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AUGUST 2010 AUTOMOBILEMAG.

COM
563-HP M-B SLS AMG 553-HP LEXUS LFA 553-HP
USA $4.99 CANADA $5.99
2011 SLS ~VC s|own |n lr|d|uu S||ver ueta|||c pa|nt. Vay |nc|ude opt|ona| eou|puent. l|ease obey a|| speed |aws. 2010 Vercedes-8enz |S~, LLC
Eveiv decision was examined in le ligl ol lis unvielding iincile. Fiom le selecion ol saceaged
liglweigl maeiials, o le iacl eiloimance we demanded, o le sunning alluie ol is aesleic beauv.
1le iesul is a iue sueicai la clallenges even le mos exieme eiloimeis0 o 0 in jus 3.7 seconds and a
o seed ol neailv 200 mlve olleis is occuans le exeiience ol meicedesBenz comloi in is mos ielned
sae. 1le SIS Amt, an uniecedened inegiaion ol iacing macline and luxuiv velicle, will loievei elevae le
execaions ol le woild's mos disceining sueicai diiveis. And iedelne wla i means o be le bes. M8U8A.com
latr+!acla tle z|JJ SlS \M0.
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Jlat ls vlat !rles as.
For more information, caII 1-800-F0R-MhRChbh8, or viait M8U8A.com.
*Whichever comes rst. See dealer for limited warranty details. **Visit onstar.com for details and system limitations.
2010 Lexus RX FWD
A Consumers Digest Best Buy: no
Powertrain Warranty: 70,000 miles/6 years
*
Seating Capacity: 5
Turn-by-Turn Navigation: optional
Remote Door Unlock: not available
2010 Buick Enclave FWD
A Consumers Digest Best Buy: yes
Powertrain Warranty: 100,000 miles/5 years
*
Seating Capacity: 8
Turn-by-Turn Navigation: OnStar

/1 year standard
**

Remote Door Unlock: OnStar/1 year standard
visit buick.com
64
Theres a new sheri in town.
54
SUPERCAR SHOOTOUT
By Georg Kacher
The Lexus LFA and the Mercedes-Benz
SLS AMG represent very different
approaches to the supercar. We
compare them side-by-side during a
long dayand nightin Frankfurt.
64
BORDERLINE INSANITY
By Ezra Dyer
We ride shotgun along the Mexican
border in the baddest, most capable
off-road pickup on the market: the
Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.
72
SIMONA DE SILVESTRO
By Preston Lerner
This Swiss-born rookie hopes to be the
rst female racer to make people
forget shes not one of the boys.
78
ACURA TL SH-AWD
VS. AUDI S4
By Jason Cammisa
Torque vectoring, previously used only
in rally-bred sports cars, has trickled
down to these two grown-up sedans,
proving that adulthood
has never been so much fun.
90
NON SEQUITUR
Photographer Michael Alan Ross
shoots hot rods in the stark scenery of
the Bonneville Salt Flats.
96
BAD BOY PORSCHES
By Preston Lerner
The quasi-underground club of Porsche
lovers, R Gruppe, demonstrates that
hot rods dont have to pack V-8s.
inside
AUGUST 2010
Automobile
features
AUTOMOBILE (ISSN 0894-3583) (USPS 000-934) (GST135274306) Vol 25 #5 is published monthly by Source Interlink Media, LLC., 261 Madison Avenue, Fifth Floor, New York, New York 10016. Periodicals postage is paid at New York,
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6 Automobile | August 2010
B
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K
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COVER PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARK BRAMLEY
P R E S E N T I N G
STARTING UNDER $19,000. WELL EQUIPPED UNDER $21,600.
SuzukiAuto.com/Kizashi
While designing the all-new Kizashi, we targeted sedans such as the Audi A4

and Acura TSX.

We started by creating an Autobahn-tuned,


highly rigid chassis with available all-wheel-drive traction that delivers better road-holding grip than many premium-priced sedans.
1
Next,
we provided advanced safety features that achieve 5-star ratings in all four crash categories something that even the Volvo S40
cant match.
2
Then we added technology l ike standard SmartPass push-button ignition and an available 425-watt Rockford Fosgate
audio system. We then finished with one of the most power ful standard engines in its class.
3
The result? AutoWeek said the Kizashi was
the best handling and most composed FWD sedan weve driven. The all-new Kizashi. Ever ythings premium except the price.

1
Based on Edmunds.com lateral skidpad testing. Kizashi attained higher lateral force than Infiniti G37, Acura TSX and Mercedes C300 Sport.
2
Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations
(NHTSAs) New Car Assessment Program (www.safercar.gov).
3
Engine output claim based on manufacturers web sites as of 5/10/10. Class defined as IHS Global Insights

MY10 Lower Midsize segment. MSRP does not include


tax, license, title or destination charges. Dealer prices may vary. Audi A4, Acura TSX, Infiniti G37, Mercedes C300, Volvo S40, Rockford Fosgate, and AutoWeek are registered trademarks. Kizashi GTS as shown $22,729. Professional driver on
environmentally approved closed course. Do not attempt. Vehicle shown upon a designated off-road trail. Along with concerned conservationists everywhere, Suzuki urges you to Tread Lightly

