No. 861
August 24, 2016
 

About The Autoextremist@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of Autoextremist.com.

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On The Table


Monday
Aug082016

AUGUST 10, 2016

(Chevrolet images)
Let the ass-kicking begin. The performance numbers for the 2017 Camaro ZL1 (above) and the track-bred 1LE are indeed impressive. The ZL1? 650HP (485 kW) supercharged LT4 6.2L V-8 engine; 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds; quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at 127 mph; 1.02 g max cornering; 60-0 mph braking in 107 feet (32 meters); and a 220-pound (100 kg) weight reduction. Those performance numbers were set by a ZL1 coupe equipped with the available 10-speed automatic transmission and using original-equipment tires on a non-prepped surface, according to Chevrolet. The 1LE? 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds with Camaro LT 1LE, 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds with Camaro SS 1LE; 0.97 g max cornering with Camaro LT 1LE, 1.02 g max cornering with Camaro SS 1LE; 60-0 mph braking in 112 feet (34 meters) with Camaro LT 1LE, 60-0 mph braking in 107 feet (32 meters) with Camaro SS 1LE; there is a 230-pound (104 kg) weight reduction (SS 1LE to previous model). “Building on Chevrolet’s well-established recipe for track-focused performance, the new 1LE packages expand the performance envelope of the Camaro SS and, for the first time, the Camaro LT,” said Al Oppenheiser, Camaro chief engineer. “You’ll be hard-pressed to find more track-capable cars in their respective classes for the money.” How much? The 2017 Camaro ZL1 is $62,135 for the coupe and $69,135 for the convertible (includes destination charge, but not tax, title and other dealer fees). The 1LE package is a $4,500 MSRP option on Camaro V-6 LT coupe models and a $6,500 option on the V-8 1SS coupe model. For LT coupes, the 1LE package features the Camaro SS’s FE3 suspension, while the 1SS benefits from the ZL1’s electronic limited-slip differential and FE4 suspension with Magnetic Ride dampers.

(Ford)
Ford design and engineering teams created this one-of-a-kind, aviation-inspired Ford “Ole Yeller” Mustang to pay homage to the famous North American P-51D Mustang and Bob Hoover, renowned United States Air Force fighter pilot and air show performer. The very special Mustang was donated and sold via auction for $295,000 at the Gathering of Eagles charity event – the ninth straight year Ford has donated a car – on July 28 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The donation and sale benefits EAA’s youth education programs, including Young Eagles. The Ford “Ole Yeller” Mustang is the ninth one-of-a-kind vehicle created by Ford for the auction in support of EAA youth education. Ford vehicles donated at EAA AirVenture events have collectively raised more than $3 million. The Ford “Ole Yeller” Mustang is based on the ultra high-performance, limited-production, 526HP Shelby GT350® Mustang and features a custom yellow exterior finish with “Ole Yeller” accents and badging, unique carbon fiber components and mirrors projecting images of the aircraft. The interior incorporates specially designed Recaro seats, sill plates, floor mats with unique logos and aviation inspired gauges.

(Hyundai images)

The new Genesis G90 (from Hyundai) takes aim at the AudiA8, BMW 7 Series, Cadillac CT6, Lexus LS460 and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class by offering a seductive package of design, engineering, luxury refinement and product features that will give its competitors a real run for their money. The Genesis G90 is powered by a choice of two gasoline engines: an all-new 3.3-liter direct-injected, twin-turbocharged V6 engine with 365HP @ 6,000 rpm, or a 5.0-liter direct-injected V8 engine producing 420HP @ 6,000 rpm (both with premium fuel). Both engines come equipped with an advanced 2nd-generation 8-speed automatic transmission that is lighter and more efficient, with enhanced shift logic and speed, better acceleration, sport-mode mapping, and shifting smoothness. Manual shift capability - SHIFTRONIC® - is operated by steering wheel paddle shifters. A fundamental brand characteristic of all Genesis models is the careful blend of sporting agility and refined performance. An extensive research, development and testing regime for the G90 was conducted by Hyundai engineers at the company's European Test Center based at Germany’s iconic Nürburgring circuit, at the Namyang R&D Center and at the company's California Proving Grounds in the Mojave Desert. The Genesis engineering team tuned the G90’s ride, handling, steering feel and suspension damping with the aim of delivering an exhilarating driving experience with overall dynamics that are simultaneously luxurious, sporting in feel and refined. All G90 powertrains feature a driver-selectable Intelligent Drive Mode, which allows users to select from four modes - ECO (Fuel economy), SMART (Adaptive), SPORT (Dynamic focus) and INDIVIDUAL (Customized) - depending on conditions and driving preferences. An advanced H-TRAC® AWD system is available with either powertrain.

