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The 2018 auto show circuit kicked off with the North American International Auto Show. From January 13th through to the 28th, the world’s top auto manufacturers gathered at the Cobo Center in Detroit, MI to showcase the new model year cars and trucks, upcoming future production models, and bespoke one-off concept designs that vary from extravagant to just plain weird. It was a venerable ‘Who’s Who’ of journalists, press and media, industry insiders, product reps, brand ambassadors, company spokespeople, and corporate executives before doors were opened to the public on Saturday the 20th. And of course, let’s not forget the all-star cast of the event: the vehicles, themselves.
Here are 5 of our favorite picks from this year’s NAIAS.
2019 FORD RANGER
The last time we saw a Ford Ranger on display in American showrooms was back in 2011. Due to Ford’s increased emphasis on full-size pickup trucks and SUVs, Ford abandoned the Ranger in the U.S. but continued production for the international markets; thus forfeiting their market share to the Toyota Tacoma, the Nissan Frontier, and–to a much lesser extent–the General Motors carbon-copy twins, Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon (a third badge-engineered corporate cousin, the Isuzu i-Series, went to the big scrapyard in the sky in 2008). Whisperings among enthusiasts, journalists, insiders, and trolls arguing with each other in the comments section of YouTube have circulated about a possible resurrection of the beloved Ford Ranger since 2012 but now, 6 years later in 2018, the rumours have become fact and an all-new Ford Ranger is set to debut for the 2019 model year. Now classified as a midsize pickup, the new Ranger features larger dimensions and bolder styling cues than its predecessor and will carry Ford’s widely-implemented 2.3 litre EcoBoost turbo 4-cylinder born from the Mazda L family of engines. Ford intends to knock the current reigning segment leader, the 2nd generation Chevrolet Colorado from archrival General Motors, from off the top of the midsize truck hierarchy. Hopefully, for Ford’s sake, they’ve gotten that little door latch issue figured out by now. Also, those airbags.
2019 FORD MUSTANG BULLITT
Historically, the Ford Mustang has always d̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶a̶ ̶b̶e̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶j̶o̶b̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶p̶l̶o̶w̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶r̶o̶u̶g̶h̶ ̶b̶y̶s̶t̶a̶n̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶c̶a̶r̶ ̶m̶e̶e̶t̶ outsold the Chevrolet Camaro (with the notable exception of a brief period between 2009 and 2014) whereas the Dodge Challenger was hardly a challenger to either (especially, not this one). Now entering its 54th straight year of continuous production, America’s Favorite C̶r̶o̶w̶d̶ ̶K̶i̶l̶l̶e̶r̶ Pony Car has been refreshed for 2018. Among this year’s checklist of numerous updates is a restyled front fascia, revised rear tail lamp design, an available LCD instrument cluster, new wheels, and a boost in horsepower for the V8 GT model from 435 to 460, besting the Chevrolet Camaro SS’s output by 5 ponies. Complementing the amended Mustang GT is the return of the special edition Mustang Bullitt, aptly named and styled after the iconic 1968 G.T. 390 fastback driven by Steve McQueen in the 1968 Action-Thriller, ‘Bullitt’. This year marks the 4th appearance of the Mustang Bullitt, as well as the 50th anniversary of ‘Bullitt’. To commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary, Ford pulled out all the stops, including a special presentation featuring the original 1968 movie car that was thought to have been lost for the past 44 years. The new 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt improves upon the standard GT’s upgrades with additional enhancements of its own. Differences between the standard GT and the Mustang Bullitt consist of a 15 horsepower bump to 475, a top speed of 163 MPH (VIA removal of the speed governor), a cold air intake and intake manifold borrowed from the Shelby GT350, recalibrated powertrain computer programming, special black retro wheels, a retro ball-shifter for the 6-speed manual, and a somewhat movie-inaccurate recreation of the famous Dark Highland Green paint color (also available in a 100% movie-inaccurate black). The Mustang Bullitt stands out from lesser Mustangs with its distinct, badge-and-spoiler-free body save for the rear faux gas cap appliqué. It acts as a temporary stopgap between the standard GT and the range-topping Shelby GT350. That is, until the lineup gets jostled around again with inevitable return of the venomous Shelby GT500.
2019 HYUNDAI VELOSTER & VELOSTER N
Hyundai Motors’ surprise hit from 2011 has been thoroughly updated, revised, and refreshed for the 2019 model year. The 2nd generation Hyundai Veloster compact K-tail coupe appeals to both the young demographic and the “young-at-heart automotive enthusiast”, according to Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Product, Corporate and Digital Planning at Hyundai Motor America. A youthful exterior replete with edgy bodywork that does not cut into real-world practicality, along with an abundance of modern infotainment and technological features, helps add to the broad appeal of the Veloster.
Joining the standard Veloster and Veloster Turbo models is the brand-new, performance-based Veloster N, which has its sights set on the Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf GTI, and Honda Civic Si. The Veloster N demonstrates the suspension and tuning magic of former-BMW M-Sport Division Vice President of Engineering/current-Hyundai President of Performance Development and High Performance Vehicle Division, Albert Biermann. Power output is improved over the Veloster Turbo’s base 2.0 litre turbocharged, direct-injection DOHC I4 from 201 horsepower and 132 lb. ft. of torque to 275 horsepower and up to 260 lb. ft. of torque. Specially-designed brakes, an enhanced front suspension setup to quell torque steer and improve steering, and a myriad of driver-selectable driving modes through the N Grin Control System transforms the commuter-friendly standard Veloster models into a capable, competent, and competitive enthusiast’s car. As capable, competent, and competitive as any compact economy car with wrong-wheel drive can be.
