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Throughout The Car Industry



Categories: Car Reviews

Scion tC, Version 2.0

On: Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 9:03AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Scion tC, Version 2.0 test 1-1

 

In the time Scion has taken to redesign the tC, a lot has changed in the world. The country has had the biggest peak in real estate, followed by the biggest crash in the economy since the Great Depression. The city of New Orleans has been destroyed and rebuilt. We had our first African-American president. Being on Myspace went from making you cool to making you a social outcast. Michael Vick, Roger Clemens, and Tiger Woods all went from being sports icons to pariahs, and Brett Favre retired at least 50 or 60 times. 

Needless to say Scion, and parent company Toyota, have taken their time (And about seven years to be exact) recreating their very popular sport coupe. So what do we get for all this waiting? Some unbelievable Ferrari-fighter? No, sorry. A hugely over-hyped disappointment? Nope, not that either. What we get with the newly redesigned 2011 Scion tC is simply what should have been expected all along:  A better car than the one we had. And better in just about every way possible. Almost all of the car’s major aspects have been improved upon in some way, shape, or form. 


Infiniti's Newest IPO - The IPL

On: Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 1:24PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Infiniti's Newest IPO - The IPL test 1-1

BMW has M, Mercedes has AMG, Cadillac has V, Audi has S, while Acura has Type S and Lexus has taken F.  In the alphabet soup of performance divisions, it feels like there are only a few more combinations to go around before companies start resorting to fraternity and sorority-like Greek lettering to distinguish their higher horsepower hot rods. And just as companies are running out of letters, it seems letters are running out of car companies to be adopted by. One of the last is now come and gone, as Infiniti has chosen IPL as their intra-name plate to add to models that are tweaked a bit more than the stockers.  

The Infiniti Performance Line has chosen the G Coupe to be its first model. The IPL G Coupe will follow more of an Acura Type-S structure than BMW's M stylings. The car itself will essentially be a stock G37 with mild upgrades. The same VQ engine will be employed, albeit a slightly breathed-on version, sporting 348 horsepower compared to the stock 330. If a bump of 18 horsepower on a VQ engine sounds familiar, that's because the G Coupe to IPL G Coupe is exactly the same as the change its 370Z corporate stable mate makes when it transforms into the NISMO 370Z, going from 332 @ 7000 rpm to 350 horsepower at 7400 rpm. Torque makes the same jump exactly from 270 for the G Coupe and 350Z to 276 lb-ft at  in the IPL G Coupe and NISMO 350Z.  

The transmission choices for the IPL G Coupe are either a traditional six-speed manual with a short throw shifter, or a seven-speed auto complete with steering column mounted paddle shifters. Aside from drivetrain upgrades, the IPL G Coupe is also replete with suspension upgrades to make it clear from the driver's seat that this car is different than your run of the mill G. Standard brakes are the same as those on the G37 Sport:  Four-piston front calipers, and two-piston rears. New shocks adorn the IPL suspension and improve handling, as well as an upgraded steering rack and stiffer springs (20-percent higher in the front and 10-percent higher in the rear). The list of mods ends with a mechanical-type limited slip differential to help put the power to the road.  


(STI)LL Got It!

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


(STI)LL Got It! test 1-1

As most of us have found out, slowly over time our bodies begin to disappoint us. With age tends to come a slowing of our speed and reaction. Weight begins to become more and more difficult to lose,  joints tend to creak and complain in ways unimaginable in years prior, and, for some, hair begins to exist more and more inside their head rather than on it.  

It seems that (automotive) art, does, in fact, imitate life. Subaru’s top dog, the WRX STI, burst on the scene in 2004 with a huge wing, gold BBS wheels, 300 horsepower, and a ton of boy-racer attitude aimed directly at its Mitsubishi made enemy, the EVO. After four years of street fighting, the STI aged like all the rest of us, and it was time for a change.  