on public and private land. Preserve your future


off-roading opportunities by showing respect for the environment, local laws and the rights of others. American Suzuki Motor Corporation 2010. Suzuki, the S logo and Suzuki model names are Suzuki trademarks or .
Automobile
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12 NEWS
New mid-engine sports car from
Germany; the life of Giorgetto Giugiaro;
the future of car radio; Volkswagens
venerable VR6; and budget racing.
22 BY DESIGN
By Robert Cumberford
The Porsche 918 Spyder is our kind
of economy car.
24 NOISE, VIBRATION &
HARSHNESS
By Jamie Kitman
Will Jaguars new owners continue
what Ford started?
26 DYER CONSEQUENCES
By Ezra Dyer
Does a hybrid badge on a three-ton
vehicle really make it earth-friendly?
28 LETTERS
The Corvettes gotta have a V-8, you say.
driven
30 2011 JEEP GRAND
CHEROKEE
Whats old is new again.
34 2011 ASTON MARTIN
V12 VANTAGE
A formula for fast.
43 2011 PORSCHE
CAYENNE S HYBRID
Smooth sailing.
44 2011 MINI COUNTRYMAN
This ones big.
48 2011 INFINITI QX56
Keeping it real.
52 2011 FORD SHELBY GT500
SVT prepares for the Camaro Z28.
upshift
102 FOUR SEASONS WRAP
Nissan GT-R: Living with a supercar
proves not to be so easy.
110 FOUR SEASONS
LOGBOOK
An Acura ZDX joins our eet and we
catch up with our Audi Q5, Mazda 3,
and Volkswagen GTI.
113 COLLECTIBLE CLASSIC
The 196574 Iso Grifo is American
muscle in a high-style Italian suit.
117 AUCTIONS
The Mecum Auction: Two 1960s
Mercedes convertibles with Hollywood
credentials cross the auction block.
122 VILE GOSSIP
By Jean Jennings
How to get a job at a car magazine.
At least at this magazine.
30 44
52 34
113
22
16
AUGUST 2010
Automobile
102
departments
8 Automobile | August 2010
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TM
E VE REPORTED RECENTLY
that Mercedes-AMG was working on
a smaller, cheaper SLS spin-o called
the SLV, which would share the
Gullwings front-engine layout. That plan
is now on the back burner. Mercedes is
still interested in a derivative of its new
halo model, but that prospect is currently
being referred to internally as SLM.
The M stands for mid-engine, as captured
in the proportions of our spy illustration.
The change in course is primarily due
to concerns about overlap within the
Mercedes lineup. Our friends in
corporate rightly pointed out that a
front-engine sports car would have been
too close to the SL, which is an important
cash cow for the brand, explains our
source at AMG. The performance division
considered going in the opposite direction
and building a super SLSsomething
wilder than the defunct SLR McLaren
but soon realized that such a concept
wouldnt t the times. AMG has found
that even its elite customer base expects
more environmental and social
responsibility going forward, so the SLM will emphasize
lightness and e ciency. But why go with a mid-engine
conguration, which will basically require AMG to start from
scratch rather than adapting Gullwing components?
A mid-engine car is the best way to avoid cannibalizing
salesand to challenge rivals like the Audi R8 and the upcoming
production version of the BMW Vision E cientDynamics coupe,
our source answers.
In the early stages of the SLMs gestationkicked o under the
leadership of Volker Mornhinweg before he left AMG to run the
Mercedes van divisionengineers experimented with a twin-turbo
four-cylinder, but that option was dropped because it would have
been hard to nd a protable price point. Another alternative was
simply to replace the SLS with a mid-engine coupe powered by the
latest small-displacement V-8. Again, the idea was nixed because it
didnt provide enough incremental business. The most likely
scenario now is a 350-hp, 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 paired with two
electric motors positioned in front of the driver. To maximize
synergies, the front axle, elements of the battery pack, and the
electronics platform will be adopted from the electric-drive SLS,
which is due in 2012. The rear suspension, complete with the
seven-speed transaxle, is another signicant carryover item.
Expect AMG to adapt the aluminum spaceframe it developed for
the SLS, although the rewall will obviously move rearward.
One aspect of the SLS that denitely wont trickle down is its
distinctive appearance. We are not going to oer a downsized
Germanys Mid-Engine Boom
by GEORG
KACHER
IT ALL STARTS HERE
the deep dive
w
12 Automobile | August 2010
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Porsche, Volkswagen, and Audi
clash over small sports cars
COULD INTERNAL POLITICS
endanger the Volkswagen
Groups trio of mid-engine
compact sports carsthe
Porsche 356 (illustrated below),
the Audi R5, and the VW
BlueSport? VW launched the
mid-engine BlueSport concept
at the 2009 Detroit auto show.
The car was a runner, the
engineers had done much more
than their routine homework,
and, in principle, marketing had
given it a thumbs-up. Almost
eighteen months later, however,
the two-seater is still on hold.
Where is the problem? As
usual, it lies elsewherein
Zuffenhausen and Ingolstadt, to
be precise. Porsche doesnt
want the next-generation
Boxster to be cannibalized by a
less expensive and potentially
more capable 356. Audi, facing
slow demand for the R8,
doesnt see the need for a third
sports car to be positioned
between the next TT and its
mid-engine agship. Although
VW is quick to admit that the
BlueSport would work wonders
for its image, the brand has its
plate full coordinating the
cooperation deal with Suzuki,
preparing the next Golf, and
getting the so-called New
Small Family under way.
Sports cars are not at the top
of our priority list, states
chairman Martin Winterkorn.
This applies in particular to
sports cars that require the
collaboration of Porsche, which
is not even part of the VW
Group yet.
At Porsche, Not Invented
Here syndrome is also a major
issue. Porsche will almost
certainly lose the development
of the next Cayenne to Audi.
The Cayennes still-nameless,
Q5-based little brother will also
be conceived by the friendly
enemy from Ingolstadt. If it
were to base the 356 off VWs
BlueSport, Porsche would lose
its third project in a row.
The VW Group needs a
modular sports car structure to
stretch from the entry-level
segment to the 911 or even
beyond. And the only brand that
can credibly conceive such a
structure is Porsche, says one
source in Zuffenhausen.
Rather than quell this
burgeoning sibling rivalry, VW
chief Ferdinand Pich is in fact
encouraging Audi to pitch a
new platform of its own against
Porsches. Hes done this
beforethe apparent intent is
to motivate both groups and
generate additional ideas. In
the end, however, the project
will likely land under the
Porsche umbrella.
Although the platform for
this mid-engine trio remains
somewhat up in the air, we can
speculate on how each will
evolve. Porsche will likely insist
on a at four in a coupe and
a roadster, but Audi could
probably live with an R8-
inspired derivative powered
by the blown 2.5-liter
ve-cylinder in the TT RS. VW
could then come out with a
minimalistic droptop equipped
with the twincharged
(supercharged and
turbocharged) 1.4-liter engine
from Europes Polo GTI. More
fanciful ideas include a targa,
a speedster, a turbocharged
GT4, and a lightweight
Clubsport for Porsche in
addition to an E-tron with
electric four-wheel drive, a
solar-panel roof, and adjustable
sideblades for Audi. Wishful
thinking? Well know more late
next year when the integration
of Porsche is complete.
Gullwing. Such a car would dilute the
attraction of the SLS, and it would
demonstrate a lack of imagination, says a
team member on the project. AMG has
also ruled out a hardtop convertible. Its
not su ciently hard-core and sporty.
That leaves us with the following
alternatives: a coupe, a roadster, and a
hatchback. According to the AMG
grapevine, a coupe with so-called
heron-wing doors (they swing out and
then pivot up at a 45-degree angle) is the
likely starting point. The second SLM
model will probably be a speedster with a
cut-down windshield and a basic,
manually operated canvas top.
Dimensionally, the SLM is smaller than a
Ferrari 458 Italia. The time frame, volume,
and nancial calculations for the most
radical modern Benz are still iy. The year
2015 looks like a realistic target, and if the
company can sell at least 7500 units
annually, the asking price should come
down to approximately $165,000. Thats
more than most SLs but about twenty
grand less than a base Gullwing. AM
9
The number of
German mid-engine
sports cars we
might soon be able
to choose from
should these four
models, plus the
Porsche 918 Spyder
and the BMW Vision
EfcientDynamics,
all make it to
production. Thats
up from only three
at presentthe
Audi R8 and
Porsches Boxster
and Cayman.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 13
F YOU OFTEN FIND yourself switching aimlessly among the
hundreds of radio stations beamed to your car by AM, FM, and
satellite radio, get ready for even more choices. Lots more.
Ford announced earlier this year that, starting with the
new Fiesta, its Sync interface will work with Pandora radios
mobile phone application, allowing drivers to use it hands-free
via voice commands.
Some might see this as a coronation of Pandora, an Internet
radio service with 54 million subscribers, but in fact its an
opening of the oodgates for new companies and services looking
to enter the already-crowded marketplace that is your car stereo.
In addition to traditional broadcast and satellite radio, which
attract 239 million and 35 million listeners, respectively, Pandora
also faces o against HD radio, which gives FM and AM digital
sound quality and more stations, and stored media on CDs and
MP3 players. And then theres the fact that Pandora is only one of
many edgling Internet radio applications pining to cooperate
with automakers.
At one time, we might have seen automakers lining up in
alliances, as happened during the Sirius and XM showdown.
technology
Now, its more likely that theyll let the contenders duke it out for
themselves.
Going forward, were looking to oer the customer as many
choices as possible, says John Schneider, Fords chief
infotainment engineer. Well let the market determine [what
format people listen to].
Thats easy, because unlike satellite radio a decade ago or even
FM radio in the 1970s, theres almost no new investment required
for an automaker to accommodate for these new services. Millions
of drivers already pay for powerful mobile devices and data plans,
and most new cars, even those as inexpensive as the Kia Forte, are
set up to connect with them via Bluetooth and USB inputs.
Its not a big deal for automakers to interface with our
Who will win
the radio wars?
Ford is the rst
automaker to offer
control of Pandora
Internet streaming
audio through the
radios head unit.
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product, says George Lynch, who worked
at XM radio when it launched with the
aid of $50 million from General Motors
and who now serves as vice president of
automotive business development at
Pandora. They dont need a new chip set
in the radio or anything. Its not costing
millions of dollars.
The biggest development on Fords
next-generation Sync system is secure,
robust software that will allow mobile
applications to communicate with the car.
Ford will also maintain control by
screening third-party developers in much the same way
Apple does with applications for its iPhone. In addition to
Pandora, Ford has already partnered with Stitcher, which
aggregates talk radio and podcasts, as well as OpenBeak, a
mobile Twitter application.
Still, its likely that for the next few years, car stereos will be
like the Wild West, as traditional broadcasters and startups
battle for a chunk of the millions of hours of radio listening that
Americans do in the car each year. And although each format has
its own advantages (see sidebar below), theres simply no way to
know what will come out on top ve or ten years in the future.
I tell you, when I know that for sure, Im going to leave my
job [at Ford], Schneider says. David Zenlea
The Contenders
AM/FM
Reach: 239 million listeners
First broadcast: 1916/1937
(AM/FM)
Sound quality: equivalent to
256300 kbps* (FM)
Automaker availability: All
Pros: Local entertainment,
sports, and news; free
Cons: Limited coverage; patchy
service in rural areas;
commercials; local preachers
with talk shows
SATELLITE RADIO
Reach: 35 million listeners
First broadcast: 2001
Sound quality: 48128 kbps*
Automaker availability: All
Pros: Full coverage from New
York City to Death Valley; lots of
variety; Bob Dylans Theme
Time Radio Hour
Cons: Pricey subscription fee;
signal can be blocked by trees,
underpasses, etc.; Jimmy
Buffetts Radio Margaritaville
PANDORA RADIO
Reach: 54 million subscribers
First broadcast: 2004
Sound quality: 64128 kbps*
Automaker availability: Ford
Pros: Near-innite, personalized
content; millions already own
the hardware; free or very cheap
Cons: Relies on wireless
networks that may soon start
blocking data-intensive
applications; doesnt include
the cost of a smartphone
HD RADIO
Reach: 3 million units
First broadcast: 2003
Sound quality: 128 kbps*
Automaker availability: Audi,
BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Jaguar,
Kia, Land Rover, Lincoln,
Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Mini,
Rolls-Royce, Scion, Volkswagen,
and Volvo
Pros: No subscription required
Cons: Only in some cars in
some areas
Going
forward,
were
looking to
offer the
customer
as many
choices as
possible.
JOHN SCHNEIDER,
FORD
* CD bit rate: 1411.2 kilobits per second
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1959: Frustrated, he presents
some drawings to Nuccio Bertone,
who then assigned a trial design.
You know that design I had you
do as a test? Well, I sold it to Alfa
Romeo, so youd better come to
work for me. His monthly salary
increases from $129 to $225. The
drawing becomes the Alfa
Romeo 2000 (later 2600),
Giugiaros rst car.
Giorgetto Giugiaro is the Car Designer of the Cen-
tury, according to 132 (relatively) young automotive
journalists back in 1999. Their grasp of automotive
history seems to have been concentrated in their
own adult lifetimes, however. Whether GGs inu-
ence is greater than Battista Pinin Farinas or
Harley Earls is very much open to debate, but there
is no question that he is one of the most prolic de-
signers alive. I have designed cars for every major
company but Honda, and one day I will do that,
says the Maestro. The merging of his rm Italdesign
with Volkswagen (see sidebar) may signify an end
to his half century of intense activity, but he remains
a powerful and highly inuential force in automo-
bile design. Robert Cumberford
the MAESTRO
August 7, 1938: Born
to an artistic family in
Garessio, province of
Cuneo, in northern Italy.
His father is a painter.
1952: Moves to Turin,
enrolls in the design
school of the famous
1920s caricaturist
known as Golia. At an
end-of-term party,
Golias nephew Dante
Giacosa, Fiats chief
engineer, sees
Giugiaros car drawings
and offers him an
apprenticeship at Fiat.
1967: Leaves Ghia to start Italdesign,
partnered with brilliant production
engineer Aldo Mantovani.
196871: Both Italdesign and
daughter Laura are born. Italdesign
makes a splash with the dramatic
Bizzarrini Manta mid-engine supercar.
Within three years he adds Abarth,
Suzuki, Porsche, andsuperbly, with
the Iguana 33/2Alfa Romeo
concept cars to his portfolio, not to
mention the production Maserati
Bora and Alfasud sedan. These
designs grab the attention of Kurt
Lotz, who has just taken over VW and
knows he needs fresh products.
Abarth to Zastava, Giorgetto Giugiaro was there.
1955: Hired at the Fiat
Special Vehicles Styling
Center at Miraori. In
four years, Giugiaros
immediate supervisor
does not present any of
his projects to the chief
of the Center.
1961: Second serious
production model: the
BMW 3200CS.
1962: Hitting his stride with
another unique Ferrari
Nuccio Bertones personal
250GTand two production
modelsthe Simca
1000/1200 S coupes and
the Iso Rivolta GT 300/340.
1963: Marries
Maria Teresa Serra.
1964: The Canguro,
Giorgettos favorite Alfa.
Giugiaro also designs a
one-off Ford Mustang for
Automobile Quarterly.
1965: Son Fabrizio is born
during the Geneva show,
where the Fiat 850 Spider
was revealed.
1966: Bertone wants to hire
designer Marcello Gandini.
Displeased, Giugiaro moves
to Ghia, then operated by
Argentine wild man
Alessandro de Tomaso. The
limited-production
De Tomaso Mangusta
launches Giugiaros
sharp-edged, origami-like
folded paper period.
1960: Assigned to an
Alpini military
regiment headquartered
at Bra, well away from
Turin. Bertone rents
Giugiaro a hotel room,
installs a drawing
board, and keeps GG
working on the design
of the Alfa Romeo
Giulia GT whenever
hes off duty. He also
does his rst of three
Ferrari one-offs with
Carrozzeria Bertone.
prole
16 Automobile | August 2010
198788: Too many projects and far
too little time. Things like the Eagle
Premier impress neither critics nor car
buyers. Then, suddenlyas this
magazine proclaimed at the time,
Giugiaro is backthree denitely
nonstandard, indeed exciting,
Audi-powered show cars appear:
Aztec, Aspid, and Asgard.
19891991: The Lexus GS300 and
the totally unexpected Subaru SVX, a
great GT car that was completely
outside Subarus marketand thus
sold poorlyreach the streets.
19951996: More concepts,
including the Lamborghini Calaa
predecessor to the 2004 Gallardo
and one production model, the
Daewoo Lanos, are added to the
portfolio. Fabrizio Giugiaro is made
styling director of the rm.
19971999: Italdesign becomes
Italdesign-Giugiaro.
2000: Reputation wanes even as
business ourishes with more and
more body engineering projects. Word
in the industry is that Italdesign would
throw in Giugiaro styling free if the
company got the engineering
contract. Projects came to him,
concept and theme included.
2003: Case in point: the Alfa Romeo
Brera concept. Not knowing the origin
of the project at the time, we call it a
welcome return to form for the
Giugiaros and the Italdesign
carrozzeria. In fact, the styling is done
mostly by Jean-Paul Oyono at Zagato.
2003: Assists on the design of the
Lamborghini Gallardo.
20042005: The GG50, a Ferrari by
and for Giugiaro, is built to celebrate
his half century of car design.
Italdesign also puts out the restyled
Alfa 156 and the Fiat Croma and
Grande Punto production cars.
2006: A second Mustang by Giugiaro,
mostly by Fabrizio.
2008: The rm celebrates its fortieth
anniversary with several concept and
production cars, including the 2007
Suzuki SX4.
2010: Lamborghini Holdings, an arm
of the Volkswagen Group, buys
90.1 percent of Italdesign-Giugiaro.
198586: So busy with production
models for Hyundai, Fiat, Seat, and
Renault that there isnt much time for
concept cars, other than the
Machimoto, Oldsmobile Incas, and the
VW Orbit. Oh, and Italdesign did
engineering for the Merkur XR4Ti and
the Ford Escort cabriolet. Busy indeed.
1984: A growing year: the
Saab 9000, its sister-under-the-skin
Lancia Thema, the Isuzu Gemini
(badge engineered as the Chevrolet
Spectrum, too), the Seat Ibiza, three
Lancia concepts, and one concept
each on Lotus (Etna) and Ford
(Maya) platforms.
1983: The Fiat Uno debuts. Its still in
production today in Brazil and has
been one of Fiats greatest successes.
1981: The De Lorean DMC12,
designed much earlier, and the highly
inuential Isuzu Piazza/Impulse
coupe reach production.
1980: Pens the Fiat Panda, perhaps
his second-most important design. It
stays in production for twenty-three
years, including variations
with all-wheel drive (also
engineered by Italdesign).
197879: Brought forth a concept
car close to Guigiaros heart, the
Lancia Megagamma, a tall car with a
small footprint. But that concept was
countered by the space-inefcient
production BMW M1.
197376: Likely the peak of
Giugiaros career in terms of volume
and quality of work, with seven
production carsVW Passat,
Scirocco, and Golf; Alfa Romeo Alfetta
GT and Alfasud Sprint; Hyundai Pony;
Maserati Quattroporte; and Lotus
Esprit. The Golf is, in Giugiaros own
opinion, his best and most important
design and was a direct derivative of
the De Tomaso Mangusta in surface
and cutline treatments. Who knew?
1972: A summer intern named
Ferdinand Pich spends two months
learning about design from
thirty-four-year-old Giugiaro. Pich
predicts the Golf will be a failure.
1971: VW contracts Italdesign for
several projects, but Rudolf Leiding,
who succeeded Lotz, immediately
kills all of the designs except for the
Golf, saying, It cant work, but its too
late to change it, proving that good
luck trumps bad judgment.
1970 VW-PORSCHE TAPIRO
An angular coupe body
complete with gull-wing
doorswrapped over the
mechanicals of a VW-
Porsche 914/6. Sold
to a wealthy industrialist
after two years on the
auto-show circuit but
was later rebombed by
protesting workers.
1973 AUDI ASSO DI PICCHE
A slick coupe built upon the
pedestrian Audi 80. The
Karmann-commissioned
concept didnt reach
production but did inspire
both the Scirocco and the
Isuzu Piazza/Impulse.
1986 MACHIMOTO
An attempt to merge
motorcycle and GTI long
before VW tried with the
2006 GX3 concept. Up to
eight occupants straddled
cyclelike saddle seats; power
came from the GTIs
sixteen-valve, 1.8-liter I-4.
1995 LAMBORGHINI CALA
In 1994, Italdesign was
contracted to style a
prototype for a smaller, more
aordable Lamborghini. The
Cala project was canceled
before VW purchased the
brand, but almost a decade
later, Italdesign helped
design the Gallardo.
1997 VOLKSWAGEN
W12 SYNCRO
VW executives mulled a
limited-production run at
nearly $200,000 a pop, but
the W12 Syncroalong with
the W12 Roadster concept
ultimately was simply a
showcase for the companys
new W-12 engine. A 600-hp
version set several speed
records at Nard in 2001.
1999 BUGATTI 18/3 CHIRON
Italdesign created several
earlier Bugatti concepts, but
the 18/3 Chiron was the rst
commissioned after VW
bought the fabled French
brand. This concept evolved
into the Veyron 16.4
production car.
Evan McCausland
The ink on the nuptial license is still drying, but Volkswagen and
Italdesign-Giugiaro, which announced their merger in late May,
are hardly strangers. In fact, the two newlyweds have been
courting one another for roughly forty years.
Volkswagen historians are keen to cite Giugiaros revolutionary
Golf hatchback and Italdesigns work in styling both the Scirocco
and the Passat, but some light digging in the design rms
archives shows the roots of the new merger run even deeper.
VW and Giugiaro tie the knot
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 17
The mighty VR6 isnt going anywhere, but several of
its iron-block compatriots in Detroit are either gone
or are on their way out. The pressure to downsize
powertrains and the development of high-tech sixes
has spelled the end of venerable workhorses from
General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.
BUICK FIREBALL V-6 (GM 3800)
Displacement: 3.2L3.8L
First application: 1962 Buick Special (the rst
V-6-powered American production car)
Last application: 2009 Buick LaCrosse
Most powerful production application: 1987 Buick
GNX, 276 hp, 360 lb-ft of torque (turbocharged)
FORD COLOGNE V-6
Displacement: 1.8L4.0L
First application: 1968 Ford Taunus
Last application: Ford Ranger (current)
Most powerful production application: 20052007
Land Rover LR3, 216 hp, 269 lb-ft of torque
CHRYSLER OHV V-6
Displacement: 3.3L3.8L
First applications: 1990 Chrysler Imperial, New
Yorker, Town & Country; Dodge Grand Caravan,
Dynasty; Plymouth Grand Voyager
Last applications: Grand Caravan/Town & Country,
Jeep Wrangler, Volkswagen Routan (all current)
Most powerful production application: 2010 Wrangler,
202 hp, 237 lb-ft of torque
Americans. The VR6 made its debut in the
Passat and shortly thereafter found a home
in the Corrado sport coupe. From there, it
proliferated into other VWs, including the
GTI and the Jetta.
With two valves per cylinder, the
original VR6 developed between 172 and
178 hp, depending on the application. But
it wasnt this engines output that
characterized itit was the VR6s sound
and smoothness. Indeed, the VR6s
renement matched
the best in-line sixes.
Even though the
engines plastic cover
said DOHC, the
original VR6 was
functionally an
SOHC design, with
each cylinders valves
actuated by the same
camshaft. In 1999, a
24-valve variant was
born, also with two
camshafts in total,
but now one
operated all the
intake valves while
the other opened all the exhaust
valves. Variable valve timing was
now possible, helping broaden
the VR6s torque curve.
All these advantages bring up
the obvious question: why have
no other makers followed VW
with VR engines? Mainly, the
tightly packed cylinder head
imposes severe compromises in
combustion-chamber and port
designs. Even within VW, the VR6 is
gradually giving ground to the
turbocharged 2.0T four-cylinder, which
produces more power and uses less fuel.
But Volkswagen insists that the VR6,
having now been increased in size to
3.6 liters and with a smaller included
cylinder angle of 10.6 degrees, will
continue to power the CC as well as the
forthcoming new Passat, Touareg, and
Porsche Cayenne. Jason Cammisa
survivor
The six-cylinder
HE LAST PLACE ONE would expect
to nd devotion to a two-decade-old,
iron-block six-cylinder engine is
Volkswagen. The company has developed
a line of powerful turbocharged, direct-
injected four-cylinders, but VW remains
committed to an aging engine that dees
easy categorization: the VR6.
Welike VW itselfhave occasionally
described the VR6 as a V-6, but thats not
strictly correct. Whereas most V-6s use
two separate
cylinder heads, the
VR6 uses a single
head. Its not an
in-line six, though,
because the
cylinders are
staggered and
separated into
two narrowly
angled banks of
three cylinders
(15 degrees when
the engine was
rst introduced).
In German, as
in English, the V
indicates an angle between
two cylinder banks. Whereas
wed call a straight six an I-6,
the Germans call it an R-6,
with R standing for
Reihenmotor. VW simply
combined the two terms,
resulting in the name VR6,
which, loosely translated,
means in-line V-6.
The benets of this
staggered, narrow-angle layout are clear:
the VR6 is only marginally longer and
wider than a four-cylinder engine,
meaning that it can be mounted
transversely in small front-wheel-drive
cars without the need for a long, space-
wasting hood. Volkswagen began work on
a prototype 2.0-liter VR6 in 1978, but by
the time it entered production in 1991, the
VR6 had grown to 2.8 liters, largely to
meet the needs of power-hungry
Dimensions
The VR6 is nearly as compact
as a four-cylinder, but thanks
to turbocharging, the current
2.0T is more powerful and
more efcient than the VR6.
Dimensions VR6 2.0T
Length, in. 19.3 17.6
Width, in. 25.0 25.1
Height, in. 28.1 25.1
Not so
fortunate
old iron
18 Automobile | August 2010
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motorsports
Even with a $300 car,
racing aint cheap.
OU VE LIKELY HEARD
the Roger Penske quote
that the best way to make a
small fortune racing is to start
with a big fortune. It turns out
that Penskes observation is true
even in racings scrappiest
series, the 24 Hours of LeMons.
Senior web editor Phil
Floradays mist team (read: not
bankrolled by this magazine)
bought a $300 1987 Volkswagen
Quantum Syncro wagon and
then put in more than ten times
that amount getting it ready to
race. Result? They won the
Index of E uency (awarded to
the team whose nishing
position furthest exceeds judges
expectations), turning the $5644
worth of parts, labor, and entry
fees into a check for $1501.
Only your knuckles should turnwhite.
by ROBERT
CUMBERFORD
PORSCHE
918 SPYDER
OUR KIND OF
ECONOMY CAR.
three men has contributed something
outside the Komenda template: Lapine
the 914, the 928, and the 944; Lagaay the
Carrera GT; and Mauer the Panamera.
Mauer, despite what you see when you
look at the bloated back of the Panamera,
is a very good designer, and with the 918
Spyder he and his team have truly broken
away from the Komenda canon while still
respecting it and the variations that
followed. The headlamp openings are no
longer round or oval, the front accepts the
fact that there are radiators needing large
amounts of air, and the prole still falls
away in a fastback manner, although the
deck is substantially at between the
headrest fairings. The turned-down rear
wing picks up a cue from the Lapine 959,
but the composition is totally dierent.
It is said that future Porsche cars will
be inuenced by the 918, and I can believe
that because the 918 itself has about twice
as many good styling ideas as it needs,
and no doubt theyll
eventually be usedbut not
all at once, as here. The
overall impression is much
more related to racing
Porsches than to past road
cars, all of which had more
monolithic forms. Here the
body prole is denitely
dictated by the wheels, giving
a voluptuousness that is
made manifest in the top view showing
that the nose and sides form an almost
perfect circle. You cant get any more
Rubenesque than that.
Porsche has already said that it would
need 1000 orders to justify building such a
high-performance hybrid and that a
production version might appear as a
coupe and/or as an open car. Three
months after the initial surprise showing,
some 900 of the faithful had made their
desire known. Id bet there are three times
that many who will buy 918s.
T TOOK 110 YEARS for the Porsche
car company to revisit its founders
concept of a hybrid powertrain with an
internal-combustion engine plus
electric motors. The Porsche 918
Spyder is one of the most astonishing
concept cars ever presented, by anyone. To
claimand be able to prove, no doubt
that this missile can get around that
crinkly old racetrack in the Eifel
mountains faster than a Carrera GT and
provide 78-mpg fuel economy (if you
respect speed limits) is utterly amazing.
Yet, given the source, its much easier to
believe those claims than to question them.
The irascible Professor Porsche had
nally burned all his bridges to the
German motor industry by 1931 and was
forced to open his own independent
engineering design consultancy seventy-
nine years ago. Since then, there have
been only ve Porsche styling leaders.
Austrian Erwin Komenda shaped the
Volkswagen Beetle and its BerlinRome
sports derivative, the magnicent Cisitalia
grand prix car, and the iconic 356. He also
worked on the 911, credited to fellow
Austrian Ferdinand Butzi Porsche,
Komendas successor, who was quickly
followed by Latvian-born American
Anatole Lapine, then Dutchman Harm
Lagaay, and now, for the rst time, a
German, Michael Mauer. Each of the last
by design
1
Yes, Ferrari was
there nearly fty
years ago, and
McLaren did much
the same twin-inlet
design on the F1.
And why not? It is
perfectly logical.
2
This separate
carbon-ber
molding gives
denition, but it is
so low as to be
seriously vulnerable
in normal road
driving.
3
Little indents for
the headlamp
covers provide
visual structure to
the front end.
Contrast this with
the fat forms of
earlier Porsches.
4
The entire rear
body is larger than
the front, effectively
becoming a huge
scoop. Its leading
edge prole
parallels the
graceful door cut,
while a door indent
channels more air to
the engine bay.
Count on the
exhaust coming out
the back in
production, though.
5
Pierced
transparent wheel
covers are high on
decoration, null for
practicality. How do
you clean brake
dust? Its hard
enough to get it off
aluminum wheels
that dont scratch
so easily.
6
Not only are
these knife edges
unusual for Porsche,
the lines result in
sharp points both
behind the front
wheel housing and
at the outer edge of
the rear cooling
outlets.
7
The sharp
trailing edge of the
rear fender sweeps
gracefully across
the entire rear of the
body. Its a little
surprising that there
is no clearly
delineated
license-plate
position.
8
Shades of
Jaguars levitating
shift dial. These
scoops apparently
rise above the
surface as needed
(and as shown
here), rather like the
rear aps on other
Porsches.
9
Everyone must
have a diffuser,
functional or not.
Count on this one
working. Hard.
10
This is the
approximate center
of an almost-perfect
circle circumscribing
all surfaces ahead of
the doors. There is a
tiny point on the
bumper, but not on
the outlet slot . . .
11
. . . which is
concentric with
the perimeter of
the whole.
1 2 3
22 Automobile | August 2010
12
The convex
outer surface of the
headrests changes
abruptly to a
concave descent
toward the scoop
indents, establishing
a sharp prole line.
Again, artful and
elegant.
13
This knife edge
is dramatic and
dynamic and would
work extremely well
on a coupe, too.
14
The xed,
freestanding rear
wing turns
downward at the
tips, recalling the
integrated wing of
the 959 supercar.
The elliptical trailing
edge is both pretty
and aerodynamically
efcient.
15
Very nicely
shaped headlamp
covers recall Italian
racers more than
Volkswagen/
Porsche 356 lights.
16
These crisp
peaks on the
fenders break
sharply with
Porsche surface
traditions.
17
Notice the
complex cutline
between the center
body and the tail
cover. Every cutline
on the body is
elegantly artful,
especially on the aft
ends of the doors.
18
Another sharp
surface change on
the rear fenders
gives direction and
avoids the pudgy
look of early
Komenda designs
like the 356.
5
21 20 22
10
4
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
7 9 8 6
19
The circular
theme in plan view
is carried across
the instrument
panel just at the
intersection of the
windshield base.
20
A very science-
ction sideview
camera will have to
come eventually.
The technology is
ready, even if the
auto industry is not.
21
What?! No shift
lever? Not really
needed with the
dual-clutch
automatic gearbox.
And there are
paddles.
22
Beautifully
coordinated curves
for the body-side
scoop and the
door cut.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 23
BIGGER,
SMALLER,
BETTER.
on Detroits history of botched lobotomies
and assisted suicides where its foreign
wards are concerned, such as the number
GM performed on Saab. Fords huge
investments allowed Jaguar to modernize
its factories and engine designs while
adopting cutting-edge aluminum
architecture for its XK grand tourer and
its biggest sedan, and its control systems
also helped the marque achieve massive
quality gains, as exemplied in last years
J. D. Power awards for dependability and
owner satisfaction among luxury brands.
The question now, of course, is
whether the new Jaguar, with its humbler
sales goals, can make a go of it on its own.
Tatas pockets are not inconsiderable, but
the huge, albeit theoretical, synergies of a
PAG are no longer there. While a new
ve-year, 50,000-mile, all-maintenance-
included platinum warranty program
will help back up the Power surveys in
potential customers minds, its the car
that will have to close the deal. In the
near term, thats good news, for the new
XJ showcases all of the best Jaguar
virtuessupreme speed, amazing quiet,
and big fun to drive, with sharp steering,
prodigious roadholding, and a better ride
than any of its competitors, even those
that build a lot more cars.
How could that be?
Perhaps it was the Ford money. Allied,
of course, to some serious engineering
wizardry. But, then again, as Lyons proved
way back when, theres something about a
gambler whose very existence depends on
success that increases the odds of
succeeding. When you have to care, dare
you must. Big isnt necessarily better. AM
IKE HIGH-STAKES GAMBLERS WITH nite bankrolls
and three-alarm substance-abuse habits, ruination always lies
just around the corner for small-volume carmakers like Jaguar.
Or so we have been told.
Admittedly, every roll of the dice counts for more when your
pockets are shallow, which observation has led many to
conclude that building luxury cars can only be a game for those
with high-rise billfolds. Indeed, for years weve been assured that
salvation for the worlds exclusive carmakers lies in becoming less
exclusive by urgent multiplication of volumeleading us to the
present moment where the ever-expanding sales targets of luxury
brands such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz (and to a lesser extent
Porsche) all but require them to crank production like General
Motors puking out full-size Chevrolets in its 1960s heyday.
It was this harsh assessmentas well as Margaret Thatchers
loudly declaimed free-market catechismwhich saw the sale of
money-losing Jaguar to the Ford Motor Company in 1989. The
marque would go on to become part of the now-defunct Premier
Automotive Group, Fords well-intentioned but money-losing
agglomeration of luxury brands (with Aston Martin, Land Rover,
Lincoln, and Volvo). Lately, most of PAGs components have been
jettisoned, lest they distract Fordpockets no longer bottomless
from the new Job One: keeping the namesake brand alive.
At the height of its powers, Jaguar was best known, in addition
to its reputation for legendarily spotty reliability, for delivering
amazing style and performance at comparatively reasonable
prices, with hit after hit culminating in the eternally awesome
E-type and the impossibly long-lived XJ. Penned by Sir William
Lyons, the rms founder, this four-door luxury sedan sold well
from its 1968 introduction until its mildly dull replacementalso
called XJarrived almost twenty years later.
Sadly, Jaguars unparalleled gift for groundbreaking good
looks never really made it out of the 60s, a worrisome trend its
Dearborn caretakers never fully corrected and often
compounded. And unsurprisingly, Ford missed hitting the
ambitious sales goal200,000 cars a yearit had set for Jaguar by
several cricket pitches and a spacious county or two.
But after Ive spent a few hundred miles in the newest Jaguar
XJ, plus some additional time at various auto shows soaking in its
luxurious interiorat once old-world cosseting and gloriously
modernit seems clear in retrospect that Fords tenure, which
o cially ended in 2008 when Jaguar was sold along with Land
Rover to Indian industrialist Ratan Tata, was more benign than
not. The new XJlargely developed on Fords dimeis not the
prettiest car weve ever seen, but it aint bad at all. And it is an
unalloyed delight to drive. Without Fords extremearguably
misguidedinvestment, it might not be the almost unbelievably
wonderful luxury automobile that it is.
The good that Ford did stands in clear relief when one reects
by JAMIE
KITMAN
noise, vibration & harshness
24 Automobile | August 2010 ILLUSTRATION BY TIM MARRS
by EZRA
DYER
HY SOCIETY
on unicorns, unless you want an earful
about horses and narwhals.
Nissans only hybrid is the Altima, a car
that was released with an air of resignation.
I think the press materials said, Even
though hybrids are a waste of time, were
going to license this thing from Toyota just
to appease the ignorant swine of California,
who think theyre smarter than our army
of superintelligent engineers. But rest
assured, the Leaf is gonna make this Altima
look about as advanced as a 68 Chevy
Nova. Or something like that. Nonetheless,
the Altima Hybrid gets signicantly better
gas mileage than the conventional
four-bangerat least, in the city.
But what if Nissan simply put the
Altima on a diet and bequeathed it other
fuel-saving methods, like perhaps a
smaller, direct-injected engine? That
less-is-more approach might deliver
near-hybrid economy along with a zestier
drive. Consider the fuel-miser version of
the upcoming Chevy Cruze. Its slated to
deliver 40 mpg on the highway, but the
spec sheet sounds so much cooler than a
hybrids. Its got a 138-hp turbo four-
cylinder and a six-speed manual. Its
lowered and has forged wheels and a
shutter behind the grille that opens and
closes according to speed. Thats how I
like my fuel economyfewer CVTs, more
turbos, forged wheels, and active
aerodynamics.
BMWs latest 7-series is another car
that provides interesting perspective on
the value of hybrids. Thats because BMW
oers both a V-8 hybrid model and a
six-cylinder version. The ActiveHybrid 7
and the six-cylinder 740i both manage a
20-mpg EPA combined rating. So what,
then, is the point of the hybrid?
Well, its faster. I had the chance to
drive both cars on the Lightning circuit at
New Jersey Motorsports Park, and the
hybrid owns the straightaways. With a
HE HYBRID AGE IS coming to an end. Or at least, a new
beginning. Soon, new hybrids will be plug-in and thus vastly
more e cient than our current crop of machinery. And so now
is a good time to ask the question: were hybrids an important
technological stepping stone, or were they the 2000s equivalent
of tailnsa marketing device meant to connote futurism?
I acknowledge that all hybrids are not equal. The Chevy
Malibu Hybrid, for instance, doesnt really deserve the label.
Calling that car a hybrid is like calling a woman with Lee
Press-On Nails a cyborg.
In the past few years, just about every automaker rolled out a
hybrid powertrain, which was seen as the unquestioned ticket to
heroic fuel economy. But there was one dissenter, one loud voice
in the crowd proclaiming that hybrids are silly. And Im
beginning to think that guy may have been right.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has compared hybrids to mermaids,
saying, If you want a sh, you get a woman; if you want a woman,
you get a sh. Most CEOs are afraid to publicly express such
antimermaid sentiment, but not Ghosn. Dont even get him started
dyer consequences
26 Automobile | August 2010 ILLUSTRATION BY TIM MARRS
twin-turbo V-8 and an electric motor, the
ActiveHybrids 455 hp crushes the 740is
modest 315 ponies, delivering a 0-to-60-
mph time of 4.7 seconds versus 5.8 seconds
for the six. But theres a catch.
The ActiveHybrid 7 also weighs 451
pounds more than the 740i. You know
what else weighs 450 pounds? A gorilla. A
really big one. So the cars look identical,
but one has a gorilla hiding inside it. And
Newtonian physics says that gorillas dont
like to change direction, no matter what
you may have seen at the ADHD gorilla
pen down at the zoo.
So in the corners, the 740i slays the
hybrid. Its tires sing while the hybrids
groan. The ActiveHybrid pulls ahead on
the straight, but in a standing-start lap, it
was only a second and a half quicker over
nearly two miles. And thats on a
horsepower track, where both cars
averaged about 90 mph. If I robbed Tail of
the Dragon National Bank and needed a
getaway car, Id choose the 740i over the
ActiveHybrid 7.
Perhaps youll never actually use your
7-series to run the Dragon. Likewise, how
often will you require sub-6.0-second
0-to-60-mph runs? In either car, you get
that velvety, dreadnought-limousine,
7-series driving experience, so Id call it a
draw except that the ActiveHybrid 7 costs
a bit more. As in, $32,150 more, which
admittedly doesnt account for the tax
credit that ActiveHybrid customers get for
being so environmentally friendly as to
buy a car that says hybrid on it
somewhere. Sorry, you earth-hating
seal-clubber in your nonhybrid Ford
Fiesta with the fuel-economy package
(34 mpg combined)no credit for you.
And why dont you just go nuke a
rainforest while youre at it?
Indeed, its a strange consequence of the
hybrid mystique that we revere porky cars
with batteries while paying little attention
to vehicles that are trim and thrifty in the
rst place. I once drove a Chevy Tahoe
Hybrid with a General Motors engineer
riding shotgun. He told me how di cult it
is to wring one additional mile per gallon
out of a given vehicle, which makes the
Tahoe hybrid systems 25 percent gain seem
like a silver bullet.
But the Tahoe Hybrid is like one of
those obese people who gets kicked o
The Biggest Loser early and never sheds as
much weight as everyone else. At the end
of the season, that guys managed to drop
fty pounds, but hes still gigantic.
Yet that fat guy who loses some weight
gets plenty of positive reinforcement,
while there are no congratulations for the
person who kept the weight o in the rst
place. Thats the case at the Chevy
dealership, where the Tahoe Hybrid is
covered with screaming green badges and
honored with a $2200 tax credit, while
the Chevy Traversebigger inside than
the Tahoe and rated at 23 mpg highway
with all-wheel driveis just another SUV.
It achieves better highway mileage than
the hybrid, but because it does so in a less
ashy way (lighter unibody construction
and a direct-injected V-6), it doesnt get
the same attention.
I think this dynamic is about to change.
In the near future, people who drive
Toyota Priuses and Ford Fusion Hybrids
will gravitate toward the new agships of
petrochemical parsimony, cars like the
Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. With that
squeeze from above, and conventional cars
like the Cruze and the Fiesta (and the
Traverse and the 740i) pushing from
below, its hard to see our current brand of
hybrid nding much love. I dont know
whether itll happen in ten years or twenty,
but the hybrid as we know it will someday
sleep with the mermaids. AM
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 27
Coivelle lo anylhing bul a V-8
is IiLe lhe BIues Biolheis
becoming a Biilney Seais
covei band.
LELAND JORDON
WASHINGTON, D.C.
OH, 1OYO1A. HOW OW
can you go? Evei since youi
lhen Euioe,1aan-onIy iQ
vas ievieved in lhis
esleemed eiiodicaI neaiIy lvo
yeais ago, I have been
chaming al lhe bil lo liy one
oul. Bul vail. Nov you leII me
ilII squeeze oul ueI economy
onIy in lhe high 8us. Whal
haened lo lhe lvo gas
engines lhal veie suosed lo
gel aboul u mg? And vhal
aboul lhe dieseI I vanledand
vouId nevei be abIe lo
gellhal gol 6u mg? I
suose ils bacL lo lhe iius.
Bul hoId on a sec. A ev ages
bacL you say lhal exus has a
nev cai coming oul lhal uIIs
u mg andcan il be
liue?acluaIIy IooLs IiLe
somelhing Id vanl lo be seen
in. C12uuh, veIcome lo lhe
lo o my Iisl. ieviousIy, I
vouIdnl have ovned a exus i
you gave me one. I guess you
can change a demogiahic
vilh jusl one cai.
MARK THOMAS
SARASOTA, FLORIDA
I 1US1 RECEIVED MY
1une issue and vas IooLing
oivaid lo ieading youi SneaL
ieviev ealuie. I luined lo
lhe isl age, looL one IooL al
lhe nev Aslon Mailin
agonda, and iomlIy buined
lhe magazine in iiluaI saciice
lo lhe memoiy o lhe !98us
Aslon Mailin agonda. 1hal
vas a beauliuI, sIeeL cai. 1his
vehicIe IooLs IiLe a menlaIIy
handicaed Decelicon. Who
came u vilh lhis lhing? 1he
same guys vho beal lhe Chevy
VoIl concel vilh an ugIy
slicL? And you have lhe neive
lo caII lhis ciossovei
highaIulin. Ils anylhing bul
lhal. Ils ugIy, viII iobabIy gel
onIy !8 mg, and viII IiLeIy
cosl veII inlo lhe six guies
jusl because ils an Aslon
Mailin. Bul Im iobabIy nol
loo ai o lhe maiL vhen I say
lhal Robeil Cumbeioid viII
Iove il.
JUSTIN SWARTZ
RED LION, PENNSYLVANIA
YOU KNOW WHA1 I OVE
aboul youi magazine? In
ailicuIai, vhy III icL il u
ovei youi iivaIs any day?
Because you shov ieaI cais; lhe
ones you can laLe hologiahs
o. I aII you have lo go on is a
guess, you donl iun gialuilous
secuIalive concel ail and
ass il o as lhe ieaI lhing.
When I see a icluie o a cai in
AUio\ovIir MncnzINr, I
Lnov ils oi ieaI. Youis is lhe
onIy magazine lhal seems lo
have lhe seI-iesecl and
inlegiily lo be u ionl aboul
vhen il iuns sy iIIuslialions
in a ealuie on ucoming cais,
diaving allenlion lo vhals
ieaI and vhals guessvoiL.
SmaII vondei ils lhe Iace lo
go vhen I vanl lo see a slyIing
ciilique by Robeil Cumbeioid
oi a IooL al limeIess successes
IiLe CoIIeclibIe CIassics. Kee
Peter gets a silver-arrow streamliner model car from Schylling.
LETTER OF THE MONTH
THE FUTURE AINT WHAT
IT USED TO BE. YOGI BERRA
SNEAK PREVIEW
I 1US1 READ YOUR
1une 2u!u issues SneaL
ieviev ealuie, and I beIieve
il is sae lo say lhal lhe vast
majoiily o Coivelle ovneis
viII nol accel a six-cyIindei
engine. 1heie aie aIieady
Camaios and CadiIIacs vilh
sueichaiged V-8s (al Iovei
iices), and yel you say lhal a
V-6 oi lhe Coivelle is nol o
lhe labIe. WeII, guess vhal? A
V-6 bellei nol be anyvheie
neai lhe labIe. 1o uilhei
comound lhings, ve nov
Ieain lhal il viII mosl IiLeIy be
lhiee lo oui yeais beoie lhe
C7 Coivelle is ieady. 1his mosl
IiLeIy means a C7 debul in
2u!4, vhich gives lhe C6 an
aImosl len-yeai iun. 1hal viII
no doubl Iead lo a conlinuing
sIide in Coivelle saIes. WhiIe
lhe Coivelle is a niche vehicIe,
il is aIso a moneymaLei, and
GM needs lo ieaIize lhal
cuiienl Coivelle ovneis viII
accel nolhing Iess lhan an
imiessive ieslyIe and a
LicL-ass V-8. WaLe u, GM, and
ul lhe nev Coivelle on lhe
ionl buinei.
GUS RICHTER
PLANT CITY, FLORIDA
IN YOUR SNEAK REVIEW
issue, you quole Coivelle chie
engineei 1adge 1uechlei as
oIIovs: Consideiing V-8
aIleinalives is anaIogous lo oui
move avay iom o-u
headIams... No, il isnl.
Changing headIams is IiLe lhe
BIues Biolheis changing
sungIasses; changing lhe
On page 58 of the June issue, in your brief interview with Jamal Hameedi, you list his title as chief
nameplate engineer. This brings to mind several important questions: (1) How many engineers does
it take to engineer a nameplate? (2) How many staff members are on the nameplate engineering
team? (3) What are their specic job accountabilities? I mean, if his job is to engineer the SVT
nameplate, how many variations does he have to manage over their extensive product line? Its a
good thing Ford didnt go for the bailout. If cutbacks need to happen, just how relevant is the chief
nameplate engineer in the total scheme of the company? Peter de Blanc via e-mail
letters
28 Automobile | August 2010
ss
up that standard; its
greatly appreciated.
BRIAN TIEMANN
VIA E-MAIL
CLASS ACT
I ENJOYED YOUR
article on Peter Brock
[The Prodigy, June]. I
fell in love with the shape
of the Daytona Coupe and
bought my rst one in
1964yes, it was a slot car.
In 2007, during a midlife
crisis, I got the real thing.
Needless to say, there were
bound to be some glitches.
I nally found a really
good mechanic, and we
had numerous questions
and some issues that
Superformance was not
addressing. Hey, we
thought, why not call the
man responsible for this
beast? Peter Brock got the
ears of those who could
resolve my problems, and I
am now prowling the
roads getting more
thumbs-up than I could
have ever imagined. Peter
really went to bat for me in
a situation where he did
not have to, and all parties
beneted from his eorts.
Hats o to Peter Brock, a
real class act.
ARTHUR NIXON
SAYVILLE, NEW YORK
PETER BROCK WAS MY
hero when I was a teenager
dreaming of Daytona Cobra
Coupes. But when I saw
your article, I expected to
nd a eulogy for a brilliant
designer. You see, I had
been told that Peter Brock
died while testing a
Superformance Daytona
Coupe. I assumed this was
true, as I knew Peter was
doing development work
on a Daytona Coupe kit car
for Superformance. After
reading your article, I
Googled Peter Brock, and
there were pages of
references to Peter Brock
crash, Peter Brock
Daytona Coupe crash,
Peter Brock death, etc.
All were about a popular
Australian racing driver
named Peter Georey
Brock. Needless to say, I am
happy to learn that my hero,
the Peter Brock of Daytona
Cobra Coupe fame, is still
alive and well. It just goes
to prove that you cant trust
everything your friends
read on the Internet.
Thanks for a great tribute
to a legendary designer.
ANDREW CHONG
VIA E-MAIL
A RED-BLOODED
PONY CAR
YOUR WRITER, ERIC
Tingwall, stated that the
new 2011 Mustang
V-6 [The Good War,
June] without the
performance package was
underwhelming in power,
slow to rev, and anemic in
acceleration. Then two
pages later, we learn that it
turns the quarter mile in
13.8 seconds at 103 mph,
mere tenths of a second
slower than the 2010 V-8
car. Anemic? Hardly.
PAUL KLOBAS
EL SOBRANTE, CALIFORNIA
BURIED UNDERNEATH
all the dismissive trashing
of the Mustangs solid rear
axle and its outgoing
engines is the truth: the
Mustang is the most
comfortable and natural
pony car, with unparalleled
visibility and a sporty
feeling of compactness.
Government Motors had
years to reintroduce a car
that was better than the
Mustang, and it didnt
succeed.
LOU CAMP
SEDONA, ARIZONA
SPEEDVISION, R.I.P.
I JUST FINISHED
reading Speed Screed in
the June issue, and Im glad
to see that Im not the only
one who thinks Speed has
become one of the worst
channels on TV. When
Speedvision rst aired, it
was a revelation. You could
watch almost every type of
racing, plus things that
simply went fast. There
was Two Wheel Tuesday
(everything motorcycle),
Water Wednesday
(powerboat and sailboat
racing), and on Thursday it
covered anything to do
with ying, including air
racing, taking check rides
in rare aircraft, and
Oshkosh. On the weekends
you could watch every type
of racing, from SCCA to
European semitruck racing.
You always knew there
would be something
interesting to watch. Then,
seemingly overnight, it
became the NASCAR
channel. And why is it that
Barrett-Jackson is the only
auction they show
multiple times a day? When
Speedvision was on the air,
it was one of my favorite
channels. Now I dont even
know what channel Speed
is on. Thankfully HD
Theater has come along
and is producing some
great and diverse
motorhead programming.
MARK MORLEY
SAGINAW, MICHIGAN
I APPLAUD PRESTON
Lerner for being able to
echo my impression of
Speed without using any
four-letter words.
JESSE LAIRD
BOSSIER CITY, LOUISIANA
Write: Letters, Automobile Magazine,
120 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
E-mail: letters@automobilemag.com
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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Whats old is new again.
forward progress, I cautiously feather the throttle under the
assumption that an angle this radical requires the perfect balance
of torque and grip. It does, but the reality is that the Grand
Cherokees traction control will sort all that out. After a few
seconds of violent bouncing, were back on earth, facing the
horizon and surrounded by uninterrupted beauty with a sweet
V-8 idling in front of us. This is practically unbelievable.
Its surprisingbut not impossiblethat this $50,000
near-luxury truck is conquering a trail named Hells Revenge. It
was uncertainbut not beyond reasonthat Chrysler could
survive a decade of neglect and a crippling bankruptcy. But the
shock is that while everyone else is dumping SUVs for crossovers,
MOAB, UTAH
S THE JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE in front of us
crests the slope, we take note of the slender, roof-
mounted antenna dipping out of view. Its the last
visual indication that were actually in contact with the
ground as awless blue sky lls our Jeeps windshield and we
sit motionless on an unnervingly steep slab of Utahs beautiful
red rock. What kind of angle does it take to ip this thing
over? I ask chief engineer Phil Jansen later. Hes not sure of
the exact number, but Im convinced that we are within a
couple degrees of nding out.
Our 5210-pound Grand Cherokee sidesteps left as the
5.7-liter V-8 grunts to get us moving. Once we start making
30 Automobile | August 2010
Chryslers hopes are pegged on a bona de truck. Of course, there
are improvements in comfort and fuel economy, but the 2011 Jeep
Grand Cherokee is as true to its mission as when it was launched
in the segments heyday in 1992.
While Jeep will oer a rear-wheel-drive variant for southern
states, most Grand Cherokees will be equipped with one of
three four-wheel-drive systems. For road-bound drivers,
Quadra-Trac I xes the torque split at 48 percent to the front and
52 percent to the rear wheels. Quadra-Trac II, with its two-speed
active transfer case, is the bare
minimum for any serious o-roading.
The active part means that the torque
distribution can be varied between the
front and rear axles from 100 percent
at the rear wheels to a 50/50 split. The
two-speed portion indicates that
theres a low-range gear for crawling
on dirt, in sand, or over rocks. The
top-spec all-wheel-drive system,
Quadra-Drive II, adds an electronically controlled limited-slip
rear-axle dierential.
The new, optional Quadra-Lift air suspension can adjust the
vehicles height to one of ve levels. Normal ride height sets the
Grand Cherokee 8.1 inches o the ground. Two o-road settings
raise the ground clearance to either 9.4 or 10.7 inches. Park mode
lowers the vehicle for easier entry, and aero mode automatically
activates at speeds over 60 mph to lower the SUV for improved
fuel e ciency.
A rotary dial on the center console controls the new
Selec-Terrain system, which is optional on four-wheel-drive
Laredo models and standard on four-wheel-drive Limited and
Overland vehicles. Selec-Terrain alters the behavior of the engine,
brakes, transmission, transfer case, stability control, and traction
control for ve settings (auto, snow, sport, sand/mud, and rock).
It also controls the ride height on vehicles equipped with the
air suspension.

