Road & Track. Editor-in-Chief's Note: Yes, car magazines are barely hanging on, what with the oppressive nonstop frenzy of the Internet that defines the new media world. And we may very well be arriving at the sunset of the car magazines' influence over enthusiast consumers - and the manufacturers - alike. But with that said, it looks like Road & Track magazine isn't going down without a fight. With everyone predicting its imminent demise after the move from the sunny confines of Newport Beach to Ann Arbor, the mag comes out swinging with a contemporary redesign that has jump-started the predictable tome with a bang. The new look, feel and tone takes chances, it's adventurous and it does it all with a style that's freshly undeniable. Well done. - PMD
(Images courtesy of GM)
The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado launches later this spring with crew cab models equipped with the all-new 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8, which is expected to power three out of four Silverado 1500s. Aiming to ruin Ford's day in a big way, Chevrolet has announced EPA estimates of 23 mpg highway for 2wd models, and 22 mpg highway for 4x4 models. That is better than any V-8 competitor, according to the manufacturer, and beats the EPA estimates for the 2013 Ford EcoBoost turbocharged V-6 for both 2wd and 4x4 models. Silverado’s 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 is SAE certified at 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque, with more than 300 lb-ft of torque available from 2,000 to 5,600 rpm for responsive performance under a broad range of real-world conditions. “Silverado’s available 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V-8 gives customers the best of both worlds,” said Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for Silverado. “Customers get the proven power and dependability of a V-8 truck engine, with better fuel economy than a leading competitor’s smaller turbocharged V-6. EcoTec3 builds on 58 years of V-8 experience and trillions of real-world miles. The 2014 Silverado will give customers class-leading V-8 fuel efficiency and the peace of mind that comes with a proven V-8 design, a combination no competitor can match.”
"Checkered Past,” a 1940 Ford coupe featuring a dazzling red PPG paint finish by Charley Hutton has won the 2013 Ridler Award, one of the custom car world’s most coveted honors. The announcement was made at the 61st annual Detroit Autorama held at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit. The Ridler Award is presented to the most outstanding custom car or truck making its debut appearance at the Detroit Autorama, held annually in March. This is the third time in six years that a PPG-finished entry has won the tribute. It is especially significant this year since it marks the prize’s 50th anniversary. Checkered Past is owned by Ron and Deb Cizek of Bennington, Nebraska, and was built by Andy Leach and his crew at the newly-opened Cal Automotive Creations in Omaha, Nebraska. It was the first car the shop ever created. Hutton, regarded as one of the most accomplished and talented painters in the custom car world, did the paint work at his shop, Charley Hutton’s Color Studio, in Nampa, Idaho, where he uses PPG Automotive Refinish products exclusively. Hutton gained a national reputation with appearances on the Discovery Channel’s American Hot Rod, TLC’s Overhaulin’, and on Hot Rod TV. This is his third Ridler Award. Previous wins came in 2005 and 2007. Construction of "Checkered Past" took two years, with Hutton’s body and paint work taking up four months of the total time.
