TB’s journey into automotive journalism has been a long road. The road is paved with piles of car mags under the bed, Porsche posters in glass frames, and pushing the limits of whatever car he is driving.
His car passion started out like many other kids, with an obsession for mechanical toys from day one. Born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1982, Tom’s family moved to Chicago in 1985.
There, he discovered an *amazing* new candy called Skittles, which was brand new at the time and not available anywhere in the South yet. He sent bags to his old pals in Charlotte.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs was filled with Construx, big-wheels, two-wheeler bikes, R/C cars, Ariens lawn-mowers and neighborhood sports year-round.
Auto shows were a feast of gathering bags and bags of the newest brochures. Cut out and made into collages, the auto show was heaven. Weeks of bulletin boards and Blu-tac bedroom wall art would follow.
If the new Stingray has really been to chassis and charm school for 2014, what about the equally-exciting 2014 Camaro Z28?
With tires from a steamroller and a soundtrack to match, the Camaro is faster than ever with its refreshed aerodynamics and electronics for 2014.
What Chevrolet shows in this high-resolution video is a single brave driver challenging the ultimate proving ground, the north circuit of the Nurburgring. For give the lack of ’umlat dots’ over the U - this is breaking news.
An insider tip gives TopSpeed the jump on this story, which is sure to be huge news.
Not sure what size shoes this driver wears, or how he became so brave on the dizzing array of corners, elevation changes, and ultimate blaring high-speed run down the back straight.
The headline is the time achieved by the Z28 in these damp conditions. A 7:37:47 is a major accomplishment for the Z28, easily lopping 30 seconds off what a similar SS could achieve before 2014.
Performance Traction Management brings part of the thrill under control, but the blaring soundtrack and high-definition timer visuals offer a Camaro like no other.
And none with absolutely super-car-fast lap times on the world’s hardest track. This video this a must-watch event, so put it on HD mode, and sit back for the thrill ride of a lifetime in the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro Z28.
Updated 10/15/2013: This article has been updated with a mega photo gallery of the 2014 Z/28’s most recent adventure.
The Nissan Juke Nismo is a really surprising little machine. After a week with my foot on the floor (in ’normal’ mode), I was vaguely unimpressed with the little truck’s ability to hustle out of its own way. I thought it looked cool and handled well, had great seats and a good image. But... even the coolest car in the world still needs to be fast to get my attention, and yours too I bet.
Silly me. The TopSpeed team is mostly hard at work during the day producing news content, so the amount of miles we put on the press loaners is pretty low overall.
That extra time was exactly what I needed to discover the Juke Nismo’s sport buttons, which allow personalization of numerous parameters between normal, sport and eco.
Most sport buttons in mainstream cars are a waste of time. They might make the engine hold shifts longer, or thump harder over bumps - but generally achieve very little beyond that.
The Nismo sport tune is far from subtle, however. Cars have to generally start up in their ’Normal’ setting so that they can achieve the emissions and economy required by the test and buyers.
Flipping to Juke Nismo to Sport mode opens up a totally different little crossover. One that has front, AWD auto or even a V-mode all-wheel-drive setting to keep traction.
Skinny tires ensure more playfullness than is normal in a compact, and the sport mode also transforms the optional CVT auto of our test car into something much, much more special. It thrums and upshifts like a real sports car, with handling and steering precision on the highway that seems autobahn-ready.
A quick walk-around video of the Juke Nismo highlights some of the reasons I loved this car by the end of our time together. It also shows of an impressive exhaust rumble and all the Nismo-exclusive styling features of this $27,000 pocket rocket.
Click past the jump to see some clips of the Nissan Juke Nismo ahead of the full TopSpeed Driven review in the coming weeks.
But part of the hoopla is genuine excitement that Chevy has produced such a vastly-improved sports car. After a few different drives by the TopSpeed team, the similarities in what we observed in these two different C7 models are remarkable.
Two guys who were traditionally more anti-Corvette would be hard to find. So the shared observations about the handling, power, cabin and - especially - theC7’s vastly improved structural rigidity are a resounding vote of confidence in the new Corvette.
For skeptics, all we can say is try it out before you flock to Porsche or BMW for classy driving thrills.
With palm trees flying by the windows and the blue sky visible above Phil’s curly hair, the Miami Vice jokes are on the tip of my tongue. I will refrain, however, as my first Stingray review already ruffled some feathers among the Vette faithful.
But the red leather of Phil’s Stingray Z51 really looks right so close to the ocean and all the glamor of South Beach.
Click past the jump to enjoy this detailed TopSpeed First-Drive Video of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Z51, one of the first media outlets to sample the Vette with its targa top panel stowed in the giant trunk.
