The Truth About Cars » Sportscar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Sportscar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2012 BMW M6 Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-bmw-m6-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/review-2012-bmw-m6-convertible/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 13:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456668 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 […]

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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?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The previous 6 suffered from Chris Bangle’s posterior, a design that was either loved or hated. The new 6 replaces the awkward trunk with curves and creases that seem to please everyone. Despite being lower and wider than a 650i with plenty of unique sheetmetal, the casual observer was unable to tell just how much was altered to create the M6. Who knew the M6 would be a sleeper?

BMW continues to employ a soft top with “classic” 6-Series buttresses on either side of the rear glass, bucking the retractable hardtop trend that’s sweeping the three-pointed star. Aside from the weight benefits, the canvas lid maximizes trunk space, has less impacted on weight balance when the top is down, and most importantly: it operates at speeds up to 25MPH. Compared to the Jaguar XK-R, the M6 is larger and more aggressive. Thankfully, as aggressive as the M6 looks, the profile and details are more elegant than the Mercedes SL63 whose hood vents and trunk spoiler look overdone.

Interior

Inside the changes to the 650i donor car are less dramatic and limited to trim tweaks, lightly restyled seats, new steering wheel, and M-themed shifter. Despite sharing heavily with the plebeian 640i, the cabin is completely at home in a $120,000 luxury coupe with perfect stitched dashboard seams and soft leather everywhere. The only problem I found is the steering column shared with the lesser models. The M6’s airbag is considerably smaller, perfectly round and in the center of a thin three-spoke tiller making the rectangular plastic steering column extremely visible.

During my week with the M6 I acted as a quasi-pace-car driver for a 40-mile charity walk. Four of us spent two 10-hour days driving from one stop to another and hours in the seats getting sunburnt waiting for the walkers to arrive at the next stop. Normally four people jammed into a luxury convertible would be a trying experience, but  the M6 was surprisingly comfortable with a useable back seat and supportive front seats. In comparison, the XK’s rear seats are more of a joke than an actual feature, the Mercedes SL doesn’t have any back seats and the Maserati GranCabrio has a similar amount of legroom but awkwardly angled seat backs.

Infotainment & Gadgets

As with most modern BMW products, the M6 comes with BMW’s standard 10.2-inch iDrive system. Unfortunately the minor tweaks made to the new 3-series have not made it to the 6-Series meaning you still have a CD button rather than a media button and the head-up display won’t show you infotainment info. If you want to know more about iDrive, checkout our video on the 2012 650i or click on over to the 650i Coupe and 650i Convertible reviews.

For some reason, BMW’s excellent radar cruise control is not available on the M6, but the rest of the 6-Series’ gadgetry can be added. Our M6 was equipped with the $4,900 “Executive Package” which included full LED headlamps, a heated steering wheel, satellite radio, anti-fatigue front seats, soft-closing doors and BMW’s “apps” package for iDrive. Should your gadget-love know no budget; lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring, all-around video camera and electronic speed limit info can be had for $1,900. Ventilated front seats are a $500 stand alone option, as is the $2,600 night vision system with pedestrian detection. The essential option is the $3,700 Bang & Olufsen sound system. The standard 12-speaker BMW audio system is balanced strangely toward the bright side of normal. If you’re throwing down six figures on your topless weekend car, checking this option box won’t hurt.

iDrive alone puts the M6 at the top of the gadget lover’s list, but let’s compare anyway. With a starting price over $30,000 higher than the M6, the SL63 brings active lane keep assist and radar cruise control to the party but lacks BMW’s night vision, all-around camera, anti-fatigue seats, LED headlamps and, let’s face it, COMAND should be sent out to pasture. The XKR-S looses this battle as well with a $20,000 premium, Jaguar’s aggravating infotainment system, and no gadgets to speak of.

