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The Mazda CX5 is what you buy when you want a reliable Tiguan

The 2014 Mazda CX5 is kinda like a Volkswagen Tiguan, but better. It’s better because it’s bound to be more reliable, and it’s actually a joy to drive.

The Tiguan is merely okay, even with more power. And this year, the CX5 gets a new 2.5 liter engine that whips up more horsepower, so it’s not breathing so hard just to keep up.

In Touring trim, it’s got leather, navigation, Bose stereo, all for about $30,000.

Pretty great. And 27.5 miles per gallon.

2012 Hyundai Elantra Review

The symptoms of Wallet Sciatica include: back pain and an ache that extends down the leg. The cause is uneven pressure placed on a sitter’s posterior by an item in the back pocket, like a wallet, though it may be entirely psychosomatic.

The price of the 2012 Hyundai Elantra is guaranteed to not chafe your arse, but the way it leaves your wallet fat is  going to upset your sciatic nerve. It’s a good kind of pain, every twinge a reminder of the value Hyundai puts into its automobiles. There are other ways to flatten out your billfold, anyway. Saving on an automobile leaves spending money free for cigarillos, single malt and slot machines.

There is, however, an acute pain caused by the 2012 Elantra. It sets in slowly, and it doesn’t afflict everyone, but to a car enthusiast, it might as well be a giant purple bruise on the face. This is the pain of surrender. Picking the Elantra as your daily driver says that you’ve given up trying to find a car that’s entertaining, choosing the soul-crushing appliance, instead.

It’s not that the Elantra does anything wrong, but it’s just the type of car you’d expect to find on the shelf at the big-box store next to Mr. Coffees and cut-rate electronics. While a ten-dollar automatic drip coffeemaker might satisfy the masses, some real-deal aficionados opt for the labor of a French Press, and so it is with cars.

2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD Review

We dunnit again. Motofinity bought another car just to review it.

Sort of.

Actually, my wife and I replaced a higher-mileage Jeep Commander that suckled fuel pumps more forcefully than a starving newborn. It’s what you’d expect from a Hemi, but it was killing us.

We benefitted from incentives and the brain-bashing price war dealers and auto brands are locked in, and decided on a Mediterranean Blue 2011 Ford Edge SEL AWD. We were excited to finally have a safe, reliable SUV crossover to transport our young family around town, but the sweetness and light soon turned rocky…

Bentley Continental GT Graced by Mulliner Coach Work

Last year, Bentley tore the wraps off of it’s newly redesigned Continental GT.  Today, they announced that the Mulliner styling specification will be coming to the new Continental GT this fall.  Not quite the Continental GT Supersports we were hoping for, but this will do nicely.

The Mulliner Styling Specification (as they call it) adds high-gloss carbon fiber on the exterior of the GT, giving it a much more sporty look and feel.  Think of it as a Supersports without the go-fast bits.

See the full press release after the break.

2012 Mustang GT Review

I’m driving a mythical creature, a 2012 Mustang GT.With a solid rear axle spun by a 3.73:1 ring gear putting down the torque of a 5.0-liter V8, there’s nothing economical about this car. No fuel is burned while braking, at least, but the Brembo hardware makes short work of stops. Gasoline will soon flirt with $5 per gallon, and 18 mpg feels like hypermiling in this thing, especially with the amount of city driving I’ve been doing. The 412-hp snarl that accompanies every launch makes any concern about MPG evaporate, at least until the rent’s due and all your cash is sitting in the gas tank. But this is a Mustang GT review, not a Prius.

This ain’t no press car, either. What else should an enthusiast who is single with no kids do when looking for a car, right? This being my first live rear axle vehicle, I now understand why that can be a pejorative term. It shimmies and shakes even over slow bumps. Take off on a cold or slick surface and you’ll discover axle hop. If it weren’t for the 5 nice days Ohio has had in the spring, I’d have thought that the Mustang was severely flawed, but no, it’s just the weather that sucks. At least I’m not going to regret NOT doing this.

