Chevrolet chose San Diego to launch its long awaited Camaro Convertible. On hand were both the high performance SS models and V6 models that will likely account for more than half of convertible sales. Chevrolet also offered writers the chance to get behind the wheel of V8 and V6 Ford Mustangs for competitive evaluation. We were one of the lucky ones to do so.
The Camaro Convertible offers the same engine choices as the coupe: a 312-hp Direct Injection V6 engine for the standard version and a 6.2-liter V8 engine producing 426 hp for the SS version. A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, with an optional six-speed automatic.
The Convertible Camaro will be offered with four-wheel disc brakes, StabiliTrak electronic stability control, and 18", 19" or 20" wheels. The SS model gets Launch Control with a manual transmission to optimize hard-acceleration launches for quicker, more consistent performance.
Update 01/31/2011: General Motors has finally put the Camaro Convertible into production at their Oshawa plant. The first units will arrive at dealerships in February with prices starting at $30,000 for a Camaro Convertible equipped with a 3.6L V-6 engine to $37,500 for the SS version.
UPDATE 05/29/11: We’ve uploaded a new video featuring the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible as it undergoes some extreme testing courtesy of General Motor’s highly entertaining Dept. 180. As always, Dept. 180 takes the testing and puts its own unique twist on it. Pretty enjoyable video if you ask us and something that you can spend three minutes of your life watching.
More details on the Chevrolet Camaro Convertible after the jump.
Back in 2006, Korean car manufacturer Kia pulled a masterstroke: It nabbed former Audi design chief Peter Schreyer from Volkswagen AG. Now that four years have passed, Schreyer’s influence on Kia’s design teams can been seen in a lineup of elegant cars. In this article we will take a look at what to expect from Kia over the next few years.
Already on the road is the new 2011 Kia Sportage, and it presents a vastly more elegant look than the preceding model. Besides dripping with style, the Sportage is dripping with available features like a navigation system with Sirius traffic data, LED daytime running lights, heated and ventilated front seats, backup sensors, rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof, and push-button start. The standard 176HP engine will be joined by a turbo offering in the not so distant future.
Next up is the 2011 Kia Optima sedan. Dramatic styling propels this mid-sizer into the big leagues. Like its sister, the Hyundai Sonata, look for naturally aspirated, turbo, and hybrid variants. A configurator is already online for those of you who want to play with the sedan a little early. Could other Optima body styles such as a wagon or coupe be in the wings?
Hit the jump for the full read.
What is good for the goose is good for the gander, so the highly successful Sonata’s styling will be handed down the model lineup. The 2012 Hyundai Elantra will be getting its stylish new suit in 2011, wearing basically the same duds as the international Hyundai Avante.
Hyundai will be reaching for the stars when it brings its range topping 2011 Hyundai Equus sedan to the USA this fall. In addition to the usual luxury gadgets, Hyundai will try to justify the higher price of the Equus by offering concierge service, dealer pickup and drop off for hassle free service appointments, and an iPad owner’s manual. Launching with a 4.6 V8 this fall, the Genesis will swap a 5.0 V8 next spring. This begs the question, why not wait until the 5.0 was available and launch with that motor as an Equus exclusive instead of changing it out later and also making the same engine available on the cheaper Hyundai Genesis?
Hit the jump to read further into Hyundai’s future.
With the Kia Rondo, it seems like it came in like a lamb and went out like a lamb. Nobody even noticed until someone sent in a tip to Autoblog. Even in its demise, Kia has been wishy-washy, simply stating that “Kia has not yet decided on a 2011 model, but the 2010 is still available in dealerships” even though the website makes it abundantly clear that the Rondo is gone in the USA, stating: “All good things must come to an end.”
Kia isn’t the only manufacturer with reservations about this segment in the United States. Chevrolet has recently announced that it will not bring its people mover, the Chevrolet Orlando, to the USA. When pressed for details as to why, GM staffers offered few concrete details and hinted that they felt it would not have competed well in the U.S. market. Do they mean the product or the concept?
Hit the jump to find out.
In J.D. Power and Associates yearly survey of new car buyers who have owned a 2009 model year vehicle for 90 days, Porsche pulled in a second place ranking with 90 problems per 100 vehicles behind Lexus which had 84 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year Porsche had been ranked number one.
