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M O R F S E D H I C R S B R Y O H P D , I N D A U s A V E T W E R M C B , E S E D E TOP S MERC


inside FEBRUARY 2015



50 GERMANY’S PLAN TO SHOCK TESLA By Georg Kacher We reveal Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche’s plug-in hybrids and EVs targeting the California upstart.

By Arthur St. Antoine The Big Three have been left for dead. Now these Detroit-bred ponycars will do that to most any competitor.

62 THEN VS. NOW 1954 CHEVROLET CORVETTE AND 2015 CORVETTE STINGRAY By David Zenlea The self-shifting Corvette fnally comes into its own.



By Jason H. Harper For Horacio Pagani, it’s all about man and machine. We drive his $1.5 million, 720-hp hypercar to fnd out why.

By Georg Kacher Climb (almost) every mountain: The new baby Jeep conquers the Alps.


AUTOMOBILE (ISSN 0894-3583) February 2015, Vol. 29, No.11. Published monthly by Source Interlink Media, LLC., 261 Madison Ave., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10016-2303. Copyright © 2014 by Source Interlink Magazines, LLC. All rights reserved. Periodicals Postage Paid at New York, NY and at additional mailing ofces. SUBSCRIPTIONS: U.S. and U.S. Possessions $19.94 for 12 issues. Canada $31.94 per year and international orders $43.94 per year (including surface mail postage). Payment in advance, U.S. funds only. POSTMASTER: Send all UAA to CFS. (See DMM 707.4.12.5); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: send address corrections to: AUTOMOBILE, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. For subscriptions, address changes, and adjustments, write to AUTOMOBILE Magazine, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, Florida 32142–0235, or email or call 800–289–2886 (U.S.), 386–447–6383 (international). Please include name, address, and telephone number on any inquiries. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Manuscripts, photos, and other material submitted must be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope; AUTOMOBILE Magazine assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. Printed in U.S.A.


Automobile | February 2015


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inside FEBRUARY 2015


AutomobileDEPARTMENTS Ignition 10


SEMA is a big show.



Ford’s Shelby GT350, BMW’s i8S, and Volvo’s luxury aspirations.


BY DESIGN By Robert Cumberford

Mercedes-AMG GT: Long in the tooth is better than long in the nose.


THE ASPHALT JUNGLE By Arthur St. Antoine

The next top model.



About that Alfa Romeo 4C ...



Mustangs, adventures, and fast wagons.


Driven 30

2016 MERCEDES-AMG GT S Built for Laguna Seca.



More of an adjective, less of a verb.


2015 BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT3-R What price exclusivity?

36 37 37

2015 BMW X6 More car, less truck. 2015 AUDI S3 The baby S4. 2015 FORD FOCUS 1.0-LITER

The three-cylinder goes mainstream.



Changes up front and under the hood.



Credible pickups regardless of their size.


Upshift 84


The Kia Cadenza makes a good impression.



We take in a Jaguar F-Type Coupe and update our Honda Accord Coupe, Acura MDX, and Ford Fiesta ST.



The 1970-76 Porsche 914: Don’t call it a Volkswagen.



RM’s Hershey sale featured a rare Frazer.



Chevrolet racer crosses the virtual divide.


Automobile | February 2015



The Suits

Editor-In-Chief MICHAEL FLOYD Executive Editor TODD LASSA Creative Director DARREN SCOTT Senior Editors JOSEPH A. LORIO, DAVID ZENLEA Copy Chief EMILIANA SANDOVAL Managing Editor RUSTY KURTZ


European Bureau Chief GEORG KACHER Automotive Design Editor ROBERT CUMBERFORD West Coast Editor MICHAEL JORDAN New York Bureau Chief JAMIE KITMAN Editor-At-Large ARTHUR ST. ANTOINE Road Test Editor CHRISTOPHER NELSON Videographer SANDON VOELKER

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Automobile | February 2015

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editor’s letter

Mike Floyd




Automobile | February 2015

Vegas. They’d rather volunteer to clean latrines than come within 500 miles of the mayhem that is the Vegas Convention Center during SEMA week. I have a hard time understanding why there’s so much animosity when the subject turns to SEMA. In every nook, cranny, closet, henhouse, and outhouse of the convention center’s 2.5 million square feet, there are astonishing vehicles— roughly 1,500 in all. No matter what, you’re going to fnd something you like, a car that moves you, a product that will turn your

Their goal was to set some quality guidelines and standards and, most important, provide products for the masses to go faster on road and track. Several of the original 100 member companies are still in business, including now-famous names such as Edelbrock and B&M. Today’s SEMA is a much diferent animal, with more than 6,800 member companies. It represents and advocates for an aftermarket industry that saw an incredible $34.3 billion in retail sales in 2013. The Vegas show is its signature event, which for 2014 featured 2,500 exhibitors hawking their wares to 60,000 reps, with 3,000 journalists covering it all. The massive halls are packed with sweaty, often hungover humanity (it is Vegas, after all), attracting more than 130,000 visitors during the week. Sadly, there are no public days. Given all the dollars fying around, automakers have been scrambling aboard SEMA’s supercharged bandwagon. Ford has a massive stand rivaling any of its traditional auto-show setups. It used its space to showcase a corral of wild 2015 Mustangs developed with partners, including Roush and others, and built its own King Cobra drag car ftted with parts from the Ford Racing catalog. Kia has been coming to Vegas for several years now, and it unveiled the latest livery for its Optima race car that’s been tearing up the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class. No better place to show it than SEMA. Then there are the dreamers such as Singapore-based SlamStop that come to SEMA looking to get noticed. Tucked into a corner of the north hall, Dmitriy Iurgens and Anton Dyshkant were pitching their

SEMA represents an industry that saw an incredible $34.3 billion in retail sales in 2013. head and make you scratch/shake it, depending on your personal tastes. Some of you may already be familiar with SEMA and its eponymous show in these pages (you can check out a couple of this year’s show cars in the Ignition section). For the uninitiated, the trade organization started in 1963; back then, the S was for Speed. It was created by the era’s pioneering speed merchants, the aftermarket shops that would help fuel the great muscle-car arms race of the ’60s.

product, which will pull a door shut if it hasn’t been closed all the way. The demonstration Mustang worked as intended and, for up to $1,000 for four doors, they’ll have it installed for you. It is entrepreneurs like the SlamStop guys who fll the SEMA halls each year, and help make it one auto show that shouldn’t go. And you can always fnd me on Instagram or Twitter at @am_mikefoyd for photos, links, and #noboringcars. AM


S IT TIME FOR AUTO SHOWS to go? You can make that argument. Long before we set foot in the convention center, we’re locked, loaded (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT: shows/), and ready to bombard the digital universe with what we already know is coming to the latest automotive exhibition. That leaves little drama and few surprises for the show foor. But there’s still one show on the circuit with twisted energy, a distinctly American entrepreneurial spirit, and unpredictability: the Specialty Equipment Market Association’s annual extravaganza. Don’t let the dull name fool you; SEMA is a stunning, staggering showcase. Where else can you fnd fake-jewelencrusted engines, walls of steering wheels, transmission pens, Jeeps with machine gun turrets, Scions with Slayer airbrushing, Porsche 918 Spyders, 1,200-pound Canadian track cars, 850-horsepower Camry dragsters, Danica Patrick, Richard Petty, drifting demonstrations, and booth babes all thrown together? There’s only one place brave enough to host a festa like this—Las Vegas. So, yeah, there’s that too. Scores of my colleagues either 1) hate Vegas or 2) hate SEMA and

What owners say about V1... Bill P., Phoenix, AZ

Where’s the radar? An arrow lights up, pointing either Ahead, to the side, or Behind. And, amazingly, it’s never wrong.

Trust ...V1 earns it

one ambush at a time.

Arnie R., Atlanta, GA

Harold B., Houston, TX

So easy to operate, a box with one knob. No need to poke around at full-arm’s reach for little buttons the size of rice grains.

On my way home this afternoon I was following another detector user. I could see red blinking in his windshield as we went past the first radar. Thinking the danger was behind, Mr. Ordinary Detector User hit the gas.

Glenna R., Dallas, TX

Love the arrows! Where’s the radar? They tell me every time. How come no other detector thought of that?

Uh-Oh. V1’s Radar Locator was showing two arrows, one pointing toward the trap now behind, and a second arrow ahead. The “2” on the Bogey Counter confirmed we were being double teamed.

Chas S., Charlotte, NC

Situation Awareness you can trust. With the Radar Locator arrowing toward threats, and the Bogey Counter telling how many threats you face, V1 makes defense easy.

Sure enough, Mr. O. D. User cruised into the second trap up the hill at 15 over and got himself a blue-light special.

Cal L., Trenton, NJ

I’ve owned my V1 since 2001, and I’ve had it upgraded twice. I trust the arrows to point out every radar trap. When I know where, I know how to defend.

V1 points to every trap. I trust it completely. Bogey Counter

Ed H., Las Vegas, NV

How can anyone not be smitten by the Arrows? Radar ahead needs a different defense than radar behind. When I know where, I know what to do. And I can tell when I’m past the threat, too. All other detectors just beep and keep you guessing. Rob R., Sacramento, CA

This is the slam dunk best radar detector. No databases to keep updating, or other “features” I’ll never use. Instead V1 tells me the important stuff—the Bogey Counter tells you how many threats within range and the red arrows tell where they are.

Tells how many: Radar hiding within a false alarm? Two radars working the same road? Reads instantly.

Radar Locator Tracks one or more radars at the same time; points to each.


Control Knob Turns On/Off, adjust volume, press to mute.

Rear Antenna


Scans behind for radar.

Radar Strength


More LEDs glow as radar strengthens.

© 2014 VRI

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new metal

BMW’s $175K birthday gift to itself The new BMW i8S will take the green supercar to another level.


MW turns 100 in 2016. To celebrate, the automaker will launch a new hybrid supercar, aptly codenamed M100 but likely to carry the name i8S when it goes on sale. It will be not merely an engineering showpiece but a proper production model. As the name indicates, the i8S builds on the able bones of the i8. Development will happen under the Project i umbrella, led by Roberto Fedeli, who recently joined BMW from Ferrari. But the i8S will have so many new parts that it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it a totally new car. That starts with aggressive aerodynamic aids that lend the green sports car a more menacing character.


Automobile | February 2015

The carbon-fber tub and aluminum-intensive chassis will be retained, but the overall materials mix will be more diverse in character and more integrated in construction. BMW learned a lot about carbon fber when building the i3 and i8, and on the i8S the company will try to further improve critical areas such as crash performance, durability, and both torsional and bending rigidity. The chassis will feature a frmer, reworked suspension, bigger brakes, and wider tires. A revised interior will eliminate the i8’s token rear seats in favor of a larger luggage bay. Power, of course, will go up. Whereas the three-cylinder and electric motor in the i8 combine for a respectable 357 hp and 420 lb-ft, the new fagship coupe’s gas-electric powertrain

SEMA IS STRAIGHT-UP AUTOMOTIVE INDULGENCE AND INSANITY. The 2014 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in November had four standout cars that threw us for a loop, including this Scion xB done up as a shaggin’ wagon from the stoner era and built in cooperation with Riley Hawk, son of legendary skateboarder Tony.


should have a combined output in excess of 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Details are foggy because two powertrain confgurations are being considered for the mid-engine, plug-in supercar. As in the i8, a gasoline engine will drive the new coupe’s rear wheels and an electric motor will power the fronts. The engine will either be a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder with more than 300 hp or a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six with better than 450 hp. The electric motor’s output will be either about 100 hp when mated to the six-cylinder engine or about 200 hp when supporting the smaller four-cylinder. Whichever powertrain confguration comes out on top will pair with a nine-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and come with an integrated, rear-mounted starter motor, which itself will develop about 30 hp. The curb weight of the new BMW hybrid supercar will certainly exceed the i8’s 3,455 pounds, but the horsepower bump should nonetheless provide a clear performance advantage. Top speed might be limited to 155 mph, but the 0-62 mph acceleration is said to be 3.5 seconds, 0.6 second quicker than the i8. Strong demand suggests that BMW could have charged more for the standard i8, so expect a healthy price jump and a starting price around $175,000 for the BMW i8S when it reaches showrooms in late 2017. Seems like a suitable 100th birthday present to oneself, wouldn’t you say? —Georg Kacher

IS THERE ROOM FOR A MODERN INCARNATION OF THE ICONIC BMW M1? WE THOUGHT A NEW M1 was on the way—and it was. The so-called M8 would have ditched the electric motor for a 600-plus-hp gas engine. Unfortunately, BMW’s environmentally conscientious head honcho, Norbert Reithofer, gave the mid-engine halo car a (green) thumbs down. He will only accept a supercar that promises to sip fuel. But he’s on his way out, and his successor potentially could revive the M8, which was well along in development before being shunted aside. If the new chairman prefers a pump with 93 octane to a charger on a 220-volt outlet, the M8 could be back on track in the next few years.


February 2015 |



legend returns

he supercharged Ford Shelby GT500, a brute in need of fnesse, looked clumsy chasing the less powerful, less expensive, but far more compelling Mustang Boss 302 around a road course. Now, for its sixth-generation Mustang, Ford has canned both the GT500 and Boss 302 in favor of a happy medium, the all-new 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang. On paper at least, the GT350 skews more toward the track-focused Boss 302. Under the GT350’s hood, there’s a fat-plane V-8 (see sidebar), unique to this car. The high-revving, 5.2-liter, naturally aspirated engine will produce more than 500 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. That power will be sent through a six-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip rear diferential. A seriously revamped chassis and suspension have the GT350 sitting 2 inches lower than the standard Mustang GT. The car also has a wider front track, staggered 19-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 15.5-inch cross-drilled front brake rotors with Brembo six-piston calipers, 15-inch rear brake rotors with four-piston calipers, upgraded bushings, higher spring rates, and magnetorheological dampers (a frst for the Mustang). Performance options will include a front-strut tower brace and cooling systems for the diferential, engine oil, and transmission. Extensive exterior revisions express the Shelby GT350’s intense performance mission. Bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to the GT350, with a lowered hood, an angry front fascia with a bigger front splitter, wider aluminum front fenders, and a carbon-fber-composite grille opening embossed with Shelby’s signature cobra emblem. The interior is equally purposeful, with Recaro sport seats, a fat-bottom steering wheel, and fewer refective materials compared with the basic Mustang (because you don’t want sunlight blinding you when you’re in a hairpin turn). The prospect of a throw down between the GT350 and a Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 already has our palms sweating, but we’ll have to wait until the car goes on sale—closer to summer—to get behind the wheel and rev the V-8 past 8,000 rpm. Yes, 8,000 rpm. —Christopher Nelson



Automobile | February 2015

Ford’s Fantastic Flat-Plane Mustang The Shelby GT350 Mustang will be the most powerful naturally aspirated ponycar Ford has ever built

“ This is an American interpretation of a fat-plane crankshaft V-8, and the 5.2-liter produces a distinctive, throaty howl from its four exhaust tips.” Jamal Hameedi, Ford Global Performance Vehicles chief engineer

THE MAJESTIC HOONICORN: This brilliantly named ’65 Mustang, which cribs elements from the WRC and DTM racing series, stars in Ken Block’s new “Gymkhana Seven” video. The all-wheel-drive, wide-body notchback has an 845-hp 6.7-liter V-8 with a six-speed automatic transmission and a hydraulic handbrake.

WHAT THE HECK IS A FLAT-PLANE CRANKSHAFT? Most V-8 engines have a crossplane crankshaft that lets two pairs of adjacent cylinders in the same cylinder bank fre in succession. The engine runs smoothly after some counterbalancing but is less eager to rev and has difculty pushing out exhaust gases. A fat-plane crank V-8, traditionally used in exotic and racing cars, alternates fring between cylinder banks. This design forces out exhaust gases faster and eliminates the need for counterbalance weights, which allows the engine to rev higher and more freely. One notable drawback? A discernible engine vibration. We’ll see how Ford quells that.


THE GT350 MONIKER is said to have sprouted up during a conversation at Shelby American. While trying to come up with a name for his latest creation, Carroll asked how far it was from his ofces to the workshop. Someone answered “350 feet,” and so it was. Shelby built the GT350 (then GT-350) from 1965 to 1968. The GT350 reappeared in 1984 as a single-year special. (Turns out Ford hadn’t licensed the GT350 name from Shelby. Oops.) In 2011, Shelby American started selling a home-baked, aftermarket GT350 package, but that’s long gone now that Ford has claimed the name.

February 2015 |




FORD’S KING COBRA: Fitted with three Ford Racing performance packages—a Handling Pack with lowering springs, a Super Pack with a 2.3-liter supercharger, and a Drag Pack that beefs up the halfshafts and rear subframe—the 600-hp, 10-second King Cobra can be had by any 2015 Ford Mustang GT owner with cash and a few weekends to spare.


