Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet 2008


The 911 Turbo Cabriolet is Porsche’s lucky fourteenth version of the 997 model and only the GT2 and Turbo S models remain to be built. We took some time in the version with the six-speed manual, but most of our driving was with the five-speed Tiptronic S. Though only 20 percent of North American 911 customers opt for the Tiptronic S sequential automatic (while the rest of the world ranges between 40 and 60 percent), in the Turbo Cabriolet we prefer it. The 997 Turbos with Tiptronic S go quicker from 0-60 miles per hour, while, on the other hand, the cabriolet lifestyle should be lived with as little effort as possible, hands always free for other things.

Car Top Systems supplies the roof mechanism for all 911 cabs. The automatic system works as well as we remember, requiring just sixteen seconds by our count (Porsche claims twenty seconds) to either open or close. You can also open or close the roof while traveling at any speed up to 31 mph—only a semi-benefit, as a Porsche Turbo should never be traveling so slowly. Curb weight for this cabrio Turbo is reportedly only 154 pounds greater than that for the coupe. At 3726 pounds in Tiptronic S trim, therefore, that means each of the 473 horses in the 3.6-liter twin-turbo engine is responsible for lugging around just 7.9 pounds. (And 7.7 pounds per with the six-speed manual.)

Much of the added briskness in this generation Turbo is due to the variable turbine geometry turbochargers that were created to consistently handle the intense heat under hard throttle while practically eliminating turbo lag. Under total throttle with Porsche Active Suspension Management in sport mode and with Porsche Stability Management off—and with the 45 added pound-feet of torque overboost between 2100 and 4000 rpm via the Sport Chrono package—the Turbo on dry, warm pavement literally hunkers down flat like a lioness on the prowl. The sound of the exhaust under full 502-pound-foot pressure is not so much rumble or roar, but like a high-pressure sand-blaster with some thunder in the belly. The all-wheel-drive system discreetly sends up to 40 percent of this torque to the front axle (normally just 5 percent), creating a feeling of utter stick-to-itiveness through the seat of the pants.

In many a roofless sports car, aerodynamics can go all to hell. The coefficient of drag usually spikes much higher than in the hardtop version, frequently to the detriment of the car’s driving dynamics. Porsche is bored with this reality and has managed to keep the drag coefficient for the cabriolet with roof up the same as for the coupe, at 0.31. This was done by allowing the rear wing on the cabrio to extend 2.6 inches, 1.2 inches farther than the coupe. According to Porsche officials, this makes the 997 Turbo Cabriolet the only sporting droptop on the world market to create active rear-axle down force in order to maintain the stability of the coupe. We definitely feel the improvement over other 997 cabriolets, as well as a notably better drive versus the 996 Turbo Cabriolet. At the 193-mph v-max, the car is unflappable. Without a solid roof, the Turbo’s torsional rigidity is naturally compromised, but body wag is hardly noticeable thanks to the 911’s traditionally short wheelbase and narrow tracks.

One bit that is always up for improvement on the 911 design is the resultant high wind noise, particularly from the two rear corners of the roof. Roof shut on the cabrio, this noise while traveling at any speed greater than 75 mph becomes rather huge. With the roof open, therefore, thank goodness for the really effective wind-buffeting screen behind the headrest. We had all side windows up and this screen in place for our roof-down faster sections and felt a negligible amount of wind-swirl in the cabin—despite the monumental white noise. We tried a stretch at speed with the windows down and screen retracted, and you don’t wanna know about the eye surgery our long-locked driving partner required afterward.

But with sun and fun at this level, and with the realistically limited clientele, who actually whines that much about the good old-fashioned turbocharged wind factor? Porsche in Germany tells us deliveries in North America are slated to start September 8. Pricing starts at $136,500 if you choose the six-speed manual—a $13,600 premium over the coupe.
Source:[windingroad.com]

2008 BMW M3 Coupe


This has to be BMW’s most avidly followed product. The M3 Coupe in its market segment has always been the quintessential right-out-of-the-box, front-engine, rear-traction Euro boy racer—unquestionably not family-friendly, unashamedly sexist in its buyer demographics, and lusted after equally by all sexes, nationalities, species, and faiths.

