Category Archives: New Car Fist Impressions

Take a First Look at the all new 2014 Mazda3

Like the latest CX-5 and Mazda 6, it will have some degree of Skyactiv lightweight and fuel-saving technologies built in. Also, as a recent batch of spy photos clearly shows, it will inherit the 6’s and CX-5’s attractive Kodo design language. Stay tuned for more, but based on these leaked images, we can say this: The Mazda 3 is once again one of the most attractive small cars out there.

2014 Mazda 3 - Front Headlight Silhoutette

2014 Mazda 3 – Front Headlight Silhoutette

The next Mazda3, like the recently revamped 6, is a complete departure from the outgoing model, with virtually no lingering Ford DNA whatsoever. Following the anthropometric trend of gradually increasing size, the wheelbase stretches 2.4 inches to 106.3 and the width broadens by 1.6 inches, yielding 2.3 inches of front and 0.4 inch of rear shoulder room. The roofline drops by 0.6 inch for better aerodynamics.

2014 Mazda 3 - Front 3/4

2014 Mazda 3 – Front 3/4

In North America, the 3 will have two available engines. The 2.0-liter SKYACTIV-G engine will produce 155 hp at 6000 rpm, and 150 lb-ft at 4000 rpm. The other engine is the 2.5-liter SKYACTIV-G that’s already found in the CX-5 and Mazda6, making 184 hp at 5700 rpm and 185 lb-ft at 3250 rpm. Another cool efficiency trick i-ELOOP brings: capacitors that store energy regenerated by the alternator during braking, another claimed world-first. Mazda’s new i-ELOOP suite of fuel-saving extras also includes active grille shutters that route air around the car except when the radiator absolutely needs it to cool the Skyactiv engines. Either engine comes with a choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions.

2014 Mazda 3 - Rear 3/4

2014 Mazda 3 – Rear 3/4

Inside, the big news is the HUD, which Mazda will integrate into all Mazda vehicles going forward as part of a “human-machine-interface” system. That conjures up images of cyborgs, but really the point is to combat driver distraction. We know the HUD display will carry all the normal driving info you’d expect, but it’s not clear what other information will be displayed. A suite of new safety-related “apps” utilizing cameras, millimeter-wave radar, and laser sensors is offered under the i-ACTIVESENSE moniker (maybe the hyphen and shout-case are to keep them out of trouble with Apple?), a pricey option package. Features include high-beam control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, forward-obstruction warning, Smart City Brake Support (enhanced or automated braking, when a collision is anticipated at speeds under 19 mph), and radar cruise control.

2014 Mazda 3 - Dashboard layout

2014 Mazda 3 – Dashboard layout

Diesel? No plans to make a SKYACTIV-D version at this point. That could be code for pretty much anything in manufacturer-speak, so we’ll have to wait and see what direction Mazda goes there. Likely the reception of the Mazda6 SKYACTIV-D will be the key factor in a possible diesel Mazda3, but our European and Japanese friends get the diesel engine right off the bat.

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2014 Aston Martin Vanquish loses its lid!

Aston Martin has lifted the veil off of the 2014 Vanquish Volante convertible.  Based on the range-topping Vanquish coupe, the V12-powered Volante represents several milestones for the hundred-year old British firm. None of the Vanquish coupe’s sexiness is lost in the transformation to drop-top Volante. Even the soft-top complements the body lines. That top is made from a lightweight triple-layer fabric and can be raised or lowered in 14 seconds and at speeds up to 30 mph.

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante - Front 3/4

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante – Front 3/4

Like its coupe sibling, the Vanquish Volante wears carbon composite body panels wrapped around a bonded aluminum structure. Underhood, there are no surprises: you’ll find the same 6.0-liter, 565-hp, 457 lb-ft V12 that so ably powers the coupe. Aston’s 6-speed Touchtronic II paddle-shift transmission is also carried over, along with the hardtop’s six-piston Brembo carbon ceramic setup in front, with four-piston carbon ceramic stoppers in the rear.

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante - Rear 3/4

2014 Aston Martin Vanquish Volante – Rear 3/4

Retaining the coupe’s 2+2 layout, the Volante’s interior is built with premium materials such as Luxmil leather, satin chrome and Alcantara.  The cockpit boasts a new, user-friendly center console that is inspired by the exclusive One-77 supercar.  The console is home to the infotainment system, the engine start button, the gear selection buttons and the climate control knobs.

In keeping with the Vanquish Volante’s range-topper status, it gets a range-topping price of $297,995. That’s a $16,000 premium over the Vanquish coupe, nearly $100,000 more than the four-door Rapide S, and a not-insignificant $150,000 more than the 2013 V8 Vantage roadster.


