Auto News for March 26 – 3,393 Hp – Is that enough?


 The Bugatti Chiron Sport will make its first appearance in North America at the New York Auto Show this week. The new Sport version of the 1,500 horsepower Chiron offers significantly improved handling and even greater agility.

 It was first displayed at the recent Geneva show.

 The Sport model features a specially developed dynamic handling package, reduced weight, new wheels and a new four-pipe exhaust deflector.

 An 8.0-liter 16 cylinder engine can reach 62 mph in just 2.5 seconds. A total of 1,479 horsepower and 1,180 lb-ft of torque can do that for you. That is for the base model. The Sport is slightly lighter so it may be faster.

 Save your doubloons. The price tag? $3.26 million.

 Also to be revealed for the first time in the states, is the Rimac C_Two electric hyper car offering a combined 1,914 horsepower and 1,696 lb-ft of torque.

 Its maker cited a 0-60 in just 1.85 seconds and a top speed of 258 mph making this one of the fastest cars ever built. One writer noted that if you live one-quarter mile from the supermarket, you could get there in 9.1 seconds.

 Guess the frozen foods would not melt on the way home, but then again, they might! It comes with a “virtual” race driving coach and is built by Croatia’s Rimac Automobili.

 The Rimac C-Two is said to have a range of 400 miles but only if you behave yourself. If you don’t, and I doubt many will, then as they say in TV ads, “your results may vary.”

 There is enough juice on board for two full laps of the Nurburgring at full power which may be more than your nervous system could handle.

 Designed by Rimac’s in-house team and made entirely from scratch with all-new technologies – the C_Two features a full carbon fiber monocoque with bonded carbon roof, integrated battery pack and merged rear carbon subframe. The body itself is pure carbon fiber, with the result that it is both relatively light and exceptionally strong.

 There is a double wishbone suspension with electronically-controlled dampers and active height adjustment. Four electric motors power each individual wheel, so AWD.

 A pair of independent single-speed gearboxes apply drive to the front wheels, while a pair of independent two-speed, gearboxes – one for each rear wheel – allow the C_Two to make use of its prodigious torque to produce both mind-blowing acceleration and true hypercar top speed.

 Factoids: Richard Hammon, he of Top Gear fame, has  wrecked a Rimac Concept_One. And no key is needed to gain entry in the Concept Two. Facial recognition has replaced it.

 Price? Well this hypercar more than anything mentioned in this column of late qualifies for the old saying, “If ya got ask…”

 And how about a VW pickup? The ole Rumor Mill has it that VW will introduce a concept midsize truck at the NY show. It will then gauge the public’s response. Press days at the show open on Wednesday.

 BMW has announced it will not put in an appearance at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show after Mercedes made a similar announcement, according to the Detroit News.

 No comment thus far from show officials who are considering moving the show date from mid-winter to the more reasonable (weather wise) fall season.

 Porsche, Land Rover, Volvo, Jaguar and Mazda has also said they will not participate in the Detroit show.

 All this comes at a time when automakers are questioning the effectiveness of costly auto show displays where they share the headlines with rival makers when they could announce new offerings at other times and have the attention of the motor world to themselves for less money.

 Pages for Tesla and SpaceX have been deleted from Facebook. This after Elon Musk was challenged to make the move by fans on Twitter amid Facebook’s data privacy controversy.

 Automotive News said due to slowing demand Honda has told dealers it is trimming production of the Accord as consumers turn to trucks, crossovers and SUV’s. And Nissan has also announced it will reduce factory output to keep dealer inventories in line with slowing response.










Saturday Road Test – Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400


               Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD 

                       Power to Satisfy

  By Ron Amadon

  DAMASCUS, MD. – Sometimes you just need horsepower and this Infiniti has it by the numbers.

  A 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo with 400 hp @ 6,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 to 5,200 rpm with virtually no turbo lag. It is matched to a responsive 7-speed automatic and the combo is good for a 0-60 in the mid-four second range.  

 Drivers who don’t hit the track every weekend will have nothing to complain about when it comes to acceleration.

 Even without using the magnesium paddle shifts, the hot rod six will easily get around slow moving semis and merge smartly onto interstates.

 Combine the brisk acceleration with the upgraded interior   and a slick looking exterior design and one can see why experts may have to take another look at Infiniti’s sales figures.

 The Q50 sedan was the brand’s top seller last month, topping the SUV’s in the lineup, a feat virtually unheard of these days. In fact, the midsized sedan rang up its best February ever.

