No. 885
February 22, 2017

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

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On The Table


DECEMBER 14, 2016


Enjoy our year-end issue, and we'll see you back here

on January 4, 2017!

(And scroll to the bottom of the page for news updates during the break!)




Yes, the times they are a changin' but, WTF? $500 million for what exactly? Editor-In-Chief's Note: GM announced a long-term alliance with Lyft to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S. GM will invest $500 million in Lyft to help the company continue the rapid growth of its successful ridesharing service. In addition, GM will hold a seat on the company’s board of directors. Yet another example of a Detroit car company desperately grasping at a "future of transportation" straw, hoping something good comes out of it. This is one of Dan "I'm the next chairman just watch me" Ammann's deals. What a bunch of Bush League Bullshit. -PMD (January 6, 2016)


This is the VW BUDD-e, the first VW based on the VW Group's new Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) designed for plug-in electric vehicles. Introduced at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show CES) in Las Vegas this week, the BUDD-e has a 101 kWh battery that enables up to 373 miles of pure electric range. The only way that VW has a shot at reviving its image is to be bold and take chances by bringing out innovative products to the market. The BUDD-e is definitely a step in the right direction. Possible production? 2019. (1/6)



Okay, so an auto show broke out at the CES. Here are two offerings from Toyota. The first is the Toyota FCV Plus concept vehicle, which, according to Toyota PR minions, "demonstrates Toyota’s vision of a connected, sustainable hydrogen society." Showcasing the potential of hydrogen fuel cell technology beyond just the automotive industry, the FCV Plus is capable generating electricity directly from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle and thus operating as a stable source of electric power for use at home or on the go. The FCV was interesting, but not as interesting as the KIKAI concept (below). The KIKAI - meaning “machine” - brings the machinery of the vehicle out from beneath the body and makes an open display of its beauty. We loved it. (1/6)


From the “Carpetbagging Mercenary/Flim-Flam Artist” File: Sergio Marchionne was at it again, this time insisting that it would be a good idea for Alfa Romeo to return to Formula 1, according to a Reuters report. WTF? Now even if it did happen - which is only a remote possibility, at best - an "Alfa Romeo" racer in F1 would simply be a badge-engineered Ferrari F1 machine, such is the pathetic state of the international racing series. Ferrari is already committed to supplying three non-factory teams with engines next season - Swiss-based Sauber, the new American-owned Haas F1 Team and the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso (although Toro Rosso will use a 2015 spec engine), so spending all that cash generated from selling Jeeps on another two F1 cars would be incremental spending, in Sergio's eyes. But true to form, Sergio just couldn't help himself from launching a bombastic, bullshit comment saying, "It's incredible how the Alfa marque remains in people's hearts. For that very reason we are thinking about bringing it back, as our competitor, to racing, to Formula One. It's important for Alfa to return." A longtime AE reader, Mark W., had this to say about Marchionne's latest fanciful boast concerning Alfa's place in the automotive world: "In the words of Jerry Seinfeld 'Who are these people ?!?!?' Yes it is ‘incredible’ Sergio… it’s incredible that anyone even knows what Alfa is anymore thanks to the dereliction of duty FIAT has sullied upon the Alfa brand over the last 30+ years." The High-Octane Truth, indeed. Marchionne has been beating the Alfa drum to no avail for so long now that he is simply devoid of even a shred of credibility. He has broken every promise to the dealers, missed every target for the relaunch of the brand and yet he still insists it will be on par with Audi in the U.S. market by 2018. As if. With each new utterance about the golden promise of Alfa, Marchionne looks more and more foolish and that's really saying something, especially since he has compiled quite a dossier of stupidity ever since he was gifted Chrysler by the Obama administration. Continuing to tout the long-faded brand is nothing but an affront to the reality of where Alfa Romeo is and where it's going, which is nowhere good - and fast. -PMD (1/6)

Welcome to the Sergio Shit Show, folks. A civil racketeering suit was filed in Chicago by two stores in the Napleton Automotive Group, alleging that FCA offered the dealers large sums of cash (as much as $20,000.00 at one point) to report that unsold vehicles were, in fact, sold. FCA, of course, was shocked, shocked that such an allegation would merit any notice at all, completely ridiculing the possibility and dismissing the dealers involved as being ineffectual and underperforming. But, of course, there was good reason for the fire generating that smoke. Several, actually. FCA was and is obsessed with inflating its reputation, boasting of its sales numbers at every turn. Why? Because Sergio and his FCA overlords wanted the stock price to go up (it tanked on the news of the suit). And, they wanted to project a level of desirability to potential suitors - FCA has no advanced technical partnership here in the U.S. and none on the horizon - and if Sergio can't make something happen in the next 18 to 24 months, the doomsday scenario for Sergio and his espresso-swilling minions is that they will be forced to sell off the assets of FCA piecemeal. At the very least this was a PR disaster of notable impact, but it steamrolled into something more, as FCA lost the case, with consequences still pending. –PMD (1/20)


How fast do you want to go? How much do you want to spend? Faster and more efficient than its predecessor, the 2017 R8 was introduced as the most powerful Audi production model ever. The new R8 starts with the same naturally-aspirated V10 engine found in the R8 LMS racecar, a completely new application of quattro® all-wheel drive, and a more functional yet technologically advanced cabin, according to Audi PR minions. With an updated seven-speed S tronic® dual-clutch transmission - which can shift gears in 120 ms - the V10 model has 540HP and 398 lb-ft of torque and reaches 60 mph in 3.5 seconds with top track speed of 199 mph. The R8 V10 plus has 610HP and 413 lb-ft of torque, and goes zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds with a top track speed of 205 mph. The Audi R8 V10 is $162,900, and the R8 V10 plus is $189,900. The prices do not include the $1250 destination charge.

Editor-In-Chief's Note: From the "Great Advertising" File, it doesn't get much better than the Honda spot called "Paper." Watch it here. -PMD

Plan? What Plan? Sergio Marchionne finally came out with a new Plan today, which replaced the last Plan, which replaced the Plan before that and the Plan before that, which replaced that other Plan from five years ago. Oh, never mind, you get the picture. Sergio's "Plans" over the years have changed with the proverbial winds, and it's only when his pronouncements look so utterly foolish and he's about to be laughed out of the room that he's forced to say something to somebody about a "new" Plan. The bottom line is that today Sergio admitted that he's got Jeep, some pickup trucks and oh by the way he has Jeep, and everything else is just a pipe dream and/or a monumental waste of time. All that has been accomplished with Marchionne's latest "Plan" is that the ugly reality of FCA has been exposed and the company is in even more trouble than we even imagined. With no advanced technology at the ready to deal with tightening emissions and fuel economy regulations and with no partner even on the horizon to bail the company out, the clock is ticking on FCA. Loudly. The business model Marchionne's pushing is simply not sustainable. –PMD (1/27)

Editor's Note: On rare occasions we print an email from one of our readers in "On The Table" for those who forget to read Reader Mail. In the particular exchange (below), Peter revisits one of his favorite subjects. -WG

I appreciate your column and have been following for years. I rarely write in, but had to reach out after seeing a new Chevy commercial for the Malibu. I'm sure you've seen it – after removing badges, a group of consumers comment on how the car reminds them of a BMW or Audi.

What value is this commercial providing? I am at a loss.

I'm sorry, but anyone familiar with BMW is not going to confuse this car with a BMW. People aren't buying this car as a poor man's BMW. Toyota Avalon at Camry pricing? Maybe.

I'm really struggling with the goal of this message. What am I missing?


Charleston, South Carolina

Editor-In-Chief's Note: You're not missing a damn thing, Tim. What you're seeing is an advertising agency completely capitulating to the whims of clients who believe that glorified retail advertising is the way to go for national advertising. It's similar to what Buick marketers are doing with their advertising. Where is the compelling reason to even look at a Malibu, let alone a Chevrolet? Where's the compelling reason for Buick in those commercials for that matter, other than to say "I didn't know that was a Buick?" It's rampant mediocrity and unmitigated bullshit. The problem? GM doesn't have a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to provide direction and inspiration. As a matter of fact, GM is the largest company in the world without a CMO, something I've railed against in many previous columns. And without a CMO inevitably the account drones and spineless weasel clients run roughshod over everything. And the result is what you see on the screen. It is unconscionable and simply unforgivable. –PMD (1/27)


It’s nice but it doesn’t sound like a Porsche sports car to us. Porsche is calling the latest generation of its mid-engine roadsters the 718 Boxster and 718 Boxster S. Why? Because they allegedly pay homage to the flat-four cylinder engines that were used in the mid-engine Porsche 718 sports car, which won numerous races back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. They don't, but it's good PR minion-generated spin anyway. The revamped Boxster models have more power, fuel efficiency and better handling, according to Porsche. The big news is the newly developed, turbocharged flat four-cylinder engines. The 718 Boxster generates 300HP from two liters of displacement and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, while the 718 Boxster S uses a 2.5-liter engine developing 350HP and 309 lb.-ft. of torque. The S-model also employs a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. Editor-In-Chief’s Note: Watch Porsche drop the Boxster and Cayman names altogether by 2019. –PMD (1/27)

Would you miss it? The death of Scion? No one should be surprised. Scion was Toyota's novelty brand designed to go after the youth market, and despite some mildly interesting marketing tactics used at launch it ended up attracting older buyers instead, at least briefly anyway. Because after the first couple of years the brand was on a downward spiral that it never recovered from. The oddball designs didn't help either, because there's a fine line between finding a quirky design language/personality and veering into Clown Car Land, and too often Scion ended up in the latter. Toyota rebranded some of the cars and folded them into its lineup, but the Scion brand will go away. And it won't be missed. At all. (2/3)


It's not a truck either, but hey, they have to be able to spread their awards around to multiple manufacturers to justify their existence, apparently. We didn't think the 5-door Audi h-tron quattro concept vehicle unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show was all that, but the hydrogen-powered electric vehicle received the EyesOnDesign Award for the best Concept Truck at the Detroit auto show. (2/10)

(Land Rover)

Take a good look, because you're unlikely to see one out in the wild. Why? Just 30 units will be available in the U.S. This is the limited-edition Range Rover created in partnership with Holland & Holland, the oh-so-British producer of world-class and custom shotguns and a holder of two royal warrants. The latest from Jaguar Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations, this will be the pinnacle of the Range Rover family. Exclusive elements include Holland & Holland signature design details such as specially engraved bright work, French walnut veneers sourced from the same wood as Holland & Holland stocks, custom commissioned plaque and inlays, signature green exterior finish and unique badging. In addition, the deploy-able load floor provides easy access to a lockable leather trimmed gun case. How much? It starts at $244,500. (2/24)

(Land Rover) 


This is the all-new 2017 Corvette Grand Sport. It is powered by the 460HP LT1 V8 with dry-sump lubrication and active exhaust. It corners and stops like a champion, and it goes real fast.


