2005-2010 Nissan Trucks and SUVs prone to Tranny Failures
Usually when there is a transmission failure, it is something internal that, after many years of dutiful service, is expected to start breaking down. However, Nissan has announced that some of their best selling trucks and SUVs (2005-2010 Nissan Frontier, Xterra, and Pathfinders) are experiencing radiator leaks that are finding their way into the components of their automatic transmissions. This leak is causing premature wearing of the automatic transmission that warrants replacement often at less than 100,000 miles. The New York Times reports that even after Nissan extended warranties on the effected models by 5 years/50,000 miles (for a total warranty coverage for 80K miles/8 years) owners still reported that "the radiator issues have affected the vehicles transmissions, causing premature failure...Lance Wiggins, Technical Director of the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association points out ’what’s happening is the radiator cooler tanks are rupturing, forcing coolant into the five-speed automatic through the transmission cooler lines." Motor Trend also points out that for many of the owners of these vehicles (particularly the older models) are beyond the extended warranty. If the transmission fails, they will have to put forth a substantial investment for a new one. Nissan says they "would cover transmissions damaged by coolant, as long as they met the extended warranty guidelines." No warranty, no fix.
Although Nissan says "only a small proportion of models are affected," we are perplexed by their actions. They seem to be doing enough to belay a lawsuit, yet don’t seem to be real concerned about maintaining a loyal customer base, which is a real pity because we love the ruggedness and the utility of the Nissan trucks and SUVs.
Porsche can’t seem to shake the lemons off it’s model tree. Once again the Stuttgart manufacturer has been forced to issue a recall, this time centering on 235 2011-2012 models which may have had defective seat belts installed. According to Inside Line, the models that are affected include the 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera 4, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS, 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S, 2011 Porsche 911 Speedster, 2012 Porsche 911 Targa 4, 2012 Porsche 911 Targa 4S, 2012 Porsche 911 Turbo, 2012 Porsche 911 Turbo S, 2012 Porsche Boxster S, 2012 Porsche Cayman, 2012 Porsche Cayman R, and 2012Porsche Cayman S. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration points out that these defective seat belts are centered on the mounting holes in the seat belt anchor plates fitted to the vehicle being too small. If the hole diameter is too small, the anchor plate may not be able to rotate about the fastening bolt as designed. Should this occur, the seat belt may not be routed optimally around the occupant, or may potentially loosen at some point in the future increasing the risk of injury during a crash. Although this problem is serious, it is noted by the NHTSA that no deaths or injuries have resulted from these defective seat belts. Porsche also says this defect stems from a "manufacturing issue" at their seat belt supplier.
We don’t think this will affect Porsche at all. We still look at Porsche cars as the one of the finest sports car manufacturers in the world.
In the world of mid-size mom mobiles, style is often a hard thing to find. When you examine the field most fit in the background as opposed to the centerfold. As Benjamin Franklin once said "A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body." Most of the luxury mid size SUV’s fail to deliver this food and fire to the consumer. This precedence of indifference ended when we walked to the parking lot and gazed at the 2012 Mercedes Benz GLK 350.
What struck us about this is the graceful angles of the GLK that set it apart from the rest of the field. Although the GLK has only been in production since 2009, it has taken lessons from others in the field. The interior looks like it can stand up to your Lab and yet also haul the kids to school in the morning. The teflon interior is very comfortable which makes that early morning commute with kids in tow that much more bearable. On top of all this utility, you actually get some sport in your SUV (imagine that!). The GLK makes the most mundane tasks like merging onto the interstate quite fun. When you press the loud pedal you are pleasantly surprised and the engine emits a raspy bark akin to Tom Waits impersonating a seal.
More details on the 2012 Mercedes Benz GLK 350 after the jump.
In the gear head community, the arrival of a new Shelby GT 500 Mustang is always eagerly awaited. The 2013 Shelby Mustang is no different and this anticipation has been exaggerated because of rumors of a new power plant.
Car and Driver points out that, initially, a turbocharged engine was rumored to be under the hood, but Ford has confirmed that the 2013 Shelby Mustang will keep its supercharged V8. This supercharged V8 will reportedly put out 600 horses. There’s been no word on the price of this top-end pony car, but it will most likely remain in the $50-60K range.
This latest Mustang will face stiff competition from its muscle car rivals from Chevy, Dodge, and Chrysler. The list of rivals from these manufacturers include the Camaro ZL1, and the Dodge Challenger and Chrysler SRT-8, if they get the addition of a supercharger.
This is another example of the renewed Detroit civil war and this "conflict" is pushing innovation and engineering to the forefront again in a cut throat competition for the toughest crowd of all: automotive enthusiasts.
The Audi A7 has not even been on US shores for a year and already the engineers from Ingolstadt are busy making this hatchback a land rocket, as shown by new spy images of the RS7 version. The tuned up S and RS versions are reportedly going to be propelled by the brand new turbocharged Bentley V8. In the RS, the engine will produce about 600 horsepower. In addition to more horsepower (20 more than the outgoing V10 from the previous RS6) this engine weighs less than the outgoing engine, which points to the fact that Audi appears to working hard on lightening and improving the balance of the RS7. What makes us salivate even more is the fact that an Audi engineer admitted that the RS7 won’t just be a Bavarian drag racer. He said, "The last RS6 has focused too much on straight-line performance. We want to put more emphasis on cornering ability...We want to bring back the feeling of raw power that the first RS6 gave drivers. That means more sound, more responsiveness, more connection between car and driver."