2012 Mustang GT ReviewWhen the weather clears, the Mustang is the polar opposite. Traction off the line is surprising, the clutch has an easily-found sweet spot, and you can break every speed limit in the United States in a little over ten seconds. It’s an idea that sounds as good to a driving enthusiast as a quick snort of heroin sounds to a junkie. The itch starts at every red light. Sure, blip the throttle and the car fluctuates back and forth. The light turns green and you try to behave but with short gears the V8 quickly ascends to its almost 7,000 rpm redline and from there the only fathomable option is to grab another gear. You quickly become engrossed in managing the cogs and before you know it you’re hitting 4th and approaching the ton mark. Panic ensues and you quickly do a mirror check for that other Five-Oh.

That ox-cart axle is great for launching this 3,600 pound car, and handling is tidy, regardless of the chassis layout. Seriously. You guys talking about how it’s heavy and bounces in turns, eat it. The Mustang GT is well-behaved and quick as snot propelled by a sneeze. You simply cannot find a car that does all that the Mustang can do for anything near its price. I got a lesson in this when I hit a corner too hot. Bracing for a bunch of sliding and protesting from the Pirellis, there was no drama as the car simply negotiated the turn. Those Brembo brakes burned off the speed with the same kind of competence, leaving me to sit at the side of the road, idling, hands shaking, stupid grin on my face. It’s not so much the power that scares the novice. It’s easy to let off the gas the car calms down. No, have a panicked slam of the Brembo’s and you’ll be pulling your face off the windshield.

This gap looks very unfinished on an otherwise pretty nice dash. What the hell, Ford?

This gap looks very unfinished on an otherwise pretty nice dash. What the hell, Ford?

The modern Mustang is nothing like the old standards we were used to. Still, one eyesore on an otherwise impressive dash can be seen near the steering column, where the faux aluminum finish ends but the plastic continues going. It’s nothing major, but it just makes you scratch your head and go “What the hell, Ford?

The rest of the interior is above Ford average, with quality plastics and thick leather. The seats have some bolstering that can keep the average person from sliding too much, but they aren’t Recaros – an option we wish was available on the standard GT. Still, we won’t complain because we’ve been in the Corvette and we’re pretty sure our Grandfathers Cadillac had more bolstering than those seats.
The car has been plagued by issues with the MT82 Getrag transmission, in the cold some Mustangs refuse to use half of their gears. The rumor is that Ford used the Getrag because of its smoothness, despite the fact that its only rated for 375 lb. ft when the Coyote throws down 390 lb. ft. To Fords point, its a slick shifting transmission compared to the TR-6060 used in the Shelby. However, I think what most Mustang owners want is a transmission that can hold the power rather than be smooth. In reality, its not that smooth of a transmission in the first place. We hope Ford fixes this issue. Otherwise they’ll be faced with a lot of lemon law’d cars, lawsuits and disgruntled owners. The only other option for owners is to throw the warranty into left field and drop an aftermarket Tremec and kissing their cost savings over the Boss or Shelby goodbye.Ford' Getrag Transmission in the new Mustang has been causing problems among the Mustang fans.

Still, this brings up a interesting point. A stock GT, is 30 horsepower and a suspension setup away from being a Boss 302. There are significant differences between the GT 5.0 and the Boss 5.0 to be sure. However, consider this build – a GT build like ours, Brembo brake package, 3.73 gears stickers for around $36 (knock off leather and save a few grand), throw in a TR-6060 ($3,000 + install), the Boss/FRPP suspension package ($1,800 + Install), Ford Racing 525 HP Super Charger, and lets say a new axle-back setup for around $600. That puts you on par for horsepower with the $50K Shelby GT500 at $45K + installation. You might say thats too much work, but what you’re getting is the same amount of horsepower as the Shelby, thats a few hundred pounds lighter than it, and mostly crucially a few hundred pounds off the nose. It’s packing more power than the Boss with a pretty close suspension set up. We already know the stock GT’s ability to keep up with an M3 is pretty good, now add 150 HP and better handling. So instead of keeping up the Teutonic bruiser, you’re watching it shrink away in the rear view and still pocketing money.
A Shelby GT500, An Super Charged SN-95 and our S-197 5.0 Mustang

Overall, color us impressed with the new Mustang GT. Obviously, we bought one. It’s a very well sorted car despite its handicaps and takes our pick as the top muscle car from the big three. It’s lighter, faster, and all around a much more enjoyable car to be in than the slower and sometimes more expensive competition from Chevy and Dodge. Oh, and an easter egg for you other 2012 owners, depress the brake and then the T/C button twice before letting off the brake and you’ll be in “Sport” mode, which dials back the traction control, stability control and firms up the steering. Be careful with this trick!

