1981 - 1988 Lamborghini Jalpa
The Lamborghini Jalpa was a sports car produced between 1981 and 1988. A development of the Silhouette, which was discontinued alongside the Urraco in 1979, the Jalpa was Lamborghini’s entry-level sports car in the 1980s. It was slotted below the iconic Countach, being not only significantly more affordable than the supercar, but also easier to drive in heavy traffic and at slow speeds. Unlike the Countach, the Jalpa was powered by a V-8 engine. Its retirement in 1988 meant the end of the entry-level, affordable Lamborghini until the introduction of the Gallardo, in 2003.
The Jalpa was developed in Lamborghini’s most difficult period financial-wise. Affected by the 1973 financial downturn and the oil crisis, Ferruccio sold the company in 1974, only 11 years since its birth. Purchased by Georges-Henri Rossetti and Rene Leimer, Lamborghini went bankrupt in 1978 and was placed in the receivership of brothers Jean-Claude and Patrick Mimran in 1980. The Mimrans, who purchased the company out of receivership by 1984, were responsible for creating the Jalpa and the LM002 truck, two vehicles that were supposed to expand the brand’s offerings beyond V-12-powered supercars.
The Jalpa was discontinued shorty after the Chrysler Corporation bought Lamborghini from the Mimran brothers in 1987. The Jalpa was the last Lamborghini to feature a V-8 engine. Since 1988, all "Raging Bulls" had either V-12 or V-10 powerplants.
Continue reading to learn more about the Lamborghini Jalpa.
MV Agusta brings Granturismo to the table with its trio of sport-tour bikes in the Veloce family. We have the base model Turismo Veloce 800 plus the “Lusso” version that comes complete with panniers and other tour-tastic features. The “Lusso RC” takes it a step further with red, white and green racing livery and even more special features for the true, top-end bike fans out there. As a concept, the word “tour” seems to mean something different once you leave U.S. shores, evidenced by the lack of baggage on the base Veloce. Although the “tour” label is a bit of a stretch, the word “Veloce” means “fast,” and there can be no argument on that point whatsoever. Today I’m going to delve into this trio of Italian Stallions to see what kind of yummy-goodness the Meccanica Verghera Agusta packed in for our riding pleasure.
Continue reading for my review of the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800, Lusso, and RC.
The Kwang Yang Motor Company (KYMCO) continues its push into the maxi-scooter market with its largest current U.S. model, the Xciting 500 Ri ABS. KYMCO markets this machine as a tourer/commuter, and while it is pretty big for a scooter, KYMCO’s discontinued MyRoad 700i was bigger. Still, this beefy, not-so-little scooter is the factory’s plushest item and it comes with everything KYMCO has to offer, taking on some of the other, large-displacement touring scoots out there.
Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Xciting 500Ri.
2018 Audi Q8
After five years of rumors that began when Audi trademarked the Q8 name in 2012, the German company finally unveiled its proposition against the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe. Actually, the crossover introduced at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show is just a concept for now, but a production model is scheduled to follow soon.
When BMW introduced the X6 in 2009, a new segment was born. But although the crossover BMW describes as a Sports Activity Coupe proved somewhat popular with SUV enthusiasts, the trend didn’t catch on with other automakers until 2013. That’s when Mercedes-Benz revealed plans to develop a coupe-like crossover based on the M-Class. Shortly after, rumors of a Cayenne Coupe emerged, signaling that Germany’s finest automakers finally pay more attention to this niche. Audi is thus the fourth manufacturer is ready to jump on the coupe crossover wagon.
The news originally came from Audi technical chief Ulrich Hackenberg, who confirmed "the Q8 will come" within the next three years sometime in 2015. "It will be something new, following designs established on the Prologue concept. It will be positioned as something more emotional and more sporty than the Q7. The Q7 will be a car for seven people, the Q8 will be more coupe like," he told Autocar.
Although the details are still under wraps as of February 2017, a test car has already been spotted on public roads, a sign that the production Q8 isn’t far. Join me in my speculative review to find out what we already know about the sporty crossover.
Updated 04/07/2017: The upcoming Audi Q8 was caught testing around Nurburgring. The model is rumored to go on sale in 2018.
Continue reading to learn more about the Audi Q8.