Porsche introduced the new 911 R in Geneva. This car is apparently the answer to critics who suggest that the 911 is too big and nothing like the original. That's true, but this car is supposed to change that perception. The 911 R is limited to 991 units worldwide, and represents the lightest available version of the 911 with a curb weight of just 3021 pounds. Powered by a 4.0-liter, naturally aspirated flat-six engine (from the 911 GT3 RS) developing 500HP at 8,250 rpm with 338 lb.-ft. of torque at 6,250 rpm - and coupled to a six-speed manual transmission only - the 911 R "underscores Porsche’s commitment to building emotional and engaging high-performance sports cars with a maximum amount of driving pleasure." Okay, 3021 pounds and 500HP? I guess we can overlook the fact that the 911 is too big... (3/2)


And we call it the latest entry into "The Answer to the Question that Absolutely No One was Asking" sweepstakes. VW calls this the T-Cross Breeze, the first convertible SUV in the Polo class, where an "SUV and convertible blend to become a cool, affordable compact car." (3/2)


We didn't care. Audi PR minions said the Q2 is for "an off-road adventure or for everyday driving in a big city." They also called it "Youthful and provocative." (3/2)

(Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)

This is what Rolls-Royce says: “Black Badge is an attitude to life, an aspect of the Rolls-Royce brand that appeals to those people who are elusive and defiant, the risk takers and disruptors who break the rules and laugh in the face of convention. They are driven by a restless spirit. They play hard and they change the world. Technically and aesthetically Black Badge is the alter ego of Rolls-Royce, darker, more assertive, more confident and powerful, and more demanding. With Black Badge we have created the most commanding presence on the super-luxury landscape. It is a truly transformative moment for our great brand.” -Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Editor-In-Chief's Note: This is what I say: WTF? Rolls-Royce is doing a "black" edition like every other lame-ass car company that is out of ideas? Way to lower your brand down to the lowest common denominator, Torsten. –PMD (3/2)


Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the quintessential definition of stupid money: This is the Bugatti Chiron, touted as "the world’s most powerful, fastest, most luxurious and most exclusive production super sports car" according to Bugatti PR minions. The Chiron is powered by a 8-liter W16-cylinder engine with 1,500HP and 1,600 Nm of torque between 2,000 and 6,000 rpm. The Chiron accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 2.5 seconds with a maximum speed of 420 km/h, limited for road travel. The production build of the Chiron will be limited to a series of 500 units. Base price? $2.6 million. (3/2)


Hey, that passenger looks to be a little uncomfortable, no? Porsche AG's "Rolling Museum" again set out on the world's roads to appear at some of the most prestigious classic car events around the globe. The "Rolling Museum" made over 280 vehicle appearances in 2015 alone. This year the historic cars took to the international stage at events including the California Mille, the Targa Florio Classica on the island of Sicily, the Historic Grand Prix at Monaco, Paul Pietsch Classic, the Austrian Ennstal Classic, the Saxony Classic and the Top City Classic Rally in China. (3/9)

The amazing thing is that the Audi brain trust believes they really have it goin' on. Au contraire. Editor's Note: Audi unveiled a new campaign for the 2017 Audi A4 this week, declaring "Intelligence is the new Rock and Roll." Ugh. We wanted to like it, but it's just way too smug and too cliche. It's basically a riff on the "revenge of the nerds" idea - smarts are cool, brainiacs are where it's at, etc. Trouble is, Silicon Valley made nerds cool, oh, about 20 years ago, so Audi is late to that party. AND, this has basically ALWAYS been Audi's brand positioning - appeal to the "march to a different drummer" guy/gal, the (nerdier) one who is smart enough to go for German technology/engineering first and foremost over the more overt luxury of say, a Mercedes or Lexus. So there's not much new here, just a repackaging of the message with "rock and roll" in a way that is supposed to seem hip and oh-so-cool but instead just feels like a whole lot of trying too hard on Audi's part. -WG. Editor-In-Chief's Note: Audi has been spinning its wheels in the advertising arena for a while now. Too smug, too cocky and ultimately, too predictable. It was getting old three years ago, now it's just flat-out tedious. They need to take a step back - way back - and revisit their whole M.O. because they're clearly lost in the haze of their own aura, going nowhere. –PMD (3/16)


We'll let Mark Reuss, executive vice president of GM Global Product Development and True Believer in Chief explain the all-new 2017 Camaro ZL1: “The Camaro ZL1 is designed to excel at everything. It’s a 2+2 coupe offering incredible performance – acceleration, handling and braking – with the highest levels of technology and perfect chassis damping, making it suitable for everyday driving. It will compare well to any sports coupe, at any price and in any setting.” The Good Stuff? The ZL1 is powered by the supercharged LT4 6.2L V-8 Small Block engine, with intake and exhaust specifically tuned for Camaro. It is rated at an 650 horsepower (485 kW) and 640 lb-ft of torque (868 Nm). The LT4 is backed by a standard six-speed manual transmission or all-new, available paddle-shift 10-speed automatic that has a 7.39 overall ratio for smaller steps between gears. It enables the LT4 engine to remain at optimal rpm levels during acceleration, particularly when exiting corners, for quicker laps and ultra-quick responses on both up- and down-shifts. Aero? The lower grille opening offers greater airflow compared to the Camaro SS, and the upper grille incorporates a new version of the “flow-tie” open bowtie insignia. There’s a ZL1-specific hood, with a carbon fiber insert and heat extractor that pulls hot air from the engine compartment. Additional changes include a larger front splitter, unique rockers, a wing-style rear spoiler and wider front fenders – all tuned to improve aerodynamics for greater high-speed stability. The performance numbers for the 2017 Camaro ZL1? 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. Yee-Hah. (3/16)


An immaculate 1939 Oldsmobile convertible nicknamed "Olds Cool" won the 53rd annual Ridler Award at the recent 2016 Detroit Autorama held at Cobo Hall. The custom build is owned by Bill and Debbie Thomas of Georgetown, Texas. The car was meticulously constructed over four years by Harold Chapman and his team of talented craftsmen at Customs & Hot Rods of Andice, also of Georgetown. The highly revered Ridler Award is presented to the most outstanding custom car or truck making its debut appearance at the Autorama, an event—now in its 64th year—held every winter in the Motor City. The Ridler Award is officially known as the Don Ridler Memorial Award. It was established in 1964 and named after the man who made the Detroit Autorama the nation’s premier custom car show. To qualify for the award, a car must debut at the Detroit Autorama. (3/16)


Memo to BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, et al.: We’re Genesis. And We’re Coming. This is the Hyundai Genesis "New York Concept." Yes, it's only a concept, but it's striking evidence that Hyundai is extremely serious about making its new Genesis luxury division a player in the market heretofore dominated by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Given the evidence of the level of Hyundai's commitment in terms of the talent in design and engineering that it has assembled to work on its new luxury brand, we expect that Genesis will be a force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later. (3/23)


The automotive media went ape-shit over it, because they go ape-shit over anything Mazda does. It's not the showstopper it was made out to be, however. Mazda unveiled the Mazda MX-5 RF (For “Retractable Fastback”, not "Rat Fink") in New York, "Making the roadster experience accessible to a broader range of drivers," according to the manufacturer. The power roof opens and closes with the press of a button while moving at speeds of up to 10km/h. The MX-5 RF offers the same trunk space as the soft-top model, but no word on the weight penalty. Um, so what and why should we care again? (3/23)


They also drew inspiration from Range Rover and the Bentley Bentayga, apparently. Lincoln unveiled the all-new Navigator Concept at the New York show. Lincoln's design team "drew inspiration from luxury sailboats and yachts when designing the new concept" according to the manufacturer. The production version will appear at the Detroit Auto Show in January. (3/23)

A giant steaming bowl of Not Good. It got worse for VW. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed suit against Volkswagen Group of America for false advertising. VW pounded its "clean diesel" mantra into consumers' heads for years through print ads, TV commercials and on the Internet while insisting that their diesel-powered cars were the greatest things since sliced bread when the exact opposite was true. VW's "clean diesels" were in fact cheater cars generating excess emissions far outside the legal limits. The FTC suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, stated that U.S. consumers suffered "billions of dollars in injury" as a result of VW's calculated actions, and that the FTC was seeking a court order requiring Volkswagen to compensate U.S. consumers who bought a polluting vehicle, as well as an injunction to prevent future similar conduct by Volkswagen. (3/30)


The Audi Tradition exhibit at this year’s Techno Classica in Essen - the world’s biggest classic car exhibition, expecting around 190,000 visitors from April 6 to 10 - centered around rarities from the company’s history. Our favorite? The still stunning Audi Avus Quattro from 1991. The mid-engine concept appeared at the Tokyo Motor Show with its shimmering, highly polished aluminum body. Audi development engineers planned a 509HP 12-cylinder engine in a "W" arrangement for the machine at the time. (3/30)


The new website offered a configurator that allowed anyone to build a virtual GT and easily share their dream combinations from a number of color, wheels and interior themes with the world through social media. Production is limited to 250 units per year, and the initial ordering period covered the first two years of production - 500 vehicles. The Ford GT is expected to have a starting price at around $450,000, excluding destination and delivery. (4/13) 

The downward spiral of FCA - and their inability to sell cars instead of Jeeps and Trucks - continued. The company's latest gambit attempted to prop-up the slumping Dodge Dart - which was about to fall off of the table altogether with sales down 32 percent - by renaming the models, adjusting packages and content, and cutting the price. The lineup was cut confined to three models: Dart SXT Sport, Dart Turbo and Dart GT Sport. This is what Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA's passenger car brands had to say about it: “We are repositioning the Dart lineup to better align production and dealer inventory with consumer demand and preference." Editor-In-Chief’s Note: Translation? They are so dead in the water with the Dart that this latest move is a Hail Mary pass of desperation. It isn't going to work, by the way. And the next move for the Dart? It's on the Midnight Train to Oblivion. -PMD (The Dart and the Chrysler 200 were discontinued last summer.) (4/13)


Ford began a desperately needed 10-year transformation of its more than 60-year-old Dearborn facilities to consolidate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into primarily two campus locations. The massive construction project began in April on the new product campus location, including a new Design Center. Ford states that upon completion, the transformation will result in a walkable community featuring paths, trails and covered walkways as well as autonomous vehicles, on-demand shuttles, eBikes, employee services, high-speed Internet and more green spaces. New buildings will also reduce energy use by about 50 percent, save water and include the new zero-waste, zero-energy, zero-water Sustainability Showcase building. The current Ford Research and Engineering Center Campus – dedicated by U.S. President Eisenhower in May 1953 – currently houses 12,000 employees. After the transformation it will accommodate 24,000 employees in 4.5 million square feet of upgraded work space. (4/13)

How about a big bowl of shut the fuck up, for starters? As if last week's pronouncements from "The Great Sergio" weren't tedious enough, he felt compelled to chime in about the hoopla surrounding the Tesla Model 3, to wit: “If Elon shows me he can make that car profitable at that price, very humbly I will copy the formula, add Italian design flair and get it to the market within twelve months.” That's about the stupidest thing to come out of Sergio's mouth - among a treasure trove of stupid things - I've heard since he was gifted Chrysler's assets for a song. Remember, this is the corporate charlatan who has made promise after promise about a host of things, oh, let's see, where should I begin? The fact that he insisted that Alfa Romeo will be "the next Audi" by 2018; or the fact that he based his pitch to the Obama administration to grab Chrysler's assets by saying that he would flood America's streets with a brace of fuel-efficient machines that would take the American market by storm; or that he would fix Chrysler's piss-poor quality reputation once and for all. Let me comment on that last one, for starters. FCA has demonstrated repeatedly that they are simply incapable of building a quality product, having camped at the bottom rung of every quality survey since Marchionne and his espresso-swilling minions took over the company. And that's not about to change anytime soon. As for the whole fuel-efficient car thing, if Sergio closes or mothballs anymore car plants FCA will simply cease to be in the car business here, period. Maybe Sergio should abandon all pretenses of building mainstream cars and just focus on selling Jeeps, Ram trucks, minivans, a few hot rods and police cars. And finally, the whole Alfa Romeo thing is such a recurring joke that now most - but not all - of the sycophants in the automotive media have finally started to ignore Sergio every time he utters the name "Alfa Romeo." For good reason too. Taking all of that into consideration and knowing Sergio's serial boasting knows no bounds - even though it is entirely devoid of even a shred of credibility - to hear him make that pronouncement about copying the Tesla Model 3 formula pegs him as being borderline deranged. –PMD (4/20)

(Indianapolis Motor Speedway)

Roger Penske drove a special 2017 Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition pace car to lead the field for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Penske, celebrated 50 years in racing in 2016 and is by far the most successful team owner in American racing history; his sixteen wins in the Indy 500 a is a record that may never be broken. It was the ninth time a Camaro has served as the pace car and the 27th time for Chevrolet, dating back to 1948. (4/20)


Rather than quoting from the long-winded press release, this is all you really need to know: American supermodel Gigi Hadid is featured in the new digital campaign - and YouTube film - for the BMW M2 Coupé launch called “Eyes on Gigi.” Over and out. (4/20)


Little Red Corvette.

