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2015 TRUCKOF THE YEAR IS...

MOTORTREND

FEBRUARY 2015 MOTORTREND.COM

650 - HP CORVETTE ZO6

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! S K C U B N O I L L I M A D E E N L ’L U O Y ? R E T S A F O G A WANN HE YEAR TRUCK OF T ORADO 2015 CHEVY COL

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EST. 1949 VOL. 67, NO. 2

56

THE CONTENDERS Chevrolet Colorado Chevrolet Silverado HD Ford F-150 Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Ford Transit GMC Canyon GMC Sierra Denali HD Motor Trend editors

38 TESTS & DRIVES 38 ON NOTICE 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Goodbye, ZR1, and everyone else. Carlos Lago

48 HIGH-STAKES HAMMER 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S Mercedes-AMG picks a fight with Porsche’s 911. Frank Markus

72 CUFF’M BMW M4 vs. Lexus RC F Luxury coupes that can powerslide. Carlos Lago

RACE CAR SPECIAL SECTION

84

80 CHARIOT OF THE GODS Audi R-18 etron Zeus has a new thunderbolt. Randy Pobst

84 GOING UP Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III Power-lapping an electrifyingly fun Pikes Peak race car. Kim Reynolds

92 THE ORIGINAL ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE 1980 BMW M1 Whipping around Mazda Raceway in a historic exotic. Randy Pobst

72 80

MOTOR TREND (ISSN 0027-2094) February 2015, Vol. 67, No. 2. 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 $18 for 12 issues. Canada $30 per year and international orders $42 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: MOTOR TREND, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235.


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22

FIRST LOOK

DEPARTMENTS LOHDOWN Edward Loh TREND INTAKE This month’s hot metal. NEWCOMER 2016 Audi A6, S6 WE SAY Words from our editors. THE KIINOTE Ron Kiino TECHNOLOGUE Frank Markus DETOUR Gear, info. THEY SAY INTERVIEW Mark Reuss, EVP, Global Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain, GM 36 YOUR SAY Our readers talk back. 16 22 22 27 28 28 30 32 34

134

110 THE BIG PICTURE Angus MacKenzie email

SUPER SHELBY The 2016 Ford Mustang GT350 is built for speed with more than 500 hp.

34

110

25

ARRIVALS Honda Fit/Ram 1500 EcoDiesel UPDATES BMW M3/Cadillac CTS Vsport/GMC Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab/Honda Accord Hybrid/Jaguar F-Type R Coupe/ Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk VERDICT Acura MDX AWD

96 118


Edward Loh @EdLoh

The Lohdown How dare we test trucks? Well, somebody has to. Truck of the Year has the smallest field of all of our of the Year programs. This year, there were only six trucks and one van in contention for TOTY compared to 19 sport/ utility vehicles for Sport/Utility of the Year and 23 cars for Car of the Year. But every single truck and van in our small group came with capabilities unmatched by anything in the car, crossover, or SUV segment. To wit, we had three heavy-duty trucks in the mix. The biggest, the Ford F-450, has a max towing rating of 31,200 pounds. That’s over 15 tons—and 5,200 pounds beyond the limit of a California Class C driver’s license. Also in the mix was Ford’s new Transit, a replacement for the long-running E-Series van that is available in a stunning array of configurations, including three engines, three roof heights, and three wheelbases. In its most voluminous layout, Transit can carry 15 people or 487.3 cubic feet of cargo. Our Truck of the Year featured three potential game changers. In the Transit, Ford brings its dominant European heavyweight into a resurgent category that has seen many new entrants in the last few years. In the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, GM returns to the midsize truck class it (and Ford and Ram) abandoned to Toyota and Nissan. But the most compelling story is the long-awaited aluminum Ford F-150, a huge gamble for FoMoCo given that F-Series trucks have been America’s best-selling pickups for the past 37 years and the country’s best-selling vehicles for the past 32. Our TOTY contenders are truly heavyweights, not only in power and torque but also in physical

and sales volume. They embody the core values of America: strength, reliability, durability. So how do we dare test them? First we did the research. We talked to every major truck manufacturer and looked at data compiled on how truck owners use their rigs and what prospective buyers look for in a new one. We examined capabilities, from maximum payload and towing capacities to the standards set up by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Then we looked across the American West, from Mojave, California, to Uvalde, Texas, for a suitable place to test. And when I say test, I’m not talking about simple drive loops and spec comparisons. Against our award’s efficiency criterion, we compiled and compared three sets of MPG data for each truck: the EPA rating, our own Real MPG figures, and the MPG we got after hauling hundreds of pounds of payload for hundreds of miles. We performed instrumented “frustration tests” up the infamous Davis Dam to simulate what it’s like when a load-carrying truck needs to pass slower-moving traffic. We attached trailers for instrumented acceleration tests and then ran through a tricky handling course. We even measured the sound levels inside each vehicle at idle, wide open throttle, and while cruising at 70 mph. We used these test results along with driving impressions distilled over hundreds of miles to select our 2015 Truck of the Year. I will be the first to tell you that neither the tests nor the program are perfect. We are always looking for ways to improve all of our of the Year programs. But I can say that this is the most comprehensive and rigorous Truck of the Year program Motor Trend has ever executed. I hope you agree. n

Editorial Editor-in-Chief Edward Loh @EdLoh Executive Editor Ron Kiino @RonKiino Editor at Large Angus MacKenzie @Angus_Mack Detroit Editor Scott Burgess @AutoCritic Senior Features Editor Jonny Lieberman @MT_Loverman European Editor Paul Horrell Associate Editor Scott Evans @MT_Evans Associate Editor Christian Seabaugh @C_Seabaugh Associate Editor Rory Jurnecka @RoryJurnecka Manager, Visual Assets Brian Vance @BrianNVance Photography Editor Julia LaPalme @monstergrrl Photography Asset Editor William Walker @MT_dubdub Associate Photo Editor Robin Trajano Managing Editor Rusty Kurtz Copy Chief Emiliana Sandoval @Emiliana505 Senior Copy Editor Kathleen Clonts Copy Editor Jesse Bishop @thejessebishop Copy Editor Kara Snow

Technical

Technical Director Frank Markus @MT_Markus Testing Director Kim Reynolds @MT_Reynolds Road Test Editor Scott Mortara Associate Road Test Editor Carlos Lago @CarlosLago

Art

Creative Director Alan Muir Managing Art Director Mike Royer @MT_Royer Senior Art Director Andy Mock Associate Art Director Tom Donchez

Manufacturing & Production Operations

VP, Manufacturing & Ad Operations Greg Parnell Senior Director, Ad Operations Pauline Atwood Archivist Thomas Voehringer

Contributors

Correspondents John Carey, Mike Connor, Gavin Green, Jeremy Hart, Ben Oliver, Gary Witzenburg Photographers Wesley Allison, Mark Bramley, Brian Brantley, Daniel Byrne, Jim Frenak, Evan Klein, Jessica Walker Artists Steve Hewett, Paul Laguette

Motor Trend Online

Digital Director Chris Clonts @CClonts Senior Production Editor Zach Gale @ZachGale Associate Online Editors Erick Ayapana @Erkayapana, Benson Kong, Nate Martinez @Nate_Martinez, Carol Ngo, Alex Nishimoto @MT_NishiMotor,Karla Sanchez @ Karlis143, Jason Udy @MT_JasonUdy Associate Online Editors, In-Market Buyer’s Guide Austin Lott, Stefan Ogbac

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MOTORTREND 16 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


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NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

TREND2.15 INTAKE P22

WE SAY P28

DETOUR P32

THIS MONTH’S HOT METAL

WORDS FROM OUR EDITORS

GEAR, FACTS, INFO

2016 FORD SHELBY GT350 There’s no denying the new Mustang is pretty great—except on a racetrack. Here to fix that minor character flaw is the track-focused Shelby GT350, a worthy homage to the original road-car-based racer. Starting with the most important bit, Ford has suppressed its appetite for turbochargers and instead designed a race-inspired, 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V-8 engine that at press time was said to make more than 500 hp and more than 400 lb-ft. A redline of

8,200-8,300 RPM is impressive given the displacement. The engine drives a lightened six-speed manual transmission, then a standard Torsen limitedslip rear differential before reaching the 305-width rear tires. An optional Track Package fits engine and transmission oil coolers, and a differential cooler is optional. Also on the performance options list: a front strut tower brace for added rigidity. A body built for speed complements the high-performance drivetrain. The hood and front fenders are lightweight aluminum and lowered 2 inches compared with a standard Mustang for

GO BIG The 5.2-liter V-8 is both Ford's most powerful naturally aspirated V-8 ever and the largest-displacement production fat-plane V-8 on the market. We hear Ford targeted 540 hp. 22 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

better visibility and reduced drag. A carbon-fiber-composite grille frame further reduces front-end weight. A new front fascia reduces drag, improves cooling, and increases downforce, and hood and fender vents reduce underhood temperatures and improve aerodynamics. The aero work continues under the car, with a ducted belly pan feeding air to a functional rear diffuser. On top, a lip spoiler on the trunk increases downforce. The GT350 is about more than straight-line speed, though. It’s made to corner. Ford’s first-ever application of adaptive magnetorheological shock absorbers,

found elsewhere on everything from the Corvette to the Ferrari 458, makes that happen. They control lightweight suspension components surrounded by lightweight 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires with GT350-specific construction, compound, and tread pattern. At the front, the much wider 295-width tires have been pushed outward 35mm for clearance. Stopping is handled by


To go in there and be the best is very exciting.� THEY SAY P34 INTERVIEW

YOUR SAY P36

MARK REUSS, EVP, GM

READERS TALK BACK

15.5-inch front and 15.0-inch rear two-piece cross-drilled iron brakes with aluminum hats, clamped by Brembo six-piston front and fourpiston rear calipers. Inside there are Recaro bucket seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and five selectable driving modes that alter traction control, stability control, ABS, steering assist, and throttle response. At press time, Ford had not announced an official curb weight or performance figures. Scott Evans

MY EYES Shiny interior trim pieces have been toned down to prevent refections from blinding the driver.

FIRST LOOK


NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

Intake FEUD Former chairman di Montezemolo (right) left Ferrari over disagreements with Marchionne's laser focus on expansion.

Ferrari’s New Era Enzo Ferrari, who founded his eponymous company in 1947 as an extension of the race team he’d run since 1929, might have created the legend, but it’s Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, born into an aristocratic family the year the company was founded and appointed Ferrari chairman in 1991, who turned the legend into money, to the point where Ferrari was recently ranked the world’s most powerful brand, ahead of Apple and Coca-Cola. Now Sergio Marchionne, the sweater-wearing workaholic who, through sheer force of will, merged two of the most unlikely automotive partners to create Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), wants to cash in. Marchionne’s announcement that FCA will spin off Ferrari, distributing 80 percent of stock to current FCA shareholders and offering 10 percent to the public, probably via a listing on the New York Stock Exchange

(Enzo’s son, Piero Ferrari, will retain his current 10-percent stake in the company), explains why Montezemolo suddenly left Maranello last September. Luca wanted to maintain Ferrari’s autonomy; Sergio wanted to leverage the power of the Ferrari brand to dazzle investors and help fund a $61 billion expansion plan that will see Jeep and Alfa Romeo become true global premium brands. Marchionne won that fight. Analysts say the Ferrari business is worth somewhere between $6.3 billion and $7.3 billion, which gives Marchionne the opportunity to unlock a lot of capital to jump-start his ambitious growth strategy for FCA. The markets like the idea—FCA stock, which had failed to excite investors when first listed on the New York Stock Exchange last October, jumped 11 to 13 percent

NOT AN SUV With a hatchback's cargo space and allwheel drive, the FF was supposed to be an SUV substitute. Customers were not convinced.

IT’S MARCHIONNE’S TURN NOW, AND HE WANTS GROWTH in trading in Milan and New York on the news. But what does it mean for Ferrari? First, Ferrari is not leaving the FCA orbit. Instead, Ferrari is going to grow. In recent years Montezemolo repeatedly insisted Ferrari would never build more than 7,000 cars a year to preserve its exclusivity. (In the 1990s he said Ferrari would limit production to 5,000 cars; the higher total came as markets such as China and Russia exploded.) Montezemolo also insisted Ferrari would never build a four-door car. Sedans, he said, were for Maserati. Marchionne shares no such religion. He’s already said Ferrari volumes could be increased gradually beyond 7,000 units. That doesn’t just mean more Ferraris but different ones, too. The poster child for Ferrari’s future growth is Bentley. When Montezemolo took the top job

at Maranello in 1991, Bentley built just two models—the Turbo R sedan and the Continental R coupe—and sold a few hundred vehicles a year. Today, Bentley retails more than 10,000 cars a year and is on track to sell 15,000 a year by 2018. Looking at Bentley, Marchionne might reasonably conclude it is possible to double Ferrari volume and still be regarded as exclusive. He might also reasonably conclude that to achieve Bentley-style growth, Ferrari, as Bentley has already done, will need to add new models to its lineup. The Ferrari FF was Montezemolo’s attempt to broaden the Ferrari offering away from pure two-seat sports cars without building a sedan or an SUV, but the oddly proportioned two-door wagon has not been a success. Ferrari has reportedly even insisted some customers order an FF to get priority on the wait list for a more desirable model. With Montezemolo out of the way, Marchionne, who OK’d the development of the Maserati Levante SUV, is likely to press Ferrari product planners to look at a four-door coupe, or even an SUV, as a means to grow volume, as both have proven hot-selling formats for other luxury brands. For 63 of the past 68 years, Ferrari’s fortunes have been shaped by just two men. Now it’s Sergio Marchionne’s turn. Angus MacKenzie

24 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


2.15 TREND SMALL IN The all-new CX-3 will be powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four engine making around 150 hp and 150 lb-ft with the option of driving all four wheels.

Mazda Plans Sporty and Efficient Product Onslaught At last year’s Tokyo Motor Show, Mazda CEO Masamichi Kogai made a bold statement when he said his company would launch five new models by March 2016. Those include the Mazda2, MX-5 Miata, CX-3, CX-9, and the successor to the Japanese-market Premacy minivan. With the just-launched Mazda2, Mazda has finally put in place its four signature models (Mazda3, Mazda6, CX-5) built around the company’s new Skyactiv technologies. The new Miata is on its way to production; a new compact crossover, the CX-3, will appear in showrooms in Japan and the U.S. by spring; and the remaining two models will be revealed by early 2016. According to a source close to Mazda, the five new models will complete Mazda’s short-term lineup. “What gets added to the lineup in addition to those cars is the interesting bit,” says our insider. “The company plans to focus heavily on development of niche products, or in other words, special editions.” By early 2016, we can expect to see a Mazda6 diesel hybrid

landing in showrooms, and in the second half of that year, Mazda is planning a Mazda6 coupe. The current Mazda6 sedan already features a coupe-like profile, but a two-door version might take it to even swoopier extremes. To get an even better idea, look at the Mazda Shinari concept, the design that spawned the ‘6. Another important niche model is also planned for 2016: the muchanticipated Mazdaspeed3. This hot hatch will employ a 2.5-liter Skyactiv G turbocharged gasoline engine pumping out more than 300 hp and incorporating a new lightweight all-wheel-drive system. To add even more spice to the company’s lineup, we can also expect to see Mazdaspeed versions of the Mazda2 and Mazda6. In order to cater to its market needs in developing countries, especially in Asia, Mazda plans to launch an all-new Mazda1. Slated to be produced in the company’s Thailand and Mexico plants, the Mazda1 will sit on a revised version of the Mazda2’s platform. And of course who can forget our recent story on the nextgeneration rotary-powered RX-9, which is slated for a 2017 debut in

concept form and should arrive in showrooms by 2020? This coupe is strongly rumored to employ a two-stage turbocharger setup that should see it generate more than 450 hp. Unfortunately, Kogai recently announced that any RX program the company may secretly have is on hold at best while the company invests its limited resources in Skyactiv technology and higher-volume products such as the new CX-3. At worst, the RX program may finally be dead. It's only been kept alive this long by dedicated fans working after hours. It may not be the end of the rotary, though. The company also plans to apply its rotary technology in the form of a rotary range-extender, as seen in a recent

Mazda2 mule, while commercializing HCCI technology, or homogeneous charge compression ignition, which achieves gasolineengine-like emissions with dieselengine-like efficiency. Mazda is focusing on HCCI engines as the technology realizes diesel-like efficiency with reduced nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx). And here we were thinking that Mazda was not interested in electric cars. Our insider also tells us that Mazda is working toward the launch of its own EV by 2018. Our insider said it best: “From rotaries to range extenders, diesel hybrids to EVs, turbocharged sports models to coupes, the company is branching out in ways you can’t imagine!” Peter Lyon

Mazda is planning a Mazda6 Coupe and Mazdaspeed6. FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 25


NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

Intake In MemoriamTom Magliozzi

Tom Magliozzi, one half of the duo behind the popular automotive radio show “Car Talk,” died Nov. 3, 2014, from complications from Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 77. Magliozzi, along with his brother Ray, co-hosted the weekly NPR radio show for 35 years before retiring in 2012.

The hosts were better known to listeners by the names “Click" and "Clack” and cracked jokes in between offering car advice to callers. Both hosts graduated from MIT, with Tom earning a degree in engineering. The two brothers, 12 years apart in age, eventually started a car repair business together, but not before Tom had an experience that pushed him off his engineering career path. After a close call with a semi, Tom spent two years developing the concept of the do-it-yourself auto repair shop while working as a consultant and college professor. He earned a doctoral degree in marketing and opened his DIY shop, Hackers Heaven, in East Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his brother in the early 1970s. There, amateur mechanics could rent space and equipment to work on their own cars. After a year, the business

shifted to a more conventional repair shop. The radio show came about by accident when Ray received an offer to appear on local public radio station WBUR as part of a panel of mechanics. Ray passed the opportunity to his brother, who was the only one to show up for the program. The station liked Tom enough to ask him back for a second show, and this time younger brother Ray came along. By 1987, “Car Talk” could be heard across the U.S. on NPR. Live episodes of “Car Talk” stopped airing in 2012, reportedly because Tom wanted to retire. With his Alzheimer’s diagnosis now brought to light, it’s likely that had something to do with the show ending as well. Past episodes of the show have aired for the last two years, and Ray wants to continue doing so in memory of his brother. Alex Nishimoto

In Memoriam Mike Anson A true car guy, Mike Anson served as Motor Trend’s editorin-chief from 1986 to 1989. His first words to the staff were, “I’m here to be the buffer between you and the seventh floor [the suits].” With a style of leadership that was relaxed and geared toward problem-solving, he mediated in the editorial struggle with management’s goal to cut costs while increasing ad revenue. In Motor Trend’s 50th anniversary issue, Anson recalled a particular staff adventure while driving sports cars on the snaking roads near Phoenix. “After we finished the complicated group driving shot, we moved on to the single ‘drive-by’ shots. Each car was supposed to come by the photo location approximately 30 seconds after the previous car. Up rolled a local sheriff’s patrol car ‘just to see what’s going on.’ I explained what we were doing, and he said that,

as long as we were not speeding, he would leave us alone. As he stood there the first car came by at a leisurely 35 mph, so that was no problem. “Just as the officer was about to leave, Engineering Editor Ron Grable crested the hill at fullsong in a turbocharged Mazda

26 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

RX-7 about two feet off the ground. We gave him a 5 for style, but the deputy was not amused. There were ugly threats of arrest and tickets and the rude topic of a permit to film in a National Forest area was broached. My loyal staff just watched as I was led away to the Park Ranger’s office to buy a permit and pay a fine. I was expecting the worst, but luck was with us once again. The permit was $25, the fine/late fee was $12.50, and the deputy never found the elusive Grable to issue the citation for flying.” Born in Torrance, California, Anson majored in journalism and minored in auto tech at Cal State Long Beach. He wrote for several magazines and newspapers in addition to Motor Trend and hosted two auto radio shows, “America on the Road” and “Road Ready,” a car-repair show. He is survived by his wife, “Miss Vicki.” Jackie Manfredi

MIKE CONNOR

MTCONFIDENTIAL The 691-hp Lamborghini Aventador isn’t crazy enough for you? Word out of Sant’Agata is an SV—Italian for Super Veloce—model is coming. It’ll be significantly lighter and significantly more powerful at 800 hp by European metrics (so figure 789 hp ’Merican). Expect the Lamborghini Aventador LP800-4 SV in late 2015…It’ll have one fewer competitor both internally and externally, as corporate parent Audi has dropped plans for a Le Mans Prototype-based supercar for the street…Audi isn’t getting out of sports cars, though. We hear development of a next-generation TT RS is underway, and strong sales of the previous car in the U.S. mean the new car is likely coming here. Purists will be happy to know that under the hood is not Audi’s latest turbocharged four-banger but rather a proper turbocharged inline-five making well in excess of 400 hp…Other corporate cousin Porsche looks to be cozying up to Audi the way Lamborghini has. Porsche values its autonomy from the VW mother ship, but shared platforms and engines have now given way to shared information and entertainment systems. Porsche thus far has gone its own way on such technology, but we understand its homegrown system is on the way out, to be replaced by a re-skinned version of Audi’s latest MMI system with rotary dial controller… Elsewhere in Germany, the slow-selling Mercedes-Benz SLK and goofy-looking SL are both getting early refreshes, according to our sources. Some of the updates will be mechanical nine-speed transmissions, current navigation screen technology, and multibeam LED headlights—but we hear there will be significant changes to the metal of each roadster. Expect the SLK to become more masculine and the SL to just look less bad.