Ergo-design seating, including an electronically-controlled, 22-way power driver’s seat with power bolsters, cushion extension and shoulder adjustment, was approved by the German campaign for healthier backs, Aktion Gesunder Rücken (AGR). The G90 passenger seat offers 16-way adjustment. All front seat positions, side mirrors and steering column position are controlled by an integrated memory system. Front seats are both heated and ventilated. The rear outboard passenger seats are electronically-adjustable in 12 ways (14-ways for the right seat position, which is also approved by AGR) on the 5.0 V8 model. In addition, heated rear seats are standard, with ventilation on 5.0 V8 models. The rear seats on V8 models feature power slide linked with recline, shoulder-adjusters, rear lumbar support, 4-way head restraints and a rear integrated memory system with controls located on the rear doors.

"The Genesis Experience" will feature extensive consumer benefits, including 3 years/36K miles Complimentary Scheduled Maintenance; 3 years/36K miles Complimentary Valet Service; 3 years Complimentary Genesis Connected Services (including Connected Care, Remote, and Guidance); 3 years Complimentary SiriusXM® Travel Link (Traffic & Data); 3 years Complimentary Map Care with annual map updates and Enhanced Roadside Assistance and Concierge Services. Editor-In-Chief's Note: Hyundai may have wanted to make this move into the luxury arena before, but they weren't ready. I believe they are now. The G90 comes equipped with more of everything than its competitors as standard, and even though pricing hasn't been announced you can bet that the value proposition will be formidable. I think the efficacy of the G90 product will make it a real competitor worthy of consideration. How will it play out in the market? It will come down to how well the Genesis brand is marketed that will determine its fate. -PMD

(Land Rover)
This is the new 2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic. It comes equipped with a 550HP 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine delivering 502 ft-lb of torque through an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. It also has an almost endless series of detailed features both inside and out, including the side vents, hood finisher, grille, front bumper accents, Range Rover script and tailgate trim all finished in Graphite Atlas. In addition, customers have a choice of 21- and 22-inch alloy wheel designs, as well as three unique finishes. The SVAutobiography Dynamic is also the first Range Rover available with red brake calipers and Brembo brake technology. How much? $170,995 not including the $995 destination/handling charge.

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Diarmuid O’Connell. Editor-In-Chief's Note:
O’Connell, "vice president of business development" for Tesla, criticized other automakers for offering electric cars he described as “little more than appliances,” as reported by The Detroit News. “The industry’s attempts to date to advance the state of electric vehicle technology, they’re probably really not even trying,” he said. This must be news to the thousands of people hard at work on advanced vehicle electrification programs at General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Hyundai, Nissan, etc. His comments came at the Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan. D-Bag-ism is apparently part of the corporate mission statement at Tesla. What a flaming jackass. -PMD

Editor-In-Chief's Note: According to a report in Automotive News, FCA execs ordered an internal review of its reported sales numbers in mid-2015 and discovered that thousands of vehicle sales reported by FCA's brands didn't have actual buyers. Oops. Don't think there's fire generating that smoke? The investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice obviously think there is. It seems that Sergio's obsession with delivering monthly sales gains at all costs is going to be a very costly decision, which is why he's going to sell the company off as soon as he can lasso a serious buyer. This is going to get real ugly, folks. UPDATE: Upon further review - and with the SEC and DOJ circling around FCA's Auburn Hills, Michigan, campus like sharks - FCA announced on Tuesday afternoon (7/26) that their much ballyhooed 75-month sales streak actually ended - ahem - three years ago at 40 months. This is due, according to FCA, to "a new sales reporting methodology" that is said to be more accurate. Uh-huh, sure. We're all going to have to put fishing waders on to navigate our way through that raging river of unmitigated bullshit. Listen, folks, if you needed any more evidence after all of this time that Sergio Marchionne and his espresso-swilling posse were only out for themselves then you haven't been paying attention. Marchionne's obsession with showing sales gains at all costs has finally exposed him for what he well and truly is: Just your above-average carpetbagging mercenary angling for one last big score. What will the outcome of the DOJ investigation into all of this be? That remains to be seen, but you can bet Marchionne is in feverish talks with the Chinese to cash out, so that he can bail while the bailing is still good. -PMD