It also doesn’t hurt that the latest M3 continues the model’s history of being the most attractive product of its time in the Munich lineup. Compared to the third-generation “E46” M3 that ceased deliveries in mid-2006, this new “E92” car is a significantly re-hatched kettle of fish. It is comforting, however, that the end result makes our neck hairs bristle just as they always have while steering around the E46. You may just need to force it a bit more than before.



The roads heading north and inland from Marbella to Ronda in central Andalusia are notoriously good driving roads. Weather was crystal clear, warm, and dry, so the standard set of specially formulated eighteen-inch Michelin Pilot Sport tires (nineteen-inchers are available) kept us good and stuck to the road for two days, including ten hard laps of the Ascari circuit on day two. Once these special treads get hot and as sticky as possible, and once you are master of your own throttle and torque, most understeer is squeezed out of the new equation.




For just one idea of how scorching this latest model is, BMW didn’t even invite the Japanese journalists to come try the car. This is because all 1500 units in Japan’s first allotment were sold out a while back and BMW didn’t feel the need to create more orders for the car with any additional media splurge. It says a lot about how this car is bound to perform for the company image (and company ledgers) worldwide.



The key novelty to the M3 recipe lies under the hood. Called “S65B40,” the normally aspirated 4.0-liter V-8 engine is a logical next step for the 3-series engine compartment. In Spain after our first day of driving, board member overseeing the M division Klaus Dräger had all four generations of M3 parade before us. Whereas the first three generations—E30, E36, and E46—sound fairly similar at idling revs with a low and almost discreet burble, the E92 car at 750 rpm has a definite competition voice hinting more directly at the racing GTR version soon to arrive. You can hear the rigid aluminum technology popping underneath, taunting the likes of the overweight Audi RS4.

As the M division at BMW is not about the simple task of top-speed heroics (they are all limited to 155 miles per hour), more time is spent on the M3’s agility and mid-revs power through the gears and between curves. In these respects, it is a superstar, with hasty throttle response between 3500 and 7000 rpm aided by its individual throttle butterflies for each cylinder. Between this long 295-pound-foot torque plateau and a climb to 414 horsepower that doesn’t stop until it reaches 8300 rpm (redline is 8400 rpm), a proper sporting drive out can be fatiguing as hell for any unseasoned passengers. We don’t care, though, since we were doing the driving and this is the land of M. Speaking of which, the standard front seats lack the adjustable rib-crushing security of the M5 bolsters, but lateral support is fine for us.

The most thrilling dynamic move the M3 does better than practically anything else is any transitional change of direction with medium but steady throttle, better even when there is also an elevation change. Both the roads of the Andalusian high country and the 3.4-mile circuit at Race Resort Ascari have just this sort of amusement park quality down pat, and the M3 left us mightily amused. The chassis scheme with fresh, nearly all-aluminum front axle and sturdy multilink suspension to the rear carries on the theme of other recent M cars, lending a seemingly perfect feel to the entire rolling experience. The best move of all had to be in downhill bends while in second or third gear, because, even with traction a given, the rear end can still be induced to float out just enough to make us feel in total synchronicity with the car and the given topography. Whereas the M5 or M6 can feel overlarge in circumstances such as these, and the Z4 M is almost too tight, the M3 Coupe weds the best qualities of all three.

Our tester came equipped with the optional MDrive program and Electronic Damping Control (EDC), both of which we heartily recommend, though EDC is more important than MDrive for the day-to-day. EDC monitors the existing damper calibrations according to your preference of comfort, normal, or sport, selected using the console button by your right thigh. As with Porsche Active Suspension Management on the hottest 911s, we enjoyed the full sport setting for EDC all day long, finding just enough comfort still at that level.

Using the iDrive knob on the console, you can adjust the MDrive settings for four key ingredients: what steering feel you wish to have via the Servotronic system (normal or sport); the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) setting between on, off, or M Dynamic Mode (MDM); your favorite damper setting within EDC; throttle response (“Power” a.k.a. M Engine Dynamic Control) for normal, sport, or sport plus. Meantime, throttle response can also be improved to sport by poking the standard power button by your right thigh. And, at all times, the new variable M limited-slip differential at the rear axle discreetly monitors the handling and traction situation no matter what. MDrive is a fine toy to tack on to your iDrive screen; depending on how you work the setup, this M3 rivals the 911 at times for total drive experience, with plenty of cargo space and two real rear seats to boot.