Full story after the jump.
The BMW GT (Gran Turismo) family has been growing steadily since the introduction of the 5-series GT in 2010. Earlier this month we saw what will become the 6-Series Gran Coupe which seems to be the more mature GT car. Now Munich has been busy working on a Gran Turismo version of the 1-Series and it was recently spotted with camouflage. From what we can gather, it almost looks like a Nissan Versa that has been stuck in the copier then blown up about 25%. The very upright frame combined with a somewhat dull rake helps accent this look.
This baby Beemer is slated to hit the market in 2014 (in either three or five door models) and according to Car and Driver , this hatchback will most likely be powered by turbocharged three and four cylinder engines that "will produce anywhere from 75 to 200 horsepower." This power will be routed to the - gasp! - front wheels. While BMW-philes will scoff at this drivetrain, the Chairman of the Board for BMW Norbert Reithofer pointed out "... For these new vehicles we could envisage developing a common architecture for both front- and four-wheel drive.”
When this hatchback appears on the market it will offer stiff competition from the Mercedes B-Class as well as the VW Golf. It will give consumers a more luxurious option than the Golf and, after the engineers from Munich have fretted and fiddled with the suspension and powertrain, it will make this tall hatchback live up to the BMW reputation.
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.
When Mazda first introduced its Wenkel engine in 1961, the automotive world was set alight it. Soon after, many manufacturers clamored to build their own. This engine was an automotive Gibraltar, no matter the challenges it faced, the Wenkel soldiered on. These challenges came from every angle from new emissions standards in 1970 to an oil crisis three years later, in addition to innumerable engineering issues. Mazda cultivated their Wenkel engine and planted it in their sporty RX-7 and it was an instant hit. Even when the RX-8 emerged as a successor to the RX-7 in 2001, the Wenkel heart beat on. Now as the RX-8’s production run is scheduled to end in 2011, a steady stream of rumors about the current Wenkel engine’s successor have flown past our desks.
First, we are going to ask all Mazda fans to take a deep breath. Okay, now that that is taken care of, we have some bad news according to Ward’s Auto Mazda is considering putting the new engine development on hold. The reason for this cutback was that at this time of economic woe, Mazda was looking for a way to reduce expenses and apparently this new engine program is very expensive.
We hope that even as the bean counters are clamoring about diminishing profit margins, Mazda continues to develop this engine. It provides the RX-8 and it’s successor with fantastic high performance and, in the era of pretty and almost all identical cars, Mazda offered a unique take on a sports car. We all hope that Mazda comes to their senses and keeps this iconic power plant.
When the BMW 1-series was debuted in the US as a 2008 model, comparisons were immediately made to the iconic BMW 2002. We were skeptical of this little coupe trying to cash in on the legacy of classic BMW models, but as we got behind the wheel of this BMW Mighty Mouse, we quickly realized it stuck to a successful sports car formula. This equation references classic BMW performance and yet moves the marque forward. When you get behind the wheel of the 2012 BMW 128i it’s like hearing your favorite Eagles song, it takes you back to a simpler time. This time capsule also teaches a new generation what a sports car can be.
The micro-sized sports car that is the BMW 128i has proved very popular since its introduction for the 2008 model year. The 128i is a new take on the BMW philosophy of excellent handling and superb engineering. Whereas many models in the line are now turbocharged, the 128i stubbornly sticks to the naturally aspirated inline 6. In addition to this, BMW "roots album" presents the full package for a driver that wants a car with two distinct personalities: a) a cheap and "chuckable" sports car and b) a pleasant everyday driver. These personalities always meet in the middle and never force the driver to pick which he wants.
More details on the BMW 128i after the jump.
As the English philosopher Francis Bacon once said, "Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety." Most car manufacturers, after efforts like the 2012 Bentley Continental GT, would have been happier to call it a day. However, Bentley looked at this automotive Adonis and decided "everything can be improved." This style of constant tweaking has resulted in multiple versions of the GT Continental. The first of these "tweaks" for the 2012 Bentley Continental GT is the new GT Speed.
This Adonis in an Armani suit will be given a shot in the arm. The previous GT Speed had 9% more power and 15% more torque than the base GT Continental. If this same increase applies to the new GT Speed, the W-12 will be pump out around 621 horses and 590 ft/lbs of torque. This would install the GT Speed as a next door neighbor to the top of the line Continental Supersports.
Full story after the jump.
When most people just see a Nissan GT-R, they are in awe of this seminal feat of engineering. This car offers super car performance and practicality that perhaps makes it the best daily driver on the road today. Yet the Chicago based tuning company, AMS Performance, looked at the GT-R and set themselves a monumental engineering challenge. Cue dramatic music; they set out to build the fastest GT-R . To make this daunting challenge even harder the engineers from AMS kept the GT-R’s stock interior and amenities like air conditioning.
To accomplish the task, they endowed a GTR with 1,500 horsepower. That’s 300 more horsepower than a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. This car is like showing up to an 8th grade science class with a Polaris missile while everybody else has a stomp rocket.
So did these engineers from Chicago accomplish their lofty goal? The answer is a resounding yes. This car posted the fastest GT-R quarter mile in history, posting a time of 8.97 second a astonishing 169 miles an hour.
Check out the video of this record breaking quarter mile run!
