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120  Cover Story 48 Thunder Road

94 From Left to Right

Crossing America in the Shelby GT500 Mustang. Angus MacKenzie

 Tests & Drives

2007 Volvo S80 Now leaning more toward the middle. Todd Lassa

114 View to a Kill 2007 Acura RDX The next big idea? Mark Williams

60 Red Dragon 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano Don’t be fooled by those graceful lines. Arthur St. Antoine

130 State of the Art Cadillac Escalade AWD vs. Land Rover LRS HSE vs. Mercedes-Benz GL450 Squaring off in a premium sport/utility bout. Bob Nagy

68 Bond on a Budget Jaguar XK Coupe If 007 had to pinch pennies, he’d go for this. Ron Kiino

76 Gentler Giant-Killer Porsche GT3 This street racer gains civility without losing its edge. Frank Markus

84 Intimidator

 Features 106 If Cars Could Talk They just might sound like Paul Newman. Matt Stone

120 No Smoke, Nothing in the Mirrors 12 Hours of Sebring.

Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 Be afraid. Be very afraid. Paul Horrell

Diesel powers Audi to sixth straight win. Steven Cole Smith 

Cover photography Wesley Allison


continued on page 10 >



july 2006

< continued from page 7


199 45

40 20 this month @  Thunder Road Join us on the road as we travel across America in the greatest Mustang ever! Extra behind-thescenes photos will put you in the passenger seat as we visit the Shelby Museum and other landmarks between New York and Los Angeles.

 Supercars, Super wallpapers! Can’t get enough of the beautiful Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and Lamborghini Murciélago LP640 featured in this issue? Visit for a collection downloadable wallpaper images for your desktop.

 New-Car Price Quotes You’ve done your research and narrowed down your choices for your next car, truck, or SUV, so why not get the best price? Knowing the price before going to the dealer saves you time and money, and offers a free, fast, no-hassle service without any obligation. Check it out at

 High-Performance e-Newsletter Want to have access to these exclusive online features before they hit the homepage? Then sign up for the monthly e-newsletter at and be in the know before anyone else.


 Departments 12 The Big Picture Sometimes it’s the journey that matters. Angus MacKenzie

20 Trend News/opinion/gossip/stuff.

34 Your Say Don’t be truculent.

40 The Asphalt Jungle Name dropping. Arthur St. Antoine

45 Technologue Pod people. Frank Markus

145 Newcomers Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Cabriolet & ML63 AMG Ron Kiino Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible Bob Nagy Audi S6 Avant Allyson Harwood

171 Long-Term Arrival/Update 2006 BMW 330i 2006 Hyundai Sonata LX 2006 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT 2005 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner 2005 BMW X3 2.5i

174 Long-Term Verdict 2005 Subaru Legacy GT. Kim Reynolds

199 Archive Daytona at Daytona, 1979. Matt Stone

(the big picture) angus mackenzie

wanderlust Sometimes it’s the journey that matters most

I SPEND far too much time driving a desk. St. Antoine’s flogging a Ferrari through Italy, Markus is maxing the new 911 GT3, Kiino’s testing one of the first Jaguar XKs in the country, and I’m here in the office trying to explain to the beancounters why we spent all that money on the spectacular Motor Trend Classic photoshoot at Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs. (I didn’t even get to go to that, either.) Enough, already! So I asked Ford whether I could drive the new Shelby GT500 from L.A. to New York. I figured it would be the best way to test what’ll surely become one of America’s most iconic performance cars. But more than that, it would give me an excuse to do what I love doing most: getting in a car and going somewhere. My automotive wanderlust started early, from the back seat of a Valiant station wagon and, later, a Series II Land Rover, during regular family camping holidays across the southeastern half of Australia in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was barely 17 when a buddy and I packed our tents and a few tins

of beans into my 1968 Mini and headed into the desert. The idea was to go watch what was then Australia’s biggest desert race, but the drive there and back convinced me it was the journey, not necessarily the destination, that matters most. Hitting the open road with the dew still sparkling in the crisp morning sunlight, knowing the perfect view, the perfect S-bend, the perfect espresso might be just over the next hill, and all yours for the taking, is a truly liberating moment. In nearly 25 years in this business, I have lots of memories of great cars. But it’s the great drives I remember most. Like the time in 1987 I did a lap of Australia in a Holden Commodore SS (think what a Chevy Impala SS would be like if its V-8 engine was turned the right way and drove the right set of wheels—the rears), an 8800-mile jaunt that took nearly two weeks. Or that night on an empty autobahn deep in southern Germany a couple of years ago, when I cruised a Maserati Quattroporte at 140 to 160 mph for, oh…20 minutes or more, the charismatic V-8 up front yowling a spine-

what we’ve been up to... PLAYING WITH OUR TOYS: If they can put a ship in a bottle, then surely a Land Rover can be driven through a concrete tube. Motor Trend staffers working hard for a living at the Bob Bondurant Driving School in Chandler, Arizona. Markus, Lassa, and Matthius with 2006 International Wheel Award trophies.


tingling 6800-rpm aria into the darkness. There’ve been dozens of other wonderful drives: charging through the hills above Nice in an Aston Martin DB9; dashing across Italy in a screaming yellow Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale; running line astern with a colleague at 150 mph on the way to Regensburg, Germany, in matching BMW 850is; tackling the Route Napoleon in France in a Mercedes S600; all arms and elbows on the Hakone Skyline Road in Japan in a fiercely oversteering Nissan Skyline GTS-R; nip and tuck along the sinuous roads through Italy’s Dolomite Mountains in a kart-darty Peugeot 205GTi. Most times, the destination was an anticlimax. Robert Louis Stevenson was right: “To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” But what struck me most, as I drove the GT500 through the stunning desert landscape of Arizona and Utah, up and over the Rockies, across the Great Plains, and into the leafy hills of Pennsylvania, was the fundamental freedom the automobile gives us, the freedom to go pretty much where we want, when we want, despite rising gas prices, radar-happy cops, and traffic jams. We’re the most mobile humans in history, and while we think little of it as we’re running the kids to soccer practice, our freedom of mobility is a precious gift. The first thing many citizens of communist East Germany bought with their carefully hoarded cash when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989? Yes, it was a car. It might’ve looked like a battered old Volkswagen or Opel to you and me. But to them, it looked like freedom. 

(the team)

MOTOR TREND Q: I want maximum performance and grip. Are wider tires the way to go? Brent B. Denton, TX. A: Tire grip and performance are based on several tire characteristics. Tire width is just one of the factors that can influence a tire's performance. Other factors include tire sidewall construction, tread groove pattern and tread rubber formulations. Indicators of these capabilities are best represented by a tire's speed rating and the manufacturer's description of the tire. Typically, tires with higher handling performance capabilities will also be lower aspect ratio tires, which are wider and have a narrower sidewall than traditional highway tires. It is always important to maintain the proper inflation pressure. Proper inflation pressure also maximizes handling performance. And remember, different size tires may require different size rims.


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scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop!

Camaro co Drop-top version of GM ponycar given green light

scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop!

Chevy’s unibody SUV TrailBlazer’s days could be numbered CHEVY is rushing its own version of the Lambda-platform midsize SUV into production. General Motors had originally limited its new Lambda platform to three brands with the 2007 Saturn Outlook, 2008 Buick Enclave, and 2008 GMC Acadia. But the collapse of Ford Explorer sales has GM officials pondering the long-term viability of its body-onframe TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy sport/utes, as Ford customers seem ready to embrace the more

carlike unibody crossovers such as the Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, and Mazda CX-7. Although the rush program means the Chevy version— probably due the 2009 model year—will share a lot of its sheetmetal with the Saturn Outlook, GM’s play could still be the smart move, as the Lambda platform takes advantage of the front-drive, independentrear-suspension architecture to include a third-row seat, which


isn’t available in the Fords. But its development could blunt the future of the TrailBlazer and its GMC cousin, the Envoy. The next-generation TrailBlazer and Envoy, GMX 375, has already been delayed about one year to model year 2009, and GM showed no mercy in cutting the sevenpassenger TrailBlazer and Envoy from the lineup this year. It killed the GMC Envoy XUV in 2005 after just two model years. One source believes the next TrailBlazer, a

major update of the current model, will be dropped after 2011.

HERE’S A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NEW LAMBDA FAMILY  CHEVROLET LAMBDA: Fits into lineup between Equinox V-6 and Tahoe/Suburban. Although likely to share much sheetmetal with the Saturn Outlook, it’ll have Chevy-style front and rear fascias. Expect fewer features and lower

words motor trend editors

scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! GM BRASS

reportedly has approved a convertible version of the forthcoming Camaro coupe. Like the Ford Mustang convertible, the open-top Camaro will probably make its debut some months after the coupe goes on sale in 2006. And, like the Mustang, it’ll feature a power-operated folding cloth roof to save weight and cost. Weight is fast becoming a key issue for engineers working on the new Camaro, which will roll on a modified version of the Australiandeveloped Zeta platform. The Zeta-platform Holden Commodore sedan, which will go on sale in Australia shortly, will tip the scales at about 4000 pounds, according to insiders, mainly because of tough local crash-test regulations. Excess weight will not only blunt the Camaro’s performance potential, but impact fueleconomy numbers. GM’s internal weight target for the Camaro V-8 coupe is rumored to be 3500 to 3600 pounds, in line with the Mustang GT. With the extra bracing needed to compensate for the lack of a steel roof and the additional mechanical hardware required for the softtop, a

is go!

convertible Camaro would weigh 150 to 200 pounds more than that. Achieving those targets will be a difficult task given the mass of the baseline Zeta platform and the complexity of an independent rear suspension, which the Mustang doesn’t have. That’s why the mainstream V-8 Camaros likely will be powered by a version of the 403-horse, 6.2-liter aluminumblock engine fitted to the Cadillac Escalade. This engine features gassaving displacement on demand and will deliver the power and torque to ensure the Camaro delivers competitive performance against the Mustang GT. With Ford having launched the Shelby GT500 with 500 horses (see story page 48), however, and DaimlerChrysler almost certain to build a 425-horse SRT8 version of the forthcoming Challenger coupe, a top of the range Camaro powered by the 505-horse LS7 from the Corvette Z06 now seems a no-brainer. The GT500 weighs 3990 pounds, but here Chevy might have an advantage: Unlike the supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 in the Shelby, the LS7 has a lightweight aluminum block. 

scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! scoop! prices compared with the Saturn version, although all Lambdas, so far, are powered by the highfeature 3.6-liter DOHC V-6 engine.  SATURN OUTLOOK: Key component to moving the division upmarket (from Honda/ Toyota competitor to an Acurafighter) and into the middle of GM’s lineup, where Olds used to be. Launches this fall.  BUICK ENCLAVE AND GMC ACADIA: Will share Pontiac/Buick/GMC showrooms together next year as 2008 models, but have a much different look from each other and from the Outlook. The GMT360 Buick Rainier will be dropped after

2008. GM figures the Acadia will appeal to GMC buyers, while the Buick will appeal to Lexus buyers.  SAAB 9-6X: At least a year off. Production of the current GMT360 Saab 9-7x will probably overlap with the 9-6x for about a year. By adding IRS to its last-generation Explorer, Ford caught GM off guard with three rows of seats. GM countered with the ugly, ill-handling GMT370s. But will Ford have to respond now to the Lambdas with a three-row Edge? DaimlerChrysler, meanwhile, is currently concentrating on smaller crossovers with the Jeep’s Patriot and Compass. The trucklike Dodge

Durango and Chrysler Aspen are category busters, smaller than the full-size GM and Ford models, but larger than the midsize ones. Jeep Grand Cherokee and Commander also are competitors. On top of all this, the competition

from the Asian brands is heating up. Over the next two to three years, major changes are due for the Toyota Highlander, Acura MDX, Honda Pilot, Nissan Murano, Infiniti FX 35/45, and 2009 Lexus RX.  todd lassa




been times when Porsche was nothing more than the 911 company. No longer. Sources inside Weissach confirm Porsche is working on up to 10 new models for launch by the end of the decade. Some are variants of the existing 997-series 911. But others will take the company into new and possibly controversial market niches.


Seen here with very little disguise—just some tape on the front air dam and silver around the headlamps—this is the convertible version of the just-launched Turbo. The current 3.6-liter flat-six turbo coupe is rated 473 horses and 457 pound-feet and is good for a mid-three-second 0-to-60-mph time. The slightly heavier ragtop should take a few tenths longer to get to 60, but should exceed the 996 Turbo Cabrio’s 191-mph top speed, a number now rivaled by the bigger Bentley Continental GTC.

Porsche 10 New Models

by 2010

 911 TARGA Porsche long ago gave up on cutting the 911’s roof from A- to B-pillar to create the Targa. Like the 996 version, the 997 will have a large glass panel that retains the car’s roof rails between the pillars for better structural rigidity .


 911 GT3 RS This is the limited-edition

homologation of the 2007 GT3 RSR race car, built to meet FIA GT rules. Rumors are the race car and the RS will get the 3.8-liter flat-six, instead of the 3.6-liter engine. The RS is a lightweight car with the Carrera 4’s wide rear fenders, a wider rear track, more aggressive wing, and modified front spoiler lip. Weight savings include a carbon-fiber wingtop, lots of composite bodywork, and lightweight glass.

(spycam) (spycam) (spycam)

 911 GT2 The mother of all 911s arrives

just in time to put ol’ 997 over the top. The 996 version of the GT2 got an 11-percent-horsepower boost over quotidian 911 Turbos via modified turbos and intercooler for more boost. Add 11 percent to the 997 Turbo’s 473 horsepower, and you get a Z06topping 525 horses. Note the rear-fender intercooler inlets. With no sunroof and other weight savings, the new Turbo’s 0-to-60-mph time will seem like a walk in the park when this limited-edition car arrives.

911 GT3 RS

911 GT2

 PANAMERA It looks like a Cayenne,

but it’s a mule for the four-seat, four-door Panamera, as both cars share the front-mounted 4.5-liter V-8, rated 340 horsepower naturally aspirated and 520 horses in the Cayenne’s new twin-turbo S form. The Panamera also is tipped to share a version of the Cayenne’s all-wheel-drive system and its proposed hybrid powertrain. The Panamera will be assembled in Leipzig where the Cayenne is built, and production of the Carrera GT is just ending. The Panamera is expected in 2009 as a 2010 model.  paul horrell








(spycam) (spycam) (spycam) WHAT ELSE IS COMING?

 CAYMAN RS This lightweight version of the Cayman is due soon. Porsche has no plans to offer more power, as it wants to ensure the 911 remains the company’s icon car.  NEXT-GENERATION 911 Development of the all-new 998 version of the 911 is underway. A key issue with the next 911 is the iconic flat-six engine apparently can’t be stretched beyond 4.0 liters, which limits the potential output, even with technologies such as direct injection. This means the car will almost certainly feature extensive use of aluminum and fast-shifting DSG transmissions to save weight and boost performance.  SMALL SUV Porsche is working on a small SUV to fit below the Cayenne. Many have assumed that, just as the Cayenne came off a platform shared with VW’s Touareg, this’ll be a variant of the new small SUV under development as the Audi Q5. But Porsche sources have confirmed the company is pondering a radical, sporty three-door vehicle with strong 911 design cues. Porsche has successfully run all-wheel-drive 911s and 959s in the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in the past.  NEW 928 With the front-engine Panamera now underway, Porsche engineers also are pondering whether a short-wheelbase, two-door version of the car could be built as a 21st-century 928 to take on cars such as Bentley’s Continental GT and Ferrari’s 612 Scaglietti.  NEW CARRERA GT Production of the Carrera GT has finished, with about 1200 cars built. Insiders admit they’d like to build a successor to the mid-engine V-10-powered roadster, but that any work on such a car would be unlikely before the end of the decade.


RICK WAGONER’S GOT BALLS, that’s for sure. With GM losses for 2005 close to $11 billion—that’s billion—the Delphi bankruptcy threatening to engulf the company, market share still shaky, and, on top of that, the Securities and Exchange Commission sniffing around for possible accounting violations, he asked the GM board for a vote of confidence—and got it. Which proves one of two things: Either Wagoner, a smart guy, has figured out a survival strategy for GM, or the board can’t figure out who’d take the poisoned chalice…One tiny example of the stuff that makes running GM a job no one would want: The company reportedly pays $17 million per year in health benefits simply to buy its hourly and salaried workers erectile dysfunction pills. That makes the world’s largest automaker also the world’s largest private buyer of Viagra. And all we really want is a better Chevy…So Jim Padilla has “retired.” The 59-year-old former Ford COO has been replaced by a committee headed by Bill Ford, and not everyone’s convinced the 40-year company veteran wanted to go. Some of the Detroit old guard is muttering Padilla’s vast experience will be sorely missed. But as a Ford group vice president since 1999, it’s hard to see how he can escape some responsibility for the mess the company currently finds itself in…Rising design star Ralph “300” Gilles has been promoted to Chrysler vice president for Jeep/Truck and Component design, replacing retiring Ricardo Aneiros. Right man, wrong job. There was a time not too long ago when Chrysler was regarded as the design leader among the Detroit automakers, but apart from Gilles’s bold 300, there hasn’t been much to get excited about recently. And the new Sebring certainly ain’t about to set the world on fire…Lexus chief Bob Carter recently introduced the luxo-hybrid LS600h as “the most technologically advanced automobile in the world,” without a trace of humility or irony. This car parks itself for you and trains a camera on its driver’s eye to make sure he’s watching the road.  Got gossip? E-mail

Radar Love NOW you can enjoy the benefits of a factory-installed radar system in any vehicle, thanks to the new Mobileye AWS-4000 ($1200). The Mobileye video camera detects and tracks vehicles on the road ahead and warns the driver with audio and visual alerts if it determines a collision is imminent. The system also provides alerts if the driver unintentionally wanders from his lane. Visit the Mobileye Web site for more info:  MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 23


New BMW 3 Coupe breaks cover


300 horses and 150 mph in top 335i version



BMW SERVES up two surprises with its long-

awaited E92 3 Series coupe (the convertible, coming later, is codenamed E93), a 300-horse, 300-pound-foot twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six and those long, horizontal taillamps. That engine is under the hood of the topline (until the 4.0-liter M3 V-8 arrives) 335i Coupe on sale in the U.S. this September. The “base” 328i Coupe has a naturally aspirated 230-horse, 3.0-liter six, rated 200 pound-feet. The other major change (beside the fact it’s an all-new car) is the addition to the coupe, for the first time, of the optional X-Drive all-wheel-drive system on the 328ix.


BMW estimates a 5.3-second 0-to-60-mph time for the 335i Coupe and electronically limited top speed of 150 mph (with sport package). Engine is direct gas injection; each turbo serves three cylinders. Aluminum cylinder-head cover and bedplate, Valvetronic. BMW estimates 6.2-second 0-to-60 mph for 328i Coupe. Six-speed manual or new six-speed Steptronic automatic available with either engine. Double-pivot front suspension is almost allaluminum; rear suspension is multilink. Active Steering is optional. Optional high-performance brakes require optional 17-inch wheels. New body weighs less than outgoing car’s body. Xenon Adaptive headlamps and four corona rings are new. Four-seat interior has a new lighting package and automatic seatbelt feed.


The new CTS near





SPY SHOTS of a pumped-looking Cadillac CTS-v are not of the much-rumored Super-v version, say Cadillac insiders. Instead, we understand this car’s a limited-edition high-performance model under development by a tuner company. The shot of the car under the covers is of the next-generation CTS, which should arrive in showrooms earlier than the traditional fall 2007 timeframe. Our spy shooter says the new CTS looks to be what Bob Lutz showed Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes,” including its fast backlight. Like the 2007 Escalade, future Cadillac cars will feature a Sixteen conceptinspired grille and jeweled headlamps. The CTS-v version of the new car likely will appear 2008, probably powered by the 505-horse, 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 currently fitted to the Corvette Z06.


But no Super-v. Yet…







2007 Honda CR-V THE third-gen CR-V cute ’ute is set for a fall launch, coinciding with Acura’s new RDX on the same Civicbased architecture. While the RDX gets

Honda’s first U.S.-market turbo, the CR-V soldiers on with the 2.4-liter four, upped to about 170 horses. The CR-V gets distinctive sheetmetal from the

upmarket RDX and is shorter, lower, and wider than the current model. And the spare tire has apparently been moved from the rear hatch to inside. 

Car ’toons THANKS TO DISNEY and the ever-inventive filmmakers at Pixar, “Cars” mania is sweeping the country (see feature story this issue). And you know what that means: Yes, officially licensed “Cars” merchandise. There’s the Lightning McQueen portable AM/FM/CD boombox with swiveling wheelrim speakers ($49.99), the programmable Fast Talkin’ Lightning McQueen action vehicle ($34.99), a 13-inch color TV with built-in DVD player ($159.99), the Mix Stick MP3 player ($49.99), and more. Available at most major retailers. 

Acura axes RSX







THERE will be no 2007 RSX. Acura is dropping its entry sport coupe from the market this year, it says, as part of a plan to move the brand upmarket with BMW as its target. While the RSX Type-S resonated with young enthusiasts for its high-revving 200-horse four, the cheaper 2006 Honda Civic Si matches that performance.

Another possible reason for the drop is there appears no replacement for the Civic-based hatchback coupe, sold in Japan as the Honda Integra. Lowest-price Acura next year will be the $28,000 TSX sedan; rumor is Acura may introduce a coupe version of the TSX when it’s updated in 2008. 



we hear Nissan dealers worldwide will sell the 2008 GTR supercoupe, Nissan/Renault chief Carlos Ghosn announced at the New York auto show. Nissan determined that the first global GTR should be sold in Nissan division dealerships, not the more upscale Infiniti channel.