2.15TREND

2016 Audi A6 and S6 It’s the kind of upgrade enthusiasts love: more power. For the 2016 A6 and S6, which arrive in the spring, Audi added more power, cleaned up the front ends, and added a few new features to its luxury sport sedan. Audi brought Motor Trend and a few other journalists out to Dresden, Germany, to test the A6 and S6 on the autobahn and the winding roads around a city known for stellar architecture and firebombings. If you liked the A6 and S6 before, you’ll still like them. Both models offer great acceleration, crisp handling, and the perfect balance between sportiness and luxury. Audi has added power to all four engines that will arrive in the U.S., including the 252-horsepower 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine (plus 12 ponies) and the 450-hp twin-turbocharged V-8 in the S6. The tweaked 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 will now crank out 428 lb-ft of torque while also getting close to 40 mpg highway. All will offer Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system that lets any driver shoot out of a corner with speed and confidence. The A6 models will come with Audi’s

Newcomer

S6 eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, and the S6 will keep the seven-speed twin-clutch automatic. Audi redesigned the new eight-speed with a unique oiling system that drops oil onto the gears instead of having the gears slush through oil. The front and rear fascias are updated, and the headlights have been swapped out. European models will include Audi’s new LED Matrix headlamps, which can turn off different lights to avoid blinding other drivers but still light up everything else. They don’t

yet meet U.S. regulations. Audi will introduce a night-vision device and some enhanced driver’s features such as lane-keep assist to some models. Expect to see the price creep up from the 2015 model's $45,725. There are also minor interior upgrades, a revised telematics system, and improved Wi-Fi hot spot functionality. But no one is going to troll the Internet in these cars. The real fun will be driving them. Scott Burgess

SPECIFICATIONS Base Price $46,000-$80,000 (est) Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan Engines 2.0L/252-hp/273-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L 333-hp/325-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6; 3.0L/240-hp/428-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6; 4.0L/ 450-hp/406lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8 Transmissions 8-spd auto, 7-spd twin-clutch auto Curb Weight 3,900-4,400 lb (est) Wheelbase 114.7 in Length x Width x Height 193.9 x 73.8 x 57.8 in 0-62 MPH 4.4-6.9 sec (mfr) EPA City/Hwy/Comb Fuel Econ Not yet rated On Sale in U.S. Spring 2015 FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 27


NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

Ron Kiino THE KIINOTE

Life in the Fast Rain: My First Japanese Grand Prix Millie, the hospitable chaperone from Red Bull Infiniti’s Formula 1 race team, led me on a journey from a paddock suite at Japan’s Suzuka Circuit down into the pit garage—a high-security, two-pass endeavor with multiple turnstiles that culminated in her handing me a snazzy pair of team headphones. Before I could hang them on my noggin, she passed along final instructions: “If the team tells one of the cars to box, please try not to react—TV cameras are always watching, and we don’t want to tip our strategy.” Suddenly, I was a bit nervous. I probably should have been, anyway, given that I was now standing in the middle of a Formula 1 garage at the Japanese Grand Prix, with 20 men dressed like blue Stormtroopers shuffling around me. I started to wonder: What the heck does “box” mean? How did I get here? The answer to the latter: my wife, Diane. After applying in August 2013 for a prestigious Fulbright Scholar grant to teach at the University of Tokyo and Tsuda College, she received the news in March 2014: “I got it!” As for me, I got the opportunity to explore Japan’s auto industry and car culture, eat Wagyu beef and fatty tuna, and attend such bucket-list events as the Japanese Grand Prix. Win-win. Still not knowing what “box” meant, I decided to stand as still as a statue. Just listen, don’t move. Dialogue between the race engineers and the drivers—four-time world champ Sebastian Vettel, who the day prior announced he was leaving the team, and

28 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

In addition to a typhoon and the Vettel-to-Ferrari bombshell, the Suzuka weekend included other drama. RED MIST Battling rain and immense rooster tails of mist, drivers track cars in front via a rear-mounted fashing red light.

über-talented newcomer Daniel Ricciardo, whom team principal Christian Horner immediately anointed the new number 1 for next season—seemed to occur every 10 to 20 seconds. They briefly discussed chassis balance, what the other drivers were up to, and, most important given the typhoon deluging Suzuka, the performance of the rain tires. Then came the answer. “All right, Daniel, box next lap. Box next lap.” So obvious— box = pit—yet it had somehow eluded me. And in the fastest two seconds in auto racing, Ricciardo’s RB10 race car got four new tires and a wing adjustment, and it was off. Prior to Suzuka, I attended the U.S. Grand Prix at Indy three times. And just as before, I was amazed at the sport’s mindboggling cost and complexity. For instance, Millie handed me an RB10 steering wheel and said the price was 30,000 Euro, or around $38,000 USD. That’s a lot of dough for some carbon fiber, magnesium, an LCD screen, and a bunch of dials and buttons. But as the CPU of a multimillion-dollar race machine, it’s worth every penny. She also described how Red Bull has five sets of garage/paddock gear—the large containers used to house all the tools, parts, displays, you name it—and that each set is on a shipment rotation to accommodate the tight dates between international venues. So one set might start in Australia and three races later be used in China and three races later in Canada, all while the other four sets are globetrotting to their various destinations. Imagine the shipping costs. The race ended like it started, with Petronas Mercedes-Benz drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg occupying the top spots. Vettel managed third and Ricciardo fourth, thanks in part to Red Bull’s strategy of trusting weather reports and setting up the cars for wet weather despite qualifying in dry—thus, their less-than-stellar starting grid spots of ninth and sixth. In addition to a typhoon and the Vettel-to-Ferrari bombshell, the Suzuka weekend included other drama, most notably Jules Bianchi’s horrific crash. As this went to press, Bianchi, who suffered a severe head injury, was still in critical but stable condition at Le Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nice, France. Never a dull moment in F1. This September, when I’m watching the Japanese G.P. from back in the U.S., here’s to Bianchi watching, too. Or even better, triumphantly crossing the finish line. n


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NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

Frank Markus TECHNOLOGUE

You Always Remember Your First My very first Motor Trend Technologue column, dated January 2005 and titled “Riding on Electrons,” covered a suspension technology the Bose Corporation had been quietly tinkering with for 24 years. The late Dr. Amar Bose aimed to leapfrog air and hydraulic suspensions with a new concept: electromagnetic rams. The gathered crowd watched as a Lexus LS 400 equipped with said suspenders glided over speed bumps and around fast bends without pitching or rolling, and for the grand finale the big Lexus quite literally leapfrogged right over a 2-x-6 plank standing on edge across the road. That last was a parlor trick devised to make an impression and demonstrate the power of these electromagnetic rams. I’ve never forgotten it, and I’ve (fruitlessly) pestered the Bose PR team for an exclusive early ride in a production version for 10 years. That pestering (sort of) paid off recently in the form of an invitation to Bose’s 50th birthday party in N.Y.C., which featured a roundup of tech highlights including one called Bose Ride. Sign me up! Sadly, after 34 years no production car suspension awaited me in the Big Apple,

STEEPLECHASE Even the best lowrider’s aircraft hydraulics would be hard-pressed to replicate this electromagnetic feat.

30 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

though there’s still a semi-dormant development program. I’m told that Bose’s ultra-quick electronic switching capability (an audio-system strength) allows the rams to regenerate most of the 100 kW of energy they expend, so the system only draws a few hundred watts going down the road. Many of the mass and packaging problems have been solved, and the cost of the various sensors and processors involved has plunged in the last decade. It’s those developments that have enabled Bose Ride, which is a one-fifth-scale version of this technology that’s in production as a seat suspension for semi tractors. The functionality is nearly identical: A load-leveling air spring supports the mass of the seat and its occupant while an electromagnetic ram counteracts the higher frequency ride and mechanical vibration inputs. A built-in battery buffers the peak power input/ output of 3.5 kW, so the power draw from the vehicle is just 50 W. If you’ve experienced the relaxing effect Bose’s noise-canceling headphones have on your ears, you can imagine what a treat a vibration-canceling seat would be to a trucker’s backside. Erasing the copious vibration present in

For the grand fnale the big Lexus quite literally leapfrogged right over a 2-x-6 plank.

big semis has tremendous health benefits for people who spend a majority of their waking life at the wheel, which is why many fleet operators are spending the $2,995$3,695 each (for orders over/under 100 units) to retrofit this system to their trucks. Owner/ operators can buy one for $5,995 including installation, and the system is now a factory option on Volvo trucks. The technology has also been deployed in materials-strength testing rigs that can stretch and relax a specimen with up to a few thousand pounds of force, 10 times faster than a mechanical test rig. I expect the basic concept to be deployed in other applications where people or delicate things need to be moved through a high vibration or harshness environment. And I cling to the fervent hope that some bold-thinking, deep-pocketed automotive trailblazer will throw down the durability development budget to bring this suspension to market on a car. Paired with today’s affordable road-sensing equipment, an air-suspended, electromagnetically controlled suspension is the best solution I’ve seen to providing fully active ride control. Mr. Musk, are you listening? n


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NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

They Say

Mark Reuss We asked GM product boss Mark Reuss about Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car and Truck of the Year. He gave us plenty to think about.

Executive vice president for Global Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain at General Motors

Interview

MT What was your first reaction to winning

Truck of the Year? Especially given a certain aluminum competitor? MR There are lots of words for that, prob-

ably not for your readership. We’re very excited. Inside and outside the company [the Colorado] was a very difficult decision to make. We’re already 200 pounds roughly lighter than F-150, and so to do something here in a segment where it’s not intuitive, there is going to be an opportunity. And to go in there and be the best is very exciting. And we didn’t go in and overspend on things. We didn’t go in and do things the customer wouldn’t value. From what I’ve seen about how you guys looked at it, you got that. “This is a very honest truck,” I think was the quote from one of your testers, and I think that’s what this truck is all about. It’s a good value—there is a good price difference between this and a big truck. And people are going to really want that. We’re just thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. By the way, you haven’t tested the baby Duramax, and you’re going to really like that. This is the second big award Motor Trend has given Chevrolet recently, the first being Best Driver’s Car to the Camaro Z/28. What does that say about where Chevrolet—and GM—are today?

I think in even some of the tests that have been written subsequent to the Best Driver’s Car of our last-gen Camaro versus some of the newer competition in that segment— around ponycar—and the truck award validates the integration skills of General Motors. And who would have said that five years ago? Every car and truck we’re putting out here, I think, is an example of how good our engineers really are and how well they really understand the customer. And then with a car like the Z/28, that car was mission-built. And there were people within the company that said no one was going to want to buy something like that. Well guess what, they do. 34 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Every car and truck we’re putting out here, I think, is an example of how good our engineers really are and how well they really understand the customer." You brought up the recent ponycar comparisons. How fair is it for us to compare your current, mature Camaro to the all-new Mustang? I remember when Camaro first came out and we were pretty critical of it, and to your credit, your team fixed a lot of things very quickly. What does this say about the next-generation Camaro? Will it come out of the gates swinging or need some time to mature?

No. It’s not going to need any of that. And that’s the maturity that I think we have as a company, from the engineering talent and execution standpoint. The 2010 Camaro was a bit of a tortured birth because the architecture was something that was sort of loosely based on Zeta at the time but then brought into the United States, and we made a Camaro out of

it—off of a concept car that wasn’t completely architected yet. Flip over to what we’re going to next on Camaro. The next-gen Camaro I can tell you after driving it extensively and then taking it onto the autobahn and Nürburgring in Germany a week before last—that car out of the gate, the SS version, with a great powertrain, which you can imagine what that might be—off a very mature and exclusive architecture, is not going to be heavier. If you think about Z/28 and ZL1, SS, think about the satisfaction that a ZL1 offers you today off of current Zeta. Think about that satisfaction moved down from an accessibility and model-range standpoint. Think about that. If you like the ZL1 today, you’re going to love the SS tomorrow. Think about that from a philosophical standpoint. Edward Loh


NEWS / OPINION / GOSSIP / STUFF

Your Say...

WRITE US AT 831 S. Douglas St. El Segundo, CA 90245 Email us online at motortrend.com or send an email direct to motortrend@motortrend.com

READERS’ THOUGHTS ON PAST ISSUES Reasonable Doubts What a shock when I received my November issue of Motor Trend and it featured an article on the new, forthcoming mid-engine Corvette. We’ve had false alarms before, but I feel sure that this time you really mean it. Yep. Yep. Yep. I’m really counting on it this time. I mean, they wouldn’t say it if wasn’t true. Right? But you guys at the mag screwed up. This article was supposed to go in the April issue. JOE ORENDER IOWA PARK, TEXAS

It might have taken seven generations, more than six decades, five chief engineers, three production sites, and one sinkhole calamity, but by the beard of Zeus Chevy will get there!—Ed. Well here it is, the letter that had to come. Yes, I read your disclaimer, “Hey, how come the car I really like isn’t in Best Driver’s Car?” Are you serious? Nobody would pony up a 2014 Corvette Z51. I find that hard to believe. But if you say so. Grumble, grumble, grumble. KEN WILLIAMS LOLETA, CALIFORNIA

If by some tragic occurrence the Corvette Z06 isn’t a 2015 Best Driver’s Car participant, you may continue grumbling.—Ed.

Brighter Days Ahead I found Frank Markus’ “Technologue” article about the Solar Roadways fascinating (November 2014). It wouldn't surprise me to see a form of this technology become the standard in the decades to come. However, part of the article I just couldn’t work out. How does one test the stopping distance of an 80-mph vehicle on a 12-by-36-foot slab? Going from 80 to 0 mph in no more than 36 feet must be some kind of record. It would seem to me that the prototype has more than simply exceeded the traction of asphalt. It has gone far, far beyond it. Am I missing something here?

LETTER OF THE MONTH The Month’s Upper I will never forget the day I opened my November 2014 issue of Motor Trend. It marks what is, for me, the most depressing day in automotive history. The article in question refers to multiple sources confirming a mid-engine Corvette ZR1 (“Trend”). For 60 years, the Chevrolet Corvette has represented quintessential American muscle. This means front-engine, rear-drive, and an affordable price tag. General Motors will tarnish the most iconic name in American sports car history with this new model. A mid-engine, all-wheel-drive, $200,000 supercar will never be a Corvette in my book. I understand that this platform will take the Corvette to new levels of performance, but it leaves me with an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach nonetheless. I have dreamed of owning a ‘Vette my entire life and have been saving for one since I was 20 years old. For the first time I feel that desire waning. A Dodge Challenger Hellcat seems all the more enticing to me now. ROB NICHOLS BENBROOK, TEXAS

The whispers say your favored classic formula (affordability to be determined) will be retained for the entry-level C8, so all hope may not yet be lost. We can’t give you a Corvette to lift your spirits. Would Letter of the Month suffice for now?—Ed.

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TYLER JOHNSON ALBERT CITY, IOWA

Samples of the slab’s texture were tested at a civil engineering lab using established laboratory test standards for evaluating skid resistance. By measuring the energy lost when one material rubs against another—for instance, rubber against the 12-by-36-foot slab—you can extrapolate the distance needed to stop from 80 mph. Good question!—Ed. I am 19 years old and love cars, but I am concerned about the future of cars and my generation’s view of them. I can’t stand 36 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

autonomous cars, electric cars, or even hybrid cars, although I might make an exception for hybrid supercars. I love manual transmissions and the fact that the 4C doesn’t even have power steering. However, I don’t hate technology. On the contrary, I think technology is extremely important to better the future. That is why Frank Markus’ article about solar roadways fascinates me. I live in Alaska. As you might have heard, Alaska recently got ranked last for road quality in the U.S. Part of the reason

the roads are so bad is because of permafrost, which causes roads to sink, buckle, and bend. While reading the article I thought, “too bad solar roadways will never work in Alaska.” But then I realized they could actually solve the problems permafrost causes. One of the ways currently being tested to stop permafrost damage is to run pipes underground to cool the ground, keeping the permafrost from thawing. Unfortunately it costs lots of money to run these cooling systems. If solar roadways work as planned, they could power these pipes and drastically improve Alaska’s roads. I hope the development goes quickly and they can start installing solar roads in the Last Frontier. Thank you Frank Markus for keeping even the diehard car fans up to date on technology that is making our lives better. JOHN DOUGHERTY FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

From being the subject of our June 2013 Readers on Location to letter wordsmith. If you end up championing Alaska’s solar roadways, maybe we’ll be writing to you in the future.—Ed.

Longest Subscribers, Revisited In last month’s issue, we featured letters from longtime readers in response to an interview with subscriber Mr. Donald Barr. The reaction has been fantastic, and we’ve since heard from even more of you.–Ed. I was once again paging through your October 2014 issue, and I applaud your recognition of Donald Barr as Motor Trend’s Longest Subscription Holder (“They Say”). FYI, I started reading my father’s subscription in the mid to late 1950s, purchased my own subscription in college (I think 1965), and have had a subscription—perhaps not continually but in spirit—ever since. I remember the MT issue with the Ford brothers and the rolling frame of their new baby, the Edsel, on the cover. I also remember articles on road tests of the 1957 Plymouth Fury, development of the Corvair, etc. I applaud your recognizing Donald. He has good taste in publications. RONALD HOTTOVY WINDSOR, CALIFORNIA

I’ve been a Motor Trend reader since the early 1950s when I began picking up copies at my U.S. Air Force PX. I started saving them after my separation from the USAF and


2.15 TREND MODIFIER OF THE MONTH?

“specialty niche-design racer boy Corvette”

have several issues from 1955. I started my subscription with the May 1956 issue. It ran into 1998 when my son Matt Funk took over. Now we share his copy and maintain the collection at my home. It is contained in 34 magazine file boxes. We suggest that you will consider recognizing the largest collection. I’m the original owner of a sweet 1989 Chrysler LeBaron Convertible with about 30,000 miles on it. Matt owns a 1976 Ford F-150 pickup and a 1987 Pontiac Trans Am. Thanks for your attention and consideration. AL FUNK JANESVILLE, WISCONSIN

I want to let you know that I also am a longtime subscriber. My subscription goes back to 1955 continuously, and I still have each and every issue, plus many pre-1955. To date, I have owned about 100 cars, many of them purchased new based on your test results. My subscription runs until May 2017. Needless to say, Motor Trend is my favorite car magazine. DONALD PALMER SALEM, OREGON

For the Record

READERS ON LOCATION

DREAM COMPANY Reader Russell Clinton shares with us a photo of a well-known Italian road, only it’s snapped from a less commonly seen viewpoint (not from the summit). He writes in: “It was a dream of mine to drive on Stelvio Pass, especially after reading your Cadillac XLR feature at this location many years ago. [January 2008 to be exact—Ed.] Being stationed in Italy with the Air Force and 4.5 hours away, I finally jumped on the opportunity. I must say it was everything I expected … beautiful views, an adrenaline rush, and a challenging drive. I even shared the road with a classic Mustang, classic Jaguar, Corvette ZR1, Audi R8, Aston Martin, and Ferrari.”

I noticed an error in your November 2014 edition of Motor Trend. On page 109 in “The Big Test” featuring five hatchback models, the Hyundai Elantra GT photo has a caption that concludes with, “The rear cushions are so chubby that the seat back doesn’t fold all the way flat.” As a Hyundai salesman, I can assure you that this is incorrect. The Elantra GT is in fact quite versatile. Under the bottom seat cushion are two tabs for each side of the 60/40 split. If you pull the tab, the bottom cushion is released, and you can lift it up on its hinge and fold it away. The seatbacks can then come down and fold completely flat with the rest of the cargo area, no lips or gaps. There is even room to store the headrests under the seat back! ADAM KARIAN GLENMONT, NEW YORK Thank you for the catch. We do wonder: If the rear cushions were less plump, would the seat back fold fat without the existing intermediary step?—Ed.

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FIRST TEST | 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

GOODBYE, ZR1 AND EVERYONE ELSE Words Carlos Lago Photography Julia LaPalme

38 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


FIRST TEST

E C I T O ON N FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 39


FIRST TEST | 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Our resident hot shoe Randy Pobst idles back into the pits in the Z06. It’s turned into a humid, 85-degree afternoon here at Road Atlanta—we’d spent the morning in the garages waiting out a rainstorm—and the white car with the black wheels and black wings looks purposeful against the tarmac and bright green trees. Pobst gets out, and the small group of Chevrolet engineers approaches, eager to hear his thoughts. Impatient for our data acquisition hardware’s results, they’d been timing his laps on their phones: 1:30.17, 1:30.21, 1:30.67. One of Pobst’s thoughts: “The power felt great. Honestly, I want another hundred more. It’s stable enough. You don’t feel threatened.” It’s a strange comment when you consider the last-generation ZR1, whose powerband made you keenly aware of its awesome potential. During our 2009 Best Driver’s Car test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Pobst said, “It’s one of the very few cars I’ve ever driven here where I didn’t want to keep my foot down over Turn 1.” This new Z06 not only generates more power, making it the most powerful vehicle General Motors has ever produced, but this white one Pobst just exited also has an automatic and a removable roof. It’s also available as a convertible. And Pobst wants more power. The world’s gone mad. Tadge Juechter, the chief engineer of Corvette, is in the group. Earlier he told us the automatic gearbox and roofless construction

were part of the goal, but supplanting the ZR1 wasn’t. They’d started with a high-revving, big-displacement “spinner” V-8 like the 7.0-liter in the last Z06, but they couldn’t hit emissions targets. So they hit reset and started again with a supercharger. It’s a compact Eaton TVS Roots-type unit, smaller in displacement and more compact than the blower atop the ZR1’s mill. Versus that engine, the Z06’s LT4 V-8 makes more power (12 hp and 46 lb-ft of torque), weighs 33 pounds less, and employs direct injection and cylinder deactivation. Advancements in aluminum construction permitted a stronger chassis that doesn’t suffer a performance penalty when you remove the roof. It is heavier, though. The Z06 we tested had a Z07 package ($7,995 for carbon-ceramic brakes, third-stage aero

package, and gumball tires) and a sevenspeed manual. At 3,533 pounds on our scales, it has gained 189 pounds versus the last ZR1 we tested. That new eight-speed automatic must add more, right? Nope, it appears to be the product of the Have Your Cake and Eat It Department. Chevy engineers looked into twin-clutch gearboxes but couldn’t find one that withstood the torque output, fit the packaging constraints, or met weight targets. They built an automatic that would, and the remarkably compact result weighs only 8 pounds more than the manual. With faster and more aggressive shifts, a wider ratio spread, and a tall eighth gear (1,200 rpm at 60 mph), it benefits both performance and fuel economy. It also helps produce an utterly

HYPER SPEED “It’s one of those cars that makes the end of the straightaway here at Road Atlanta—what they call Turn 9—it makes that a corner,” Pobst said.

