Now that former champion Matt Kenseth has officially kicked over the first domino, NASCAR’s annual “silly season” can begin in earnest.On Friday, at Kentucky Speedway, the 2003 NASCAR champion said he wouldn’t return for a sixth season in the No. 20 Toyota at Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s unclear whether the 45-year-old Wisconsin native was told to make the announcement, or whether he did it without asking permission. In either case, he’s leaving JGR after five seasons that produced 11 poles, 14 victories, and three top-10 points seasons, including being the championship runner-up in his seven-victory season of 2013.Kenseth’s resume will help him find another ride. He was successful (19 poles, 38 victories and the 2003 title) in 13 full seasons with Roush Fenway Racing, then proved himself again at JGR. Except for his rare meltdown at Martinsville in the fall of 2015 –remember how he intentionally wrecked Joey Logano as … [Read more...] about NASCAR silly season: Dale Earnhardt’s car might be a 2018 target for Matt Kenseth
From the July 2017 issue Even as crossovers continue to conquer America, and seemingly every automaker has a two-door vanity project to cast a glow over its lineup, big luxury sedans still project gravitas in the German-car business. Audi’s, BMW’s, and Mercedes’ largest cars remain totems of brand values and stylistic themes, as well as vanguards for the technologies that trickle down to the rest of the fleet. A year and 40,000 miles with Munich’s latest flagship, a 2016 BMW 740i, confirms what we’ve been saying for almost a decade: The soil under BMW HQ has truly shifted. The 7 makes clear that the drift of the 3- and 5-series from sports sedans to less athletic luxury cars isn’t a fluke but a brand-wide movement. It’s evident in the way this limo rolls down the road with enough float in the suspension to raise the Edmund Fitzgerald. That buoyant ride, in concert with a placid cockpit, plush seats, and a 500-plus-mile … [Read more...] about 2016 BMW 740i
Last year, Ford Performance chief Dave Pericak found himself standing next to Edsel Ford II at the edge of a certain pastoral French racing circuit that has witnessed 84 years of glory, gore, grudges, and relentless grit. “You know,” mused Ford, according to Pericak’s recollection, “I was here 50 years ago with my father, when we won it. Now I’m here with my son.” When you work at FoMoCo, you work for a family. Pericak, who, with a small group of volunteers, took over a padlocked basement room in Dearborn, Michigan, and labored on his own time and after hours for months on “Project Phoenix” before it was even approved, tells me with a faraway look: “To bring that trophy back and hand it to that family, to return the most coveted prize in family history, that’s what it was about.” Le Mans veterans will tell you that if you bring a new team, you should keep your expectations in check. And the … [Read more...] about 2017 Ford GT
Pictured clockwise from top left: Camilo Pardo, Ken Lingenfelter, Kris Singh, and Mark Lindee. From the June 2017 issue Preston Henn (who died at the end of April at age 86) was the owner of an extremely profitable south Florida swap meet, as well as some of the world’s most elite vintage and contemporary cars. Quite a few are emblazoned with the prancing horse. Yet, although he already owned a Ferrari FXX and a LaFerrari, when the 200 exuberantly affluent buyers for the $2 million LaFerrari Aperta were recently alerted to their anointment, Henn was not among them. So he did what any respectable flea-market oligarch would do: He sued, demanding a car and a five-figure defamation settlement. Did this result in his acquiring an Aperta? Negative. A payout? Nope, he ultimately dropped the suit. Was the legal action likely to advance Henn’s ability to acquire rare new Ferraris from the factory in the future? Signs point to no. Experienced experts concur that … [Read more...] about How Do You Make the List to Buy a Supercar? Be Like These Guys
From the May 2017 issue McLaren marches to a speedy techno drumbeat. It’s been only six years since the company’s supercar-making Automotive division launched its first product, the MP4-12C. McLaren gave that car what was essentially a heavy facelift—and a far less clunky name—just three years later, rechristening it the 650S. Now the mostly new 720S is here, based around a substantially advanced version of the 650S’s carbon-fiber tub and a turned-up-to-11 twin-turbocharged V-8 mounted amidships. McLaren, a brand we don’t associate with hyperbole, claims on-track performance will make that of the 650S feel almost leisurely. Certainly looks that way. Chassis McLaren has stuck with commendable adhesion to the plan it announced when it launched its road-car division back in 2010. That is, to use the same core architecture to create a family of models graded thusly: entry-level “Sports,” mid-ranking “Super,” and extreme … [Read more...] about 2018 McLaren 720S Dissected: Chassis, Powertrain, Styling, and More!
