Posts Tagged ‘Motor Trend’
December 18th, 2012
Even though the new-for-2013 SRT Viper has all the buzz, Chevrolet’s 3-year-old Corvette ZR1 is still America’s hottest supercar, at least according to a no-holds-barred comparison test from Motor Trend.
Although the two cars were almost identical on the performance spec sheet, testers not only preferred the ZR1 behind the wheel, but drove it en route to new production car lap record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the process. The ZR1′s 1:33.70 around Laguna Seca broke the record previously held by, you guessed it, the 2010 Dodge Viper ACR. The new 2013 SRT Viper was more than 2 seconds slower than the Chevy, at 1:35.77, though still faster than the Nissan GT-R, Ferrari 458 Italia and Lexus LFA.
Says MT’s Jonny Lieberman:
“I took both monsters for a few laps on our benchmark circuit, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and I was instantly more confident in the Chevrolet. I wasn’t flat-out, but on my third lap I didn’t lift going over turn 1, a feat I rarely accomplish. The HUD indicated I was going 115 mph, for me a freakish rate to be traveling over what’s essentially a blind turn. I tried a similar speed in the Viper and totally chickened out.”
SRT brand chief Ralph Giles bit back:
“There is a lot more left in the car. Randy (Pobst, MT test driver) has always struggled with the Viper” and “We’ve tested both cars at several tracks and never seen a gap like that. Many drivers needlessly fear the Viper.”
The ZR1 is available now, priced from $113,595, with Chevrolet’s next-gen C7 Corvette set to debut next month at the Detroit Auto Show. A 2013 SRT Viper GTS will set you back $124,990.
October 17th, 2012
In roughly a year since the Volkswagen Passat took home the prize for the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year, the midsize sedan category has turned red-hot. The Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Fusion and Honda Accord (all the industry’s top sellers) have seen complete redesigns. Thus we were a bit surprised when in a recent Motor Trend comparison test pitting these six fine family sedans against each other, the Passat still came out on top.
The Passat scores high points for its driving dynamics in a vehicle class where so many choices miss the mark in the name of comfort and mass appeal:
“Steering feel is heavier than the rest, but that’s to be appreciated. As is the slightly stiffer ride. Both add to the ‘tossability’ and athleticism of this sedan. Doesn’t feel as big as it is — that always amazes me. An enthusiast with a family will love this car.”
In reality, though, most family sedan buyers care little for cornering limits and 0-60 times. Fortunately, the Passat’s virtues also include cavernous rear seat space, a large trunk, intuitive controls and an overall interior design that feels timeless, high-quality and, well, German. Pair that with a luxury car exterior design and smooth engines including the 43-mpg 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel, and you get one car that seemingly does everything right.
Changes for the 2013 model year are minor, most notably a newly available back-up camera, a redesigned center console at some trim levels with new rear passenger air vents, and other minor interior functional upgrades.
2013 Volkswagen Passat Special Lease Offer
- $209 Per Month for 36 Months
- $1,999 Due at Lease Signing
- 2013 Passat 2.5S with Appearance Package, Auto Transmission
- Offer Expires October 31, 2012
October 16th, 2012
“Calling it best in class is the definition of an understatement. It’s the best the class has ever seen.” The 2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year award goes to: the freshly redesigned Mercedes-Benz GL-Class. The finest luxury SUV money can buy, say the folks at the influential publication, which each year ranks one brand-new or redesigned car, truck and SUV for top honors among all vehicles tested.
The GL seats seven passengers and comes in three configurations; the diesel-powered GL350 BlueTec, and the V8 GL450 and GL550, any of which offering more-than-adequate power; and was the most “SUV-like” of the entries in this year’s competition, where these days many competitors seem to be more reskinned minivans than true sport-utilities. From its near-sports car acceleration (as low as 5.1 seconds) to its S-Class-level cabin, the GL is not to be missed if cross-shopping three-row luxury crossovers like the Cadillac Escalade, Infiniti QX56 and Lexus LX 570.
The Motor Trend team cited the Benz’s greatest downside as its price: $63,305 for the BlueTec, $64,805 for the GL450 and a whopping $92,465 for the GL550. If that’s not enough power and you have money to burn, an even costlier GL63 AMG is on the way.
Price your very own 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL450 and GL550 here.
April 12th, 2012
When we first reported on the totally redesigned 2013 Lexus GS 350 last August, Lexus took every opportunity to remind the press and potential buyers that unlike the last GS, the new model was a true world-class driver’s car. We must admit we had a chuckle at that, but now that the GS 350 bested the likes of the BMW 535i, Infiniti M37 S and Audi A6 3.0T in a recent Motor Trend comparison test, it is Lexus who’s having the last laugh.
“The Lexus proved the most entertaining, rewarding, and confidence-inspiring up, down, and along our demanding Malibu road loop. Ultimate driving machine? Oh, yeah.” – Motor Trend
The GS 350, equipped for the test with the F-Sport performance package, didn’t lead the field in any quantifiable metric, but nailed the all-important driver engagement test. Combine a slick 6-speed paddle-shifted automatic that never has to hunt for the right gear, driver-adjustable settings for suspension damping, razor-sharp steering response and a willing 3.5-liter V6 and you get one no-apologies midsize that begs to be driven hard.