The Fast & the Furious: lost in translation Featuring rear-drive Evos and a Mustang with a Nissan engine “THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS” (2001) captured L.A.’s street-racing scene in a kind of large-screen PlayStation format and earned $144.5million domestic gross. “2Fast 2Furious” (2003), directed by John Singleton, captured Miami’s street-racing scene and $127.2 million in domestic gross. Hey, kids, it’s summertime again, and even though Vin Diesel, star of the first flick, has moved onto serious acting in Sidney Lumet movies (“Find Me Guilty”), the sequel engine has cranked up. Guess what “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” is about? Well, you’re partly right. It’s about Sean Boswell (Lucas Black), a ne’er-do-well good ol’ boy who moves to Japan to live with his military father. Young Sean meets a fellow American named Twinkie, who introduces him to drifting, so Sean drifts his 1967 Mustang GT around the streets of Tokyo. He inevitably gets tangled with the drift king, named Drift King, plus assorted Yakuza thugs and D.K.’s girlfriend, played by newcomer Nathalie Kelley (which makes Lucas Black a seasoned veteran?). While “TFATF” made slammed Civics and Eclipses sexy and captured the automotive zeitgeist of America’s youth, “2F2F” earned $17.3 million—12 percent less in box office, hinting that being fast and furious doesn’t have the legs of, say, the “Scary Movie” franchise. But see “Tokyo Drift” for the chases, street races, crashes, scantily clad young ladies fresh from the pages of Sport Compact, and the drifting, performed largely at the wheels of ridiculously pimped Nissan 350Zs and GTRs.  todd lassa In theaters June 16. Visit

Volkswagen has resuscitated the Rabbit name for its North American-market Golf. You’ll remember the VW Rabbit and its cute symbol from 1975 to 1984, when the car’s poor-quality reputation prompted VW to pull out of its U.S. assembly plant and to rename it Golf, just like its European counterpart. The GTI will still be called GTI. Mini’s latest supermodel is the John Cooper Works GP kit, celebrating the success of the Cooper Grand Prix cars with less weight and more power. The supercharged 1.6-liter four has been tweaked for 218 horsepower, and—with a brace in place of the rear seats, aluminum rear control arms, and less sound deadening—it’s 100 pounds lighter than a standard Cooper S. Traction control and 18-inch lightweight wheels are standard, and each comes with a series number on the roof. Of 2000 to be sold worldwide, 415 are coming to the U.S. for $31,150, including delivery. Subaru is offering a variation of the WRX STi for grownups. The 2007 Impreza STi Limited loses the STi’s big rear wing for a small, discreet rear spoiler, gets a refined rear suspension, a larger front spoiler, 17-inch wheels, “discreet” Brembos, heated leather seats, a glass moonroof, and satellite-radio hookup. Of 800 available, half will come in urban gray and half in satin white. Honda plans revisions to the 2007 Element this fall, which include a new urban version, with suspension lowered 3.0 inches, cast-aluminum 21-inch wheels, plus carpeting and a center console. There are a new front bumper and grille, projector-beam headlamps, and seatintegrated seatbelts. Honda promises “vastly improved handling,” curtain airbags, and a 10-horse boost in the 2.4-liter four’s output to 166 horses. 

(your scoop)

Land Rover LR2 LUKE MANION, of Prescott Valley, Arizona, sent us this pic of a heavily disguised SUV on a gas-station forecourt. Luke thought it might be the new Land Rover LR2, but wasn’t sure. Well, Luke, you’re right: This is the new LR2, which will go on sale in the U.S. later this year, replacing the Freelander. Under the hood will be a transverse-mounted 3.0-liter I-6 engine, and inside is a roomier, more stylish interior.  Seen an unusual or disguised car, truck, or SUV? E-mail a good-quality digital photo to us at with your contact details. All published photos will win a cool prize. 28 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM




Keep your eye on this one


New Saturn not quite ready to launch GENERAL MOTORS has killed a bold new design for the entry-level Saturn Ion, set to launch by calendar year 2007. The design, shown to auto journalists more than a year ago as proof of GM’s impending design renaissance, was of a four-door that would’ve reversed the Ion’s image and made it a premium small car. Now Saturn says it’ll build out the current Ion, ending production this December, with enough units to see it through much of the 2007 model year. The new replacement will appear some time in 2007, and it won’t be based on the Chevy Cobalt or the upcoming Pontiac G5 compact. It’s likely the new Ion will be based on Opel Astra, which has been a critical and sales success. 


©2006 Armor All/STP Products Company.

Go ahead. Stare.


TVR closes FIFTY-NINE-YEAR-OLD TVR is to close its factory at Blackpool, a seaside town in the northwest of England. A year ago, the company announced its plant was impossibly outdated and planned to move to new premises in search of better quality and more efficient production. Fair enough: At Blackpool, the staff labors in Dickensian, dusty, fume-laden conditions. Now TVR has laid off more than a quarter of its 260-strong workforce and said it can’t guarantee security for the rest. It’s brought forward the closure of the current plant to the end of 2006, coinciding with the end of the lease there. It still won’t give the location of the new plant or even say whether

Fate remains undetermined

one has been found or indeed whether it’ll be in Britain. So at least a temporary lapse in production seems likely. Nikolay Smolensky, who bought the company at age 23 in mid-

2004, is immensely secretive. Although the firm provided cars for John Travolta to drive in the movie “Swordfish,” it’s always found U.S. exports too much trouble because the cars

don’t meet U.S. emissions and safety laws. And U.S. consumers have a habit of wanting legal redress when their cars go wrong. As TVRs often do.  paul horrell

(trend) First Le Mans, now Bonneville Is there nothing a diesel can’t do? HOW fast can a turbodiesel go? More than 300 mph, a diesel manufacturer hopes to show at the Bonneville Salt Flats during Speed Week this August. And, no, it’s not BMW or Mercedes. It’s JCB, a British construction-equipment company that’ll send its twin-engine streamliner to Bonneville with world land-speed record-holder Andy Green behind the wheel. The JCB is 358 inches long, with a drag coefficient of 0.174 and two four-cylinder Dieselmax engines totaling 10.0 liters and producing 1500 horsepower.

Here are more details:

 The diesel record to break, set in 1973, is 235.756 mph. JCB plans to blow well past that.  Point of the car is to promote JCB’s new diesel, a 4.4-liter four-cylinder ranging between 75 and 125 horsepower.  Dieselmax uses standard block and crankcase. Engines are bored/ stroked to 5.0 liters each, and two-stage turbos with two-stage intercooling and water injection produce 5.2 bar.  JCB engineering director Tim

Leverton was chief engineer for the Rolls-Royce Phantom and, before that, Range Rover.  ThrustSSC team’s Richard Noble is consulting, and chief designer is John Piper, previously of Jaguar’s V-12 Le Mans cars.  Two gallons of diesel will be used in each two-minute burst of

power. The car accelerates for four miles, does a timed flying mile, then slows down for four miles.  Car weighs 2.7 tons with Green aboard. JCB will use Goodyear drag-racing tires to support the weight.  One engine is behind the driver, the other in front. Each has its own six-speed gearbox with linked paddleshifts.  Uses four-wheel drive to get power down on the slippery salt. 

(your say) (your say) letter of the month

in the final analysis Regarding Jaguar’s sad financial state and Ford’s more successful experience with Land Rover (“The Big Picture,” April), the reason for the disparate outcomes is simple: Land Rover had the benefit of passing through the hands of BMW prior to becoming a Ford property. Unlike Ford, BMW understands that one doesn’t build a premium car brand by cutting corners, skimping on new investment, and sharing obvious components with lesser marques. Even if it did pay too much for Jaguar, Ford has compounded that mistake in trying to make Jag pay off by cutting costs and investment. That strategy might work on the economy end of the market, but it’s a loser when you’re competing with the best in world. The sad result is that Ford has damaged the tremendous potential of the Jaguar brand. Steve Jones Indianapolis, Indiana

apocalypse now! Amazing! Freak weather patterns emerging across the world, country music and its stars turning on their president, and, finally, the scariest thing of all: Motor Trend has admitted a Corvette is better than a Porsche (“Dial 911”). The rapture is on, people. Run! Seriously, Porsche has dug itself into a mighty big hole doing the right things and has taken the role of the overachieving class president, Mr. Jack of All Trades, who seems destined for greatness but ends up managing a Barnes & Noble. What happened? Porsche’s current situation is a gross latent function of trying to outdo itself. For so long Porsche hasn’t rested on its laurels. Thousands of hours of engineering have gone into details grand and minute. It’s paid attention to the market, keeping up with what people demand, and therein lies the problem. The demise of Porsche began with offering the public what it wants: the cupholder. After that came a sibling, the Cayenne. Now, with the introduction of the Cayman, this prestigious company has overachieved itself into mediocrity. The new 911 won’t turn heads; you may pass Rodeo Drive without one gawking reaction, but your soul will thank you. Porsche has always been about building and developing a personal connection with the driver. Porsche has never been about quickies. Yes, the Corvette is faster, but its brutality ruins the delicate bond between driver and car. Thanks, Porsche, for understanding that true driving is a sensual dance, not a mosh pit. The Corvette may have won the throttle battle, but it hasn’t won the everyday-living war. Steve M. Silva Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

guilt by association Some of your letter writers have accused Motor Trend of an attempt to ruin GM, as if you were part of a grand conspiracy (“Your Say” ). But there’s no need for anyone outside of GM to participate in its demise. It’s done an admirable job in-house through various operational procedures; just to name a few: executives guided by structuring their own golden parachutes and not being concerned about outrageous labor settlements and concessions. In my garage is a Lexus; my children drive Mercedes, BMWs, Toyotas, Nissans, and

write us at 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048

e-mail us from

 letter of the month wins! Say, Steve, won’t this 9x12 matted and framed print of the 1953 Dodge Firearrow sports car look cool in your den, where you entertain your poker buddies over beer and Montecristos? Check out other available classic prints from the pages of Motor Trend at our Arte House Web site:

(your say) Infinitis. As soon as an American car can even come close in the quality and integrity of the Japanese and German makes, I’ll buy without hesitation. But I don’t see that happening in my lifetime—if ever. Curtis W. Dowdle Salt Lake City, Utah Nobody here is wearing import-loving glasses. The American companies aren’t building anything anybody wants to buy. Front-drive V-8 Impalas? They didn’t even change the rear end on the new Monte Carlo. The Silverado Hybrid falls short. The new Tahoe beat out the Expedition, but let’s see what happens when it goes up against a Sequoia. Toyota builds (great, reliable, attractive, solid) cars in the U.S; GM builds garbage in other countries. No, I don’t drive a Camry. I drive a 1993 Camaro Z28. I’ll never turn my back on GM, but there isn’t much good I can say about the company at this time. I could keep going, but after growing up in a family that’ll die when GM does, it hurts too much. Chris Vitale Valrico, Florida

fatal vision There was a time when the chosen few like Harley Earl did the steering at the Big Three

(“The Asphalt Jungle”). They were the Walt Disneys of the automobile. Unfortunately, unlike Walt, they weren’t the CEOs. The advent of the quality rising from Japan, declining in Detroit, turned the vision to beancounters rather than designers. We became the Japanese ourselves: inventing and creating nothing new, just tweaking and stretching to perfect what’s been there for years. What a drag. As a kid, I loved those Autoramas. George Holowaty Wilmington, North Carolina

the 911 controversy It’s obvious the Z06 is one of the best sports cars you can buy (and the cheapest), but you have to look at the big picture (“Dial 911”). The careers of the 911 Carrera and Z06 are those of the 100M-dash and marathon runners. The Porsche is in the marathon, the consistent runner who may not be ahead the whole time, but in the end is the winner due to his persistence. The Z06 is the 100M-dash runner, out to win in the shortest time possible. Sure, the Z06 is faster, cheaper, and more agile, but the Porsche has something the Z06 cannot build: history. In no way am I downplaying what Chevy has done with the Z06. It’s brilliant. But in the end, Porsche’s history will stand out because the 911 has been a benchmark for decades. Besides,

readers on location where do you read motor trend? E-mail digital photo(s) of you and Motor Trend to: motortrend@ or mail them to: Motor Trend, c/o Mail, Readers on Location, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. . Born again: Spence McWilliams, of San Marcos, California, finds life renewed as he enjoys the latest reincarnations of metal before the 120-foot Amarauhati Buddha statue under construction in Amarauhati, Andhra Pradesh, India.

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(your say)

its competitors is so well written, I felt like I’d driven these cars myself. For each comparison, I had to keep that last paragraph covered so the ending wouldn’t be spoiled. He didn’t look down on the Z06 merely for being an Americanmade car. The 911 might have the reputation and iconic status, but anyone in his right mind would take the Aston or Z06. Charlie Nutting Wilmington, Delaware

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you can juice up to become a 100M runner (if you’re somewhat in shape), but no one can run a marathon after taking steroids unless there’s been time and effort put into it beforehand. Congratulations, Porsche, on being the real winner in all of this—the fact that the 911 is still around and still the benchmark for so many others. Neima Shahbazi Denton, Texas While the claim that the Aston Martin is more beautiful than the other cars mentioned is debatable, both it and the Corvette are worthy competitors to the venerable Carrera. However, I was most awed by the level of performance the Cayman offered from such an underpowered engine. Just as you say, it’ll be sensible for Porsche to gradually transfer primary racing duties to the Cayman. This doesn’t necessarily mean the death of the 911, as I’d like to see its development continued in the future. Porsche could still market it in the same way Ferrari markets its series cars. The large 911 following would ensure continued demand for a few more iterations. Personally, I’ll be screaming for the death of the 911 when Porsche introduces the 3.8-liter Cayman Turbo S. Forrest Pittman Hopkinsville, Kentucky

At last, as I read the final paragraph in the headto-head comparo: “Advantage Corvette,” I could hardly believe Motor Trend testers decided an American car bested a German one. Of course, my surprise was short-lived as I read on to find that the 911 is still the exoticar icon since it’s more comfortably driven in traffic, while the Corvette is too loud and hot for everyday use. The Porsche is easy to see out of, get into, and park—and also it has a back seat to keep the wife happy. Tom Fleeger Burleson, Texas You guys are killing me! I don’t see how you can compare the new Z06 with a Porsche 911 Carrera S. The Z06 outperforms the entire Porsche lineup. The Z06 has the same specs as the $400,000 Carrera GT. A good driver can get 0-to-60 in 3.7 and the quarter in 11.5 or better. Experienced drivers are hitting 11.9 in the quarter consistently with a 2004 Z06 on stock tires. Here’s the bottom line: Your numbers are too slow, and, at $70,000, you can’t buy a betterperforming car. None of those cars belongs in a comparison together in the first place. Ryan Arlington, Texas Hear me now! It is to laugh at “Dial 911.” As an American, I have to laugh at girlyman cars. Porsche is for girlymen. Aston Martin is made where there are girlymen and, look, they have a queen. I am to laugh at you. The Vette is the winner, girlymen! I have to go get Maria a pint of Chunky Monkey now in my Vette. I’ll be baaaaack! Name withheld by request Sacramento, California  All correspondence must include an address and a daytime telephone number. Any material

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It’s hard to fathom that the Aston is a threat to the 911. If someone wants to pay $100-grandplus for a car when a Subaru is going to be closer on par in performance, be my guest. Or if you’re in it just for the James Bond factor, save your pennies (or in this case, a large multitude of pennies) and get a DB9—or buy a tux. Marc V. Moscow, Idaho

accepted is subject to such revision as is necessary at our sole discretion to meet the requirements of this publication. All materials sent to the editors become property of Motor Trend magazine and cannot be returned. Unsolicited materials will not be accepted and will not be returned. This magazine assumes no responsibility for loss or damage thereto. The act of mailing a manuscript and/or material shall constitute an express warranty by the contributor that it is original and in ©P&G 2006. Tested and approved by the experts at Motor Trend magazine. MOTOR TREND ® & © 2006 PRIMEDIA Specialty Group, Inc. All rights reserved. For more information on the guarantee please call 1-800-867-2532 or go to

I subscribe to more automotive magazines than I can handle, but no issue or article has ever had me hanging on the edge of my seat like this one. Markus’s description of the 911 and

no way an infringement upon the rights of others. Due to the volume of mail received, we can reply only to letters selected for publication.

(the asphalt jungle) arthur st. antoine

name dropping Want to add prestige to your luxury car? It’s as easy as XYZ.  illustration ryan heshka  photograph lionel deluy

IGNORE THE byline above. My name is not Arthur St. Antoine. It’s ASX. That’s the new alphanumeric moniker I’ve given myself. It sounds much more exclusive and prestigious than “St. Antoine.” That’s what all the automakers tell me. When christening their luxury models, most car execs now seem to agree: Names are for tombstones, baby. A decade ago, undoubtedly inspired by the runaway success of New Coke, Acura bewildered consumers and rivals alike by ditching one of the country’s most esteemed auto names—Legend—and replacing it with the monogram on Rush Limbaugh’s bullhorn. Several years later, Cadillac followed suit, canning such storied appellations as Seville, Eldorado, and Fleetwood and creating new


badges for most of its lineup by kicking over a box of Alpha-Bits. Now Lincoln is dropping names. The maker’s new 2007 crossover was to be dubbed the Aviator, a distinguished and expressive word even if it didn’t win Martin Scorsese an Oscar. Instead, Lincoln has decided to go with MKX. That’s pronounced “Mark X,” in case you lost your decoder pin. And rather than call its 2007 Ford Fusion-based sedan the Zephyr, Lincoln will use MKZ (“Mark of Zorro”?). Check the sales contract closely if you buy either vehicle— you’re only a Y away from driving home in the wrong model. Still, there’s a good reason for all of this. It’s because…actually, I have no idea why Lincoln is doing this. Let’s let Lincoln explain: “We think it’s important to build the brand image, so

changing to this alpha system helps put Lincoln more in the spotlight as a brand,” said spokesperson Sara Tatchio in Automotive News. “It also indicates a certain level of luxury.” Ah, of course. The letters “MKX” indicate luxury because, uh…wait—the K and the X form a diamond in between, right? The truth is, Lincoln and the others know precisely why they’re switching to alphanumerics, even if they won’t actually say so. Allow me to translate: “Indicates a certain level of luxury” really means “It sounds European.” For many Americans, MercedesBenz, BMW, and Jaguar—all long-time users of alphanumerics—are the poster children of prestige. Besides, as we all know, luxury comes from Europe (how many bidets do you have in your house?). So slap on some numbers and letters (never mind if they don’t mean anything), and—cue the trumpets!—instantly your blood is royal blue. I can almost understand why the premium Japanese brands—Acura, Lexus, Infiniti— followed this strategy. Starting from scratch late in the 20th century, naturally they chose to emulate the luxury heavyweights. But Cadillac and Lincoln? For now, they possess a tactical advantage the Japanese can’t buy: heritage. Cadillac was building Eldorados nearly four decades before the arrival of the Lexus LS 400. The first Lincoln Zephyr appeared more than half a century before Infiniti zoomed into view. How does throwing away that hard-won legacy—a visceral lingual link to each maker’s proud tradition—“build the brand image?” Great auto names are evocative, emotional, memorable (today, Cadillac’s best-known model is the only one that isn’t alphanumeric: Escalade). Any civilian knows the name Mustang. Or Accord. Or Corvette. But even industry pros will strain to differentiate between an MKX (Lincoln), an MDX (Acura), and an MLK (a future Mercedes and a holiday). And to those who argue that names don’t “indicate a certain level of luxury,” may I just say: Flying Spur. Phantom. Enzo. Vanquish. Grace Kelley. I’ll let Neil Armstrong have the final word. Imagine what this country would’ve lost if the Apollo 11 astronaut had succumbed to name dropping in 1969: “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The LM-5 has landed.” 