In 2008 the STI did grow up, and out. The super-Subie did get more refined (as most of us do as we age), by smoothing out its ride, dialing up less twitch on its steering, and a going through big body change. It seems that in its middle age the STI got … Well … Big.  In hatch only form, the 2008-2010 STI gained a bit in the way of handling due to suspension improvements and chassis rigidity, but it lost a lot more of its hardcore following.  With only a five horsepower increase, it seemed the round shape was taken more as a sign of the STI letting itself go.  

However, for 2011 Subaru has put its Alpha model back in the gym.  Although the quoted 0-60 time for the STI is still a conservative 4.9 seconds, and its 2.5 liter turbo engine is still pumping at 14.7 psi of boost and putting down the same 305 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 290 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm as the outgoing model had, the car itself has taken on a wholly new, yet familiar shape, and can now fit in those old jeans again.  


Goldilocks and the 3 ... Series

On: Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 9:13AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Goldilocks and the 3 ... Series test 1-1

If Goldilocks had been less of a foodie with a talent for breaking and entering, and more of a auto enthusiast, the age-old story would have been far more relatable for some of us. If she had come upon a three-car garage of the upper middle class bears, she may just have found the hottest models of BMW’s 2011 3-Series lineup. First she may have broken into the M3, with its 414 horsepower 8300 rpm redline V8, track tuned suspension, 12.4 second quarter mile time, and 60 grand price tag, and found that the super 3-Series to be just a little too hot.  

After scraping off the broken glass from her hands and clothes, she might then break into a 2011 335i with its brand new single turbo N55 inline six that carries over the same 300 horsepower from the previous model. She would find its mid-high 13 second quarter mile tie and handling to be better than average, but nothing to brag about. She would look over its slightly updated, but still reserved exterior style, and then look around to see all of the other 335is that look a lot like this one and decide that the 335i is just a little too cold.

Then after Goldilocks disarms the security system on both of those cars, she comes across the very new looking car in the middle. It’s not an M3, and it’s not a 335i, it’s the new 2011 335is. The new 335is is the car that BMW is bringing to the market to sit right in the middle of its performance 335 line. The 335is retains the direct injection N54 inline six from the 2007-2010 335i models, but gets a power tweak to 320 horsepower at 5900rpm. A feature that is sure to impress is a very literal turbo boost, called an overboost according to BMW, which occurs at low rpm while the engine is under load. This bumps up power to a total of 14.5 psi, which is a bump of 2.9 psi from the twin scroll motor for a maximum of seven seconds.  In real performance numbers, this translates to a 38 lb-ft increase over stock for a small block V8 level 370 lb-ft at 1500rpm.  


 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1st Anniversary Edition

On: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 3:19PM | By: John Welch


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: 1st Anniversary Edition test 1-1

The Good: Last year we began preparing to launch The AutoShopper Blog right around this time. The first images were saved on July 30th, the first article written on August 1st. Though it wasn't the first article posted, the first article I wrote was a recap of the Rally Cross portion of the 2009 X Games.

I was blown away. The idea of a home-grown Race of Champions-type Rally Balls-Off made me giggle in my sleep. It was better than the RoC: no silly dune buggies, the rally cars are different brands and there were prominent jumps that the drivers had to negotiate. Two of them! The course weaved through the L.A. Coliseum, out into the parking lot, then back into the arena for jump-tastic, fascia-destroying 70-foot launches in the middle of the bowl. It was a perfect concoction of familiar drivers and short-attention span laps that would capture the skateboard-centric mind and possibly open a new form of racing to a new group of potential fans. After all, what could be more extreme than slinging a 2,500 lb. vehicle around gravel-strewn corners right next to 300-foot drop offs? That happens at every World Rally Championship race. Totally gnar-bonetubularRadical, Yo. I was so keyed-up I failed to notice the deplorable ESPN camera work or the obvious lack of scrutineering and serious scoring. That is the "Good" portion of today's article, last year's X Games Rally.