2019 MERCEDES-AMG: E53 & CLS53
Mercedes-Benz had a large showing in Detroit. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Glass (W464) luxury SUV wowed audiences with its tall and sharp angular proportions; a powerful visage that only hints at its all-terrain muscle and off-road capabilities. Only three components just barely carry over from the previous W463 platform but otherwise, the new W464 is an all-new design built from the ground up. Now, for those who prefer carving corners, tearing through superhighways, and commuting with style and sophistication versus traversing through inhospitable territories, Mercedes-AMG presents the next evolution in their high-performance E-Class-based sport luxury saloons, the 53-Series E-Class saloon and coupe, cabriolet, and CLS saloon.
Whether you want your Mercedes-AMG with 2 doors, a convertible top, or as a sleek and low-slung 4-door sedan with coupe-like fastback styling, Mercedes-AMG delivers the world’s finest in performance, luxury accouterments, and state-of-the-art engineering. The 53-Series does away with the previous M156 twin-turbo V8 in exchange for a new hybrid system that joins a 3.0 litre turbocharged inline 6-cylinder with EQ Boost starter-alternator. Also, there’s the standard AMG-specific 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system, the AMG SPEEDSHIFT TCT 9G multi-clutch automatic transmission with performance refinements, AMG DYNAMIC SELECT configurable drive modes, independent AMG RIDE CONTROL+ suspension, plus other enhancements that reflect AMG’s racetrack pedigree. Everything you need to remind everyone else on the road–as well as all the other cars behind you at the big corporate overpriced coffee franchise drive-thru, as you hold up the line arguing with the clerk because your Doubleshot Caffè Americano Doppio Espresso Caramel Mocha Macchiato Latte™® had SOY MILK when it should’ve had ALMOND–that you’re better than them.
2019 TOYOTA AVALON
Toyota’s Camry and Corolla are bonafide sales winners. Think of just how many of them you see while on your daily drive to and from work or how they dominate your local neighborhood supermarket’s parking lot. However, as these two comatose commuters continue to swallow up market share in their respective midsize and compact segments, their full-size bretheren, the Avalon, hasn’t quite enjoyed the same kind of success as of late. Factors that contribute to the Avalon’s consistent downward spiral include America’s stubborn preference towards crossovers and SUVs and an overall shrinking of the full-size car market. For the past 4 years, the Avalon has continued to lose ground to the Dodge Charger (although the 707 horsepower SRT Hellcat doesn’t make up for the fact that most customers are mass-purchasing the V6 base model for fleet and rental agencies), Chevrolet Impala, and the Nissan Maxima but Toyota looks to change their fortunes with an all-new Avalon for the 2019 model year. The 2019 Toyota Avalon rides on a brand new platform called the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA), a production method that employs a single structure to be utilized across all of Toyota’s car and car-based vehicles. The ideology is not too dissimilar to the reviled but necessary (for the times) Chrysler K-car platform from the Lee Iacocca days. Now with the XX50 designation, the 2019 Avalon does away with the previous XX40 Avalon’s anonymous and uninspired styling (or lack thereof) and substitutes it with bold curves, sharp body lines, and that awkwardly-placed giant Corolla-esque front end has been supplanted by an even uglier, even more grotesque grille treatment that resembles meth mouth. It doesn’t just take the whole design scheme down a few rungs, it knocks it completely off the ladder. But, then again, ugly front ends are what’s hot in today’s automotive world. It’s quite apparent that for the top flagship Toyota car model, they’ve decided to borrow elements from their Lexus division. The Avalon proudly advertises a host of technological advancements in regards to driving dynamics, infotainment, and crash mitigation features as well as a contemporary approach to style that, while modern, will not be off-putting to their dedicated clientele (IE: senior citizens). In contrast, the 2GR-FE V6, a Toyota mainstay, reappears under the hood of the new Avalon and is a welcome departure from the slew of overwound, turbocharged 4-bangers that are taking their place. An alternative TNGA 2.5 litre 4-cylinder hybrid is available as an alternative to the no-frills V6. Power is sent to the front wheels through a Toyota/Aisin AW-designed transverse 8-speed DirectShift automatic transmission and features new logic programming in order to get the most out of whichever powertrain is equipped. The XX50 Avalon’s greater attention to build quality and detail encroaches on the territory of Toyota’s own Lexus ES but the Japanese manufacturer hopes that they can woo full-size car shoppers away from the Chevrolet dealership and into a Toyota showroom to look at the new Avalon. Well, at least one visit before they inevitably go back to the Chevy dealer and buy that Impala for stupid cheap.
Have you been following the 2018 North American International Auto Show news? If so, which one is your favorite? Which new vehicle can you picture sitting in your driveway?
One of the world’s top premier automotive marques is Germany’s Bayerische Motoren Werke or, for those ausländer die kein Deutsch sprechen, BMW. Whether it’s in terms of innovation, style, luxury, or performance, many automotive journalists and enthusiasts alike consider the BMW brand among the finest automobiles in production today. Even for people who aren’t necessarily into cars or don’t know the slightest thing about them, they tend to associate BMW with poise, refinement, and elegance. It’s a corporate brand identity with over a full century of history and legacy behind it, as well as one of the most imitated.
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger powered by the BMW 801 aircraft engine.