(technologue) frank markus

pod people Can radio survive the MP3-player revolution?  illustration doug fraser  photograph lionel deluy

I THOUGHT I’d picked the perfect road-trip-mobile: a loaded Nissan Quest. It’s cool-looking, roomy, comfortable, and boasts a 10-speaker sound system with DVD video in back. My traveling companions only noticed what it was missing—an iPod jack. I pointed to the six-disc changer and satellite button, but holding a thousand songs of their choosing in one fist, they were unimpressed. Music-devotees once relied on avant-garde radio DJs to reveal the coolest new music, but as those stations are gobbled up and homogenized by big corporations, listeners are losing interest. Internet music sharing and distribution are filling the void. As a result, FM radio may face


AM’s fate, with news/talk displacing music. It recently happened to Detroit’s coolest music station, NPR-affiliate WDET. Even subscription satellite radio broadcasters are threatened by Internet radio, pod-casting, and the iPod/MP3 player revolution (one in 10 Americans now owns one). Can 100-plus channels of someone else’s music and talk really compare with 50 hours of my tunes and pod-casts? Radio’s future looks bleak, but terrestrial and satellite broadcasters aren’t giving up without a fight. Both are introducing a host of new technologies and products to bolster their viability. Ground-based radio is going digital to bring high-definition CD-quality sound to FM,

and FM quality to AM broadcasts. In addition to the improved sound quality, HD radio, licensed by iBiquity Digital, can beam live text like artist and song titles, school closings, and traffic reports—find that on your iPod. The bigger benefit is more music. Each HD station gets 150 kilobits per second of bandwidth to play with. This stream can be carved up to provide up to two extra music channels. (If ever the analog signal is abandoned, there’ll be room for eight to 10 digital channels). Detroit’s WRIF rock station uses its RIFF2 channel to broadcast commercial-free hometown rock 24/7. Such sidebands are now bringing New Yorkers their only country and oldies radio broadcasts. Yeeha! iBiquity also touts a TiVo-type service that can record favorite programs or songs for later playback. Over 700 stations now broadcast in HD, and 3000 are upgrading to the new standard. HD radio is free, but you need new equipment to hear it. Most aftermarket audio suppliers are now or will soon be selling HD sets at a price premium of about $200. BMW offers HD receivers on its 5, 6, and 7 Series cars as a $500 option ($95 less than satellite radio), and eight more automakers will introduce it on 36 upcoming models. Don’t count the satellite gang out, either. XM and Sirius stream traffic and weather info for larger markets today, and each has plans to beam video into the car. The data streams will be downsized for small screens, and children’s shows will be cached to a hard disk (to avoid tantrum-inducing interruptions in a live stream); adult sports and news shows will beam live. XM has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Heading downtown to the big game? Let ParkingLink navigate you to the nearest lot with space. Traveling I-80 in the winter? WeatherLink can display storms along the route the same way NavTraffic shows traffic jams. These two features are expected to roll out in 2007. XM is launching two high-definition channels beaming 5.1 surround sound to car and home audio systems able to play it. And XM’s MyFi incorporates an iPod like 50-hour hard drive to which favorite XM songs can be stored free (they must be purchased through Napster to move them off the device). Okay, maybe radio has some life left in it— but give me an auxiliary iPod jack anyway. 



gt500 across america (cover story)


(cover story) gt500 across america

CRISP BLUE skies, palm trees, and snow-capped mountains sparkling in the distance: L.A. in its spring glory. And we’re rumbling east along I-10 in 500 horsepower of supercharged Shelby GT500 Mustang, all red-with-white-stripes and Schwarzenegger swagger. Yeah, some days are definitely better than others. We’re on a journey, heading back to where it all began. In six days and almost 3500 miles, we’ll have crossed a continent, having taken the GT500 from the Pacific Ocean through the heartland of America to the place where, in 1964, the original Mustang 50 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

stole America’s heart: the site of the New York World’s Fair. Before we get there, though, we’ll have pushed the GT500 to the very edge of its performance envelope on the track, run it hard wheel to wheel against rivals from GM and Chrysler on the road, and lived through days at the wheel on everything from wide-open Interstates to rolling two-lane blacktop to the chaos of Manhattan. Our destination this first day is Ford’s Arizona Proving Ground near Yucca on I-40. This 3840-acre facility has 50 miles of test roads and is used mainly for truck

durability and heat testing. But the road that interests us most is the five-mile highspeed test track—basically two mile-long straights connected by banked 180-degree turns at either end. It’s here we’ll get to see just how fast the most powerful Mustang in history really is. On the way out of L.A., the GT500’s manners immediately impress. The supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 under the hood is fundamentally a 4.6 on steroids (15mm-longer stroke, iron block instead of aluminum, four-valve heads instead of three, and, of course, the Eaton R122 Roots-type

Center: Morning in Monument Valley, Utah. Right: Fast car, fast food in Kayenta, Arizona. Far right: At play at Ford’s Arizona Proving Ground. GT500 drifts easily, predictably; speed limiter means just 157.5 mph on the high-speed track.

blower), but feels like an entirely different engine: smoother, more refined, and more flexible. The suspension is noticeably firmer than that of a regular GT—spring, damper, and anti-roll-bar rates are all up—but it’s toned and athletic rather than harsh and stiff. The fat 255/45ZR18 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires up front occasionally snuffle around the grooves in the road, but otherwise the GT500 tracks straight and true with little effort. It’s windy at the proving ground, and tumbleweed debris litters the northern loop of the high-speed track. After a safety

check and a brief recce, it’s on with the crash helmet and down to business. A tentative launch brings 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and 100 mph in 10.9, according to our windshield-mounted Racelogic DriftBox. The SVT logo on the tach flashes to signal an upshift, but it’s way before the big V-8 nears the 6000-rpm redline, so we ignore it. Little more than 30 seconds after launch, the speedo needle kisses 150 mph, then 155, then…nothing. An invisible, electronic hand starts pushing back: Like the 20032004 Cobras, the GT500 is speed limited. We coax 156.8 mph out of one run, then

157.5 mph on another. But that’s it.Which is a pity, because we’re only at about 5250 rpm in fifth gear at the artificially imposed Vmax, and the engine feels stout enough to go on to the redline—that’s 175 mph. P h o t o g ra p h e r Jo h n K i ew i c z , a n accomplished drag racer, slides behind the wheel to peel out a few standing-mile runs. His best nails 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and 100 mph in 9.8, the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds at 116 mph, and the standing mile in 33.2 at 150.2. They’re almost identical to the corrected numbers Frank Markus and Neil Chirico will record in another MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 51

across america by the numbers 3479 14 11,158 225 157.5 33.2 21.0 12.4 18.4 193.2 2.99 3.59 534 0

Total distance traveled, miles Number of states visited Highest elevation reached, feet (I-70, Colorado) Lowest elevation seen, feet (I-10, Los Angeles) Top speed recorded, mph Time, in seconds, standing mile Best gas mileage, mpg (Monticello, Utah, to Gypsum, Colorado) Worst gas mileage, mpg (Arizona Proving Ground) Average gas mileage for entire trip, mpg Fuel used for entire trip, gal Cheapest gas, $/gal (Mexican Hat, Utah) Most expensive gas, $/gal (Ludlow, Arizona) Total amount, in dollars, spent on gas Number of tickets received


GT500 prototype at Ford’s Michigan Proving Ground the following day (see spec panel). Ford’s claimed 500 horses at 6000 rpm and 480 pound-feet of torque at 4500 rpm—significantly more mumbo than all the prelaunch rumor had suggested— are present and correct: The 3994-pound GT500 is just a half second slower to 60 mph than our last Corvette Z06 and seven tenths slower over the quarter mile, despite weighing a hefty 840 pounds more. We leave I-40 at Flagstaff and turn northeast, overnighting in the small town of Kayenta. The next morning, we’re rolling through Monument Valley, beloved by Hollywood director John Ford, whose movies, such as “Stagecoach” and “She Wore aYellow Ribbon,” made the dramatic, weathered landscape an iconic symbol of the Old West

gt500 across america (cover story)

Center: Windmill on the Kansas prairie. Left: Cattle on the road in Utah; cabin surprisingly quiet and comfortable on a long haul; snow by the road at 11,158 feet in Colorado; red and white GT350 shows the Shelby DNA. Right: Rolling hills at the geographic center of the 48 states; meeting the ancestor, with original 1964 Mustang convertible at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

for millions of Americans. The GT500 feels eager, alive in the cool predawn air, but the dim headlights simply aren’t up to the car’s performance. After sunrise, though, on the quieter roads in and around the spectacular desert where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet, the Mustang settles down to an effortless 100-mph cruise, arcing through fast sweepers with a precision that belies its old-school live rear axle. Out here on the two-lane blacktop, the GT500 feels quick, quiet, and composed, everything you want a true Grand Tourer to be. The engine delivers a smooth, linear surge of acceleration every time you squeeze the gas, and while the Tremec six-speed requires a deliberate hand, the shift throws are short. The steering feel is meaty but accurate; the brake pedal is firm but easily

modulated.With about 57 percent of its mass over the front wheels, the GT500’s natural tendency is to push as the limits of adhesion are reached. As the road tightens, it’s best to treat it like an old Ferrari Daytona—brake early and in a straight line, then turn in and accelerate past the apex, using the power to transfer the weight to the rear axle and balance the car. We head north through the desert to join the I-70 outside Moab, then east, where we eventually climb and twist through the Rockies to 11,158 feet before we begin the plunge down the other side to Denver and the Great Plains beyond. Our destination is the Shelby American Collection in Boulder, a small but stunning group featuring Carroll Shelby’s greatest cars. Although the collection is usually open

only on Saturdays, curator David Murray is waiting patiently for us when we arrive around 8:30 p.m. Treasures include Shelby American’s unrestored 289 FIA Roadster, the most original and valuable of the five built, the 1964 Le Mans-winning Daytona Coupe, John Wyer’s personal GT40, and the GT40 Mark IV driven by Mario Andretti at Le Mans in 1967. Naturally there are Shelby Mustangs, too: three nice GT350s, and 5R002, the first and most significant of all the racing GT350s ever built, found languishing in a barn in Mexico in 1991 and awaiting restoration. Next morning, we roll out of our hotel near Denver International Airport and point the Mustang east on I-70 again. For the first time in two days, there are no mountains on the horizon ahead; behind us, the snow-capped Rockies stretch in wall-to-wall widescreen, MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 53

(cover story) gt500 across america

filling the rearview mirror. Not long after we cross into Kansas, we again dive off the Interstate, cutting northeast through the plains to Route 36, a near-empty two-lane that runs parallel to the Nebraska border and will take us right by the geographical center of the contiguous 48 states. You don’t get much more heartland than this: Small towns huddle around grain elevators, every second car’s a Buick, and the pickup trucks

actually work for a living.Well away from the trashy fast-food joints and cheap hotels that litter I-70, Route 36 is a glimpse of how America used to be. T h e G T 5 0 0 ’s c a b i n i s p rov i n g a comfortable place for a 900-mile stint: The high-performance tires roar on coarse pavement, and you hear a faint whine from the supercharger overlaying the basso V-8 rumble if you spin the engine past 3500 rpm;

From left: Over the Ohio River, Wheeling, West Virginia; Bethlehem Steel’s once-mighty blast furnaces (Lee Iacocca grew up in nearby Allentown); heading down to a wet Times Square, New York City.

otherwise this Mustang is easy on the ears. The driving position is good; the pedals are well placed, and there’s a dead pedal for your left foot. The steering wheel adjusts for tilt and reach, and though the seats seem hard at first, you settle into them. One niggle:The seats feature electric fore/aft and height/ tilt adjustment, but the backrest is adjusted manually via a coarse ratchet that never seems to click into exactly the right angle.

gt500 meets charger srt8 & pontiac gto

LET’S BE CLEAR: The State of the Union is damn fine right now. Who’d have thought, even five years ago, that we’d be comparing three 400-horse-plus, V-8-powered performance cars from Detroit that cost little more than a fully loaded pickup? Behold Ford’s Shelby GT500, Dodge’s Charger SRT8, and Pontiac’s GTO. And rejoice. The GTO is the oldest, least expensive, least powerful, and probably most misunderstood car of this trio. Originally developed in the late 1990s by GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden for a mere $50 million, it was snapped up by Bob Lutz to add much-needed pizzazz to Pontiac’s moribund model line. It was the right idea, but the wrong badge: Despite a quick and dirty facelift, the soft, rounded styling, derived from Holden’s Commodore sedans, just didn’t jibe with America’s perception of what a Pontiac should look like—especially a Pontiac GTO. Sales have been slow. For $32,685, you get a 6.0-liter V-8 with 400 horses and


400 pound-feet of torque driving this 3777-pound coupe through a six-speed manual. You get 0 to 60 in 4.7 seconds and the standing quarter in 13.3 seconds at 105.9 mph. Actually, you can probably get all that for less than $30,000 because dealers are in run-out mode, clearing cars before the GTO is officially discontinued this September. The Charger SRT8 has a 6.1-liter V-8 with 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, starts at $35,995, and is only marginally less misunderstood than the GTO, mainly because Chrysler had the temerity to resurrect the Charger name on a four-door. At 4266 pounds, it’s no lightweight, and it’s available only with a five-speed automatic. Which explains why the SRT8 is three tenths of a second slower than the GTO to 60 mph and two tenths of a second slower over the quarter. With 500 horses and 480 pound-feet of torque hauling 3990 pounds, it’s no surprise the $41,950 GT500 easily nails the GTO and the SRT8 Charger, taking two tenths of a second off the Pontiac to 60 mph and six tenths off it over the quarter mile. But neither figure conveys the relentless urge of that supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 when you nail the gas. So try these: The GT500 is a full half second faster than either car from 45 to 60 mph and more than two seconds quicker to 100 mph. It’s fast. The GT500 also is the easiest to drive quickly when the roads start to sweep and swoop through the hills. Linear is the word that encapsulates the Mustang’s demeanor: Every input—steering, braking, throttle—delivers smooth, consistent output. There’s loads of grip front and rear, and

Mid-mor ning day four finds us at Indianapolis for a rendezvous with an original 1964½ Mustang convertible. It looks exactly like one of the three Wimbeldon white pace cars built by Holman and Moody for the tragic 1964 Indy 500 (popular champ-car driver Eddie Sachs and rookie Dave MacDonald died in a fiery sevencar pileup on the second lap), but it is in fact one of 35 replicas supplied by Ford

for use by senior company execs and local dignitaries during race week. After the muscular heft of the GT500, driving this original four-speed manual, 15,913-mile Mustang is like dancing with your grandma: It’s light and spindly and a bit frail. The 289 four-barrel under the hood might’ve been the hottest engine you could get in a Ford Mustang at the time, but it has less than half the power of our GT500.You can almost hear

you can easily tease the car out to the limits of adhesion, even on streaming wet roads. The live rear axle betrays its presence with the occasional sidestep over mid-corner bumps, but the GT500 just shrugs and settles back on line with minimal correction through the steering. The Charger SRT8 is fast—and, boy, does that big V-8 love to rev—but it feels much more restless and oddly detached than the GT500. The numb, somewhat sullen steering and long-travel brake pedal mean you’re always playing catch-up with the chassis, and both ends of the car break loose much earlier than in the other two, especially on wet roads. It might have the most sophisticated suspension layout of these three cars, but doesn’t feel like it—there’s more secondary bounce and more impact harshness over bumps. The GTO is softer than the other two in almost every respect, but on real-world roads it’s a surprisingly quick and confidence-inspiring drive, with good grip, nice steering, and pleasing grunt from the thumping 6.0-liter V-8. But it badly needs better brakes (it takes 138 feet to stop from 60 mph, compared with 124 feet for the Charger and just 110

Carroll Shelby calling it a secretary’s car. The traffic’s heavy as we pound east into Ohio, and the radar detector squawks constantly, so it’s a relief when we turn south off I-70 before Columbus and cut across the back roads to meet Frank Markus and Todd Lassa, who’ve brought a Dodge Charger SRT8 and Pontiac GTO down from Detroit for a back-to-back comparison test (see sidebar). This much is clear already: For a

from the GT500) and a less clumsy gearshift with shorter, narrow throws. But, for the money, the GTO is an honest, fun-to-drive coupe with a useable rear seat and good luggage space. The interior is still one of GM’s better efforts, and the recent exterior upgrades have given it much more presence on the street. It’ll be one of those cars people will miss only when it’s gone. But it’s still not in the same league as the GT500. And neither is the Charger SRT8. The 6.1-liter Hemi is one of Detroit’s all-time-great engines, but the chassis doesn’t deliver the poise and panache its sophisticated specification and Mercedes-Benz heritage promises. And real enthusiasts would like to shift their own gears. Okay, the Dodge is a sedan up against a couple of coupes: It’s naturally heavier, taller, and less wieldy. But until the Challenger arrives, it—along with the more expensive 300C SRT8—is the only game in town if you’re a Mopar fan. Ford has hit the sweet spot with the new Shelby GT500. Meet the new benchmark for affordable American performance cars.


0-60 MPH

0-100 MPH




60-0 MPH



4.5 sec

9.6 sec

12.7 sec @ 116.0 mph

69.7 mph avg

24.5 sec @ 0.77g avg

110 ft



4.7 sec

11.7 sec

13.3 sec @ 105.9 mph

62.4 mph avg

26.8 sec @ 0.66g avg

138 ft



5.0 sec

11.9 sec

13.5 sec @ 106.3 mph

65.2 mph avg

26.3 sec @ 0.68g avg

124 ft


secrets of the gt500 1. ENGINE


Shares bore, stroke, deck height, and bore spacing with the 5.4-liter Ford Triton truck engine. Cast-iron block; aluminum four-valve heads from Ford GT; camshafts from 2004 Cobra. Eaton R122 supercharger delivers max boost of 8.5 psi. 500 horses at 6000 rpm and 480 poundfeet at 4800 rpm only certified April 21—after first media drives. Target was 475 horses, but work with Eaton on supercharger geometry delivered more grunt. 92.6-horse/liter output beats 84.8 of 2003 Cobra. Engine weighs 175 pounds more than 4.6-liter.

Tremec T6060 six-speed manual is latest version of T56 used in 2003 Cobra. Features triple synchros on first and second gears; lower 2.97:1 first-gear ratio; new remote shifter for shorter throws. Clutch is new 215mm-diameter Valeo twin-disc unit with cerametallic material to handle increased power and torque.

3. SUSPENSION On GT500 coupe front spring rates are 42 percent stiffer and rears 17

8 10

7 4

At 14.0 and 6 11.8 inches, front and rear rotors are larger diameter than those on 2003 Cobra. New front calipers are four-piston Brembo. Master cylinder has been carried over from GT, but the brake booster and anti-lock brake system tuning are unique to GT500.

4. REAR AXLE Independent suspension originally planned but this was nixed because of cost and concern over durability with high-torque engine. Live axle upgraded over GT with stronger differential case material, new differential side gears, and increased ring gear bolt torque. Final drive is 3.31:1, same as GT with auto trans.



percent stiffer than regular GT’s. Front anti-roll bar about seven percent stiffer, but rear bar is twice as stiff, with diameter increased by 4mm to 24mm. Revalved shocks give similar rate increases to springs at low shaft speeds, but at high shaft speeds (i.e., over sharp bumps) are closer to regular GT’s. Front ride height has been lowered 10mm; rear ride height is same as GT’s.


5 3




Wheels are 18x9.5 inches all around, one-inch-larger diameter and half inch wider than wheels on 2003 Cobra, mainly to package the 14-inch front brakes. Bigger 19- or 20-inch wheels were rejected because of poorer ride quality and refinement and because increased unsprung and rotational mass would’ve hurt straight-line acceleration. Front tires are 255/45; rears are 285/40.

The GT500 convertible won’t be available with the Le Mans stripes, as these weren’t available on the original version back in the 1960s. The GT500 convertible’s spring rates will be less aggressive than the GT500 coupe’s, too: 8.8 percent softer up front, and 14.6 percent softer at the rear. GT500 convertible uses regular GT coupe roll bars front and rear.

Tach and speedo positions swapped so drivers can better watch shift points; seats have additional lateral support; chrome accents replaced with satin aluminum finish. Only two interior color schemes offered: black, or black with red inserts on seats and door panels.

9. BODY 7. EXHAUST Dual 2.5-inch-diameter system with cross pipe is quarter inch larger throughout than 2003 Cobra to improve breathing. Exhaust tips are three-inch diameter.


All 2007 Mustangs have reinforced bodies because of the GT500’s extra power and torque. Selected panels are now thicker gauge steel, and extra welds have been placed on key seams and joints to improve rigidity.

base price of $41,950, the GT500 offers a helluva lot of bang for the buck. It pours as we run all three cars through Ohio’s Hocking Hills and won’t stop until we reach New York. The clouds hang low over the Appalachians as we head toward our final stop before the Big Apple: Bethlehem. There’s a direct link between the Mustang and this old Pennsylvania steel town: Lee Iacocca, who pushed the original Mustang past the objections of the Dearborn beancounters and even Henry Ford II himself, grew up in nearby Allentown and went to Lehigh University a few miles from the giant Bethlehem Steel steelworks. They stopped making steel at Bethlehem in 1995, and the giant blast furnaces that once made the steel that built most of New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the USS Lexington stand like silent ghosts mourning a lost era.We head on through the rain into New Jersey and a saturated New York City. The GT500 bucks and bounces over the lumps and potholes as we work our way across Manhattan to Brooklyn and up to Flushing Meadows. The 1964 New York World’s Fair cost

hundreds of millions of dollars and attracted over 51 million visitors, but little remains to show for it. The site of the Ford pavilion, made of enough steel to build a 125-foottall building and where visitors rode along a giant track in Ford convertibles (including the new Mustang) past Walt Disney dioramas, is just a vacant lot across the Grand Central Parkway.We pull the GT500 under the giant 140-foot-tall stainless-steel globe, the Fair’s central motif, and take a photo. In addition to the Mustang, the New York World’s Fair also hosted the launch of the IBM Selectric typewriter and the Rambler Marlin.Yes, the Mustang’s a survivor, despite, at times, the best efforts of Ford. But after 3479 miles, it’s clear the GT500 is more than just a digitally remastered reminder of an era when the world seemed a simpler, more certain place. That GT badge is the real deal: No raw-mannered musclecar, the Shelby GT500 is a fast, civilized, yet uniquely American grand touring coupe. No one in the world builds a car this charismatic, this accomplished, with this much performance, for the money. The greatest Mustang ever? No question. 

End of the road: At the site of the New York World’s Fair, where the original Mustang made its debut in 1964.