Editor's Note: Peter has been relentlessly hammering Sergio Marchionne almost since the day he arrived here after being gifted the assets of the Chrysler Corporation by the Obama administration. Peter has never wavered once from calling out Marchionne and his "espresso swilling minions" as carpet bagging mercenaries out to make one last score. And with the latest news emanating from Auburn Hills, it seems that Peter was right all along. See some of Peter's most recent columns on Marchionne & Co. below. -WG

THE FOOLS ON THE HILL.   4/20/16
GOOGLE IN FINAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH FIAT CHRYSLER ON AN ADVANCED TECHNICAL PARTNERSHIP.  4/26/16
TWO EMPERORS. NO CLOTHES.  5/11/16
MASTERS OF THEIR IMAGINARY UNIVERSE.  7/6/16
A MIDSUMMER NIGHTMARE.  7/13/16
KING CHAOS REIGNS IN AUBURN HILLS.  7/20/16

Editor's Note: This week, our "Quick Take" (by the way, another publication is using "Quick Take" to title their reviews and they need to cease and desist, right now. We were using the phrase long before they even thought about it.) tester was the 2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD, in a tasteful Dark Granite Metallic, featuring a Maple Sugar Interior with Jet Black Accents. (Maple Sugar? Really? These naming teams really need to get some new stimulus materials.) As other reviewers have noted, the XT5 is indeed a major upgrade from the SRX it replaces. It feels solid and substantial, and our Luxury Platinum edition was indeed luxurious. I'm basically lukewarm on the styling, but that's how I feel about Cadillac design these days. I think it is too conservative, I think they missed an opportunity to really "Dare Greatly" in the studio and create vehicles with real design presence and a point of view. That said, the XT5 is fine for what it is - a nicely executed, fully loaded luxury crossover thingy. It passed the Costco test and the daily errands test. It is spacious and comfortable, and the A/C was awesome in this perpetual heatwave. A cool new rearview camera shows a video display on the inside mirror, which is wild, in a good way, but it does take some getting used to. It's like a movie of your life, passing by in the rearview mirror (literally). Okay, a quick mini-rant about pricing. It's the old, "starting at $38,995" line. I have no idea who's gonna order that one. First of all, the 'base' model is only available with FWD. You need to order the Luxury or Premium Luxury model if you want AWD, so already you're at just under $46k or $53k, respectively. Then there are other little ordering annoyances, as in, there is only one standard (no charge) exterior color - no matter which trim level you select. If you love Radiant Silver Metallic, you're in luck; otherwise, you'll pay either $495 or $995 for one of six 'premium' colors. Really? Seriously? Is paying for paint supposed to make it all seem more luxurious and upscale? Oh, and another thing about that 'base' model, you get one, count 'em one, interior color choice - Sahara Beige - which is downgraded from leather to 'leatherette' - faux leather in a Cadillac? Nice. I could go on, but why? In all fairness,  these pricing "strategies" are not unique to Cadillac; in fact, they are rife in the luxury segment. But they really are tedious. So to summarize: Yes, we've beaten Cadillac's new naming strategy to death - as in, it sucks. XT5? WTF? It doesn't exactly roll of the tongue. And it means absolutely n-o-t-h-i-n-g. But the car itself is very good. And it furthers Cadillac's commitment to the premium luxury arena, albeit in a rather staid fashion. I just can't say that the XT5 is a "wow" vehicle. -WG

2017 Cadillac XT5 Platinum AWD Coupe: $63,845 ($62,500 Base Price; Dark Granite Metallic, $495; Jet Black Interior; Maple Sugar/Jet Black accents; 3.6L V6 with direct injection and VVT; 310HP @ 6600 rpm, 271 lbs-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm; Automatic stop/start; Eight-speed automatic transmission; Twin clutch all-wheel-drive system; Fully independent performance suspension with driver select modes; Four-wheel ventilated anti-lock disc brakes; 12-spoke, fully polished 20" alloy wheels; Semi-aniline leather seats; Heated and ventilated front seats; Heated outboard rear seats; 8-way power seat adjuster, front passenger; Power lumbar, driver seat; Power lumbar, front passenger seat; Driver memory package; Head-up display; Heated steering wheel; Cadillac CUE info and media control with navigation; AM/FM stereo with 8" color diagonal display; Apple CARPLAY capability by Apple, available with compatible smartphones; XM Radio + service subscription sold separately by SiriusXM after three months; Bose surround sound audio system with 14 speakers; ULTRAVIEW sunroof with power sunshade; Universal home remote; Power, hands-free, programmable rear liftgate; LED headlamps and cornering lamps; Intellibeam headlamps; Wireless device charging; Tri-zone climate control; EZ key passive entry system; Power tilt and telescoping steering column; Compact spare tire, $350; Destination Charge, $995)