Peter, I was wondering your thoughts on Chevrolet's “little red Corvette” Prince tribute ad? My modern political correctness compliance filter strained long moments as to why not do this, however, creativity fortunately triumphed. I thought it was probably one of the most brilliant ideas I have seen from GM marketing in perhaps decades. Simple, elegant, iconic. Opportunistic.

Given the dismal automotive marketing and advertising campaigns, perhaps it is worth mentioning.

David M. 
Brighton, Michigan

Editor-In-Chief's Note: I thought the print ad was brilliantly conceived and elegantly rendered, certainly the best thing to come out of a Chevrolet advertising agency in years. I actually found it to be puzzling, however, because the current Chevrolet work that exists now - especially the excruciatingly tedious "clinic/focus group" TV spots - is so incredibly uninspired and tedious, that I am shocked the agency could muster the creativity to pull it off. But, that said, it was a superb effort, no matter how it came about.* -PMD (4/27)

*We found out after the fact that Peter’s long time friend and former colleague, Tony Hossain, was responsible for the iconic print ad. It won best in show at the D Show Detroit advertising awards too. –WG


Hard on the heels of the heavily revised 718 Boxster, Porsche introduced the new 718 Cayman. Key differences? Besides the 4-cylinder turbo engines and the exterior tweaks, the third generation of the mid-engine sports coupe is priced below the Boxster for the first time. (4/27)


VW introduced the most powerful version of its famed GTI, the Golf GTI Clubsport S. A pure two-seater based on the Golf GTI Clubsport, the S delivers 228 kW/310 PS; 280 pound-feet of torque between 1,700 and 5.300 rpm; 0 to 62 mph in 5.8 seconds; a top speed of 162 mph; and an unladen weight that has been reduced to 2,883 pounds. Quick? The S smashed the existing lap record for front-wheel-drive production cars on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with a time of 7 minutes, 49.21 seconds. The production run will be limited to 400 cars worldwide, 100 of which will be delivered to customers in Germany. Colors will be limited to those of the original GTI: “Tornado Red,” “Pure White” and “Deep Black Pearl Effect,” with the roof painted black. The Clubsport S is only available in the two-door model with a manual gearbox. (5/4)


BMW tweaked the range of its compact electric car, the i3. Thanks to the higher storage density of the lithium ion cells, the BMW i3 (94 Ah) now has a capacity of 33 kilowatt hours (kWh). Though the battery dimensions remain unchanged, there's over 50 per cent range increase in the standard NEDC cycle, which equals 300 kilometers instead of 190 kilometers. BMW insists that even in everyday use, in bad weather conditions and with the air conditioning or heating turned on, 200 kilometers of range can be achieved on one full battery charge. The driving performance figures of the 125 kW/170HP hybrid synchronous electric motor remain unchanged. (5/4)

Too bad. Not sad. Editor-In-Chief’s Note: I heard that several executive operatives with ties to their companies’ respective NASCAR racing programs were more than a little dismayed with my column last week entitled, “NASCAR’S CHIEF ENABLERS.” Okay, pissed-off would be more accurate. The gist of the comments that got back to me insisted that the manufacturer relationship with NASCAR couldn’t be better, that with ex-GM executive Brent Dewar managing the partnership for NASCAR, it’s all good and going in a positive direction. Except that’s what I would expect manufacturer and NASCAR operatives to say, because no one wants to upset the applecart that has come to define the existing relationship. Why? When you have a relationship based on "we’ve always done things this way" inertia, it would require too much effort to sit down and study what is really going on. Besides, too many mini-fiefdoms would be exposed and too many hard questions would have to be asked. Here’s the deal – did I suggest that the auto companies pull out of NASCAR immediately? No. That would be absurd. But right now the manufacturers aren’t getting nearly enough out of their relationship with NASCAR. They are merely functioning as Side Show Bobs, ably abetting the NASCAR marketing machine. Which is why I believe the relationship needs to be blown up and then reevaluated, before it is started up again. The manufacturers simply aren’t getting enough out of NASCAR. Period. Not enough technology. Not enough common sense. Not enough active safety (as in eliminating the restrictor-plate race stupidity). Not enough manufacturer-focused marketing, etc. And one day, the right person – or the wrong person in terms of NASCAR’s interests, as the case may be – in the position to do something about it is going to start asking the tough questions. And as the NASCAR enablers in the manufacturer racing departments scurry around trying to react and come up with palatable answers, the sudden realization will wash over them that they could have and should have done something about this a long, long time ago. And when that time comes to pass, I certainly won’t hesitate to launch a withering “I told you so”. –PMD (5/11)

(BMW Group)

The Mille Miglia was the toughest endurance race in the world for three decades. The first appearance of the BMW 328 roadster – which debuted at the Eifel Race in 1936 – at the Mille Miglia ended in 1938 with a win in the class for vehicles with maximum capacity of 2.0 liters. Two years later, Fritz Huschke von Hanstein and Walter Bäumer secured a win in the overall placings, driving their BMW 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupé to a fifteen-minute lead at the end of the race. Three other BMW 328 automobiles crossed the finishing line in third, fifth and sixth place. Since 1988, the Mille Miglia has been held as a reliability race for historic automobiles and it is a veritable feast for classic fans who line the 1000-mile route through Northern Italy in large numbers. Four hundred fifty historic sports cars took part in this year’s event, driving from Brescia to Rome and back from May 19-22, 2016. The regulations state that only vehicles of the type that were registered at least once for the Mille Miglia between 1927 and 1957 are permitted to take part. They include the BMW 328. This year, BMW Group Classic sent six 328 automobiles to help celebrate the 80th anniversary of the legendary roadster. (5/18)


Infiniti has always done interesting concept cars. Unfortunately, it’s their production cars that leave a lot to be desired. Infiniti revealed the Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo, "a vision of what a high performance Infiniti could look like in the future." (As if.) At any rate, it was created through a close collaboration with the creators of Gran Turismo®, the racing game franchise developed by Polyphony Digital Inc. that has sold more than 72 million copies worldwide. The Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo will be available for download starting today in Gran Turismo®6 (GT6™) exclusively on the PlayStation®3 system. (5/18)

Editor's Note: Attention all ye hipsters! Mark your calendars, create a New Event on your smartphones, get a temporary tattoo, do whatever you millennials do to remember things these days: Cadillac House will open to the public on June 2, 2016! As today's breathless press release explains, Cadillac House is "a physical manifestation of the brand’s cultural world," (cough, hack), and it will be positively overflowing with excruciatingly hip art, culture and fashion. (Click here if you missed the Rant to get Peter's inimitable take on the matter.) And you will, of course, be able to have your cup filled to the rim - not with Brim, but with java from New York-based Joe Coffee (evidence of Cadillac's commitment to being "a positive and responsible neighbor"). Whatever. So there you have it - fulfillment of yet another need you didn't know you had is just a few short days away. "A meeting place where innovators, creators and the curious can find inspiration – and one another." Hey, wait a sec, that's it! "Find inspiration - and one another"? Why not a new singles app, so all of the arty Cadillac House patrons can find their true Cadillac-scented soul mates without having to ferret through the hoi polloi found on all those sites for the unenlightened commoners? And this one's on me: Date Greatly. –WG (5/25)

(Aston Martin)

Aston Martin and Italian design-house Zagato introduced the Vanquish Zagato Concept at the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este last weekend. This is the fifth machine in a collaboration that stretches back more than five decades, from the iconic DB4 GT Zagato of 1960 through to the V12 Vantage Zagato of 2011. Editor-In-Chief's Note: Is it interesting? Somewhat. Does it a hold a candle to the original 1960 DB4 GT Zagato from 1960 (below)? Oh, hell no. –PMD (5/25)

(Aston Martin)


As part of celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Miura, Automobili Lamborghini sent two Miuras from its museum down the route used in the film, “The Italian Job,” directed by Peter Collinson. In the opening sequence of that 1969 cult film, the cars traveled up the hairpin curves of state road 27 around Great St. Bernard Mountain, in the heart of the Italian Alps. During the event, the “fathers” of the Miura met in a warm reunion. Gathering together were engineers Gian Paolo Dallara (right) and Paolo Stanzani (left), who were in charge of the technical side, and Marcello Gandini, who came up with the exterior design for Carrozzeria Bertone. (5/25)


The Beauty of the Standard Car.