In general domestic manufacturers scored improvements. "Even in the face of unprecedented challenges, the Detroit automakers are keeping their focus on designing and building high-quality vehicles, which is a precondition for long-term success," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates.
Some industry experts take issue with the IQS and its effectiveness in providing meaningful data. For example, the study not only looks at defects (things that should be fixed) but also annoyances (things that must be endured). MINI was slammed one year for having poor cup holders, hardly a deal breaker in most people’s eyes. Jaguar took an elevator ride to the basement this year dropping from 8th to 28th on the weakness of its XF model. Three of the top five issues with the XF included glove-box operation, the fuel-filler flap and customer questions on brake dust.
Whereas Consumer Reports does not allow its test results to be used in advertising, J.D. Power does, so top ranking manufacturers are more than happy to crow about their success, no matter how arbitrary that success might be.
Currently, tire manufacturers can use their own criteria for rating their tires which can lead to buyer confusion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is worried that consumers might not be able to easily pick the best tire for their needs. To remedy that situation, NHTSA is proposing a new, consumer-friendly replacement tire label which would include, for the first time, information about the tire’s impact on fuel economy and CO2 emission reductions.
“Today’s proposal takes the guesswork out of buying the best tires for your vehicle,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Our proposal would let consumers look at a single label and compare a tire’s overall performance as it relates to fuel economy, safety and durability.”
Based on the criteria shown on the proposed label, sticky performance tires may draw the short straw. For example, summer tires aren’t the best in rainy conditions, aren’t particularly durable and because of the soft compounds used and have a higher rolling resistance which yields lower fuel economy. These characteristics would yield a tire report card that would make any parent weep.
Perhaps a fairer system could be devised where tires were rated based on their class. Shading each tire class’ label a different color could prevent an all season, 80,000 mile tire from being compared to a summer only, high performance tire.
Recently there has been a lot of buzz about a new car company taking over an old General Motors supplier facility in Louisiana. No one in the media was quite sure who the mystery automaker was going to be. Would it be Fisker? Th!nk? In reality it turned out to be a company that few of us had ever heard of: San Diego based V-Vehicle.
Little is known about company, but a who’s who of investors have lined up to back the venture: T. Boone Pickens, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and James Davison, of Ruston, Louisiana. These luminaries of energy and capital hope to produce a "High-quality, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient car for the U.S. market." According to cars.com, the ’V’ in V-Vehicle originally stood for value when the company was founded. Cars.com also unearthed that V-Vehicle has filed for the rights to "Model 1" and "Model One" although a company spokesman would not confirm those names.
No further information is available about the company’s products. The cars at launch late next year will not be all-electric or hybrid, but rather will be fuel-efficient gasoline powered models. The company website for V-Vehicle is currently just showing the V-Vehicle logo. A ’WhoIs’ database check for the domain name v-vehicle.com simply shows a John Harbison of San Diego, CA as the registered owner. Of interest is the fact that Tom Matano, who designed both the first and second generation Miatas, will be design director for the company.
In January of this year, footballer Cristiano Ronaldo had a nasty accident in a tunnel near Manchester Airport. Ronaldo’s Ferrari 599 GTB was written off and there was £20,000 in damage caused to the tunnel’s wall. After further investigation, police have determined that there was insufficient evidence to launch any prosecution. According to a police source quoted by the Telegraph, "Ronaldo said he simply lost control of the car and there were not enough independent witnesses to prosecute him for any driving offense."
As a boy, GM’s former global purchasing czar, Bo Andersson, snatched his neighbor’s cat and sold it for $5 in order to satisfy his sweet tooth. Now Russian carmaker GAZ has snatched Andersson from GM as it moves fast to take full advantage of its planned acquisition of Opel with partners Magna and Russia’s largest lender Sberbank.
GAZ announced on Monday that it has invited Andersson to head its board of directors. "The ex-vice president of GM, Bo Andersson, has expressed his agreement to take the post of the chairman of the board of directors of GAZ," the company said in a statement.
Andersson spent more than two decades at GM after earlier posts at Saab. Most recently, Andersson had been GM’s group vice president for purchasing and supply chain. Andersson’s resignation from GM was a surprise to many. Upon leaving GM, Andersson said in a brief e-mail to a new organization, "I have a new better job where I will work as CEO." At the time Andersson had declined to say exactly where he was headed.
