Rain can't dampen the excitement for new wheels.
Just back from the International Motor Press Association’s annual Test Days at Pocono Raceway -- this year better known as Noah’s Ark, the sequel. Every year, manufacturers bring their latest 4-wheeled wares to the Pennsylvania hills for two days of testing, one on public roads (with SUVs muddying it up at a local ski area) and another on the Pocono road course, which also incorporates a stretch of the steep-banked NASCAR oval.
Veterans of the event said that for the first time in the history of Test Days -- which began in about 1972 at the now-defunct Bridgehampton circuit on Long Island, N.Y., then moved to Lime Rock in Connecticut before switching to Pocono -- the track part of the day was totally washed out by torrential rain. But the curse could have been worse. Actually, it could have been much worse: On Friday, just after journalists and automakers departed, the Split Rock Resort’s Sports Complex was heavily damaged by a gas explosion that amazingly resulted in only a single injury.
The preceding, explosion-free day was a vision of fall loveliness, especially because we were surrounded by dozens of spanking-new machines. A sample of what was on tap: the Chevy Cruze, GM’s new compact car, which is just arriving at dealerships; the latest Volkswagen GTI, still one of the hottest-driving cars you’ll find for less than 30 grand; the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, both preparing to duke it out for electric-car supremacy in December; the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, as good in person as it’s been on paper; and, for a cherry on top, the mind-blowing Corvette ZR-1.
By Mark Rechtin, Automotive News
The dreams of getting a V8 engine, rear-wheel-drive platforms and a sports car to replace the NSX have died for Acura dealers. Now the question is whether Acura can follow Audi's lead and elevate its brand from premium to luxury with front- and all-wheel-drive platforms.
Meanwhile, Acura may return to two segments that it had abandoned by adding a compact and a coupe.
Mosler MT900 Photon competing in this year's Car and Driver Lightning Lap.
The newest MT900 weighs a scant 2,275 pounds while putting out 550 horsepower; the car is expected to sprint to 60 mph in less than three seconds. The Mosler team says the Photon has a chance to best its own 2:45.9 record on the 4.1 mile lap from 2008. (Incidentally, last year's best lap time, set by a Lamborghini LP670-4, was eight freaking seconds slower.)
By Mark Rechtin, Automotive News
Honda has run into a few problems with its new-vehicle introductions of late. The current Accord was a bit too large in this era of downsizing, the Accord Crosstour was knocked for its styling, and the Insight hybrid suffered disappointing sales.
Brake problems cited; no injuries reported.
The company is recalling the vehicles in order to fix leaks in the power braking system, which can reduce its effectiveness. No injuries or accidents have been reported, and the company says the cars will still stop under the power of the mechanical braking system.
Affected models include 5-, 6- and 7-Series models from the 2002-2010 model years and powered by V8 and V12 engines; Rolls-Royce Phantoms from 2003-2010 are also affected.
'Forza Motorsport 3' and 'Top Gear' unveil 'Ultimate Collection.'
"Top Gear," the hands-down best car show on TV, and "Forza Motorsport 3," a leader of the racing-game genre, have announced a multiyear collaboration that will combine the irreverence of the two brands for many iterations of the game to come. (Disclosure: Microsoft Racing Studios, which puts out the game, is of course owned by the same corporation that owns this blog, but play the game just once for yourself and tell me if I'm biased or just telling the honest truth.)
From the Forza team:
"Fans will get their first taste of the results of this collaboration with 90 minutes of specially edited 'Top Gear' TV content plus access to the ‘Stig’s Garage Car Pack,’ all downloadable exclusively through Xbox Live, as part of the new 'Forza Motorsport 3 Ultimate Collection' available from this October. "
By Jake Lingeman
The three-door Range Rover Evoque won't stand alone in showrooms. Land Rover on Thursday confirmed that there is a five-door Evoque for those who need a little more utility from their SUV. The five-door Evoque is expected to debut at the Los Angeles auto show in November.
The Evoque, based on the LRX concept we saw in 2008, is part of the company's plan for bringing new customers to the brand that might otherwise only be considered by the upper crust.
The C-X75 wows the crowd in France, and more from the Paris Motor Show.
The car was unveiled last night at an exclusive preview event, where the 205-mph stunner -- whose four wheel-mounted electric motors are powered by gas turbines for an incredible 1,180 lb-ft of instantly available torque and 780 horsepower -- wowed the crowd. According to MSN Autos:
"Inspired by racing Jags like the one-of-a-kind XJ13, the C-X75 will sprint from zero to 62 mph in just 3.4 seconds. It can also travel 68 miles on pure electric power or 560 miles with the assistance of its two turbine engines."
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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 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 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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