We've had some pretty fabulous cars to drive in the past, to the point that some readers have complained that we don't drive enough "real world" cars. Well, this week we tried out a Chevrolet Cruze LT Sedan. This is about as close to a "standard" car as we'll see around here, although "standard" these days still means you get a lot for your money (pricier RS and Premier versions can be ordered, and a cheaper LS model is available too). Not heavily optioned - all-in the sticker was a little over 24 grand - the Cruze nonetheless proved to be a perfect car for its mission in life. Slightly larger but lighter, which is the GM "way" of late, the Cruze went about its business in impressive fashion. It's roomy, quiet and comfortable - the standard cloth seats were very good - and the performance, though not earth shattering, was perfectly acceptable for the urban slog. And on the highway it was even better, displaying a calm composure in the 80-mph range, while delivering around 35 mpg at that speed. Are we talking a VW GTI driving experience here? No, of course not, that's not why the Cruze exists. Though we live in an automotive world that glorifies the newest, the latest and the fastest, sometimes a more basic car will suffice just fine. In this case there is nothing really "basic" about the Cruze, as the engineering effort put forth by GM's troops in Product Development is indeed impressive. There is something good to be said about the standard car, because there's a beauty about it and a lack of pretense that's refreshing. And you'd be hard pressed to find fault with the Chevrolet Cruze. –PMD (5/25)

Congratulations, Tucker, because you succeeded in unleashing simpleton advertising for simpletons and it's definitely not funny. And Not Good either. Nissan introduced a new marketing campaign called "Take On" that dispensed with humor and sentimentality to portray driving as a stressful adventure filled with distractions that can be overcome by technology-fueled driver assistance systems, according to a report in AdAge, the industry publication. The campaign keeps Nissan's "Innovation that Excites" global tagline (yet another example of a positioning line masquerading as a tagline, which seems to be standard operating procedure for auto companies these days). The goal is to position Nissan vehicles as taking on overly exaggerated driving obstacles through on-board technology, complete with dramatic music for emphasis (watch it here). "Nissan is not a funny brand," said Jeremy Tucker, Nissan North America's VP for marketing, communications and media to AdAge. "We needed to show the quality, dependability, the reliability, the performance and the handling and just the power of the brand," he added. "I was very clear in the brief: No humor." Instead, he called for a tone that was "epic, dramatic, captivating and simple. Simple, simple stories," he said. This is as dismal as it gets in the auto ad biz, folks. –PMD (6/8)


When your neighbor’s Raptor is just too damn pedestrian for words. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x4² will join the Mercedes-Benz family of SUVs in the United States. The 4x4² is the most capable G-Class ever, boasting innovative portal axles, three locking differentials, a ground clearance of more than 17" and a 4.0-Liter Biturbo V8. Since development of the G-Class began in 1972, the military-turned-passenger-vehicle has been hand-built in Graz, Austria. The name Gelaendewagen translates literally to "off road vehicle." Since 1979, more than 250,000 vehicles have been delivered to customers around the globe. The G550 4x4² joins the G-Class lineup here in the U.S., which features the 416HP G550, the 563HP AMG G63, and the 621HP AMG G65, notably featuring a monster 6.0-liter V12 Biturbo engine producing a massive 738 lb-ft of torque. Taking cues from the wild AMG G63 6x6 (not available in the U.S. market), the G550 4x4² utilizes the series-model G-Class platform as the starting point for an advanced, ultra-aggressive off-road machine. The G550 4x4² will be available in U.S. dealerships beginning in early 2017. (6/8)


Audi opened Audi City Paris on the Place du Marché Saint Honoré in the heart of the French capital, with the famous Place Vendôme and Rue Saint Honoré in the direct vicinity. This is the fifth site worldwide for the brand’s fully digital showrooms. Guests at the new flagship store can experience the complete Audi product portfolio fully digitally, including all optional extras and customization features. Audi opened its first Audi City in London in 2012. Additional locations followed in Beijing, Berlin and Istanbul. Ever wonder where the idea for Cadillac House originated? Since Johan de Nysschen is hell-bent on his quest to reinvent Cadillac in the likeness of Audi - and Cadillac has already announced plans to add more Cadillac House facilities around the globe - now you know. (6/15)


The all-new 2017 Ford GT will be available in a limited-edition Heritage livery honoring the No. 2 GT40 Mark II driven to victory by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. (6/29)


The new Porsche Panamera, which the company revealed in Berlin, is sleeker, lighter, more fuel-efficient and quicker. It's also much better looking. (It's still too damn big and too heavy, but...) The new Panamera arrives here in January. (6/29)

(Aston Martin)

In yet another entry in the fantasy car sweepstakes, Aston Martin and Red Bull Racing have revealed their version of a ground-breaking hypercar: the AM-RB 001. Aston says that the car is "The product of a unique Innovation Partnership between the British luxury brand and eminent F1 team" and that this "ambitious, uncompromising and wholly extraordinary collaboration combines the vision and skills of two world-leading brands to create a road car the like of which has never been seen before." (But wait, we have seen this before, right?) The machine is built around a lightweight carbon fiber structure (of course), and claims to the boast "truly radical aerodynamics for unprecedented levels of downforce in a road-legal car." Editor-In-Chief's Note: Where this hypercar business is going is anyone's guess. These cars aren't drivable on public roads unless of course you regularly drive from Nice to Monaco and have a prearranged place to park. These are mechanical works of art for a select few with the ca$h to indulge their automotive fantasies. And they will continue to exist as long as there are people willing to pay millions of dollars for automotive exclusivity. –PMD (7/6)


Fifty years ago, when the Ford GT 40 racing team finished 1-2-3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the company illuminated the World Headquarters building in Dearborn with the message “GT Wins at LeMans.” In order to celebrate Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's win in the GTE PRO class at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans with the new Ford GT, the company illuminated the World Headquarters building in Dearborn again on Monday night, July 11. (7/13)


It's summer and even car companies get bored, apparently. "Vehicles with Mercedes-Benz design are already unmistakable on water, on land and in the air. Now, Mercedes-Benz design will also be available for the golf courses" according to the company press release. No, they aren't kidding. The Mercedes-Benz Style Edition Garia Golf Car "authentically transfers the unmistakable Mercedes-Benz automobile design idiom of sensual purity to a premium-class golf cart." We stopped reading there. You can get more information about it here. (7/13)

It's time to move it along, there's nothing to see here. "St. Elon" Musk's latest "Master Plan, Part Deux" is chock-full of so much hype and unmitigated bullshit that it's a wonder that anyone - short of his rabid acolytes - can take any of it seriously. EVs for every segment - including semi-trucks and buses - when he can barely even build the cars he offers now with even a modicum of quality? This on top of promising 500,000 Model 3s by 2018? -PMD (7/20)


The Ford Motor Company and Jose Cuervo® are exploring the use of agave plants to develop a sustainable bioplastic material to incorporate in vehicles. Researchers are testing the material’s durability and heat resistance for potential use in vehicle interior and exterior components such as wiring harnesses and storage bins. If successful, the development of a sustainable composite could reduce the weight of car parts, helping to improve fuel economy. The new material could also alleviate the use of petrochemicals, decreasing the overall impact of vehicles on the environment. (7/20)

(McLaren Automotive)

When McLaren announced its aggressive plan to enter into the high-performance sports car arena five years ago, Ferrari wasn't concerned. They are now. McLaren Automotive posted an operational profit for the third consecutive year in only five years of building cars, delivering 1,654 cars in 2015. That figure is expected to double in 2016. McLaren's investment in Research and Development has increased to nearly 30% of turnover, and it has increased its workforce 16% to manage ongoing development and demand. We expect McLaren's upward trajectory to continue at a rapid pace. (7/20)

Listen, folks, if you needed any more evidence after all of this time that Sergio Marchionne was only out for himself then you haven't been paying attention. 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. 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 carpet bagging 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 (7/27)

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 (7/27)







Sure, go ahead, because we got nothin’. VW AG management's latest big revelation? Breaking with usual policy, the German automaker is letting a region actually decide a vehicle's name. In this case, the U.S. region was given "permission" to name the new midsize VW crossover coming to the U.S. next year. This comes years too late, especially after VW management saddled U.S. dealers with a series of stupid "T" names like Touareg and Tiguan. Hinrich Woebcken, CEO of VW's new North America region, says that the new crossover will have a "bullish, much easier to pronounce, American-style name" that has already been decided, apparently. We have a few suggestions, one of them even a "T," since this is the "new" VW crossover that's supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, even though it will be a good five years behind the competition. Let's see there's "Tusker," "Ballzer," "Kongster," "Suburbial" and the always alluring "COOi" - which stands for "Completely Out Of ideas." (It was later announced that the name was “Atlas.”) –PMD (7/27)


BMW Motorrad introduced the new BMW R nineT Scrambler, "created for motorcycle fans who love things that are purist, reduced to the essentials and non-conformist - combined with the technology and quality of a BMW." Cool. (7/27)


We don’t sell enough stinkin’ Porsches there, that’s why. Porsche, AE's reigning Brand Image Meter king for the second straight year, has announced that it will be skipping the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. Not only has the cost of appearing at the Detroit Show become prohibitive, but the value of being in Detroit became suspect. Porsche has decided to focus on two shows instead: New York; and Los Angeles, by far its single most important market. The homers around these parts may cry foul, but this is a good move on Porsche's part. The Detroit Auto Show is important but this market isn't important to Porsche, so the company is making the right decision for the brand. –PMD (7/27)

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 – which happened after we reviewed the new XT5 - 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?


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 (8/10)


And it's aimed right at China, which is where Cadillac operatives go to feel better about themselves. Cadillac, the General Motors luxury division, unveiled yet another concept at Pebble Beach Thursday night (8/18). After unveiling the Ciel roadster (2011) and the Elmiraj coupe (2013) concepts in previous years, Cadillac operatives unveiled the Escala Concept, calling it "the next evolution of Cadillac design and previewing the craftsmanship and technology being developed for many future models." The difference with the Escala concept, according to Cadillac - or as I like to call it, the Cadillac A9 - is that it's on a stretched CT6 platform and it's supposed to be production intent. We'll see. “Escala is a concept with two clear objectives,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Global Cadillac, in a quote. “First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models. Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.” Pinnacle of premium? Huh. That's a stretch by well, any stretch of the imagination. “Escala is a concept car, but one based upon the unrelenting rise of our product substance,” de Nysschen added. “Depending on the development of market segment for large luxury sedans, Escala is a potential addition to our existing product plan.” There are no ifs, ands or buts here, folks; they're going to build this car as part of de Nysschen's relentless push to remake GM's luxury division in the spitting image of Audi. Escala — Spanish for “scale” in case you were wondering, not a new Cadillac restaurant in SoHo — "is designed to be both a driver’s car and an indulgent flagship sedan." (Spanish for "scale"? No, it's the first six letters of ESCALAde. Can't wait for the Cadillac DE, which is Cadillac's "pinnacle of premium" way to say, "DUH" -WG) The Escala was displayed for the swells at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. -PMD  (8/17)


This is the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6, which Mercedes-Benz unveiled in Pebble Beach and is calling "a exclusive, sensational luxury-class coupe." Mercedes-Benz says that the 2+2-seater pays homage to the glorious age of the aero coupes and consciously carries this tradition forward into the future. Funny, no mention of the importance of rear seat room here. The Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 is a stunning 18.5-feet (nearly six meters) in length, and is designed as an all-electric car. The drive system has an output of 738HP (SAE), (550 kW or 750HP in Europe). The shallow underfloor battery allows a range of over 200 miles according to EPA (over 500 kilometers according to the NEDC.) (8/17)


This is what Mercedes-Benz is saying about the concept: "With its sensual, emotional design (hot) and intelligent details (cool), the Vision Mercedes-Maybach 6 represents the ultimate in luxury. The classic aesthetic proportions of the show car - an extremely long hood, low roofline and rearward positioning of the greenhouse - recall the aero coupes of days gone by. But this is not retro design - this is a reinterpretation of classic, aesthetic principles." This is what we say: It's frickin' cool. (8/12)


Now this is a show car interior, folks. (8/17)