Andersson was an aggressive cost cutter for GM and his knowledge of the GM system will help GAZ get up to speed quickly. GM has since announced that Bob Socia, currently executive vice president of Shanghai General Motors, will be appointed GM vice president, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.
With another year of Le Mans in the books, perhaps now is the time to pick up a book? Playboy executive editor and author A.J. Baime takes us back to the ’60s when Henry Ford II had an axe to grind with Enzo Ferrari with his book titled "Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans."
Ford had been given word by a European middleman that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling his company to Ford Motor Company. Ford spent a lot of money going over Ferrari’s financial records and was ready to cut a deal when Ferrari suddenly backed out over issues of who would control the company’s racing program.
Ford’s hopes of acquiring the Italian stallion had been squashed and he was mad as hell about it. What do to? Simply enter the high-stakes world of European car racing with the goal of humiliating Ferrari. Thus the Ford GT40 was born and the legendary car went on to win 24 hours of Le Mans four times in a row. If that isn’t the plot of a great book, then I don’t know what is. Movie rights have already been optioned by 20th Century Fox.
Recently TopSpeed had a chance to chat with the 2011 Ford Fiesta’s brand manager, Sam De La Garza. The 2011 Fiesta won’t appear in American showrooms until the Summer of 2010, but Ford is taking a very unique approach to building up interest in its new subcompact. In addition to the usual website that most manufacturers setup for future models, Ford is making a social media push in the hopes of getting the Fiesta noticed by prospective customers and also finding out what those customers like and dislike about the car. Click on through to find out more about the car, its features and where Ford sees the Fiesta fitting in the marketplace.
The May 17 Ferrari auction in Italy certainly generated a lot of press coverage. The biggest news item was the world record auction price of US $12 million for a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa and then there was the last production Ferrari F430 which netted US $244,00 for charity.
It wasn’t all wine and roses in Maranello, however, as a number of pricey stallions were left unsold.
“Quite a few of the American vendors had too-high reserves,” John Collins, director of the U.K.-based Ferrari dealers Talacrest Limited, said. “Because of fluctuations in the exchange rate, it’s now more expensive for Europeans to buy cars from America.” For example a Ferrari 330 P4 that came third in the 1967 Le Mans 24- hour race was expected to sell for 8 million Euros, but instead it only attracted bids up to 7.25 million Euros and therefore its ownership did not change hands.
In total 75 percent of the cars sold and 95 percent of the memorabilia changed hands on Sunday which satisfied auction watchers such as Collins, "In the current environment, I thought the sale was going to be terrible. It did far better than I expected.”
For a full list of the winners and losers at the auction, check out the results page.
Mark McNabb, North America vice president, Cadillac/Premium Channel, was a rolling stone, wherever he left his hat was his home. After twenty years with Nissan, Mr. McNabb has decided to embark on a rollercoaster ride of a career. McNabb left Nissan, went to Mercedes-Benz for a brief stint and then headed back to Nissan in 2007. Less than twelve months after that, McNabb left Nissan once again for Cadillac. Now just 13 months later he has hit the eject button at Cadillac. As Chef from South Park would say, "What the what?"
Certainly GM’s woes have weighed heavily on all of its executives. In a statement to the press, a Cadillac spokesperson said of McNabb "Mark left to pursue other career opportunites. He led a lot of positive change here. We have a lot of product in the pipeline and so we’re well positioned for the future. It’s not good to lose a strong leader, but we have everything in place to move forward."
You drive through a construction zone. It’s early in the morning. There are no workers. You are driving UNDER the normal speed limit. What does that get you? In one woman’s case, five tickets in the mail!
A province of Manitoba, Canada installed speed cameras in its construction zones to ostensibly catch drivers whooshing past workers at unsafe speeds. The problem is, it left the cameras on even when there was no work being done. This scam, sorry, enforcement netted the local government millions of dollars: tickets issued mushroomed from 3000 in 2007 to 60,000 just twelve months later. A provincial court has found that such tickets violate the law, but the local government maintains that payment of a citation is an admission of guilt. As one justice stated, "It’s almost a disincentive for Manitobans to pay their fines because, if the law is challenged, the only way you get your money back is if you didn’t pay."
