Posts from ‘Sporty/Performance Cars’
The well-optioned 2013 BMW M5 test car we just had through the Consumer Guide test fleet carried a sticker price of $103,995. Even for a 560-horsepower super-sedan, that’s a lot of coin. For that money, there had better be some special styling features inside and out to distinguish an M5 from a “garden-variety” 550i. The legendary GM stylist Harley Earl referred to exclusive design touches like these as a “visual receipt” for the purchase price of a vehicle.
BMW has done a nice job on this front with the M5. Check it out in the pics below:
I just spent the weekend in BMW’s awesome 2013 M5. I say awesome because the car accelerates about as rapidly as anything I have ever driven and is capable of reaching absurd speeds, space permitting.
So what’s the problem? The problem is that I really didn’t enjoy driving the car. And, after careful consideration, I blame my ambivalence on the M5’s outsized performance potential—or more correctly, the compromises made to achieve that potential.
Our 6-speed manual-transmission test car suffers from finicky clutch engagement, which complicates low-speed driving. Additionally, throttle response is less than precise, possibly a result of turbo lag. But be it lag or just temperamental German throttle mapping, the result is a car that is only rewarding to drive in full-throttle bursts—and those are complicated by the car’s obnoxious and overbearing traction-control system.
The other stuff that should be great is great. The brakes feel capable of stopping a locomotive if needed, and the steering is amazingly sharp. Likewise, few cars feel this planted and purposeful on the highway. Still, this car is missing something.
The word iconic gets thrown around fairly freely for a lot of things that are merely successful, but if there’s an automobile that truly deserves that adjective, it’s probably the Porsche 911. Going on 50 years now—the public debut of the prototype was at the September 1963 Frankfurt auto show—the shape of the 911 has stayed true to its original theme, while the sports car’s performance has risen to ever-greater heights. It is an icon in the strict dictionary sense of something whose form suggests its meaning.
Starting with a prospective late-’50s design from Albrecht Goertz, young F. A. “Butzi” Porsche transformed it into the low, taut fastback coupe (with vestigial rear seats) that became the unmistakable 911 shape. Specific dimensions may have changed over the years, but the cant of any 911’s roof, the shape of its side windows, and the slope of its nose between prominent headlights have created an enduring symbol of the automaker from Stuttgart.
Cool is a pretty ambiguous word. While some folks might think it’s cool to visit Denny’s daily during that chain’s Baconalia promotion, others might reserve the term for activities more akin to successfully scaling Mount Everest without gloves, or being stuck in an elevator with the surviving members of The Bangles.
Here, we’re leaning more toward the Mount Everest/Bangles thing. We’re using cool in same sort of emotive, “heck yeah!” sort of way that an eighth-grader might after finding a copy of last year’s swimsuit issue hidden away in his dad’s sock drawer.
To that end, the 10 vehicles we present here are the current American-brand rides that have us screaming “heck yeah!” There’s nothing especially nationalistic about our list, as we intend to follow this missive up with similar posts featuring the coolest European and Asian vehicles. Got a car in mind you think we should have included? Let’s hear it.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Porsche 911.
Porsche is using the 2013 New York Auto Show to celebrate the 50th birthday of its most iconic sports car. Part of the festivities include the debut of the 2014 911 GT3.
The GT3 is basically a sportier version of the standard 911 Carrera. How do you make an already sporty car even more so? By giving it more power, better handling, and more expressive styling.
Porsche accomplishes the first by taking a 3.8-liter horizontally opposed 6-cylinder engine and massaging it to 475 horsepower. Though this motor is technically related to the 3.8-liter unit in the 911 Carrera S, the company says only a few parts are shared between them. Unique to the GT3 are titanium connecting rods and forged pistons, each of which is necessary to sustain the engine under extreme loads—up to 9000 rpm in this case. Power gets to the rear wheels (all-wheel drive is not offered on the GT3) via a specially designed 7-speed dual-clutch automated-manual transmission, called a PDK in Porsche speak. Much to the chagrin of purists, no manual transmission is available. A sport exhaust allows gases to escape faster, and the GT3 gives owners the ability to switch between two modes.
Also check out Consumer Guide’s thorough review of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro.