Editor's Note: From the Cadillac XT5 to the VW Beetle Dune. What a difference a week makes. I can't say I was at all excited when Peter said we were getting the Dune, although I've always had a soft spot for the Beetle - the original Beetle. And I spent many an afternoon way back when, checking out Karmann Ghias in all of their Bondo-ed splendor, when I was just starting out and searching for a funky but cheap ride. I thought it was cool when VW brought out the New Beetle, but somehow I was never drawn in, I could make the connection intellectually but not emotionally. So, the Beetle - and pretty much all of VW - dropped off my radar screen. And I figured the Dune would just be some special-edition Beetle that I would quickly forget about. Wow, was I in for a surprise! This is what the VW website has to say about the Dune: "The Beetle Dune brings a new edge to a classic desert icon. We’ve taken the spirit of the classic dune buggies that roamed the beach and Baja and transplanted it into a new, more aggressive design. It’s a rebel on four wheels" That last line is a bit of a stretch (those ad people!), but I will say that the Dune is fun, fun, fun. Unexpectedly so. Now granted, this is not a Costco car or family car or a road trip car (well, it could be if you like being alone or you really like your travel partner). But there's a lot to love about the Dune. The turbo has some kick to it, making it quick and fun around town. I loved the interior, with its extensive body color details, as well as the yellow piping and stitching throughout - a Dune-exclusive feature. The controls are a no-brainer - no need to get out the manual and try to figure out your problem, made more complex by some convoluted table of contents. I love that there are just two optional packages and a handful of individual options. Our car came equipped with the optional Dune Technology Package and that was it! No laundry list of stuff I don't really need (heated seats standard - check). And at just under $27k, it's a lot more interesting than most of the 'regular' cars in that price range. There's a passage in the 1998 VW catalog (yes, I still have it!) for the New Beetle that goes like this: "Originality. Honesty. A point of view. It's an exhaustive and zealous rejection of banality. Isn't the world ready for that kind of car once again?" I would say, emphatically, yes! We are awash in a sea of automotive banality, which is why despite the overwrought, over-commercialized, over-branded nature of this week in Detroit with the Woodward Dream Cruise, it is still important to get out there and imagine what it must have been like when the highways and byways weren't a sea of sameness, when it was coral and turquoise and tail fins and chrome and ornamentation and personality. Okay, a bit of a digression, but the thing is, in a weird way, the Beetle Dune taps into this longing for personality, for a point of view. It's simple, it's cool and it's fun. It strips down the automotive experience to the act of driving - and actually makes you engage in a way that feels fresh and new. That's why, this week, during the dog days of summer with auto passion in high gear here in the Motor City, the Beetle Dune was just what I needed to drive. –WG (8/17)


Editor-In-Chief's Note: BMW calls the 650i "Performance. Art." on its website, and as much as I'm vigilant about the use of hype and bullshit by marketing mavens at these manufacturers, I can't say that I disagree. Sophisticated and visceral, with just the right amount of throaty growl, the BMW 650i is an eloquent rebuttal to those who would want us all to rush headlong into the Autonomous Abyss. This is a GT car, and as much as sports car enthusiasts might be dismissive of the concept, they'd be foolish to overlook the performance potential of this 4200-lb. machine. I know that I brought my own preconceived notions about what I thought the 650i would be about, and I was wrong. I expected a languorous, luxury coupe that was impeccably turned out but not all that interesting to drive, but the 650i is almost the opposite of that. Yes, the Cognac with Black Nappa Leather interior was beautiful and superbly finished, but this big BMW coupe was all about being fun to drive, and it's remarkably quick. The 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 is a stunning piece, providing responsive, right now power and reminding you with every burst of acceleration how fantastic V8 power really is. I think too many of us have become resigned to the fact that 4- and 6-cylinder engines are our lot in life while waiting for the inevitable slide into pod cars and disemboweled "driving," but when you drive a real live V8 with serious horsepower there's absolutely nothing else like it. (This is coming from someone who much preferred the V8-powered, 6-speed Audi R8 over its V10 sibling.) You can putter around in the urban slog quite nicely with the 650i, but when the need arises this machine loves to run and responds to a heavy right foot in a way that will make you smile every time you partake of its performance potential. Okay, the 650i is expensive, but then again when you're playing in that league it's really not out of line in comparison to the other machines in the segment. And given what you get with the 650i, I'd say it is very much worth it. –PMD (8/24)


It's called Hose-O-Rama, folks, and no one does it better than Porsche. In case your Macan Turbo was feeling a little anemic, Porsche has just the answer for you: The new Macan Turbo equipped with the Performance Package is now the top of the model line. The newly tweaked, 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V6 now has 440 hp (40 more horsepower than the Macan Turbo) and 442 lb.-ft. of torque (an increase of 36 lb.-ft.). 0 to 60 mph comes in 4.2 seconds (a reduction of 0.2 seconds), and it achieves a new top track speed of 169 mph (an increase of 5 mph). So how much does it cost to get 40 more horsepower, 36 lb.-ft. more torque, a reduction of 0.2 seconds in the 0-60 mph time and 5 mph more in top speed? The Macan Turbo with Performance Package starts at a staggering $86,445. -PMD (8/31)


Let's be clear here: The only time owners are going to go off-road in one of these things is if they veer off the road while texting, or after too many pops at the club. Since the whole damn world is going SUV/Crossover Crazy, Mercedes-Benz is not about to be left out. Th undisputed King of parsing the market with niche upon niche (BMW is a very close second), Mercedes-Benz - in the guise of Mercedes-AMG in this case - is once again extending its product portfolio. The new Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe "combines a sporty, elegant design with the brand's hallmark driving performance and the advantages of an SUV in terms of seating position, interior flexibility and traction off-road," according to the manufacturer. The high hard ones? 362HP 3.0L V6 biturbo engine, 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission with shortened shift times and AMG Performance 4MATIC® all-wheel drive configured with a rear bias. The AMG Sport Suspension is based on the multi-chamber air suspension system, AIR BODY CONTROL (Mercedes insists on ALL CAPS for its technical features. Why? Who knows, but it is definitely annoying), with adaptive damping adjustment, and pneumatic all-round self-leveling. Additionally, the manufacturer claims that the AMG GLC43 Coupe "is able to undertake occasional off-road excursions" and in order to do so the ground clearance can be increased at the touch of a button. Insert guffaws. -PMD (8/31)


Editor-In-Chief's Note: As I've stated repeatedly, Genesis, the new luxury brand from Hyundai, is destined to become Cadillac's worst nightmare because of the way the new top-of-the-line Korean luxury sedan compares with the CT6. That was confirmed late last week when Hyundai released pricing for its Genesis G90 luxury sedan. Starting at $68,100, the Genesis G90 comes well equipped with an all-new 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine, an impressive suite of driver safety technologies, plus "best-in-class standard features," according to Hyundai (yeah, we know, they all say that). The G90’s available 5.0-liter V8 GDI engine is priced at $69,700. The G90 will be available in Genesis retailers at the end of this month, and is offered in both rear-wheel and all–wheel drive. Genesis pricing? 2017 Genesis G90 3.3T Premium, 3.3L Twin-Turbo V6, RWD: $68,100. AWD: $70,600. G90 5.0 Ultimate, 5.0L V8 GDI, RWD: $69,700. AWD: $72,200. (*MSRP excludes $950 freight charge.) I predict that the Genesis brand will take it to Cadillac and become a force to be reckoned with in the luxury market within eighteen months. –PMD (9/7)


Nice thought, but… Buy any of Cadillac’s high-performance V-Series models - the 2017 Cadillac ATS-V Sedan, 2017 ATS-V Coupe or 2017 Cadillac CTS-V sedan - and Cadillac will include two days of driver training at the Cadillac V-Performance Academy driving experience at Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club near Las Vegas, Nevada. Cadillac is the only luxury automotive brand offering a two-day driver training with the purchase of a high-performance vehicle. The V-Performance Academy program may also be purchased as a stand-alone experience. “Cadillac is a brand for passionate people, by passionate people,” said Nathan Tan, associate director of Brand Partnerships and Experiences for Cadillac. “V-Series customers are in many ways nearest the core of the Cadillac brand, and we are proud to offer this valuable training with our thrilling products.” Editor-In-Chief's Note: Actually, the V-Series machines - and their customers - have absolutely nothing to do with the "core" of the Cadillac brand. These are "island" machines honed by the True Believers within GM Design, Engineering and Product Development that exist in their own universe and are as far removed from the direction Cadillac is going - i.e., the boulevardier brand for "back seat riders" in China - as can be. I suggested a few years back that Corvette should become its own division within the GM monolith. I stand by that suggestion, and the Cadillac V-Series machines could be reborn as the first expansion of the Corvette brand portfolio. They would go nicely with the new mid-engine Corvette. –PMD (9/7)


And remarkably uninspired and downright ugly, too, so it has that going for it at least. Mercedes-Benz Vans launched a future initiative called adVANce to develop the van of the future, which will be "intelligent, interconnected and electric." (9/7)


This is the new Bentley Flying Spur W12 S. Bentley is already calling it "the ultimate luxury performance sedan." It has loads of horsepower (626BHP) and torque (605 lb. ft.). It's quick (0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds) and it goes real fast (top speed is above 200 mph). (9/7)


When the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt makes its debut late this year, it will have an EPA-estimated range of 238 miles. “While range is important, we knew Bolt EV owners would want more — more space and more power — and the Bolt EV delivers,” said Bolt EV Chief Engineer Josh Tavel. “Our team took special pride in optimizing every aspect of this vehicle, especially its impressive range and ride dynamics.” Editor-In-Chief's Note: With outstanding range, usable cargo space, and a suite of technology and safety features, the Bolt EV is a very impressive package. In fact, the new Bolt is our early contender for Car of the Year, for a number of reasons. With value and range, I predict that the Bolt will be the all-electric car that finally breaks through with the mainstream public. –PMD (Chevrolet announced that the Bolt will have a base MSRP of $37,495 including destination charge. Depending on individual tax situations, according to Chevrolet, customers may receive an available federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for a net value of $29,995. The Bolt EV will be available at select dealerships in late 2016.) (9/14)

(PPG Automotive Refinish)

Jerry Covington, a longtime fixture in the world of motorcycles with a career spanning 40 years, is recognized as one of the most talented and innovative custom bike builders in the industry. He was inducted August 10th into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Sturgis, South Dakota, in appreciation of his dedication to promoting and advancing the sport and culture of motorcycling. His shop, Covington’s Customs, is located in Woodward, Okla., where Covington and painter Bruce Mullins use PPG products to turn out motorcycles and cars with exceptional award winning finishes. During the recent Hall of Fame induction weekend, one of Covington’s bikes won seven major awards in several prestigious competitions including Best Use of Paint (Perewitz Custom Show) and Best in Show (Baddest Bagger Show). Dermie Close’s PPG-painted 1948 Chevrolet Pickup (below) took the Grand Champion award - first place - in the Summit Racing Show-n-Shine competition August 6th in Reno, Nev. The contest, part of the annual Hot August Nights six-day event, was Close’s first competitive victory. The immaculate pickup named “Dream Truck” was a 20-year project Close personally worked on in his spare time at his home garage in Henderson, Nevada. He did all the body and mechanical work himself; when it was time to finish the truck, Close was assisted by painter Joseph Torres. Close and Torres used a number of PPG products to give the truck its glossy Desert Sage paint job. (9/14)

(PPG Automotive Refinish)


Mercedes-AMG is introducing two roadster variants of its two-seat AMG GT sports car. The AMG GT C Roadster (above) has an output of 550HP and peak torque of 502 lb-ft, and other stuff like a variable performance exhaust system, wider rear fenders, a wider track, wider wheels, active rear axle steering, an electronically controlled rear axle locking differential and (yelling!) AMG RIDE CONTROL sport suspension. The "entry level" AMG GT Roadster gets by with 469HP and 465 lb-ft of torque. The cars will arrive in US dealers in the fall of 2017. (9/14)

