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.
A luxury limousine needs no explanation. For many buyers, is the only type of car on the market they will consider. Transporting themselves, family members and business colleagues in comfort and luxury is the name of the game.
It is much more than comfort for these affluent clients, or we would see American businessmen lapping up the Chevy Impala or Toyota Avalon like they do stock options in a venture capital-backed, start-up company.
No, for these buyers - it is either a professionally-driven car service or it must be the something extremely luxurious and "on brand." In other words, something these fancy folks think matches their lifestyle, clothing, accessories, vacation spots and what-have-you.
So, let’s talk big. A back seat so roomy that you can read the full newspaper and cross your legs. For that, it will take the size of the Audi A7 at minimum, and up to the Rolls-Royce Ghost LWB at maximum.
Click Pass the jump for the full list of the Top-Ten Luxury Sedans.
The Nissan GT-R is by far Japan’s longest-running and most-talked-about supercar. Even in the face of an all-new hybrid NSX and the shrieking Lexus LF-A ’s V-10, the magic of the GT-R formula continues to fascinate and captivate car guys and gals across the world.
The latest R35 Nissan GT-R is the most accomplished in the family lineage by not only dominating the press in Asia and Australia — where the previous-gen cars were sold — but also taking headlines across America and Europe.
And the headlines are good. Not the standard "newcomer tries to beat Porsche , loses" we are all so familiar with. The GT-R is a machine that wins objective and subjective comparison tests against some of the absolute quickest and highest-tech machines in the world.
It has taken two generations of 911 Turbo models to get anywhere near the GT-R’s pace, and the $100,000 Nissan also regularly spanks Ferrari’s finest .
So much so that Porsche and Ferrari will no longer let one of their cars be in a comparo with the GT-R . Now that is an achievement.
So where to go with this legend of a race car? Keep the world-beating pace and all the latest component upgrades from the forthcoming GT-R Nismo , but improve the weight balance, center of gravity, aerodynamics and style.
A daunting task, to say the least. Luckily, the TopSpeed artists and graphic design team have created a few exclusive previews of where the GT-R’s styling will go in the next generations.
Tagged a 2016 Nissan GT-R, these renderings are purely speculative design studies. The ideas presented here are still quite interesting, with two distinct flavors of modern GT-R from which to select your favorite.
Click past the jump for a closer look at these TopSpeed exclusive previous of the next-gen Nissan GT-R.
What is the appeal of a really hardcore performance sedan ? There are a dozen valid reasons, and most car guys will not need much persuading to get on-board. Killer pace starts from the new Panamera Turbo ’s projected 3.2-second blastoff to 60 mph.
The ingredients for the recipe are deceptively simple: big power all over the rev dial, rear-drive bias strongly preferred, and a manual box unless the automatic is absolutely state of the art.
The last and least important part? Those rear doors. Buyers of the hottest full-size performance sedans typically do not mind a tiny back seat. After all, the best possible passengers back there will probably be adoring ladies in thousand-dollar outfits.
So, megalux atmosphere back there is more important than true comfort and versatility. After all, you cannot take three beautiful and giggling best friends for a windows-down, radio-up spin in the hills without a swanky coupe-like sedan.
Even better is a stomping acceleration soundtrack and real panache outside the hottest bars and restaurants. No longer just Euro exclusives: all the cars on this list can be bought or ordered right here in the U.S. for 2013 or 2014.
Representatives from BMW , Mercedes, Lexus , Jaguar, Audi and Cadillac are also proudly represented in this market for $50,000-plus super sedans.
Click past the jump for the current Top Ten Best Performance Sedans, with a few in there you might not have expected.
With the roaring applause still ringing from the recent debuts of the new Silverado 1500 , Tahoe and Suburban , Chevy has also revealed a pretty heavy revamp for the 2015 HD trucks.
It seems the welcome reception to all the other new bow-tie trucks means that the 2014 model year will be very short: GM pushed up the HD release so that all the factories can start gearing up for the hugely-improved 2015 model year.
The Silverado HD’s updates are actually much deeper than a facelift, with the largest changes coming from the way the truck body is mounted to the chassis. Chevrolet is using a new type of welding process that is claimed to bring large increases in all rigidity measurements, cabin quietness and ride comfort.
The new nose looks pretty great, actually. Chevy ’s truck styling really seems to be very sharp these days. Projector beam lamps update the nose nicely, and a very dramatic chrome grille has far more shaping and structure to its surfaces.
Improvements to cooling and aerodynamics are hoped to increase highway fuel economy, where these big trucks really start to chug whatever fuel they are using at anything over 65 mph.
