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Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Tennessee’s Central Basin resembles the Italian Alps about as much as Kevin Bacon looks like actual bacon. But on our drive through the Volunteer State, the Alfa Romeo crossover named for the Continent’s iconic mountain pass transported us instead to a different European motoring mecca. Running southwest out of Nashville, the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway plows a narrow squiggle through a verdant forest and conjures up a sort of neo-Nürburgring. The way the manicured easement meets old-growth oak, the way the asphalt never runs straight, the way one blind corner feeds into another, it all evokes the holy Green Hell.

Mind the Lycra-clad cyclists, dispatch with the dawdling sightseers, and ignore the 40- and 50-mph speed limits of the Natchez Trace, and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio alights with verve. It steers with a steady linear effort. The brake pedal responds obediently to slight pressure modulation, and in general Alfa’s brake-by-wire system felt more natural and better sorted this time around than it has in Giulia sedans that we’ve driven. The Stelvio doesn’t drive small—it’s slightly longer than the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class—but there is a precision to the controls that invites you to use more road, to corner closer to trees that crowd the driving line, and to drift nearer the drainage ditch at the pavement’s edge. In this segment, only a Porsche Macan inspires more confidence.

The Stelvio’s dynamic virtues hold up when driven in more routine environs as well. This transmission is the rare automatic that doesn’t race to upshift upon leaving a stoplight, even with the driving-mode selector pointed at the default Natural setting. Beyond the buttercream-smooth Parkway, both the 19- and 20-inch wheels calmly rolled over imperfections.


Expand the Brand

Alfa moved just 2700 vehicles in America in the first five months of 2017. The brand’s keepers hope to grow that number by moving beyond just building sporty vehicles for the enthusiast fringe, expanding into the greener field where the masses of buyers have clustered: compact crossovers. The Stelvio’s measurements suggest tighter rear-seat and cargo space than its competitors, although neither feels especially cramped. To keep Alfa’s entry from being a me-too vehicle, the brand is applying technology in its own way.

“At Alfa Romeo, technology is more than a fancy radio and advanced driver-assistance systems. Everybody has that,” taunts Alfa boss Reid Bigland. The technology that Bigland boasts of: Every Stelvio carries a carbon-fiber driveshaft and enough aluminum that the new Alfa should undercut the BMW X3 by almost 100 pounds. The available Performance package installs a helical limited-slip differential between the rear wheels. To drive home the brand message, Alfa makes the driver thumb an engine-start button mounted on the steering wheel. In Sport and Ti Sport trims, massive column-mounted aluminum shift paddles block the control stalks. “You’re not going to use that turn signal without first executing four flawless downshifts,” they insist.

Everybody else also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, all of which comes standard here. The variable-valve-lift engine is the strongman of the class, however, at 280 horses and 306 lb-ft of torque. Yet it’s also a gentleman, revving smoothly with minimal turbo lag.

Stelvio pricing starts from $42,990 for a nicely equipped car that includes 10-way power seats for both the driver and passenger, real leather (many competitors use a synthetic material as standard), 18-inch wheels, proximity-key entry, remote start, adaptive headlights, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, and a power liftgate. The $2000 step up to the Ti trim adds heating to the front seats and the steering wheel, satellite radio, front parking sensors, and an 8.8-inch infotainment display (up from 6.5 inches in the base model). Sport variants, available in both base and Ti configurations, include paddle shifters, aluminum interior trim and pedals, larger wheels, painted brake calipers (in red, black, or yellow), and gloss-black exterior trim. A couple of different driver-assistance packages bring blind-spot monitoring, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beams. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility will become standard equipment within a couple months of the Stelvio’s late-June arrival, but that feature is unavailable in the initial batch of cars.

While Maserati’s remake has been assembled partially with Chrysler leftovers, Alfa gets its own premium-feeling switchgear and a new infotainment system that is, at least for now, exclusive to the brand. The clean interior design can be accented with real aluminum, wood, or carbon fiber. At the same time, the designers didn’t attempt to dress up some of the plastics, such as the untextured, flat-finish trim that surrounds the unfortunate, ambiguous electronic shifter. And the coarse-grain dashtop might have been pilfered from the Ford Taurus assembly plant. In the Stelvio, the highs are high and the lows are low.


The Italian Question

You could extend that encapsulation to cover the entire Alfa Romeo brand. In our four separate tests, not a single fleet-footed Giulia has escaped our scrutiny without first lighting a check-engine lamp, entering a limp-home mode, or jamming its sunroof in the open position. And while we never needed to unpack the code reader we carried to Nashville, the Stelvio illuminated a fault light for the auto stop-start system less than two miles from the end of the drive.

They can take Alfa Romeo out of Italy. But they haven’t taken Italy out of Alfa Romeo.

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2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Review: The Big Italian

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People who exclaim that sexy Italian car brands should stay away from building boring SUVs are usually the ones who leap to their feet in incredulous joy when they see the final result.

Guilty as charged.

The Alfa Romeo Stelvio takes the modern compact luxury crossover in all its elephantine two-box blandness and injects it with personality, verve, and panache. And although there are people haulers and people haulers that haul ass, none do the latter with such glamour as the Stelvio. Damn, this thing looks good. And I hate SUVs.

Let’s take stock: The Stelvio’s intimidating front fascia and Scudetto triangular shield communicates its business purpose in no uncertain way. The muscular and taut body-side sheetmetal looks fast just standing still. And the sculpted fastback-tapered tailgate is a bit busy but still looks marvelous. The Stelvio is what you would expect from a design studio that won’t allow function to compromise form. Never will you make an entrance in your Stelvio and have someone say, “Oh … that’s, umm, nice.” Expect gushing.

