F1 For the Road – The Ferrari F50 »

It’s not often one gets handed the keys to a million dollar car. Well in this case, about 1.6 million, but who’s counting.

Performance Redefined: Nissan GTR »

The Nissan GTR is a bit of an enigma. It’s one of the rare few that satisfies more than one personality traits. It’s nearly untouchable at the Ring, only beat by the million dollar Porsche 918 when counting series production vehicles.

Life Lessons, Courtesy of Mercedes »

Before we start, I need to apologize for being late. Partly due to real life getting in the way, but mostly due to the fact that I struggled to write this.

Canadian JDM Invasion – Honda Integra Type-R »

This week, I had a chance to check out NRGie’s 1996 Honda Integra Type-R. While GTRs have dominated the JDM imports, the ITR is a bit of a hidden gem out of Japan.

The Track Rat: ESS Supercharged BMW M3 »

This week, I had the pleasure of driving Jason’s (CSMRX7) amazing track weapon, the ESS Supercharged BMW E90 M3. I may be an AMG fanboy as of late [...]

January 13th, 2015

Mercedes-Benz may proclaim this year as the year of the SUV, but seeing all the unveils so far at the Detroit North American International Auto Show, it’s more like the year of the EV/PHV/PHEV. Many manufactures are chasing fuel economy, and even in the Mercedes-Benz press conference, they are targeting 10 new Plug-in Hybrids in their lineup within the next 2 years. Starting things off, the C350 Plug-in Hybrid is the first of the 10 out of Stuttgart.

Available in both sedan and wagon form (wagon is a European market exclusive), the C350 PHV puts out a total of 279hp, with the ability to drive in all electric mode for up to 30kms, while delivering only 2.1L/100km of fuel consumption. With more weight comes a necessity for better suspension control, which is why the C350 comes standard with AIRMATIC air suspension to offer drivers a more comfortable ride and sharper handling. Charging from a 220V outlet at home, the C350 PHV obtains a full charge in under 2 hours, replenishing the batteries for another 30kms of range.

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January 13th, 2015


Today, Audi showed off its all-new 2016 Q7. The largest SUV in their line-up (until the arrival of the Q8 anyway) was long overdue for a redesign as the now decade old first generation was looking a little outdated, even with the minor facelifts over the past several years giving the Q7 updated headlights, taillights, wheels and updated electronics and infotainment options. The new Q7 is the first to utilize the new MLB platform. The new platform along with increased use of aluminum allowed Audi to shed over 700 pounds off the current generation Q7.

The new 2016 Audi Q7 is loaded with the latest tech, the most obvious being the 12.3″ virtual cockpit first unveiled on the TT at CES. Replacing traditional gauges, the virtual cockpit can be customized to show the driver any information front and center. For example, during navigation the speedometer is shrunk down and pushed to the side while the map takes over the main portion of the display. During normal driving, the display can mimic traditional speedometer and tachometers. If you’re someone that wants big gauges AND navigation to be equally dominant on the screen, that’s possible too.

Of course, there is still the other screen, you know, the one that looks like Audi ran out of time designing the virtual cockpit that they decided to just slap a tablet onto the dash. I really hope this trend stops as it looks terrible. This screen is where you’ll be primarily interacting with your entertainment options. Both Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto are available on the Q7, so if your household has both iOS and Android devices the Q7 will play nice with both. Now if you think the dash tablet is the end of the tablet talk in the Q7, well of course you’d be wrong. Audi designed a custom tablet to be included with the Q7 allowing passengers to not only control music, media and navigation but also tap into the vehicle’s diagnostic systems to see if maintenance has been kept up to date or if oil and washer fluid levels are OK. This is going to elevate back seat drivers to all-new heights.

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January 13th, 2015


The new to North America Buick Cascada will go on sale early next year as a 2016 model. I’m not sure why so many of the domestic manufacturers are announcing some of their new cars so early. Do people care?

This car is interesting to me. Not because I would ever purchase one, but I am interested in the business case behind it. I really want to know who, outside of rental agencies in tropical climates, would actually buy this car? With the early announcement, are they testing the market? Seeing if there is any demand? Maybe it gives them a chance to cancel it before it happens if they don’t get enough interest?