Seductiveness over safety Todd Lassa

No more nibbling at the luxury market—

Volvo wants a bite


he only surviving Swedish automaker isn’t starving—its loyal, safety-minded regulars keep food on the table. But it’s hungry for more sales, and it won’t be relying on longstanding buyers for those. Look at the sticker price for the launch version of Volvo’s second-generation XC90, now trickling into U.S. dealerships: $66,825. That’s about on par with competitive products from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. More modest XC90s start at $49,825, which fts in with the brand’s “value-premium” approach, but consider the price creep into German territory as an announcement that Volvo is shedding some of its stellar safety image in favor of exclusivity and sexiness. Volvo’s new mojo will be clear in upcoming products. Volvo and Geely, the Chinese automaker that bought it from Ford in 2010, are working on a small-car platform that will likely spawn an all-new S40 sedan for 2017 followed a year later by a new XC40, which will compete in the burgeoning premium compact


Automobile | February 2015

crossover segment. A long-wheelbase version of the current S60 sedan, with a plug-in hybrid powertrain, is due out later this year, and an all-new S60, possibly with a coupe variant, is a couple years away. Models from the next S60 on up will be built on an exclusive Volvo platform, including the automaker’s next fagship model, an S80 replacement to be renamed S90. Due out in 2018, the S90 will come only with a fourcylinder engine. (There’s no future for fve-, six-, or eight-cylinder engines at Volvo, which is investing only in inline-threes and -fours such as the 316-hp, super- and turbocharged four in the new XC90.) Although the S90 will be available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, it will have the long-nose proportions of a rear-wheel-drive car and be the best-looking Volvo since the P1800. The S90 will be perfect for China’s luxury market, which embraces big sedans with small-displacement engines to avoid stif tax penalties. CEO Håkan Samuelsson’s goal is to increase global volume from about

470,000 in 2014 to 800,000 by 2020. He expects that China will make up a quarter of that total in 2020. Selling 200,000 Volvos per year in China should be easy because Samuelsson expects that market to take as many XC90s as North America does, which is a lot. The rest of the world will account for about 28 percent of the sales growth. Things seem set, then, for Volvo to chow down in both established and new markets. We’ll see if the new image turns of some of the safety-minded customers who have kept the Swedish automaker from starving. But we’re guessing that most of them—as well as every new buyer—will enjoy primped, pretty cars playing in the luxury market, where Volvo has long operated on the periphery. AM ILLUSTRATION BY TIM MARRS

Why are the Germans

plugging in?

erman automakers, as we report in our cover story, are investing billions in EVs and plug-in hybrids (see page 50). But why? Tiny Tesla has no doubt provided inspiration, but there’s another, slightly larger motivator: the federal government. The stage was set in the summer of 2011 when President Obama announced aggressive fuel-economy and greenhouse gas standards. Among the auto executives who joined him in a show of industry-wide backing for the regulations, there were a few faces missing. “We are not in agreement. That’s a fact,” says William Craven, senior manager of regulatory afairs for Daimler. Volkswagen Group also dissented. This may seem odd, given Europe’s embrace of environmental controls. But the U.S. standards pose particular challenges to Mercedes-Benz, VW, and BMW. The most obvious issue is with what the Germans sell in the United States—mostly powerful luxury cars. That hurts because regulators calculate their feet fuel economy


AN 850-HP TOYOTA CAMRY: The Sleeper Camry is a dragster with a 2015 Camry body shell draped over its tubeframe chassis. With the 5.7-liter V-8 engine, transmission, rear axle, and electrical work from a Tundra (and a TRD supercharger and a wet nitrous system for good measure), this Camry turns the quarter in 9.8 seconds.


according to sales. General Motors needn’t worry about Cadillac’s fuel economy because every CTS-V it sells is ofset by thousands of Chevrolet Cruzes. Mercedes, BMW, and VW enjoy no such cushion. Even the Volkswagen brand sells far too few Jettas and Passats to ofset Audi, Bentley, and Porsche, which currently make up more than 35 percent of VW Group’s U.S. sales. This is one reason we’re seeing premium-branded compact cars such as the CLA-Class and A3. But selling lots of efcient small cars will only do so much thanks to another regulatory wrinkle: footprint curves. These require smaller vehicles to meet higher efciency targets. Every automaker, in turn, has a feet footprint. The smaller its footprint, the higher its fuel economy standard. The stated goal, according to the EPA, is “to minimize the incentive for reducing vehicle size to meet stringency.” As you might expect, German (and Japanese) automakers don’t like this. They argue the footprint curves are lenient toward large trucks at their expense (see

Big Foot You’ve probably heard the fgure 54.5 mpg, but the truth is every automaker has its own government-mandated efciency target for 2025 based on the average footprint (wheelbase x track) of its feet. Automakers that sell lots of big cars and, more so, big trucks have easier targets than everyone else.

below). True or not, there’s little doubt the Germans would be in better shape with regulators if they ofered a really large, reasonably efcient truck (like, say, the aluminum Ford F-150). Beyond the tougher standards lie tougher consequences. The Germans have missed fuel-economy targets in the past and paid millions in fnes. They were OK with that. “They used to just sell the cars and pay the fnes,” says analyst Phil Gott of IHS Automotive. But under the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, which complement the CAFE standards, less efcient automakers must buy carbon “credits” from greener competitors—that is, hand over cash to rivals. Mercedes, Volkswagen, and BMW all had to do that in 2012. Amid all this, German automakers have watched Tesla with growing interest. EVs clearly help toward meeting regulations, but German execs long assumed no one wanted them. In proving otherwise, Elon Musk has shown Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen a potential way to please Uncle Sam. —David Zenlea

Projected fuel economy targets for trucks in 2025*:

43.1 MPG


42.7 MPG


41.4 MPG


37.8 MPG 36.4 MPG

*NHTSA estimated fuel-economy standards, based on 2010 feet footprints

February 2015 |



roads less traveled

WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO ON THE ROAD: Taylor Swift’s “1989.” Everyone—except for executive editor Todd Lassa, the curmudgeon—is smitten by Swift’s newest album, which couples freebase pop with whimsical melodies and musings from a girl who’s lost some of her innocence but none of her charm. Maybe that charm will rub of on Lassa after he’s forced to go to Swift’s “The 1989 World Tour!” when it stops by Detroit this May.

TRIP NOTES Visit Cité de l’Automobile, the world’s biggest auto museum, in Mulhouse. Once known as the Schlumpf Collection, it opened to the public in 1982 in an old textile factory, and it houses a huge collection of Bugattis—more than 120 of them.

Eat and stay the night at Le Chambard, a four-star, family-run hotel in Kaysersberg. Chef Olivier Nasti oversees the two-star Michelin restaurant, 64 Degrees, with a tasting menu for $165.

Try the wine at Hugel & Fils in Riquewihr. The winery dates back more than 12 generations and is home to what’s said to be the oldest wine vat in constant use, dating from 1715.

Alsace Wine Route Northeastern France

The 61-year-old Route des Vins d’Alsace runs more than 120 miles from Marlenheim to Thann in the province of Alsace, part of the marchlands between France and Germany. It crosses 67 communes and villages in the sloping valleys of the Vosges Mountains. Start at the northern end of the route and take your time heading south on smooth, narrow roads, meandering through manicured vineyards and walled towns. Plan long breaks so you can enjoy the sights as well as a few glasses of dry Riesling.


Automobile | February 2015


ignition by design

Robert Cumberford











HY THE MERCEDES -AMG GT exists is clear to everyone: to challenge the Porsche 911. It’s meant to be sold for around the same price to exactly the same successful, middle-aged professionals. With its traditional front-engine layout, it may well be easier for most people to drive close to the limit than the rear-engine Porsche. Yet I don’t see this car overwhelming the 911. It lacks the history and reputation of the classic Porsche, and it is not styled as cohesively or with as much refnement as its crosstown Stuttgart rival. It’s a good-looking car, no question. Is it as good-looking as its targeted rival? For me, it isn’t. We’ve all heard, “Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.” In an era of short-nosed front-wheel-drive cars, many have wished for longer hoods. Now, AMG has provided just that. But to me, this is too much of a good thing, and the result is an ill-proportioned design. I know the Jaguar E-Type is a design paradigm for many, but it is rather a special case with its almost vertical windshield. The E-Type gained hood length by externalizing surfaces normally found inside the cabin. For better aerodynamics,


Automobile | February 2015


we expect much more steeply raked windshields now. Their base is farther ahead of the steering wheel, which cuts hood length. Or it does unless you do what AMG has done by combining a tight, compact body form and a fast profle with a wheelbase 7.5 inches longer than the XK-E’s. To my eye, this is just about the excess length that should be chopped out of the sheetmetal between the front door cut and the front wheelhouse. Perceptions of proportions change with time and what we become used to. The frst mid-engine Ferrari Testarossa maintained the expected long hood by using excessive front overhang, and we have become used to that, but we’re happier with short overhangs. I believe it’s possible—but not likely—that people will come to love the proportions of the AMG GT, but for me today this is like Geppetto’s beloved puppet, lying while trying to become a real boy. The previous Mercedes SLS AMG sports car, which used the same basic platform, was an ugly beast, amateurishly styled, and graceless. This is far better. And I fully expect that the next one will be better still. But I don’t think Porsche will have to worry about losing all its lawyer-doctor-banker clientele just yet. AM




FRONT 3/4 VIEW 1. THIS RISING LINE is becoming an identity mark for Mercedes, but it’s more graceful and fuid here than on other models.


2. THERE IS AN AWKWARD GLITCH where the rain gutter interrupts the perimeter of the side daylight opening, the kind of mistake you won’t fnd on any Porsche. 3. BIG, EFFECTIVE MIRRORS serve also as turn signal repeaters.

4. THE COLOR SEPARATION between the roof sills and the blacked-out roof panel is again awkward and disruptive. That’s unfortunate given the graceful centerline profle of the upper.


5. THIS SIDE GRILLE is far more graceful than the clumsy chrome lumps on recent sports models such as the Mercedes SLR McLaren and the previous SL series.


6. THE FRONT FENDER peak line is really beautiful, fading in the door, while the surface highlight fows from front lamps to rear ones.

11. THE DOOR HANDLE recess seems

7. THE HIGH HOOD is necessitated partially

12. THE HANDSOME HOOD vents are blessedly simple and free of brightwork. But they are almost exactly the length of the hood that should be excised.

by the big engine and partially by European pedestrian-safety regulations requiring 4-inch clearance between the skin and hard bits.

8. SPARKLY LITTLE BUTTONS that compose the grille are quite pleasing in their concave-surface presentation, and, of course, the big three-pointed star is always welcome in sports models. 9. THIS UNDERCUT SURFACE presents the grille and center portion of the hood as a nacelle, similar to traditional racing cars. 10. THE LAMP ASSEMBLY is distinctive and integrates with the nominal surfaces beautifully.

18. THIS TIGHT-RADIUS TRANSVERSE rib gives defnition to the rear, keeping it from seeming like an egg or bar of soap. In fact, the rear aspect of the car is essentially fawless.

excessively large, but gloved hands in winter require space. So this is very practical.

19. ANOTHER SUBTLE NEGATIVE SURFACE creates a sharp line across the lower tail above the black difuser area and the dramatic rectangular exhaust outlets.


20. IN THIS VIEW, the simple, chopped-of bright trim piece imposes a visual break in the side window profle.

1955 300 SL but nicely evocative of them.

14. THE SHAPE OF THE ROOF is really nice, so models with panels painted body color are much prettier than the glass-topped cars.


15. THE REAR WINDOW is far smaller than appears to be the case. Rearward visibility is far from optimal with the central mirror.

21. DESIGNERS TOO OFTEN propose mirrors that are too small. Serious drivers, whether stylists or engineers, insist on really efective units such as these.

16. THE POP-UP SPOILER is elegantly shaped with a negative section turning up just before the cutline to efectively trip the air wake at lower speeds.

22. THE DEEP COWL should keep the critical instruments free of refections.

17. THE TAILLIGHTS are beautifully 3



23. PERHAPS THE GLOBE displayed in the

integrated into the simple rear with its nicely rounded overhead view.

navigation screen inspired the multitude of circles in the interior. I counted 25 or so, then discovered another embossed on the tunnel.

24. THE SEAT CUSHIONS look fat, but the convolutions of the backrests hold passengers in place. The seating position is very good indeed, and simply sitting in the car incites a fervent desire to drive it.






8 February 2015 |


ignition the asphalt jungle

Arthur St. Antoine


MAY BE AN AUTO -INDUSTRY insider, but I hate buying a new car just as much as you do. Sure, at frst the process is all unicorns and moonbeams: the giddy anticipation of what the new sweetheart will be, the breathless reading and re-reading of Automobile reviews, the gleeful hours poring over stats and photos on websites and glossy sales brochures (an audio system with only 12 speakers and 1,500 watts? Pass!), the endless pie-in-the-sky debates (Ferrari or Porsche … or maybe a Lambo this time!), the mental images of driving home from the showroom at last with the brand-new jewel—at 12 mph, with the hazards on, fearfully ducking away from every fender-banging motorist within 20 yards. Ah, but then reality sets in, the evil twins Bank Balance and Practicality shoulder their way into the debate, and soon you’re seated in the





dealership, once again shopping for a “realistic” car. And it’s then that the dreaded ritual begins in earnest: the outraged haggling, the childlike pouting, the pigheaded silent staring, the laughable threats of “we just can’t do that.” (At this point, I must apologize to all the fne salespeople I’ve encountered for my boorish behavior.) Exactly one year ago, I went through all of the above and snagged a new car. I bring it up now because at the time, a brand-new edition of my ride of choice was set to hit the market in only four or fve months—and I’ve since had plenty of opportunities to refect on the pros and cons of my decision. See, back then I faced a conundrum familiar to anyone in the market for fashionable shoes or a new iPhone: Buy the dusty outgoing model (the cost-conscious schmuck move) or scrape by for a while to stand in line and drop top dollar on the latest


Automobile | February 2015

and greatest New Thing (the rash, hipster option). I chose schmuck. Now, I’ve owned a pretty wide variety of rigs in recent years: Land Rovers, a BMW 528i, a Jeep Wrangler, and an Audi A6 2.7T. Because I now get my adventure fx hosting the online show “Epic Drives,” I nixed going the SUV route again. I’m also fortunate to test-drive enough hot metal to get the sports-car jones out of my system. What I wanted was a good-looking, versatile, entertaining machine for a modest outlay of cash—something equally adept at hauling a load of scuba gear and tearing up the twisties in Malibu on the rare deadline-free Sunday afternoon. I chose a Volkswagen GTI, the sixth-generation 2014 edition. The descendant of the original hot hatch is something of a default choice among automotive journalists; several colleagues of mine own or have owned one. It combines clean lines, a poised chassis, astounding interior room for its trim exterior dimensions, a gutsy turbocharged four-cylinder mill, and a very reasonable sticker (about $25,000 for the base Wolfsburg Edition). While I’ve opted for manuals on many of my previous purchases, this time I went for VW’s brilliant dual-clutch, paddle-shift DSG manumatic (so similar to a Formula 1 car, you see). Otherwise, the GTI came standard with just about everything I wanted: super-supportive seats (heated in front), a thick leather steering wheel, cool 18-inch alloy wheels, enough air bags to foat a blimp. (For all you conspiracy theorists now chuckling at the “sweet deal” I probably got via my sinister inside connections: Nope. This column is likely the frst time anyone at Volkswagen has even heard of my GTI purchase. When I informed the sales guy at the dealership that I was a test driver for a world-famous—and potentially highly vindictive—car magazine, all it inspired him to say was, “That’s nice.”) Here’s the rub: At the time of my shopping spree, the all-new, Mk7 Golf GTI was just around the corner. And I knew all the goodies it promised: up to a 20-horsepower bump with the Performance Package; a huge torque increase of 51 lb-ft; a lighter, more responsive suspension; new bodywork; a thoroughly modern interior; a frstever limited-slip dif. I gnashed my teeth,

tried to rationalize waiting and paying more, but in the end I couldn’t avoid the simple truth: I needed a car. Now. I love my black-on-black Mk6 GTI— love the refned moves, the burp of the exhaust on every paddle-shift gear change, the sublime styling that picks up the red trim in the corrugated front fascia, mirrors it in the brake calipers, and continues with the red stitching on the seat belts. The car makes me happy. But, of course, not long after my purchase I drove a new Mk7. Instant buyer’s remorse? Yes and no—and probably not for the reasons you might expect. The new car is arguably better-looking. It’s a little edgier, crisper, more modern. The added power is welcome but not a game-changer; it’s only back to back that the diference is readily apparent. The DSG shifter is the same as before. The steering, always excellent, is now really quick, and the limited-slip reduces a mere whif of torque steer to none at all. Yes, the Mk7 Golf GTI is an improvement—perhaps

I TRIED TO RATIONALIZE WAITING AND PAYING MORE, BUT IN THE END I COULDN’T AVOID THE SIMPLE TRUTH: I NEEDED A CAR. NOW. only marginally, but better—in almost every way than my Mk6. It’s not the major elements of a car—powertrain, chassis, exterior—that change drastically from generation to generation. Given the realities of engineering and development, it’s more of an evolutionary thing. What does change in quantum leaps, though, are the peripherals—the conveniences and electronics so fundamental to our vehicles these days. My GTI lacks a large display screen, navigation, or even a

standard USB port (it has a dongle for the old iPhone connector). I can make calls and play music from my iPhone via Bluetooth, but if I want to change the song (which always happens with 50 gigs in the cloud and some of it belonging to my 14-year-old daughter), I have to pick up the phone and manually select the next track. On the Mk7, the iPhone is fully integrated: Streaming songs appear on the center screen, and changing them is a simple matter of pressing a button on the wheel. Plus, the Mk7’s cabin is worlds more stylish than mine. (No wonder the new Golf GTI easily won a 2015 Automobile All-Star nod.) Should I have waited on the Mk7 to enjoy its slight boost in performance and a big reduction in headaches playing music? Of course not. My Mk6 GTI is all the car I need, and I saved a bundle buying it. But ask me again when another ditty from One Direction pops up to assault my commute. I might change my mind. AM



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ignition noise, vibration & harshness

Jamie Kitman


NE THING ABOUT AMERICAN media that never ceases to amaze is their habit of mysteriously failing to get excited by glad tidings. Recently, for instance, it suddenly dawned on the Fourth Estate that oil prices were falling and gasoline was the cheapest it had been in years. But rather than leading the band in a rousing rendition of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” we got a chorus of hand-wringing cable TV pundits relating word of a national cheap-gas wave as gravely as if they were delivering “We regret to inform you” telegrams from the War Department. Now, if they were decrying how a glut of cheap petroleum was going to stoke sales of large SUVs or hurt solar and other non-fossil-fuel power sources or how the lack of price foors bespoke a lack of forward-thinking national energy policy—that at least would have been a principled gloom. But this was from the perspective of all those who proft from





higher oil prices, the now-sorry frackers and bereft tax collectors, in furtherance of the general we’re-all-going-to-hell-in-ahandbasket narrative that is the media’s stock-in-trade, especially come election time. Of interest here, just as the Ebola scare was simultaneously being fanned by the 24-hour news cycle for maximum terror and alienation, I was becoming aware of another false narrative roaming around—the one concerning the new Alfa Romeo 4C. Maybe false isn’t the right word. I can’t say I’d seen all the coverage (and this was before this magazine named the Alfa an All-Star). But what I had seen didn’t prepare me for driving the 4C, simply one of the most mind-blowing new cars I’ve ever experienced. As many have noted, the mid-engine carbon-fber Alfa—of which America will see but 1,000 this year—isn’t without demerit. But nothing I’d encountered began to capture what a Triple-A, investmentgrade rush it presents. A comparative snip


