Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide

A few fast, exhilarating days with the Bentley Continental Supersports

By Joshua Condon Jul 23, 2010 1:29PM
The Bentley badge. (Photo by Josh Condon.)I know this sounds as counterintuitive as it is unlikely, but if a PR rep happens to call you up one day and say, "How would you like to spend a few days driving a Bentley Continental Supersports?" -- don't do it. Don't get behind the wheel. There are some experiences so powerful that you can't unknow them, even if it's in your best interest; it's why Prometheus stole fire from the gods instead of simply asking to borrow some for the weekend. Besides, chances are you'll find yourself giving exasperated sighs or downright dirty looks to whatever vehicle has been waiting in your garage, patient and faithful and reliable, while you were off having your fun with something far faster, sleeker, and more beautiful.

The Continental Supersports is Bentley's interpretation of a supercar. These aren't my words; this comes straight from Bentley CEO Christophe Georges, with whom I had the chance to speak a few days after I returned the car -- with extreme reluctance -- whence it came. Georges was in Boston, stopping over on his way to Bentley headquarters in Crewe, England. I asked him what had changed within the brand over the last 50 years, and what had remained constant. He said that technology and safety features had, of course, improved and evolved over that time, but that "as always, the manufacturing and the attention to detail in the cars is the best -- the best possible." Most importantly, "the spirit never changes; what it feels like to sit in a Bentley, to drive a Bentley, doesn't change."

And what exactly does that feel like? 

By Mark Vaughn

By AutoWeek Jul 23, 2010 11:47AM

Senior Editor (West Coast) Mark Vaughn is summering in a 2010 Mitsubishi i-MiEV. (Photo courtesy of AutoWeek.)

The future is here! And we’re driving it!

Yes, we know there are many people who aren’t enthusiastic about the limits of electric cars.

Some see the zero-emissions status of an EV as merely moving the pollutants from one location to another, from the tailpipe of the car to the smokestack of the power station. But we’re driving the i-MiEV in Los Angeles, where electricity comes from nuclear, natural gas, hydro and even a little wind and solar. This isn’t West Virginia coal country.

Others see battery-electric vehicles as a threat to freedom, as if government agents are coming to pry their Chevrolet Camaros from their cold, dead keisters. But having the choice of gasoline-free driving is just another freedom.

We hope that life with an electric car will show us whether there is anything to fear and anything else to love about this alternative-fueled vehicle, show us the good, the bad and the ugly of these things. Firsthand experience is always better than some theoretical conclusion arrived at after drinking or listening to talk radio.


Ford calls out some aftermarket parts as inferior to their own manufacturer components.

By Joshua Condon Jul 23, 2010 10:11AM
Getting through an automobile accident can be stressful enough, and going without a vehicle for any length of time can be difficult, so most people want their car back on the road as soon as possible and with a minimum of fuss -- which is understandable. It's also why many people don't really think about the aftermarket parts that make their way into the vehicle during the repair process. Ford Motor Co. is now saying that these parts are worthy of scrutiny.

According to USA Today, Ford has called out certain aftermarket parts as inferior to its own original manufacturer equipment, and argued that what it calls the lower-quality materials and/or construction pose a safety risk to consumers -- who often don't even know that aftermarket parts are being used during a repair or maintenance. 

By Jamie Lareau, Automotive News

By AutoWeek Jul 23, 2010 7:30AM
Ford turned in a $2.6 billion profit in the second quarter. (Photo courtesy of Ford.)

Ford Motor Co. reported a second-quarter profit of $2.6 billion as U.S. sales rose 20 percent and the automaker continued to gain market share.

Ford earned $2.1 billion on automotive operations, compared with a year-earlier loss of $1.1 billion on that basis. Revenue rose $4.5 billion to $31.3 billion.

The results surpassed an earlier projection by CFO Lewis Booth, who said in April that the company's first-quarter profit of $2.1 billion would be the year's strongest. Ford said today the second half won't be as profitable as the first half.


Former GM employee charged with stealing documents detailing hybrid tech secrets.

By Joshua Condon Jul 22, 2010 3:46PM
There's been a lot of hybrid technology-stealing news of late. First, Ukranian emigrant Alex Severinski won a suit against Toyota that accused the automaker of using the technology he developed in its Toyota Prius, for which he was awarded royalties. Now, a former General Motors worker has been accused of stealing documents detailing aspects of GM's hybrid technology and attempting to sell them to Chinese automaker Chery Automobile. According to The New York Times "Wheels" blog:
"From December 2003 to May 2006, the indictment says, Shannon Du, 51, and her husband, Yu Qin, 49, conspired to possess trade secrets. In January 2005, Du accepted a severance package from GM and five days later copied thousands of pages of secret documentation onto a hard drive that belonged to a company that she and her husband had set up, called Millennium Technology International."

No price difference between base Lincoln MKZ and the upcoming MKZ hybrid.

By Joshua Condon Jul 22, 2010 1:10PM
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid. (Photo courtesy of Lincoln.) As reported on the MSN Autos' home page (via AutoWeek) and elsewhere, pricing has been announced for the 2011 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid -- and, surprise surprise, it's exactly the same as the nonhybrid version: $35,180 to start.

This news sets a bit of a precedent. Traditionally, automakers add a premium to hybrid vehicles in order to offset the research and development costs associated with the relatively new type of powertrain. Similarly, what's standard on a hybrid model and standard on its gasoline-powered counterpart can vary by quite a bit (The New York Times' "Wheels" blog cites the Ford Fusion and Fusion hybrid as an example of this). 

By Greg Migliore

By AutoWeek Jul 22, 2010 11:12AM

Drivers of most 2011 General Motors Co. vehicles will be able to use a smartphone to activate their cars' horns and lights as well as to lock and unlock the doors. (Photo by Greg Migliore.)

Drivers of most 2011 General Motors Co. vehicles will be able to use a smartphone to carry out functions usually found on a key fob -- such as remote starting, activating the horn and lights, and remote locking and unlocking of doors.

Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC, working through OnStar, are developing brand-specific mobile applications than can be controlled on Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android operating system.

GM announced the technology today.

Using a mobile phone means vehicle features can be controlled regardless of the driver's distance from the car. For instance, a traveler who forgets to lock the car at the airport can send a locking signal from inside the terminal.


Aston Martin Rapide, meet Porsche Panamera Turbo.

By Joshua Condon Jul 22, 2010 9:00AM
How about some pure, luxury performance-car fluff to waste some office time on this fine Thursday?

Car and Driver has a short but entertaining video of the Aston Martin Rapide versus the Porsche Panamera Turbo. Well, "versus" may be a bit too strong a term: The head-to-head is not too in-depth -- just a skid pad test and a zero-to-60 mph sprint -- but there are plenty of great shots of the cars driving through Chicago and around Dan Schnitta's GingerMan Raceway (he also owns the GingerMan Tavern in town). The real surprise, though, is the significant 1.3 second difference in the zero-to-60: 4.8 seconds versus 3.5. Can you guess the winner? 


  • Cliff Atiyeh

    Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
    In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)

  • Doug Newcomb

    Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
    In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V

  • James Tate

    James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
    In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5

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