$60K-$70K

$60K-$70K

When the checkered flag finally fell at the 2014 Daytona 500 late Sunday night, it was over Dale Earnhardt Jr .’s Chevrolet SS -inspired Sprint Cup race car . Earnhardt’s win came after a long day of racing and waiting with several multi-car pile-ups and an excruciating six hour rain delay.

While Earnhardt’s Chevy SS took much of the spotlight, it wasn’t the only SS circling the steep banks at the Great American Race; not considering the other tube-frame SS-look-a-likes trailing behind Jr.’s number 88 car. Pacing the race was the real deal, a 2014 Chevrolet SS modified only with safety strobe lights and Daytona 500 decals.

The SS is powered by GM ’s 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 making 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of rear-wheel-spinning torque. A six-speed automatic with paddle shifters sends power to the rear differential sporting a 3.27:1 final drive ratio. Unfortunately, this four-door Camaro isn’t offered with a clutch pedal, but the automatic does allow for fairly quick shifts.

Inside the SS is a cabin showcasing GM’s new-found efforts in interior quality with materials and fit and finish on par with offerings from Cadillac and Buick . Heavily bolstered leather seats, a leather-covered steering wheel, and suede-like material give the car an upscale feel while buttons and controls have a weighted, rich feel to them.

For pacing duties, the SS is fitted with an aerodynamic light bar up top and strobes in the head and taillights. Daytona 500 decals and stripes are stuck to the SS’ Red Hot 2 paint color. Lower profile tires and optional chrome wheels further separate the car from regular production units.

Updated 07/18/2014: Chevrolet announced today that actor Chris Pratt will serve as pace car driver on July 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will drive a 2014 red and silver Chevrolet SS pace car and apparently its a dream come true for him. Of course, the announcement comes with a new set of images of the SS Pace Car, so check them in the "Images" tab.

Click past the jump to watch the video of the burning SS and read more about the standard Chevrolet SS.

Posted on by Pratyush Rout  

Today joining the list of manufacturers who have showcased their cars ahead of the official release in Geneva is Audi with the S3 Cabriolet.

The S3 Cabriolet is the Ingolstadt-based manufacturer’s attempt at creating a new convertible for everyday use with a slightly insane engine, and the automaker has succeeded.

With prices announced and delivery of the S3 cabriolet expected to begin this summer in Germany, the new Audi convertible, with it’s high power and relatively low cost, will certainly act as a high volume generator for the German car maker.

As of now, we do not have any news of the new convertible arriving to the U.S. shores soon but still we welcome the new entrant as it creates a new segment where we will hope to soon see more challengers.

Click past the jump to read all that you need to know about the Audi S3 Cabriolet.

When Audi brought the TT to the U.S. back in the 2000 model year, it was not overly powerful or fast. Rather its 180-horsepower, turbocharged 1.8-liter engine produced adequate power combined with an agile chassis to make a complete sports coupe. As time went on, however, the TT became more powerful and firmly planted itself as one of the best sports cars on the market.

In the 2012 model year, Audi decided it was time to show exactly what the TT could do, given the right tuning. With this came the introduction of the 2012 Audi TT RS , which was a super-high-performance machine that left every other sports car in its wake – even some that were significantly more expensive.

In 2013, Audi will continue this high-performance variant of the TT and will, for the most part, carry the model over from the 2012 model year. So the question that begs to be answered is “can the TT RS continue to dominate with essentially the same setup as it had a year ago?”

Click past the jump to get the answer to that question in our full review of the 2013 Audi TT RS.

Chevrolet Camaro 1LE

In recent months, we have all been exercising our salivary glands over two special edition Camaros coming for the 2013 model year. The first was the 580-horsepower, supercharged Camaro ZL1 convertible. The second of this bunch is the Camaro 1LE , which we recently pitted against the Mustang Boss 302. The ZL1 soft top, according to Camaro’s chief engineer, Al Oppenheiser, will hit showrooms at $60,445, including destination charge, and the 1LE will come in at $37,035, which also includes destination charges.

The ZL1 comes right in line with the Shelby GT500 convertible that it competes with, as it retails at $59,995 with the destination charge already included. As we all know, even though the ZL1 is considered a “competitor” for the GT500, they are completely different animals altogether. The ZL1 is a better daily driver and works better on a road course. The GT500, on the other hand, is a straight-forward sprinter with not nearly the agility of the ZL1.

The 1LE’s direct competitor is the Mustang Boss 302, which sits at $42,995, giving the 1LE a significant advantage in pricing. GM claims that the 1LE is actually tuned more to compete with the Boss 302 Laguna Seca, but with how close our comparison was between the base Boss 302 and the 1LE, we take that as a sales pitch until we get more hard facts under our belt.

We’re going to keep a really close eye on the 1LE release and keep you in tune with what exactly is going on, as some of the details are still unknown.

According to Audi , the next generation Q7 is supposed to be more fuel efficient than the current model, but until that generation makes its grand appearance, Audi has decided to offer a new engine for the current SUV. The first details for this new engine state that it will deliver a fuel economy of 39.2 mpg, up from the 25mpg of the current top-of-the-line engine.

The new 3.0 TDI quattro TDi engine delivers a total of 204 HP between 3,200 to 4,400rpm and 331 lb-ft of torque delivered between 1,250 to 2,750rpm. When equipped with this engine, the Q7 will make the 0 to 60 mph sprint in 9.1 seconds and will be able to hit a top speed of 127 mph. The new Audi Q7 3.0 TDI engine can be combined with the Standard, SE, S line, and new S line Plus specification levels.

