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.
Magazine featured project cars always look amazing on paper. Flipping through the pages of your favorite tuner magazine you’ll find an assortment of project cars that have the best parts and the best specs yet, when it comes down to it, they’re garage queens. Sure they might look like they are ready for a weekend of club racing but, most of the time, they’re destined for a life of car shows, meets, and magazine shoots. I’m not saying all project cars end up this way, but a large proportion of them do.
There’s a perfectly good reason why this is the case. Most of these projects aim to impress a reader, not a driver. Decked out with the most expensive pieces available on the market, there’s rarely a thought given to how they benefit the car. Readers drool over the Blitz intercooler without considering that the car is running 4 psi. Or maybe Zeal coilovers which have gone untuned, negatively affecting the handling compared to stock.
Being asked to drive a fun car should never cause you stress, but that’s exactly what I felt when my boss asked me to review his car. In a no-win situation comparable to “Does this make me look fat?”, I was being asked to give my opinion about rage2′s current pride and joy, the Mercedes C63 AMG Black Series.
Ah well, this gig doesn’t pay anyway.
For those that aren’t familiar with rage2′s C63 BS, here’s what you need to know. 510 hp, 457 lb-ft of torque, 3800 lbs, fender flares, matte wrap, 0-60 in 3.7s, 1/4 mile in 12 seconds flat, and a baby seat ISOFIX’d to the back seat. All for the mildly affordable starting price of $109,000. Which forces a question you’ll hear all too often on car forums and bar conversations. Why would you spend six figures on a C-class that doesn’t perform at the top of its price range? You could pick up a new GTR for the same money and literally drive circles around the C63. Ignorance and brand loyalty are the most common justifications you’ll hear but, while the latter certainly applies here (whether he’ll admit it or not), rage2 has his own reason. It’s fun.
Trying to predict which car will turn into an investment is like predicting the weather in Calgary. All the experts will think they know the answer but, in reality, it’s a pure crapshoot. When it comes to new cars, the odds of picking “the one” are even slimmer. Every automotive publication attempts to be Nostradamus with their future collectible cars lists, but look back at these lists and you will realize how silly these predictions truly are. I mean really, a Nissan Leaf?
Two cars, however, have beaten the odds in the last decade, the Ford GT and the BMW 1M; models that share really nothing in common with one another. You would think that the formula for success is fairly simple. Create a car that’s fun and exciting to drive, release it in limited numbers, cut off production after a short period of time, and then reap the marketing benefits over the next handful of years as enthusiasts and collectors rave over your halo model. If only it were that simple.
Well, technically, it’s outside of Strathmore, but who cares. As we mentioned in our Kart School review, the Calgary Kart Racing Club has been working hard at securing a new site for their new kart track that serves Calgary and surrounding areas. They’ve finalized on the location and will be starting construction immediately. The new track is 1.3km long with 14 turns, making it the longest kart sprint track in Canada. It is scheduled to open late summer/early fall.
What I am most excited about are the rumors of a Junior Karting program coming to the new track. Many F1 drivers start their careers as young as 4 years old in junior karts, and the lack of such a program in Canada is a big reason why we do not have many Canadian F1 drivers. It’s a great way to build talent and skillset at an early age to challenge drivers out of Europe.
The CKRC is hosting a fencing party, where volunteers are invited to join in building the new fence for the track. For more information on volunteering, as well as track design, check out the link here.
When Race City closed down in the fall of 2011, many purpose-built track cars lost their purpose. Cars that were terrible to drive on the roads but excelled on a power track such as Race City were left sitting on backyards and driveways, waiting for the day when a new track opens, allowing them to stretch their legs once more. Beyond’s co-founder, Kenny Chan, owns one of these track cars, where the car existed solely to lap the road course as fast as possible.
This Civic had quite the journey getting to where it is today. In its original configuration, it was a bare bones 1992 Civic Hatchback shell, completely stripped down, with a B18B1 Integra LS motor. Back then several Beyonders, including myself, were at the forefront of Honda tuning. Loaded with 94 octane fuel, a cold air intake, and an open exhaust, I was able to squeeze out 175hp out of the motor with some aggressive tuning. The car was making a name for itself on the drag strip, easily beating out 200hp Hondas with the ITR engine thanks to its low weight and excellent launch control system.