Reaching 62 mph in the M3 with manual transmission, according to BMW Germany press materials, takes 4.8 seconds, while we anticipate 4.6 seconds to 60mph in North America. This would make the M3 just 0.1 of a second less quick than the M5 and M6. If no one immediately records a 4.4-second run in the M3, we’ll eat our hats. The six-speed manual transmission with beefy dual-plate clutch frequently requires a strong hand to order it around, but smoothness happened sometimes out on our runs. While the M3 launches in Europe September 26 with only the manual available, North American M3s will launch in the first half of 2008 similarly equipped, and a new MDCT (M Dual Clutch Transmission) sequential automatic comes on line worldwide later that year. We asked bossman Dräger whether the M3’s DSG-style system will forever override a driver’s wishes, also whether the M-DCT and launch control in the M3 will pleasurably shatter our spines with each shift up as on the M5/M6 with SMGIII at level six. The engineer just grinned a lot and repeated, “Ohhh, yes. You’ll see.”

We haven’t talked much of the M3 clothing since the guts can be so distracting. Frankly, we love the German muscle car demeanor and stance, especially in this Blunt-Instrument Red. None of the holes punched in the aluminum or plastic exterior panels is cosmetic, but they all cool something. The slightly unnecessary bulge in the aluminum hood is oh-so-necessary by all accounts. Sure to be an M trademark from here out, the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic roof shaves eleven pounds off of the uppermost part of the car. Gaping air gulpers in the front serve to cool engine and brakes while holding you to the earth’s crust, and the petite spoiler on the trunk lid adds just as much rear down force as is needed to stabilize things at higher speeds. The fastest speed we achieved was on the track’s back dogleg straight in fourth gear at full throttle, where we hit 130 mph and the car felt tight and free of flinching in healthy crosswinds.

As always (for us at least), the single-piston floating caliper compound brakes have a nice modulated action to them, but they fade rather abruptly under certain circumstances at the track. They also squeal like preteens at a concert. There is a warming-up strategy to having them function really well, but they do still noticeably fade. On the other hand, for everyday use, they’re great units. Between this aspect and the somewhat clunky manual gearshifts for road use, these are the only two points we can manage to locate for any criticism.

Actually, there is one other. Though the new all-aluminum V-8 is lighter and gets more mileage from a gallon of the stuff than the outgoing inline six-cylinder, we do wish that this new engine got its fuel supplied via high-precision injection (HPI), which would make it a grand slam. Dr. Dräger explains: “This engine was planned together with the V-10 engine in the M5 and M6, and at that point HPI was not fully developed. Also, HPI at 8400 maximum revs would require further R&D to work up to our standards. We can expect HPI in all M cars, however, by the next generation.”

Besides this two-door M3 with manual starting at an estimated $59,000, there will also be the aforementioned M-DCT automatic version, plus the convertible and a four-door in the near future. As for the M3 CSL hard-core edition in 2010, don’t expect that one to make it to North America to do local battle with the Porsche GT3 RS. Boo-hoo.
Source:[windingroad.com]

2008 Maserati GranTurismo





Every potentially hot company has that big turning point where it would take a truly stupid train wreck of a mistake to ever return to the tough days. This is Maserati’s time.

From what we know of the GranTurismo gestation period, Maserati, its former owner Ferrari, and its mother company Fiat are all to be heartily embraced for making this car happen. From the inception of project M145 (as the GranTurismo is called internally) to the start of production in Modena on July 3, Maserati has had no fewer than four CEOs.

Starting with the beautiful Quattroporte luxury performance sedan in 2004, the clouds over Modena really began to lift. The two-door GranTurismo road tested here is about to catapult Maserati into unfamiliar territory (read: financial success) and we’re sure it can stay this way so long as all future product carries on like this.

We drove the GranTurismo (which employs a shortened version of the Quattroporte’s architecture) for about 200 miles over the Dolomite mountains in northeast Italy and the car is, all things considered, a hit on many levels. First, it is yet another work of art from Pininfarina’s Jason Castriota, the designer who penned the Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano and the Maserati Birdcage 75 show car. Also, assembly and craftsmanship are, at the absolute least, on par with the Germans’ best. But the GranTurismo’s personality is all Italian, so it’s far sexier and more special in its execution than any other car in this category.

