Not Your Usual Saturday!



                        A Brand New Feature

                     And What A Way To Start!

By Ron Amadon

KENT ISLAND, MD. – “It was like being a kid in a candy store,” said one friend.

 I recently had the chance to spend an entire day sampling a number of cars and trucks along Maryland’s picturesque Chesapeake Bay. Staged by WAPA, a local auto writer’s group, it was an extraordinary event that I want to share with you.

 So in the Saturdays ahead, there will be a series of “First Drive” reports on a van (of all things), a favorite German sports car, a bold new truck, and a Swedish sedan with an interior that should keep German automakers awake nights.  

 But first, an incredible beginning! Come along as we scissor ourselves into the McLaren GT!


 Here the maker of high performance mid-engine delights decided it was time to make one that owners could use as a daily driver and also be more comfortable on a long trip. The goal was to preserve all the handling, performance and verve that make McLaren a much desired “Powerball” winner’s car while giving it touches of refinement.

 One still has to be a bit athletic to climb on board over a wide sill and then close the “dihedral doors” that open with a more upward arc. A pair of eight way electrically adjustable and heated sport seats are covered in high class leather.

 Looking up there was a large sunroof covered with film designed to absorb solar radiation while providing additional noise insulation. The specially designed Pirelli P Zero tires reduce noise by up to three decibels, and a quieter exhaust system was also fitted – all to make long distance travel more pleasant.    

 Controls came quickly to hand. The driving position was laid back, there was a smallish steering wheel, and more than enough roof for my 6’ frame.

 A nifty addition was the side-opening rear glass hatch that offers storage on the leather-lined “Touring Deck.” Other features included front and rear parking sensors, an electric steering column with entry/exit function, and soft close doors.

 Yet even with the extra refinement there was a satisfying rumble from the mid-mounted V8 upon takeoff.

 After all, this is still a high performance car. That 3.8 liter twin turbo V8 that resides just behind your head packs 562 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, that can be ignited with just the slightest twitch of your right foot. The seven speed “seamless-shift” transmission was a delight in my short drive.

 How fast is it? Zero to 62 in just 3.4 seconds the maker said and I have no reason to doubt that. Not enough you say? How’s about 0-124 in just 9.8 seconds with a track day top speed of 204 miles per hour. This effort was aided by the GT’s ultra-light weight of just 2,963 pounds thanks to lots of carbon fiber. One G plus on the skid pad is standard.

 Why ooooooh why, was there a local with Pentagon approved radar gun on the way back? ARRGH!!! 


 Operators can tailor their drive with Normal, Sport, and Track operating modes. Dash mounted buttons allow drivers to select their preferred steering, suspension, brakes, and transmission settings.    

 As Americans, we have a yearning to “have it all.” The GT combines luxury touches, a slightly softer ride, with all the handling and fury, not to mention competition grade brakes that an owner would demand in an exterior design that will turn heads everywhere.   

 Price? With anything on it, and there will be things you want on it, look for something over $200K.

 Best comment: “So it’s a car that you can drive to work in every day. Given its looks you probably don’t want to take it in on a day the shareholders are meeting.”

 Full disclosure: I have had a passion for the McLaren brand since their first product hit the showrooms mainly because it tingles all the senses of those who love to drive.  


 Some Specs:

 V8, Twin Turbo, 3.8 Liter


562 @ 7500 RPM


443 @ 5000 RPM

Fuel Economy (like this matters)

City 16/Hwy 23/Comb 19 MPG

Bore x Stroke

3.66 x 2.75

Dual Overhead Cam

Valves Per Cylinder


Total Number Valves



Automatic, 7-Spd Seamless Shift Gearbox



Wheel Base

105.1 inches

Overall Length

178.3 inches

Width with Mirrors

82.5 inches


47.3 inches

Curb Weight

2963 lbs.