2016 - 2017 Yamaha VMAX
The VMAX has been around a while, either under Yamaha directly, or under Yamaha’s made-in-the-U.S. cruiser line, Star Motorcycles. Much like the GSXR family from Suzuki, the VMAX holds a special place in my heart as the second bike to scare the crap out of me, and the first bike engine I grew to hate. Just to clarify, I didn’t hate it ’cause it’s a bad engine, I hated it ’cause at MMI it was our timing exercise model, and you had to turn it over 32 times to get everything aligned properly. That said, had I not been recently snakebit by my gixxer trip, I probably would have killed myself on a friend’s VMAX, but even riding cautiously it almost got away from me. The 2017 VMAX looks like one acorn that didn’t fall far from the tree, so let’s take a look at what the Tuning-Fork company has in store for us this year.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha VMAX.
The Raider from the Star cruiser line — now folded back into the Yamaha stable — and its chromed-out sibling, the Raider S, haven’t changed much spec-wise since 2008 (though the "S" didn’t appear for 2016). Red or black was the choice — the 2015 Raider in Liquid Graphite, the 2015 "S" in Crimson Red or the 2016 Raider in Candy Red — choices I like better than the Galaxy Blue offered in 2014. For 2017, we have basic black. With a 39-degree rake, low seat height, a fat rear tire and a tall front tire, it has just enough stretch to give that bad-boy chopper look that gets attention. It takes more than looks to impress buyers, though.
Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha Raider.
2005 Mosler MT900 S
Close your eyes and think of an “extreme performance vehicle.” What does it look like? For starters, it’s gotta be impossibly low and ridiculously wide – a real hazard in everyday traffic. It’s gotta have vents and wings and swooping bodywork that looks like it was plucked straight from the starting grid. And it’s gotta sound mean, like it’ll rip your arms off if you turn your back on it. All in all, that’s a pretty accurate description of the Mosler MT900 S, a race car that somehow tricked the powers that be into giving it a license plate and permission to traverse public highways. Engineers with extensive motorsport experience made it, and clearly, no punches were pulled in the pursuit of ultimate speed. Lightweight, race-bred suspension, snarling V-8 in the middle – that’s the formula here.
The MT900 S saw extremely limited production, as customers usually opted for the track-only variant. Still, there are a handful of the street-legal alternatives out there, both in the U.S. and the U.K., and incredibly, owners do occasionally take them out for a drive. Read on to find out just how insane that really is.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2005 Mosler MT900 S.
2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS
Porsche introduced the 911 GT2 in 1992, on the 993-generation sports car. It was initially built to meet homologation requirements for motorsport and it featured wider fenders and a larger rear wing compared to the standard model. Unlike the RS and the GT3, the GT2 used a turbocharged engine. Discontinued in 1998, the GT2 returned on the 996 generation between 2002 and 2005, and was resurrected once again on the 997-gen 911 in 2008. In 2010, two years before the GT2 was again retired, Porsche launched the 911 GT2 RS. Much like the GT3 RS, the GT2 RS weighed less and had a more powerful engine than the non RS version.
Development of the GT2 RS began in 2007, one year before the 997 GT2 was unveiled, as a skunk-works effort. It was dubbed "project 727," a number based on the Nissan GT-R’s 7:26.7-minute lap time around the Nurburgring Nordschleife. In 2010, the GT2 RS beat the GT-R’s time by an impressive nine seconds, stopping the clock at 7:18. Although Nissan improved the GT-R’s time in 2011 and 2013, it didn’t manage to overtake the GT2 RS until 2015, when the Nismo-prepped version lapped the German track in 7:08.
When it was launched at the 2010 Moscow Auto Show, the GT2 RS marked the absolute climax of the 911 range, becoming the fastest, lightest, and most powerful road-going Porsche to have ever been created. Production was limited to only 500 units, which gave the GT2 RS collectible status as soon as it hit the streets.
Continue reading to find out more about the Porsche 911 GT2 RS.
2007 Koenigsegg CCX
Founded in 1994 with the precise goal to produce a world-class supercar, Koenigsegg launched its first production model in 2002. Dubbed CC8S, it was the result of eight years of development and an improved version of the CC prototype, which is said to have been inspired by the McLaren F1 and Ferrari F40. The CC8S was followed by the CCR in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2005 that Koenigsegg introduced its first state-of-the-art supercar, the CCX.
Short for Competition Coupe X, the CCX was built to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the completion and test drive of the first CC prototype and was the company’s first global car. Designed and engineered to comply with global safety and environment regulations, especially those required by the U.S. market, the CCX features significant alterations compared to the CCR. It also had a brand-new, designed in-house engine, a choice of two transmissions (a first for Koenigsegg), and ran of 91 octane fuel, making it suitable for the United States and meeting the strict Californian emission standards.