BMW has essentially kept the same vehicle lineup since 1975. This lineup was based on the standard sedans and eventually added SUV’s. These were all made to preform to a demanding sports car standard. The world we know today has changed with a majority of the people living in large urban environments which has led to a explosion of small "city" cars. These cars whilst being small enough to park in a shoebox are known to have the driving dynamics of an office chair on a cobblestone road. Now, can you imagine the utility of a city car with that uniquely BMW traits of phenomenal engineering and handling combined with a peppy engine. It’s enough to make our mouths water.
These BMW models known as the i3 and the i8 (due to be introduced in 2013 and 2014 respectively) were described by BMW as "[concept studies..[and] the sports car for a new generation — pure, emotional and sustainable." These concept studies represent a huge technological push for BMW as the i3 is their first purely electric car and the i8 is a gasoline/electric hybrid. Inside Line points out that this electric car (i3) is going to bring sport into this previous dull electric vehicle market. For example, the i3 will use carbon fiber extensively to fend away the unnecessary weight ( it weighs 600 pounds less than its main competitor the Nissan Leaf.) Under the bonnet you will find a 125 KW electric motor that will move this 2,756 lb car to 60 mph in an astounding 7.9 seconds and up to a top speed of 93 mph. Although most electric cars have a range that can be measured in blocks rather than miles, the BMW manages a fantastic range of 93 miles between charges.
The innovation continues with the i8 which is powered by a 3 liter gasoline engine and an electric engine that develop 349 horsepower and 406 lbs/ft of torque. This will propel the full size sedan (182.6 inches long) to 60 mph in "less than 4.6 seconds" and onto a governed speed limit of 155 mph.
Here at TopSpeed we do admire for BMW for making this market segment more geared towards what we call "eco-sport" cars. We think the combination of zero emissions and performance will make the i3 a instant hit. The i8 however will face tough competitor from the Honda CRZ sports hybrid. The one complaint we have with both these cars is their overall look. Both these cars look a little too much like they escaped from the set of "I, Robot." We believe this could be a "Concorde moment" and invigorate the electric car/hybrid market and show the way to the future.
When Mercedes burst onto the automotive stage with the CLS 4 door coupe in 2004, a new vehicle type was born. This big 4 door "coupe" caused widespread approval and since its inception in 2004, the Mercedes has cornered the market. The field recently got a bit crowded when Audi introduced the A7 and now BMW has brought out their brand new 6-Series 4 door coupe. Although BMW was late to the party, details have just emerged about this latest BMW’s innards that almost guarantee it will be nothing short of stupendous.
BMW’s challenger to the Audi A7 and the Mercedes CLS first made an appearance at the 2010 Beijing Motor Show where it was known as the Gran Coupe. This new model is due to hit our shores sometime next year. We are intrigued by this four door coupe model because it is a first for BMW and our intrigue turns to salivation when we read about the thoroughness with which the Munich manufacturer has gone about designing this "coupe."
Hit the jump for the full story.
Not too many things remain static throughout our lives. Yet throughout mine one thing has remained a part of the landscape of my life: my dad’s 1968 BMW 2002. He has had this car since it rolled out of Munich in 1968. I have many childhood memories sitting in those Recaro bucket seats. The learning did not cease; if anything it picked up because as I became more interested in cars, this car become the embodiment of everything I look for in a great car: style, performance, fuel economy. Then my dad and I upgraded virtually every component of it and made it better.
This was my study hall where some of my fondest memories were with my dad installing the engine and soaking up the knowledge like a new sponge. Now as I sit in its seats, the recollections flood back. Yet when I turn the key, the engine rumble prompts me to go out into the world and make new memories.
Details on the 1968 BMW 2002 after the jump.
When you ask most Americans what comes to mind when you say Fiat, one word consistently came up: "broken." Now with Fiat making a re- entrance behind their fantastic 500, feelings are changing. Although the Fiat 500 has only been on US soil for about a year, it is already gaining momentum like a blue whale rolling down a hill. It has just been announced that the long awaited Fiat 500 Abarth will make its American debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and go on sale in the first half of 2012 . This is a huge move forward because according to Inside Line, the initial debut for the Abarth models was supposed to be introduced in the first half of 2013.
When this hot hatchback hits the market its major competitors will be the venerable VW Golf GTI and the Mini Cooper S. The angle that the Fiat successfully utilizes is that over the years both of its competitors have gone somewhat soft and strayed quite far from their roots. In the Fiat Abarth, the lineage is as clear as day and also adds a touch of warm nostalgic familiarity. As soon as your right foot hits the gas, a direct channel to your adrenal glads will be opened. The exhaust note from this peppy 1.4 liter engine reminds us of a little Boston terrier behind a fence, it sounds big but it’s really not. These primal signals will serve as a reminder of how a ’hot’ hatchback can enrich your life.
We adore the little Fiat. Its sense of style, presence, and plucky attitude make it a must have vehicle. This admiration will be multiplied with the Abarth version of this venerable Italian hatchback. The Fiat 500 Abarth serves as a case in point for automakers; in order to move forward, one must often look back.
Have you ever wanted a luxury SUV that would let you soak up the sun? Well, you may just get one that is fully capable. We’re not talking fancy glass sunroofs either; we’re talking about an Evoque convertible. LandRover is reportedly considering a drop top model of their new jewel and when AutoExpress talked to them about this rumor, they did not deny it.
"A convertible Evoque wouldn’t be the maddest brand extension. It isn’t a totally crazy idea," a spokeperson admitted. “All I can say is watch this space. We’ve got lots of ideas for the Evoque."
