By on June 20, 2017

2017 Audi TTS profile - Image: © Timothy CainAs an automobile journalist, I’m supposed to qualify certain statements.

This car is gorgeous, I might say, but only with an asterisk that denotes beauty being in the eye of the beholder. This car is gorgeous, I might say, but not as gorgeous as its predecessors, and then I’d draw your attention to the fine print where I describe my lack of a fine arts degree.

Whatever.

The 2017 Audi TTS is gorgeous. Even more stunning than the exterior is the interior.

Yet just because the third-generation TT continues to major in the arts doesn’t mean Audi completely forgot to educate the TT in the modern STEM curriculum.

The Audi TT has always been focused more on style than substance. But the 2017 TTS is more than just a pretty face. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2017

2017 Toyota 86 sunset - Image: ToyotaFive years have passed since the Scion FR-S — known elsewhere as the Toyota GT86 and known now in America as the Toyota 86 (and at Subaru as the BRZ) — arrived in America. Buyers, never particularly numerous to begin with, are few and far between. Toyota now sells 62 percent fewer Toyota 86s in America than the Scion FR-S managed during its first year.

You expect to see sports cars peak early and then gradually fade. The degree to which the Toyota 86 née Scion FR-S has faded, however, has been more than a little striking. FR-S/86 sales have fallen so far, so fast, that U.S. car buyers are now ten times more likely to acquire a new Chevrolet Camaro, three times more likely to acquire a new Volkswagen Golf GTI, and twice as likely to acquire a new Mazda MX-5.

But is the Toyota 86 deserving of such rejection? Not according to a just-completed CAR Magazine comparison test in which the five-year-old Toyota claimed victory — ahead of the Mazda MX-5 RF and BMW 2 Series. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

2017 Ford Mustang RHD Australia - Image: Ford Australia

Thanks to the appeal of a modern independent rear suspension and the availability of right-hand drive, the sixth-generation Ford Mustang has encountered far greater global appeal than any Mustang before it.

The latest country to take a real liking to the Mustang is Down Under, where Australians are buying more Mustangs than any other Ford save the Ranger.

And it’s a good thing they are. While U.S. sales of Mustang plunged 28 percent in the first five months of 2017, production at Mustang’s Flat Rock, Michigan, assembly plant hasn’t been forced to slow down nearly that much. Through the first-third of 2017, Ford built only 4-percent fewer Mustangs than in the same period last year.

Put another Mustang on the barbie, indeed. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

tvr griffith

It’s exciting times for the independent British automaker. TVR, which reappeared on the automotive scene in 2013 after an absence of seven years, plans to unveil a production sports car in September.

Apparently, many TVR aficionados were itching for an opportunity to get their hands on a boutique vehicle from the low-volume automaker, money in hand. When the company showcased a prototype at a private event, hundreds ponied up deposits for a vehicle that might appear bearing a familiar name. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2017

2015-Corvette-Z06-rear-spoiler

Maybe the answer’s a no-brainer, but perhaps it’s more complicated than that. We’re living in an era where traditional norms no longer apply to the auto industry.

Yesterday, we told you how ex-General Motors product man Bob Lutz is totally open to the idea of turning Corvette into its own brand — a progression of an opinion he’s held for years. Corvette needn’t offer just two-seat hardtops and convertibles, at least not in this day and age, he claims. SUVs are simply too big to ignore, and everybody’s doing it, don’t you know?

Maybe Corvette aficionados don’t want to leave those checkered flags in the garage when they pick up the kids at soccer practice. And what about those times when Home Depot is closing in 14 minutes and you really need that slab of particle board? (Read More…)

By on March 15, 2017

All Porsche 911 Turbos - Image: Porsche

Meet the new Porsche 911, Porsche will say in two years, same as the old Porsche 911. Same as the 911 before that, which was same as the old 911 before that and, well, you get the picture.

If you’re looking for the kind of revolutionary design changeover seen when Ford introduced a new Mustang in 2005 or Dodge unveiled a new Ram for 1994 or Hyundai debuted the 2011 Sonata, you’re looking at the wrong automaker.

This is the Porsche 911 we’re talking about, the car that causes other automakers to believe they, too, can merely tinker with existing models to please loyalists and protect their resale values. (We’re looking at you, Chevrolet Camaro.) This is the Porsche 911, a car that still carries its engine where Camrys carry groceries. This is the Porsche 911, a vibrant $90,450–201,450 ode to success that sells more often than budget-minded Toyota sports cars and Buick convertibles.

There’s absolutely no reason to change it. As a result, the Porsche 911 that will drop in 2019, CAR Magazine has revealed, will scarcely be distinguishable from the outgoing 911. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2017

2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO, Image: Nissan

Nissan is finally ready to give us a look at the next-generation Z sports car — and just in time, too.

According to a report from Japan’s Best Car magazine, the Japanese automaker will unveil a Z concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show in October. Earlier rumors suggested a next-generation Z car could take the form of a crossover, based on Nissan UK’s Gripz Concept, but it seems it’ll be a traditional rear-wheel-drive coupe with similar proportions to the current car.

By on February 3, 2017

2017 Ford Mustang blue - Image: Ford

Across much of the United States, January is not the season for pony car purchases.

In fact, January is not the season for big automotive purchases in general.

Auto sales are at their lowest point in January. The rush to buy and lease vehicles in December, when spending comes naturally and time away from the office is easy to come by, is over. The weather typically takes a turn. Wallets are not flush.

Last month, U.S. auto sales dropped 2 percent from January 2016 levels. Blame a 13-percent passenger car downturn.

But the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and Dodge Challenger all tanked at a substantially worse rate than the market at large, following up a disappointing 2016 with January results that had better not set the stage for 2017. (Read More…)

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…)

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