Automobile | February 2015

with its $55,195 base price, the 4C’s hysterically frisky turbocharged fourcylinder engine displaces just 1.7 liters with 237 horsepower to show for its eforts. Fortunately, even fattened up to 2,465 pounds for North American service, the Alfa is a relative lightweight, with a thrilling power-to-weight ratio and a mental exhaust note to match. Basically, what someone forgot to tell me is this: The 4C arrives directly from the One of the Most Exciting Cars You’ll Ever Drive School. Like a Lancia Delta Integrale or a frst-generation M3, it’s so nimble, so fast, so infnitely squirtable. It’s so much stupid fun and such a light touch it made the massively capable Four Seasons Corvette I was driving at the same time seem for a moment like a pickup truck, if not an aircraft carrier. It has been said that the 4C is like a Lotus Elise, but owning and loving one of those myself, I mean no disrespect when I say, yes, but the 4C is faster, rides better, and is generally more comfortable. The Alfa is a quieter and meaningfully easier car to get in and out of than an Elise. It sounds ballsier and, better still, its handling is in the same approximate league as the Lotus—which, incidentally, you can no longer buy in America. Fiat’s hopes to relaunch Alfa’s U.S. career, which sputtered out in 1995, are pinned on the 4C. And all I can say is what a worthy and hopeful frst ofering. Fiat Chrysler may have taken its time in getting Alfa back on American shores, and the Fiat range here may be painfully limited, but you can’t deny that the company has played a tough hand pretty well. The 4C was a calculated gamble, a place to focus a small but signifcant investment in Alfa. Can there be any doubt that the company loses money by the cubic meter on the 4C, with its largely hand-laid carbon-fber structure? And can there be any doubt that it was money well-spent? The 4C brims with the technological edge and associated zest and fruitiness of the best past Alfas. At the same time, it feels like a pint-sized— which is to say right-sized—Ferrari 458, a supercar for the highways and byways people actually drive. So what if its top speed is only 160 mph and it only has six paddle-shifted DSG speeds? It will do. I’m an Italian car fan—or, as I like to say, guilty until proven Innocenti. But this is not just a fagship for Italophiles; it’s a car for driving fans. Whether or not the world fnds out about the 4C, that is the duty of those with soapboxes in gearhead communities now. Pass it on: Happy days are here again. AM

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ignition letters

One World, One Ford Just One Mustang

we used Army topographic maps to navigate the Hickel Highway, a winter-only haul road that was little more than a bulldozer cut and an ice bridge over the Yukon River. It was in operation for only about a month before spring runof turned it into a swamp because they’d exposed the permafrost. DICK STEWART CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA IT’S TOO BAD YOU DIDN’T STOP AT Bobby Nelson’s, almost right next door to Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, during your drive through Wisconsin with the BMW M4 (“Meadowdale to Road America,” December). It has a better selection of cheese and meat assortments. The jalapeño string cheese is to die for. KIM AND TED PROCTOR GURNEE, ILLINOIS

CARPOOL IN THE FAST LANE TO SAY “A CAR LIKE THE MUSTANG WILL ULTIMATELY BE JUDGED BY how it drives” (“Editor’s Letter,” December) will draw some criticism. I believe that much of the success of the Camaro, Challenger (my personal fave), and Mustang are based on the feelings they evoke when you look at them. The numbers are just gravy. With this car, sales may be way up with a bullet; on the other hand, the lead bullet might be more like a lead balloon. BRUCE H. ANDERSON TEMPLE, TEXAS



I CAN’T BELIEVE A CAR MAGAZINE would do a road test on the 2015 Mustang and not include 0-60 mph and quartermile times. KEVIN C. DAWE RIO RANCHO, NEW MEXICO

I WAS ON THE ORIGINAL GREAT Divide Expedition in 1989 (“Creeping Along Colorado’s Rooftop,” December). I wonder whether the skill required to pilot a new Range Rover across such terrain is signifcantly less than that required by the 1989 version, which today appears so crude by comparison but impressed all a quarter century ago. After driving Range Rovers and Land Rovers in far-fung exotic and challenging places, I became a believer and am now on my third Range Rover. And sometimes I still wear the jacket from the Great Divide Expedition. DAVE DESTLER LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

WHAT GIVES WITH THE NEW Mustang? Are you not listing performance information any longer? No 0-60 mph times, no quarter-mile times, etc.? Please tell me that it isn’t the case. CHRIS QUINN DUMFRIES, VIRGINIA DETAILS, DETAILS. When you have a performance car, then performance numbers are necessary. ALEX SEIFERT ATLANTA, GEORGIA Sadly, Ford did not give us access to this pre-production car in time to acquire test data before our deadline.—Ed.


Automobile | February 2015

I F YO U T H I N K T H E DA LT O N Highway in Alaska is bad now, imagine driving to the Arctic Circle before there was a sign to direct you, much less a real road (“The Asphalt Jungle,” December). I was stationed at Fort Wainwright in 1969 when

WHILE YOU MAKE REFERENCE to the recently departed Cadillac CTS-V wagon (“Crazy-Fast Carpoolers,” December), you neglected the equally notable and rare Dodge Magnum SRT-8. Mine has 120,000 miles. HARVEY ONORE TOMS RIVER, NEW JERSEY AS A FORMER OWNER OF A Chevrolet El Camino and present owner of a BMW 325i Sportwagon, let me tell you that it’s all about being as stealthy as possible without any of the maintenance hassles of driving a high-profle hot rod. CLEVELAND E. NORTON JR. SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

DIE, BRITISH CAR, DIE WHAT IS JAMIE KITMAN ON about with the discontinued Land Rover Defender (“Noise, Vibration & Harshness,” December)? British cars are going the way of the dinosaur. I have owned (in order) a Mini, Rover 2000 TC, Triumph Toledo, Jaguar XK-E 2+2. … HARJIT SINGHRAO VIA INTERNET AS PER JAMIE KITMAN’S CATERHAM 7 experience (NVH, November), I drove my brand-new Lotus 7A out the dealer’s door in Pasadena, California, on July 1, 1961, and got to northeast Oklahoma in two and a half days (no interstate worth mentioning in those days). Not a single problem. Drove across the desert, and it

was especially hot because air came through the steering column slot in the frewall. I doused myself with water from one of those burlap bags used for desert driving (remember those?). ANATOLY ARUTUNOFF TULSA, OKLAHOMA YOUR STORY ABOUT THE reanimated Jaguar E-type Lightweight (“Ignition,” December) reminded me of fueling up our Morgan Plus 8. A fellow asked if it was a continuation car, and I told him that it was a “continuing car,” since the basic model had been in production since the 1936 Morgan 4/4. Later someone looked at our car’s wood-framed bodywork and asked, “How many trees were killed to make that car?” JOHN McNULTY PLAINFIELD, NEW YORK AS A LONGTIME OWNER AND technical adviser to the American MGB Association, I was very happy to see the

article about the later series MGB (“Collectible Classic,” December). These cars are incredibly robust and turn heads like few new cars can. They are supported with active clubs worldwide as well as  a network of parts suppliers and some of the best catalogs for replica, replacement, and new parts of any classic car.  ART ISAACS VIA INTERNET

BREAKING INTO THE CAR INDUSTRY AS A FORMER CAR DESIGNER myself, I think your recent article in Ignition (“Break Into the Car Industry,” December) ofers great advice for young readers. What other feld ofers so much creative opportunity? When Chrysler hired a marketing manager from Stroh’s Brewery, the product diference really struck him. He once told me, “Beer hasn’t changed in 300 years!” BOB MARCKS SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA

PUREBRED MERCEDES-AMG GT I DON’T GET THE PRAISE FOR THE new Mercedes-AMG GT. In my opinion, it looks like a poorly executed amalgam of a BMW Z4, Chrysler Crossfre, and a chopped Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG gullwing sans the gullwing. Can you please get Robert Cumberford on this? He’s a genius. RUSSELL F. WOLPERT LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA The genius responds, page 22.—Ed. Write: Automobile Magazine, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245. E-mail: Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

Enthusiasts United to Advance Automotive Freedoms enlist now!





Automobile | February 2015


February 2015 |


Driven C A R M E L VA L L E Y, C A L I FO R N I A

ew racetracks have a sense of place like California’s Laguna Seca. You exit the two-lane Monterey Salinas Highway and rise up into the hills like a heavenly ascension. Reach the top and take in the rolling, glorious panorama. It was one hell of an idea to lay a 2.2-mile track in this cradle of tumbling topography. The engineers who designed it more than 55 years ago were lightningstruck by brilliance. What compels a man to build a thing that is expressly meant for speed, to devote himself to something so impractical, so out of kilter with more regular pursuits? You could pose the same query to the people at AMG. One might ask Tobias Moers why the world needs another sports car. Moers, the CEO of Mercedes-AMG, would likely respond with his patented, deep-browed, steely



$130,000 (est) ENGINE: 4.0-liter twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8, 503 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 479 lb-ft @ 1,750-5,000 rpm TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic LAYOUT: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD hatchback

glare. There is no answer to such a question, but there is a rejoinder: because there are still places like Laguna Seca. And so I felt a sense of occasion as I drove the Mercedes-AMG GT S down the entrance road from the brow of the hill overlooking the track and into the dry lake bed where the circuit was built. There’s a through line of both purpose and deed that spans the creation of Laguna Seca and the AMG GT S. Both sets of engineers shared the belief that the pursuit of speed and competition was worthy of time, intellect, and care. I felt ludicrously lucky to reap the rewards as one of the frst drivers to pilot the AMG GT S at Laguna Seca. It would have been less of a moment if I weren’t so taken with the car. When I frst saw pictures of the Mercedes-AMG, I wasn’t sure. It was handsome but maybe a bit impersonal. In the fesh, the design

is in fact highly visceral, a cogent sweep from the rear into the bullet nose. It has stage presence to burn, needing neither gullwing doors nor acres of sheetmetal to achieve it. While it shares much with the SLS, the GT neither looks nor drives like a baby SLS. The interior shows an advance in thinking, with a better fow and an even deeper seating position. The beltlines are even higher on the GT than they were on the SLS (and that’s saying something), and the sightlines are arguably worse (also saying something), but there’s far more drama to this cockpit. The AMG GT S feels alive in that almost imperceptible, shimmering way of a great sports car. The machine gives of a visceral hum when the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 is ignited. The car demands to go, go, go, and from the frst fick of the steering wheel, I was enamored. The steering, balance, and

The top-dog GT S, which makes 503 hp, will cost between $130,000 and $140,000, brushing up against cars such as the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS and the Audi R8.


(city/highway): 16/23 mpg (est) L x W x H:

179.8 x76.3 x 50.2 in WHEELBASE: 103.5 in WEIGHT: 3,400 lb (est) 0-62 MPH: 3.8 sec TOP SPEED: 193 mph


Winging it A fxed rear wing is part of a track package that includes a carbon-fber roof.

Automobile | February 2015

Remember to upshift on time when the seven-speed transmission is in manual mode— or pay the stuttering, sputtering price.

engine—everything reinforces the singular message that the people who created this car believed in what they were doing. It takes cojones to launch a new car in this space. The top-dog GT S, which makes 503 hp, will cost between $130,000 and $140,000, brushing up against cars such as the Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS and the Audi R8. The less expensive 456-hp GT won’t be out until later in 2015, but its lower price point is even more crowded. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, I had the GT S model with a track package that includes a fxed rear wing, a carbon-fber roof, and optional carbon-ceramic brakes. I’ve driven all kinds of cars at Mazda Raceway, and your frst hot lap always speaks volumes. The turn at the end of the front straight is the track’s slowest, a second-gear corner, and getting power to the ground is essential for the long and scary sling up the brow of Turn 1. As I straightened the wheel and coaxed the throttle, I realized the car already had the traction it needed. I fattened the pedal, and it simply went. The engine makes 479 lb-ft of torque, and the GT S comes standard with an electronic locking diferential. It’s nearly magical in its ability to put the power down whenever you ask it to. This meant I was carrying a worrisome head of steam as I crested the top of the hill. I’d lament the demise of the great 6.2-liter AMG V-8, but the all-new 4.0-liter, which has its turbos inside the cylinder banks for compactness, didn’t give me much cause. Power is delivered in a crisp and linear manner, unlike some

super-torquey turbo engines. Max engine speed is 7,200 rpm, but the GT S runs out of the good stuf by 6,800. Remember to upshift on time when the seven-speed transmission is in manual mode—or pay the stuttering, sputtering price. The steering is the best of any electrically assisted system today, Porsche absolutely included. The GT S’s variable assist gives me hope that digital zeros and ones will one day duplicate the experience of hydraulic power assist. The balance (47/53 percent front to rear) is also stellar. The car, so settled and smooth on back roads, allows a boatload of slip angle on the track in race mode. Trail brake or lift of the throttle, and the GT S rotates gradually from the hips.

Wait too long to get back on the gas, however, and you’ll feel the rotation going too far, wanting to push you of track as if the Mercedes is caught in a centrifuge. Blame the weight, the car’s true Achilles’ heel (and foot and leg and torso). The AMG GT S is only some 175 pounds lighter than the SLS. Get back on the gas and trust that the car can drive right out of it, and it does. At the end of the day, I drove up out of the bowl just as the falling golden light illuminated the hills, a wondrous fusion of place and machine. The Mercedes-AMG might have been created in Afalterbach, Germany, but I’ve got to believe somebody had Laguna Seca in mind all along. —Jason H. Harper

Racetrack feel The interior features performance seats and black Nappa leather with contrasting red topstitching.

February 2015 |





ON SALE: Late 2015 BASE PRICE: $15,000 (est) ENGINE: 0.9-liter (898cc)

BARCELONA, SPAIN ype surrounding the 2008 U.S. introduction of the Smart Fortwo suggested the little car ran on energy drinks and, at rest in its tiny parking space, worked out problems of chaos theory. But someone forgot that “smart” is also a verb. A lot of smarting took place after the initial sales rush faded to semi-dormancy. The U.S. distributor and dealers smarted after investing in the new franchise; so did owners who contended with the coarse powertrain and sketchy driving dynamics. In hopes of increasing sales and opening the door for an addition to the model lineup, the 2016 Fortwo is new and comprehensively improved. A walk around the 2016 Fortwo reveals a car that could have escaped from a Pixar movie. As before, one color accentuates the safety cell while the plastic door panels contrast in another. Body engineer Uwe Lobenwein noted that hot-formed steel is part of the material mix, adding, “It’s in the safety cell and the foor to absorb shear forces, to transfer the energy from the front of the vehicle into the back.” Available in Pure and Passion trim

turbocharged DOHC 12-valve I-3/89 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 100 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm



Automobile | February 2015

The Specs


5-speed manual, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic LAYOUT: Two-door, 2-passenger, rear-engine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE: N/A L x W x H: 106.1 x 65.5 x 61.2 in WHEELBASE: 73.7 in WEIGHT: 1,984 lb

levels, the car is some 4 inches wider, with an increased track, and maneuvers far more authoritatively, as we found during a preview in Barcelona. A new strut-type front and De Dion rear suspension deliver impressive ride quality, with the car maintaining serenity over bumps. Should a mistral have strayed in from the Mediterranean, the standard crosswind assist, optional lane-keep assist, and forward collision warning would have saved us. Once again, the engine is at the rear, tilted 32 degrees to leave room above for cargo. The U.S. version’s 0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder delivers 89 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque. Smart says 0 to 62 mph takes 10.4 seconds, and top speed is 96 mph. Vibration is not part of the

equation, and the three revs happily. The old car’s great atrocity, the automatedmanual transmission, is replaced by a six-speed dual-clutch automatic or a fve-speed manual. The DCT’s upshifts are slow but smooth. The manual would not be our choice because of the car’s reluctance to creep in trafc, the turbo engine surges with the throttle but then lugs in second gear. Still, the improvements are undeniable, and the 2016 Fortwo will have more standard fare for a slightly higher price. But for similar money, the Nissan Versa Note looks amazing. With gas at $3, we must ask: Who needs a Fortwo other than as an eccentric statement? The Smart Fortwo answers a question few will ask. —Ronald Ahrens

The Specs

2015 Bentley Continental GT3-R WHAT PRICE EXCLUSIVITY? AMENIA, NEW YORK entley’s new GT3-R is the (latest) ultimate Continental GT. Thematically similar to the previous Supersports, which departed with the prior-generation Continental, the GT3-R takes its inspiration from the GT3 race car. It shares the race car’s livery of white with green stripes—the only color scheme available—as well as its blackout trim and black-fnished wheels. Hood vents, front splitter, lower body extensions, door mirrors, and deck-mounted rear spoiler all are fnished in carbon fber. More green accents enliven the otherwise all-black cabin, which is richly turned out in leather and Alcantara. There’s lots more carbon fber inside, on the center dash, the door panels, and in the cargo compartment that replaces the rear seat. It’s a sign of the V-8 engine’s ascendancy at Bentley that the top-performance Continental GT now uses eight-cylinder power rather than a W-12. The GT3-R’s twin-turbo V-8 makes 572 hp and 518 lb-ft of torque. That’s up from 521 hp and 502 lb-ft in the Continental GT V8 S,


although still shy of the 626 hp and 607 lb-ft from the GT Speed’s W-12. Nonetheless, the GT3-R is the liveliest Continental we’ve ever driven. Aided by a lower fnal drive ratio and a 220-pound weight loss (versus the V8 S), it rockets to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. That makes it the quickest production Bentley ever. Standard carbon-silicon carbide brake rotors reel in this fast machine and should provide fade-free performance. Despite the weight savings, this is still a heavy car at 4,839 pounds. And yet, as we charged along the scenic back roads north of New York City, the perfectly weighted steering and the well-tuned chassis made this big car easy to place. At the same time, skillful tuning of the GT3-R’s air-sprung suspension helps this burly machine retain a surprisingly comfortable ride even rolling on 21-inch wheels. The GT3-R is a special Continental with a special price: $337,000. That’s a whopping 50-plus percent upcharge over the V8 S and more than $100,000 dearer than the GT Speed. Besides its unique appearance and altered driving experience, exclusivity is

ON SALE: Now BASE PRICE: $337,000 ENGINE: 4.0-liter twin-turbo

DOHC 32-valve V-8/572 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 518 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm TRANSMISSION:

8-speed automatic LAYOUT: 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, AWD coupe EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): 13/20 mpg L x W x H: 189.2 x 76.5 x 55.3 in WHEELBASE: 108.1 in WEIGHT: 4,839 lb 0-60 MPH: 3.6 seconds TOP SPEED: 170 mph

also part of the package, as only 300 examples will be built—99 (sequentially numbered) for the United States. Far be it from us to understand the economics in this rarifed air. Disregarding what you pay for them, though, the changes visited upon the GT3-R are ones we can defnitely get behind. As for its exclusivity, that’s harder to put a price on. Would-be Bentley boys (and girls) will have to do that for themselves. —Joe Lorio February 2015 |



2015 BMW X6 xDrive50i MORE CAR, LESS TRUCK S PA RTA N B U R G , S O U T H C A R O L I N A eally, it’s like a blind man trying to describe an elephant. When some people get too close to the BMW X6, they have a tough time fguring out what it is. Is it a utility vehicle? Is it a car? What kind of car? Just step back a bit, and you realize that what we have here is a Range Rover Sport with a BMW badge. Like a Range Rover Sport, the BMW X6 is always the appropriate gear, whether you’re driving to the grocery store, making an appearance at the opera or, you know, trekking to Alaska. It has the style and grace to make the trip a pleasure, plus the speed and mobility to get you there. And it has the soul of a hot rod. All of this is a little more apparent in the refreshed 2015 X6, which has had the creases and folds in its bodywork carefully smudged a bit so the whole looks more like a car and less like a truck. The all-wheel-drive X6 certainly drives like a car, as we learned on the roads through the rolling hills near Spartanburg, South Carolina. That’s where BMW established an assembly plant in 1994 that has helped transform the Piedmont region. It was hard to know whether to be more



Automobile | February 2015

Unconventional The X6 is again an X5 with fastback bodywork. The wild two-tone interior trim is new.