There’s no word about what will power this Land Rover convertible, but it will most likely be the 2.0 liter turbocharged engine that pumps out 237 horsepower and 250 ft/lbs of torque. As for pricing, expect a base cost north of the premium Evoque Coupe Dynamic ($52,895).
Competition for this cabrio will emerge from Nissan, who premiered a convertible version of their Murano SUV called the Cross Cabriolet. We are supremely excited to see how this new market segment develops because before these vehicles, the only full size SUV that had a drop top was the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. This vehicle was made to pound the dirt trails as opposed to the streets of Dana Point and is about as elegant as a pair of cargo pants. The Land Rover would offer people the convertible experience combined with both luxury amenities and the practicality of a Land Rover. Who can say no to a car that offers you all that?
America has been known for many years as the "land of opportunity", now it can be known as the "land of the insane engineering." This change of title is due to a car which defies convention and could be considered the Bell X-1 of tuned sedans. This vehicle truly breaks down what is possible in the tuning market and plows a new path. This seminal vehicle is the 2012 Hennessey Twin Turbo V1000 CTS-V Coupe. The guys over at Hennessey were the only people to look at the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V and think "ya know, we need to make it as powerful as a medium sized ICBM," and the outcome is simply staggering.
This latest offering from the Texas based tuning company boasts 1,000 horsepower and 950 ft/lbs of torque. This will push the sports car to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and will allow it to do the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds at 136 mph. All this while pushing it all the way to a top speed of 230 mph.
If you’re screaming "I want one!", you will have to a right a large check (somewhere north of 150K). You will also have to be quick because only 12 are being made. If you are lucky enough to have this automotive Hulk, you will undoubtedly love to get under the skin of other super car owners. They will roll their eyes at this pauper, but as soon as you press the loud pedal, you will definitely give their Mercedes SLS AMG and Ferrari 458 Italia models a fright.
Hit the jump for more details on the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe Twin Turbo V1000 by Hennessey.
When you buy a 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 or 2012 Dodge Charger SRT-8 you definitely will not be lacking power. These suburban bruisers are powered by massive 6.4 liter Hemi V8’s that pump out a spleen crushing 470 horsepower and 470 lbs/ft of torque. Now, what is an SRT-8 owner to do if he/she wants more power? The answer up to this point has been paying big bucks and taking it to a tuner, but now this will change.
Chrysler is reportedly considering adding a top end engine option for certain SRT models. According to MotorAuthority, this new engine will be based on the current one albeit with a Eaton supercharger that will push the horsepower to between 540-570 horsepower. With this power addition, these muscle cars will be put on the road with Ferrari 458-esque power. Where do we sign?! In addition, to control the extra ponies, this new engine will supposedly be mated to a new eight speed automatic gearbox. This new engine can be implemented on those SRT models which are based on the LX platform (Sorry, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, no upgrade for you just yet). An exception may be the Dodge Challenger SRT-8 which is based on a tweaked LX platform.
This is an important step in the reemergence of the muscle car in the American market. This reemergence has ignited an automotive world war with Ford, Chevy, and Dodge, each trying to outdo themselves in terms of engineering and appeal. This new Detroit cold war has only one winner and that is the muscle car enthusiasts around the world.
My father had a habit of pointing out "it’s always the one ya least suspect." If you asked the public what they thought the Lotus Elise’s reliability was, the answer was a resounding "very good." However, now this Rembrandt of the racetrack has a small smudge and is now under investigation for a possible mechanical deficiency concerning the oil cooler.
The 2005-2006 Lotus Elise is at the center of this investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA). This problem centers on the right front oil cooler which can potentially come loose and spray inside the wheel well and the engine bay which can lead to a fire. This problem is described as" .. [Complaints centered on] an oil cooler line [that] had failed causing oil to spray within the engine compartment area, and/or near one of the wheel or brake assemblies." It is important to note that no one was hurt due to this malfunction although one person’s car did catch fire. That being said, the NHTSA has received 17 complaints and have calculated that around 4,400 Elises may be affected due to this malfunction.
An important distinction to note is that although this investigation is ongoing, a recall has not been issued for the Elise.
If you were considering a Lotus and now are suddenly running like Usain Bolt towards another sports car, think again because all of us here at TopSpeed would still love to have this pocket racer in our garage. Its combination of incredibly reliable Toyota innards and speed make the Lotus Elise a must have for any car enthusiast. Take this complaint for what it is; a small bump in the road for a great vehicle.
Alas, BMW has not been tempting us with a model that will never see the light of day. Thankfully, they have come to their collective senses and decided to give us a BMW with a little personality. Okay, well, hopefully.
BMW has pushed the Gran Coupe concept through to production and not a moment too soon. With the Audi A7 lurking at the segment and the Mercedes CLS in its second version, BMW needed a star. Turns out, that star will be the Gran Coupe and will debut in 2012.
According to BMW Blog, the BMW Gran Coupe will be sold under the 6-Series badge and will share some of the features from that model line. However, the Gran Coupe will also keep some of the features that made the concept so attractive at the Beijing Auto Show earlier this year including the frameless windows and B-pillar. The model will be available in an even mixture of gasoline and diesel engines with an ActiveHybrid also in the works.
More details on the BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe after the jump.
