fanfare and overrun “pops” you get with the competition and there’s still that Jeep logo on the hood. More skill is required to pilot the SRT around a canyon road making it more engaging than the Teutonic competition. (It isn’t just the product that’s a little crazy, Chrysler allowed folks to drive the Jeep on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, other manufacturers kept their toys out of harm’s way.)

The lack of a torque vectoring rear axle means you have to be in control of the Jeep, while more refined nannies and vectoring systems in the Porsche and BMW can make anyone feel like a pro. The Cayenne and X5M are also better balanced than the Jeep which wears 54% of its weight up front thanks to that cast iron engine, but when pressed hard the Jeep gives up little to the Germans. Even in a straight line the Jeep’s numbers stack up well. Thanks to the 8-speed auto in the Jeep, and the old 6-speed ZF unit in the 2013 X5M we tested, the Jeep’s power deficit resulted in a scant 1/100th 0-30 penalty, 1/10th 0-60 penalty and by the 1/4 mile the Jeep was still neck and neck at 1/10th and 6 MPH slower.

After a week with the Grand Cherokee SRT I was sad to see it go, even after I noted my 15.5 MPG fuel economy average. Perhaps it is because I recently bought a Saab 9-7 Aer0 with GM’s 390 horse LS2, so I seem to be the target market for a value performance SUV. Perhaps it is because I’ll nver be able to afford the SRT’s German competition but the Jeep is within reach if I sell a kidney. Or, perhaps the real reason is that a 5,150lb Jeep with a 6.4L push-rod V8 engine making 470 horsepower that ticks off a 0-30 time faster than a BMW M6 rain or shine is bat-shit-crazy. Anyone know the going rate for a kidney?

Chrysler provides the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review. Chrysler provided an SRT Grand Cherokee at a Mazda Raceway event for local press.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 1.37 Seconds

0-60: 4.1 Seconds

0-100: 11.33 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.7 Seconds @ 107 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 15.5 over 989 miles

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-005 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-006 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-007 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-008 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-009 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-010 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-011 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-012 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-013 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-014 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-015 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-016 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-017 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-004 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-005 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-006 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-007 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-008 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-009 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-010 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-011 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-012 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-013 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee LCD Instrument Cluster

The post Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-with-video/feed/ 46
Piston Slap: Better Steering without the Better Car? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/piston-slap-better-steering-without-the-better-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/piston-slap-better-steering-without-the-better-car/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 11:20:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490520 Oliver writes: Sajeev, In December of 2011, through an unfortunate chain of events, I became the not-so-proud owner of a 2007 Malibu. True to its origin as an ex-fleet car, it is saddled with the miserly 4-banger engine rather than the still-slow-but-adequate V6. The only positive attributes of this car are its cheap cost to […]

The post Piston Slap: Better Steering without the Better Car? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Oliver writes:

Sajeev,

In December of 2011, through an unfortunate chain of events, I became the not-so-proud owner of a 2007 Malibu. True to its origin as an ex-fleet car, it is saddled with the miserly 4-banger engine rather than the still-slow-but-adequate V6. The only positive attributes of this car are its cheap cost to own and excellent fuel economy for its size. It presently has about 80,000 miles on it – I expect to get another 40K out of it before the transmission implodes (domestic automatic – you get what you pay for).

Currently, my wife is driving it (poor woman deserves a medal) – despite the obvious untenability of this situation; her only complaint is that the steering feels “loose.” We recently took a trip on a highway and I verified that the steering wheel feels like a cheap arcade wheel from the ‘90’s, to the point where it almost seems to turn itself (much like the platter on an Ouija board).

Our mechanic took a look at the steering system and found nothing amiss. Since I don’t believe a car this boring could possibly be home to a poltergeist, and since the system is “functioning as designed” (that’s corporate-speak for “stinks like crap because it IS crap”), I am at a loss for what to do.

I don’t want to invest a lot in this car – it’s an appliance – however, we live in NJ (land of a thousand potholes) and I am worried that the loosey-goosey steering combined with the abysmal condition of the roads here represents a safety concern. My wife has to maintain an iron grip on the wheel to keep from swerving into the other lane on her back-road-heavy commute.

It is worth noting that I have replaced all four struts, brake pads (incl. grinding the rotors), and tires on the car in the time I’ve owned it, and the mechanic found nothing amiss with suspension when he was looking at the steering. The thing drives pin straight until a mosquito farts near the steering wheel.