Let me reiterate here, as I've done in the past, that auto shows aren't the problem, but the auto show model, as we know it, is broken and terribly ineffective. There seems to be much hand wringing of late about the declining influence of the major auto shows. Automakers such as Porsche have already announced they won't be in Detroit in January, and several other major automakers are skipping this week's Paris Motor Show entirely. The reasons being given vary. In Porsche's case, Detroit - as a local market - is irrelevant, so the automaker will naturally focus its attention on shows in other cities where it does most of its business, like L.A. and New York. As for the other manufacturers, they list cost as the primary factor. They're finding it much more cost effective to orchestrate "fly-in" drives for journalists to luscious locales, or to court self-proclaimed social media mavens to write flattering stories about their products in exchange for early drives. (Yours Truly is not included in any of that for the most part, as I am viewed as being somewhere between the Prince of Darkness and the Anti-Christ and far too risky for any contact. Which is fine, man, as The Dude once said.) The undercurrent in the prevailing winds is that social media has changed the landscape and that the concept of an auto show, as we know it, is dead. But this thinking is fundamentally flawed, because it ignores the fact that for a lot of people an auto show is the only way for the masses to get a glimpse of what's going on in the market and what's available to them. The whole orchestrated mess that defines the major auto shows - and the way the media is brought in to cover them - needs to be reimagined. It's too stale, too predictable and too boring. (Not that some of the manufacturers – and their incredibly uninspired cars – don’t already acquiesce to that level of desultory engagement perfectly, but for the rest of the companies out there that actually understand the opportunity to showcase their best stuff, there has to be a better way.) Example No. 1? The Detroit Auto Show. This annual industry love fest is so mind-numbingly predictable and set in its ways that as a journalist covering it it's entirely possible to sleepwalk through the event and not miss one damn thing. Whether the replacement idea for what passes for a major auto show today takes the form of a series of staged offsite shows over a three-day period as I've recommended - much like the fashion industry does with its Fashion Week - or another idea, something has to give, because for the most part what’s going on now is stilted, predictable and relentlessly tedious. –PMD (9/28)

(McLaren Automotive)

McLaren Automotive revealed a Pure EV based on today’s McLaren P1™ aimed at a select group of potential customers... those under the age of six. It has a three-speed transmission with a reverse gear and it's only available in Volcano Yellow. It will be available from the end of October from select McLaren Automotive retailers around the world for £375.00, and then it will be available from select global toy retailers after that. (9/28)


Jim and Mike Ring - aka The Ringbrothers - noted car builders from Spring Green, Wisconsin, are preparing for the company's biggest year to date at the SEMA Show. The Ringbrothers will show four builds in Las Vegas, including a 1948 Cadillac Series V fastback (similar to the Autoextremist Green Machine on our masthead) named “Madam V” built for Wes Rydell and his wife Vivian. The Ringbrothers customized the 1948 Cadillac’s steel body and utilized two brand new 2016 ATS-V Cadillacs to create a one-of-a-kind Cadillac that melds vintage with modern. (9/28)


VW says that its new "Showcar I.D." - catchy name, that - which will be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show "starts the countdown to a new era for Volkswagen." The I.D. is the first of a new fleet of electric cars based on the VW Group's new modular electric platform and it will be available (allegedly) in 2020. Volkswagen says that the I.D. has a range of 400 to 600 kilometers with its 125 kW motor. VW also suggests that the I.D. will be available in fully automated mode beginning in 2025. (9/28)


It also gives fair warning that we should expect lackluster design from Mercedes when it comes to their electric cars. Mercedes-Benz says that its new "Generation EQ" electric car concept, with the appearance of a sporty SUV coupé, gives a preview of a new generation of vehicles with battery-electric drives. (9/28)

(Aston Martin)

Apropos of absolutely nothing, Aston Martin unveiled its AM37 powerboat at the Monaco Yacht Show this week. It's the first powerboat developed by Aston Martin and Quintessence Yachts. I had plenty to say about Aston's infatuation with becoming a luxury brand beyond cars in "The Deep End" a few weeks ago. –PMD (9/28)

(Getty Image courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

To this entire exercise we say, in the immortal words of Loretta Castorini in Moonstruck, "Snap out of it!" Please. From the "Cuddly Companion" File comes word that Toyota plans to sell a pint-size robot in Japan that is designed to provide companionship to people, according to The Wall Street Journal. Called Kirobo Mini - a combination of the Japanese word for hope and robot - it can hold basic conversations while blinking its oversize eyes and wagging its limbs. (Not to mention that the weird little thing looks like a Japanese Snoopy. Ugh. -WG) It also comes with a cradle that fits in a car’s cup holder, “helping it fulfill its role as a cuddly companion always on hand for heart-touching communication,” the company said. The Wall Street Journal went on to report that in videos demonstrating Kirobo’s potential, the tiny robot entertains children, chats over tea with an elderly lady and gives a pep talk to a fresh college grad as she heads to a job interview. (Oh, joy.) Toyota says the robot can identify human emotions. If you’re feeling down, the robot will wobble about, look you in the eye and ask: “Why are you sad?” “As you live together, you will come to love and be kind towards the Kirobo Mini, just as it does to you,” says the video’s narrator. The robot also has some automotive applications, according to Toyota. If the driver brakes suddenly, the robot will yell: “That was scary!” Toyota said it hoped to use what it learns from Kirobo to make communication between humans and machines more like communication between people. (More like communications between people? Well, if that were the case, after yelling "That was scary!" I would venture to guess that little Kirobo Mini would find itself thrown out the window on to the pavement, soon to be crushed by an eighteen wheeler.) The robot goes on sale for ¥39,800 yen ($392) this winter in Toyota dealerships in Tokyo and the area around the company’s headquarters in Nagoya. -PMD (10/5)

So where is the "connected car" movement going? PricewaterhouseCoopers seems to have a handle on it and they released their study on how connected cars are totally shaking up the way business is done in the auto industry. The 2016 Global Connected Car Study from PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Strategy& takes an in-depth look at how the car is being transformed through technology and answers questions about the opportunities and risks to be found in the industry’s business models, ecosystem, market growth, geographic distribution and technologies, and what it will take to emerge on top. Some of the key findings include: The value of connected mobility services will grow threefold within the next five years, from US$52.5 billion in 2017 to US$155.9 billion in 2022 (24.3% AGR). Partnerships and M&A are expected to increase. Why?  Industry players are striving for the newest technology; in order to succeed, they are more likely to build, buy, or partner to create the latest connected features. And finally, seismic growth of connected mobility is expected to reach 50% in 2022 (up from 35% in 2017), with two in every three cars worldwide equipped with connected car packages. You can read the full study here. –PMD (10/5)


BMW of North America has presented its largest bicycle collection to date, with the feature bike being the BMW Cruise e-Bike, built with a BOSCH Performance Line electric motor. The BMW Cruise e-Bike has a bull-neck frame made of hydro-formed aluminum developed in-house by BMW. The Cruise e-Bike is designed to provide optimal pedal support at speeds of up to 15 mph. The removable battery can be charged directly on the bike or separately in approximately 3.5 hours for a 100 percent charge, or 1.5 hours for a 50 percent charge. How much? $3,430. For more information, visit (10/5)

Editor-In-Chief's Note: A bit of advertising brilliance from Apple, "Balloons." Just because. –PMD (10/5)

Project Pinnacle? Eventually. There has been talk in certain quarters that Johan de Nysschen now has a mandate with his "Project Pinnacle" dealer incentive program because an overwhelming majority of dealers have signed up for it despite a notable level of seething resentment that resides just below the surface of the discussion. Let's not get carried away here, folks. An overwhelming majority of Cadillac dealers approved the program because they simply had no other choice. They've ridden the few peaks and deeper valleys over the years that have come with owning a Cadillac franchise, and at this point they simply had no other choice but to accept de Nysschen's program and count the days until the new crossovers arrive that they've been promised and so desperately need. This isn't a cheery situation. It is just the business as it's defined in the fall of 2016. –PMD (Cadillac subsequently announced that it was delaying “Project Pinnacle” until next Spring.) (10/12)


The bike is all-electric but best as we can tell, none of the technologies actually work. Whatevs. BMW Group introduced the BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100, BMW's take on a futuristic motorcycle. “The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 embodies the BMW Group’s vision of biking in a connected world – an analogue experience in a digital age. Motorcycling is about escaping from the everyday: the moment you straddle your bike, you are absolutely free. Your bike is The Great Escape,” says Edgar Heinrich, Head of Design at BMW Motorrad. The BMW Motorrad VISION NEXT 100 (allegedly) rights itself while even stationary, remaining upright when the rider has dismounted. The balancing systems also work out on the road to ensure a particularly agile and dynamic riding experience with even lighter handling, which seasoned riders will appreciate, and all the benefits of assistance systems to enhance their capabilities even further. BMW says that the iconic elements of the bike make it immediately recognizable as a “genuine BMW” and include the black frame triangle, white lines and classic, boxer engine forms. Umm... really? (10/12)

That's just the monetary penalty. The lingering damage to VW's image will go on for years. VW is going to pay $14.7 billion with a "B" to settle with U.S. regulators over the calculated cheating it conducted in order to make its diesel-powered vehicles pass U.S. emissions tests. Customers will get cash back or VW will buy their vehicles back, and in some cases, both. (10/26)

Yes, GM should be a company like that, Mary, but I don't know if you realize it or not - maybe you've been immersed in GM so long you can't see the mountains from the relentless shit storms that are part of the microclimate here - but southeast Michigan is surrounded by mountain peaks. There’s Mt. Stupid, Mt. Silo and the volcanic Mt. Stronzo (formerly known as Mt. Lido but the Italians renamed it), all part of the Pathetic Range. There’s also the Idiot Pass in the pastoral Mediocre Valley, punctuated by the majestic Go-Along-To-Get-Along River. Since GM CEO Mary Barra rates a hot mention in the latest Fast Company, it reminded us of when she was quoted in The Wall Street Journal several months ago, saying, "GM should be a company where employees go home enthused about a 'really cool project,' instead of complaining, 'I had to go climb Mt. Stupid today to try and get the right thing done.'" – PMD (10/26)


Chevrolet released a video of the new 2017 Camaro ZL1, driven by Drew Cattell, Camaro ride and handling engineer and driver of the hot lap, lapping the Nürburgring Nordschleife in a blistering 7:29.60. The new ZL1’s lap time is 11.67 seconds quicker than the previous ZL1’s fast lap. (10/26)


Whip it good. Whip it real good. The latest from Mercedes-AMG - the new 2018 Mercedes-AMG E63 and E63 S - are made for those who just have to have it. The 4.0L V8 biturbo engine generates 563HP (603HP in the S), making it the most powerful E- Class ever built. The E63 S accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds (3.4 in the E63). (10/26)


The biggest MINI? How absurd is that? -WG. Calling it "the biggest, most adventurous MINI ever", the BMW Group unveiled the all-new 2017 MINI Countryman. Not happy with the BMW reference about the reality of MINI? Let's let BMW say it: "The all-new MINI Countryman has been completely redesigned and reengineered from the ground up, yet still is instantly identifiable as a MINI. Now incorporating BMW Group engine technology and vehicle architecture... " In other words, it's the BMW X1 in a MINI wrapper. (10/26)