40 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


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FIRST TEST | 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

satisfying bark on full throttle upshifts. Leave the transmission to its own devices in Track mode, and it makes impeccable gear selections, even finding speed by shifting in places you normally wouldn’t. Road Atlanta’s Turn 3 at race speed puts two wheels in the air. You want to downshift for the next corner, but this isn’t the time to take one hand off the wheel. “Consistently I’d go over the bump,” Pobst said. “The landing is sweet, so sweet— and I’d go to the power and say ‘Whoa!’ I was not expecting to be in that low of a gear, but it put the power to the ground.” The automatic makes the shift in the air. While the automatic makes the Z06 the faster car, limited vehicle availability meant we could only run performance tests on a manual. As with the last-gen ZR1, launch control is more consistent but ultimately slower. Exercise some patience, find the

right amount of tire chatter, and you’ll reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds and the quarter mile in 11.3 seconds at 126.2 mph. Peak stopping performance—91 feet from 60 mph—remains as absurdly low as the last ZR1’s, and all stops during this test stayed under 100 feet. Would it be shocking to call the Z06’s lateral capabilities more impressive than its acceleration? Its 22.5-second lap on the figure eight is the second-fastest production car we’ve tested behind the Porsche 918’s 22.2 seconds; the Z06’s 1.16 average lateral g is the highest we’ve seen from anything that wasn’t a race car. Credit the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires included in the Z07 package. Their bare shoulders have small “vestigial” tread marks, per Juechter, and their combined section width totals 4.1 feet. With my right knee and elbow against the tunnel, my left against the

DOWNFORCE The secondstage aero package and wider body (2.2 inches front, 3.2 inches rear) give the Z06 a purposeful look.

door, it felt like driving a Tilt-A-Whirl. The section between Road Atlanta’s Turn 3 and Turn 5, a rapid switchback of esses, exhibits just how much cornering force is at the Z06’s disposal. The data from Pobst’s lap show six alternating 1.0-plus g moments in the span of 14 seconds. Although our test cars had the optional bucket seats, they weren’t enough. “The seat is actually really supportive for a street seat,” Pobst said. “But this is not doing street things out there. I need belts or something to hold me in place.” It may sound like the Z06 follows the “No Duh” approach to fast car development: Low weight and ludicrous quantities of power and tire. But there’s sophistication between those parts. Fast-reacting magnetorheological fluidfilled shocks provide excellent control, especially when you have two wheels in the air.

The Z06 appears to be the product of the Have Your Cake and Eat It Department.

42 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


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FIRST TEST | 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

Z06 TO C7.R Want another Z06 bragging right? It’s more powerful than its C7.R road racing counterpart you’ll see at the Tudor United SportsCar Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans. The C7.R makes around 500 hp because regulations limit displacement to 5.5 liters and forbid forced

induction and variable valve timing. The engine is based of the one in the C6.R and still uses a six-speed sequential transmission, but it now has direct injection, which improves ROAD RACE Competitors include the Porsche 911 RSR and Ferrari 458 Italia GT2.

An electronically controlled locking differential biases power where and when it’s needed, even helping to prevent the tank slap-like behavior you get when you don’t come out of a powerslide perfectly. Chevrolet’s fantastic Performance Traction Management allows you to learn and explore the car’s limits with less fear. These components make the Z06 controlled, compliant, and easy to approach. Another neat trick: A Performance Data Recorder stores images and data from a front-mounted camera, vehicle sensors, and a 5-Hz GPS sensor to a video file on an SD card. The YouTube-ready video file shows throttle and brake position, g readouts, and so on. Provided software incorporates top-view satellite images to show your placement lap by lap. Owners can even use the system to discourage would-be hot-shoe valets. 44 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

throtle control and fuel economy—pit stops mater. The same new types of aluminum construction that improve the Z06 translate to the C7.R. Using the production car’s aluminum frame increases the race car’s stifness by 40 percent over its predecessor, according to Chevrolet. Both race car and street car chassis

But for the technical prowess, you might be surprised to learn that the Z06 eschews active aero for a far simpler solution: three aero packages in increasing aggressiveness. The first is the Z06’s standard equipment, and the second adds a front splitter with end plates, rocker panel extensions, and a spoiler—all of it in carbon fiber, and all of it fixed. The third stage uses the second-stage components as mounts, attaching larger end plates to the splitter and an adjustable wickerbill to the spoiler, like the Z/28’s. The Chevy team DROP TOP Once removed, the roof stores neatly under the hatch.

are built in the Corvete’s assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The two cars look similar, too, sharing similar ideas about airfow. Never mind that the C7.R is 3.3 inches lower and 4.8 inches wider. It also omits the inlets above the production car’s rear wheels in favor of airfow. The C7.R also dons Michelin racing slicks and smaller-diameter steel brakes with beefer braking hardware (six-piston rear calipers!), and it eschews the road car’s transverse leaf springs and MR shocks for race-specifc coil-overs. As it’s a race car, it can do without the things that make commuting more pleasant—goodbye cooled seats and Wi-Fi. And despite the roughly 150-hp power defcit, the C7.R is faster. CL

says there’s extra meat on the movable parts should the more serious owners want to drill their own holes. Juechter says that in its most aggressive setting, the Corvette makes more downforce than any other car they’ve tested in GM’s wind tunnel. Some cars GM has tested: Porsche 911 Turbo S, Ferrari 458, McLaren 12C. Considering the capability of the optional tires, brakes, and aerodynamics, we were surprised to hear that when Pobst pulled back into the pits after his fourth lap, it wasn’t because he wanted to stop. The car had flashed an oil-temperature warning on the back straight. “So I stuck it in neutral and let it idle even though we’re going 140 mph,” he said. It’s something to be aware of if you hold wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona or SCCA World Challenge GT series and plan on


POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT ENGINE TYPE

Front-engine, RWD Supercharged 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads OHV, 2 valves/cyl 376.0 cu in/6,162 cc 10.0:1 650 hp @ 6,400 rpm* 650 lb-f @ 3,600 rpm* 6,500 rpm 5.0 lb/hp 7-speed manual 3.42:1/1.64:1 Control arms, transverse leaf spring, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multilink, transverse leaf spring, adj shocks, anti-roll bar

VALVETRAIN DISPLACEMENT COMPRESSION RATIO POWER (SAE NET) TORQUE (SAE NET) REDLINE WEIGHT TO POWER TRANSMISSION AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR

The price is bewildering, as you’d need to spend nearly $1 million elsewhere to reach Z06 performance.

BRACE YOURSELF These optional bucket seats have good bolsters, but reaching for the Z06’s extreme lateral capabilities requires bracing against the door and trans tunnel.

tracking your Z06 on a warm, humid day. For the rest of us, the extreme level of performance available leaves plenty of headroom. You’ll also find it bizarrely easy to drive around town. At low speeds, it’s like a normal Corvette, with nimble steering and ample cargo capacity under that hatch. The powerband’s sheer breadth means you can treat the manual like a three-speed. Dig into the infotainment system and you’ll find adjustments for the exhaust volume, from full-on freeway-droning madness to near silence. It has cooled seats. Wi-Fi, even. The price makes this all the more bewildering, as you’d need to spend nearly $1 million elsewhere to reach the performance our Z06 offers at an as-tested $105,210. With that comes the clear message this car sends to the rest of the world: Bring it on. n

STEERING RATIO TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK BRAKES, F;R

12.0-16.4:1 2.5 15.5-in vented, drilled, carbon ceramic disc; 15.3-in vented, drilled, carbon ceramic disc, ABS

WHEELS, F;R

10.0 x 19-in; 12.0 x 20-in, forged aluminum

TIRES, F;R

285/30R19 94Y; 335/25R20 99Y Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2

DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE TRACK, F/R LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT TURNING CIRCLE CURB WEIGHT WEIGHT DIST., F/R SEATING CAPACITY HEADROOM LEGROOM SHOULDER ROOM CARGO VOLUME TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100 PASSING, 45-65 MPH QUARTER MILE BRAKING, 60-0 MPH LATERAL ACCELERATION MT FIGURE EIGHT 2.6-MI ROAD COURSE LAP TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE

106.7 in 63.0/61.7 in 176.9 x 77.1 x 48.6 in 37.7 f 3,533 lb 51/49 % 2 38.0 in 43.0 in 55.0 in 15.0 cu f

1.5 sec 2.1 2.6 3.2 4.1 4.9 5.9 7.2 1.4 11.3 sec @ 126.2 mph 91 f 1.16 g (avg) 22.5 sec @ 0.98 g (avg) 1:30.17 1,200 rpm $78,995

PRICE AS TESTED

$105,210

STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL AIRBAGS

Yes/Yes Dual front, side/head

BASIC WARRANTY

3 yrs/36,000 miles

POWERTRAIN WARRANTY

5 yrs/100,000 miles

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

5 yrs/100,000 miles

FUEL CAPACITY

18.5 gal

RECOMMENDED FUEL

Unleaded premium

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 45


Golf TDI e-Golf

It’s a win, win, win, win. The all-new Volkswagen Golf family. 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year.

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Talk about a photo finish for the ages. The Golf, awash in exemplary attention to detail, yet starting at $17,995*. The high-performance, 210-hp Golf GTI. The Golf TDI® Clean Diesel with a turbocharged 45 highway mpg.** The innovative e-Golf—a 100% electric car that doesn’t drive like one.† Together, they took home Motor Trend ’s 2015 Car of the Year®. The latest chapter in 40 years of worldwide acclaim. Winning, it turns out, is truly a family affair. Isn’t it time for German engineering?

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*Starting MSRP of $17,995 for a limited availability 2015 Volkswagen Golf Launch Edition 1.8L TSI® 2-Door with 5-speed manual transmission. Model shown is a 2015 Volkswagen Golf SEL 4-Door 1.8L TSI with 6-speed automatic transmission and Lighting Package with a starting MSRP of $27,990. Prices exclude transportation, taxes, title, other options, and dealer charges. Dealer sets actual price. **30 city/45 highway mpg (2015 Golf TDI Clean Diesel, 2.0L TDI, manual transmission). EPA estimates. Your mileage will vary and depends on several factors, including your driving habits and vehicle condition. † The e-Golf vehicle is only available at participating dealers in select states. ©2014 Volkswagen of America, Inc.


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FIRST DRIVE | 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S Don’t let the name “GT” fool you. Sure, AMG’s latest in-house creation has cruise control, sound deadening, and a hatchback that’ll easily swallow weekend luggage, but “grand touring” is not this car’s mission. Rather, it’s designed to knock Porsche’s iconic 911 off its sports car throne while also fending off Audi’s R8, Jag’s F-Type, and high-end Corvettes. A daunting task, but one made slightly easier by basing the hatchback on the recently retired architecture of the mighty SLS AMG. Yes, the aluminum space-frame architecture underpinning the new Mercedes-AMG GT and GT S is essentially a shortened, lightened, de-gullwinged, re-skinned SLS. The striking design is very son-of-SLS from the front and rather 911-esque from behind. Motivation comes from a brand-new, direct-injected “hot vee” twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that’s kind of like two detuned CLA45

four-bangers sharing a crankshaft. Output is 456 hp and 443 lb-ft in the GT (at 7.5 lb/hp, this one parries the 911 GTS) and 503 hp and 479 lb-ft in the S model (6.8 lb/hp aligns it with the 911 GT3). Each mounts to a sevenspeed twin-clutch transaxle. A torque tube joins the engine and trans, and the whole powertrain attaches to the car via just four big mounts: two in front and two in back, with magnetorheological (MR) fluid damping on the GT S with AMG Dynamic Plus package. The chassis setup is SLS familiar, with forged aluminum control arms all around and standard Sachs variable damping on the GT S. Braking is via big 14.2-inch vented, perforated discs all around on the GT, 15.4/14.2-inch steelies on the GT S, and 15.8-inch front/14.2-inch rear carbon-ceramic (CCM) discs optional on either. Enough jabbering—let’s strap in and assess AMG’s 911-slaying prospects. My drive in

DOUBLE-FOUR Bore, stroke, bore spacing, pistons, rods, and piezo injectors are shared between the 2.0-liter I-4 and this V-8.

the GT S (base GTs arrive for 2017) starts out in town with the Dynamic Select knob in Comfort, and I’m struck by how frequently the auto start-stop system engages. On Highway 1, I sample the Sport and Sport+ modes, which ride too harshly for touring but feature superior throttle and shift schedules. Up in the twisty hills on Highway 9, the full Sport+ setup works best, and the hydraulic-assist steering effort builds naturally with cornering forces, though it doesn’t enunciate micro-changes in grip the way a lighter-nosed 911 or R8 can. Relative to those cars, this one feels gigantic. There’s so much hood to look over, and it’s so wide that the lane-departure warning seems to be constantly buzzing. Then there’s that sound. I’d leave the exhaust in bad-boy mode all the time. The

HIGHSTAKES 48 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


MERCEDES-AMG PICKS A FIGHT WITH PORSCHE’S 911 Words Frank Markus

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 49


FIRST DRIVE | 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT S

bark AMG coaxes out of this turbo-stifled engine is amazing, without synthetic or piped-in enhancement. It’s no SLS howl, but it’s equally intoxicating. Our afternoon lead-follow lapping sessions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are in aero-enhanced Edition 1 models with CCM brakes and the MR engine mounts. Confidence builds quickly as I acclimate to the tenacious grip of these 265/35R19 front and 295/30R20 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Switching from Sport+ to Race mode

quickens all the responses and relaxes the stability control, allowing modest drift angles. The torque delivery is absolutely linear, with no surges to break traction. In session two, I’m running full throttle up to the first braking cone in more corners, then trusting the brakes to provide safe cornering speeds. Turn-in is remarkably swift, thanks to packaging the powertrain inside the wheelbase and to those MR mounts. Turn the wheel, and the rear mounts firm up ahead of the fronts. The slight engine motion this permits fools the nose into thinking it’s lighter, so it turns in quicker. My third session, driving behind DTM champ Bernd Schneider, has me sweating trying to keep up. My best efforts provoke a couple time-wasting slides and lots of

BORING DOORS Sure, gullwings are too pricey for this class, but why not at least angle the hinge pillars to make them rise a bit more dramatically as they open? Designer Robert Lesnik says any other approach adds weight and complexity—the doors would require more elaborate mechanisms to hold them open.

Relative to the Porsche 911 or Audi R8, this car feels gigantic. 50 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


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FIRST DRIVE

EDITION 1 This special launch package ofered on the GT S boasts a fxed rear wing and front splitter extension fanked by aero-ficks, separate front wheel-opening ficks, and reshaped side sills, all done in the name of increasing and better balancing high-speed downforce.

schoolboy grinning. These laps were in the 1:41 range—that’s Randy Pobst/Audi R8 quick. For my grand finale, I strap in next to Herr Schneider with no hacks in tow to see what this baby can really do. He’s flat on the gas over the front-straight crest and through Turn 1, lifting just before the No. 3 braking marker, widening his path through Turn 2. The next several turns use a lot more of the apex striping than I did, and we enter the corkscrew at least 20 mph faster, causing the right-side wheels to leave the ground for a split second. Carrying so much speed down the corkscrew makes for a more zigzaggy line through Turn 9 as the tires struggle mightily to apportion braking and cornering g’s. As we cool the car down, Schneider praises its

astonishing mid-corner grip and estimates he’s running laps in the 1:35 range—that’s Pobst’s SLS Black Series time. How does it stack up against the 911? It’s way bigger and more brutish. It’s equally confidence-inspiring, and smart money says it will generate better numbers than its corresponding 911 variants (the $110,000 GT versus 911 GTS, the $130,000 GT S versus 911 GT3). Convertible and Black Series versions will extend the 911 overlap—perhaps with the latter boasting Turbo S-trumping power that more closely approximates two CLA45 engines. I’d personally choose the rarer AMG over a 911, but only a fool would bet on any newcomer outselling the 911. n

2016 Mercedes-AMG GT/GT S BASE PRICE

$110,000-$130,000 (est)

VEHICLE LAYOUT

Front-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door hatchback

ENGINE

4.0L/456-hp/443-lb-f twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8; 4.0L/503hp/479-lb-f twin-turbo DOHC 32-valve V-8

TRANSMISSION

7-speed twin-clutch auto

CURB WEIGHT

3,400-3,450 lb (mfr)

WHEELBASE

103.5 in

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT

179.0 x 76.3 x 50.7 in

0-60 MPH

3.6-3.8 sec (mfr est)

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON

Not yet rated

ON SALE IN U.S.

April 2015 (GT S), fall 2015 (GT)

V-8 CONSOLE Note the eight round buttons that control and fne-tune the AMG Dynamic Select modes and ape the confguration of the engine cylinders under the hood.

52 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


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PICKUP From GM came a tandem of revamped midsize offerings—the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon—and the Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickups. From Ford arrived the updated F-450, the full-size Transit van, and, last but certainly not least, the much-hyped aluminum F-150. We put these seven contenders (with 10 variants among them) through a grueling battery of tests as we set out to determine which was most worthy of the calipers. Armed with market research data on how truck owners actually use their vehicles, and with the

There is arguably no vehicle more distinctly American than the pickup truck. Last year, Yanks bought almost 2.2 million of the work-and-play haulers, ranking them second only to midsize sedans in segment volume in the U.S. Further, three of the four top-selling vehicles in America through October 2014— the Ford F-150 (1), Chevrolet Silverado (2), and Ram 1500 (4)—were trucks. For the 2015 TOTY competition, we invited seven all-new or significantly updated vehicles to compete for the Golden Calipers.

Words & Photo Motor Trend Staff

THE JUDGES Scott Burgess Detroit Editor Scott Evans Associate Editor Benson Kong Associate Online Editor Jonny Lieberman Senior Features Editor Edward Loh Editor-in-Chief Frank Markus Technical Director Scott Mortara Road Test Editor Kim Reynolds Testing Director Christian Seabaugh Associate Editor 56 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


MOTOR TREND | 2015 Truck of the Year

THROWDOWN SAE’s new J2807 tow ratings in full effect, we revised our Truck of the Year program to make the evaluation process more relevant. We began just outside of Los Angeles, where all 10 trucks were loaded up with an average payload’s worth of 100-pound rubber horse-stall mats, allowing us to safely weigh down each rig and test how they performed on the road as well as at the pump. The Colorado and Canyon took on five mats each (for a total of 500 pounds), the F-150 and Transit cargo van each got 10 mats per (1,000 pounds), and the heavy-duty trucks received 20 mats each (2,000 pounds).

Then it was time to hit the road. Destination: Bullhead City, Arizona, home of Davis Dam. Part of the SAE J2807 testing procedures, the Davis Dam grade is an 11.2-mile climb up a nearly steady 6-percent grade to a 3,000-foot summit. We used the grade to test the trucks’ mettle in the Frustration Test, designed to assess acceleration times from 50-70 mph and mimic passing situations with a payload while simultaneously checking cooling and braking abilities. With Davis Dam in the rear view, we headed to Chrysler’s Proving Grounds in

ALL HANDS ON DECK We needed six stafers per truck to load all 105 of these 100-pound rubber horse-stall mats.

AMERICA’S NEWEST PICKUPS AND A VAN BATTLE FOR THE GOLDEN CALIPERS FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 57


MOTOR TREND | 2015 Truck of the Year

PLAYGROUND Chrysler's Yucca Proving Grounds hosted our trailer tests.

Seven contenders faced a battery of tests to determine which was worthy of the calipers.

THE CRITERIA ADVANCEMENT IN DESIGN Quality execution of exterior and interior styling; innovation in vehicle packaging; good selection and use of materials.

ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE Integrity of total vehicle concept and execution, clever solutions to packaging, manufacturing, and dynamics issues; use of cost-effective technologies that benefit the consumer.

EFFICIENCY Low energy consumption and carbon footprint relative to the vehicle’s competitive set.

SAFETY Primary safety—the vehicle’s ability to help the driver avoid a crash—as well as secondary safety measures that protect its occupants from harm during a crash.

VALUE Price and equipment levels measured against those of vehicles in the same market segment.

PERFORMANCE OF INTENDED FUNCTION

Yucca, Arizona, where we hitched trailers to the contenders and put the rigs through a slew of tests, including instrumented acceleration and a towing maneuverability course, the latter designed to evaluate how easy it is to hook up a trailer, tow it, and reverse into a tight parking stall. Based on data showing us what weight truck owners in each segment tend to tow, the Canyon, Colorado, and Transit were saddled with 3,000-pound trailers, the F-150 a 7,000-pound trailer, and the heavy-duty

trucks 10,000-pound trailers. Research indicates that the vast majority of owners of these trucks seldom go off-road, so we eliminated that subjective test in favor of our newly added objective tests. With all that said and done, there was one more round of testing in store: We headed out on a multifaceted 25-mile road loop around Kingman, Arizona. After some brews, barbecue, and bickering, we picked our winner. So which truck (or van) drove off with the calipers? Read on to find out. Christian Seabaugh

How well the vehicle does the job its designers and product planners intended.

w 58 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

SAE APPROVED Each contender had to face the Davis Dam's 6-percent grade and 3,000-foot summit, which are part of the SAE's J2807 testing.


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CONTENDERS HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS

Chevrolet Silverado HD We Like Integrated bumper step; work-friendly cabin with Wi-Fi hot spot. We Don’t Like Lazy throttle response; lack of hardware upgrades.

As we wrapped Truck of the Year, the San Francisco Giants won their third World Series in fve years. With two recent championships under their belt, high expectations were the norm for the Giants. The same dynamic regularly plays itself out in our of the Year competitions, and as a recent Truck of the Year winner (2011), the giant new 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD faced high expectations of its own. Much of what made the last Silverado HD a winner carries over to the new version—chiefy the

truck’s beefy boxed frame and its two engines: a gas 6.0-liter V-8 making 360 hp and 380 lb-f (a CNG version is available, too) and a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 producing 397 ponies and 765 lb-f of twist. Our dualie Silverado 3500HD High Country proved impressive dynamically, with a powerful engine, smooth transmission, and nice steering for an HD. The truck towed well, too. “If I were going to tow with any of the HDs, it would be this one,” Evans said, though many thought the Chevy had to work harder than the Ford to get going. Chevy spent most of its time on

the Silverado HD’s optics. Outside you’ll fnd the same sheetmetal that graced the Silverado 1500 last year, but inside you’ll see that Chevy did some serious work on the HD’s cabin—arguably the biggest weak point of the last-gen truck. The Silverado HD’s interior went from “plastic fantastic” to an upscale mobile ofce. “The thing I liked here was the built-in hot spot, which worked way beter than I expected,” Reynolds said. “I do vastly prefer its design compared to the horrifc and overwrought F-450’s.”

Despite its aesthetic improvements, ultimately the Silverado HD doesn’t move the needle forward enough to warrant the win. With both Ford and Ram upping their heavy-duty diesel engines’ output, the Silverado HD is now simply outgunned when it comes to performing its intended function: hauling giant loads. “The Silverado 3500HD is a handsome, powerful work truck,” summed up Lieberman. “But it’s literally overshadowed by the competition.” Christian Seabaugh

2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD High Country Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (Towing) Davis Dam “Frustration”** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

$56,860 / $68,462 397 hp @ 3,000 rpm 765 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 7.8; 18.0 sec 16.1 sec @ 84.2 mph 21.4 sec @ 65.0 mph 9.1 sec, 801 ft 146 ft 0.68 g (avg) N/A

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck

77.7”

3500HD High Country

167.7” 258.4”

68.8” 96.0”

Engine/Transmission 6.6L/397-hp/765-lb-f turbodiesel OHV 32-valve V-8; 6-speed automatic 60 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) 8,247 lb (57/43%)

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy N/A

75.0”

CO2 Emissions N/A

*Unladen; Towing a 10,000-lb trailer **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 2,000 pounds of payload


CONTENDERS

FULLSIZE TRUCKS

Ford F-150 We Like Altitude-proof twin-turbo punch, abundant innovation. We Don’t Like Elusive economy, wonky shifter, jittery ride.