Drivetrain

With CAFE regulations looming, twin-turbo engines are the latest craze for luxury marques and even BMW’s mighty M division has caved. The result is a step backwards and forwards with the bespoke V10 replaced by a modified version of BMW’s 400HP 4.4L twin-turbo V8 (N63). The same basic engine (S63) first debuted under the hood of the 555HP X5M and X6M. For M5 and M6 duty, BMW tweaked the engine by adding Valvetronic, increasing the compression ratio from 9.3:1 to 10:1 and bumping peak boost. The result is a minor increase in horsepower to 560 and a flattening of the power curve from a peak at 6,000RPM, to a plateau from  5,750-7,000. Torque remains steady at a stump-pulling 500lb-ft but broadens to 1,500-5,750RPM. BMW revised the 7-speed “M-DCT” dual clutch transmission from the last M5/M6 and tossed in a new electronic rear differential. While not strictly a drivetrain change, BMW swapped the floating rear subframe for a fixed unit to improve handling and power delivery.

In comparison, the Jaguar XKR-S delivers 550HP and 502lb-ft of twist from its blown 5.0L V8 and the all-new Mercedes SL63 offers your choice of 530HP/557lb-ft or 590HP/664lb-ft from AMG’s new 5.5L twin-turbo V8. Jaguar has continues to stick to the tried-and-true ZF 6-speed automatic while Mercedes continues their love affair with their 7-speed automatic sans torque converter. While each of these transmission types has an advantage, BMW claims their M-DCT transmission shifts in half the time of the competition.

Drive

It often takes a week for me to decide how I like a car. With the M6 it took 50 miles. Why? Because of how well BMW has blended savage acceleration with a soft luxurious ride and comfy seats. The M6 has turned into the ultimate road trip convertible.

Don’t get me wrong, the M6 is a serious performance contender. Bury the throttle and 60 passes in 3.75 seconds followed shortly by a blistering 11.89 second 1/4 mile at an eye popping 123MPH. These numbers are without launch control which, strangely enough, elevated our times by about 3/10ths. Just let the nannies do their thing. The numbers below show the M6 “suffers” slight turbo lag from 0-30. From 30-60, the M6 is a beast taking 0.70 fewer seconds than the XKR-S. By 120MPH the lighter weight of the Jaguar helps it stay right on the heels of the BMW. By the end of the 1/4 mile, the BMW finishes ahead by a car length. My seat time in the SL63 was limited and we weren’t able to get it out on the track, but don’t expect it to be much faster to 60. Despite the serious power advantage, the rear tires are skinnier than the Jag or BMW and traction is king.

2012 Jaguar XKR-S           2012 BMW M6 Convertible

0-30: 1.18 Seconds                 1.8 (Thank the turbos for that)

0-60: 3.83 Seconds                 3.75 (It’s all about the torque curve baby)

0-120: 11.84 Seconds             11.80 (curb weight means something)

1/4 mile: 12.0 @ 122 MPH       11.89 @ 123 MPH

A word about 0-60 numbers. With high horsepower cars, traction is the limiting factor. Because road surfaces, tires, etc. vary greatly. Our track times cannot be directly compared to other publications as they are not performed on the same surface – nevertheless, we’re all in the same ballpark. We use a 10Hz GPS meter for our testing. According to the manufacturer,accuracy is  +/-0.2MPH on 0-60 runs and +/-0.4MPH on 1/4 mile tests. According to our drag-strip verification, the system is within +/-0.3MPH over a 1/4 mile.

Out on the track, the XKR-S and M6 are well matched. While the XKR-S is a bit heavier in the nose and has narrower tires up front, the rear seems to find grip more easily and the steering is more direct and responsive. The English competitor is also 429lb lighter with a firmer suspension, less body roll and an absolutely savage 0-30 time. The M6 counters with lightning fast dual-clutch shifts and seemingly endless mid-range power. For 2012, BMW polished M-DCT’s software and the result is one of the smoothest “robotic manuals” I have ever driven. I’d like to compare it to the Mercedes SPEEDSHIFT transmission in the SL63, but I still have harsh-shift related whiplash from my test drive.

On the broken roads of Northern California, it’s a different story. BMW’s adaptive suspension makes the M6 more composed than the SL or XKR-S on broken pavement, even at higher speeds. It’s not that the Jag or Merc are unrefined by any measure, its that the M6 rides like a 7-Series while it handles like an overweight M3. Thank you modern technology.