Imagine the scenario: The sun is shining somewhere exotic, and you have keys to a Ferrari or perhaps a GT-R and Carrera GT to choose from.
The cars are already on the building’s roof with the models. Time to put on that multi-pocket camera vest, and get to work on this dream job.
The cars sit near the heli pad and have never looked hotter. The babe in the passenger seat is not half bad either.
Talented photographers really get all the perks sometimes. They not only get to spend hours with some of the most beautiful women in the world, but they collaborate closely and have these model’s undivided attention as everyone on set tries to make great art.
Of course, a wardrobe change or five is part of every photo shoot. But some guys really do have it all behind the Nikon lens. Not just supermodels, but supercars too.
The Nissan GT-R is my hero. I was so amazed by the performance of the R35 generation of GT-R when launched that I modified the back of my Legacy 2.5GT to read “2.5GT-R” with an expensive and genuine GT-R emblem from Japan.
To put a badge from another car onto your own, as a grown man, is pretty pathetic in retrospect. But for the year or so that my Subaru was a 2.5GT-R, every time I saw the beveled red letters of that logo, I could not help but smile.
My car, I told myself, was sort of like a GT-R for people with dogs and cargo flexibility needs. I eventually grew up and mounted the GT-R emblem in prime position on my refrigerator, where it delights me even today.
Do not meet your heroes, they say. A lifetime spent worshiping a professional baseball pitcher, only to find out he is meaner than a rattlesnake and twice as deadly. Seeing the underbelly of any icon could ruin baseball altogether - if that was your life’s passion until seeing the bad parts up close.
I got to meet my hero last week via the 2014 Nissan GT-R Track Pack . While the car defined my day, and has consumed my thoughts ever since, I am unable to form an opinion even a full week later.
This is rare for me. Love it or hate it, I generally get a good sense of a car’s merits and issues within a few minutes behind the wheel.
But the GT-R is very different. Our time together was more of a fling than going steady, but if I thought I loved the GT-R more than anything else in the world before I drove it, what do I think now?
Still hard to say. I do know that sitting down in the GT-R for the first time was very intense on a number of levels. The hoon before me had every setting in race mode, and, frankly, I was not prepared for the performance the GT-R offers its drivers every second it is on the roads.
So while I try to stop shaking with cold sweats after only a few full-throttle sessions, the GT-R is better than a hero to me. It was better than everything I had previously read or knew about the vehicle.
We are putting together the full Driven review for next week, but until then, please enjoy these TopSpeed First-Drive Video reviews of the 2014 Nissan GT-R .
Click past the jump to see me sweat it out while hitting 60-mph in a claimed 2.8 seconds.
The Ferrari F12berlinetta and its predecessor, the 599 , are some of the baddest front-engine, V-12 supercars in the world. Poke each with a sharp stick, and they will easily hit 60 mph in less than 3.5 seconds, and deliver lap times ahead of anything else with the engine out front.
But the Ferrari pricing and positioning strategy seems backwards to some outsiders. The 458 is the entry-level car, then the FF wagon , then the F12 and ultimately, the million-dollar LaFerrari .
As the flagship production car line, the F12 is absolutely one of the best cars ever made. Period. Its high-dollar clients like it so much that the previous 599XX program of special, owners-only racing events has become a major profit center for the Prancing Horse.
A bit like renting a car for about $50,000 a day for a few days a year, the Corsa Clienti and XX evolution programs have some rich history with Ferrari. Worth recalling that the 288 GTO Evoluzione both directly spawned the F40 and a whole generation of turbocharged sports cars from Japan.
So to really get buyers to open the checkbook wider than ever, the F12XX program must whet their appetite for the front-engine exotic, but also leave them wanting even more. A buyer of one car suddenly owns two red stallions. It does not take an accountant to know how lucrative this double-down selling strategy is.
Of course, spending time on Yas Marina circuit or Imola with hundreds of racing-overalls-wearing Ferrari engineers does bring a bit more street cred when wearing a red baseball hat back home in the standard F12 .
So what do these double-rich buyers want from the XX program of the latest F12 supercar? Will it be a lightness and stripped-out racing program, a test-bed for new tires and manettino settings?
Or just a fun way to set the brakes on fire while keeping the wide-eyed racing stare of F1 heroes?
This exclusive TopSpeed rendering shows a speculative preview of the next Ferrari F12, which we have dubbed the F12berlinetta XX - or just F12XX for short.
One really cool thing about TopSpeed right now is that we are getting better. Fast.
The TopSpeed auto news and games portal is in ’Dynamic’ mode - as on the best track cars - with traction and stability control buttons each pushed until everything is disabled.