The new Audi Q7 3.0 TDI models will be distinguished by 21-inch 5 segment-spoke alloy wheels, standard metallic paint, tinted privacy glass from the B-pillar rearwards, and running boards. The interior will get a more supple Verano leather upholstery, while the S-Line Plus package will include hard disk-based satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone preparation with online services giving access to Google Earth navigation mapping and a Wi-Fi hotspot for in-car internet access, an Audi Music Interface iPod connection linked to an upgraded speaker system, and the Audi Parking System Advanced with reversing camera.

On the British market, the new Q7 3.0 TDI is priced from £39,995 (about $62,300 at the current exchange rates).

Posted on by Deric Raymond 11

Mercedes-Benz has announced that they will be debuting their updated model for their flagship SLK convertible at the Frankfurt Auto Show, but with an unprecedented twist by the German luxury brand: it’s a diesel.

That’s right, for the first time, the SLK will feature a turbocharged-four diesel engine. The 2012 SLK 250 CDI comes full of new features and a few drips of technology including their 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission, magic sky roof, and the airscarf.

More than just a few upgrades, the new super-sleep SLK offers an elongated ride lending to more cabin and trunk space, an improved steering control and braking system to handle the diesel oomph, and three other petrol engines if you so choose.

At $60,065, it’s one of the more expensive roadsters in its market, but promises to be fun, and of course, luxurious.

Hit the jump to read on about the 2012 SLK 250 CDI.

Posted on by Thomas Nelson 2
BMW 7-Series

Usually unflappable German engineering has taken a hit today. BMW has announced that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has initiated an investigation that centers on 120,000 2002-2008 7-Series models, ranging from the 730d to the 760li. This investigation began after a 2006 7-Series experienced an incident in which, after being placed in park, did not fully engage the park gear and proceeded to roll a short distance. This gearbox is designed to automatically shift into park, for example, when the vehicle is turned off.

If this pending investigation makes you nervous, keep in mind that the NHTSA has said that a) "thus far, no cause has been identified for any of the rollaway incidents" and b) it is not a full scale recall, just a preliminary investigation.

You may ask us, would we still buy one? Well, we have nothing but praise for the 7 series. We find it to be truly staggering, leaving us to shake our head in disbelief that a car the size of the state of Kansas can be made this fun to drive. This potential gearbox glitch does not affect our view of the Roundel and we continue to look reverently upon each model. This full size luxury sedan did not disappoint us and it won’t let you down either.

Source: NHTSA

Audi finally came to their senses back in September 2010 when they decided that it was time for the TT-RS to make its way back to the States, but their most recent announcement may leave some with less than what they bargained for. Along with the TT-RS’ first appearance on American soil at the Chicago Auto Show, came Audi’s announcement that we will only be getting a limited run of 1,000 units of the vehicle. Audi is obviously playing the supply and demand game since 11,500 fans expressed their enthusiasm over the TT-RS in only one month. No official details were given on the car, but Audi did confirm that it would be $10,000 more expensive than the current TTS , priced at $51,000. Sales for the Audi TT-RS will begin at the end of Summer 2011.

The Audi TT-RS will be powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that will deliver an extra 20 HP compared to the European model. With a total of 360 HP, the engine will only be offered with a conventional six-speed manual transmission and will sprint the car from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. We expect to see a greater top speed compared to the European model.

UPDATE 07/08/2011: Audi has announced prices for the 2012 TT-RS, a model that signifies the return of the RS nameplate to the U.S. The Audi TT RS will be priced at $56,850 (excluding destination charges, taxes, title, options and dealer charges). By comparison, the Audi TT-S version is priced from $50K.

UPDATE 07/27/2011: The first Audi TT-RS sold on the US market has been delivered to Forth Worth Audi dealer in Texas. The first client is veteran race car driver Don Istook. He is one of the more than 11,500 fans to sign the Audi TT Audi TT RS Facebook petition drive, which helped convince Audi to introduce the 360-hp coupe in the U.S. "Having raced at almost every major track in the U.S. and Canada, I’ve pushed the limits in many cars in my 34 years as a race car driver,” Istook said. “I like my street car to give me some of that thrill. With my new Audi TT RS, I not only get that thrill, but I also get that ’race car’ sound."

More details on the Audi TT-RS American model after the jump.

Posted on by Thomas Nelson 28

What happens when you take a sports sedan and add sprinkles of practicality? You get the 2011 BMW 535i GT. This car lets you carve the corners and allows you to transport the kids in comfort..sounds like a winner in our book.

Black is undoubtedly the color most often worn to any elegant affair and Porsche is taking full advantage of that fact with another special edition model dressed to impress in a sleek black exterior. Mimicking the Carrera Black Edition revealed just a few days ago, the Boxster S model is taking its turn in the spotlight with the same package. However, unlike the Carrera, the Boxster S Black Edition will be limited to only 987 units with U.S. prices starting at $65,200. Sales will begin in March 2011.

The Black exterior carries the dark horse theme around to the model lettering at the rear, the roll-over bars, the rear side air intake grilles, and the twin tailpipe of the exhaust system. A set of black 19" Boxster Spyder wheels complete the aggressive exterior look.

The color also rolls in to the interior to mold itself onto the standard, three-spoke Sport Design steering wheel, the trim strips of the dashboard and of the gear shift lever or PDK selector, the dials on the instrument cluster, and the partial leather seats.

The color change won’t be the only thing distinguishing this model as Porsche is providing three optional packages to further customize this special edition: "Comfort", "Infotainment", and "Design".

Hit the jump to read more about the Porsche Boxster S Black Edition.


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