While many manufacturers have participated in the Vision Gran Turismo project by letting their designers run wild to build some digital concept vehicles, Nissan has gone a step further by actually building the Nissan Concept 2020 Vision Gran Turismo. The concept car can be seen at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
That definitely took some wind out of Aston Martin’s sail as they also used the Goodwood Festival as a backdrop to their unveiling of the DP-100 Vision Gran Turismo. Unlike Nissan however, their affair was strictly digital.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I think there is a good chance some of this Nissan Concept 2020 design will make it into the next generation GT-R. We’ll see soon enough how much truth there is to that though as Nissan should be releasing next gen GT-R news later this year. For now, check out more pictures of the Nissan Concept 2020 in the gallery.
Aston Martin has joined other automakers by announcing their own entry into the Vision Gran Turismo project with their DP-100 concept at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. They join the Nissan Concept 2020, the AMG Vision Gran Turismo and others as DLC for Gran Turismo on Playstation later this month.
The twin-turbo mid-engined racer offers up to 800 horsepower, endowing it with blistering performance fully in keeping with the high octane nature of the game.
Created using many of the same techniques as applied in the development of Aston Martin production sports cars, such as hand sketches and 3D modelling, followed by full realisation in the virtual world, DP-100 provides an exceptional level of detail with a fully functioning suspension system and state-of-the-art electronics.
Hardly a secret, aside from the name, Google has finally announced its in-car infotainment system it had been working on as part of the Open Automotive Alliance. The OAA is a group currently consisting of 28 automakers and 16 technology partners whose stated goal is “making technology in the car safer, more seamless and more intuitive for everyone.” The new in-car infotainment system will be called Android Auto.
Some of the automotive partners include Audi, Acura (and Honda), Chevrolet, Infiniti, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen. Noticeably absent are a couple luxury automakers BMW, and Mercedes-Benz both of which are Apple CarPlay exclusive for the time being. Time will tell if one or both of these guys will make the jump to Android Auto. While not an OAA member, the Mercedes-Benz CarPlay introduction has been delayed so it could be the result of adding support for Android Auto in their Comand Infotainment system.
Android Auto when it arrives will essentially be an extension of the Android device. Everything you as the driver interact with on the system is actually still powered by your Android device. The display is simply streamed (or casted in Google speak) to your vehicle’s display. If you’re familiar with Google Now, you’ll feel quite at home with Android Auto as that is how Google provides bite-sized contextual information to the driver. As with Google Now, Android Auto will be heavily voice-based providing quick, easy access to apps, navigation and even text messaging. One key difference over CarPlay is that Google will be providing an SDK for Android app makers while Apple has decided to keep their system a bit more closed.
So when will we start to see cars with Android Auto? Google says later this year as automakers release their 2015 model year vehicles. Audi sent out a press release shortly after the Android Auto announcement at Google I/O stating that vehicles with Android Auto will be coming out this fall.
Contrast is a wonderful thing, and that’s the design theme of the new 2LOOK Edition SL63 and SL65 AMG seen here. Mercedes-Benz has given the SL their unique 2Look treatment, offering heavily contrasted colors that will grab anyone’s attention. The roof, cross-strut in the AMG front lip, mirror housings, fins on the wings and hood, surrounds of headlamp cluster, spoiler lip and diffuser insert are all coated in high-gloss black, polar opposites to the white paintjob. The interior is wrapped in exclusive Nappa leather, while trim pieces feature designo platinum white pearl Nappa leather. The biggest change is the steering wheel, wrapped in a mixture of Nappa leather and Alcantara, with the bezel in high-gloss black.
The 2LOOK Editions are available this June in German dealers, with the SL63 AMG 2LOOK Edition starting at €169,991.50, while the SL65 version starts at a piggy bank busting €244,188.00. There is no word on these editions heading our way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is another European exclusive.
The CLS class, now 4 years into the second generation, gets its facelift for the 2015 model year this fall. A rework of the front end features a lower wing design much like the refreshed E-Class. New multibeam LED headlamps with the adaptive highbeam feature allows drivers to concentrate on the road, while the car adjusts lighting for changing road conditions. The rear bumper also gets the makeover treatment, with a more aggressive rear end featuring cooling exit vents.
The changes in the cabin are fairly minor, with the biggest change being the move to the now standard iPad style screen already featured in the G, C, CLA, GLA and A Class. The COMAND navigation is upgraded with new online features that includes Google Maps integration, 3D satellite views, as well as internet based traffic information. Mechanically, the North American engine choices stay the same (the AMG non S model is no longer offered), while the non AMG CLS gets a new 9G-TRONIC 9 speed transmission which boosts fuel efficiency. DISTRONIC PLUS finally gets Steering Assist, which allows the car to drive itself in stop and go traffic up to 60km/h.
Expect to see the updated CLS in showrooms this September. Sadly, the beautiful shooting brake shown in our gallery won’t make its way to North America.