Chris Harris Reviews the road legal Formula Ford 1-liter EcoBoost Car

The British journalist Chris Harris has driven the street legal Formula Ford racing car 1.0 liter EcoBoost engine. The unit was tweaked to develop 170 horsepower.

This amount of power was obtained via a new ECU and thanks to a turbocharger from the larger 1.6 liter Turbo EcoBoost engine. The Formula Ford 1.0 EcoBoost is very light, sharp and responsive and thanks to that amount of power it can be driven at high speeds with no problem.
After the jump you can see how the street legal Formula Ford car can deal with Chris Harris.

Toyota rolls out the red carpet to introduce the new 11th Generation Corolla

Toyota had prepared us for the Corolla’s looks with the Furia concept at the Detroit motor show this year, but if you were expecting the same sported up and hunkered down stance, you’ll be disappointed. There are many styling influences from the much larger Avalon, both on the outside, especially up front with five point lower grille and the standard LED headlamps.

2014 Toyota Corolla - Front 3/4

2014 Toyota Corolla – Front 3/4

Three trim levels (L, LE, and S) carry over from last year’s model, and Toyota adds a new high-mileage variant, dubbed LE Eco. With design cues shared with the recent Furia concept, the face has more character, aided by sculpted LED headlamps that are now standard on all Corollas. There are token fender flares and the rear design seems rather upmarket for the compact segment, if a bit generic. Wind-tunnel work yielded a flatter underbody, the S and LE Eco getting closeout panels underneath for better aero-efficiency.

2014 Toyota Corolla - Rear 3/4

2014 Toyota Corolla – Rear 3/4

For all the newness in the 2014 Corolla, there are holdovers, pop open the hood and you’ll find a familiar face as the 1.8-liter twin cam four-cylinder gasoline engines, producing 132-horsepower and 128 lb-ft of peak torque. For some strange reason the updated variation of this engine will only be offered on the Eco models and will feature 140hp and 126 lb-ft. The extra horsepower is accomplished by increasing the engines compression ratio in addition to new valve system’s ability to vary intake-valve timing over a wider range than the old VVT (variable valve timing) system.

One of the transmissions is also being recycled form the 8 year old parts bin as the 4 speed automatic is back in base models with a 6-speed manual being offered on the L and the S models. Toyota has also introduced its newest transmission creation a newly developed 7-speed continuously variable transmission (CVT) dubbed CVTi-S (“i” for intelligent, “S” for shift) which can be had on the S, LE, and Eco. Toyota said that the Eco-badged models will achieve an estimated highway fuel economy rating of over 40 mpg, which is equal to 5.9 L/100km or 48mpg UK.

Where the current Corolla has an instrument pod and vertical center stack for controls, the redesign creates a more horizontal form. There are two gauge packages: the S models have two dials flanking a digital 3.5-inch readout panel, while the other models get three gauges, with the central speedometer featuring a small readout. The new horizontal one-knob-and-five-button control panel for the climate-control system doesn’t look as handy as the old three-knob layout, but it thankfully avoids the multiple menus of more elaborate setups in pricier cars.

2014 Toyota Corolla - Dashboard Layout

2014 Toyota Corolla – Dashboard Layout

We don’t have pricing yet, but it shouldn’t be long before Toyota tells us how much it will ask for the new Corolla when it goes on sale in the States later this year competing against the likes of the Honda Civic, Mazda 3,Focus, Kia Forte, Chevy Cruze, Hyundai Elantra/Kia Forte twins, and the Dodge Dart.


Pagani takes a out of the Porsche 911’s playbook and creates yet another Zonda Variation

The Pagani Zonda is a rock star car, no question. It’s all flash and loud noises and a spaceship shape that can never be mistaken for anything else. As it prepares to wind-down production of wild Zonda supercar, Pagani has introduced a limited-edition model called the Zonda Revolucion. It is an evolution of the existing Pagani Zonda R, and is powered by a 6.0-liter Mercedes-AMG V-12 engine.

Pagani Zonda Revolucion -Front 3/4 view

Pagani Zonda Revolucion -Front 3/4 view

And like a rock star, the Zonda just won’t quit. Since 2009, there have been numerous editions of the Zonda that have been dubbed the final cars. This 2013 car is called the Zonda Revolucion, and it again is called the evolution of the species and the ultimate Zonda, in true Pagani fashion of never selling it short. The Zonda Revolucion’s 6.0-liter V12 engine has been tweaked to produce 800 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque, which which give the Zonda Revolucion a power to weight ratio of 748 hp per ton. The V12’s awesome power numbers are channeled to the rear wheels by way of six-speed magnesium transversal sequential gearbox that changes gears in 20 milliseconds.