But before they created ‘ The Ultimate Driving Machine’, the company that started life as Rapp Motorenwerke was an aircraft engine manufacturer that supplied the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Force) during World War I. After the fall of the Central Powers, the Treaty of Versailles forced Rapp Motorenwerke—now christened as BMW—to cease all aircraft engine production. BMW then took to manufacturing farm equipment, small household appliances, and railway brakes in order to prevent corporate shutdown. As the Treaty of Versailles started to wane, BMW reentered the motor vehicle business with their first motorcycle, the 1923 BMW R32, and 9 years later, the BMW 3/15, their very first production car to be designed entirely in-house. World War II saw BMW join the Nazi war effort by once again building military aircraft engines for the Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS. Ultimately, Germany’s second consecutive defeat and the elimination of the Nazi regime left the automaker completely decimated and in shambles. The resulting fallout of both World Wars, penal sanctions imposed and enforced by the Soviet Government and the United Nations, and a rapidly evolving motor vehicle landscape had BMW on the brink of extinction in December of 1959. Just as it seemed apparent that all hope was lost, BMW miraculously received increased financial support from Germany’s largest investment firm, the Quandt Group. This was the turning point that effectively prevented a corporate buyout by rival manufacturer Daimler-Benz, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, and the beginning of BMW’s resurgence as a viable and profitable company. Riding the wave of success brought upon by the 1960 Neue Klasse (New Class) product revamp, BMW would spend the next 4 decades establishing themselves as the one of the world’s leading manufacturers of luxury sport sedans and touring saloons with their iconic 3, 5, and 7-series models. The creation of the revolutionary M1 supercar in 1978 coincided with the founding of their own in-house performance shop, the BMW M Division, which has provided the foundations of all BMW models ever since. Today, BMW reigns as one of the world’s foremost names in luxury sport performance. With their illustrious background in international motorsports, their groundbreaking approaches to engineering and cutting-edge design, and their ever-growing influence over the auto industry, BMW looks to continue their tradition of automotive evolution well into the future for eons of generations to come.
Let us now take a look at 5 landmark models from the chronicles of BMW’s long and storied history.
The car that’s credited with making BMW an internationally-renowned presence isn’t the postwar 501 luxury saloon or its V8-powered variant, the 502. It’s is the quirky, egg-shaped Isetta that lived from 1955 to 1962.
A 1957 BMW Isetta featured in the TV show, ‘Family Matters’.
The subcompact Isetta (in essence, a covered motorcycle originally built by Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. of Italy) gave birth to the microcar craze of the 1960s which then experienced a renaissance in the early 2010s with models including the MINI Hardtop (the MINI marque has been owned by BMW since 2000), Fiat 500, and Daimler-Benz’s smart fortwo. The Isetta was a game-changer for not only BMW, but for the entire industry as a whole. It was the very first car to achieve a fuel consumption rating of 3 L/100 KM or 94 MPG (Imperial), 78 MPG (US). Fast forward to today, over 50 years since the very last Isetta left the factory, manufacturers such as Nissan, Fiat, and Toyota are still trying to figure out how to recapture the success of the BMW Isetta.
Initially conceived as a collaborative joint-effort between BMW and Lamborghini, the M1 was BMW’s first and, arguably, their only exotic supercar (until 2015, but we’ll talk about that later).
A pair of 1978 M1 Procar race cars in the BMW Procar Championship series.
Failure to have a production model approved for motorsports homologation, BMW sold the M1 to the public for a limited time between 1978 and 1981. The M1 was the debut effort by the fledgling M Division and is one of the rarest BMW models ever made. It was an experiment in creating a race car for the street; using a mid-engine layout, low-slung and wide body proportions with track-oriented chassis dynamics, and a motorsports-inspired dual overhead cam inline 6-cylinder that was based off of BMW’s M49 racing engine. The M1’s motorsports accolades prompted the BMW M Division to start creating performance versions of current regular production models and in 1979, BMW’s M Division built the E12 535i, the genealogical ancestor of the M5.
1982-1994 E30 3 SERIES
Coming off the heels of the original E21 3 Series 2-door (1975-1983) was the new-for-82, 2nd generation E30 program comprised of coupes, 4-door sedans, convertibles, and estate wagons. The previous iteration was a handsome, yet relatively modest compact car but it’s growing popularity helped change the American public’s perception of small European imports in the wake of the notoriously-unreliable and problematic Italian entries from Fiat and Alfa Romeo. The E30 was also a breakthrough for BMW as it that laid down the groundwork for the 3 Series as we know it today. It combined luxury appointments, state-of-the-art engineering and technology, and an emphasis on driving performance into a range of unique models all tailored to suit the preferences of many different types of prospective buyers. For the first time ever, the 3 Series offered an available diesel engine, optional all-wheel drive, and a choice of special edition performance variants including the Alpina B6 and the original M3. The 3 Series went on to become BMW’s most popular model in their entire lineup and it’s a distinction it still holds today in the current 6th generation, the F30.
1998-2003 E39 M5
Considered to be the greatest BMW sedan ever made, the E39 M5 was heralded as the gold standard for which all other sport and touring sedans were to be judged.
The E39 M5 had a drag coefficient of .29.
The Bavarian beast was powered by the 400 horsepower S62 DOHC V8 engine that featured dual intakes, double-VANOS variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust camshafts, electronic throttle bodies for each of the individual 8 cylinders, 2-mode driver-selectable throttle response, hollow camshafts, and a semi-dry sump oiling system. Power was sent to the rear wheels VIA a Getrag Type D 6-speed manual gearbox and an aluminum-intensive chassis with MacPherson strut front/4-link rear suspension and optimal 50/50 weight distribution kept the vehicle planted to the ground during high-speed maneuvering. Classy and sophisticated for a dinner date, raw and uncompromising on the street; the E39 was the ideal blend of modern technology and classic BMW style without being sullied by the artificial electronic driver aids and unnecessary accouterments that detract from the purity of driving enjoyment.