Adherence to Brand Image: First off, let's recall what Cadillac's brand director Melody Lee told Fortune magazine a few years back: “We want to be a global luxury brand that happens to sell cars. We don’t want to be an automotive brand.” If that is the goal post, it's hard to say what, exactly, Cadillac stands for. In the meantime, Cadillac continues its transition to becoming the "American Audi" while gearing all of its brand imaging initiatives to the Millennial generation. How is it going? I would say not all that well. Cadillac is selling two vehicles right now at a noteworthy pace, the Escalade and the new XT5 (because, well, it's a crossover and anything termed a "crossover" is selling right now). None of those vehicles are being bought by Millennials, by the way. According to Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac's marketing guru, along about 2020 a switch will be flipped and Millennials will beat down Cadillac showroom doors in droves, confirming that all of the Millennial marketing moves they're making now are worthwhile. A giant "we'll see" as we like to say around here. -PMD


Editor's Note: Occasionally we reprint particularly interesting emails in "On The Table," especially if Peter has attached a comment. I'm sure you'll find this exchange interesting. -WG

Clueless in SoHo.

I can think of 63,845 reasons not to buy the new XT5. And I'm a former Cadillac driver. So you get ONE standard no-cost exterior color, and the entry level model has ONE pleather interior color option? Seriously? Cadillac should follow the Lexus playbook, offer fabulous value and slowly raise prices as you become increasingly successful. They just don't seem to get it. Do they?

MJZ
Royal Oak, Michigan

Editor-In-Chief's Note: Actually, no, the Cadillac brain trust doesn't get it and apparently will never get it. Cadillacs have been overpriced for years - the hot Escalade SUV is an entirely different story - and this situation was supposed to be rectified upon John de Nysschen's arrival from Audi by way of Infiniti. The "old" way of doing things at Cadillac was to price its cars, which are admittedly excellent for the most part, right on the nose with BMW. The problem with that strategy is that, except for the "V" cars, the perception "out there" by real world consumers is that Cadillac, as good as the new models are, just isn't worth that kind of money. So, what ends up happening? Cadillac cars are heavily discounted with customer cash and dealer incentives at the retail level, which, surprisingly enough, takes the actual transaction prices down closer to where the cars should have been priced to begin with. How difficult is this to understand? When the first large Lexus sedan arrived here, Toyota executives made the conscious decision to price the car as much as $15,000 less than a comparable BMW or Mercedes, even though it was confirmed later that they were actually losing as much as $15,000 per car by doing so. This is called "taking the long view," which is absolutely anathema in the car business as it is practiced here. Toyota operatives understood that they had to earn their way into the luxury big leagues, and it wasn't going to happen overnight. And look where they are today. So what does the "new" Cadillac pricing model look like? Well, let's see, it's not uncommon to see the new CT6, which arguably is the best Cadillac sedan ever built, sitting on dealer lots with MSRP's hovering around $80,000. Can you get CT6 models that cost less and that are still decent? Sure, but once you get into the "premium" option groups the CT6 gets very pricey. What's wrong with this picture? It doesn't really matter how good the new CT6 is if the perception out there in ConsumerVille is that it's not as good as a Lexus, Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. The reality for Cadillac and its new show horse - the CT6 - is that consumers should be able to get a loaded one, all in, for no more than $65,000.00. And that just isn't possible. Cadillac operatives blew the whole pricing cadence of the CT6, and now they have the division right back to where it has been operating for the last ten years. And it's truly pathetic. But that's not the end of the story, oh no. This fall a new car will make its debut in the luxury arena in this country and it will be much more dangerous to the CT6 than any of the aforementioned luxury competitors. I predict the Genesis G90 (Hyundai's new luxury division) is going to be priced correctly - meaning it will be geared to hammer the luxury + value equation home for consumers - and it is going to take it to the CT6 with devastating effect. I truly expected more from the Cadillac brain trust, but the pricing mistake with the CT6 suggests to me that it's the same as it ever was. -PMD