With the unveiling today of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, we thought it would be cool to look back at the Z/28s of yore. The first one dates back to the original Camaro, which first hit American streets in the autumn of 1966 as a 1967 model.
Introduced in early 1967, the Camaro Z/28 package was created for the Sports Car Club of America’s year-old Trans-American road-race series. Included were dual stripes on the hood and trunk, wide red-stripe tires, “Rally” wheels, and an uprated suspension. The heart of the package was a special high-winding 302-cubic-inch V8 rated at 290 horsepower. Only 602 were built.
It was only the Camaro’s third model year, but the Z/28 was already a legend. The basic styling was reworked, and it was a masterful job. Great actually, and it served as the inspiration for the 2010 Camaro. Z/28s still had the specific 302-cubic-inch small block and a mandatory 4-speed manual transmission. Chevy made 20,302 Z/28s in ’69, a healthy increase over the 7,199 sold the year before.
The surprise introduction of the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 was the big news from Chevy at the 2013 New York Auto Show. This track-focused Camaro joins the refreshed 2014 Camaro lineup. (See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro.)
The Z/28 uses Chevrolet’s LS7 engine, a 7.0-liter (427 cubic inch) V8 that will be good for at least 500 horsepower. It’s similar to the naturally aspirated engine used in the Corvette Z06. It is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. The Z/28 comes with carbon-ceramic brakes, quick-ratio steering, and specific chassis tuning.
The Z/28’s exterior starts with the freshened 2014 Camaro’s new look. The front and rear fascias are redesigned, and the car also gets a new grille and fresh taillights. Specific Z/28 body parts include a full aerodynamic package that includes a front splitter, underbody panels that reduce lift, an aggressive rear spoiler, and a rear diffuser. There are also front and rear fender flares and extended rocker panels.
See Consumer Guide’s report on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.
As the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class approaches its on-sale date, the German manufacturer unleashed its high-performance sibling at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
The CLA-Class is Mercedes’ new entry-level car. Think of it as a pint-sized CLS-Class, and you have the general idea. The first models to reach our shores will be front-wheel drive and powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 208 horsepower.
As with its other cars, the AMG-tuned edition of the CLA will make its conventional sibling seem absolutely pedestrian in comparison. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG will also have a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, but massaged to 355 horsepower. Thankfully, AMG engineers are pairing this engine with a specially tuned version of Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive (imagine trying to channel that much power through the front wheels alone). The sole transmission is an AMG-designed 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual. Expect a 0-60-mph acceleration time of 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.
Other high-tech goodies include a three-stage antiskid system, including one setting that disables this safety net completely. A specific performance suspension includes reinforced bearings designed to improve stability at high speeds. Faster steering ratios and larger brakes promise greater control and stability.
Three BMW vehicles are making their first appearances in the United States at the 2013 New York Auto Show. The company is also announcing some major updates to its ConnectedDrive telematics suite.
The trio of vehicles includes one concept and two production cars. The “pie in the sky” vehicle is the Concept Active Tourer. This small wagon pairs a plug-in electric motor with a 3-cylinder gasoline engine that BMW says will achieve a combined 95 mpg. The roof is made of a composite glass panel that allows users to darken or lighten its tinting with the push of a button. It’s a similar concept to the MAGIC SKY roof found on the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class and SLK-Class convertibles.
Those interested in more “realistic” vehicles can check out the 2014 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo. This 4-door fastback has a longer wheelbase than its sedan counterpart, which allows for more passenger and cargo room. Think of this car as a shrunken version of the brand’s 5-Series Gran Turismo. Powertrains will come from the 3-Series sedan and include a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder and 3.0-liter turbocharged inline 6-cylinder. Though not specifically mentioned, we would expect this car to offer the choice of rear-wheel drive or BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive. The 2014 BMW 3-Series Gran Turismo goes on sale in late summer, with pricing to be announced closer to that time.
Chrysler’s Ralph Gilles is a busy guy these days. He is both the president and CEO of the SRT brand and Motorsports and the senior vice president of Product Design. Consumer Guide recently sat down with Ralph for a conversation about the relaunch of the Viper and the SRT brand in general.
Consumer Guide: It seems like the new Viper has moved upscale with this new generation. Is that where that market is going? Is there still a place for a raw, bare-bones sports car?