As dependency on foreign oil and concerns about the environment continue to shape the direction of the automotive industry, auto manufacturers have taken to hybrid technology as the logical course towards the future. Hybrid technology, once exclusive to subcompact economy cars, is now appearing in anything and everything from mainstream family sedans to full-size pickup trucks and SUVs. Even dedicated performance cars and supercars are applying hybrid technology, just as in the case of Honda’s reimagined NSX; Porsche’s follow-up to the Carrera GT, the 918 Spyder; the British Thoroughbred McLaren P1; and the absolutely insane 217+ MPH Ferrari LaFerrari.
The i8 represents BMW’s commitment to innovation and sustainable, Earth-friendly manufacturing.
A spiritual successor to the M1 supercar, the i8 is BMW’s first foray into hybrid sports cars and the brand’s first mid-engine vehicle since the M1. It was an effort that paid off greatly for BMW as the i8 ranks as the world’s #1 top-selling plug-in hybrid sports car—and for good reason. The i8 boasts track-worthy performance with real world drivability; a turbocharged 1. 5 litre inline 3-cylinder engine supported by a 7.1 KWH lithium ion battery pack and a pair of electric motors makes for a whopping 357 horsepower and 420 lb. ft. of torque with a combined average travel range of 336 miles. 0-to-60 happens in 4. 4 seconds and top speed is an electronically-limited 155 MPH. That’s quicker than the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 and its gasoline-only twin-turbo V6. The i8 is the absolute pinnacle of BMW design, innovation, and engineering; a marriage of art, science, and technology and a glimpse into an optimistic future full of unlimited possibilities.
On November 12th, General Motors broke the Internet with the official world premiere of the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 at the Dubai Auto Show. This fourth iteration of the iconic ZR1 nameplate (since 1970 with the C3 3rd generation Corvette) builds upon the monstrous Z06 supercharged C7 Corvette; a track-focused driver’s car that features the latest and greatest sport performance technology General Motors has to offer. In their relentless efforts to compete against—and overtake—the world’s top elite high-performance Sports Cars, General Motors’ Corvette Racing Team has engineered this new ZR1 to not only unseat the previous ZR1 (last seen in 2013) as the fastest production Corvette in history, but to also become the world’s greatest Sports Car ever made. At the time of this writing, not much is known about the exact solid number performance specs of the 2019 ZR1, but it brandishes an all-new supercharged 6.2L Generation 5 small block V8 capable of churning out a hellacious 745 horsepower and 715 lb. ft. of torque VIA a new Eaton supercharger that is 52% larger than the one currently utilized by the Corvette Z06, Cadillac CTS-V, and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The 2019 Corvette ZR1 will also employ enhanced aero, cooling, handling and suspension modifications based on the Camaro ZL1 as well as a revised Z07 track option and a brand new ZTK performance pack that adds even greater handling capabilities on top of the already-impressive base setup.
Pricing for the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is expected to start at $120,000. That’s quite a bit of coin, especially when the base Corvette Stingray—a powerful and capable performance car in its own right—begins at $55,000. That’s far less than what people spend for the typical full-size SUV. Of course, not everybody has an extra $120,000 in their back pockets or stuck underneath the couch cushions among the lost pens and long-forgotten, now-petrified Cheetos. However, when you consider the next comparable selections with this amount of power and these levels of performance capabilities, you’ve got to move all the way up to the Pagani Huayra, the Lamborghini Aventador SV, or the Ferrari F12berlinetta. If you have to ask how much these things cost, you definitely can’t afford them. That $120,000 price tag doesn’t sound so steep anymore, now does it?
But for the rest of us driving enthusiasts who don’t live in fantasy land and actually have to wake up and go to work every day, there do exist cars in the automotive landscape that serve up genuine excitement without requiring a second (or third, or fourth) mortgage. In our previous entry, we covered the highly-anticipated North American release of the FK8 Honda Civic Type R; an entertaining and relatively-inexpensive piece of driving enjoyment. Let’s now take a deeper look at some of the auto industry’s biggest performance car bargains with these budget-friendly driver’s cars.
MAZDA MX-5 MIATA
Depending on who you ask, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is famous for two very distinct, albeit, very contrasting reasons. One, is that it’s always been regarded as a “girl’s car”. It’s a stigma that’s been passed down through generation-after-generation ever since the NA Miata’s introduction in 1989. The second, is that in spite of its modest power output and petite proportions, the MX-5 Miata is one of, if not, the finest fun-per-dollar driver’s cars ever made. The original NA MX-5 Miata took inspiration from classic English sports roadsters like the 1953 Austin-Healy 100, 1961 AC Ace, and the original 1962 Lotus Elan. Now in its 4th generation, the ND MX-5 Miata continues the tradition of pure motoring enjoyment without any unnecessary gimmickry to detract from the driving experience. The MX-5 Miata is purpose-built to tackle hairpin turns, tricky bends, and sweeping curves. It excels at handling and maneuverability versus full-blown speed; a lightweight chassis—one of the lightest in the industry—now boasting an even greater application of aluminum in its fully-adjustable double-wishbone suspension rewards good driving skills with remarkable handling prowess comparable to European GT cars costing several times more. Not bad for a little “girl’s car”.