The Specs ON SALE: Now BASE PRICE: $73,850 ENGINE: 4.4-liter twin-turbo

DOHC 32-valve V-8/ 445 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 480 lb-ft @ 2,000-4,500 rpm TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic LAYOUT: 4-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, AWD SUV FUEL MILEAGE (city/highway):

14/22 mpg (est) L x W x H: 193.8 x 78.3 x 67.0 in WHEELBASE: 115.5 in WEIGHT: 5,170 lb 0-60 MPH: 4.6 sec TOP SPEED: 130 mph

impressed by the newly refned X6’s carlike ride quality (despite our test car’s optional 20-inch tires) or the carlike stylish interior (one of an array of dramatic trim choices). BMW has a Performance Driving Center at Spartanburg, which allowed us a bit of carlike performance driving, which is good thing because there’s a 450-hp, 4.4-liter V-8 concealed under the hood of the X6 xDrive50i. (The 300-hp, 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six will be available in the spring for the AWD X6 xDrive35i and the new rear-wheel-drive sDrive35i.) The big, wet skidpad proved that this 5,170-pound AWD xDrive50i balances easily at the limit of traction. We did full-throttle acceleration (launch control!) and panic braking (brake assist!). We

slalomed the X6 through cones in Normal, Sport, and Sport Plus modes. We even did of-road crawling through water and across steep inclines. And we used the new, optional camera under the front bumper that helps you fnd your way over the dodgy bits without someone to spot the path for you. If all this seems to you a little bit like an elephant balancing on a ball at the circus, let us tell you about driving the 2015 X6 on the little road course. First of all, it’s possible to do so without burning up the brakes. Second, BMW engineers have used their complete catalog of electronically activated gizmos to ensure that it’s totally fun. Ever seen an elephant all crossed up and sliding sideways out of a hairpin? —Michael Jordan

2015 Ford Focus 1.0-liter WANTED: A MAINSTREAM AUTOMATIC FOR A WORTHY MAINSTREAM THREE-CYLINDER VERSAILLES, FRANCE ith its slick, six-speed manual gearbox, lanedeparture control, and vinyl-like leather seats, the 2015 Ford Focus 1.0-liter feels downright Germanic—a pretty nice commodity car for enthusiasts. Problem is, Ford needs to attract commodity car buyers with this Focus, so it needs a proper automatic. Ford ofers a six-speed automatic in Europe, but for now, only the stick is available here. The turbocharged, direct-injection three with twin variable cam timing, already ofered in the smaller Fiesta, is designed to reach maximum torque at 1,500 rpm, and there’s no jarring turbo The Specs lag, though you won’t feel much forward thrust until you reach the ON SALE: Now midrange. Instead of a heavy BASE PRICE: $20,080 balance shaft, the three-banger is PRICE AS TESTED: $25,600 (est) “intentionally imbalanced,” says ENGINE: 1.0-liter DOHC 12-valve I-3/123 hp @ 6,350 rpm, Andrew Fraser, Ford’s gasoline powertrain development manager 148 lb-ft @ 5,000 rpm TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual in Dunton, England. The fywheel LAYOUT: 4-door, 5-passenger, and crankshaft each counter the front-engine, FWD hatch or sedan action of the outer cylinders for a L x W x H: 178.5 x 71.8 x 57.7 in very smooth idle and acceleration. WHEELBASE: 104.3 in WEIGHT: 2,907 lb It feels smoother than many fours. Power builds progressively, with a pleasant, subtle buzz under heavy throttle. The 1.0-liter will be plenty of engine for the average Focus driver, though like other EcoBoost engines, it will be nigh impossible to achieve Eco and Boost concurrently. (It’s not EPA-tested yet, but don’t expect too much degradation from the Fiesta 1.0-liter manual’s 31/43 city/highway mpg.) We would take a 1.0-liter Focus with the manual all day long, but that’s pro-stick-shift auto-journalist talk. The Focus 1.0-liter deserves a six-speed automatic (and not a dual-clutch) to make it a mainstream American product. —Todd Lassa



Audi S3 THE BABY S4 AUSTIN, TEXAS orgive us for saying the Audi A3 looks a little awkward. The large gaps in the wheel wells remind us of that kid in elementary school whose pants were always prepared for an impending food. The new S3 fxes these faws and then some. It sits an inch lower on 18- or optional 19-inch wheels. A four-outlet exhaust system and aggressive rocker panels complete the transformation from entry-level to S model. The transformation is more than skin deep. The turbofour’s engine block is reinforced and has a unique cylinder head and upgraded turbocharger, giving the S3 an extra 72 hp over the already-quick A3 2.0T. A dual-clutch gearbox is the only transmission for now, although North America might eventually get a manual. The Specs Our blasts through the undulating and twisting roads ON SALE: Now BASE PRICE: $41,995 outside of Austin failed to upset the ENGINE: 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC S3’s all-wheel-drive chassis, no 16-valve I-4/292 hp @ 5,400 rpm, matter how hard we tried. The car 280 lb-ft @ 1,900-5,300 rpm is not terribly involving—numb TRANSMISSION: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic electrically assisted steering LAYOUT: 4-door, 5-passenger, doesn’t help—but you can’t fault front-engine, AWD sedan the S3’s impressive grip, its overall EPA MILEAGE: (city/hwy): 23/31 mpg speed, or its ability to laugh of L x W x H: 175.9 x 77.2 x 54.8 in changing weather conditions. With WHEELBASE: 103.6 in WEIGHT: 3,450 lb the optional adjustable dampers, 0-60 MPH: 4.7 sec ride quality ranges from slightly TOP SPEED: 155 mph soft in Comfort mode to rock-hard in Dynamic mode. A brief run on the Circuit of the Americas fnds the S3 balanced when pushed hard—so long as you respect the throttle and don’t over-drive it. It handles like a front-wheel-drive car with excellent traction rather than a rally car for the street, but it’s not merely an A3 with a body kit either. The S3 is a proper sport sedan you can live with day to day, in any climate. —Marc Noordeloos


February 2015 |


2015 Chevrolet Colorado /GMC Canyon IN CASE YOU NEED A PICKUP MORE THAN YOU WANT ONE MILFORD, MICHIGAN o full-size pickup owners yearn for a trimmed-down truck without a V-8? No. To the average Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, or Ram 1500 buyer, the 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon’s better fuel economy and $5,000-to-$10,000 lower sticker price won’t be enough to entice them out of a full-size truck. To long-ignored midsize truck buyers, however, the maneuverability, parking ease, and handling advantages of the Colorado and Canyon are worth a slight trade-of in ride, refnement, and interior quality. At a test drive in which General Motors ofered myriad variations of its new trucks, a fourcylinder, rear-wheel-drive extended-cab Canyon with a manual The Specs and 16-inch wheels ofered the best ride and steering. And while the ON SALE: Now spirited four lacks the V-6’s BASE PRICE: $20,995/$21,880 (Colorado/Canyon) refnement at idle, the V-6 is not ENGINES: 2.5-liter DOHC 16-valve quite a V-8 substitute. The trucks I-4/200 hp @ 6,300 rpm, 191 lb-ft have exceptional body control over @ 4,400 rpm; 3.6-liter DOHC big bumps and dips, though ride 24-valve V-6/305 hp @ 6,800 rpm, quality is choppier than in most 269 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed full-size competitors. manual, 6-speed automatic They will tow up to 7,000 pounds LAYOUT: 4-door, 4- or and haul up to 1,590 pounds (V-6 5-passenger, front-engine, Colorado) or 1,620 pounds (V-6 RWD/4WD pickup truck EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): Canyon) in a 5-foot-2-inch or 17-20/24-27 mpg 6-foot-2-inch cargo box. Best fuel L x W x H: 212.4-224.9 x mileage is 20/27 mpg for a rear74.3 x 70.3-70.7 in wheel-drive, four-cylinder WHEELBASE: 128.3-140.5 in automatic. A 2.8-liter, four-cylinder WEIGHT: 3,920-4,500 lb turbodiesel arrives in about a year. Considering the improving efciency and extreme capabilities of modern full-size trucks, it’s tempting to dismiss these two revived midsize models. But the Colorado and Canyon are credible pickups regardless of size and are by far the best in the segment, at least until a new Toyota Tacoma arrives next year. —Todd Lassa



The Specs

he buyers of large luxury SUVs have rather ON SALE: Now straightforward BASE PRICE: $62,475/$64,640 demands. “Whether it’s a (Navigator/Navigator L) ENGINE: 3.5-liter twin-turbo hip-hop executive in DOHC 24-valve V-6, 380 hp @ Manhattan or an Orange County 5,250 rpm, 460 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm family, they want power and beauty,” TRANSMISSION: says Carey White, brand manager for 6-speed automatic LAYOUT: 4-door, 7- or the 2015 Lincoln Navigator. 8-passenger, front-engine, Lincoln addressed the beauty part RWD/4WD SUV by replacing the macabre mask of EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): chrome with Lincoln’s split-wing 15-16/19-22 mpg L x W x H: 207.4/222.3 x grille, simple HID headlamps, and 78.8 x 78.1/78.0 in a tidy fascia. Only the optional (Navigator/Navigator L) 22-inch wheels are pretentious; the WHEELBASE: 119.0/131.0 in standard 20-inchers would be fne. (Navigator/Navigator L) Now to the power. The turbo WEIGHT: 5,830-6,297 lb V-6 is the only engine for both the short-wheelbase Navigator and long-wheelbase Navigator L. We can imagine traditionalists balking at this. Yet the EcoBoost engine plays its tune well in the regular-length 4x4. We turn the corner in Bagdad (Kentucky), and the turbo V-6 speeds us away toward bourbon and bluegrass environs while the new electrically assisted power steering supplies good feedback. When we merge onto I-64, the engine winds up impressively and delivers us into trafc. But the V-6 clamors and drones more than expected. Big American trucks should sound virile, not vapid. And 93-octane premium is recommended for greatest efciency. The Navigator, which back in the late ’90s helped originate the furor about grotesquely oversized luxury SUVs, has blended in and become accepted as an upstanding member of society. The latest improvements are good news for capability-minded traditionalists, Texans moving up from their pickups, and families who must ford fash foods on the way to Disneyland. —Ronald Ahrens



Automobile | February 2015





February 2015 |



The Mustang is a suave, Euro-flavored GT. 42

Automobile | February 2015


The freewheeling, wide-open era of the American automobile, unfortunately, is over. Time to face reality.”—Motor Trend, February 1974 That’s the trouble with trying to predict the future: You never know how it’s going to turn out. Exactly 41 years after that gloomy quote from our sister publication—written amid the bleakness of gas-rationed, emissions-strangled 1970s America—not only is the freewheeling, wide-open era of the American automobile not over, it’s outrunning even our wildest dreams and throwing a wild foam party to celebrate. As evidenced by the three spectacular new sports machines you see here—the Chevy Camaro Z/28, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, and the Ford Mustang GT—the Big Three aren’t just back, they’re taking names and slapping in-your-face high-fves each time they humiliate a snify rival. On tap are mindbending horsepower, Le Mans moves, cutting-edge electronic gizmos, and designs that, at a glance, can squeeze an adrenal gland dry in seconds. This is American Hustle, circa 2015, and it’s so damn fabulous we’re black and blue from pinching ourselves.

THREE OF A KIND Ford’s Mustang might have bottomed out in performance and taste during the 1970s, but Lee Iacocca’s audacious gamble otherwise deserves kudos as the ride that, way back in 1964, kicked of the whole ponycar phenomenon we’re still savoring to this day. Chevrolet and Dodge soon followed with entries of their own, and the recipe for performance ponies locked in thusly: potent V-8 engine, rear-wheel drive, and two-door bodywork to make a teenager snatch up posters and an adult call for the fnance manager. And so it is in 2015, though these latest hustlers have simply gone gonzo with performance goodies. The least potent member of the trio, the new Mustang GT, romps with 435 hp from its 5.0-liter DOHC V-8. Its longserving, much-maligned live rear axle at last is dead, replaced by a modern, multilink independent rear suspension. An available Performance Pack (included on our test car) adds tighter springs, high-pressure gas dampers in back, a stifer rear anti-roll bar, big Brembo brakes, and more. The new bodywork is clean and handsome but faunts a decidedly European aesthetic; Ford’s design team across the pond did much of the styling. It’s undoubtedly unsettling to the Mustang faithful on our shores—the forums are full of groans over the new look—but also probably necessary given Ford’s plans to market the car worldwide. Base price for the new GT Premium: $36,925. With the

Performance Pack ($2,495), leather Recaro seats ($1,595), navigation ($795), and more, our test car checked in at $45,885. The original Challenger died out in 1974, but Dodge wowed the crowds at the 2006 Detroit auto show when it unveiled its fabulous, retro-savvy Challenger concept car. Two years later, it sent all those starry-eyed onlookers into a mass-hysteria happy dance when its production Challenger road car fnally appeared—looking pretty much the same. And while various Challengers since have featured impressive engines, including an SRT model making 470 horses, the latest and greatest Dodge simply blows all of them into oblivion. With a supercharged, twin-intercooled 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 with 707 hp, you can now buy a street-legal Dodge with nearNASCAR output and a top speed just one

C H EV RO L E T CA M A RO Z / 2 8

The Hellcat is an

ATOMIC SUBWOOFER on wheels. tick below 200 mph. Also on board: an optional eight-speed ZF automatic with paddle shifters; Brembo brakes the size of a sombrero; 20-inch, seven-spoke “Slingshot” forged-alloy wheels; and a slew of stability-control electronics to try to keep the whole thing on the ground. All-in price, including leather seats, navigation, and $1,700 in gas guzzler tax, is a cool $65,870. If the Mustang is a suave, Euro-favored

GT and the Hellcat an atomic subwoofer on wheels, Chevy’s groundbreaking new Camaro Z/28 is as focused as a jet fghter. Check frst under the hood: Therein lies a true leviathan of a V-8, the same dry-sump, naturally aspirated 7.0-liter LS7 that powered last year’s Corvette Z06. Output, all 505 hp of it, fows to the Z/28’s rear wheels through a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual and a Torsen limited-slip

L A P T I M E 1 : 4 5.8


Automobile | February 2015

2015 DODGE CHALLENGER SRT HELLCAT // AS-TESTED PRICE: $65,870 ENGINE: 6.2-liter supercharged OHV 16-valve V-8/ 707 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 650 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic LAYOUT: 2-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): 13/22 mpg L x W x H: 197.5 x 75.7 x 55.7 in WHEELBASE: 116.2 in WEIGHT: 4,439 lb 0-60 MPH: 3.7 sec ¼-MILE: 11.7 sec @ 125.4 mph

diferential. Brakes are enormous Brembo carbon ceramics, standard. The chassis benefts from exotic spool-valve dampers straight of a Formula 1 grid. And the Z/28 wears what’s said to be the world’s widest production-car front tires, 305/30ZR-19 Pirelli P Zero Trofeo Rs, the design a supersticky compound that delivers staggering braking and cornering power. Indeed, so dedicated is this new Camaro to speed, the “stereo” has but one speaker, and air conditioning is included only by special option. But prepare thyself for sticker shock of the 480-volt variety: Including guzzler tax, the Z/28 checks in at $75,000. That thud you just heard was your Uncle Vinnie, who grew up driving Camaros, fainting in the family room.

APEX PREDATORS Cars as explosive as these three need a proper fring range, so to give each of them a proper, timed shakedown (that’s a lie: we just wanted to drive them really fast), we headed straight to 2.2-mile GingerMan Raceway in western Michigan. Weighing nearly 4,450 pounds, the Challenger Hellcat is no circuit wizard. But write it of as a big, clumsy bruiser, and you’ll end up choking on its tire smoke. The broad-shouldered gladiator carves with remarkable adroitness for its heft, and though the steering wheel admittedly feels more like a suggestion than a command, the Hellcat dances like a circus bear. Part of its magic is a surprisingly stif structure, which keeps roll to a minimum and holds the tires in proper contact with the tarmac. The other ingredient is pure muscle. With 650 lb-ft on tap, the Hellcat could park in corners and still be entertaining on the track—it’s just that quick hammering down the straights. (Zero to 60 mph fashes by in just 3.7 seconds.) In-house hot shoe Marc Noordeloos, who ran all our timed laps, reports: “The Hellcat is an animal. It has pretty good balance, which is surprising. I respected the brakes, and they held up quite well. In all, far better than I thought it’d be.” Mind you, Marc ran his timed laps with the traction-control system set in Sport. Turn the nannies of completely and, well, after we tried that it took about 20 minutes for the tire smoke to clear (and our pulse to drop to 130).

Slide show The Hellcat tracks through a GingerMan bend in its preferred attitude—all crossed up—thanks to a supercharged, 6.2-liter volcano. Below: The author savors a fne cigar in the smokin’ room.

quick hurtling around a race circuit—aided by a terrifc six-speed manual, good steering feel, and a graceful chassis. The GT feels smaller than its rivals; it’s easy to aim, and visibility is excellent. Too bad that it’s not livelier. Blame the extra weight—the 2015 edition has packed on nearly 100 pounds compared to its predecessor. And although the new independent rear suspension handles that avoirdupois with poise, we can’t

help but think the new car should be lighter. Noordeloos certainly enjoyed his laps. “Fun and quick on the track. Impressive. Balanced. Puts the power down nicely. The Track mode of the ESP is smartly set up. Brembo brakes held up well.” One complaint shared by several of us: The V-8 is too buttoned-down. A little more fre in the exhaust, some added sizzle and spit would go a long way toward upping the GT’s sex appeal.


Ford’s Mustang GT is a paragon of balance. The “slowest” of the trio, at 4.4 seconds to 60 mph, the ’Stang is still plenty February 2015 |


American Hapless Spectacular as they are, today’s Big Three superstars share the shame of these embarrassing forebears.

1974-1978 FORD MUSTANG II Not a bad idea in its day considering skyrocketing fuel prices and the popularity of small imports, the Mustang II was nevertheless a bad car. Cramped and irredeemably wimpy, it didn’t even ofer a V-8 engine when it debuted.

1978-1982 DODGE CHALLENGER This rebadged Mitsubishi ofered a 426 engine of sorts—as in, four cylinders and 2.6 liters. On the plus side, the Challenger came with a fve-speed manual and ’70s-chic plaid upholstery.

1982-1992 CHEVROLET CAMARO Half-baked as were so many GM cars in the 1980s, the third-gen Camaro had a sleek design and a modern(ish) suspension, but it resorted to Pontiac’s 90-hp Iron Duke for a base engine. The 102-hp V-6 that came with the Camaro Berlinetta (not to be confused with the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta) wasn’t much better.