The softer ride and number steering mean the M6 is less engaging in the bends. On the flip side, the M6 is a car you can drive every day while the SL63 and XKR-S exact some practical compromises. The M6 is the more comfortable car, it seats four and the monstrous trunk can hold luggage for 3 easily. What the BMW can’t counter is the visceral roar produced by Jag’s 5.0L V8. The M6 in comparison is quiet, some might even say demure.

 

If you want the best track car, get a GT-R. It will “out everything” the M6 on the track. If you want the best sounding V8 engine, get the XKR-S. If you want the sexiest coupe, get a Maserati. If you want the best all-around sports luxury coupe, look no further than the BMW M6. I admit that after a week with the most expensive M, I am smitten. But have I fallen for the M6 for all the “wrong” reasons? I value the M6’s perfect interior, comfortable seats, electronic do-dads and LED headlamps over straight-line or corner performance. In other-words, I elevate all the values I was raised to associate with Mercedes-Benz. But here in front of me is a BMW that embodies all the luxury I demand yet sacrifices only a smidgin of track performance in the process. I will leave the discussions of branding to more qualified writers, but I will say that nobody I met felt the Mercedes SL brought any more cachet than the M6, despite its price tag. Mercedes has been put on notice. BMW’s M6 reigns alone as the king of the German luxury coupe. AMG: you have been found wanting. (You know, except for that whole SLS thing.)

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

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 1.8 Seconds

0-60: 3.75 Seconds

1/4 Mile:  11.89 Seconds @ 123 MPH

Average fuel economy: 16.1 MPG over 825 miles

2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, backup camera, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, exhaust, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, rear, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, wheels, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, headlamp, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, side, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, front, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, BMW logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Exterior, M6 logo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, engine, 4.4L twin turbo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, engine, 4.4L twin turbo, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, window switches, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, shifter, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive controller, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes2012 BMW M6 Convertible-023 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, start/stop button, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, seat controls, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, back seat, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, aerial view, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, head up display, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Heads up display, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, gauges, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, iDrive, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, door sill, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, shifter and key, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, steering wheel, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, dashboard, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Convertible, Interior, Picture courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 BMW M6 Monroney Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Review: 2012 Porsche Carrera 4 PDK http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-porsche-carrera-4s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/review-2012-porsche-carrera-4s/#comments Mon, 14 Nov 2011 18:24:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=418160 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 […]

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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.

First, I asked Porsche nicely. And repeatedly. Being that I’m in Canada, politeness works here like a Jedi mind-trick.

Secondly, this 911 is no adrenal-gland-prodding trackday GT3, nor supercar-blitzing Turbo S. Neither is it the new 991 nor the 997 that every other publication has already told you “is the one you want” – the GTS. Scope the specs on this particular slice of Stuttgart spizzarkle: four-wheel-drive, automatic transmission, “base” 3.6L engine – it might as well have training wheels attached.

Quite simply, what we have here is a 911 for Mr. Average, and if you ignore the fact that I’m a ginger, that’s me. I shall put on a hat and go drive it.

A stylistic critique of the 997, 2012 model or not, would be futile. Porsche has been honing the 911’s silhouette since 1963, and this particular variant has been kicking around since the ’05 model year.

Assuming that you don’t live on the moon, you’ve doubtless seen some trim level of the current 911 sitting curbside and drawn your own conclusions about the slippery reversed teardrop with the cello haunches. Corporate grilles be damned, every nuance of a 911’s shape is burned into the collective’s zeitgeist. This is the Porsche, the stallion-crest flag-bearer, and I suppose the only cosmetic things I can point to here are the slightly nicer optional Turbo wheels my tester is fitted with, and the fact that the last few years of 997s have been fitted with larger air intakes and the ubiquitous LED running lights.

But here’s the thing, the thrill I feel as I slide into the near-perfect seats and spend a few clumsy seconds trying to start the car with the key in my right hand (oh right, ignition’s on the left) is short-lived. Despite the flawless autumnal splendour of a rare sunny day in the Pacific Northwest, it takes all of ten city blocks for an invisible hand to twist the dimmer on the neon sign that’s blinking, “OH EMM GEE – I’m driving a 911!” in my head.