Admit it: you've probably wished, at least once in your life, that you had a radar detector in your vehicle. The thought of having some early detection on your side would make you want to love and enjoy your ride that much more. Let's face it: getting pulled over sucks, and most people want to minimize their chances of that ever happening to them. Unless you're lucky enough to get let off with a warning, you'll probably have to pay a soul-killing fine for going too fast. That money gets used by the police and the government for all sorts of expenses, and the revenues generated from speeding fines can be substantial. What's more, those fines benefit everyone in society, one way or another, unless you actually have to pay them. So trying to evade the law is essentially akin to stealing from the public. But let's say that the people who are most likely to speed decide to go out and buy a fuzzbuster. Obviously, if a lot of people manage to avoid getting caught speeding, the revenues from … [Read more...] about The #Ecarnomics of Radar Detectors: Are They Really Worth It?
The Vespa LX125 has to be one of the most delectable looking scooters in the Indian automatic scooter market. Well, that's until you hear the price tag that simply takes away some of the allure. Positioned as a lifestyle scooter, the Piaggio Vespa LX125 has left many a prospective buyer feeling shortchanged, especially when it comes to the equipment on offer. While the scooter does offer solid mechanicals in the form of a 3 valve-125cc engine and a one-of-its-kind monocoque steel body, features such as telescopic front forks, tubeless tyres and a front disc brake are sorely missed on the Vespa LX125, especially at the price at which the scooter sells for. While telescopic front forks might have been omitted, in keeping with the timeless design of the scooter, the absence of tubeless tyres and the front disc brake isn't very convincing. Predictably, the value conscious Indian scooter buyer has given the Vespa LX125 the miss. Slow sales led to Piaggio effecting a steep price drop of … [Read more...] about Disc brake equipped Piaggio Vespa VX125 launch this month?
Finding a parking place is a universal problem, be it in India or even in developed markets. Today, looking for a place to park is often a time-consuming and frustrating process. In the future, Bosch sensors - installed on the road's surface and in passing cars - will automatically identify and report available spaces. With the help of a real-time online parking map, drivers will be able to find an available parking space conveniently and without any hassle. Bosch has developed solutions to create real-time maps of available parking spaces with the help of wireless sensors installed on the pavement. These sensors recognise whether a parking space is occupied or not, and share this information via the internet. In the future, even cars passing by available parking spaces will be capable of reporting them. Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors are indispensable in cars and smartphones today. These tiny sensors are becoming ever smarter, more compact, and more energy efficient. … [Read more...] about Web-enabled sensors to help make parking easier, more convenient
From the November 2016 issue Daimler’s second attempt to relaunch Maybach has largely consisted of stuffing the back seats of Mercedes S-classes with pillows. Up to now, we’d say this effort deserves nothing more than a good hard rap on the knuckles from Grandpa’s cane, except that those pillows are actually pretty comfy. But old money, by definition, wasn’t born yesterday, and if Maybach is going to compete with the two other German über-luxury marques, the ones both pretending to be from Merrie Olde England, it’s going to have to invent a compelling identity. So here’s the pitch: A high-tech autonomous EV that looks more than a little like the coachbuilt, art deco coupes of the ’30s. Rolled onto the lawn at Pebble Beach this past August, the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, which we’re going to just call the Vision 6, fit nicely with the Best of Show winner, a 1936 Lancia Astura cabriolet. Design We should have set a can of … [Read more...] about Mercedes-Maybach 6 Concept Dissected: Design, Powertrain, Interior, and More
If it seems to you as if crossovers and SUVs are taking over the world, it's because they are. The humpback hatchbacks make up 35 percent of the new-vehicle market in the U.S., and that number is growing fast. Their choke hold on sedans grows tighter each year. But do not give up the enthusiast faith, brothers and sisters. The relentless expansion of SUV varieties and makers means that there are high-performance utes to counter the ponderous ones. There are genuinely luxurious options, not just bedazzled work trucks. We have gathered a collection of SUVs from across the price, performance, and practicality spectrums that will not invalidate your auto-enthusiast cards. We've also included a few of our personal steeds, some old crocks, and a few more worthy of recognition. The Upper Crust: Bentayga vs. Range Rover Utilities with Actual Sport: F-Pace vs. Macan 2017 Audi SQ7 TDI First Drive Collector SUVs You Wont Hate Ask the Man Who Owns One: Audi Q7 TDI … [Read more...] about SUVs and Crossovers You Won’t Hate: Reviews, Comparison Tests, and More!