But we’re picking nits here. The new Mustang is a fabulous all-rounder and easily bested the big Hellcat around GingerMan. And Ford isn’t done. When the Mustang GT350 edition arrives next year, the package will evolve to true supercar status. Yeah, we’re salivating, too.

The Mustang GT strikes the group’s best track/road trade-of.


Given its hardware and mission profle, we expected a lot from Chevy’s new purebred. It delivered. The Z/28 is to regular Camaros what a scalpel is to a steak knife. On the racetrack, its home feld, it’s a cheetah on the Serengeti. Except it never tires out. And it eats everything in its path (Lamborghinis included). Here’s Noordeloos after his hot laps, trying to speak through an embarrassingly massive grin: “The Z/28 is insane around GingerMan. The grip is astonishing. It’s more race car than street car. Most street-legal automobiles fall on their face when pushed hard during extended runs on a circuit. That’s not the case here. You can really lean on the minimalist Camaro, abusing it lap after lap. The Multimatic dampers work wonders, allowing the supersticky Pirellis to work their magic. I especially love the way it ….” At that point, we had to cut Marc of. He was beginning to froth at the mouth. The Z/28 does that to you. No previous Camaro experience prepares you for how good it is on the racetrack. Its handling is nothing short of sensational. It is a gamechanging machine. Its lap time—a full 3 seconds quicker than the Mustang GT—says it all. CAMARO Z/28 LAP TIME: 1:41.8

Dearborn reborn The latest Mustang V-8 enjoys signifcant power strides, thanks to new heads with high-fow ports, larger valves, and intake and exhaust cams with increased lift. The balanced chassis is happy to cut loose, too.

L A P T I M E 1 : 4 4.8

2015 FORD MUSTANG GT PREMIUM // AS-TESTED PRICE: $45,885 ENGINE: 5.0-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8/435 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual LAYOUT: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): 15/25 mpg L x W x H: 188.3 x 75.4 x 54.4 in WHEELBASE: 107.1 in WEIGHT: 3,705 lb 0-60 MPH: 4.4 sec ¼-MILE: 12.8 sec @ 112.2 mph



2014 CHEVROLET CAMARO Z/28 // AS-TESTED PRICE: $75,000 ENGINE: 7.0-liter OHV 16-valve V-8/505 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 481 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual LAYOUT: 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): 13/19 mpg L x W x H: 192.3 x 76.9 x 52.4 in WHEELBASE: 112.3 in WEIGHT: 3,820 lb 0-60 MPH: 4.0 sec ¼-MILE: 12.3 sec @ 117.2 mph

L A P T I M E 1 : 4 1 .8

THE REAL WORLD As performance-oriented as each of these new rides is, the question looms: Could you live with one day to day? Answer: easily. Of the trio, the track-focused Camaro is the least comfortable on normal roads—its ride is harsher, the controls heavier. But it’s still completely tractable; the mighty engine never complains at low speed, and the lone speaker will output music if you need something besides V-8 rumble in your ears. The interior is comfortably outftted with outstanding seats, a thick steering wheel and well-spaced pedals. If you’re willing to put up with a little extra efort and a lot fewer amenities during normal commutes, the Z/28 will pay you back on every twisty road you can fnd like few other road cars in the world.

Track meat A superstar on the circuit, the Z/28 uses a bounty of race hardware in the LS7 V-8— including titanium intake valves and con rods, cold-air induction, a huge K&N air flter, and dry-sump oil system. USA! USA!

The Hellcat, for all its God of Thunder potential, is a peach at heart. Drive it gently, and it thrums along happily. This car, chock full of amenities, is tailor-built for longdistance motoring. The ride is almost plush, the controls smooth, the engine a waterfall of torque. And when the mood strikes, simply plant your right foot, and all cares (and just about everything else) disappear. The Mustang GT strikes the group’s best track/road trade-of. Quick if not breathtaking on the track, it’s also sweet and satisfying blasting along a mountain two-lane. Some of the interior bits are downright silly (strange one-way toggle switches; a speedometer that reads “Ground Speed”), but all

the standard conveniences are there for times when you’d simply like to let the miles roll on. This is the everyday ponycar, the versatility champ. The GT even stands as a performance bargain. Our opinions are divided over which of the three we like best. We’re unanimous, though, in our agreement that all three practitioners of the new American Hustle rock. No one alive during the dreary 1970s likely could’ve predicted we’d be enjoying muscle cars this fast and engaging and true to the original paradigm four decades later. “Time to face reality,” we heard back in 1974. Well, we’re staring it right in its 2015 face. And reality sure looks amazing to us. AM February 2015 |


Skip the fairway, drive the green.

Continental Tire. For what you do.

ExtremeContact DW







Automobile | February 2015

Tesla esla February 2015 |


Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche Tesla Targets Tesla’s sales could grow by leaps and bounds once the promised follow-up cars to the Model S arrive.

MODEL S Both the 60-kWh and 85-kWh versions were recently updated; the latter now ofers AWD.

MODEL X Three-row SUV with 60- or 85-kWh battery and standard AWD. Deliveries start in early 2016.

are about to invest a combined 6 billion euros (about $7.5 billion) in new high-end electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids due out between 2018 and 2021. Their target: the American upstart from Silicon Valley. Ten years ago, when Elon Musk’s outft was still a cottage enterprise selling electrifed Lotus Elise roadsters, the underdog from San Carlos, California, was not even on the radar of German captains of the industry. But then Tesla released the Model S electric luxury sedan, and the niche manufacturer transformed into a game changer. In addition to selling more than 33,000 cars last year, the company started to roll out a clever supercharger network, announced plans for a second plant and an R&D center in Europe, unveiled an innovative battery-swap program, previewed its frst SUV (the falcon-wing Model X), and gave details of a new high-volume, low-cost product, the $35,000 Model 3, which aims directly at the likes of the BMW 3 Series. As a result, Tesla’s stock market value has soared to an incredible $30 billion. Although Tesla’s ink is still red and the sales fgures are comparatively modest, the predominantly German luxury-car establishment is already feeling the squeeze in certain micromarkets such as Southern California and Norway, where the Tesla Model S attracts more afuent buyers than the S-Class, 7 Series, or A8. In their counterattack, the four German premium car manufacturers are all pursuing similar goals: electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Instead of pooling resources and components, however, they’re heading down individual yet almost parallel avenues. The nomenclatures of the new models are by no means fnal, but the concepts are being frmed up as you read this. The frst design previews may be seen as early as at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show. Like the BMW i8 or next year’s Audi R8 e-tron, their mission is to act as halo cars, technology showcases, and image leaders for wealthy, green-minded early adopters. Yet all of them are intended to be more than niche models; global target volumes are in the tens of thousands, and projected prices range from just below that of the Tesla Model S to more than $125,000. And they pave the way for an even broader range of more afordable German plug-in vehicles.

Formerly known as the Model E, the $35,000 entry-level Tesla with a 200-mile range from its 48-kWh battery pack. Due in 2017.

WHY THIS IS HAPPENING NOW Tesla is one reason the Germans are going electric, but not the only reason Come 2018, at least 4.5 percent of all cars sold in California (and the states that have adopted California emissions rules) must be zero-emissions vehicles. This number is set to increase in annual steps to 22 percent by 2025. Manufacturers that fail to comply by not ofering any or enough ZEV, TZEV (transitional zero emission vehicles), NEV (neighborhood electric vehicles), or BEVx (e-vehicles with range extender) must buy clean-air credits from sources such as Tesla, currently the major provider of such certifcates.


Automobile | February 2015






n an ideal world, Audi would—just like Tesla—start its electric program with a clean sheet of paper. But a new architecture is complex and expensive, which is why the brand is instead inclined to modify an existing vehicle built in an existing facility. Thus the planned Q6 e-tron, a battery-electric and plug-in hybrid crossover, is derived from the Q5. The Q6 e-tron will almost certainly be a sporty crossover coupe that looks a bit like I

the proposed Lamborghini Urus with a greater regard for aerodynamic efciency. Drivetrain options pegged at 300 hp/330 lb-ft and 400 hp/480 lb-ft (with a 500-hp/553 lb-ft fagship waiting in the wings) should be enough to beat the Model S in all disciplines that really matter: power and torque, real-life driving range, and, most important to Germans, sustainable performance. The Q6 e-tron must not tire early on the autobahn or fake out after only one hot lap on the Nordschleife. Such ambitious goals will consume enormous engineering resources; the Q6 e-tron might take up to four years to materialize. In the meantime, Audi will kick of its green revolution with a bunch of plug-in hybrids based on the Q7, the A8, the next Q5, and the A6/A7 replacement. They will rely on a mix of 2.0-liter fours and 3.0-liter V-6s mated with a 122-hp electric motor. The Q7 and A8 will carry over conventional Quattro all-wheel-drive systems, in contrast to the Q6 e-tron’s purely electric system. Audi’s luxury electric crossover will likely cost between $80,000 and $100,000. Production will be somewhere in the fve-digit range. 

February 2015 |




MW’s Tesla fghter is based on the Chinese-market, longwheelbase 5 Series sedan and is due out in 2018. The plug-in hybrid four-door should contain enough electric power to justify the prestigious i sufx, particularly since the next i3 and i8 replacements are not expected to adhere quite as religiously to today’s exotic and expensive carbon-fber/aluminum formula. That means the new sedan could also get away with being less radical and still earn an i5 or i7 badge. Whatever it’s called, the BMW is being described as a low-emissions sport sedan featuring an innovative plug-in hybrid drivetrain. The extended wheelbase not only creates more room for passengers—important for both the North American and Chinese markets—but also for the batteries, which will be arranged in pouches between the axles. Using the 5 Series architecture will help BMW keep costs down and crank the volume up. Management plans to use an existing factory and build about 30,000 units a year. The suspension, steering, brakes, and basic packaging will be adopted from the 5 Series. The drivetrain, however, will borrow from and improve upon what’s in the i8. Although technically it will be a plug-in hybrid, with a gasoline engine up front and the main electric motor in the back, it will in truth be an electric vehicle with a powerful range extender. The i5/i7 will boast two electric motors, instead of the i8’s one. Depending on the driving situation, it can be electric front-wheel drive, electric rearwheel drive, or gasoline-electric all-wheel drive. Said to be capable



Automobile | February 2015

of a zero-emissions range of 80 miles, this BMW is designed to operate in battery mode most of the time. The combustion engine will typically only cut in above 40 mph, when road and wind noise will mask it. While the i8 makes do with a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder, the i5/i7 will likely feature a smoother four-cylinder rated at about 245 hp. The front and rear electric motors will develop a combined 300 hp. The aggregate target output will be 545 hp, which is right in the middle of Tesla territory. The transmissions of choice are a blend of two-speed and six-speed automatics. A concept car is tipped to appear in 2017, although the design is still in a state of fux. The strategy team, led by a former Project i manager, seems to favor a mix of current 6 Series Gran Coupe and next-generation 7 Series styling elements. The price? A bit under $100,000, close to the price of the 2015 Tesla Model S P85D.




orsche is already ofering plug-in-hybrid versions of the Cayenne and the Panamera. On an even loftier plane, there is of course the 918 Spyder. The logical next step would be a Porsche EV somewhere in between those poles. But ever since the company has become part of the Volkswagen empire, such strategically signifcant projects need to be rubber-stamped by the group. In this highly political environment, where even insiders fnd it hard to sift facts from rumors, our intelligence suggests that Porsche would very much like to do its own EV, based on the new architecture under development for the next-generation Panamera and Bentley Continental. The car would be a sporty four-seat four-door in a smallerthan-Panamera package with clear 911 overtones. Ground-hugging and emphatically dynamic in appearance, the car—which might be badged 717—is defnitely not an SUV or a crossover. P

To adapt the Panamera/Continental architecture to the needs of an EV is no mean feat. While the fat-bottom Tesla features a long and wide battery pack that also functions as a foorpan and a structural reinforcement, the lower H-point and the sports-car stance postulated by Porsche would call for a so-called topologic battery installation. That’s a fancy way of saying that rather than raising the foor, Porsche would jam batteries in every open space: the center tunnel, the bulkheads, the doorsills, the footwells, and the overhangs. In total, a reported 108 battery pouches need to be packed into the body. It is hard to judge whether Porsche’s provisional launch date of early 2019 is realistic or wishful thinking. The same applies to projected technical details, which, according to one insider, include three diferent e-power stages rated at 400, 500, and 600 hp. The average driving-range target is in excess of 300 miles. As a rule, there is one electric motor per axle. Together with the U.S. specialist supplier QuantumScape, Porsche (and VW/Audi) is developing a new induction charging process designed to match Tesla in speed and beat it in convenience. All versions of the 717

Rather than raising the foor, Porsche would jam batteries in every open space: the center tunnel, the bulkheads, the doorsills, the footwells, and the overhangs.

would feature all-wheel drive, all-wheel torque vectoring, and fourwheel steering. Because of the genetic link to the relatively conventional Panamera componentry, weight is bound to be an issue for the electric Porsche. At the same time, the Panamera connection may be essential to build more than 10,000 units a year at a proft. A critical question is whether Porsche will be allowed to do its own thing. And would it not make more sense for Porsche to attack the Elon Musk enterprise with an electric sports car conceived to outshine the discontinued Tesla roadster? While Porsche’s head honcho acknowledged earlier this year that a sporty zeroemissions model would work well for the brand, the chief vehicle line engineer recently ruled out an electric 911, which raises the specter of a Boxster/Cayman EV. Alternatively, Porsche might be coaxed to join Audi in a crossover EV since creating a sportier Q6 e-tron derivative with a Macan badge would be relatively simple. But as far as the halo efect and brand image are concerned, the marque’s own 717 proposal is hard to beat.

February 2015 |




f the four Germans, Mercedes-Benz is plotting the most ambitious EV assault. It calls for an investment of more than $2 billion in a family of all-new, purpose-built vehicles, which make provisions for rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and rear-wheel steering. The program, known internally as Ecoluxe, is tipped to produce four diferent product oferings. Two are crossovers, which should do well in most major markets and generate strong proft margins. The clear goal issued by the M-B product planners is to eclipse both the Tesla Model S and the Model X crossover. Due to the substantial battery pack, the seating position has to be raised by nearly 3 inches compared with a typical SUV. The ground clearance, on the other hand, is not much diferent from an S-Class. For a sporty



Automobile | February 2015

look, design intends to keep the roofine low, set the wheelbase of the smaller variant at 106 inches, and opt for large-diameter wheels shod with relatively wide tires—a Mercedes-Benz take on the Range Rover Evoque, if you will. The two larger cars would ride on a 118-inch wheelbase and seat up to seven adults. Like the BMW i3 and i8, the Ecoluxe cars would use a chassis and suspension made predominantly of aluminum. The body, on the other hand, will be composed of a variety of materials including diferent gauge steels, aluminum, magnesium, carbon fber, and composites. That should ofset the weight of the 850-pound battery pack. The frst model due to hit showrooms is a large, long-wheelbase crossover ofered with fve or seven seats. Known internally as Sport Utility Coupe, this GL-size vehicle will cost about $125,000 when ftted with the highest-performance powertrain. One year later, Mercedes is expected to unleash the frst of two so-called sport-

TARGET TESLA utility sedans, basically a stretched E-Class with the availability of three rows of seats. In both cases, the third row would be a rearfacing pop-up bench that can be accessed through extra-wide doors. Both top-of-theline models will stretch longer than 16 feet and would feature front and rear luggage compartments. A pair of smaller and less expensive fve-seat models—a conventional three-box sedan and a crossover—would complete the electric-vehicle portfolio. Although the launch cadence (like everything else about the project) is not yet cast in stone, the timing spans 2019 to 2021. Since these vehicles would share few parts with existing Mercedes models, they’d likely require a new factory located in Europe or North America.


When in full swing, the Mercedes electric invasion will be able to pump out 80,000 vehicles a year. Better still, the modular architecture makes it very easy to generate plug-in hybrid spinofs.



earing forward in Tesla’s all-new, twin-motor, all-wheeldrive P85D, the blood is pooling up in the back of our brain. And we’re reminded why Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz are dumping time, money, and resources into an all-out, electric-vehicle onslaught. This D-type version of the Model S sedan doubles down on technology, with double the motors and double the driving wheels. Dual-motor all-wheel drive is available only on the Model S with the 85-kWh battery pack. The P85D’s rear motor is rated at 470 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, and its front motor puts out 221 hp and 224 lb-ft of torque. The result is an all-wheel-drive sedan with 691 hp and 687 lb-ft of torque. It will go from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and through the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds, and Tesla engineers tell us that motor torque can be apportioned not only front to rear but also side to side. As a result, drivers have greater confdence to toss the P85D into quick corners.

While fnancial analysts fret about Tesla’s balance sheet and the delay of the Model X launch, remember that Tesla built some 33,000 electric cars last year. It’s not just tightening emissions regulations, and it’s not just voyaging into a new automotive frontier—it’s that Tesla, that scrawny start-up from Silicon Valley, now has a surprising and exotic luxury sedan with a forward-thinking powertrain that scares Germany’s best sport sedans.