 Have a favorite drive mode? It is probably covered here with a total of six them available, including Personal which allows the driver to set their own preferences. Also, Snow, Eco, Sport and Sport+ are on the menu.

 I preferred the Sport setting that beefs up throttle response, shift points, dampers and the steering ratio.

 The Red Sport is EPA rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway for a combined 22 mpg. For the week I came in at 23 all on premium petrol.

 Let’s climb inside and find Red Sport only semi-aniline leather-appointed seats, red stitching throughout the cabin and quilted side inserts on the seats.

 Bravo to Infiniti for the easy to read white on black instruments, always the preferred combination especially on a performance car.

 Catching your eye will be lots stitching, aluminum with patterned surface trim on the dashboard, matte dark chrome on the doors and a dark headliner for what the maker said is a more focused and cocooned interior.

 Front seat riders will find ample room with 8-way adjustable sport seats that are also heated. But it did take a while to find just the right comfort for a long day’s drive.

 To the rear head room was a bit tight for taller passengers. Trunk space was excellent.

  A Bose 16 speaker audio system, automatic climate control, and seat memory were included in the $2,650 Sensory Package. If you want to impress your riders, try this: The audio system featured “advanced staging technology, the signal processing algorithm designed especially for this system delivers a precise, rich and nuanced acoustic experience for driver and passengers.”

 Or, in short, it sounded great

 Sort of like bunk beds, there was both an upper and a lower infotainment screen – an 8 inch upper and a 7 inch lower with the more popular content up top. Yet, the top screen was not intuitive and sometimes required multiple steps to get you where you wanted to go.

 The ride was on the stiff side with large potholes and other irregularities sending some noise and vibrations into the cabin. Red Sport’s handling was good, but additional feedback through the redesigned steering wheel would be a worthwhile addition. It lacked that really stuck to road feeling of some of the competition.

 Safety wise, a $2,700 Proactive Package included Intelligent Cruise Control, Direct Adaptive Steering, Lane Departure Warning, Distance Control, and High Beam Assist.

 This very well decked out Infiniti carried a bottom line of $61,710 including $995 for delivery. You could trim $1,500 off that by leaving unchecked the Carbon Fiber Package. Or by checking out the base Pure, Lux or Sport trim lines.

 Bottom Line: This is a fast, good looking midsize luxury sedan amid a lineup that should appeal to a variety of household budgets.  


 When it comes to the service department, Infiniti topped the latest survey of customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power.













Auto News for March 23 – New High Performance Cadillac

2019 CT6 V-Sport

Cadillac has announced the first in a series of performance vehicles – the CT6 V-Sport with a new Twin Turbo V8. This one should be fast, to say the least, with 550 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque in what it calls a perfect balance of performance and refinement.
The potent V8 is married to a 10- speed automatic.

Also a V-Sport specific suspension tuning for improved roll control, cornering capability and steering response and 19-inch Brembo brake system developed specifically for the CT6.

Cadillac will have more to say when the car makes its debut at the NYC show next week along with the all-new Cadillac XT4 SUV.

Also in the big town, Toyota will be talking up the 2019 Corolla Hatchback that is a few inches larger here and there from existing models. It will get a 2.0-liter engine with horsepower to be announced. Transmission wise, look for a CVT or a six speed “Intelligent Manual.”


The new TNGA platform is aboard as is a “Sport tuned” suspension. Inside, there will be Standard Entune 3.0 Audio system with 8-inch Touchscreen, Wi-Fi Connect, Amazon Alexa Integration, and Apple CarPlay. Look for the hatch to hatch at your local dealer this summer.

Globally, Nissan is aiming to sell one million electrified vehicles annually by fiscal year 2022. The plan is to develop eight new pure electrics, offer a global crossover electric, and equip 20 models in 20 countries with autonomous driving technology.

It will launch the effort in China this year with a mid-size electric vehicle. Nissan expects electric vehicles to account for about 20 to 30 percent of its sales here in the U.S. by 2025.

Here is an update on the autonomous driving front following that fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona:

Local police, the National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating.

The city of Boston has asked that autonomous driving tests be halted on its streets.

Toyota will temporarily suspend testing of its vehicles on public roads in California and Michigan. Uber has also halted its testing in four cities.

Tempe’s police chief said it would have been difficult for a human or technology to avoid the accident given how the victim emerged from some shadows.

The governor of Arizona has warmly welcomed testing on its roads. Now Consumer Watchdog has described Arizona as “the wild west of robot car testing.”