It gets better when you get inside. Sharing the Giorgio component set of the Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan—which we have loved in both base and Quadrifoglio editions—the Stelvio rides on the same 111.0-inch wheelbase but carries 1.5 inches more in overall length and about an inch more width.

The interesting thing is how the Stelvio carries this incrementally larger size. Although the Giulia rightly feels like a member of the compact sedan segment, the Stelvio carries the substantial heft of a larger crossover without losing any suggestion of a compact’s nimbleness. The Giorgio platform is rear-drive-biased and can send 100 percent of engine power to the rear axle for that energetic driving feeling but up to 60 percent to the front wheels when added traction is needed.

Over the course of a sodden, soggy day along Tennessee’s Natchez Trace Parkway and surrounding winding roads, I found the Stelvio to be a new contender for the best-handling SUV on the planet. Sure, Motor Trend recently tested top-end versions of the Porsche Macan, Mercedes GLC, and Jaguar F-Pace, which will scoot quicker, but if we’re looking at just base models, the Alfa could very well take the crown for most-fun-to-flog crossover. And just wait for the first quarter of 2018, when the Stelvio Quadrifoglio variant with its 505 hp, arrives to destroy all comers.

But back to the matter at hand. Ignoring the wishes of Sun Belt drivers and burnout-minded enthusiasts, Alfa Romeo is not offering a Stelvio rear-wheel-drive variant. Rather, every Stelvio comes with all-wheel drive, sending the longitudinally mounted 2.0-liter turbo-four’s 280 hp and 306 lb-ft through a ZF eight-speed automatic out to Continental CrossContact LX Sport 235/60R18 run-flat all-season tires. Alfa claims the horsepower and torque numbers are best in class.

But perhaps the most stunning number is the Stelvio’s claimed 0–60 time of 5.4 seconds. This blitzes the competition, many of which cannot crack six seconds, yet the Stelvio gets a claimed 28 mpg on the highway.

If there’s a drawback to the turbo-four, it’s that its revs elevate so smoothly that you will hit redline far before you think the engine should—which in manual shift mode means you’ll be banging harshly off the 5,500-rpm redline. It sounds so glorious from 3,200 rpm upward that you don’t want the aria to end, and it is rudely interrupted at that. A tragedy. But because the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission rips through shifts in less than 100 milliseconds, you’ll at least be able to grab that next cog in a hurry.

As with the Giulia, Alfa Romeo offers its DNA driving modes—for dynamic, normal, and fuel-efficient passage. But in the taller Stelvio, normal mode seems meant just for straight-line long-haul driving. As soon as the roads get twisty, normal mode’s steering feedback feels loose and sloppy. Fortunately, Dynamic mode clears that up. Although there are no actual changes to the suspension settings, you do get racier traction control response and quicker reactions from the accelerator, brakes, and steering.

As to be expected with thicker sidewall rubber, the Lusso’s 19-inch wheels provide a bit more compliance than the performance-minded 20-inchers of the Sport model. Regardless of wheel size, the double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension proved adept to blasting the slaloming roads of the Natchez Trace well past the speed limit, shifting the Stelvio’s 4,044 pounds with minimal head toss or body roll. Both the base and stiffer Sport suspension are an absolute blast to drive on twisty roads. When was the last time someone said that about a SUV?

The anti-lock braking system—bolstering the 13-inch four-piston Brembos up front and 12.5-inch single-piston units in back—was truly impressive. Driving a desolate stretch of wet, greasy Tennessee tarmac, I performed a controlled panic stop from high speed. In most vehicles, such a dramatic event would trigger an instant and uncomfortable ka-dunk ka-dunk ka-dunk from the ABS fighting for traction. Instead, I felt zero kickback in the brake pedal as the Stelvio dove to a quick stop without fuss.

Indeed, the dynamics of the Stelvio seem more akin to a tall sport sedan than a two-box SUV. (A perfect 50/50 weight distribution and a 12.0:1 steering ratio helps.) Following that enthusiastic line of thinking, Alfa will not offer any sort of terrain-sensing system to amplify its all-wheel-drive system. While it reportedly can handle snow and other slippery stuff just fine, “We don’t see many people in the premium segment looking for off-road, though we won’t stop them from doing so,” said Pieter Hogeveen, director of Alfa Romeo North America.

So what happens when you aren’t driving some back road with your hair on fire? On those long, straight drives, just set DNA in Naturale mode, finger the precisely programmed adaptive cruise control, and cruise. It wouldn’t be Italian if it didn’t look and feel great just walking down the street.

For the U.S. model’s $42,990 base price, the Stelvio comes with an impressive list of standard features: leather seats all around, a power liftgate, 18-inch wheels, a carbon-fiber driveshaft, bi-xenon headlamps, LED rear taillamps, traction control and electronic stability control, hill-descent control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, aluminum roof rails, keyless entry with push-button start and remote start, 10-way power seats up front with 40/20/40 splits in back, dual-zone climate control, start-stop ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a backup camera with rear parking sensors.

There are Sport ($44,790), Ti ($44,990), Sport Ti ($47,490), and Sport Lusso (also $47,490) grades, as well. The base model’s interior color choice is limited to black, although red, chocolate, or crema are available on certain upmarket trim levels. Moving upscale also gains access to 19- or 20-inch wheels, a sunroof, a sport-tuned suspension, a 900-watt Harman Kardon stereo, and the usual other luxury accoutrements. Sadly, those stunning aluminum paddle shifters are only available with the Sport and Sport Ti models. But it’s clear that Alfa thinks it can do a lot of damage in the segment by well-equipping its base model and undercutting its German and Japanese premium rivals on the value equation.