On these frequently twisting, rising, and descending two-lane roads, the GranTurismo does well. It is not a small car, just seven inches shy of the Quattroporte’s 198.9-inch overall length and riding on a wheelbase of 115.8 inches, but through even the tightest and steepest uphill hairpins, the car moved with aplomb—if not like a bullet from a gun. It is definitely intended for rolling, sweeping, low-fuss touring, but it held its own when the road turned on itself. Whenever the terrain opened up onto vast panoramic mountainsides, the GranTurismo was arguably the best car on earth for fast cruising.

This is a key idea to what the GranTurismo is: not a high-vibe sports car that will duke it out with Ferraris, but rather the definitive stylish 2+2 European grand tourer. Seeing as Maserati has decided to go all the way in this vein, the 400-horsepower rating doesn’t lead us to question the company’s convictions when going head-on with other premium GTs from other companies with differing objectives. This, after all, is the base-model GranTurismo, a car that strives to impress in ways subtler than simple horsepower and torque figures. Believe us: future versions of the car will pack more power. In the meantime, however, we are (as you can tell) sold on this one.

On uphill runs, and especially while overtaking, you do notice the soft torque response through the throttle even in sport mode—even compared with the nearly 240-pound-heavier Quattroporte. But the response is steady and smooth, and the urgency therein is sufficient. For this, thank the ZF six-speed manu-matic gearbox (introduced last year in the Quattroporte). This basic transmission has a long history in Audis and BMWs, and it bequeaths the same engineering maturity to Maserati that it has for so long to the Germans, not to mention the Brits (Jaguar XK, Aston Martin DB9). In sport mode, ZF’s shifts are crisp but never rude, and it will gladly kick down a gear on hard throttle.
If you put your head into sport mode as well and keep revs over 4000 rpm using the shift paddles mounted to the steering column, this grand tourer breathes good fire. All of the engine’s 339 pound-feet of torque arrives at 4750 rpm (compared with 4250 rpm in the Quattroporte), and this low-slung and long-legged beauty walks the walk for all she’s worth. Both the long wheelbase and relative weight of the car (about 4150 pounds) make inducing oversteer through curves tough. But, again, keep the revs high—say between 4500 rpm and the 7200-rpm shift limit—and you can remove almost all understeer tendencies. You also can switch off the stability control system if you’re feeling particularly confident. The electrohydraulic Skyhook active suspension that (happily) comes standard on all U.S.-spec cars helps out, since in sport mode it really comes alive and communicates the road surface beautifully. Braking action is progressive and the quartet of 13.0-inch discs with four-piston Brembo calipers respond in a very traditional manner: to stop faster, you need to push harder on the pedal. We like this, since it takes any high-tech, over-assisted numbness out of the equation. Finally, steering feel is just right as well, not being as disconcertingly feather-light as on the 599 GTB.

The passenger compartment is right on the money for this car’s (and this company’s) image. The chic leather from Poltrona Frau is neither too hard nor too soft, and rear passenger space is actually realistic for taller people. Isolation from road, wind, and engine noise is quite good, though you get enough of each to know you’re driving an Italian car. Noise levels come down, too, thanks to the 4.2-liter wet-sump version of Ferrari’s V-8 engine; with fewer oil pumps pumping, your ability to converse at a normal level improves geometrically. Our car’s tires were the optional, lower-profile twenty-inch set, which certainly aided dynamics on this bone-dry test (although the standard, nineteen-inchers are more in keeping with the everyday aspirations of this base GranTurismo).

The GranTurismo is set to reach North American Maserati showrooms late in September, wearing a $114,650 price tag. Later, expect Quattroporte-style Executive and Sport trim levels, a convertible, and a lightweight, track-biased Trofeo edition. Beyond that, our unofficial Italian grapevine suggests plans are in motion for a GranTurismo with a version of the Maserati-built, 450-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 from the forthcoming Alfa Romeo 8C.
We foresee grand things for Maserati.
Source:[windingroad.com]

2008 Fiat 500




It was July 4, 1957, and, like the rest of Europe, Italy was still stuck in a post-World War II economic malaise. But then on that Thursday fifty years ago came the Nuova 500 from Fiat and, almost as though the car had triggered it overnight, Italy started to realize the boom of consumerism. That day, Fiat had a parade of 120 “Cinquecento” open-top cars drive all over downtown Turin for hours, each car sprouting a pretty woman dressed in her Sunday best. Today, most Italians who were in Italy through the Sixties and Seventies have a diary full of Cinquecento stories.