In the modern age many models have been adorned with engines that feature turbochargers or superchargers in the pursuit of greater efficiency and higher speeds . Now with gas hovering close to $4 a gallon Mercedes Benz has carved their own path to introduce emissions reducing methods in addition to raising fuel efficiency . Mercedes Benz’s AMG division latest 5.5 liter V8 follows this automotive pied piper. This engine which makes its debut in the 2012 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG will feature cylinder deactivation. This system according to Car and Driver" Cylinders 2, 3, 5, and 8 will deactivate depending on speed and engine load, but we’re told the engine will be able to run up to 3600 rpm in four-cylinder mode; if a changeover is required, it takes just 30 milliseconds to fire up the cylinders again." In order to save further fuel this engine is fitted with a start/stop system. But for don’t think for a minute it will become a sluggish elderly golf cart.
This engine even with all these efficiency
adjustments this 5.5 liter V8 power plant pumps out a throaty 422 horsepower and a 398 ft/lbs of torque. This is a healthy 62 hp and 22 ft/lbs of torque increase over the outgoing SLK 55 AMG .
The bad news is that if this is slotted into the next C63 it will represent a significant power reduction of 31 horsepower and 45 lbs/ft of torque.
We see this as a step forward for Mercedes and perhaps the beginning of the end for the big engined AMG Mercedes. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a new level of performance that turns away from V17 monster that runs on baby seal towards a more balanced car.
When we are looking for a sport utility vehicle that can negotiate the urban jungle as well as the real jungle, the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser TRD (Toyota Racing Development) is an outstanding option. This descendant of rugged Toyota off roaders is no longer a one trick pony and has added urban practicality to its impressive off road reputation. Toyota has made the FJ Cruiser TRD a utilitarian option that can do both jobs supremely well whether it is navigating the parking lot at the supermarket or crawling over a sand dune in the Sahara.
Of the different versions and options offered for the vehicle, we picked the the 2011 Toyota FJ Cruiser with the TRD package because it offers quite the bang for your buck ($33,461). For that price, we got a genuinely brilliant off roader that can seat five adults, but more importantly, receives a sportier feel with TRD 16-in. 6-spoke alloy wheels and hefty BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires. Then there’s the TRD-developed, high-speed–tuned Bilstein shocks for extra support.
The FJ is a relative newcomer to the market (introduced in 2006) . Now, the FJ is aiming to tackle the suburbs as well the trail. Let’s see if the FJ can truly be the best of both worlds.
Hit the jump to see if Toyota was successful.
Ford has announced that they will be looking to recall over 26,715 models due to faulty components in the brake and tail lights. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), "The multi-function switch was shipped with a sub-component (slider) that may experience deformation. A multi-function switch with a deformed slider may malfunction causing the turn signal, tail lights, hazard warning signal flashers and/or brake lights not to activate."
This is not the first time Ford pickups have undergone a serious recall. In 2010, 23,688 4-cylinder models were recalled due to a potential fire hazard. That recall centered on potential chafing of fuel lines. The Ranger was also subject to a recall in 2010 when over 2,300 manual transmission vehicles were recalled due to a faulty parking brake hydraulic actuator causing "..unintended movement which may cause a crash."
Past history aside, Ford’s newest recall is affecting a variety of vehicle including the 2002-2005 Excursion, the 2002-2007 F-250-F-550, and the 2011 Ford Ranger.
If you just so happen to own one of the vehicles on the list, head on over to your local Ford dealer where the part will be replaced with a more robust unit. The recall is expected to begin on August 15th, 2011.
BMW’s M division has always been known for consistently pushing the envelope in performance and engineering. For example, the E30 M3 had a ferocious 192 horsepower inline-4 that had thrust comparable to a Jupiter missile and could still go around a corner properly. The next generation E36 M3 was powered by a brand new six cylinder engine with 240 horsepower. M’s desire to be the automotive equivalent of Magellan didn’t start or end with the M3 - the e60 M5 set the bar high with its revolutionary V10 which revved to over 7000 rpm! - but BMW keeps excelling at taking the sports car to the next level.
Proof of this comes in the latest details for the future M3. According to AutoExpress, the new M3 (due out in 2014) will revert back to a six cylinder motor as opposed to the current V8. But just because it has lost two cylinders to the relentless push for greater fuel economy, don’t think that the innovation has stopped. The newest engineering masterpiece from BMW is the tri-turbo engine. That’s right, an engine with three turbos. How does this work? Well, the first two will be rather conventional since they will run off exhaust gasses, but the third will be an electric turbo. This new engine will reportedly push out around 450 horsepower and, in addition to this inventive engine, AutoExpress reports that BMW will add more carbon fiber parts to help lower the weight.
If this M3 does come into production, BMW will set an engineering benchmark that few can hope to surpass and a performance threshold that will set them atop the heap.
When we buy a car, we want it to make us feel special. Now that the Fiat 500C has hit our shores, it’s easy to see that this convertible has excelled in this aspect. It combines the fun of a convertible and the ease of use of a compact car. You feel so happy when driving the 500C it should be categorized as an anti depressant. With such a cheap and cheerful car, you would expect it be made of plastic and have the same cosmetic qualities as an outhouse. As soon as you peek inside and out, you are amazed.
The 2012 Fiat 500C promises all the fun and style of the Fiat 500 with a convertible drop top that lets you soak up the glorious sunshine. The amazing thing is a fully loaded 2012 Fiat 500 C is the same price as a base model MINI convertible. We just looked up thew word value in the dictionary and not surprisingly, it showed a picture of the 2012 Fiat 500C.
Details on the Fiat 500C after the jump.
The Porsche 911 can be considered as classic as a Rembrandt, becoming an artistic addition to the often style-less sports car category. The shape has remained constant because well, why toy with perfection? The fact that it is well know for its iconic look might explain why the 911 has only been changed three times in its 48 year history. The 2012 911, known by its codename “991”, is the latest interpretation of Porsche’s classic 911.