The Cascada is a car that has been out in Europe since 2013 as an Opel and in the UK as a Vauxhall. It has been or will be release in Australia as a Holding to further milk money money out of the development. The car is based on the Delta II platform, also know as GCV (Global Compact Vehicle). The Cascada is related to the Cruze, Volt, Orlando and Buick Verano. Both the car and platform were developed by Opel in Germany and will be released with a simple re-badge. Seriously. When I look at the photos of the Opel and seeing the Buick live, I can’t see a difference. There is no waterfall grill that all Buicks are known for and the portholes also didn’t make the cut. This leaves me confused. Why is this a Buick and not a Chevrolet if the signature elements are missing (especailly the grill)?

The car will be powered by a 1.6L direct inject 4 cylinder that is good for 200 hp. A 6-speed auto pushes power through the front wheels which come standard in the 20-inch size. Not sure why a “compact” needs 20″ wheels, but it needs something to make it compelling.

Here’s another interesting tidbit. Chrysler cancelled the 200 convertible. I bet it was due to lack of sales. The Cascada will take over the segment and die a slow death like the 200.

In any case, enjoy the live shots we have taken of the unveil in Detroit at the NAIAS.

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January 13th, 2015


I haven’t seen so much written about so little since, uh, I guess literally every article Shelton writes about a Mercedes. BMWs refresh of the 6-series is like wearing contact lenses which are the same colour as your eyes, then telling everybody how different you look. When I started writing this I was quoting BMW’s press release and then putting a tl;dr below each blurb. They’d spend a paragraph with fluff and I’d put “New headlights” underneath. It was funny. I had to scrap it though because the article was up to 800 words. That’s too many words. Their press release is so long I can’t even make fun of it. So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going list the most significant bits that changed, and if you care enough to get more information, here’s a link to the NEARLY FIVE THOUSAND WORD PRESS RELEASE. Good? Good.

1 less bar on the grill.

Standard LED headlights.

Slightly different foglights.

Slightly different front apron.

More aerodynamic mirrors.

More badging.

More interior colour options.

Boom. 211 words and you’ve got all you need. Check out the pictures and try to figure out whether they’re actually from the refresh or if we tricked you by putting last year’s model in the gallery. Read the rest of this post »

January 13th, 2015

Lexus rolled out the latest in their line of F performance vehicles to the public today here in Detroit. The all new Lexus GS F, shown here on the NAIAS show floor, is the all new performance variant of the GS sedan. Sharing the same platform as the GS 350 F Sport, the GS F gets a 5.0L V8 churning out 467hp at a dizzying 7100rpm, with gobs of torque (389 lb-ft to be exact) peaking between 4800 to 5600rpm.

Coupled with the 8 speed automatic transmission with manual shifts, the GS F puts its power to the rear wheels via a Lexus Torque Vectoring Differential (TVD). Offering 3 modes, the TVD allows the GS F to perform at its optimum in all driving situations. The standard mode, ideal for the street, balances the GS F demeanor with comfort as well as sportiness. Slalom mode improves on steering response and cornering agility, while the hardcore track mode requires quick driver reflexes to get the most out of the car on the track.

Check out our gallery of the GS F as part of our extended Detroit Auto Show coverage.

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January 13th, 2015

This is it, the all-new 2016 Cadillac CTS-V in the flesh. The CTS-V has taken a healthy chunk of sales away from its rivals, namely the BMW M5 and the Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG. This year, the new CTS-V is raising the ante on its competition, blowing them away with an incredible 640hp. Who says the horsepower wars are dead?

Unveiled last month shortly before Christmas, Cadillac decided to bring a nuclear missile to a gunfight in the performance luxury sedan segment. Shoehorning the Corvette Z06’s 6.2L Supercharged V8, the motor pumps 640hp and 630 lb-ft of torque to the paddle shifting 8 speed automatic transmission, making the CTS-V the only car in the 600hp club in its class. Driving the rear wheels, this drivetrain configuration runs 0-60mph in only 3.7 seconds.

The chassis has received a host of upgrades to ensure that handling dynamics match the impressive drivetrain. Cadillac engineers managed to squeeze an additional 25% of stiffness out of the chassis by adding bracing everywhere they can, improving both handling as well as ride. The 3rd generation Magnetic Ride Control suspension setup delivers 40% faster dampening responses. Topping it all off, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires come standard, ensuring very high levels of grip while shod in a street tire. On the inside, optional RECARO seats keeps you planted in high G maneuvers at the track, and a full Performance Data Recorder records telemetry while you try your best Tony Stewart impersonation at the track.