Things are far different in today’s car world; having a rolling metal container that’s cute and perfect for city traffic on ancient narrow streets isn’t enough, with or without the pretty girl. There are safety concerns and environmental watchdog groups, and dependability is paramount. Dealer networks actually need to help customers—not exactly a Fiat strength until maybe four years ago. And now, the wee 500 needs to conquer the world—not just Italy. This model launch is being characterized as the cherry on top of a great gelato sundae of successes over the past few years, or ever since Fiat extracted itself from its General Motors partnership.

We were honored with an advance drive of the tyke and this new 500, in our opinion, rivals the sensational job BMW did with the new Mini in most respects. What is most intriguing for us, of course, is the heavy hinting from Turin bosses that the 500 could come to North America by 2010 labeled as an Abarth, producing from 130 up to a rumored 180 horsepower. This would be stunning.

Of the three four-cylinder powertrains initially available (as of July 7 in Italy)—a 68-horsepower 1.2-liter and a 98-horsepower 1.4-liter gas engine; and a 74-horsepower 1.3-liter common-rail, direct-injection diesel—we naturally took to the largest-capacity engine first. The 500 sits on the chassis built for the Panda SUV 4x4 edition (which we also adore), so it benefits from the slightly wider stance of that model, plus a longer wheelbase. Not surprisingly, the drive feel from the 1.4-liter 500 is almost identical to that of the Panda “100HP” model.

Throttle response in this top-of-the-line launch edition is not at all brisk—acceleration to 62 miles per hour happens in 10.5 seconds and this is the fastest of the trio—and steering at speed can exhibit a little too much understeer, sort of like on the Smart ForTwo. Aside from these two bits to look out for, the 500 drive is a thoroughly entertaining experience with solid road manners, very good cabin flexibility, and a sea of cuteness points that carry it on to outright victory in the Adorable Wars versus any other car out there.

Trim levels available to all Fiat markets include Pop, Lounge, and Sport, and ours was a fully loaded Lounge edition with sunroof, plug-in MP3 and sat-nav capabilities, digital readouts, and a sport mode button that helps steering feel and throttle response. The possibilities for the interior are seemingly endless and we really like the various hearkenings back to the original Nuova 500 of 1957 (a car that itself replaced the original 500 “Topolino” first ordered from Fiat by Benito Mussolini in 1930). The 1960s-theme interior on this Lounge 1.4-liter is absolutely magical stuff and assembly and material qualities are tops. The feel and look of some of the switchgear and dash panels is borderline Bakelite.

This was the primary concern throughout the development of this 500: would the execution by Fiat—traditionally a consistent source of disappointment—and the factory in Poland live up to the sentimental visions of people like us? Well, it honestly does live up to all that pressure this time. In fact, it easily exceeds our wildest expectation. Now, as regards North America, there just needs to be a hot 1.4-liter turbo, since anything less will lump it too far in with the tiny-tot Smart car in buyers’ minds. Because in the fashion-conscious and age-group marketing senses, the 500 is a huge hit, but it will need Mini-style mechanical capabilities as well for certain markets.

The exterior is the real calling card, though. Even if you have never seen or heard of the Nuova 500 F series built between 1965 and 1972, just do some World Wide Web cruising and you’ll spot the heritage similarities. The face is quite particular; that design leader Roberto Giolito was able to keep this look on the face of the new car is somewhat remarkable given its sheer uniqueness in comparison to any other car built in the world today. In the back, former Fiat Auto design leader Frank Stephenson (now in charge of Alfa Romeo’s design force) tells us that without the small rear spoiler at the top of the rear glass, the drag coefficient would have ballooned to 0.40. With the seemingly cosmetic spoiler, that figure plunges to 0.32. “We preferred the look without the spoiler as on the original Nuova 500, but aerodynamics were really important this time for efficiency’s sake,” adds Stephenson.

While the 1.2-liter gas and 1.3-liter diesel both get a perfectly adequate five-speed manual shifter, our 1.4-liter gas tester comes with a six-speed gearbox that improves highway cruising capabilities by a healthy margin. The Lounge also came with disc brakes all around (ventilated in front), and they improve braking feel quite a bit versus the smaller units on other models. Overall maneuverability, as you can imagine in a car that is less than 140 inches long (compare to a Mini at 146 inches long, or to a Smart at just 106 inches), is a 500 forte.