Behold the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas. VW is touting it as "the biggest and boldest" vehicle it has ever built in the U.S. (it's 198.3 inches long, 77.9 inches wide, 69.6 inches high and it will be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee). Based on VW's Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) architecture, the Atlas has two engine choices - a 236HP 4-cylinder TSI® turbo or available 280HP VR6®, both with eight-speed automatic transmission; it has standard front-wheel-drive and available 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system (on VR6 models); third row seating for two adults (allegedly); five trim levels; and a bunch of other stuff. VW insists it will be "priced for the heart of the competitive SUV market." It arrives at dealers next spring. Editor-In-Chief's Note: How much is riding on this SUV? How about everything? Easily five years late to the market, this vehicle must single-handedly rescue the brand from the Diesel emissions cheating crisis in this country, a tall order by any measure. If VW can't sell Atlas here in significant numbers - and can't sell the production version of the all-electric BUDD-e Concept that's coming sometime in 2018 - the future for the brand in the U.S. is grim. –PMD (10/26)


Bad. Ass. The Chevelle Slammer concept for the SEMA show combined hot-rod style with modern performance and technology featuring GM's all-new LT376/535 crate engine - offered as a "Connect & Cruise" package - with controllers and SuperMatic 4L75-E automatic transmission. Other cool stuff? An air suspension system alters the stance at the push of a button, including dropping it all the way to the ground for maximum profiling when on display. The car also features a Gen Six Camaro-based performance brake system, including six-piston front calipers. (11/2)


From the "You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda" File comes word that the HondaJet has officially secured its first speed records over two recognized courses from Teterboro, New Jersey, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Boston, Massachusetts, to Palm Beach, Florida. For the first record (recognized by the United States National Aeronautic Association), the HondaJet departed Teterboro Airport at 2:15 p.m. EST on April 9, 2016, and landed at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport at 4:06 p.m. Despite average headwinds of 60 knots (nearly 70 mph), the 960-nautical-mile flight took two hours and 51 minutes at a cruising altitude of 43,000 feet with the HondaJet surpassing the existing record. Factoring the considerable headwind of 60 knots and high temperatures, the HondaJet achieved an average true air speed of 396 knots (456 mph) and maximum ground speed of 414 knots (478 mph) for this flight. For the second record, the HondaJet departed New Bedford Regional Airport at 7:18 a.m. EDT on July 19, 2016, and landed at Palm Beach International Airport at 9:16 a.m. The 1,060-nautical-mile flight took two hours and 58 minutes. Factoring an average 30 knot headwind, the HondaJet achieved an average true air speed of 385 knots (443 mph) and a maximum ground speed of 422 knots (486 mph). The HondaJet is the first aircraft in its class to officially achieve the Boston to Palm Beach record. Honda bills the HondaJet as the world's most advanced light jet, one employing advanced technologies and concepts including the patented Over-The-Wing Engine Mount configuration, the natural laminar flow wing and fuselage nose, and the composite fuselage. (11/2)

The latest from the "Greed Is Good" File. The Great Sergio has alighted on a scam that will allow him to jack up sales volume for Ferrari, according to a report by Reuters. The self-proclaimed "G.O.A.T." figures that expanding hybrid technology throughout the Ferrari product lineup will allow him to crank sales over 10,000 a year, something he's wanted to do ever since he got his hands on the brand. The brand's volume limit is allegedly constrained by CO2 regulations, but there are many within the company who were dead set against Marchionne's plan to jack sales up, deeming it anathema to everything Ferrari stands for. But voila! The hybrid angle gives him license to do whatever he wants, according to him. Marchionne also told Reuters that the automaker would expand the Ferrari range to vehicles that appeal to "a larger demographic" by focusing on characteristics other than the technological prowess typical of its recent V8 and V12 models. Let's see, Ferrari "world" theme parks, a never-ending supply of tchotchkes and branded wearables, and now the coup de grâce - a more "approachable" Ferrari. Oh, and by the way, he was going to lead the Ferrari F1 team to the Promised Land too. How has that worked out so far? As Joe Pesci's character Nicky Santoro once said in Casino, "this guy could fuck-up a cup of coffee." No wonder Ferrari is being pressed by more aggressive - and focused - competitors in the luxury -high-performance market. –PMD (11/9)

Audi pays tribute to its illustrious winning history at the 24 Hours of Le Mans - the German automaker is retiring its LMP1 effort at the end of this season - with a new spot by BBH London that shows Audi sport models departing from all over Europe and converging at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. The accompanying soundtrack is a new rendition of the Simon & Garfunkel classic song "Homeward Bound" by Gina Kushka. It's worth a look. (11/9)


Autoextremist machines, in other words. The world’s most exclusive and traditional heritage event for historic automobiles and motorcycles - the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este - will be held once again on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, May 26-28, 2017. One of the vehicle classes will be “Racers on the Road: Playboys’ Toys.” This class will be about the road-converted racing machines that are "loud, unsuitable for the public highway and wholly impractical."  (11/9)

The AE Movie Quote of the Week: "And you know, Steve, you get the feeling that Billy Chapel isn't pitching against left handers, he isn't pitching against pinch hitters, he isn't pitching against the Yankees. He's pitching against time. He's pitching against the future, against age, and even when you think about his career... against ending. And tonight I think he might be able to use that aching old arm one more time to push the sun back up in the sky and give us one more day of summer." (Vin Scully playing himself talking about Kevin Costner as pitcher "Billy Chapel" in "For Love of the Game.") (11/9)

Nicely Done. Congratulations yet again to some in the automotive media for canonizing the new Alfa Romeo SUV - the Stelvio - even though no one has driven it, there is no timetable for its release, and the likelihood of FCA being able to build it with a demonstrable level of consistency when it comes to quality is highly suspect, at best. –PMD (11/16)

From the "Charlatans & Hucksters" File: Faraday Future, the electric vehicle startup stopped construction on its much-ballyhooed $1 billion plant in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company apparently has left millions of dollars in unpaid construction bills. The company also said it would restart the construction sometime in 2017. Our prediction? It's never going to happen, dot com. (11/16)

From the "A Press Release That We Couldn't Delete Fast Enough" File. Volkswagen sent us a press release with the headline: "The Design Story Behind The All-New Volkswagen Atlas." (11/16)


Cadillac says its CT6 Plug-In Hybrid will go on sale in North America in the spring of 2017. The CT6 Plug-In "offers over 400 miles of combined driving range, a full EV range of an estimated 30 miles and a zero to 60 mph time of 5.2 seconds," according to the manufacturer. The reality? Our experience with some of these overpriced hybrid luxury cars hasn't been all that great. You really need to pay attention to that full EV range mileage number because in real world driving they never deliver the advertised range. And the recharging - unless it is done with an enhanced charging system - is beyond tedious, as it takes too frickin' long to recharge normally. It all looks good on paper, but beware. (11/16)

(Porsche images)

Porsche Cars North America officially opened its second Porsche Experience Center in the United States. The new facility is located off the 405 Freeway in Carson, California, and will serve as the company's premier West Coast destination for Porsche customers and automotive enthusiasts. The facility features a driver development track with eight educational modules totaling 4.1 miles, a changing race car exhibit, and a fine-dining establishment called Restaurant 917. California accounts for 23 percent of Porsche vehicles sold in the United States. Of the 51,756 Porsche vehicles delivered to customers in the U.S. last year, 12,016 were sold in California. The 53-acre complex is also the new home of Porsche Motorsport North America, the only authorized sales, parts, and service provider in the United States and Canada for all purpose-built Porsche race cars such as the 911 GT3 Cup, 911 GT3 R, and the Cayman GT4 Clubsport. A glass wall inside the atrium of the new Porsche Experience Center provides visitors with a clear view into the Porsche Motorsport North America workshop, where historic race cars are repaired, track vehicles are maintained, and race cars from owners and collectors are exhibited. (11/16)

(Aston Martin images)

Presenting an eloquent rebuttal to the crossover craze: The new Aston Martin Vanquish S. 6.0-liter V12, 580HP, trick suspension and revised aero tweaks. The Vanquish S will be available in both Coupe and Volante and will arrive here in the U.S. next April. Prices start at $294,950. (11/16)

(Lamborghini images)

Then there's the new new Spyder version of the rear-wheel-drive Lamborghini Huracán. A naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V10 with 580HP propels the machine from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds with a top speed of 319 km/h. We likey. A lot. (11/16)



This is smoke-and-mirrors marketing at its finest, folks, but if you want to be the biggest tool in the shed, be our guest. The first cabriolet from the Mercedes-Maybach brand made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. This S650 Cabriolet is limited to 300 examples worldwide and just 75 units in the U.S., at a cost of $323,000.00. Three design themes will be available in the U.S. for this exclusive cabriolet: Zircon Red paint with Porcelain/Black interior; Cote d'Azur Blue paint with Porcelain/Saddle Brown interior and designo Diamond White paint with Porcelain/Yacht Blue Interior, plus hand-finished craftsmanship of the leather seats with perforations in a waterfall-style look. The Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet is powered by a 6.0L V12 biturbo engine delivering 621HP and 738 lb-ft of torque coupled to a Mercedes-developed 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission. AIRMATIC suspension with steplessly variable damping control is also included. Each buyer of a Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet gets a car cover made of high-quality fabric that matches the soft-top color, with diamond quilting and an embroidered Maybach emblem. In addition, the car is delivered with a special welcome pack that comprises a key ring made of the same nappa leather used in the vehicle's interior, with a Maybach emblem and "1 of 300" lettering, as well as a certificate signed by Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Editor-In-Chief's Note: Wow, really? All that for $323,000? And tchotchkes too? We can hardly stand it. This just in, even when we squint real hard there isn't enough difference between this car and the "standard" S-Class Cabriolet - which starts at $131,400 - to even remotely justify that price. Or how about considering the S63 Cabriolet for $176,000 and go faster? –PMD (11/16)


Despite all of its Diesel emissions travails, the VW Group has been pouring huge amounts of R&D money into electrification. The current e-Golf is more than an acceptable entry to that arena, but the new 2017 e-Golf is a notable leap forward. With increased battery capacity offering 50 percent more driving range up to 124 miles, and the power and torque increased to 134 horsepower and 214 pound-feet, the new e-Golf will be a solid competitor in the segment. The e-Golf will also be the first of the next generation's Golf designs to arrive in this market. Notable exterior changes include new bumpers, front fenders, LED headlights and taillights and new interior décor and seat trim. (11/16)

(Jaguar images)

Jaguar unveiled the first genuine XKSS to be built in almost 60 years at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. The stunning XKSS - finished in Sherwood Green paint - has been created by the Jaguar Classic engineering team ahead of the production run of nine cars, which will be delivered to customers across the globe in 2017. Often referred to as the world’s first supercar, the XKSS was originally made by Jaguar as a road-going conversion of the Le Mans-winning D-type, which was built from 1954-1956. In 1957, nine cars earmarked for export to North America were lost in a fire at Jaguar’s Browns Lane factory in the British Midlands, meaning just 16 examples of the XKSS were built. Jaguar decided that its Classic division would build the nine "lost" XKSS sports cars for a select group of established collectors and customers. The new one-off XKSS presented in Los Angeles is the summation of 18 months of research and will be used as a blueprint from which the nine continuation cars are built. The nine cars will be completely new, with period chassis numbers from the XKSS chassis log. All cars are now sold at a price in excess of £1million each. The XKSS unveiled in Los Angeles is a period correct continuation, built using a combination of original drawings from Jaguar’s archive and modern technology. Customer vehicles will be hand-built beginning this year, and it is estimated that 10,000 man hours will go into building each of the new XKSS cars. (11/16)