Context matters. While it’s one thing to read that our track test of the 2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65 recorded a zero-to-60-mph blast in 3.7 seconds, it’s another thing entirely to see it happen on the street. One vigilant defender of public safety secreted behind a building saw this one light up 74 mph on his radar gun, which wouldn’t be remarkable if he hadn’t first seen it standing still just on the other side of a broad exurban intersection. Our test driver—who admits yielding to temptation when the light turned green only after confirming that there were no pedestrians or other traffic in sight—agreed with the wide-eyed police officer that this would be a one-time experience for them both. But think on it while you count off five seconds: More than two tons of static sculpture converted itself into a left-lane-on-the-freeway projectile in less time than it takes to think, “Is that a cop?” Our guy says he actually lifted before the radar … [Read more...] about 2017 Mercedes-AMG SL65
The Land Of The Free America may be, but the American car buyer’s right to buy wagons is increasingly encroached upon by government overreach. Or perhaps it’s just automakers’ collective desire to sell you a high-margin crossover. Affordable wagons? There are a few left: the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, the Toyota Prius V, the Mini Clubman (if the definition is stretched). Premium wagons persist at Volvo. The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon continues. (For now.) Mercedes-Benz does an E-Class Wagon. But if wagons that were available in the relatively recent past — TSX, A6, CTS, 5 Series, Magnum, Focus, Taurus, Elantra, C-Class, Lancer, 9-3, Legacy, Passat — were to return to the United States, they would likely have to do so in elevated fashion. Just look here. This is an Audi A4 Avant, a successor to the car that finished its course in 2012. Add up to 4.5 inches of matte black cladding, raise the ride height by nine-tenths of an inch for 6.5 inches of ground … [Read more...] about 2017 Audi A4 Allroad Review – Available Avant
Introduced for the 2015 model year, the Golf GTE is the very first plug-in hybrid version of the popular compact hatchback. It’s also the model that debuted Volkswagen’s new family of GTE vehicles, which now includes the Passat, Passat Variant, and Tiguan. Essentially identical to its gasoline and diesel sibling inside and out, save for a few hybrid-specific features, the Golf GTE uses a drivetrain that marries a small-displacement TSI engine and an electric motor. With a theoretical combined range of more than 900 km (at least 500 miles), the Golf GTE became a major success in Europe, becoming the second-best selling plug-in hybrid in its first full year on the market. Come 2016, and Volkswagen launched a mid-cycle facelift for the seventh-generation Golf, which has been in production since 2012. Although the GTE is still relatively new, it was included in the upgrade and gained a handful of new features on the outside and loads of new technology on the inside. Unlike the … [Read more...] about 2017 Volkswagen Golf GTE
From the December 2016 issue “Where the hell do you put silverware in a Bugatti?” the customs officer asked, staring at the eating utensils packed in engineer Dennis Rohlfs’s fancy aluminum Zarges case, which was otherwise filled with spare parts for hot-weather testing of the new 1500-hp Bugatti Chiron. At Bugatti, even the engineers have expensive luggage. Rohlfs explained that he wanted to show good manners in America by using a knife and fork when eating the hamburgers he expected to be deluged with out in the desert west. Shaking his head, the customs officer let the weird foreigner pass. Welcome to America. That episode was two weeks ago, and Rohlfs’s silverware remains unused, lying in his box between the cables, seals, and other exotic Bugatti bits. He has already learned to eat burgers with his hands, lest he draw unwanted attention or marriage proposals, and those same hands are currently on the steering wheel of “PT5.10.” That’s … [Read more...] about 2017 Bugatti Chiron
Initially, this felt a little bit like throwing the Jaguar to the wolves—or, given the English translation of the Indonesian word macan, to the tigers. Catfight, indeed. Is the regular F-Pace, even a fully trimmed one, a fair match for the tightly focused Macan GTS? Well, they line up on price, and most of the stuff that makes a Macan a GTS is available on other Macans as well. A lightly spec’d Turbo or a loaded S would keep the prices close but even further tilt the scales in performance and features. If you’re looking for a crossover that doesn’t act like one, Porsche can provide it in a variety of flavors. All share an inherent greatness. The Macan was our unequivocal comfort champ, even with sport seats so extreme that one must climb up over the thigh bolster to get out. From outside, both the Macan and the F-Pace sound spectacular. Associate online editor Joseph Capparella noted that if you heard them coming through the woods, you’d never … [Read more...] about 2017 Porsche Macan GTS
