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Categories: Videos

Proving The EcoBoost In A Big Way

On: Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 10:43AM | By: John Welch


Proving The EcoBoost In A Big Way test 1-1

Yesterday I reported the wealth of engine options available for the 2011 Ford F-150. I also posed some difficult questions: would truck buyers shell out their hard-earned money for cylinder counts less than eight? Are V6 engines stout enough to take the abuse meted out by dirt roads, hauling of large mammals, bulldozer relocation, random falling boulders, and anything else a hairy-chested truck commercial might throw their way?

Ford would like to save you some time and shed light on these quandaries. How's a 150,000-mile bench test followed a week of timber hauling followed by 24 hours of race car trailerin' followed by 1,000 miles of Baja running followed by a complete tear-down sound? Ford will do all of that and more to one, randomly chosen 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6. Not a fully built ringer, just a ordinary engine assembly plucked from the bowels of the Cleveland Engine Plant and thrown on the dyno, eager to pass its first test.

Full details on all of the glorious torture and quotes from Ford, inside the post . . .

UPDATE: Weird things going on with the innerwebs. Notice how we imply that there should be a video of some sort in the body of this blog post? Hmmm, yes, it isn't there. Neither is the webpage I got it from. Perhaps it is being updated? Or, just maybe, the randomly selected EcoBoost engine popped? We'll let you know when we find out!


Ford Goes Crazy With F-150 Engine Options

On: Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 3:09PM | By: John Welch


Ford Goes Crazy With F-150 Engine Options test 1-1

Ford had increased the quality, reliablilty, and safety of its automotive fleet over the past two years, and now it is increasing engine choices. The Ford F-150, long known as the best selling truck in America, is recieving a much-needed dose of "engine-choice" for 2011, and we have the details on all four powerplants. A word of advice to Chevy and Dodge: pushrods might not be the way to go anymore . . .

Along with two V8 options, the new F-150 will also bring back the V6, in a big way! There is the typical base option, Ford's corporate 3.7 liter making 302 bhp and 278 pound feet of torque. Think about the typical six-cylinder option leveled on trucks of yore: heavy, slow, and not much more economical than their octo-cylinder counterparts. No longer the case! Along with the base engine, Ford is also offering the 3.5 liter Eco-Boost six, pumping out 355 horses and a certified 420 pound feet of stump-pulling torque. Combined with a looong torque curve, this engine should prove popular once the added complication of twin-turbos is no longer scaring off customers.

And thus, a good question is raised. Will truck buyers overlook the stereotypes associated with these modern engines? The added cost and complexity? The possiblity that these techno-marvels will require more than a set of wrenchs and a couple of biceps to repair? Will the V8s out sell the sixes solely based on familiarity?


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: 997 Farewell Tour

On: Wed, Sep 22, 2010 at 12:08PM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly: 997 Farewell Tour test 1-1

The 996 Porsche 911 was considered by some to be a departure from the 911 norm. Not in a good way. The flat-six was water-cooled, total blasphemy to some, and the sinewy Coke bottle shape had lost its curves. To go with its newfound slab-sidedness, the 996 headlight came to a point, and the interior contained an amount of buttons unbecoming a Stuttgart thoroughbred. Porsche listened to its customers and addressed all of these issues (save the lack of air-cooling and the 'buttons' thing) in 2005, with the introduction of the 997 model 911.

A return to round headlamps, slippery curves, and a slimmer frontal area had Porsche loyalists rejoicing, and everyone else left slack-jawed. The new 911 was faster, sleeker, and much better looking, despite the radiators and the nav system. It has spawned countless variations and received thousands of improvements over its life cycle. Eventually no one will remember the annoying thumb controls that accompanied the first 997s to feature the PDK dual-clutch tranny. They will however recall the meteoric rise in horsepower that several models received, or the improved understeer control delivered by the Carrera and Turbo AWD variants.

The 997 is ancient by modern sports car cycle standards; though due to be replaced it isn't going down without a fight. The last three models added to the 997 line (so, that’s what, 85 variations now? Let's see what I can name off the top of my head: Carrera, CarreraS, Targa, Targa 4S, Carrera Cabriolet, GT3, GT3 RS, GT3 RSR, Turbo, Turbo Cabriolet, GT2, 911SC . . . I'm running out of space here . . . ) are all doozzies! The Speedster, the newest GT3 RS, and the GT2 RS are all the highest examples of the breed, all murderous in their intent. Hop inside the post for details on all three rear-engine menaces . . .


Gymkhana 3 Part 2 Unleashes Mayhem On The Interwebs

On: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 9:52AM | By: Chris Weiss


Gymkhana 3 Part 2 Unleashes Mayhem On The Interwebs test 1-1

Part 1 of Gymkhana 3 was a disappointment by all accounts when it was debuted a few weeks ago. It watched more like a music video with a little bit of teasing of the actual drifting action that everyone was expecting to see from the latest Gymkhana release. As driver Ken Block had promised, it was different. But different in a bad way.