2011 Dodge Durango Review: The Driving Enthusiast’s Crossover

In front of the 2011 Dodge Durango Crew snow was swirling through the tunnels of light punched into the night by the headlamps. This has been a vengeful winter, and it seemed that some of that wrath was now being directed squarely at the Durango itself, and me by association. After all, even though the Durango is all-new, it’s still a big, heavy SUV with a tremendous thirst. Eight thumping cylinders and three rows of seats aren’t going to win you Green Car of the Year.

black Dodge Durango in front of brick wall

2011 Dodge Durango - Motofinity.com

Just because the Durango is large and in charge doesn’t mean it’s some kind of outmoded throwback, though. This new Durango replaces a lumbering dinosaur of a vehicle that was ugly and ultimately not nearly as successful as the original Durango that bowed in 1998. From the beginning, the Durango has carpetbagged its architecture from another model, and this time around, it stops borrowing the Dakota’s boxer shorts and pulls on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s uh, briefer, underbits. The exterior is expertly styled with all of the modern Dodge cues in place, and it looks great. Inside there are three rows of seats, and the third row can even support human life, though tall folks will want to ride in the front or middle row.

That shift should be interpreted as a commitment by Dodge to avoid going bankrupt. They could have hung new front sheetmetal on the old Durango and tweaked the taillights to give a passing impression of newness. That’s essentially the story of the Chrysler 200, after all. Instead, Dodge saw the same writing on the wall as the Ford Explorer, which is why both former leviathans have sworn off full frames for a membership in the Crossover Club. Car companies are not idiot collectives (though GM can sometimes come close), and since crossovers are generating so much heat, it’s a smart place to be if you want to sell vehicles.

Even though trucks are passe, the 2011 Durango is big and heavy and inefficient, all of which should naturally leave you wondering why Dodge traded one flavor of glorified station wagon for another, sacrificing towing capacity in the process. Don’t think too hard about that, or the abysmal 15 mpg I eked out of the 2011 Durango, because I’m going to tell you why it’s fantastic.

grille and headlamp of the 2011 Dodge Durango

2011 Dodge Durango - Motofinity.com

The fact that both the 2011 Dodge Durango and I were able to share a chortle at the snow storm speaks to the fact that it drives stupendously well. Yes, it weighs a jillion pounds; so much that the normally-brawny 5.7 liter Hemi’s 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque feel peaky and overwhelmed. The new Durango actually weighs a smidge under 5,000 pounds, only slightly down from the old truck. The 2011 Durango’s more powerful engine is a liter up on the 4.7 from the second-generation, and the Multi-Displacement System gives four of the holes a break whenever possible, boosting mileage to 13 mpg city, 20 mpg highway. 2008 Durango buyers suffered with the same 13 mpg in the city, but only reached 17 mpg on the highway. The long and short of all these numbers is that nobody picks the Durango for its thrift.

rear view of 2011 dodge durango against a brick wall

2011 Dodge Durango - Motofinity.com

So it’s still just as hefty and not really any more economical than the old Durango, but it’s also blessed with perfect weight distribution, and a serene cabin that’s got just the right amount of guttural V8 anger for punctuation. The Hemi sounds so damn good that it could make three horsepower, and that would be fine. Oh, there’s also a 3.6 liter V6, the new Pentastar engine with 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque for better economy, though you’ll be putting your foot deeper into the throttle more often with that powerplant. Both engines are world-class mills, and if you can do without the extra thrust, go for it.

Either way, this porker actually has some sports car baked in, which is a hell of a surprise for a three-bencher that’s comfortable all the way back to the kid pen, which actually turns out to hold adults in relative comfort. The interior materials are nice where they should be, and the UConnect system that includes navigation, communication and entertainment functions is easy enough to use that I didn’t once threaten it with brass knuckles. The ergonomics are also great, with easy-to-use controls and features for rear seat passengers like an available DVD system and climate controls that make them feel like the designers thought about them.