Is there a reasonably inexpensive (say, sub-$500) way to tighten up the steering? We’re not looking for euro-spec here; just a little more feedback.

Selling the car is not an option – we are not in a position to pay the transaction cost (and there’s ALWAYS a transaction cost to buying a new car), and it fits our needs nicely except for this one issue.

Sajeev answers:

Awesome letter: very TTAC-snarky, to the point that Farago would be proud. Now is tighter steering possible to an extent that people–those who can’t measure mosquito farts–would actually notice?

Subjective matters are just that, but KUDOS to you for already replacing the shocks: an often ignored element in old car ownership. Yet there are a handful of steering parameters you can check/adjust to improve steering response on any vehicle, especially used ones.  In no particular order, and for ANY vehicle:

1. Replace used steering box/rack and pinion assembly.  Why? Because these are wear items, even if they don’t show an external leak or excessive play measured by your trusty mechanic.  And they wear out so slowly that you will never know until its reached this point. We are literally splitting hairs when we discuss tighter steering, so 80,000 miles of wear easily fits into that gray area you must consider.

2. Do a performance wheel alignment, tweaking the factory specs. Read this and discuss with an alignment tech that tunes race cars. If needed and if available, get a set of aftermarket caster-camber plates.

3. Get higher quality tires, use summer tires when possible and play with tire pressures in +1 PSI intervals, front to back.  (Don’t go crazy here, more than 5-10PSI increases probably isn’t a bright idea.) You already have new tires, but remember, you sometimes get what you pay for.

4. For older vehicles with conventional power steering pumps attached to the front of the motor, check out that pulley at the end of the pump.  Underdrive dat pump!  With a fair bit of analysis of other GM products, I suspect you can find a “better” power steering pulley to firm up the steering a bit FOR CHEAP…but perhaps a slower spinning pump won’t change your particular problem. I’d bet on this being the best bang for the buck, however.

5. Get wider wheels/tires!  Not cheap, but these can be sold separately from the car when the time is right.  And if you can find a wider OEM wheel that interchanges, that just makes the conversion cheaper and a touch more stealthy.

Good luck, whatever you may do.

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. 

The post Piston Slap: Better Steering without the Better Car? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/piston-slap-better-steering-without-the-better-car/feed/ 65
Cadillac Debuts Twin-Turbo V6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/cadillac-debuts-twin-turbo-v6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/cadillac-debuts-twin-turbo-v6/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2013 20:16:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481659 Good news for performance fans from The General; a new twin-turbo V6 will debut on the next generation CTS and XTS, good for 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. The 3.6L mill will apparently rocket the new CTS to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, or about the same as an SRT8 Charger, while delivering […]

The post Cadillac Debuts Twin-Turbo V6 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Good news for performance fans from The General; a new twin-turbo V6 will debut on the next generation CTS and XTS, good for 420 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque.

The 3.6L mill will apparently rocket the new CTS to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, or about the same as an SRT8 Charger, while delivering 17/25 mpg. Apparently this engine won’t be featured in the ATS-V, but it will surely appear in some other GM products. The only question is what would be a good fit? The Camaro is an obvious choice, and the fact that it can fit transverse platforms as well is interesting. Might this engine show up in a future Buick?

The post Cadillac Debuts Twin-Turbo V6 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/cadillac-debuts-twin-turbo-v6/feed/ 110
QOTD: What Makes A Good Track Package http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/qotd-what-makes-a-good-track-package/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/qotd-what-makes-a-good-track-package/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 18:31:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466193 The V6 Mustang reviewed yesterday wouldn’t be the car it was without the Track Package, which provides pretty substantial upgrades to the brakes and suspension. As Sympatico’s Brian Makse points out, most performance packages are nothing more than new wheels and tires, but the Mustang really delves into the nitty-gritty. Items like the brake booster […]

The post QOTD: What Makes A Good Track Package appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The V6 Mustang reviewed yesterday wouldn’t be the car it was without the Track Package, which provides pretty substantial upgrades to the brakes and suspension.

As Sympatico’s Brian Makse points out, most performance packages are nothing more than new wheels and tires, but the Mustang really delves into the nitty-gritty. Items like the brake booster and control arms are borrowed from the track-ready Shelby GT500.

