Auto News for Sept. 19 – Mazda Teases Rotary


 A top executive at Mazda has told Britain’s Auto Express the company will exhibit a concept car with a rotary engine, much like the late RX7, at the upcoming Tokyo auto show. And, he hinted that the concept might even make to market one day. The fondly remembered RX-8 is pictured.

 Meanwhile, a top Ford official said the company will no longer offer the hopped up Fiesta ST in the U.S. due to a lack of customer interest. Of course, one could always move up to the 5.0-liter Mustang.

 If you are planning on renting a car on short notice, don’t be surprised if your local outlet is sold out. Yours truly tried to rent a car for a short trip to a small city where most of the major rental firms set up shop at the regional airport. All were sold out which is a very rare occurrence at this airport going back several years. So what happened? I was told by one rep that rental companies are sending more vehicles south to offset those flooded out by the big hurricanes. So if you are looking for rental wheels, it might be a good idea to plan at least month in advance.

 Nissan has reached a new milestone with 150 million vehicles produced globally. It took 73 years for Nissan to produce its first 100 million vehicles after the company was founded in 1933, and another 11 years to build the last 50 million.

 Gas prices are starting to go our way, according to the Triple A.

 As South and Southeast states recover from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, motorists in 45 states are paying less for a gallon of gas on the week. At $2.62, today’s national gas price average is the cheapest in 14 days and five cents less than last week.

“Gas prices are dropping as the situation with refineries, pipelines and gasoline deliveries is positively progressing,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “It looks like pump prices will continue on this declining trend into the coming weeks as the regions affected by Irma and Harvey resume normal operations.




Auto News for Sept. 18 – Strike Declared At Equinox Plant

Union members have called a strike at the Ontario, Canada GM plant where the popular Chevrolet Equinox is built. The union represents about 2,800 workers and its leaders acted when negotiators were unable to come up with an agreement before midnight last night local time. It appears one main sticking point is a union demand that the Equinox will be produced at the facility long term.

The Volkswagen Tiguan came out on top when Cars.Com ranked seven compact SUV’s.

Here is how they finished.

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Mazda CX-5

2017 Ford Escape

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2017.5 Nissan Rogue

2017 Jeep Compass

“The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan impressed the judges with its roominess and value,” said Jennifer Newman,’s editor-in-chief. “The cargo capability is top of the class, making this small SUV a huge advantage for shoppers concerned about getting the most room for the money.”

The price requirement was a maximum of $35,000 including all options and destination charges.

The very first car to have been driven on Italian roads is one of the special entries in this year’s Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

It was owned by wealthy textile industrialist, Gaetano Rossi. He ordered the car in 1892 and it was delivered to his home in Schio, Vicenza, in the north of the country in January 1893.

However, the car was not Italian, but French, an early 2.5 hp twin-cylinder Peugeot Type 3 with chassis number 25.

The car lay forgotten for some years until 1955, when its owners offered it to the Turin Automobile Museum in exchange for a then-brand new Fiat 1100.
Partially restored in time for the museum opening in 1963, the Peugeot was initially thought to be a later model but its true provenance was uncovered in 1999 by Fabrizio Taiana of the Club Storico Peugeot Italia. Until his detective work revealed the truth, the honor of being the first car on Italian soil was held by a Panhard et Levassor, which was driven in Florence in 1894.
Since then, the Type 3 has undergone a further full bodywork restoration in 2007 and, this year, its engine and other mechanical parts were reconditioned in preparation for its debut on the world-famous London to Brighton Run.


Saturday Road Test – A Week With An Atlas


                        2018 Volkswagen Atlas

                                The Bigger VW                      

By Ron Amadon

DAMASCUS, MD. – We have now spent an entire week getting to know the largest vehicle in the VW lineup, the three row, 7 passenger, made in Chattanooga, please don’t call me Charles, Atlas.

 How far this company has come since its air cooled past!  At 198 inches long, the Atlas is just over 9 inches longer than anything in the current lineup and 13 inches longer than the just stretched ’18 model Tiguan. In case you were wondering, it is 21 inches longer than the classic 1977 Volks bus. (Long may it live.)