This new 911 is going to undergo a bit of makeover with a 4 inch longer wheel base and wider axle tracks. However, the biggest change happens under the hood. Porsche appears to have decided to downsize the flat six engine from 3.6 liters to 3.4 liters. Motor Authority also points out that the base engine will be based on the one found on the Boxster S and Top Gear says Porsche has ”fitted it with new cylinder heads to allow it to rev higher.” Don’t react to this with angst though because the base power plant pushes out a meaty 350 horses. The Carrera RS version (replacing the Carrera S) will have a nice 400 horsepower which is 15 more than the previous model. As the power goes up, torque goes down in the base model by 8 lbs/ft, while in the RS it goes down by 15 lbs/ft. According to Top Gear, Porsche has also been shaving away the weight (30-40kg) by using aluminum for the floor and most of the external panels. This was done by Porsche to improve fuel economy and lower emissions. Then supporting these new power plants will be a new seven speed manual or the optional double clutch automatic.
Hit the jump for the full story.
When you think of a Ferrari you typically picture one of two things: a) a two seat coupe powered by a Saturn 5 rocket running on pureed baby seals, or b) the convertible version of the car described above (also running on aforementioned seal pup fuel). The 2012 Ferrari FF (4 passenger with 4 wheel drive) defies part of the traditional Ferrari mold, it can seat your whole family. Just because this car has 4 seats don’t expect a slouch, it is a Ferrari after all. So now your wife and children can scream, “Daddy! Slow down!”
The Ferrari FF is so sleek we’re surprised the wind tunnel registered anything at all. The body exudes one purpose: speed, giving every crease and line a job. There’s something simply elegant about this vehicle, it’s like a Thoroughbred. It has a certain penchant for speed that is admirable, but it is also comfortable when cruising around town. Its wide stance (1676 mm in the front, 1660mm in the rear) points to the speed that this car can attain. Another clue to the potential speed of this car is the massive 15.6 inch Brembo carbon ceramic discs in the front and 14.2 inch discs in the rear bracketed by stylish 4 spoke 20 inch wheels. Finally, a testament to this car’s performance is found at the tail where 4 exhaust pipes that could moonlight for funnels on an ocean liner reside.
From its outward appearance you’re probably thinking, “It says its a four seater but the only people who can sit in the back are ewoks or contortionists.” This simply isn’t the case, Ferrari states that “It can comfortably accommodate four people and their luggage, thanks to the best cabin space”. With the addition of the optional rear entertainment package, the back seat passengers won’t even notice as time flies by. If you fancy the FF as a two seater, the back seats can fold (out of sight), almost doubling the trunk space from 450 litres to 800 litres. Also, if you’re privileged enough to sit in the front seats, you’ll be bathed in aluminum along with all the amenities you would expect from a luxury car including satellite navigation and an automatic gearbox as well as Bluetooth and Ipod connectivity. What’s also great about the FF is that even with all these perks the cockpit doesn’t feel cluttered, one feature sticks out the switch that points to such enticing settings like Sport, and the best one of all Race.
The switch is there because of the volcano that lives under that long hood. This volcano consists of a 6.2 liter V12 that churns out a spleen crushing 651 horsepower in addition to a monumental 504 lbs/ft of torque which will launch this wagon to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. Your kids will never be late for school again because this engine will keep stampeding all the to a top speed of 208 mph. Even with all this power, Ferrari has installed a stop/start system to ensure a 25% improvement in fuel consumption. It’s not all down to the bonkers engine. Ferrari has given this car an almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution (47% in the front and 53% in the rear) and a new 4 wheel drive system that ensures you carve any mountain road. This new system consists of a front transmission that is called a PTU (Power Transfer Unit) which has two forward gears and reverse that leads to a clutch for each wheel dramatically improving traction in any weather.
To be honest, we are not huge fans of the FF. It seems to lack the passion that most Ferrari’s exude. It is more like an engineering exercise, and we are not a fan of 3 door wagon bodies in general. With its price starting around 300K, the field is awash with more outstanding competitors like the Bentley Continental GT, the Maseriti Quatroporte GTS and others. All in all, we would make a b-line for the competition.
When Porsche initially launched their first foray into the SUV world- the Cayenne- the world reacted with confusion. Yet surprisingly, the Cayenne did so well that Porsche is now moving into the mid-size market with the contemporary installment of the Cajun. With prices at the pump getting higher and higher, the public is shying away from larger SUV’s, moving the trend toward smaller SUV’s similar to the Audi Q5, BMW X3, as well as the Infiniti EX.
Porsche’s Cajun is the latest model from the engineers in Stuttgart, Germany. It will feature the all wheel drive system and acquired components (including the axles, the chassis, and the steering) from the Audi Q5. Please note, this is not just a re-badged Audi, this Porsche is slated to use an engine that is much more powerful. The base version of the Cajun is projected by Car and Driver to be powered by a 2.0 liter in-line 4 cylinder that will have an estimated 220 horses. The middle of the road version will have a 3.0 liter V6 that will push around 290 horsepower and 295 lbs/ft of torque. The upscale Cajun Turbo S is slated to have a twin turbo variant of the 3.0 liter V6 that will produce at least 350 horsepower. These sterling credentials guarantee success in this fast growing market.
