The 12 Stunning Detroit International Auto Show Debuts!

The Detroit International Auto Show always has a lot of cool new debuts.  As one might expect, a LOT of new American metal debuts there.  But, foreign cars are also starting to be debuted at Detroit more and more.  Enjoy my top 12 debuts

  1. 2015 Ford F150:  With the majority of the 2015 Ford F150 made out of aluminum, the 2015 Ford F150 lost almost 700 pounds.  In terms of design, Ford clearly heard the raving about the Atlas Concept.  The 2015 F150 looks almost exactly like the Atlas!  In terms of engines, Ford’s taken the liberty of making smaller, more powerful engines the norm for the F150.  The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 (the same one residing under the hood of the Explorer).  Ford also dropped the thirsty 6.2-liter V8 from the lineup.  The only available V8 is the splendid 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8 shared with the Mustang.  The 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 stays, but the EcoBoost has a smaller EcoBoost sister engine.  The smaller EcoBoost engine displaces a seemingly small 2.7 liters, yet makes as much power as the outgoing 3.7-liter V6.  All four engines will be mated to Ford’s six-speed automatic, but don’t be surprised to see the 10-speed automatic being co-developed with GM come into the mix sometime soon.  I can’t wait to see the 2015 F150 in person!
  2. 2015 Chrysler 200:  Chrysler’s been hit hard the last five or six years.  First, it’s bankruptcy.  Then, it’s being bought out completely by Fiat, then it’s just about every model coming out of the Auburn Hills factory being blasted with hate mail from every single automotive magazine in the U.S.  Chrysler’s trying to make up that image.  The design of the 2015 Chrysler 200 is simply stunning.  Based on the Dodge Dart’s platform, the 2015 Chrysler 200 will be instantly recognizable to anybody who has seen a 2013 Dodge Dart.  Chrysler’s trying to make the 200 easier to live with.  It’s got standard pass-through storage, better ergonomics, and most things in the cabin are electronic.  The 9-speed automatic that is used in the Jeep Cherokee will be standard across the line.  A 2.4-liter TigerShark 4-cylinder engine borrowed from the Dodge Dart is standard.  The step-up engine is a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.  I don’t know about you, but Chrysler just might be able to make an extremely competitive car in an extremely competitive segment.
  3. 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe:  Cadillac’s seen a massive resurgence in past years.  The 2008 CTS won Motor Trend’s 2008 Car of the Year trophy, and the 2013 ATS and 2014 CTS have both been praised for their good looks and fun-to-drive factors.  Just about everything is shared with the ATS sedan.  That’s a good thing.  The 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine has 295-lb-ft of torque available at 3000 RPM.  Amazingly, the ATS coupe is said to weigh just 45 more pounds than the ATS sedan.  Cadillac’s even partnered with AT&T, Verizon, and T Mobile to ensure that the ATS Coupe has 4G LTE hotspot connectivity.
  4. 2015 BMW M3/M4:  BMW’s become obsessed with turbocharged engines.  Not only do they offer more performance, but they reduce weight and give better fuel economy.  The 2015 M3/M4 have a twin-turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine that makes somewhere in the neighborhood of 425 horsepower.  The standard transmission is a six-speed manual (score for the purists), and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission borrowed from the M5 is optional.  BMW says that they cut 175 pounds compared to the E90 generation M3, so the 2015 M3/M4 should weigh about as much as an E46 M3.  The M3/M4 look extremely aggressive.  The front ends have massive air intakes, a bulging power-rise hood, and a wider front and rear track compared to the standard 3/4 Series models.
