As I exit the sleek, svelte coupe and to buy some ice cream, the car is crackling and popping like a campfire doused. I feel there’s something contradictory about this. After what I did for last hour or so — blasting around back roads at speeds far above socially acceptable levels, manhandling the tiller just to keep it straight under throttle, thundering through hairpin turns and using massive traction provided by a limited-slip diff — I should be doing something manly. Chomping on a fat steak and downing a beer; not licking a sweet cone filled with a frozen, sugared dessert. And the car behind me should be a butch, masculine coupe; not a curvy, chic little Peugeot.
When the “F01″ 7-Series arrived in 2008 followed by the “F10″ 5-Series in 2009, I saw the writing on the wall; BMW is the new Mercedes. My theory was “proved” after a week with the 2011 335is and 2012 X5M. BMW fans decried my prophesy as blasphemy. I repeated my statement with the 2012 328i and caught the eye of egmCarTech. A Mercedes fan tried to run me over in a parking lot. My colleagues in the press thought I lost my mind. BMW’s media watchers were eerily silent. A month later I was told that BMW would allow me a week in the all-new 2012 M6 Convertible. Would the most expensive M car change my mind or prove the point once and for all?
I know what you’re thinking.
I’m thinking it too.
Why me? How, with a host of competent hot-shoes, seriously-journalistic scribes and industry insiders here at TTAC, do the keys to a presser Porsche 911 get handed to the guy who publicly admitted to being not a very good driver and who has an unfortunate tendency to use four long words where one short one would do nicely? Would not the readership be better served by someone who could give you an in-depth, accurate 10/10ths dynamic assessment, or a brief, sober buyer’s summary?
Oh, probably. But there are two very good reasons I’ve got this thing.
The open-top sports car you are referring to is a one-off fictional car that was created just for the film and is not intended for production. The only thing that we can confirm is information that our CEO has already publicly stated, that we are studying the development of a new sports model.
That development is said to be based on a “flipped” Accord chassis, with a 400 HP mid-mounted V6 and SH-AWD. And it wouldn’t be too terribly surprising if the results looked something like this concept when it starts hitting the car show circuit. In any case, Tony Stark looks nearly as at home in this as he does in an Audi R8. That alone is the most promising sign we’ve seen from Acura in some time…
Over the last several months I’ve been especially glad that TTAC is relatively more free from the demands of the news cycle, as the doldrums of August has left us with little in the way of breaking news. Luckily TTAC is blessed with the kind of writers who can make even the most obscure story relevant and fascinating, and we’ve kept up our story cadence rolling even through the near media blackout of deep summer. But with just under a month left before the first and biggest auto show of the year, the Internationale Automobile Ausstellung in Frankfurt, the concepts and new models are starting to be rolled out, and the news cycle is chugging back to life. And one of the sparks that’s getting things moving again is this Kia rear-drive, four-door sports coupe concept.
There have been a number of important meetings in the auto industry over the last several years that TTAC dearly wishes it could have been a fly on the wall for, including GM’s decision to keep Opel, Fiat’s negotiations with the White House and Saab’s visit to its local payday loan store, to name just a few. But perhaps one of the more interesting boardroom battles of recent years has to be the new VW-Porsche Group’s struggle over how to brand its forthcoming mid-engine sportscar platform which first debuted as the VW BlueSport. Bertel reported last Summer that Porsche, Audi and VW were all bidding for the group’s sportscar development work, but that Porsche was likeliest to emerge with the title.
And it turns out he was right, as Auto Motor und Sport reports that VW has solved the problem by canceling Audi’s planned version of the BlueSport, leaving small mid-engine sportscar efforts in the hands of Porsche and VW. Though the decision makes the BlueSport’s branding challenge quite a bit easier (while cementing the prominence of firms related to Ferdinand Porsche at the expense of the Horch-created Audi brand), it has one less-than-ideal outcome: it removes Audi’s ability to bracket Tesla’s Roadster, a move which would have surely hurt the Silicon Valley upstart. Still, internal politics are more important than obliterating a limited-production competitor… and at least VW has its branding ducks back in one relatively orderly line.
With the Mazda RX-8 being pulled from the European market for its rotary engine’s inability to pass the new Euro-5 emissions standard, we should have guessed that its days were numbered in the US market as well. Perhaps the fact that the model is one of our favorite enthusiast options available in the US made us hope against hope that it would soldier on a bit longer. No such luck. According to Motor Trend‘s “well placed source at Mazda’s North American Operations,” the RX-8 will be phased out “most likely after the 2011 model year.” And probably not just for the obvious fuel economy or capacity-utilization reasons either: RX-8 sales peaked at 23,690 units in 2004, and have been in steady decline ever since, moving only 2,217 units last year.
Already a good year into its hype-cycle, Toyota’s much-discussed FT-86 sports coupe is apparently losing some of the focus that made it an instant (theoretical) hit with enthusiasts. According to Autocar, Toyota has given up on its price point goal of $20,000 for a base model in the Japanese market, bumping MSRP targets to $23k for a base model and $26k for loaded examples. No word on how this will affect US-market prices, which Toyota has never disclosed goals for. And if this were the only news coming out of FT-86-land, we might have ignored it altogether. Sadly though, the price shift reflects larger trends within the FT-86’s development, none of which are wildly promising from the perspective of the enthusiasts that this car was allegedly being built for.