TOYOTA GT86/SUBARU BRZ
From $26,255 ($25,495 for the Subaru)
A collaborative joint-effort by Toyota and Subaru, the Toyota GT86 (formerly known as the Scion FR-S) and Subaru BRZ are small 2+2 Sports Cars that recall the classic 1967 Toyota 2000GT made famous in the James Bond movie, ‘You Only Live Twice’ and the compact rear-wheel drive Toyota AE86 platform of the early 1980s. Outside of a few cosmetic differences and varying levels of comfort amenities, the Toyobaru twins are virtually identical in almost every aspect. Both feature a Subaru “boxer” engine, but with a lukewarm 200 horsepower and 151 lb. ft. of torque, don’t expect to be exorcising any Dodge Challenger SRT Demons at the dragstrip. But unlike the Dodge, the GT86/BRZ can actually make practical use of all of its available engine output in real world driving environments. Plus, it can stop and take a turn, two important facets of driving that Chrysler can’t ever seem to get right. Both the Toyota and the Subaru come equipped with a Torsen limited-slip rear differential, both are available in your choice of a 6-speed manual or 6-speed torque-converted automatic that can mimic the characteristics of a dual-clutch paddle-shift gearbox, and both deliver the same amount of corner-carving, tail-happy SLIDEways fun. It’s up to you to decide which Japanese marque you like better: the one that’s known for dull, lifeless economy cars or the one that’s known for dull, lifeless economy cars for dog owners.
The original 1969 Nissan Z-car (known in its homeland as the Fairlady Z and as the Datsun 240Z in international markets) was Nissan’s first attempt to help distance themselves from the public’s perception as a maker of stodgy econoboxes. Serving as a halo car for the brand, the Nissan Z-car was created in the vein of European 2-seater sporty coupes from Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, and Alfa Romeo. The Z-car’s success forced other Japanese manufacturers to respond by building sports coupes of their own in the late 70s and early 80s such as the Mitsubishi Starion, the Mazda RX-7, and the Toyota Supra. Today, only the Z-car remains while its contemporaries and former rivals languish in purgatory between the junkyard and those sketchy “cash only” ads on Craigslist. The 6th generation of the Nissan Z-car, the Nissan 370Z, features extensive aluminum bodywork, chassis, and suspension components including forged aluminum double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension with forged aluminum control arms, radius rods, and wheel carrier assemblies. Under the hood of the 370Z sits Nissan’s VQ37VHR engine which produces a surprising 332 horsepower (in base form) WITHOUT the use of forced-induction. With a base price that’s just under $30,000, the standard 370Z is an excellent value for bargain discount performance. Conversely, for the additional $16,000 premium that Nissan wants you to shell out for the NISMO Tech, you can do better. A WHOLE. LOT. BETTER.
KIA STINGER/GENESIS G70
Estimated $31,000 to $33,000
No other automaker has done more to reinvent themselves and totally revamp their entire product lineup than Hyundai has in the years following the 2008 auto industry crisis. Much of this success comes from the recent additions of former BMW M-Sport division president Albert Biermann, former Bentley design director Luc Donckerwolke and chief exterior designer Sang Yup Lee, former Lamborghini brand director Manfred Fitzgerald, and former Audi chief designer Peter Schreyer. Hyundai literally took the best of the very best in the automotive world and allowed them to work their collective magic. The result is a complete 180 of corporate identity and public perception; previously considered as the reason why lemon laws exist to now being regarded as one of the most reliable and trusted brands in the market today, joining Buick and Lexus. Spring 2018 will see the arrival of two new compact sport entries from the Kia and Genesis sub-brands, the Stinger sportback and G70 compact Executive Luxury Car, respectively. Both cars will incorporate chassis and suspension schematics that were born from years of testing on the notorious Nürburgring Nordschleife. There will be a choice of either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive layouts coupled to one of two optional turbocharged powerplants, and both cars will apply their own interpretations of modern performance and luxury accoutrements to rival the best offerings from Ingolstadt, Munich, and Stuttgart. Pricing for the Kia Stinger and Genesis G70 is expected to start around the $31,000 to $33,000 range. That’s within striking distance of the base level Audi A3 and BMW 3 Series and also pits the Kia/Genesis duo as serious competition against the significantly pricier Mercedes Benz C-Class.
While under majority ownership of the Ford Motor Company during the early 2000s, storied English luxury automaker Jaguar joined the entry-level compact Luxury Car market with the much maligned X-Type. This transverse engine insult to the legendary Jaguar name was, for all intents and purposes, a tarted-up inbred relative of the proletarian Ford Mondeo MKIII. The X-Type showcased such bespoke luxury features as random short circuits, unsolvable electrical gremlins, spontaneous premature transmission death, undersized brakes that would often result in surprise rollaways as if it were playing a cruel joke on the owner, and a multitude of mysterious fluid leaks emanating from any number of unidentified source locations. After a 6-year hiatus and a change of corporate ownership from Ford to India’s Tata Motors, the global auto megaconglomerate that’s 40 years behind in technological advancement, Jaguar returned to the compact Executive Luxury Car market in 2015 with the XE sport saloon. Featuring the most use of aluminium in its class, the Jaguar XE bridges the gap between opulence and sporting dynamics in a focused, lightweight driver-friendly package that’s designed to coddle the occupants as it cleaves its way through corners and straightaways. Go from mild to wild with your choice of turbocharged diesel or petrol inline 4-cylinder engines or a 250 kilowatt (do the math) 3.0 litre supercharged V6 sourced from the Jaguar F-Type. Even the volatile 5.0 litre supercharged AJ series V8 derived from the previous Jaguar XKR-S will be present, but only for an extremely-limited 300 units for the upcoming 2018 XE SV Project 8. As with any premium European import, performance varies greatly with price but the base XE makes a strong case for itself with its competent lightweight aluminium chassis and an optimised sport-tuned suspension setup for sure-footed handling and control.