With plenty of you having track experience in one form or another, it’s worth asking, what makes a good track package, and who does it right. Conversely, who does it poorly? If I had to give my two cents, I’d say good brakes are worth more than anything when it comes to a factory track car. In our comparison test with the Scion FR-S, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Mazda MX-5 the lower weight and tossable handling of the FR-S and overall fun factor of the MX-5 were both worth little when they had to be brought in after a few laps. The Genesis, with its superior Brembos, resisted a brake apocalypse far longer than the other two.

The post QOTD: What Makes A Good Track Package appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/qotd-what-makes-a-good-track-package/feed/ 31
Elon Musk: “As You Can See, The Tesla Model S… Can Actually Seat Eight” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/elon-musk-as-you-can-see-the-tesla-model-s-can-actually-seat-eight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/elon-musk-as-you-can-see-the-tesla-model-s-can-actually-seat-eight/#comments Mon, 03 Oct 2011 14:34:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=413335 Yes, the Model S can fit eight… just not legally. Meanwhile, those are some pretty small kids in the old-school, rear-facing jumpseats (they’re only approved for passengers under five feet tall). But hey, it’s Elon Musk’s party, and he’s free to say whatever he likes until the car is actually on sale. Speaking of which, […]

The post Elon Musk: “As You Can See, The Tesla Model S… Can Actually Seat Eight” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

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

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

The post Elon Musk: “As You Can See, The Tesla Model S… Can Actually Seat Eight” appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/elon-musk-as-you-can-see-the-tesla-model-s-can-actually-seat-eight/feed/ 17
The Last Muscle-Car War: Detroit Battles For Cop-Car Supremacy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/detroit-battles-for-cop-car-supremacy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/detroit-battles-for-cop-car-supremacy/#comments Sat, 24 Sep 2011 18:23:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412442 Last fall, the first tests of the new Chevy Caprice PPV, Dodge Charger Pursuit and Ford Taurus Interceptor generated quite a bit of interest here at TTAC and beyond, as three all-new contestants battled to replace the outgoing Crown Victoria as America’s cop car. At the time, the Caprice seemed like the clear performance favorite, […]

The post The Last Muscle-Car War: Detroit Battles For Cop-Car Supremacy appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

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

  • Chrysler arguably has the biggest performance win to brag about, noting that the “fastest-ever lap time at Grattan Raceway [1:33.70] highlights Dodge Charger Pursuit V-8 as the police sedan with the best combination of acceleration, braking, handling and dynamics.” The V8 Dodge also recorded the fastest 0-60 and 0-100 times of the trio, thanks to an optional acceleration-biased 3.06 rear axle ratio and a revised engine management system that allows top speeds of up to 151 MPH (all new for 2012, along with upgraded brakes). For the record, that 1:33:70 time is exactly three seconds faster than the Charger’s best lap time last year.
  • After “creaming” the competition last fall, it seems GM was caught a bit flat-footed by Mopars upgrades, and its press release makes no mention of its lap time (its best lap time last year was a 1:35:80). Instead The General brags about the Caprice’s leading top speed (154 MPH) and 60-0 braking (125.8 ft). And despite last year’s “LS-X FTW” talk, the Caprice V6 turns out to be the most impressive model, beating both the Charger V6 and the Taurus non-Turbo V6 in 60-0 mph braking, top speed and acceleration.
  • As predicted last year by Sajeev, Ford’s Taurus appears to be something of a performance back-marker. Ford’s presser doesn’t mention a single performance statistic, instead seeming to coast on the Panther-Interceptor’s coattails with bullet points like “Now police departments and other law enforcement agencies can get an all-new, American-made vehicle with the expected durability and price of the popular Crown Victoria.” Ford’s only performance argument is that the Taurus Ecoboost outperforms the Crown Vic… a stunningly low bar to set (even the Impala 3.6 hits a higher top speed than the EcoBoost Interceptor).

But, as we’ve pointed out, efficiency and reliability are for more important for police fleet buyers than outright performance. If Ford can make good on the promise that it will match the Crown Vic’s durability, and can prove that its Ecoboost engine will reliably offer better efficiency than the Dodge and Chevy V8s, it might make an argument for itself. But in a world where police departments are actually hoarding Crown Vics, there’s always going to be resistance to ditching the rear-drive V8 model for the perceived complexity of AWD and a turbocharged V6.