  5. 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray ZO6:  The 2015 ZO6 makes 625 horsepower (13 less than the ZR-1), and it has an 8-speed automatic transmission that shifts faster than a Porsche PDK transmission.  Chevy’s offering THREE aerodynamics packages borrowed from the C7.R race car, and it has the seven-speed manual transmission from the regular Stingray standard.  GM says that the 2015 ZO6 shattered course records at the Milford proving grounds on its FIRST time at the track!
  6. 2015 Ford Mustang:  Since I’ve already covered the 2015 Ford Mustang, I won’t spend too terribly much time on the 2015 Mustang.  Ford won’t answer many questions about the 2015 Mustang, which means that they’re still working on it.  Whatever.  It looks great, and I expect it to handle much better, as it’s been redesigned from the ground up!
  7. 2014 Porsche 911 Targa:  Finally, Porsche’s come out with the return of the iconic 911 Targa.  The 911 Targa doesn’t have the sliding top like previous Targas.  The Porsche 911 Targa is sure to bring back fond memories for many.  Because it’s a Porsche, expect to be set back at least $100,000 for a Targa 4S.  I can’t wait to see the 2014 911 Targa in person!
  8. 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STI:  Subaru has made it’s reputation for making pocket rockets.  The 2015 WRX gave some hope for enthusiasts.  It’s equally at home rocketing down a gravel road or zooming around a track.  The STI improves on that.  It makes 305 horsepower (it uses the same engine as the previous generation), but it looks a whole lot better than the previous generation.  It looks more like a DTM race car combined with a WRC rally car.  Subie won’t tell ANYBODY how much the STI will weigh.  That’s a shame, because previous Subaru WRX STI’s have been plump.
  9. Kia GT4 Stinger Concept:  I think that I can safely agree with everybody here that Kia seriously needs to stop making amazing-looking concept cars until it decides to build them.  The GT4 Stinger has four seats, a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, and a six-speed manual.  Naturally, one’s mind drifts towards the Subaru BR-Z and Scion FR-S, the natural competitors to the GT4 Stinger.  Before Kia shoves this car into some secret bunker at the 38th Parallel, they need to build this car.  The engine is essentially a depowered version of the 400-horsepower engine used in the Pirelli World Challenge Optimas.  Kia, are you reading my thoughts?  If you are, BUILD THIS CAR!
  10. Toyota FT-1 Concept:  Toyota’s trying to appeal to enthusiasts.  The last car that did that?  The Supra.  Toyota’s FT-1 looks stunning, and it’s even available in Gran Turismo 6!  Toyota won’t tell what’s under the hood.  We all know that the Supra engine is dead.  Lexus is experimenting with high-powered 5.0-liter V8s in the IS F, and I could easily see the IS F’s engine under the hood of this stunning concept.  Even if Toyota doesn’t build this car, it still shows what future Toyota styling might look like.
  11. Volvo XC Concept Coupe:  Volvo’s made it’s living with industry-leading safety advances, but safety doesn’t sell millions of cars.  So, Volvo’s started cranking out extremely promising concept cars.  Considering that Plug-in Hybrid is etched into the fenders, it’s obvious that the XC Concept Coupe is definitely a hybrid.  Volvo stresses the fact that the XC Concept Coupe has “rich XC Heritage.”  Considering Volvo’s been making SUV’s since 1997, one could agree that the XC Concept Coupe would look stellar as a shooting brake.  
  12. Audi A8 L Security:  Some fullsize  luxury sedan buyers want theirs to be bulletproof.  Audi’s joined the fight against gunfight victims with the A8 L Security.  The A8 L Security is beefed up to an extreme.  It takes 450 man-hours to make all of the bulletproof components for the A8 L Security.  It is able to withstand sub-caliber machine gun fire, and buyers can even opt for an emergency exit system that blows the hinges off the doors, as well as a fire suppression system and an emergency fresh-air system.  The extra weight will substantially hamper performance, but the driver and passengers can get out of a sticky situation safer.