 . . . And now for the BAD . . . duhn-dun DAaaahhhh . . . The coverage and execution of the 2010 X Games Rally. The Ugly? ESPN/ABC motor sports coverage in general. Two words: "Sorely Lacking" . . .


LF-A Waste of Money?

On: Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 2:21PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


LF-A Waste of Money? test 1-1

At the end of last millennium, Japan all but completely bowed out of the supercar market. Only the Acura NSX held on for another few years until 2005, but even now that car has come and gone. The world was worse off without its road warriors from the Far East.  

Slowly but surely, however, Japan has returned to the high horsepower wars. Mitsubishi left the 3000GT VR4 by the wayside, and came to play with the Evo. Mazda brought back RX franchise and moved it a notch forward from the 7 to the 8.  Nissan continued the Z legacy from the twin turbo 300ZX to the 350Z and then the 370Z. They even raised the bar by bringing the heralded Skyline to the states in the form of the almighty GT-R. It's been only five years since the end of the NSX, and the world has been waiting with bated breath for an NSX replacement that has been scheduled and canceled more times than the average colonoscopy appointment. In 1998 the king of the Toyotas and, arguably the imports of the decade, the Supra, ceased sales in the US. After more than a decade, Toyota has finally returned to the market with a high powered street fighter in the form of its premium brand Lexus.  


Lime Rock SlugFest; CytoSport Scores Second Victory

On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 11:46AM | By: John Welch


Lime Rock SlugFest; CytoSport Scores Second Victory test 1-1

So maybe the title of this article is slightly misleading. Saturday, at Lime Rock, CytoSport/Muscle Milk was able to hand the Porsche RS Spyder its second post-Penske victory, but its first over-all victory this season. What in the huh am I talking about? Lime Rock Park saw one, combined LMP class (a very dismal field of five cars) take to the tarmac. CytoSport took its first victory at Sebring, but because the prototypes were still separated into LMP1 and 2, it was only a class victory. Seriously, that race featured a duo of Peugeot 908s; it was over before it began.

Ahem, technically its first victory, Klaus Graff and the CytoSport crew made it as exciting as the limited car count would allow. Raining and slippery during qualifying on Friday, Patron-Highcroft was able to use their tractable HPD V8 to great effect, taking the pole handily over the rest of the field. Saturday's race, however, was completely dry, the changing conditions giving the upper hand to more powerful turbo and 10-cylinder cars. The start was gnashed-teeth exciting, the Dyson Mazda, Intersport Lola and Drayson Lola-Judd all cramming into Turn 1, a piece of real estate barely the width of a country lane. The Dyson Mazda came out of the turn in the lead; followed by Lord Drayson's Union Jack-splattered Lola, Jon Field's Lola coming up in third position.

The Dyson Lola coupe dominated the first few rotations, a sight for sore eyes. Lola will not build any more LMP Coupes, so this may be the last season we see this gorgeous design scooting around American tracks. The Dyson team is to be applauded for taking risks: switching from the proven RS Spyder to the Lola, squeezing nearly 700 bhp out of a 2-liter four pot, laughing in the face of E85, and going straight for IsoButanol. These moves have done much to endear this team to me, and they deserve a victory as much as anyone on the grid. Alas, Saturday, July 24th was not that day . . .


Who's Your Caddy?

On: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 3:31PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Who's Your Caddy? test 1-1

When you think of a stereotypical old person driving a car, what kind of car comes to mind first? If you are anything like me, it might just be an older Cadillac.  Everyone had a grandparent, or knew of a grandparent, who owned a big boat Caddy for almost always the same reason:  "They don't make 'em like they used to."  The image of gray hair, wrinkled skin, and a slow and steady 15 mph under the speed limit has haunted Cadillac for years. Despite a couple half-hearted attempts at a youthful movement, like the 1987-1993 Allante or the Catera from 1997-2001, the company has been unsuccessful in changing its overall reputation and street cred.