But because the performance differences between the Chevy and the Dodge are relatively small and because performance isn’t the overriding concern for police fleet buyers, Dodge’s lap record at MSP testing may be the most significant achievement in this year’s MSP testing, for reasons that have nothing to do with prospective police sales. With the Crown Vic gone and the competition for the definitive police vehicle thrown wide open, these annual Michigan State Police tests are beginning to take on the feel of a classic Detroit proxy war, not unlike the illegal drag racing that took place on Woodward Avenue at the height of the muscle car era. And because Dodge offers high-performance versions of its Charger to the general public, its ability to beat back the Australian-built, unobtainable-to-civilians Caprice could give it something of a halo to enthusiasts. Even Ford, which sells a Taurus SHO that’s not entirely unlike the new Interceptor, can leverage police performance testing results into a brand halo. Only GM, which stubbornly refuses to offer the Caprice as a civilian model, seems to be oblivious to the civilian-market implications of what is rapidly becoming an annual Detroit showdown.

With racing becoming increasingly detached from the vehicles available for sale to the general public, police performance testing is one of the last factory-backed competitions between cars that are available for sale to the general public. In short, it’s the kind of spectacle that drove the muscle car era… and have since disappeared. As the brand that’s most dependent on continued sales of V8-powered, large  rear-drive sedans, it’s no wonder Dodge upgraded its Charger in order to come away with a narrow win this year. Maybe next year Chevy should hit back… and then capitalize on the rivalry by making a Caprice available to civilians.

The Michigan State Police have not yet released full test results for 2012 model-year vehicles. TTAC will post these results as soon as they become available. Past test results can be found here

The post The Last Muscle-Car War: Detroit Battles For Cop-Car Supremacy appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/detroit-battles-for-cop-car-supremacy/feed/ 71
Next-Gen Mercedes SL AMG Doesn’t Have To Be Driven Like Grandpa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/next-gen-mercedes-sl-amg-doesnt-have-to-be-driven-like-grandpa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/next-gen-mercedes-sl-amg-doesnt-have-to-be-driven-like-grandpa/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2011 17:36:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407399 I’ve personally never seen a Mercedes SL driven in anything close to anger. In fact, most of the time I see an SL, it seems as though the driver is in no rush at all to return to pulling teeth or fixing braces. But, as with the “low-flying” forthcoming Mercedes ML AMG, the boys from […]

The post Next-Gen Mercedes SL AMG Doesn’t Have To Be Driven Like Grandpa appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

I’ve personally never seen a Mercedes SL driven in anything close to anger. In fact, most of the time I see an SL, it seems as though the driver is in no rush at all to return to pulling teeth or fixing braces. But, as with the “low-flying” forthcoming Mercedes ML AMG, the boys from Affalterbach are driving the new SL AMG like it’s meant to be… so you don’t have to. After all, that AMG badge does supposedly stand for more than “a little extra respect from the valet”…

The post Next-Gen Mercedes SL AMG Doesn’t Have To Be Driven Like Grandpa appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/next-gen-mercedes-sl-amg-doesnt-have-to-be-driven-like-grandpa/feed/ 9
Cruze Diesel: The Performance (And Efficiency) Choice http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/cruze-diesel-the-performance-and-efficiency-choice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/cruze-diesel-the-performance-and-efficiency-choice/#comments Tue, 16 Aug 2011 17:14:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407397 With Chevrolet already offering a Cruze Eco, WardsAuto reports that the forthcoming Cruze diesel made a case for itself based on attributes that go beyond mere efficiency. Which is interesting because a GM source tells Wards that the Cruze diesel will get around 50 MPG on the freeway… and unlike the Eco, it will achieve […]

The post Cruze Diesel: The Performance (And Efficiency) Choice appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

With Chevrolet already offering a Cruze Eco, WardsAuto reports that the forthcoming Cruze diesel made a case for itself based on attributes that go beyond mere efficiency. Which is interesting because a GM source tells Wards that the Cruze diesel will get around 50 MPG on the freeway… and unlike the Eco, it will achieve that high number with an automatic transmission (the Cruze Eco’s 42 MPG highway rating is only for manual transmission models). Equally importantly, the oil-burning Cruze will return better performance alongside better efficiency, with 147 HP and 236 lb-ft, compared to the 1.4T engine’s 138 HP and 148 lb-ft, which would make it the performance model of the range… which some say is just what the Cruze needs.