Front engine, RWD Supercharged 90° V-8, iron block/alum heads DOHC, 4 valves/cyl 330.0 cu in / 5409 cc 8.4:1 500 hp @ 6000 rpm 480 lb-ft @ 4500 rpm 6250 rpm 7.9 lb/hp 6-speed manual 3.31:1 / 2.09:1


Struts, coil springs, antiroll bar; live axle, coil springs, anti-roll bar


15.7:1 2.8


14.0-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS 18 x 9.5 in, cast alum



P255/45ZR18 96W; P285/ 40ZR18 96W, Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 107.1 in 61.9 / 62.5 in 187.6 x 73.9 x 54.5 in 37.0 ft 3944 lb 57 / 43 % 4 38.6 / 35.0 in 42.7 / 31.0 in 55.4 / 53.3 in 12.3 cu ft

2.1 sec 2.7 3.6 4.5 5.5 6.5 8.0 9.6 12.7 sec @ 116.0 mph 1.9 sec 110 ft 310 ft 69.7 mph avg 0.92 g (avg) 24.5 sec @ 0.77 g (avg) 1650 rpm $41,950 $42,670 (est) No / yes Dual front, front side 3 yrs / 36,000 miles 3 yrs / 36,000 miles 3 yrs / 36,000 miles 16.0 gal N/A 18.4 mpg Premium unleaded


red dragon

red dragon

red dragon red dragon red dragon red dragon red dragon red dragon red dragon red dragon

red dragon 60 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

ferrari 599 gtb fiorano (first drive)


(first drive) ferrari 599 gtb fiorano

WHEN THE all-new Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano rolls into view, onlookers gasp the same way audiences did when a clingingly attired Sophia Loren emerged from the ocean in 1957’s “Boy on a Dolphin.” Chalk it up to the Curves Reflex, the primal human response to an overdose of tumescent contours and mesmerizing proportions. But the Fiorano’s zaftig front wheel arches and Loren cat eyes don’t provoke the last gasp—at least not for those fortunate enough to experience the confident embrace of its deeply pocketed, 62 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

leather-trimmed driver’s seat. You see, this Ferrari’s sensuous physique and luxury conveniences—including optional navigation and Bose audio—are an elegant smokescreen, jellyfish tendrils to draw in and devour the world’s unsuspecting sportscar sucker fish. For at its heart the Fiorano is a ravenous beast, a fire-spewing dragon, the most powerful regular production Ferrari of all time. Fast? Head to head, it would leave Ferrari’s legendary F40 supercar choking in a cloud of Pirelli dust. For those of you who lament not being

around to see the unveiling of the 1962 250 GTO, considered by many to be Ferrari’s masterpiece, cry into your racing-red hankies no longer: The 599 Gran Turismo Berlinetta Fiorano is a GTO for the 21st century, a front-engine, V-12-powered twoseater of uncommon beauty, outrageous performance, and consummate balance. Mark the date: The Fiorano may well prove to be another watermark model for the Italian maker—and you’re alive to see its debut. Let’s be even more bold: Based on our preview drive in Italy, the 599 Fiorano may soon come to be known as the finest all-around Ferrari ever. Hyperbole? Let’s review the evidence. Under its fetching hood—and even these splendid photographs don’t convey how stunning Pininfarina’s design is in the metal—the Fiorano boasts a powerplant based not on the unit in the outgoing model, the 575M Maranello, but on the same 48-valve, 6.0-liter V-12 that first saw duty in the limited-edition, mid-engine Enzo. Compared with the Maranello’s V-12, the new engine produces 14 percent more power per liter, a blistering 612 horsepower at 7600 rpm (just 39 down from the almighty Enzo). Maximum engine speed—8400 rpm—is 900 rpm higher than the Maranello’s

twelve. The Fiorano’s V-12 is also eight percent lighter than the Maranello’s, and it’s more compact, allowing a mounting point further back under the hood. Ferrari says 85 percent of the Fiorano’s weight is contained within the front and rear axles. While a six-speed manual is standard, the vast majority of 599 buyers will opt for the paddle-shift F1 gearbox. For Fiorano duty, the transmission sports Ferrari’s first-ever use of Grand Prix-inspired F1Superfast technology in a road car. Rather than shifting the box in a conventional clutch-in/gear-select/clutch-out sequence, F1-Superfast partially combines clutchwork and gear selection—reducing total shift time to just 100 milliseconds (closing in on the 50-millisecond shift time of Schumacher’s F1 racer). A full Auto mode allows paddle-free gear changes, aided by a new twin-plate clutch that improves shifting smoothness. The 599’s suspension is revolutionary for a Ferrari, boasting the same Delphideveloped magnetorheological shocks available on, among others, the Corvette (while Ferrari admits the hardware is largely the same, it’s quick to point out that it codeveloped its own software with Delphi). Each wheel on the so-called “SCM”

suspension is controlled by a damper filled with a special fluid; the viscosity of the fluid can be modified almost instantaneously via an electronically generated magnetic field. A sensor at each wheel constantly monitors wheel and body movements; the computer reacts to changing road conditions (altering shock damping accordingly) in as little as one millisecond. Ferrari claims that SCM reduces vertical excursions on bumps by 30 percent compared with the 575M. The Fiorano is also the first Ferrari road car to feature F1-Trac, an enhanced

traction-control system previously seen only on the company’s single-seaters. The system monitors front- and rear-wheel speeds, constantly comparing incoming data with a stored vehicle-dynamics model. F1-Trac then modulates power delivery as needed (Ferrari says the system improves the Fiorano’s lap times around its namesake home circuit by 1.5 seconds compared with traditional traction control). F1-Trac operates when the steering wheel’s manettino control is set in Sport or Race modes; the manettino MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 63

(first drive) ferrari 599 gtb fiorano

1. Standard front tires are 19-inchers (shown here); 20-inch rims are standard in back and optional up front (as seen on test car in story). 2. All-aluminum construction reduces overall weight by roughly 100 pounds over outgoing Maranello; torsional rigidity increases 34 percent.

3. Body design, flat underbody, and rear diffuser combine to produce more than 350 pounds of downforce at 186 mph and more than 400 pounds above 200 mph.

4. Flying buttresses increase downforce by 88 pounds at 186 mph without increasing drag. 5. Trunk contains more than 11 cubic feet of cargo room. Fitted leather luggage optional.





8 11

1 6 6. Standard magnetic-ride suspension codeveloped with Delphi. 7. First road-car use of F1-Trac traction control, originally developed for Ferrari F1. 8. New F1-Superfast technology reduces total shift time to just 100 milliseconds.


2 9. 5999cc V-12, developed from Enzo engine, delivers 612 horsepower and 448 pound-feet. 10. Cockpit boasts standard dualzone climate control, power sport seats with electro-pneumatic side bolsters, Bluetooth cell-phone recognition. Options include satellite



navigation, 11-speaker Bose audio system with iPod connector and sixdisc CD changer, leather/carbon-fiber steering wheel with LED shift lights. 11. Standard cast-iron brakes feature 13.9-inch discs up front, 12.9-inch at rear. Carbon-ceramic discs (15.7/14.2 inches) optional.

also offers settings for Ice, Low Grip, and CST Off, which deactivates all of the car’s stability and traction-control systems. This amalgamation of technological wonderfulness resides inside a car that’s significantly larger than the Maranello it replaces. Wheelbase has grown a full 10 inches, length has increased 4.6 inches, and width is up an inch. Yet thanks to allaluminum construction, the 599 weighs roughly 100 pounds less than the 575M. Press the red Engine Start button on the steering wheel, and the Fiorano’s V-12 lights off and settles into an idle so smooth you can barely detect the rotating crankshaft. Blip the throttle to be sure it’s really alive; the engine zings past 6000 rpm so effortlessly it seems twirled by electricity, not detonating gulps of fossil fuel. Cruising out of the Ferrari factory gates, the Fiorano immediately feels more composed than its V-8-powered, mid-engine F430 sibling. Shifts are smoother, there’s no backfire in the exhaust, the cockpit is calm and relatively quiet. You could drive this car to work without feeling like you should be wearing Nomex shoes. Then you give it the gas. Instantly, the 599 rips off its Valentino sports jacket and transforms into a screaming, frothingmouthed grizzly. Wham! The grizzly slaps you into the seatback as if it were swatting away a nosy chipmunk, the redline LEDs on the optional carbon-fiber steering wheel light up, you flick the right shift paddle,

and—wham!—the grizzly slaps your sorry skull back against the headrest where it belongs. Ferrari claims the 599 will hit 62 mph in just 3.7 seconds; it’ll do 124 mph in 11 flat. Top speed is—hang on—somewhere north of 205 mph. Oh, and forget about calm and quiet: The sound of the V-12 at its 8400rpm redline could wake a dinosaur. Crushing acceleration is merely the antipasto on the Fiorano’s menu. Despite the big V-12 up front, understeer is all but nonexistent. With F1-Trac activated, you can plant your right foot almost anywhere in a corner, and the 599 will simply power through, no slips, no slides. The system is almost too careful. Switch it off, and the 599’s tail steps out under throttle—but usefully, not frighteningly. The big Pirelli PZeros—the 599 is the first Ferrari road car to offer 20-inch rims—deliver gobs of grip and break away with plenty of warning and control. And despite gunning the car through the Italian hills as fast as we dared, we never ran out of brakes; the pedal never even softened. Ferrari has done it. The Fiorano is an Everything supercar—unholy fast, gorgeous, comfortable, refined, forgiving, and well-mannered. The Italian maker will charge around $280,000 when the 599 GTB Fiorano goes on sale in the U.S. this fall. About 250 are headed to our shores each year. In addition to the prancing horse, each of them, we’re predicting now, will wear an invisible label: Milestone. 


$280,000 (est) Front engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe


6.0L/612-hp/448 lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12


6-speed auto-clutch manual 3750 lb (mfr) 108.3 in 183.7 x 77.2 x 52.6 in 3.7 sec (mfr) 9/15 mpg (est) Fall 2006


(first test) jaguar xk coupe

bond on a budget IF 007 HAD TO PINCH PENNIES, HEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;D GO FOR ONE OF THESE 

words ron kiino

photographs andrew gotch



(first test) jaguar xk coupe

 THE XK DELIVERS THE SEX APPEAL OF THIS FALL, when “Casino Royale,” the 21st EON-produced James Bond film, lights up movie screens, it’ll once again showcase 007 driving an Aston Martin—in which, logically, the immortal MI6 agent will escort beautiful women, escape coldblooded villains, and display the kind of automotive artillery that would make a Humvee jealous. Bond, played by Daniel Craig, will utilize his DBS as a daily driver (naturally) and will no doubt possess the uncanny ability to return the car spotless after an extravagant chase, at which point he’ll dismount unruffled, dust off the lapel of his Brioni tux, and slip into the cocktail lounge for a vodka martini—shaken not stirred, of course. If only we were all lucky enough to enjoy such thrilling lives and exotic machinery. Unfortunately, there’s something called reality, in which few people have the fortune—literally and figuratively—to own 70 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

AN ASTON FOR RELATIVE PEANUTS an exotic such as an Aston Martin, not to mention routinely escape death and/or score on so many levels. And, even though the storied British brand recently introduced the “entry-level” V8 Vantage, which stickers for a mere $110,000, it’ll reach only 4000 or so buyers—likely those who couldn’t quite swing the $162,350 DB9. For those who prefer to keep their car purchases within five-figure price tags, Jaguar is selling just the thing. It looks as good as an Aston Martin and drives as well as an Aston Martin—in some instances, better—yet it costs about half as much as a DB9. And although it may not carry quite the cachet of an Aston, it is nonetheless British and its résumé can stand toe-to-toe with that of any DB. We’re of course referring to the allnew XK coupe, which, at a starting price of $75,500, delivers the sex appeal and refinement of an Aston for relative peanuts. The fact that it resembles the current crop MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 71

(first test) jaguar xk coupe fiercer feline: xkr

JAG’S ALL-NEW XKR coupe, along with the XKR convertible, promises to deliver a level of performance that can truly match the XK’s level of sexiness. Body alterations will be somewhere along the lines of the Advanced Lightweight Concept (above), so expect huge wheels (likely 20-inches), chrome side vents, and big ducts in the front bumper, the latter to cool the high-performance brakes. Unlike the concept, though, the XKR will be devoid of the horizontal chrome strip in the mesh grille. Moreover, as the spy photo (top) indicates, the R will sport four large tailpipes in place of the XK’s two. The XKR will get a supercharged version of the 4.2-liter AJ-V-8 that’ll route its estimated 420 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque through a ZF sixspeed automatic with paddle shifters. Insiders tell us the blown engine has a much deeper growl compared with the old R’s rather whiny note, one of the improvements for the new XKR’s overall character, which is said to be “an XK plus 20 percent.” The suspension will be stiffer and, as a result, the handling tauter. Carrying a curb weight of roughly 3800 pounds, the XKR should be good for 0 to 60 mph in around 4.5 seconds and the quarter mile in the low 13.0s at around 110. While it won’t be as quick as the BMW M6 or the Mercedes SL55 AMG, the XKR will still serve up the sort of electrifying acceleration that justifies its estimated $90,000 price tag, giving it an economic edge over the $99,795 M6 and the $129,575 SL55. The XKR will be unveiled at this September’s Paris auto show and will go on sale sometime this winter. Best save up, cause it’ll likely sell like a cat out of hell.


of Astons is no coincidence. Ian Callum, Jaguar’s design head who penned the curvaceous lines of the XK, formerly held the same position at Aston and sculpted the reminiscent shapes of the Vanquish and DB7 and influenced the styling of the DB9. The XK’s weak spot, if there is one, is its face, which from some angles resembles a guppy or, dare we say, a Ford Taurus. The rear end, with its muscular haunches, is more tarponlike, suggesting that look and feel of gripping power. In fact, the XK’s menacing posterior is so alluring it’s easy to overlook that the car is over three inches wider than a Porsche 911 Carrera S and 3.7 inches broader than the old XK. With a wheelbase stretched 6.4 inches and a roof raised 1.5 inches, the new XK now possesses the proper proportions to compete with the likes of BMW and Mercedes. Step into the interior, and the benefits are immediately evident. Our $81,300 tester, which featured the $2500 Advanced Technology Package (adaptive cruise control, adaptive front lighting) and the $3300 Luxury Package (19-inch wheels, soft-grain leather, 16-way power seats, heated steering wheel), impressed us with its decadent duds—the leather-covered dash is especially posh—and modern amenities, such as the touch-screen nav system. Whereas the previous XK featured a cockpit infamous for being a contortionist’s dream, the new car is roomy and comfortable, thanks to around an inch of added head and shoulder room and over two inches of extra front legroom. From behind the wheel, the XK seems much like a DB9—the long nose and high cowl give an eerily similar feel—yet it comes across far lighter and more lithe, which is certainly the case once you throw the car into a set of bends. Granted, the XK weighs about 300 pounds less than the DB9, but it’s more the Jag’s beautifully weighted, correction-free steering, near-ideal balance, and gluey grip that impart a sense of agility absent in the heavier Aston. While not quite at the sports-car level of, say, a 911 or a Z06, the XK still provides a taut and supple ride, displays minimal roll and understeer, brakes nerve-free from 60 to 0 mph in 115 feet, and bites through turns with a viciousness that belies its otherwise dashing demeanor. And armed with a riveted and bonded aluminum monocoque that’s lighter and stiffer than the old body, the XK feels trim and solid, able to achieve the dual personality of a true GT car—prime for the most severe of switchbacks yet ready for a comfy, cross-country haul.

(first test) jaguar xk coupe

When presented with a long stretch of back road, the XK is set to scoot. Power comes from an enhanced AJ 4.2-liter V-8 that puts out 300 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque, all of which gets channeled through a seamless ZF six-speed automatic— essentially the same transmission used in the DB9—that, as in the Aston, can now be rapidly fired via steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The tandem delivers a 0-to60-mph time of 6.1 seconds and a quartermile sprint of 14.6 seconds at 97.4 mph. Quick numbers, for sure, but at least a half second off the times of a $72,495 BMW 650i coupe, whose 4.8-liter V-8 produces 360 horses and 360 pound-feet. So while the XK is satisfying under throttle, at the end of the day it leaves you wanting more, considering similar money can get you


into the sprightlier Bimmer. Our advice, Jag: Drop a 4.4-liter under the hood and bring the pony total up to at least 350 for the base model. That said, rejoice that the 400-plus horsepower, even sportier XKR is on the way. Soon (see sidebar). Otherwise, just a few nits to pick: a retro power antenna in need of a whip retrofitting, an outside temperature gauge that twice told us the ambient temp was “0,” and, what, no curtain airbags in an $80K car? Of course, assuming the XK—whose beauty, heritage, and dynamics scream Bond Car at any price—can avoid collisions at the same rate as most of 007’s rides, you’ll likely never even need the airbags. Just the standard Bluetooth technology to seal the deal before you ride off into the sunset with the girl—after having saved the world. 


Front engine, RWD V-8 alum block/heads DOHC 4 valves/cyl 256.1 cu in / 4196 cc 10.8:1 300 hp @ 6000 rpm 310 lb-ft @ 4100 rpm 6200 rpm 12.5 lb/hp 6-speed automatic 3.31:1 / 2.28:1


Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar


17.1:1 2.7 12.8-in vented disc; 12.8-in vented disc, ABS


19 x 8.5; 19 x 9.5, cast aluminum


245/40R19 94Y; 275/35R19, 96Y DUNLOP SP SPORT 01 J


108.3 in 61.0 / 63.3 in 188.6 x 74.5 x 52.0 in 33.3 ft 3756 lb 53 / 47 % 4 38.2 / 33.3 in 45.1 / 23.7 in 56.6 / 51.5 in 10.6 cu ft

2.2 sec 3.4 4.7 6.1 8.0 10.1 12.4 15.4 3.0 14.6 sec @ 97.4 mph 115 ft 66.4 mph avg 1750 rpm $75,500 $81,300 Yes/yes Dual front, front side 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 18.7 gal 18 / 27 22 mpg Unleaded premium

(first drive) porsche GT3


words frank markus


(first drive) porsche GT3

THERE’S SOMETHING strangely paradoxical about Porsche’s newest 911. The GT3, for those less conversant in the 911 catalog, is the one engineered to meet FIA GT and American Le Mans Series homologation rules as a street-legal racer. Funny thing is, despite all the adjustable race-hardened suspension bits, the low-profile 19-inch footwear, and the high-revving 415-horsepower naturally aspirated engine, the car is comfortable, tractable, and docile enough for commuting. Hard-core Porschephiles, please don’t be alarmed at that revelation. Your weekendwarrior isn’t softening with age. Indeed most of the new hardware is actually hardened. Like the 996-based GT3 that preceded it (Motor Trend, April 2004), this new car rides on a modified Carrera 4S unibody (a 23.8-gallon fuel tank fills the void vacated by the front diff in this rear-driver), modified 78 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

for frontal-crash performance and to clear the dry-sump oil reservoir in back. The 997 bodywork improves structural rigidity by eight percent in torsion and 40 percent in bending. Borrowing the aluminum doors and trunklid from the Turbo and fitting a new composite engine cover shaves 44 pounds. Brake upgrades include 0.8-inch-larger rear rotors (13.8-inch) with the standard steel brakes and much bigger front rotors (15.0-inch versus 13.8) on the optional ceramic composite brakes. Switching from steel to aluminum hub carriers on the highbuck binders trims two pounds per corner, bringing the total weight savings to 44 pounds relative to the all-steel brakes. Ceramic insulators on the caliper pistons help keep the brake fluid from boiling on both systems. Wheels are an inch larger in diameter all around (19s) and an inch wider in back (12.0). Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re wrapped in Michelin MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 79

(first drive) porsche GT3

Pilot Sport Cup tires whose steel-belt mesh patterns, gummy rubber compound, and asymmetric tread pattern were tailored to complement the GT3’s chassis. Dry grip is astonishing, but a shallow tread presents a hydroplaning risk, and a tread-wear rating of 80 suggests avid racers might want to pursue Michelin sponsorship. It’s the suspension upgrades that transform this new GT3. As before, the anti-roll bars offer five adjustments in front, three in back; and camber can be adjusted

up to six degrees. Stiffer front springs and anti-roll bar and metal bushings in place of rubber ones on some rear-suspension links bode ill for ride quality, but Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) saves the day. The Carrera’s (optional) computercontrolled dampers are recalibrated for competition and fitted with a threaded spring perches to raise or lower each corner and balance individual wheel loads to suit a particular track. The less aggressive setting rounds the edges off of bumps and potholes

breathing lessons

■ Raise compression from 11.7:1 to 12.0:1 ■ Improve breathing Ram induction adds 2.5 percent more air at 186 mph Quarter-inch-larger throttle body Three-mode variable-length intake manifold Valves open wider


Valve-timing adjustment range increased from 45 to 52 degrees Larger, freer-flowing exhaust with bypass valve ■ Rev 200 rpm faster Forged pistons weigh an ounce less Thinner, longer titanium rods weigh less, reduce crankshaft fatigue 1.3-pounds-lighter crankshaft Crankshaft bearings hardened by nitro-carbonating

and improves tire contact on rougher racetracks, while the firm setting restricts body motions to the absolute minimum on smooth tracks. An almost equal measure of credit for the GT3’s newfound performance and civility is afforded by the reworked 3.6-liter engine, which gains 35 horsepower and 14 pound-feet (298) without adding a single cc of displacement. Instead, the new engine breathes better and revs faster (see sidebar). Second through fifth-gear ratios are shortened just enough to account for the larger tires and equalize spacing between the first five gears. Porsche’s notoriously conservative claim for 0-to-60 mph is 4.1 seconds—two-tenths quicker than the last GT3. Subtracting that increment from our 996 GT3’s performance suggests 3.7 might be more like it. One last technical triumph deserves special attention: the aerodynamics. Porsche has miraculously managed to lower the drag coefficient from 0.30 to 0.29, while producing true downforce of 22 pounds in front and 55 pounds in back, at 186 mph. That’s not a lot, but the fact that there’s never any lift at either end serves to make the GT3 feel incredibly stable—at least at observed speeds of up to 170 mph. Several of the styling elements that distinguish the GT3 are responsible for this miracle. The vent just ahead of the front luggage compartment lid exhausts the air flowing through the large central radiator, instead of letting it build up under the car, as in all other 911s. A front air dam and a smooth, flat underbody cover minimize airflow and drag beneath the car. The rear wing produces the downforce in back, while the Gurney-lip on the engine cover beneath it helps detach the boundary layer and reduce drag. The angle of attack of the wing is adjustable from the zerodegree baseline to three or six degrees, increasing drag and rear downforce. In

(first drive) porsche GT3

its slipperiest configuration, the GT3 can hit 192 mph. There’s at least 10 more pages of cool techie stuff to chew on, but we’re out of espresso, so let’s hop in and share a perfect day in the life of a GT3. You step out of your Valpolicella villa, slip into the cosseting Alcantara-lined seat, and twist the key, leaving all the adjustables in their default positions. Heading up over the Dolomite foothill in the backyard, there’s delight in every shift of the Alcantara-swathed shifter. Its rifle-bolt action and shortened throws feel way more precise than the Carrera’s. The same can be said of the Alcantarawrapped steering wheel. It commands a rack that’s identical to the Carrera’s, but with the ultra-sticky Michelins delivering extra information, the twitches and tickles at the wheel rim are just that much more sublime. Clutch take-up and accelerator control are similarly predictable and precise. And the ceramic brakes seem capable of delivering infinite retardation, metered out one inchpound at a time. There’s quite simply no lost motion in any of the controls. No slop. Every action prompts a linear, predictable reaction, making this among the most intuitive cars on the planet. Down in the valley, you enter the autostrada and tuck in behind an Audi S8 running nearly double Italy’s 80-mph speed limit. The antisocial bastard does the unthinkable and passes an inconsiderate left-lane bandit on the right. When the boob merges right, you double-downshift and achieve closing velocity within seconds, noting that the heft at the helm hasn’t lightened one iota. The nose never wanders, there’s no shepherding required, 82 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

no sweat for the suede-y steering wheel rim to absorb. In no time, you wheel into the Autodromo at Adria (near the Adriatic) and suit up for a few hot laps of this tight 1.5-mile track. Now it’s time to push buttons. One firms up the PASM shock calibration (Adria is new, and perfectly smooth); the other “sport” button changes the engine mapping and switches to a more aggressive traction-control program. (Stability control isn’t offered, but with such grippy tires and a mechanical limited-slip differential providing 28 percent lockup under power and 40 percent on overrun, experienced racers don’t need it.) This motorcycle-centric track consists of several long straights and hairpin turns, affording plenty of opportunity to row the gearbox and listen to the spectacular exhaust note. In Sport mode, the exhaust flap opens early (1800 versus 4200 rpm, when the hammer’s down). This, along with other engine-mapping tricks adds about 13 horsepower and 11 pound-feet of torque between 3000 and 4200 rpm. With each lap, you brake a bit later and deeper, achieving deceleration that could detach retinas, and there’s still no hint of ABS intervention, indicating there’s more in reserve. The last couple turns are slow enough that full power applied on the exit breaks the tires loose, flashing the traction control light without noticeably slowing the car. Switch it off completely, and it becomes possible to slide the car, though not without extreme manhandling of the sort that will slow the car down. The rear end breaks away gently and with plenty of notice. Toward the end of the session—this one’s not for any trophies—you decide to play

with the buttons. Switch the shocks back to comfort mode and the bit of extra body roll permitted upsets the rear axle enough to induce wheelspin and traction-control intervention in several other turns. Switch off the sport-mode setting, and though the traction control becomes more conservative there’s actually less chance of wheelspin, because there’s less midrange power and torque with the exhaust flaps closed. After some light refreshment with your pals, you climb in, set all the buttons, the cruise- and climate-controls to easy-doesit mode and motor home in reasonable calm and comfort, contemplating a grand day out. You could commute in the GT3. But denying this $106,795 masterpiece its competitive birthright would be a travesty. But you could be forgiven for reverting this GT3 to commuter duty late this year, when you succumb to the temptation of the even higher-performing GT3 RS. 