More access to news and cars means far better reviews to read with better photos, so we are working hard to up our game to the highest levels of automotive news.
On the journey of driving supercars for the first time, the stumbling blocks are many to achieve really good, informative and entertaining car content.
Something really surprising is how much one’s opinion of a press loaner car changes from day one of the loan to day seven. No, we do not get one-year loaners to complain about in print (yet!).
Even so, the real quality of many high-performance machines is hard to grasp at first sitting. It takes time to appreciate their quirks.
This video review format previews some of the awesome TopSpeed Driven reviews that are coming in the next few weeks.
Adding all the specs takes time, but why should YouTube people be the only ones to see us miss gears, bomb around corners and floor throttles on the world’s hottest new cars?
The goal here is to make the coolest and best car news that is always fresh and fun to read. We always read the comments, so rant away if TopSpeed seems to be changing too much. A Facebook Like is a vote in the right direction, so let us know!
Until then, enjoy the above clip of my first-ever drive in the Evo X GSR that is out front of the TopSpeed Garage this week.
The arrival of a diesel engine in the luxurious and easy-driving 2014 Ram 1500 pickup is huge news. Until this point, diesel engines for all truck lines have been restricted to just 2500 and 3500 models.
Ford and Chevy continue without a small diesel engine in their light trucks, and are about to feel the hurt from the new 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
As much as car buyers traditionally loathe the idea of diesel engines, truck buyers adore it.
Under the chrome Ram hood, the 3.0-liter, V-6 diesel option even delivered a (momentary) 36 mpg via the standard eight-speed automatic during a light cruise on the test route. But that is not even the best part.
The Ram EcoDiesel packs all the benefits of 25-mpg-plus highway efficiency, but none of the typical diesel engine noise or the driving dynamics of an 18-wheeler. This is a machine whose huge torque reserves and lighter front end join forces to make a smooth, quiet and nimble truck. All that comfort on the air springs front and rear has virtually no major tradeoff in the capabilities tallies versus the F-150 or Silverado .
While both of those leading trucks — Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado — are also quite refined in the drivetrain these days, none offer the absolutely S-Class -rivaling smoothness of the Ram 1500 Laramie over bumps.
Un-laden half-ton trucks might have smooth engines, but are still a pitter-patter of suspension clatter in back on good sunny days. On bad snowy or rainy days, that inherent over-sprung feel can become downright treacherous over mid-corner bumps.
Jittery and gas-guzzling pickups are starting to feel mighty obsolete in direct comparison to the swanky new Ram EcoDiesel.
Click past the jump for this exclusive TopSpeed Driven preview of the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which is arriving in showrooms across five trim levels starting in December.
The GMC Yukon and its jumbo sibling, the Yukon XL, have been the grey sheep of the General Motors full-size SUV line for quite a few years now.
Without the badge cache of the Cadillac Escalade or the flagship status of the Suburban for Chevy ’s SUV line, the Yukon is a bit of an odd man out in among the GM full-size SUV nameplates that are redesigned for 2015.
At least, that used to be the case. The new Yukon is looking like a smart and savvy decision for many more buyers than ever before. This is not just a Secret Service convoy machine any more, and it brings subtle but elegant styling that even makes the Denali chrome grille look really out-of-touch versus current preferences toward more-subtle matte finishes.
While the new Denali , Escalade and even the Tahoe wear so much chrome up front that it might cause blindness in direct sunlight, the latest Yukon has a very mature, simple and timeless grille execution up front.
While still ringed in chrome, the dark inner grille detailing and the whole presentation just seems much more refined than the grinning Suburban and Tahoe.
But what about the Escalade ’s big V-8 that is not shared with the Suburban at all, or the Denali ’s high-tech LED headlight accents?
The best of the GM SUV buffet goes into the new Yukon and Yukon XL, which are expected to continue their mid-tier value pricing when the pair arrive in showrooms around February 2014.
Click past the jump for the full review of the 2015 GMC Yukon and GMC Yukon XL, with all the details on the best shared Cadillac technology and features available on this lovable family truck.
By the early 1960s, the Corvette had triumphed over the Thunderbird and was now firmly America’s sports car for the second-gen’s arrival as a 1963 model. Car guys, pilots and engineers all over America had taken the lightweight-big engine formula to heart with their prized first-gen Corvettes , but now they wanted more performance by every measurement. Much more speed, in particular.
Chevrolet had similar ideas when brainstorming ways to replace the C1 as far back as 1957. The Q-Corvette concept was a working idea of a smaller, lighter and nimbler Corvette than ever before. Four-wheel discs were to be standard, and the car was could hold its own on a racetrack right off the showroom floor.