(Images courtesy of Porsche)
Porsche is making a fundamental change in its Panamera S models and introducing its first plug-in hybrid and two new extended wheelbase variants with the second generation of the Panamera beginning this fall. The new Panamera S E-Hybrid produces 416 total system horsepower. S models are now powered by an entirely new 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers. The model range now consists of nine models for the U.S. market. New and further-developed technologies offer improved performance while also enhancing fuel efficiency and comfort, according to Porsche. The refreshed Panamera celebrates its world debut at Auto China in Shanghai, which opens on April 21, where further details on the new models will be revealed. Added to the revised Panamera lineup - most specifically for the Chinese market - are the Panamera 4S Executive and Panamera Turbo Executive models. These two new Panamera models feature a wheelbase extended by 5.9 inches, enabling even more rear seating comfort and come with an extensive range of standard features. For example, all Executive models are equipped with Adaptive air-suspension featuring Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM), which combines superior performance and enhanced ride comfort. Editor-in-Chief's Note: And these "Executive" models are so horrific looking we actually refuse to show them here. If the Chinese market is really dictating to these luxury-performance manufacturers that much then these companies need to start editing themselves for the U.S. market. Just because it sells in China doesn't mean it's a good idea to bring it here. The design changes to the Panamera are actually quite good, but the Executive models render them meaningless. Pathetic. - PMD
The new Panamera S now boasts a 3.0-liter V6 engine with twin turbochargers. The twin-turbo V6 replaces the naturally aspirated 4.8-liter V8 engine in the previous-generation Panamera S and Panamera 4S. The engine offers an increase of 20 hp and 15 lb-ft torque when compared to the outgoing V8 engine. Carefully-managed turbocharging ensures that the maximum 384 lb-ft torque is available across most of the twin-turbo V6’s operating range. With the exception of the Panamera S E-Hybrid, all Panamera models are equipped with the seven-speed Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK); the Panamera S E-Hybrid uses the eight-speed Tiptronic S automatic. The PDK transmission works in tandem with other vehicle systems to enhance fuel savings in the new generation Panamera. For example, the optimized engine Auto Start Stop feature now turns the engine off earlier while coasting to a stop. With the exception of the Panamera GTS, models with PDK also offer a coasting function in which the clutches open in overrun allowing the engine to idle and the vehicle to coast freely. This function can significantly improve fuel economy, especially when traveling on the highway, says Porsche.
Exterior design changes on the new Panamera include larger air intakes and tighter and more prominent lines making the transition to the headlights. The most distinguishing feature of the new generation Panamera is a new trunk lid - "its laterally stretched glass emphasizes the vehicle’s width and makes for a more aggressive stance," according to Porsche. Rear body proportions were also changed. A larger automatically deploying spoiler and a tighter transition to the rear lights complement the treatment at the front of the vehicle noted above. Full-LED headlights, which lend the new generation a striking appearance, are now an option.
The new Panamera S E-Hybrid improves upon the concept offered by the previous Panamera S Hybrid with a more powerful electric motor, a higher-performance battery that supplies more energy and is able be recharged from home or public vehicle charging stations. The electric drive produces 95 hp, more than double the power of the previous model’s electric motor (47 hp). Electricity is stored in a newly developed lithium-ion battery, which at 9.4 kWh has increased capacity over the previous battery (1.7 kWh). Via the integrated on-board charging componentry and the standard Porsche Universal Charger (AC), the battery can reach full charge within approximately two and a half hours when connected to a 240V power source. The Panamera S E-Hybrid expands upon the driving performance of the previous generation, while fuel consumption is reduced when compared to the previous Panamera S Hybrid. Final U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings will be available closer to launch. Simultaneously, its electric-only driving performance is substantially improved, enhancing acceleration, range, and top speed. Electric-only driving is possible without any fuel consumption or local emissions, which is especially advantageous in city driving. The electric driving range of the Panamera S E-Hybrid is estimated to be greater than 20 miles based upon current NEDC testing. Driving range may vary in real world operation, due to the effects of environmental conditions, terrain, air conditioning and heating use, driving style and other factors. (In other words, don't count on it, chump.- WG) The Panamera S E-Hybrid can reach up to 84 mph in all-electric operation. The new generation of Panamera models will be available starting late in 2013. Panamera Turbo S and Panamera Turbo S Executive variants will be available in 2014.
(Images courtesy of BMW Group)
Think the crossover "thing" in the market is going away soon? Think again. BMW is selling more of their crossovers and "SAVs" than anything else. The BMW Concept X4 is a signal of what's next in-market for BMW. "It takes no more than a first glance to see how smoothly the qualities of a BMW X model can blend with the genes of a BMW Coupe," says BMW. Uh, that's highly debatable but it is better looking than the 5GT or the 3GT, we'll give them that. The second Sports Activity Coupe in the brand's model range will be built at BMW Plant Spartanburg in the USA, the "competence center" for BMW X models which also produces the BMW X5, BMW X6 and BMW X3. With a body length of 4,648 mm, a width of 1,915 mm and a height of 1,622 mm, its exterior dimensions "signal sporting elegance and powerful robustness," according to the boffins at BMW PR. Well, if you squint real hard, maybe. The X4 Concept has a wheelbase measuring 2,810 mm and it is equipped with 21 inch light alloy wheels. The production version of the BMW X4 will debut in the U.S. market as early as 2014.