REAL MPG 15/20/17

This was to be the F-150’s year. Hyped as the most thoroughly re-engineered, game-changing pickup of the millennium, these twin-turbo'd alloy haulers swaggered in with great expectations. First impressions were glowing. Of the 2.7L EcoBoost, Seabaugh said: “This litle guy seriously packs a punch.” Evans enthused, “This thing’s like a race truck.” At speed, Loh found it “an impressively tomb-quiet truck, like a library.” The judges awarded 2015 Ford F-150 Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (towing) Davis Dam “Frustration”** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

Engineering Excellence points for truck frsts such as the 360-degree camera, park-distance sensors by the front wheels, panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, BoxLink hardware, materials engineering, and its impressive roster of available safety tech. Then came some grumbling. “The interiors are Wurlitzer organs of heavy-handed design,” Reynolds said. Burgess found the exterior redesign less of an advancement than that of last year’s Silverado. Lieberman concurred, lamenting that it didn’t look “nearly enough like the

Lariat 4x4

Platinum FX4

$43,305 / $46,720 325 hp @ 5,750 rpm 375 lb-ft @ 3,000 rpm 6.5; 16.2 sec 15.1 sec @ 92.8 mph 20.7 sec @ 68.0 mph 6.0 sec, 524 ft 127 ft 0.75 g (avg) Not yet rated

$56,350 / $61,195 365 hp @ 5,000 rpm 420 lb-ft @ 2,500 rpm 6.4; 14.7 sec 15.0 sec @ 92.5 mph 20.2 sec @ 69.5 mph 6.5 sec, 566 ft 126 ft 0.76 g (avg) Not yet rated

stunning Atlas Concept.” Dynamic complaints cropped up: Reynolds noted, “The steering is truck-sloppy. There’s a wobbly indecisiveness to their true direction that bothers me.” He found the 2.7’s brakes “very sof on application and very grabby once they engage.” Many complained that the lane keep assist fought them for control of the wheel. The bigger problem was that Ford didn’t win a concurrent Chevy/ Ram comparison, largely because we were unconvinced that Ford’s EcoBoost/aluminum approach trumps Ram’s EcoDiesel/eight-speed

fuel economy play. Our Real MPG combined results give the Ram a 21-percent advantage over the 2.7L, while observed results over 350 miles with a 1,000-pound load extend that to 35 percent, furthering our impression that working an EcoBoost like a V-8 returns V-8 consumption. The Ram diesel rides beter (on air or coil springs), looks beter inside and out, and can be had similarly equipped for similar money. So while we remain deeply impressed with the F-150 as an engineering feat, these two examples impressed us less as trucks. Frank Markus

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck Lariat 4x4

76.9”

REAL MPG 17/22/19

145.0” 231.9”

Engine/Transmission Lariat 4x4 2.7L/325-hp/375-lb-f twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6; 6-speed automatic Platinum FX4 3.5L/365hp/420-lb-f twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6; 6-speed automatic

67.6” 79.9”

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) Lariat 4x4 4,935 (59/41%) Platinum FX4 5,532 (57/43%)

67.6”

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy Lariat 4x4 N/A Platinum FX4 N/A

*Unladen; Towing a 7,000-lb trailer **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 1,000 pounds of payload

CO2 Emissions Lariat 4x4 N/A Platinum FX4 N/A

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 61


CONTENDERS HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS

Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum We Like The Engine Haul of Fame beastly engine. We Don’t Like $23,000 in fake wood and mediocre leather.

The heart versus the mind. That’s what it comes down to with the big—and I mean BIG— Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum. In my heart I love this truck, I want this truck, I need this truck. But in my mind? I’m not in the yacht-hauling game. Logically this heavy-duty has but one trick. Said Reynolds, “It’s a chrome-dipped Gulliver in Lilliput land, Las Vegas bad taste all the way, and really only makes rational sense to horse haulers. I have a cat.” Sadly for the F-450, Truck of the Year is a fairly cerebral endeavor, what with

our six key criteria and all. The big red sucker is also the heaviest production passenger vehicle we’ve ever weighed, quashing the scales with 9,083 pounds of bulk. That number is both good and bad. As truck dudes and dudetes know, statistical oneupmanship is an integral part of the truck game. As such, the aweinspiring 6.7-liter turbodiesel V-8 is capable of a massive 440 hp and a foundation-yanking 860 lb-f of torque. Sadly, days before the re-rated F-450 was announced, Ram raised its 3500HD’s torque total from

850 to 865 lb-f, trumping Ford. Want more twisting force than either of these hulks? Buy a Veyron. But no mater in reality, as the F-450 can tow 1,200 pounds more than the Ram. The elephantine Ford—thanks to stouter suspension, axles, brakes, and wheels than the F-350—can tow an industry-leading max 31,200 pounds. The vehicle’s GCVW (Gross Combined Vehicle Weight) is 40,400 pounds. Meaning that if you subtract the 9,083 pounds of curb weight from the GCVW, you’re lef with 31,317 pounds of capability.

So if you hook up a 31,200-pound trailer to the F-450’s ffh wheel, you’d beter fnd a naked 117-pound jockey to drive it. The giant Ford certainly didn’t seem to notice having two tons of rubber mats in the bed, nor 10,000 pounds hanging of its gooseneck. So why not Truck of the Year? Aside from the biblically potent engine (and super cool 19.5-inch semi-truck wheels!) it does nothing against our criteria. Concludes Seabaugh, “Aside from its powertrain, the F-450 looks and feels dated.” Jonny Lieberman

2015 Ford F-450 Super Duty Platinum Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (Towing) Davis Dam “Frustration”** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

$69,985 / $74,665 440 hp @ 2,800 rpm 860 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 8.3; 17.1 sec 16.3 sec @ 84.4 mph 20.9 sec @ 65.9 mph 8.6 sec, 757 ft 147 ft 0.68 g (avg) N/A

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck

79.7”

F-450 Super Duty Platinum

172.4” 263.0”

74.8” 96.0”

Engine/Transmission 6.7L/440-hp/860-lb-f turbodiesel OHV 32-valve V-8; 6-speed automatic 62 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) 9,083 lb (56/44%)

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy N/A

75.9”

CO2 Emissions N/A

*Unladen; Towing a 10,000-lb trailer **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 2,000 pounds of payload


CONTENDERS

VANS

Ford Transit We Like It’s not a boring, bland people-mover or cargo-hauler. We Don’t Like The cheap-feeling interior plastics and questionable fuel economy.

REAL MPG 14/17/16

150 XLT

Afer 60 years of production, the Ford Transit van has fnally landed in the U.S. The best part? Ford didn’t limp into this segment. It came swinging for the fences, ofering the Transit in three body lengths with three engine choices, three roof heights, and two wheelbases. To say the bases are covered would be an understatement. The Transit was the surprise vehicle during our TOTY program, an opinion echoed by everyone involved. You don’t expect much 2015 Ford Transit Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (towing) Davis Dam “Frustration”** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

when you hop into a big, top-heavy van, but we all came away impressed. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost passenger version is a complete blast to drive; everyone commented on how unbelievably quick, agile, and stable it is. Reynolds even noted, “I almost spun it during fgure-eighting and thought it was fun the entire time.” And it didn’t mater if it was empty or loaded with people—nothing seemed to faze it. The 3.2-liter diesel cargo Transit wasn’t as enjoyable as its smaller, sportier litle brother, but it still made

150 XLT (MR Wagon)

350 HD (HR EL DRW)

$36,345 / $41,965 310 hp @ 5,000 rpm 400 lb-ft @ 2,250 rpm 7.6; 9.4 sec 15.9 sec @ 86.5 mph 17.0 sec @ 80.3 mph 7.5 sec, 650 ft 139 ft 0.72 g (avg) 14/19/16 mpg

$41,880 / $50,295 185 hp @ 3,000 rpm 350 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm 12.5; 19.2 sec 18.7 sec @ 70.5 mph 21.4 sec @ 62.8 mph 23.6 sec, 2,138 ft 133 ft 0.72 g (avg) N/A

a favorable impression. While the passenger Transit was unfazed by anything we did, the cargo van, when loaded with 1,000 pounds, “felt diferent, a bit squirmy on its bushing,” Markus said. The single biggest issue we had with this one was its observed MPG, which was barely any beter than the monster F-450’s even though the Transit is 3,000 pounds lighter. Exterior styling on both looks very good—well, as good as can be expected when working with a vehicle this size. Interiors were impressive on both, with the

passenger much more user-friendly. While the cargo model wasn’t unfriendly, Markus said it was “more Spartan, more utilitarian, with four aux switches, trailer-brake gain controller, no automatic lights, and a much less involved infotainment screen.” We were particularly frustrated by a Bluetooth system that absolutely refused to connect. Although the Transit didn’t win, Ford did an amazing job. Lieberman summed it up best: “The new Transit is a watershed moment for vans, and the rest of the industry has been put on notice.” Scot Mortara

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, RWD, 12-pass, 3-door van 350 HD

109.4”

REAL MPG 17/20/18

147.6” 263.9”

Engine/Transmission 150 3.5L/310-hp/400-lb-f twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6; 6-speed automatic 350 3.2L/185-hp/350-lb-f turbodiesel DOHC 20-valve I-5; 6-speed automatic

68.5” 82.0”

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) 150 5,941 (51/49%) 350 6,230 (51/49%)

65.7”

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy 150 241/177 kW-hrs/100 mi 350 N/A

CO2 Emissions 150 1.22 lb/mi 350 N/A

*Unladen; With 10 occupants (150) or towing a 3,000-lb trailer (350 HD) **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 500 (150) or 1,000 (350 HD) pounds of payload MOTORTREND.COM 63


CONTENDERS MIDSIZE TRUCKS

GMC Canyon We Like Fun to drive, super capable, blows away the competition. We Don’t Like The Colorado is nearly as good for less money.

It’s always a bit of work teasing out the competitive advantages and disadvantages of a GMC truck when there’s a Chevy siting right next to it. Thankfully, the new Canyon made it a litle easier. “Somehow it feels diferent than the Colorado,” Seabaugh noted, “which I must applaud GM for. It’s not just a rebadged Chevy like many were expecting. It’s got a completely diferent vibe and character than the Colorado does. Whereas the Colorado feels young and fun, the Canyon feels more upscale and

professional.” Judges were very complimentary of the Canyon’s sharp steering and nimble handling, its upmarket stereo, and its higher-quality interior. Despite its size, it’s roomy and comfortable in both the front and rear seats. Beyond that, the truck is not only plenty powerful for towing and hauling, but it’s also good on gas and even fun to drive. That said, we did feel the transmission hunted a bit too much in high gears. Why, then, didn’t the Canyon win? Despite how much we liked it, it fell down on two key criteria. The

frst—and most obvious—is value. Chevrolet trucks in general have improved greatly in recent years, and their GMC twins haven’t kept pace. Because of this, the white space between Chevrolet and GMC has shrunk, making it harder to justify the price of a GMC. The Canyon is only the latest GMC to sufer from this. While its interior materials are nicer and the full-color display in the instrument cluster is a bonus, we’re having trouble justifying the full price diference between this truck and the nearly as nice Colorado.

The Canyon’s second weak point is in design. While we all like the baby Sierra look, we see no advancement in the GMC design language. From a distance, you can almost mistake it for a Sierra. Its Chevy twin sufers no such trouble. Make no mistake: We’re fans of the GMC Canyon through and through. It’s a great litle truck in a segment populated by seriously outdated trucks. Despite that, it struggles just enough against some of our key criteria to keep it out of the winner’s circle. Scot Evans

2015 GMC Canyon SLT 4x4 Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (Towing) Davis Dam "Frustration"** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

$38,175 / $39,565 305 hp @ 6,800 rpm 269 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 7.7; 13.3 sec 15.9 sec @ 88.3 mph 19.4 sec @ 74.0 mph 6.9 sec, 603 ft 125 ft 0.79 g (avg) 17/24/20 mpg

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck Canyon SLT 4x4

70.5”

REAL MPG 15/21/18

140.5” 224.6”

62.4” 74.3”

Engine/Transmission 3.6L/305-hp/269-lb-f DOHC 24-valve V-6; 6-speed automatic 64 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) 4,565 lb (58/42%)

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy 198/140 kW-hrs/100 mi

62.4”

CO2 Emissions 0.99 lb/mi

*Unladen; Towing a 3,000-lb trailer **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 500 pounds of payload


CONTENDERS

HEAVY-DUTY TRUCKS

GMC Sierra Denali HD (2500) We Like Handsome looks, impressive interior design, solid performer. We Don’t Like Lazy throttle response, too under-the-radar for its own good.

If you jot down all the reasons for the Sierra Denali HD hopping into the ring with this year’s other TOTY contenders, it quickly amounts to a respectable admission ticket: updated styling that mirrors the refreshed look of last year’s 1500, a new double cab with front-hinged af doors, a snazzy new Sierra All Terrain trim, and for connectivity fans, an available 4G hot spot. And despite its familiar-looking mechanicals, the 2500HD was a steady player. Seabaugh: “The

Sierra’s Duramax diesel is a prety potent engine, quick of the line both loaded and unloaded and with enough power to make merging and passing maneuvers easy.” There was praise for its electronic gadgetry, which includes a complete array of instruments (engine and idle hours, diesel exhaust fuid level, an inclinometer, and brake force sent to the trailer), plus lane departure alert and forward crash warning. And its styling was admired, too—Seabaugh called it “a prety good-looking truck with chrome surface areas that strangely

work; it’s urban luxury meets backwoods utility.” Dito its interior. Markus: “I much prefer the Denali brand of interior opulence to that of the F-450.” I think it's handsome. But the Sierra Denali gradually fritered away our afections. Some thought its throtle response was lethargic. Another judged its steering efort too high, making parking a chore. The backup camera’s low resolution made ataching its trailer tough. Its unloaded ride quality was, well, truck-like. However, the Denali ultimately hit too many singles and no home runs.

It always seemed “almost as nice” as its Silverado corporate twin, with the Chevy regularly atracting more admiring glances. When it came time to discuss the Denali, a few even wondered what to say. That’s perfectly OK. A really good truck— which this one really is—is quite ofen a sturdy, handsome, low-profle player that never screws up. But this particular arena demands a compelling storyline, a profound new feature, or an unexpectedly expanded performance envelope. And those were the only goods the GMC didn’t deliver. Kim Reynolds

2015 GMC Sierra Denali HD (2500) Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (Towing) Davis Dam "Frustration"** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

$56,320 / $65,235 397 hp @ 3,000 rpm 765 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm 7.7; 19.8 sec 16.0 sec @ 86.4 mph 22.0 sec @ 62.7 mph 8.9 sec, 773 ft 154 ft 0.72 g (avg) N/A

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck

77.9”

Sierra Denali HD (2500)

167.7” 258.3”

Engine/Transmission 6.6L/397-hp/765-lb-f turbodiesel OHV 32-valve V-8; 6-speed automatic

68.8” 80.5”

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) 7,729 lb (60/40%)

67.3”

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy N/A

*Unladen; Towing a 10,000-lb trailer **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 2,000 pounds of payload

CO2 Emissions N/A

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 65


COLO Words Scott Burgess Photographs Jessica Walker

FOR TOO LONG, THE PICKUP WORLD HAS BEEN DEFINED BY TEXAS, THE SUPERSIZE STATE. IT’S THE HOME OF 72-OUNCE STEAKS, 85-MPH SPEED LIMITS, AND NEARLY 20 PERCENT OF ALL PICKUP SALES IN THE UNITED STATES. 66 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


RADO

TRUMPS TEXAS

CHEVROLET COLORADO

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 67


WINNER | Truck of the Year What was good for Texas was good for pickups. So full-size pickups got bigger, and midsize trucks began to vanish. Gone were the Ford Ranger, the Dodge Dakota, and, most recently, the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado. But three years after disappearing, the Colorado returns, completely redone in more manageable bite-sized proportions compared to those full-sized Texan trucks. The Colorado may not be the biggest pickup in contention for the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, but it turns out to be the best in more of our judging categories than anything else. “The Colorado to me is the perfect-size truck again,” Reynolds said. “Its simplicity and purity are what a truck ought to be about.” Indeed, for many, a midsize pickup appeals to a more modest sense of size. The segment has been shrinking due to neglect. So when the Colorado reappeared, it trounced the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier in a comparison test, clearly marking itself as a segment leader. No other vehicle tested stands out as much.“This is a really good, honest little truck,” Evans said. “I can see it being very popular with small businesses that have been running old Rangers and the like.” The Colorado also provides a considerable value for consumers looking at that segment, another criteria Motor Trend judges weighed. Our two test vehicles, an extended cab work truck with a sticker price of $23,300 and a crew cab Z71 pickup at $36,210, were the least expensive of the TOTY contestants. You

could buy three Colorado work trucks for less than the $74,665 F-450 we tested. Granted, those are short-bed to long-bed comparisons, but the Colorado represents solid value in its segment, comparably priced against the (less impressive) Tacoma and Frontier. The lower price never left editors wanting for more. “For a very basic offering, it doesn’t feel that cheap,” Loh said of the work truck. “There are almost no button blanks or other obvious signs of cost cutting, aside from the wide bezel on the tiny screen.” Good things do come in small packages. There are currently two engines to choose from: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and 3.6-liter V-6. Next year, Chevrolet will introduce a 2.8-liter turbodiesel I-4, slightly modified from the overseas market. All the engines are mated to a Hydramatic six-speed automatic transmission or, on lower trim levels of the 2.5-liter, an Eaton six-speed manual. Our two testers came with the automatic, which received the one consistent gripe from editors. While the transmission provided good acceleration and never lurched, it did seem to want to get to sixth gear in a hurry, sometimes causing the Colorado to lag. But stomp on the accelerator, and it would drop a gear or two, and the truck was off and running. The Colorado is rated to tow 7,000 pounds with a V-6 and towing package, which we did not sample. The 2.5-liter is rated for 3,500 pounds, but Chevy doesn’t sell a hitch

VALUE Inexpensive doesn't mean cheap. Even the base model work truck comes with a small color screen that acts as a backup camera monitor.

on 2.5-liter models, so we put one on and towed a 3,000-pound trailer. Acceleration to 60 mph slowed from 9.3 to 17.4 seconds— slowing just slightly more as a percentage than its GMC sibling Canyon 3.6 V-6 did with the same trailer (7.7-13.3 seconds). Our Z71 model did not include a hitch. Editors noted that either empty or loaded, the Colorado provided a solid, smooth ride. Its size became a noticeable asset instead of a mark against it. “I had been concerned that these midsize trucks were too close in size to the full-size ones,” Markus said, “but this seems enough smaller to feel nimble.”

"The Colorado to me is the perfect-size truck again."—Kim Reynolds 68 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


Truck of the Year | WINNER

Added Lieberman, “The Colorado has the best steering I’ve ever experienced on any truck, full stop.” With the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine creating 200 hp and the 3.6-liter V-6 generating 305, both trucks had more than enough muscle. Colorados weigh between 3,900 pounds and 4,450 pounds depending on configuration. The truck was also the most efficient in its segment. The EPA estimates 20/27/22 mpg and 17/24/20 mpg for the four-cylinder and six-cylinder models, respectively. Our Real MPG testing confirmed similar mileage; the four-banger reached 16.8/23.6/19.3 mpg, and the more powerful Colorado with the V-6 hit 17.7/22.2/19.5 mpg.

“I, like many others, was critical of the Colorado initially because of its size and pricing,” Seabaugh said, “but it really looks, feels, and drives significantly smaller than the full-size Silverado.” Additionally, Chevrolet keeps the construction of the Colorado simple. Unlike full-size offerings that can be configured more ways than a Rubik’s Cube, the Colorado comes in either extended cab or crew cab body styles and two beds: one short, the other long. There are currently two engines and either twowheel or four-wheel-drive options. It’s smart packaging, providing enough consumer choice to make it popular but not so much to make it confusing. There are also a number of segment-first safety features, such as camera-dependent forward collision alert and lane-departure warning systems. Backup cameras are standard for all vehicles. The optional Chevy MyLink provides for hands-free calling, with

a button allowing use of Siri on an iPhone to control everything from music to text messages. It will even read texts aloud. If that keeps people’s eyes on the road instead of their phone, it’s a significant safety feature. If people still foolishly look down at their phone, the Colorado comes with six airbags, and Chevy expects it to perform well in future crash testing. Perhaps the most impressive part of the Colorado was the base model work truck, which never felt cheap or inferior. “I suspect for $23,300, many fleet drivers would be very satisfied with the Colorado because it has A/C, a meaty center armrest, nice cloth selection, and much more manageable overall size,” Kong said. There are also a slew of standard features. Some were developed for the Silverado and passed down to the Colorado, such as the CornerStep, which creates a foothold in the

POWER The Colorado arrives with very capable and efcient I-4 and V-6 powertrains. Next year, a four-cylinder diesel will debut and promises even better fuel economy.

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 69


WINNER | Truck of the Year 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Base Price / As Tested Power (SAE net) Torque (SAE net) Accel, 0-60 mph* Quarter Mile Quarter Mile (towing) Davis Dam "Frustration"** Braking, 60-0 mph Lateral Acceleration EPA City/Hwy/Comb.

(WT)

Z71

$22,650 / $23,300 200 hp @ 6,300 rpm 191 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 9.3; 17.4 sec 17.1 sec @ 82.4 mph 21.2 sec @ 65.2 mph 12.0 sec, 1,052 ft 123 ft 0.77 g (avg) 20/27/22 mpg

$30,425 / $36,210 305 hp @ 6,800 rpm 269 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 7.4; N/A sec 15.7 sec @ 88.8 mph N/A 7.0 sec, 601 ft 131 ft 0.76 g (avg) 17/24/20 mpg

Vehicle Layout Front-engine, RWD, 4-pass, 4-door truck

REAL MPG 18/22/20

70.6”

Z71

128.3” 212.7”

Engine/Transmission WT 2.5L/200-hp/191-lb-f DOHC 16-valve I-4; 6-speed automatic Z71 3.6L/305-hp/269-lb-f DOHC 24-valve V-6; 6-speed automatic

62.4” 74.3”

Curb Weight (F/R Dist.) WT 3,861 lb (56/44%) Z71 4,511 lb (57/43%)

Energy Consumption, City/Hwy WT 169/125 kW-hrs/100 mi Z71 198/140 kW-hrs/100 mi

The Colorado is more than just #TechnologyAndStuff.