And what about safety and pollution? First, Fiat has engineered all three four-cylinder engines to easily satisfy the Euro5 emissions regulations that go into effect in 2009. For safety, standard air bags number seven in all, and the 500 is the smallest car ever to get a five-star rating in its Euro NCAP crash testing.

The Abarth concept for the 500 will be shown at Tokyo in October and, designer Giolito tells us, “all body panels are altered and the feeling is definitely all-sport.” There were 30,000 cars sold prior to the start of deliveries and there’s no sign of that enthusiasm waning any time soon.
Source:windingroad.com





Fifty years have passed since a Buick wore the Super nameplate, a top-of-the-line designation that was abandoned when Buicks sported tail fins and perhaps because Buicks sported tail fins. Nobody needed a badge to tell him a car was Super when foot-high tail fins plastered in chrome had already said so.

Buick needs to tell people today that it thinks its cars are better than good, and so returns the Super. For 2008, Buick’s LaCrosse gets Super with a V-8 and less radical upgrades throughout. That V-8—the first to power a LaCrosse—is the same aluminum 5.3-liter currently torque-steering Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo SSs and Pontiac Grand Prix GXPs toward ditches and road signs near you, but inexplicably down three horsepower from those cars. With 323 pound-feet of torque, Buick figures the small-block will hustle the LaCrosse to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, a 1.3-second improvement over a 240-hp V-6 LaCrosse CXS we tested. Being a Buick with a V-8, the LaCrosse gets those fender ports that 14-year-olds used to lust after as they doodled cars in study hall. Funny, not many 14-year-olds have study hall anymore.

For 2008, all LaCrosses get a face lift with front-end styling more closely tied to Buick’s new flagship, the Enclave. But the Super is further differentiated with those portholes; new, eighteen-inch wheels; and unique rocker moldings. A new rear fascia with dual exhaust outlets and a Super-exclusive spoiler identify the car as being better than a 200-hp CX or CXL or a 240-hp CXS.

It’s too bad the LaCrosse Super doesn’t get an interior copied from the prewar Supers. Unique plastic wood looks classier than the equally fake wood in lesser LaCrosses, and the center stack gets a matte silver finish to look more like a Chrysler. Oh, and “woven embossed” leather inserts add some texture to the seats and promise to leave a unique pattern on the backs of bare legs, not that many passengers in the LaCrosse Super will be wearing short shorts (we hope). We’d consider these changes more “moderate” than Super, but Moderate holds no prestige in Buick history. Which leads us to one more question: In 10 years, what nostalgic name will Buick resurrect?

Every year, it seems, is a banner year for car and truck introductions. And 2007 is no exception. There are now well over 300 models on sale in the U.S., covering every area from mainstream sedans and sport-utes to increasingly popular segments such as crossover SUVs and subcompacts. Leading players such as Toyota and General Motors are betting large on pickup trucks, while Ford hopes that its small crossover, the Edge, strikes a chord with buyers. Enthusiasts, meanwhile, will rejoice at our cover cars: the Infiniti G35 sedan, the BMW 335i coupe, and the Pontiac Solstice GXP.

This year, we’ve altered our traditional “Charting the Changes” format. In the coverage that follows, we’ve packaged new-car road tests, preview tests, and previews with our rundown (in alphabetical order) of the changes made to the vehicles in each automaker’s lineup.

