Car and Driver sits down the the Large Project Leader for the upcoming new Acura NSX, Ted Klaus. They talk about how an American engineer came to be a project lead as well as some of the heritage of the old NSX. The interview really puts me at ease because it seems like Klaus really gets what made the original NSX such a classic driver’s car. Even though many things will be changing in terms of vehicle architecture (the new NSX is a hybrid with three electric motors) and technology, they are making a very real effort to make sure the new car has the same soul as the original. They’re even going as far as to interview owners of the old NSX to see what it is they think is special about their cars. It also makes me really happy to know that a lot of the high-end performance cars currently in development are embracing hybrid technology both for performance and the perception that green technology is the latest and greatest for the industry.
Basem Wasef of Car and Driver pays a visit to Jonathan Ward of ICON. Ward got his start restoring old Toyota Landcruisers through his company TLC. His business then evolved into producing super high-end resto-mod versions of old 4×4’s including the FJ40. His most recent line of cars kind of brings Ward back to the middle ground between his two businesses. The ICON Derelict line takes old cars with perfect patina and re-engineers everything underneath the body without restoring the outer appearance. 3D scans are used to fit a new Art Morrison chassis to the body powered by a modern engine while the interior is fitted with modern gauges and air conditioning cleverly hidden beneath all of the stock equipment. The guys have a pretty candid discussion of what it’s like to drive one of these everyday and the type of hardcore car geek they appeal to.
Cadillac just debuted the ELR extended range electric vehicle last week at the Detroit Auto Show. The ELR is the production version of the Converj concept and is based on technologies from the Chevrolet Volt. Csaba Csere from Car and Driver interviews the engineering, design and marketing minds behind the ELR to get to some of it’s finer details. Right off the bat, this new model is a lot more than a badge swapped Chevrolet Volt. Even though the drive train shares components, the controls programming allows for more power output due to a better understanding of the battery discharge profiles. Cadillac has also decided to add more driving modes including one where the battery energy can be saved for a specific part of your journey. This is great for people whose commute starts on the highway and ends in the city where the electric motor is more efficient. A version of the hold-mode was first available on the European version of the Volt, the Opel Ampera. The ELR will also allow the driver to dial in specific amounts of regenerative braking with shift paddles located behind the steering wheel. The exterior of the ELR was specifically styled “not to scream electric car” which is to say it looks sporty and aggressive. It’s a 2-door coupe that will be about the size of the ATS (which is almost the exact same size as a BMW 3-series). The chassis has also been upgraded with 20 inch wheels, wider tracks and different suspension components for better handling. Cadillac thinks they’ll be pioneering a new market segment with the premium sport luxury extended range electric vehicle. Lets hope they’re not the only ones.
The comparison between the BMW M5 and M6 was one that I thought wasn’t going to be very interesting going into this video by Car and Driver’s European Correspondent, Jethro Bovingdon. The M5 and M6 share the same drivetrain and running gear, but the M6 is a two door coupe instead of a four door sedan (saloon car). Furthermore, the M5 is almost $20,000 cheaper than the M6. Can the M6 be that much better than the already very competent and fast M5? It turns out the M6 is a touch faster in a drag race but ends up being significantly faster around a track thanks to better turn in and a lower center of gravity. The combination of heavy weight with lots of turbo power, balance and grip draws the analogy of the M6 being called the rear-wheel drive version of the GT-R. Ultimately the M6 is a hard car to justify on paper, but Jethro seems to think the car is worth the premium from behind the wheel.
Csaba Csere of CAR and DRIVER got to tag along with the CEO and Head of Development of AMG as they worked on the new 2014 E63 AMG. The E-Series is receiving a pretty extensive mid-cycle refresh next year with the E63 AMG getting the most drastic changes. Not only was this a preview of what was to come on the new car, we also get an inside look at AMG’s history and the way they work. The new car is moving to all wheel drive with a performance variant of the Mercedes-Benz 4matic system. Instead of adapting the regular 4matic E-series systems, the AMG guys specified their own 30/70 front/rear torque split and custom front suspension geometry. They have the freedom to change whatever they need to achieve a balanced performance chassis that can also be daily driven. You can see what they’re doing is working in the shots of the car hustling through the course at El Toro airfield. The new E63 AMG is definitely going to mix it up in the sport luxury category when it goes on sale late next year.