2015 TESLA MODEL S P85D ON SALE: Now BASE PRICE: $105,670 (excluding tax credits) ENGINE: Twin 3-phase, 4-pole AC motors; 221 hp, 244 lb-ft (front); 470 hp, 443 lb-ft (rear) TRANSMISSION: single-speed automatic LAYOUT: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-/ rear-engine, AWD sedan L x W x H: 196.0 x 77.3 x 56.5 in WHEELBASE: 116.5 in WEIGHT: 4,936 lb 0-60 MPH: 3.2 sec TOP SPEED: 155 mph (electronically limited)

Like Tesla, Mercedes will ofer several options for power and battery range. Initially, we should see a version rated at 545 hp and a range topper delivering more than 610 hp. The driving range would be between 280 miles and 350 miles, depending on model and powertrain. All Ecoluxe vehicles will ride on electronically controlled, adaptive dampers and will have adjustable ride height. A host of driver assistance systems will also be part of the package. When in full swing, the Mercedes electric invasion will be able to pump out 80,000 vehicles a year. Better still, the modular architecture makes it very easy to generate plug-in hybrid spinofs; a split foor would house the fuel tank next to the battery elements. These models would ofer a 60-mile zero-emissions range together with as much gasoline-powered grunt as marketing asks for. AM

February 2015 |


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Automobile | February 2015

2015 CHEVROLET CORVETTE STINGRAY The self-shifting Corvette fnally comes into its own B Y D AV I D Z E N L E A P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y A N D R E W T R A H A N

February 2015 |




here are two kinds of Corvette. On the one hand, there’s the fre-breathing, hairy-chested sports car. It often graces the pages of this magazine wearing extra codes like Z51, Z06, and ZR1. The transmission is almost always a manual. But there’s also that other Corvette—the garage-kept, low-miles car piloted by a gray-haired gentleman who keeps a California Duster in the trunk. The transmission is usually a smooth-shifting automatic. It’s true that many sports cars sufer from such a split personality. Porsche would have you believe that the 911 belongs at the Nürburgring with Walter Röhrl at the wheel, even if you’re more likely to see one being driven by a urologist in L.A. on the 405. But with the Corvette, the identity crisis goes much deeper, since about two-thirds of all the Corvettes ever built have automatic transmissions. It also goes much further back. Back, in fact, to the very genesis of the car. The Corvette that debuted at New York’s Waldorf Astoria in January 1953 was in many respects a tour de force. Its streamlined styling and wraparound windshield, now as familiar as the opening guitar lick of a Chuck Berry

song, was, just like Chuck Berry, incredibly innovative in its day, especially since many of its contemporaries from Europe still wore prewar bodies with cycle fenders. The Corvette’s curves were all the more impressive because they were rendered in a cuttingedge material, fberglass. At the same time, the frst Corvette utterly missed its target. Much has been made of the fact that the Corvette debuted with an inline-six engine, yet its cylinder count and 150 hp were respectable in its day. Far more damaging was GM’s decision to ofer it only with a two-speed automatic. American sports car buyers would eventually embrace automatics, but the young enthusiasts who were then snapping up English sports cars demanded a shift-it-yourself option. They wanted speed and control, not elegance and convenience. For better and for worse, the automatic does ft the personality of that frst Corvette. We drove a white 1954 Corvette convertible from GM’s Heritage Center collection around Detroit’s Belle Isle. The steering, albeit unassisted, is nevertheless comfortably light thanks to the extra-large-diameter

Talking the talk With a wraparound windshield, dual-cove cockpit, and (faux) knock-of wheels, the ‘54 Corvette looked ready to compete at the track. It wasn’t.

The digital age A driver from the 1950s wouldn’t know what to do with the buttons, knobs, and screens in the 2015 Stingray. Operation of the auto shifter, however, remains simple. Put it in drive and step on it.

THE BEST BOOK about the Corvette is back in print. First published in 1973, it benefts from author Karl Ludvigsen’s extensive interviews with Corvette pioneers—many of whom are no longer with us. The latest iteration spans from the genesis of the car through the end of the third generation. Ludvigsen is presently working on a sequel covering the C4 to C7 Corvettes and aims to get it published in 2016. “Corvette: America’s Star-Spangled Sports Car,” by Karl Ludvigsen, Bentley Publishing, 784 pages, $100,

steering wheel and extra-skinny bias-ply tires. The transmission shifts smoothly from frst into second and likes to stay there; downshifts come only at very low speed in response to a buried throttle. (This owes in part to the tune of this particular show car; the transmission is supposed to kick down at speeds as high as 47 mph.) The Blue Flame inline-six plays a satisfying baritone exhaust note and feels up to the task of keeping pace with modern trafc. Yet nothing about the car encourages aggressive driving (neither did the stout handler from the Heritage Center who accompanied us). The very opposite can be said of the seventh-generation Corvette. Everything about it encourages us to drive fast. Whereas the C1’s styling reminds us of a happy rock ’n’ roll rif, the angular C7 is an angry punkrock tune. We hit the starter button and hear the oh-so-familiar rumble of the smallblock V-8, which debuted in the Corvette for 1955 and has never really left despite its many evolutions. This particular Corvette C7 does share one trait with its ancestor: a GM-engineered torque-converter automatic. Only this one has four times as many gears, and it must stand up to signifcantly more torque—up to 650 lb-ft in the new Corvette Z06. Indeed, February 2015 |


Open air Both Corvettes sound and look great cruising with the top down. The ‘54 is surprisingly easy and pleasant to drive despite its unassisted steering and drum brakes.

Building muscle The Corvette’s inline-six made respectable power for its day but was soon phased out in favor of the small-block V-8, which reigns to this day.

this massive amount of twist is one of the reasons Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter cites for using an in-house torqueconverter transmission versus a dual-clutch automatic. There are cost savings, too, as the eight-speed’s development will be paid for by its use in GM’s large trucks. The transmission takes up the same space as the sixspeed automatic used last year and weighs slightly less. There’s not much slush in this slush box. On our frst full-throttle run, the eightspeed rips of the sort of machine-gunquick shifts we’ve come to associate with

Porsche dual-clutch transmissions. Only here, the soundtrack is that of a 460-hp V-8. Upshifts are actually as much as 0.08-second quicker than a Porsche PDK, GM claims. Thanks to the quicker shifts and a shorter ratio for frst gear (4.56 versus 4.03 to 1 in the old six-speed auto), the eight-speed Corvette hits 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, slightly quicker than the sevenspeed manual and a good 7 or 8 seconds faster than the 1954 Corvette. Of course, for all the focus on how it shifts, the real measure of an automatic transmission is whether it knows when to





45,000 40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000

1955: Three-speed manual transmission introduced, along with the 195-hp V-8.

shift. We had the opportunity to drive an eight-speed Corvette coupe equipped with the Z51 package on GM’s Milford Road Course, the so-called Lutzring. The transmission, controlled by a suite of sensors that analyze and execute driver commands 160 times per second, anticipated our needs like an attentive butler as we hustled through the diabolical corners. The GMemployed hot shoes who post the top lap times on this circuit agree, noting that the automatic is also able to snap of quick shifts where a human driver wouldn’t be able to contemplate it. The Corvette does

1970: Four-speed manual becomes standard equipment. Automatic is a no-cost option.

1979: Best year for Corvette (and exposed chest hair): 53,807 sold.

1968: Three-speed automatic debuts.

1958: Four-speed manual ofered as option.

1975: The “last” Corvette convertible.


10,000 5,000 0

1953 ’54 ’55 ’56 ’57 ’58 ’59 ’60 ’61 ’62 1963 ’64 ’65 ’66 ’67 1968 ’69 ’70 ’71 ’72 ’73 ’74 ’75 ’76 ’77 ’78 ’79 ’80 ’81 ’82 ’83 * * M O D E L Y E A R







3.9-liter (235.5 cu-in) OHV 12-valve I-6/150 hp (gross) @ 4,200 rpm, 223 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm 2-speed automatic 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible 102.0 in 167.0 x 72.2 x 52.2 in 2,850 lb



6.2-liter OHV 16-valve V-8/460 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 465 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm 8-speed automatic 2-door, 2-passenger, front-engine, RWD convertible 106.7 in 176.9 x 73.9 x 48.6 in 3,362 lb

*$31,174 IN TODAY’S DOLLARS. VALUE TODAY: $60,000– $80,000

C4 45,000

1984: Four-speed automatic introduced, along with“4+3”speed manual transmission with overdrive.

40,000 35,000 30,000 25,000 20,000 15,000 10,000 5,000

1986: The convertible returns. 1989: Six-speed manual debuts.



C7 2006: Six-speed automatic introduced. 2014: Seven-speed manual introduced.

* No transmission fgures available ** Estimated


come with (fimsy) shift paddles, but the truth is there’s seldom an occasion where we’d want to use them. Apparently, we’re not as smart as the computers. During more common highway cruising, the automatic downshifts the moment you decide to risk imprisonment and indulge in triple-digit speeds. The only time the transmission hesitates is when the car is in Eco mode; it must wait an additional fraction of a second as deactivated cylinders come back online. The rest of the time, the eight-speed feels just like any of the millions of silky smooth automatics GM has produced over the years. Corvette owners won’t have to acclimate to head-jerking shifts or herky-jerky takeofs. You’re probably wondering, so we’ll tell you: As good as this automatic is, we’d still choose the seven-speed manual. What can we say? We really like manuals. But most buyers will want the automatic, and for the frst time in Corvette history, they really won’t be missing anything. The C7, with its eight-speed automatic, fnally manages to synthesize the two Corvette personalities. It’s both the stylish, quick cruiser so many buyers still desire, and it’s a fnely tuned sports car capable of chasing down much more expensive competitors at the track. We don’t try any hot laps in the ’54. It would take years of chassis tuning and the development of a manual transmission— eforts led by Zora Arkus-Duntov—before the Corvette truly belonged on a road course. That’s fne. Today, it’s easy to appreciate the early ’Vette for what it is: a beautiful American car. “I can get speed and precision from the C7 Z06,” says GM product chief Mark Reuss, who owns a black 1954 Corvette. “When I drive the ’54, I can’t help but have a connection to … the leaders back then … a time when magic was happening.” AM

1984 ’85 ’86 ’87 ’88 ’89 ’90 ’91 ’92 ’93 ’94 ’95 ’96 1997 ’98 ’99 ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 2005 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12 ’13 2014 ’15 ** M O D E L Y E A R February 2015 |


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Taking fight Test driver and Huayra developer Davide Testi is one of the few tall enough to reach the gullwing doors. February 2015 |


Monticello, New York


atching the grand parade of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Spykers slink through the front gates of the Monticello Motor Club on a crisp fall morning in New York, there could be no doubt. Horacio Pagani is the Billionaire Whisperer. It is a Monday, so these guys should be moving the levers of the world economy from their desks in Lower Manhattan. Instead, they have dropped everything to pay homage to the man and his car, the Pagani Huayra. They would gawk, they would test drive and, yes, they would buy. In fact, they would buy to the tune of $1.5 million and more. The Pagani Huayra is the unicorn of the hypercar world. You may never see one in real life. The long-awaited follow-up to the Pagani Zonda broke cover in 2011, but it was only recently homologated for sale in


Automobile | February 2015

the United States. So this is its debutante ball, a chance for American suitors to whisk and whirl it about the racetrack. And from the salacious looks on the faces of the fnancial titans circling the car like bull sharks, the courtship among the suitors would be ferce. Pagani Automobili is based just down the road from Ferrari in northern Italy, and it made only 33 cars in 2014. The Huayra is a rare get, so surely Mr. Pagani would seem to be in for a good day. You wouldn’t know it from looking at him. The Argentinean, who decamped for Italy in 1983 when he started working for Lamborghini, is wearing rimless eyeglasses and a deconstructed sports jacket, and he looks stern and intense. He probably isn’t known around the ofce for his knockknock jokes. To produce a supercar like the Huayra as an independent automaker, you have to be meticulous and exacting and


Pagani’s Huayra Argentinean Horacio Pagani, left, is the mastermind behind the car with the funny name and obsessive details.

utterly obsessive. How exacting? How obsessive? Well, every titanium bolt on the car is imprinted with the brand Pagani. And, good god, what a car. In its presence, even the word “exotic” seems dry. The Huayra is sitting in the pits, its body of clear-coated carbon fber scribed with tiny pinstripes and glowing in the fall sunlight like the world’s most expensive bespoke suit. For extra structural rigidity in the bodywork, Pagani uses a special mix of carbon fber woven with titanium, just one of the car’s many technical tricks. Some 47 crash tests have been performed to ensure that the Huayra passes U.S. safety standards, and only two of the carbon-fber monocoques have been required. Both tubs are still in good shape, insists Pagani. The 6.0-liter Mercedes-AMG V-12 engine is mid-mounted, yet the car seems to be all about the rear. The cockpit has been pushed far forward, as if the driver were sitting at the tip of a rocket ship laid on its side. The stacked arrangement of the engine’s titanium exhaust pipes at the rear reinforces the image. Open all the hinged compartments heavenward (the gullwing doors, rear engine cover, and front boot), and the Pagani Huayra looks more like an animatronic bird of prey than a car. I too am a suitor for this car today, getting a test drive even before the rich guys. There’s a sense of barometric pressure building in my ears. Crack up a rare and

January 2015 |


Consider that the Pagani Huayra is some 500 pounds lighter than a Ferrari F12, so no wonder that it feels like a jagged streak of lightning, a high-powered hockey puck.

mega-expensive car like the Huayra, and you’ll make a name for yourself indeed. Davide Testi, Pagani’s longtime test driver, is meant to ride beside me in the passenger seat to prevent such incidents. But as a passenger in a 3,100-plus-pound projectile propelled by a twin-turbo V-12 rated at 720 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque, there is little he will be able to do but hang on. Testi is tall and lean in that unique way of a race-car driver, and a thin goatee frames his smile. He clambers in and out of the car with the ease of a man who’s spent thousands of hours in this cockpit, helping


Automobile | February 2015

to develop the Huayra over the last seven years. Finally, he takes the weird, chunky ignition key, gestures at its slot in the center console, then shows me how to operate the odd, steampunk-inspired shift lever for the sequential, seven-speed, single-clutch automated gearbox. The cockpit of the Huayra suits a car that costs more than almost anything this side of a Bugatti Veyron. Some of it is surprising (there’s a cigarette lighter), and some of it is outrageous. Even the steering column is made from carbon fber, which is lightweight and looks sufciently fabulous.

The few pieces that aren’t metal or carbon are the bright red strips of leather framing the doors and the steering wheel. With assorted custom elements, the price tag for this Pagani Huayra comes to more than $1.8 million. Testi drives our frst laps in the car, and the impressions from the right seat come fast and furiously. First, the sound of the wastegates for the engine’s twin turbochargers frenetically working, a dragon’s snufe behind your ears—a sound akin to a Bugatti Veyron but with its own characteristic resonance. And the two aero faps


restlessly rising and lowering on the front hood, directly in our sightline. Pagani’s bodywork design is a masterpiece of active aerodynamics, and each of the car’s four corners has a fap that works like an aileron on an aircraft. They key of the body’s roll, pitch, and yaw, working independently to keep each tire as frmly planted on the asphalt as possible. Under extreme braking, a hydraulic anti-dive system counters the body’s pitch forward, improving control for the driver. In the confnes of Monticello’s circuit, Testi’s driving style is neither tidy nor fuid. He muscles the car, braking hard in a straight line to a manageable speed, squaring of the corners, then allowing the chassis to go neutral and the steering wheel to thoroughly unwind before pounding back on gas. I’ll soon fnd out why. Taking my turn on the track, I fnd the steering reassuringly frm and the throttle response of the 720-hp engine reassuringly sedate. This wouldn’t be a bad car to drive in trafc, I think. I test the brakes, and the carbon-ceramic rotors bite at every corner. The Xtrac-built, single-clutch automated manual gearbox is clunky, yet it shifts quicker than a straight manual transmission with its heavy clutch action. Then, heading onto an uphill carousel,

Kicking gas Author Jason Harper has his way with the $1.5 million Huayra and its 720-hp AMG V-12 at Monticello Motor Club in New York. No need to be nervous. ... Right?


Looks the part The Huayra is more art piece than regular automobile, with an exposed carbon-fber body, gold-sheathed underpinnings, and outrageous red leather.

2015 PAGANI HUAYRA // BASE PRICE: $1.5 million (est) ENGINE: 6.0-liter twin-turbo SOHC 36-valve V-12/720 hp @ 5,800 rpm, 738 lb-ft @ 2,250-4,800 rpm TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automated manual LAYOUT: 2-door, 2-passenger, mid-engine, RWD coupe SUSPENSION F/R: Control arms, coil springs/control arms, coil springs BRAKES: Carbon-ceramic vented discs TIRES F/R: 255/35ZR-19 (96Y), 335/30ZR-20 (104Y) Pirelli P Zero L x W x H: 181.3 x 80.2 x 46.0 in WHEELBASE: 110.0 in WEIGHT: 3,118 lb (est) WEIGHT DIST. F/R: 44/56% TOP SPEED: 230 mph (est)

I kick the gas. The Mercedes-AMG V-12 engine developed especially for this car reacts. The Ferrari F12’s naturally aspirated V-12 makes about the same horsepower as what we have here, but it’s slow to boil. Instead, the twin-turbo V-12 goes bang from 2,000 rpm. The Huayra hurtles uphill on the highly cambered hill, aero faps springing to life on the hood and at the rear. Suddenly the car has become a living thing, emotional and highly charged—with tire noise, wastegates hufng like mad, and the back end moving around. I straighten the steering wheel for the next short straightaway, drag the brakes going into the next corner, turn hard right, then feel the rear end twitch and slide out just a bit. I could claim style points, but I hadn’t meant to do that. And so went the next laps. This isn’t the Porsche 918, which is almost efortless to drive quickly, or a Lamborghini Aventador, which is husky and sturdy. Consider that the Pagani Huayra is some 500 pounds lighter than a Ferrari F12, so no wonder that it feels like a jagged streak of lightning, a high-powered hockey puck. You’ll not fnd tires much stickier than the Pirelli P Zeros beneath us, but they’re no match for all this brute power. The Huayra works hard to keep everything on an even keel, but you can peel rubber from the tires with a twitch of your big toe. The active aero means it drives diferently, without body roll or taking a set. You have to pay extra attention to what the tires are doing. The handling dynamics that normally telegraph a sports car’s behavior are absent. I’ve taken hundreds of laps around Monticello but fnd myself sizzling past braking points and having to swiftly back out of the throttle, since I’m way farther down the track than where I wanted to be. The Pagani Huayra is a car that slices seconds into milliseconds, engaging every scintilla of your attention. It might be techforward, but it’s also old-school throwback. You’ve got to drive the hell out of it and pay keen attention to what you’re doing. Horacio Pagani isn’t a cold tactician; he’s a madman. Rolling back to the pits after a dozen laps, the Huayra feels soft and easy again. I exit the gullwing door, and Pagani is standing there, arms crossed. “What did you think?” he asks in Italian. “Emotional,” I reply, an understatement. He nods. “When I designed the car, I wanted to create an airplane for the road, to give the sensation of an airplane taking of.” He notes my fushed face, and then he smiles ever so slightly. AM

This Century’s Enzo A few words with Horacio Pagani Like Ferrari’s famous front man, 59-year-old Horacio Pagani is obsessed with the technology used to make fast cars even faster. Pagani Automobili begins and ends with him, a company run by pure will and new ideas. AM: What’s the diference between the Pagani Zonda and the Pagani Huayra? HP: I designed the Zonda 20 years ago and the Huayra 10 years ago. I could have used the Zonda as a base, since the chassis is lovely even by today’s standards. But I wanted to start with a blank piece of paper, to rethink the very idea of a sports car. There’s nothing in common between the two cars. Technically, we’ve come a very long way. AM: What’s the philosophy behind the Huayra? HP: It’s a road car that is very capable on the track. Like Porsche says, if a car goes well at the ’Ring, it goes well everywhere. We’ve held various records at the Nürburgring Nordschleife with Zonda models for 11 years. And we’re headed to the track soon with the Huayra. AM: What’s next? HP: We have to pay the bills, so I have to design something. We’ll see special models of the Huayra next. If you take a look at what we have done in the past, it’s not that hard to follow what’s coming. In two years, at the Geneva auto show, we’ll present the roadster. AM: This is an expensive car. In today’s supercar climate, is there a limit to how much you can charge? HP: A pure exclusive car like this one can only go and raise up prices. But when you buy a $2 million car, the whole point is that it has emotion, that it gives you something. Otherwise, it is pointless.