Tires / Wheel Size


Rear Tires / Wheel Size



 62-0 mph   108 ft

 124-0 mph 436 ft






Auto News for Oct. 21 – Nissan Marries Mitsubishi


2017 Outlander Sport GT

With the addition of the new SR model to the 2016 Altima line-up, Nissan is taking dead aim at one of the fastest growing areas of the mid-size sedan segment – sport variants. Among some competitors, the so-called “sport” grades account for nearly 40 percent of total sales. Altima already is one of the sportiest designs in the segment, however the company is taking a more Nissan-like approach, adding a level of true enhanced performance to go with the requisite larger wheels and spoiler.

 The world’s fourth largest auto group has now been created with the completion of Nissan’s $2.3 billion controlling stake in much smaller Mitsubishi. Now, Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi reside, for all intents and purposes, under the same roof. First up for Chairman Carlos Ghosn will be to restore Mistu’s reputation after it said some of its products produced better gas mileage than driver’s were experiencing. The marriage will result in significant development cost savings for Mitsubishi, to the tune of $577 million next year, according to Nissan. “We are committed to assisting Mitsubishi Motors as it rebuilds customer trust,” said Ghosn. “This is a priority as we pursue the synergies and growth potential of our enlarged relationship.” 

 Hyundai is recalling 62,811 Sonata sedans from model years 2015 and 2016 because the panoramic sunroofs could, under certain circumstances, fly off the roof and into traffic. Hyundai said it knows of no crashes or injuries related to the defect. The sunroof wind deflector may not have been properly attached and “the tempered glass sunroof panel can detach from the sunroof assembly due to interference with the wind deflector, or if the customer tries to force the sunroof panel closed,” the company said. Owners of the affected models will be notified by mail.  

 The 2017 Genesis G80 has received two of the highest safety honors in the auto industry – the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2016 Top Safety Pick Plus and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-star rating.

 Shareholders love this kind of news. Daimler, the parent of Mercedes, has posted record earnings in its third quarter. Sales rose 5 percent and revenue by 4 percent globally. “We are growing sustainably and profitably. Daimler remains on track to achieve our earnings forecasts for the full year, despite volatile sales and finance markets,” said Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Finance.

 Automotive News reports Ford and Jaguar Land Rover are testing cars in the United Kingdom that can talk with one another. We are not sure what they are saying, but can warn drivers when another connected car brakes suddenly, for example.








Auto News for Oct. 20 – 1,479 Horsepower & Tesla’s Autonomy


 The October edition of “Car” magazine has a must read article on what it is like to drive the world’s soon to be fastest car – the Bugatti Chiron. Think 1,479 horsepower and a 13.6 second run to 186 miles per hour, or the time it takes a Hyundai Accent to reach 62 mph. Top speed is up to 279 mph and the speedometer goes to 310, but the Chiron does not go that fast – yet. Bugatti is shooting for 500 kph and that works out to 310 mph and change. Prices start at $2 million plus. “Car” said that would be enough to get Elton John to play at your wedding. The article, by the way, is by Georg Kacher, in my mind, the best auto writer in the business right now.

 Many may ask why Bugatti would want to produce such a car? Here is why: “It is part of human nature to cross boundaries and set new records – to run 100 m faster than ever before, to fly even further into space and to enter new realms. This striving is also our driving force at Bugatti. The Chiron is the result of our efforts to make the best even better. Bugatti has tested the limits of physics. There is no area where we have not achieved significant improvements,” said Wolfgang Dürheimer, President Bugatti Automobiles. 

 Tesla announced last night that all of its vehicles will have full self-driving technology, including the upcoming Model 3, but not right away. Tesla said before activating the features it will further test some of the existing hardware. So, Teslas with first-generation hardware will temporarily lack certain features currently available including automatic emergency breaking, collision warning lane holding and active cruise control. “As these features are robustly validated, we will enable them over the air, together with a rapidly expanding set of entirely new features,” the company said. As Bloomberg pointed out, there is a need for further data on how autonomous technology performs and how drivers use them. Last week Germany asked Tesla to drop the term Autopilot in case it was causing some operators to reduce their attention behind the wheel. In short, the technology is simply not ready yet to allow the driver’s seat to go unoccupied.