The Grand Cherokee


is particularly adept
off-road with active
four-wheel drive, air
springs, and
Selec-Terrain
(controller pictured
below), which adjusts
engine, chassis, and
traction behavior.
The Specs //
ON SALE: Now
PRICE: $30,995/$32,490
(V-6/V-8)
ENGINES: 3.6L V-6,
290 hp, 260 lb-ft;
5.7L V-8, 360 hp, 390 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear- or 4-wheel
Inside, we were surprised by the cabins exceptional
quietness, which is the result of double-pane glass and a noise-
suppressing rewall between the engine and the cockpit. Building
on the precedent set by the 2009 Dodge Ram, the well-executed
cabin should be a key factor in reestablishing Jeeps claim that
this is a premium SUV. The top-trim Overland receives a stitched-
leather dash and real wood accents that could pass muster in a
Lincoln or an Inniti. Lower trim levels might not boast the same
high-end nishes, but they benet just as much from improved
materials and upgraded switchgear. The comfort features are
top-notch as well, with standard equipment such as keyless
ignition, a power drivers seat, and satellite radio and options
including a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front
seats, heated rear seats, navigation, a power liftgate, and a
panoramic sunroof.
Daimler was in control when development of the Grand
Cherokee began in 2006, so there are several common
components with the upcoming Mercedes-Benz ML. The two
vehicles share key chassis dimensions, brake packages, and
suspension geometry, among other parts, meaning the Grand
Cherokee for the rst time uses an independent rear suspension.
The steering is particularly Mercedes-like in its feel and action,
with evenly weighted power assist and relatively light eort
regardless of speed or angle. But its also devoid of feedback.
Happily, the Grand Cherokee has great on-center response,
condently reacting to slight steering changes. On pavement, the
Jeep provides acceptable, but not engaging, driving dynamics.
When tted with the optional air springs, the vehicle rides
comfortably, closer to sti than soft. Rotating the Selec-Terrain
controller to sport mode allows the air springs to drop the ride
height to aero mode for a lower center of gravity. The change,
though, is subtle and does little to improve the SUVs handling.
Cornering ability is on par with other SUVs of this size, which is
to say that the limits are fairly low and its di cult to feel like
youre uidly connecting curves when driving aggressively.
The standard V-6 is Chryslers new Pentastar engine, a
3.6-liter thats set to replace a total of seven dierent six-cylinders
currently used in the companys cars, minivans, and trucks.
Compared with the Grand Cherokees old 3.7-liter unit, city fuel
economy is unchanged at 16 mpg, but the highway rating
increases two ticks to 23 mpg (22 mpg for four-wheel-drive
vehicles). The power gainfrom 210 hp to
290 hp and a torque peak up from 235 lb-ft
to 260 lb-ftis decidedly more impressive.
At more than a mile above sea level in the
hills surrounding Moab, we needed every
bit of power to hustle our 4850-pound V-6
Grand Cherokee, but we cant let that
undermine the vast improvement over the
old engine in terms of power and poise.
Were less forgiving of the ve-speed automatic, which suered
from inconsistent shift behavior.
The safe bet for passionate drivers is the familiar 5.7-liter
Hemi V-8 making 360 hp and 390 lb-ft, which will quash any
acceleration complaints (expect a more powerful SRT8 edition
within a couple years). A ve-speed automatic is again the only
transmission, but its an entirely dierent gearbox and the
programming is better sorted. Even with the Hemi, though, the
on-road driving experience is a bit staidlike what you might
nd in a modern crossover.
Back on the trail, where the new Jeep was a star, we might as
well have been driving a Chevrolet Traverse from the looks we
received. Although the drivers of battle-worn Jeep CJs and
Toyota FJs feigned friendliness, you could sense a touch of
disdain about them. Were the meticulously waxed Grand
Cherokees too pristine to be here? Had we broken the rules by
turning on the ventilated seats? Whatever their beef, by simply
showing up at the end of the trail, we gave those purists no
doubts as to the capabilities of the new Grand Cherokee.
Whether buyers see that old-school approach as distinctive or
out of touch will be decided by sales, but it certainly makes for a
uniquely capable vehicle. Eric Tingwall

The interior now


sports more style
and better materials.
Top-spec Overland
models (not
pictured) tout a
stitched-leather
dashboard and real
wood trim.
The Grand Cherokee rst arrived in 1992 and
was originally conceived as the replacement for
the Cherokee, but with Cherokee sales still
strongand the SUV segment starting to take
offJeep decided to keep both vehicles in its
lineup. Larger and more comfortable than the
Cherokee and equipped with a drivers-side air
bag and antilock brakes, the posh Grand
Cherokee was the rst serious competitor to
the blockbuster Ford Explorer, which had been
launched in 1990. Together, the two vehicles
fueled the SUV boom. In only its second year,
Grand Cherokee sales surpassed 200,000 units
and would eventually touch 300,000 (in 1999).
The prot-gushing
Grand Cherokee was
also a major engine of
Chryslers rosy nancial
results in the heady
1990s, helping make the
company an attractive
takeover target for
Daimler-Benz. More
recently, sales have
returned to earth, slipping
below 100,000 in 2008 for the rst time since
the trucks launch year. Although still an
important vehicle for Jeep, the Grand Cherokee
follows in the tire tracks of Jeeps original icon,
the Wrangler. Joe Lorio
SUV superstar Born in better days.
32 Automobile | August 2010
is no longer the brands best seller as it now
NRBURG, GERMANY
N PICTURES AND ON paper, its
di cult to get really excited about
the Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Sure,
its gorgeous and has a beautifully
balanced V-12 under the hood, but its also
the nal homogenization of the Aston
Martin coupes: three models with the
same look, the same architecture, and
now the same engine.
Chief engineer Paul Barritt makes his
case for this car, though, and its enough
to pique our interest. This is the most
edgy Aston we do, he says. Its our most
driver-focused car. And to drive that
point further, Aston has the guts to oer
the V12 Vantage with a manual gearbox as
the only transmission.
Even with race-liveried Lexus LFAs
and Astons lapping the Nrburgring
simultaneously, our caravan of relatively
slow-moving
production
cars entertains
the beer-
swillers who
have already
erected gypsy
villages in the
surrounding woods six days before the
annual twenty-four-hour race. I have
reservations about driving such a
powerful car my rst time out on a track
that claims a few lives every year, but the
Vantages 510 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque
quickly prove to be more of a boon than a
threat on the Nordschleife. Despite its
age, the 5.9-liter V-12 pulls just as hard
whether its spinning at 3000 rpm or

The carbon-ber
louvers on the hood
are a giveaway that
this Vantage has
Aston Martins
510-hp V-12 wedged
into the engine bay.
6000 rpm, so coming out of a turn in the wrong gear doesnt
really penalize a rookie.
The extra 150 pounds added to the Vantage causes a two-
percent weight shift to the front for a still-respectable
51/49 percent split. Steering feel and response are nearly perfect,
and the nineteen-inch Pirelli PZero Corsa tires grip masterfully.
The V12s suspension is lowered 0.6 inch, and stiness is
comparable to that of a sport-package-equipped V8 Vantage. The
Aston corners atly and condently, but the ride is a little harsh
for a lengthy trip. Standard carbon-ceramic disc brakes are easy
to modulate on the road and provide the stopping force they
promise. The pedal, though, doesnt provide much feedback
when pushed rmly, obscuring the antilock-brake threshold.
The V-12 was such a tight t in the Vantages engine bay that
engineers had to install a shallower sump, a smaller alternator,
and a new oil-lter housing. Carbon-ber hood louvers, a
carbon-ber lower splitter, brake-cooling ducts in the front
fascia, larger ared sills, a taller spoiler, and a new rear fascia
designed to pull more air through the transmission oil cooler
dierentiate the V12 from the V8 Vantage. Inside, there are
unique instrument-panel graphics, a new shift knob, and
carbon-ber door grabs.
The Vantages smaller size may make it more agile than the
$270,350 DBS, but it also makes for a tight t in the cabin. At six
feet, three inches tall, I nd that the seatback is forced forward
when I slide the bottom cushion rearward. Im able to get far
enough away from the pedals but struggle to nd a comfortable
position between the seat, wheel, pedals, and stick. After logging
300 miles in two days, my body feels as if its been ying coach
class for twelve hours. The seats are also virtually devoid of any
lateral support, and the optional xed-back, lightweight seats
dont comply with U.S. regulations.
A big engine in a small car is a formula for fast, and it holds
true here, as the V12 Vantage is the quickest car in Astons lineup
(aside from the radical One-77): Aston claims a 0-to-62-mph time
of 4.2 seconds, 0.1 second faster than the DBS. Considering the
$90,000 discount over the DBS, were starting to think that V-12
homogenization isnt such a big deal after all. Eric Tingwall
2011
Aston Martin V12 Vantage A formula for fast.
34 Automobile | August 2010
The Specs //
ON SALE: Fall 2010
PRICE: $181,345
ENGINE: 5.9L V-12,
510 hp, 420 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear-wheel
C h e v r o l e t S i l v e r a d o H D
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
ONLY A NINNY WOULD POUND TACKS with a sledgehammer. Se-
lecting the right tool for the job is the first step on the road to success.
When there are tough jobs to be done or serious recreation on the agenda,
picking the right truck is fundamental.
A minivan wont haul your heavy stuff or tow a mighty trailer. And
there are times when Americas beloved workhorse, the half-ton pickup,
is too small for the task. Thats why Chevy offers a full line of heavy-duty
pickups. Since both our jobs and our vacation aspirations continue to grow,
the bow-tie brand keeps upping the ante on what a heavy-duty pickup can
do. Enter the 2011 2500HD and 3500HD, the best-dressed heavy-duty
Silverados that money can buy.
Engineering any car or truck is a bar-raising exercise. If the new de-
sign isnt tougher, better, and more capable all around than what its re-
placing, there is no point to the project. So Chevy engineers assessed the
competition and polled their constituents before establishing performance
targets for the eleven 2500HD and eight 3500HD pickups that would carry
the Silverado and bow-tie badges in the 2011 model year.
Strength of character best describes what was achieved. Engineering
new frames, larger brakes, and more robust suspension systems delivered
notable gains in the categories serious truckers hold dear:
Up to 30 percent greater towing capacity with a maximum rating
of 17,000 pounds.
Fifth-wheel towing capacity that tops out at 21,700 pounds.
A maximum payload of 6635 pounds.
THE RUGGED CHEVY SILVERADO HEAVY DUTY IS
Up to 17 percent gain in gross vehicle weight ratings with the
maximum rising to 13,000 pounds.
A maximum gross combined weight rating of 29,200 pounds.
A front axle weight rating that has been increased by 25 percent
to 6000 pounds, enabling snowplow use with all 4WD cab styles.
Optimum use of materials helps add strength. Shaping steel with
high-pressure watera technique called hydroformingmaximizes tough-
ness without adding excess weight. Boxing the frame rails their entire
length and increasing the cross-sectional dimensions at high-stress points
add stiffness. Greater use of high-strength steel also helps to make the new
Silverado HDs among the strongest heavy-duty pickups on the market.
STRONGER THAN DIRT.
When there are tough
jobs to be done or serious
recreation on the agenda,
picking the right truck is
fundamental.
A stout backbone is what distinguishes the
Silverado from competitors who dont take
the Heavy Duty assignment seriously. Chevy
engineered eleven all-new, fully boxed frame
assemblies with more high-strength steel, larger
cross-sections, and greater use of hydroforming
to raise twist resistance by a factor of ve while
nearly doubling bending stiffness. Engine and
transmission mounts are more substantial, and
the forward part of the frame is stiffer by
125 percent. The benet is extra towing
capacity, vastly superior ride and handling, and
the best durability money can buy. Hydraulic
body mounts for extended and crew cab
models insulate occupants from the pain of
potholes and expansion joints. A new box-tube
frame-mounted trailer hitch supports towed
loads up to 17,000 pounds. Access holes
pre-punched in the rear areas of the frame ease
the installation of a fth-wheel tow hitch.
GOOD TO THE BONE
WHEN YOU HIT THE ROAD WITH A KINGS RANSOM in horse flesh
or a home mortgages worth of landscaping gear, the last thing you need to fret
over is whether your truck has enough stamina. Both Silverado HD power-
trainsgas and dieselare engineered to provide the performance necessary
to tow heavy loads along with improved fuel efficiency and longevity.
The new 6.6-liter Duramax is the diesel without the smoke, rattle,
and roll that still plague some of its competitors. This diesel V-8 delivers
an astounding 765 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm, the most available in any
heavy-duty pickup. The 397 horsepower at 3000 rpm produced by this
turbocharged and intercooled engine is also best-in-class.
Thanks to the application of various new technologies, NOx ex-
haust emissions have been reduced by 63 percent. This diesel runs 680
miles between particulate filter regenerations, a 75 percent improvement.
Since 2000, more than a million Duramax diesel V-8s have impressed
truck owners with their durability and dependability. For improved stami-
na, the main bearing profiles are new, theres more oil flow at low speeds,
and lubrication to the turbocharger has been increased. Soot deposits in the
exhaust gas recirculation system have been reduced with a new bypass cir-
cuit. The pistons and wrist pins have been redesigned for improved strength
and less weight.
The Duramax V-8 is now capable of running on B20 biodiesel fuel.
Theres also a new exhaust brake system that uses internal backpressure
instead of the friction brakes to smoothly slow a heavy truck/trailer com-
bination on grades.
AN ALL-NEW DIESEL V-8 AND SIX-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Since 2000, more than a
million Duramax diesel
V-8s have impressed truck
owners with their durability
and dependability.
The sturdy Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission that is
teamed with the Duramax V-8 continues to offer handy tap up/tap down
shifting and a tow/haul mode for reduced shift cycling. Two overdrive gears
are provided to maximize highway mileage.
The 6.0-liter Vortec gasoline V-8 has revised valve timing aimed at
providing the extra oomph needed to get the Silverado HDs heavy loads
rolling from rest. The Hydramatic 6L90 six-speed transmission mated to
this engine has several small changes aided at improved durability.
Because Silverado HD pickups enjoy such a sturdy reputation, Chevy
is able to provide the best available warranty coveragea five-year/100,000-
mile limited powertrain warranty plus roadside assistance and courtesy
transportation.
NEVER CRY UNCLE.
POWER PLAY
To provide heavy-duty disciples with lionhearted
performance and durability, both Silverado
HD powertrains are thoroughly upgraded. The
Duramax 6.6-liter turbo-diesel and Allison 1000
six-speed transmission combine to deliver
more power and torque, lower emissions,
quieter operation, enhanced durability, and an
11 percent increase in fuel economy. Internal
components are tougher and better lubricated
for the long haul. Fuel-injection pressure is
15 percent higher for improved combustion.
Two new features are an exhaust brake to slow
the vehicle on long grades without tapping the
brake pedal and the ability to use B20 biodiesel
fuel. To handle the greater torque produced by
the Duramax engine, the Allison 1000 six-speed
automatic has stronger internal components.
Spin losses are reduced for improved operating
efciency. The gasoline-fueled Vortec 6.0-liter
V-8 now has extra low-rpm torque thats
especially noticeable when towing. The six-speed
Hydramatic transmission mated to this engine
embodies several changes aimed at increased
strength and smoother performance.
THE SHINY METAL SECURITY BLANKET.
WHEN YOU HITCH UP YOUR TOY BOX and set the navigation system
for a good-time destination, its good to feel secure. In the heavy-duty pickup
category, youd like to have some assurance that safety and occupant protec-
tion, along with driver assistance are high priorities.
Chevrolet engineers came to a
similar conclusion while developing
the new Silverado heavy-duty pick-
ups. StabiliTrak electronic stability
control and trailer sway control are
standard on single-rear-wheel mod-
els. Commensurate with the larger
loads these trucks will bear, front and
rear brake rotors have been increased
to the size of pie plates14.0 inches in
diameter. Four-wheel, four-channel
ABS is standard on single-rear-wheel
models, and dual-rear-wheel models
are equipped with a three-channel
system. And to give the brake pedal
a firm, reassuring feel, both the travel and the booster calibration have been
adjusted to suit the new HDs.
To take optimum advantage of the stronger and stiffer frames support-
ing these pickups, the steering system is all new. The steering gear, hydraulic
pump, and linkages have been reengineered for quieter operation and re-
duced effort at parking speeds.
With the intention of giving these HDs a poised ride over both good
and bad pavement, damper calibrations have been revised, the jounce bum-
pers provide extra resilience, and special hydraulic body mounts are included.
Nowhere in Chevys engineering book does it say that a heavy-duty pickup
has to ride like a truck.
To keep the rig from accidentally
rolling backward on grades, hill-start as-
sist is standard on all single-rear-wheel
Silverado HDs. In addition, theres an
optional backup camera and cockpit
display for those instances when reverse
travel is intentional.
OnStar 9.0 is includedfree for six
monthsto maintain a communications
link to an assistance center for routing
information, emergency aid, and stolen
vehicle recovery assistance. The Sil-
verado HDs standard XM satellite radio
and optional navigation system, mobile
WiFi, and Bluetooth connectivity are a great help, whether youre a contractor
on a deadline or a parent bent on keeping a vacationing family entertained.
In the event of an accident, occupant protection is enhanced by the new
stronger frame. Front air bags are standard. Seat-mounted air bags and side-
curtain air bags that guard against injury during a lateral impact are a new
2500HD option.
BULLETPROOF CHASSIS
Archaic beam-type front
axles used by competitors
wouldnt do for the best
truck in the heavy-duty
category. The Silverado
HDs new independent
front suspension is more
rugged than ever while also
delivering vastly improved
ride and handling. With a
gross axle weight rating of up
to 6000 pounds in front, 4WD models are now eligible
for snowplow service. Forged-steel and cast-iron control
arms, beefy torsion bars, reinforced shock-absorber
attachments, and dual urethane jounce bumpers per
side are behind the Silverado HDs suspension prowess.
At the rear, the three-inch-
wide leaf springs have a new
asymmetrical design (shorter
ahead of the axle than
behind) for improved traction
and hop control. Gross
axle weight ratings are up
across the range. Four-wheel
disc brakes with ABS are
standard equipment. Brake
rotors, wheel hubs, bearing
assemblies, and calipers are all upgraded to support
segment-leading towing and payload capabilities:
conventional towing up to 17,000 pounds, 21,700-pound
fth-wheel towing, and a maximum payload of 6635
pounds in the Silverado 3500HD.
Safety, occupant protection,
and driver assistance are
high priorities.
WITH MORE THAN NINETY YEARS OF TRUCK-MAKING
EXPERIENCE UNDER ITS BELT, CHEVY ISNT GOING
TO TOLERATE ANY COMPROMISES NOW.
To see video of the new Silverado HD, visit WWW.AUTOMOBILEMAG.COM/SHOWCASE/CHEVROLET
WHEN CHEVY ENTERED THE TRUCK BUSINESS in 1918, its sem-
inal Model 490 rode on a passenger-car chassis with beefed-up springs.
Customers bought the cargo bodies that suited their needs from indepen-
dent suppliers. Chevys one-ton pickup was also introduced that year with
a 37-horsepower engine, an electric starter, full lighting equipment, and a
bow-tie badge on its radiator.
From this humble beginning, Chev-
rolet matured into the brand America
turns to when theres hard work and play
to be accomplished . . . without spending
a fortune. The arrival of new Silverado
HD pickups for the 2011 model year af-
firms the fact that Chevy is still the go-to
source of uncompromised excellence and
innovation.
In many locales, pickup trucks are
the preferred form of family transporta-
tion. Although minivans are ideal for
trips to soccer practice or the grocery
store, they falter if asked to haul a load of
firewood or a yard of topsoil. When its
vacation time and boating is at the cen-
ter of family recreation, a full-size pickup truck is the only way to travel.
Heavy-duty pickups have evolved into the ultimate tool for hard work and
ambitious play.
Chevy trucks earned their dedicated following based on a reputation
for versatility, longevity, and all-around satisfaction. They enjoy excellent
resale value, the highest owner loyalty, and
a low cost of ownership. When creating a
new HD edition for introduction this year,
Chevy engineers listened to what their
constituents liked about the current mod-
els and what capabilities they would need
in the future. Then they focused attention
on upgrading the Silverado HDs core at-
tributes. The frame, brakes, suspension,
and powertrains all benefit from scores
of fundamental improvements. Custom-
ers who may never actually see most of
this equipment will definitely appreciate
a Silverado HD that lasts and performs
beyond expectations. Delivering on that
promise is precisely what Chevy means by
no-compromise design.
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
1
3
2
4
5
BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA
IRST AN SUV. Then a sedan.
And now a hybrid. It may be another
gut punch for purists, but Porsches
foray into volume products and new
segments continues with a hybrid model
for the new, second-generation Porsche
Cayenne. However, the Cayenne S Hybrid
isnt an overweight Toyota Prius. Both the
hardware and the software feature
uniqueor at least unusualapproaches
to hybrid execution. The result is that the
Porsche Cayenne doesnt drive like any
other hybrid.
Primary propulsion for the most
e cient Porsche SUV is the 3.0-liter
supercharged V-6 borrowed from the
Audi S4, here producing 333 hp and
324 lb-ft of torque. As in all automatic-
transmission Cayennes, power is
transmitted to all four wheels through an
eight-speed gearbox.
An electric motor
that measures 5.5
inches long sits just
ahead of the torque
converter, raising the
total output to 380
hp and 428 lb-ft.
The nal piece of
hybrid-specic
between the engine and the electric motor,
and its the hybrid Cayennes most
distinctive feature. The clutch can
decouple the V-6 from the rest of the
drivetrain, allowing the Cayenne to coast
or move under electric power without the
drag of a spinning engine.
2011
Porsche
CayenneS
Hybrid
Smooth
sailing.
Pure electric mode is possible at low speeds and under light
throttle applications, but youll have to push through the kickdown
switch to get the electric motor and the gas engine operating
together, unless sport mode is activated. The Cayennes calling
card is a unique mode referred to as sailing, also described as
coasting or freewheeling. As soon as the driver removes a foot
from the accelerator, the gasoline stops owing and the clutch
decouples the engine from the drivetrain, allowing the Cayenne to
coast (at speeds less than 97 mph) without using gas or electricity.
Only a mile into our drive of the Cayenne S Hybrid, we were
already impressed with the powertrain. Its the hybrid that youd
never know is a hybrid. One trip through the eight gears, and we
were blown away by how much it felt like we were driving an SUV
with only a supercharged gasoline engine. The transitions from
electric to gas-only to electric-boost mode to sailing are barely
noticeable unless youre looking for them. We had to rely on the
tachometer and the powertrain display to discern what the
complex powertrain was doing. We even had trouble identifying
when the hydraulic brakes began assisting the regenerative
braking system, all while staring at an analog gauge that showed
exactly when the change happened. Our chief complaint is the
slow shift times, whether the gearbox is left to shift on its own or
controlled by steering-wheel-mounted buttons.
Unfortunately, the hybrid wont be oered with some of the
Cayennes most compelling chassis features, such as an active
antiroll bar and a trick torque-vectoring rear dierential, so its not
quite as fast or as condent in the turns. At 4938 pounds, its also
the heaviest Cayenne, but it is lighter than last years V-8 model.
O cial fuel-economy numbers for the hybrid Cayenne havent
been nalized, but theyre expected to come in at 20 mpg in the
city and 23 mpg on the highway. That wont make the Cayenne a
standout, but it will slot right in the mix of large hybrid and diesel
SUVs. The hybrids cost premium is exactly $4000 over the V-8
Cayenne S, a price worth paying for those people who appreciate
improved fuel economy. Unless you desire the $105,775 Turbo
edition or insist on having sporty equipment like the fancy rear
di, the hybrid model delivers the comfort, drivability, and
performance that a Porsche SUV should. Eric Tingwall
1
3.0-liter supercharged V-6
2
Power electronics
3
AC motor
4
Battery-cooling duct
5
288-volt nickel-metal-
hydride battery
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 43
The Specs //
ON SALE: Fall 2010
PRICE: $68,675
ENGINE: 3.0L
supercharged
V-6/electric hybrid,
380 hp, 428 lb-ft
DRIVE: 4-wheel
hardware is a dry multiplate clutch placed
VIENNA, AUSTRIA
HE COUNTRYMAN is big for
Miniin size, certainly, but even
more so in concept. For Mini its a
huge step, says Dr. Wolfgang
Armbrecht, Mini brand manager. Four
doors, four-wheel drive, a higher seating
position. We werent sure it was the right
direction.
Thats why weve been seeing concept
versions of this car for the past year and a
half, to ready the public for this very
dierent Mini. The most obvious
dierence is its size; the Countryman
exceeds the already-stretched Clubman
by more than six inches and the standard
2011
Mini Countryman This ones big.
hatchback by nearly a foot and a half.
Its also four inches wider and some six
inches taller than the hardtop and rides
on a 102.2-inch wheelbase (versus
100.3 inches for the Clubman and
97.1 inches for the hatch).
The Countrymans bigger body
houses considerably more space for
people and stu. Four real doors
provide relatively easy accessexcept
for the wide sills. The rear bucket seats can comfortably
accommodate six-footers; reclining rear seatbacks are a nice
touch, but hard, molded plastic door armrests are not. Luggage
space, at 12.2/41.0 cubic feet (rear seats up/folded), betters that of
the Clubman (9.2/32.8 cubic feet) but is still less than what most
44 Automobile | August 2010
The Specs //
Cooper S Countryman
PRICE: $26,500 (est.)
ON SALE: Early 2011
ENGINE: 1.6-liter
turbocharged I-4,
184 hp, 192 lb-ft
DRIVE: Front or 4-wheel