In quick succession I am passed by a V10 Audi R8, a white 458 Italia and a bright orange Lamborghini LP-550-2 Valentino Balboni. Hmmm.

Here in the City of Glass with its many narcissism-inducing reflective surfaces – the place that invented the butt-sculpting yoga pant (not that I had anything to do with it, but You’re Welcome) – a 911 Carrera is insufficient for posing; I might as well be driving a 2012 GTi for all the attention I’m garnering. The 911 might be the Porsche, but here it’s also just a Porsche.

The muted grey of this car’s Platinum Silver Metallic paintwork may have something do do with it, but the cheery fact is that the 911 has, over the years, gradually shed the Gordon Gekko ostentation of a crimson, whale-tailed 964 convertible. In an age where hot Bimmers are slathered in M badging and skittle-shaded entry-level coupes like the Hyundai Veloster boast big, blingy, colour-matched rims, mid-line variants of the 911 seem restrained, discreet, reserved. To my mind, that’s a good thing.

A Carrera4 is not – supposedly – meant to be coddled, so through the week a 911 becomes my commuter car. This is not as much fun as it sounds: I have a short drive to work, but at this time of year it’s a tangled mess, clotted with lumps of slow-moving SUVs, snarled by construction and confounded by sheer volume. Each day, I walk out to be greeted by the permeating dampness of a West Coast winter and learn a little more about the idea of a 911 as a daily driver.

Most of it is good. The PDK is somewhat clunky from cold, but soon warms up and begins shuffling through the gears imperceptibly and rapidly; sixth and sometimes seventh gear is achieved at not much more than side-street speeds of 30mph. Smooth yes, sporty no.

The sport seats, as previously mentioned, are fantastic: grippy yet cosseting. The steering-wheel is blissfully free of buttons and gently nudges your hands towards the correct 3-and-9 position. The rest of the interior is fairly spartan, and little different from that of a base-equipped Boxster. Satellite navigation is straightforward to use, the iPod interface is fiddly.

Visibility is excellent. Ride is firm, but acceptable. Tire roar stops just short of Nissan 370Z levels. Parallel parking at first brings beads of sweat to the brow in fear of curbing those low-offset rims, but becomes a doddle with a few days practice.

Whatever visceral tug that iconic shape gave me on Monday morning has been eroded by Saturday evening. The Carrera4 has been competent, welcoming, even reasonable on fuel, but in the day-to-day of city driving it has yet to shine. At this point, it might be tempting to scan the option list and begin grumping about the outrageous cost of extras that should be standard on a $100K car – $400 for auto-dimming mirrors? Really?

Instead, it’s time to head East.

As the sun slips down behind us and the scenery changes from skyscraper-and-supercar to pickup trucks n’ Holsteins, I can feel a little knot of anticipation growing in the pit of my stomach. I’m heading home.

Here, high in the hills above the fertile Fraser Valley, I awake early on Sunday morning to find the 911 coated with crystalline ice, its badge encrusted in hoarfrost. Day is breaking, diamond-bright and brittle-blue, brilliant with all the promise of a cloudless wintry sky. I fire up the big flat-six and a low-pitched thrum backs the percussive tappeting of valves as clouds of vapour issue from twin exhausts to hang in the cold, clear air.

While the frost clears from the windshield, I retreat to the warmth of the kitchen to chat over coffee with my father. About what I can’t remember: it’s not important.

“You want to go for a ride, Dad?”

The Porsche’s summer tires – I am the last to drive this car so shod – are frozen hard as hockey pucks and scrabble at the cracked and heaved pavement at the foot of the driveway. I have the car in Sport Mode with Porsche’s Active Stability Management engaged. This car is fitted with Sport Chrono – a must-have for PDK-equipped cars – and while engaging Sport+ on a public road is the province of sociopaths, kicking the 911 into sport transforms it.

We go haring up the first of several hills, the pleasant whuffling of the Carrera’s exhaust crescendoing into a sonorous turbine-tenor, hard first-to-second, second-to-third shifts hammering us back in the seats with a thump. Finally, Porsche has seen fit to add proper paddle-shifters, though they’re steering-wheel mounted, rather than on the steering column. We climb.

