Independence Day 2015
Editor-In-Chief's Note: The new Dodge TV commercial for their performance car lineup - Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, Challenger SRT Hellcat and Viper GTS – called "Predators" is an unapologetic homage to a different time and different era. Dark and moody in look and feel, with compelling copy and the classic '80s Phil Collins song, “In the Air Tonight,” wafting through the black night, it's as if "Miami Vice" has come back to haunt all of us, in the very best way possible. The spot opens on dark roads and empty streets as you hear the arresting voiceover: "We don’t have to worry about predators like our ancestors did. No sabre-tooth tigers stalking from the brush … no dire wolves circulating the camp.” We see the cars raising hell through the night, being driven as they were meant to be driven. The VO continues: “There are no more monsters to fear, so we have to build our own.” The spots were filmed in Miami over three nights and every image in the commercial was actually shot - which believe me, is a revelation in this digital age - including the alligator that morphs into the front of the Challenger SRT Hellcat. There's a boat scene - another image that conjures up "Miami Vice" - that was captured from a helicopter, and drones were used in the production. The car-to-car shots were taken from cameras mounted on a following Hellcat. Listen, when you really think about it, these cars have no reason for being. They're appealing to a certain demographic - namely mine - that wants one last shot at high performance without the lectures, and the hand-wringing, and the bullshit that's looming just over the horizon masquerading as our Driving Future, with autonomous cars and group-hug car sharing shoved down our throats - aka The Depths of Hell. Then again that is exactly the reason these cars do exist. They're authentically unapologetic, a raised middle finger to the mediocrity and the sameness and the relentless political correctness that have grabbed this country by the throat and reduced it to hordes of card-carrying spineless weasels drooling for their next public hanging by social media. Congratulations to all involved in Dodge marketing and its ad agency, Wieden+Kennedy. It's simply brilliant stuff. Watch an extended-cut version of the new Dodge "Predators" TV spot here. -PMD
Bentley is introducing the ultra-exclusive Continental GT Speed Breitling Jet Team Series, which will be limited to just seven cars, each inspired by one of the seven Breitling Jets. The Breitling Jet Team will be performing across the United States and Canada in a grand tour this summer, and to commemorate this spectacle, Bentley’s Mulliner division has reimagined the Continental GT Speed to mirror the distinctive look of the Breitling Jets. The exterior is painted in a striking duo-tone split of Hallmark and Onyx with highlights color matched to the exact Pantone of Breitling’s unique Yellow, reflecting the trademark look of the team's L-39 Albatros Jets. This bespoke color theme is continued on in the interior, with unique sculpted seats featuring accents in Breitling Yellow. Each car is individually numbered and corresponds to one of the seven Breitling Jets. The dashboard’s carbon fibre fascia panel displays an image of the seven planes in their signature Avenger flight formation, with the corresponding jet highlighted in Breitling Yellow. Mulliner has also matched the hide and thread to Breitling’s signature yellow and designed a series of logos and graphics for the headrests that highlight the number of each car and the jet that inspired it. The tread plate plaques are also individually numbered. The series will debut at the Boeing Seafair Airshow on July 31st in Seattle, where the Breitling Jet Team is performing. The key for each car will be handed over to its owner by the corresponding plane’s pilot, but not until they have experienced a flight in the jet that inspired their car.
The new Audi A4 will be lighter, slightly larger and more fuel efficient. That is all.
A prototype version of Jaguar's first "performance" crossover - the Jaguar F-PACE - makes its debut in the Tour de France as the official Team Sky support vehicle. The new Jaguar crossover will be seen in public for the first time with only light camouflage.
Editor-In-Chief's Note: Watching the automotive Internet "intelligentsia" go completely crazy over the Alfa Romeo Giulia was to be expected. Is it a decent looking car? Yes, of course, I didn't expect anything less. The 8C Competizione was a beautiful machine, so why should we be surprised? But it doesn't change anything about the wildly ridiculous numbers Sergio Marchionne is promising for the brand. (See Peter's breakdown of the numbers in his Autoextremist Brand Image Meter IV column -WG) Before everyone completely loses their shit over the Giulia, let me be the bearer of bad news, because perspective seems to be fleeting at this juncture. 1. It won't arrive here in the U.S. before the fall of 2016, at the earliest. Think about that for a moment. And 2. The launch itself will be one of fits, spits and starts, with nowhere near the volume that Marchionne is promising. And finally, 3. Do you actually think - given FCA's absolutely dreadful track record when it comes to building vehicles with even a modicum of quality - that the Giulia will perform any differently in that regard? Really? You don't honestly believe that a magic switch will be "flipped" that will instantly purge decades of piss-poor quality from the Fiat car making Empire, do you? I suppose if you do, you're exactly the kind of buyer that Marchionne and his espresso-swilling minions are looking for. As for the rest of us, Alfa will continue to fulfill the role that it has always occupied - as that semi-delightful automotive oddity that is nice to look at - but that you pass by so you can sink your hard-earned money into something else. -PMD
The Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Chevrolet has taken the wraps off of the new 2016 Camaro convertible, saying that it is the only convertible in the segment to offer a fully automatic operation with latches that automatically release and secure the top; capability of opening or closing at speeds up to 30 mph; remote opening with the key fob and a hard tonneau cover that deploys automatically. The electro-hydraulic power roof system features multilayer construction – including acoustic and thermal barriers – designed for a comfortable, quiet driving experience in all seasons. The new Camaro convertible arrives early next year.
Editor-In-Chief's Note: I'm sure you have noticed of late that the car dialogue has shifted. Yes, among enthusiast True Believers the conversation is still about the array of incredible performance cars available today, and in that regard we're living in a golden era to be sure. But the rest of the discussion centers around autonomous vehicles - see the latest announcements from Ford - and the slow but steady decline of "The Car Thing." I believe we're at a tipping point here, and the future is going to be less than thrilling for a lot of us when it comes to the automobile. Manufacturers - take the intro of the new BMW 7 Series, for instance - routinely talk more about the gee-whiz electronics involved than the actual driving characteristics of the machines in question. And it's only just beginning. Check out Dr. Bud's column from a couple of months ago - "The 'Car Thing' at a Crossroads" - for a bit of sobering perspective. -PMD
Wait a minute, didn't we just experience the launch of the all-new, aluminum bodied, 2015 Ford F-150 pickup? Yes, yes, we did, but in automotive industry time it's already 2016, and Ford is ready with some new tweaks for this country's most popular vehicle. New Special Edition Packages for XLT and Lariat designed to further personalize the F-150 to customer tastes will make their debut for 2016. The Special Edition Package adds all-new, unique 20-inch premium anodized dark-painted aluminum wheels with red sport lettering; black running boards; smoked headlamps; unique body-side graphics and badging; special edition seats with Alcantara® inserts, red contrast stitching and red bolsters, and unique red stitching on the steering wheel, transmission gear selector boot and instrument panel. This package also features a dark anodized grille with black mesh on XLT, while the Lariat dark anodized grille receives red accents.