Inside, all soft-touch surfaces have a premium tactile feel, and the metallic accent pieces give the sensation of running your fingers over an electric shaver’s foil head. It felt supple and crisp all at once.

The Stelvio’s back seat is fairly spacious. In my personal 6-footer-behind-6-footer test, there was plenty of kneeroom, thanks to front-seat cutouts, but I barked my shins, and the footwell was just a bit cramped. Plus the sexy downward dash of the roofline meant second-row headroom began to encroach on a taller passenger. So it could be better. But it’s far from worst in class.

For technology, the infotainment system’s 6.5-inch screen comes ready for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto—although the user interface is from Magneti Marelli rather than the FCA Uconnect parts bin. I found the system relatively intuitive, though the screen graphics seemed to lack a certain sharpness compared to the Audi or BMW systems. It’s a very basic layout with a paucity of buttons and knobs in the center console, which made me wonder about wasted space when the center cubby barely fit two wallets. That’s OK, though, because there’s a larger second cubby near the driver’s left knee, which will swallow all sorts of contraband.

Gripes? A few. The engine drones a bit when cruising in the 2,500- to 2,800-rpm range. The navigation system cuts out all audio—rather than quieting it slightly—when it gives directions. The steering wheel requires manual tilt and telescoping adjustment rather than powered controls, which seems petty except that most luxury players offer it. The stop-start system is slow to react, and when it does, it’s with an unpleasant jolt (but it can be defeated, fortunately). For the tactile sexiness of the Ferrari-esque paddle shifters, the center console gearshift was plasticky and wimbly. And those paddle shifters also get in the way of activating turn signals and windshield wipers, a sacrifice I’m personally willing to accept just to run my fingers over the shifters’ luscious surfaces.

But these are minor quibbles for a vehicle that is dynamically outstanding and does a good enough job of ergonomics and features while packaging it all in a beautiful wrapper.

Article source: http://www.motortrend.com/cars/alfa-romeo/stelvio/2018/2018-alfa-romeo-stelvio-review/

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Tennessee’s Central Basin resembles the Italian Alps about as much as Kevin Bacon looks like actual bacon. But on our drive through the Volunteer State, the Alfa Romeo crossover named for the Continent’s iconic mountain pass transported us instead to a different European motoring mecca. Running southwest out of Nashville, the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway plows a narrow squiggle through a verdant forest and conjures up a sort of neo-Nürburgring. The way the manicured easement meets old-growth oak, the way the asphalt never runs straight, the way one blind corner feeds into another, it all evokes the holy Green Hell.

Mind the Lycra-clad cyclists, dispatch with the dawdling sightseers, and ignore the 40- and 50-mph speed limits of the Natchez Trace, and the Alfa Romeo Stelvio alights with verve. It steers with a steady linear effort. The brake pedal responds obediently to slight pressure modulation, and in general Alfa’s brake-by-wire system felt more natural and better sorted this time around than it has in Giulia sedans that we’ve driven. The Stelvio doesn’t drive small—it’s slightly longer than the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC-class—but there is a precision to the controls that invites you to use more road, to corner closer to trees that crowd the driving line, and to drift nearer the drainage ditch at the pavement’s edge. In this segment, only a Porsche Macan inspires more confidence.

The Stelvio’s dynamic virtues hold up when driven in more routine environs as well. This transmission is the rare automatic that doesn’t race to upshift upon leaving a stoplight, even with the driving-mode selector pointed at the default Natural setting. Beyond the buttercream-smooth Parkway, both the 19- and 20-inch wheels calmly rolled over imperfections.


Expand the Brand

Alfa moved just 2700 vehicles in America in the first five months of 2017. The brand’s keepers hope to grow that number by moving beyond just building sporty vehicles for the enthusiast fringe, expanding into the greener field where the masses of buyers have clustered: compact crossovers. The Stelvio’s measurements suggest tighter rear-seat and cargo space than its competitors, although neither feels especially cramped. To keep Alfa’s entry from being a me-too vehicle, the brand is applying technology in its own way.

“At Alfa Romeo, technology is more than a fancy radio and advanced driver-assistance systems. Everybody has that,” taunts Alfa boss Reid Bigland. The technology that Bigland boasts of: Every Stelvio carries a carbon-fiber driveshaft and enough aluminum that the new Alfa should undercut the BMW X3 by almost 100 pounds. The available Performance package installs a helical limited-slip differential between the rear wheels. To drive home the brand message, Alfa makes the driver thumb an engine-start button mounted on the steering wheel. In Sport and Ti Sport trims, massive column-mounted aluminum shift paddles block the control stalks. “You’re not going to use that turn signal without first executing four flawless downshifts,” they insist.

Everybody else also has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four paired with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, all of which comes standard here. The variable-valve-lift engine is the strongman of the class, however, at 280 horses and 306 lb-ft of torque. Yet it’s also a gentleman, revving smoothly with minimal turbo lag.

Stelvio pricing starts from $42,990 for a nicely equipped car that includes 10-way power seats for both the driver and passenger, real leather (many competitors use a synthetic material as standard), 18-inch wheels, proximity-key entry, remote start, adaptive headlights, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, and a power liftgate. The $2000 step up to the Ti trim adds heating to the front seats and the steering wheel, satellite radio, front parking sensors, and an 8.8-inch infotainment display (up from 6.5 inches in the base model). Sport variants, available in both base and Ti configurations, include paddle shifters, aluminum interior trim and pedals, larger wheels, painted brake calipers (in red, black, or yellow), and gloss-black exterior trim. A couple of different driver-assistance packages bring blind-spot monitoring, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beams. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility will become standard equipment within a couple months of the Stelvio’s late-June arrival, but that feature is unavailable in the initial batch of cars.