Editor's Note: Check out this video for the new Chevrolet Camaro Z/28. - WG
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Our "quick take" has us in something called the 2013 Buick Verano FWD 1ST. Why on earth Buick couldn't have just called this car the Buick Verano Turbo is beyond me. This seems to be an epidemic of late at GM, with ordering codes and optional equipment levels becoming part of the naming process of their cars. It makes sense with the performance cars like Corvette ZO6, ZR1 and Camaro Z/28 and ZL1, but Buick Verano "FWD 1ST" or Chevrolet "Malibu 2LT" just doesn't have the same ring, now does it? It's silly, it's stupid and it's something GM needs to change but probably won't. At any rate, the Buick Verano Turbo is a surprise. I'd say shocking but then again the True Believers at GM have been doing such great work of late that it's not really a surprise at all that the Verano Turbo is a slick piece of work. It's a decently quick car (0-60mph in 6.2 seconds according to Buick estimates) but it's the way it goes about its business that's most impressive. The 2.0-liter Ecotec is one of the industry's great engines, and it flat gets it in the Verano. And it is Fun. To. Drive. Yes, it's true, the Verano Turbo actually delivers a worthwhile driving experience. But this compact Buick has an air of sophistication about it that needs to be experienced to be believed, too. It's loaded with just about everything you'd want, including a heated steering wheel (an undeniable and addictive luxury in the more frigid climates) and that lends to the sophisticated nature of this little luxury-performance Buick (imagine saying "little luxury-performance Buick" before this, hell, even now it's more than a little disconcerting). The Verano Turbo is quiet and quick and it qualifies as a certified AE Sleeper on the road, too, because it's truly fun to drive and you can motor quickly and not draw a second glance (just don't get it in Crystal Red). A few things aren't all that great - the steering could be juiced-up in the feel department for instance and at times the shifter can feel decidedly average, but overall the Verano Turbo is quite good. Surprising, in fact. If you're in the market this is one confident and composed little machine that's definitely worth a closer look. - PMD
2013 Buick Verano FWD 1ST: $32,010 ($29,105 Base Price; Crystal Red, $325; Cashmere interior; 2.0-liter, Variable Valve Timing, Direct-Injected, turbocharged, DOHC Ecotec 4-cylinder with 250HP and 260 lbs-ft of torque; 6-speed manual gearbox; front-wheel-drive; electric power steering; 18" machine faced alloy wheels with P235/45R18 tires; Turbo-specific dual exhaust, sport pedals, rear spoiler, leather trim, heated steering wheel; Power sunroof, $900; Audio system with navigation, $795; Destination Charge, $885.)
Adherence to Brand Image: The new Buicks are nicely executed, but the brand image is still in flux. Is Buick the perfect near-luxury brand with occasional bursts of performance overtones? Or is Buick just about nicely executed cars that deliver what's promised in terms of design integrity and luxury accoutrements? Even though the Verano Turbo is highly enjoyable and it might draw some actual enthusiasts to the brand, I think Buick adheres more closely to the latter statement above. But I'm not sure the Buick marketers want to admit that. And I'm not sure they want to admit that the Verano is so good - in standard and performance configurations - that the Regal has become expendable and superfluous. Come to think of it the last thing GM marketers want to admit is that, even after the divisional contraction due to the bankruptcy, they still have too many vehicles stepping on one another in the market. But they do and if they really wanted to fix it they'd start by looking at the Regal vs. Verano quandary. Brand Image? Partly cloudy. Perpetually. - PMD