$106,795 $132,565 Rear engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door, coupe


3.6L/415-hp/298 lb-ft DOHC 24-valve flat-6


6-speed manual 3100 lb (mfr) 92.7 in 174.3 x 71.2 x 50.4 in 3.7 sec (MT est) 15 / 23 mpg (est) September 2006


lamborghini murciĂŠlago lp640 (first drive)


(first drive) lamborghini murciélago lp640

JUST LOOK AT IT. In its facelifted LP640 form, the Murciélago scares you more than ever. Look at the jagged edges of the sharklike nose, its nostrils bigger, more snorty. The threatening rotary-blade wheels. The giant tailpipe’s tip that’s turning blue with the heat. Even the refreshed taillamps that light up in the shape of nuclear-hazard symbols. Be afraid. Be very afraid. The name alone marks this car as an awkward cuss: Murciélago. Five syllables, and hard ones at that for an Anglo-Saxon tongue to navigate. And you can’t abbreviate it—it doesn’t break down in the way you can call a Corvette a Vette. To call it a—what?—a Murs would be overfamiliar. And anyone who gets overfamiliar with a Murciélago is heading for a fall. So it’s intimidating to look at and to pronounce. To drive? Yes, intimidating to drive, too. Even if you manage to duck down, negotiate the scissor doors, and fall over the wide sill without making a slapstick fool of yourself, there’s the issue of the driving position. You can’t see backward. Your head is shoved to the left by the side rail. The seat is shaped like a 86 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

hard hammock, relying on your personal fat reserves to provide the padding. The fascia and instruments are far away, down by your knees, and the steering column rears up at you like the head of a mythical beast on the attack. Though it revised much for this LP640 version, Lamborghini elected not to ease your life in the cockpit. You aren’t naturally in command of this machine: It grabs you in its black-leather bearhug, bends you to its will. Because it can. Because it’s a Murciélago. The LP640’s engine is where most of the new effort has gone. It’s even madder nowadays. Twelve cylinders, 6.5 liters, 631 horsepower. Think about those figures. As close as makes no difference to 100 horses per liter. A shrieking, shattering top end, but because of the sheer size of the engine, muscles of Hercules in the midrange, too. Turn the key, and the Murciélago whines and fizzes into a sharper kind of life than before: The exhaust has less of the old basso profundo thunder, more of a hollow, edgier timbre now. You’ll notice various gear whines from around the engine and transmission at low

speeds. That’s because the cogs are so big and strong, not because they’re casually assembled. There never was an atom of slack in a Lamborghini’s drivetrain. The open-fingered gear gate shows how solidly it all meshes together, the lever ker-lacking through its path in hard-edged exactness. Shove hard, time the clutch right, and it works with you, giving perfectly smooth shifts whether you’re easing it in traffic or snapping it through as you blaze into a highland S-bend. But mistime it and it’ll bite your arm off. The throttle has the same sort of surgical precision. A long, solid kind of movement. The power it meters doesn’t come entirely evenly though. That would be all but supernatural given the kind of hi-po engine this is: There are particular rev bands where it’s hesitant, others where it burns. But the throttle’s action helps you. Just tickle the gas, and you ooze gently away. Floor it, and the note deepens, the whole car getting the vibe. The revs climb beyond 3500, and there’s a kick in the back. A deeper roar of exhaust underneath the intake howl and the mechanical mash.

(first drive) lamborghini murciélago lp640

From here on it’s the most sonically bombastic showroom automobile engine on the planet. Beyond 5000, a renewed tornado of noise and force. If you aren’t focused right now, it’s too late. If you don’t have your eyes fixed and your steering set and your braking primed well, you just can’t keep your foot down. But if you do, then feel this shattering force. Something that feeds off itself, a rate of change that keeps on rising: Even though second gear is so long it can hit 100 mph, it still possesses a sledgehammer urge at the top end. Peak power occurs at an apocalyptic 8000 rpm, the exact figure when a rev limiter of Draconian severity arrives to protect this V-12 mechanism from self destruction. Which makes it all but impossible to hit peak power without the stutter of the limiter. And because you never quite manage that, you never feel you’ve got the best from this engine. It remains your master. Because this is a Murciélago. But don’t imagine this staggering engine is the whole story. There’s the issue of cornering, too. Big Lamborghinis have a reputation as cars that’ll spin and spit you 88 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

off the road in disdainful punishment of any error you make in a high-g curve. But Murciélagos, and especially the LP640, have some amazing tricks up their sleeves. First, the steering. It’s flat-out wonderful. Heavy, yes, but so precise and full of information you’ll forgive it anything. It’s clear the Murciélago is set up for running arrow-straight at gigantic speeds, and so bumps and sidewinds don’t deviate it. Neither, easily, do your arms. To get it turned into a curve, it demands that you swing the wheel with definite emphasis. It’s just making sure: “You want a curve? Then I’ll give you a curve.” Unusually for a mid-engine car, it understeers. In tight corners, at least. Until you squeeze in some throttle. Then the allwheel drive goes to work, the tires clawing down into the asphalt and centrifuging you through and out of the curve. And what if you let one or two more horses slip out of the corral a mite too early? Suddenly it’s another degree in this attitude shift. From definite understeer to definite oversteer. It’s just a hint, not something you’d see from outside the car (traction control,

although not stability control, is fitted). But it’s something the driver is warned of with cutting clarity. The LP640 has new springs that are punishingly hard in broken city streets. The upside is that in twisting roads the car communicates gloriously widescreen stories of what it’s up to. And your job is to follow the plot. For if you back off in the wrong place, or think you can drift it, you’re wrong. You work within its limits. They’re high—and that’s the thrill. But don’t cross the limit or it’ll punish you. Because it’s a Murciélago. And every so often you need to stop and gather breath. Take shelter from the storm. Stop, cool off, lower your pulse, stretch your legs. But relaxing is hard, because if you so much as turn back at the car its aggression will smite you anew. Especially if it’s hot and it opens its dorsal cooling flaps. If the engine needs full cooling, large scoops open up to broaden the intake; this usually after working hard then slowing right down. But at big speeds enough air is forced though smaller openings so the scoops snuggle down closer to the bodywork for a better aero profile. And the

(first drive) lamborghini murciélago lp640

Murciélago now has even more oddball cooling-air management. Its body is no longer symmetrical. Look at the scoops low down behind the doors. The oil radiator is behind the lefthand scoop and needs to gulp more air in the LP640. Its scoop has a big black-painted outlet for high flow. On the right of the car, the scoop, but no outlet. All these scoops and grilles feed the


monster now proudly on show beneath three glass slats aft of the cockpit. And what an engine. At January’s Detroit auto show, when Ferrari announced the 599GTB, Lamborghini people, rather than looking upset, just let a smirk play across their faces. Because they were secretly putting the finishing touches to this new Murciélago. Which, as the name implies, kicks out

another 19 horsepower above the Ferrari’s already stratospheric 612. There had been rumors that the LP640 would have a new V-12, based on the modular engine family that includes the hottest Audi V-8, and the V-10 in the Gallardo and Audi S6 and S8. But no. The Murciélago’s engine still has its blue blood undiluted. But as you can imagine, 631

(first drive) lamborghini murciélago lp640

horsepower—and a not insignificant 487 pound-feet of torque at 6000 rpm—didn’t come without effort. Lambo engineers had to stretch the capacity to 6.5 liters from 6.2 by increasing bore and stroke, but despite this, the rev limit is up, to 8000. As before, it’s dry-sumped and has variable valve timing and variable intake geometry, but the entire intake system and exhaust are modified in this version for the hurricane of gas flow. The transmission and driveshafts are stronger to cope, and there are bigger brakes—optionally carbon-ceramic. The all-wheel-drive system is a conceptually simple viscous-coupled setup, with no electronic controls. Lamborghini says if one axle is slipping everything can be directed to the other, but it feels rear-biased, and a bit slow to do its juggling act. You’re best to work on the assumption the car is


rear-drive, then the extra help from the front is a bonus. In fact, think of the entire car as a bonus on the automotive landscape. It doesn’t even aim to be in the place other supercars are. It feels anvil-heavy, so it’s not a track-biased machine. It’s awkward and beligerently noisy to be in, so it can never rival a Ferrari 599 as a civilized, GT-capable supercar. No, it wouldn’t do well on those performance criteria, and yet “performance” is the one word that sums it up more than any other. It is a performance: a show, a piece of wheeled theatre. Look how its crazy-looking body is wrapped around the mechanicals, the way the two humans are wedged without compromise in among it, and most of all the way the rabid engine and gigantic tires communicate their actions so intimately with the driver. A Murciélago is dramatic art, and it makes its driver feel like the star. 


$315,000 (MT est) Mid-engine, AWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe


6.5L/631-hp/487 lb-ft DOHC 48-valve V-12


6-speed manual 3850 lb (mfr) 104.9 in 181.5 x 81.0 x 44.7 in 3.9 sec (MT est) 9 / 13 mpg (est) Summer 2006

(first test) volvo s80


words todd lassa


photographs barry hayden


(first test) volvo s80

THERE’S ONE element of Volvo’s image it doesn’t like to broadcast: The brand is a key icon of the stereotypical liberal—or, as University of California, Berkeley linguist Geoffrey Nunberg describes the demographic, the “lattedrinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving, left-wing freak show.” Volvo wants to sell the all-new 2007 S80 to conservatives, too. While the new Volvo flagship’s design whispers its luxury in an egalitarian way, any devotee of modern Scandinavian elegance, conservative or liberal, will like the S80. An optional Yamaha V-8 will allow bourbon-drinking, red-meat eating, Wall Street Journal-reading, Marine haircutwearing, Crawford, Texas-loving rightwing freaks to drive it stealthily and be admired for owning a safe, virtuous car even as fuel supplies tighten. The S80 has lost the Swedish Buick look


of the 1999½-2006 model. The new design looks like a grownup S60, slightly stretched with more chrome. The C-pillar is faster, and its unity of design makes the old car look awkward. Only the rear view is a bit unresolved, where a thin horizontal chrome strip bridges the taillamps to keep the back end from looking too chunky. The new S80 is taller and you sit fairly high in the driver’s seat, yet there’s ample headroom, even with a sunroof. It has roughly the same overall length as the outgoing model, but with a longer wheelbase, wider stance, and aforementioned taller overall height. It also has a new, stiffer body structure and an L-shaped front suspension link attachment for more wheel movement. An active three-mode suspension (comfort, sport, and advanced) based on Volvo’s Four-C technology uses sensors to adjust the suspension to road conditions. With that rakish C-pillar, the rear seat looks like it should be cramped. But the

car has loads of rear leg- and headroom, courtesy in part to a fairly low seat cushion that’ll have a six-footer sitting with his knees bent upward. Colors, material, and fit and finish are all of high, harmonious quality. There’s optional perforated-leather heated and cooled front seats, a superb optional 130-watt Alpine digital amp with Dolby Pro Logic II Surround and 12 Dynaudio loudspeakers (40-watt amplifier and eight speakers standard). There’s the “2001: A Space Odyssey” monolith navigation screen, rising from the middle of the frontcenter Dynaudio speaker via a wireless remote control. Volvo has redesigned the radio controls so that the right knob changes radio stations, no longer serving as source control. There’s also an MP3 player input inside the console box. Volvo’s optional Personal Car Communicator tells you whether you’ve locked the doors and whether they were locked when you come back to the car, and

(first test) volvo s80

s80 = mks

CAN VOLVO do for Lincoln what Mercedes-Benz did for Chrysler? Just as the 300 and Dodge variants use the last-generation E-Class platform, the outgoing S80’s platform (which continues in the S60, V70, and XC90) has evolved into the D3 architecture underneath the Ford Five Hundred/Freestyle, Mercury Montego, and now, the 2008 Lincoln MKS. But while Ford was eager to point out the Volvo connection to the Fords and Mercury, especially in issues of safety, it’s low-key about that connection in the 2008 Lincoln MKS, which replaces the outgoing LS. The Volvo platform is flexible—it serves the smaller S60, the V70, and XC90—and like the Fords and Mercury is stretched to 203.8 inches overall in the MKS, with a 114.4-inch wheelbase. As shown in concept, the Lincoln has 20-inch wheels, all-wheel drive, the Yamaha V-8, and six-speed automatic. A base front-drive model with the new Volvo 3.2-liter six would be a good way to amortize that powertrain. For the 2010 model year, Lincoln will stretch the platform further for its new “modern flagship,” a front- or all-wheel-drive sedan codenamed E386. Lincoln is expected to sell it without dropping its venerable Town Car. Meanwhile, the new S80 platform will be the basis for a big 2008 wagon and possibly a hybridpowered 2010 sedan. 98 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

uses a heartbeat sensor inside the car to tell you if there’s a human you might not know hiding there. Has someone at Volvo has been renting slasher thrillers from Netflix? Trigger the pushbutton starter with the key in your pocket or slide the key into a handy slot next to the button. It’s one of the better pushbutton starters extant. There are no iDrive-style contraptions or overengineered solutions to newly discovered problems. Volvo says engineers went out of their way to provide only userfriendly technology. Designers combined this with an interior that looks inviting, not ostentatious. It has the “flying bridge” center console first seen in the S40, supple leathers, and a choice of two shades of real wood trim or etched aluminum trim, which at presstime Volvo was deciding whether to import to the U.S. Tell ’em you want it. Two new gee-whiz safety technologies get mixed reviews. The BLIS blind-spot warning system works much better than Audi’s, which in the Q7 uses big, yellow light strips inside the sideview mirrors to warn you of a car in your left or right blind spot. The S80 has smaller amber lights under the A-pillars’ audio speakers for gentler notice. Volvo saves its alarmism for a big red light on the dash above the front cowl. Using the adaptive cruise control to determine if you’re approaching a solid object too quickly without decelerating, it buzzes and flashes abruptly (without taking control of throttle or brake). But like adaptive cruise, it has trouble distinguishing objects off-center

(first test) volvo s80

or at a right angle, so a car that had pulled off the road at an S-turn in our Southwestern Swedish drive and a farm tractor that made a quick left turn into a driveway caused it to buzz. You can switch it off. These options are available whether you choose the brand-new 3.2-liter inlinesix or the Yamaha 4.4-liter 60-degree V-8 from the XC90, offered for the first time in a Volvo sedan. The transmission with either engine is a smooth, new six-speed unit, with a gearshift-operated manumatic control (but no paddle shifters, we’re happy to say; no one should get into this car and pretend he’s Fernando Alonso). Manually shifting the six gears is satisfying, and the tranny won’t upshift for you until you exceed the redline.


Europe gets an optional six-speed manual with any of three engines, which includes an updated version of Volvo’s 2.4-liter inlinefive turbodiesel, with particulate trap, rated 185 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. The V-8 comes with the XC90’s all-wheeldrive system standard. AWD isn’t available with the front-drive six, although Volvo may offer it with a different six in the future. With AWD, 95 percent of torque goes to the front wheels under normal conditions, but most of that torque is shifted to the rear wheels on demand. Under full-throttle standing starts, there’s enough rear squat and torqueshift lag to feel torque steer when going for the zip-to-60. Once it settles, the car clicks smoothly through the six gears and provides satisfying grunt, although the engine noise is high and whiny for a V-8. The six is less quick, of course, but most S80 buyers will be happy with this smooth, torquey new engine. The S80 had excessive road noise for a luxury car. Volvo says it plans to work on the bushings to solve the problem up to its summer introduction in Europe (we have to wait until next February). Handling is predictable, and optional speed-sensitive steering, in which boost disappears at high speeds, has a light, precise touch with excellent feedback. It’s a great improvement over the old S80’s numb steering. You’ll have a good sense of the road conditions, and you’ll be able to find optimum safe speeds on wet, slippery surfaces. Most will prefer the “advanced” setting on the threemode system, even when it gets firm on

chattery roads with the V-8 sport package’s 18-inch wheels. Body roll is moderate in corners, but without much understeer. It’s not trying to be a BMW, but the S80 feels more tossable and light on its feet than a non-AMG Mercedes. More to the point of its direct competitors, the Volvo feels more involving than an Acura RL, but it doesn’t command the road as an Audi A6 does. It’s a ride-handling combo that seems right for the modern Scandinavian-furniture feel of the interior. Coming from a brand with its stereotype, the S80 achieves a great deal of balance. It’s a sedan with a comfortable, elegant, but not ostentatious interior and a clean, almost plain exterior that belies its prestigious intentions. That kind of image should go over well with modern thinkers from the right and the left. 


$38,000-$49,000 (est) Front engine, FWD (I-6) or AWD (V-8), 5-pass, 4-door, sedan


3.2L/235-hp/236 lb-ft DOHC 24-valve I-6; 4.4L/311-hp/ 325 lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8


6-speed automatic 3500-3850 (mfr) 112.0 in 191.0 x 73.0 x 59.0 in 6-5-8.0 sec (mfr est) Not yet rated February 2007



words matt stone

photographs disney/pixar

THREE OF THE STARS of Pixar’s newest feature, “Cars.” Lightning McQueen (above left), Mater (above), Flo (left).



(Above, from left) “Cars” charactors Chick Hicks, Lightning McQueen, and The King tear up a mythical superspeedway in pursuit of the Piston Cup. (Below) Paul Newman provides the voice—and eye color— for the wise Doc Hudson. (Opposite) Director and Pixar chief creative wizard, John Lasseter.

is measured. Calculating. Rich with the timbre of his years.Yet it leaves no doubt that a clever retort can be summoned upon demand.“I don’t get asked to do a lot of voiceovers. I don’t know why not.” Paul Newman’s words, as with anything he does, are well thought out and wisely chosen. In this case, they answer, and beg, a question. Mr. Newman needs no introduction here or anywhere else. The ultra-blue-eyed Oscar-winning actor has had his way with American film and theatre for five decades. He’s an automotive enthusiast at the highest 108 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

levels. His personal racing résumé includes a class win at the 24 Hours of Daytona (in celebration of his 70th birthday), a second overall at Le Mans in 1979, Trans-Am victories, and multiple SCCA regional and national championships. He once owned a Can-Am team, and he’s the Newman in Newman-Haas Racing, which has six CART/ Champ Car championships to its credit. Paul Newman is the actor’s car guy, and the car guy’s actor. Some combination. Pixar’s newest film “Cars,” which opens on June 9, seems a natural for Newman, although it represents a new kind of character for him

to portray.“They contacted me and asked if I wanted to play a ’51 Hudson Hornet, and I said yes.What attracted me to it? Working with Pixar, for one thing. The car aspect being another.” Pixar has built its reputation on making lifelike animated stars out of childrens’ toys (“Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2”), insects (“A Bug’s Life”), fish (“Finding Nemo”), and, most recently, superheroes (“The Incredibles”). Why the automotive theme this time? As with so much that emanates from Pixar, this idea sprang from the whimsically fertile mind of John Lasseter. One of the

LASSETER company’s founders and current chief creative officer, Lasseter has directed several of its films.“‘Cars’ is a personal story,” notes the animated, somewhat cherubic 49-year-old.“My dad was a parts manager at a Chevy dealer, and I grew up around automobiles. I used to deliver parts in a Chevy LUV truck. I also grew up wanting to do cartoons. That’s all I ever wanted to do. This film is the merging of two of my great loves.” While Lasseter isn’t a collector per se, his toy box includes a Jaguar XK120, a Messerschmitt micro car, and an old Ford Falcon.“It’s got a straight-six, a three on the

tree, and a bench seat.” Lasseter recalls cross-country travel prior to the development of the Interstate system and felt something wonderful was lost along the way.“On the Interstates, it’s all about the destination,” he continues.“After we wrapped ‘Toy Story 2,’ I took my family on a crosscountry motorhome trip.We dunked our feet in the Pacific Ocean, then took two months getting to the East Coast so we could do the same in the Atlantic.We saw America, had a blast, and got so close as a family. I learned the journey is part of the reward.That’s what this movie had to be about.”