Robotics experts say the technology of self-driving cars is not ready for the road. Others are argue the technology should move forward because it can save lives.

The Tempe crash has heightened the debate over who is responsible when a self-driving car is involved in an accident. And, of course, the debate over how safe these cars are at this stage of development.


Auto News for March 22 – New Mercedes to debut & classic cars get a new home


 The redesigned 2019 Mercedes C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet along with the AMG C 43 Coupe and Cabriolet will make their World Premiere at the New York Auto Show next week.

 The C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet get a digital cockpit and a new four-cylinder engine on the C 300 and C 300 4MATIC models and upgraded AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter biturbo V6 in the AMG C 43 with 385 horsepower.

 Press days in NYC begin on March 28.

 The plant that once assembled the Dodge Viper will house some of Fiat Chrysler’s collection of concept and historic vehicles. The Conner Center, located in Detroit, has space to house 85 of the nearly 400 vehicles the company has restored.

 Approximately 77,000 of the plant’s nearly 400,000 square-feet of floor space will be dedicated to displaying vehicles like the 1902 Rambler, the oldest in the collection, to one of the most significant, the 1924 Chrysler Touring. Conner’s administrative offices will be converted into nearly 22,000 square-feet of meeting space.

 Production of the Viper ended on Aug. 31, 2017.

 Hundreds of pieces of Viper memorabilia, as well as a few items related to the Plymouth Prowler will be auctioned off to benefit the United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

 Wall Mart is expanding its car buying service to 250 stores, up the 14 that served as pilot test centers for the program. The website CarSaver of Miami will run the operation in Wall Mart stores that will help consumers select a car or truck, arrange for test drives at a local dealer and assist in selling of the customer’s current vehicle.

 Used car sales climbed to an all-time high of just over 39 million vehicles in 2017 according to Edmunds. Sales rose 1.6 percent over 2016 helped by a spike in demand caused by two hurricanes that flooded out many private vehicles. Also a glut of off-lease vehicles hit the market last year.

 Edmunds also said leasing is expected to become more expensive as interest rates climb and sales of rental vehicles will slow as more consumers use ride-hailing services.

 Hyundai’s Tucson Sport gets a new, more powerful four cylinder engine that will be exclusive to that model. The 2.4-liter four is rated at 181 horsepower with 174 lb-ft of torque or six more horsepower than is currently offered on the Sport model. It will be matched to a six-speed automatic transmission.

 By a large margin, Tesla shareholders have approved the estimated $2.6 billion pay package for CEO Elon Musk. That amount could go higher if Musk meets certain financial goals for the auto maker including production goals. Wall Street likes the agreement as Tesla shares gained nearly two percent in Wednesday trading.  



Auto News for March 21 – A6 debut & Great Jeeps


 The eighth generation Audi A6 will be revealed in New York next week with a new turbo V6 and standard 48-volt mild hybrid technology, expanded interior, a new damping system that improves driver feedback, and a new infotainment system. The MMI touch response system replaces the rotary dial and the conventional buttons and controls with two large, high resolution touch displays. We should know more about this new Audi after its formal unveiling.

 Jeep is showing off seven concept vehicles for the 52nd annual Moab Easter Safari from March 24 to April first.

 “The Moab Easter Jeep Safari presents a unique and perfect opportunity to collect valuable insight from our most loyal customers,” said Mike Manley, Head of Jeep Brand, FCA.

 Two of them caught my eye, the Wagoneer Roadtrip concept and the Sandstorm concept.

 The Wagoneer should look familiar to even non-Jeep fans. Known as the original luxury 4×4, the 1965 Jeep Wagoneer is rich with heritage and is built to scale the trails of Moab or cruise the vast highways of the western states.

 Built from 1963 to 1991, the Wagoneer was the first four-wheel-drive vehicle mated to an automatic transmission, pioneering the first modern SUV.

 This concept rides on a five inch longer wheelbase, a wider track and sports custom fender flares. The Wagoneer’s off-road capability has been bolstered by a boxed and reinforced frame, Dana 44 front and rear axles with lockers, four-link suspension with coilover springs, and 17-inch steel wheels wrapped in 33-inch BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tires. 

 Inside, the Wagoneer features original front and rear bench seats, door panels, kick and rear panels, all trimmed in Oxblood-colored leather. A wicker headliner gives the Wagoneer an open, lighter feel and the floor has been bed lined.