The Countrymans
optional navigation
system can display
directions inside the
center-mounted
speedometer.
small crossovers provide. Aside from the two-inch-higher seating
position, the drivers environment is familiar. A new center stack
groups all the audio controls together (at last!), but it still suers
some odd climate controls.
The other big departure for the Countryman, of course, is its
optional four-wheel-drive system (called ALL4), which adds
about 150 pounds and is available on the Cooper S version only.
Ordinarily, it sends 100 percent of the engines torque to the front
wheels, but 50 percent can be diverted to the rear under
acceleration or if a wheel begins to slip.
The Countryman has updated versions of the current 1.6-liter
engines, which other Minis will get as part of their 2011 model-year
update. Variable valve timing joins direct injection for the
turbocharged Cooper S unit. Output climbs from 172 hp and
177 lb-ft of torque to 184 hp and 192 lb-ft (with overboost). The
base engine adds more muscle, too, going
from 118 to 122 hp and 114 to 118 lb-ft. Dont
look for a full John Cooper Works version,
although we could see one eventually.
As in other Minis, a six-speed manual
transmission is standard and a six-speed
automatic is optional. The former benets
from new synchronizers and a friction-
reducing coating to its shift cables for
slicker operation.
Other markets get auto stop/start and
regenerative braking, but they arent
coming to the U.S. because they wouldnt
help the EPA ratings (although they would
aid real-world fuel economy, which ought
to count, too). The Countryman doesnt
yet have o cial EPA numbersthe car
goes on sale here early next yearbut Mini
is hoping for a highway gure of 34 mpg.
We probably didnt come close to that
mileage during our brief test-drive, when
we ogged a Cooper S Countryman
(all-wheel drive, manual, no sport package)
on a short cone course and a somewhat
longer road courseboth water-slicked for
extra enjoyment. The all-wheel-drive
system nally puts an end to torque steer in
the Cooper S, so we welcomed it for that
reason alone. (Unfortunately, ALL4 is not
likely to nd its way into other Mini body
styles.) The turbocharged 1.6-liter pulls
nicely, although factory gures indicate
that it is, not surprisingly, slower here than
in the Clubman or the hardtop. With the
manual transmission, the front-wheel-
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 45
drive Cooper S Countryman will
get to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds
(7.9 seconds with all-wheel drive),
against 7.4 seconds for the
equivalent Clubman and 7.1 ticks
for the regular Mini. The gap grows
wider for base-engine Minis, with
the Countryman at 10.5 seconds
about a second slower than the
Clubman and 1.4 seconds behind the hardtop.
Despite its extra height and weight, the Countryman has much
of the alert, lively demeanor of other Minis. The electrically
assisted power steering is among the best of its type and gets even
better given a bit more weighting with a push of the Sport button.
Yes, the Countryman understeers, but stabbing the brakes can kick
the tail out to aid turn-in, provided youve switched the stability
control into sport mode or o completely. On the high-speed
course, we found that you can drift this Mini like a rear-wheel-
drive carso long as your name is Jrg Weidinger. Weidinger has
the benet of being a Mini test engineer for chassis and
suspensionoh, and a professional racing driver who has piloted
Minis (and other cars) at the Nrburgrings twenty-four-hour race.
The fact that you can carry big drift angles on a wet racetrack
probably wont be a primary criterion for Countryman shoppers.
Instead, Minis managers say these customers are looking for more
interior and cargo space. Previously, they had to leave the Mini
brand to get itwhich might have been ne if most of them were
marching across the street to their BMW dealer, but too many
were wandering o to other manufacturers. Whether you think
the big Mini is a major mistake or a big idea, thats the reason its
here. And once the Countryman reaches showrooms, its expected
that the biggest Mini will account for the second-biggest share of
the brands sales (after the traditional hatchback). Joe Lorio
46 Automobile | August 2010
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LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY
F YOU THOUGHT Inniti was
going to abandon the full-size luxury
SUV segment just because most
people are segueing toward smaller,
more fuel-e cient, less ostentatious
crossovers, think again: the smell of
money is in the air.
Ben Poore, vice president of Inniti
Americas, explains: The bling-bling
buyers have left the segment, leaving
families. Rich families at that, he adds:
Our QX buyers are the wealthiest
Inniti customers: many pay cash,
55 percent of them have another luxury
vehicle in their garage, and a lot of them
tow boats and horse trailers. Our biggest
market, he continues, is Long Island,
and Dallas and Houston are also
growing. Which leads us to conclude
that the Inniti
QX56 is the
o cial vehicle
of the Real
Housewives of
East Hampton,
Preston Hollow,
and River Oaks.
But those gals
still like their
bling, dont they? Lucky for them, the
new QX56 has plenty.
Lets start with the cabin, which is
slightly narrower than the outgoing
QX56s because the new QX is based on
the Nissan Patrol (not sold here) rather

The fender vents are


not pretty, but at
least the one on the
drivers side actually
funnels air to the big,
400-hp, 5.6-liter V-8.
These twenty-two-
inch wheels are
optional; twenties
are standard.
than the Armada. This interior has an attention to design detail
and material nish that rivals Lexus and even Land Rover. The
steering wheel gets a rich helping of wood and hide, the front
seats are deserving of the most discerning derrieres, and the
center stack is framed by two stitched-leather goalposts. A center
console between the heatable second-row buckets (a second-row
bench that adds an eighth seat is a no-cost option) is big enough
to hold all the detritus that Real Children must tote, and a new
tri-zone climate-control system improves airow for second- and
third-row passengersa nod to the Middle East, where the QX56
is popular. Innitis Around View Monitor, a series of cameras
that project a 360-degree view of the immediate surroundings
onto the dash, is crucial not only for Real Husbands to back up to
boat trailers but also for Real Housewives to slip into tight
parking spots when theyre late for mani/pedi appointments.
2011
Inniti QX56 Keeping it real.
48 Automobile | August 2010
The Specs //
ON SALE: August
PRICE: $57,650/$60,750
(RWD/4WD)
ENGINE: 5.6L V-8,
400 hp, 413 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear- or 4-wheel
Not that the QX56 should be a late
arrival anywhere, since its 5.6-liter
V-8mated to a new seven-speed
automaticis now the modern unit from
the 2011 M56 sedan rather than the old
truck engine. With this direct-injected

With the second-


and third-row seats
folded, theres
95.1 cubic feet of
cargo space. Ceiling
air vents have
moved to the outer
edges for better
airow. The second-
row center console
is a great toy box.
In Innitis new Hydraulic Body Motion
Control system, part of the $5800 deluxe
touring package, the upper chambers of
the dampers on one side of the vehicle are
cross-linked to lower chambers on the
other side, and vice versa. This creates
counteracting forces to resist body lean,
minimize roll, and reduce head toss for
rear-seat occupants, thereby curtailing
motion sickness. QX56s thus equipped
have no antiroll bars, so another benet is
greater wheel articulation over rough
terrain, in the unlikely event that a QX56
owner should engage low range on the
optional four-wheel-drive system and go
off-roading.

Since the new QX56 is based on the Nissan


Patrol rather than the Armada, its slightly
narrower inside, but with 168 cubic feet
of interior space, its hardly small.
mill under its expansive hood, the 5850-pound QX56 (down 161
pounds) can denitely move. The tow rating is 8500 pounds, and
EPA fuel economy now inches toward respectability, at 14 mpg
city, 20 mpg highway, and 16 mpg combined. Executive summary:
The responsive V-8, the rigid body-on-frame structure, and the
well-insulated interior are impressive. Steering thats reasonably
precise but devoid of feedback is less so.
Perhaps the coolest feature is at once both an indulgence and
a potential lifesaver. Connect an air hose to the QX56s standard
twenty-inch or optional twenty-two-inch tires and start pumping.
When the tire pressure approaches the correct level, the hazard
lights ash; when the correct pressure is reached, the horn
sounds. If the tire is overinated, the system works in reverse as
you bleed out air. This is a Really Good Idea that needs to trickle
down into cars that Real People drive. Joe DeMatio
50 Automobile | August 2010
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ALTON, VIRGINIA
HEVROLET HASN T
acknowledged its existence, but
the engineers at Fords Special
Vehicle Team know that a
supercharged Chevrolet Camaro Z28 is on
its way. That car could be the rst direct
competitor to the Ford Shelby GT500, as
its closest competitors today either come
up short on horsepower (Dodge Challenger
SRT8, Camaro
SS) or t into
an entirely
dierent class of
car (Chevrolet
Corvette). To
combat the
Camaro Z28
even before it
arrives, Ford has
freshened its
hottest Mustang, making it a leaner, more
powerful, and more agile muscle car.
The biggest change comes as a result
of switching from iron to aluminum for
the 5.4-liter V-8 engine block. The switch
is more dramatic, both on the spec sheet
and from behind the wheel, than you
might think. Ford claims a substantial
weight savings of 102 pounds versus the
old iron block, which clearly was carrying some unnecessary
mass. Power climbs ten ponies to 550 hp, and torque is unchanged
at 510 lb-ft. Fuel economy rises 1 mpg both in the city and on the
highway (to 15/23 mpg), which allows the GT500 to escape the
gas-guzzler tax that ensnared last years car.
A new $3495 performance package lowers the car 0.4 inch in
front and 0.3 inch in the rear and features springs that are some
twenty percent stier in front and ten percent stier in back. It
also includes a shorter, 3.73:1 nal-drive ratio; a Gurney ap on
the spoiler; and forged aluminum wheels measuring nineteen
inches in front and twenty inches in back. The gorgeous,
graphite-nish wheels are wrapped in Goodyears new Eagle F1
Supercar G:2 summer tires.
J
U
L
I
A

L
A
P
A
L
M
E
Driven
52 Automobile | August 2010
The Specs //
ON SALE: Now
PRICE:
$49,495/$54,495
(coupe/convertible)
ENGINE: 5.4L
supercharged V-8,
550 hp, 510 lb-ft
DRIVE: Rear-wheel

