Posted on May 21, 2013 by Seyth Miersma
Anyone on Earth with access to the Internet, a television or radio for the last 20 years knows that China is no longer the poor stronghold for strict Communist ideals that it was for much of the 20th Century. (Well, at least not in some places.) Traveling to China twice in less than a month - first to Shanghai for a very international auto show and now to Beijing to drive and review the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur - I've learned that there's no lack of personal wealth, at least in two of the world's largest cities.
And yet, even I think the scene before me is a little bit ridiculous. Here I am, slowly climbing up a hillside to reach a fortification at something called Zhuanduo Pass, where roughly a dozen pristine examples of Western decadence sit idling their hand-built 12-cylinder engines in the shadow of China's revered and awesome Great Wall. Not five kilometers south of here, I'd passed an old man in traditional all-black garb, literally carrying a bundle of sticks on his back from one side of a village to the other. Now as I look through the snug-fitting and silent side glass of my $200,000+ palace on wheels, I'm more apt to see fat German tourists crisping in the hot Chinese sun while blowing the equivalent of an average Chinese monthly paycheck on lunch and a few Great Wall souvenirs.
Of course, it's nothing like the average Chinese person that Bentley is targeting with this new Flying Spur. There is a rapidly ballooning class of rich and super rich in the People's Republic these days; China can now lay claim to around 100 billionaires (in US dollars), as well as some 60,000+ individuals worth more than $16 million and, famously, now more than 1 million millionaires. Considering that Bentley had a booming year in 2012 by selling 8,510 vehicles, the importance of what is quickly becoming the world's biggest luxury car market is easy to see.
And that's why, despite the cost of hauling me from Ann Arbor to Beijing and back, and despite the cognitive dissonance of driving a $200,000+ car through villages whose buildings are probably worth less in total, Bentley jumped through a whole lot of hoops to pull off what it says is the first-ever global vehicle launch in China. I've got to tell you, if this is what being a trailblazer feels like, I could get used to it.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Jonathon Ramsey
A host of carbon fiber parts designed and made in Germany are what turn the McLaren MP4-12C Spider into the Gemballa GT Spider. The 625-horsepower, twin-turbo V8 is untouched, almost everything else is heavily touched. There's the body kit that includes new front and rear bumpers, side skirts, new tailpipes and logos. Swing up the doors and you'll find a reskinned interior in leather and Alcantara in your choice of color, plus color-matched gauges. That will run you 19,980 euro ($25,647 US) including paint and installation, but it can alternatively be shipped internationally if you'd like to have your own people install it.
The GForged-one wheels are an inch larger than the standard units, at 20 inches up front and 21 inches in back, but don't change the weight of the car. There are two styles and two finishes available, and shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber they'll require 7,980 euro ($10,243) of your hard earned. Throw down a little more and you can have the brake calipers painted, too.
If this number whispers seductive German nothings in your ear, check out the press release below and the high-res gallery above.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on May 20, 2013 by Jeffrey N. Ross
When it comes to fleet vehicles, the Chevrolet Impala definitely plays an important role for General Motors, and it looks like GM is hard at work developing the next-gen Impala for bulk-buying businesses. The Motoring Journal recently spotted a handful of Impalas testing in Colorado with minor camouflage, but upon closer inspection, these appear to be test mules for a new compressed natural gas (CNG) model - a powertrain combination far more likely to find favor with fleet buyers than everyday consumers.
Aside from the obvious "CNG" stickers affixed to the decklid, these cars also have different exhaust outlets than what we saw on the V6-equipped Impalas during our first drive of the sedan back in March. Images also show under the hood with a different engine cover and plenty of exposed wiring as the CNG system continues testing. There was also an electrical connector poking out of the front fascia, and at least one of the sedans had a receiver-style trailer hitch.
During the launch of the 2014 Impala, Chevrolet said that it is looking to flip the current fleet-to-retail from 70:30 to a more profitable and resale-friendly 30:70 ratio, and this new CNG Impala could be a good way to retain some of that 30-percent fleet business. We reached out to GM for word on when a CNG Impala might arrive, and received this response:
Our best guess is that it could debut for the 2015 model year, since the ninth-generation model is carrying over for fleet-only sales as the 2014 Impala Limited.Permalink | Email this | Comments
We do offer a CNG van and a bi-fuel pickup truck, but still studying the demand for CNG powered passenger cars. Infrastructure is a consideration for anyone buying these types of vehicles. Unfortunately, there's nothing to announce today on this front.
Posted on by Seyth Miersma
Start with a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor as your base vehicle for modification, and chances are high that you'll end up with something pretty cool. Now, have those modifications done by professional lunatics Hennessey Performance, make the project turning the pickup into an ultra-long SUV, and the result stands a real chance of being a total kick in the ass. Let us present the Hennessey VelociRaptor then, in all of its awesomeness.
Hennessey has taken care in grafting a "Excursion type" rear cabin onto the Raptor, complete with an optional third row. The pictures we have show a cabin that's up to the fit and finish standards of the original Ford truck, too. The cab added over the bed also makes room for a massive load space out back, accessible via split out-folding doors and long enough for a person to lay down in (see video).