The earliest background work on “Cars” can be traced to late 1999. Wanting his creative team to understand the beauty of the road and small-town America, Lasseter and a caravan of writers and artists drove from the Mississippi-Kansas border to Kingman, Arizona.This eight-day excursion took place in June 2002.They sought experience about cars, racing, Route 66, and what travel was like in the two decades that followed WWII. “Cars,” like all Pixar films, features an engaging cast of characters and will appeal to a wide audience. The protagonist is Lightning McQueen, a NASCAR-inspired MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 109

how do they do that? THE PIXAR PROCESS GOES FAR BEYOND ANIMATION IN SPITE of the technology used to produce the final product, the process of creating, developing, and producing a Pixar movie isn’t so different from that of a conventional film. Here are some of the steps encountered along the way.  Story idea pitched among the Pixar team  Rough text treatment written  Storyboards drawn, typically around 40,000 per film, illustrating nearly every scene  Storyboards and text reviewed by directors and producers  Once project is approved and committed to, voice talent begins recording  Editorial makes “reels” out of storyboard sequence; begins addressing timing issues of scenes  Art department creates look and feel of characters, scenes  3-D computerized wireframe character models are sculpted, then articulated to define how they move  All sets are also built in 3-D, then “dressed” with proper look and detail, as a designer would with a live set  Each shot is laid out and choreographed  Final shots are then animated by live animators, using Pixar’s proprietary software  Sets and characters are “shaded” to give them detail and realistic look that defines Pixar productions. Lighting and shadow details are added  Computer data is “rendered,” a process that translates information in various digital files—sets, colors, character movements, lighting, etc.—into a single frame of film. Each frame represents 1/24th of a second and takes at least six hours to render, even with power of Pixar’s 2400 machine computer farm (top). A two-hour film contains over 170,000 frames  Music and final details are added, and film is wrapped

AS WITH most Pixar charactors, Sally Carrera began life as a series of loose hand drawings (below right). Compare her with the finished version at right. Two other important “Cars” players are Luigi, and The King, voiced by NASCAR’s own Richard Petty.

hot shot who’s gunning for the Piston Cup championship. Heading to the next race, focused only on his ego, he makes a wrong turn and ends up lost in a forgotten hamlet called Radiator Springs, the “Cutest Little Town in Carburetor County.” Lightning, voiced by Owen Wilson, isn’t named after actor/racer Steve McQueen, but in memory of Pixar supervising animator Glen McQueen who passed away during the project. The yin to Lightning’s yang is Sally Carrera, a doe-eyed 2002 Porsche voiced by Bonnie Hunt. Sally gave up life in the big city and settled in Radiator Springs with the quiet ANIMATORS make “Cars” move; James Ford Murphy (left) and Bobby Podesta. 110 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

hope of putting it back on the map. If nothing else, keep an eye out for her tattoo. Larry the Cable Guy gives voice to Mater (as in Tow Mater, redneck for “tomato”), Radiator Springs’s simple but loyal tow truck, who befriends Lightning and asks only the same in return. Then there’s Doc Hudson, the town’s Doctor of Internal Combustion.“We knew from the very beginning,” notes directing animator James Ford Murphy,“how perfect Newman would be for this character.We knew of his love of cars and racing, and we hoped we could marry the two. I reviewed all his films and tried to find dialogue I could use to animate with the Hudson Hornet.We also used this test to validate the notion of cars with eyes in their windshields and mouths

in their bumpers. For Doc, Paul was our only choice. From the look of the car to what the character needed to be and because of the quality that he brings to any performance. We were reaching for the moon, and we were lucky he accepted.” “Doc is the guy who had one big crash,” adds Newman, “and they all walked away from him. So he walked away from the whole racing community and hid out in this little town. He was just living incognito. He takes a mentor role to Owen Wilson’s character.” NASCAR isn’t Newman’s regular scene. But it mattered little with respect to “Cars.”“Racing is racing. Anything that has four wheels and an engine that you can race is okay by me. As an owner, my preference is open-wheel racing. But as a driver, I race sports cars

with fenders. I have no clear bias one way or another.” “Cars” will appeal to kids of all ages, but Lasseter was adamant about “getting the details right for the one percent of us who are car geeks.We found parallels between cars and people. People need food, cars need gas.‘Cars’ tire shop is analogous to the shoe store.” Utah’s Monument Valley becomes “Ornament Valley,” and the “rooms” in Radiator Springs’s hotel are garages. All the racing sponsor’s names are fabricated but believable (and humorous) as automotive products. Pixar got lucky with “Lightyear Tires” and the obligatory blimp; besides the obvious spoof on Goodyear, Buzz Lightyear was the name of one of the main characters in “Toy Story,” the first Pixar film. MOTOR TREND.COM JULY 2006 111

Doc and McQueen square off, the old Hudson reminding the young buck that when it comes to life, Lightning’s still a rookie.

Luigi, a Fiat 500, is another fine example of the team’s fanaticism.We see his bottom side for just a moment, but the correct leaf-spring front suspension is intact, and the numbers on his license plate represent the latitude and longitude of the Ferrari factory in Maranello, Italy. Character Ramon owns the town’s bodyshop, and his personal paint jobs were designed by Chip Foose. Sound engineers sought out stock and racing versions of the Hudson Hornet to record their engine noise. Numerous photos of Paul Newman were

scanned, digitized, and analyzed to ensure the color of Doc’s retinas were the proper shade of blue. There are numerous cameo voice appearances, which Lasseter calls “drive-ons.” Keep an ear out for a few NASCAR veterans and two F1 world champs. The sounds of flying insects? Sped-up recordings of aircooled VW Beetles. Bugs. Get it? How does the ever-legit actor Newman take to this unusual creative form? “This film goes way beyond animation. If you look at the vistas they were able to create, the depth

of field and depth of focus are astonishing. It’s real artwork.The story is believable and touching.Those cars almost come to life. It’s exciting filmmaking.You’ll be delighted.” Does Paul Newman plan any more animation or voiceover projects? “I have no idea where it all can go. After I conk, with digital help, you might just find me playing Shakespeare.” As to his wondering aloud why he doesn’t receive many invites to do voiceover roles? After seeing “Cars,” well, we haven’t a clue, either. 

promotional toys EDDIE PAUL BRINGS THE CARS OF “CARS” TO LIFE particular brand of car, so he was built from scratch, but again the proportions had to be right. No problem for Eddie Paul and his band of hot rodders and fabricators. One of Paul’s companies builds body-shop tools, so they had what they needed right in house. Hugging Sally Carrera are “Cars” producer Darla Anderson and director John Lasseter, while Eddie Paul and EPI team member Brian Hatano attempt to “pull a smile” out of the mechanized Lightning McQueen.


IT WOULD be difficult to take Lightning McQueen or Sally Carrera on a promotional tour, because, as real as they seem, they live only in the virtual world of Pixar. But the P.R. machine has needs and required something more tangible. Enter EP Industries, which has been building movie cars for decades. The smiling, metallicblue Sally began life as a real Carrera, but the proportions were changed dramatically, hence a serious rework of the Porsche’s factory sheetmetal. McQueen isn’t any


(first drive) acura rdx



words mark williams

photographs brian vance


so itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not really a new idea, but given recent fuel spikes, the desire for more carlike accoutrements, and aging competitors in the segment, the notion of building compact SUVs that no longer ride like lumbering buses has taken on new significance. BMW took the lead in this exclusive segment several years ago with the addition of the X3 (which is just a hairâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breadth smaller than the midsize X5). And now Acura, the X3 (and maybe the Infiniti FX35) square in its sights, is predicting strong growth in this segment, with sales more than quadrupling by 2011. Considering this, Acura has taken its first shot to bring down BMW with its all-new RDX. Acura engineers had the critical measurable numbers from the X3 (compare length, width, height, track, and turning-diameter specifications, and the RDX is a ringer for the compact BMW). Their assignment from Japan? Beat the BMW, even if only



(first drive) acura rdx

slightly, in every possible category. Acura even gave us an X3 to run back-to-back comparison laps—more on that later. The RDX rides on a new platform and fits underneath the current midsize MDX SUV in size and cost. Simple and athletic, the RDX’s exterior design is meant to evoke its sportier personality. A fast-raking windshield and racing-stripe-style line running the length of the body, in addition to the wraparound rear glass and wind fin, make for an aerodynamic look—think Mazda3 wagon or Toyota RAV4. But any manufacturer that wants a piece of the luxury-vehicle pie had better match that look with a strong engine. RDX buyers will get an all-new 2.3-liter turbocharged and intercooled I-4 engine that produces 240 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 116 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

4500 rpm. The latter, although typically not an important number in smaller SUV segments, is significant because the RDX makes more torque than any other vehicle in the current Acura or Honda lineups. Much of the credit is due to the fact that the turbocharger uses a unique “variable flow” approach to feeding the smaller turbo exhaust gases. A smaller turbo can ramp up faster, reducing lag at slower speeds. At higher speeds, a movable control valve can open to allow even more of the exhaust gases into the runners to spin the turbo even faster, allowing for strong pulling power at higher speeds and rpm. On the intake side, the RDX channels air (through the hood) into an airto-air intercooler before mixing fuel and cooled air on its way to each cylinder. The large front fascia air inlet above the grille

creates a ram effect to keep air constantly moving through the intercooler. Off the line, RDX responsiveness is smooth and impressive. Where some turbocharged engines tend to kick into first gear abruptly after a short lag, the RDX uses its new five-speed transmission, with a specially designed torque converter, to slip and even out any hard hit while still offering a sturdy feel. The tranny has normal and sport settings as well as F1-style paddle shifters (right upshift, left downshift) on the back of the steering wheel that can be used in either mode. In Drive, the transmission comfortably selects among the five forward ratios, as expected. However, by pulling the lever into Sport, the transmission provides a more aggressive shift pattern, holding up- and downshifts several hundred rpm

(first drive) acura rdx

longer as well as eliminating overdrive. The SportShift paddle shifters can be actuated in both “D” and “S” modes, but will revert after a few seconds when in normal mode and hold the gear when in sport. The five-speed is quick to respond when enthusiastically run through the gears (paddles or stick), and the separation between normal and sport modes are two distinct personalities. The third player in the all-important dance among engine, transmission, and traction is Acura’s first application of the SH-AWD (super-handling all-wheel drive) system in an SUV. First employed on the RL, this system uses a staggering series of sensors to anticipate where traction will be lost, where understeer might occur, or when traction could be lost, then it distributes the traction (sometimes braking, sometimes acceleration) where it’s needed before it’s needed. This system (changed due to the smaller size and weight and expected driving habits of the typical RDX/SUV buyer) can specifically accelerate a single rear wheel 118 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

during hard cornering to mitigate (and sometimes alleviate) under- or oversteer situations. The bottom line is that this technology allows the all-wheel drive to distribute torque in ways unlike any other compact SUV sold. We had fun pushing our test unit around the tight and twisting highway roads and found the grip of the Michelin 235/55R18 high-performance all-season tires almost scary. Where tire squeal is anticipated, there’s nothing but grip. The chassis is balanced when pushed, with little trouble transitioning from a hard left, then a hard right turn. This is where the RDX walks all over the X3 (hats off to Acura engineers on this one). Paddle shifting, a turbo, and gobs of grip meant we had no trouble keeping up with a few (surprised) motorcycle cruisers on our coastal highway romp. Braking feel is predictable and smooth, thanks to 11.7-inch discs in front and 12.0-inch discs in back. Although we were never aware of any stability-control assistance, Acura engineers did inform us

that the software could’ve been reducing torque and applying brake assist without our knowledge during slippery cornering conditions. Although minor, our only complaint was with the speed-sensing software that controls the power rack-and-pinion steering response. Especially when compared with the X3, the RDX is hesitant and not communicative, even with a 15:1 steering ratio. It almost felt as if the extra grip of the SH-AWD all-wheel drive and the high-performance tires were used to compensate for a softer, gentler steering feel, yet still provide sporty handling. We would’ve preferred a sporty response from all three. Inside the RDX are the same Acura design cues found in the RL and TL sedans, with a few exceptions. RDX gauges are backlit in neon hue, with a transmission readout in its own dedicated gauge. The mix of hard dash plastic, textured side panels, and high-grade leather are expected in a premium marque. As in most other Acura and Honda models, there’s but one option group; in the case of the RDX, it’s called the Technology Package, offering an ELS Surround 10speaker six-disc DVD audio system, an eight-inch screen, navigation system, and real-time traffic reports in over 30 major U.S. cities. Other equipment in the package includes a rearview camera, HID headlights, dual-zone climate displays, and a plug-in port for an MP3 player or iPod. Second-row seats easily fold flat once the seat bottoms are flipped forward, and the storage floor can be transformed into a table or rear deck cover. Look for RDXs in showrooms by August with base models starting just above $31,000—expect fully loaded versions to reach near $37,000. Equipment depending, that may translate to $10,000 less than a similarly equipped X3. Maybe it’s not much of a kill, but it’s certainly gotta hurt some. 


$31,500-$37,000 Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV


2.3L/240-hp/260 lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4


5-speed automatic 4000 lb (mfr) 104.3 in 180.7 x 73.6 x 65.2 in 7.8 sec (MT est) 19/24 mpg (mfr est) August 2006




photographs gayle brock/peter brock/regis lefebure


AUDI FINISHED where it started: alone, in front. (Below) those cheeky Brits numbered their Aston Martin “007” for You Know Who. Panoz Esperante a surprise winner in GT2.


was just 16 years old when the pavement was poured for Sebring International Raceway. No, not the current President Bush—the previous one. Sebring, home of the 12 Hours of Sebring sports-car endurance race, began life as Hendricks Field, built in 1941 as one of dozens of World War II-era vast expanses of bleached concrete and oozing tar strips that graduated crews and pilots to battle the evil alliance. In 1952, a rudimentary road course, defined by painted lines, hay bales, and stacks of old tires, hosted the first 12 Hours. In March, the 54th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring played to a paying crowd of 169,000, eclipsing the 2002 record, set for the 50th anniversary of the race. Sports-car racing in trouble? Sorry, not here.


Of course, some would suggest that fans don’t come to Sebring to watch racing; they come to watch each other. That’s possible, too—in 1974, the race was canceled due to the energy crisis, and still, hundreds of fans showed up. Beer was involved. At Sebring, beer is always involved. Nonetheless, the 2006 race was among the most important, most historic Sebrings ever. The headlines may not show that: The last six of the big signs attached to the front-straightaway suites that announce each year’s winning brand read Audi, Audi, Audi, Audi, Audi, and Audi, speaking to the utter dominance of the Audi R8. Right now, they’re busy adding one more Audi. You know that the company’s sixth-straight victory came with the all-new, dieselpowered R10, but you may not know just how difficult that victory was this year.

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS Audi’s excellent Florida adventure began in January, with the team’s first-anywhere open test of the diesel-powered R10. The chilliness around the Audi tent—Sebring has no garages—had nothing to do with the temperature. The R10s were rushed onto the track, rushed back into the tent, and the tent flaps closed. Originally, Audi personnel insisted no photos could be taken of the R10 powertrain, but on pit road, they found that impossible to enforce. Why the secrecy? Was some corporate foe likely to happen along, peek in the tent, and say, “So that’s how you build a twin-turbocharged, V-12, 650-horsepower diesel race engine!” Interviews with crew members were monitored by Audi publicrelations officials, and responses consisted largely of name, rank, and serial number.

On track, though, the Audi R10 spoke for itself, albeit in mellow turbine-ish tones that sounded nothing like anything else you’ve heard. No smoke, no diesel death rattle at idle, no drama. While other cars seemed to pole vault over the huge bump leading to the front straight, the R10s—with a longer wheelbase than the R8, mostly due to the length and extra weight of the engine—took it in stride. The Audis were fast in testing, faster in qualifying, and untouchable in the race, at least when everything was working properly. Why a diesel? It’s a culmination of a Le Mans rule change that’s been in the works for several years. Despite the obvious advantages—better fuel mileage, monster torque—the rules allow for a 5.5liter turbocharged diesel engine or a 4.0liter turbocharged non-diesel. Odd as it may seem to us in America, in Europe, “seventy percent of the market is diesel in some places,” says Audi team driver Rinaldo Capello. “To you in America, a diesel race car seems strange, but to us in Europe, not so strange.” Long forgotten is the Cummins Special supercharged sixcylinder diesel that sat on the pole of the 1952 Indianapolis 500. Much fresher in our minds are the ill-fated GM diesels of the

late 1970s and early 1980s that resulted in massive class-action suits.

RETURN OF ROGER The diesel Audis overshadowed the other historic aspect of this year’s Sebring: the return of Penske Racing, after a 35-year absence. Roger Penske himself drove several times in the 12 Hours, from 1961 though 1964, with his best finish a first in class, fourth overall in 1963, codriving a Ferrari GTO with Augie Pabst. Penske Racing’s last Sebring was in 1971, when Mark Donohue and David Hobbs finished sixth overall in a Ferrari 512M. Penske’s comeback also marked the return of a world-class Porsche effort; the company has 17 overall wins at Sebring, but hasn’t challenged for the overall victory in the last 15 years. Penske Racing’s Porsche Spyder RS LMP2, though one class down from the LMP1 Audis, had plenty of speed and a solid driver lineup. The Spyder was developed to be a customer car, sold in small numbers at an as-yet undetermined price. It’s powered by a 3.4-liter V-8 with a six-speed sequential transmission, mounted in a carbon-fiber monocoque. At a glance, especially with

the twin rollbars now mandated for the top two classes, it’s indistinguishable from an LMP1 car. And compared with the ultraquiet Audis, it was very loud. Dawn broke on Saturday, March 18, foggy as London. Typical of this spring in Florida, the day started cool, got hot, got cool again. Thirty-five cars lined up for the 10:43 a.m. start. Besides the two Audis, there were four other LMP1 cars, all privateer Lolas. The two Penske Porsches were the obvious favorites for the LMP2 class, with the other five cars, a mix of Courage and Lola chassis, expected to fight it out for third place. The GT1 class was led by the pair of factory Chevrolet Corvettes, challenged by a pair of improving Aston Martin DB9s, one of which won the class in 2005. Konrad Motorsports entered the other two GT1s, twin Saleen S7Rs. As usual, the GT2 class made up the lion’s share of entries, with eight Porsche 911 GT3s, three Multimaticprepared Panoz Esperantes, a pair of BMW M3s, a pair of Audi V-8-powered Spyker C8 Spyders, and a lone Ferrari 430 GT. The Audis qualified first and second in class and overall. Lucas Luhr, two seconds behind Allan McNish’s Audi, won the LMP2 pole in

(Left) He’s back: the Captain, Roger Penske, returns to Sebring after multi-decade hiatus. (Top) Corvette C6R continues its dominance of GT1 category.


(Below, left) McNish, Kristensen, and Capello celebrate the Audi diesel’s first of what should be many wins. Next task: Le Mans.

the Penske Porsche Spyder RS, with teammate Timo Bernhard right behind him.

DRAMA BEFORE THE GREEN FLAG FLIES During warm-up, the pole-sitting Audi, number 2, had a radiator failure. It was repaired, but the car had to start from pit lane, rather than on the grid. Heat, as it turns out, may be the Audi’s Achilles’ heel. Even so, as Audi number 1 charged into the lead, Audi number 2 made up an incredible amount of time quickly, promptly marching into second place, ahead of the Penske Porsches. But less than an hour into the race, the Penske Porsches began suffering problems that would ruin their Sebring debut. One car, driven by Luhr, needed a new alternator and battery. Then, two hours into the race, the other Penske Porsche had to have a radiator replaced. Transmission problems, a broken input shaft, and a variety of other maladies dogged the Penske Porsches all day. Much of it could be traced to the ultrarough track. Said one


Porsche driver: “It’s like riding a kangaroo out there.” The Penske Porsches managed overall finishes of eighth and 26th. Penske also suggested that the ALMS rules were, shall we say, kind to Audi. “It’s ironic that a diesel, with 25 percent more fuel economy on the road, would get more fuel than a car that isn’t a diesel,” Penske said. “Which, from a rules perspective, is a big question mark in my mind.” Other than some prestart heartburn for Audi, with one of the cars having to start from the pit lane, it was all predictable. In fact, at the end of hour four, the standings were remarkably comparable with the standings for the end of hour 12: the Audi of McNish, Capello, and Tom Kristensen far into the lead, followed by the top LMP2 car, and the surprise second-overall finisher, the AER-powered Intersport Lola driven by father/son team owners Jon and Clint Field, with co-driver Liz Halliday, who turned in the best finish ever by a female driver. And there’ve been plenty of female drivers at Sebring, dating back to Isabelle Haskell in

1955. Intersport’s LMP2 win was, said Jon Field, “a David-and-Goliath story.” Third overall and first in the GT1 class after both four and 12 hours: the Chevrolet Corvette of Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen, and Olivier Beretta. And the top GT2 car after four and 12 hours: the Panoz Esperante of Sebastian Bourdais, Scott Maxwell, and David Brabham. Minor annoyances kept the Audi crew busy, but in the end, the Audi, with McNish, Capello, and Kristensen aboard, won by four laps, giving Kristensen his fourth overall victory, a Sebring record. We left with a sense that, even though Audi broke its own track record in qualifying by more than two seconds—and that despite having to start from pit lane, Audi number 2 moved from 35th to second in a half hour, as if it were the only car on the track—we still don’t know just how fast they really are. There’s no question that driving the R10 diesel is different from driving the R8. Is it easier, harder, or just different? “It’s different,” Allan McNish told us just after

his team’s victory. “It reminds me of what the R8 was like in the beginning, prior to the FSI introduction.” FSI is Fuel Stratified Injection, Audi’s direct-injection system, introduced on the R8 in 2001 and subsequently to passenger cars. It added some power, as much as eight percent more fuel mileage, and smoother power delivery.