The well-priced 2011 Durango starts just under $30,000 and comes with lots of standard equipment. There’s no shortage of available technology upgrades, but never is the Durango an annoyance to operate like a fully-loaded Ford Edge or Explorer with the confusion-fest of MyFordTouch. In fact, the Durango has it all over the new  Explorer, with a better-balanced chassis, better looks and more gratifying experience from behind the wheel. While Explorer buyers are in their MyFordTouch class, learning how to use what they just bought, you’ll be out in your Durango. It’s the driving enthusiast’s crossover.

grille and emblem of 2011 Dodge Durango

2011 Dodge Durango - Motofinity.com

Porsche 918 Spyder production starts September 18, 2013, costs €645,000

Can you wait 30 months? If you want a Porsche 918 Spyder, the company’s pending plug-in hybrid sports car, you can. The decree went forth from Stuttgart today that production of the 918 Spyder will begin on September 18, 2013 (9/18 get it?) and dealers are now officially taking orders. Continuing the numerology, just 918 units of the gasoline-electric-plug-in supercar will be built over an undisclosed time frame.

If  you have to ask how much it costs…you know the rest. But for the truly interested, it’s €645,000.  That’ll help ensure exclusivity, and as with every Porsche, buyers will be able to fatten the bottom substantially by selecting custom paints and interior finishes among other options.

The 918 Spyder debuted last year at the Geneva Motor Show with a through-the-road plug-in hybrid powertrain. The concept featured the same 3.4-liter V8 engine mounted amid-ship that powered the RS Spyder to numerous victories in the American and European Le Mans Series over the past five years. The production version will have a road going version of that V8 with a displacement over 4.0-liters pumping over 500 horsepower.  The V8 will send power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed PDK dual clutch transmission.

The hydrocarbon ingesting power unit will be supplemented by a pair of electric motors with one at each axle that put out a combined 218 horsepower. The motors will be fed by a liquid cooled lithium ion battery that propel the 918 electrically for about 16 miles. With 218 electric horsepower and that much battery available, the 918 will be able to complete most of the EU driving cycle on electrons alone which is expected to help it achieve over 78 mpg in the test.   Of course using any of that 500 hp behind the driver’s shoulder will cause that mileage number to plummet just as fast as the quarter mile time.

While waiting for their 918 Spyder, customers can also order a 911 Turbo S “Edition 918 Spyder” that features the same color and trim as the hybrid along with a badge on the glove box that bears the same build number as their 918.  Only 918 of the limited edition 530 hp 911s will be built with a starting price of €184,546 and deliveries starting in June 2011.

ALMS cuts petroleum use while improving racing

Being green isn’t what most fans think about when high-powered race cars roar past, but the American Le Mans Series thinks differently. Race cars obviously use a lot more fuel than a typical Prius, but efficiency is actually very important to most racers.

Weight is the enemy of performance and the more fuel a car uses, the more it has to carry, adding mass. In endurance racing, especially on long tracks like Le Mans, guzzling fuel also means more pit stops and time standing still while other cars are circulating.

ALMS CEO Scott Atherton led the charge starting in 2006 to make the series the “green racing” leader. ALMS regulations are based on those set down by the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO) which runs Le Mans. Le Mans organizers have given prizes for the efficiency index going back to at least the 1960s and the ACO rule book made allowances for all manner of different powerplants including Wankel rotaries and different fuels such as diesel.

Atherton took this idea and expanded on it, deciding that the ALMS was going to make a concerted effort to reduce oil and petroleum use. There were a number of reasons for going down this path, not the least of which was to find an angle that would set the series apart and hopefully attract new fans. Adopting new fuels starting with E10 and diesel and allowing experimental powertrains would also provide an outlet for manufacturers looking to test new technology that could have production applications.

In 2008, Atherton announced the introduction of cellulosic ethanol E85 blends as one of the allowable fuels in the series as well as the launch of the Michelin Green X Challenge. Starting with the Intersport LMP1 team and the GT1 Corvettes that year, the use of E85 has grown to the point where virtually the entire GT field is now using it along with several prototypes.  The diesel powered Audi prototypes were regular competitors and winners and the diesel Peugeots also join in the fun at Sebring and Petit Le Mans as part of their preparations for the French endurance classic. In 2010, the Dyson Racing squad also began using a 20 percent bio-butanol blend for the entire season after testing it in 2009.

2009 also saw the debut of the Corsa racing team with a hybrid LMP1 car that saw limited success and Porsche ran its more competitive flywheel hybrid 911 GT3R at the 2010 Petit Le Mans.