A little larger than the Macan and a lot sexier, the F-Pace blends the requisite crossover stance and Jaguar’s corporate face with rear haunches and taillights reminiscent of the company’s F-type roadster. It’s a modern and more artful interpretation of the backwoods Corvette-on-a-Blazer-frame mash-ups that you see on YouTube, and it’s a stunner, particularly in profile and from the rear. The F-Pace also stuns from behind the wheel, a congruent follow-up to the excellent F-type and XE. Its variable-ratio steering rack is hypersensitive, snapping to attention immediately off-center and piping feedback up to the driver’s palms. And the chassis commanded by that steering boasts a neutrality rare in the crossover realm, rotating off throttle before a poke of the accelerator tucks everything back in line. The all-wheel-drive system sends torque exclusively rearward until it senses a need for it at the front end. In extreme conditions, it can … [Read more...] about 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S First Edition
It’s easy to forget that the S63 ragtop offers 577 horsepower and the ability to leap to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. It ably performs feats of strength, but this big AMG, from its quiet performance to the caressing fingers of its massaging seats, lulls you into an effortlessly comfortable and nearly perfectly bored state. Maybe that’s why Mercedes included Attention Assist here. We found our attention fading because the S63 doesn’t seem to want or need our involvement. It’s a hugely complex and sophisticated machine full of electronics and driver aids that are always on alert and ready to take over. Meticulous engineering has taken this car to the precipice of autonomy. It seems to be saying: “I heard what Dr. McIntyre told you about your PSA score. I wouldn’t worry. Just sit back and enjoy a massage. Classic or hot stone?” Participate in driving and you’ll quickly become annoyed with the seven-speed automatic. In place of a … [Read more...] about 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet
Back in 2004, a Continental GT finished last in a comparison test against a Ferrari 612, an Aston Martin DB9, and a Mercedes-Benz CL600. Running in that group, the Continental felt like a whale among sharks. Since then, cars have continued to get heavier and more complex while the Continental has enjoyed a steady stream of enhancements that have transformed it from a krill eater to a seal killer. Of the many changes over this orca’s life cycle, perhaps the most dramatic is the addition of Audi’s 4.0-liter V-8. Without the twin-turbo W-12 anchor weighing down the Continental’s front end, the hardtop and the convertible Contis were transformed into relatively lighter and livelier machines. The convertible’s skidpad grip is a lackluster 0.81 g, yet the Bentley never wants for grip on the road and has no trouble staying glued to the S63’s rear bumper. With 55.4 percent of its 5572 pounds on the nose, the Continental is nowhere near as … [Read more...] about 2017 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible
From the November 2016 issue In an industry that lives and dies by the sales of Camrys and pickup trucks, advocating for enthusiasts sometimes feels like standing in a raging river and shouting at it to reverse course. Manual transmissions are slipping toward oblivion. Fuel-economy regulations are driving diversity from manufacturers’ engine portfolios, replacing it with efficient homogeneity. And perhaps most worrying is the proliferation of crossovers. They’re like an algal bloom threatening to choke out all other life-forms in the interest of easy ingress and a commanding driver’s position. But a few shafts of light have started to pierce the heavy blanket of crossover conformity. Porsche’s first glimmer of hope, the Cayenne, dates to before most people realized the market potential of a high-performance crossover. In its first year on the market, the Cayenne became Porsche’s best-selling model. The creators of the Pink Pig learned lessons … [Read more...] about 2017 Jaguar F-Pace S vs. 2017 Porsche Macan GTS
From the December 2016 issue Dad bought a new Cadillac Eldorado convertible in 1976. GM touted it as the last of the big droptops, a majestic parting shot seemingly designed to transport prom queens, grand marshals, and Boss Hogg types into an increasingly dystopian, gas-rationed future. Dressed in triple red with every option, including fuel injection, automatic high-beams, power everything, and a hard tonneau “parade boot,” that 18.7-foot luxo-barge weighed 5231 pounds and was motivated via an 8.2-liter V-8 under a hood so long you could land an Airbus A380 on it. No one can say that Cadillac let the convertible go gently into that good night. What no one could have imagined back in 1976 was that big convertibles would exist at all 40 years later, much less as 500-plus-hp chariots for the same well-to-do neighborhoods that Cadillac once owned. In a world of $2.50 gas and ever-growing stock portfolios, the parade car has returned. Using a big, thirsty, … [Read more...] about 2017 Bentley Continental GT V8 S Convertible vs. 2017 Mercedes-AMG S63 Cabriolet