“When I left the R8 program in 2000 and came back in 2004, I found the car was much more progressive, much more driveable as well as getting better fuel economy. At this moment in time, the R10 reminds me of the R8 in its initial instance. It just has different characteristics: You’re managing the power and the rearend dynamics in

slightly different ways when you’re coming out of the corners.” In the end, we can arrive at this conclusion: The 54th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring will likely be remembered for one thing, a win by a diesel. “We have,” says Allan McNish, “created a little piece of history.” 

come party with us, dudes

ADD UP EVERY seat at Daytona International Speedway, and it still wouldn’t hold this year’s record crowd at the 54th Annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. The race has grown into the Woodstock of motorsport, an enormous party that, coincidentally, is held the same weekend as a race. Make a backward “C” with the thumb and index finger on your right hand, and that’s pretty much the layout of Sebring’s 3.7-mile, 17-turn track. The bottom of your thumb is the long, wide Ulmann Straight; the tip of your thumb is Sunset Bend, leading to turn 17. The top of your thumb is the front straight, and the start/finish line. The curve of your hand begins as the North Paddock, ends as Hendricks Field Park, and your index finger curves around from turn five to turn 13. Your thumb itself would be the paddock, the pit suites, the wine-andcheese types. The area between thumb and forefinger? That’s the midway, and the “Spring Brake Party Zone,” where the

sort of manufactured fun that includes Bacardi girls bouncing on trampolines and bikini contests takes place. Your index finger? That’s the place your parents warned you about. From your knuckle to the tip of your finger, the Hairpin turn, is Green Park, where men are men, and women are uncomfortable. Several official Sebring policies were written for Green Park denizens, such as, “No scaffolding over six feet” and “No furniture may be left on raceway property.” Fans address that last concern by setting fire to any furniture they don’t want to take home. Who’d want a sofa that’s been soaked in beer, sweat, and even less addressable fluids for a week? Given its proximity, on the calendar at least, to Mardi Gras, even the Sebring workers come armed with giveaway plastic beads and hideous, twisted Mardi Gras floats bump about the narrow streets. The unofficial chant in Green Park: “Beads for boobs!” Or beer, if it’s a hot day. At Sebring, you’ll see things you’ll

never forget, but likely wish you could. Dozens of inflatable love dolls. A huge stuffed Minnie Mouse servicing Goofy. Countless lighted palm trees. Clever signs, such as “Official Sunscreen Application Center,” and others unsuitable for a family magazine, and some arguably unsuitable for Hustler. There are, however, some remarkably extravagant encampments. Among them is Dodge City, resembling a small Western settlement, complete with a live rooster. A recent newspaper story about the Doors’ late lead singer Jim Morrison, known for his partying as much as his music, tried to take it to a new level here in 1962: “He got drunk on Chianti at the all-day car race in Sebring,” said the St. Petersburg Times, “crawled around in a white fake fur coat like a polar bear covered in dirt and tried to launch himself onto the track. Friends grabbed his ankles.” Jim Morrison was so ahead of his time. 






words bob nagy

photographs brian vance




FOR ALL their inherent capabilities, the majority of premium SUVs sold in the U.S. spend most of their lives challenging nothing more demanding than a rainslicked highway or a compact-only slot in a supermarket parking lot. But there’s a simple rationale for this welldocumented fact: Most owners find ramping up the accelerated depreciation on these high-dollar assets by subjecting them to a run up the Rubicon Trail about as much fun as undergoing quadruple bypass surgery without anesthesia. With that fundamental truth in mind, we gathered three topline players that excel in cool, comfortable, and versatile transport for real-world users. All feature standard four- or all-wheel drive, seats for seven, and the power to make the good life even better while holding plenty in reserve for dealing with the most foul forces of nature. 132 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

The familiar face here is the Land Rover LR3 in topline HSE trim. Although it alone boasts the proper 4WD hardware— including a dual-range transfer case and height-adjustable Terrain Response suspension—to accommodate those who do indulge their survivalist tendencies on a regular basis, the LR3 is no less at home contending with the rigors of Rodeo Drive. Matching skills with this icon of modern SUV-think are two new-for-2007 faces, the Cadillac Escalade and the MercedesBenz GL450. In contrast to the LR3, which uses Land Rover’s hybrid body-frame construction, the Cadillac is a conventional body-on-frame exercise based on the new GMT900 truck platform, while the newest member of M-B’s expanding sport/utility family is a true unit-body offering that shares a good deal of design particulars with its M-Class and R-Class kin. For the

record, the Merc does offer standard downhill-speed regulation and hill-start assist features. Also available is an offroad package with low-range gearset and enhanced ride-height capabilities, an extra not on this particular example—nor on any Escalade’s option sheet. One final note: The original plan had an Audi Q7 slotted into this mix, but scheduling issues prevented it from making an appearance. Stay tuned. Picking up right where its predecessor left off, the new Escalade reigns supreme in the Made-You-Look competition. Its more tautly rendered sheetmetal sports an even healthier dose of bling that tends to make the other two, while fashionable in their own right, appear downright understated. The ’Slade’s high-profile flash extends to its interior as well, where soft surfaces abound and the



STATE OF THE ART interweaving of aluminum, leather, wood, and woodlike substances makes the kind of endearing first impression that was so palpably absent in times gone by when this Wreath-and-Crester was little more than a tarted-up Tahoe/Yukon. The Mercedes and Land Rover take more subtle approaches to people-pampering, but each racked up significant driver— and passenger—points as the miles rolled by. All three vehicles offer loads of the right stuff when it comes to power assists and upline amenities, although a number of odd anomalies can be found in the specific feature mix of each. The GL450 shares much with the M-Class in this area as well, including real burled-walnut trim and making leather upholstery an option—and one that was conspicuously missing in our otherwise loaded tester. Like the Cadillac, it did include extras like a navigation system and rear-seat DVD player. Our GL450 also boasted the best seats of the lot, headed by optional multicontour, supportive front buckets that endear themselves by providing a pulsing 134 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

back massage on demand, even when wrapped in baseline M-B Tex and not Nappa hides. Angular and nearly devoid of brightwork, the LR3’s space-efficient interior nonetheless laid claim to the nicest leather and plenty of neat touches in HSE spec, headed by navigation and premium harman/kardon audio systems, tri-zone air-conditioning—an Escalade standard

and GL-Class add-on—plus an optional cooler box in the center console. Where the Cadillac also makes Bose sound and a power rear liftgate inclusive, Mercedes relegates a primo h/k LOGIC7 Surround Sound setup and electric hatch activation to the GL450’s extras list. As for driver-impacting downsides, the Escalade’s rather coarsely indexed

(comparison) MERCEDES-BENZ GL450

and manual-only/tilt-only steering column seemed decidedly out of place in a vehicle that bottomlined at $66,110, and even the welcome availability of power-adjustable pedals couldn’t offset the continuing absence of express-up power windows. Tour much in bright sun and the glare off of the Cad’s aluminum dash trim also gets offensive, impacting readability of its clock and optional nav system. And while the Escalade’s buckets look sharp, they proved short on lateral support. Beyond the aforementioned lack of leather, our $68,075 as-tested GL450 drew the biggest fire for its still complex COMAND system, less user-friendly Navigation package, and undersized sideview mirrors. Heading the LR3 gripe roster are the austere/industrial appearance of some trim elements and more hard-touch surfaces than expected in a vehicle that rolls out the door at $56,175. 136 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

Seats for seven and room for seven have rather different meanings for each of these three, as dimensional specs can sometimes be deceiving whether they’re describing the Escalade’s 2+2+3 configuration or the 2+3+2 layouts in the LR3 and GL450. Despite offering the most shoulder room in both rows of rear seats, the Cadillac has less second-row legroom than the GL450 and trails both in rear-cabin headroom. All three can accommodate a pair of sixfooters in their second tier, but neither the 60/40 seat in the GL450 nor the 35/30/35 modular units in the LR3 provide nearly as hospitable a welcome to those occupying the center spots. The most stunning contrasts, however, lie in the innermost sanctums. While split-benches in the Land Rover and Mercedes will accept averagesize adults for short to mid-distance treks, the Cadillac’s abysmal 25.4 inches of

legroom—barely an inch more than an SRX—and knees-to-nose seating posture puts 40-plus percent of its people space into the “I’ll pass, thanks” category for anyone but naughty children. The largest of our SUV set fared little better when it came to impromptu utility. Where the third row folds flat into the floor on its rivals—and raises/lowers at the push of a button in the Merc—the Cadillac’s 50/50 seat elements only fold in place and must be removed to gain full use of the space. In fairness, pulling the third row and dropping the second does open up a huge 108.9-cubic-foot bay, a figure that handily bests both the LR3 (90.3) and the GL450 (83.3). But save for those once-a-decade big-screen TV runs, it’s hard to fault the simpler and more widely embraced approach to seat stowage used by the rest of the industry. We have no

(comparison) LAND ROVER LR3

idea where the claimed 16.9 cubic feet of space behind the Escalade’s rear seat may be lurking, but from a practical standpoint, everyone who looked at it deemed the GL450’s 14.0-cubic-foot capacity far more configurable for any payload this side of unboxed ping-pong balls. Diversity of character extends to the drivetrain setups of this trio as well. The LR3 HSE packs a 4.4-liter DOHC V-8 that makes 300 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque backed by a six-speed manumatic with a console-mounted lever. At the other end of the spectrum, the 6.2-liter OHV V-8 with 403 horses and 417 pound-feet of twist fitted to the Escalade is paired with a six-speed automatic that provides a Manual mode controlled by buttons on the handle of its column-mounted shifter. The GL450 travels yet another design path. Its new 4.7-liter DOHC V-8, rated at 335 138 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

horsepower and 339 pound-feet of torque, is matched with a seven-speed automatic that puts basic activation functions on a dash-mounted miniwand and offers manual-shift capabilities via rocker switches on the steering wheel. It wasn’t all that surprising to find the LR3—smallest outside, but at 5798 pounds the heaviest of this trio—labored hardest to keep pace on anything but level terrain and could muster but an 8.8-second best in the formal 0-to-60-mph sprint. Far less expected, the Escalade and GL450 ran identical 6.4-second times to that benchmark speed, despite the superior power/weight and torque/weight ratios for the heavier Cadillac. The Merc’s flatter torque curve (all 339 pound-feet are on hand from 2700 to 5000 rpm), tighter gear splits, and quicker-responding automatic played a big role in helping it maintain

that edge through the quarter mile and right on up to 100 mph. With varying staff opinions on placement of the GL450’s shift switchgear, no one contested the superior speed and smoothness of the ondemand changes this gearbox delivered. Things skewed differently when it came to bleeding off speed. Top honors in the 60-to-0-mph competition went to the LR3 with an impressive 121-foot mark followed by the Mercedes at 125 and the Cadillac at 130. Spring rains gave us a chance to put these elegant haulers through their paces in wet and dry conditions, and here, too, their individual personalities emerged. Each arrived wearing all-season tires on alloy wheels, although the LR3 had HSE-standard 255/55 rubber on 19-inch rims, while the GL450 upgraded from 265/60HR18s to 275/55HR19s, and the


Escalade pumped up its rolling stock from baseline 265/65s on 18-inch wheels to 285/45HR22s, the biggest fitments currently offered on any vehicle in its segment. Saddled with the least desirable tallness/track spec, the LR3 displayed the most body roll and was subject to the greatest degree of crosswind buffeting. It also emerged the walkover winner—or loser, depending on your point of view—in the “my governess is stricter than yours” challenge match. Well documented by previous encounters dating back to its 2005 SUV of the Year testing, the Land Rover’s ever-vigilant stability control steps in early, often, and definitively to help prevent manmade handling disasters. The evidence was in the LR3’s electronically hobbled 50.1-mph slalom speed, a full 140 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

seven mph under the best passes of the Cadillac and Mercedes. The G L4 50’ s s t andard Ai rmat i c suspension allowed for a tad more enthusiasm in Sport/Normal/Comfort modes, but even with ESP in the nominal “off” position the nip and tug of selective ABS came to the fore when corners tightened up even moderately. While its demeanor never lets you mistake it for anything but a full-size, truck-based SUV, the Escalade can be driven the most aggressively of this lot, primarily because it’s possible to disengage the StabiliTrak system. Even when standing guard, GM’s electronic suspension sentinel has a more subtle engagement than the systems in either of the other vehicles. That said, after putting all of them through their

subjective and objective paces, the GL450 still made the strongest case when it came to combining control, compliance, and overall handling confidence. Depending on where your priorities lie for choosing an SUV that opens on the far side of $50K, any one of these three could well be a proper fit. For this confrontation, we put sophisticated on-road skills, three rows of useable seats, and lots of realworld utility on the front line, and came to an inevitable but far from overwhelming conclusion. Were off-road prowess to be more heavily weighted, the LR3 would’ve made a solid play for victory. Even in this face-off, it remains a paradigm of superb packaging that also offers an attractive mix of flexibility, comfort, and outstanding value.

(comparison) Raising its visual profile, build quality, and sophistication beyond that of its successful forebear, the new Escalade also served notice that it’ll remain an impact player, and one with even broader market appeal. In the end, its less-thanstellar interior space solutions left us feeling that bigger is not always better.

That brings us to the equally new GL450. With its highly evolved powertrain, impressive dynamic envelope, and interior packaging capable of going head to head with anything that’s available on the market, this new Mercedes-Benz simply worked its way to the top of the score sheets with

a winning personality and all-around performance that more than offset any of its minor shortcomings. As for the ability of any of these primo lifestylers to cope with the endless upward spiral of gasoline prices (at almost four bucks a gallon), well, that’s a story for another time. 

1ST PLACE      MERCEDES-BENZ GL450 Capable, comfortable, and enthusiastic, the GL450 makes an impressive, albeit pricey statement about the current state of the SUV art. Note to product planners: It’s time to make leather standard.

2ND PLACE      LAND ROVER LR3 An off-road legend that plays on pavement as well as any go-anywhere SUV can, it continues to prove that good things can indeed come in small packages. Needs a bit more muscle to match up with this pair.

3RD PLACE      CADILLAC ESCALADE The Blinginator returns in an even bigger and better way, but its head-turning presence can’t offset some questionable packaging compromises for buyers who demand practicality over profile.






Front engine, AWD 90° V-8, alum block/heads OHV, 2 valves/cyl 378.3 cu in/6199cc 10.5:1 403 hp @ 5700 rpm* 417 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm* 6000 rpm 14.3 lb/hp 6-speed automatic 3.42:1 / 2.28:1 / -

Front engine, 4WD 90° V-8, alum block/heads DOHC, 4 valves/cyl 268.1 cu in/4394cc 10.5:1 300 hp @ 5500 rpm 315 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm 6500 rpm 19.3 lb/hp 6-speed automatic 3.71:1 / 2.57:1 / 2.93:1

Front engine, AWD 90° V-8, alum block/heads DOHC, 4 valves/cyl 284.5 cu in/4663cc 10.7:1 335 hp @ 6000 rpm 339 lb-ft @ 2700 rpm 6500 rpm 16.3 lb/hp 7-speed automatic 3.70:1 / 2.70:1 / -


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

Control arms, adj air springs, anti-roll bar; control arms, adj air springs, anti-roll bar


17.8:1 3.0

17.8: 1 3.3

18.6:1 3.6


13.0-in vented disc; 13.5-in disc, ABS

13.3-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS

14.7-in vented discs; 13.0-in vented disc, ABS


22 x 9.0-in, cast aluminum

19 x 8.0-in, cast aluminum

19 x 8.5-in, cast aluminum


285/45R22 110H, Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza

255/55R19 111H M+S, Goodyear Wrangler HP

275/55R19 111H M+S, Continental 4x4 Contact

116.0 in 68.2 / 67.0 in 202.5 x 79.0 x 74.3 in 9.0 in 17.0 / 21.9 deg 39.0 ft 5777 lb 50 / 50 % 7400 lb 7 40.3 /38.5 / 38.2 in 41.3 / 39.0 / 25.4 in 65.3 / 65.3 / 61.7 in 108.9 / 60.3 / 16.9 cu ft

113.6 in 63.2 / 63.5 in 190.9 x 75.4 x 74.5 in 7.3–9.5 in 32.2–37.2/24.9–29.6 deg 37.6 ft 5798 lb 48 / 52 % 7700 lb 7 40.4 / 42.4 / 40.1 in 42.4 / 37.6 / 36.3 in 59.2 / 59.4 / 42.8 in 90.3 / 44.5 / 9.9 cu ft

121.1 in 65.0 / 65.1 in 200.3 x 75.6 x 72.4 in 10.9 in 33.0 / 27.0 deg 39.7 ft 5468 lb 51 / 49 % 7500 lb 7 40.1 / 40.6 / 38.5 in 43.0 / 40.0 / 34.0 in 58.3 / 58.9 / 50.5 in 83.3 / 43.8 / 14.0 cu ft

2.1 sec 3.3 4.8 6.4 8.6 11.1 13.8 17.4 3.3 14.9 sec @ 94.0 mph 130 ft 57.1 mph avg 1500 rpm

2.5 sec 4.5 6.5 8.8 12.3 16.0 20.4 5.2 16.7 sec @ 82.1 mph 121 ft 50.1 mph** avg 1750 rpm

2.0 sec 3.3 4.6 6.4 8.4 10.9 13.9 17.3 3.4 14.8 sec @ 93.1 mph 125 ft 57.1 mph avg 1900 rpm

$57,280 $66,110 Yes/yes

$53,700 $56,175 Yes/yes

$55,675 $68,075 Yes/yes

Dual front, f/m/r curtain

Dual front, front side, f/m/r curtain

Dual front, f/r side, f/m/r/ curtain

4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 26.0 gal 13/19 mpg 13.7 mpg Premium unleaded

4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles 22.8 gal 14/18 mpg 11.7 mpg Premium unleaded

4 yrs/50,000 miles 4 yrs/50,000 miles Unlimited 26.4 gal 14/18 mpg 12.7 mpg Premium unleaded



■ ■ mercedes-benz clk63 amg cabriolet/ml63 amg



eight is enough V-10? NAH. GIMME A REALLY GOOD V-8 IT’S NO secret there’s a momentous battle of brawn brewing between the sporting arms of today’s German luxury marques. BMW’s M brand, via the M5 and M6, has recently brought to market a naturally aspirated V-10 that pumps out 500 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. Producing 100 horses per liter and a seductive scream up to 8250 rpm, it’s arguably more the 10 than V-10. Then there are Audi’s S models, which subsequently have responded, “If you can do a V-10, then we can do it better,” evidenced by their lighter and torquier

Lamborghini-based 5.2-liter mill whose direct injectors motivate the 420-horse S8 and 430-horse S6. Last, but certainly not least, there’s Mercedes’s AMG wing, which is answering its rivals’ V-10 muscle with—get this—a V-8. Come again? Even better, this 6.2-liter motor, unlike the 5.4-liter kompressor before it, breathes naturally yet generates more power—in most cases, more than the competition’s V-10s. Mercedes invited us to sample this V-10-beater from behind the wheel of two new AMG products—the 475-horse CLK 63 Cabriolet and the 503-horse

ML63. To say this new V-8 is as flexible as a yoga instructor would be an understatement. Not only does it boast broad power and torque curves, but its applications are seemingly endless: In addition to the two models we drove, Mercedes plans to install the 6.2 in AMG versions of the CLS-, E-, and R-Classes, with more no doubt to follow. AMG refers to its all-aluminum beast as a “6.3,” despite its 6.2-liter displacement. But it’s for good reason—Mercedes’s 1970 300SEL 6.3, at the time one of the fastest, most powerful sedans in the world, featured a 6.3-liter V-8.

Back then, the 300SEL 6.3 made only 300 (SAE gross) horsepower, but it served as the basis for AMG’s first race car, the 300SEL 6.8, whose 6.8-liter engine was robust enough for well over 400 horsepower along with a class victory at the 1971 24-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Consider the 6.3 designation AMG’s homage to the car that helped start it all. Like that 6.8-liter engine, the new 6.2 sports its share of racing technology. Vertical intake and exhaust ports, a variable intake manifold with two internal throttle flaps, bucket tappets



■ ■ mercedes-benz clk63 amg cabriolet/ml63 amg

in the cylinder heads, variable camshaft adjustment, and a lowfriction twin-wire-arc-sprayed coating on the cylinder walls are just a few of the high-tech tidbits that come from the motorsport melting pot. Perhaps more significant is the fact that the 6.2 was designed autonomously by AMG and thus has “no features or shared parts whatsoever in common with other eightcylinder units by Mercedes-Benz.” Naturally, the new powerplant is handbuilt in AMG’s Affalterbach engine shop, according to the “one man, one engine” philosophy, which means the engine builder’s signature resides on the engine’s AMG badge. After introducing throttle to floorboard, you’ll be thanking that engine builder. Power

delivery isn’t only linear— certainly more direct than the supercharged 5.4—but also downright ferocious, evidenced by the tach’s affinity to play hit-and-run with the 7200-rpm redline. By mixing 6.2 liters of displacement with a lofty compression ratio (11.3:1) and maximum engine speed (7200 rpm), AMG engineers have created a powerplant that delivers high-end horsepower with more low-end twist (465 pound-feet at 5000 rpm with 369 pound-feet on tap at 2000 rpm) than Chubby Checker. While not as torquey as its force-fed predecessor, which had a pavement-pulverizing 516 pound-feet, the 6.2 has the added horsepower and high-rpm hankering to more than make up


for it. Mercedes estimates that 0 to 60 mph will take around 4.5 seconds in the CLK63 cab (the CLK63 coupe won’t make it stateside) and 4.8 seconds in the ML63, or about a half-second quicker than the vehicles they replace. The CLK and ML get an “AMG Speedshift” version of the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic replete with three shift modes, but only the CLK gets steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. Moreover, as with most AMGs, both are more adept as highway missiles than backroad burners, but that by no means translates to an inability to tame curvy roads. Donning new “6.3 AMG” badges on the front fenders means the CLK and ML wear a host of hot add-ons. Along with the shift

paddles, the CLK63 gets front composite brakes, 18-inch alloys, an AMG sport suspension, and the full AMG interior treatment, which includes Nappa leathercovered sport seats and Racetimer, a function that allows a driver to record lap times. The ML63, similarly, receives an AMGspec cockpit with Racetimer, but gets features unique to its purpose: a self-leveling Airmatic DC suspension, 19-inch wheels, stainless-steel runningboards, and a rear-biased full-time allwheel-drive system with a 40:60 front/rear power split. With Audi and BMW opting for smaller-displacement V-10s, we’re happy to see AMG staying true to what it knows best—big ol’ V-8s. Drive a “6.3,” and you’ll be happy, too. ■ ron kiino


2007 M-B ML63 AMG


$87,000 (est) Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door conv


$75,000 (est) Front engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV


6.2L/475-hp/465 lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8


6.2L/503-hp/465 lb-ft DOHC 32-valve V-8


7-speed automatic 4150 lb (mfr) 106.9 in 183.1 x 68.5 x 55.1 in 4.5 sec (est) 15/18 mpg (est) Currently


7-speed automatic 5100 lb (mfr) 114.8 in 189.8 x 76.8 x 73.3 in 4.8 sec (est) 14/17 mpg (est) August 2006

(newcomers) saab 9-3 aero convertible

open agenda TWENTY YEARS, AND COUNTING IT’S BEEN two decades since the first Saab convertible made its U.S debut. Since then, drop tops have become an integral part of the Swedish automaker’s market mystique. This year, the born-from-jets set amps up its alfresco menu with an updated 9-3 Aero Convertible, the sportiest, most stylish descendent of its illustrious forebear—and with a new turbocharged V-6 underhood, easily the quickest. Adding to the mix, a 20 Years Edition turned out in Electric Blue metallic paint with color-keyed trim bits, unique alloy wheels, and—limited to 400 units, same as the original 1986 900 Convertible—could become one of the most collectible as well. Like other 9-3 Aeros, the Convertible is motivated by a Saab-spec version of GM’s 2.8-liter DOHC all-aluminum V-6. Fitted with a quick-spooling dual-scroll turbocharger, it cranks out 250 horsepower at 5500 rpm and churns up 258 pound-feet of

torque from 2000 to 4500 revs. Those formidable stats bring up 60 mph in the 6.5-to-7.0-second range whether paired with the standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional six-speed Sentronic manumatic that lets you shift with a bump of the lever or a press of wheelmounted buttons. As luck would have it, our first encounter with the 9-3 Aero cabrio came as the Santa Barbara wine country was being inundated with copious amounts of California’s finest liquid sunshine. While that unexpected twist threatened to turn an intro Saab had fashioned after Miles and Jack’s excellent adventure into a markedly soggier “Sideways” sequel, it did more to showcase the efficacy of the Aero’s standard stability/ traction controls and the absence of torque steer than to dampen its spirits. When momentary dry spells allowed a bit of top-down flogging, the Saab quickly rose to the occasion. Its tauter chassis


bits, 235/45VR17 tires, and potent ABS discs endow the Convertible with the same hypercompetent but decently compliant character as other 9-3 Aeros we’ve driven, while structural reinforcing minimizes cowl shake even in open mode. Inside, the Convertible offers the bounty of cosseting amenities found in other Aero variants, although its $42,620 base price ($44,615 for the 20 Years Edition) adds a one-touch power top. This fully padded triple-layer lid deploys in 20 seconds, effectively sealing out the elements and keeping wind and road noise in check, even at freeway speeds. Quick cornering shows the bespoke belt-in-seat front buckets provide less lateral grip than their counterparts in the Aero Sedan and SportCombi, but you actually can park a pair of average-size adults in the Convertible’s wellcontoured fixed rear bench—and tote 8.3 cubic feet of bags in the trunk with the top down or 12.4 with it up.