While Maserati’s remake has been assembled partially with Chrysler leftovers, Alfa gets its own premium-feeling switchgear and a new infotainment system that is, at least for now, exclusive to the brand. The clean interior design can be accented with real aluminum, wood, or carbon fiber. At the same time, the designers didn’t attempt to dress up some of the plastics, such as the untextured, flat-finish trim that surrounds the unfortunate, ambiguous electronic shifter. And the coarse-grain dashtop might have been pilfered from the Ford Taurus assembly plant. In the Stelvio, the highs are high and the lows are low.


The Italian Question

You could extend that encapsulation to cover the entire Alfa Romeo brand. In our four separate tests, not a single fleet-footed Giulia has escaped our scrutiny without first lighting a check-engine lamp, entering a limp-home mode, or jamming its sunroof in the open position. And while we never needed to unpack the code reader we carried to Nashville, the Stelvio illuminated a fault light for the auto stop-start system less than two miles from the end of the drive.

They can take Alfa Romeo out of Italy. But they haven’t taken Italy out of Alfa Romeo.

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Porsche 911 GTS 2017 review

What’s it like to drive?

As I mentioned earlier, the last, proper GTS – the 997, which brought its majesty before us back when Porsche hadn’t dumbed down its steering to save 0.1 of a litre of fuel per 100km (and no, I’m not exaggerating, for once) and heretically attached turbochargers to its pure and perfect flat six engines – is quite possibly my favourite car of all time.

Porsche’s ‘Sport Chrono Package’ gets included as standard

To drive it was to weep tears of joy, constantly, on to your steering wheel (which, helpfully, was Alcantara to help soak them up), because it sounded magnificent, cornered as if it was an extension of your hips, and your hips had been borrowed from Shakira, and was so communicative in the steering department that it seemed to be using actual Harry Potter-style magic rather than engineering.

It wasn’t the fastest car I’ve ever driven, but it was more than fast enough, and it was, of course, beautiful, a beauty that it conveyed through your hands as much as your eyes.

And so here we have a newer, better GTS, which is faster, infinitely more torquey, and more fuel efficient – as if any 911 owner actually gives a damn about that.

The interior is also nicer, the multimedia more modern, the technology more clever, and yet what does Porsche tell us it has done with all of its engineering ingenuity, it has attempted “to mimic, as best we can, the naturally aspirated car”.


2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe
2017 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS Coupe

So even they know it’s wrong, really, and that the resulting lack of noise this latest iteration brought to our ears is a travesty.

Fortunately, the different turbine sizes for the GTS’s special turbochargers, with their extra boostiness, create more of the old howl than you get with a mere Carrera.

It is, in the Coupe in particular, at full noise, a magical sound, and – distant turbo whistles apart – almost as good as it used to be.

The steering, which you can bet has been tuned to “mimic as closely as possible” the old hydraulic system, is also magical and, while it is slightly dead at the straight ahead compared to Porsches of old, if you’d never driven previous versions you’d still think it was the best steering you can buy in any new car on sale today. Because it is.

Is it as good as the old GTS? No, not quite. But it’s so damn close.

The GTS is also slightly lower, slightly sportier in its set-up than a Carrera S, and has better brakes, borrowed from its big brother the 911 Turbo, so it does the going and stopping and turning even better than before. Again, magical is not too kind a word for the way it eats any piece of winding road. Nor is “superlative”.

What really beggars belief, though, is the way this car rides and handles, with its specifically tuned springs and dampers (there are different set-ups for the Targa, Cabriolet and Coupe, but the Coupe is the one you want, because the others are all soft by comparison).

Even over the roughest, and indeed completely broken bits of bitumen, and even at silly pace, the 911 GTS simply refuses to crash, or bottom out, or misbehave. It is fantastically firm and yet freakishly compliant. It is a work of genius.


Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Cabriolet

And yes, it is fast, stupidly so, and you know that its 3.6 second claim for the 0-100km/h dash is entirely achievable, as is its 300-plus top speed, because about these things Porsche does not lie.

As usual, as always, to drive the 911 GTS, the sweetest spot in what is the most delectable of call car ranges, is to experience motoring nirvana.

Is it as good as the old GTS? No, not quite. But it’s so damn close, and so damn good, that it really doesn’t matter. I still want one.

Article source: https://www.carsguide.com.au/car-reviews/porsche-911-gts-56803

2018 Kia Stinger

“Jenny, ich liebe dich!” The giant scrawl of graffiti flashed past the straining Kia Stinger on a wall somewhere around the Metzgesfeld bit of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, part of the endless spaghetti of scribble that decorates every inch of this crazy track. Jenny, wherever you are, we sure hope you appreciate the trouble your homeboy went to.

Like Jenny’s mensch, the Kia Stinger is a little ballsy, from the cartoonish name to the swagger in its styling to the hatchback body to the rear-drive platform. So is the market mission, which seems such a stark disconnect from the cheap-and-chipper Kia defined by its runaway best-seller, the Soul. Likely to sell for $30,000 to $40,000 (we’re extrapolating, based on hints dropped by the factory reps), the Stinger takes Kia into new realms dominated by serious players such as the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-series.