February 2015 |

















Climb every mountain (almost)


ne could argue that the boxy new Renegade is the oddball of the Jeep family. After all, it’s built in Italy of all places, shares its DNA with the antagonistically curvy Fiat 500X, and has evidently been designed to please the Muppets rather than Indiana Jones. But if our 440-mile tour up and down the Alps of Tyrol and Salzburg is anything to go by, the public loves the latest bantam SUV. Our Renegade Limited certainly garnered plenty of smartphone attention and thumbs up. Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we’ll give facts priority over feelings and start by noting the oddball packaging. The driving position is rather van-like, with the faraway base of the upright windshield creating a deep dashboard. Up front, there’s headroom galore (feel free to wear your tallest Stetson), but rear legroom is seriously compromised, and the cargo area is a scant 18.5 cubic feet. That last fgure is 4.2 cubic feet shy of the Compass—but then, the Renegade is 8.5 inches shorter. The pint-sized Renegade is critical to Fiat Chrysler’s plan to expand Jeep’s presence in Europe, so that’s where we put it to its frst test: a two-day run over 12 mountain passes. (For more on which ones, see sidebar on page 83). Whereas U.S. buyers choose between a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbocharged four (160 hp, 184 lb-ft) or a 2.4-liter Tigershark fourcylinder (184 hp, 177 lb-ft), our Renegade was equipped with a 2.0-liter MultiJet

The Renegade is a proper all-terrain SUV that will safely make it to your favorite ski slope or the far end of the beach.

turbodiesel. With 138 hp from four cylinders, the turbodiesel Renegade won’t make the podium of any serious hillclimb. But power isn’t everything. What matters more when you’re charging up a mountain pass is torque, and the Fiat engine musters a feisty 258 lb-ft at a relaxed 1,750 rpm. The relatively unrefned but perfectly punchy oil-burner helps the baby Jeep dash up hills and gradients molto presto. The 6-mile Gaisberg, for instance, was a brief 10-minute stint, Pass Lueg was over and done with before the frst photo was in the can, and Griessen Pass and the two passes that followed were conquered with fying colors in fourth gear. Next on the list was Pass Thurn, which deserves a Porsche 911 but made do with the much more


Automobile | February 2015

humble Renegade. Giving its all, the Jeep yodeled through the ultra-fast corners with enough body roll to make our poor passenger reach repeatedly for the grab handle. Although it was shod with soft snow tires, the Renegade held the road remarkably well. Better still, it didn’t understeer excessively, didn’t sufer from fts of liftof squirreliness, and, with stability control switched of, was actually quite tweakable via throttle, steering, and courage. The Fiat-sourced powerplant was paired with a six-speed manual transmission (which Americans can have with the 1.4liter). We never wished for the available nine-speed automatic, as the six-speed stick features well-spaced ratios, commendably light shift action, and reasonably

Twelve-pack Our all-wheel-drive Jeep Renegade Limited charged up a dozen mountain passes in the snowy Austrian Alps.

short throws. Our Renegade Limited was also equipped with all-wheel drive (which is available with either U.S. engine). Jeep’s Active Drive all-wheel-drive system includes a choice of four modes, from full auto to snow, sand, and mud. The hardcore Trailhawk package adds a low range and hill-descent control as well as bumpers that allow steeper approach angles, skidplates, a tow hook, and a bit of extra ground clearance (8.7 inches versus 7.9 inches for the other 4x4s). It’s doubtful, though, that the Trailhawk’s extra eighttenths of an inch would have helped us when snow halted our progress not once but twice. The frst was photographerinduced and made the car sink to its belly on what looked like packed snow but was

more like deep powder. The second situation involved a snowdrift that appeared manageable but was so hard and tall that the Jeep got stuck again, spinning all four wheels like a silver guinea pig scrambling for shelter. We were less forgiving of the factory navigation system, which drove us nuts with its small touchscreen and idiosyncratic controls. The Jeep’s UConnect Bluetooth system, on the other hand, works even better than the one in the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class. One extra we would consciously avoid is lane-keeping assist, which does exactly that, but too soon, too often, and with too much vigor. Thankfully, it can be switched of. On the morning of day two, we mean-

dered up Gerlos Pass, which is a tourist trap in winter but an of-season paradise. From the icy, windswept summit way above the tree line, the broad blacktop curves down to the Ziller Valley, where my mother’s family still owns a couple of guest houses, a trout farm, and a small farm close to the bottom of the hill. The scenery hasn’t changed much since my childhood days, and the wonderfully nostalgic scents duly brought back fond memories: dark bread fresh out of the oven, steaming afternoon cocoa, the perfume of cheese-making, strong apple brandy distilled from tiny crumpled fruit. Instead of tobogganing down the last dozen hairpins as we used to after church on Sunday, the Jeep carved up the February 2015 |


winding Zillertaler Höhenstrasse, which eventually brushes the snow-capped peaks that stretch all the way from Schwendberg to Kaltenbach. This is slowspeed, tiptoe terrain dotted with blind crests and even blinder corners, rutted pavement, crumbling valley-side shoulders, and impromptu mudslides. The views are simply out of this world, though, and the baby Jeep mastered all hurdles with aplomb—until we arrived at the aforementioned snowdrift. The Jeep Renegade is a proper allterrain SUV that will safely make it to your favorite ski slope or the to far end of the beach. But unlike the body-on-frame Wrangler, it’s not a compromised on-road vehicle that punishes its occupants with a deafening noise level, a sadistic ride, and


Automobile | February 2015

third-rate creature comforts. Apart from a pronounced cold-start diesel clatter, the engine is reasonably quiet, the suspension strikes a decent balance between composure and cushiness, and the cabin impresses with much-better-than-expected ft and fnish. Flaws? The steering may be on the light side, and it is not particularly quick, but it provides ample feedback. When driven all-out, the oil pressure warning light came on occasionally, the front diferential did grind in loud protest through left-hand bends, and—at the foot of a pass—the sizzling brakes coated the wheels with a layer of charcoal powder. There are three alternative routes that lead from the Innsbruck basin back to Munich. We chose the Achen Pass—not for its beauty but for the proximity to the

little-known Jachenau toll road. Although this route is almost devoid of elevation changes, the jagged mountains that tower on both sides of the single-track ribbon are eerily majestic. In the fall, focks of chamois will be descending to greener pastures, the river in the distance will have slimmed to a silver trickle, and the panoramic sky will likely be speckled with wheeling birds of prey. This is Jeep country, and the Renegade fts the picture much better than lifestyle-oriented wannabes such as the Mini Countryman or the Nissan Juke. True, the styling might take forever to grow on you, and better packaging would certainly help. But if and when your travels take you of the beaten track, this pleasantly afordable Italian-American efort is not a bad chariot to be in. AM


AUSTRIA’S DYNAMIC DOZEN 12 fun-to-drive passes that you’ll likely fnd open 365 days a year Bad Feilnbach

Bad Tölz



Germany E60













178 Schwendt



5. PASS LUFTENSTEIN Sankt Johann 164





E45 Alpbach A12















Utendorf Grossari






1. GAISBERG. Ten minutes outside of the Salzburg city center, this 6-mile climb was frst used in 1929 for a high-speed motorsport event won by Max von ArcoZinneberg in a Mercedes SSK. It is now part of an annual classic car rally; the 2015 event will be staged June 4-6.

2. PASS LUEG. Before the A10 autobahn was completed, all trafc from Salzburg to Italy and the former Yugoslavia had to travel over the once-demanding Pass Lueg, which these days is a mix of moderate grades and fast corners.

5. PASS LUFTENSTEIN. More of the same, except the blacktop is narrower, twistier, and less trafcked. Don’t bother with the detour to Pass Strub, which is a stretch of busy and boring highway.

face of the Hochkönig mountain range runs this picturesque and challenging road, which combines steep climbs with majestic views along the broad Dientner Sattel plateau.

4. GRIESSEN PASS. This section consists of a very modest rise, summit, and descent. What it lacks in elevation, however, it makes up in speed; this is one of the fastest mountain roads in Austria.

9. GERLOS PASS. Past the famous Krimml waterfalls, this toll road embraces the Gerlos glacier like a graceful concrete serpent. Best to buy a day ticket and go play in the upper elevations where trafc is light— except on weekends.

6. STEINPASS. Crossing the border to Bavaria, this is the gateway to the breathtakingly beautiful Deutsche Alpenstrasse, which curves through the Alps and will take you back into Austria near Kössen. The Steinpass itself is now little more than a defunct border crossing.

10. ZILLERTALER HÖHENSTRASSE. Slow, very narrow, and poorly protected against avalanches or rock slides, this is perhaps the most amazing route of the lot. From the top, you can see all the way to Italy.

one that runs up and down a mountain. You can see far enough into the countless second- and third-gear sweepers to take them in one fantastic long slide.

11. ACHEN PASS. Touristy, crowded in summer, with plenty of speed limits, even two stationary radar traps. And yet this pass is still worth a visit because of the awesome climb to the frst hairpin and because of the scenic drive along an emerald lake.

8. FELBERTAUERN. This most

12. WALLGAU/JACHENAU. Instead of

signifcant pass links the northern and eastern parts of Tyrol. The tunnel through the Tauern massif may be boring, but the fast approach is, on both sides, a killer drive. Go up once to check the area for police, then try again and open it up.

shooting straight back to town, take a left at the Sylvenstein reservoir and follow the narrow centipede to Wallgau where you hang a right, heading for Jachenau and then Lenggries. Not a pass per se, but probably one of Europe’s prettiest mountain roads.

7. PASS THURN. It’s like a racetrack, only 3. DIENTNER SATTEL. Along the south


February 2015 |





Automobile | February 2015




Upshift t’s not hard to think of the Kia Cadenza as a fresh-faced new kid in the ofce, one with a frm handshake and a bright smile, who tries extra hard to ingratiate himself even though no one is quite sure why he’s there. Newly arrived in the Kia lineup for 2014, the Cadenza might be part of the brand’s over-eager attempt to push itself upmarket, but after living with one for 12 months and 20,650 miles, we found the car to be so well-executed and just downright pleasant that we couldn’t help but like it. As always, it helps to be good-looking. (Yeah, we’re shallow.) Conservatively handsome, as per the corporate style under design boss Peter Schreyer, the Kia Cadenza avoids the pitfalls of famboyant over-design. This isn’t a car that causes bystanders to stop and stare; it also isn’t likely to put of any buyers. Wisely, the Cadenza comes loaded with standard equipment, including such must-haves in this car’s class of near-luxury sedans as dual power seats with heated surfaces, leather upholstery, and navigation. This Four Seasons example arrived on our doorstep further primped with its two major option groups: the luxury package and the technology package. The former includes Nappa leather trim, a power cushion extender for the driver’s seat, a ventilated driver’s seat, heating for the rear seats and the steering wheel, a power


Pros & Cons + Roomy cabin + Loads of equipment + Easy-to-use -

electronics Engine a little strained Comfy, not thrilling Explaining you spent $40,000 on a Kia

Precious cargo Back-seat passengers both large and small appreciated the expansive legroom.

tilt-and-telescoping steering column, a panoramic glass roof, swiveling HID headlamps, and other tidbits. The latter package is highlighted by adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and lane-departure warning, and 19-inch wheels. Each added $3,000 to the bottom line, helping to push our as-tested price of this 2014 Kia Cadenza from $35,900 to nearly $42,000. This fgure raises a few eyebrows until you consider it fts in with the car’s competition, which includes the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Upscale environs Comfy and spacious, the Cadenza interior boasts a surfeit of electronics (some of them optional), which thankfully proved easy to use.

RUNNING COSTS MILEAGE 20,650 WARRANTY 5-yr/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper 5-yr/60,000-mile roadside assistance 10-yr/100,000-mile powertrain SCHEDULED MAINTENANCE 7,995 mi: $34.48 14,870 mi: $57.36 WARRANTY REPAIRS None RECALLS 17,126 mi: Wheels replaced due to potential to fracture OUT-OF-POCKET 5,068 mi: Purchase, mount, and balance Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4 winter tires, $1,407.40 5,068 mi: Purchase WeatherTech FloorLiner DigitalFit mats, $317.85 6,380 mi: Replace two fat tires, $696.40 7,995 mi: Replace and program key fob, which we dropped and broke, $259.13 11,386 mi: Remount OE tires, $100.00 17,446 mi: Nail removed from tire, $0 19,080 mi: Damaged tire replaced, $212.91 20,650 mi: Replace damaged adaptive-cruise sensor, $4,246.84 FUEL CONSUMPTION EPA city/highway/combined 19/28/22 mpg Observed 23.1 mpg COST PER MILE (Fuel, service, winter tires) $0.52 ($1.34 including depreciation) TRADE-IN VALUE $24,900

OUR CAR STANDARD EQUIPMENT Dual-zone automatic air conditioning; power windows, mirrors, and door locks; power seats; front-wheel drive; 6-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles; 3.3-liter V-6 engine; backup camera; navigation; leather seat trim; heated front seats; AM/FM/CD/MP3 player audio system w/HD radio and iPod and USB adapters; keyless ignition w/pushbutton start; rain-sensing wipers; power-folding mirrors; Bluetooth; front, side, and side curtain airbags

“ The Koreans have that American feeling down, even more so than the Japanese and even earlier in their industry’s conscious attempt to emulate it.” Impala, Ford Taurus, and Toyota Avalon. And even at such a price, it’s clear you’re paying for what’s in the car rather than the badge on the trunk. What is notable about the Cadenza, however, is not just the equipment. The execution of this car is a standout in its class. “Wow, I’m impressed,” associate Web editor Joey Capparella said. “The Cadenza feels so graceful on the road. It’s hard to catch it fat-footed, because its reactions to all inputs are smooth and linear. The interior feels genuinely premium, yet it’s surprisingly simple to use. This car also gets the details right, which contributes to the luxury vibe.” Among these details: the way the puddle lights illuminate and the side mirrors extend when you walk up to the car even before you touch the door or take out the remote; the damped motion of the cupholder cover as it moves back and forth; and even the wood trim on the steering wheel. New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman characterized the Cadenza as “kind of a modern Buick,” noting, “the Koreans have that American feeling down, even more so than the Japanese and even earlier in their industry’s conscious attempt to emulate it.” Any sedan that seeks to emulate a classically American comfy cruiser had better be, well, comfortable, and the Cadenza is. The spacious, airy cabin feels even more so thanks to the large glass roof

overhead, while the thin A-pillars aid forward visibility. The roomy back seat has a nearly fat foor that makes it acceptable even for three. And the Cadenza’s large trunk welcomes a road trip’s worth of luggage, a feature we put to good use on excursions to Chicago, the Gulf Coast, Nashville, and the Catskill Mountains in New York. On those long trips, or even around town, we found the Cadenza’s suite of technology very easy to use for the most part. “I think this touchscreen is one of the simplest, most functional infotainment systems on ofer (after Chrysler’s Uconnect),” said associate Web editor Jake Holmes. We did have some minor critiques, though. There are too many identical fat


Delicate footwear The 19-inch wheels were subject to a recall; we also had three tires damaged due to winterravaged roads.

OPTIONS ON THIS VEHICLE Luxury package (panoramic moonroof w/power sunshade, HID headlamps w/ adaptive front lighting system, Nappa leather seat and interior trim, power driver’s seat cushion extender, ventilated driver’s seat, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, Supervision meter cluster w/7-inch color LCD, power tilt-andtelescopic steering column, integrated memory system, power rear window sunshade), $3,000; technology package (adaptive cruise control, blindspot warning system, lane-departure warning system, electronic parking brake, hydrophobic front door windows, 19-inch wheels), $3,000; cargo net, $50

February 2015 |


FOUR SEASONS WRAP-UP buttons for the HVAC system, and the stereo knobs are small and fussy to operate. We also found the lane-departure warning system overly sensitive, but the parking assist and the adaptive cruise control worked well. That is, the adaptive cruise control did great until it simply quit working altogether. Turns out its sensor, which is located in a vulnerable position in the front fascia, had sufered damage—and the fx was more than $4,000. Otherwise, our only other issues with the Cadenza were related to wheels and tires. A winter harvest of potholes and other road hazards in the Midwest claimed several tires. Additionally, our Cadenza was subject to a recall because a manufacturing defect could cause its 19-inch wheels to fracture. Dealer visits were otherwise uneventful, and scheduled service was pretty inexpensive as well.

Big time The Cadenza is larger than the Optima and was the brand’s most expensive ofering—until the K900 came along.

