30th November 2008

11/29/08 Roundup

Gorgeous Panamera

About a week ago, Autoblog put up a post highlighting the official photos of the new four-door Porsche Panamera. The idea of a Porsche sedan hasn’t exactly excited Porsche purists already disillusioned by the existence of a Porsche SUV, and that’s understandable. For my part, I have to admit that I’m about as eager to see a Porsche sedan as I am to see a Jeep sedan or a Lamborghini sedan. I’m sure Porsche can produce a fine sedan, but what’s the point?

Well, imagine Porsche-istas’ outrage when the official photos revealed that the Panamera is a five-door hatchback. The horror! I, of course, am delighted. Rather than just another fast, anonymous sedan in a world filled with fast, anonymous sedans, now the Panamera has a purpose. Sport wagons are cool; five-door sport hatchbacks are cooler. A Porsche five-door hatchback, swaddled in leather and wood, with (dare I dream) folding rear seats? Be still my beating heart.

I understand this won’t be a $20,000 five-door hatch, and I doubt anybody will use a Panamera 4S to haul a load of beauty bark. Still, you have to admire Porsche’s chutzpah here. I love the Panamera’s rounded rear, and I love the idea of a high-speed, grand-touring five-door hatch. It’s enough to confirm my faith in humanity.

And of course, it’s deeply cool that the Panamera’s bulbous derriere visually references the great 928; the fact that this led Autoblog to link to our 928 post is just gravy.

Ninja Hauler

Car Lust contributor David Colborne found a fantastic used-car listing in Montana Craigslist–while the post quicky disappeared, David archived the text for posterity. The photos showed a plain-Jane Nissan Xterra and a pair of Hammer pants. The text was composed entirely of genius.

“OK, let me start off by saying this Xterra is only available for purchase by the manliest of men (or women). My friend, if it was possible for a vehicle to sprout chest hair and a five o’clock shadow, this Nissan would look like Tom Selleck. It is just that manly.

“It was never intended to drive to the mall so you can pick up that adorable shirt at Abercrombie & Fitch that you had your eye on. It wasn’t meant to transport you to yoga class or Linens & Things. No, that’s what your Prius is for. If that’s the kind of car you’re looking for, then just do us all a favor and stop reading right now. I mean it. Just stop.

“This car was engineered by 3rd degree ninja super-warriors in the highest mountains of Japan to serve the needs of the man that cheats death on a daily basis. They didn’t even consider superfluous nancy boy amenities like navigation systems (real men don’t get lost), heated leather seats (a real man doesn’t let anything warm his butt), or On Star (real men don’t even know what the hell On Star is).

“No, this brute comes with the things us testosterone-fueled super action junkies need. It has a 265 HP engine to outrun the cops. It’s got special blood/gore resistant upholstery. It even has a first-aid kit in the back. You know what the first aid kit has in it? A pint of whiskey, a stitch-your-own-wound kit and a hunk of leather to bite down on when you’re operating on yourself. The Xterra also has an automatic transmission so if you’re being chased by Libyan terrorists, you’ll still be able to shoot your machine gun out the window and drive at the same time. It’s saved my bacon more than once.

“It has room for you and the four hotties you picked up on the way to the gym to blast your pecs and hammer your glutes. There’s a tow hitch to pull your 50 caliber anti-Taliban, self cooling machine gun. I also just put in a new windshield to replace the one that got shot out by The Man.

“My price on this bad boy is an incredibly low $12,900, but I’ll entertain reasonable offers. And by reasonable, I mean don’t walk up and tell me you’ll give me $5,000 for it. That’s liable to earn you a Burmese-roundhouse-sphincter-kick with a follow up three fingered eye-jab. Would it hurt? Hell yeah. Let’s just say you won’t be the prettiest guy at the Coldplay concert anymore.

“There’s only 69,000 miles on this four-wheeled hellcat from Planet Kickass. Trust me, it will outlive you and the offspring that will carry your name. It will live on as a monument to your machismo.

“Now, go look in the mirror and tell me what you see. If it’s a rugged, no holds barred, super brute he-man macho Chuck Norris stunt double, then contact me. I might be out hang-gliding or BASE jumping or just chilling with my ladies, but I’ll get back to you. And when I do, we’ll talk about a price over a nice glass of Schmidt while we listen to Johnny Cash.