* Acura MDX preview, Acura TL Type-S, and the rest of the Acura lineup
* Lineup for Aston Martin
* Lineup for Audi
* Bentley Azure preview, and the rest of the Bentley lineup
* BMW 335i coupe preview test, and the rest of the BMW lineup
* Lineup for Bugatti
* Lineup for Buick
* Lineup for Cadillac
* Chevrolet Avalanche LT short take, and the rest of the Chevrolet lineup
* Chrysler Sebring preview, and the rest of the Chrysler lineup
* Lineup for Dodge
* Lineup for Ferrari
* Lineup for Ford
* Lineup for GMC
* Honda CR-V preview, and the rest of the Honda lineup
* Lineup for Hummer
* Hyundai Santa Fe Limited preview test, and the rest of the Hyundai lineup
* Infiniti G35 Sport 6MT Sedan road test, and the rest of the Infiniti lineup
* Lineup for Isuzu
* Jaguar XKR preview, and the rest of the Jaguar lineup
* Jeep Wrangler/Wrangler Unlimited preview, and the rest of the Jeep lineup
* Lineup for Kia
* Lineup for Lamborghini
* Lineup for Land Rover
* Lexus LS460 preview test, and the rest of the Lexus lineup
* Lineup for Lincoln
* Lineup for Lotus
* Lineup for Maserati
* Lineup for Maybach
* Mazdaspeed 3 preview, and the rest of the Mazda lineup
* Lineup for Mercedes-Benz
* Lineup for Mercury
* Mini Cooper preview
* Lineup for Mitsubishi
* Lineup for Morgan
* Lineup for Mosler
* Lineup for Nissan
* Lineup for Panoz
* Pontiac Solstice GXP road test, and the rest of the Pontiac lineup
* Lineup for Porsche
* Lineup for Rolls-Royce
* Lineup for Saab
* Lineup for Saleen
* Saturn Aura XR 3.6 short take, and the rest of the Saturn lineup
* Lineup for Scion
* Lineup for Subaru
* Suzuki SX4 preview and the Suzuki XL-7
* Lineup for Toyota
* VW Passat 2.0T wagon short take, and the rest of the Volkswagen lineup
* Lineup for Volvo

You might not have a lot in common with the 7-series owner in this Japanese BMW commercial…unless you’re a stone cold playa.



From working, to surfing, to entertaining your mistress on a yacht with your gym socks on, the life of a 7-series owner is a complex existence. Especially in this ad, set to chill out smooth rock, which shows a white-collar life of work, play, and lies. Perhaps this is the dream of aspiring Japanese BMW owners, or perhaps it’s just straight pimping. Play on.




Perhaps meant as a display that its vital signs are strong and its recent sale was for the betterment of the storied brand, Aston Martin follows up its August DBS debut at Pebble Beach with two more product introductions at the 2007 Frankfurt motor show: the DB9 LM and the V-8 Vantage N400. Both are special editions of pretty special cars meant to commemorate Aston’s recent achievements in the racing realm.
V-8 Vantage N400: Power and Beauty

As a product, the most newsworthy of the two is the V-8 Vantage N400, a celebratory nod to the recent successes of the V-8 Vantage production racer at the ADAC 24-hour competition at the Nürburgring. And although “N” is obviously for Nürburgring, “400” denotes horsepower—specifically, how much the N400 produces—up from 380 and complemented by 310 pound-feet of torque, up from 302.

This newfound potency, aided and abetted by sportier suspension tuning, allegedly helped N400 prototypes crack the eight-minute barrier on the 12.9-mile Nordschleife during the car’s development. Reason enough to celebrate, we suppose.

A total of 480 N400s will be built, split evenly between coupe and roadster body styles, offered with manual transmissions in conventional and sequential automated forms. Look for black, orange, or silver paint, as those will be the only colors offered. Each N400 will also feature sassy silver mesh intake inserts on the hood; fat five-spoke, 19-inch wheels; and clear taillamp lenses.


Hyundai may be delaying the release of their hybrid and fuel cells vehicles. An unnamed Hyundai official told Reuters that Hyundai will mass-produce a Hybrid Elantra through its Kia unit in 2010 and mass produce a fuel cell vehicle starting in 2012 (2015 at the latest). Recently, we reported Hyundai would produce hybrids in 2008, and 2009 and have fuel cell volume sales by 2010 and begin mass sales in 2015. Volume, mass production, and release dates are squishy numbers (companies often say 2007-2008 release for example) so technically, there might not actually be a delay. The new, slightly-further-out release targets for the Hyundai hybrids and fuel cells have us little worried though.
[Source: Reuters]

Renault Clio 197 Cup


ok past the mouthful of a name (Renaultsport models still manage to be a real mouthful, n'est-ce pas?), and this should be one of our favourite hot hatches of the year. The new Clio 197 Cup is the full production version of the limited-edition Renault Clio 197 F1 Team R27. See what I mean about long names?

This is the hot hatch for discerning hot hatch lovers - only those with precision g-meters built into their backsides will fully appreciate the chassis tweaks that make the Cup a dartier, more precise pocket rocket. We're talking a 7mm drop in ride height, with stiffer springs and recalibrated dampers.