Auto blogThu, 24 Jul 2014 12:59:00 EST
Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:31:00 EST
The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.
I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" - considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 - when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.
Oh, the heady days of 1993, back when the Clinton Presidency was just getting underway, and it seemed like every hot new rock band was coming out of Seattle. Sports cars in the US had finally shaken off the shackles that slowed them during the '70s and '80s, and you could buy any number of legitimately quick vehicles again. MotorWeek recently went digging into its archives to find this six-model test from 1993 showing off some of the best semi-affordable performance coupes that money could buy at the time, and it's priceless.
Featuring the 1994 model year Toyota Supra in twin-turbo guise and MY 1993 versions of the Porsche 968, Nissan 300ZX TT, Mazda RX-7, Dodge Stealth R/T Turbo and Chevrolet Corvette LT-1, MotorWeek definitely covered all of the bases. One thing that might surprise younger readers is these cars' performance. The video only provides 0-60 acceleration times, but several of these vehicles would still be considered pretty potent today - over 20 years since going on sale. The Supra is especially impressive, hitting 60 miles per hour in just 5 seconds. Even today, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Given their performance potential and still-attractive looks, it's amazing that some of these coupes are old enough to drink now. The progress of interior design and safety equipment in the intervening years is pretty shocking, though. In most of these models, having two airbags is touted as a big deal. Scroll down to watch a Throwback Thursday blast from the past about some of the '90s best sports cars.
The new Macan may be getting all the attention lately, but Porsche hasn't forgotten about its larger crossover - the one that put it on the map in 2002 and on the road to profitability, with over half a million sold so far. So to keep the Cayenne at the top of its game, Porsche has announced several key upgrades for the 2015 model.
For starters, Porsche has updated the Cayenne's appearance with new front- and rear-end styling. The front bumper, fenders and hood are entirely new, with air fins flanking the nose to direct air into the intercoolers (each model now being artificially aspirated), and new bi-xenon headlamps and daytime running LEDs on every model but the Turbo, which goes all-LED. Around back there's also new taillights, tailgate handle, lower rear fascia and exhaust pipes. Meanwhile the interior has been upgraded with a 918-derived sport steering wheel and reformed rear seats with available ventilation.
The bigger news is under the engine bay, where Porsche is offering four choices. The base model is gone as the range starts with the Cayenne Diesel, followed by the Cayenne S, the new Cayenne S E-Hybrid and the top-of-the-line Cayenne Turbo. The Diesel model carries over the same 3.0-liter turbo diesel with 240 horsepower. The Cayenne S however packs a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 that's similar to the one found in the Macan Turbo and packs the same 406 lb-ft of torque but more power at 420 hp, 20 more than either its little brother or the model it replaces to reach 62 mph in 5.2 seconds.
Porsche collector Magnus Walker has the name and looks of a Viking, but once he starts talking about his life story and what drives him, he's an absolutely fascinating guy. Walker recently gave a Ted Talk at a Tedx conference at UCLA and claimed he didn't really understand the idea behind the speeches. You would never know it, though. Walker is as gifted a speaker as he is a talented restorer of some seriously cool Porsches.
Walker's talk is titled "Go with Your Gut Feeling," and it amounts to his autobiography. He recounts his birth in England, dropping out of school at 15 and moving to the US at 19. Once in Los Angeles, he started selling second-hand clothes and grew it into a fashion business.
Of course, what makes him interesting to us is his passion for Porsches. He fell in love with them when he saw a white 911 as a child at the Earl's Court Motor Show in England, but Walker waited until the '90s to buy his first one. From there he started racing and eventually restoring them. Since the documentary Urban Outlaw about him was released, Magnus has become famous for the love of the brand.
Just as they did in the Initial Quality Study, Porsche and Hyundai have taken the premium and non-premium crown, respectively, for the 2014 J.D. Power APEAL study. This is the tenth consecutive year for that Porsche has been rated the best premium make in the APEAL study, which attempts to figure out how pleased owners are with their purchases. For 2014, it asked 86,000 owners of MY2014 cars to rate their vehicles in 77 different categories 90 days after their initial purchase. The resulting figures were plugged in deliver the APEAL score, which is rated on a 1,000-point scale.
The industry average sits at 794 points for 2014, although that's a one-percent decline over last year's rating. In this year's study, premium brands averaged 840 out of 1,000, while non-premium makes average 785. For their part, Porsche netted an impressive 882 points, while Hyundai earned an 804. Interestingly, only four non-premium brands (Hyundai, Ram, Volkswagen and Mini) finished above the industry average for 2014.