What is Kia offering? A big car in its class, for starters, the Stinger’s 114.4-inch wheelbase being almost four inches longer than that of a 3-series and just 1.7 inches shorter than a Porsche Panamera’s. The back seat has cross-your-legs room, but the factory-stated curb weights come in a little high, ranging from about 3650 pounds for a base 2.0-liter to 3900 for the loaded all-wheel-drive version.

This Kia is also daring people to be different, with a hatchback body and seats that are hailed as lower than the competition’s (for better handling, of course). Australian journalists who were along on the event told us that their nation is hotly anticipating the Stinger, which is seen as picking up the thread of the late Ford Falcon and the fading Holden Commodore, both large, rear-drive sedans.

Well, outside of that small, strange market, the Stinger will be greeted mainly as an amusing anomaly from an unexpected source. Chief designer Gregory Guillaume told us that the Stinger’s styling inspiration was the grand GTs he saw as a boy bombing down the Autoroute du Soleil to the south of France, especially the Maserati Ghibli. You have to squint—really squint—to see it, but okay. Such dreaminess is what happens when Koreans go out and hire Europeans and give them free hand to design and develop the cars.

This and the Nürburgring, because besides Guillaume, who Kia pinched from Volkswagen in 2005, the Hyundai Motor Group also in late 2014 lured Albert Biermann away from what must be one of the best gigs in the industry, running BMW’s M GmbH. Biermann says his first job at Kia became to “try to match the dynamic experience with the emotional appearance” of the Stinger.

Kia was so hot to show off the fruits of its European HR initiatives that it invited journalists to the ’Ring to sample the sportiest Stinger, the twin-turbocharged GT, on the same 12.9-mile Nordschleife where engineers did some of the development work. The only problem: We got just three laps, two in a rear-drive Stinger and one lap in an all-wheel-drive model, all behind a lead car driven at 10-10ths from the go signal. Which is akin to being asked to make intelligent comments about a car’s ride and handling after spending 34 minutes with it underwater.

What we can say is that the Stinger GT, which trades the base 255-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four for a twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 making 365 horsepower, feels like a car built by people who like cars, and it is not a complete mess when confronted with a track. Quite the opposite, in fact. Considering this is a Kia—whose previous rear-drive sedan was the K900—this is big news.

Biermann and his boys did their best to shrink the big Stinger at speed, laboring over bushing choices to give it lively, reactive steering and, on the 19-inch wheels with their standard Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires, tenacious grip. Blessed with a stiff structure, the Stinger likes to turn, and it rewards your decision to take it to a German megatrack with precise path control and neutral handling that pushes into understeer none too early.

Well, certainly for the rear-drive Stinger, which can be steered with the throttle through its mechanically locking limited-slip differential and will, we’re assured, make a fabulous drift car once the electronic stability control is switched off. We were admonished not to turn it off—and weren’t even told that there is a Sport setting if you push the off button once. Thus, all impressions were in Comfort or Sport mode, where the ESC, surprisingly, mostly stays out of your face anyway.

The all-wheel driver is a hair softer and more prone to understeer, although the torque-transfer system is biased toward rear-drive. Consider the front wheels more of an assist axle for all-weather driving, which is exactly as it should be.

The 3.3-liter engine—also seen in the Genesis G90, the G80 Sport, and the upcoming G70, which will share the Stinger’s platform but with a shorter wheelbase and different styling—serves up the sauce with an eager pull and a baritone burble. The only complaint we had with the eight-speed automatic and its three overdrive ratios was an unwillingness at times to respond to the paddles in manual mode. Considering that the Stinger doesn’t go on sale in the United States until December, there’s time to work out the software bugs.

With large, relatively inexpensive rear-drive sedans in short supply—and the Dodge Charger nearing the end of a very long life—the Stinger promises to be a satisfying niche filler from the most unlikely of sources. We eagerly await more time in it and a chance to drive it at normal speeds.

Cars 3 Movie Review: Third Time’s a Charm

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Cars 3 is the sequel the original Cars from 2006 deserved. The film brings the franchise back to its racing roots and takes you on a fun, emotional ride that can be enjoyed by viewers both young and old.

We can’t start this review without first acknowledging the existence of 2011’s Cars 2. That film took the series in a different, James Bond–influenced direction that relegated the protagonist of the first movie, Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), to a supporting role. It felt more like a feature-length side story than a true sequel to the film that wrapped gearhead culture, Route 66 Americana, and racing history together in a fun, animated adventure involving talking cars. Cars 2 also happens to be the only Pixar film so far that’s garnered a “rotten” score on Rotten Tomatoes. Luckily, Cars 3 doesn’t require any knowledge of the second movie to enjoy, so we recommend just skipping straight from 1 to 3.

Cars 3 puts McQueen back in the spotlight, and the film acknowledges the more than 10 years that have passed between the first and third movies. Lightning McQueen is now the elder statesman of the Piston Cup racing series but still one of the fastest at the beginning of the film. That doesn’t last long, however. A rookie named Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) comes along and quickly moves to the front of the pack. Storm is one of the “next-gen racers” that enter the series and displace McQueen’s friends. It’s at this point that the film starts to feel a lot like the original; McQueen must once again train to defeat his rival.

Aging is a prominent theme throughout the movie, and the old man jokes really start to pile on when we meet Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), the enthusiastic, sports car–bodied trainer assigned to whip McQueen back into shape. The scenes that follow are comical and lighthearted, but they also begin building a relationship between the two characters. But not a romantic one, if that’s what you’re thinking. McQueen and Sally (the blue Porsche 996 voiced by Bonnie Hunt) are still together.

