First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Porsche, First Drives

A Wicked-Fast Street Legal Multi-Tool

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Walter Röhrl was carving up the circuit in the Porsche 911 Turbo S like a skilled Jedi Master – and I was sitting next to him, mesmerized by the breathtaking show. I had strapped myself securely into the front passenger bucket of the all-new coupe less than a minute earlier, expecting nothing more than a few quick laps around a track at the hands of another celebrated race driver. Been there, done that. Many times, actually.

Yet this was different. Röhrl was not only calculated and methodical in his approach, but his rally-tuned cerebrum appeared to be actively reading available grip levels while he was effortlessly tossing the all-wheel-drive Porsche into each corner at gut-wrenching speeds. His hands were moving rapidly, sending tiny steering corrections to the front tires, and he was using every inch of the track to extract more speed. We launched over a curb, dropped a wheel in the dirt and then drifted around a wide off-camber turn. His human precision and focus was astounding, and the performance he was extracting from the machine was just short of breathtaking.

Few drivers are as gifted as Walter Röhrl – and few vehicles are as capable as the new Porsche 911 Turbo.

Continue reading 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S”

First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Porsche, First Drives

A Wicked-Fast Street Legal Multi-Tool

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Walter Röhrl was carving up the circuit in the Porsche 911 Turbo S like a skilled Jedi Master – and I was sitting next to him, mesmerized by the breathtaking show. I had strapped myself securely into the front passenger bucket of the all-new coupe less than a minute earlier, expecting nothing more than a few quick laps around a track at the hands of another celebrated race driver. Been there, done that. Many times, actually.

Yet this was different. Röhrl was not only calculated and methodical in his approach, but his rally-tuned cerebrum appeared to be actively reading available grip levels while he was effortlessly tossing the all-wheel-drive Porsche into each corner at gut-wrenching speeds. His hands were moving rapidly, sending tiny steering corrections to the front tires, and he was using every inch of the track to extract more speed. We launched over a curb, dropped a wheel in the dirt and then drifted around a wide off-camber turn. His human precision and focus was astounding, and the performance he was extracting from the machine was just short of breathtaking.

Few drivers are as gifted as Walter Röhrl – and few vehicles are as capable as the new Porsche 911 Turbo.

Continue reading 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S

2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 04 Sep 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo S”

First Drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla

Filed under: Budget, Sedan, Toyota, First Drives

Reprising The Recipe For A Perfect Slice Of Toast

2014 Toyota Corolla

My toaster broke the other week. Halfway through the process of cooking my gourmet Pop-Tart breakfast, the thing crapped out with a small bang, leaving my delicious morning treats trapped inside. To rectify the situation, I ventured out to a big box store, located the toaster aisle, and ran a couple of questions through my mind. Do I need two slots or four? Do I need to spend more than 20 bucks on this thing? Should I just buy a toaster oven to give me a wider range of bachelor-pad cooking functionality? After no more than two minutes of contemplation, I grabbed the cheapest one on the shelf, paid and left the store. The new toaster works just fine.

This sort of unemotional shopping experience is how I suspect people decide to purchase the Toyota Corolla. It’s a perfectly fine appliance, and to a good number of people in the world, the bond between a car and a driver is no more important than the connection I feel to my toaster. Does it seat four people relatively comfortably? Does it get decent fuel economy? Is it easy to drive? Reliable? Safe? The Corolla checks all of these boxes, and because of that, Toyota managed to move just under 300,000 examples of the tenth-generation car in 2012 (though that number does include sales of the Corolla-based, now-deceased Matrix) – a vehicle that, at the time, was already six years old.

From a business perspective, that means the Corolla is a massive winner, and so to no one’s surprise, Toyota hasn’t rocked the boat too much in the creation of its eleventh-generation 2014 Corolla. It seats four people comfortably. It gets decent fuel economy. It’s easy to drive. It’s (predictably) reliable. It’s safe. And hey, it sort of looks good now. The new Corolla is actually a whole lot nicer than its predecessor. But it still doesn’t, shall we say, toast my bagel.

Continue reading 2014 Toyota Corolla

2014 Toyota Corolla originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla”

Official: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive lease now $139/mo

Filed under: Car Buying, Convertible, Coupe, Budget, Smart, Electric

Electric cars seem to be getting more affordable by the day, and the latest to get a price drop is the 2013 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive. With sales currently limited to only a handful of states, the Smart Fortwo ED is preparing for its nationwide rollout by offering a 36-month lease of the Fortwo ED Coupe for as low as $139 per month – or the same price as the non-electric Fortwo. The previous Fortwo ED leases started at $199 a month.

Available until September 3, conditions of this lease include a down payment of $1,999 and signing up for the Battery Assurance Plus battery-lease program, which is a separate lease for the battery at $80 per month. This means that lessees are actually driving the Fortwo ED for just $59 each month, although a mileage cap is set at 30,000 miles. There has been no price drop for those interested in purchasing a 2013 Fortwo ED, however, as has been the case with rival EVs like the Ford Focus Electric, Nissan Leaf and, most recently, the Chevy Volt.