 Check to see a picture of the refreshed and camouflaged 2018 Mustang. MT said the new one may feature the 10-speed automatic tranny developed jointly by Ford and GM.

 Hawaii, at $2.87 a gallon, is the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline. California at $2.78 comes in second, while Washington ($2.71), Alaska ($2.63), Oregon ($2.52) and Nevada ($2.51) rank as the nation’s top six most expensive markets, according to AAA. The West Coast is the only region in the country with prices above $2.50. New Jersey has the least expensive gas prices, just $2.02 a gallon on average.

 Nissan is expected to take a controlling 34 percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors by year’s end, and numerous reports say Carlos Ghosn will be Mitsu’s new chairman when, as Kenny Rogers once put it, “the deal is done.” Ghosn is currently chairman of both Nissan and Renault. Mitsubishi’s current chairman and president, Osamu Musuko will retain his title of president. Bloomberg said the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance will be the fourth largest in the auto industry.

Auto News for Oct. 19 – Years Worth Of Tesla 3’s Sold Out


 Customers who have placed recent orders for the Tesla 3 may not take delivery until well into 2018, according to USA Today. Tesla insists this does not indicate a change in production dates for the lower priced electric, but rather robust demand for the car. If current schedules hold, Model 3 production will commence in mid to late 2017. Elon Musk has tweeted that a year’s worth of production has already sold out.

 Nothing final yet, but a judge in San Francisco has said he is inclined to approve the $14.7 million settlement between U.S. regulators and Volkswagen in the diesel emissions case. A final decision is expected on Oct. 25. The deal requires VW to buy back or repair about 475,000 2.0-liter diesel vehicles that have devices that evade pollution tests but do not meet emissions regulations once on the road.  

 If you own a 2016 or 2017 Jeep Wrangler it may be subject to recall to fix air bags that may not inflate in a crash. The Detroit News said a wiring glitch may cut off signals to the air bag computer. Owners will be notified when to bring their Wranglers to a dealer for repair.


 Subaru said the 2017 Impreza sedan will carry a starting price of $18,395, or $100 over the 2016 model. The 2017 rides on a new Global Platform that Suby says results in a more refined interior, improved crash protection and ride comfort. It will be the first Impreza manufactured in the U.S.





Auto News for Oct. 18 – Ford To Idle Some Plants Due To Slow Sales


 Ford will idle two plants in the U.S. and two in Mexico this month due to slowing sales. That will include one of two plants that produce the F-150 pickup, one of the company’s bread and butter products. Closing for a week will be the Louisville plant that produces the Escape and Lincoln MKC and the Kansas City facility that produces the full size pickup. Demand for the F-150 declined 2.6 percent in September.


 That report surfaced as Edmunds reported that truck loyalty has reached a record high and no brand commands better loyalty than Toyota. Truck loyalty – which is defined as the rate of truck trade-ins that went toward the purchase of another truck – was at 74 percent through the first nine months of 2016. By comparison, the next highest loyalty rates were vans at 52 percent and compact SUVs at 47.3 percent. This year’s truck loyalty rate is higher than at any other time since Edmunds started tracking trade-ins in 2005. About 70 percent of owners who have traded in their Toyota pickups for another truck this year opted for yet another Toyota. The rate squeaks past loyalty rates for Chevy truck owners (69.5 percent) and Ram owners (68.1 percent). Toyota’s strong loyalty is primarily attributed to its popular midsize Toyota Tacoma; Edmunds estimates that nearly 75 percent of Tacoma trade-ins this year have gone toward the purchase of another Tacoma.

 Tesla said it announce a new product or service on Wednesday, adding little further information other than it will be something “unexpected by most.” The announcement was originally scheduled for Monday, but got bumped up two days.