Now that Part 2 is out, we have a new respect for Part 1. It basically got the mandatory advertising and BS out of the way, so that Part 2 could focus on all-out, balls-to-the-wall asphalt assault-and-battery. And Part 2 should leave no one disappointed.


 

BMW Teases Sports Coupe, Half Hearted Request For No Blogging Ignored

On: Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 3:54PM | By: Chris Weiss


BMW Teases Sports Coupe, Half Hearted Request For No Blogging Ignored test 1-1

Car companies are sure getting creative about how they tease upcoming cars and concepts. In a bit of a reverse psychological campaign, BMW has set up the website "dontblogaboutthis.com" to tease a new prototype based on a 6 Series coupe. The website features two video clips and several photographs of the model.

The new prototype is expected to be launched under BMW's EfficientDynamics umbrella in 2012. While BMW falls short of providing any details of the powertrain or specs of the prototype, reports indicate that it will be guided by the show-stopping EfficientDynamics concept debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.


Toyota Will Push Safety in New Ad Campaign

On: Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 10:09AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Toyota Will Push Safety in New Ad Campaign test 1-1

Toyota Motor Corp. has decided to completely revise its marketing philosophy to focus on safety “in a big way,” according to top company executives. With its image still damaged and sales declining by 34% in August (down 1% for the year), Toyota is the only automaker posting overall declining sales numbers this year.

Executives at Toyota report that they believe the number one problem that consumers are having is focused on safety issues, so the company plans to overcome that negative perception with a new advertising campaign.

Toyota was considered number one when it came to safety and reliability, as well as value, but many loyal Toyota buyers and others are now skeptical as to whether or not the Toyota brand is really deserving of the label of “safety first.”


GM Plans to Resolve Bankruptcy

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 2:38PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


GM Plans to Resolve Bankruptcy test 1-1

In automotive news today, Motors Liquidation Co., the former General Motors, has announced that it plans to come out of bankruptcy. The plan was submitted and but not yet confirmed in U.S. court. Over a year ago, General Motors was in bankruptcy court struggling to exist. Now, the automaker is laying the groundwork to sell stock to the public once again with the eventual goal of ridding itself of government ownership as it creates an exit strategy to come out of bankruptcy. It’s been quite a haul for the Detroit Big 3 automaker.

General Motors Co. filed the initial paperwork required to hold an IPO last month. The 700-page document submitted to SEC regulators laid risks for potential investors considering buying GM stock. GM didn't disclose exactly how many shares would be offered or the precise date, although experts say the IPO could come as early as October. The company also failed to mention how many shares the government (GM’s majority owner) plans to get rid of.

Such a sale would eventually lead to the government reducing its stake in the automaker. Ed Whitacre, the company’s former CEO, said government ownership has damaged GM's public image and adversely affected sales. However, GM warned in its filing that the U.S. Treasury would continue to own a "substantial interest" in the automaker following the IPO. In the plan to release itself from bankruptcy, the company will transfer all of its assets and liabilities into 4 different trusts and distribute its stock and warrants to unsecured creditors through its upcoming IPO.  

According to Automotive News.com: “Motors Liquidation is the shell of General Motors that retained all of GM's old unwanted assets and liabilities after the "new GM"—renamed General Motors Co—emerged from bankruptcy protection last year by completing a sale of its best assets, such as Chevrolet and Cadillac, to a new company funded by the U.S. Treasury.”

Motors Liquidation Co. is a 10% owner in GM stock and it “warrants exercisable for a further 15 percent of General Motors common stock on a fully diluted basis,” according to Reuters.

The 1st quarter of 2011 is the target date for Motors Liquidation Co. to receive confirmation of the plan by the court system; by then the company anticipates that much of the unsecured claims will be resolved. 


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Sports Car Weekend

On: Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 11:55AM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly; Sports Car Weekend test 1-1

The two premiere North American road racing series took to Canadian tracks this weekend, with mixed results. Both the American Le Mans Series and the Rolex Grand Am Series ran their second to last races, ALMS at Mosposrt in Ontario, and Grand Am at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal. Both race courses are stunning, and feature heavy doses of history and elevation change. Mosposrt offers some of the best downhill straights in North America, bettered only by Road Atlanta and Laguna Seca. It’s no Spa Francochamps, but its damn close. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has one of the best hairpins anywhere in the world, the turn 10 complex. This is spectator heaven, at the bottom of a hill and set up so that it can be surrounded by race fans. Truly an excellent piece of track engineering.

Both races were entertaining, in their own way. The Rolex Grand Am race was disappointing because it is the last race before the season ender—at the dreadfully boring Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. The ALMS offering was bad for several other reasons. I've actually had serious nightmares about the ALMS folding or turning into a series dominated by GT cars. The bad and the ugly aren't going to help me sleep . . .