The 2016 CTS-V is set to arrive in showrooms this summer. Check out our gallery for some up close action of the new beast.

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January 12th, 2015

Shhhhhhh, no words. Just click through to check out the massive gallery below.

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January 12th, 2015


Like the Nissan Titan, the Toyota Tacoma is on a 10 year refresh cycle. Toyota unveiled the Access Cab configuration today in Detroit. High-strength steel is the buzz word for all new trucks these days. The Tacoma is no exception. The new ladder frame uses it and new ultra-high strength steel is used for body panels to reduce weight.

The new Tacoma is motivated with a pair of engines. Looks like the 2.7L 4 cylinder carries over to the new model paired to a new 6-speed automatic. A new 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6 with D-4S tech will be the bigger and likely more popular option. The V6 is mated to the same 6-speed auto or an option 6-speed manual. That’s right, the manual isn’t dead yet.

On the outside, all I have to say is that the truck better have a good personality. It likes the Toyota designers watched too much Chugginton with their kids. Maybe they made a deal with Mazda to steal the smile from the last Mazda3 and gave it their own twist. It’s a face that only a mother could love.

Inside, you get:

-Qi wireless charging
-Smart key with push-button start
-Leather-trimmed seats
-Power moonroof
-Dual-zone automatic climate control
-Enhanced touchscreen audio
-Blind-spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
-And much more

Now for the fun of model selections. Regular cab, Access cab, Quad cab. 4X4 and 4X2. Work-ready SR, Iconic SR5, Athletic TRD Sport, Tough-as-nails TRD Off-Road, and Top of the line Limited. That’s 30 different models. I doubt that all will be available in Canada, but selection will be high. The TRD models have a bit of cross marketing going on. Each Tacoma will come with a GoPro® mount up by the rear-view mirror.

The Tacoma is not leaving it’s off-road roots behind even though on road feel and performance is improved. The TRD models have a Multi-Terrain Select system that allows for better control whether on loose rock, mud or sand.

Additional off-road technology includes Automatic Limited Slip and Locking Rear Differential, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), Clutch Start Cancel (manual transmission only), Active Traction Control, and Crawl Control. Engaging Crawl Control allows the driver to select a speed of 1-5 mph. The Crawl Control system takes over the acceleration and braking, allowing the driver to focus solely on steering.

The interior is not bad. Materials are nice and soft. It will be interesting to see how “luxurious” the Limited model is going to be.

After selling over 7 million units world wide over the last 50 years, Toyota knows the mid-size truck segment and will likely continue to dominate it.

Please enjoy our live photos from the NAIAS in Detroit happening right now.
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January 12th, 2015


Two years ago here in Detroit, Volkswagen debuted the CrossBlue concept, a plug-in hybrid SUV that would slot in above the Touareg. That same year in Shanghai VW unveiled the CrossBlue Coupe and today they are unveiling an update to those concept which they are calling the Cross Coupe GTE. Which of course wears a blue paint job. As the name evolves, so too does the design. Gone are the more concepty headlight and taillights and aggressive body work. The Cross Coupe GTE looks nearly production ready.

VW plans to begin production at the end of 2016 on this new 7-seater SUV so it’s a pretty good bet that we’ll see the curtain lift on a production model next year here in Detroit or possibly New York. While the new SUV will be a 7-seater, the Cross Coupe GTE gives a preview of what is to come in the form of a 5-seater here at the 2015 NAIAS. VW is, by showing off all these SUV variants, essentially showcasing how flexible the underlying MQB architecture is. Size wise, the Cross Coupe GTE is about the same as a Touareg measuring about 4.8m in length, 2.03m wide and 1.73m tall.

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January 12th, 2015


Remember almost a year ago to the day when I wrote about the MINI JCW Concept? Let me refresh your memory. And now that you’ve got those details fresh in your brain, my job is done. You now know everything there is to know about the production model. Oh, it’s got 228 hp and 236 lb/ft of torque. 0-60 in 6.1s. It looks the same and has the same features as the concept. We just have better pictures now. I still can’t figure out who would buy this car. Want a high-performance FWD machine? Ford’s got you covered. Want something with more creature comforts? Volkswagen fits the bill. Want something ugly quirky? Go all out and get a Fiat 500. Check out the pictures and tell me I’m wrong. You’re only lying to yourselves. Read the rest of this post »

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