From $46,625 (minus HUGE closeout discounts)
With an MSRP just shy of $47,000, the most expensive entry in this lineup can be had with steep manufacturer discounts and incentives for up to 25% off. That is, if you can still find one. 2017 marks the final year of production for the Holden VF Commodore, the Australian-made full-size sport sedan sold here in the United States as the Chevrolet SS. It’s okay if you haven’t seen one before. General Motors, in their infinite wisdom, did very little to advertise, market, or even acknowledge the existence of the Chevrolet SS, like when you try to ignore a fart in a crowded elevator even though you’re the one who committed the act. Plus, coupled with an extremely-limited, select regional dealership allocation of 12,953 total units spread across 4 model years (from 2014 to 2017), it’s not as though these cars were a dime a dozen. It’s completely understandable if you haven’t seen one before, let alone, even know what it is. Long story short, it’s the second coming of the late, great Pontiac G8 (itself, badge-engineered from the VF’s predecessor, the VE). The SS picks up where the G8 left off by taking advantage of design and structural upgrades to the rear-wheel drive Zeta platform. The front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link suspension setup has been likened to that of the beloved E39 BMW M5 and its driving dynamics and characteristics also evoke a familiar feel; something BMW themselves haven’t been able to replicate in over a decade. Year-to-year revisions that helped the SS recreate the magic of the E39 M5 include the additions of 4-piston Brembo brake calipers at the rear (the 2014 only had Brembo 4-pots up front), Magnetic Ride Control real-time adaptive suspension control with selectable presets, active performance exhaust, and the option of an available Tremec 6060 6-speed manual transmission lifted from the Dodge Viper. And let’s not forget to check under the hood: a 6.2L LS3 small block V8 that’s good for an even rating of 415 for both horsepower and torque motivates the near 2-ton Grand Tourer to 60 MPH in 4.7 seconds. This is the ultimate performance car bargain. If you’re in the market for a full-size, rear-wheel drive, V8 sedan with over 400 horsepower and a manual gearbox, the closest competitor would be the G30 BMW M5. Yes, the BMW is faster and more powerful—but it’s also twice as expensive and some will even contend that it doesn’t drive nearly as well as SS. If the topic of discussion is value, there might not be a better value for performance than the Chevrolet SS.
Well, boys and girls, it’s finally here. The new Honda Civic Type R, which was first revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, has finally hit dealer showrooms and is on sale now in the U.S. of A. 2017 marks the 5th generation of the Type R variant of the Honda Civic and the 10th generation overall for the Civic, which has been in continuous production since 1972.
A LITTLE HISTORY LESSON…
The original Honda Civic made its debut on July 11th, 1972 (as a 1973 model), replacing the N600 as the subcompact economy entry in Honda’s vehicle lineup. It was an immediate hit right out of the box in its native Japan, overtaking its domestic rivals from Nissan and Toyota. The Civic also achieved international success in both England and the United States as it specifically catered to motorists who were affected by the 1973 Oil Crisis and had grown jaded of the increasing banality of traditional, full-sized land barges. The Civic’s mass appeal as an inexpensive, fuel-friendly, and reliable (albeit, boring and uninspired) commuter car, combined with Honda’s growing reputation for hardiness, legions of Civic aficionados and Honda brand loyalists were formed as a result. In 1997, Honda’s famed Type R performance treatment was finally applied to the Civic, granting the little economy car to oin the legendary NSX supercar, DC2 and DC5 Integra, and CH/CL Accord in the Honda Type R stable of high-performance vehicles. The Honda Civic Type R remained unavailable in the North American market since its initial release but now, just in time for the first Civic Type R’s 20th anniversary, the newest iteration of the Civic Type R has finally made its way to American shores to do battle against other performance-oriented “hot hatches” such as the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS.
SO, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
The Type R badge indicates the ultimate level of Honda-bred factory performance. Akin to BMW’s M-Sport, Mercedes-AMG, the Lexus F Sport brand, and (to a lesser degree) Cadillac V-Series and the Chevrolet SS designation, Honda’s Type R incorporates advanced factory modifications to production cars in the name of performance. Optimal engine tuning and suspension setup, weight reduction, and enhanced braking and handling capabilities are the ingredients that go into breeding a Honda car that’s worthy enough to wear the exclusive red Honda H emblem. The Honda Civic Type R was already long available in the Japanese Domestic (JDM) and European markets, but was always restricted from entering the North American market. Reasons for this include the differences in structural architecture for North American-spec and the Japanese/European versions, US government-imposed crash safety, emissions, and fuel-economy regulations, and possibly an effort by Honda themselves to eliminate any potential product overlap with their own Acura brand. To compensate for their own refusal to sell the Civic Type R in North America, Honda positioned the Si (Sport Injected) trim level (which began with the 1985 Civic CRX) over time to incorporate an increasing blend of performance and comfort amenities, but not to Acura-esque levels. That’s not to say that the Sis were Zonk prizes. Sis have went on to amass their own devoted following across the worldwide Tuner landscape. But for the JDM enthusiast in America, the Civic Type R remained an unattainable treasure, much like the Australian-only duo of the FPV GT-F and HSV GTSR for Muscle Car fans.
Unlike Honda Civics of the past, the current 10th generation now utilizes a single globalized platform on which it is built. The term ‘globalized platform’ means that a specific model (or models) built in multiple factories across the world use the same architecture as opposed to separate, regionalized constructs. In the case of the Honda Civic, they’ll all have the same bones, regardless of whether they come from Canada, the US, or the UK. The Honda of the UK Manufacturing plant in Swindon, Wiltshire is the birthplace of the new Type R, as well as all 10th generation Civic hatchbacks and the Civic-based CR-V compact crossover SUV.