The switch from iron


to aluminum for the
engine block makes
the supercharged
5.4-liter 102 pounds
lighter than last
years powerplant.
2011
Ford Shelby GT500
Watch out, Camaro Z28.
We were given the opportunity to drive
the 2011 Shelby GT500 against the 2010
car back-to-back on Virginia International
Raceways full 3.3-mile course. It wasnt an
apples-to-apples comparison, as the 2011
GT500s were equipped with performance
packages, an option that wasnt oered in
2010. Still, the track time highlighted how
removing weight from the front end has
altered the Shelbys character. The 2010
car is signicantly more sensitive to how
its driven. Trail brake or get on the
throttle too early, and its happy to wag its
tail. Take a corner too fast, and the
nose-heavy machine will plow toward the
outside of the turn. Its certainly
manageable behavior, but it takes patience
and experience to learn exactly how to
control this snake. The 2011 car, on the
other hand, is much more neutral,
requiring more deliberate or more
ham-sted inputs to break its composure.
The new car also stays much more stable
and level over VIRs esses and their
unsettling camber changes.
As with all 2011 Mustangs, the Shelby
switches from hydraulic steering assist to
an electric motor mounted on the steering
rack. The feel isnt quite as connected
when youre unwinding the wheel, but its
still a calibration that builds eort
naturally and communicates nuances in
the road. Most frustrating is the lack of a
telescoping column.
The engines power is predictably
awesome. Ford claims that 80 percent of
peak torque is available from 1750 to
6250 rpm. Despite that wide band,
changing gears is inevitable, so wed
appreciate a lighter shift eort from the
six-speed manual. To publicize the engines
authority, Ford has switched the exhaust
system from an X-pipe to an H-pipe
conguration, and the plumbing has
increased a quarter of an inch to a 2.8-inch
diameter. The result is a note thats just as
raucous as before but oers more burbles
and snaps for a livelier personality.
The changes made by Fords Special
Vehicle Team are quite subtle on the spec
sheet and from outside the car. But from
the drivers seat, they add up to a
substantial dierence that makes the
GT500s capabilities more accessible and
its handling more predictable. Topped
with the cherry of a more aggressive
exhaust note, the 2011 Ford Shelby GT500
is a truly meaningful enhancement. Bring
on the Z28, Chevy. Eric Tingwall
By Georg Kacher | Photography by Mark Bramley
Despite these conceptual similarities,
the way the two cars look, sound, and drive
could hardly be more dierent. From a
performance point of view, they are so
close that the virtual stopwatch inside
your head struggles to declare a winner,
but at the end of a long day and an even
longer night in and around Frankfurt, Ger-
many, one supercar turned out to be frac-
tionally more desirable than the other.
Even when these testosterone-laden
machines tiptoe through the narrow vil-
lage streets of the picturesque Odenwald
forest region in fourth gear, they come
close to doing serious decibel damage.
While the high-pitched voice of the Lexus
is a constant threat to tired windowpanes,
the densely packed roar of the Mercedes
puts loose plaster to a real test. Downshift
to second gear, and youll make cats arch
their backs and dogs bark and bristle.
The insane intonations of raw power
coming from the LFA are particularly dis-
tinct. Redlined at 9000 rpm, where the
electronic tachometer changes color from
snow white to devil red, the V-10 sounds as
shrill as a MotoGP bike or a Formula 1
racer. When the wide white wedge ap-
pears on the horizon, bystanders pull out
their mobile phones, both to freeze-frame
one of Europes rarest sports cars and to
capture its spine-tingling sound track. In
tunnels, other drivers inadvertently step
on their brakes when the Lexus pilot oors
the loud pedal, because the xenon-eyed
noiseball in their rearview mirror sounds
and looks like a UFO heralding the end of
the world.
The SLS strikes a chord more minor
than major, all bass not tenor, roaring tiger
rather than howling wolf. While the LFA
misses no opportunity to launch its shriek-
ing, high-pitched backup choir, the car
from Stuttgart loves to indulge in a simu-
lated part-throttle misre that blat-blats
like a highly tuned American muscle car
from the 1960s.
The transmissions tted to our two
warriors are far apart in both concept and
personality. Mercedes pairs its V-8 with a
seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic that
reduces power interruption during full-
throttle upshifts to virtually zero. There
are four shift patterns to choose from: C
for controlled e ciency, S for sport, S+ for
sport plus, and M for manual. In S+, the
black box automatically blips the throttle
during downshifts, holds the gear through
fast corners, downshifts early, and upshifts
late. We tried the manual mode for the
rst part of the route but found no real
need to work the steering-wheel-mounted
paddles, because in S and S+, one step on
the throttle is all it takes to summon a
lower ratio. The interaction is beautifully
intuitive and sensationally speedy.
There is no doubt that the single clutch
that drives the six-speed automated man-
ual transmission is the Achilles heel of the
Lexus. Gearchanges are controlled via pad-
dles attached to the steering column, where
you can nd them even with the wheel at
full lock. There are four available shift pat-
terns: Auto, Sport, Norm, and Wet. Auto is
slow, jerky, and out of sync with the cars
focused dynamics. Norm is exactly that
normalso we found ourselves driving in
Sport most of the time. To complicate mat-
ters, theres a choice of seven dierent shift
speeds ranging from a whiplash 0.2 second
to an almost lethargic full-second gear
swap that still cant match the smoothness
of the Mercedes.
Nice touches include a tachometer that
changes color from black to white as soon
as you activate sport mode and paddles
with contrasting shift weights: its feather-
light for upshifts, but downshifts require a
high-eort tug. So far, so good. Unfortu-
nately, the mechanical execution isnt in
line with the brands premium-quality, to-
tal-functionality image. O-the-line clutch
engagement varies from rough on level
surfaces to wah-wah wailing on inclines.
HE LEXUS LFA AND the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG are about as dierent in approach
and ability as a muscular sprinter is from a sinewy long-distance runner. Its a clash of
characters along the lines of a Suzuki Hayabusa sportbike taking on a BMW K1300S, a
Moog synthesizer compared with a Steinway piano, or techno music as opposed to
Beethoven. This is a little surprising when one compares the almost identical DNA of the
two supercoupes. Both cars are front-engined; are powered by high-revving, normally
aspirated engines; feature a well-balanced transaxle layout; rely on lightweight body
structures; and make do with nonadjustable suspension and steering setups.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 55
Like the Nissan GT-R, the LFA struggles
through tight and slow uphill bends, where
torque delivery is anything but smooth.
There is a fair bit of clickety-clonk noise in-
volved, too, and the occasional whi of
overheated friction material wafts through
the cabin. Maneuvering the Lexus is remi-
niscent of driving Ferraris with early F1
automated manual gearboxes. To switch
from drive to reverse, you must rst pull
both paddles to engage neutral and then
reach for a small toggle to the
left of the instrument panel to
trigger a change of direction.
Dont rush, or youll have to re-
peat the sequence even if tra c
is rapidly approaching.
The SLS boasts a small joy-
stick-type drive-by-wire gear se-
lector with a squared-o T-han-
dle instead of a conventional
transmission lever. To engage re-
verse, push the handle forward,
pull it back to engage drive, and
hit the button marked P to lock
the wheels. Angled to the left is
the AMG Drive Unit that is also
found in the SL63 and the E63.
The keyboard contains ve
round buttons that control trans-
mission mode, engine start/stop, stability
control, the rear wing, and AMG (to store
your favorite settings). Last but not least,
theres the familiar Comand system that
provides access to communication, naviga-
tion, and entertainment functions. A similar
setup can be found in the LFA.
As in other AMG cars, the SLS oers
performance-oriented in-dash readouts
for coolant, engine-oil, and gearbox-oil
temperatures; the stability control setting;
and the most recent lap and trip times.
Above the two large main circular gauges
are LED shift lights with one amber warn-
ing at 6900 rpm and two red dots that
come on at 7100 and 7200 rpm, but only in
manual mode.
The LFA cockpit looks and feels even
more special than the cabin of the SLS.
The starter button is conveniently placed
on the carbon-ber steering wheel, which
boasts a squared-o bottom and two broad
horizontal spokes with thumb rests. The
LCD instrumentation features a large,
round rev counter, a relatively small digi-
tal speedometer, and your choice of sec-
ondary readouts. You can summon the
fuel, oil, and water gauges as well as a trip
The modern Gullwings somewhat cramped cabin includes lovely materials, controls for
Mercedes-Benzs rst dual-clutch automatic transmission, and design elements inspired by
aircraft. An eleven-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and carbon-ber trim are optional.
The SLS AMGs top speed is 317 kph (197 mph). So how did our photographer snap a shot at
360 kph? Its not Photoshop trickerythe speedometer needle pegs itself when you turn on the
cars ignition. The wing on the trunk lid automatically raises at 75 mph or at the touch of a
button. The 6.2-liter V-8 is mounted almost completely behind the front axle.
56 Automobile | August 2010
computer, a lap timer, a tire-pressure mon-
itor, and more. The seats are comfortable,
supportive, and generously adjustable.
Subjectively at least, the LFA feels a lit-
tle roomier than the SLS, which combines
C-class-style switchgear with instruments
that are unique to the model, plenty of
leather, and a high level of t and nish.
The gull-wing doors are true attention
grabbers, but theyre no more practical
than the front-hinged apertures preferred
by Lexus. In both cars, a glance
in the mirror at autobahn speeds
gives you a look at an imposing
tail wing that extends automati-
cally to increase downforce and
stability. The luggage compart-
ment of the Mercedes holds a
fairly useful 6.2 cubic feet , but
Lexus doesnt bother to quote a
number for the LFA. The LFA
tips the scales at 3460 pounds;
the heavier SLS has a curb
weight of 3573 pounds .
We aimed for Karlsruhe on
the A5 autobahn, which typi-
cally is 150-mph-plus terrain
but not today. Road construc-
tion, speed limits, and congestion
slowed us down to 100 mph
most of the way. Only twice was there an
opportunity to knock on 150 mph, and we
never saw the LFAs claimed 202-mph top
speed, nor the 197 mph the SLS is report-
edly capable of reaching. But having driven
both vehicles on prior occasions, I know
that the Lexus takes a little longer than the
Mercedes to reach its terminal velocity. We
can also conrm that the Benzs displace-
ment advantage6.2 liters versus 4.8 li-
tersand its 479 lb-ft of torque versus the
LFAs 354 lb-ft give the German contender
a noticeable edge when it comes to mid-
range acceleration. This impression is re-
ected by the torque peaks, which occur at
a lofty 6800 rpm in the LFA and 4750 rpm
in its rival.
Without question, Lexuss V-10 needs
to be revved much harder than the AMG
V-8 to deliver, which takes some getting
used to. Even at a yelling 6000 rpm, youre
only two-thirds of the way to the LFAs rev
limiter, and the inferno becomes more in-
tense with every incremental 1000 rpm.
The AMG V-8 is redlined at 7200 rpm, but
the last few hundred revs seem to do more
for your ears than for forward progress.
Although the winding roads through
Not only does the LFAs interior feel more spacious than the SLSs, it also looks and feels more special.
If occupants, seated in their cocoonlike chairs, somehow get sick of hearing the high-strung V-10, an
optional twelve-speaker Mark Levinson stereo can ood the cabin with sound. The LFAs taller wing
deploys at 50 mph; it can be raised with a switch, too, but only when the car is parked. An LCD gauge
cluster offers drivers lots of information, but the tachometer always dominates. Like the Benzs
powerplant, the Lexus V-10 utilizes dry-sump lubrication to allow it to be placed lower in the car. Despite
its two extra cylinders, the LFAs engine displaces 23 percent fewer cubic centimeters.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 57
PRICE $183,000
ENGINE 32-valve DOHC V-8
DISPLACEMENT 6.2 liters (379 cu in)
HORSEPOWER 563 hp @ 6800 rpm
TORQUE 479 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
DRIVE Rear-wheel
STEERING Hydraulically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Control arms, coil springs
BRAKES Vented discs, ABS
TIRES Continental ContiSportContact 5P
TIRE SIZE F, R 265/35YR-19, 295/30YR-20
L x W x H 182.6 x 76.3 x 49.3 in
WHEELBASE 105.5 in
TRACK F/R 66.2/65.0 in
WEIGHT 3573 lb
EPA MILEAGE 14/20 mpg
The SLS is a powerboat for the road, a mighty
mauler that evokes fond memories of a brands
glorious past. The LFA is heart-stoppingly
pretty and very nicely put together, a street
racer for track days and early mornings.
ACCELERATION
060 mph 3.8 sec
0100 7.7
0110 9.1
0120 10.6
0130 12.4
0140 14.5
1/4mile 11.7 sec @
127 mph
BRAKING
700 mph 152 ft
CORNERING
L 0.98 g
R 1.02
SPEED IN GEARS
1 47 mph
2 73
3 98
4 124
5 155
6 190
7 197
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PRICE $375,000
ENGINE 40-valve DOHC V-10
DISPLACEMENT 4.8 liters (293 cu in)
HORSEPOWER 553 hp @ 8700 rpm
TORQUE 354 lb-ft @ 6800 rpm
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automated manual
DRIVE Rear-wheel
STEERING Electrically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR Multilink, coil springs
BRAKES Carbon-ceramic vented discs, ABS
TIRES Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
TIRE SIZE F, R 265/35YR-20, 305/30YR-20
L x W x H 177.0 x 74.6 x 48.0 in
WHEELBASE 102.6 in
TRACK F/R 62.2/61.8 in
WEIGHT 3460 lb
FUEL MILEAGE 13/19 mpg (est.)
ACCELERATION
060 mph 3.9 sec
0100 8.0
0110 9.7
0120 11.2
0130 13.1
0140 15.6
1/4mile 11.8 sec @
126 mph
BRAKING
700 mph 154 ft
CORNERING
L 1.04 g
R 1.06
SPEED IN GEARS
1 51 mph
2 75
3 102
4 133
5 169
6 202
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the Odenwald are pure bliss for commit-
ted drivers, the speed on the best bits is re-
stricted either by law or by heavy tra c. In
this roller-coaster habitat, where tight
radii and narrow blacktop prevail, the
Lexus benets from its more compact di-
mensions and lighter weight. The Mer-
cedes is not only a touch wider and a sub-
stantial 5.2 inches longer, it also has a
phallic snout that positions the driver far-
ther back in the aluminum spaceframe
cradle. In the carbon-ber Lexus, you sit
between the axles and are thus closer to
the front wheels, which supports the butt-
to-brain interface. The front/rear weight
distribution is almost identical: 48/52 per-
cent in the Lexus, 47/53 in the SLS.
In our tests, these two supercars are
separated by one-tenth of a second in the
0-to-60-mph sprint, where red eclipses
white by completing the task in 3.8 versus
3.9 seconds. In actuality, its all down to
tire wear, tire temperature, surface quality,
and launch success. Both vehicles must
shift once before they exceed the 60-mph
mark, and even after a dozen or so full-
throttle side-by-side sprints, the results
were pretty much a dead heat.
The electrically assisted power steering
of the Lexus takes 2.4 turns from lock-to-
lock, about 0.4 turn less than the hydrauli-
cally boosted rack-and-pinion device tted
to the Benz. The helm of the LFA feels light
and communicative, quick and responsive.
The SLS has meatier steering, with slightly
stronger self-centering action, but turn-in
is equally attentive and feedback doesnt
deteriorate on poor tarmac or when you
wind on more lock. Both stability control
systems oer an intermediate sport set-
tingthe Lexus setting deactivates traction
control; the Mercedes raises the interven-
tion threshold. On public roads, thats all it
takes for a gentle nudge of power oversteer
at the exit of an open bend.
On the track, you can remove the safety
net completely, thereby clearing the stage
for tail slides lurid enough to qualify for
the next national drift challenge. In the
LFA, the steering makes the car feel light
and nimble and chuckable, but even the
heaviest right foot must rst get used to
the sky-high revs required to smoke the
tires. In the SLS, the balance between
steering and throttle is more natural and
better weighted. At very high velocities,
the Gullwing needs fewer corrections to
maintain a steady line, but it is more easily
irritated by long undulations and sharp ex-
pansion joints.
With some 5700 miles on the odometer
and a long weekend at the Nrburgring
Nordschleife under its belt, our preproduc-
tion Lexus felt a little loose and tired. Al-
though tted with standard carbon-
ceramic discs, it could have done with fresh
brake pads to smooth the grinding noises
and the rather rough response. The SLS
was also equipped with carbon-ceramic
brake rotorsoptional in its casewhich
decelerate the coupe about as eectively as
the thrust reverser of a jet engine. But its
not only the sheer stopping power that im-
presses, its also how the car copes with
split-friction turf, hot brake discs, and wet
pavement. Despite its substantial size and
weight, the SLS will actually outcorner
most other sports cars on the planet. Al-
though the numbers may tell a dierent
story, the commendably progressive SLS
feels as though it pulls more lateral gs than
the LFA, which is hindered by a slight front-
to-rear grip imbalance and a more brittle
suspension. On the racetrack, this is rarely
an issue. But through patchwork corners,
An academic one-tenth of a second separates
the two cars in the 0-to-60-mph sprint.
60 Automobile | August 2010
the Lexus feels busier, more nervous, and
less stable. In these conditions, which can
also apply on ancient autobahn sections, a
little more compliance would probably
make a big dierence.
The city center of Frankfurt is crammed
with towering glass cubes built by the
banks before Mr. Lehman fell ill and in-
fected his brothers. In the early hours of
the morning, the streets around the main
station were still busy with amber taxis
chasing late baries, with blue-over-silver
police cars on the prowl, and with two out-
of-place supercoupes worth a combined
$560,000. We were looking for bright neon
lights, colorful cliques, and cheerful ad-
mirers for that nal bit of metropolitan ac-
tion. It didnt take more than a pair of open
gull-wing doors and an impromptu V-10
concerto to draw a very mixed crowd of
scantily dressed ladies and chain-smoking
scarfaces who probably never remove
their sunglasses or their shiny jewelry.
There wasnt an LFA customer in
sightthey were presumably in a far less
seedy part of townbecause Lexus
screened all interested parties before al-
lowing them to sign a two-year lease con-
tract. When the lease expires, the lucky
500 will be allowed to purchase the vehi-
cles, a move that might delay gray-market
action but wont prevent it. There might
be the odd drug baron or the occasional
Lolita merchant among the 500 or so SLS
clients Mercedes intends to serve this year,
but since the car is sold out globally deep
into 2011, getting one quickly will likely
cost you dearly.
Before we headed for the hotel at 4:30
in the morning, we took every opportunity
to evaluate, test, savor, sample, and then
decide. So, what would I buy if I had the
means and the choicethe 553-hp Lexus
or the 563-hp Mercedes?
The LFA is a limited-edition, high-tech
item that is heart-stoppingly pretty and
very nicely put together, a street racer for
track days and early Sunday mornings.
The SLS is a powerboat for the road, a
mighty mauler that evokes fond memories
of a brands glorious past, a surprisingly
practical and highly visible tool for the
dedicated driver. Both cars are honest and
straightforward, classy and competent, in-
triguing in the way they present them-
selves and perform, dynamically focused,
and deeply rewarding. The nal choice
could come down to personal preferences,
such as the more modern Lexus exterior
and interior or the more practical packag-
ing of the Mercedes.
But as should be the case when you
compare two such evenly matched ma-
chines, the real deciding factor hides be-
neath the skin. The Lexus LFA is let down
by its transmission, and it is, albeit to a
lesser extent, handicapped by the need to
rev its melodious engine to more atten-
tion-getting volumes than the more re-
laxed, bigger-bore V-8 . In all other depart-
ments, its a very close decision. I could
quite easily live with the LFAs less com-
pliant suspension, and if this was toy num-
ber six or seven, even the screaming en-
gine wouldnt matter that much. But the
clutch does, because its at odds with what
the halo car of the brand should deliver:
ultimate quality in every respect. The Mer-
cedes-Benz SLS AMG, on the other hand,
establishes a credible link to its makers F1
and DTM racing eorts. And it proves,
fty-six years after the original Gullwing
and only weeks after the nal production
run of the SLR McLaren, that Mercedes
still knows how to make a supercar. AM
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 61
Photography by Brian Konoske
64 Automobile | August 2010
However, as much as I admire
Fox Racing suspension compo-
nents, ared fenders, and mas-
sive o-road tires, youve got to
admit that the Raptors talents
are on the esoteric side. O-road-
ing is a pretty niche hobby in the rst place (despite
what Land Rover and Jeep would have you believe),
and the F-150 SVT Raptor is designed for a specic
kind of o-roadinghigh-speed desert-running. And
who really does that on a regular basis?
The U.S. Border Patrol, thats who. Most of the
U.S./Mexico border is an arbitrary line across the des-
ert, and we havent gotten around to paving much of it.
Which means that the people tasked with patrolling
that border are basically professional o-roaders. They
might see pavement in the morning when they leave
the house and again when they head home, but in the
interim theyre driving across dunes, hard-packed
sand, and dry riverbedsbasically prerunning the Baja
1000, 365 days a year. These people need Raptors.
Unfortunately for them, they dont have any. Yet.
Without getting into the arcane details of government
procurement procedures, it seems that there was some
kind of a problem with the Raptors leather interior
the gubmint couldnt buy trucks with fancy cowskins
inside, and Ford didnt build Raptors any other way.
They got the situation resolved, and a batch of Raptors
are destined for the Border Patrol. But the Yuma
County Sheris Department is one step ahead.
Soon after the Raptor hit the street, Major Leon
Wilmot of the Yuma County SD caught a look at it
running Baja on TV. I said, Weve got to get one of
those, Wilmot recalls. So he wrassled up some
Department of Homeland Security dollars through a
program called Operation Stonegarden and made it
happen. The Yuma sector of the U.S. Border Patrol has
six more Raptors on the way, but at the moment, the
Yuma sheri has the only one, the baddest police truck
north of San Luis Ro Colorado.
Which is actually where I nd myself at the mo-
ment, driving beside the longest fence youve ever
seen, accompanied by Wilmot and a former narcotics
o cer named Jimmy. Id contacted Wilmot a few
weeks before to see if I could accompany the Yuma
police Raptor on desert border patrol. In the interim,
Arizona passed a mildly controversial immigration law
that you may have heard about. So its an interesting
time to be on border patrol in Arizona.
Now, on any mission that includes the possibility
of shoot-outs and bandits, youve got to choose the
proper equipment. To that end, I paid careful attention
to my choice of vehicle. The only way I could keep up
with a Raptor, I reasoned, was with another Raptor.
So thats what Ive gota 5.4-liter V-8 model in an
orange-red hue that is approximately the color of a
ost right-minded people agr that the Ford Raptor is a swt ride.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 65
nuclear explosion. We wont be sneaking
up on anybody.
Truck cred established, I was still wor-
ried that the Yuma cops would perceive
me as some kind of East Coast city slicker
who wouldnt know a rattlesnake from a
bolo tie. So I bought a cowboy hat at a
Yuma gas station (in Yuma, you can buy
cowboy hats at gas stations), and Ive got
my aviator sunglasses, which Jimmy ap-
provingly refers to as cop shades. Finally,
knowing that my hairless upper lip wont
cut it out here, Ive brought prosthetic as-
sistancean array of Mustache Party
brand fake mustaches. The Bandit model,
in particular, nicely complements my cop
shades and cowboy hat. I feel like I want to
draw on someone, shoot the gun out of his
hand, and then say, I was justied.
Too bad the paperwork I lled out back
at the station explicitly prohibits civilians
from packing weapons in police cars. So I
dont have a gun, although I did look into
getting onea local dealer boasts that it
specializes in politically incorrect black
guns with extended magazines. Damn
straight. Yuma isnt buying those new po-
litically correct guns, with their recycled
bamboo stocks and fair-trade ammo.
In any case, it appears that the Yuma
police Raptor is all set when it comes to
repower. Im in the passenger seat, and
behind me is a vertical rack that holds a
semiautomatic .223 rie. Riding shotgun
to the rie: a shotgun. Perhaps more
important than both, the trucks radio
system can summon the mighty ordnance
of the U.S. government. Apache attack
helicopter, anyone?
But in the Grand Theft Auto hijinks of
the Mexican/American border, even an
Apache might not save the day. Before the
fence went up, Wilmot says, there was a
big problem with tractor theft. The farms
go right down to the border, and the
farmers leave their tractors out in the elds
at night. This led to problems, because
what a tractor lacks in speed, it makes up
for with a certain unstoppability. We had
an Apache y down and get right in front
of a stolen tractor that was heading for
Mexico, but he wouldnt stop. He was
going to ram the helicopter, so they had to
let him go. Tractor chicken? Apparently,
Mexican farm-equipment thieves take
their cues from the iconic Kevin Bacon
lm Footloose.
Right now, were close to civilization.
San Luis splits the border, with most of the
town on the Mexican sidewhich is a
problem, because the people on the south
side of town are not huge fans of the
Border Patrol. Thats why the trucks down
here have some extra modications.
I want to show you a War Wagon,
Wilmot says as we cut down toward the
Colorado River. Jimmy and photographer
Brian Konoske follow in the civilian
Raptor. Wind whips the dust in thick
clouds, pasting everything with grit.
Parked in the middle of this tableau is a
Border Patrol Chevy Silverado 2500 with
metal grates and mesh over the windshield
and side glass.
People throw things over the fence,
explains the major. Like rocks.
And dirty diapers, says Jimmy.
And balloons lled with chicken
blood, adds the Border Patrol guy sta-
tioned here. The wind whips the sand into
my eyes, nose, and ears. A portable light
tower rests nearby, awaiting nightfall. Its
called the Nightbuster 4000. I imagine its
probably a big step up from the Night-
buster 3000. Just the thing to spot those
incoming chicken-blood balloons. Maybe
later they can use it to look for Konoskes
hat, which the wind rips o his head and
tosses straight into Mexico, providing a
nice moment of levity for everyone.
As charming as San Luis is, we havent
really seen the Raptor in action yet, so Im
itching to hit more rural terrain. We dont
have to go far. As we head east out of town,
the fence on our right, the graded dirt road
morphs into pure desert. There are tire
tracks, but this isnt what youd call a road.
Nonetheless, we fall into an easy 60-mph
cruise. To our right, we can see tra c on
Mexicos Highway 2, just a couple hundred
yards away. Were keeping pace, even
though we dont have the benet of a road.
This is the Raptor in its element.
With our other trucks, were tearing
up shocks, suspension, skid plates, Wilmot
says. The Raptor, though, is designed
Clockwise from right: A safety beacon
out in the far reaches of the desert;
evidently, Mazda sedans are not ideal
off-road vehicles; Wilmot breaks out the
binoculars; the Raptors police livery.
66 Automobile | August 2010
precisely for this missionhigh-speed
desert recon. In fact, deputies take an o-
road driving class where they learn how to
take advantage of the Raptors o-road
talents, preferably without destroying it.
We call this truck the career-ender,
Wilmot says. You mess this thing up
your careers over.
We keep heading east, deep onto the
Barry M. Goldwater Range. Wilmots map
of the area points out that there are a few
hazards for travelers around here. For one
thing, the average high temperature in the
summer is about 105 degrees. Also, un-
exploded warheads litter the area (a photo
on the map shows what looks like a small
missile stuck in the side of a cactus). And
there are abandoned mines, scant fresh
water, and, of course, a colorful variety of
on-the-go drug smugglers, human traf-
ckers, and other neer-do-wells. Further,
the map warns that, If a road is impassable
because of ooding, mud, moon dust, or a
lawful closure, turn back. Thats right,
moon dust. Did I mention that the main
thoroughfare through this terrain is a trail
called El Camino Del Diablo, or The
Highway of the Devil? Well, it is.
But were on no highway whatsoever
when we come to the burnt-out hulk of a
car sinking into a dune. Based on the shape
of the rooine, I guess that its a Dodge
Shadow, but whats left of the engine
indicates that its a Mazda. Probably an old
626. I ask the major how a car got out here.
Well, before there was a fence, people
would just drive in from Mexico, he says.
And, if they were driving a Mazda 626
through the desert, apparently they would
not get very far.
Believe it or not, cars still manage to get
through the barrier. Theyll park a car
carrier on the other side of the fence and
use it as a bridge to drive over the top,
Jimmy says. That strikes me as pretty
ballsy, but its far from the only trick.
Theyll come out with a welder and cut a
door into the fence, complete with hinges,
Wilmot says. Weve seen them remove a
real Normandy barrier and replace it with
a Styrofoam look-alike, so they
can just move it aside whenever
they want.
Getting past the fence on
foot is much more straightfor-
ward, but out here, the question
becomes: then what? Youre
miles and miles from anything.
This area is so remote that there
are actually safety beacons scat-
tered around the range, intended for Mex-
icans whove decided that its better to get
arrested than die of heatstroke. The bea-
cons feature a big button that you push to
alert the authorities, but even then a sign
warns that it could be an hour before any-
one shows up.
I suspect that the law would get there
sooner than that, though. As we approach
what is evidently a new area, a Border Pa-
trol truck comes roaring toward us. We
mustve tripped a sensor, says Wilmot. I
ask what kind of sensor we mightve
tripped. He doesnt elaborate. When the
Border Patrol o cer pulls alongside, he
gets out to scope the Raptor. This things
a mule, he says, gesturing to his Silverado.
It doesnt have as much power as the
2006s we had. Im guessing that the older
trucks had the discontinued 8.1-liter big-
block, which put out 330 hp and, more im-
portant, 450 lb-ft of torque. The new
6.0-liter makes 360 hp but signicantly
less torque. Which must make a dierence
when youre slogging through sand dunes
Top: The Operation Stonegarden Raptor runs
alongside the fence. Above: An unusual sight out on
the dunesa rearview mirror lled with police truck.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 67
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all day with an air-conditioned jail stuck
in the pickup bed.
Greetings concluded, we continue on
our way, again at a high rate of speed. Ive
taken the wheel of our civilian Raptor
(probably to Jimmys dismay, since he
seemed to be enjoying it) and nd my-
self amazed at the ease with which this
thing soaks up inch-worthy obstacles
you keep inching, but then it just glides
on its way. You start to feel invincible. And
thats always a bad way to feel, in the long
run. Soon enough, I go too hot o a whoop
and bottom out the skid plate with a verte-
brae-rearranging crash. When you manage
to bottom the suspension on a Raptor, you
need to take a time-out to contemplate the
law of gravity and how it applies to a
6000-pound truck, tricked-out suspension
or not. We stop for a break, and Jimmy and
the major hold court on the topic of cut-
ting sign.
Cutting sign is the lingo for tracking
footprints. Its a big part of border patrol
work. The Stonegarden Raptor has LED
lights under the running boards that shine
down at an angle, illuminating footprints
in the sand. Of course, once you nd some
footprints, the truck also has a FLIRFor-
ward Looking Infrarednight-vision dis-
play built into the passenger-side sun visor.
(Yo, dawg, I pimped your Department of
Homeland Security vehicle so it can see in
the dark.) The Border Patrol trucks rou-
tinely drag tires along the fence, smooth-
ing out the sand so that any new footprints
will be instantly noticeable. Cutting sign
still sounds like an art, though. When you
rst learn how to do it, the old-timers
Even where the terrain is smooth, choking sandstorms
and blazing heat make the border brutal on trucks. The
Raptor has held up well enough that the Yuma County
Sheriffs Department just ordered a second one.
68 Automobile | August 2010
make you take o one of your boots,
Jimmy says. Then they carve your initial
in the heel, so youll know when youre
tracking yourself.
Of course, every action has a counter-
action. I say that Id get some deer hooves
and strap them to my feet. People strap
foam to their feet, Wilmot says. But you
can still track them. Jimmy tells a tale
about a deputy who took o his boot and
hopped from the fence o into the desert
to prank the Border Patrol guys, who set
o in pursuit of a one-legged illegal alien.
That sounds sort of like an urban legend,
but its still a funny image.
We continue, ever deeper into the des-
ert. The scrub brush and dunes give way to
low mountains, saguaro cacti, and a sprawl
of blooming owers. Its quite beautiful.
This would be a great place to go camping,
except for the whole unexploded ord-
nance/bandits/heatstroke thing. Were so
far out now that the Border Patrol trucks
we encounter are strictly diesel, because
theres nowhere to refuel. One Border Pa-
trol Ford F-250 Power Stroke that rumbles
past has remote-reservoir Fox Racing dam-
pers on the front axle, but a Raptor its not.
As it heads o over the washboard, I see
the cab shaking like an unbalanced wash-
ing machinewhich, according to the map,
itll be doing for quite some time. Were at
least forty miles from the nearest road.
Out here, the fence has gaps, since it
wouldve been impractical to build it over
the craggy mountains. I walk to the end
and peek around the corner, into Mexico.
I used to wonder why they bothered with
a fence if you can walk around it, Jimmy
says. But it keeps out vehicles. And it fun-
nels the people on foot into certain spots,
so theyre easy to track.
Maybe its hard to avoid getting caught
once youre on U.S. soil, but the act of get-
ting across seems pretty easyback by the
elds near the river, its about a one-
minute swim. So Im perplexed by stories
of how Mexicans pay thousands of dol-
larsfrom $1000 to $3000, according to
Wilmotfor smugglers to get them across.
Theyre not paying to get into the U.S.,
Wilmot says. Because the smugglers usu-
ally just bring them to the other side of the
river, rob them, then leave them to get ar-
rested. What theyre paying for is protec-
tion on the Mexican side, to cross in a par-
ticular guys territory. Well, that doesnt
sound like a great deal. OTMs pay even
more, he says. I ask what an OTM is.
Other Than Mexican. Chinese, South
Americans, anyone else trying to get across
the border.
To my relief, we encounter NOTA,
none of the aboveat least, not as far as we
know. All we saw down by the fence were
Border Patrol trucks, but it turns out that
the smugglers have a new trick: using
cloned Border Patrol trucks to drive into
the U.S. But for that ploy to work, their
trucks would have to match the ones that
the Border Patrol actually use. Which
means that the agents in the Yuma sector
probably arent the only ones waiting, im-
patiently, to get behind the wheel of the
fastest truck in the desert. AM
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 69
D
ECADES FROM NOW, when some
clever doctoral candidate writes his or,
more likely, her dissertation about the
history of women in sports, the 2010 Indianapolis
500 may be cited as a watershed moment.
The scene was Pole Day, a week before the
race. Shortly after a disappointing qualifying
eort, Danica Patrick complained about her
ill-handling car during an interview broadcast
over the trackside P.A. system. Patrick is racings
It Girl, the most recognized face and best-known
body in IndyCar racing, thanks to her exposure
in Sports Illustrateds swimsuit issue. Yet the
crowd responded by booing her lustily, with all
the bitterness of a jilted lover.
But that wasnt the watershed moment. No,
that came a few minutes later when a twenty-
one-year-old Swiss rookie by the name of
Simona De Silvestro outqualied Patrick for the
fth time in six IndyCar races this season despite
making her run in the heat of the afternoonthe
most diabolical conditions shed ever
experienced at racings most daunting circuit
and taking to the track immediately after the
previous driver had crashed during his run.
Simona De Silvestro
hopes to be the rst
female racer to make
people forget shes
not one of the boys.
By Preston Lerner
Photography by Tony Valainis
72 Automobile | August 2010
Think about the mental toughness that requires, her race en-
gineer Michael Cannon says. Wed drawn a terrible qualifying
position. It was hot. Another car had just splattered against the
wall. And were telling her to go at into turn 1230.5 mph before
turning in. Well, o she went. And qualied solidly at 224.228
mph. Shes bloody good, Cannon says in the teams garage in
Gasoline Alley, two days before the Indy 500. Id be very sur-
prised if she doesnt win championships.
De Silvestro is the anti-Danica, bubbly rather than sultry, a
tomboy rather than a sex kitten, less sizzle, more steak. Janet
Guthrie was the rst woman to race at Indy, back in 1977, and Lyn
Saint James carried the feminist torch during the 80s and 90s. In
2002, Sarah Fisher became the rst woman to qualify on the
pole for an IndyCar race. Then, two years ago, Patrick scored the
rst, and so far only, IndyCar win for a female driver. Now,
De Silvestrothe winningest female driver in Formula Atlantic
historyis poised to achieve the biggest rst of all: she could
become the rst female racer (outside of drag racing) whose
gender doesnt matter.
This isnt to say that De Silvestro is androgynous. Although its
often noted that her ears arent pierced, she seems like a perfectly
typical young woman who smiles a lot, laughs easily and often,
and can be girlishly silly. She shrieks when she spots a spider, and
shes seen the chick ick Twilight seven times. But what sets her
apart from those who came before her is that shes not a woman
racer who happens to be seriously quick. Shes a seriously quick
racer who happens to be a woman.
Before I worked with her, says her driver coach, Bob Perona,
I thought she was just another girl race car driver. After I started
working with her, I knew she was going to be very good. But shes
turned out to be great. Shes the whole package. Shes got the
talent. Shes got it mentally. Shes got it emotionally. I dont think
theres anything she cant do in a race car.
D
e Silvestro is one of those preternat-
urally gifted athletes who excel at
every sport they pick up. She won
her rst ski race when she was three, was a
top regional fencer at age four, and played
championship tennis not long after that.
Considering that motorsports were banned
in Switzerland in 1955, racing wouldnt have
seemed to be in her future. But her father,
Pierluigi, was a car dealer who also did driv-
ing instruction at tracks in Italy, France, and
Germany, and his daughter was born with
racing in her DNA.
When I was a baby, my dad says I was
quiet only when I watched Formula 1 on TV, she says. When I
was four, he did a go-kart demonstration, but I couldnt reach the
pedals, so I cried the whole day. By the time I was nine or ten, I
knew that racing was what I wanted to do, and my whole life has
been about it. Driving open-wheel race cars has always been my
goal. I really never had anything else in my head.
When she was seven, De Silvestro won the rst kart race she
enteredin the rain. When she was eleven, her father let her
drive his Porsche 911 GT3 at Hockenheim, sitting on a pillow, and
she got it up to 135 mph before he ordered her to slow down. At
sixteen, she graduated from karts to Italian Formula Renault. The
De Silvestros didnt have enough money to pay for a second
season in Europe, but with the help of friends, family, and an
American sponsor, they put together a Formula BMW program in
the United States.
At seventeen, halfway through the Swiss equivalent of high
school, De Silvestro moved to Indianapolis. She didnt know any-
body and barely spoke English. But she was already uent in the
language of speed. She won once, made the podium repeatedly, and
went into the last race of the season with a shot at the champion-
ship. The title eluded her, but her pace earned her a propitious
meeting with an entrepreneur by the name of Imran Saulla.
Saulla had been involved behind the scenes in open-wheel
racing for several years. But in De Silvestro, he saw a unique
opportunity to do something that had never been done before
orchestrate the career of a female driver who wasnt dened by her
gender. He became De Silvestros manager, big brother, benefactor,
deal broker, father gure, marketing maven, and moral compass.
Racing is dominated by alpha males, and it objecties women,
he says. When you see a woman in racing, shes usually in tight
knickers, holding an umbrella. Were not promoting a feminist
agenda, but were trying to promote gender equality. Danica has
opened the door, but shes chosen a path that, in my opinion, is
De Silvestro and
her father,
Pierluigi, who
perched his
daughter in his
lap for a spin in a
go-kart when she
was four. The
rst time she
drove herself, he
recalls, I was
astonished. Her
lines were
perfect. She was
a natural.
74 Automobile | August 2010
slightly easier because shes leveraging her sensuality. Simona
wont be doing any [innuendo-laden] commercials. If shes selling
a road car, she wont be lying on the oor in front of it in a bikini.
That said, nobodys going to mistake De Silvestro for Patrick.
De Silvestro is fresh-faced, disarmingly open, and delightfully
eager to please, but she looks more like an athlete than a runway
model, and theres none of the diva in her. Shes my same brand
the girl next door, says Fisher, who was the IRLs poster child
before Patrick arrived. Shes a really great girl, and you could take
her anywhere. She could ll my shoes pretty easily.
Saulla insists that his goals for De Silvestro arehis wordsa
vision statement rather than a sales pitch. But hes also trying to
create a brand with broad commercial appeal. This is a chance to
deliver merchandise to a consumer market that doesnt have a
voice, he says. Of course, you can talk about this until youre blue
in the face. But until you are standing on the podium, the credence
is not there. She has to win races.
De Silvestros condence was shaken during her rst year
with Saulla, in the supercompetitive Atlantic series. The next
season, she won the rst race of the yearthe same weekend that
Patrick scored her IndyCar victorybefore her performance
plateaued, so Perona was brought in to unlock her innate talent.
She was fast but inconsistent, he recalls. Shed come back from
a session and spew information, 1000 miles per hour in
semibroken English. But I realized that I could really push her, so
I started cracking the whip.
Last year, De Silvestro won four races, all from the pole, and
was leading the Atlantic championship until she was punted into a
tire barrier in the season-ending race. With nothing left to prove
in Atlantics, Saulla arranged a test at Sebring in an Indy car
campaigned by HVM Racing. Shed never driven anything
remotely as powerful as the Dallara-Honda, but that didnt
dissuade her from lighting up the rear tires as she left the pits for
the rst time. You always have to show o a little bit, she explains
with a contagious laugh.
Keith Wiggins, HVMs phlegmatic team owner, raised an
eyebrow as he watched her slither o. But he gured it would take
her time to get up to speed, so he climbed into the trailer to grab a
cup of coee. While I was inside, he says, I could hear her down
the back straight. Christ, she was on it! I had to get back out there,
as much out of concern as out of interest.
Cannon was equally surprised. Typically, rookies dont start
making sense of the car until the middle of their rst day. But she
came in after her second outing. I think it was her thirteenth lap
in the car. She said, It has some understeer. But Id like to settle
the rear under braking rst. So we made some changes, and the
next time she came in, she said, Better. Now you can x the
understeer. Thats a professional race car driver. I told Keith, She
was very impressive. If we can nd a way to run her, Id like to take
care of her car.
HVM is a small team whose success on the racetrack belies its
meager resources. This year, after funding for other drivers failed
to materialize, Wiggins agreed to run De Silvestro for a budget he
reckons is maybe one-sixth of what Penske Racing spends on each
of its three drivers. Because the team is running only one car,
De Silvestro cant share data with a teammate. Also, most of the
tracks are new to her.
So what happened at her debut in Brazil? She led four laps. In
fact, her pace has been good all season, allowing her to run solidly
in mid-pack before being victimized by rookie miscues. Kansas
Speedway, her rst oval, was the only track where she seemed in
over her head. She threw out the parachute the rst few laps,
Perona says. Says De Silvestro: Its funny, because last year and the
year before, when I watched oval races on TV, I was like, Oh, thats
easy. Then when I got to Kansas and everybody told me it was at
[full throttle], and Im like, Are you sure about that? It doesnt look
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 75
possible. She smiles. The rst fty laps, I was so confused. But
when I passed Justin Wilson, the light bulb came on.
Cannon was convinced that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
played to De Silvestros strengthshigh-speed corners and the
ability to provide high-quality feedback. She breezed through
rookie orientation and practiced well before drawing a bad
qualifying number on Pole Day. During the autograph session the
day before the race, the drivers were seated according to their grid
position, which placed De Silvestro next to Patrick. Hundreds of
fans showed up with Danica apparel and merchandise. And there
was one remarkably self-possessed thirteen-year-old girl wearing
a Simona hat and T-shirt.
I dont like Danica because shes always whining, Jessica
Hoopengardner said after snagging De Silvestros autograph. I
found it fairly funny when she got booed last week. I like Simona
because shes a good, new female driver. I think shell nish
between tenth and twentieth tomorrow.
Out of the mouths of babes...
R
ace day is obnoxiously hot and humid. This means De Sil-
vestro will have to deal not only with brutal conditions in
the cockpit but also with a treacherously greasy racetrack.
The tension ratchets up during the interminable prerace festivi-
ties, and after getting to the grid, she ghts the almost irresistible
urge to go to the bathroom. Its a relief to nally be strapped in the
car. Still, during the pace lap, for the rst time in the middle of a
full eld of thirty-three cars and a racetrack lled with fans, shes
so nervous that her legs are shaking.
Immediately after honorary starter Jack Nicholson waves the
green ag, De Silvestro picks up a position. But before the rst lap
is over, Davey Hamilton wrecks in front of hera taste of whats to
come. Ten drivers will crash out of the race, and three more will
park their undrivable cars. De Silvestro struggles with an ultraloose
car that constantly threatens to end her day.
On several occasions, she dirt-tracks the car
around turn 3, and she survives half a dozen
heart-stopping moments in turn 1.
With fty laps to go, De Silvestros drink
bottle stops working. With thirty-seven laps
to go, the team goes to a fuel-conservation
strategy. De Silvestro is poised to pick up
several positions when the eld is frozen by
a hellacious wreck on the last lap, and she
nishes fourteenth, running out of fuel as
she takes the checkered ag. After being
towed to the pits, she has to be helped from
her car. She did an awesome job, Perona
says. She deserves a raise.
An hour later, revived with food and water, De Silvestro is still
jazzed by the experience. It was crazy out there! she says, her
eyes shining. With time, perhaps, her sense of wonder will
dissipate. But at the moment, she radiates her passion for racing,
and she openly expresses the sense of joy she gets from balancing
a car on the limit of adhesion.
When the race began, she says, the bueting was so erce that
her tires didnt feel like they were touching the ground. Then her
car was wicked loose, and on one occasion, she countersteered so
violently that she ran out of steering lock. What else? She was
dehydrated. She barely avoided Vitor Meiras wreck. Her right
foot was numb from matting the throttle for so long. Sounds like a
nightmare, right? Oh, no, she says, genuinely horried. That
was the funnest thing Ive ever done. I cant wait to come back
next year.
Like Saint James and Patrick in years past, De Silvestro was
named Rookie of the Year. Patrick, whod been booed again during
the driver introductions, ran a gritty race to nish sixth (and ate
plenty of humble pie afterward). Nobodys ever doubted Patricks
bravery or determination, and shes always been especially good
on ovals. But nothing on her rsumone professional race win
suggests that shes going to be a dominant driver in IndyCar, much
less NASCAR.
Still, no matter what trajectory Patricks career takes, its im-
possible to overestimate the adversity she had to overcome or the
impact shes had. Thanks in part to Patricks success, De Silvestro
has never had to deal with the issue of gender. For me, she says,
its always been about results. For better or worse, shes not a pi-
oneer. Shes just a driver with two X chromosomes, and her goal
isnt breaking down barriers or beating the boys. Its winning
races. And if she can win enough of them, it really wont matter
that shes a woman. AM
After practice on
Carb Day
the Friday
before Sundays
Indy 500
De Silvestro sits
on the pit wall
and debriefs
with her race
engineer,
Michael Cannon
(far left), and
team owner,
Keith Wiggins
(standing).
76 Automobile | August 2010
TORQUE-VECTORING HAS TRICKLED DOWN
TO GROWN-UP SPORT SEDANS LIKE THE AUDI S4
AND THE ACURA TL SH-AWD, PROVING THAT
ADULTHOOD HAS NEVER BEEN SO MUCH FUN.
By Jason Cammisa // Photography by Jim Fets
LIFE AFTER
EVO
78 Automobile | August 2010
GROWING UP DOESNT HAVE TO SUCK THE FUN OUT OF DRIVING.
You dont have to sell your souland your Mitsubishi Lancer Evoand buy a life-sucking,
automatic-transmission, front-wheel-drive sled just because you landed a real job and
produced ospring. These two luxury sedans appear grown up to the outside world, but when
no one is looking, the cars can bring out your inner juvenile delinquent. You probably never
thought of the Acura TL SH-AWD and the Audi S4 on the same day, much less in the same
sentence. But this duo is remarkably similar in base price, power, and weight. And signicantly,
they both use torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive systems to ensure that they dont sacrice one
iota of the corner-carving thrills youve grown to love. Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands
together for the two cars that will change your perception of all-wheel-drive luxury sedans.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 79
In a tit-for-tat comparison between two cars that share the
same driveline philosophy, it quickly becomes obvious that the
Acura and the Audi are signicantly dierent only in the details.
Despite riding on a wheelbase within an inch and a half of the
Audi S4s, the Acura TL is about ten inches longer and two inches
wider. In fact, its interior is su ciently voluminous to push the
TL into the next EPA size class. The S4s lower beltline and bigger
windows give a better view out, though, eectively eliminating
any dierence in perceived interior size. Its only from the back
seat where the size dierential becomes pronounced, but the
S4 still oers su cient space for a young family. Although the
Acuras trunk is also larger, its rear seats dont fold down.
Slam one of the TLs doors a little too hard, and you cant help
but notice how tinny it sounds. Not so for the S4, which sounds and
feels like the proverbial bank vault. The S4s attractive interior is
up to Audis typical high-quality standards, but the Acuras cabin is
more striking, with a dashboard draped in symmetrical, sinewy
curves trimmed with black-on-silver dot-matrix-patterned alumi-
num that provides a modern ambience without the risk of glare in
sunny weather. The punctuation mark is a red metal start button,
and although the shifter is located a bit too far toward the passen-
ger side, its heavy weight and perfectly precise throws are among
the best in the business. So, too, are the turn-signal stalks. But then
there are the buttons. There are seventeen of them on the steering
wheel alone, and perhaps another eight thousand on the dash-
board. Despite being organized logically
in clusters for climate control, stereo, and
navigation functions, their sheer number
means that it takes a good bit of time to
become comfortable using them.
The S4, meanwhile, is intuitive from
the get-go. The uncluttered dash and
Multi Media Interface system are both
easy to use, and the Audis seats are just as
comfortable and supportive as the Acuras (which is to say, very),
but the German seat heaters are far more powerful. Unfortunately,
Audis base stereo isnt. For enjoying anything other than AM radio,
youll need to budget an additional $850 for the 505-watt Bang &
Olufsen sound system.
The TL SH-AWD comes standard with a 440-watt premium
surround system that is nothing short of phenomenal. You cant,
however, get three-blink turn signals, rain-sensing wipers, or
swiveling bixenon headlights in the Acura, all curious omissions
at this price point. Acura also doesnt oer an equivalent of Audis
Drive Select, the S4s user-selectable chassis system that custom-
izes steering boost, suspension damping, and throttle response.
Were still not fans of Audis particular setup, as it seems to never
oer the right combination of modes. The steering vacillates be-
tween being overly boosted or articially heavy, sometimes in the
middle of a corner. And maddeningly, the system defaults to the
auto setting at each restart. At least the S4s ride quality is superb
in any setting, and its electronic adjustability allows it to combine
a more supple ride than the TLs with far better body control, two
typically contradictory assignments.
The Acuras steering is lightning quick, with an overall ratio
nearly as fast as a Mitsubishi Evos, and its thick rim communi-
cates more feedback to the driver, especially at the limit, where
the Audis steering goes numb. If theres one place where the
Acura could use driver-adjustability, its in the throttle mapping.
Several factors conspire to make the TL
frustratingly di cult to drive smoothly
around town: First, the computer seems
to interpret one quarter of the accelerator
pedals travel as a request for full throttle.
And its slow to close the throttle as you
back o the gas. Further complicating
matters is a clutch pedal that engages
high in its travel and over considerable
On a racetrack, the TL showed us exactly
why Acura used the word super to
describe its Super-Handling
All-Wheel-Drive system.
80 Automobile | August 2010
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with four cams instead of
two, direct injection, and
of course, the silent tu-
percharger that you never
hear but, oh, my word, do
you ever feel. The power-
to-weight ratios may be
similar, but the S4 is a full
league quicker and faster
than the TL thanks to the
additional torque across the entire rev range.
The Audis extra thrust should have been a huge advantage at
Pittsburghs BeaveRun racetrack, which rewards straight-line
speed with two long straightawaysespecially since, on paper, the
Acura carries no advantage in cornering or braking: the two cars
have similar weight, tire section width, and suspension designs.
The Audis slightly better weight distribution would, we thought,
be nixed by the Acuras wider track. And we were rightas ex-
pected, the cars posted similar braking and cornering numbers in
standardized testing.
But on a racetrack, the TL showed us exactly why Acura used
the word super to describe its Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive
system. Despite its signicant power advantage, the Audi S4s fast-
est lap beat the TLs by only 0.4 second.
Although the two all-wheel-drive systems are dierent in de-
sign (see Techtonics sidebar), they both strive to accomplish the
same thing: temporarily routing extra power to the outside rear
wheel to help rotate the car in a turn. The big dierence here is
how these two cars are set up to handle to begin with.
The Acura is blessed with nearly perfect cornering balance, so
its rear dierential can easily and dramatically alter the cars han-
dling attitude. It takes a little while to build up trust in the system,
distance, making it a chal-
lenge to locate a consistent
engagement point. Whats
more, since the V-6 is so
surprisingly responsive, you
wind up leaving tra c lights
like an amateur with way
too many revs on the tach.
Or worse, too few, resulting
in an embarrassing stall.
The TLs willingness to rev (and stall) no doubt comes from
the particulars of its V-6. Like most cars based on a front-wheel-
drive design, the Acuras engine is installed transversely, and a
narrow engine helps maximize both frontal crush space and inte-
rior room. To that end, Acura uses a 60-degree angle between cyl-
inder banks. This layout is well-balanced as far as V-6s go and ne-
gates the need for balance shafts. Despite its size (a robust
3.7 liters of displacement), it revs instantaneously, and the only
drawback to the low rotational inertia is slightly gritty power de-
livery. Thats a nonissue in the TL, since any coarseness is over-
shadowed by magnicent intake music, especially as the valve-
train switches over to the high-lift cam proles at the fun end of
the tach. It pulls hard to its 6700-rpm redline, and the harder you
drive the TL, the better this powertrain becomes.
You wont hear a single complaint from us about the Audis
driveline. Except that if Acura TL SH-AWD 6MT is a stupid
name for a car, then 3.0T is a stupid badge to put on a super-
charged engine. Unless, of course, the device is called a Tuper-
charger in German. Which its not. Mounted longitudinally, the
3.0-liter V-6s banks are splayed out at a 90-degree angle, and
thanks to balance shafts and counterweights, its as smooth as
silk. Its also decidedly more high-tech than the Acuras engine,
2010 ACURA TL SH-AWD
PRICE: $43,245/$44,245
(base/as tested)
ENGINE: 24-valve SOHC V-6
DISPLACEMENT: 3.7 liters (224 cu in)
HORSEPOWER: 305 hp @ 6300 rpm
TORQUE: 273 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
DRIVE: 4-wheel
STEERING: Electrically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT: Control arms,
coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR: Multilink,
coil springs
BRAKES F/R: Vented discs/discs, ABS
TIRES: Michelin Pilot Sport PS2
TIRE SIZE: 245/40YR-19
L x W x H: 195.5 x 74.0 x 57.2 in
WHEELBASE: 109.3 in
TRACK F/R: 63.2/63.8 in
WEIGHT, DIST. F/R: 3860 lb, 58.0/42.0%
EPA MILEAGE: 17/25 mpg
2010 AUDI S4
PRICE: $46,725/$54,075
(base/as tested)
ENGINE: 24-valve DOHC supercharged V-6
DISPLACEMENT: 3.0 liters (183 cu in)
HORSEPOWER: 333 hp @ 5500 rpm
TORQUE: 325 lb-ft @ 2900 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
DRIVE: 4-wheel
STEERING: Hydraulically assisted
SUSPENSION, FRONT: Control arms,
coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR: Multilink,
coil springs
BRAKES F/R: Vented discs/discs, ABS
TIRES: Pirelli Cinturato P7
TIRE SIZE: 245/40YR-18
L x W x H: 185.7 x 71.9 x 55.4 in
WHEELBASE: 110.7 in
TRACK F/R: 61.1/60.6 in
WEIGHT, DIST. F/R: 3940 lb, 55.3/44.7%
EPA MILEAGE: 18/27 mpg
82 Automobile | August 2010
INTRODUCING THE NEW FIESTA
fordvehicles.com
How does the Fiesta get more miles per gallon than many
hybrids?* Two words: thoughtful engineering. The kind that
understands that giving the Fiesta a Ti-VCT engine will allow
it to squeeze every last drop. Or that a line cutting through
the taillamp will make the Fiesta more aerodynamic,
and therefore more fuel-efcient. But these are only a few
of the many reasons the Fiesta can go farther than so many
other cars. Including all those hybrids.
ITS A PRETTY BIG DEAL.
* EPA-estimated 29 city/40 hwy/33 combined mpg, automatic SFE vs. 2010/2011 hybrids.
Fiesta SES shown. EPA-estimated 29 city/38 hwy/33 combined mpg, automatic.
The TLs instrument panel display shows that the SH-AWD
system can send 50 percent of engine torque to one rear wheel.
the car approach neutrality. You can feel the com-
puter shu ing power around, but its slower to
react than the Acuras system, so it takes patience
and smoothness to get there. Add too much power
or turn in too quickly and youre back to drowning in a pool of
understeer. The S4 is far less bothered by midcorner bumps
or puddles than the TL, but its cornering balance changes
dramatically at very high speeds, when it transitions to over-
steer. Thats a surprise that no one likes.
The other surprise was how spectacularly undersize the
Acuras brakes are. Even on a cool, rainy morning, one lap of
BeaveRun was su cient to fry the brakes completely. Each
timed lap was completed only after a lengthy cool-down pe-
riod and a call to our mothers saying we made it through alive.
If it seems like neither car can pull an advantage here with-
out the other catching up, youve been paying attention. The
nal equalizer is that, comparably equipped, the Audi costs
nearly $11,500 more than the Acura. That kind of money can
buy the TL a serious brake upgrade. But the price dierence
isnt much of a factor here, since weve never actually heard of
someone cross-shopping a TL and an S4.
Its beside the point to declare a winner or loser when
comparing two cars that fall into such dierent hands in the
real world. As that most rabid of enthusiasts, you already have
your own prejudices and opinions based on the brands alone,
not to mention the countries from which they hail. If we could
combine the Audis good looks, brakes, and tupercharged V-6
with the Acuras steering, handling, and all-wheel-drive sys-
tem, wed have discovered luxury car nirvana for the enthusi-
ast driver. In the absence of that elusive hybrid, we walk away
from these two wolves in sheepish skins knowing that they
are absolute equals in one way: the ability to reassure us that
there is, in fact, life after Evo. AM
but you soon realize that if the car can han-
dle any amount of power in the middle of a
turn, it can handle anything the V-6 can
throw at it. Theres no reason to be scared
of the right pedalthe TL begs you to steer
it with the throttle. The more power you
add, the more neutral the TLs cornering
balance and the faster it scrambles through
turns. Indeed, the Acura was faster than
the Audi through nearly every single cor-
ner at BeaveRun (see track map above).
The Audis all-wheel-drive system is
crippled by so much understeer built into
the chassis that, at very best, it will help
0.99 g @ 62 mph
0.97 g @ 57 mph
PEAK SPEED ON STRAIGHT
114 mph 116 mph
PEAK SPEED ON STRAIGHT
114 mph 121 mph
1.08 g @ 55 mph
1.04 g @ 54 mph
0.94 g @ 77 mph
0.94 g @ 75 mph
0.95 g @ 59 mph
0.92 g @ 57 mph
1.08 g @ 44 mph
1.01 g @ 45 mph
BeaveRun
NORTH TRACK (WET)