It was also the first Koenigsegg to be produced for more than a coupe of years, with the last example being built in 2015. A total of 30 CCX units were produced in ten years, plus another 19 special-edition models such as the CCXR, CCXR Edition, CCXR Special Edition, and CCXR Trevita. One CCX was used for crash tests and one was kept by the factory as a test car. Some CCX cars have later been upgraded to CCXR specs.
All told, the CCX was an extremely important car for Koenigsegg, one which ultimately helped the Swedish company to develop the Agera and the One:1. That’s why we decided to have a closer look at the supercar that basically turned Koenigsegg into a global manufacturer.
Continue reading to learn more about the Koenigsegg CCX.
2017 Suzuki Swift
Introduced in 2000 as the Suzuki Ignis, the Swift was redesigned in 2004 and again in 2010 when the familiar third-generation model was launched. In 2017, the Swift passed into its fourth generation and received the company’s brand-new design language, which debuted on the Baleno hatchback. The redesigned Swift was launched in Japan in late December 2016 and made its European debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show in March.
For many years, Suzuki has been surviving on the European market with just four nameplates, the Swift hatchback and the Jimny, Vitara, and SX4 crossovers. In 2015, the Japanese added two more vehicles to its stable. The Ignis name was revived for a crossover similar to the Jimny, while the Baleno was conceived to compete in the subcompact market dominated by the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta. Once it gained access to new niches, Suzuki turned its attention to the Swift, one of its best-selling models in Europe.
Much like the Baleno, the new Swift is a big step forward in terms of styling. Unlike the third-gen car, which was a mildly revised version of the second-gen model, the new Swift boasts a new design language. In short, Suzuki finally dropped the styling cues it introduced all the way back in 2004 and moved the hatchback into the 21st century design-wise.
The new Swift also rides on new underpinnings. Shared with the Baleno, the platform is about 15 percent lighter and increases body rigidity by about ten percent. The new platform should provide better driving dynamics and help the hatchback return improved fuel economy, a decisive factor in this highly contested niche.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Suzuki Swift.
The Lexus LF-LC originally debuted at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and since then, Lexus debuted the LF-LC Concept 2. Later in 2015, we got our hands on some spy photos of the LF-LC testing under camo in production form. It has been few years of constant teasing, but Lexus has finally unveiled the Lexus LC500 – the production variant of the LF-LC that we’ve been waiting for.
As you can see from a quick look, the LC500 isn’t all that different from the previous LF-LC concepts that we’ve seen. It is still the same low-sitting, dramatically styled coupe that will probably prove to be the best thing to come out of Lexus in a long time. With its unveiling, we’ve learned a lot about the 2+2 coupe that promises to be the future of Lexus, and to be honest, I can’t wait to see it on the street.
Akio Toyoda, a Master Driver and Chief Brand Officer for Lexus, said, “The LC 500 has been an important product for Lexus and me personally. A few years ago, we decided to guide the future of the brand with products that had more passion and distinction in the luxury market. This flagship luxury coupe’s proportions, stunning design and performance make a strong statement about our brand’s emotional direction and will grow the Lexus luxury appeal globally.”
Of course, it’s not like you’ll see one at every corner. We’re not aware of pricing yet, but given the dramatic design and the details at hand, the car is sure to be reserved for those of the wealthier population. With that said, let’s take a look at Lexus’ new flagship luxury coupe and all the greatness that is Lexus LC500.
Update 3/20/2017: Lexus has announced pricing for the Lexus LC 500 and LC 500H. Check out our prices section below for all of the details.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Lexus LF-LC.
On the campus, in the gated community or in an urban area, it’s hard to go wrong with a 50 cc or a 150 cc scooter for running errands or generally getting around. Piaggio is happy to accommodate you with its Fly duo. On 12-inch wheels with all the usual storage a scooter can boast, the Fly 50 and Fly 150 carry a petite 1.7-ish gallon fuel tank; but with 100+ mpg in fuel economy, that little tank takes you far.
Continue reading for my review of the Piaggio Fly 50 and Fly 150.
2018 Ford Focus
The Ford Focus was first launched in the European marking in 1998 but came to North America for the 2000 model year as a replacement for the Ford Escort and its cousin, the Mercury Tracer. Despite being a “cheaper” model with goofy, bubbly headlights and a somewhat lackluster interior, the Focus was a big hit. The first generation model ran until 2004 and won more than 60 awards during its lifespan. It even found itself on Car and Driver’s Ten Best List. Ford has continued to improve on the looks and overall function of the Focus, and it is currently in its third generation, with a facelift taking place for the 2015 model year.