 Additional interior details include a custom cooler fashioned from period-correct luggage, and a tool box created from the valve cover of this Wagoneer’s original 230 Tornado OHC-6 engine.

 Inspired by Baja desert racers, the Sandstorm is a Jeep I would love drive. Jeep said it will blitz long, sandy off road courses while also handling daily driving duties.

 It has a longer wheelbase for increased high speed stability, and the rear doors have been chopped for a “cleaner look.” Of course there is an abundance of off road equipment on this eye catching Jeep including heavy-duty front and rear Dynatrac 60 axles with a 5.68 gear ratio, 17-inch beadlock wheels and 39.5-inch BF Goodrich Krawler tires.

 Inside is a custom cage that integrates the chassis, leather-trimmed front seats and unique low-back racing bucket seats in the rear. A racing-inspired cluster and 7-inch off-road GPS unit handle navigation while independent rocker switches control on-board electronics, air compressor and axle lockers. The Sandstorm concept sheds all plastic trim and carpet in favor of a bed lined floor.

 The Jeep Sandstorm is powered by a 6.4-liter V-8 engine from the Mopar performance catalog and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission.


 BMW said this morning it will increase spending for electric and autonomous car technology and that profits this year, at the least, will match those of last year. The company said at its annual news conference in Germany that it will spend a “high three digit million euro amount year on year on new model development and e-mobility and autonomous driving.”

 The BMW Group intends to grow sales of its electrified vehicles to at least 140,000 units globally in 2018 and is targeting more than half a million units on the world’s roads by the end of 2019.

 The Bentley Bentayga Hybrid will feature an innovative satellite navigation system.

 When a destination is programmed into the system, the Bentayga calculates the best combination of electric drive and V6 engine to maximize efficiency over the journey.

 The car automatically engages the correct drive mode for each part of the journey, constantly calculating the best use of battery charge while storing electrical energy for sections of the journey where it is most useful – such as when arriving in the city, where an electric-only range of 31 miles can be utilized.

 A full charge of the battery from a domestic household socket will take 7.5 hours, and customers with an industrial connection installed at home can reduce the charge time to just 2.5 hours.




Auto News for March 20 – VW’s new five passenger SUV

Volkswagen announced it will build a new five passenger SUV, “designed and engineered for the American market,” at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

It will ride on the new MSB platform and be a variant of the seven-passenger Atlas. The still unnamed SUV will make its debut at the New York show on March 28th.

Ford is interested in acquiring and restoring the long neglected Michigan Central Railroad station and 18 story office tower in the Corktown district of Detroit, the city’s oldest neighborhood. The building closed in 1988 and has sat idle since, but it also caught the eye of Bill Ford Jr., the company’s executive chairman. A purchase agreement would mark the return of the Blue Oval to the city it left many years ago. Corktown is in the heart of a revitalization effort in the Motor City and purchase of the old train station would be a major boost to those efforts.

A new report concludes that demand for gasoline in March has reached levels that are normally associated with the summer driving season. The Energy Information Administration said U.S. exports continue to trend high accounting for a large chunk of the demand. That has lowered inventories and driven the price of gasoline higher, with motorists paying 26 cents a gallon more than they paid a year ago, according to the AAA. The national average gas price per gallon is now $2.55.

Auto News for March 19 – Now that is a bat wing!

 That race car with the big rear wing is the Volkswagen I.D. R Pikes Peak, the all-electric prototype race car that will complete in the annual hill climb in Colorado on June 24th. Officials said competing in the Race to the Clouds is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars. It will be VW’s first appearance in the race since 1987.

 Lincoln will debut a “production preview” of the Aviator at the New York Auto Show March 28th. It will be the first of two all-new vehicles Lincoln will bring to market in the next couple of years. And where would all this be without the teaser photo?

 If the name sounds familiar, it harks back to a model produced from 2003 to 2005. This latest model will be based on the Ford Explorer platform.

 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Hyundai and Kia models where air bags failed to deploy in frontal crashes. A total of six crashes resulted in four fatalities and six injuries involving model year 2012 Hyundai Sonatas and 2012-13 Kia Fortes. NHTSA said the problem was related to air bag computers that experienced an electric circuit short and were made by ZF-TRW. The agency it wants to know if other automakers used that computer.

 The Porsche 911 GT 3, Ferrari 488 Pista, and the Lamborghini Huracan Pereformante Spyder, are among the cars revealed at the Geneva show that are most in demand according to the financial firm, JBR Capital. All, shall we say, are rather expensive.