ACURA RESULTS

AUDI RESULTS


BEST LAP TIME
1:09.2
BEST LAP TIME
1:08.8
TECHTONICS
Dueling 4WD
While the Acura and Audi
four-wheel-drive systems
differ in hardware, their
performance goals are the
same: excellent traction
and stability on slippery
roads with rear-wheel-
drive feel and agility on dry
surfaces. Forcing the
outboard rear wheel to
turn faster during hard
cornering is the trick that
helps both of these
front-heavy sedans mimic
the steering and handling
behavior of a nicely
balanced rear-driver.
A control computer
informed by sensors
determines when the
overdrive nudge is needed.
The Audi S4s
fth-generation Quattro
system ties the front and
rear axles together with a
center differential that
provides a 40/60
front/rear torque split.
A Torsen device inside the
center diff and automatic
front brake applications
limit individual wheel
slippage.
When the Acura TLs
SH-AWD (Super-Handling
All-Wheel-Drive) system
chooses to send power
rearward, the driveshaft to
the rear wheels spins
1.7 percent faster than the
front axles. Partially
engaging both of the
rear-wheel overdrive gears
diminishes the torque
conveyed by the front
wheels. To produce a yaw
moment benecial to
handling, only the
outboard rear wheels
overdrive is engaged.
Don Sherman
84 Automobile | August 2010
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Today, America needs fresh leadership to lead us
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American jobs is a trend that must be stopped and
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I typically find 85% of the goods for sale are manu-
factured 7,000 miles away. Recognizable American
brands have been forced by shortsighted manage-
ment and buyers at large national chains to build
factories overseas just to save a lousy $.50 on a tape
measure. To these ruthless buyers, it is all about the
money. Rarely are product quality, the political sys-
tem, human rights, animal rights and environmental
costs to the planet considered, not to mention the
cost to our society of exporting not only jobs, but
an entire factory!
At MacNeil Automotive, we are doing our part
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that if my neighbor doesnt have a job, sooner or
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Specialists in Original Equipment and
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At MacNeil Automotive, we are also very aware
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including: aluminum, steel, rubber, TPO, TPE,
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As you can see, we are as dedicated to designing,
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Life is simple; be good to your fellow man, be kind
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a quality product, supporting your country and your
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Sincerely,
David MacNeil
Founder/CEO
*
We pay regular shipping within the 48 contiguous states, when shipped to the same address on additional sets of floor mats or a cargo liner when purchased in combination with a set of front floor mats; or additional sets of Side WindowDeflectors when purchased in combination with a front set of Side WindowDeflectors; or an additional ClearCover

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90 Automobile | August 2010
Photographer Michael Alan Ross has
been a car guyor maybe thats car
kidsince age four, and he has been
shooting cars since he was nine. More
recently, Ross met the owner of a 1932
Ford roadster with a land speed record
at Bonneville, and their conversation
led Ross to make his rst of three trips
to the salt for the annual Speed Week.
It was like stepping onto the face of
the moon, he says of his rst
experience at the Salt Flats. To stand
in the middle of 46 square miles of salt
is a pretty amazing experience.
The two Deuce Coupes posing on the broad
expanse of the Salt Flats are owned by Keith
Cornell (left) and Diana Branch (right).
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 91
Above: Ford fenders are borne aloft by an international caravanthree
gentlemen from Spain, England, and South Africaevidence of
Bonnevilles worldwide appeal. At the highway rest area nearby, tourists
who have wandered onto the salt can wash their feet. Below: Something
you wont see at Pebble Beach: a honey-bear coolant-overow tank.
92 Automobile | August 2010
Above left: Salt-encrusted, this radiator-cap design appears on cars built
by the Rolling Bones Hot Rod Shop in Greeneld Center, New York.
Above: Rob Gibby with his roadster. Below: Richie Whalen with his hot
rod, another Rolling Bones car. The 2010 Speed Week is August 1420.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 93
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BAD
BOY
PORSCHES
R
OLLY RESOS GLANCES IN HIS REARVIEW MIRROR AND MURMURS, MORE
ANNOYED THAN ANXIOUS, THAT ORANGE CAR IS RIGHT ON MY ASS.
With a deep, satisfying blip of the throttle, he downshifts from third to second and
plants his foot in whats appropriately called the loud pedal. The rorty snarl of his barely
mu ed at six crackles through the canopy of trees enveloping the picturesque, two-lane
road threading through Carmel Valley, California. But it isnt until Resos backs out of the
throttle as he brakes for a hairpin that his vintage Porsche 911 gets really cantankerous,
backring like a high-powered riebap! bap! bap!and spitting ames out the tail. Sorry
about that, he says sheepishly as he gets back on the gas and hustles down a short chute.
With the twin megaphones and the cracked header, youve got to keep your foot in it.
Resos is a charter member of R Gruppe, the quasi-underground, semifamous car club
whose provocative devotion to hot-rodding early 911s has earned it a reputation as the bad
boy of the Porsche world. This mornings spirited drive is part of the groups annual Tref-
fen (German for meeting), which has brought 150 members and their performance-modi-
ed cars from England, Germany, Mexico, and all over the United States to the Monterey
Peninsula for a weekend of touring, tracking, tire-kicking, and bench racing. The mods run
the gamut from mild to wild, from Kent Moores elegantly understated 67 (I jazzed it up a
A quasi-underground group of Porsche lovers,
R Gruppe, proves hot rods dont have to pack V-8s.
By Preston Lerner
Photography by James Chiang
96 Automobile | August 2010
Treffen
is R Gruppes
annual
meeting.

Arguably
the most
exclusive,
the most
polarizing,
and the most
inuential car
club in the
Porsche universe.