All of that has begun to change, however, with the advent of Cadillac's V-Series. Unlike many of GM's marketing ploys over the years, all of the Vs has been real upgrades, modifications, and huge improvements that transform relatively mundane and comfy sedans into serious street performers. Much like BMW's M hot rods, Audi's S line, Mercedes' AMG,  and Jaguar's R line, Cadillac's V-Series gave the company entry into a very elite class of vehicles where buyers are concerned with two things:  Comfort and performance. The one problem Cadillac still had, though, was that other than XLR and XLR-V the entire Caddy were four door sedans. Again, this was leaving a lot of sales on the table for cars like the M3, RS4, XKR, and C63. That was, until the new CTS-V Coupe hits the showroom floor.


King Snake

On: Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 10:47AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


King Snake test 1-1

The Ford Shelby GT500 is a car that has garnered about as variable a reaction as any one car could receive. Corvette guys will say the Shelby is overweight. Camaro guys will say the GT500 can't handle. German fans will just laugh at anything that doesn't have an independent rear. Italians will go into a fit of rage about any car that wants to be a Grand Tourer that doesn't come from the red, white, and green; quite honestly, up until 2011, all previous iterations of the GT500 did fit into most of those stereotypes. The 2007-2010 models were full of power, but they were also full figured (and not in the places you'd like the weight to be). But the 2011 Shelby has put almost all of those naysayers to rest. Almost.

The newest version of the old favorite is the fastest, most powerful mass-produced Mustang ever. Go back as far as you like—1965, 1968, 1969, 1995, 2000, 2003, doesn't matter. Even many of the mighty tuner cars this side of a Saleen S7 (which doesn't count as a Mustang, anyway) can't compare to the GT500. You won't find a production Ford pony car with better numbers than 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, 0-100 in 9.1 seconds, and a standing 1/4 mile in 12.4@117mph. Go look, we'll wait ...

 

... See? This car is a beast.


The Newest Italian Stallion

On: Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:05AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


The Newest Italian Stallion test 1-1

When it comes to Ferraris, any new addition is celebrated by its many adoring fans like a new child in the family. The only sad part about adding a new Ferrari is that, more often than not, it comes at the cost of losing one of our favorites. The new Ferrari 458 Italia is no different. With its arrival, we must now cast off one of the most beautiful and crazy fast stallions from Maranello, the F430. From 2005-2009 the F430 scorched streets and racetracks all over the world with its 483-horsepower 4.3-liter banshee imitating V8 that pushed that car in to a terminal velocity of 196 mph. You had your choice of either a traditional six-speed manual, or an F1-style six-speed electro-hydraulic paddle shifter. It was a car that was called by some (including your author) as the most captivating Ferrari since the mighty F40. With such large tires to fill, the question is:  Is the new 458 Italia up to the task?   

 

Yes. Yes, it is.  


Fun In The Sun For Everyone!

On: Thu, Jul 1, 2010 at 10:07AM | By: Lou Ruggieri


Fun In The Sun For Everyone! test 1-1

Not all convertibles are created equal. Similarly, not all convertible drivers are created equal either. Just because a car has a drop-down roof doesn't mean it can be lumped together with all others of that same category. In fact, aside from that feature, the only broader generalized grouping would be to place each in the 'automobile' category. Although July is probably the worst time to actually buy a convertible, it does happen to be the time that everyone takes notice of their roof status, especially if it's of the fixed variety. 

If you are in the market for a convertible, or simply want to learn a little more about some drop-tops that have come and gone for a future purchase, then look no further. Newer is not always better, especially if you have an eye for value, and know what a car has to offer. Detailed below is a series of cars that all fit in the convertible category, but each of their unique intrinsic and extrinsic differences and characteristics are laid out. Also, because this is Autoshopper.com, all of these cars were picked out of your local Autoshopper magazine.