LOADED The Colorado's interior is more loaded than a Wendy's baked potato. The MyLink infotainment system works fawlessly, controls are intuitive, and nice details food the cabin. 70 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

62.4”

CO2 Emissions WT 0.86 lb/mi Z71 0.99 lb/mi

*7,000 lb, 3.6L with tow package. **50-70-mph passing acceleration with 500 pounds of payload Note: Chevy doesn't sell a hitch with the 2.5-liter but rates it at 3,500 lb for afermarket hitches, so we mounted a hitch ourselves for this test.


bumper so you can easily climb up into the bed. There are also 13 tie-down locations in the bed and optional moveable cargo rings that make it easier to rope down any load. On the Z71 model, the EZ-Lift-and-Lower tailgate uses a torsion bar to reduce the effort needed to open and close the tailgate. These aren’t necessarily new features to the truck market, but they are thoughtful additions to the Colorado. Inside both cabins, the space feels open. “You’d never use the word ‘cramped’ to describe this truck,” Lieberman said. There is only one USB port in the base model, but there are four ports in the Z71 model. That premium off-roading model also comes with an 8-inch color touchscreen and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, which is easy to use and allows for smartphone connectivity. (The Colorado also offers 4G LTE connectivity, as will most new GM products.) “The extra bells and whistles look great and work well—just like a mini Silverado—but don’t diminish the base model as much as you might think,” Loh said. Like a Ronco knives commercial, the Colorado seemed to say, “But wait, there’s more.” Chevy loaded it up with storage bins and places to hold all the stuff a driver might need inside the cabin. There’s even a 3.5-inch digital screen on the instrument cluster that provides the driver with trip computer and vehicle and eco-coaching information.

These trucks are up for many a task. Whether hauling plywood from Home Depot, carrying bikes to a trailhead, or commuting to work, the Colorado bested everything else tested for performance of intended function. Every editor agreed that the Colorado’s exterior design was inspiring. Chevrolet said it purposely pushed the pickup’s design to look different than the Silverado’s. The unique grille comes in either chrome or gunmetal and carries a big Chevy bow tie in the center. The extended cab model has great proportions, but the crew cab model stretches those limits. Our Z71 model included all-terrain tires that lifted the Colorado slightly and an available running board that looked like it could serve as a rock rail. It stuck out too far, and many editors noted they hit their legs on it when getting in or out of the Z71. “The entire time I was driving the Z71 Colorado, I was resisting the urge to dive off the road into the dirt and practice for the Baja 1000,” Evans said. “It felt so light and capable, I just wanted to tear across the desert with it.” Really, when you look back to the original small pickups, the new Colorado is quite large in comparison. A regular cab, short-bed 2003 Chevy S-10 was just 190.1 inches long and 62.0 inches tall; a new Colorado in its smallest configuration is 212.7 inches long and 70.3 inches tall. But it’s not nearly as big as all of those full-size pickups, which have incredible power and capability that many owners will never likely use. More important, no contender that we tested excelled in all six of our judging criteria to the extent the Colorado did. It’s welldesigned and thoughtfully engineered, and it conquers its segment. By creating a truly smaller truck, the Colorado should go on the shopping list of people who want the utility of a pickup but not the grandiose size. Texas may not embrace this truck, but a lot of other people will love it for what it is—and what it is not. n

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS

CHEVROLET COLORADO (WT); Z71

DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT

Front-engine, RWD; 4WD

ENGINE TYPE

I-4, alum block/head; 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads

VALVETRAIN

DOHC, 4 valves/cyl 149.9 cu in/2,457cc; 217.5 cu in/3,564cc

DISPLACEMENT COMPRESSION RATIO REDLINE WEIGHT TO POWER TRANSMISSION AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR STEERING RATIO TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK BRAKES, F;R

11.3:1; 11.5:1 6,500 rpm 19.3; 14.8 lb/hp 6-speed automatic 4.10:1/2.75:1; 3.42:1/2.29:1 Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs 18.1:1; 16.8:1 3.5; 3.2 12.2-in vented disc; 12.8-in disc, ABS

WHEELS

7.0 x 16-in, steel; 8.0 x 17-in, cast aluminum

TIRES

265/70R16 112T M+S Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude HT; 255/65R17 110T M+S Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain Adventure

DIMENSIONS TURNING CIRCLE

41.3 f

SEATING CAPACITY

4; 5

HEADROOM, F/R

41.4/36.7; 38.3 in

LEGROOM, F/R

45.0/28.6; 35.8 in

SHOULDER ROOM, F/R

57.5/57.3; 56.2 in

PICKUP BOX L X W X H

74.0; 61.7 x 55.5 x 20.9 in

CARGO VOLUME

49.9; 41.3 cu f

WIDTH BET. WHEELHOUSES

44.4 in

PAYLOAD CAPACITY

1,539; 1,489 lb

3,500 lb* TOWING CAPACITY TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH, UNLADEN (WT TOWING 3,000 POUNDS) 3.2 (5.2); 2.6 sec 0-30 0-40

4.9 (8.4); 3.8

0-50

6.8 (12.1); 5.6

0-60

9.3 (17.4); 7.4

0-70

12.5 (25.6); 9.5

0-80

16.1 (-); 12.7

0-90

21.2 (-); 16.1

PASSING, 45-65 MPH

4.9 (11.0); 3.7

MT FIGURE EIGHT

28.9 sec @ 0.56 g (avg); 28.5 sec @ 0.70 g (avg)

TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH CONSUMER INFO STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL

1,900; 1,600 rpm Yes/yes

AIRBAGS

Dual front, front side, f/r curtain

BASIC WARRANTY

3 yrs/36,000 miles

POWERTRAIN WARRANTY

5 yrs/100,000 miles

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

5 yrs/100,000 miles

FUEL CAPACITY

21.0 gal

RECOMMENDED FUEL

Unleaded regular *7,000 lb, 3.6L with tow package.

SMOOTH The Chevy Colorado provided a nice ride both empty and loaded. FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 71


72 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


2015 BMW M4 VS. 2015 Lexus RC F | COMPARISON

,

WITH NEARLY 900 H COUPES MAKE QUICKP BETWEEN THEM, THESE LUXURY USE OF ROADS—AND TIRES

phy Julia LaPalme

Words Carlos Lago Photogra


COMPARISON | 2015 BMW M4 VS. 2015 Lexus RC F You may find yourself crossed up in a luxury car, steering turned opposite the direction of the road, the remnants of tires following behind. And there may be a moment when, between the giggles, you find it strange that this kind of car exists. How would you classify these two? They started as luxury coupes—something once intended to be well-appointed and comfortable—but now they have more power, stiffer suspensions, and locking differentials so you can powerslide. And boy, can you powerslide. The makers of these two cars will tell you about lap lateral g’s and suspension kinematics, but the ease with which you can destroy their rear tires in wild displays of immaturity says differently. Think of the untold millions invested to satisfy us kids; we’ve built rockets that go to space, but all we want to watch is the fire from the engines. In this case, it’s BMW and Lexus, and this is how we got here: The former decided at

74 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

some point in the 1980s that it would be neat if its sedan were faster than Mercedes-Benz’s sedan around a racetrack, and a legend was born. Flash-forward 30 years, and down the family tree falls the M4. It’s grown substantially in size and weight, but it’s never been faster or as capable. Lexus is the relative newcomer, creating a performance division in 2006 with its own letter: F. It stands for Fuji Speedway, where Lexus performs vehicle development, and the shape of the badge supposedly comes from a turn or sequence of turns on the track. The car here wearing that badge is the RC coupe, and regardless of the official definition, after driving it you might think F means Fun. Funky best describes its design. The outwardly aggressive, in-your-face RC F looks good from a distance; its proportions and bolder cues give an appearance of something between LFA and IS F. The closer you get, though, the less successful that blend

becomes. Strange details poke out everywhere—what’s going on with the side skirts, those headlights, that grille? It’s a different look, for better or worse, and at minimum you can appreciate that Lexus really went for it. Inside, the theme is consistent, though not as off-putting. The quantity of details and quality of materials make the RC F a far more interesting car to sit in. The LFA-inspired shifting digital instrument cluster is just cool, and it makes neat changes when you switch between driving modes. Put the car in the most aggressive setting, for example, and the tach grows and centers itself in the instrument cluster. It also has some fun toys, like a g meter that draws your lateral and longitudinal peaks in a circle. It challenges you to make that circle bigger by pushing the car harder. Subtlety reigns with the BMW. It, too, is nicely proportioned but remains so as you get closer. Its details are cleaner, and the car


appears more refined—it doesn’t bare its teeth at everything. Skip the attention-getting paint options (like the pictured Austin Yellow Metallic), and people might mistake it for a standard 4 Series. This is the fast car for people who want to blend in. Past the smattering of carbon fiber inside, the new seats offer good support, the steering wheel feels good, and we always welcome a head-up

display, but the M4’s interior feels remarkably plain after the RC F. We respect the simplicity, but there is an absence of occasion. In a strange turn of events, it’s the Japanese car with the big V-8 and the German one with the small-displacement turbo mill. And with this comes a functioning demonstration of the advantages turbochargers bring and the things they take away. BMW’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter I-6 makes an unarguable point in terms of power delivery, offering its peak 406 lb-ft of torque seemingly the second you apply full throttle and pulling strongly to redline. It feels overpowered in the best way, as if its engine were one size over the needs of the chassis. But while the power itself is fun, the sound of applying it pales in comparison to the Lexus. At the right engine speed and throttle load, a flap in the RC F’s engine bay

LOOK AT ME Between the open maw and gold paint, both cars command attention. While you can get a diferent color on the BMW, there’s only one nose for the Lexus.

exposes the cabin and exterior to a deep intake bellow that’s topped at redline with a soft beep, telling you it’s time to do it all again in the next gear. It doesn’t sound pretty but is wonderfully aggressive. The M4’s timbre sounds mechanical and grainy in contrast, lacking depth. Neither of these two has a clutch pedal. While the M4 comes standard with a six-speed manual, ours had the optional seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, and the Lexus’ eight-speed is the only transmission available. Both work well enough to make you seriously debate the worth of a manual, offering responsive upshifts and

The M4 is the fast car for people who want to blend in.

BUTTONED UP Both cars have a mass of driveline and chassis controls. The M4 we used for photography had adjustable dampers, but the one we tested did not.

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 75


COMPARISON | 2015 BMW M4 VS. 2015 Lexus RC F M4 1.43 g RC F 1.41 g

THE STREETS OF WILLOW SPRINGS RACEWAY

8

Track Length: 1.55 miles

M4 0.98 g RC F 0.94 g

7

M4 0.68 g RC F 0.70 g

6 Cornering Braking

M4 1.12 g RC F 1.07 g M4 1.11 g RC F 1.12 g

5

2

M4 0.84 g RC F 0.90 g

4

M4 1.09 g RC F 1.09 g

M4 1.21 g RC F 1.17 g

9

M4 1.21 g RC F 1.22 g

10

M4 1.02 g RC F 0.97 g

M4 1.17 g RC F 1.14 g

3 11

13

12

14

1

M4 0.86 g RC F 0.93 g

BMW M4

Vehicle positions at 8.37-second intervals

M4 1.15 g RC F 1.05 g

BEST BMW M4 LAP TIMES

1:24:05

110

M4 83.7 mph RC F 83.2 mph

M4 80.2 mph RC F 78.3 mph

90

M4 118.3 mph RC F 114.8 mph

TOP SPEEDS

M4 108.8 mph RC F 103.8 mph

100

M4 1.09 g RC F 1.05 g

LEXUS RC F

LEXUS RC F

1:23:73

120

M4 1.01 g RC F 1.10 g

M4 66.6 mph RC F 68.7 mph

M4 68.3 mph RC F 68.9 mph

80 70 60 50 40 30

M4 44.1 mph RC F 44.9 mph

M4 36.3 mph RC F 36.8 mph

M4 44.3 mph RC F 43.2 mph

LOW SPEEDS

M4 43.3 mph RC F 43.8 mph

M4 38.0 mph RC F 36.6 mph

MPH

20

M4 40.6 mph RC F 40.8 mph

TURNS

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12 13 14

Bumper Cars When the checkered-fag start-fnish line disappears under the M4’s front bumper afer 1.55 miles of furious driving, the Lexus is 13 feet arrears the BMW’s bumper—a scant 0.3 percent of a lap behind. How did we get here? Let’s rewind the tape to the beginning.

The two cars blur past the starting line with the M4 almost 4 mph faster, with the gap inching up to about 4.5 before Turn 1. By this point, the BMW has a 33-foot edge, a separation that will Slinky somewhat over the ensuing 84 seconds, but never disappear. To

76 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

really understand what happened we have to rewind even further, to when they accelerate out of the last corner and approach that start-fnish line. The fnal result is dictated by a simple drag race to the start that the BMW wins handily. Over the ensuing 14 cor-

ners, the Lexus sometimes gains with higher braking g’s; the BMW ofsets that with harder spurts of acceleration and higher speeds wherever the course challenges their stability. By the fnish, the two are not quite being bumper cars, but are prety close. KR


COMPARISON

When pushed, the BMW drives the way the Lexus looks, and vice versa. well-controlled downshifts. In manual mode, the RC F’s transmission locks up the torque converter from gears second and up. Standard RC Fs come with a Torsen differential, but ours employed a driver-controllable torque-vectoring differential that biases power through a pair of electric motors and planetary gearsets. For as different as the two look and sound, both cars are similar in size, sharing dimensions within tenths of an inch. So it’s surprising to learn that the Lexus weighs 441 pounds more than the BMW. Why? According to Jonny Lieberman, the F team aimed to increase the RC F’s rigidity but had to keep costs down. The resulting chassis is part GS (front), last-gen IS convertible (middle), and current IS (rear). The byproduct is weight. Lexus combats this with 42 hp more than the BMW, which brings the weight-to-power of both cars within 0.2 lb/hp. Alas, the M4 remains the faster car in our tests. Its lessfrustrating-than-before-but-still-more-complicated-than-it-should-be launch control and broader torque band help it pass the quarter mile 0.5 second and 5.6 mph faster than the Lexus. The same goes for braking and road holding. The BMW gets more power out of its Michelins and optional carbon-ceramic brakes, stopping 9 feet shorter from 60 mph. It also completes its figure-eight lap 0.7 second faster and generates 0.04g higher average lateral grip in the process. While the test numbers give the M4 the edge, the real world proves more of a level playing field. If you forget the numbers, you’ll have a great time in either car. How can you not? They are, after all, luxury hot rods with precise steering, sharp handling, and hugely

enjoyable, 400-plus-horsepower powertrains. What becomes apparent is that when pushed, the BMW drives like the Lexus looks, and vice versa. The M4 certainly feels faster—a product of its lower weight and meaty, torque-filled powerband—but the RC F remains no less satisfying. It’s also easier to approach; you feel like you can reach its limits after two turns. It offers stability in surplus, dropping the challenge of highspeed corners but not the fun. Its torque deficit and weight surplus only become apparent in tight second-gear corners where you have to wait for the engine to get back up to speed. Drifts are available but don’t come on unless provoked. When prodded, the RC F happily produces tire smoke. The M4’s higher performance threshold means it takes a bit longer to get comfortable with, but it offers more reward. The M4’s electronically controlled differential and suspension setup offers the rear end as an additional handling tool, allowing the driver to change the car’s attitude mid-corner. Roll into the throttle after the apex, and the M4 tightens its line. Perfecting use of this tool takes some practice, though, as the M4’s torque delivery can transform those adjustments into slides of rapidly increasing lunacy. Go without

If you forget the test numbers, you’ll have a great time in either car.

supervision long enough and you’ll mark every corner you drive through with long black lines. We drew quite a few new lines around our local Streets of Willow racetrack where resident hot shoe Randy Pobst set lap times and gave impressions. Those lap times? They fell within 0.3 second of each other with the M4 ahead, no surprise considering the advantage it held during our tests. Per Pobst, it came down to the BMW’s propensity to oversteer versus the Lexus’ stability. The M4’s tires “want to be hooked up; they don’t want too much slip angle,” Pobst said. “By the seat of my pants, it felt like I could go a lot faster by being very gentle with the throttle in the middle of the corner and not asking the tires to do too much accelerating when it was busy cornering.” And the RC F? “It’s a very stable car, with a little bit of understeer late in the entry and in the middle,” he said. “It was an easier car to drive fast than the BMW because it had far less power oversteer. It converted its power into acceleration better than the BMW would.” While Pobst liked the RC F’s ability to translate power on corner exits into acceleration, he preferred the M4’s body control. “The BMW is much better damped than the Lexus,” he said. “The RC F is too soft for track use, which is not a condemnation—it’s not a race car; it’s a sporty street car. On the other hand, if you have suspension adjustment, come on! Let’s go! The BMW’s are not adjustable, and yet they are plenty capable, and I do not think the car is horribly stiff on the street.” Both

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 77


COMPARISON

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS

2015 BMW M4

2015 Lexus RC F

DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT ENGINE TYPE

Front-engine, RWD Twin-turbo I-6, alum block/head

Front-engine, RWD 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads

VALVETRAIN DISPLACEMENT COMPRESSION RATIO POWER (SAE NET) TORQUE (SAE NET) REDLINE WEIGHT TO POWER TRANSMISSION AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR

DOHC, 4 valves/cyl 181.8 cu in/2,979 cc 10.2:1 425 hp @ 5,500 rpm 406 lb-f @ 1,850 rpm 7,500 rpm 8.5 lb/hp 7-speed twin-clutch auto. 3.46:1/2.32:1

DOHC, 4 valves/cyl 303.2 cu in/4,969 cc 12.3:1 467 hp @ 7,100 rpm 389 lb-f @ 4,800 rpm 7,300 rpm 8.7 lb/hp 8-speed automatic 2.94:1/2.01:1

Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, anti-roll bar

Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; multi-link, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar

STEERING RATIO

15.0:1

14.0:1

TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK

2.3

2.8

BRAKES, F;R

15.8-in vented, drilled, carbon-ceramic disc; 15.0-in vented, drilled, carbonceramic disc, ABS

15.0-in vented, sloted disc; 13.6-in vented, sloted disc, ABS

WHEELS, F;R

9.0 x 19-in; 10.0 x 19-in forged aluminum

9.0 x 19-in; 10.0 x 19-in forged aluminum

TIRES, F;R

255/35ZR19 92Y; 275/35ZR19 100Y Michelin Pilot Super Sport

255/35R19 93Y; 275/35R19 96Y Bridgestone Potenza

110.7 in 62.2/63.1 in 184.5 x 73.6 x 54.4 in 40.0 f 3,604 lb 52/48% 4 39.8/36.1 in 42.2/33.7 in 55.3/51.7 in 11.0 cu f

107.5 in 61.2/61.4 in 185.2 x 72.6 x 54.7 in 35.4 f 4,045 lb 54/46% 4 37.8/35.0 in 45.4/27.3 in 50.7/46.1 in 10.1 cu f

DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE TRACK, F/R LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT TURNING CIRCLE CURB WEIGHT WEIGHT DIST., F/R SEATING CAPACITY HEADROOM, F/R LEGROOM, F/R SHOULDER ROOM, F/R CARGO VOLUME TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100 PASSING, 45-65 MPH QUARTER MILE BRAKING, 60-0 MPH LATERAL ACCELERATION MT FIGURE EIGHT 1.6-MI ROAD COURSE LAP TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE

1.7 sec 2.5 3.2 4.0 5.0 6.1 7.4 8.9 1.7 12.2 sec @ 117.8 mph 98 f 0.98 g (avg) 24.2 sec @ 0.84 g (avg) 83.73 sec 1,750 rpm

1.7 sec 2.4 3.3 4.3 5.5 6.9 8.4 10.2 2.0 12.7 sec @ 112.2 mph 107 f 0.92 g (avg) 24.9 sec @ 0.80 g (avg) 84.05 sec 1,550 rpm

$65,150

$63,325

PRICE AS TESTED

$85,225

$73,225

STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL

Yes/yes Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee

Yes/yes Dual front, front side, f/r curtain, front knee

BASIC WARRANTY

4 yrs/50,000 miles

4 yrs/50,000 miles

POWERTRAIN WARRANTY

4 yrs/50,000 miles

6 yrs/70,000 miles

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

4 yrs/unlimited

4 yrs/unlimited

FUEL CAPACITY

15.8 gal

17.4 gal

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB.ECON

17/24/19 mpg

16/25/19 mpg

ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY

198/140 kW-hrs/100 miles

211/135 kW-hrs/100 miles

CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB.

0.99 lb/mile

1.02 lb/mile

RECOMMENDED FUEL

Unleaded premium

Unleaded premium

AIRBAGS

78 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

cars come with all manner of buttons and adjustments. In the Lexus, a dial selects one of four drive modes, from Eco to Sport Plus, adjusting shift logic, throttle response, and steering accordingly. A TVD button adjusts the response of the differential to street, slalom, and track settings. Amusingly, Lexus calls the stability control’s sport setting Expert mode, displaying it as such on the dash. BMW separates the drive mode control into different buttons, offering one of three options for shift quality, throttle sharpness, steering heft, and stability control. If our tester had optional adjustable shocks, there’d be another button, too. Yet playing with these buttons offers little benefit. The most aggressive throttle setting, for example, makes the throttle act like more of a button than a lever, which isn’t ideal considering how quickly torque comes on. The same goes for the transmission. “I don’t like the most aggressive setting because I think it actually unsettles the chassis on upshifts,” Pobst said. “It hits with such a bang.” While an overabundance of settings is a minor annoyance, we found both of these cars excellent at producing tire smoke and smiles. We preferred the Lexus around town, as it’s a more interesting car to sit in thanks to its

“The RC F was an easier car to drive fast than the BMW because it had far less power oversteer.” wealth of technical and visual details. The styling may be a large miss, but we admire the effort. And we were genuinely impressed with the ground the RC F made up on the racetrack. It offers performance similar to the M4’s, but it feels friendlier. Alas, we picked the M4 when it came down to the car we’d rather take home. Its engine lacks the Lexus’ aural satisfaction, but its powerband over-delivers. Its suspension works excellently on a bumpy racetrack and isn’t exceptionally rough on normal roads. Overall, it offers a higher performance envelope than the Lexus, and while it might take more time to get accustomed to, we found more engagement and satisfaction in the process. As driving enthusiasts, we simply enjoyed driving it more. Powerslides and all. n


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CHARIOTS OF THE GODS WE TEST AN OLYMPUS-WORTHY TRACK THREESOME Words Randy Pobst Photography Mark Bramley

80 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


Audi R18 e - tron | TRACK TEST 14-PAGE SECTION ■ AUDI R18 E-TRON ■ MITSUBISHI MiEV EVO III ■ BMW M1

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 81


PRESS TO PLAY The R18 e-tron’s steering wheel is jammed with buttons, dials, and switches.