As an added bonus, Smart is also giving its dealers a $2,000 incentive on the Fortwo, which can be used in any way the dealer wishes – local advertising, lowering the asking price for consumers, etc. AutoblogGreen‘s Sebastian Blanco has put together quite a bit more info on the Smart Fortwo ED lease, click thru to read more.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive lease now $139/mo originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 08 Aug 2013 18:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Official: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive lease now $139/mo”

First Drive: 2015 BMW i8 Prototype

Filed under: Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, BMW, First Drives, Electric, Luxury

M Meets Edison

2014 BMW i8 prototype

The real telling moment for the new BMW i division will be seeing how the recently tested 2014 i3 sells in its various markets, since that is the car that changes how we perceive our expectations of the brand. But this 2015 BMW i8 green supercar has all the earmarks of a slam-dunk project, we just needed to drive it and make sure for ourselves.

BMW has a spectacular test facility in southern France, called Miramas, and that’s where we just had our first brief go behind the wheel of the i8. There were three cars for us there and they were dressed up in exactly the same paisley camo that we’ve all seen in the spy photos published everywhere for the past year. The interiors, though swathed in masking to hide all the details, varied in their color.

As opposed to our realization that driving the stink out of the i3 was not the right attitude, with the i8 we were mostly encouraged to do exactly that by the entire BMW project team. Our essential takeaway from this event is that even BMW feels much more at ease splashing the i8 around with the media, because they’re certain we’re going to enjoy it. Even if the technology underneath is all new, this is the type of product BMW knows how to do in its blood and bones.

Continue reading 2015 BMW i8 Prototype

2015 BMW i8 Prototype originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2015 BMW i8 Prototype”

First Drive: 2014 Infiniti Q50

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Performance, Infiniti, First Drives, Luxury

Avoiding An Identity Crisis… For Now

2014 Infiniti Q50

Infiniti is a brand that has been quietly undergoing major upheaval – and not just with the numbers and letters on its trunklids. Back in December, Nissan’s premium brand rankled fans and pundits by announcing it would redo its alphanumeric nomenclature, yet that decision was but a PR speedbump – there are bigger fish to fry. After all, this is a marque that was on the chopping block just a couple of years ago, and now it has a major opportunity to succeed thanks to new investment, new independence (Infiniti is now responsible for its own design, engineering, marketing, quality and human resources), a new global headquarters in Hong Kong, and new marching orders from new leadership that calls for a revitalized and expanded portfolio.

Yet if you think that the Q-based naming convention is the first sign of the brand’s new direction, you might have missed Infiniti’s biggest signal flare: the 2013 JX crossover. Fine premium three-row crossover that it may be, it’s still the first Infiniti in ages that operates without a scintilla of driving entertainment at the core of its genetic makeup. (The last – and perhaps only – previous example was also Pathfinder-based, the 1997 QX4). To be fair, three-row CUVs have a laundry list of priorities before driving enjoyment figures in, but the message the JX (henceforth known as the QX60) sends is clear: Infiniti is going after more segments and more customers. Plans are afoot to expand the company’s product line by a whopping 60 percent over the next five years, and in short, that means Infiniti is no longer content to be the unsung Japanese BMW – it needs vehicles that satisfy a wider swath of consumers. Despite all this, Infiniti officials we spoke with were keen to assert that driving pleasure remains very much core to their mission, and to that of this 2014 Q50 in particular.

And surely the Q50 is something different and altogether more palatable to enthusiasts, right? After all, it replaces the bedrock G37 sport sedan at the heart of the lineup (well, sort of), and the latter was always regarded as a good handler and a dynamic drive, even if its overall refinement left something to be desired as it aged. Yet some of the Q50’s new technology, in particular drive-by-wire steering (a world’s first production application) and a new degree of autonomous capability, had us curious to see if the most important part of the experience is still down to the soft-headed bit belted in front of the steering wheel. We spent a day driving both standard and hybrid Q50s in New England and a few more on our metro Detroit home turf to find out if there’s still a healthy percentage of “sport” in this sedan.

Continue reading 2014 Infiniti Q50

2014 Infiniti Q50 originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 05 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2014 Infiniti Q50”

First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 [w/video]

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Videos, Porsche, First Drives, Racing

The Bearable Lightness Of Being

Start with a standard Porsche 911 Carrera and its 350-horsepower, 3.6-liter flat six-cylinder engine. Bore a crepe-thin slice of aluminum from each cylinder to get to 3.8 liters, add a wider track out back and two extra exhaust pipes and voila, you can append an S to the Carrera’s name. Hang two sets of wet, multi-disc clutches along its spine and you can make that a 4, or a 4S. Bolt on two forced-induction compressors and piping, add two fender vents and comically wide rear tires and you’ve redeemed your ticket to a Turbo. Increase the boost pressure and swell the corral to 560 horses and you have the Turbo S, which is the Virginia Slims of the 911 line-up because it’s come a long way, baby.