On a separate note, I have to go in for surgery next week.  During my time in the hospital, I will not have access to a computer, and I probably won’t be up to publishing anyways!  I don’t know how long I will be out for, but keep yourselves entertained with the Motor Trend Youtube Channel!  My favorite show is Roadkill.  I think you’ll enjoy it just as much as I do.  You can start watching the videos now at http://www.youtube.com/user/MotorTrend

Want to Own a Star Car From Two Very Famous Movies?

For those car aficionados among you, and/or movie fans, you know that some cars that made appearances in movies, have an almost cult-like status nowadays.  For example, the Audi S8 from Ronin, the Jeep or Ford Explorer from Jurassic Park, the Aston Martin DB5 from Thunderball and Goldfinger, the #46 City Chevrolet Lumina from Days of Thunder, the 2003 Mini Coopers from The Italian Job, the 2008 Audi R8 from Iron Man, the 1970 Porsche 911S from Le Mans, the 1970 Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point.  The list could go on for a few paragraphs, but, okay, I’ll stop now and get to the point.  All of the cars mentioned above have people who literally kiss the ground these cars drove over.  I’m not kidding.  But, two very iconic cars are going up for sale.

The submersible Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me went up for sale, and was bought for $966,560 at an RM Auctions auction block.  Here’s the interesting history of the car after the movie:  After the movie was over, the filming company put the car under wraps, and shoved into a storage unit in Long Island for about 10 years.  When the storage contract expired, the filming company decided to put it up for “blind sale.”  At a public auction, a local couple paid a small fee for the car, not knowing that they would soon own one of the most iconic cars in history.  The couple ran the VIN of the car, hired a private automotive detective, and positively identified the car.  It was occasionally shown, but it was mostly kept under wraps.  The couple had the car restored by the same company that originally built it, and it can still function as a submarine.

The replica Ferrari 250 GT Spyder from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off also went up for auction.  It sold for a steep price of $230,000.  Three cars were built for the movie, but one was wrecked (no spoiler alert here), and the other knocked off about half of the engine block in the joyride scene with the valets.  Its last owner was Neil Glassmoyer, one of the men who built the car.  It is powered by a Ford 427 V8 that makes somewhere around 500 horsepower, and it is probably a hoot to drive, as it only weighs 2,650 pounds.  While it’s not an actual Ferrari, it is faster than any Ferrari of the 1980s, and more iconic than any.  It was lovingly restored in 1997 by Glassmoyer and his son to Concours-levels of restoration.

Here are some pictures of a stock Esprit and the movie car:  

Here are some pictures of the Ferrari replica from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and a stock Ferrari 250 GT:

I’ve also been kind enough to include the iconic movie cars mentioned in the first paragraph.

Ronin Audi S8:

Jurassic Park Jeep and Ford Explorer:

Thunderball and Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5:

Days of Thunder #46 City Chevrolet Lumina:

The Italian Job 2003 Mini Coopers:

Iron Man 2008 Audi R8:

Le Mans 1970 Porsche 911S:

Vanishing Point 1970 Dodge Challenger:

And, just for the heck of it, the 1970 Porsche 917 from Le Mans, which is now owned by Jerry Seinfeld:

Note to my faithful, car-obsessed readers:  I will do a post soon on famous movie cars, complete with a brief description of each car, and pictures of them.  Stay tuned.

Audi’s Allroad is Back and Hungry!

 

Just six years ago, any potential buyer for a family-friendly Audi station wagon could choose between the:  A4 Avant (wagon in German), A6 Avant, or the A6-based Allroad.  The Allroad was slightly higher than the A4 and A6 Avant’s, and was more fun to drive (but notoriously unreliable).

Determined NOT to let Volvo get out of sight, Audi has re-introduced the Allroad.  This time, it is based on the very reliable A4 platform.  Even though the A4 is a smaller car than the A6, the Allroad is actually a bit bigger than the older model.  It’s engine is much less powerful than the mighty 250 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque twin-turbo, 2.7-liter V6.  The 300 horsepower, 280 lb-ft of torque V8 is still much more powerful than the much more fuel-efficient 2.0 liter turbo four cylinder that pumps out 211 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Also, the ride-height-adjustable air suspension isn’t available on the new model.  But, Audi has raised the A4-based Allroad 1.5 inches, compared with the normal A4 Avant.  Plus, it borrows the A5 coupe/convertible’s one-inch wider track, front and rear.  To keep the new Allroad competitive, Audi changed the tire size from a 245/40/18 to a 245/45/18.  You can still get the 245/40/18’s on optional 19-inch wheels.  Audi predicts most buyers will stick with the 245/45/18’s.  Audi has also changed the final driv ratio to compensate for the tall tires.

Even though those various mechanical bits are very exciting, Audi has to protect them.  So, stainless-steel skidplates come standard on the Allroad.  There’s also enough plastic cladding around both the bumpers to make a Tupperware jealous.  For those who don’t want to look like their car belongs to yet another Bear Grylls fan, Audi will paint all that plastic cladding body color for just $1,000 (it’s worth it to look rugged on the Allroad…)!