“What’s that noise?” says video man Anthony Esposito. It’s an industrial, thrashing, threshing, gnashing sound, not unlike the fiendish metal shredder that eats cars at a recycling plant. “Yikes, man, is that the R18?!” I say as the racket echoes off the walls of the nearly empty Misano Circuit on the Adriatic coast of Italy. Just hearing this technological wonder when not blurred by the cacophony of other racers is one of the many pleasures of this incredible experience. I’m going to test drive the very Audi R18 e-tron that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans just a couple months ago. It still wears the actual grime from that victory. I love when they show and store race cars with the battle scars intact. My R18 No. 2 is headed straight to the Audi museum—if we don’t crash it first. A few lucky writers have been invited for a taste of one of the engineering wonders of the world, and we are lectured politely and pointedly about driving with respect. It’s clear the corporate enthusiasts who push for racing need to do all they can to justify the expense, and I’m one of the blessed recipients of the result, thanks to Motor Trend and a few old friends from when I drove for Audi 10 years ago. The Audi R18 was new, again, for 2014 and matches a four-liter V-6 single-turbo diesel churning the rear Michelin slicks with 540 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of twist to a flywheel accumulator and electric motor generator

unit that sends another 228 horses and gobs more torque to the front O.Z. mag wheels (they really are magnesium). Do the math. Wow. It seems nearly all the world’s fastest cars are hybrids now, race and street—who’da thought? This contrapuntal, environmentally sensitive choice for a resource-romping race car is the result of the latest FIA regulations for the top-dog P1 prototype category that allow kinetic-energy recovery systems (KERS) to emphasize efficiency. While historically racers have been limited on power via engine size, revs, air restrictors, and such, these new rules control the energy per lap. Fascinating. Officials constantly monitor the energy used, and if a driver uses too much, there’s a painful time penalty, and you only get three laps to average it out. That can lead to frustrating situations for drivers, who might be instructed to lift off the power early at the end of a straight, where it saves the most energy with the least loss of time. It’s yet another strategy for keeping racing alive for those of us who love it while also creating some useful purpose for it. What I love about these rules is that they open the door to creativity and the advance of technology. Designers have a lot of room to decide how to most efficiently generate speed. Audi Sport and its esteemed leader, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, chose the diesel engine and a flywheel energy storage system. Rather than batteries, the R18 stores its braking energy in a spinning carbon-fiber flywheel, located in a box next to the driver, that turns nearly

150,000 rpm. That’s the e-tron part of the equation. This momentum in a bottle is then delivered back to the front wheels in careful measure, limited by the rules, and at precisely chosen times on track—I’m guessing the beginnings of the longest straights. At dinner the night before, I sat next to Ullrich and was entertained and enlightened. I strained pitifully to ask worthy questions. Afterward, I was handed a 16-page booklet on how to start and drive the R18 with instructions to study it and then place it under my pillow, the better to encourage osmosis during sleep. It was, after all, already 10 p.m. I read it over and over with droopy eyes, not wanting to be the fool who stalls leaving the pit or punches the wrong button and causes a nuclear holocaust. The steering wheel alone bristles with 23 buttons and dials, plus shift lights and a small digital screen including lap time, tire pressures, energy used, and more. And that’s just the front. The rear of the wheel adds another eight switches you cannot see, including shifters and the hand clutch. The dash to the left has 10 more, plus KERS lights, including red ones that warn that 170 kW want to zap you. If you must leave the car when the red lights are on, jump off. Do not step down and complete the circuit to ground. Early next morning at Misano, I’m scheduled second in the R18. I watch as 2014 Le Mans winner Marcel Fassler warms it up, utterly at home. Then he takes me around in an Audi RS 4, and I smile as I hear myself in his words of guidance to his unknown passenger: Apex very late here, careful in this curving brake zone. Next I drive an A4 TDi with R8 ’Ring 24 Hours winner Markus Winkelhock as co-pilot, doing an out lap, a hot lap, and back in. OK, three laps, ready, bring on the R18 e-tron. Now, was Turn 13 the flat-out kink, or was it 12? I barely know the track. I step on the sidepod and slide into the cockpit. Their seat choice is perfect, securing me firmly from shoulders to thigh. The foot box is level with the seat bottom, high and small, bisected, all brake pedal left and all throttle right, left-foot brake only, hand clutch, no dead pedal. Leena Gade, the team engineer, is one of their secrets to success. She is all business, her English accent a comfort in my ear as the crew rolls me out of the garage. Main, on; radio, check; mode, four; ASR, 10

The R18 goes otherwordly at speed as the aero antes up to godlike grip.

82 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


TRACK TEST

EXPERIENCE Although the Audi R18 e-trons qualifed ffth, sixth, and seventh, Car 2 would go on to win with Car 1 fnishing second.

(full traction control); DMS (hybrid system), on; clutch, left finger; first gear, right finger; pit speed limiter, right finger; start, right thumb; full throttle (yep, full—the car knows). Thrashing, thresher engine racket; ease out clutch hand (just like my bikes—I got this); nice, wide engagement; roll out; tall, tall first gear; pit exit; kill pit speed control; instant torque. Rev limiter! Shift limiter! Shift faster, all lights! Lordy, this thing goes through gears in the wink of an eye. Cue Wagner. Here we go. The big pre-warmed Michelins stick, braking is strong and without much effort. The KERS is almost like a power assist. First corner slow, and decreasing, big push. Throttle on, not much happens. Straighten wheel, moon shot! ASR traction control is cranked up—can’t blame them for that. Gear, gear, gear, shifting almost as fast as I can flick

2014 AUDI R18 E-TRON BASE PRICE

$30 million (est)

VEHICLE LAYOUT

Mid-engine, AWD, 1-pass, 2-door race car

ENGINE

4.0L/540-hp/600-lb-f* turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 plus 228-hp* front electric motor

TRANSMISSION

7-speed sequential manual

CURB WEIGHT

1,918 lb (minumum allowable)

WHEELBASE

116.9 in

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT

183.1 x 74.8 x 41.3 in

2.6-MI ROAD COURSE LAP

94.29 sec

*Conservative ofcial fgures (R18)

a finger, with seamless acceleration, like a jet. The sound is homogeneous; it’s hard to hear revs change, so I depend only on the lights— there’s no tach anyway. There is huge instant torque, and the car is planted, no squirm at all. Brake zones are the same, dead-on straight, with a minor vagueness I attribute to spinning up the flywheel. Up the back straight in fifth and sixth, shifts finally spread out, and we razor into the undulating 140-mph kink. Here the R18 is at its best, downforce fully engaged, stuck like all your handling hopes and dreams come true. Steering response is instant, yet confidence is high. I just know it’s gonna hold. I wish I knew the track a little better. Brake, brake, brake, pushing wide, the apex is over there, stupid. Grip is back to earth, pushing in, then snapping sideways in the $30 million museum piece, then the ASR kicks in and spoils the party—or saves my career—and as

we unwind the wheel, we pound away, pinned back, pulling gears as the KERS does its payback thing, no squirm at all. Quattro, baby. The R18 is a normal, wonderful race car at low speed, stiff and a little hard to read at the limit, then goes otherworldly at speed as the aero antes up to godlike grip. In sum: high tech, high torque, high downforce. Gade says, “Box this lap,” and I cannot believe it’s over already. Just a taste, a tease, a glimpse of the holy land. Go to mode 12 to discharge the hybrid system, then DMS off to disengage it, then pit speed, hand clutch, shift downdowndown, stop in pit box and turn it off with the start button. Like Windows, I chuckle. Chariot of the gods. I left wanting more but oh so grateful for this mind-blowing shot at the current Le Mans-winning R18 e-tron. I came away impressed with the honesty of purpose at Audi for using race technology on the street. Or is it vice versa? TFSI (direct injection), TDi (diesel), VTG (variable turbine geometry), ultralight weight, e-tron Quattro (hybrid all-wheel drive), and Matrix LED lights are all found on both. Vorsprung durch Technik— advancement through technology, indeed. ■

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 83


RACE CAR TRACK TEST | Mitsubishi MiEV

going up Words Kim Reynolds Photography Julia LaPalme

84 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


POWER-LAPPING AN ELECTRIFYINGLY FUN PIKES PEAK RACE CAR

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 85


FIRST TEST | Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III

In 1893, Bostonian Katharine Lee Bates rode a mule to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak and was so moved by the sprawling vista that she wrote what became the lyrics for “America the Beautiful.” Later she recounted the “sea-like sweep of the plain” before her, which I picture as being tranquil but for the sigh of the breeze and the mules pawing at the dirt. Had she composed her poetic description on, say, June 29, 2014, though, our second national anthem might have some unusual new words. “O beautiful for spacious … roar, blat, blat, blat “For amber waves of … whoosh, chortle-pop, whoosh, chortle—pop, pop, pop “For purple mountain, majesties … wEEEo— wEEEo … wEEE—wEEEo…wEEEo—wEEEo.” Wait a minute. What the heck was that one? It was the piercing car-alarm pedestrian warning of the otherwise-silent all-electric Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III on its way to the all-time fourth fastest run at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Its 9:08.188 time bagged this year’s Electric category win, and came this close (2.4 seconds) to the overall prize. Alarm aside (speeding EVs on blind curves 86 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Imagine climbing nine-tenths of a mile in fve laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

LOW O2 The thinning air isn’t a problem for electric racers. Since 2012, the upper third has been paved, further dropping times.


TRACK TEST

being a really bad idea), this might be the quietest race since Spencer Penrose widened Bates’ old carriage road and concocted a Race to the Clouds to pull in tourists. Its inaugural 1916 running (making it America’s second oldest race) was won by Rea Lentz in 20 minutes, 55.66 seconds driving the Romano Demon Special (and what a great car name, eh?). Better-known drivers followed—the Unsers, the Millens, Andretti, Buffum, Mouton, “Monster” Tajima. And then two years ago, Sebastian Loeb’s staggering record of 8 minutes, 13.878 seconds helped by the now fully paved upper portion. Postcard racks for hundreds of miles would soon be filled with snapshots of crazy-winged cars

cornering as much backward as forward as they surfed lethal drop-offs with tire-spewed pebble-clouds frozen in the air. The climb to the clouds is genuinely steep. Imagine that while driving five laps of the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval you also climb almost a mile in elevation— with 156 corners thrown in. By the top, the air thins enough to leave naturally aspirated engines panting at about 70 percent of their starting line horsepower. That’s a decisive advantage for turbocharged cars—and why some have chosen not to breathe at all. There might even be a teensy benefit: fewer of those pesky air molecules to knock out of the way. The anchor-like downside is battery heft—a sizable chunk of the car’s 3,226-pound curb weight being its next-gen lithium-ion cells—which, unlike gas tanks, lighten exactly zip as they empty. Worse yet, while you could conceivably crest the peak on your very last flaming hydrocarbon, you can’t on your last electron (well, you could, but you’d be moving very, very slowly if you did); the entire battery needs to be oversized by about a third to guarantee continuous power. Hence its 50 kW-hrs capacity is exactly the size it needs to be, and not a kW-hr more. Before a run, the center of the battery is spot-cooled with an air conditioner; nine minutes of continuous energy depletion creates a huge thermal problem. The battery dominates the architecture of the car in a way that should remind us of Archimedes of Syracuse. Remember Archimedes? Dropping to the bottom of his filled bathtub, he realized that the water’s rise meant that he himself was denser (then he ran through the streets shouting “Eureka!”). The same logic sculpts the car’s peculiar appearance, but in reverse: Its battery (though air-cooled) is denser than the driver and his cockpit environment, so while odd-looking, the lowest overall center-of-gravity solution is achieved by perching the pilot up top. Keeping with our references to old, dead Greeks, the MiEV Evo III is also rather Euclidian in its geometric order. Attached to the battery’s front and rear ends are identical propulsion units, two motors in front, two in back, each wheel twirled by its own 151-hp, production-based MiEV motor via identical-length half shafts. Tires? Dunlop 330/680 R18 slicks all around. Weight distribution? 50/50. (OK, I’m exaggerating; it’s 50.09/49.91.)

151-hp, stock-based motors? Some big-time liberties have been taken with these 66-hp units—modified parts, the generous safety factor tossed out, the voltage raised from 320 to 420. There’s 604 total horsepower. As the name Evolution III implies, Mitsubishi’s mountaineering program has been a three-year campaign of ever-escalating assaults. Evo I held a single 107-hp motor up front and two in back. Evolution II and III are basically the same fourmotor cars, though the latter has elevated horsepower, a lightened tube frame, extra downforce, and fatter rubber. Team manager Roger Yaksukawa: “We spent more time in the wind tunnel to add front downforce to reduce understeer. There’s also a large rear wing mainplane and rear wickerbill. Last year’s car was basically right. It just needed some detail improvements.” His point proved, of course, by Greg Tracy’s and teammate/technical director Hiroshi Masuoka’s one-two finish in the Electric category. “Unfortunately, we got hit by rain last year, so we didn’t have the opportunity to showcase what the car’s true potential was. We’d have liked to have gone under 9 minutes…”

7 a.m. Streets of Willow Springs. To explore Yaksukawa’s claim further, we’re 780 miles west of explorer Zebulon Pike’s pink-granite peak in California’s Mojave Desert. Might as well be a million. The Streets is 1.55 miles, not 12.42; its elevation change is 64 feet, not 4,700. The psychological gulf between approaching a corner apron that’s flat desert gravel versus a blue-nothingness drop is … thousands of feet. Why are we here? Like sending a rare species of mountain gorilla to the Smithsonian for study, Mitsubishi offered us the unusual chance to bring its MiEV Pikes Peak racer out of its natural mountain habitat and into our hometown laboratories for analysis. In a few minutes, our chief driving scientist, Randy Pobst, would snap on his latex—er—driving gloves to begin his examination. In the pale-green cinder-block garage, the car sits like a dozing WWE wrestler before a match, a brightly colored, muscly shape festooned in costume-like wings. Conversations echo off the painted brick walls. A portable air conditioner blows cool air into the battery. Tools clink against the table. Coffee is sipped. Yaksukawa is talking

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 87


TRACK TEST | Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III MIEV 2.05 g GT-R 1.51 g

THE STREETS OF WILLOW SPRINGS RACEWAY

8

Track Length: 1.55 miles

MiEV 1.49 g GT-R 1.17 g

7

MiEV 1.35 g GT-R 0.73 g

6

Cornering Braking

MiEV 1.72 g GT-R 1.20 g MiEV 1.56 g GT-R 1.25 g

MiEV 1.88 g GT-R 1.32 g

9 DAREDEVIL Greg Tracy (left) is a six-time Pikes Peak motorcycle champion and an accomplished stunt driver.

5 4

MiEV 1.60 g GT-R 1.17 g

MiEV 1.58 g GT-R 1.22 g

2

MiEV 1.45 g GT-R 1.07 g

10

MiEV 1.45 g GT-R 1.07 g

MiEV 1.71 g GT-R 1.19 g

3 11

MITSUBISHI MIEV EVOLUTION III

Vehicle positions at 14.18-second intervals

MiEV 1.54 g GT-R 1.18 g

BEST MITSUBISHI MIEV LAP TIMES

14

1:19:07

120

MiEV 99.0 mph GT-R 91.1 mph

MiEV 96.3 mph GT-R 84.9 mph

100

MiEV 133.4 mph GT-R 123.9 mph

TOP SPEEDS

MiEV 124.8 mph GT-R 114.8 mph

110

MiEV 1.35 g GT-R 1.12 g

NISSAN GT-R NISMO

NISSAN GT-R NISMO

1:10:90

130

13

12

1

MiEV 1.36 g GT-R 0.91 g

140

MiEV 1.65 g GT-R 1.21 g

MiEV 87.9 mph GT-R 74.1 mph

90

MiEV 78.0 mph GT-R 70.5 mph

80 70 60 50 40

MiEV 38.6 mph GT-R 36.3 mph

30

MiEV 45.9 mph GT-R 45.0 mph

MiEV 47.1 mph GT-R 46.4 mph

LOW SPEEDS

MiEV 53.4 mph GT-R 44.9 mph

MiEV 39.6 mph GT-R 38.8 mph

MPH

20

MiEV 51.7 mph GT-R 43.9 mph

TURNS

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12 13 14

Peak Performance To dramatize just how fast the MiEV Evolution III is, here it’s compared to the production-car lap record Randy Pobst recently nailed around Streets of Willow in a Nissan GT-R Nismo. Except for a few low-speed corners, the Mitsubishi’s graph almost looks

like a misprint—displaced upward to a comical degree. Obviously the Evo III accelerates more fercely and reaches higher top speeds (almost 8-percent higher on the back straight), but it also brakes dramatically harder— notice the steepness of speed trace into Turns 1 and 8. In these,

88 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

as well as Turn 4, the Nissan nears the Mitsu’s cornering pace; in Turn 14 (the “skidpad”) we have the most direct comparison of their low-speed lateral grip. The two cars share many atributes, including sophisticated all-wheel drive and similar horsepower: 604-hp (Mitsu)

SMALL DETAILS Wind tunnel testing added more downforce, particularly at the front.

versus 600 (Nissan). However, the GT-R’s extra 655 pounds leave it struggling 706 feet (more than an eighth of a mile) behind the Evo III by the fnish line. It’s rare to see a GT-R humbled by anything, let alone an electric car—but of course it’s taken a remarkable racing one to do it.


2014 Mitsubishi MiEV Evolution III to engineer Suzuki and driver Tracy, the guy who set that terrific 9:08.188 time (and is also a six-time Pikes Peak winner on two wheels). Everybody’s anxious to get the car—or really, its sensitive battery—on the track before the heat starts to rise. The morning’s shadows are shrinking. Pobst slithers through the rollcage tubing, cinches the belts, and pulls down his helmet. Pikes Peak racing cars aren’t foreign to him (fourth in 1995’s Touring Car class in a tuned BMW M5; he returned in 2004 in a 034 Motorsports Audi A4), but this one might as well be. The car shurrrrs away. What happens next is a bit surreal. On these sorts of test days, I’m usually planted behind my computer screen to make sure all the data capturing is working correctly. But today is both too bizarre, and once-in-a-lifetime-unusual, to miss. I’ve watched cars roar between these corners a hundred times before—some faster, some slower—but the MiEV is a pinball blur through them, its only sounds an occasional brake keen and tire chirp. It’s a Keystone Cops silent movie where everything is sped up for comic effect, but without the sepia-tone sky and pipe organ music. Pobst pulls off his balaclava. “Like a street car, there’s a lot of stability control that reduces the driver’s control, and I always find that frustrating.” It’s for good reason; there’s not much practice at Pikes Peak, so having anti-catastrophe software (a blend of Lancer Evolution and Outlander PHEV code) makes it likelier to finish. “The electric power steering doesn’t keep up with the downforce loads, so the effort sometimes got a little high and gooey.” On the other hand, “its acceleration g’s seem similar all the way to 100 mph—that’s something I haven’t felt in a long, long time.” Its lap time is 1:10.90. Nine seconds—10 percent—quicker than our fastest-ever production car lap, the Nissan GT-R Nismo. Digest that. An EV clobbering a Nismo by 9 seconds is a machine-pitch Little League team toppling the Giants in nine shutout innings. Nuts-crazy. After six laps the heat has caught up with the battery, so the car’s photographed and loaded into its carrier to be recharged for tomorrow. Fourteen hours later associate road test editor Carlos Lago is installed in the MiEV and poised at the threshold of Auto Club California Speedway’s quarter-mile. Without warning the car appears to have been

PRICE (BASE/AS TESTED)

Undisclosed

MOTORS

Two 151-hp/221lb-f front and two 151-hp/221-lb-f rear electric motors, 604 hp/885 lb-f (comb)

BATTERY

50 kW-hr, Lithium-ion

WEIGHT TO POWER TRANSMISSION

5.3 lb/hp 1-speed

SUSPENSION, F/R

Control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar; control arms, coil springs, adj shocks, anti-roll bar

TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK BRAKES, F;R

1.5

WHEELS TIRES

15.0-in vented; 13.0-in vented 13.0 x 18-in, magnesium 330/680 R18 Dunlop

DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE TRACK, F AND R LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT CURB WEIGHT WEIGHT DIST., F/R SEATING CAPACITY TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 0-100

1.3 sec 1.7 2.2 2.7 3.3 3.9 4.7 5.6

PASSING, 45-65 MPH

1.0

QUARTER MILE

10.4 sec @ 133.0 mph

BRAKING, 60-0 MPH LATERAL ACCELERATION

96 f 1.34 g (avg)

MT FIGURE EIGHT

20.7 sec @ 1.19 g (avg)

1.55-MI ROAD COURSE LAP

70.90 sec

106.3 in 64.6 in 204.3 x 78.7 x 58.5 in 3,226 lb 50/50 % 1

smacked from behind by a gigantic, invisible pool cue. In 2.7 seconds it blinks past 60 mph, then the quarter in 10.4, both times identical to our original test of the Bugatti Veyron. The figure eight. My turn. Despite Pobst’s comments about low-speed push and heavy-handed stability control, on my fifth lap I turn into the right corner sloppily, the tail banana-peels sideways, the scenery carousels, and everything goes into rapid rewind. The faces of the bystanders I just passed swing back into frame, lowering their jaws. I stop, and the dust catches me

and drifts past. Deep breath; damn, that’s embarrassing. I’ve just spun a Pikes Peak racing car. The stability control system is really too aggressive for Randy’s taste? Unlike Pobst, my nervous system is ticking too slow; I’m chasing, not driving. Try it again. Think intravenous Red Bull. Right call. With quicker hands and feet, the car gradually becomes fun—a 400-percent scale electric racing kart. My goodness, Messrs. Tracy and Masuoka are actually paid to drive this thing? Fast steering and light-switch torque are the perfect one-two punches at low speeds. It’s decided: They’re going to have to drag me out of here. Except that in the back of my mind I know—just know—that sooner or later I’ll screw up again and not miss the curbs this time. My best time was a record: 20.9 seconds while cornering at 1.34 g of lateral grip, humbling even the mighty Porsche 918’s recent 22.2. A few minutes later, Lago (whose lighter weight is the least of his natural advantages) climbs in and does a 20.7 with the same lat g’s. Nuts. Lagos smiles and nonchalantly muses to our intently listening guests, “That’s our fastest time since…” “Since five minutes ago,” I finished his sentence. We laughed. Them, a little longer. Our testing done, the car is about to be reloaded into the trailer when I’m asked if I want one last acceleration run, just to feel it. Why not, right? So I climb in again, and as I’m face-warping my way down the quarter, I tilt my head back a few degrees to better see the speedo and whoosh, my hat’s gone. On the way back I brake to a crawl, carefully scanning the road. It’s vanished. Back at the car’s trailer, an engineer gets on his hands and knees, sees it lodged in the rear suspension, and we laugh as, smeared with grease, it’s extracted and I proudly put it back on. Sometime later I email the PR manager at Mitsubishi about the chances for a fourth assault on the mountain. His reply: “As of now, those cars have been retired.” I frown; this was a possibility, of course. But I want to be certain. “No next year?” I type, and tap Send. A minute later I double-click the response: “This puts your test in a different light. You guys might literally have been the last to drive this car in anger.” Not every story ends on the note you’d like. I’ll save that hat with some other mementos. And stories I don’t want to forget. n FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 89


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LIMIT 1 - Save 20% on any one item purchased at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800423-2567. *Cannot be used with other discount, coupon, gift cards, Inside Track Club membership, extended service plans or on any of the following: compressors, generators, tool storage or carts, welders, floor jacks, Towable Ride-On Trencher, Saw Mill (Item 61712/62366/67138), Predator Gas Power Items, open box items, in-store event or parking lot sale items. Not valid on prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase date with original receipt. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

R ! PE ON U P S U CO

• No Gas Required

79

$

WE CARRY A FULL LINE OF WELDING WIRE

99

99

Item 68887 shown

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

R ! PE ON U S UP CO

1195 LB. CAPACITY 4 FT. x 8 FT. HEAVY DUTY FOLDABLE UTILITY TRAILER

SAVE $130

LOT NO. 90154 62170

• DOT certified Item 90154 shown

$

REG. PRICE $399.99

LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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3 TON HEAVY DUTY STEEL JACK STANDS

SAVE 55% $

Item 95659 shown

59

99

REG. PRICE $79.99

32 PIECE SCREWDRIVER SET LOT NO. 61259/90764

SAVE 60%

REG. PRICE $279.99

15999

unt t be used with other disco calling 800-423-2567. Canno ies last. or HarborFreight.com or by receipt. Offer good while supplper day. mer LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original custo per n one coupo Valid through 4/26/15. Limit or coupon or prior purchases coupon must be presented. Non-transferable. Original

LOT NO. 66783/60581 60653/62334

12 VOLT, 10/2/50 AMP BATTERY CHARGER/ ENGINE STARTER

Item 90764 shown

5

$ 99

REG. PRICE $14.99 LIMIT 8 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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"Great Press for an Incredible Price!"

