Honda. The Japanese manufacturer will spend $70 million to renovate a Honda logistics facility in Marysville, Ohio, converting it to a production plant to build the all-new Acura NSX super car. The new NSX is supposed to hit the streets sometime in 2015.
Radio. Sixty percent of Americans predict the end of terrestrial radio as we know it, according to a Harris survey, preferring other sources without commercial interference. And if that happens another important piece of Americana will be left like a house by the side of the road. Road trips into the night with radio offering stimulation and company were a rite of passage. And it was good. Now what?
The NTSB. In ancient times cops would lock up your car and drive you home, or take you to the station if you had too much to drink and let you dry out. Now? The National Transportation Safety Board wants to lower the legal limit on drunken driving to a blood-alcohol content of 0.05 percent or lower, compared to the current 0.08 percent. They're basically saying no one can drink anything and drive. How far is enough? We're about to find out.
Driving. From the "Uh-Oh" File comes word that driving is becoming passe, according to a report released by U.S. Public Interest Research Group. The total miles per capita driven has fallen every year since 2004, thus ending a driving "boom" that dates back to 1964. Step right up and get your autonomous cars, folks, and then go home and sleep with your "devices." It's a hard-knock life.
BMW Group and Pininfarina will unveil a new concept at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2013 on May 24. The BMW Pininfarina Gran Lusso Coupé is the sequel to the BMW Zagato Coupé unveiled a year ago at the same event. "This elaborate creation is a one-off that captivates the observer at first glance with its Italian exclusivity and modern finesse," according to the BMW minions.
Seventy-five years ago BMW entered the Mille Miglia. Back in 1938, the teams competing in the BMW 328 swept the top places in the 2.0-litre category. Two years on, overall victory would follow courtesy of the BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé. This weekend BMW Group Classic is dispatching nine such models to compete in the latest edition of this historic round trip. The squad of BMW 328 models will delight classic car enthusiasts, while once again paying tribute to the tradition-steeped association between BMW and the Mille Miglia. The winning car of 1940 will also be featured, as well as a 1937 BMW 328 Berlin-Rome Touring Roadster and a BMW 328 Mille Miglia Roadster dating back to 1939. Also lining up will be the BMW 328 Kamm Coupé. The Mille Miglia was first staged in 1927 as an endurance race. Today it's the world’s most famous reliability run for classic sports cars. From its traditional start point in the north Italian city of Brescia, this year’s route again covers some 1,000 miles that take in Ferrara and San Marino before heading to Rome, then returning to Brescia via Siena, Florence and Bologna. The first cars will set off in the early evening of May 16 and are expected to arrive at the finish Saturday night, May 18.
(Images courtesy of Porsche Cars North America)
Excerpts from the press release: The task, according to Porsche, was to create the super sports car for the next decade designed around a highly efficient and powerful hybrid drive. The 918 Spyder "demonstrates the potential of the hybrid drive to a degree never seen before: the parallel improvement of both efficiency and performance without one being at the cost of the other. This is the idea that has made the Porsche 911 the most successful sports car in the world for 50 years. In short, the 918 Spyder will act as the gene pool for the Porsche sports cars of the future," according to the company release. (That's a lot to chew on, needless to say. - PMD)
The 918 Spyder has been designed, developed and produced by Porsche engineers who build race cars, in cooperation with series production specialists. A great deal of insight gained from the development of Porsche's new racing cars being developed for the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2014 has been integrated into the 918 Spyder – and vice versa. The structural concept of the 918 Spyder with a rolling chassis as its basis – a basic vehicle that can be driven even without a body – is race car tradition at Porsche. The concept of the V8 engine originates from the LMP2 RS Spyder race car. The load-bearing structures, the monocoque and subframe, are made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Porsche has many years of experience with this high-strength, lightweight construction material and has again achieved top results with the development of the series production 918 Spyder. Many parts of the super sports car come from manufacturers who have a proven record as suppliers for motorsport vehicles. (But after all that the car is heavy, weighing approximately 3,715 lbs., 3,616 lbs. with “Weissach" package. - PMD)
The 918 Spyder's 4.6-liter, eight cylinder engine produces 608 HP. But with 154 HP from the hybrid module on the rear axle and 127 HP from the electric motor on the front axle, the real combined output is 887 HP. Maximum torque with the V8 only is 390 lb.-ft. at 6,600, but it's the equivalent of 940 lb.-ft. of torque calculated on the crankshaft, with the complete system in 7th gear and 787 lb.-ft. with the complete system, 3rd gear. The engine is derived directly from the power unit of the successful RS Spyder, which explains why it can deliver engine speeds of up to 9,150 rpm. Like the race engine of the RS Spyder, the 918 Spyder power unit features dry-sump lubrication with a separate oil tank and oil extraction. To save weight, components such as the oil tank, the air filter box integrated into the subframe and the air induction are made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer. Further extensive lightweight design measures have resulted in such features as titanium connecting rods, thin-wall, low-pressure casting on the crank case and the cylinder heads, a high-strength, lightweight steel crankshaft with 180 degrees crankpin offset and the extremely thin-walled alloy steel/nickel exhaust system. Striking features of the V8 are that it no longer supports any auxiliary systems, there are no external belt drives and the engine is therefore particularly compact. Weight and performance optimizations achieve a power output per liter of approx. 133 hp/l – the highest power output per liter of a Porsche naturally aspirated engine – which is significantly higher than that of the Carrera GT (106 hp/l).