Forbes.com has created a list of 10 cars that stir the soul with their speed but don’t swill fuel measured in barrels per mile. Who makes the list? The Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG, Audi R8, Spyker C8, Ferrari F430, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Aston Martin DB9, Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano, Lamborghini Murcielago LP 640, Chevrolet Corvette and the Porsche 911 Turbo.
Some of the picks are rather dubious. For example, the 599 GTB and LP 640 score 10.5 MPG. Those numbers are almost as bad as the fuel economy rating of the ambulance that hauled away my neighbor on Saturday. On the opposite end, the Corvette looks absolutely brilliant with 21 MPG and the 911 is pretty sweet with a 19.5 MPG rating.
Hit the source link for the full story and all the stats.
I know that we’ve run several articles on Ferrari drivers behaving badly as of late, so I thought I’d spread it around and talk about Porsche today. Sadly, this story has a horrific end as the Porsche driver ended up dead.
As I read this story of road rage, I had to wonder myself how I would have reacted. For some reason, the driver of a Porsche and Altima got into a dispute, the hulking 6’5" Porsche driver gets out and starts to talk trash. The Altima driver tries to escape in his car, but the Porsche driver blocks him. Witnesses said that "It looked like he was going to rip the kid out of the car." The Altima driver tries to reverse, but there is a car behind him, next the Altima tries to cut to the left but the Porsche driver jumps in front. That is when it happened. The Altima driver floored it and ran over the Porsche driver, "Next thing you know, this guy just went down - wham!" described one witness. The Altima driver travelled a block and then stopped, a witness walked him back to the scene where a police officer arrested him.
With a clear mind and in the safety of my own office, its easy to pass judgment on the Altima driver. However, in the heat of the moment I can’t honestly say what I would have done. You have a muscle bound guy pounding on your hood, saying God knows what, probably making all sorts of threats. Can you afford to wait it out in your car until the police eventually arrive or is the guy going to fish you out of the window? Your natural instinct is to try and escape. What would you do in such a situation?
While most of the world’s attention to yesterday’s Ferrari auction in Italy centered around the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, which became the most expensive motor car in the world ever sold at at an auction by selling for 9,020,000 Euros (roughly $12.2M U.S. dollars at today’s exchange rate), I was more interested in the last production F430 which was being auctioned off to assist the earthquake victims of the Abruzzo region of Italy.
Since the auction results were not yet posted, I contacted Ferrari media and spoke with Joanne Marshall. Ms. Marshall said the hammer price for the F430 was 180,000 Euros (approx. $244,000 U.S. dollars). As with most charity items, there was no buyer’s premium paid. Ms. Marshall also said that Ferrari collected another 40,000 Euros for Earthquake victims through the auction of some memorabilia.
Given today’s earthquake in Los Angeles, all of us here in California are painfully aware of how a sudden jolt can upend lives. Kudos to Ferrari for its noble efforts to provide aid to earthquake victims.
Last week we showed you a Ferrari driver who had a hard time getting his car going. This week we have news of a driver who was pulled over for driving too slowly! The Ferrari was clocked doing 25MPH in a 40MPH zone in the Welsh village of Ogmore-by-Sea . In his defense the driver, Denis Evans, said that the road road was poorly lit, had a nasty bend and was frequented by sheep. Why is it that sheep are so often used as an excuse? The local Assistant Chief Constable reportedly pulled over the pokey Ferrari due to fears it might be stolen.
A South Carolina driver. who has had 13 speeding convictions in the past 10 years, lost control of his Maserati while driving 85+ MPH and smashed into a home, killing one of its occupants. The driver, John Ludwig, has also been charged with criminal domestic violence twice in the past six months. The case has rallied a neighborhood together and brought allegations of privileged treatment for wealthy citizens. Mr. Ludwig is reportedly worth millions of dollars and has certainly shown a less than healthy respect for the law with his repeated speeding and violence charges. However, there are those who argue that Ludwig has become a target because of his wealth and success.
Do you think the fact that Mr. Ludwig was driving a Maserati at the time of the accident has negatively influenced his situation? If he had been driving a Camry would people be taking a softer stance?
