By on June 10, 2021

Toyota is reportedly taking the performance aspects of its brand, which some of our readers might recall has been a little spotty, very seriously and has begun making plans to broaden the horizons of the Gazoo Racing (GR). The sub-brand, which seems to be gradually supplanting Toyota Racing Development (TRD), has introduced a slew of GR-badged models in Asia and Europe and will be affixing the title onto the returning 86 coupe. It has also slapped the performance designation onto the current-generation Supra here in North America, with no intention of stopping there.

According to Bob Carter, executive vice president of sales for Toyota North America, the Japanese manufacturer wants to extend the GR treatment to even more models. (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2021

 

BMW 2 Series coupes

The 2022 BMW 2 Series coupes are on their way. Dynamic testing, drivetrain, and suspension tuning on the two-door compact are nearing conclusion. Production begins in the late summer of 2021.

(Read More…)

By on March 31, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride is largely forgotten. Some call it a “super car,” while others argue over whether it was a kit car or a production vehicle. It seems to be the latter, not that it makes much of a difference 25 years later when so few were made.

Come along and learn about Tojan, a very special take on a Pontiac.

(Read More…)

By on November 9, 2020

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

We’ve spent the last few years wondering how Mazda’s upmarket push would impact its focus on performance. But keeping tabs gradually devolved into holding out hope that the brand wouldn’t totally snub fun-to-drive products to broaden its appeal. While there’s a wealth of Japanese brands ready to sell you comfortable and well-appointed automobiles, there aren’t many devoting a sizable amount of resources into maintaining engaging driving dynamics for the whole of their lineup. Mazda used to be the exception but now seems interested in banking on its above-average styling and novel luxury aura to drive sales.

It’s not a bad strategy but appears to have come at the expense of performance. Despite Mazda products rarely being famous for the output of their powertrains (unless we’re talking in the context of size), the brand is not making up the difference in handling anymore. It also hasn’t built any new Mazdaspeed performance products in years and doesn’t seem interested in trying.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2020

Most examples of the popular first-generation Focus lived life as appliances. Use and abused, they filtered to the used car lots during the late 2000s alongside brethren like the Mercury Cougar and Jaguar S-Type. However, a select few were spared from such an ignominious fate by performance tuner Saleen. The Californian company took some new Foci and imbued them with extra performance.

Today’s Rare Ride is among the chosen — it’s the 2005 Saleen Focus.

(Read More…)

By on March 4, 2020

We continue our exploration of vehicular design from the 2010s today. Thus far, we’ve covered the best and worst examples of more affordable car design, following it up last week with the best design among upscale vehicles.

Now it’s time to consider the worst of the upscale.

(Read More…)

By on February 26, 2020

We’ve had two prior posts discussing the highs and lows of automotive design from the decade most recently closed. Both those times we kept our choices in the affordable category, where starting prices were under $100,000 when new. Today we double that limit, and consider upscale designs.

(Read More…)

By on February 12, 2020

2011 BMW 535i GT - Image: BMWOn Wednesday last week we looked back on the recently ended decade, seeking the best design found on the sort of cars people can actually afford. Today, we’ll flip the question and go in search of the design failures.

(Read More…)

By on February 5, 2020

As we’ve entered a new decade, I thought it might be time to take a look back at the 2010s and see if, among the largely nondescript egg-shaped crossovers, there were some design gems. The sort of cars that’ll be looked back upon fondly down the road.

Got one in mind?

(Read More…)

By on September 10, 2019

Rare Rides previously featured two vehicles that resulted from racing legend Carroll Shelby’s association with Chrysler in the Eighties. The first was a rakish and special Charger GLHS liftback, followed a few months later by the Shelby Dakota. Both of those examples wore their Dodge badges proudly, front and center amongst the additional Shelby tinsel. But the 1987 CSX took a more independent approach to branding.

(Read More…)

By on July 17, 2019

Lotus has finally revealed its new halo vehicle, the Evija, claiming it will become “the world’s most powerful production car.” However, due to the Evija’s extremely limited availability and 1.7 million-pound ($2.1 million) price, there’s a lot undercutting that claim. It also leads Lotus away from its role as a scrappy underdog, delivering stripped-down featherweights designed to embarrass similarly priced sporting vehicles with more luxurious amenities.

When you think of present-day Lotus, you don’t typically think grandiose — but that term sums up the Evija rather well. Lotus Cars CEO Phil Popham said it would be like nothing else and “re-establish our brand in the hearts and minds of sports car fans and on the global automotive stage,” while simultaneously paving the way for new models.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2019

Briggs Automotive Company, better known as BAC, doesn’t make a lot of announcements, but that’s not unheard of in the weird world of British sports car manufacturers that focus solely on low-volume, high-performance models.

When BAC launched the Mono in 2011, reviewers praised the car for delivering a unique driving experience and merging track-car dynamics with on-road legality. It became an overnight automotive celebrity, spending the next few years starring on programs like Top Gear, in video games, or on popular auto-themed YouTube channels. A decade later, little buzz surrounds the company.

Fortunately, BAC says it will bring forth another vehicle in 2019.  (Read More…)

By on May 21, 2019

Buy/Drive/Burn returns this week with three American sports cars in their most basic, purest form. The Big Three are represented here, and they don’t get any cheaper than this. No options or fripperies are allowed, and one must receive the Buy.

Start your (small) engines — it’s sports car time.

(Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

These days it seems as though every automaker, no matter how small, has a performance division on hand to offer up the occasional heart-pounding model variant to be coveted by enthusiasts. However, it only seems that way. Many brands have to go without.

Despite once branding itself as the everyday performance brand, Mazda hasn’t delivered a new Mazdaspeed vehicle since 2010. This left us wondering if the brand’s performance division would ever return. We even asked the company to weigh in on the situation back in 2017, with Mazda suggesting that all of its models are performance oriented (before saying it couldn’t comment on future products or any associated speculation). Subsequent inquiries were met with nearly interchangeable explanations.

Similarly dissatisfied, the folks at Road & Track adjusted their line of questioning in the hopes of prying more information out of Mazda. Rather than asking what’s happening with Mazdaspeed, they asked what it would take to see it produce another automobile. Unfortunately, the answers aren’t particularly encouraging.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2018

An enterprising GM executive, a British tuning company, and a compact hatchback came together in 1975 to make a very special, limited-production Chevrolet.

It’s the Cosworth Vega, naturally.

(Read More…)

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