– American Iron Magazine

20 TON SHOP PRESS

• Pair of Arbor Plates included

SAVE 62% $

Item 38846 shown

19

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Truckin’ Magazine

LOT NO. 38846/69597 61196/62392

99

$

unt t be used with other disco calling 800-423-2567. Canno ies last. or HarborFreight.com or by receipt. Offer good while supplper day. mer LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original custo per n coupo one Valid through 4/26/15. Limit or coupon or prior purchases coupon must be presented. Non-transferable. Original

• 580 lb. Capacity

$99 R ! PE ON U S UP CO

LOT NO. 95275/60637 69486/61615

LOT NO. 95659 61634/61952

99$

26999

$3999

50%

26", 4 DRAWER TOOL CART

180

3 GALLON, 100 PSI OILLESS PANCAKE AIR COMPRESSOR

SAVE

WINNER

SAVE

$

VALUE

SAVE $50

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1499

LIMIT 1 - Cannot be used with other discount, coupon or prior purchase. Coupon good at our stores, HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Offer good while supplies last. Shipping & Handling charges may apply if not picked up in-store. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

Item 95275 shown

REG. PRICE $149.99

• Weighs 77 lbs.

$

R ! PE ON U P S U CO

90 AMP FLUX WIRE WELDER

LOT NO. 68887 61849

99

ITEM 90899 98025/69096

Item 90899 shown

20"

LOT NO. 68049/62326 60688/61253/61282 REG. PRICE $169.99

SUPER COUPON

REG. PRICE $44.99

Item 60653 shown

2999

LOT NO. 32879/60603

SAVE $145

Item 60603 shown

154

$

REG. 99$299PRICE .99

REG. PRICE $79.99 LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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POWDER-FREE NITRILE GLOVES PACK OF 100 MEDIUM

• 5 mil. thickness

LOT NO. 68496 61363/97581

LARGE

YOUR CHOICE!

6

$ 49 SAVE 45%

REG. PRICE $11.99

Item 68498 shown

LOT NO. 68497/61360

X-LARGE

LOT NO. 68498/61359

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LLIES 2 PIECE VEHICLE WHEEL DO • 1500 Lb. Capacity

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50%

Item 67338 shown

LOT NO. 67338 60343

$3999 $5999

REG. PRICE $79.99

unt t be used with other disco calling 800-423-2567. Canno ies last. or HarborFreight.com or by receipt. Offer good while supplper day. mer LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original custo per n coupo one Valid through 4/26/15. Limit or coupon or prior purchases coupon must be presented. Non-transferable. Original

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SUPER QUIET

4000 PEAK/ 3200 RUNNING WATTS 6.5 HP (212 CC) • 70 dB Noise GAS GENERATORS Level

SAVE $200

LOT NO. 69676/69729 LOT NO. 69675/69728 CALIFORNIA ONLY Item 69729 shown

$

29999 REG. PRICE $499.99

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ER N! P O SU UP O C

ER !

CAN AND OBD II SUP PON DELUXE SCAN TOOL COU LOT NO. 60693/99722/62119

LOW-PROFILE CREEPER

" 40

• 300 lb. Capacity

Item 60693 shown

SAVE $55

$

19"

REG. PRICE $129.99

19

99

REG. PRICE $49.99 LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

ER N! P O SU UP O C

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1500 WATT DUAL TEMPERATURE HEAT GUN (572°/1112°)

ER N! P O SU UP O C

LE 10 FT. x 20 FT. PORTABPY CAR CANO Item 69034 shown

8

t be used with other discount calling 800-423-2567. CannoOffer good while supplies last. t. or HarborFreight.com or by LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original receip n per customer per day. coupo one or coupon or prior purchases n must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit Non-transferable. Original coupo

R ! 60" WORKBENCH WITH PE N FOUR DRAWERS SU UPO

$ Item 93454 shown

149

MULTI-USE TRANSFER PUMP

CO

LOT NO. 93454 69054

LOT NO. 66418/61364

SAVE 66%

Item 66418 shown

139

99

4

REG. PRICE $14.99 LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

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Not for overhead lifting.

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3/8" x 14 FT. GRADE 43 ER N! P TOWING CHAIN SU PO U LOT NO. 97711/60658

24

$

ER N! P O SU UP O C

HEAVY DUTY RETRACTABLE AIR HOSE REEL WITH 3/8" x 25 FT. HOSE LOT NO. 69234/46104/69266 Item 69234 shown

$

SAVE 51%

43

REG. 99 $89PRICE .99

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• 600 lb. Capacity

R ! PE ON U S UP CO LOT NO. 37510

"The Ideal Trailer Dolly" – RV Magazine

60533/69898

SAVE

37%

HEAVY DUTY TRAILER DOLLY

$4999

Item 37510 shown

$

t be used with other discount calling 800-423-2567. CannoOffer good while supplies last. t. or HarborFreight.com or by LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original receip n per customer per day. coupo one ases Limit gh 4/26/15. or coupon or prior purch n must be presented. Valid throu Non-transferable. Original coupo

12" RATCHET BAR CLAMP/SPREADER LOT NO. 46807/68975 69221/69222/62123 Item 69222 shown

SAVE 66%

1

$ 99

• 1000 lb. Cap

LOT NO. 44649 69591/69646

SAVE

43%

SAVE $150

5999

$

Item 42304 shown

SAE

METRIC

YOUR CHOICE!

5

NON-CONTACT INFRARED THERMOMETER WITH LASER TARGETING

SAVE 56%

LOT NO. 42305/69044

REG. $ 99 $14PRICE .99 LIMIT 8 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

99

LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

LOT NO. 42304/69043

Item 69465 shown

$

LOT NO. 96451 69465/60725/61894

25

REG. 99$59PRICE .99

LIMIT 4 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

• 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed • Over 25 Million Satisfied Customers

Item 93068 shown

$

99 SAVE

REG. PRICE $249.99

9 PIECE FULLY POLISHED ER N! P COMBINATION SU UPO WRENCH SETS CO

SAVE 60%

WIRELESS SECURITY ALERT SYSTEM

LOT NO. 69727 CALIFORNIA ONLY

Item 69727 shown

REG. PRICE $79.99 t be used with other discount calling 800-423-2567. CannoOffer good while supplies last. t. or HarborFreight.com or by LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original receip coupon per customer per day. one ases Limit 5. purch 4/26/1 prior or gh n or coupo n must be presented. Valid throu Non-transferable. Original coupo

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LOT NO. 60363/69730/68120

$4499 $

REG. PRICE $5.99

6.5 HP (212 CC) OHV ER N! P HORIZONTAL SHAFT SU UPO GAS ENGINES CO

ER N! P O SU UP O C

• No Hassle Return Policy • Lifetime Warranty On All Hand Tools

5999

REG. PRICE $79.99

8499

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9" x 72" 2 PIECE STEESL LOADING RAMP acity

Item 44649 shown

ER N! P O SU UP O C

t be used with other discount calling 800-423-2567. CannoOffer good while supplies last. t. or HarborFreight.com or by LIMIT 5 - Good at our stores after 30 days from original purchase with original receip n per customer per day. coupo one ases gh 4/26/15. Limit or coupon or prior purch n must be presented. Valid throu Non-transferable. Original coupo

REG. PRICE $199.99

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55

LOT NO. 98199/61307 61971/61972

Item 98199 shown

SAVE $ 99 44% REG. PRICE $44.99

• 5400 lb. Capacity

$

10" SLIDING ER N! P COMPOUND SU PO MITER SAW COU

SAVE $115

CO

Item 97711 shown

REG. PRICE $129.99

$ 99

REG. PRICE $249.99

9999

SAVE

$99 99 REG. PRICE $199.99

LIMIT 9 - Good at our stores or HarborFreight.com or by calling 800-423-2567. Cannot be used with other discount or coupon or prior purchases after 30 days from original purchase with original receipt. Offer good while supplies last. Non-transferable. Original coupon must be presented. Valid through 4/26/15. Limit one coupon per customer per day.

SAVE $110

$74

$

99

99

$

REG. $ 99 $29PRICE .99

R ! PE ON U P S U CO

100

LOT NO. 96289/62340

Item 96289 shown

LOT NO. 69034/60728

LOT NO. 68424

• 700 ft. lbs. Max. Torque

SAVE $

SAVE 70%

1/2" INDUSTRIAL QUALITY SUPER HIGH TORQUE IMPACT WRENCH

Item 2745 shown

$

at a Really Great Price"

– Hot Bike Magazine

LOT NO. 69262 2745/69094 61916

SAVE 60%

7499

"Top of its Class in Quality

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53%

LOT NO. 93068/69590 61910/62447

1399

REG. PRICE $29.99

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ER N! P O SU UP O C

SAVE $110

40 LB. CAPACITY FLOOR BLAST CABINET Item 68893 shown

$

LOT NO. 68893/62144

18999

REG. PRICE $299.99

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• 550 Stores Nationwide • HarborFreight.com 800-423-2567


RACE CAR TRACK TEST | 1980 BMW M1

THE ORI For a vegetarian in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, food is a joy. I sampled everything from tofutempeh Reubens to savory kale and almond salads as I drove from L.A. to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion in a not-yet-available BMW i8 hybrid sports car. For a car-lover at the RMMR, an even greater joy is being offered a drive in a rare 1980-vintage BMW M1 race car. And when you think of it, the i8 is the spiritual descendant of the BMW living-museum artifact I was to

92 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

race—the very first of a long line of Ultimate Driving Machines to flaunt the now-legendary M. At least in part because I failed to shatter the carbon-fiber chassis of their DTM M3 in Spain last year, the curiously risk-immune execs at BMW had invited me to the track again, this time to go wheel-to-wheel with other million-dollar classics at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. In the paddock, my German exotic was resplendent in white with broad swaths of blue and red motorsport

colors, with a BMW Formula 1 car on one side and the 3.0 CSL that won Sebring in 1975 on the other. The latter was to be raced by our host and teammate for the weekend, BMW North America president Ludwig Willisch. It’s always a good sign for enthusiasts when a CEO likes to strap in behind the wheel. My ride was one of my all-time favorites, perfectly proportioned to my eye: the clean, Teutonic shape of the street M1 beefed up with massive flares and wing that bulge like the muscles of an all-pro running back. The


RARE RACE CAR Only 453 M1s were built from 1978 to 1981, and of those, only 20 became race cars. This car’s last competitive race is believed to have been Daytona in 1981.

GINAL

ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE

MT HOT SHOE RANDY POBST WHIPS AROUND MAZDA RACEWAY IN A HISTORIC EXOTIC Words Randy Pobst Photography Brian Vance


TRACK TEST | 1980 BMW M1 classic BMW 3.5-liter big six is rated at 470 horses and makes a lovely wailing shriek on its way to almost 9,000 rpm. Its long inline design stretches the body shape, making it more graceful in its wide racing stance than the stubbier 911, 308, and Corvette of the day. The crew worried if my 6-foot-1-inch frame would fit, but I’m skinny and flexible and green like Gumby, and I slipped right in with just a padding trim for helmet clearance. The tranny is a competition-style dogleg five-speed, first down and to the left below reverse, with full synchros like a street car. The clutch is a puppy, smooth and easy to idle around the pits, and the box shifts about as fast as I can slide the lever through its long, wide throws. The gears are tall. Very tall. I did most of Laguna in second gear! A downshift into first for Turn 11 was tricky but necessary. BMW PR man Matt Russell said they believe the car was last raced at Daytona in about 1981. That was pre-chicane, folks, all the way around the high banks flat out. The sweet six loves to rev, has to rev, coming on the cams hard at about 6,500, and thus the long, wide gear splits mellowed the high-rpm potential on the short straights of Laguna Seca. The ride to redline was an internal combustion symphony every time. The brake pedal travel started out long, like the shifts, and got a bit longer as the laps accrued, causing caution in deference to the highly valued machinery just ahead of me: the Momo Porsche 935 in race one and a drifting BMW 3.0 CSL in race two. The pedal effort was surprisingly light, and I’d recommend a larger master cylinder to reduce travel, and I’d hook up the brake ducts again, but, hey, it’s a museum and show car, no longer shooting for championships. The profile of the M1 is dominated by the enormous wing and the largest Gurney flap I’ve ever seen, making the car aero-stable in the high-speed Corners 4 and 9. This rear downforce probably made the front end float over the crest of the first corner, the fastest

The sweet six loves to rev, has to rev. The ride to redline was an internal combustion symphony every time.

MISSED POTENTIAL Under BMW, the M1 only ever competed in a one-make series during F1 weekends called “Procar.” Niki Lauda won in 1979, Nelson Piquet in 1980. It was then cancelled.

94 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015


point of the circuit. It demanded a late apex to stay on pavement for the immediate near stop at Turn 2. Turn-in behavior was clean, like a surgeon’s scalpel, resulting from the low polar moment of the mid-engine chassis with little sensation of body lean but just a hint of roll-oversteer at the first crack of the wheel. The unassisted steering gives great feedback without feeling like a workout, another benefit of the mid-mount setup. It feels distinct from all other Bimmers we’ve known and loved, not so tossable but very precise. In the middle of the corner, the M1 understeered heavily and got worse with a new set of Avon slicks in the second race,

but it remained planted and put down power well, howling off the hairpins. I suggested softening the front anti-roll bar for the next lucky devil, maybe adding some front rebound damping and shortening the bump rubbers. As a racer, I’m always looking for ways to make it faster. The BMW M1 has aged well. It combines the angularity of the ’80s with a fluidity of proportion that remains pleasing 30-plus years later. At the wheel, it feels much more recent. It has the looks, sounds, and moves of a sexy, aging pop star, whereas its grandchild, the i8, is all 21st-century style and tech. I cannot help but wonder what might be next. An M8? n

1980 BMW M1 (race car) BASE PRICE

$100,000 (1980)

VEHICLE LAYOUT

Mid rear-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door hatchback

ENGINE

3.5L/470-hp/307-lb-f DOHC 24-valve I-6

TRANSMISSION

5-speed manual

CURB WEIGHT

2,507 lb

WHEELBASE

100.8 in

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT

174.7 x 71.8 x 44.9 in

0-60 MPH*

3.5 sec

QUARTER MILE*

11.6 sec @ 122 mph

LATERAL ACCELERATION*

1.15 g

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON

Not rated

*Car and Driver test, 12/81. Road car specs: 266 hp/229 lb-f, 3,000 lb, 0-60 mph 5.4 sec, qtr mile 13.7 sec @ 102 mph

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 95


BMW 328d XDRIVE WAGON

UPDATE BMW M3

UPDATE CADILLAC CTS VSPORT

UPDATE GMC SIERRA DENALI 1500

ARRIVAL HONDA FIT

ARRIVAL 2015 Honda Fit Erick Ayapana “It fits! The rear passenger area has enough room for my road bike—thanks, Magic Seats.”

@erkayapana

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 32/38/35 MPG BASE PRICE $18,225 PRICE AS TESTED $19,025 A routine commute home in our new long-term 2015 Honda Fit was briefly interrupted when a gentleman in a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, idling next to me at a stoplight, waved his hand to get my attention. “Hey, how do you like that thing?” he yelled. “I hear it gets great gas mileage, and I want to get one for my wife!” Unfortunately the light turned green and abruptly ended our chat. Otherwise, I would’ve told him that, yes, the 2015 Fit’s fuel economy rating has improved, which I’ll closely observe during its long-term stay. I probably would’ve asked, “Why just a Fit for the wife while you get to roll around in a fancy German luxury sedan? Could you at least get her an Accord?” But that’s none of my business. And maybe she wants a small car? If so, then the Fit is perfect. In fact, the Fit has matured 96 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

into a mini-Accord, available with lots of the nice stuff found in Honda’s midsizer. The Fit’s 1.5-liter inline-four is also more grown up. With added direct-injection and increased compression ratio, the engine now makes 130 hp and 114 lb-ft of torque, 13 hp and 8 lb-ft more than before. Better yet, new gearboxes—a six-speed manual or continuously variable transmission— result in better EPA fuel economy numbers with the CVT-equipped Fit LX rated at 33/41 mpg city/ highway. (The manual rates 29/37 mpg.)

BRIAN BRANTLEY

Words Motor Trend Editors

Speaking of trim levels, the Fit can now be had in LX, EX, EX-L (L is for leather), and navigation is offered. We snagged a Fit EX with the CVT (EPA rated at 32/38 mpg), a combo Honda says will be the volume leader, accounting for an estimated 55 percent of total sales. Standard items include Bluetooth, auto on/off headlights, and tilt and telescopic steering. Our EX adds 16-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, a 7-inch color touchscreen, Honda LaneWatch system, moonroof, and a backup camera. Is the gentleman in the Benz wise to buy his wife a Fit, or should he fork over the extra bucks for an Accord? We’ll find out in the upcoming 12 months.


UPDATE HONDA ACCORD HYBRID TOURING

INFINITI Q50S

NISSAN ROGUE

NISSAN VERSA NOTE

UPDATE JAGUAR F-TYPE R COUPE

UPDATE JEEP CHEROKEE TRAILHAWK

KIA K900 V8

KIA SOUL

LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER

MAZDA3 S GRAND TOURING

RAM 1500 ECODIESEL ARRIVAL

SUBARU FORESTER XT

SUBARU WRX STI

TESLA MODEL S

VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT SPORT

VOLVO V60

RIDE ALONG FOR UPDATES ON OUR LONG -TERM FLEET BMW M3 Ed Loh

PAUL LAGUETTE

60.0”

“‘What is that color called?’ Austin Yellow, produced by BASF and named after Austin, Texas, home of the Circuit of the Americas.”

Service life / 3 mo/9,397 mi Avg CO2 / 0.91 lb/mi Energy cons / 158 kW-hrs/100 mi Unresolved problems / None Maintenance cost / $0 Normal-wear cost / $0 Base price / $62,925 As tested / $78,125

@edloh 99.6”

67.0”

160.0”

CO2 emissions 0.56 lb/mi

MT figure eight 27.9 sec @ 0.63 g (avg)

8.9 sec

122 ft

16.8 sec

0-60 mph Quarter mile 85.2 mph Braking distance, 60-0 mph Vehicle Layout Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Engine 1.5L/130-hp/114-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 Transmission Cont. variable auto Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 2,601 lb (62/38%) Lateral Acceleration 0.82 g (avg) Energy Cons., City/Hwy 105/89 kW-hrs/100 miles

AVG FUEL ECON 21.3 MPG comb.

The two most popular questions I receive about our long-term BMW M3: “What is that color called?” and “How do you like the M3?” The first is easy: Austin Yellow, produced by BASF and in line with BMW’s habit of naming paint colors after cities that are home to famous racetracks. This one honors the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The second question is tougher. There are many things I like about the M3, but since I’m a bad-news-first kind of guy, let’s talk about what has been driving me nuts: The car creaks and has since I first took possession of it. It’s an arthritic creak; a cross between insomnia on an old wooden bed

frame and the slow crushing of individual saltines. I hear it mostly over steep speed bumps and driveways, but it comes and goes. BMW USA reps were indignant at first, not surprising as creaking suggests chassis flex, but then suggested the rubber door seals be thoroughly cleaned and lightly coated with silicone grease. This would imply dust in the door seals is causing the noise, which stands to reason; as fall has set in, I’ve noticed I don’t hear it as much in the morning (when things are still a bit damp), but then occasionally it’s back by midday. It’s just shy of maddening and will be left for the dealer to figure out at the first service.

The M badge on the seats lights up at night. Trick.

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 97

JULIA LAPALME

SPECS 2015 Honda Fit (EX)


JESSICA WALKER

LONG-TERM TEST | Updates

ARRIVAL 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Jason Udy “The RamBox is convenient for storing camping items— plasticware, paper towels, charcoal—or can be used as an ice chest.”