One of the 918 Spyder's most endearing attributes will be its sound. It features "top pipes" - tailpipes that terminate in the upper part of the rear end immediately above the engine. No other production vehicle uses this solution. The top pipes’ greatest benefit is optimal heat removal, because the hot exhaust gases are released via the shortest possible route, and exhaust gas back pressure remains low. This design requires a new thermodynamic air channeling concept. With the HSI engine, the hot side is located inside the cylinder V, the intake channels are on the outside. There is another benefit as well: the engine compartment remains cooler. This is especially beneficial to the lithium-ion traction battery, as it provides optimum performance at temperatures between 68 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Consequently, less energy needs to be used for active cooling of the battery.
Top speed, all in: More than 211 mph
Purely electric: 93 mph
0-62 mph: 2.8 sec
0-62 mph (in electric mode): 7.0 sec
0-124 mph (0-200 km/h): 7.9 sec
0-186 mph (0-300 km/h): 23.0 sec
Range: Purely electric is approx. 18 mi.
Editor-in-Chief's's Note: Our "Quick Take" this week has us in a 2013 GMC Acadia Denali with all-wheel-drive. These large SUVs admittedly aren't really my cup of tea, but there's no doubt that if you have a real use for them they're extremely handy. Would I want one every day? No. But for a lot of people with no choice in the matter (aka those in need of herding hordes of kids) I can see how an Acadia would fit the bill nicely. And the full-zoot Denali package really helps soften the blow of driving bulk around every day too, although the overall look of the "Cocoa Dune" interior was a little wimpy. As for the driving, even though the GM V6 is equipped with a kaleidoscope of advanced features, the feel leaves a lot to be desired. That's probably because the synergy between the engine and the ancient-feeling transmission is average, at best, and combine that with a throttle tip-in that too often feels balky and you're left with a driving experience that's present and accounted for. Period. Not something you'd go out of your way to experience, but serviceable for its intended mission. Not every car or truck can be fun or interesting to drive. Sometimes you just need something that's accommodating for all of your day-to-day needs and comfortable. In that respect, the GMC Acadia Denali fits the bill nicely. - PMD
2013 GMC Acadia AWD Denail: $52,075 ($47,945 Base Price; White Diamond Tricoat, $995; Cocoa Dune Interior; 3.6-liter, SIDI DOHC Variable Valve Timing V6 with 288HP and 270 lbs-ft of torque; 6-speed automatic; all-wheel drive; variable assist power steering; Exclusive 20" machined aluminum wheels; Perforated leather seating with Denali specific color; heated and cooled front seats; Standard power tilt/telescope steering wheel; Navigation and rear seat entertainment, $2,240; Plus a bunch of other Denali -specific stuff including an "industry exclusive" front center air bag; Destination Charge, $895)
Adherence to Brand Image: Well, this is interesting. What is GMC anyway? I think the whole "Professional Grade" thing is played out and has been for a long time. It doesn't mean anything and it's certainly not consistent with the upscale image GMC seems to cater to. In the GM product hierarchy is the Acadia better than the Chevrolet Traverse? Sort of. But is it going to be as good as the next-gen Cadillac Escalade that will be introduced at the Detroit Auto Show in January? It better not be or GM will have a problem. GMC occupies an island unto itself within GM that seems to be untouchable. In ancient times it was the truck for people who wouldn't be caught dead in a Chevrolet (or for Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile and Cadillac dealers who wanted trucks to sell). GMC makes money, which guarantees its survival. At least for now. Brand image? Vague. Questionable. And in-between. - PMD