Drag is a real issue for these machines, and any HD owner will tell you that an 80 mph cruise with a trailer can switch the usual miles per gallon into gallons per mile.
Other changes include a totally-redesigned cabin, seats, infotainment and the whole vehicle’s electronic architecture. Under the hood, the engines are carryover but have a new engine management that integrates all the towing and stability safety features into its work flow.
What this boils down to for buyers is better economy, higher payload and towing stats, and a cruise control that now claims to be able to maintain a set speed even with a heavy trailer out back. Previous cruise controls for many cars will pop off and fail to keep a speed if doing so might make the engine stall.
So it is truck-a-palooza at Chevrolet this winter. Are buyers swayed by the new looks and vastly superior cabin?
Click past the jump for a closer look at the new sheetmetal, plus all the mechanical specs of the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and Silverado 3500HD.
The 2014 TSX Sport Wagon is the perfect example of Acura giving shoppers a competitive, unique and well-built luxury station wagon for just above $30,000. And what does the market say in response to the only low-roof hauler in a time when Shooting Brake and coupe bodies have never been hotter?
The market yawns, then saunters over to the RDX sitting nearby in the (usually totally empty of humans) Acura showroom floor. A slightly taller ride height and a V-6 engine are available for a few thousand over this classy and nimble TSX Sport Wagon.
For that cash, the RDX brings much, much newer infotainment controls and available AWD that the TSX lacks.
But the RDX is wearing (even worse) looks these days that are like a melted and shrunken MDX. Or maybe a mushed up Starburst candy.
So the RDX solution is not quite as appealing as when the RDX was a spunky turbocharged bandit.
After being outsold by the brand’s crossovers by more than twenty to one, the TSX wagon is 100-percent carryover for 2014. Some new pics that are not renderings or a photochop are welcome from Acura , but the TSX is in a holding pattern while Acura tries to define its future strategy.
The TSX Sport Wagon is not alone in offering frugal family transit with great quality and handling. The BMW X1 is a sporty and quick rear- or all-wheel-drive crossover new in America for 2013, while the Mazda CX-5 is even a bit more eager in corners than the Acura .
But for the shopper who really wants to make a wagon envy statement?
Please follow the jump for all the details on the 2014 Acura TSX Sport Wagon.
Car television shows have come a long way in the last five years. From the previous drought of anything car-related but entertaining on American television, there are now at least 10 incredible automotive-themed television shows.
Some focus on road and track testing, some on adventures and some on the popular resto-mod template. Finding which of these shows is the best for real car enthusiasts can be tricky. They take a long time to film, are expensive to make and edit, and generally are nowhere near as popular as TMZ and other garbage.
To help car guys to find the best way to see all the latest cars being driven to the max, these 10 television programs are our favorites right now. The best part? The new seasons of Top Gear USA and Fifth Gear UK are airing, so there is some new car content to devour.
So sit back, relax, and never have to suffer through MotorWeek again.
Please click past the jump to see the full details of the Top Ten Best Car TV Shows.
A new Chevy Suburban really is a rare event. Since the six-pack of new full-size SUVs revealed last week from GM , buzz is building for the arrival of these new trucks into dealers.
Chevy and GMC have each said that the models will begin arriving in the first quarter of 2014, which gives them wiggle room between now and March to get these hot new trucks onto the roads.
Perhaps a bit of real news for shoppers is how much the Suburban LTZ will benefit from the highest-tech features from the much pricier GMC Yukon Denali XL and forthcoming Cadillac Escalade ESV . On the top LTZ Chevy specification comes virtually all of the latest cabin luxuries, like power folding for the third row, a dozen charge ports and a central 8-inch touchscreen interface.
Below the chrome smile of the new Sub are also major enhancements for all trims, and even the magneto-rheological dampers for, again, the LTZ spec. There’s only one critical piece of missing gear from the GMC and Cadillac trucks, and we’ve combed all the details thoroughly to find out what that thing is.
Click past the jump to read about the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban’s new fold-flat seats, speedier V-8 engine and new tech throughout.
If every car company has one division of rock star engineers and stylists assigned to work on the most important projects, what do Lexus ’s biggest brains focus on? The new sport sedan platform is the result of intensive engineering at the very highest levels in the Toyota and Lexus organization. Twinned with the IS sedan, the GS was all-new for 2013 with looks that really warm up over time.
But the GS has always somewhat failed to deliver on its V-8 engine’s initial "Something Wicked This Way Comes" advertising campaign, even more than 15 years since the GS400 made every Lexus dealer a little bit more ’hip and trendy lounge’ versus a ’hip replacement center.’