@MT_JasonUdy

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/27/22 MPG BASE PRICE $45,905 PRICE AS TESTED $53,440 As the first back-to-back Motor Trend Truck of the Year winner, the 2014 Ram 1500 owes much of its repeat success to its class-exclusive turbodiesel engine. It’s been more than 15 years since the last diesel half-ton pickup was available (1998 GMC Sierra/Chevrolet K1500). Like last year’s Golden Calipers winner, the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel offers class-leading features including

98 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

an eight-speed automatic transmission, Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, available air suspension, and the innovative RamBox. We replaced our long-term 2013 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 with a new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 in Pearl Prairie Coat paint over Canyon Brown/Light Frost Beige cloth. Power comes from a Fiat-sourced 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 rated at 240 hp with 420 lb-ft of torque. Like the Ram’s standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and available 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, the EcoDiesel engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic. A 19/27 mpg city/highway (20/28 mpg for RWD) EPA rating makes the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel the most fuel-efficient half-ton pickup available. In comparison, GM’s 2014 half-ton pickup twins with the 285-hp, 305 lb-ft, 4.3-liter V-6 are rated 17-18/22-24 mpg. Starting at $45,905 (including $1,195 destination and the $4,500 diesel engine and transmission

price), our nicely equipped 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 reached $53,440 with options. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 brings with it an 800-amp battery and heavy-duty cooling system. The $1,545 Customer Preferred Equipment Package 28T (included with the base price) has lots of desirable features, such as Uconnect infotainment system with Wi-Fi hot spot, foglights, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power heated exterior mirrors, power 10-way driver’s seat, 115-volt power outlet, security system with remote start, heavy-duty rear shocks, anti-spin rear differential, transfer case and front suspension skidplates, Class IV receiver hitch, and much more. Other options include a $1,695 air suspension, $1,400 black finish 20-inch alloy wheels, $1,295 RamBox, $600 wheel-to-wheel side steps, $595 rearview camera and front and rear park sensors, $500 navigation system with traffic, $475 spray-in bedliner, $395 Comfort Group (heated front seats and steering wheel), $300 nine-speaker audio with subwoofer, $230 trailer brake control, and $50 for a 3.92:1 rear axle. We expect to use the new Ram for more than just commuting. We plan to go camping, go off-road, take road trips, and haul and tow stuff. Stay tuned to see how closely the Ram EcoDiesel sticks to its fuel economy ratings in our Real MPG testing and the real world.


PAUL LAGUETTE

75.5-79.6”

SPECS Ram 1500 Outdoorsman EcoDiesel 4x4

140.5

” 229.0

CO2 emissions 1.01 lb/mi

MT figure eight 29.0 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)

8.8 sec

126 ft

16.6 sec

0-60 mph Quarter mile 81.5 mph Braking distance, 60-0 mph Vehicle Layout Front-engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck Engine 3.0L/240-hp/420-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 24-valve V-6 Transmission 8-speed automatic Curb Weight (F/R Dist) 5,990 lb (57/43%) Lateral Acceleration 0.76 g (avg) Energy Cons., City/Hwy 199/140 kW-hrs/100 miles

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Benson Kong “Old long-term Accord Sport (28.6 mpg/22,856 miles) would’ve consumed 283 fewer gallons at the Hybrid’s 44.3 Real MPG—enough to fill 26 Fits.” The Accord Hybrid is very efficient, and I’m not just talking about miles per gallon. Its 7.0-second 0-60-mph time is 0.6-second quicker than the average of four Accord I-4/CVT sedans we’ve tested, despite the Hybrid weighing 231 pounds more and possessing 19-23 less peak hp. Credit the electric motor’s power-delivery promptness. The car has an official 196-hp total system power rating, but that’s the amount produced by the gas engine and two-motor hybrid setup that allows the drive motor to send 166 hp to the front wheels before transmission losses. It stops 7 feet sooner from 60 mph. It also consumes way less fuel than the standard Accord I-4 and V-6. The car has seen a lot of freeway and interstate action, where it stays around 42 +/- 2-3 mpg. Since the Accord Hybrid has already coped with myriad circumstances—up and down the Continental Divide, in 110-plus-degree stop-and-go traffic, all with the dual-zone climate control working hard—here are the scenarios I’ve observed that pad or murder the fuel economy. I’ll preface with my driving style: I adhere to the rules of the road and keep my speed and acceleration rates reasonable. Highway cruising up to 75 mph nets decent mpg (low to mid 40s), as long as there’s no accelerator pedal spiking and the car can pulse every so often into

Service life / 4 mo/16,133 mi Avg CO2 / 0.44 lb/mi Energy cons / 76 kW-hrs/100 mi Unresolved problems / None Maintenance cost / $124.51 (oil change, tire rotation, inspection) Normal-wear cost / $0 Base price / $35,695 As tested / $35,695

REAL MPG FUEL ECON 44.3 MPG comb.

It’s tempting to push the EV button often, but it’s most effective when you 100-percent know you won’t go faster than 30 mph. electric-drive mode. Staying above 75 mph, where EV Drive can’t help as much, I expect 30-40 mpg. The same result is realized on trips of less than 5 miles, when the car doesn’t have the opportunity to scrub off the 87-octane used to warm up the engine. Keys to high economy are letting EV Drive take over whenever possible and exploiting braking/deceleration energy recuperation to keep the battery charged. It performs better on short drives, assuming they’re at low enough speeds and there’s not much stopping. Steady sub-50-mph driving is preferred. Someone with my commute—about 30 miles one way with intermittent traffic flow and few full stops—will see 50-60 mpg. But as with all things in life, your mileage might vary.

ROBIN TRAJANO

79.4”

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 99


MICHAEL SHAFFER

LONG-TERM TEST | Updates

2014 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe Jonny Lieberman “Climbing back into the F-Type R Coupe after two weeks of Truck of the Year felt like going from mud-caked work boots to flip-flops.”

@MT_Loverman

AVG FUEL ECON 17.4 MPG comb. I’ve driven the screaming mad Brit exactly once. Last I checked, boss man Ed Loh had borrowed/ stolen the beast to take on a long weekend. I’ve driven the R Coupe a grand total of three times in three months. Such are the pitfalls of being the absentee

BRIAN BRANTLEY

Not only does my baby got back, but I finally got my baby back. To recap, Jaguar needed to take our F-Type V-6 S back before the yearlong loan was up and replaced it with a F-Type R Coupe, which was then promptly rearended after I drove it twice. The R Coupe then spent close to two months getting sewn back together. Now she’s back at Motor Trend HQ, and

Service life / 3 mo/7,703 mi Avg CO2 /1.11 lb/mi Energy cons / 194 kW-hr/100 mi Unresolved problems / None Maintenance cost / $0 Normal-wear cost / $0 Base price / $99,925 As tested / $103,575

landlord of the sexiest ride in the fleet. Everybody wants some. The 550-horsepower, 500 lb-ft of torque supercharged coupe also makes a lovely bargaining chip. “Take me to the airport? I’ll let you have the Jag while I’m gone.” Yes, yes—I’m a jerk. Thing is, the convertible wasn’t nearly as in demand as the hardtop is. Nissan’s former head of design, Bruce Campbell, once told me that a car could either be a gorgeous coupe or a convertible, but not both. The F-Type R Coupe is no exception to Bruce’s rule.

This hidden compartment in the center stack seems useful, but I always forget it exists when I’m looking to stash something.

2014 Cadillac CTS Vsport Scott Evans “4.5 sec to 60 mph. 0.96 g avg on the skidpad. Quiet, comfortable, and luxurious. What a fantastic sport sedan this CTS Vsport is.” Taking something for granted is generally considered a negative behavior, but in rare cases, I believe it can be construed as a compliment. A backhanded one, maybe. I realized recently how comfortable I’d become with the Vsport and how little I appreciated what a good car it is on my daily commute. This epiphany was spurred by separation—absence makes the heart grow fonder, I suppose. I’ve recently been breaking in a new long-term car, which has none of the creature comforts of the Cadillac, though it is quite sporty. 100 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Service life / 10 mo/16,770 mi Avg CO2 / 0.85 lb/mi Energy cons / 148 kW-hrs/100 mi Unresolved problems / None Maintenance cost / $0 (oil change, tire rotation, inspection) Normal-wear cost / $0 Base price / $59,995 As tested / $60,990

REAL MPG FUEL ECON 22.7 MPG comb. Climbing back into the Vsport after a week, I was surprised how at home I felt. The seat is a lounge chair compared to the other car’s, the interior is much quieter, and the controls are instantly familiar. What’s more, while gaining immeasurably in ride quality, I’ve given up little in handling and sportiness. It’s nearly as quick to boot, with a fantastic midrange pull. Remember, this car hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and pulls 0.96g average on the skidpad. That’s almost as quick as a 911

Carrera in a straight line and as grippy as an R8 V-8 on the skidpad. From a luxury sedan. I’m reminded of how much I enjoy driving this car just by passing slow-moving traffic. The steering is quick and communicative, the chassis is incredibly responsive, the transmission is always in the game, and the power is unimpeachable. Pick your hole, squeeze the throttle, turn the wheel, and the Vsport responds exactly the way you’d want a sports car to. And yet it’s also a quiet, luxurious sedan. This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the Vsport: There’s no hard conversion from luxury sedan to sport sedan. I love the curvature of the interior door handles; my fingers slip perfectly smoothly into them every time.


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2014 GMC Sierra Denali 1500 4WD Crew Cab Frank Markus “E85 reduces realistic driving range to 300350 miles, so locate fuel stops before you leave when fueling a long trip.” @MT_Markus

AVG COMB. FUEL ECON 15.6 MPG (GAS) 14.5 (E85) drops from 7.4 to 7.1 seconds. The only other noticeable difference was longer cranking during cold starts. On a few chilly mornings, the auto-start feature cranked two or three times as long as it did with gasoline—an effect that will likely worsen as temperatures fall. The other hitch is finding E85. An imperfect nav-system database of E85 stations caused us to run out of E85 once, so we’ve intervened and put “Jim” back on the wagon.

JESSICA WALKER

Our handsome hauler swilled 253 gallons of E85 ethanol late this summer, and surprisingly it saved us money doing so. Comparing 4,000 miles of E85 consumption with 3,512 miles of gasoline operation preceding it, we averaged 14.5 mpg on E85 versus 16.8 mpg on gasoline—a smaller drop than the EPA predicts. Driving range plunged, but I was surprised to find our fuel cost/mile fell to 19.3 cents/mile on E85 versus 21.6 for gasoline (using national pricing for both fuels averaged over the 7,500-mile test period). Horsepower increases 7 percent on E85, and measured 0-60-mph time

Service life / 11 mo/18,346 mi Avg CO2 / 1.18 lb/mi Energy cons / 225 kW-hrs/100 mi Unresolved problems / None Maintenance cost / $0 (2-oil change, tire rotation, inspection) Normal-wear cost / $0 Base price / $51,355 As tested / $54,585

2014 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk Rory Jurnecka “The Jeep is shifting better than ever after a software update. There are no more sloppy starts.”

The Trailhawk has become a popular vehicle among our staff, racking up more than 12,000 miles on the odometer in just five months. On the odd nights that I haven’t taken it home, it’s been requisitioned by other staffers for everything from the daily grind, to local camping trips, to long-haul road trips over the Rocky Mountains (more on that in a future update). It also took a trip into the local dealer not only for its scheduled 10,000-mile service (consisting I had the local Jeep dealer install a tow hitch so I could mount a Yakima HoldUp bike rack. The rack folds away nicely when it’s not being used, but I’ll remove it when not carrying bikes.

Service life / 5 mo/12,727 mi Avg CO2 / 1.01 lb/mi Energy cons / 176 kW-hrs/100 mi Unresolved problems / None Maintenance cost / $0 (oil change, tire rotation, inspection) Normal-wear cost / $0 Base price / $30,490 As tested / $37,265

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REAL MPG FUEL ECON 19.2 MPG comb. of an oil change, tire rotation, and inspection) but also for a few updates. The first update was a recall regarding the software that controls the adaptive cruise control module. The second update was to a newer version of the transmission programming software. The transmission has occasionally felt sloppy when moving off from a start and would sometimes be reluctant to shift, hunt for gears, or shift harshly. It’s been a couple thousand miles since the new transmission software was installed, and the Cherokee’s transmission is definitely improved. There’s no more slop or rough shifting but still a bit of gear hunting on inclines at speed. Overall, the reflash is a major step forward.

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JESSICA WALKER

LONG-TERM TEST | Verdict

VERDICT 2014 Acura MDX AWD Scott Mortara “The Acura MDX ticks all the boxes with regards to an SUV—there is nothing you could need of an SUV that the MDX can’t deliver.”

The MDX didn’t just do everything well—it did everything great. And I mean everything. There is nothing the MDX wasn’t used for during its time with us. My mind-numbing commute, an hour and a half each way, was actually enjoyable in the MDX. The seats were perfect for the extended time stuck in traffic, ride quality and NVH were more than up to par, performance was always what I wanted, when I wanted it—it was perfect for me and both my wants and needs. My family loved the MDX, as well. When we packed up for a trip to the beach or the mountains,

102 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

Service Life / 13 mo / 29,137 mi Base Price / $45,185 Options / Advance/Entertainment Package ($12,215: remote engine start, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, parking sensors, rear DVD entertainment system, ventilated front seats) Price As Tested / $57,400 Avg Econ/CO2 / 20.6 mpg / 0.94 lb/mi Energy Cons / 155 kW-hrs / 100 mi Problem Areas / Dash fasteners Maintenance Cost / $806.39 (3-oil change; 2-tire rotation, 2-inspection; 1-rear diff fluid change, 1-transmission fluid change, 1-engine-air filter, 1-cabin-air filter) Normal-Wear Cost / $0 3-Year Residual Value* / $28,126 Recalls / Driveshaft bolts

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 18/27/21 AVERAGE FUEL ECON 20.6 MPG *Automotive Lease Guide

the MDX always had ample space for whatever we needed. The large-screen entertainment system in the backseat came in handy more than a few times on those road trips. It’s amazing how quickly an attitude can be changed with a simple screen that drops down from the ceiling. Pop the headphones on your child, and Mom and Dad get at least an hour of peace and quiet. Most of my time in the MDX was solo, giving me plenty of time to reflect on what I liked and didn’t like about it. The like column is a laundry list of positives, but the negative column consisted of only two things. You already know one—the price is just a little too high. The other concerns the navigation screen. When the screen shows the map, you’re able to move the cursor with the multifunction rotary knob in the center of the dash. Sometimes I could be pinpoint precise with cursor placement, but sometimes just a little tap would move the cursor miles away. It wasn’t a big deal— just confusing and annoying. For me, the biggest like is how much of a sleeper in terms of driving enjoyment the MDX is. You don’t really expect much from an SUV in terms of driving excitement, but the MDX delivers in spades. The engine has plenty of power, the


2014 Acura MDX AWD Styling on the MDX is the best it’s ever been. Inside, the 16.2-inch-wide WVGA screen is perfect for entertaining backseat passengers, especially since it has an HDMI port for hooking up high-definition DVD players and compatible game consoles.

POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT

Front-engine, AWD

ENGINE TYPE VALVETRAIN

60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads SOHC, 4 valves/cyl

DISPLACEMENT

211.8 cu in/3,471 cc

COMPRESSION RATIO

11.5:1

POWER (SAE NET)

290 hp @ 6,200 rpm

TORQUE (SAE NET)

267 lb-f @ 4,500 rpm

REDLINE

6,700 rpm

WEIGHT TO POWER

14.8 lb/hp

TRANSMISSION

6-speed automatic

AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO

4.25:1/2.36:1

SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR

STEERING RATIO

Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar 15.7:1

TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK

3.1

BRAKES, F;R

12.6-in vented disc; 13.0-in disc, ABS 8.0 x 19-in, cast aluminum

WHEELS TIRES

245/55R19 103H M+S Michelin Latitude Tour HP

DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE

transmission logic works great, brakes were never an issue (provided I didn’t treat the MDX like a track car), and the seat kept me nicely contained in my preferred driving position. The tires are the only limit to the fun factor in the MDX, but you can easily get those changed. However, I don’t think I would give up the ride comfort and minimal noise just to go faster around a corner. The MDX’s interior layout is also a good talking point. Acura/Honda dash layouts have in the past drawn our ire because of an overabundance of buttons. The MDX has a cleaner, more user-friendly layout, and I have come to love the redundant audio controls on the steering wheel. Audio, navigation, and HVAC operation from the dash is intuitive; as soon as you get in the vehicle, you’ll understand how to use all of the controls, though I would prefer the multifunction knob down by the shifter instead of on the dash. Cabin comfort is also a plus in the MDX. With plenty of cockpit space for my larger-than-average frame, I never felt cramped or confined. All passengers commented on how roomy the front and back seats were, and the third row is usable. We can’t talk about cars today without talking about MPG. Official EPA numbers for the MDX are

18/27/21 city/highway/combined. Our observed MPG has been 21, right on top of the official numbers, even with all the heavy-footed drivers who have piloted the MDX since it arrived. Once our Emissions Analytics guys got their hands on the MDX to run Real MPG numbers, they ended up seeing a tick better than the EPA claim with 19/27/22. During the MDX’s time with us, it went in for three scheduled services totaling $806.39. These services consisted of three oil changes, two tire rotations, two inspections, one rear differential and transmission fluid change, and new air filters for both the engine and cabin. I only had one issue outside the normal required services, and that was a unique buzz/harmonic issue that seemed to originate in the front left area. Upon inspection, the dealer replaced a bunch of fasteners behind the dash, which resolved the issue. There were no normal-wear costs or unresolved issues. I’ve had many long-term vehicles over the years, but I have not grown attached to any of them the way I’ve connected with the Acura MDX. High price aside, there is nothing I can complain about, and no one else had any complaints, either. The 2014 Acura MDX does everything you could ask of it and more. n

111.0 in

TRACK, F/R

66.3/66.3 in

LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT

193.6 x 77.2 x 66.7 in

GROUND CLEARANCE

7.3 in

APPRCH/DEPART ANGLE

14.9/19.4 deg

TURNING CIRCLE

37.6 f

CURB WEIGHT

4,289 lb

WEIGHT DIST., F/R

58/42%

TOWING CAPACITY

3,500 lb

SEATING CAPACITY

7

HEADROOM, F/M/R

38.1/38.3/35.6 in

LEGROOM, F/M/R

41.4/36.6/28.1 in

SHOULDER ROOM, F/M/R

61.1/59.1/54.7 in

CARGO VOLUME BEH F/M/R

90.9/45.1/15.8 cu f

TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 0-40 0-50 0-60 0-70 0-80 0-90 PASSING, 45-65 MPH QUARTER MILE BRAKING, 60-0 MPH LATERAL ACCELERATION MT FIGURE EIGHT TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH

2.3 sec 3.4 4.9 6.4 8.5 10.8 13.8 3.4 14.9 sec @ 92.7 mph 116 f 0.85 g (avg) 26.5 sec @ 0.68 g (avg)

1,650 rpm

CONSUMER INFO BASE PRICE PRICE AS TESTED

$57,400

STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL

Yes/yes

AIRBAGS

Dual front, front side, f/m/r curtain 4 yrs/50,000 miles

BASIC WARRANTY

The less button-heavy dash really helped clean up the looks of the interior, making it not only more aesthetically pleasing but also more user-friendly.

$45,185

POWERTRAIN WARRANTY

6 yrs/70,000 miles

ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE

4 yrs/50,000 miles

FUEL CAPACITY

19.5 gal

EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON

18/27/21 mpg

ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY

187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles

CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB

0.92 lb/mile

REAL MPG CITY/HWY/COMB

19/27/22 mpg

RECOMMENDED FUEL

Unleaded premium

FEBRUARY 2015 / MOTORTREND.COM 103


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Distracted Drivers “Oh, wow! This head-up display thing is really cool!” I was siting in the back seat as a savvy thirtysomething woman guided a Cadillac Escalade through the leafy, moneyscented back streets of Bel-Air, California. The woman turned to the Cadillac specialist riding shotgun in the front passenger seat: “It would be great if I could read my emails on this.” I couldn’t help it. I cleared my throat and said, simply: “Wouldn’t it be beter if we concentrated on actually driving instead of reading emails?” The woman laughed. “I guess so.” We cruised past another $30 million mansion. “Maybe the car could read the emails out to me,” she said suddenly. “And I could dictate the answers back.” I groaned inwardly and went back to smelling the money. Those of us who work in and around the automotive industry fondly imagine there’s a certain neat logic to it all, particularly when it comes to who buys cars, trucks, and SUVs, and why they buy them. But the more I learn about this business, the less I know, as my afernoon undercover at a recent Cadillac customer ride and drive event confrmed. (Full disclosure: Cadillac didn’t know I was there. I’d replied to a mailer sent by one of the company’s marketing partners, and they’d invited me along. No one asked what I did for a living.) Yeah, performance and handling and design and brand values are cool, but a car that reads my emails aloud? Now you’re talking. What else? Well, automakers developing bespoke user interfaces for vehicle navigation, information, and entertainment systems appear to

110 MOTORTREND.COM / FEBRUARY 2015

be wasting their time and money: “Can I get Google Maps on that screen?” asked one ride and drive participant of the Escalade’s high-tech haptic display. “All I want,” said another, “is to be able to plug my iPhone into my car. Everything I need is on my iPhone.” We spend a lot of time here at Motor Trend arranging comparison tests between vehicles with recognizably common characteristics— performance, price, size, function, body style, engine size, fuel efciency, or any combination of these. We do it partly because that’s how the auto industry sees the world, and partly because that’s what’s expected of us. (Oh, the hate mail we get if we dare compare two cars that aren’t nearidentical in spec, price, and market segment.) But that coolly rational automotive taxonomy, all that careful segmenting of vehicle atributes

"Wouldn't it be better if we concentrated on actually driving instead of reading emails? " email

and price points and buyer psychographics, collapses into an untidy heap of metal, glass, and rubber the moment someone declares they’re thinking of trading their Porsche Cayenne Diesel for a Cadillac ELR. Huh? Yep, that actually happened on this ride and drive. Now, the idea of a Porsche owner cross-shopping Caddy’s wedge-shaped hybrid would stun marketers and product planners in Stutgart and Detroit alike, because to them it just doesn’t add up, doesn’t ft their view of the automotive order of things. But consumers don’t necessarily think the same way. Over the years I’ve come to realize the decision to purchase a new vehicle is always rationalized, but rarely rational. How else can I explain someone asking me whether they should buy a new Mazda subcompact or a used Range Rover? Or the guy who once emailed me to check whether the Honda Accord was really as fuel-efcient as the manufacturer said it was, and then emailed me back to tell me about the great deal he got on the Chevy Silverado 2500HD diesel he bought instead? The fundamental disconnect in the auto business is this: It’s a business run by orderly minds—accountants and engineers—who use system and process to carefully design, engineer, and build products that sell … on emotion. And that fundamental disconnect is something to be celebrated, because without it we wouldn’t have the ageless Porsche 911, the race-face Camaro Z/28, the snarling Ford Raptor, the iconic Jeep Wrangler, and dozens of other cars, trucks, and SUVs we want to own because … well … because we love ’em. n


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