By on January 17, 2017

2018 Ford Mustang

After luring journalists away from last week’s Detroit auto show for a sneak peak, Ford is ready to show the world its new 2018 Mustang.

That face. Online backlash was moderate to severe when leaked b-roll footage of the new ‘Stang appeared online last night, with some wags claiming the updated model must be unhappy. Beneath the downturned face, however, there’s a host of upgrades designed to satisfy performance-minded enthusiasts.

On that front, ‘Stang purists can breathe a sigh of relief. The 5.0-liter Coyote V8, rumored to be replaced by a 4.8-liter unit, won’t disappear after all. But one long-running engine choice had to skip this party to attend its own funeral. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2017

2017 Porsche Cayman S Side at Massey Hall, Image: © 2017 Peter Bleakney

Replacing the lead singer in an iconic rock band is a thankless task. Van Halen fans never fully embraced Sammy Hagar. Paul Rodgers’ recent stint as lead singer with Queen was okay, I guess, and Axl Rose is now screaming it out in front of AC/DC. All fantastic singers and more than worthy in their own right, but how to you replace David Lee Roth, Freddie Mercury and Brian Johnson?

Enter Porsche’s 2017 reboot of its beloved mid-engine Boxster/Cayman. Same deal. The operatic flat-sixes that have propelled this duo since their respective inceptions sing no more, replaced by a pair of gruff turbo flat-fours.

Oh, the conundrum.

(Read More…)

By on December 2, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

By on October 21, 2016

By Ceyhun Kavakci/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Baby Boomers are getting too old for traditional sports cars. Their purchasing power may have ushered in the initial success of the muscle car (as well as its resurrection), but no 70-plus-year-old wants to obliterate their pelvis crawling into a low-slung coupe or have its rock-hard suspension rattle the dentures out of their mouth.

That leaves the younger generations to champion the sports car going forward, and — I am very sad to say — they will not be up to the task.  (Read More…)

By on September 26, 2016

2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang

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

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

Where are the sports cars? (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2016

2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392

U.S. sales of America’s three pony-muscle car coupes slid 2 percent in July 2016 despite meaningful gains from both the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger.

Blame?

Cast it all in the direction of the Chevrolet Camaro, sales of which plunged 26 percent, a loss of nearly 2,000 sales for Chevrolet dealers compared with July 2015.

Camaro sales declined in 7 of the last 12 months, diving by 9,517 units during a span of three consecutive year-over-year decreases between May and July. After the Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in five consecutive years, it now appears certain that 2016 will be the second consecutive year in which the Mustang easily outsells the Chevrolet Camaro.

One might even say the Mustang is going to win, “by a lot.” (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2016

2016 Mazda MX-5 Soul red

Bonus. It’s the money you didn’t expect to receive from your employer at the end of the fiscal year, the mussel bar you didn’t know existed at the new Yelp-hyped strip mall restaurant your significant other convinced you to try, the extra hour of sleep you grabbed exiting daylight saving time last autumn.

There are vehicular bonuses, as well. The Jeep Wrangler succeeds at what it was built to do: to handle genuinely tough off-road situations. But it’s also a convertible.

Our long-term Honda Odyssey seats eight in surprising comfort, just as it ought to. But the Odyssey also handles really well.

After growing acquainted with all kinds of odd duckling electric cars, the Tesla Model S didn’t merely expand our expectations for electric range and performance, it looked really good while doing so.

After a blissful week of sunshine during which I drove 260 miles with a variety of passengers on mostly coastal routes, never attempting for a moment to do anything but drive the car harder than we would any other test car, it turns out our Mazda Canada-supplied 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata travelled 34 miles per gallon. Bonus. (Read More…)

By on January 14, 2016

enthusiast

Forgive me father, for not only have I sinned (at least for right now), but I’m going to make a sordid confession about my daily work life that will tick off 99 percent of the people here.

I find that auto enthusiasts — that’s you — are completely irrational. In fact, sometimes you’re just plain nuts.

It has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, the federal government, or the fact that every manufacturer wants us enthusiasts to become mindless traders and renters instead of long-term keepers. What it really comes down to is that most auto enthusiasts I know simply act like emotional fools.

(Read More…)

By on December 23, 2015

18 - 1992 Mercury Capri in California junkyard - photo by Murilee Martin

Imagine it’s 1992 and you’re shopping for a sporty convertible: Do you get an Australian-built front-wheel-drive Mazda based on the 323 … or do you get a Miata?

Exactly. (Read More…)

By on December 14, 2015

14 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

November 2015 produced the lowest full-month U.S. sales total for the Scion FR-S in its history.

November 2015 also produced the sixth consecutive year-over-year Mazda MX-5 Miata monthly sales increase; November was also the fifth consecutive month in which the Mazda MX-5 outsold the Scion FR-S.

The FR-S and MX-5 are clearly not direct rivals. One is sold exclusively as a coupe with rear seats; the other is a two-seat convertible.

But the comparison between the pair, like the forthcoming comparison between the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, is pertinent because of the contrast between old and new. From June 2012, the first full month of availability of the FR-S, through June 2015, the Scion was the fresher sports car parked outside A&W on a Thursday night. However, it suffered from the same malady that typically afflicts most sports cars early on in their tenure: DDDD. Drastically Decreased Demand Disorder.

(Read More…)

By on August 6, 2015

GT4 Stinger

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

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

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

(Read More…)

By on June 29, 2015

Corvette sales chart

After averaging fewer than 1,200 monthly spring sales in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, the launch of the C7 presented Chevrolet with more than 3,000 sales in March and in April and in May 2014.

Surely that’s all because of pent-up demand, right? After the C6 battled quite respectably through a recession, the craziness of the C7 was bound to generate a great deal of initial demand.

And yet one year later, long since its launch, the Corvette is selling just as well. Better, in fact. (Read More…)

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