It's also interesting to see the clear delineation between premium and non-premium brands, with an eight-point gap between the non-premium champ, Hyundai, and the lowest-rated premium brand, Volvo.
In the buildup to the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi delivered an amusing video that worked on the playful rivalry between the German brand and its favorite frenemy, Porsche. We called it sibling rivalry, and at the time, it may have been just that. But just like sibling rivalries, it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and that's just what seems to be about to happen in the formerly peaceful Volkswagen Group family.
A new report from Automobile calls out the growing animosity between Porsche, who is backed up by Bentley, and Audi, whose primary ally is Lamborghini. No blows have actually been thrown, although there is a fair amount of "he said, she said" going on.
As Porsche tells it, for example, the new global fullsize SUV architecture being developed by Audi isn't up to snuff, citing size and structure issues, as well as an inability to accommodate a wide variety of engines.
We've seen several heartwarming videos of kids bonding over cars with their parents, whether racing together or giving them as gifts. The story of Leh Keen and his father McGrath, though, is somewhat different. Not many dads are looking for a vehicle quite this mental.
As Leh tells it, his dad saw a video online of one of the wild Porsches from Japanese tuner Rauh-Welt Begriff and decided that he needed one of the creations in his own garage. Since Leh knows something about cars himself as a driver for Alex Job Racing in the United SportsCar Championship, McGrath put his son in charge of managing the build from the company.
When the car made it to the US for completion from Rauh's famed builder Nakai, father and son bonded over the red, widebody 993-platform 911. The final product is certainly eye-catching. Scroll down to watch the video that features not only an engrossing father-son tale but also a seriously wicked, tuned Porsche from one of Japan's finest.
Everything is coming up roses for the award-winning Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, as new data from the North American Dealers Association dissected by GM Authority reveals that America's sports car is handily outselling two of its more expensive rivals.
Through June of 2014, the NADA notes that the Corvette has rung up 17,744 sales, handily besting the Porsche 911 and positively spanking the SRT Viper. Of course, you're sitting there thinking, "Corvette is outselling the much more expensive Porsche and Viper. Sky blue, water wet." But what's impressive here is just how thoroughly the Chevrolet is beating its two rivals, with this data serving as a testament to just how popular the seventh-generation sports car has become.
So far this year, Porsche has managed to move 5,169 911s, according to NADA. Considering that the base model starts at nearly $15,000 more than the most heavily optioned Stingray, and that Porsche owners have a vast, expensive options catalogue to select from, Stuttgart's sales are still plenty impressive in relation to the nearly 18,000 Corvettes sold.
The Porsche 911 Turbo has a legacy of being a tough car to drive. With a ton of power set right over the rear wheels, its reputation is to lose control as soon as the driver stops concentrating. However, this isn't quite so true anymore. The modern ones are tamed through technology with things like hydraulically controlled engine mounts, not to mention all-wheel drive. In its latest video, Autocar tries to decide whether 25 years of progress really makes the turbo a better vehicle.
It's summer, so what better version to compare than the 911 Turbo Cabriolet? In one corner, Autocar has the latest and greatest 2014 version pumping out 513 horsepower and 486 pound-feet of torque with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Its challenger is a 1989 911 flatnose convertible sporting 326 hp and 347 lb-ft of torque. It's a truly rare car in the UK with only eight of them remaining on the roads in that region.
Granted, this test isn't so much a battle as it is a comparison. There's no question that the modern 911 would beat the classic in practically every objective category. What the video aims to find out is whether the flatnose is better in subjective measurements like its "feel." Scroll down to watch these two droptop Porsches square off.
If you're enticed by the idea of a Porsche sedan but find the Panamera to be too big, your hopes may have been raised by the development of the so-called Pajun. But don't get those hopes up too much, because the latest word coming in from the Old World has it that the Panamera Junior has been delayed.
The Pajun was (and theoretically still is, despite tardiness) a project to apply to the Panamera the same winning formula that Porsche used to transmute the Cayenne into the smaller Macan. Its size would be closer to the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class than the larger Panamera, and employ an array of six-cylinder engines.
The smaller five-door was set to be the cornerstone of Porsche Product Strategy 2018, a plan that included several new models to be launched within the next four years. However, reports now indicate that the Volkswagen Group is counting on Porsche to help bolster its profits and is not keen on investing in new products at this time, pushing the Pajun and other projects back until 2019 at the earliest. Although much of the strategy remains undisclosed, it is believed to include (or have included) a sub-Boxster sports car and a supercar to slot in between the 911 and the 918 Spyder. There was also talk of a shooting brake version of the Panamera based on the Sport Turismo concept pictured above. What will become of those projects, however, remains to be seen.