 Check out for a picture of the ZR1 Corvette being tested in an urban environment. And it wasn’t alone!


Auto News for Oct. 17 – Plug in Mini & Hot New Hyundai


   There is a plug-in hybrid coming from Mini with the battery concealed under the rear seats. An electric motor powers the rear wheels while the gas engine takes care of the front. There will be a Save Battery mode whereby the gas engine takes over and the battery can retain its charge. The new model will be based on a redesigned Countryman and may appear in 2019 according to various reports.


 Hyundai Motor America and Bisimoto have again partnered for the SEMA show, this time developing a 1,040 horsepower, rear-drive “Santa-Fast” SUV. Bisimoto is well known for street, show and race vehicles. The Bisimoto “Santa-Fast” Santa Fe is no exception, pumping out the power from a flex-fuel turbocharged, Hyundai-based 3.8L Lambda V6 power plant positioned longitudinally and driving the rear wheels. It carries a six speed manual transmission.


 Ever fancy driving a McLaren on ice? The company will hold such an event some 200 miles into the Arctic Circle “in one of the most expansive winter testing facilities in the world” in Ivalo, Finland. Guests will experience the McLaren 570S Coupe tackling a variety of track configurations, encompassing both ice and snow surfaces. Away from the track McLaren is teaming up with local travel provider Luxury Action to offer a program of winter activities, including a husky safari and snowmobile expedition. Guests will be accommodated in a luxury hotel that was once the home of the President of Finland, who probably never thought of driving a McLaren on ice and snow either.

 Canadian autoworkers union members have ratified a new four year contract with Fiat Chrysler that calls for the automaker to invest about $330 million into its plants north of the border. Talks now turn to Ford.




Auto News for Oct. 14 – 2017 – CR-V Unveiled With a Turbo


2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

 It won’t go on sale until this winter, yet Honda has released pictures of the “completely redesigned and reengineered 2017 CR-V.” The EX and higher trim levels will feature the model’s first turbocharged engine, a 1.5-liter four rated at 190 horsepower or five more horsepower than the current engine. Inside, Honda said the CR-V will offer top-of-the-class space and the best rear seat legroom in its class. For those tired of Honda’s much criticized sliding lever on the touchscreen, the new CR-V will feature a physical volume knob. Other features include remote engine start, dual-zone climate controls, heated side mirrors, an Electric Parking Brake, rear USB charging ports, front passenger seat with 4-way power adjustment and driver’s seat with 8-way power adjustment and 4-way power lumbar support and heated front seats. The suite known as “Honda Sensing” will be standard equipment on EX and higher trims. That brings Collision Mitigation Braking with Forward Collision Warning and pedestrian sensing capability, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control with low-speed follow and Lane Keeping Assist. Additional new driver-assist technologies include available Blind Spot Information, Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and Auto High Beam headlights. Pricing information will come at a later date.

 The Detroit News reports Fiat Chrysler will unveil an Alfa Romero SUV at the Los Angeles Auto show next month. It is expected to carry the name Stelvio. And that’s all FCA is saying at this point. My guess is that it will be based on the Fiat 500 X.

 Keynote speakers at the Consumer Electronics trade show next year will be Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Ford’s CEO Mark Fields. Cars are becoming a bigger feature at the CES with about 210,000 square feet devoted to them, with emphasis on self-driving vehicles.

 Automakers are quickly adopting Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to their models. Both will appear on more than 100 models next year, when less than year ago they were offered on about 50.

 Germany’s Federal Motor Authority is telling Tesla owners that the Autopilot feature requires their attention and involvement at all times. It said this is not a fully automated driving device, and that Germany’s laws require the driver to be in complete control of their vehicle at all times.

 They are not selling well, so Subaru is pulling the production plug on the Crosstrek Hybrid, the company’s first production hybrid. It will be discontinued for the 2017 model year, according to Automotive News.