 Real adults, not just those who make a living riding race horses, can comfortably ride in the third row, and climb back there without enrolling in the latest and greatest workout regime.  

 The tested top-of-the-line V6 SEL Premium with 4MOTION all-wheel drive sported a 3.6 liter V6 rated at 276 hp @ 6,200 rpm and 266 lb-ft of torque at 2,750 rpm. It was attached to an eight-speed automatic and they worked very well together considering their task of moving forward a 4,500 pound vehicle. I kept looking for the paddle shifts.

 A 0-60 of about 7.5 seconds, and, not that many Atlas owners will ever see this, a top speed of 135.  The speedo is marked to 160.

 Economy wise, the EPA said 17 mpg city, 23 highway for a combined 19 mpg. I came away at 21.

 The 10-way adjustable and heated driver’s seat would encourage anyone to take a long road trip, say out to California from Van Buren, Maine. (Look that one up in your atlas.)

 VW’s 4Motion would be most welcome up there in say, three months. That is when you dial in the Snow Mode, number two on the drive mode selector. The others are Onroad, Offroad, and Customer (created) Off road.

 Those riding shotgun get an 8-way adjustable seat, and both are clad in leather. Lower level trim lines are clad in leatherette.

 My overall impression of the interior was one of high quality, excellent layout, and very familiar to anyone who has driven a VW product of late.

 And let me recommend the 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio system that renders clean, crisp sound that makes the miles melt away.

 If you have to haul two budding NBA stars in row two, fold down the third row 50/50 seats, and construct ample stretch out room for them. Just make sure they remember you come contract time.

 Like other vehicles this size, customers can choose either second row individual Captain’s Chairs, or a bench seat. Fold down the second and third row and you get a                                                                                                     generous 96.8 cubic feet of storage.

 Neat features on the test vehicle were 3-Zone Automatic Climate Control, heated passenger seat and steering wheel, ventilated front seats, puddle lights, and rather nice 20’ alloy wheels.

 Handling was of a more sporty nature than one might expect, the inside was quiet at 70 mph interstate speed, with just a touch of wind noise, and the 12.3 digital cockpit instrument panel was an easy and welcome read. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board.

 With no chargeable options, the Atlas Premium decked out in Reflex Silver Metallic carried a bottom line totaling $49,415 with about all the equipment one could want.

 While late to the SUV party, the Atlas arrived more than ready to do battle in one of the most heated sectors of the automobile world. Rivals include the Acura MDX and Toyota Highlander.



Auto News for Sept. 15 – Edging Closer To Car Of The Year

  The semi-finalists have been announced for the 2018 North American Car, Truck and Sport Utility of the year awards.

“This is where it gets quite serious,” said Mark Phelan, president of the jury that will announce the finalists at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. And the winners will be named at the start of the Detroit show in January.

The finalists for Car of the Year:

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia

2018 Audi A5 Sportback

2017 BMW 5-series

2018 Honda Accord

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

2018 Kia Rio

2018 Kia Stinger

2018 Lexus LC500

2017 Porsche Panamera

2018 Subaru Impreza

2018 Toyota Camry

 Sport Utility finalists:

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

2018 Audi Q5/S5

2018 BMW X3

2018 Buick Enclave

2018 Chevrolet Equinox

2018 Chevrolet Traverse

2018 Honda Odyssey

2017 Jeep Compass

2017 Kia Niro

2018 Land Rover Discovery

2017 Mazda CX-5

2018 Subaru Crosstrek

2018 VW Atlas

2018 VW Tiguan

2018 Volvo XC60

 And for Truck of the Year:

2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

2018 Ford Expedition

2018 Lincoln Navigator

 The judges are 60 professional automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada. I am not one of them, but if I were voting my ballot would be cast for the Toyota Camry, Audi Q5/S5, and the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

 But this has all the certainty of asking someone here in September who will win the Super Bowl.


 Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, has unveiled its first compact sport sedan, the G70. U.S. customers will probably be able to choose either a turbocharged 3.3-liter gasoline V6, or a 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline I4 when the G70 comes to the U.S. sometime after its introduction in Korea on September 20th.