Many of the beloved characters from the original film return with their original voices for the third installment, including Tow Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), Flo (Jennifer Lewis), Ramone (Cheech Marin), Luigi (Tony Shalhoub), Sarge (Paul Dooley), Mack (John Ratzenberger), and many more. A few characters return with different voice actors, but not Doc Hudson, who was voiced by the late, great Paul Newman. McQueen’s mentor makes appearances in flashbacks, using what could be unused dialogue recorded by Newman for the first film. No matter how they pulled it off, hearing the actor turned race car driver on screen again might jerk a few tears.

Just as Luke Skywalker sought out Yoda to complete his training in The Empire Strikes Back, McQueen goes in search of Doc’s old crew chief, Smokey (Chris Cooper), a character inspired by the real-life Henry “Smokey” Yunick, a famous NASCAR racer, mechanic, and team owner of the 1950s. Anyone enamored with stock car racing history will love this part of the film because it’s full of references to NASCAR’s glory days. Several characters are inspired by real-life NASCAR heroes. Junior “Midnight” Moon is an old-timer who’s both inspired and voiced by NASCAR legend Robert Glenn “Junior” Johnson, and Louise “Barnstormer” Nash is voiced by Margo Martindale and inspired by Louise Smith, a female NASCAR driver who refused to watch from the bleachers and went on to win 38 races from 1949 to 1956. River Scott (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) was inspired by Wendell Scott, the first African-American NASCAR driver and the first to win a Grand National championship.

The end of the film is an emotional roller coaster that revisits all the themes of the movie—fear of aging, believing in yourself, passing the torch, etc.—and brings things full circle. We don’t want to spoil too much, so just go see it for yourself. True to Pixar fashion, the movie is loaded with cameos and Easter eggs, so keep an ear out for some familiar voices and fun car references.

Cars 3 hits theaters Friday, June 16.

Article source: http://www.motortrend.com/news/cars-3-movie-review/

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S

If you believe that driving is a chore, you’re driving the wrong vehicle. In a car as spirited as the 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster S, driving chores involve ironing out properly wrinkled roads with its well-starched chassis, sweeping through highway on-ramps, and dusting traffic off the line. That’s why we’re looking forward to 40,000 miles with Porsche’s mid-engine, droptop sweetheart, because it makes mundane commutes and weekend errands worth anticipating. Riding in on a 10Best Cars win and following our long-term test of a 2014 Cayman S, the 982 generation brings big changes to Porsche’s entry-level sports cars, chiefly turbocharged four-cylinder engines that replace free-breathing sixes, a new 718 moniker, and a lineup shuffle that properly prices the convertible above the Cayman coupe.

The Boxster configurator is a tapas menu for four-wheeled indulgence. It’s tempting to just order one of everything, but then you’re facing a bill north of $110,000—and that’s before you consider adding special paint or any of the many special Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur touches. Accordingly, we consider our $81,630 car an example of uncharacteristic self-restraint.

Naturally, we started our build with the $69,450 Boxster S for its additional half-liter of displacement, variable-geometry turbocharger, and 50 horsepower over the $12,400-cheaper base 718 convertible. From there, we tacked on the sport exhaust ($2540), PASM adaptive suspension ($1790), navigation ($1730), sport seats with additional bolstering ($800), dual-zone automatic climate control ($760), ventilated ($730) and heated ($530) seats, Sapphire Blue paint ($640), Guards Red seatbelts ($350), a GT sport steering wheel ($320), plus two no-cost options: the smoker’s package (it adds a useful 12-volt outlet in the center console) and a cargo net in the passenger footwell. Does it go without saying that our car carries the standard row-your-own, six-speed transmission?

After a 2000-mile break-in, our 3090-pound Boxster S ran the zero-to-60-mph sprint in 4.3 seconds and slipped through the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds. It looped the skidpad with 1.03 g’s of cornering grip, stopped from 70 mph in 142 feet, and registered a peak 90-decibel blat with the accelerator pinned to the floor. Our staff remains split on whether the new flat-four sounds more like a Subaru or an air-cooled Volkswagen Beetle, but we’re all in agreement that we dearly miss the yowl of the old flat-six. Turbocharging does have its benefits, though. The Boxster’s performance numbers look very similar to a base 911’s.

Of course, the appeal of Porsche sports cars has always extended beyond the numbers, and this 718 is no exception. Early comments celebrate the precision of the controls, the fluidity of the chassis, and the firm hug of the simple sport seats. This low-slung two-door is also surprisingly practical. With both a front trunk and a rear trunk, the Boxster easily manages the chore of a (modest) Costco run.

There are the usual gripes about price. And there is the usual hedging of any and all complaints with an equivalent serving of praise. A typical comment reads: “Only Porsche can get away with charging $80K-plus for manual seats, no leather dash or door inserts, no passive entry, and no steering-wheel audio controls. And yet, I want what the Boxster has and don’t care about what’s missing.” Neither is our Boxster immune to the usual strained relationship between spring roads and sports-car tires. At 2343 miles, one of our drivers managed to tear the sidewall of the right-front Pirelli P Zero, flattening it. We used the onboard inflation kit to breathe just enough life into the tire to limp it back to the office, where we replaced the 235/40ZR-19 tire at a cost of $331.

But the only real downer so far is that every mile driven is one mile closer to ending our long-term test. The very first comment in the logbook, written by deputy editor Daniel Pund, already lamented the Boxster’s inevitable departure: “Damn, only 38,905 miles left with this car.”