Joseph Lescota, chair of the Automotive Marketing Management Dept. at Northwood University in Midland, MI, thinks a diesel Cruze will draw buyers.

“Chevrolet has a great price-point vehicle that has tremendous eye appeal and options but may not meet the performance needs of a select market group,” he tells Ward’s.

A diesel version would hit that group between the eyes by adding a sturdy engine, extra torque and top-end performance to the mix, he says.

GM executives meanwhile highlight the diesel option’s value as what GM North America boss Mark Reuss calls “a hedge against the unknown.” Only three percent of current US sales are of diesels, but as American brands start rolling the oil-burning options out, and as Americans are exposed to their higher performance and efficiency, that segment could just grow. After all, who doesn’t want more performance and more efficiency for a mere $1k-$4k premium?

The post Cruze Diesel: The Performance (And Efficiency) Choice appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/cruze-diesel-the-performance-and-efficiency-choice/feed/ 47
So Many Next-Gen German Sports Sedans, So Little Time http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/so-many-next-gen-german-sports-sedans-so-little-time/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/so-many-next-gen-german-sports-sedans-so-little-time/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2011 15:16:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=389751 So, you want something with four-doors, blazing speed and sharp handling? Germany has got you covered. Photos have leaked of the next generation of Teutonic supersedans, giving an insight into a new wave of four-door performance. First up is the BMW M5, which is set to debut at the forthcoming Shanghai Auto Show, displaying the […]

The post So Many Next-Gen German Sports Sedans, So Little Time appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

So, you want something with four-doors, blazing speed and sharp handling? Germany has got you covered. Photos have leaked of the next generation of Teutonic supersedans, giving an insight into a new wave of four-door performance. First up is the BMW M5, which is set to debut at the forthcoming Shanghai Auto Show, displaying the 560 HP sedan in remarkable detail. In response, Audi has let its own turbo-V8 luxury sedan be snapped in testing, even though the S6 shown here won’t be a true M5 competitor, offering “only” around 440 HP. A twin-turbo version making an M5-rivaling 555 HP is said to be waiting for the RS6, as well as a Bentley Continental GT V8. [Gallery after the jump]

Want something a little smaller? Audi has also had a test mule for its RS4 Wagon caught testing, and though its exterior looks don’t betray much, lurking under the hood is the RS5’s V8 making 450 HP. Down the road, says Auto Motor und Sport, the S6’s turbo-V8 could make it into a facelifted version with “no more than” 500 HP (think European release in 2012, US thereafter). Finally, Autobild isn’t sure if the next-generation of C63 AMG Black Series will get the older 6.3 liter AMG V8 “making at least 500 hp” or if it will jump on the new V8 turbo bandwagon, with the CLS63 AMG’s 5.5 liter turbocharged unit, which could easily make over 550 HP. Meanwhile, Porsche now offers a Turbo S version of its Panamera four-door, making 550 HP and accelerating to 60 MPH in 3.8 seconds. And, for a nominal fee, Porsche’s Sport Chrono package will boost the Turbo S’s torque from 553 foot-pounds to 590.

In any case, the new generation of German bahn-burning sedans proves that the Horsepower Wars aren’t exactly over, but have devolved into trench warfare. With the advent of the turbocharged V8 as the standard for performance sedans, the Germans are getting more power while keeping an eye on European carbon emissions standards. With both large and small sports sedans coming from each of the three German luxury brands with 500+ HP, it seems that the glory days of supersedans have a new lease on life.

rs42 rs4 The BMW Concept M5. (04/2011) m54 c63black The BMW Concept M5. (04/2011) m51 The BMW Concept M5. (04/2011) c63black1 m5 c63black3 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail c63black2 rs43 The BMW Concept M5. (04/2011) The BMW Concept M5. (04/2011) Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Spy-Shots of Cars Spy-Shots of Cars m53 Decisions, decisions... rs41 m52

The post So Many Next-Gen German Sports Sedans, So Little Time appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/04/so-many-next-gen-german-sports-sedans-so-little-time/feed/ 17
Ferrari Fights The Future http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/ferrari-fights-the-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/ferrari-fights-the-future/#comments Fri, 07 May 2010 15:46:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=355665 Despite breaking new ground in the field of brand leverage with its Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, Ferrari does seem to have lost the plot a bit in relation to its “other” business building expensive sportscars. Ferrari’s abandonment of the manual transmission might be justified by faster lap times at Fiorano, and the lightning-fast, […]