Inside the GS 350 stands out even in this high-rent district, called the “richest, most aesthetically pleasing cabin in its class.” Motor Trend panned the Lexus for its “abstract art piece” exterior styling, but we kind of like it and you may, too. Has Lexus pulled off a coup? Your own test drive is surely in order.
Midsize Luxury Sport Sedan Pricing
2012 BMW 535i: $53,395; As-Tested $63,245
2012 Audi A6 3.0T: $50,775; As-Tested $57,470
2013 Lexus GS 350 F-Sport: $53,465; As-Tested $58,800
2012 Infiniti M37 S: $55,795; As-Tested $61,225
January 4th, 2012
Well look what we have here. Motor Trend has released its exclusive list of the top 10 best handling cars for 2012; those that post the fastest times on its figure-eight skidpad test, a good metric of how well a car handles in the real world. We dissect the list by price to show you which cars are “bargain buys” and which are especially over the top. There’s some real animals here, including a couple surprises.
Top Audi car tuners Stasis are betting that the regular R8 isn’t enough for some buyers, hence the R8 Challenge Extreme Edition package raising output to 710 horses with bigger brakes and a revised suspension to go with. Priced as a package at $55,995—supply your own 2010+ Audi R8 V10—it’s not cheap, but guaranteed to stand out, even in a crowd of supercars.
Price: $55,995. Plus cost of car.
9 (TIE). 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG/2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
The modern reincarnation of Benz’s famous classic SL300 Gullwing, the new SLS AMG also will bring smiles to even the most seasoned drivers. The striking AMG supercar also achieves 0.99g and smashes the perception Mercedes can’t make world-class-handling cars.
2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S
Porsche’s venerable 911 line begins its new model-code 991 generation with the 911 Carrera and Carrera S in early 2012, with many even higher-performing and more-expensive variations to follow. For 2012 the Carrera S is the most potent Porsche you’ll get under $100,000 with 400 hp from our favorite flat-6 engine.
The Boxster Spyder shows its race roots with an innovative roofline featuring a lightweight canvass top and dual humps over the driver and passenger. The result? 1.04g on the skidpad for under $63k is hard to beat, and the Spyder is easier to drive hard than a 911.
You’ll pay right around the same amount to purchase an Audi R8 GT outright as to get your “base” 2012 Audi R8 5.2 and add Stasis’s Challenge Extreme Edition package. While Audi’s own turn-key racing car GT model may not boast over 700 horses, it does best Stasis’s tuned version (and nearly everything else) in handling prowess.
6 (TIE). 2012 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport/2012 Lexus LFA
2012 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport
The Grand Sport, available in a special Centennial Edition for 2012, is only a few thousand more expensive than the base Corvette and gets some performance goodies from the Z06 (see below). This is one of the best pure handling performance bargains on the market, if not the best.
2012 Lexus LFA
For the cost of a Lexus LFA you could get 2 SLS AMG cars or 6 Porsche Boxster Spyders. The most expensive Japanese car ever offered for sale, a bargain it’s not, but Lexus’s blend of beauty, outright smash and devilishly clever engineering is hard to match at any price.
The 458 Italia was named Motor Trend’s Best Drivers Car of 2011, not only posting crazy test numbers but mastering the driving feel that no bunch of data can capture. The Italia occupies the middle of the Ferrari range, with the cheaper California at one end and the 599 GTB Fiorano and FF at the other.
Price (2012 model): $225,325
German sports cars don’t get much better than this: did you know it was possible to make 450 horsepower from a naturally aspirated sweet-revving flat-6 engine? We didn’t either, until Porsche did it. The race-bred GT3 RS looks the part of a $140,000 turn-key Porsche racer, which is exactly what it is.
$90,000+ cars aren’t usually called a “bargain,” but as in the case of the 530-horsepower 2012 GT-R, when they lap the world’s most difficult race courses faster than almost anything and accelerate from 0-60 mph in under 3 seconds, the word fits. Godzilla will get even faster for 2013. Watch out, Porsche and Ferrari, you just got passed by a Nissan.
Of the tens of different Porsche 911 variations offered, the GT2 RS is the most potent, and most expensive. For a small fortune you’ll get what amounts to the race version of the 911 Turbo, with all non-essential weight thrown out the doors. A rear-mounted twin-turbo flat-6 produces 620 horsepower (that’s only around $400 per pony!) in one of the sweetest and most terrifying-to-drive-fast supercars ever created.
So Chevrolet has done it again, taking the best the Japanese, Italians and Germans can throw at it and besting it with its Z06 supercar killer, named Motor Trend’s Best Handling Car of 2011 based on performance data. The fact that you can possibly actually afford it even if you’re not part of the 1% makes the deal even sweeter.