We think this SUV will create major ripples in the mid-size market because none of the lead competitors (BMW, Audi, Infiniti) offer cars with this kind of power. It has at least 50 more horsepower than some of its top competitors. Another reason we think it will do quite well aside from its power, is that the projections of its appearance are actually quite handsome. It’s well proportioned body is fluid, yet practical and wrapped up in a sporty package. Overall, we think the Cajun will be a big hit for Porsche and will give all its competitors a definite run for their money.
The Germans are known around the world for their fastidious engineering.
So, when you spend 185K on a car, you’re justified in presuming that it will be well made.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for the 2011 GT3RS, which is being recalled due to an issue with the center locking hubs. What is a center locking hub you ask? It’s a locking mechanism for modern race cars that tightens the wheel onto the axle in one motion instead of requiring the usual 5 lug-nuts. Porsche discovered a problem among some of these models with the center locking hubs which may wear prematurely leading to the wheels potentially coming loose. That’s not exactly what you want to hear when you hit the brakes on a tight bend at high speeds. According to both Porsche and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), “as the hubs wear, the wheels could loosen, increasing the risk of a crash.” Porsche also noted that these conditions were more than likely to occur under racing conditions.
This wheel lock problem initially emerged after a race in Germany where three 911 GT3’s had problems with the central locking hubs. This hub problem led to three accidents but thankfully no injuries. Soon after the incidents at the race track 1,702 Porsche 911 models were recalled in order to check the durability of their hubs. This is not the first time a recall has tarnished Porsche’s reputation for impeccable engineering. In 2007, 43 models were found to have defective seat belts which could have potentially resulted in occupants needing to be cut out of the car (with a seat-belt cutter) after a crash. Luckily, they found this in time before any customer was hurt. Another instance of an engineering mistake happened in the 37 GT3RS’s from 2008 which were found to have faulty switches installed for the Porsche active suspension management system and the traction control system. Porsche and the NHTSA have stated that these faulty switches can lead to the suspension management system and traction control system becoming, “inadvertently disabled... unnoticed by the driver, the safety benefits of these systems would be unavailable to the driver which could increase the possibility of a crash during aggressive driving maneuvers.”
These recalls whilst appearing to be serious only affect a small number of the Porsche cars found on the road. If we had the money would we still buy a 2011 GT3RS? Yes. We decidedly would because in the grand scheme of things every car goes through some teething issues and even with this recall the 2011 GT3RS is still a phenomenal piece of engineering.
BMW’s M division has always been known for its high level of innovation. Their latest creation is the M version of the 1 series which offers a pumped up, pint sized, compact coupe. Competing with the 1M is the 2011 Infiniti G37 IPL (Infiniti Preformance Line) coupe. This sleek coupe takes Infiniti in a new direction in terms of performance, placing the 1M squarely in its sights. Initially, you may say that both these cars seem to be worlds apart but surprisingly, they have roughly the same weight, power outputs, and price tag.
To begin with, the engine inside the 1M is a variant of the engine that lives in the 335, a rambunctious 3.0 liter straight six that has been coupled with twin turbochargers. This aluminum/magnesium block has been endowed with variable valve timing which helps it pump out a respectable 335 horsepower and 332 lb/ft of torque. The fun does not stop there, as the torque can be increased for short periods with a function called “turbo overboost” which provides an extra 37 lb/ft of torque. This feature shouldn’t be called turbo overboost, it should really just be a giant button labeled “FUN”. This peppy engine is also mated to a six speed manual that has been specially designed by BMW with a brand new cooling system, making it the lowest drag manual transmission in BMW’s history. These components help propel the 1M to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and this engine will keep pulling all the way to a governed top speed of 155 mph.
Additionally, in order to maximize the power, the engineers from Munich have been busy stripping away weight from the already light 1 series. The 1M weighing just 3362 lbs, has lost 11 lbs in comparison to its base model the 135i, which comes in at 3373 lbs. Even with such a lightweight version, the engineers at the M division resisted the urge to cut any corners and fitted this sports car with 14.2 inch discs in front and 13.8 inch discs in back. These two factors plus a suspension from the M3 Competition tells us that it will be no slouch when facing those tight hairpins on your favorite road.
On the opposite side of the playing field resides the G37 IPL, which has a spirited 3.7 liter V6 under the hood that churns out a respectable 348 horsepower and 276 lbs/ft of torque. These robust numbers are, in part, due to its variable valve timing. With all those horses in the stable (which are mated to a six speed manual), it still oddly lacks the nifty downshift rev matching option offered by its parent company, Nissan. Even so, this car is no slouch and hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, climbing up to a governed top speed of 150 mph.
The G37, however, suffers a bit from an attack of the pudge. The model we tested tipped the scales at 3720 pounds, which is a gaping 358 pounds heavier than the 1M... So much for that 13 horsepower advantage. Helping to restrain this beast are the equally large 14 inch, 4 piston disc brakes in front and 13.8 inch 4 piston discs in back. With the re-tuned suspension and the quicker steering response the G37 IPL promises agility giving the Infiniti a fighting chance against the might of Munich.
BMW 1M- For roughly the same price you get a no-compromise sports car that stays true to the M principle by adding on generous portions of extra power and provides handling that can dominate any corner.. The Infiniti, on the other hand, seems to be facing an identity crisis. It cannot decide whether it wants to be a luxurious grand tourer with an added bit of pep or a full on sports car. Ultimately Infiniti’s G37 IPL is dominated by BMW’s no holds barred approach to developing a sports car which led the 1M, a creme de la creme effort in its class.