We might have expected our car’s upsized wheels (19-inchers in place of the standard 18s as part of the technology package) to make for a harsh ride, but it wasn’t the case. Bump absorption is very good, and the well-damped ride motions are far diferent than the overly aggressive, boy-racer suspension calibration that has been Kia’s signature until recently. The Cadenza’s ride quality does deteriorate somewhat when the car is fully loaded, though. The electric-assist steering profers appropriate efort levels, without being annoyingly overboosted or wildly variable. (The new-for-2015 Cadenza Limited comes with Kia’s FlexSteer technology, which lets drivers choose among three levels of steering efort.) We weren’t quite as enamored of the 3.3-liter V-6, which is the only engine available for the Cadenza. Although its 293 hp is certainly competitive in its




$35,900 $41,950 3.3-liter DOHC 24-valve V-6/ 293 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 255 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm 6-speed automatic 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, FWD sedan 19/28 mpg (city/highway) Damper struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar/ multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar Vented discs/discs 245/40R-19 94V Hankook Optimo H426 195.5 x 72.8 x 58.1 in 112.0 in 38.0/37.3 in 45.5/36.8 in 58.3/56.5 in 15.9 cu ft 3,792 lb 59.5/40.5% 6.3 sec 118 ft 14.8 sec @ 96 mph 0.82 g

*Estimate based on information from

class—exceeding the Toyota Avalon’s 268 hp but shy of the Chevrolet Impala’s 305 hp—several of us found that the Kia V-6 often feels as if it’s straining, since it needs to rev pretty high to get all of the power it needs during forceful acceleration. “An engine with all the power at the top end doesn’t quite suit the nature of this car,” Capparella noted. Still, under more sedate cruising, you’re hard-pressed to hear the engine at all. Creamy, quiet, and cosseting might not be the enthusiast’s favorite combination of virtues, but it’s not hard to see their appeal in a sedan like this. You might be taken aback for a moment by the thought of a $40,000 Kia, but it’s useful to consider that this car company has grown up, and the price tag is commensurately adult, too. And if this price point seems like an ambitious playground for a car company from Korea, then what to make of the recently introduced Kia K900 sedan, which starts at $60,400? Based on our experience here, we’d say that even-tempered sophistication and a Kia badge are more compatible than you would have thought a year ago. And also, don’t underestimate that fresh-faced new kid at the ofce. —Joe Lorio


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Jaguar F-Type Coupe We gladly take in a supercharged six

on’t be shy, 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe. We just want to play. We’ve got an endless supply of 91 octane for you. We’re eager to hear that crackling supercharged six of yours roar while prowling the concrete jungle. We’re absolutely thrilled to adopt an F-Type S Coupe and have it curl up in our Four Seasons garage for a year. The F-Type has been a critical hit, a shimmering halo for the storied British brand that has turned its fortunes around. We dug the F-Type roadster so much we named it a 2014 All-Star. We’re looking forward to learning how the coupe holds up as we pile on the miles. This particular F-Type hardtop features Jaguar’s supercharged, 3.0-liter V-6 with 380 horsepower mated to the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic and retails for $77,925 with destination. It checked in at our L.A. headquarters already housebroken with roughly 3,800 miles on the odometer, looking sharp with its coat of Rhodium Silver ($600) and blacked-out 19-inch Centrifuge alloys ($1,500). The base F-Type already comes well equipped, as we’d expect for a car that starts at nearly 80 grand, but buyers need to



Automobile | February 2015

open their wallets wider for the really good stuf. Our car rolled in with three major optional equipment packages. The priciest, Performance Pack S ($3,400), bundles upgraded brakes with the selectable active exhaust, a confgurable dynamic mode, and interior updates including a fat-bottom steering wheel, performance seats, and black trim accents. The safety-focused Vision Pack 2 ($2,400) includes adaptive front lighting, blind-spot monitoring, front parking sensors, and a rearview camera. Premium Pack 2 ($1,800) nets 14-way power seats, dual-zone climate control, and a garage door opener. Add heated seats and steering wheel ($600), HD and Sirius radio ($400), a panoramic glass roof ($1,200), and

The Specs PRICE: $92,575 ENGINE: 3.0-liter supercharged 24-valve DOHC V-6/380 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 339 lb-ft @ 3,500-5,000 rpm TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic LAYOUT: 2-door, 2-passenger, frontengine, RWD coupe EPA MILEAGE (city/highway): 19/27 mpg L x W x H: 176 x 75.7 x 51 in WHEELBASE: 103.2 in WEIGHT: 3,809 lb 0-60 MPH: 4.3 sec TOP SPEED: 171 mph

a snazzy-looking Redzone leather interior getup with jet-black stitching ($2,700), and this coupe rings in at $92,575. While we’re looking forward to our extended seat time in the F-Type, we already have a pretty good idea what this car is about. We’ve been enamored from the get-go with the scintillating shape that evokes Jaguar’s storied heritage in a thoroughly modern way. Its soundtrack is unlike that of any modern sports car, and we’ve found it more than capable dynamically. We’ll be sure to share with you what else we learn about the cool-cat coupe—and how it holds up to daily hammering—during its stay in the Four Seasons pen. —Mike Floyd PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBERT GUIO




/ MILES TO DATE: 19,112

18,094: We wish for more suspension damping and stickier tires. Another red Accord, with the HFP (Honda Factory Performance) package, arrives to answer our plea. The verdict? Not worth the $4,620 extra cheddar. Less wheelspin, better cornering, same annoying torque steer. 18,540: Lumbar support and satellite radio keep Donna, wife of executive editor Todd Lassa, comfortable on a trip to Cleveland. 18,872: Just an Accord, you say? Not so hasty. Naysayers at an

open track day eat their words. “Reels in BRZs, RX-8s, and older Bimmers in the straights, no problem,” associate Web editor Jake Holmes says. “Stopping is another story.” 19,000: Despite the track punishment, our Honda feels totally solid. For drama-free ownership, the Japanese still reign. 19,004: We can’t help but love that Honda still makes a six-speed manual, powerful two-door. But with a sticker at $33,190, who loves it enough to buy one?



MILES TO DATE: 24,047 17,804: Vacation long hauls to northern Michigan, NYC, and Maryland. That 28 mpg on the highway ain’t bad. 18,122: Why do we see so many MDXs? It’s a three-row SUV that doesn’t look like a bus and isn’t sized like a freighter. 20,509: Active cruise control and lane-keep assist let the MDX basically drive itself. But

not perfectly. Sudden corrective reactions make it feel like an anxious teen is at the helm. 22,935: Not a rattle or squeak after all these miles; Acura build quality is supreme. We’re annoyed, though, when the key fob battery dies, particularly since you need it to start the car. 23,193: We made it to the Hoover Dam! No, not that one. The one in Westerville, Ohio.

MILES TO DATE: 9,158 2,049: One weekend, 300 miles. The ST’s spunk is contagious. We want to yank the parking brake around every residential street corner. 3,158: Two SCCA autocross events and an open track day. Beefy bolstering on the optional Recaro seats keeps our love handles in place. 3,311: “But they leave no room

for my (big, pointy) elbows,” whines senior editor David Zenlea. Deal with it, dude. 7,022: The three track days evidently take a toll: Four tires, two blown-out rear dampers, three bent wheels that couldn’t take a little curbing. What gives? Doesn’t the ST badge mean this is a track car? 7,037: “The ST can throw a punch but can’t take one.”

February 2015 |








Porsche 914 DON’T CALL IT A VOLKSWAGEN n the list of revered Porsche numerals, 914 sits pretty far toward the bottom. A forgotten, somewhat unloved car, the 914 came to fruition when Porsche found itself with a business conundrum in the late 1960s. The price of its 911 was rising beyond the reach of many car enthusiasts, yet its entry-level 912 was dated and no longer as competitive as cars like the Datsun 240Z. Ferry Porsche wanted a new afordable sports car but was hesitant to pay for development of an entirely new car. The solution? Use existing Volkswagen engines, initially an afordable 1.7-liter from the VW Type 411E, to create a cheaper Porsche model. Drawing inspiration from a concept penned by German designer Hans Gugelot, Butzi Porsche created a mid-engine targa-top sports car that would be assembled by German coachbuilder Karmann. The practical design provided almost 50/50 weight distribution, with a deep luggage compartment ahead of the front-mounted fuel tank and enough interior space for tall drivers. The car was also extremely light, improving its handling and acceleration.

Raise the roof The targa top stores behind the engine, but there’s still plenty of cargo space (as well as the fuel tank) up front.



Automobile | February 2015

In most of Europe, a new entity called VW-Porsche GmbH (owned 50/50 by each company) sold the new model as the VW-Porsche 914, while in the States the cars were sold by Volkswagen of America as Porsches. This corporate structure, coupled with the fact the cars used Volkswagen engines, helped the 914 earn unfortunate nicknames such as “Volks-Porsche.” That’s not to say the car didn’t have any sporting pedigree. Porsche experimented with higher-output models, striking a deal to have Karmann ship

completed 914s to Zufenhausen, Germany, where they were ftted with a six-cylinder engine from the 911. The 914/6 models, of which only about 3,300 were built, boasted 125 hp from the 2.0-liter fat-six and could hit 60 mph in around 8 seconds— considerably quicker than the regular VW-engined 914 and close to the performance of contemporary 911s. But getting the bodies to Zufenhausen for the engine transplant was expensive, and the 914/6 was short-lived. The 914 1.7, meanwhile, hit 60 mph in a

IT’S ALSO EASY TO SEE HOWTHIS MORE AFFORDABLE, MID-ENGINE MODEL PAVED THE WAY FOR THE MODERN-DAY PORSCHE BOXSTER AND CAYMAN. Keeping it simple The 914’s interior is refreshingly simple —the radio didn’t even come as standard from the factory.

leisurely 13.7 seconds—7 seconds slower than a 911 of the time. A 2.0-liter engine arrived as an option for 1973 and a 1.8 replaced the 1.7 in 1974, but the 914 was never a thoroughbred performance car. Despite this, the Porsche 914 soon won over enthusiasts and the motoring press. In 1970, Motor Trend named the 914 Import Car of the Year, saying, “The 914 doesn’t feel remotely like any VW you have ever driven. All Porsche has done is return to an inexpensive, reliable engine and at a lower price than before.” “Inexpensive” was a key reason Ted Chaney began looking for a Porsche 914 in the early 1970s. He wanted his frst Porsche to be a 911, but found prices for them were rising faster than his savings account could handle. He ended up paying $4,100 for this 1974 Porsche 914 1.8 in 1976. “We kind of settled on a 914,” he says. After all, “I’d been a VW guy for years, and they were reliable.” For the frst few years, the 914 was Chaney’s daily driver in Ohio—at least from April through October of each year, when he used to leave the black targa top

The Specs

of permanently. It gets less use nowadays, but the 914 is no garage queen. The odometer broke in the early 1990s at 88,273 miles, and Chaney guesses the car has covered another 40,000 miles since then, including trips from his home outside Columbus to as far away as Traverse City, Michigan, and last summer’s Woodward Dream Cruise. Chaney is well aware of the reputation that dogs the 914, with friends telling him, “Well, it’s just a Volkswagen,” but he doesn’t really care. He says it’s one of the best-driving cars he’s owned and that he has no plans to sell it. The car even won an award at a local Porsche show. Better yet, it has needed precious little maintenance over the last 38 years: a new clutch, a valve job, fresh paint, and a handful of consumables such as tires and brakes. The 914 may be a People’s Car at heart, but it has a few peculiarities that stick out to the novice driver. The pedals are ofset toward the center of the car, and the many linkages required to connect the shifter to the rear-mounted transaxle introduce plenty of vagueness into gear changes. It takes a few minutes of using the dog-leg fve-speed gearbox before locating frst, second, and third becomes natural. And although the engine is fuel-injected (with mechanical ignition), warm starts require a frm prod of the throttle to coax the fat-four back to life. Once underway, though, the Porsche 914’s appeal is obvious. The fat-four engine revs freely and pitter-patters behind your head, while the unassisted steering lightens up and gives the car a lively feel. Great visibility (especially for a mid-engine car), the open roof, and a low seating position increase the sensation of speed. It’s easy to have Porsche levels of fun in this mere “Volkswagen.” Porsche purists who look down their noses at the 914 should think again. While the mid-engine car can’t match the panache or performance of a contemporary 911, it delivers a big portion of the Porsche ownership experience without the expensive bills. It’s also easy to see how this more afordable, midengine model paved the way for the modern-day Porsche Boxster and Cayman. Just don’t tell your friends it has a VW engine. —Jake Holmes

ENGINES 1.7L (104 cu-in) OHV fat-4, 85 hp, 100 lb-ft; 1.8L (110 cu-in) OHV fat-4, 76 hp, 91 lb-ft; 2.0L (122 cu-in) OHV fat-4, 95 hp, 105 lb-ft TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual DRIVE Rear-wheel FRONT SUSPENSION Control arms, torsion bars REAR SUSPENSION Control arms, coil springs BRAKES F/R Disc WEIGHT 1,928 lb

So Seventies All Porsche 914s use electrically actuated pop-up headlights. The American cars use these uniformly amber turn signals.

The Info NUMBER SOLD 115,597 ORIGINAL PRICE $3,695-$4,545 VALUE TODAY $15,000-$23,000. A 914/6 can command twice as much. WHY BUY? The 914 provides much of the driving fun and vintage appeal of a classic Porsche for a fraction of the cost—both in terms of purchase and upkeep.

February 2015 |







HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA | OCTOBER 9-10, 2014 | by Dave Kinney

S/N F516001002. Yellow with black top over black leather. 226-cubic-inch six-cylinder, 115 hp; automatic transmission. With fewer than 66,0000 original miles, this Frazer has never been completely restored but has been freshened at various times. Fair to good paint; the chrome is good to very good. Good interior, but it shows its age.

THE STORY BEHIND THE SALE Said to be one of the two pilot production cars later used by Henry J. Kaiser as his personal car, it is also claimed to be the Chicago Automobile Show car. It is serial number 1002, the second car built by the Frazer nameplate in its fnal year. An important car for Kaiser-Frazer fans, it is worth more than the bid. Kaiser-Frazer was one of a handful of eforts to bring wheels to postwar America, and few got of to a better start than the company headed by auto executive Joseph W. Frazer and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser. When civilian auto production restarted after the war, the larger car companies mostly ofered warmed-over versions of ’41 cars, but Kaiser-Frazer came out of the gate with an all-new product. The men behind the product were a big part of the story. Frazer cut his teeth building cars, and before the war he worked at Chrysler, Willys-Overland, and Graham-Paige. Kaiser built roads and most famously Liberty Ships, but you might also have heard of Kaiser Aluminum, or Kaiser Steel, or Kaiser Permanente. Same guy. Before exiting the auto business, Kaiser bought Willys, which made the Jeep. Jeep later went to American Motors before becoming part of Chrysler, and it lives on to this day.


Automobile | February 2015

1953 HRG 1500 WS ROADSTER SOLD AT $60,500


S/N WS.222. White over black leather. 1,496cc SOHC four-cylinder, 65 hp; four-speed manual. Black-painted wire wheels. Full period race-car dress. Serviceable paint; good brightwork; good leather and carpets. Right-hand drive. HRG was a rather obscure British sports car builder, but one well worth noting because it was very popular with sports car racers both in North America and in Europe. This example is powered by a Singer engine and features hydraulic drum brakes at each wheel. (Earlier cars usually had a Meadows engine and cable-operated brakes.) This car was originally owned and raced by American HRG rep Jack Wherry. With just 241 cars built in two decades of production, the mythical Maytag repairman must have been jealous of Mr. Wherry’s sales workload. The auction price was a bit light.

S/N 14423. Black over black leather. 980cc V-2 (twin cylinder), 9 hp; two-speed manual transmission with chain drive. Water-cooled MAG engine, a Swiss-built power unit. A much older restoration that has “mellowed” with age, which is to say that all surfaces have some wear or faws. Not all original, but this three-wheeler could pass for original if you didn’t look too closely. Morgan is one automobile company that continues to break all the rules and do so proudly. In fact you can buy a new version of its three-wheeler today, close to 90 years after this one left the factory. Popular not just because a three-wheeled car can pass as a motorcycle in many countries, these are a hoot to drive and take to vintage races. Expect to be able to buy a new Morgan three-wheeler 90 years from now.




Best Buy


1962 PORSCHE 356B 1600 HARDTOP SOLD AT $82,500


S/N 1FMEU15HXELA42319. Two-tone brown and tan over tan cloth. 351-cubic-inch V-8, 150 hp; three-speed SelectShift automatic; four-wheel drive. 22,083 miles. Excellent original paint; good to very good chrome; great glass and trim. The interior is new; the seat covers are new old stock. Clean under the hood. Great equipment includes full power and air conditioning, tilt steering wheel, AM/FM cassette, and raised-white-letter Goodyear tires. The olden days of the 1980s were when things started to change for trucks. Trucks and sport-utilities became lifestyle statements, not just work vehicles. Will SUVs be important in the future of collector cars? You bet. This Bronco brought a touch more than expected, but then again, for a 30-year-old, it looks pretty darn nice.

S/N 200797. Aetna blue with black top over taupe leather. 1,582cc fat-four, dual Solex carburetors, 75 hp; four-speed manual. The engine was rebuilt in its recent restoration and upgraded. The list of things done in restoration includes new paint and interior, and both are excellent. The chrome is also excellent, the engine compartment show-detailed. This is one of only 1,047 notchback coupes built by coachbuilder Karmann. It kind of looks like a convertible with a top welded in place, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Not the most sought-after bodystyle in the Porsche lineup, and it likely never will be. With the dramatic rise in Porsche values, however, this car was positively cheap. If you are buying a car to drive, remember the view through the windshield is the same as almost any other 356. This car was bought at or below the cost of the restoration.

S/N BEX 678. Black over red leather. 1,971cc six-cylinder, three Solex carburetors, 125 hp; four-speed manual. The older paintwork is still good; it looks to have been a quality respray from many years ago. The brightwork is good to very good. The interior has a nice look to it—not new but gently used, good leather and wood. If you’re the type who doesn’t have to have everything brand new and sparkling, this is the way to have it. AC Cars Ltd. made a variety of cars, but for those of us in North America, it’s all about the AC that became the Shelby Cobra: the AC Ace. The coupe version of the Ace was known as the Aceca and, as you can see, it was handsome. Acecas are also valuable and quite fun to drive. This example is an Aceca-Bristol, so named for the British-built Bristol engine. The price was a good deal for both the buyer and seller.




S/N 1075984. Gray-blue over gray vinyl. 1,192cc fat-four, 36 hp; four-speed manual. A one-familyowned car. It’s in need of a full restoration—all the bits appear to be here, but they all need attention. Tired paint and chrome and an even more tired interior. From the catalog: “John A. Moir Sr. bought this Volkswagen Beetle new in 1956 and used it to drive to the train station on rainy days; it was also loaned to family guests who needed a car while in town.” Not currently running, this Beetle looks to have “good bones,” which is to say it’s not completely rusted through. The small rear window came right after the two-piece split window and before the glass was expanded to the point where you could actually see out of the window.

S/N 63R3150. White over tan vinyl. 289-cubicinch V-8, 240 hp; three-speed automatic. Incorrect seat material; the glove-box door is from a later-model Avanti. Good paint and chrome, good glass, with some age and wear. Tired-looking throughout. This one-family-owned car is an R-1 (nonsupercharged) model from the frst year of production. It was converted by the owners from a four-speed manual to an automatic transmission, not something that helps its value. A few thousand dollars spent in the right places will make this car really pop; whitewall tires on this white car would be a great place to start. The right price was paid here, but only because of the one-owner status.

S/N 670840. Red with a black top over black leather. 3,442cc six-cylinder, dual SU carburetors, 160 hp; four-speed manual. Very good paint, well-done chrome, very good leather, dash, and carpets. Although restored more than 20 years ago, this Jag looks quite fresh. This is an early production, steel-bodied XK120 with disc wheels, fender skirts, all tools, and a handbook. Restoration quality can vary widely from car to car and shop to shop, but when it lasts for more than two decades, you can bet few shortcuts were taken. Climate-controlled storage and only 350 miles driven since the restoration has helped as well. With a 20-year-old restoration, visions of a long list of items to redo pop up, but not in this case. February 2015 |


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Upshift non sequitur


At the L.A. Auto Show, Chevrolet unveiled a physical version of the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo, but the futuristic racer exists primarily in the virtual world. The Chaparral 2X VGT was designed for the PlayStation racing game “Gran Turismo 6.” The wild Chevy racer promises gamers an intense experience, with a 1.5-second 0-60 time and a 240-mph top speed. The driver lies facedown with arms and legs stretched toward the wheels; instrumentation is projected onto the driver’s helmet visor. Designer Frank Saucedo said the idea is akin to “fying very close to the ground.”

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Automobile | February 2015

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/ Automobile february 2015  
/ Automobile february 2015