These are the roads I grew up on, intestinal loops of off-camber, often slippery asphalt, patchworked with hasty repairs, rumpled, rutted, rippled, dimpled and undulating. I have ridden the school bus on them, have sat shotgun in my Dad’s ’85 535i as we flew along through tree-dappled sunlight, have nursed a recalcitrant Land Rover along at imprudent speeds during my rash teenage years, have driven them home in the first car I paid for with my own money.

Dad taught me to drive here in that stick-shift E28, and here I am taking him for a ride in one of the finest pieces of machinery ever engineered. We blast along winding, sunny country roads with snow-capped mountains and frost-coated fields as the backdrop, whipping up red-and-yellow vortices of fallen leaves to swirl in our wake. If this is all beginning to sound a bit like a Porsche commercial, that’s pretty much how it felt.

With a dual-clutch gearbox, all-wheel-drive and a hefty price tag, this 911 invites direct comparison to the Nissan GT-R. In fact, picking Godzilla over this car (as optioned) would leave about $10K remaining in your jeans. As a kid, I would have said it was a no-brainer: the car that boasts the better numbers is the better car.

However, I’ve had a reasonable amount of seat-time in Nissan’s scalp-taker, and it’s a very angry, impatient, heavy thing. Where the GT-R stomps, crushing curving tarmac like a steamroller with R-compounds, the 911 fairly dances along the roads.

The Porsche has a taut, sinewy feel as you feed it into a corner and then squeeze the throttle out, feeling a slight hip-pivot caused by the mild pendulum effect of that rear-mounted engine. We’re not hurrying, simply flowing through well-known and well-worn twists and turns, watching for slippery patches and keeping an eye out for neighbours out on horseback. The roads remain abandoned.

I slow as we come to a corner where I remember a past winter’s ice, and sure enough, some badly dug ditchwork has allowed twin rivulets to flow across the steeply pitched road and freeze into thin and splintered sheets. Just for a lark, I lightly goose the throttle from low speed as the 911 picks its way across the ice-patch gingerly, shifting the power around like a cat lifting and shaking its paws as it walks across a wet floor. The result is undramatic: this car is equipped with the new electrically-controlled all-wheel-drive system out of the 997 Turbo, capable of putting 100% of the power to either axle. As the front wheels grip dry tarmac, I’m temporarily piloting a front-wheel-drive 911. Blasphemy.

It’s also capable of an incredible standing start with launch control activated. After stopping to take a quick picture I test it out: Sport+ button engaged. Stand on the brake pedal, bury the throttle in the carpet. 6500rpm. Release the brake.

The result? 0-60 in 4.6 seconds and some seriously impressed Herefords. Or they could be bored. Or hungry. Cattle are a pretty inscrutable lot.

I could drive this car here forever, endlessly looping these empty roads, but this is a fleeting moment and it’s time to return to reality and hand the keys back. But not before handing out one more free ride.

On our way back to the city, we stop in to see a very good friend who is completely useless about cars. His son is just turning five, and is somehow developing into a full-fledged gearhead despite his dad’s neglected Honda Civic and practical minivan. The house is littered with Hot Wheels and Pixar characters. Does he want to go for a ride?

Seconds later, we’re all strapped in, windows down with the heat on full. Bang-bang-bang through the gears and then hard on the brakes as we all dissolve into helpless, joyous laughter. “Uncle Brendan, this car is more fun than I thought it was going to be,” I’m informed with all the irony-free seriousness that the only the very young can manage. Amen to that.

You can buy a 911 in eighteen different flavours, and while this car skews slightly from the way I’d pick mine (skip the PDK, spec an “S”, hold off on the all-wheel-drive and sat-nav and spend the money on driving lessons instead), it’s still a very special car. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

The new 991 is already here, and I can’t wait to drive it and compare it to the low-mile 993 I drove a few weeks ago, and to this, last hurrah of the 997. The truth of this car? If you save up and manage to swing the lease payments, or pick a used one up with 30K on the clock for the same price as a new STi, then you will discover the same thing I have. Just occasionally, there is meat behind the legend. Just occasionally, the reputation is earned.