Appearance-wise, the 10th generation Honda Civic (also known as FC/FK) is a polarizing vehicle. It’s one of those ‘love it or hate it’-type designs that attracts as strongly as it repels; a stark contrast to the comparatively sedate and almost-comatose styling of the 8th and 9th generations from 2005 to 2016. Depending on your point of view, the Type R either builds upon or grossly exaggerates Honda’s current design philosophy which is clearly inspired by the reborn NSX. The chrome brightwork found on the base model’s grille and window trim is replaced with solid black accents. REAL carbon fibre—not the fake stuff that can be bought in THAT AISLE at THAT STORE—can be found as it makes up the side skirts, front splitter, and that cartoonishly ridiculous-looking rear spoiler that, according to Honda, actually serves an aerodynamic purpose. There’s even a finned row of vortex generators on the roof that smooths airflow coming out the back, a functional inlet scoop on the new aluminum hood to extract engine bay heat while adding front downforce, functional front bumper air curtains and front side fender vents, new widened fender flares that coincide with the larger 20” black alloy wheels, and topped off with a questionable triple tailpipe exhaust (more on that one, later). The interior is typical FC/FK Honda Civic fare, save for all-new racing-style front bucket seats, Alcantara faux suede inserts along the interior touchpoint, and the juvenile red accents and carbon fibre-look trim that’s all part of the trademark Type R look. Exterior paint colors include Crystal Black Pearl, Rallye Red, Aegean Blue Metallic, Polished Metal Metallic, and Championship White; a Honda hallmark since 1992. And, of course, that iconic red Honda H badge.
We’ve discussed this skin. Now, let’s talk about the guts. This is what separates the Type R from lesser Civic models. In addition to the structural improvements Honda incorporated into the FC/FK Civic in the name of smooth airflow and chassis rigidity, the Type R replaces the entire front end suspension with extensive use of lightweight aluminum and a new system called Dual-Axis. Like GM’s HiPer Strut and Ford’s RevoKnuckle, the Dual-Axis front suspension is designed to help quell the bane of wrong-wheel drive vehicles: torque steer. Front-end twist is suppressed while fortifying ability and steering feel. Out back, the multi-link rear suspension that replaces the previous torsion beam (dead axle) improves ride quality and at-speed stability. 20” black alloy wheels with 245 width tires grip the road while the bespoke Brembo high-performance brake setup brings it all to a dead stop. Integrated brake ducts from the front end to the wheel wells prevent the Brembos from overheating. The standard Civic’s electric power steering has been retuned and revised with a new variable ratio to deliver a more direct steering feel and response. An electronic adaptive suspension features G-sensors and four-wheel continuously variable electromagnetic dampers while Honda’s optimized Agile Handling Assist stability program keeps the Civic Type R planted in high-speed turns, plus adds selectable driving modes to suit the driver’s preference. Under the hood resides the heart of the Type R; the 2.0L VTEC TURBO K-series engine named K20C1, the first Honda Type R engine to be built in America. Churning out an unbelievable 306 horsepower and 295 pound feet of torque, this little 4-cylinder—with the help of a massive turbocharger and other assorted engine programming hocus pocus—makes more power than many V6 engines and some V8s from not too long ago. An air-to-air intercooler, 2-piece water-cooled cylinder head manifold, and internal cooling channels in the engine block keep rising temperatures in check. Power is delivered VIA a 6-speed manual transmission featuring a helical limited slip front differential and an auxiliary transmission oil cooler. A lightened flywheel and special gear ratio optimized for performance connects the driver to the machine with greater throttle response and speed control. Spent gasses are sent through the previously-mentioned custom triple-exit exhaust that terminates at the rear of the vehicle and placed within the center of the rear diffuser. The two main pipes expel exhaust fumes while the smaller center pipe controls the tone and volume of the exhaust. It works in a similar fashion to cutouts and the active butterfly valves, only using exhaust gas pressure versus electronically-controlled solenoids.
Together, this formula of new sheetmetal, new bones, new guts, and new brain(s) is what gives the Honda Civic Type R the credentials to sit atop the Type R ladder as the most powerful model in all of the marque’s storied history.
By now, most auto rags and every fanboy on the Internet has waxed poetic about the Civic Type R’s record-setting lap time of 7:43.80 at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. That’s faster than some of the world’s most decorated entries in the upper echelon of performance, including the Porsche 911 GT3, Audi R8, Pagani Zonda S, Ferrari 599, and the Lamborghini Murciélago LP640. Perhaps, most shocking of all, is that this feat was accomplished through the front wheels which, typically, is not an ideal drivetrain layout for true performance cars. Some of the world’s greatest supercars were beaten by a daily beater on the grandest stage of them all, the “Green Hell” of Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife. But what does that mean in the real world of daily commuting to and from work, going to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs, or driving across state lines to spend a weekend with the relatives? Absolutely nothing. Sure, the stats all look good on paper and you’re bound to stir up some kind of pointless argument in the comments section of any car video on YouTube, but in all reality, it means nothing.
Remember: this is a still just a daily commuter, not a full-blown race car. It’s purpose is to live everyday life, not to compete against GTS Aston Martins, GT Le Mans Ferraris, and Daytona Prototypes on the banks and infield twisties of the Daytona International Speedway sports course. The 2018 Honda Civic Type R stickers for around $35,000. That is, of course, after you eliminate all those greedy, dishonest, bloodsucking dealerships who have the gall to charge up to an 80% premium over the MSRP.