Months in Fleet: 2 months Current Mileage: 5297 miles
Average Fuel Economy: 22 mpg Fuel Tank Size: 16.9 gal Fuel Range: 370 miles
Service: $0 Normal Wear: $0 Repair: $0
Damage and Destruction: $331

A cute little fast & furious escapade: Cars 3 review by Rashid Irani

First-time director and Pixar veteran Brian Fee injects some breathtaking racing action into this moppet-friendly action-adventure — including a grisly crash involving the heroic old Lightning McQueen and a hairpin curve.

The former four-wheeled champion (Owen Wilson, reprising his voice role from the first two films) is now an ageing legend facing competition from a new breed of speedsters.

He is determined to win back his crown, and teams up with a young trainer (Cristela Alonzo) eager to prove her credentials.

Together with a rusty tow truck (Larry the Cable Guy) and a shiny Porsche (Bonnie Hunt), they prepare to best a haughty up-and-comer (Armie Hammer). The big climactic race packs a predictable twist in the tale.

Flashbacks to the late Paul Newman’s mentor character (using sound engineering and bits of unused dialogue from the 2006 original) are emotionally resonant.

There is also a poignant voice performance by Chris Cooper in the role of the longtime coach. Incidentally, the main feature is preceded by an inspirational six minute short titled Lou.

Aficionados of animated demolition derbies will not be disappointed.

Article source: http://www.hindustantimes.com/movie-reviews/a-cute-little-fast-furious-escapade-cars-3-review-by-rashid-irani/story-sUTvv2Cmi307egnUecJxJM.html

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series unveiled

2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series unveiled – Kelley Blue Book




Adding a new level of elite refinement to an already heady package, Porsche has revealed the 2018 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series. Hand finished by the newly coined Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur group – the in-house customization operation located at Porsche AG’s headquarters in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen and previously known as Porsche Exclusive – this lighter, more powerful and uniquely appointed variation on the 911 Turbo S theme will be built in a run of just 500 units for the entire world. Beyond its definitive look and superior performance, the Exclusive Series model also boasts its own selection of bespoke accessories.

607 horsepower on call 

Motivation for the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series is provided by a tweaked version of the 3.8-liter twin-turbo flat-6. Fitted with a Power Kit, it develops 607 horses – 27 more than the regular Turbo S – and makes 553 lb-ft of torque from 2,250-4,000 rpm. Although it still needs 2.8 seconds to accelerate from 0-60 mph, Porsche says the Exclusive Series is a third of a tick quicker to 124 mph (9.6 seconds) and can reach a top speed 205 mph, a stat also shared with the baseline 911 Turbo S.

Going gold and bold

While available in a several select exterior colors, the one hue offered only on the Exclusive Series is the vibrant Golden Yellow Metallic seen here. Regardless of their color, all 500 examples will feature numerous mass-reducing carbon fiber components, including the front trunk lid, roof and side skirts as well as the twin carbon-weave accent stripes. The fully restyled rear end has a more aggressive character thanks to a Turbo Aerokit wing, an edgier fascia and black-finished, dual-paired exhaust outlets. Completing the look is a set of 20-inch center-lock alloys painted black with Golden Yellow Metallic highlights and wrapped in sticky Pirelli P Zero rubber along with Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur badges on the front fenders.

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2018

As one would expect, the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series features the Sport Chrono package as well as Porsche Active Suspension Management, Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control and rear-axle steering to further enhance handling and stability. While it won’t impact performance, buyers also can opt for having the Porsche logo on the black calipers of the car’s Ceramic Composite Brake system rendered in Golden Yellow Metallic.

Premium ambiance carries into the cabin of the 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series highlighted by 18-way adjustable sports seats covered in black perforated leather set off with two Golden Yellow accent stripes and Turbo S lettering stitched into the headrests. The Alcantara headliner also reprises the Golden Yellow double-stripe while fine copper thread accents the various carbon fiber trim elements that also include door sill plates featuring an illuminated Exclusive Series script. Finally, each car carries a serialized number plate on a dash.

Also: See the 12 Kelley Blue Book Best Buys of 2017

Pricing for the 2018 Porsche 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series starts at $258,050 including destination, and can be ordered through a dealer or via the automaker’s European Delivery program. Those who want it all also can opt for a Porsche Design Chronograph 911 Turbo S Exclusive Series timepiece as well as a 5-piece custom luggage set. While pricing is still pending for the former, the latter will set you back $6,324.

More Porsche News:

2018 Porsche Panamera: The long and the short of it

2017 Porsche 718 Cayman/Cayman S First Review

2017 Porsche Macan Turbo packs a 440-hp punch

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Article source: https://www.kbb.com/car-news/all-the-latest/2018-porsche-911-turbo-s-exclusive-series-unveiled/2100004276/

Porsche Macan and Cayenne: Two Legendary SUVs on the Legendary Cabot Trail

Most presentations put on by auto manufacturers are made to be interesting, while some are even memorable. The latest event organized by Porsche Canada falls, very clearly, into the second category. Invited journalists were given the opportunity to try out the new Porsche Macan and Cayenne on a long stretch of Cape Breton Island’s famous Cabot Trail. Quite a stroke of genius to combine two of the world’s most agreeable SUVs to drive with a road legendary not just for the driving experience it delivers but for the magnificence of its scenery. Auto123.com was there for it, and I have the pleasure of sharing with you my experience on this exhilarating road trip.

The program spanned two days and was divided up into 5 stages, with drivers getting a different vehicle for each one. Here is a step-by-step account of this highly enjoyable road test.