Inside the Allroad, the interior is pretty much the same as the outgoing A4.  But, some materials have been upgraded.  The electronics are state-of-the-art.  The MMI navigation and infotainment system can be had with a T-Mobile SIM card that wirelessly connects to Google Maps.  This will add $15 to $30 to your monthly payment, but the graphics and navigation are on par with the high-end private jets.  This little SIM card also allows for weather information, points of interest, and a few other features.  It’s well worth that extra money.

The Audi Allroad really doesn’t have much competition.  It’s only real competition is the Volvo XC70, which Motor Trend last tested way back in 2008.  The 235-horsepower, inline-six cylinder powered Volvo may look WAY cheaper on paper, but it doesn’t come with:  all-wheel-drive, navigation, leather interior, sunroof, and power seats (all of which are standard on the $40,900 Audi), you’ve added almost SEVEN THOUSAND dollars to the Volvo’s $33,825 base price.  Now, the Audi seems like a pretty good deal…

Even though the Allroad is bigger than the old model, it doesn’t feel like it inside.  Audi has always been in the top five for safety, and the Allroad is no exception.  All of its safety equipment seems to take away a lot of interior space.  While there isn’t much room in the back seat, you can go for a few hundred miles sitting on very comfortable seats, knowing that all the airbags in the back will protect you from death.  In comparison, the Volvo is bigger, being about five inches longer and wider.  But, the Volvo has about 350 pounds on the Audi (which isn’t a lightweight either).

At Motor Trend‘s test track, the whole test crew was impressed at how fast the chunky (ish) Audi is.  The Quattro all-wheel-drive system puts down all of those 258 lb-ft of torque with a lot of ease.  Since the Allroad is more focused towards touring, it doesn’t have the rear-wheel biased feel as the A4 Avant.  Instead, the center differential of the Quattro all-wheel-drive system has a 50/50% torque distribution.  Surprisingly, there is very little brake dive and body role in the Allroad.  The electro-mechanical steering may be a bit light feeling, but responds to a command almost instantly.  Michael Febbo of Motor Trend would like to see Audi Drive Select become an option on the Allroad someday.  Also, an Allroad S with the supercharged 3.0 liter V6 from the S4 would be nice.

But, the Allroad is still a pretty quick station wagon. 0-60 in 6.5 seconds may not seem like a lot, but it is for a station wagon.  The Volvo XC70 hits 60 in a leisurely 8.9 seconds. In the quarter mile, the chunky Swede falls far behind, with a run of 16.7 seconds at 87.9 miles per hour.  The Audi will do the quarter mile in 15 seconds flat at 92.4 miles per hour.  That’s pretty fast for a station wagon.

The Allroad will go just about 90% of the places a CUV (compact utility vehicle) will go.  That’s pretty good for a station wagon.  It also handles like a station wagon (still pretty fu n to drive), looks like a CUV, and is a good car.  Overall, the Allroad is a good car for a family of four who is outdoorsy and needs some four-wheel-drive capability, without having to sacrifice the fuel economy and sport touring gains of a station wagon.  I’d recommend it to almost anybody in the market for a $40,000 station wagon.  Also, it’s a good compromise for automotive journalists who will miss the two station wagons and one hatchback option.  As I said before, it’s a great car.  How about this as a replacement to the old family car?

 

 

 

Making A Grand Entrance, or Getting to Thanksgiving in Style

As you know, Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season with a full belly.  At least 80% of all Americans travel for the holiday.  I know that those who are traveling by road will be traveling the crowded interstates.  For those taking the back roads, I’ve put together a list of ten cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four people comfortably.  Tell me which one you’d like to take.