The post Ferrari Fights The Future appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Despite breaking new ground in the field of brand leverage with its Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, Ferrari does seem to have lost the plot a bit in relation to its “other” business building expensive sportscars. Ferrari’s abandonment of the manual transmission might be justified by faster lap times at Fiorano, and the lightning-fast, dual-wet-clutch transmissions that replace them certainly seem to help keep the Scuderia at the bleeding edge of technology (even if they’re designed and built by Getrag). But underlying the faster times, higher speeds and “digital supercar” honorifics from the motoring press, there’s a sense that Ferrari’s progress must accommodate an ever-more ambitious business plan as much as design the world’s most capable and emotive sportscars. And it’s starting to bear some troubling fruit.

With “mainstream luxury” brands like BMW and Mercedes publicly committing to increased carbon fiber content in their street cars, and Ferrari’s new competitor Mclaren Automotive building its 458-fighting MP4-12C around a carbon fiber tub, you might think that they’re feeling the heat in Maranello. Or should we say, feeling the weight: thanks to its carbon tub, the MP4-12C’s dry weight is a feathery 2,866 compared to the 458’s 3,042 lb number. As we’ll explore further in a moment, Ferrari is incredibly sensitive to issues of perception, so wouldn’t you reckon that a high-carbon-fiber diet might be on the menu at the sign of the prancing horse? Speaking to Autocar, Ferrari’s CEO Amedeo Felisa says not so much:

The fact is that nobody today has a real understanding of what happens if you damage a carbonfibre structure. After 20 or 30 years of use, who knows what state a carbonfibre structure will be in? Only the airplane industry has a long-term understanding of using carbonfibre, and there the usage is very different. Unless you have a really big accident, it is possible to repair a Ferrari today, and we don’t want to lose that.

OK, since when did the ability to repair your Ferrari outweigh the mission to make the most advanced, performance-oriented cars in the world? This is, after all, one of the most notorious brands in the world in terms of ownership experience. As Robert Farago once famously put it, you don’t really own a Ferrari, you just visit it when it’s not in the shop. So, why give up 175 lbs to the upstart MP4-12C, which is gunning for the heart of Ferrari’s sales volume? Apparently to protect the even higher-profit limited-edition Ferraris.

We will only use carbonfibre on very special cars which have a very low rate of production and which are not for everyday use, such as the new Enzo

After all, who wants to see your $650k+ flagship hypercar bearing the hallowed name of Enzo be beat around Fiorano by a mere $280k+ hotted-up “volume model” like the F430 Scuderia? It’s happened before, and Ferrari seems determined not to let it happen again… even if that means holding the V8 models back relative to their competition. And this theme of flattering the most deep-pocketed drivers at the expense of an across-the-board commitment to pure performance doesn’t end there. With direct-injection engine technology proliferating across the industry, the shift towards smaller displacements and forced-aspiration is occurring in every segment. And with Felisa “hinting” that the next Enzo (due in 2012) could have a turbocharged V8, Ferrari might have an opportunity to introduce a high-performance, turbo-V6, possibly in the 458’s replacement. But, says Felisa:

There are no plans for a six-cylinder engine today. Ferrari will not build a six-cylinder engine until customer attitudes towards smaller engines change. The perception today is that the number of cylinders equates to the possibilities of the car. That is why we are developing hybrid technology that can be applied to our V8 and V10 cars. Hybrid means we can protect the V12.

Ironically, Felisa complains elsewhere at Autocar that Ferrari planned on offering its first hybrid

In 2015, if we are forced to by the [government] regulations. The issue of emissions for Ferrari is more a political one than real one. Lowering emissions of every Ferrari will not save the planet, but it will cost us a lot of money

Forced. Right. Because downsizing and focusing on weight isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, a biggish front-engined GT like the 599GTB should be offered with a V12 for as long as possible, and if hybrid technology helps Ferrari keep a 12-pot in its stable a little longer then good for them. After all, Ferrari can’t abandon its brand simply because some former F1 upstarts are targeting their business. But part of that brand is performance, and if the MP4-12C catches the 458 napping (say, on a Top Gear power lap, or Youtube video, Ferrari will have given the boys from Woking a toehold on which to rebuild their brand. But then maybe a little competition is exactly what Ferrari needs to stop prioritizing nouveau-riche cylinder-count envy, and starving its volume models of technology like carbon fiber simply to protect its hypercars. After all, Enzo didn’t get into the global branding and amusement park business.