The Green Challenge is a second championship in addition to the race for outright victory. Working with the US Department of Energy and the Society of Automotive Engineers, ALMS developed a formula that rates the cars on a combination of distance run on the track and overall carbon footprint. The teams that demonstrate the best combination of performance and efficiency take the prize.  In 2010, the Highcroft racing team took both the overall LMP championship and the Green Challenge for prototypes, while E85 fueled Flying Lizard Porsche took the GT class.

So what does it all amount to? For the Corvette Racing team, the struggle for efficiency saw the team improve from getting 10 laps per tankful at the 8.5 mile Le Mans circuit during their debut season in 1999 to 15 laps per tank in 2009. The 911 hybrid gets 25-30 percent better fuel efficiency than its conventional equivalent despite added weight. At this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring, the combined field will use over 28 percent less petroleum than the 2007 field. The Sebring field also includes a number of European teams that aren’t set up for running on E85, so once they go home and the rest of the ALMS season continues that improvement will get even better.

According to ALMS spokesman Bob Dickinson, if the entire U.S. vehicle fleet achieved a similar improvement, oil imports could be cut in half and 338 million gallons of gasoline would be saved.

We won’t kid you, we love the sound and fury of sports cars chasing each around a road course for hours on end and the technology is damn cool. The fact that it can be done while using less of the planet’s resources at the same time, is a serious bonus.

McLaren MP4-12C GT3 on-track video

 

McLaren Automotive claims that the new  Mp4-12C is not meant as a direct replacement for the legendary F1 but that doesn’t mean it won’t be following in its forebear’s footsteps which means that it will be hitting the racetrack to earn its pedigree. With the road going version of the world’s latest supercar now ready for consumption, the competition version hit the pavement at the Silverstone racetrack and the MIRA proving ground in Nuneaton, England.

Unlike the F1 GTR that dove right into the top-level GT1 class that was in place in 1995 when it took overall victory at Le Mans in its first outing, the new car is being prepared to FIA GT3 rules.  That puts in the same class with other factory built race cars like the Audi R8 LMS, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, BMW Z4 GT3 and of course the Porsche 911 GT3R.

The F1 GTR’s 6.0-liter BMW-built V12 engine produced about 600 horsepower, a little less than the road car. In street-legal form, the Mp4-12C’s twin-turbo 3.8-liter V8 also produces 600 hp.  However, the mandatory air-intake restrictors will likely limit the GT3-spec model to somewhere between 400 and 450 hp.  The standard seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is swapped out for a Ricardo designed and built racing unit actuated by a bespoke paddle shift mechanism.

The road car’s single-piece carbon fiber tub is retained as is the basic suspension system. The ProActive Chassis control system that uses a hydraulic interconnect system to manage body roll is replaced by a more conventional anti-roll-bar configuration while a custom Akebono braking system handles deceleration duties.

The basic appearance of the production 12C is carried over with the usual modifications to enhance aerodynamic downforce and enclose the larger racing rubber. A front splitter, extended wheel arches and vertical blades behind the front wheels are complemented by fender-top vents, a wing and rear diffuser.

CRS Racing is working with the factory engineers to test and develop the GT3 car and Álvaro Parente has been named as the first test driver. Teams interested in acquiring and racing the McLaren GT3 can sign up at www.mclarengt.com. No pricing has been announced but it certainly won’t come cheap with price tag that will surely top $500,000.  Now if only the American Le Mans Series would add a full GT3 class so we could see these amazing machines run in North America.

 

 

Ferrari F458 GT in ExtremeSpeed Motorsports livery

 

Scott Sharp’s ExtremeSpeed Motorsports team was the first outfit to show off the all-new Ferrari F458 GT on the track back in January, but at that time it was only seen in basic black. Afterwards ESM took a pass on the American Le Mans Series winter test at Sebring while it prepared its new cars for the team’s second season of competition. The cars have now been revealed in a fresh variation of the usual black and green livery of the Patron distillery that looks stunning on the voluptuous Italian bodywork.

Nobody has any idea how fast the 458 GT will be, but ExtremeSpeed Motorsports will look damn good doing it. Only one 458 GT has been seen in public in the hands of the Risi team at Sebring. That car consistently ran mid-pack during the test, closing to within half a second of the leading Corvettes by the end of the fourth and final test session. We only have a few more days to wait until official practice opens for the 12 Hours of Sebring and all of our questions are answered.