  1. Audi S8:  The 2013 Audi S8 has 520 horsepower, yet it isn’t a car that is 6000 pounds and fast in a straight line like a Rolls.  Instead, it weighs 4400 pounds.  With Audi’s signature Quattro AWD system, the S8 will go where a Rolls would never think of going.  Do you know of any full-size sedans other than the S8 than can get to 60 in 3.5 seconds?  Plus, the interior will enclose you in Alacantara and leather sourced from the finest tanneries in the world.  Not a bad way to travel…
  2. Bentley Mulsanne:  Would you like to make an even grander entrance than the S8?   If you do, take the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne.  A 505 horsepower 6.75 liter, twin turbo V8 powers the massive Bentley to a heart-stopping 4.8 seconds to 60.  It might not be as fast as the S8, but it will look better at speed.  All four of you and your lucky friends will be enshrouded in pillowy, massaging seats that have leather.
  3. Cadillac CTS-V Wagon:   The Caddy is one of the more powerful cars here, yet one of the first choices for a back-road blast.  The CTS-V Wagon is fast, with a top speed of 190 mph (governed!), and it will carry turkeys, luggage, and plenty of eggnog and brew for Thanksgiving without breaking a sweat.  Plus, it will look like you are having a blast.  Which you WILL be, right?
  4. Dodge Charger SRT-8:   The Charger has long held a soft spot in my big car heart.  It’s fast, it makes a statement, and it’s loud.  What’s not to love?  Plus, the SRT-8 can be purchased for under $50,000!  60 mph comes up in a show-stopping 4.3 seconds.  This makes it the large family-oriented performance car of the century!
  5. Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec:  The Hyundai is the first Korean performance sedan.  It competes with the Mercedes-Benz E550, yet offers almost as much room as a MBZ S-Class.  It may be smaller than the gigantic Equus, but it’s MUCH more fun to drive.  Plus, it will get people asking what it is.  Some will think it’s a Lexus, others will think is a Mercedes.  Tell them it’s a Hyundai, and take some photos for me!
  6. Jaguar XJL Supercharged:  The 470 horsepower, 5.0 liter engine is powerful enough to move this big boy.  Fast.  The interior is even nicer than the engine.  There is a suede-like material that Jag used for the headliner that is very soft and nice.  The engine is so powerful that you can load up the trunk and have your friends in the back stretched out.  What’s not to love?
  7. Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged:  The Range Rover Supercharged has a 510 horsepower engine that is basically the same one you’ll find in the XJL Supercharged.  This powerful engine will take the nearly 5000-pound SUV to 60 in a mere 5.2 seconds.  Plus, it will haul all your gear wherever you want it.  You can quite literally load up the shotguns and go hunting wild turkeys in the Rockies.  Plus, it’s got  a very similar interior to the XJL Supercharged.  Not bad for an SUV that costs almost $120,000.
  8. Mercedes-Benz GL550:  The GL wowed the 2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year judges so much that they named it SUV of the year.  It’s the first MBZ to win that title since 2001.  The GL550 doles out globs of torque and 429 horsepower.  It’s powerful, fast, quiet, AND it will follow the Range Rover Supercharged.  For a while.  The Designo interior rivals that of the luxurious S-Class, with comfortable leather seats that seat seven.  Plus, you can take all your gear in the back and still have room.  It’s bigger than an Escalade, yet smaller than a Navigator EL.
  9. Porsche Panamera GTS:  The powerful Panamera GTS will haul four people in relative comfort, thanks to it’s leather-covered Recaro seats.  It has AWD and 430 horsepower.  It’s like the Nissan GT-R Black Edition, with two more doors!  And a rumbling V8!  Plus, it will get 24.5 mpg on the highway!  VROOOOOOOOM!
  10. Tesla Model S Signature Performance Edition:  The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year deserves to be on this list.  Why?  It’s extremely powerful electric motor produces 416 horsepower at the wheels.  This means that it’s there as soon as you start it.  It might not have the range of the Mulsanne or the Panamera, but it will make the most amazing entrance ever.  It carries almost as much as a Chevy Equinox, plus it has 285 miles of range!  Plus, you can get to 60 in jolting 4.0 seconds!  This is one silent VROOOOOOOOOOOM!

Have fun daydreaming about what could be, when you’re stuck on the interstate wishing you’d taken the backroads. These cars may not be ‘The Family’s New Car’, but they definitely have serious style!   P.S.  Do you have any cars that have at least 400 horsepower and seat four comfortably?  I’m sure you do…