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Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Drive: 2012 Iconic AC Roadster

2012 Iconic AC Roadster Front Three Quarters Compare New Car Prices from Dealers Near You! One-Upping the Original Cobra October 30, 2010 / By Frank Markus | Tweet 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Front Three Quarters Low Click to view GalleryKit cars are an interesting breed. Most exist to make an iconic, super-cool old car accessible -- to folks who can't afford the original, to those who can't maintain or operate the original's fragile or archaic equipment, or to modernists who want the look and feel but with air conditioning and an iPod dock. They almost always sell for less than the originals, and most conceal mainstream corporate parts-bin components under their trompe l'oeil skins.

One of the most ubiquitously knocked-off icons is Carroll Shelby's souped-up AC Ace, the Cobra. More than a dozen companies are ready and willing to provide you some semblance of the Cobra driving experience using underpinnings ranging from the MGB and Mazda Miata to custom tube-frames, often stretched and/or widened to better accommodate the dimensions of the American leisure class. Does the world need one more Cobra replica?

2012 Iconic AC Roadster Rear Three Quarter Click to view GalleryNo. And it surely doesn't need one that costs about what a "good" 1965 Cobra Roadster 427 fetches (the base price is $475,000!). Clearly the Iconic AC Roadster is no ordinary kit car. It represents a thorough reimagining of what the AC Cobra might have become with 50 years of continuous evolution. And while legally it is sold as a component car like all the other Cobra kit cars (to avoid design-killing features like airbags), this one uses virtually no recognizable parts. Get a load of this bill of materials.

Engine: Naturally it's a Ford 427, though it starts out as a Ford SVT NASCAR long block that race-engine builder Ernie Elliott bores, strokes, and tops off with Iconic's own cross-ram induction and fuel injection system. The way the individual throttle blades work is even patented. Output ratings: 800 horsepower at 7600 rpm; 660 pound-feet at 5800 rpm. Dry-sump lubrication is fed from a billet-machined oil tank mounted aft of the passenger compartment and includes special oil sprayers to cool the valve springs as they and their pushrods bounce along at the 8000-rpm redline.

2012 Iconic AC Roadster Side 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Side 2 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Rear Three Quarters Low 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Rear Three Quarters 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Rear Three Quarters High 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Passenger Front Three Quarters 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Front Three Quarters Low 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Side 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Rear Three Quarter 2012 Iconic AC Roadster Side 2

Long Term Update 4: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Side View Static Check Dealer Pricing On a New Ford Fusion! Hypermiling in L.A. From the December, 2010 issue of Motor Trend / By Allyson Harwood / Photography by Mike Shaffer | Tweet 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Front Three Quarters Click to view GalleryThe Ford Fusion Hybrid has proved a highly capable commuter, but it doesn't visually stand out in a crowd like the Prius. For those who want to make a statement with their car, this isn't the one to buy. What the Fusion does do, though, is provide a great compromise between ride and handling, with a roomy cabin and large trunk.

As assistant Web producer Scott Evans explains, "The ride is surprisingly soft and comfortable, but not at the expense of handling. No, the handling isn't quite as sharp as the Sport model's, but the Hybrid is no penalty box. And, let's be honest, it's made for Main Street, not Mulholland Drive.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Front View Static Click to view GalleryAround Los Angeles, the Fusion Hybrid is a fantastic commuter. It's quiet and smooth and glides easily along our rough urban streets. It has the power to move with frantic drivers when needed, but it feels so good cruising along that you suddenly don't feel like racing with everyone else on the freeway anymore. Kick back, relax, and get there when you get there.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid Side View Static Hl Click to view Gallery"As good as it is on these streets, it'll only enrage L.A. drivers," Evans says. "I love the power display that shows you how much throttle you can give it and stay in EV mode only, and it's actually kind of fun to challenge yourself and see if you can get it all the way to 47 mph without the gas engine. Unfortunately, it's a long, slow process. The leaves are a likewise fun way to challenge yourself if you're not in a particular hurry to get anywhere. They come and go so easily that it really is a challenge to collect them. On the other hand, while I enjoyed geeking out on the hybrid system, I found it incredibly distracting. A heads-up display might make leaf collecting a bit safer."

Another potential safety issue, one inherent with all hybrids, is that in full-electric mode, pedestrians walking in a parking lot don't always hear this car as it backs out of a space, and they walk right behind it. Ford may need to address this in the future.

First Drive: 2011 Ford Flex Titanium

2011 Ford Flex Titanium Front Three Quarter Check Dealer Pricing On a New Ford Flex! The 50 Thousand Dollar Question November 02, 2010 / By Mike Floyd | Tweet 2011 Ford Flex Titanium Side Click to view GalleryA couple of months back, MT's Detroit editor, Todd Lassa, said in an item introducing the Ford Flex Titanium that you could option it into the 50K range -- right smack in the Lincoln MKT's wheelhouse.

The MKT, in case you aren't up on MK nomenclature (and really, who is), is Lincoln's version of the Flex, and it's supposedly more luxurious and otherwise gloriously differentiated from its Ford sibling. But tack on the Flex Titanium package with the EcoBoost engine option, and suddenly, there's not so much differentiation going on here short of the sheetmetal.