Pagani Zonda Revolucion - HeadOn

Pagani Zonda Revolucion – HeadOn

New is a Formula 1-inspired Drag Reduction System rear wing. It can automatically adjust the level of downforce produced depending on the car’s speed; the driver can manually override the wing setting by pushing a button on the steering wheel. The front and rear carbon-fiber spoilers have also been modified for better aerodynamic performance. All in all, the carbon fiber and titanium monocoque helps keep curb weight just below 2400 pounds.

Pagani Zonda Revolucion - Front 3/4 from a far

Pagani Zonda Revolucion – Front 3/4 from a far

As the photos reveal, the car features aerodynamic updates like new deflectors on the front bonnet, as well as a vertical stabilizer mounted on the rear bonnet. As for strictly visual enhancements, the Pagani Zonda Revolucion has a central red stripe with white and yellow borders, yellow wheel lips, and stripes along each side of the car composed of white, yellow, and red accents. The Pagani Zonda Revolucion costs the equivalent of $2.8 million before taxes, but will it truly be the last of the Zondas?


The Horsepower Rating for 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray = 455

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray debut was missing one important piece of information: final power figures for the car’s V-8 engine. Now, Chevrolet has released horsepower and torque ratings of 455 hp and 460 lb-ft for the C7 Corvette.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray's LT1 V-8 engine

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s LT1 V-8 engine

To save Google some searches, those power figures are within spitting distance of the epic LS7’s 505 horsepower 470 lb-ft of torque. A cylinder-deactivation setup which is a Corvette first in combination with the LT1′s direct fuel injection contribute to fuel economy that Chevy estimates will exceed 26 mpg on the highway. As for the performance parameters that matter to those interested in the Corvette’s sports-car chops, Chevrolet estimates that the base Stingray should hit 60 mph in less than four seconds. Have we mentioned that we want to drive this thing? Badly.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray's LT1 V-8 engine cut-away

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s LT1 V-8 engine cut-away

When the 2014 Corvette Stingray goes on sale later this year, it will offer the LT1 V-8 mated to either a six-speed automatic or a seven-speed manual transmission. Coupe and convertible flavors will be offered, as well as a Z51 performance pack option. Pricing starts at $51,995 for the coupe and $56,995 for the convertible.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray's Dyno Results

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s Dyno Results


The third generation of BMW’s successful X5 was revealed today

As BMW’s third best-selling vehicle in 2012 behind the 3 Series and 5 Series, the venerable X5 is a key model for the German automaker in North America and other markets. With the third-generation X5, BMW hopes to continue the success of the original while subtly updating styling and adding features.

2014 BMW X5 - Front 3/4

2014 BMW X5 – Front 3/4

At first glance, it appears not much has changed, as the new X5 retains the old model’s silhouette. A closer look at the front and rear ends reveals the major exterior changes. In front, the headlights now meet with the large dual kidney grilles, similar to the current 3 Series. We continue to see those characteristic dual round lights feature LED accent rings, which are squared off at the bottom like those of the 3 Series, and standard Adaptive Xenon headlights (full LEDs are optional). Improving aerodynamics was a major focus of the X5’s redesign, as the new model features an Air Curtain intake in the front valance, which guides air around the wheel arches and through the Air Breather vents of the front fender to reduce drag.

2014 BMW X5 - Rear 3/4

2014 BMW X5 – Rear 3/4

Claimed to be aerodynamically slipperier and about 200 pounds lighter than the outgoing model, the new 2014 X5 launches with two gasoline engines: a 3.0-liter, single-turbocharged inline-six with 300 horsepower and 300 lb-ft of torque in the sDrive35i and xDrive35i, and a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 with 445 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque in the xDrive50i. BMW claims 0-to-60-mph times of 6.2 seconds for the six and 4.9 for the V-8, but they’ll likely be slightly quicker in our testing. In early 2014, a 3.0-liter diesel six will return to the lineup and again be badged as the xDrive35d. It will offer 255 horsepower, 413 lb-ft of torque.

2014 BMW X5 - Side Profile

2014 BMW X5 – Side Profile

Inside, the X5 gets BMW’s signature sweeping dash and instrument layout, with a 10.2-inch display rising out of the center stack. BMW Navigation is standard for the U.S. market, and includes a touchpad. BMW apps is also standard, allowing integration with smart phone apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Pandora streaming radio. leather upholstery is standard on xDrive50i models, and available on all others in eight possible interior colours. With the M Sport package, the interior receives an M-Sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, anthracite headliner, M footrest and door sills, and either sport or multi-contour seats.

2014 BMW X5 - Front HeadOn

2014 BMW X5 – Front HeadOn

The new X5, which BMW insists on calling a “Sports Activity Vehicle,” hits U.S. showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2013. The diesel version follows in early 2014, and there will be M Performance and M versions down the road. Pricing has not yet been announced, but we suspect it won’t stray far from the current X5’s.

2014 BMW X5 - Interior

2014 BMW X5 – Interior