Limited to
300
members.
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 97
little, but I like cars that are for the most part stock) to the volup-
tuous RSR-ish hottie that Scott Longballa fashioned out of a plain-
Jane 72 T (I didnt intend to go this crazy, but once I got into it, I
couldnt stop). Purists would sco that theres not a truly authen-
tic 911 in the bunch. Then again, is a 32 highboy with a athead
Ford authentic?
The 911 that Resos is driving is a poster child for R Gruppes
mix-and-match ethos. He spotted it in 1999, buried in the back of a
used-car lot in Costa Mesa. At rst glance, it looked like a tired 66
in need of plenty of TLC. But when he got closer, he saw a factory
roll bar, Recaro seats, deep 6 Fuchs wheels, and, under the hood,
an oversize fuel tank typically found in rally cars back in the day.
Resos wasted no time buying the car, and as a collector whos
owned as many as seven Porsches at one time, he immediately set
about bringing it back to life. But not, as you might imagine, as a
concours queen with numbers-matching components and screw
slots pointed in the same direction, like soldiers on parade.
Resosseventy-eight-years young, with the craggy features and
bushy white mustache of a Western desperadois a member of the
Outriders, an elite SoCal hot-rod club that dates back to 1932. So,
much to the consternation of Porsche pedants, he proceeded to turn
his car into the ultimate 911 rat rod: Rally-style driving lights. Matte-
black American Racing aluminum wheels. Fiberglass front fenders
in white gel coat. Black berglass hood with period Shell and Hella
decals framing a center-ll gas cap o a Porsche 904. Red body with
plastic 911R door handles. R-style taillights. S-model fuel-injection
head (with the fuel-injection ports plugged) on a Weber-carbureted
66 engine of uncertain pedigree. Zuenhausen by way of El Mirage.
Its not an R. Its not an RS. Its not an ST, says R Gruppe co-
founder Cris Huergas, name-checking three of the rarest and most
iconic of early 911s. Its a car thats an extension of the owner, and
it embodies the image and the essence of the sports-purpose
Porsche. Thats an R Gruppe car.
R Gruppe is arguably the most exclusive, the most polarizing,
and the most inuential car club in the Porsche universe. A small,
invitation-only group dedicated to creatively modied and thor-
oughly personal versions of early 911sdened as long-hood cars
built before the U.S. bumper regulations enacted in 1974R Gruppe
thumbs its nose at convention while oering a rough mechanical
and philosophical template for owners looking to pump up the per-
formance of their Porsches. The result is a eet of sweet, esoteric
cars that cherry-pick elements of crazy-expensive limited-edition
R, ST, RS, and RSR modelsa ducktail here, a twin-plug motor
thereto create one-of-a-kind pieces of inspired mongrelization.
We started with three criteria, says R Gruppes other cofounder,
former Porsche (and current Ford) designer Freeman Thomas. The
rst ingredient was sports purposecars that can be driven on the
track on weekends and on the street during the week. Second was
the SoCal hot-rod thingif it looks right, it is right. The third ele-
ment was the Steve McQueen attitudegreat taste and the cool fac-
tor. Were not about screaming. Theres a discretion that character-
izes an R Gruppe car. Its about delivering more than it promises.
Although the R Gruppe mission sounds harmless enough, the
organization has become a lightning rod for haters from all four
corners of the car world. To the august Porsche Club of America,
R Gruppe is populated by a bunch of yahoos with no respect for
tradition. To the hard-core racers who dominate the Porsche Own-
ers Club, R Gruppe is full of poseurs whod rather look fast than go
fast. To early 911 acionados who havent been invited to join the
clubmembership is limited to about 300, and members are
booted if they dont continue to measure
up to unspecied standardsR Gruppe is a
gated community reserved for arrogant
snobs. To high-dollar collectors, R Gruppe
provides a prescription for replicars and
fakey-doos that cost more to build than
theyre worth on the open market.
Operating on the assumption that any
group thats managed to oend so many di-
verse constituencies must be doing some-
thing right, I decide to join R Gruppe for its
eleventh annual Treen. The weekend be-
gins on Thursday with a track day at But-
tonwillow Raceway Park, a club circuit
about two hours north of Los Angeles. In
keeping with R Gruppes street/track phi-
losophy, only a couple of cars are full-on
racing thoroughbreds, most notably Mike
Gagens wicked-fast, black-primer RSR
look-alikea 69 T packing a 3.6-liter en-
gine from a 95 993-series 911 and rear tires
wide enough to bridge small rivers. But the
ambience is laid-back and low-key, unlike a
serious race weekend, and Treen orga-
nizer John Gray seems as happy telling me
about his 911 as he is playing hero race
driver out on the track.
Anybody can take their car to the shop
98 Automobile | August 2010
and say, I want this, this, this, and that,
and then write a check, he says, explain-
ing how he tricked out his metallic green
70 with an idiosyncratic collection of parts
ranging from an S-spec engine and SC sus-
pension components to lug nuts o a Volks-
wagen Vanagon. Some guys will spend
years hunting down an authentic part, and
then, right next to it, theyll hang some-
thing that they whittled in their garage.
As I wander around the paddock, I have
a hard time zeroing in on the demograph-
ics of the group. Gray is a fty-seven-year-
old senior software engineer for Wells
Fargo. Gagen is a retired air-tra c control-
ler. Ron Wolfe, whos created a Franken-
stein he calls a 912Ra beast you wont nd
in any Porsche menagerieis a forty-one-
year-old physical therapist who slaps a
beanie on his head the instant he pulls o
his helmet. Thorsten Klein is the eerves-
cent young designer who recently styled
the interior of the Porsche 918. Although
his R Gruppe car is back in Germany, hes
driving a 911S Targa owned by SoCal chap-
termeister Ray Crawford, whos a para-
medic/reghter in downtown L.A.
As a club, R Gruppe isnt an if-you-
build-it-they-will-come phenomenon. Its more like the shared ob-
session that brought total strangers together in Close Encounters of
the Third Kind. For the most part, the gospel according to R Gruppe
was popularized by word of mouth. The groups success speaks to
the strength of the hot-rodding impulse in the Porsche community,
and its something thats not found, by and large, among devotees
of any other high-end marque.
These days, 911s are so expensive and well-appointed that
theyre often perceived as totems of a uence rather than weapons
of high performance. But its worth remembering that Porsche was
founded as a manufacturer of nothing but sports cars, and racing
has always been part of its DNA. Virtually from the moment it de-
buted in 1963, the 911 was rallied and raced not only by the factory
but also by customers. In 1967, Porsche created a factory racer
dubbed the 911R, but only about twenty were built. So for priva-
teers who couldnt get their hands on one, Porsche published
manuals that detailed exactly how they could modify their cars to
maximize performance. Porsche titled the books, Information re-
garding Porsche vehicles used for sports purpose. In America, of
course, we call this hot-rodding.
Huergas happened to have two of these sports-purpose manu-
als in his possession when he started restoring a 69 911S that hed
bought in 1991. I knew the car was something special, he recalls.
But I didnt want to keep it stock. I wanted something dierent
an S with an R avor that captured the essence of what it used to be
like back then. I realized that I didnt have to play by anybody elses
rules. Those sports-purpose manuals told me that I could do any-
thing I wanted.
All of the R Gruppe cars
from the multicolored rat
rod to the black beauty
sporting Minilites rather
than the usual Fuchs
wheels to the Martini
tribute cardeviate from
stock in one or more
creative ways. There were
several passengers on
the Treffen gathering, but
most of the participants
were members, such
as Michael Eberhardt,
Bob Imamura, and Rolly
Resos (above right, from
left to right).
GRUPPE!
R
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 99
In 1998, Huergass lightweight was featured in Excellence maga-
zine. Shortly after the article appeared, he got a call from Freeman
Thomas. Thomas had grown up in Southern California as a neighbor
of Je Zwart, who went on to become a photographer, lmmaker,
and racer closely associated with Porsche. (Hes also a charter mem-
ber of R Gruppe.) Zwarts father was a hard-core 911-phile, and each
afternoon at 5 oclock, Zwart and Thomas would pedal their Sting
Rays to an empty lot in Cypress just so they could watch a Porsche
speed by when its owner returned home from work.
Ironically, Thomas hadnt been able to aord a Porsche while he
was working in Stuttgart. But since returning to the States, hed
bought a 911E and was giving it a Huergas-style makeover. During
the course of their rst hours-long phone conversation, Thomas and
Huergas discovered that they were Porsche soulmates. After meet-
ing at several car shows, they realized that the existing car clubs
PCA, the Early 911S Registry, and so ondidnt really t their hot-
rod ethic. So in 1999, they created R Gruppe with twelve charter
members. The late Steve McQueen was given membership #001.
The club has no formal entrance requirements. The cars tend
to be discreet early 911s modied with period-correct parts, but
this isnt a hard-and-fast rule, and theres no shortage of backdated
chassis and look-at-me graphics. The club mantra is: There are no
R Gruppe cars. There are R Gruppe people. In other words,
Porsche diehards who regularly exercise their cars and attend sev-
eral events a year. Joining the brotherhood entails a lot of hanging
with other members and hoping thatlike a fraternity pledge
youre judged to be R Gruppe material. As Thomas puts it: Theres
just enough structure so that things dont fall apart.
The Treen, I discover, is a perfect example. The only items on
the agenda are a visit to Bruce Canepas killer shop/showroom/mu-
seum and a Saturday night banquet. Other than that, there are in-
formally organized drives, an impromptu visit to Mazda Raceway
Laguna Seca, casual meals, and, mostly, adult beverages and tire-
kicking in the Porsche-only parking lot of the Hyatt in Monterey.
On Friday, around midnight, I hear a couple of guys still arguing out
there in the dark over whether thats a 67 or a 68 rocker panel.
During daylight hours, I ride shotgun with Chuck Miller, an
old-school hot-rodder whos got 212,000 miles on his 73 S with an
RS look and engine. Later, I buzz around with Bob Imamura, an-
other SoCal hot-rodder with another fast ducktail coupe, in his
case a 70 S with a 3.0-liter engine out of an 81 SC. Next, I buckle
into the houndstooth sport seat of Dave Ecks reworked 72 T,
whose subdued exterior hides a mind-boggling array of goodies
twin-plug at six, RS ares, RSR distributor, 930 Turbo brakes, 86
suspension bits, etc.
Still, this years sleeper award goes to Zvi Hirsch, a thirty-two-
year-old Miami reghter who left his 69 E in a factory color
known as sand beigeit looks just as unprepossessing as it
Most of the action at the
Treffen took place in a
parking lot full of
R Gruppe carstire-
kicking, casual technical
symposia, award judging,
and even a little buying
and selling. The cars
ranged from those
with striking graphics
packages (left) to
dedicated track-day
cars (right) to a no-
expense-spared RSR
re-creation (middle).
GRUPPE!
R
soundsand upgraded virtually everything
else. I wanted a car that was built the way
the factory would have done it in 69, 70, or
71, he explains. I could buy a brand-new
GT3 right now with all the money I have in
this car. But anybody can go out and get one
of those. This is unique.
I nd myself thinking about his words
as I drive back to the hotel in the new Car-
rera Im borrowing for the weekend. Its an
immensely capable and comfortable car,
but its also the 911 of moremore power,
more weight, more room, more luxury.
Even as it reaches the most exalted levels of
performance, it distances the driver from
the driving experience with sound-deaden-
ing material, power brakes and steering,
stability control, and a dual-clutch auto-
matic gearbox. Its hard to believe that this
car was built in the same factory that pro-
duced the 1970 911S hot rod that Ray Craw-
ford drove up from San Clemente.
The moment I slide into the red-leather
Recaro Racing bucket seat of Crawfords
black beauty and grasp the sleek Momo
Prototipo steering wheel, I realize that Im
in a car designed for driving, not merely
conveying occupants from point A to point
B. I twist the key and the 260-hp Andial-
built engine sparks eagerly to life. The
throws of the 915 gearbox are relatively
long, but engagement is positive and instan-
taneous. The lively, unboosted steering pro-
vides unltered feedback about what the
chassis is doing, and I swear that I can feel
the brake pads clamping down on the ro-
tors. The experience is viscerally mechani-
cal and tactilely satisfying in a way that
even the nest modern cars cant match.
Before this Treen, I hadnt been a par-
ticular fan of early 911s. Too sober, I
thought. Not enough power and a bitdare
I say it?boring. But hot-rodded 911s, I re-
alize, are a dierent breed of Porsche. Two
thoughts come to mind as I ease Craw-
fords baby into the parking lot: First, Im
sure glad I didnt hurt it. Second, I really
need an R Gruppe car of my own. AM
100 Automobile | August 2010
L
i
v
i
n
g
w
i
t
h
a
s
u
p
e
r
a
c
h
ie
v
e
r
p
r
o
v
e
s
n
o
t
t
o
b
e
s
o
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a
s
y
.
four seasons wrap-up
102 Automobile | August 2010 PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN ROE
HE NISSAN GT-R IS not warm and
cuddly. Perhaps thats to be expected of a
car that is widely known as Godzilla. The
GT-Rs fearsome legend grew during the
years it was sequestered in far-o Japan,
but its awesome prowess came to be
known worldwide thanks to its long-
running feature role in the Gran Turismo
video game series. Finally, the GT-Rs
international stardom proved so great that
Nissan developed the sixth-generation
model for a worldwide market, including
North America.
Godzilla nally reached our shores in
2008. Once we tried it for ourselves, we
couldnt help but be impressedvery
impressed. Maybe a little awestruck, even.
After all, here was a car that could outrun
Porsches mighty 911 Turbo and beat a 911
GT2 around the Nrburgring (where the
GT-Rs development engineers admittedly
spent a lot of time). In the somewhat less
renowned environs of southern Ohio, at
our annual Automobile of the Year testing,
the GT-R easily walked away with our top
awardin a rare unanimous decision.
Even so, as much as the GT-R blew our
minds with its unbelievable performance,
we didnt so much embrace it as give it the
kind of arms-length respect one might
accord a steroidal friend given to snorting
crystal meth and brandishing
semiautomatic handguns. You dont have
to like it, we concluded in our 2009
Automobile of the Year story. You just
have to stay the hell out of its way.
You might particularly want to stay out
of its way when its accelerator pedal is
mashed to the oor. The GT-R is just
devastatingly, frighteningly fast. Try 0 to
60 mph in 3.4 seconds and 0 to 100 mph in
8.0 seconds. Top speed, not that we had
much chance to explore it, is 193 mph.
Thats true supercar territory.
As in its previous three generations, the
GT-Rs motivating force is a six-cylinder
engine bolstered by two turbochargers.
The DOHC, 24-valve 3.8-liter V-6 is
handbuilt and shares no major parts with
the companys mass-market VQ V-6. Our
2010 models output is a staggering 485 hp
at 6400 rpm (ve more ponies than the
09-model GT-R) and 434 lb-ft of torque
(up from 430 lb-ft) at 3200 rpm.
Would that there was a better sound to
accompany the engines fury. One
commenter thought it sounded like a
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 103
vacuum cleaner, but mostly you cant
really hear it, because its drowned out by
the racket from the tires and the
transmission. Whereas the engine in an
Audi R8 or a Chevrolet Corvette provides
a stimulating sound track no matter what
your speed, the lack of aural
accompaniment from the GT-Rs V-6
lends a virtual-reality quality to the cars
quickness. Said senior Web editor Phil
Floraday: You can rocket up to speeds
well into the triple digits and not realize
it, because theres no drama.
After its overachieving, boosted six,
the key component of the GT-Rs persona
is its all-wheel-drive system. The
hardware includes a rear-mounted
transaxle (housing the transmission,
torque splitter, and rear dierentialthe
di with an electronically controlled
limited-slip device). Fully 100 percent of
the torque heads straight for the rear
wheels unless slip is detected, in which
case a maximum of 50 percent is sent to
the front. An unsung hero in the GT-Rs
ability to post such astounding
acceleration times, the all-wheel-drive
system does a terric job turning the
engines prodigious power into forward
thrust, no matter what the road
conditions. For a tremendously ne time,
experience this wild animal on wet roads,
enthused technical editor Don Sherman,
adding: I nally get the point of all-
wheel-drive propulsion systems.
When our GT-Rs factory-tted
Bridgestone summer performance tires
wore out (at 17,000 miles) right on the
verge of snow season, we decided to put a
set of Pirelli Sottozero winter tires on the
car. They helped make the GT-R
incredibly sure-footed in the snow. Best of
all, though, the snow-covered roads
provided a window into the cars
all-wheel-drive system. With some
setups, its impossible to guess
where the power will go, but the
GT-Rs all-wheel-drive system is
beautifully transparent. Switch o the
stability control, and the GT-R drifts like a
rear-wheel-drive car thats impossible to
spin. Add more throttle, and it will send
the power directly to the rear, helping
rotate the car. Stay constant on the gas
pedal, and the power gradually is sent
forwardbut only enough to bring the
back end in slowly.
The third element in the powertrain
triumvirate is, of course, the transmission,
The GT-R legend was born in 1969, when Nissan created a spe-
cial, high-performance version of its range-topping Skyline
sedan. That rst Skyline GT-R had a DOHC 2.0-liter engine,
mated to a ve-speed manual transmission, that drove the rear
wheels. Output was 160 hp and 131 lb-ft of torque. A two-door
hardtop was added in 1970. The rst-generation GT-R, code-
named C10, racked up fty race wins in less than three years.
The second-generation Skyline GT-R, a.k.a. C110, used
the same powertrain as its predecessor
and was produced in a single body
stylea two-door fastbackfor
just one model year, 1973. Only
197 C110s were built before rising
oil prices killed the market for high-
performance cars.
Sixteen years later, Nissan resurrected the GT-R nameplate,
but this time on a very different Skyline. Code-named R32, this
GT-R set the template with a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder
driving all four wheels. Other advanced features included four-
wheel steering and four disc brakes. The 2.6-
liter straight six produced 280
hp and 260 lb-ft of torque,
good for a 0-to- 60-mph time
as low as 4.9 seconds. The
R32 GT-R would prove far more
successful than the previous cars,
selling 43,934 copies during its six-year production run and
posting twenty-nine straight touring-car race wins.
The follow-up R33 model appeared in 1995, with essen-
tially the same mechanical layout, although an active limit-
ed-slip rear differential was offered for the rst time.
The 2.6-liter had a bit more torque,
and improved aerodynamics
helped the cars top speed climb
signicantly. The R33 GT-R set
an unofcial Nrburgring lap time
of less than eight minutes.
The R34 model GT-R ran from 1999 to 2002. Although its
running gear largely remained the same, this GT-R upped the
tech factor with the introduction
of an in-dash display that
could monitor various per-
formance stats.
Five long years after
the departure of the R34,
the current GT-R (R35)
made its debut at the 2007 Tokyo
auto show. The rst to drop the Skyline name, this GT-R also
broke with recent tradition by switching from a straight six
to a V-6 and by ditching four-wheel steering. Engine output,
however, climbed massively (to 480 hp and
430 lb-ft of torque). The even better news
for American car enthusiasts
was that the R35 GT-R
would come to the
United States, which it
did in July 2008.