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

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Acura’s Avenger Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-acuras-avenger-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-acuras-avenger-edition/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 17:51:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410723 Is this car, photographed on the set of the upcoming Avengers film [via superherohype.com], a glimpse of a new Acura NSX re-boot? Acura tells Motor Trend 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 […]

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Is this car, photographed on the set of the upcoming Avengers film [via superherohype.com], a glimpse of a new Acura NSX re-boot? Acura tells Motor Trend

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…

the avengers film set 4 020911 acuraconcept2 Acura's Avenger? (courtesy:  Ivan Nikolov/WENN.com)

 

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Kia Celebrates The End Of The Silly Season With Four-Door Coupe Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/kia-celebrates-the-end-of-the-silly-season-with-four-door-coupe-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/kia-celebrates-the-end-of-the-silly-season-with-four-door-coupe-concept/#comments Fri, 19 Aug 2011 15:05:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=408020 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 […]

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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.

Kia’s design boss Peter Schreyer tells his fellow Germans at Auto Motor und Sport that

In three to five years, we’re going to offer a sportscar. This study will open a new chapter for Kia.

And, according to Kia boss Hank Lee, that future sportscar will be a four-door coupe model, not unlike both this concept and Kia’s earlier Kee concept (shown at the 2007 IAA). This is an interesting decision, considering that we’d heard earlier that this forthcoming sports coupe would be a small, lightweight coupe, as Schreyer explained

We would have to aim to rival the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota’s new rear-driven coupe. The car would not need to be very fast or very powerful, but it should be compact, affordable and fun – a true sports car.

We’ll continue to watch this program, as between this, Toyota’s FT-86/FR-S and the rumored Nissan Silvia sports coupe, we’re looking at something of a renaissance for small, affordable, rear-drive sports coupes. In the meantime, the next big Kia announcement, also be at the IAA, will be a production version of Kia’s Genesis-platform luxury flagship. With the silly season officially behind us, now more than ever, it’s time to be watching this space…

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VW Ends Sportscar Branding Battle By Screwing Audi http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/vw-ends-sportscar-branding-battle-by-screwing-audi/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/05/vw-ends-sportscar-branding-battle-by-screwing-audi/#comments Fri, 06 May 2011 15:49:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=394032 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 […]

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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.

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Mazda RX-8 To Be Discontinued In US Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/mazda-rx-8-to-be-discontinued-in-us-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/mazda-rx-8-to-be-discontinued-in-us-market/#comments Wed, 05 May 2010 16:37:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=355400 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 […]

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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.

But, the MT guys remind us that we shouldn’t give up all hope just yet:

Does this mean Mazda is giving up on rotaries? No. Remember that North American sales of the RX-7 ceased in 2002, a full two years before the RX-8 made its debut. Mazda’s market-by-market wind down of RX-8 sales may indicate a shift of resources towards the long rumored return of the RX-7.

Here’s hoping Mazda comes back with a worthy successor in 2013.

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Toyota Backs Off FT-86 Price Point, Youth Appeal Goals http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/toyota-backs-off-ft-86-price-point-youth-appeal-goals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/toyota-backs-off-ft-86-price-point-youth-appeal-goals/#comments Wed, 21 Apr 2010 21:17:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=353668 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 […]

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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.

According to Autocar:

[The FT-86’s] R&D team is now more focused on minimizing fuel consumption and producing the cleanest engine possible; the Subaru boxer engine planned for the car is not considered to be that clean or fuel-efficient… The car is also likely to be marketed to older buyers than originally planned, too. The head of Toyota’s newly created sports vehicle department, Tetsuya Tada, told Autocar that his team had increased the target age group by 10 years, from the 30s to 40s, after market research revealed that fewer younger buyers would opt for the sleek coupé than first thought.

So much for Toyota’s pledge to get serious about selling cars with enthusiast-oriented “splendid flavor.” Though it’s too early to say definitively that the FT-86 has traipsed down the primrose path of play-it-safe planning, this is not a good sign for those hoping the FT-86 would be the first iconic budget-enthusiast car to hit the American market in ages.

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