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Phillip Thomas

By on February 17, 2014

Where would NASCAR be with out another fantastic Daytona mishap?

Last Saturday was the start of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the Sprint Unlimited, a 75 lap non-points event that’s seen as the pre-season race for the Daytona 500. It offers a unique racing format, in that the 75 laps are split up into three segments, with fans deciding the distribution of laps for the final segment: 10, 15, or 20 laps with the middle segment taking up the difference; along with fans voting for the starting order and restarting order for the final shoot out segment.

18 cars started, and by caution on Lap 55, only 8 remained due to a nightmarish (or excellent, depending on your expectations of NASCAR) crash-filled race.

Not even the Chevrolet SS pace car could escape the drama, when its auxiliary electrical system for the caution lights apparently caught fire in the trunk.
(Read More…)

By on February 14, 2014

Ssangyong has had a colorful history, to put it lightly. In 1999, the Korean brand entered bankruptcy as its Chinese majority owner, SAIC Motor Company cut Ssangyong loose. Ssangyong made a frenzied attempt to cut its workforce down, and faced one of the worst labor strikes in the Korean auto industry’s history. In retaliation for the cuts, the workers of Ssangyong’s Pyongtaek production plant set fire to the plant, and later occupied it for two months. Riot police, including helicopter support, was called in eventually to clear the plant.

With Ssangyong in shambles, Indian automaker Mahindra & Mahindra bought a 70% stake in the company in 2011 and immediately went to work on labor issues. Since the acquisition, Ssangyong has not suffered any labor downtime and the once rioting workforce now appears to be diligently rebuilding the auto maker, one car at a time.

In 2013, Ssangyong returned and racked up its highest sales, with 145,649 cars sold last year. 81,679 of those sales were made in overseas markets; and a spokesman for Ssangyong confirmed to WardsAuto that the Korean Automaker is looking to expand its product to the U.S. market.

(Read More…)

By on February 14, 2014

bmw-2-series-active-tourer-05

BMW’s first front wheel drive Ultimate Driving Minivan Machine is set to debut at Geneva next month. It rides on the BMW Group’s new UKL platform, which is also the same platform for Mini’s third generation Cooper and the next generation BMW X1. The top engine in the 225i is said to be a 231 horse power 2.0L turbo four cylinder, while a diesel powered 218d is optional; and power is routed though a standard six speed manual (yay) or automatic transmission for all engines.

The 2-Series moniker comes from its larger size and price over the 1-Series variants sold overseas.
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By on February 13, 2014

WardsAuto reports that the next generation 2016 Toyota Tundra pickup will receive the Cummins 5.0L V8 turbodiesel for 2016, the same engine that will be powering the next Nissan Titan pickup, due for 2015. While Toyota had been working on a diesel engine with Hino, Toyota’s heavy-truck division, the economic crash of 2008 shelved the plans. […]

By on February 11, 2014

  Electric vehicles tend to get a pass from many reviewers, who are content to overlook major faults in favor of a great drivetrain. Years back, I did a review of the Nissan Leaf for EcoModder, an eco-enthusiasts site dedicated to fuel-friendly modifications and electric vehicle (EV) projects. In retrospect, I was far more impressed […]

By on January 31, 2014

AX diesel Nurburgring record lap 9 55 BTG - YouTube
“It took me a lot of time and patience to achieve a ‘Bridge To Gantry’ lap time under 10 minutes during the tourist drive sessions at the Nordschleife. This challenge was definitely for fun but also to prove it could be done with work, tenacity and a bit of madness too… This TUD3 diesel engine is known for its poor reliability and I went through 9 engines and 5 gearboxes!”

We’re all aware by now how far manufactures go to validate their new sports car by posting a timed YouTube video of their prized new toy, worth at least tens of thousands of dollars, barreling down the Nürburgring at Vmax with some hot shoe driver. The ‘Ring time has started to become a regular, though often misguided, benchmark for how capable a car is.

Now, condense all of that determination, prestige and big-money manufacturer support; strip out the money and prestige, and add determined Frenchman with a diesel Citroën as he battles to break the magical 10-minute mark.