The post Ferrari Fights The Future appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/ferrari-fights-the-future/feed/ 6
Quote Of The Day: Veyron’ From The Truth Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-veyron-from-the-truth-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-veyron-from-the-truth-edition/#comments Mon, 12 Apr 2010 22:37:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=352243 I know that they have to cut the car open to take the engine out. To make an engine in that configuration, you know, it doesn’t go around corners. When we did the race in Abu Dhabi, we beat it off the line so many times that the film crew was getting frustrated because the […]

The post Quote Of The Day: Veyron’ From The Truth Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

I know that they have to cut the car open to take the engine out. To make an engine in that configuration, you know, it doesn’t go around corners. When we did the race in Abu Dhabi, we beat it off the line so many times that the film crew was getting frustrated because the outcome was supposed to be for the Bugatti to win. So we had to do that whole thing about ten times before it managed to get off the line cleanly and catch us up. Because every time they dropped the clutch it bogged down and we were gone.

McLaren’s Ron Dennis lays into the Bugatti Veyron at the Middle East launch of his firm’s new MP4-12C [Arabian Business via Wired Autopia]. What Dennis leaves out is that the Bugatti has a (computerized, sequential-shift) automatic transmission, so it’s difficult to know what he means by “they dropped the clutch.” Besides, it sounds like the former Formula 1 boss is spewing bile, rather than objectively critiquing the Veyron… which there’s plenty of room for.

What makes us think Dennis is suffering from a case of early-harvest viticulture? How about this line:

The Bugatti Veyron is a complete piece of junk. I think it is. I believe I can look at a range of women and I can see beauty in most of them, but I can look at a Bugatti and I think it is pig ugly.The Veyron doesn’t do anything for me. I’ve been looking at it for years, and I don’t see one single thing that makes me feel good.

For the record, Ron Dennis looks like this. And at about $250k, his MP4-12C doesn’t even compete with the Veyron. Perhaps Arabian Business couldn’t print his quotes about the Ferrari 458…

The post Quote Of The Day: Veyron’ From The Truth Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/quote-of-the-day-veyron-from-the-truth-edition/feed/ 20
SS Is Alive. Should Anyone Care? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/ss-is-alive-should-anyone-care/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/ss-is-alive-should-anyone-care/#comments Fri, 20 Nov 2009 15:43:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=336150 Autoweek apparently got an interview with GM vice president of global vehicle engineering and former chairman of Holden, Mark Reuss. Apparently, because their write-up takes a light hand with the quotation marks, using them to fill in the gaps between the author’s breathless interpretations of the topic at hand: Chevrolet’s SS line. From 1960s Chevelles […]

The post SS Is Alive. Should Anyone Care? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
HHR SS

Autoweek apparently got an interview with GM vice president of global vehicle engineering and former chairman of Holden, Mark Reuss. Apparently, because their write-up takes a light hand with the quotation marks, using them to fill in the gaps between the author’s breathless interpretations of the topic at hand: Chevrolet’s SS line.

From 1960s Chevelles to modern Camaros, speedy Chevrolets have always been indentified with two letters: SS. But does the tradition-laden performance designation have a future in the new General Motors, which is under pressure to cut costs, make money and meet stricter fuel-economy regulations? “Absolutely,” Mark Reuss, GM vice president of global engineering, told AutoWeek. In fact, the SS line could be better–or at least more clearly defined. Reuss envisions cars outfitted on a case-by-case basis, rather than somewhat generically adding horsepower and red-letter stitching to Chevys across the board. Or as he put it, “Not trying to peanut-butter SS for everything.”

And though the intent of Reuss’s proclamation was clearly to encourage, the SS brand may be one of GM’s most-damaged. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are a few of the reasons why.

Monte Carlo SS 101 year-old Virgil Coffman Buys a Bumblebee-Edition Camaro SS HHR SS Brazilian Chevy Astra SS Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Brazilian Meriva SS Silverado SS Malibu Maxx SS ss-hhr-thumb Trailblazer SS Impala SS

The post SS Is Alive. Should Anyone Care? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/ss-is-alive-should-anyone-care/feed/ 29