“To sweeten the deal a little, I’m throwing in this pair of MC Hammer pants for the man with rippling quads that can’t fit into regular pants. Yeah, you heard me. FREE MC Hammer pants.”

Massive Momentum

This isn’t recent, or news, or even automotive. But for those of us who are addicted to speed in all its forms, it may be of interest.

A few years ago I rode the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train, and it left a profound impression on me. It was incredibly smooth, impossibly fast–in short, a fantastic way to travel. More than anything, the tremendous mass of a train, combined with the speed of the Shinkansen added up to a feeling of immense momentum that was deeply satisfying for this speed freak.

Well, I stumbled across some videos on You Tube this weekend showing off some really fast trains and was so excited by them that I just had to share.

This first video shows a specially outfitted French TGV bullet train hitting 574 kilometers per hour, or 356 mph. For reference, that’s only about 20 mph slower than the famous Supermarine Spitfire WWII fighter. That’s a world record for a train on conventional tracks

The video is remarkable for the tremendous feeling of speed and power it conveys–I love the sparking electrical transmission lines, the view of the transmission towers frantically disappearing in the distance, and the way the train explodes underneath the pedestrian bridge. Truly fantastic.

The second isn’t quite as visceral, but it’s perhaps more intellectually stimulating. This video describes the Japanese maglev trains, which use magnets to levitate and propel the trains–effectively removing friction from the tracks. A Japanese maglev train actually went 581 kph (360 mph)–slightly faster than the TGV.

–Chris H.

This is syndicated from Car Lust, and written by Chris Hafner.

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30th November 2008

George Barris Sonny and Cher Special Mustangs Up for Auction

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — RM Auctions will offer up a unique pair of 1966 Ford Mustangs at its February event here. The convertibles, customized by George Barris for the singing duo Sonny and Cher, are rolling tributes to the over-the-top style of the 1960s.

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30th November 2008

2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

The Infiniti G37 Convertible is finally out in the open! With official G37 Convertible information trickling in for months, the LA Auto Show marks the official debut of the folding hardtop version of the hugely successful Inifiniti G, which to 3.7 liters for 2009 from its powerful Nissan V6, the same basic motor used in the brand new Nissan 370Z.

The body design is similar to the new G37 coupe, though many body panels are completely unique. With the top raised, the G37 convertible carries a softer, sleeker silhouette than the coupe, though the design will be instantly recognizable to Infiniti fans.

The 3 piece G37 convertible folding steel hardtop completely stows in the trunk, leaving behind a clean tonneau covered rear deck that looks even better in person than in the official G37 convertible pics released by Infiniti. Other Infiniti G37 Convertible styling details include a chrome accented strip on the rear deck, a revised front grill and air intakes and new skirts to further differentiate it from the G37 coupe model.

Most interesting to Infiniti sports car enthusiasts who like to drive hard will be the limited edition G37S Convertible Sport 6MT, with the obvious 6 speed manual transmission, higher-feedback steering, bigger brakes and 19 inch wheels to the G37 convertible package.

In the performance department, G37 covertible specs are very similar to the coupe model, as engine, transmission and drivetrain are identical. Look for the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible in showrooms in the United States in Spring 2009. All the official details below in an official press release from Nissan.


Official Nissan Motors Press Release

First-ever Infiniti G Convertible Set For Spring 2009 Launch in North America

LOS ANGELES (Nov. 19, 2008) – Infiniti today unveiled the latest expression of its “Inspired Performance,” the all-new 2009 Infiniti G Convertible, at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. The first-ever Infiniti G Convertible builds upon the performance legacy of the Infiniti G line, with the liberation only a convertible with the top down can provide. It is scheduled to go on sale at Infiniti dealers in North America in the spring of 2009, followed later in other Infiniti markets around the world.

“Designed to rejuvenate the spirit, the G Convertible adds an open-air soundtrack to the G’s legendary driving exhilaration,” said Brian Carolin, senior vice president, Sales and Marketing, speaking before automotive media at the vehicle’s world debut. “This new G has dual beauty – it looks as good with the top up or down – along with a beautiful, leather-appointed interior that is meant to be experienced wide-open.”