Or you can go in a different direction. At that second stop, grab the 3.8-liter and cart it over to the engineers at Porsche’s development center in Weissach, Germany. If racing were meat, they would be among the alpha carnivores. The baseboards in their homes are probably painted with miniature billboards for motor oil and vintage cigarettes along the straights, red-and-white stripes around every corner.

Instead of watching them add things to the 911, watch them take away. They will subtract the kinds of things you can feel in your hands, like components and weight and mass. By doing that, they will add the things you can feel in your butt and your gut, like acceleration and handling and thrill.

That has been the formula for the previous four generations of the 911 GT3, and it is that same incantation chanted over this fifth generation 991-based GT3. It’s stiffer, more powerful, faster and handles better than the coupe that came before it. It weighs more than the outgoing model, but it also – as we’ve come to expect – has more power.

And when Thomas Jefferson’s line “Every generation needs a revolution” was the opening quote of the press conference that introduced the 2014 911 GT3, the easy explanation would be that the speaker was referring to the coupe’s advances. But we’re pretty sure he was answering the question everyone’s been asking since the words “PDK-only” began being applied to the car: “What in Gott‘s name have you done with my manual transmission?”

Continue reading 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 [w/video]

2014 Porsche 911 GT3 [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2014 Porsche 911 GT3 [w/video]”

Video: Watch one man drive a KTM X-Bow at the track, then get the girl

Filed under: Motorsports, Videos, Specialty, MISC, Racing

KTM X-Bow race track

C’etait un Rendezvous is a legendary film with a very simple premise – a man drives very quickly to be with the woman he loves, careening through the streets of Paris with a blatant disregard for things like road signs, speed limits and pigeons. This film, from South African director Seagram Pearce, has a similar but much more law-abiding plot.

An unnamed racer arrives a track, gets his safety gear on, and zips around at the wheel of a KTM X-Bow. All the while, a beautiful woman watches on, with the driver finishing the film alongside his leading lady.

Take a look below for the stylized, beautifully filmed piece.

Continue reading Watch one man drive a KTM X-Bow at the track, then get the girl

Watch one man drive a KTM X-Bow at the track, then get the girl originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 12:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Video: Watch one man drive a KTM X-Bow at the track, then get the girl”

First Drive: 2014 Hyundai Equus

Filed under: Sedan, Hyundai, First Drives, Luxury

A Lesson In How To Out-Lexus The LS

2014 Hyundai Equus Ultimate

I think that the new BMW 4 Series is an attractive coupe. The design is a little bit on the wrong side of “fussy” I’ll grant you, and I don’t particularly care for the look of the scalloped, black-bordered vents on the fender sides – functional though they may be. But for the most part, I find the coupe to be pretty pleasing to look at.

You all, by and large, do not care for the 4 Series. (For the sake of constructing my intellectual argument, I’m going to make the ridiculous statistical assumption that the 140 or so comments on our 4 Series First Drive provide a representative opinion of our readership as a whole.) In the first 24 hours after we published our review of the car, you felt moved to comment that it was “ugly,” “REALLY ugly” and “a disappointment” among other, less reprintable statements of ardor.

So clearly we see things a little differently in terms of styling, but what does any of this have to do with the 2014 Hyundai Equus?

Continue reading 2014 Hyundai Equus

2014 Hyundai Equus originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “First Drive: 2014 Hyundai Equus”

Read This: Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll]

Filed under: TV/Movies, Read This

Drive-in movie theaters turn 80 years old this summer, and, soon, they might die of old age. There are only 360 drive-in theaters left in the US – down from 4,000 at their peak in 1958 – and the 35-millimeter film projectors that they use to screen movies are quickly losing support from studios, which have switched to digital methods of capturing pictures.

Remember the four-foot poles with speakers built in? You’d pull your car up to it, park, and open your windows to listen to the movie. Well, there’s only one company left that makes parts for those speakers, and they don’t support surround sound. And the cost to upgrade the projectors to digital systems is prohibitively expensive. James Kopp, manager at the Family Drive-In Theatre in Stephens City, Virginia, says he was quoted nearly $140,000 to make the switch to digital, The Washington Post reports.

Pennsauken, New Jersey, was the first US city to build a drive-in, yet there are no more of them in the state. As gloomy as it looks, there are drive-ins trying to make the switch to digital projection systems, and there are ones that already have. But as drive-ins fall further from our minds, the question is, do people care?

Read The Washington Post article, and tell us what you think in the poll below.

View Poll

Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll] originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Continue reading “Read This: Lack of 35mm film, replacement parts putting hurt on America’s drive-ins [w/poll]”