With the current generation being six years old, it’s not all that shocking that our spy photographers have caught what we believe to be the next-generation Focus out doing some cold weather testing. Oddly, it isn’t under any camo, and it looks quite similar to the facelifted Focus that debuted in 2015. Be that as it may, there are still some significant changes to mention – some that might be hinting that this mule is sporting an old, modified body as a decoy.
While the body may very well be a decoy, we can still make some predictions about the next-gen Focus. Take a little walk with me as I talk about what we see in the photos, and what we can expect when the next-gen Focus is unveiled sometime in the future.
Update 3/15/2017: We have received a second round of spy shots that show the next-gen Focus playing in the snow and on the ice. This time around, however, it’s sporting what appears to be the official body with lots of camo and padding to throw us off. Check out the exterior section below to learn all about it.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2018 Ford Focus.
Engineers down at the Kwang Yang Motor Company built the Downtown 300i to plug a hole between the nearly motorcycle-like maxi scooters, and the campus runabout 50 cc variety. As indicated by the name, this scoot runs a nearly 300 cc mill that pushes into entry-level motorcycle territory and can get the rig up to around 90 mph or so — plenty for highways and interstates. Storage options couple with rider protection to make it a viable commuter as well as a light tourer, and KYMCO’s accessory catalog can expand those capabilities even further. In spite of its success both in the scooter sector and as a manufacturer of outsourced engines for BMW and Kawasaki, KYMCO remains relatively unknown in the U.S. market, but that’s gonna change.
Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Downtown 300i.
The Kwang Yang Motor Company brings classic, Italian scooter style and modern performance together on the retro-flavored Compagno. This Taiwan-made ride sports a 112 cc mill that cranks out just shy of 10 ponies, and boasts electronic fuel injection with a quad-valve head. To anyone questioning the quality of the engineering and craftmanship, I would point out that KYMCO was chosen by none other than BMW to provide the range-extenders for its hybrid-drive i3, and it also entered a partnership with Kawasaki back in ’13 to produce the J300 scooter. In short, this isn’t the stereotypical knockoff brand, but a company that tries to produce a quality product— and lots of it too with something over a half-million units per year rolling off its assembly lines.
Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Compagno 110i.
Volvo is working hard to revamp its entire lineup, and that began with the introduction of the 2016 XC90. Along with the debut of this SUV came plans to create a fuller line of SUVs that will include the XC90, XC60 and the XC40. We’ve seen the XC40 out testing in a jacked-up version of the V40 wagon, which is not available in the U.S. as of February, 2015. Now new reports from Autocar are pointing toward the raised wagon arriving by 2019.
With the new XC40, the upcoming XC60 and the 2016 XC90, Volvo will finally have an SUV lineup that can compete with the likes of Mercedes, Audi and BMW in all of the key niches. The only issue is whether or not there are really that many people who are interested in buying a Volvo for this SUV expansion to really be worth it.
Updated 02/22/2017: Our spy photographers caught the upcoming XC40 out for a new testing session, this time during cold winter conditions somewhere in Sweeden.
Continue reading to check out my preview of the 2020 Volvo XC40.
Retro designs that hail back to the ’60s and ’70s are all the rage right now, and the Kwang Yang Motor Company out of Taiwan is trying to capitalize on that phenomenon with the Like 200i. KYMCO brings retro design and contemporary performance together on this ride with a 163 cc power plant and disc brakes under a body that rocks an appealing, dated look. Early on, the factory produced parts for Honda, and since splitting off to produce its own machines, has scored a gig building engines for none other than BMW — engines that power one of Beemer’s Enduro bikes as well as it’s hybrid-drive i3 model. That’s some pretty august company, and it just goes to illustrate a certain capability on KYMCO’s part, so this isn’t a company to dismiss as another cheap Chinese scooter company.
Continue reading for my review of the KYMCO Like 200i.
2017 Volvo V90
Discontinued in 1998 after only two years on the market, the V90 returned as Volvo’s flagship wagon in 2016. The new V90 is built on Volvo’s new Scaleable Production Architecture platform, which already underpins the XC90 SUV and the S90. As a result, the wagon also uses the same drivetrains as the S90, which in turn borrowed them from the XC90.
Likewise, the V90 features the same design language as the sedan and gets a similar interior, which makes it one of the most luxurious grocery getters on the market. Of course, the wagon received a redesigned rear end and a more practical interior with enhanced luggage space, but the sedan’s premium features and state-of-the-art technology are still there.
More good news comes from the availability department, as Volvo confirmed that the V90 will be sold in the United States. Unveiled on North American soil at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show, the V90 became Volvo’s first wagon in the U.S. in many years. Although the brand still offers the V60 on these shores, it comes in Cross Country spec with a more rugged, crossover-like appearance.
Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Volvo V90.