The new G Convertible offers a three-piece folding steel top and a special convertible-focused interior, which features a unique Bose® Open Air Sound System that dynamically changes equalization based on outside noise, vehicle speed, and top position, and an adaptive climate control system that adjusts fan speed in accordance to top position and vehicle speed.

Every 2009 G Convertible comes equipped with an advanced 3.7-liter V6 rated at 325 horsepower. The engine is backed by a choice of an electronically controlled 7-speed automatic transmission with available magnesium paddle shifters or a responsive close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission.

Technology features include standard RearView Monitor and an available touch-screen Infiniti Navigation system with XM NavTraffic® Real-Time Traffic information with 9.3GB Music Box Hard Drive, Pre-Crash Seat Belts, Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) with Preview Braking and Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS).

The G Convertible is offered in two models: the G37 Convertible and the G37S Convertible Sport 6MT, which adds sport-tuned steering and larger sport brakes, along with 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and W-rated performance tires.

Also available is a special, limited production G Convertible Premier Edition, offered exclusively through the Bloomingdale’s Holiday Catalog. With only 200 being built, the Premier Edition features a custom Monaco Red Leather leather-appointed interior, handcrafted red-tone Maple Wood trim, Midnight Black front grille and 9-spoke 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and tires. Pre-orders for the Premier Edition are being taken now for delivery in 2009.

The Infiniti display at the Los Angeles Auto Show also showcases the complete line of 2009 Infiniti vehicles, including the all-new Infiniti G37x Coupe with intelligent all-wheel drive, the new G37 Sedan with a 328-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and a new, more powerful M35 rear-wheel drive sedan.

About Infiniti

Infiniti offers a full-line of luxury performance automobiles designed to inspire at every turn, including the G sports coupe and sedan, M luxury performance sedan, EX personal luxury crossover, FX premium crossover SUV and the QX full-size luxury SUV. More information about Infiniti and the Total Ownership Experience® can be found at Infiniti.com.

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30th November 2008

Acura Tops All Competitors in Value

Press Releases

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Acura Tops All Competitors in Value
Acura Wins ALG’s 2009 Overall Luxury Brand Residual Value Award

The Acura brand ranked first in overall luxury brand residual value in the recently announced Automotive Lease Guide (ALG) 2009 Residual Value Awards. According to ALG, Acura’s line of luxury performance vehicles is expected to retain the highest percentage of its purchase price after a traditional three year lease.

“Residual value is an important measure of overall vehicle quality and desirability,” said Dick Colliver, executive vice president of sales. “ALG’s prestigious award is yet another example of how the Acura brand is a top competitor in luxury, performance, cutting-edge technology, safety as well as in resale value.”

Residual values are a measure used to recognize vehicle quality, reliability and overall brand strength. ALG, which debuted its Residual Value Awards in 2001, bases its awards on the careful study of important factors including sales strategy, competitive set segment competition, resale performance and overall automotive industry residual values. This year’s ALG awards are based on 2009 model year vehicles and Acura beat out top luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi and Lexus.

Acura offers a full line of technologically advanced performance luxury vehicles through a network of 271 dealers within the United States. The 2009 Acura lineup features five distinctive models including the RL luxury performance sedan, the TL performance luxury sedan, the TSX sports sedan, the turbocharged RDX crossover SUV and the award-winning MDX luxury sport utility vehicle.

For media information and high-resolution photos of all Acura vehicles, please visit www.acuranews.com. For consumer information, please visit www.acura.com.

©2008 American Honda Motor Co., Inc. All information contained herein applies to U.S. vehicles only.
Please see our Privacy Policy and Legal Terms and Conditions. Visit Honda.com. View Contact Us.

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30th November 2008

Cars.com Reviews the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS

Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder had his doubts about the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS before he even climbed inside the car. Citing GM’s penchant for amping up performance on otherwise poorly executed cars in a grand distraction effort, he nonetheless finds that the automaker has made some key improvements to the Cobalt SS. Read his full review to find out where Chevy’s compact has made the biggest strides.

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30th November 2008

Best Performance Car Under $60K: why the Golf beat the Falcon

Seats: “WOW!, Drive, you better hide! BONES will throw a piston when he reads this!