Mechanically, the truck-turned-SUV sticks with Ford's stock 6.2-liter V8, rated at 411 horsepower, or can be had with a supercharger and some 600 hp. Hennessey says the stock-motor VelociRaptor will run from 0-60 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds, while the hi-po version takes just 5.9 seconds. The SUV does take some of the off-road ability away from the Raptor, with the company saying it hasn't yet had the opportunity to test its capabilities. On-roading and "moderate off-road duties" are the current prescription.
Hennessey will build just 30 copies of the VelociRaptor per year, offered at a starting price of $149,500. If that seems like an exorbitant markup over the Raptor's $43,920, well, you're welcome to go out and build your own. Scroll down for a video walk around of the VelociRaptor, and one showing the supercharged version on a dyno.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Zach Bowman
Our friends at XCAR have taken the time to train their lenses on the iconic Toyota Supra. With Toyota finally back into the performance car game, it seems only logical to remember one of the brand's most legendary sports cars. While we're all busy ladling praise onto the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ twins, it's important to remember that Toyota used to produce all manner of fun-to-drive machinery. The Supra once sat at the top of that list, its most recent iteration giving buyers the option of a ludicrous forced-induction inline six, gorgeous styling and plenty of presence.
Of course, the legend didn't stop once the Supra fell off American order sheets in 1998. Always an aftermarket darling, the Supra has gone on to become a tuner favorite in nearly every corner of grassroots motorsport. From drag racing to road racing and everywhere in between, the Supra is remains a force to be reckoned with nearly 15 years after it last prowled the US auto market. You can catch the tribute from XCAR below.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Steven J. Ewing
Try as I might, I just can't bring myself to stick to a routine of drinking diet soda. Nevermind the fact that I'm trying to cut soda out of my life altogether - every now and then, I just want the high-octane stuff, and diet simply won't do. If I'm already going to subject myself to the sweeteners and caffeine, I'm going to take the calories that go along with it.
Some people feel the same way about cars (go big or go home!), but I'm not one of them - I often see the merit in less-potent machines that automakers offer. For example, while I simply adored the Mini John Cooper Works GP that I recently tested, I still said I'd rather have a Cooper S Hardtop every day. And while the Ford Focus ST may have been crowned the winner in my hot hatch comparison test from last year, my experience in the Fiesta ST a couple of months ago reminded me yet again that less can indeed be more.
So when Fiat introduced this 500 Turbo - a sort of Diet Abarth - I was prepared for the possibility of similar conclusions. But with the range-topping Abarth proving to be an incredibly delicious concoction, would this tall glass of diet quench my thirst just the same?Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Jonathon Ramsey
Bavarian tuners ABT have done another job on the Audi R8 V10, pumping up the 5.2-liter FSI V10 from 525 horsepower to 600 hp, and torque from 391 pound-feet to 406 lb-ft. With 50 more horsepower than the R8 V10 Plus - but not the extreme weight-loss scheme - ABT claims a 0-62 mile per hour run of 3.5 seconds, the same as the R8 V10 Plus, and a top speed for the mid-engined coupe of 198 miles per hour "is no problem at all."
Managing all that speed are the aero tweaks provided by a comprehensive body kit including a rear wing, a lowered and beefed-up suspension, a stainless steel exhaust and 19-inch wheels in two different designs.
The press release below has a few more bits of info on the matter. And while ABT hasn't put a price on the Audi upgrades, but it's safe to say that nearly 200 mph in an R8 won't come cheap.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Jeffrey N. Ross
As BMW prepares to introduce its first-ever front-wheel drive car, the upcoming 1 Series GT, it looks like there will be at least two versions of the car. A conventional-looking hatchback was spotted testing late last year, but now we see an extended-length version in order to accommodate a third row of seats.
Judging by these spy shots, this 1 Series GT prototype has received an extended wheelbase, larger rear doors and more upright D-pillars compared to our previous spy shots (show in the gallery below) all with the aim of creating additional passenger and cargo space. Like the smaller 1 Series GT, this longer model would likely carry over the same powertrain options, which are expected to consist of three- and four-cylinder engines, a hybrid system and the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. The 1 Series GT could make its debut this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show, but we might have to wait until next year to see the people mover.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Jonathon Ramsey
Toyota Racing Development (TRD) in Japan has designed cosmetic and performance bits that give the 2014 Lexus IS a front-to-back workover. Different from the F-Sport parts we expect from Lexus here, the full body kit runs 437,700 yen ($4,285 US) and starts with air deflectors at the lower edges of the front bumper, through to side skirts, a decklid spoiler and a rear bumper with a diffuser and quad exhaust tips.
For 288,750 yen ($2,830) you can sharpen responses with new shocks, springs, dampers, sway bar and bracing. The priciest individual component is the set of 19-inch wheels, four of them going for 527,625 yen (5,170 US). There's no word on US importation or pricing yet, but done up all in black like the IS above, we wouldn't mind seeing it here.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted on by Zach Bowman
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced Maserati and Alfa Romeo are recalling certain Quattroporte, Granturismo and 8C models over potentially faulty tie rod ends. According to NHTSA, 2005-2008 Quattroporte, 2008 Granturismo and 2008 8C units may have been assembled with tie rod ends that have insufficient corrosion protection. As such, the components may rust, weaken and potentially fail. If that happens, the driver could lose control of the vehicle and cause an accident.
Maserati and Alfa Romeo will contact owners and replace the tie rod end assemblies once the recall gets underway in June. All told, 7,438 vehicles are impacted by the recall. You can read the full NHTSA notice below for more information.Permalink | Email this | Comments