Stage 1: Halifax Airport – Gabrieau Bistro, Antigonish
The first segment was spent behind the wheel of a Porsche Macan Turbo powered by a 3.6L V6 engine delivering 400 hp and bolted to a 7-speed dual-clutch PDK transmission. Optional equipment includes sport exhaust system, 21-inch alloy wheels and the Sport Chrono package, while all-wheel drive and active suspension are offered standard. The suspension is adjustable to three settings: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.

The route that led us to an establishment that has been named Best Restaurant in Nova Scotia consisted mainly of highways and relatively straight provincial roads. We were able to get a feel for the passing abilities as well as the steering precision of the Macan; both proved excellent. The engine displays a fair amount of pep, hardly surprisingly given the 400 horses at its disposal. On the other hand, the navigation system stubbornly directed us more than once to turn left onto a road that didn’t exist. Nothing’s perfect…

Stage 2: Gabrieau Bistro – Cabot Links Golf, Inverness
The second stage provided a memorable run to complete the first day, as we switched to a Macan Turbo equipped with the Performance P package that ups the power output to 440 hp, working with the same 7-speed PDK box. In addition to offering more power, this model features a dry sump engine, larger disc brakes and, like our first Macan test car, high-performance tires. 

The 40 extra horses combined well with the model’s basic characteristics to deliver strong performance and driving pleasure. Fortunately, it also happened that the roads we were traveling on were increasingly sinuous, providing a perfect platform for maximizing our enjoyment. What’s more, the responsiveness of the engine allowed for confident overtaking in even relatively short passing windows.

But how easy it is to just roar past the speed limit with this little hot-rod! Fortunately for us the local police seemed to be busy elsewhere. We were also amused to note that several of the road signs we came across on the Cabot Trail were in English… and Gaelic.

Second day
Stage 3: Cabot Links Golf – MacIntosh Brook Camping, Pleasant Bay

We only reluctantly left behind our previous day’s Macan Turbo Performance P, and the Cabot Links golf club bordering the sea, at the start of day two. Of course, the change of cars was not exactly a step down for us, as we inherited a bright-red Cayenne GTS to take us in the direction of the Aucoin bakery in Cheticamp, and from there on to MacIntosh Camping. As with all the Cayenne models we would try out that day, the GTS was powered by a 3.6L V6 delivering 440 hp. This model’s engine, however, was twinned with an 8-speed Tiptronic transmission and equipped with stop-start technology. Its MSRP, including all options, is $125,490, a jump of around $15,000 from the most expensive of the Macan models. 

The first thing we noted was that the driving sensation was not notably different than what the Macan offered, in terms of both steering and the responsiveness of the engine. And while the transmission is not dual-clutch, it proved very gentle, and its gear shifts imperceptible. In addition, the similar set-up of the dashboards in the two Porsche models made it easy for us to find our way around. After a couple of hours spent acclimatizing ourselves to the car’s multiple command displays, their arrangement seemed to us second nature.

On this second day crossing Cape Breton, the scenery was, if anything, even more impressive than the previous day. The road that winds its way along the ocean was a big motivator for us to explore the driving qualities of the Porsche Cayenne GTS.

Stage 4: Macintosh Brook Camping – Castle Rock Country Inn
We set out on our second-to-last stage at the wheel of another Cayenne GTS. With a total price tag of $134,855, it was the most expensive of the cars we tried out over our two-day trek. The mechanics were generally unchanged, but what really set this model apart was the array of accessories it came with. We’re referring mainly to luxury and comfort options, but also some esthetic differences: the tachometer, for example, featured silver-coloured lettering over a red background – a nice touch of exclusivity for this model.

We’d be hard-pressed to find a better-equipped V6 Cayenne than this one. Even the automatic climate control is a step above, as it features four zones; the front headlights, meanwhile, incorporate LED lights, for the tidy sum of $1,680. Mind you this also buys a dynamic headlight-management system that allows the headlamps to follow the curves of the road.

So it was that we enjoyed a segment of the Cabot Trail that offered up truly spectacular scenery and winding roads in a car that offered optimal power but also improved sound insulation, comfort and safety. A perfect environment, in other words, for appreciating the qualities of the Cayenne. We should also point out that, even when in Sport Plus mode, the suspension was not unduly firm. 

Stage 5: Castle Rock Country Inn – Cambridge Suite Hotel, Sydney
We were treated to another Cayenne GTS model for the last stage of our tryout, and like the previous day we were accompanied by brilliant sunshine. This time our car distinguished itself by the luxury amenities and esthetic details it spoiled us with: Bose surround sound system, exclusive 21-inch wheels, automatic door-closing system, carbon elements inside, and a special decorative scheme that brought the price up by more than $3,000. In terms of the drive this car was similar to the previous two, but it was a brilliant showcase for the multitude of options buyers of the Cayenne have access to. This model also included the $800 Chrono Sport package.

Our last stretch of Cape Breton driving was less serpentine, and it took us in late afternoon to the city of Sidney. In the end we were highly appreciative of this unique opportunity to discover a good part of the Porsche Macan and Cayenne family of models. In addition to getting a great feel for the performance and road handling they offer, we got a delectable taste of the many options available for each. It was a fantastic if short-lived immersive experience!

On your bucket list?
The Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island offers visitors one of the most spectacular scenic routes in Eastern Canada. Its winding trajectory enchants motorists and motorcyclists alike, and no bucket list is complete without its inclusion. It’s an ideal destination for those who refuse to pay visit to the land of Uncle Sam for their next holiday for a variety of reasons, starting with the unfavourable exchange rate. Discover instead a gorgeous, serene part of our country! 




Article source: https://www.auto123.com/en/car-reviews/porsche-macan-cayenne-cabot-trail/63739/