Pity the poor Ferrari or Aston Martin owner, his stock portfolio in ruins and his yacht repossessed. What can a man of former means ride around in now that the six figure exotic in his garage has to go? British sports car manufacturer humbly offers up itself to the downtrodden as a beacon of performance with an affordable price tag. These lightweight wonders posses time proven designs that still serve up healthy amounts of "Whee!" As evidence of its newly discovered market appeal, Caterham claims to have seen both a Ferrari 430 and a Porsche 911 Turbo traded-in by its customers last month.
What do you say TopSpeeders? Is the Caterham a suitable replacement for an Italian stallion?
Mega retailer CarMax is reporting that since January, online searches for sports cars on its website have jumped eight percent, with April having a six percent jump over search activity in March.
Which car is the big winner? The Ford Mustang! This is the first month that the pony car has landed the top spot in searches in the last several years. Rounding out the top twenty were the Infiniti G35, Dodge Charger and Chevrolet Corvette.
Consider the fact that GM has had to add an extra shift at its Canadian factory to keep up with demand for the new Camaro and I think its safe to say that powerful sports cars are far from dead.
Speaking of sports cars, be sure to check out TopSpeed’s review of the Nissan 370z in the TopSpeed garage.
"If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up:" Porsche Tops Most Highly Recommended Vehicles List
Just as Ferris Bueller highly recommended Ferrari, marketing research firm AutoPacific found that an amazing 91 percent of Porsche owners would recommend the brand to others.
"Typically, car buyers are very pleased when they first drive their new car off the dealer lot. But just as a vehicle’s worth depreciates over time, some car owners’ level of confidence depreciates," says George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. "We have quantified their level of confidence to see which new car owners will recommend their model most and this is information which will help new car shoppers make informed, confident buying decisions. While many owners can be happy with their new cars, it takes another level of confidence to recommend it."
As far as specific models go, the Infiniti G37 garnered the highest percentage with a recommendation level of 95 percent of new owners. The truck with the highest overall satisfaction score is the Ford F-150 recommended by 89% of its owners. In a tie, the SUVs with the highest overall satisfaction score are the GMC Yukon XL and Honda CR-V recommended by 93% of their owners.
Hit the source link for a full list of the results.
Okay, so perhaps the Oregon State Police doesn’t set a quota for its officers, but still, OSP Trooper David Petersen had to be grinning from ear to ear when he pulled over six exotic sports cars, which included a Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche for speed racing.
Lesson learned, right? Hardly! Two hours later, one of the cars Petersen cited, a 2004 Lamborghini, was stopped again on Interstate 84 eastbound for going 90 mph in a 65 mph zone.
Suzuki has stopped production of its North America only XL7 at the CAMI Ingersoll, Ontario plant it shares with General Motors. The suspension is indefinite, but will almost certainly last through the rest of the year. "It is an America-specific model," says Suzuki spokesman Hideo Kojima. "But since the subprime loan problem, that segment has been hit the hardest. So we decided to suspend it."
CAMI produced 12,407 XL7s last year, but this year has only popped out four (that’s right, four) XL7s through Sunday, May 10.
I’m not sure if William Clayton simply was tired of being asked, "Are we there yet?" or if he was just an observant fellow, but in any case he and his fellow wagon train buddies gave birth to the modern odometer, where a separate gear controls each digit, all the way back in 1847.
Mr. Clayton noticed that 360 revolutions of a wagon wheel equaled approximately a mile, so he attached a red flag and counted its revolutions. Anyone who has been stuck in a "time out" and forced to count to some insanely high number (my son would argue that 10 would qualify) can tell you that such a task gets old very quickly. Mr. Clayton discussed things with a few of his wagon train buddies and the roadometer was born!
More info at about.com
Didn’t become an agent for the Fiesta Movement? Fear not, you still have a chance to get behind the wheel of the new Ford Fiesta well before its official launch. Ford is aiming to log 100,000 test drives by the time the North American version of the Fiesta is revealed later this year.
The events are starting this month, so head on over to Fiesta Movement to find dates for your area.
The current generation Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger have met with mixed reviews at best. Back in October rumors began to swirl that Chrysler was focusing in on some troublesome models including the Sebring and Avenger. To date Chrysler has publicly announced its intention to kill the Dodge Magnum, Chrysler Pacifica, PT Cruiser Convertible and the Chrysler Crossfire. What fate awaits the Sebring and Avenger?