$35,000 can buy you one of the most highly-anticipated new car releases in the past 10 years and a long-desired model that was never-before offered for sale in the United States. In comparison, the base Civic sedan starts at $18,840. The coupe, oddly enough, commands a 2.17% increase over the sedan for a base price of $19,250. The hatchback tops the Honda Civic hierarchy for a starting price of $19,900. Start adding options and moving up the list of available options packages and the price balloons up into the neighborhood of over $30,000. $5,000 more nets you the Type R. That’s quite a bit of coin for what is, at its very core, a basic front-wheel drive economy car. If looking at price alone, $35,000 can let you drive home in your choice of a new, 2018 base model Audi A3, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Cadillac ATS, or Infiniti Q50—all of which carry higher brand prestige and curb appeal than the lowly Honda Civic. On the other hand, absolutely NONE of them offer anywhere near the amount of raw power as the Civic Type R. None of them boast the same blend of performance and practicality as the Civic Type R, and none of them will be as cheap and inexpensive to maintain as the Civic Type R.
If you’re cross-shopping the direct competition, the top-dog Ford Focus RS commands a $2,000 upcharge against the Civic Type R. Hefty, but what you’re getting for the money is best-in-class power in an overall superior performing machine that, depending on your personal preferences, might be just a bit too extreme and downright violent for the everyday commute. The 2017 Volkswagen Golf R asks for only $600 over the Civic Type R, but offers legendary German chassis engineering and and the only dual-clutch DSG transmission of the lot while the current Subaru WRX STi (only $200 more than the Civic Type R) carries Subaru’s reputation for diehard reliability and is also the only competitor to feature the unique flat “boxer” engine design. The Focus RS, Golf R, and WRX STi all come standard with all-wheel-drive while the Civic Type R has to make due with putting its power through the same set of wheels that also steer the car. Ford and Volkswagen have available two lesser variants of their high-performance hatchbacks that also compete in the same segment as their beefier brethren; the Focus ST and Golf GTI, respectively. Both models are significantly less pricier than the Honda Civic Type R, nearly $10,000 less, but are also far less capable than the Honda and, at this point, probably far less desirable.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you, to decide what’s right for you and what you’re in the market to buy. Not your friends, not the musings of some self-absorbed writer in an overblown manufacturer-sponsored advertisement in any of the big name car magazines, not what the anonymous basement dwellers and social media trolls comment and post about on the Internet. It’s up to you, the shopper. The Honda Civic Type R is an automotive engineering marvel; a marriage made in Heaven between Japanese engineering and English-style sport driving dynamics, and a gift to the JDM Honda fans who kept the faith for so long while others across the globe got to enjoy what was never before accessible until now. Try one out for yourself and you be the judge. Tanoshinde kudasai, mates!
Looking for a the interior or exterior trim code for your 2013 Infiniti G37? Nissan / Infiniti make their trim and paint codes extremely easy to find. Below are pictures of the tag on a recently salvaged G37x coupe that we parted out. The paint and trim codes can be found on the drivers door jam on a white tag. The paint code is under “Color” and the Trim code is under “Trim” on the white sticker. This sticker also provides other useful information that may be helpful such as the production date, transmission code, axle code, and engine code. On our car the transmission code is RE7R01A with an axle code of RC33 and the engine code VQ37(VHR).
This is the first of many old car commercials we’ll be posting over the upcoming weeks. For whatever reason these old ads are memorizing. Maybe its a sign of the times or a look back into what life once was. Sometimes just thinking about how grainy the TV looked is interesting. Today’s old car ad is for the 1982 Nissan Sentra. This was right in the middle of the name transition from Datsun to Nissan where people would shop the Datsun dealer for the newest Nissan models.
The Sentra was released in 1982 as a replacement for the Datsun 210 model. The US base price for a base model 1982 Sentra was just $4949 with an EPA mileage rating of 43 mpg! In 1982 this little econo-box got 43 mpg and and estimated 58 mpg on the highway. What gives Nissan? Where are these fuel mileage numbers now? The assumption can be made that increased safety and emissions regulations have made it more difficult to hit these numbers but still. They’ve had 34+ years to figure it out!
While the 1982 Sentra had excellent mileage on paper I don’t think many would spend 58 miles in one of these cars today. There’s no bluetooth, wifi, navigation, bose audio, panoramic sunroof, butt heaters and all the other do-dads people expect in their cars today. Still this early 80’s Nissan Sentra represents a time in Automotive history when one of the great Japanese car brands was reborn. Almost 35 years later and Nissan remains a top brand in the US and even outliving some of the classic American brands. That in itself is something special.
Honda has revealed the 10th generation Civic Si prototype to show off the performance direction of the 2017 Si coupe and sedan. Honda has a long history with its Si name plate and hopes to come out swinging with what they claim to be the most powerful Civic Si they’ve ever produced. The Si will be at the 2016 LA Auto show in coupe, sedan and hatchback variations. Even bigger news is that Honda will finally be bringing a Civic Type R to the US. It’s been something import tuners have lusted after for years and Honda is finally making it happen. Details about the new Type R haven’t been fully released but Honda will have a prototype of it on display along side the new Civic Si.
Powering this new Civic Si will be a high-performance and high-torque 1.5 liter direct injected turbo engine mated to a 6 speed manual transmission. Additionally this Civic will offer a new active damper system, active steering, limited slip differential, and high performance tires. These are all things people have been modding onto Civics for years in the aftermarket. Limited slip differential, turbo, high torque engines, appearance kits; it’s as if Honda finally opened up a Honda Tuning magazine and saw what all the fuss has been about all these years. This car should make for a great base platform for further tuning or an excellent platform for those that wanted all these things in the past but didn’t want to modify their factory cars. Well done Honda, well done.
The Civic Si will be on dealer lots next year as Honda rolls out all models of the Civic lineup for 2017. The roll out with finish with the Type R Civic later in 2017.