For a vehicle that starts right around 30 grand, the Flex is generally meant for the people-moving masses, a hipper (depending on what you consider hip) alternative to the minivan set, with lots of room for multiple humans and their stuff. But when you want it all, and you don't want it from the Lincoln dealer, you can now turn to the 2011 Ford Flex Titanium.

2011 Ford Flex Titanium Grille Click to view GalleryWe recently had the chance to roll in a Titanium-clad Flex for a couple hundred miles around metro Detroit. The white platinum metallic tri-coat sprayed ($495 option) tester with a black top hat and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost option started at $45,195. Add on the paint, active park assist ($550), the second row 40/40 auto fold seats ($750), panoramic vista roof ($1495), second floor console ($100) with the refrigeration option ($795), and a $775 delivery charge and voila: This particular model checked in at $50,145. And that's without other options such as the entertainment package, which would push it even further past that magical 50 grand mark...

When the Titanium rolled up with its polished 20-inch aluminum rims shining and white tri-coat gleaming, there were plenty of snickers at the sticker. Okay, so this Flex is far from a value proposition, but it does have enough flash and dash to justify its price tag -- to a point.

2011 Ford Flex Titanium Rear Click to view GalleryLet's start with the flash part. Step inside this Flex, and you'll immediately notice the black leather seats with slick-looking white Alcantara inserts. This particular model also featured lots of slick black trim pieces, most definitely a step up from the garden variety Flex. In addition to the optional features, the Titanium comes with a raft of standard equipment, including a navigation system with real-time traffic updates, Ford's Sync, Sony audio system, Sirius satellite radio, backup camera, and power adjustable pedals.

First Drive: Bowler Nemesis EXR

Bowler Nemesis EXR Front Three Quaters View Check Dealer Pricing On a New Land Rover Range Rover Sport! Real World Tonka Toy Takes on the Big Guys November 02, 2010 / By Nick Hall | Tweet Bowler Nemesis EXR Front Three Quaters In Motion Click to view GalleryPorsche's Cayenne Turbo, BMW's X6M, and Mercedes' ML63 are a hit with buyers. They're big, comfortable, and most of all, fast. But they're in for a shock. There's a new kid in town, a true off-road super ute.

As I drift around a field for what feels like the 150th time, laughing like a maniac and plowing four huge ruts in the soil, it occurs to me that the Bowler Nemesis EXR might just be the most innovative supercar on the road. Or off it.

Bowler Nemesis EXR Side Profile Click to view GalleryIndependent rally raider Drew Bowler's home-brewed creations were a constant thorn in the side of the works teams on the infamous Dakar Rally and other brutal long-distance rallies. Eventually fellow competitors asked him to build cars for them, and Bowler Offroad was born.

The Nemesis is the third race-bred model in the lineup, and the EXR is the company's first road car. And while it might look like a heavily modified Range Rover Sport upon which its loosely based, underneath it is nothing of the sort. That is clear the first time I fire up the 500-horsepower supercharged five-liter and fire the car down the field Drew has set aside for this unconventional test.

Bowler Nemesis EXR Rear Three Quarters In Motion Click to view GalleryThe acceleration, even on this surface, is borderline insane. On tarmac it hits 62 mph in 3.9 seconds, just a couple of ticks behind the Lamborghini LP560-4. And even on this track it isn't much slower, as the 22-inch wheels find their footing and the blown V-8 slings roughly 3850 pounds of Spartan warrior towards the horizon. With 461 pound-feet of torque it really doesn't need the revs. Just plant the throttle and it takes off.

Stones hit the floor like a violent volleys of machine-gun fire, and the engine note roars around the cabin, which contains a dashboard, plush leather-trimmed race seats, and not much else. There's some prototype trim, and Bowler intends to offer any level of comfort, from a stripped weekend warrior on rally spec suspension to a fully appointed luxury car that sits more than 2 inches lower than the Rover Sport and comes replete with leather and aluminum and copious sound-deadening. It also comes with a lower-slung bodykit. All of those options add weight and slow the car down, though, and there's something deeply satisfying about this hooligan spec machine.

Bowler Nemesis EXR Side View Bowler Nemesis EXR Rear View Off Roading Bowler Nemesis EXR In Motion Side View Bowler Nemesis EXR Rear Profile Bowler Nemesis EXR Rear Three Quarters View Bowler Nemesis EXR Front Profile

Long Term Update 2: 2010 Volkswagen Routan

2010 Volkswagen Routan Side View Driver Check Dealer Pricing On a New Volkswagen Routan! November 03, 2010 / By Allyson Harwood / Photography by Mike Shaffer | Tweet 2010 Volkswagen Routan Front Three Quarters Click to view GalleryExecutive editor Ed Loh recently used the Routan as a tour bus, lugging six friends to major tourist spots in the Los Angeles area, including Philippe's the Original (best French dip sandwiches in town), Olvera Street, and Chinatown, plus Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Drive, and the Farmers Market.

The visitors, a family from France, own a Renault Espace and are familiar with the Euro-market Volkswagen Touran (swap the T and the R and you know where VW got the name Routan). They were impressed by the dual fold-down LCD screens, headphones, remote controls, and power sliding doors and cargo door. "The Routan was admired by our French friends. Though access to the backseat for the three kids was a bit inelegant, we were able to fit nearly 6-foot-tall Antoine, 11-year-old Nicolas, and 6-year-old Louise in the third row."

2010 Volkswagen Routan Side View Driver 2010 Volkswagen Routan Side View Driver Static

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