Why? It simply confirms what the Wheels Handling Olympics had already discovered. Drive chose to ignore the SS Ute in this class, even though it is cheaper than a GTI, so it again points to the narrowness of their judging in the first place. The conclusion of the category article is somewhat baffling and ensures that any remaining scraps of credibility this award might have are thrown out the window – “Driving enthusiasts on a budget will be hoping the famous VW [2009 GTI] doesn’t lose its magic.” On a budget! Its not as fast around a track as an SV6, let alone a similarly priced SS Ute. Its the pricey alternative by a long way.

The Rat Patrol: “We are talking about ROAD going motor vehicles and speed limited roads here…
… This obssession with handling and braking is the NEUTERED MALE’S excuse for not buying a car with KW/NM.

???? Which is it? if we’re talking about “speed-limited roads”, then why would kW and Nm matter? I think it is precisely because we are living in the real world of speed limted roads that handling is far more important. The most fun you can legally have is punting it hard through a twisty bit or tarmac. The tighter the corners, the more fun you can have with putting your license in danger. I think, given their limited choices, the judges definitely chose the best car. Its the people who chose the contenders who got it wrong.

Do people really think they are somehow better off as they trundle down Mt Dandenong road at 60 KPH in a GTI instead of an XR6? I know which Id rather have to get past a row of trucks.

You buy a performance car so you can overtake trucks!?! And you reckon these guys have been gelded!?! Spare me days!
I will give you your point on balance – no FWD performance car can possibly compete on balance with a RWD car. Commodore’s 50/50 weight distribution is something any FWD/AWD Euro hatch can only dream about. Mind you, mostly that just makes the Holden engineer’s job much easier than the VW guy’s but, for reasons known only to themselves, Drive chose to ignore the SS in this category. So all we got to see was a Flacon we already knew had its foibles.

To address Richard T’s remarks – If people think its appropriate to tax a car’s brakes to the brink of exhaustion on a public road – on the basis of some ridiculous critique – then no wonder our road toll is where it is.

How is that any different from flooring the accelerator? Both are equally legitimate. How well do you think any race car with ordinary brakes would go, even in a sprint race? You really have no argument here at all.

XU1: “By the way I’m a little miffed the Clio 197 didn’t get a look in.

I hadn’t thought about it but yeah, the Clio would wipe the floor with a GTI and keep a few grand in your pocket. Also absent was the Lancer Ralliart, which I reckon would out-perform the GTI in most respects, whilst addressing the judges concerns over the Evo’s harsh ride. Pretty ordinary choices made here.

Lion Tamer: “Nobody is ever goiing to walk into either a VW or Ford dealership and say “Hi Im comparing the Golf GTi with an XR6 Turbo can I please take an XR for a test drive” even the Sales Consultant would be at a loss and try and swing you towards an XR5.

I definitely would. Here’s the list of cars I will be looking at to replace my Astra – SS Ute, SV6 sedan [long shot], Fiat Ritmo T-Jet Sport, ClioSport 197 and the new Mazda3 SP25. All very different yet appealing in their own way. V8. V6, turbo and n/a four. My practical considerations only rule out cars like the MX5, which makes it easy to look at almost anything else that excites me. Yes, my initial selection is largely based on style but substance is what will determine a winner. I realise that I am probably in a minority but I think its enough to validate these kinds of comparisons.
I wouldn’t be interested in an XR5 simply because it puts too much power through the front wheels. I reckon once you start getting up to around 150kW, FWD becomes too compromised, so you start looking for a good RWD car at that point. GTI certainly seem to be the exception but its still only good “for a FWD car”, as opposed to just plain good, which makes me wonder if that wasn’t in the judges’ minds as they drove each.

RichardT: “If you buy a performance car at some time you are going to test its limits, legally or not.

When did a Golf GTI become a “Performance car” anyway? Its slower than an SV6, probably slower even than a Falcon XT, which makes it “sporty”, at best. It will feel quicker because its a little car but the reality is that its not really that fast at all.

Overall, another flawed and inscrutable effort which only goes to reinforce Wheels’ CoTY as the original and best. I may not always agree with their choices but at least I can fathom the logic of them.

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