There’s a good reason why Saab Convertibles have always sold in disproportionately high numbers. Cool, comfortable, and now quicker than ever, the 9-3 Aero variant may not be able to supplant a BMW 3 Series Cabrio with über-enthusiasts, but it’s got the panache and power to match thrills year ’round with key rivals, the Audi A4 and Volvo C70. ■ bob



$42,620 Front engine, FWD, 4-pass, 2-door conv


2.8L/250-hp/258 lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 24-valve V-6


6-speed manual; 6-speed automatic


3650-3700 lb (mfr) 105.3 in 182.4 x 69.3 x 56.4 in 6.5-7.0 sec (MT est) 17-18/28 mpg Currently

(newcomers) audi S6 avant

bull shift THE GOOD NEWS: Audi’s crammed a Lamborghinibased V-10 into its elegant midsize sportwagon. The bad news: Only Europeans will have the pleasure of driving it. But why be envious when the sedan’s already here? The S6 Avant has the potential to outrun most performance SUVs. It receives a version of the engine found in the Gallardo and the R8, in this case a 5.2-liter FSI V-10

good for 435 horses (DIN) and an estimated 398 pound-feet, with a six-speed automatic and quattro all-wheel drive. The Avant has a lower center of gravity than anything with the “sport/utility” label, giving this Audi the edge in corners. It even has advantages over the S6 in sedan skin: The cabin has the same level of comfort and style, but adds up to 58.6 cubic feet of cargo volume (seats

folded), the track is slightly wider in front, and the extra metal in back helps redistribute some of the vehicle mass, bringing it closer to a 50/50 distribution. We didn’t put the Avant on a scale, but the difference between the standard A6 sedan and wagon are 58/42 and 54/46, and we’d expect the S to fall in line with those numbers. On the snowy, rainy autobahn, the Euro-spec sport wagon felt nearly as quick as the sedan. Manufacturer estimates put the Avant only 0.1 second slower to 100 kph (about 62 mph). There’s a weight difference between the two, but it’s not enough to have a significant impact. The transmission shifts at all the right times, but its steering-wheelmounted paddles and Sport mode make the best use of the power. You shouldn’t be deprived of a great drive because you have kids or a lot of gear. Unfortunately, as of right now, Americans can’t enjoy this one. But thank goodness it’s out there.  allyson harwood


$75,000 (est) Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wgn


5.2L/435-hp (DIN, est)/398 lb-ft (est) DOHC 40-valve V-10 6-speed automatic


CURB WEIGHT 4350 lb (mfr) WHEELBASE 112.1 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 194.2 x 73.4 x 57.2 in 0-60 MPH 5.1 sec (mfr est) EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON Not rated

2006 BMW 330i Still the king of compact sport sedans? THE PREVIOUSgeneration 3 Series, sold from 1999 through 2005, defined the modern, European-style sport sedan. In all its versions, the last 3 was a well-synthesized machine,

sold like mad, and was still a solid seller even in its sixth and final year. Although the 3 Series was due for a refresh, BMW was careful not to stray too far from its winning formula, even though



2006 HYUNDAI SONATA LX Total mileage 8593

OUR HYUNDAI Sonata is a popular choice among the staff, but we all have to fight technical editor Kim Reynolds for a night in it. When the keys can be pried away from him, staffers have found the Hyundai a comfortable place to spend time, especially

its latest design themes and new technology like iDrive, were going to be part of the new-for-2006 package. How could we not try one out for a year? We ordered ours old school:

Skip the toys, but give us the big motor, a manual trans, and the sportiest suspension and rollingstock combo offered. That means a 330i with the 255-horse inline-six and a six-speed, which carries a

words neil g. chirico

on long trips or commutes, where the cushy seats have been given special mention. If you removed the badges you’d probably guess it’s a Honda or Toyota; some of us think it looks even better, although others say the quality levels don’t yet match those standards. Styling alone tells a lot about how far Hyundai has come with the new Sonata.  Average fuel econ 19.6 mpg  Unresolved problems Intermittent flickering dash lights.  Maintenance cost $0  Normal-wear cost $0

2006 MITSUBISHI ECLIPSE GT Total mileage 8196

THE ECLIPSE GT’s styling is a love it or hate it affair. One editor says it could use a nose job. Taller drivers have complained about the lack of headroom, which gains an inch if you skip the sunroof option. The burnt-orange interior has a rich look and feel that belies the car’s price. But the tactile delivery of steering and brake and clutch feel is our biggest criticism thus far. They are too light and lacking in immediacy—this becomes more surprising when you remember that Mitsubishi also makes

the Lancer Evolution, which offers a connected, hard-wired experience. Yet the GT’s motor is terrific. If we could have just a little more Evo in our Eclipse, please.  Average fuel econ 18.3mpg  Unresolved problems None  Maintenance cost $63.36 (7.5K-service)  Normal-wear cost $0



arrival (long-term test)

words matt stone

(long-term test) arrival arrival


2006 BMW 330i

from the logbook “A BMW without iDrive? How great it is to get into a car and just be able to drive.”  Danny King

base price of $37,295. For those willing to give up 40 horsepower (although still from a 3.0-liter engine) and a few standard features, the 325i is offered, starting at $5700 less. BMW has the gall to charge $475 extra for metallic paint, and the Cold Weather package (heated front seats, retractable headlight washers, and a ski bag) runs another grand. The $2200

Premium package includes a universal garage-door opener, interior auto-dimming mirror with a compass, power-folding exterior mirrors, front-seat power lumbar support, leather upholstery, and Bluetooth connectivity. The all important Sport package is a bargain, however, at $1600, as it gets you the 18-inch alloy wheels, more aggressive suspension tuning, a leather trimmed steering

Base price


Price as tested


Vehicle layout

Front engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan


3.0L/255-hp/ 220 lb-ft DOHC 24-valve I-6


6-speed manual

Curb weight (dist f/r)

3425 lb (50/50 %)



Length x Width x Height

178.2 x 71.5 x 55.9 in

0-60 mph

6.2 sec

Quarter mile

14.8 sec @ 95.1 mph

Braking, 60-0 mph

112 ft

600-ft slalom

67.1 mph

MT figure eight

26.5 sec @ 0.67 g

EPA city/hwy econ

20/30 mph

Total mileage


Average test mpg


Unresolved problem areas


wheel, and sport seats. Several niceties included in the 330i’s base sticker are wood interior trim, a moonroof, adaptive Xenon headlights, cruise control, and an upgraded audio system. Our final option was satellite radio, and that brought the total to $43,165. The early returns are good, and we’ve already crossed the 7000mile mark with no mechanical or service issues. One editor says, “I

still like the look of the old one better, but this one has more room in back and still drives and feels as a 3 Series should.” Another isn’t yet convinced: “BMW’s inline-sixes are normally the best in the world, with rich mid-rpm torque and spirited top-end power. Yet this one seems only decent. Has the rest of the class caught up?” It’ll be a year of spirited driving and debate, to be sure. 

2005 BMW X3 2.5I

the customer’s name and when the registration and state or smog inspections are due. Interesting technology, no?



2005 TOYOTA TACOMA PRERUNNER Total mileage 17,395

OUR LONG-TERM Tacoma hit the trail with Truck Trend chief Mark Williams at the helm. He discovered the rear locker helped out on a nasty, rutted offcamber trail, but not on a loose hillclimb. The lack of 4WD kept him from exploring a ridge trail that he wasn’t sure he could get

back up. Williams liked the double water-bottle holders in the doors and called the interior layout “the best use of door and console space around.” The composite bed is holding up well; maybe we haven’t abused it enough. We’re impressed with the bed’s 120-volt outlet and would like to see this handy feature on every truck.  Average fuel econ 17.7 mpg  Unresolved problems None  Maintenance cost $47.73 (5K service); $45.85 (10K); $138.45 (15K)  Normal-wear cost $0


Total mileage 15,367

THE LAST thing we did before returning our long-term X3 to BMW was to take it in for service. There we discovered an innovative item in possession of the dealer: a key reader. This device gives a detailed readout of specific vehicle information; in our case, it said we were 1212 miles overdue for service. It also indicates what that particular service should entail and presents other information such as the vehicle identification number, model designation, engine size, exterior color and interior trim codes. It has areas for

 Average fuel econ 16.8 mpg  Unresolved problems None  Maintenance cost $0 (maintenance included)  Normal-wear cost $0 For vehicle specs, go to

(long-term test) verdict

words kim reynolds

2005 Subaru Legacy GT Legacy lost—or leapfrogged? CLOSE YOUR EYES and think “Subaru.” What do you see? Perhaps a latemodel Sooby trundling across a sleety New England highway in the pit of December. Two hundred and fifty thousand miles on its odometer. Mud petrified on its flanks. A flinty Northeasterner behind the wheel who’s wise enough to be driving a reliable car at a time like this. You probably don’t think of a red Legacy sedan sucking warm Southern California air into its hood-mounted air scoop as it turbocharges past startled BMWs beneath the sunshine and blurring palm trees of L.A. traffic. The car? Our long-term 2005 Subaru Legacy GT, which we’ve finally handed back to Subaru high command after completing its year-long suffering at the hands of hedonistic Motor Trend staffers who only know New Hampshire winters from Thomas Kincade postcards. All we’re left with are 18,000 miles of anecdotes—and this question: Has Subaru lost its flinty Northeasterner soul, going for the performance gusto? The Legacy GT had been an appealing proposition since its inception. Take a sturdy allwheel-drive foundation dressed in casual-attire bodywork and quicken the pulse while keeping the visual impact faint enough not to give away the game when glimpsed in a rearview mirror. That word “faint” tended to crop up quite a bit in response to our 2005 edition’s $30,270 out-the-door price, which included a $575 destination charge and a single, $1200 manumatic transmission option. Yikes! Thirty 174 JULY 2006 MOTOR TREND.COM

our car Base price Five-speed automatic transmission with sportshift DVD entertainment system MSRP, as tested

$29,070 $1200 $995 $30,270

grand for a four-cylinder Subaru? Who do you think you are, Mr. Legacy? A Lexus? Early in the car’s stay, the sentiment was a drumbeat in the logbook: “$30,000-plus for a Subaru that doesn’t say STi on the trunklid?” “My only gripe is the Legacy’s as-tested sticker price is maybe $2000 above what I’d expect.” “The price is risky. It’s not much of a stretch to more premium nameplates like Acura’s TSX or Saab’s 9-3—although neither of them offers 250 horses and all-wheel drive.” That last point reminds us that, if you scratch beneath the GT’s low-key looks, you’ll find a machine unusually chockablock with interesting technical content, such as a boxer-configuration engine with variablevalve timing and an air-to-air intercooled turbocharger; a five-speed automatic directed by three shift strategies, or alternately, manumatic shift buttons a finger reach away on the wheel’s spokes; and, of course, Fuji Heavy Industries’s renowned AWD that variably distributes the engine’s potential 250 poundfeet of torque to four stylish, 17x7.0-inch aluminum wheels. All in all, a hardware tally worthy of the

sticker price. And an interior upgrade that takes a Monty Python giant step toward Lexus levels of cosseting, including a moonroof, eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped seats, steering wheel and shifter, and a six-CD in-dash player—and all assembled to a premium grade of fit and finish. Except, perhaps, for our GT’s single trouble spot: the dual-zone climatecontrol system. On a drive back to the L.A. basin from a Dave Matthews concert in San Francisco, the climate control suddenly went bipolar, flipping the temperature back and forth between hot and cold. This was brought to a mechanic’s attention at the car’s 15,000-mile service, where we were waved off with the ridiculous explanation that they all do that. Fortunately, at the next visit the problem was solved, with a tip from a reader who’d experienced the same temperature flip-flopping while driving on, strangely enough, the very same piece of roadway. So if you’re driving from San Fran to L.A. and your climate control gets flippy, tell the mechanic to check the rpm sensor on the A/C’s compressor. Another sour note was the rear-window’s heating elements interfering with radio reception. Both wonkies were attended to under warranty, both cost zip to cure, and neither reappeared. Unfortunately, what also didn’t appear was notification of a potential issue with the deployment rate of our model’s curtain airbags, which dealers have been instructed to replace free of charge.

verdict (long-term test) 2005 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS

The tires were a genuine area of debate, some finding their all-season spec a chokecollar on the car’s ultimate handling potential (“C’mon, give us a sport package that makes this a real street performer”), others countering that “what good’s a Subaru that can’t scat for the mountains at first snow fall?” Indisputably, they hamper the car’s dry braking distances, 142 feet from 60 mph and 416 from 100 mph being eye-opening numbers. And all agreed the Bridgestone RE 92s were loud as delivered and only increased their howl as they wore. “It’s a decent highway car except for the loud low-profile tires.” Nevertheless, the GT-unique quicker 15:1 steering ratio affords the Legacy crisp turn-in at anywhere up to BMW-trailing cornering rates. If you contrast the Legacy GT’s straightline performance (6.4 seconds to 60) with its peerless aptitude in the inclement, there’s not much out there that fits this Subaru’s portfolio—sans perhaps Audi’s A4 2.0T quattro. Our car averaged 18.7 mpg running on its

premium fuel, burning 995 gallons over its 18,651-mile visit (at today’s dizzying price of premium, that’s about $3200). According to our partners at Intellichoice, in the resale market our 20-month-old GT would fetch an impressive $27,005 retail, equating to a depreciation of $3265, or 10.8 percent over its stay. Add in $172 for maintenance costs (oil and filter changes, mainly), and you have a cost per mile of 35¢ at today’s gas prices. That’s on the cheap end of some of our recent long-termers, which have ranged from a pocket-empting $1.55 per mile for a Jag XJR to $0.08/mile for a Prius (helped by low fuel costs and virtually no depreciation). A recent comparison might be the similar $0.34/ mile managed by a long-term Acura 3.2 TL. Reasonably economical to operate, durable, and a blast to command anywhere from the Pacific Coast Highway to freshly blanketed ski resorts, the GT might even make a flinty Northeasterner crack a smile. It certainly did for us here—while shattering the notion that a Legacy can’t be worth $30 grand. 

from the logbook No complaints with the new turbo 2.5. Lots of grunt, good top end, feels smooth, and sounds okay (if not exactly M3-like). Trans is good, too, but the communication between the two isn’t quite right; seems like a slow launch, and then a shotgun windup as the turbo comes in.

The exterior is handsome, far from the campiness of previous Subarus. Inside the cabin, tasteful materials venture past the crunchy granola quirkiness of older Subarus to genuine entry-level luxury.  Ron Sessions

 Matt Stone

Bit of a stealth fighter, this. Neat but unremarkable to look at inside and out. The turbo four provides a real punch, and the AWD is grippy in the twisty stuff. This is the perfect spare sedan for someone who wants to stay under the radar.

The all-wheel-drive system is seamless in operation, yet offers impressive traction in foul weather, including during aggressive mountain road driving in the rain.  John Kiewicz

 Angus MacKenzie

Drivetrain layout

Front engine, AWD

Engine type

F-4, alum block / heads


Turbocharged DOHC 4 valves/cyl


149.9 cu in/2457 cc

Compression ratio


Power (SAE net)

250 hp @ 6000 rpm

Torque (SAE net)

250 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm


6500 rpm

Weight to power

14.0 lb/hp


5-speed automatic

Axle/final-drive ratios

3.27:1 / 2.73:1

Suspension, front; rear

Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar

Steering ratio


Turns lock-to-lock


Brakes, f;r

12.3-in vented disc; 11.3-in vented disc, ABS


17 x 7.0-in, cast alum


215/45ZR17 89H M+S, Bridgestone RE 92


105.1 in

Track, f/r

58.9 / 58.5 in

Length x width x height

186.2 x 68.1 x 56.1 in

Turning circle

35.4 ft

Curb weight

3493 lb

Weight dist, f/r

57 / 43 %

Seating capacity


Headroom, f/r

37.5 / 36.5 in

Legroom, f/r

44.1 / 33.9 in

Shoulder room, f/r

54.4 / 53.7 in

Cargo volume

11.4 cu ft

TEST DATA Acceleration to mph 0-30

2.1 sec















Passing, 45-65 mph


Quarter mile

14.9 sec @ 93.8 mph

Braking, 60-0 mph

142 ft

600-ft slalom

64.1 mph avg

Lateral acceleration

0.81 g avg

MT figure eight

27.1 sec @ 0.63 g avg



Price as tested


Stability/traction control No / no Airbags

Dual front, front side, f/r curtain

Basic warranty

3 yrs / 36,000 miles

Powertrain warranty

5 yrs / 60,000 miles

Roadside assistance

3 yrs / 36,000 miles

Fuel capacity

16.9 gal

EPA city/hwy econ

19 / 25 mpg

MT fuel economy

18.7 mpg

Required fuel

Premium unleaded




words matt stone

Daytona at Daytona, 1979 The big engine that could—and almost did THE DESIGNS of Ferrari’s new 599GTB Fiorano and the seminal 365GTB/4 Daytona are separated by nearly 40 years. Yet they’re both the work of Pininfarina, and the connection between them unmistakable. The Daytona wasn’t conceived as a race car, but it became a good one. By the late 1970s its day was done: As a racer, it was old, heavy, and front-engined, while the latest and greatest was the opposite. That didn’t keep one privateer team from giving a well-used Daytona racer another go at the 24-hour race that was its namesake. It seemed hopeless: The car, driven by endurance vets John Morton and Tony Adamowicz, was outclassed. And the Porsche 935s seemed unbeatable. But while the Porsches fell one by one, the GT-Class Daytona bore into the night and inched up the scoreboard. When the leading 935 pitted with problems, the Ferrari nearly pulled off a grand upset. In the end, Daytona #65 won the GT category and placed second overall. Not bad, for an old guy. 

coverage april 1967 CARROLL SHELBY’S first GT 500 made its debut for the 1967 model year, just 40 years earlier than the newest one on this month’s cover. Naturally, Motor Trend had to pair the original up against a Chevy of some sort, so why not the day’s newest 427-packing Corvette? An automobile V-8 powerplant with a desmodromic valvetrain? It’s a good idea that has yet to become practical. “Sex…and the Single Car!” for a cover line? Yeah, well, whatever looks good.

MOTOR TREND Magazine (ISSN 0027-2094) July 2006, Vol. 58, No. 7. Copyright 2006 by Primedia Specialty Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Published monthly by Primedia Specialty Group, Inc., 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515. Periodicals postage paid at Los Angeles, California, and additional mailing offices. Canada Publications Mail Sales Agreement No. 40008153. Return undeliverable Canadian Addresses to DHL Global Mail, 7496 Bath Road, Unit 2, Mississauga, ON L4T 1L2. Subscription rates for one year (12 issues): U.S., APO, FPO, and U.S. possessions $18. Canada $31 (price includes surface mail postage to Canada and GST—reg. no. 872093125RT0001). All other countries $33. Subscription information: Send address changes to Motor Trend, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 321420235. For subscription assistance: Motor Trend, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235, 800/800-6848; Back-issue orders: January 2003 to present, Client Logic, (toll-free) 866/601-5199; (e-mail) backissues mailorder@primedia. com; 1993 to December 2002, editorial offices, 323/782-2220. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Motor Trend, P.O. Box 420235, Palm Coast, FL 32142-0235. Customer Service e-mail address:


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