The world seems like quite a different place now. The GS competes in the most challenging and action-packed segment of the luxury sedan market, the $40,000 to $60,000 class that also includes such exceptional machines as the Mercedes-Benz E350 with a new nine-speed automatic, the always-rapid BMW 535i and the quietly stellar Audi A6 .
The GS needs to be among the best if Lexus is to be successful outside its core niche of affluent and comfort-focused car shoppers who prefer not to own a German car.
Whether thinking the servicing will be too expensive, the image is not right, or myriad other reasons, Lexus wants to expand its niche to real car guys. If all goes well, the company should be able to please its existing clients and also have a shot at some respect in Europe and China, where Lexus is currently destroyed in sales by the three German luxury juggernauts.
Coming in the GS 450h Hybrid or the gasoline GS 350 or the GS 350 F Sport, the 2014 Lexus gets a new eight-speed automatic and some detail trim enhancements like something Lexus calls a ’superchrome’ finish on the wheels. The battle for luxury sedans is hotter than ever, and the new GS finally has some real advantages over its competition.
The video game business is evolving much more rapidly than many movie studios in terms of their broad reach and level of interactivity with the players who devote hours to winning the race, collecting a mad fleet of exotic cars , or even doing the most efficient kill shots on retro robo future zombies. Or something.
The automotive genre of the gaming industry is quite a unique subset. Guys and gals who have never enjoyed most first-person-shooters, RPGs and other fantasy wizard content can somehow really love driving games.
Gran Turismo is obviously the mack daddy franchise, but its lead over the improving Forza, Need for Speed and others is diminishing.
As awesome as GT5 and GT6 are, the level of game play is always pretty serious. It might start out with paint jobs and ECU chips for an old used MX-5 that is now a giant killer, but Gran Turismo gets extremely stressful and difficult as the Mario Kart friendliness of the first tracks becomes the brutal London F1 course, Sardinia rally stage, or the legendary Nordschleife in Nürburg.
The light-hearted escapism of the old Donkey Kong Country series is long gone in this intense generation of lifelike games. Your escape will be directly into the racing cockpit. Your eyes will bleed from starting at the 250 mph warp speed down the Mulsanne straight, hate your own slow-fitted fingers, and maybe - just maybe - win a race or two.
Grand Theft Auto takes a totally different path. Instead of the glamor of the world’s best tracks and circuits, the GTA approach is much more down-to-earth. You are a professional criminal building an empire. But there are guys around every corner who want to be the next Tony Montana also.
So you become a fierce and hardened street tough playing the game. Even in the lush green lawns of posh suburbs, the boys will always be in the basement doing evil deeds and wild burnouts on GTA 5 . The goal is to be a fun escape from the reality of speed limits, paying tolls and parking tickets. All the boring parts of life.
So where does the new GTA app fit into this mix? Called iFruit, the new iPhone and iPad apps are companion pieces that integrate with console game play. Build your ideal whip, train your Rottweiler or just browse the enormous game play guide application when stuck.
Is iFruit the perfect time-waster for all those boring hours spent *not* playing GTA 5 ?
Sounding like a marriage between a vacuum company and a grocery-store cell phone, Drayson Racing Technology and Qualcomm are preparing the next wave of revolutionary EV technology: induction charging with no cords. As the marquee sponsors and tech suppliers of next year’s all-new electric racing series, dubbed Formula E, these two companies might be some of the most innovative movers and shakers in electric vehicle technology.
The lack of brand recognition for these companies is not really a problem. While they stopped making their own cell phones almost a decade ago, every new Android or iPhone sold brings a payday for Qualcomm. Thousands of inventions, patents and licensing deals mean that Qualcomm is happy to sit behind the scenes, cashing checks and investing in research and development.
Every racing series would like to claim its direct influence of road car technology, but the link is often completely fictional and done for marketing authenticity. Race on Sunday, sell on Monday is the old adage explaining how to convert racing fans into buyers of humdrum production models. The Formula E concept is exciting because almost everything has to be designed and imagined from the ground up.
No 10,000-page rule books, infighting or Bernie gives the new series the freedom to explore and experiment. The challenges of an electric racing series are many, including the fact that most electric cars run out of juice after about 10 minutes of track driving.
Battery swaps at pit stops are a possibility at first, but Drayson and Qualcomm’s vision is an uninterrupted race, using induction battery chargers built into the track concrete itself. There are more than a few enormous engineering challenges to overcome, but the technology could eventually be transferred into highway charging for normal EV models like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla Model S .
Click past the jump for more details on the new technology partnership between Drayson Racing Technologies and Qualcomm’s Halo Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging system.