The Jaguar Classic engineering team scanned several versions of the 1957 XKSS to help build a complete digital image of the car, from the body to chassis, and including all parts required. The body of the XKSS is made from magnesium alloy, as it was in 1957, and because the original styling bucks do not exist, Jaguar Classic produced a new, bespoke styling buck based on the original bodies from the 1950s. The bodies of the nine new cars will be formed on this buck, using a traditional process called hand-wheeling.  Jaguar Classic’s expert engineers worked with the original frames and from there produced CAD to support build of the chassis. In partnership with the Classic team, frame maker Reynolds – famous for their 531 tubing – was briefed to craft bespoke new parts using imperial measurements, rather than metric. The frames are bronze, welded in the same way as the period XKSS chassis tubing. (11/16)
Inside, the "new original" XKSS features perfect recreations of the original Smiths gauges. Everything from the wood of the steering wheel, to the grain of the leather seats, through to the brass knobs on the XKSS dashboard is precisely as it would have been in 1957. Minor specification changes have been made only to improve driver and passenger safety. The fuel cell, for example, uses robust, modern materials to support throughput of modern fuels.
The continuation cars feature period specification four-wheel Dunlop disc brakes with a Plessey pump, and Dunlop tires with riveted two-piece magnesium alloy wheels. Under the bonnet, the XKSS is supplied with a 262HP 3.4-litre straight six-cylinder Jaguar D-type engine. The engine features completely new cast iron blocks, new cast cylinder heads and three Weber DC03 carburetors. Kev Riches, Jaguar Classic Engineering Manager, said: “The XKSS is one of the most important cars in Jaguar’s history, and we are committed to making the ‘new original’ version absolutely faithful to the period car in every way. From the number, type and position of all the rivets used – there are more than 2,000 in total – to the Smiths gauges on the dashboard, everything is the same as the original cars, because that is the way it should be.”


The Electric Future is coming, and sooner than you may think. BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to create the highest-powered charging network in Europe. The goal is the quick buildup of a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers. The projected ultra-fast high-powered charging network with power levels up to 350 kW will be significantly faster than the most powerful charging system deployed today. The buildup is planned to start in 2017, with an initial target of about 400 sites in Europe. By 2020 Battery Electric Vehicle customers should have access to thousands of high-powered charging points. The goal is to enable long-distance travel through open-network charging stations along highways and major thoroughfares, which has not been feasible for most BEV drivers to date. The charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations. The network will be based on Combined Charging System (CCS) standard technology. The planned charging infrastructure expands the existing technical standard for AC and DC charging of electric vehicles to the next level of capacity for DC fast charging with up to 350 kW. BEVs that are engineered to accept this full power of the charge stations can recharge brand-independently in a fraction of the time of today’s BEVs. The network is intended to serve all CCS equipped vehicles to facilitate BEV adoption in Europe. Editor-In-Chief's Note: We're talking mass-market BEV adoption here, folks. You can expect a similar arrangement to come online in the U.S. too. –PMD (11/30)


From the "Hell Freezes Over" File (again): Rolls-Royce has published photographs of its "all-terrain, high-sided vehicle" - aka Giant SUV - in development, dubbed "Project Cullinan." This latest development vehicle will travel to numerous locations around the world in a testing program to ensure that the end product will be, in Rolls-Royce speak, "Effortless… Everywhere." (11/30)


Surprising Excellence.

This week finds us in the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Premier. I will get right to the point here because I found this car to be a most impressive machine. Nicely rendered inside and out, the Cruze Hatchback Premier performed flawlessly, whether it be in the urban slog or hustling on the freeway. Everything about this car is well thought out, and the little details - like the heated steering wheel as standard or the heated rear seats - may not seem like a big deal but taken as a whole with the rest of the car's features, it's clear that the True Believers reporting to Mark Reuss executed everything about this machine at a high level. Taut and responsive in feel, this Cruze underpromises and overdelivers in almost every aspect of consideration, and the highway mileage - while running at 80-85 mph - was pleasing, too, approaching 37 mpg. The Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Premier is a genuine achievement in the compact car class. Is it as good as the Honda Civic? Not quite, but it's definitely worthy of a closer look and a spot on your consideration list. –PMD (11/30)


From the "Oh Shit" File: German regulators are investigating whether Porsche illegally manipulated fuel economy data on its vehicles, potentially opening a new front in parent Volkswagen AG’s emissions-cheating scandal, according to a report in Bloomberg. Germany’s Transport Ministry and Federal Motor Transport Authority are examining whether Porsche installed devices allowing its cars to sense whether they were being tested for fuel consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions, representatives at both agencies said today. A Porsche spokesman told Bloomberg by phone that the company’s cars complied with fuel consumption and emissions laws that were in place at the time the vehicles were registered. All together now: Not. Very. Good. (12/7)


Angry Toasters Unite! And on the other end of the automotive spectrum, Honda announced that "Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem" will be the theme for its participation at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The Japanese automaker will feature interactive and immersive experiences in its display "designed to showcase a future technology path toward a redefined mobility experience." The exhibit will include the NeuV (above), a concept automated EV commuter vehicle equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) called "emotion engine" - a set of AI technologies developed by cocoro SB Corp., that enable machines to artificially generate their own emotions, which creates new possibilities for human interaction and new value for customers. Swell. (12/7) 

(Aston Martin)
Aston Martin will celebrate one of its most iconic models – the  DB4 G.T. - by building a special series of 25 track-only continuation cars built to lightweight specification by Aston Martin Works at Newport Pagnell. Launched in 1959, the DB4 G.T. was one of the rarest and most revered of all Aston Martins. Evolved from the production DB4 and introduced in the same year Aston Martin scored its historic outright win in the Le Mans 24 Hours, the DB4 G.T. was a true supercar of its day. Shorter, lighter, sleeker and with a more powerful version of the legendary 3.7-litre straight-six engine, not only was the DB4 G.T. Britain’s fastest passenger sports car, it was a born winner, scoring a debut race victory at Silverstone in the hands of Sir Stirling Moss. A total of 75 DB4 G.T.s were built between 1959 and 1963. Of these only eight were lightweight models, most of which survive today, with values now comfortably exceeding £3m. Remaining faithful to the design of those original eight factory lightweights, each DB4 G.T. Continuation will be built with a blend of old world craftsmanship and modern techniques. The continuation cars will benefit from improvements in engine performance, handling, braking and safety, with great care taken to ensure these enhancements build upon the original’s exceptional qualities while retaining its feel and character. Underlining that authenticity are the continuation car VIN numbers, which carry on from the last original DB4 G.T. ordered - Chassis 0202R - for "an unbroken bloodline and impeccable Newport Pagnell-built pedigree spanning half a century," according to Aston Martin. How much? Around $1,500,000 or so. And of course, they're all sold. (12/14)

(Mercedes-Benz images)
Mercedes-Benz has introduced its new E-Class Coupe. Mercedes PR minions had this to say: "With its attractive proportions, the new Coupe exhibits a puristic, surface-accentuated design with reduced lines and sensual forms. Both hot and cool, the reduced design idiom represents beauty and elegance while emphasizing the Coupe's sporty and luxurious personality." Um, puristic? Nice word. At least it's not simplistic. Or craptastic. But the Mercedes description of its design language being "hot and cool" ran out of gas when they first uttered it. Enoughistic. (12/14)

Editor-In-Chief's Note: I have heard from several readers wondering if I was planning on commenting on the Cadillac casting call "controversy" and the short answer is no. I have been unrelenting in my criticism of Cadillac's marketing efforts, but in this case the manufacturer and its advertising agency are blameless in the matter. The casting agency that was hired is completely responsible. Unfortunately, however, in this "Die, you scum!" Internet age we live in, where trolls hold sway before actual facts are disseminated, this will become a black eye for the brand that is totally unwarranted. You can read about it here. -PMD (12/14)

Editor's Note: Watch Porsche's video tribute to Audi after the announcement of Audi's withdrawal from the WEC. -WG (12/16)

(Photo by Nick Busato)
The all-new Ford GT, which was originally unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in January 2015, is now entering the final phase of development and production has begun. One of the first Ford GTs (above) is being driven off the line at the Multimatic assembly facility in Markham, Ontario. “When we kicked off 2016, we had two primary objectives for our Ford GT supercar – to excel at Le Mans, and to start deliveries before year-end,” says Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer. “We’ve achieved both. For everyone involved in designing and developing this car, including all of our employees and suppliers, this is a moment to celebrate,” he adds. “The all-new Ford GT is a showcase of our strength in innovation and our commitment to delivering more for our customers – especially related to light-weight materials, aerodynamics and EcoBoost® engine technologies.” (12/16)


When the four-cylinder Honda CB750 was introduced in 1969, it changed everything. The world's first production superbike created a blueprint that still stands today. Honda brought the CB1100 to the U.S. in 2013, satisfying pent-up demand from an army of riders for whom a traditionally styled air-cooled four-cylinder CB was a must-have piece of engineering craftsmanship. For 2017, the CB1100 EX continues the theme with a host of detailed improvements. We're glad they're building it, and even more glad they're not screwing it up. It will be available starting next May. (12/14)

Editor-In-Chief's Note: Hyundai Motor America has fired Dave Zuchowski, its U.S. CEO. This was termed by some to be a "surprise," but there's absolutely zero surprise in this move. This has been Hyundai's "M.O." since they began operations here. Nothing is good enough, no sales targets are aggressive enough, and the Korean overlords always think Hyundai should be doing much better than it is. And there's always an American scapegoat, er, executive, who takes the fall. -PMD (12/21)

Editor-In-Chief's Note: The VW Group is going to reveal the long-rumored, all-electric, modern-day successor to its iconic VW Bus at the Detroit Auto Show. Officially, VW is saying that it will present "a new I.D. family model – a multi-functional vehicle for a new era. The concept vehicle forges links between the legendary origins of the Volkswagen brand and its electrifying future." Hinted at with its BUDD-E concept, this new concept will also be based on the VW Group's Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB). It will have two electric motors, all-wheel drive and don't be surprised if the range is 350 miles per charge, or more. I said at the beginning of VW's Diesel crisis that the only way for the brand to rehabilitate its image in this country would be to
wipe the slate clean and introduce ground-breaking, innovative, all-electric vehicles to the market not offered by any other manufacturer. This new I.D. concept is production intent for the 2019-2010 time frame. We'll see if VW delivers. -PMD (12/22)

Editor's Note: Check out an Autoextremist Christmas story from our Portland-based correspondent, Dave Guyette. -WG (12/14)

Editor-In-Chief's Note: And last but not least, more advertising brilliance from Apple called "Frankie's Holiday." All the best to you and yours from all of us here at -PMD (12/14)




No free hunting trips to Wales. No bought-and-paid-for content "acceptable" to the auto manufacturers. No PR puff pieces lauding a convicted hack and his mediocre automotive career. No wishy-washy reviews. Just the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high-octane truth about anything and everything to do with the car business. From the cars themselves, to the companies and the people who design, build and market them, is everything you wanted to read about the business of cars. We say the things that the others don't have the balls to say, and we do it with a relentless ferocity and an uncanny accuracy that still resonate throughout the industry.