 The six comes in the G70 Sport edition with a 0-60 in 4.7 seconds and a top speed, Genesis said, of 167 mph.

 The G70 also incorporates numerous advanced driver assist systems such as Highway Driving Assist, nine standard airbags and a high level of connectivity with server-based voice recognition technology. It also has also been designed to help protect pedestrians – when imminent impact with a pedestrian is detected, its active hood function operates by lifting the hood to absorb shock and minimize the risk of injury.

 Product specifications for North America are expected early next year.

 In brief:

 A top Porsche executive has told “Autocar,” the company is thinking about a coupe version of the Cayenne. BMW and Mercedes already have theirs on the market.

 VW has improved the range of its e-Golf from 83 miles to 125 miles and given it more power using a beefier electric motor. It also raised the starting price to $31,315 before tax credits, a gain of $1,500. That also includes a longer list of standard equipment such as LED taillights, cruise control, 8-inch glass touchscreen and leather wrapped steering wheel.

 In case you missed the announcement, consumer prices rose 0.4 percent last month, the largest increase in seven months. Much of it was blamed on a 6.3 percent increase in gas prices, and further increases are expected this month as refineries in Houston recover from Hurricane Harvey.

 A poll by the UK’s biggest road safety charity reveals what distracted drivers are doing. The three most frequently observed activities are smoking, eating and drinking. But more surprisingly ‘telling off children’ and ‘styling hair’ were also high in the charts, along with shaving.




Auto News for Sept. 14 – Shelby Raptor For Rapture

Shelby raptor baja 

 The Ford Raptor was one of the best trucks ever tested in my Saturday road test feature, and now Shelby has gone several steps further.

 Called the Shelby Raptor Baja it is, first and foremost, one mean looking truck.

 It has a custom cold-air performance intake system and tune that produces 525+ horsepower and a more than robust 610+ lb-ft of torque from a V6. A six not an eight!

 It is married to a 10-speed automatic.

 There is also a new suspension developed with FOX Racing, a four corner adjustable system that backers said adapts “to any terrain from smooth streets to rigorous off-road trails with a simple no tool needed adjustment.”

 A custom front bumper, rear bumper and chase rack catch the eye. The Raptor also features an eight LED light configuration, as well as mounts for two spare tires.

 Inside are custom leather seats, floor mat and console badging, and the truck’s serial number plate.

 It is available now through authorized Shelby Ford dealers with an estimated MSRP of $117,460 or current Raptor owners can get a conversion for $49,295.

 Shelby officials said the truck gives “enthusiasts even more ways to have high horsepower fun.”

 A new tweet from Elon Musk said the company’s electric semi-trailer truck will be revealed on October 26, but that date is tentative. Musk originally said the semi’s debut would come in September. Said the man himself:

 “Tesla Semi truck unveil & test ride tentatively scheduled for Oct 26th in Hawthorne (Calif). Worth seeing this beast in person. It’s unreal.”

 Okay you now can nod or wave your arm to tell a pedestrian that it’s okay to cross in front of you. But how is that task carried out when cars drive themselves?

 Ford is working on that problem with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Researchers decided light signals are the most effective means for creating a visual communications protocol for self-driving vehicles.

 As light signals for turning and braking indication are already standardized and widely understood, they determined the use of lighting signals is best to communicate whether the vehicle is in autonomous drive mode, beginning to yield, or about to accelerate from a stop. It comes in the form of a light bar mounted above the windshield of a Transit Connect van.

 Testing continues and Ford is working toward the creation of a standard for these warning lights. It would work like this:

 Yield: Two white lights that move side to side, indicating vehicle is about to yield to a full stop

 Active autonomous driving mode: Solid white light to indicate vehicle is driving autonomously

 Start to go: Rapidly blinking white light to indicate vehicle is beginning to accelerate from a stop

 Clearly pedestrian education will need to be widespread to make all this work since many pay little or no attention to walk lights at busy intersections.