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By on January 13, 2014

gt4-stinger-02The world needs more sexy two door RWD coupes. I think we can all agree that the cheap two-door sports car market has gained some excitement the last few years, especially with the success of the BRZ/FRS (I shall call them BRS for short) twins. Kia is toying with that idea, too, and is pulling no punches while they’re here. The GT4 Stinger concept is aimed right at the heart of the BRS twins, and here’s how…
(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

Volkswagen-Passat-Blue Motion-Concept-7

This is the future of VW’s gas motors. Turbo 1.4L four cylinders with cylinder deactivation (A first for a four-cylinder, at least for the US), start/stop, and a unique “coasting” mode for the Dual Clutch Transmission(DCT), which allows the Passat to fully disengage the clutch, and thereby allowing the car to coast with the least amount of mechanical drag possible. Current DCT’s will keep the motor engaged while coasting and engine brake.  (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

porsche-911-991-targa-03
The 1965 Porsche 911 Targa has always been a bit unloved by the Porsche purist. The higher roofline of the Targa compromised the slick silhouette of the 911 that made it so iconic. It was something of a knee-jerk reaction to impending safety regulations by the NHTSA. Porsche thought that convertibles were soon to be made illegal, so the Targa offered a steel roll bar and removable roof section to fill the gap.

Fortunately, that fearful day for Porsche never came, and the targa departed the lineup in 1989, having been vastly supplanted in popularity by the full-droptop 911. This doesn’t stop Porsche from occasionally playing with its history.
(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

5_20130630 VW GOLD R  LOOK 19 PANNING 0236The all-wheel drive 2014 Golf R packs 290 hp and 280 ft-lb of torque, shoves it down your choice of either a six speed manual or six speed dual-clutch transmission, and hauls the compact hot hatch to sixty in 4.9 seconds. That’s about a second quicker to sixty than the outgoing Golf R… (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

volkswagen-beetle-dune-concept-05
The Dune concept aims to be a moderately functional addition the the Bettle lineup. VW raised the Beetle’s ride height by two inches, giving the Beetle a more “go anywhere” appeal. An inch wider track, and mighty 255/45 tires on 19 inch wheels round out the stance. The Dune hides a few clever tricks in its appearance package, however…
(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

2015-Mercedes-Benz-GLA45-AMG-04Tacky graphics, redline wheels, hotglued industrial adhesive attached spoiler and painted red calipers. I know this is an AMG, but can we tone down the try-hard looks? There’s a reason successful young Mercedes-Benz buyers don’t shop at Autozone for “accent pieces”, and it is not because they want the junk factory-installed.

(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
The Z06 has usually been a trickle-down of the Corvette GT car. Aero tweaks were unique to the .R, tricks like hood-evacuated radiator air flow, rear-fender mounted cooling ducts for various cooling system (like the differential), and a rear diffuser.  Now that the C7 boasts these tweaks from the get-go, the C7.R more closely resembles its street brethren than ever before…

(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

2015 M3
The 2015 BMW M3/4 debuts at Detroit with a host of “adding lightness” and a healthy step up in power from the outgoing M3.

The high-winding 4L V8 is replaced by a direct-injected turbo 3L straight six with 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, while dropping 20 pounds off the motor’s weight. The six speed is a carry over, but now gains auto rev-matching for those panty-dropping rev-matched downshifts. The alternative is a seven speed “M-DCT” dual clutch transmission. 0 to 60 is in a scant 4.1 seconds for the manual, and 3.9 seconds for the M-DCT…
(Read More…)

By on January 13, 2014

Toyota-FT-1-Concept-02

The “Future Toyota” numero uno, or FT-1, is supposed to be Toyota’s top RWD sports car. At least in concept form. What we get is a taste of Toyota’s future design language, calling the FT-1 the  “spiritual pace car for Toyota Global Design.” It’s almost a caricature of the FRS, with its spin on long hood/short deck styling, but with attention paid to housing some interesting aerodynamic tricks. Strategically placed vents that point at the use of extractors, and rear diffuser work stand out. There’s even some F1 styling cues: obviously in the powerful nose, but also in the rear LED “rain light.” Powertrain options are held quiet, but out of the hood peeks a longitudinally mounted engine for everyone to place bets on…

(Read More…)

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