By on June 26, 2020

2020 Mazda 3 Hatchback grey - Image: Mazda

A report earlier this year may have been what many longtime Mazda fans yearned to hear: that the company stands prepared to dump extra horses on its compact 3 sedan and hatch. Floundering since its launch, the little 3 could use a boost — in a number of ways.

Model codes ripped from a dealer’s computer system seemed to indicate a greater level of performance was on the way, and on Thursday Mazda confirmed just that. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2020

ford

The Bullitt and GT350 appear dead for 2021, but fear not. Those who find the Ford Mustang GT just a tad underwhelming can soon opt for a Mach 1, which combines various attributes of those three aforementioned cars in one retro package — though perhaps not as retro as some would like.

It’s also not as plentiful as some ‘Stang fans would prefer, either, going on sale in the spring of 2021 as a limited-run model capped at, well, no one knows how many units. (Read More…)

By on May 28, 2020

acura

Teased nearly to death in the run-up to its online debut, the 2021 Acura TLX revealed on Thursday lives up to the brand’s boastful pronouncements, at least on paper.

Athletic in stance and aggressive in design, the next-generation TLX arrives with a dedicated platform, double wishbone front suspension and turbocharged V6 in tow, ready to tempt premium import sedan buyers who can’t bring themselves go the safe-and-steady Lexus ES route. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2020

Toyota appears to be ready to answer a call, hinting at — but stopping short of confirming — the future arrival of a small car with outsized performance on American shores.

The automaker’s U.S. arm greeted Thursday by gathering up consumers who’d like to hear more about a GR-badged hot hatch from the company. GR meaning Gazoo Racing, an abbreviation already slapped on a two-door Yaris screamer not available on this continent. Boasting a very blown three-cylinder and all-wheel drive, this Yaris is not your coworker’s wife’s commuter. Nor will its one-size-up sibling be anything to scoff at.

Toyota clearly sees opportunity in the compact hot hatch space, and rumors and trademarks have spoken to this for some time. Today, Toyota’s speaking about it. (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2020

2019 Ford Ranger at MAP - Image: Ford

Ford Performance has expanded its catalog, adding tunes for the Mustang and Ranger that should make mashing the right pedal a tad more exciting. While the pony car kit is basically an extension of the staged Power Packs already on sale, just for the 2018-2020 model years, the Ranger package is rather novel — as this is the first factory tune available for the model in North America.

It also happens to offer noteworthy performance gains. (Read More…)

By on February 24, 2020

It’s well established by now that electric driving needn’t be an exercise in sedate tree hugging. Horsepower and performance are just as big a driver in today’s marketplace as the old issue of range, at least according to the minds behind the slew of potent EVs coming down the pipe.

Having just released its Euro-market ID 3 electric hatchback, soon to be followed up by an ID 4 compact crossover and a range of larger models, Volkswagen is considering a sportier application for its dedicated EV architecture. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2020

Dave Pericak, former head of Ford Performance and now responsible for the brand’s icon models, told CNET on the sidelines of the Chicago Auto Show that evolving environmental regulations have forced the automaker to reassess how it views performance.

“A lot of countries are changing regulations so quickly, and so much, they’re almost forcing the performance products out,” he said.

“Our job is going to be two-fold,” Pericak continued. “One is to figure out how to continue to make performance that will exist in some of these regulated countries, even our own, and how do you do it so it’s a global offering?”

It’s a good question. Environmental regulations have indeed forced automakers to downsize displacement and re-familiarize themselves with turbocharging. Electrification is an option growing in popularity too, with many global automakers tossing battery packs into vehicles of all sizes at no small cost to themselves.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2020

This is a tidbit we certainly hope is true. After Cadillac was forced on the defensive for debuting a V-badged CT5 sedan widely seen as lacking in the power department, word comes that a wilder variant with a very familiar heart is just around the corner.

The brand is expected to stage a return of the powerplant that made the new model’s CTS-V predecessor great. (Read More…)

By on December 20, 2019

The fun police, also known as European regulators, are causing sleepless nights for that continent’s automobile manufacturers, all thanks to their imposition of ultra-stringent Euro 6 emissions standards.

You’ve already read about Mazda cutting back on 2.0-liter MX-5 sales in the UK to lessen the brand’s fleetwide emissions output. Now, Mercedes-Benz’s performance arm might have to cull a great number of AMG-badged vehicles to keep itself in good standing. (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 August 21, 2019

Image: Audi

Months of teasing gave way to an admission of intent late Tuesday. After dangling Avants wagons of yesteryear in front of social media watchers since the spring, Audi finally came out and admitted the beastly RS6 Avant wagon will make its way stateside.

Sporting all-wheel drive, a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, and endlessly customizable drive settings, the next-generation RS 6 Avant lands in America in 2020, but don’t expect to see many polluting showroom floors. (Read More…)

By on August 13, 2019

Image: Acura

Acura pulled the digital wraps off its Type S Concept two days ahead of its public debut at Monterey Car Week, heralding the Type S designation’s return to the brand’s model line. The car seen here hints at what to expect of the looming next-generation TLX and its confirmed Type S performance variant.

“Performance.” That implies something more than just a racy appearance package and maybe an upgraded brake and suspension setup, right? Ideally, yes, but in this case Acura does promise more “go” to back up the show.
(Read More…)

By on June 3, 2019

2017 ford fusion sport

It doesn’t come as a surprise, but it still hurts to learn that Ford’s modern-day take on the ’60s family performance sedan will die with the 2019 model year.

While the automaker’s doomed Fusion nameplate will live on for 2020, the brawny, all-wheel drive Sport variant will not. The automaker confirmed the model’s discontinuation on Monday, meaning performance-minded Blue Oval breeders must now turn their attention (and lust) to the brand’s ST-badged crossovers. (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2019

In today’s episode of Surprising Bedfellows, we find the corporate duo of Hyundai/Kia throwing money in the general direction of Rimac. Technically titled Rimac Automobili, it’s the Croatian high-performance EV company known for making the outrageously fast Concept One supercar, a vehicle thrust into the public eye when Richard Hammond binned one at a Swiss hillclimb. That was a wreck from which he mercifully has recovered. Legend has it that the subsequent media exposure helped the company sell three units that same day.

Today, the EV company announced a $90 million partnership with the Korean giants. They’ll be working together to develop an electric version of Hyundai Motor’s N brand midship sports car and a high-performance fuel cell electric vehicle.

Wait, what?

(Read More…)

By on January 29, 2019

There’s no shortage of F Sport models populating the Lexus lineup, but those efforts amount to little more than an appearance package designed to foist some of the aura of the brand’s F performance division onto pedestrian models. There’s no additional power.

While the brand already has two F models in the form of the GS F and RC F, there’s groundwork afoot to identify the right crossover for F duty. Surely you’re not surprised. (Read More…)

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