Fisker Releases Promo Video For Its Karma Plug-In

On: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 5:05PM | By: Chris Weiss


Fisker Releases Promo Video For Its Karma Plug-In  test 1-1

So far the high-end plug-in sports car market has been dominated by the Lotus-based Tesla Roadster. However, there has long been a competitor waiting in the wings. Fisker, the California-based venture started by former BMW designer Henrik Fisker, has the very sexy, sporty Karma plug-in hybrid on the way, a car that will deliver 403 electric ponies and cost well under $100K. The luxury sedan is expected to launch next year and Fisker put up a promotional video of it in action to whet our appetites.

The Fisker Karma features a powertrain that combines two rear-mounted 200-hp electric motors and a 260-hp 2.0-liter  turbocharged four-cylinder engine sourced from GM. Powered by a 200 kW lithium ion battery pack, the electric motors spin the axle, while the gas engine serves as a generator when the batteries are depleted. The Karma promises up to 50 miles of all-electric driving before any gas is required. When you factor the four-cylinder in, the Karma has an overall range of 300 miles. Fisker claims fuel economy numbers of more than 100 mpg.

The two electric motors deliver up to 959 lb-ft of torque and push the four-door to 60 mph in about six seconds. The car's top speed is 125 mph. In electric-only mode, the car hits 60 mph in 7.9 seconds and tops out at 95 mph.

Fisker complements its eco-friendly powertrain with a what can only be viewed as a perfect storm of green. Upon looking at the car, it's hard to miss the roof covered in solar panels. Those panels produce electricity that powers the lithium-ion battery with electricity used for the motors and climate control system. The exterior is coated in recycled glass flake paint. The interior features leather sourced from an energy sufficient plant, a blend of rescued, fallen and sunken wood, and eco-suede. To protect our most valuable natural resource, the Karma includes exterior speakers to warn nearby pedestrians of its presence.

The Karma made its world debut at the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It was expected to go into production this year, but due to unspecified delays, production has been pushed back. It will run $87,900 when it hits the market. Production is now expected to begin next year.


Driver Swap For Corvette At Mosport

On: Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 4:51PM | By: John Welch


Driver Swap For Corvette At Mosport test 1-1

Corvette Racing is used to winning everything, with relative ease. That was the case during the better part of this century, when GT1 was viable and the team dominated all comers with their C5 and C6.Rs. Switching to GT2 (now simply 'GT') has caused a few wrinkles in the yellow-and-black armor, and Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing Director, is doing the best to win with what he has. Namely, new cars, in a new class, but veteran drivers, all of which are consummate professionals.

They nearly took the GT2 crown at Le Mans this year; if it wasn't for Anthony Davidson and his over enthusiastic prototype piloting. Though not racing for position, or even in the same class, Davidson's Peugeot punted the GT2-leading Corvette ZR1 off the track following the Mulsanne Straight, totally uncalled for. This incident is indicative of Corvette Racing's GT2 campaign as a whole; supremely promising, but with severe setbacks. Only one win to show, the 2009 Mobil 1 Grand Prix of Mosport, does not properly illustrate the effort the team has put forth. Dynamic rules in GT1 allowed carbon brakes, relocated engines, and full-floor diffusers, not so in GT2. The GT2 Corvette ZR1 is a totally new car, with half the prowess of the old C6.R. And it hasn't worked too well so far.

With this in mind Fehan is shaking up his driver pairings. No one is losing their job, as Corvette Racing employs four of the best drivers in the world. The team is simply rearranging its line up, separating Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Gavin will pair with Jan Magnusson, as they did for endurances races during the 2004-'06 seasons. Johnny O' Connell and Beretta will drive together for the first time, but again, these are total professionals; there should be no serious hassle with the driver change.


Ferrari Opens Investigation On 458 Italia Fires

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:37PM | By: Chris Weiss


Ferrari Opens Investigation On 458 Italia Fires  test 1-1

Much to the delight of fans of pictures of flaming, sizzling supercars (and the blogs that post them), Ferrari 458 Italia models have been burning up like dry brush in the middle of July since the car went on sale earlier this year. In fact, in the few short months that it's been on the road, at least 10 fires and accidents involving the 458 have been reported from California to London to China. Responding to these incidents, Ferrari has opened an official investigation.

Pictures of burning 458s have been popping up regularly on sites like Wrecked Exotics since June. Several of the models involved have been burned into a pile of rims and charred metal, resembling nothing of their former beauty. Incidents have been reported across the U.S. and Europe, with specific locations including London, Paris, China, Switzerland and California. According to Wrecked Exotics, there were 9 incidents of crashes and fires in 458 models over a time period of just 90 days--making for one per 10 days. Overall, the BBC reports that there have been 10 crashes or fires in just three months.

Ferrari released a statement earlier this week indicating that it is opening up an investigation to see if the fires are caused by driver error or a manufacturing defect. Given the sheer number of problems in such a rare car, it'd be surprising if it wasn't the latter.