Auto News for Sept. 13 – The message is in the grille

  The sometimes outrageous, sometimes practical vehicles continue to reveal themselves during press days at the Frankfurt auto show.

 Honda Urban EV Concept

Honda EVhonda-urban-ev-concept-official-image 

President and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, said at the unveiling, “This is not some vision of the distant future; a production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”

 The EV sits on a whole new platform and is slightly smaller than the Honda Fit. And there are lots of new gadgets including interactive multilingual messages that are displayed between the headlights, such as greetings, advice for other drivers, (that could be interesting), or charging status updates.

 It will seat four, has a large “floating dashboard” with a wrap- around screen that runs behind the console and extends into the doors.  

 We will have to wait for information on what makes its go and what the range will be among other things, but it’s an interesting concept, albeit in drawing form. And there was no comment on when it might hit these shores.

Kia Proceed Concept 15

 Kia took the wraps off the striking Proceed Concept, that its maker called an “elongated hot hatch.” Officials said it previews what two future models might look like, but neither is offered here in the U.S. Let’s hope this one is the exception and it could be a Porsche Panamera for the masses.  As you can see from the pictures it certainly has a futuristic interior with a “choice of cabin materials inspired by bespoke tailoring and haute couture,” Kia said.

 There is an illuminated outline of the car’s design that “greets drivers as they approach the car. This serves as a powerful nocturnal visual identifier when the car is on the move.”

Kia Proceed Concept 7

 The instrument and horizontal infotainment panels illustrate three intuitive, color-coded driving modes – Lava Red for ‘GT’ mode, Forest Green for ‘Eco’ mode, and Ghost White for ‘Autonomous’ mode.

 And let us not forget the flush mounted shelf housed within the dashboard containing three “evocative aromas.”

 “Each of these three engraved flacons contains a scent synonymous with power, passion and performance; aromas that any petrol head will instantly recognize,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer Europe for Kia Motors

 “There’s the warm musky smell of aged leather, the oily fragrance of a garage that’s home to a classic car, and the tang of high-octane motorsport fuel. This is about automotive passion and the love of car culture,” he said.

 Again, let’s hope Kia ships this one our way. I simply can’t believe it would be anything other than a hot seller. It just makes scents.

New Continental GT - 8

 Moving more than a bit upscale, we find the new Bentley Continental with a 6.0-liter V12 with 626 horsepower, a 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds, and a top speed of 207 mph, handy when the CEO is late for a meeting. The transmission is a dual-clutch 8-speed automatic.

 A Dynamic Ride System controls comfort and lateral roll, “cushioning passengers from excessive movement …”

 The headlight lens design was inspired by the “finest cut-crystal glasses.” Inside owners will find over 107 square feet of wood that takes nine hours to create and fit, a task that is accomplished almost entirely by hand.

 And a top-of-the-line sound system will crank out 2,200 watts, through 18 speakers and two active bass transducers and eight DSP sound modes.

 The new model should hit the European market in early 2019.

Mercedes EQA

 Over at Mercedes came an “electric athlete” in the form of the Concept EPA show car. Two electric motors, with a system output that can be increased to over 200 kW thanks to scalable battery components, and permanent all-wheel drive deliver impressive dynamic performance, said the maker.

The two drive programs “Sport” and “Sport Plus” offer a different front to rear torque distribution, allowing a choice of individual drive characteristics.

 The black panel at the front end acts as a virtual radiator grille and changes its look according to the drive program.

 In the “Sport” drive program the grille depicts a flaming wing in horizontal format, while in “Sport Plus” mode vertical struts are displayed.

 Range? About 248 miles depending on the battery capacity installed.

 The first series-produced model of the new EQ product brand, the EQC, is set to be produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen from 2019.









Auto News for Sept. 12 The Future at the Frankfurt Show

 Europe’s biggest auto show is underway in Frankfurt and there are vehicles galore that will catch the eye, as well as those that give us a dramatic look at the electric and self-driving future.

 First up, look what Mercedes and AMG have been up to!