The BMW 1M has an honest and serious, but somewhat smashed appearance. It’s kind of like someone returned in a 3 series after its rear end crash test and said, “Hey, here’s our new 1 series.” The serious 19 inch wheels, clad in sticky rubber, helps the public further realize its sporting pedigree. The interesting thing about this vehicle is that the more we look at it, the more it grows on us. Its squat (20mm lower) and wide stance (increase of 71 mm at the front and 46mm in the rear) instantly lets you know that this is no ordinary 1 series.
The Infiniti, on the other hand, is a very classical shape with a long sloping hood and a small trunk. The only fault we can really see is the fact that the trunk is garnished with a spoiler that looks like they based it on a plank of wood then grafted it onto the trunk and lamented , “job done.” Similar to the BMW, the Infiniti’s tweaked suspension and 19 inch aluminum wheels flaunt its sporting pedigree. Another sure sign of this reworking by Infiniti are the two chrome exhaust tips that peek out from under the bumper like two aluminum moles.
Infiniti- The shape is more balanced than the squat compact BMW, yet it still manages to show off its austerity. Its subtle lines exude more class than the sharp angles of the brash, vulgar BMW with its flared wheel arches and its coat of “look at me!” paint..
Examining BMW’s lean interior, reminds us of the old 2002 with its basic, yet comfortable interior.
When it comes to the Infiniti, the compromise between driving experience and luxury is swayed towards luxury.
Conversely, in the 1M you get the feeling that this balance has been swayed heavily towards functionality with no extra garnish to spoil the ultimate goal-speed.
This interior, although a bit bland, feels like an old favorite and is reminiscent to Mom’s macaroni and cheese.
While it does not hail from the city’s finest eatery, as soon as you sit down and take a bite, you feel right at home.
Going from the BMW to the Infiniti is like suddenly being beamed into the cockpit of the Starship Enterprise. The Infiniti G37 IPL comes standard with satellite navigation and is adorned with large amounts of aluminum on the center console. All the gadgetry and amenities that come standard on this car leave the cockpit feeling cluttered and the driver feeling claustrophobic.
BMW- Even with the Infiniti’s warmth, it looks too flashy and has a strong resemblance to a teenager’s room. There is too much clutter which seizes up any free space, ultimately ruining any sense of place or warmth. Whereas in the BMW, it’s simple yet also clean and efficient. In this vehicle the interior has achieved both a level of comfort and functionality which is lacking in the Infiniti.
While the Infiniti’s sleek coupe styling won us over it’s haphazard approach to performance left us feeling underwhelmed compared to the BMW which gave us more performance and a better interior quality for $2,200 less. In short, the car that we would rather have is, without a doubt, the BMW 1M coupe. This little-sports-car-that-could draws upon BMW’s sporting legacy and is a noble contribution to its M heritage. It is the epitome of a BMW. The 1M holds an exalted and respected place in our garage due to the fact that it is more than happy to be driven casually everyday but also won’t back from the opportunity to hug the curves on Mulholland Highway.
As children we are often taught to think outside the box and try new things. Usually, when you think of Bentley you think of a fast cruiser for the retiree in Brentwood. But, with the introduction of the Continental Super Sports, Bentley has let their hair down and clearly gone outside their box and the result is the fastest Bentley ever made.
Admittedly, we are not a huge fans of the GT Continental. It seems lifeless and somewhat bland. Looking at the Continental Supersports, however, it is apparent this masterpiece is built for speed. The first indicator of this is the lowered suspension which is .4 inches lower in the front and .6 inches lower in the rear. This lowered and sporty look just exudes this cars understated and more serious nature, so in the end it comes off looking a bit like a CEO. He’s usually very serious, yet when people aren’t around he can take off his tie and engages in some merrymaking. On that note, the thing I love about the shell of this car is that it is so understated, unlike its challengers from Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, and Aston Martin, it truly becomes a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The usually rich interior that is festooned in walnut that is often as old as its regular clientele. Yet, when you look closer it’s just a different kind of grandness. Instead of a small forest adorning the dash, it’s now adorned with carbon fibre which shed off some extra pounds. This weight loss has not affected the feel or the luxury of the cabin which dutifully serves to remind you that this car isn’t a normal Bentley. The greatest thing about this car is that it is a sports car amenities, like an automatic gearbox, air conditioning, and satellite navigation that make it such an enjoyable place to be.
The piece d’ resistance of this car is the angry bull elephant under the bonnet. This bull elephant consists of a 6.0 liter twin turbocharged W12 that puts out a tiring shredding 621 horses and 590 pounds feet of torque propelling this car to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds. Although this car weighs more than Ralphie May, it will still stop on a dime thanks to a set of massive carbon ceramic brakes (16.5 inches and 13.in) .
Even with all this power if the engineers had brought long, all the girth of the old Continental GT ,all that power would have been for nought. So the engineers have stripped away weight left and right. For example the lighter yet larger brakes and wheels save 66 pounds. The place where the most girth was shed was in the interior by taking out the supple seats and wood interior saved an additional 157 pounds.
Although this car still weighs 4,900 pounds this crash diet means that in addition to pinning your eyeballs to the back of your skull, it can now relocate your spleen as it flies around a corner.
We think this is a glorious piece of machinery it achieves the perfect compromise of sport and comfort. You can see this car’s genealogy going all the way back to the old blower Bentley’s, yet even with all that history and prestige it still feels modern and fresh. This is the kind of car that feels as comfortable as an old pair of jeans, but can still put a childish grin on your face at any point and makes you want to just keep going.