G
E
N
E
A
L
O
G
Y
hen Nissan created a s a spe pe- hen Nissan created a s a sppe-
ts range-topping Skyline ts range-topping Skyline
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yy
e GT-R, a.k.a. e GT-R, a.k.a C110, C110, used used
cessor cessor
yy
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high- high-
rrected the GT-R nameplate, rrected the GT-R nameplate,
yline. Code-named yline. Code-named R32, R32, this this
in-turbocharged six-cylinder in-turbocharged six-cylinder
nced features included four- nced features included four-
wheel steering and four disc wheel steering and four disc
liter straight lit l er straight
hp and 260 hp and 260
good for a good for a
as low as as low as
R32 GT-R wo R32 GT-R wo
successful than t successful than t
selling 43,934 copies during its six-year p selling 43,934 copies during its six-year p
posting twenty nine straight touring car race posting twenty nine straight touring car rac
, gg
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que, que,
m 1999 to 2002. Although its m 1999 to 2002. Although its
e same, this GT-R upped the e same, this GT-R upped the
factor with the introduction factor with the introduction
an in-dash display that an in-dash display that
uld monitor various per- uld monitor various per-
mance stats mance stats
tech tech
form form
the the
the the
made its d made its d
auto show. The rst to drop the Skylin auto show. The rst to drop the Skylin
broke with recent tradition by switch broke with recent tradition by switch
to a V-6 and by ditching four-wheel st to a V-6 and by ditching four-wheel st
however, climbed massi however, climbed massi
430 lb-ft of torque). The 430 lb-ft of torque). The
st of
ke a
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g g p , g g p ,
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even better new even better new
four seasons wrap-up
104 Automobile | August 2010
E
ighty-six years ago, a watchmaker
in Paris famous for building the
magnificent clocks at Versailles created a
legendary timepiece. He invented the first
watch with an automatic mechanical
drive. These innovative movements
required no batteries and never needed
to be manually wound. Only seven of
these ultra-rare watches were ever made
and weve studied the one surviving
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Inspired by history, classic design and
technology, our Stauer Meisterzeit II has
been painstakingly handcrafted to meet
the demanding standards of vintage
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Why the new antique is better
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engineer ours with a much higher level of
precision. The 27-ruby-jewel movement
utilizes an automatic self-winding mecha-
nism inspired by a patent from 1923, but
built on $31 million in state-of-the-art
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engineering and view the rotor spinits
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This limited edition Stauer Meisterzeit II
allows you to wear a watch far more
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Here is your chance to claim a piece of
watchmaking history in a rare design that
is priced to wear everyday.
Elegant and accurate. This refined
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15 days and then certified before it leaves
the factory.
The best part is
that with our
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View the precision
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O
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F
As the master craftsman who opened
the famous Lincoln Pocket Watch in
Washington, D.C., I recently reviewed
the Stauer Meisterzeit timepiece.
The assembly and the precision
of the mechanical movement
are the best in its class.
George Thomas
Towson Watch Company
and here the news was less rosy. Sure, the
headline number of 0.2 second to execute
a shift is impressive and, because this is a
dual-clutch gearbox, shifting doesnt
interrupt power delivery, so you can bang
o upshifts or downshifts in the middle of
a curve without upsetting the chassis.
Nonetheless, we couldnt help but think
that wed enjoy this car so much more
with a manual transmission. Alas, a stick
shift is apparently too old-tech for the
GT-R (and likely would be lost on its
intended audience anyway) and is not
oered. It would, however, add an
element of driver involvement that the
GT-R could sorely use. And even the most
neophyte manual-
transmission pilot would be
smoother than this gearbox
when pulling away from a
stop. Its also noisy and
painfully slow to engage
drive and reverse,
particularly in cold weather.
Of course, Michigans nasty winters
atter few cars, but the GT-R seemed to
suer more than most. Not only did the
gearbox hate the cold, the suspension
couldnt come to terms with the winter-
ravaged pavement. The comfort mode was
small comfort, as the GT-R slammed into
every pothole. Nissan apparently agrees
that, even for an extreme machine, the
GT-Rs ride is overly sti, as the company
has retuned the rear suspension for better
ride quality in 2011 models.
Next, the chassis engineers might want
to address the tramlining. The GT-R
takes every bump, rut, and pothole as a
direct steering input, said associate editor
Eric Tingwall, in one of many logbook
comments on the subject. The issue is
likely made worse by the GT-Rs ultrawide
tires and hyperquick steering, although
the latter helps make the car so responsive
in turns. The steering is also very precise
at the straight-ahead position but not very
communicative.
As much as the ride wasnt
comfortable, the cabin itself actually was.
The rear seats are small but they add a
worthwhile measure of practicality,
allowing you to wow two more passengers
with the GT-Rs performance, at least for
short rides. The dashboard is a
phantasmagoria of geek delights, its
multifunction display screen able to show
lap times, g-forces (for acceleration,
braking, and cornering), torque
distribution, turbo boost
pressure, and so on. Some of
us grumbled about this
high-tech machines basic
Bluetooth interface and the
lack of an auxiliary audio
input in our car, but both of
those issues have been
addressed for 2011 with the addition of an
iPod/USB input, Bluetooth streaming
audio, plus XM tra c and weather info for
the standard nav system (along with
automatic headlights and speed-sensitive
wipers). There was nothing disappointing
about the interiors premium materials
and high-quality nishes, which assistant
editor David Zenlea took as proof that a
mainline manufacturer can craft a unique,
appealing cabin.
While Nissan may be a mainline
manufacturer, the GT-R certainly exists at
the tippy top of its price ladder. Our
Premium model (which adds heated seats,
an eleven-speaker Bose stereo, darker-
colored wheels, and Bridgestone summer
tires to the base spec) started at $84,040
including destination. To that we added
2-door coupe
2+2 passengers
Steel unibody
24-valve DOHC
twin-turbo V-6
3.8 liters (232 cu in)
485 hp @ 6400 rpm
434 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm
6-speed dual-clutch
automatic
4-wheel
Hydraulically assisted
2.4 turns
36.6 ft
Control arms, coil springs
Multilink, coil springs
Vented discs, ABS
Bridgestone RE070R
255/40YR-20,
285/35YR-20
38.1/33.5 in
44.6/26.4 in
54.3/50.0 in
54.7/44.9 in
183.1 x 74.9 x 54.0 in
109.4 in
62.6/63.0 in
3882 lb
55.2/44.8%
8.8 cu ft
19.5 gallons
350 miles
91 octane
3.4 sec
8.0 sec
11.6 sec @ 122 mph
4.6 sec
0.88 g
1) 38; 2) 66; 3) 96; 4) 123;
5) 154; 6) 193 mph
0.99/0.99 g
149 ft
1.16 g
RATING
Overview
BODY STYLE
ACCOMMODATION
CONSTRUCTION
Powertrain
ENGINE
DISPLACEMENT
HORSEPOWER
TORQUE
TRANSMISSION
DRIVE
Chassis
STEERING
LOCK-TO-LOCK
TURNING CIRCLE
SUSPENSION, FRONT
SUSPENSION, REAR
BRAKES
TIRES
TIRE SIZE F, R
Measurements
HEADROOM F/R
LEGROOM F/R
SHOULDER ROOM F/R
HIP ROOM F/R
L X W X H
WHEELBASE
TRACK F/R
WEIGHT
WEIGHT DIST. F/R
CARGO CAPACITY
FUEL CAPACITY
EST. FUEL RANGE
FUEL GRADE
Our Test Results
060 MPH
0100 MPH
1/4MILE
3070 MPH PASSING
PEAK ACCELERATION
SPEED IN GEARS
CORNERING L/R
700 MPH BRAKING
PEAK BRAKING
2010 Nissan GT-R
Pros&Cons
+ Blistering performance
+ Magnetic roadholding
+ Nicely nished cabin
Stiff ride
Tire and transmission noise
Light on driver involvement
Hold on tight to these reins. The infotainment screen can display performance data such as boost pressure and much more. Rear seats are cramped, but thrill-seekers didnt mind.
four seasons wrap-up
106 Automobile | August 2010
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super silver paint and oor mats, the only
two extracost options available, bringing
the total to $87,320. For 2011, the base trim
is gone, and the Premium versions price
has crept up to $85,060.
And yet the GT-R can slay pedigreed
European sports cars costing tens of
thousands more, so the cars sticker price
may still be a relative bargain. However,
we found that when it comes to
maintenance, the GT-R is a much closer
kin to its supercar competitors than to
other Nissans. Oh, sure, it started out
acting very much like a Nissan, trouble-
free and inexpensive to maintain, at least
until the 18,000-mile servicethe one that
requires uid changes for both dierentials and the transmission,
ballooning the tab to $1900. We had also by this time used up the
brake pads (all four), which necessitated changing the rotors as
well. Total cost: $7705.94. Luckily, there was no charge to x the
driveline vibration that was occurring between 2200 and 2700
rpm; it was caused by an errant bearing inside the bellhousing, a
known issue with some GT-Rs. The x required removing the
engine and kept the car sidelined for a few weeks.
Supercar performance, though, never comes cheap. And when
it comes to going and turning and stopping, the GT-R is absolutely
a supercaras it proved again just last month, when it set the
benchmark lap time against a Porsche 911 Carrera S, a Chevrolet
Corvette Z06, and a Lotus Evora. But what we found with the
GT-R is that in lesser situations, its less than thrilling. Some cars
are fun to drive even when youre just plodding along, said
Zenlea. Not the GT-R. Drive it reasonably, and it just feels big
and heavy and loud.
There is no denying the GT-Rs abilities,
but theres also no denying that this car is
o-putting in many waysthe brutal ride,
the tiresome tramlining, the cacophonous
sound track, the trust-the-chips computer-
controlled demeanor. As Floraday put it,
Its tough to nd a car thats faster than
the GT-R, but its very easy to nd cars that
are more fun and engaging to drive. For
Godzillas legions of fans, such esoteric
considerations may not register, but thats
the dierence between experiencing this
superstar on an electronic screenor on
a racetrackand living with it in the
real world. Joe Lorio
PRICES&
EQUIPMENT
Base price
$84,040
Price as tested
$87,320
Trade-in value*
$60,000
Standard
equipment
ABS; traction and
stability control;
dual-zone automatic
climate control; power
windows, mirrors, locks,
and heated front seats;
leather upholstery;
navigation system;
Bluetooth; keyless
ignition; HID headlights;
AM/FM/XM/CD
eleven-speaker Bose
audio system with hard
drive; front, side, and
side curtain air bags
Our options
Super silver paint,
$3000; carpeted logo
oor mats, $280
*Estimate based on info from
intellichoice.com
MILEAGE: 25,401
WARRANTY:
3-yr/36,000-mile
bumper-to-bumper
5-yr/60,000-mile
powertrain
5-yr/60,000-mile
roadside assistance
5-yr/unlimited-mile
corrosion
SCHEDULED
MAINTENANCE:
1393 mi: $0
6834 mi: $132.38
14,562 mi: $103.55
17,095 mi: $110.63
22,872 mi: $1926.27
WARRANTY REPAIRS:
22,872 mi: Replace
bellhousing unit due to
bearing failure
OUT-OF-POCKET:
17,443 mi: Purchase,
mount, and balance
four Pirelli Winter 240
Sottozero Series II
winter tires, $2024.42
22,872 mi: Purchase
and install new brake
pads, rotors, and uid,
$7705.94
RECALLS:
None
FUEL CONSUMPTION:
EPA city/hwy/combined
15/21/17 mpg
Observed 18 mpg
COST PER MILE:
(Fuel, service, winter
tires) $0.62 ($1.70
including depreciation)
RUNNING
COSTS
Anyone who stretches his budget to buy a GT-R is going to be mighty
shocked by its sky-high ownership costs. copy editor Rusty Blackwell
It may be big, but the GT-R can run with sportbikes from its home country. Getting some
extra attention during bath time. Aluminum door handles add a degree of specialness.
Our GT-R spent more than its fair share of time in the
dealers service bay. A brake job cost more than $7700.
four seasons wrap-up
108 Automobile | August 2010
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Banging its head against a glass ceiling.
Acura ZDX
110 Automobile | August 2010
THE SPECS
Price: $56,855
Engine: 3.7L V-6
Power: 300 hp
Torque: 270 lb-ft
four seasons logbook
eet update
Notes: 1128 miles I love the
modern interior and the lively V-6,
notes deputy editor Joe DeMatio.
1645 Make sure you duck when
climbing in, warns associate web
producer Evan McCausland.
s Acura approaches its twenty-fth year of
existence, it nds itself looking up at a
glass ceiling. The brand has grown well
beyond its Honda plus roots, and yet
it still trails competitors such as
Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus in
both sales and prestige.
This quandary puts quite a bit of
import behind Acuras latest eort, the
ZDX. At face value, its merely another
take on the coupe/crossover concept that
BMW pioneered with the X6. But its also
the rst production vehicle styled
completely by Acuras Torrance,
California, design studio, and it is blessed
with the brands most sumptuous interior
to date. Most shocking, the ZDX tosses
Hondas near-religious devotion to
practicality to the wind, providing less
utility than the MDX its based on yet
costing several thousand dollars more. No
doubt, this is a brave new world for Acura.
To learn more about where the brand
is headednot to mention treat our
backsides to some of the most supple
leather seats weve ever experiencedwe
ordered a ZDX for a yearlong test. In
addition to the standard 300-hp V-6,
Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, and
dual moonroofs, we added the Advance
package, which comes with
magnetorheological dampers, navigation,
and that butter-soft premium leather.
Early on, were impressed with the ZDXs
sport-sedan performance but are ba ed
by its combination of SUV height and
coupelike interior space. Time will tell if
the ZDX portends a new beginning for
Acura or a dead end.
Audi Q5
15,044 miles Who says the Q5 cant haul
anything? I managed to squeeze a six-foot-wide,
twenty-nine-inch-tall, eighteen-inch-deep dresser
into the Q5a midcentury modern Craigslist
snare, crows copy editor Rusty Blackwell. It was
very tight, though. To carry even more, weve
installed a hitch to tap into the Q5s 4400-pound
towing capacity. Art director Matt Tierney put the
hitch to its rst test in the Smoky Mountains.
The Q5 didnt miss a beat with a couple
thousand extra pounds tagging along, he reports.
Mazda 3
23,853 miles After a brief stint in a
Volkswagen Golf, West Coast editor Jason
Cammisa nds himself disappointed by our
Mazda. You cant help but notice that the 3s
interior is a full class below that of the Golfin
both material quality and presentationand the
rubbery shift action doesnt help. The 3 also
suffers from a lack of traction in the wet, but at
least the soft leather steering wheel doesnt get
yanked out of your hands from torque steer as in
many front-wheel-drive sport compacts.
Volkswagen GTI
16,121 miles Ive owned four Volkswagen
GTIs in the past ten years, including a dedicated
track car, so the turbocharged hot hatch isnt a
new concept to me, asserts road test
coordinator Mike Oara. Yet something about
this GTI pastes a smile on my face every time I
get behind the wheel. Inside, Volkswagen has
improved the t and nish with a level of
renement that creates a night-and-day contrast
between this sixth-generation model and my
2006 GTI.
For more Four Seasons eet updates, go to Automobilemag.com
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 111
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Audi R8 V10
Grifo has classic GT proportions, with its
passenger compartment set well rearward;
the engine is nestled far back in the
chassis, allowing for a 48/52 percent
front-to-rear weight distribution.
A delicate, push-button latch opens the
door, which clicks closed with the lightest
touch. The cabin is airy, with a
wraparound windshield and a huge
backlight. Padded leather is everywhere,
and the seatbacks cradle you. Eight round
gauges are arranged in the wood-faced
dash, and the thin steering-wheel rim is
wood as well. The dash is also graced with
a row of toggle switches, below which are
196574 American muscle in a high-style Italian suit.
Iso Grifo
OME CARS ARE DERISIVELY said to look like refrigerators,
but the shapely Italian automobiles built by Renzo Rivoltas
company, Iso, are actually descended from refrigeratorsor, more
accurately, the refrigerator business. Iso (originally Isothermos)
made refrigerators in Italy starting in 1939. In the postwar years,
the company began building motorbikes, scooters, and then
minicars, most notably the Isetta bubble car, which was also
licensed to other manufacturers, including BMW.
The leap from the tiny Isetta to Isos rst luxurious grand-
touring car was a huge one, but Rivolta tapped some of the best
talent in the business in the early 1960s. Among them were test
driver/development engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, renowned today
for his work on the Ferrari 250TR and GTO. Bizzarrini worked
under chief engineer Pierluigi Raggi, whose team created a sti
unibody with a control-arm front suspension, a de Dion rear axle,
coil-over Koni dampers, front and rear antiroll bars, and four disc
brakes. Campagnolo magnesium wheels or Borrani wire wheels
were used. For power, Rivolta looked to America and the
327-cubic-inch V-8 from the then-current Corvette.
Giorgetto Giugiaro, then at Bertone, designed the body for that
rst grand tourer, the 1963 Rivolta GT, but he was just warming
up. The follow-up carbuilt on a modied version of the Rivolta
GT platform with a shorter wheelbasewas the achingly beautiful
Iso Grifo, which went into production in 1965.
Iso would go on to produce two more models, the Lele coupe
and the Fidia sedan, before fading from the automotive scene in
the 1970s. And while others would follow the formula of American
V-8 power and exotic European bodywork, none lived up to the
promise quite as well as the Iso Grifo.
The cars rarity (some 400 were built over ten years) makes
seeing one today all the more striking. Low, wide, and shapely, the
collectible classic
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 113 PHOTOGRAPHY BY A. J. MUELLER
sliders for heat and ventilation. Theres no A/C in this particular
example, so owner Marty Schorr presses the Ducellier power-
window switches and the door glass slowly recedes. If it did not,
we might have had to break out the special tool that came with the
car and slips into a hole in the door panel, allowing you to crank
the windows down.
Everyone hates these window switches, says Schorr. Theyre
French. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they dont.
Schorr knows the car well, not surprising given that hes
owned it for forty-one years. I had allotted $10,000 to buy myself
a toy, he recalls. A Ferrari 275GTB/4 and a Mercedes Gullwing
were two cars that I wanted. For $10,000 in 1969, you could buy
either of those in decent condition. But [after looking at a few] I
realized I didnt know anyone to take care of them for me.
Then Schorr, who at the time was the editor of Hi-Performance
Cars magazine, was oered an Iso Grifo to drive for a story. It had
a 427 in place of the standard engine. I could not believe how fast
this thing wasand how well mannered.
Schorrs car came equipped with a 340-hp, 327-cubic-inch
Chevy V-8. Tall 3.07:1 gearing gave the Grifo a 150-plus-mph top
speed on the autostrada, but he was driving the car from Long
Island to his o ce in Manhattan. Over drinks in New York, he told
Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov about the Grifo. Not
to worry, said Duntov, and shortly thereafter a 1970 370-hp,
350-cubic-inch LT1 engine arrived from Chevrolet. It was tted
with a dierent camshaft, a Holley carburetor, and Edelbrock
headers and was installed at Long Islands Motion Performance.
That same engine starts easily and idles happily under the
Above: Long, low
fastback styling is a Grifo
hallmark. Below, left to
right: French
power-window switches
can be nicky. Original
owner Marty Schorr
behind the wheel.
Corvette ags adorn
the valve covers.
Opposite page, top:
This Grifo features a
350-cubic-inch LT1 V-8
with 370 hp. Bottom left:
Bank of toggle switches
is classic 1960s GT.
Bottom right: Loop pulls
function as interior
door handles.
FIND OUT
WHAT
THE
IS ALL
ABOUT!
Visit us online for a
deep dive into the LFA supercar, track tests
of Lexus performance models, videos,
wallpapers, and more at
www.lexusFsport.com
Passion. Performance. Lexus F.
Automobile Magazine track tests show you
how genuine Lexus F Sport Accessories can
enhance the performance of
your IS and GS.
114 Automobile | August 2010
Grifos aluminum hood today. Easing the car onto the street, I am
amazed at how easy the clutch is to modulate, with short travel
and moderate eort. The LT1 pulls so smoothly from low revs that
you hardly need to shift, but its worth doing anyway just to enjoy
the positive action of the close-ratio T10 four-speed as it snick-
snicks through the gears. The unassisted steering is slow, but
theres no slop and its very communicative; the wheel, though, is a
long reach away. An unfussy American powertrain and well-
engineered chassis make the Iso Grifo an Italian sophisticate thats
easy to drive.
It may be easy to drive and easy on the eyes, but its not so easy
to nd one nowadays. Schorr found his Grifo in 1969 at a New
Jersey Chevrolet dealer who also sold Iso vehicles. It was listed as
a 67 model (although the low serial number correctly marks it as a
66); it was under a cover and had never been registered. The
dealer had ordered it for his wife, but when she discovered that it
had a stick shift and no air-conditioning, she said no thanks. The
window sticker was more than $14,000.
I oered them $5000, he says. They threw me o the lot.
When he came back and oered $7500, a deal was made.
Needless to say, its worth considerably more now. Grifo prices
start at more than $100,000, but as an early-build car with less
than 13,000 miles and one-owner provenance, not to mention the
period-upgraded powertrain, this example would likely bring
considerably more.
Not that its for sale.
My kids grew up with it being at the house, says Schorr. Its
become part of the family. Joe Lorio
THE SPECS
STOCK ENGINES
5.4L OHV V-8, 300365 hp,
344360 lb-ft; 5.7L OHV
V-8, 300350 hp, 380 lb-ft;
5.8L OHV V-8, 325 hp,
349 lb-ft; 7.0L OHV V-8,
400 hp, 460 lb-ft; 7.4L
OHV V-8, 390 hp, 500 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS
4- or 5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
DRIVE Rear-wheel
SUSPENSION, FRONT
Control arms, coil springs
SUSPENSION, REAR
De Dion, coil springs
BRAKES Discs
WEIGHT 30003300 lb
THE INFO
YEARS PRODUCED
19651974
NUMBER PRODUCED
400
VALUE TODAY
$120,000$160,000
Covered-headlight
Series 2 cars (197074)
are worth about ten
percent more; big-block
427-engined cars and
ultrarare Targas can
reach $200,000.
WHY BUY?
Because its Giugiaro
styling brings people to
their knees, plus it has a
sophisticated chassis
and potent American V-8
performance. The last
item ensures ease of
maintenance, but be
aware that any missing
or damaged Grifo-
specic parts may be
impossible to nd.
collectible classic
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1. 1970 PONTIAC GTO JUDGE
CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT $135,150
Silver with black top over red vinyl
interior. 350-hp, 400-cubic-inch V-8;
automatic transmission. Rally II wheels.
The reported 2000-hour-plus
restoration appears to be recent. All is
excellent, no wear evident. Said to be
one of 168 WT1-optioned (Judge)
convertibles built for the 1970 model
year and one of forty-seven YZ-coded
Ram Air III automatic cars built.
Just a few years ago, this would
have sounded a bit cheap, but
American muscle cars took a hit
in value recently and are only
now climbing back up. This was
a strong price on the right car.
Sold new in Canada, it had
documentation from sources on
both sides of the border. In
todays marketplace, only cars
with bulletproof histories will
bring big bucks. Not cheap, but a
good long-term hold.
2. 1970 PLYMOUTH CUDA
CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT $85,860
Black with black top over white vinyl
interior. 335-hp, 383-cubic-inch V-8;
automatic. A/C, power steering, power
top, eight-track player. Show-quality
paint, excellent trim. All shut lines are
excellent. Very clean interior is factory
correct. Claimed 13,000 original miles.
Another sign that the muscle car
marketplace is coming out of its
recent doldrums. With low miles,
air-conditioning, and great
colors, this Cuda is a well-sorted
cruiser in a very distinctive and
popular guise. This just might
look like a bargain in a few years.
3. 1969 CHEVROLET CAMARO Z11
INDY PACE CAR CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT $50,350
White with orange stripes and a white
top over orange vinyl and black cloth
interior. 300-hp, 350-cubic-inch V-8;
four-speed manual. Very good paint,
but a few chips have been touched up.
Most brightwork is excellent. Very
clean and correct interior. Original AM
radio. One of 3675 Indy Sport
convertibles produced.
This aging but still nice
restoration sold for a bit less
THE STORY
BEHIND THE SALE
The Hangover, a bachelor-party buddy
lm from 2009, features a good deal of
carnage involving hotel rooms and one
particularly treasured Mercedes-Benz
convertible. The movie required four
cars for lmingtwo of the vehicles
were in nice condition, and the other
two portrayed the Benz in various
states of disrepair.
Its not at all unusual for a studio to
use multiple vehicles for lming in
different locations or, in the case of
older cars, to have a backup in the
event of a mechanical malfunction.
When the script calls for some sort of
on- or off-camera modications (or
destruction), it makes sense to have a
less-than-perfect version on hand. Two
of the four Mercedes convertibles used
in The Hangover were offered at this
auction; the other two are not in good
condition and represent the aftermath
of the Vegas bachelor party.
Solidly built and handsome,
full-size Mercedes convertibles from
the 1960s and 1970s are hot items in
todays marketplace, with demand as
steady in Europe as it is in North
America. Pristine examples of either of
these cars could bring in excess of
$100,000, and mediocre examples
bring low $40,000s or better. Both of
these cars sold at good prices, but not
much of a premium was paid for their
starring roles in the movie.
1 2 3
Indianapolis, Indiana | May 1923, 2010 | By Dave Kinney
1965 Mercedes-
Benz 220SE
convertible
SOLD AT $40,280
Silver with blue top over blue M-B Tex vinyl. 124-hp,
2195-cc SOHC in-line six; automatic. Air-conditioned.
Good paint. Brightwork is mostly good, but the driver- and
passenger-window surrounds are heavily pitted. Some
faded trim, plus dry and peeling seals. Good top. Most
wood inside is good, as are the seats and carpets. This is
one of four Mercedes-Benz cabriolets used for the movie
The Hangover. Two cars from the movie were offered for
sale at this auction.
1969 Mercedes-
Benz 280SE
convertible
SOLD AT $53,000
Silver with blue cloth top over blue M-B Tex vinyl. 180-hp,
2778-cc SOHC in-line six; automatic. A/C. This car is nicer
cosmetically than the 65 model. Very good paint, trim, and
top. Clean interior with very good dash, wood, and seats.
The Mecum Auction
auctions
August 2010 | Automobilemag.com 117
4
than expectedbut
not by much. For
many, the 69
Camaro is the one
to have. Subtle body
dierences,
including more
sculptured sides
and vertical
simulated air slots
ahead of the rear
wheels, make it
stand out from
earlier models.
4. 1961 CHRYSLER
300G CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT
$111,300
Mardi Gras red with
black top over saddle
and black leather.
375-hp, 413-cubic-inch
V-8; automatic.
Swiveling seats. Power
steering, brakes,
windows, and top.
Correct Kelsey-Hayes
chrome wire wheels
with wide whitewalls.
Excellent paint. Chrome
is almost all good. Very
good seats, but the
steering wheel is
cracked and the interior
chrome is a bit
tarnished.
The Chrysler
letter-series cars
were the top-of-the-
line sporty oerings
from Mopar. In the
late 50s and early
60s, they were at
their apex. The
300Gs Virgil Exner
styling is loved by
some and derided as
a jukebox on wheels
by others. With only
337 convertibles
built, they are
considered extra
collectible because
of their rarity.
This example sold
at a market-
correct price.
5. 1967 CHEVROLET
CORVETTE
CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT
$137,800
Yellow and black with
yellow hard top over
saddle vinyl interior.
400-hp, 427-cubic-inch
V-8; automatic. Options
include headrests, a
hard top, shoulder belts,
and factory aluminum
bolt-on wheels. A
professional and
well-done restoration.
Reported 31,000 miles.
The second-
generation Vette,
built from 1963 to
67, was all about
options; you could
go from a mild-
mannered V-8 to a
screaming
big-block. This
example has plenty
of the options that
collectors look for,
thus the generous
but accurate price.
This investment-
grade Corvette will
likely bring its new
owner more
satisfaction than a
few bars of gold.
6. 1951 MERCURY
CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT
$84,800
Avon blue with blue top
over blue two-tone
leather and vinyl interior.
112-hp, 255-cubic-inch
V-8; three-speed
manual. Power top and
windows. Fully restored
with excellent paint,
brightwork, and interior.
One of 6759
51 Mercury
convertibles. The
1949 to 1951 Merc
was a favorite of
many customizers;
few escaped some
sort of modication
when they became
inexpensive used
cars in the late
1950s. This appears
to be one that didnt
get modied; as
such, its a rare
beast. The price
here is in line with
the expected value.
7. 1973 CHEVROLET
CAPRICE CLASSIC
CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT
$10,000
Light blue with white top
over white vinyl interior.
150-hp, 400-cubic-inch
V-8; automatic. Factory
steel wheels. Lazy
paintwork looks to be a
quick-x job done to a
price. Poor chrome and
trim is sun- and
age-damaged and
faded. Decent top and
seals. The dash and door
panels are poor. From
the TV series Haunted,
then used as the hero
car in the TV show Joey
(we dont remember it,
either). One of 7339
convertibles produced.
Forget Joey
(everyone else has),
this is a convertible
that could keep you
busy for a long time
if you wanted to x
it up correctly. With
plenty of other,
nicer 1973 Caprice
convertibles on the
market, it makes
auctions
5
7 6
118 Automobile | August 2010
example of what can happen with a K&N
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BEST BUY
8. 1973 CHEVROLET
EL CAMINO SS
SOLD AT $6600
Mostly red with primer
over black and brown
cloth and vinyl interior.
240-hp, 454-cubic-inch
V-8; automatic. Door
dents, hood in primer,
plenty of overspray. It
was made this way for
the TV program My
Name is Earl. The
interior appears mostly
clean. All external
badges are absent.
My Name is Earl
was a popular TV
show that lasted
more than a few
seasons, which
means it will make
it into endless
reruns. This car was
used on the set; in
some episodes, it
was part of the plot.
The factory
big-block makes it
an El Camino worth
noting; its role in
the TV series might
just make it an
investment if the
show becomes a cult
classic. Well bought.
9. 1983 FORD
MUSTANG
CONVERTIBLE
SOLD AT $3550
Dark blue with white top
over white vinyl. 175-hp,
4.9-liter V-8; automatic.
Recent paint; the top
appears new as well.
Much of the blackout
trim is faded, and the
chrome on the trunk lid
is scratched. Inside, the
dash is faded but the
seats are good and the
console appears new.
The convertible
returned to the
Mustang lineup in
1983; otherwise 83
was not a
watershed year in
Stang history. Just
barely creeping into
collectors
awareness, a
Mustang of this
vintage wont elicit
oohs and aahs on
cruise night, but at
this price, you can
ride with the top
down knowing that
you paid less than
one-third of the
rechroming cost on
the 50s barge
parked next to you.
8
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AUGUST 2010 | AUTOMOBILE 121

Left: Wordsmiths
Eric Tingwall,
Jeffrey Jablansky,
and the short-but-
not-that-short
David Zenlea.
(Tingwall is a giant.)
Right: The art team,
Kelly Murphy and
Matt Tierney.
A striking
resemblance? We
have no idea what
youre talking
about.
RIDE COMES BEORE 1HE A. So ils onIy
llingas ve aioach lhe aII o 2u!u and begin Ians
oi AUio\ovIir MncnzINrs lvenly-lh
anniveisaiylhal ve shaie oui iide in lhis ieshIy
iedesigned magazine. And aIlhough Im Ioalh lo
adveilise lhe comany jeveIs, il Ieases me lo no end lo
come lo voiL eveiy day and see lhe abundance o laIenl
acLed inlo lhe second ooi o !2u Easl ibeily.
Univeisilies have been veiy, veiy good lo us. In lhe siing o
2uu8, Geoige Washinglon Univeisily sohomoie 1eiey 1abIansLy
senl us a boId e-maiI asLing oi an inleinshi. Deuly ediloi 1oe
DeMalio vas in D.C. by chance, checLed his BIacLBeiiy, and mel
1abIansLy oi Iunch on camus. We veie Iousy vilh inlein
candidales lhal siing, so cIeaiIy DeMalio vas jusl liying lo
veaseI a aid Iunch. 1he coveled inleinshi venl lo Eiic
1ingvaII, vhod jusl nished his junioi yeai (doubIe majoi in
jouinaIism and mechanicaI engineeiing) al Michigan Slale.
1ingvaII had aIieady von a conlesl lo go lo lhe 2uu7 ianLuil
moloi shov vilh Saluin lo diive lhe Aslia, vhich ioeIIed him
inlo some viiling oi Edmunds.com. (1ingvaIIs uluie has luined
oul much bellei lhan Saluins.) We voiLed him IiLe a ioei sIave
aII summei, and uon his giadualion in 2uu9, ve snalched him oul
iom undei a job oei iom Honda R&D lo be oui associale ediloi.
1oday is his one-yeai anniveisaiy heie. In lhe asl monlh, hes
been lo lhe Nuibuigiing lo lesl an Aslon Mailin V!2 Vanlage, lo
Baibei Moloisoils aiL oi Ias in lhe oische Cayenne 1uibo
and Hybiid, and lo Viiginia InleinalionaI Racevay oi lhe Iaunch
o lhe oid SheIby G1uu. Nol bad.
WhiIe vailing oi 1ingvaII lo nish schooI, ve Ianded young
David ZenIea, iesh oul o Univeisily o MaiyIand 1-schooI and
vilh lvo yeais o ieaI nevsaei inleinshis on his isum. He
had us al: Bul desile lhe aaienl maluialion, I have been
unabIe lo shaLe my desiie lo viile oi an aulo magazine. We
bioughl him lo Ann Aiboi in lhe aII o 2uu8 as a viilei. His
ciaziesl assignmenl? Diiving lhe nev M-B SS AMG on lhe oId
anameiicana ioule in Mexico lvo monlhs ago (1une 2u!u).
Young 1eiey 1abIansLy, you asL? 1he IillIe molo evenluaIIy
inleined heie so successuIIy (and joyuIIy)
Iasl summei lhal he sleed oul o coIIege
and inlo lhe ioIe o associale veb ediloi
aIongside Evan McCausIand (vho
ubIished a bus ieaLs ieeience guide lo
GeneiaI Molois Raid 1iansil buses vhiIe
sliII in coIIege). 1abIansLy slailed his job
loday, cuiIs shoin. Donl leII lhe molhei.
1he nev lvo-man ciealive leam al
AUio\ovIir MncnzINr comes vilh
lhiily-lvo yeais o combined magazine
design exeiience, none al a cai booL.
Ciealive diiecloi KeIIy Muihy iides a
BMW K!2uuS, soils a mohavL, and
bombaided us vilh imaginalive missives
insisling he vas oui man. We agieed. He
lhen bIev us avay vhen he venl lo Noilh
CaioIina and convinced Mall 1ieiney, his
lo iivaI oi lhe job, lo come lo Ann Aiboi
and voiL vilh him as ail diiecloi. UnIiLe
Muihy, 1ieiney has been ieading cai
magazines oi lhiily yeaislhiee-ouilhs
o his Iie. His chiIdhood aulo ail (incIuded
in his isum) invoIved ainslaLing
iendilions o aulo ads and o cais he sav in
magazines. 1his issue is lhe beginning o a
beauliuI iiendshi, and o anolhei
lvenly-ve yeais o design exceIIence.
iom lo lo bollom, AUio\ovIir
MncnzINr is ioduced by smail, unny,
assionale eoIe vho Iove cais and eveiy
vay lhey maLe oui Iives bellei. We aie
bIessed vilh some o lhe besl cai magazine
execulives and viileis and veb sile
ioduceis, as veII as lhe mosl enlhusiaslic
o minimum-vage inleins and moloi
goheis. Donl sco. Oui oimei goheis
aie nov jouinaIisls, veb ioduceis,
maiLeling and ubIic ieIalions execs, and
cai deaIeishi ovneis and manageis.
Oh. Did you nolice oui nev coIumn
holos? We veie IucLy lo booL lhe laIenled
Nev YoiLbased hologiahei elei Ross,
moloi gohei in lhe summei o !987. AM
vile gossip
by JEAN
JENNINGS
How to get a job at a car
magazine. At least at
this magazine.
122 Automobile | August 2010
J
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bridgestonetire.com 1-800-807-9555 tiresafety.com
Sure, its just a tire.
Like the Grand Canyon is just a big crack.