MB AMG project car

 The Mercedes-AMG Project One is certainly not a black S-Class limo decked out in luxury. Rather, Mercedes said the two-seat sports show car brings full-fledged Formula 1 hybrid technology from the race track to the road.

 “With a system output of over 1,000 hp and a top speed beyond 217 mph this hypercar handles exactly as it looks: it takes your breath away,” said Ola Källenius of the Daimler AG Board of Management.

 MB said the concept car gives specific indications of what to expect from the upcoming production model.

 It sports a 1.6-liter V6 hybrid gas engine mounted ahead of the rear axle urged forward by four electric motors.   The electric motors on the front axle are also true rev wonders, with rotor revolutions up to 50,000 rpm – current state of the art is a speed of 20,000 rpm. All-wheel drive of course and an 8-speed manual transmission. 0-124 mph in six seconds.

 Said Mercedes in conclusion, “Its purpose is also to obtain extensive findings about performance-oriented plug-in hybrid drive technology, further developments of suspension layouts and extended onboard electronics that will later benefit series production AMG cars. The Project ONE team is working hard on successfully bringing this vision onto the road.”

Over at BMW the phrase of the day was “Die zukunft ist jetzt” or “the future is now.”


 That includes the I Vision Dynamic, a four-door Gran Coupe electric with a range of 373 miles, a top speed of over 120 and a 0-62 in four seconds.

 BMW officials said that by 2025 the company will have 25 models with electrified drive systems of which a dozen will be pure-electric.

 Sketches of the Vision Dynamic, BMW said, give some hints as to what a future electric model might look like. It would fit in the BMW lineup between the i3 and the i8 when a production model is introduced, but there was no indication of when that might be.

 BMW gave no details on the electric powertrain and prices will be announced closer to production.

 Audi, “the brand with four rings,” presented a fully autonomous concept called the Aicon with no steering wheel or pedals that should have a range of 497 miles on a single charge.

3173-Audi Aicon 2

  “And as a mobility concept, the Audi Aicon shows the world of tomorrow, in which the advantages of door-to-door individual transportation are combined with the luxurious ambiance of a first-class airline cabin”, Audi proclaimed.

 It would be about the length of the Q7 and nine inches longer than the existing A8 and can project warnings to pedestrians and bike riders. When passengers exit the Aicon in the dark, a “light companion” is activated: A mini-drone with a flashlight safely illuminates the user’s walking path.

3175-Audi Aicon 4

 Seating will be in the 2+2 configuration with two individual seats in front and a two seat bench integrated into the rear panel. Front seats can be adjusted nearly 20 inches back and forth and can be swiveled by up to 15 degrees.

 Travelers can relax and watch a film or surf the web. Video conferences are another option, as is interaction on social media.  

  “The Audi Aicon opens up a new world of mobility to its passengers. Freed from the tasks of driving, they can choose how to spend their time in the car. Working, communicating or simply just relaxing and even napping: Anything is possible while the car autonomously and safely finds its way,” Audi said.

 A total of four electric motors, each drives one wheel, produce a total of 260kW and 405.7 lb-ft of torque. The battery can be recharged to 80 percent capacity in less than 30 minutes.

 Wireless charging would allow the car to pull up to a charging station on its own and charge its battery without any human assistance.  

 It certainly is a fascinating look into the future.


 Not to be left behind in the volt race, Volkswagen announced it will invest 6 billion euros or $7.1 billion in electric mobility over the next five years.

 To that end, it took the wraps off an SUV concept vehicle that “offers a look forward to the production model in 2020.”

 The I.D.Crozz has one electric motor at the front axle and one at the rear with a 225 kW battery pack. VW said it will have a top speed of about 112 mph and owners will be able to achieve an 80 percent recharge in about a half hour. It will have a range of about 311 miles in the European model.

 It sports power opening front doors and sliding rear doors.

 The model displayed just before the start of press days at the Frankfurt show is close to the Tiguan sized production vehicle that should hit show rooms in 2020.  

 And how fast is the new Bugatti Chiron? Top Gear said Pablo Montoya, the retired F1 driver, took just 42 seconds to go from 0-249 mph.