Motor Trend’s Initial Impressions of the C7 Corvette

Motor Trend managed to get their hands on one of the new C7 Corvettes for a quick test. Initial impressions are very positive. The Corvette has always had a reputation of being the best “performance bargain.” On the one hand, that means that you get a lot of outright speed and performance for how much the car costs. On the other hand that meant that buying a Corvette meant that you were making compromises in refinement even though the car was really fast. It seems that General Motors listened to the complaints and addressed them with this new car.

The new LT1 engine is still a pushrod V8 but it now has direct injection, variable valve timing and variable displacement. It legitimately makes more power with less fuel. There were rumors that the C7 was going to move to a smaller 5.5 liter twin turbo V8 for the sake of fuel efficiency, but the engineers figured out they could get better mileage out of a bigger 6.2 liter naturally aspirated V8. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s all about the variable displacement system that shuts off half the engine when power requirements are small. In going to a bigger V8, the engine was also a bigger V4 when half of the cylinders were turned off. This meant that the LT1 could operate as a V4 for more of the duty cycle which resulted in better gas mileage than even the turbo engine could manage.

GM also payed special attention to the interior quality and the lateral support of the seats-two of the biggest complaints about the C6 Corvette. There are more premium materials, like carbon fiber and leather, that define the sharp new design that ties in to the Stingray theme. As you will see in the video, there is a decent sized infotainment touchscreen on the dash and a customizable digital gauge cluster that will give you the old school bar graph tachometer from the C3.

Carlos also says that the new electronically adjustable diff, suspension and tire temperature monitors work with the traction control systems to seamlessly make the car a lot more agile and competent. He goes on to talk about how the front and rear axles are balanced and much more communicative which allows the driver to push the car with confidence.

It looks like General Motors was serious about making the Corvette a serious world class car. Instead of being the compromised bargain, it seems the C7 is now a legitimate all-around sports car that happens to be cheaper than its competition. Kudos to GM for listening to what their customers wanted and then delivering the goods. I can’t wait for the Z06 and ZR-1 versions of this new C7.

Source: Motor Trend on YouTube

Mazda MX-5 Super20

“The answer to everything is Miata” is a running joke over on the Grassroots Motorsports forum. It’s funny because it’s true: the Miata is the perfect blend of low cost of entry, performance potential and practicality. They’re simply fun little cars. Mazda built this MX-5 Super20 concept for the SEMA show in 2010 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Miata. All they had to do was turn to the prolific and enthusiast driven aftermarket that has built itself around the fun to drive nature of the car. The Super20 has a Cosworth engine being force fed by a Flyin’ Miata supercharger kit. Power output is estimated at 225 to 250 horsepower. Suspension has also been upgraded and really wide 16 inch Toyo racing tires fill the widened fender flares.

I really like Carlos’s analogy of music for sports cars. There are cars that perform well because they are designed to do so in a very specific way like the GT-R. He says cars like these represent Punk Rock. They’re in your face in terms of outright performance despite of what driving style you may have behind it’s wheel. Cars like the Miata are more about existing in harmony with the melody of the driver.

Source: Motor Trend on YouTube

2014 Nissan GT-R Track Pack

Welcome to the latest and greatest Nissan GT-R, the 2014 Track Pack. The GT-R story is unique in the automotive world starting with its legacy of racing excellence and continuing with the current R35 model which retained its full developmental program that continually refines the car and the engineers that build it through endurance racing. That’s why each model year of the GT-R goes beyond incremental steps of refinement to  a full blown evolution of the previous model. The GT-R is often considered The Pride of Japan which is apparent in the dedication to the uniquely Japanese way of building sports cars. Check out the video to see Motor Trend’s Carlos Lago and Randy Pobst test the weekend warrior Track Pack for the GT-R at Willowsprings:

Source: Motor Trend on YouTube

Four Generations of M3

Carlos Lago of Motor Trend gathers all four generations of the venerable BMW M3 to drive and review in succession. Rumor has it that the next generation M3 will be powered by a turbocharged inline-6 which will mark the end of the naturally aspirated era for the dynasty. That’s why Carlos decided to round up all of the previous generations to see how their characteristics have evolved while honoring the commonality that binds them together as a family.

I’ve always enjoyed Carlos’s reviews because of his appreciation for chassis balance despite of his easy access to the industry’s high horsepower monsters. He makes an interesting grouping of the M3’s based on their power outputs. Lago says the first two generations, the E30 and E36, are cars where there is more sweetheart lightweight chassis capability than power output. Starting with the 333 horsepower E46 and continuing with the 414 horsepower V8 E92, the M3 became larger and more flexible with the ability to mash the throttle to make the rear end step out at any time. The M3 had to grow in size, power and refinement to follow consumer expectations but always remained true to the M-Division’s goal of building the ultimate 3-series based driving machine.

Even though each generation is distinguished by period influenced power and weight figures, the M3 has always been a driver’s car in terms of exceptional chassis balance and smooth power delivery from an engine eager to rev. Will the next car be able to integrate with the M3 heritage? The new F30 chassis in standard 3-series form has been widely criticized for being duller than what people have come to expect from the car that has always been the industry’s benchmark for sport luxury. That being said, I’m sure the chassis design and suspension geometry are good enough for the M-Division to tweak with spring, shock and anti-roll bar tuning. BMW is also ahead of the curve when it comes to tuning turbocharged engines for responsiveness and smooth power delivery as shown in the Frankenstein hooligan of a car they built with the 1M. The auto industry is in the midst of a paradigm shift towards less energy consumption and carbon emissions, but that doesn’t mean that everything we like about the cars they make is lost. I have no doubt in my mind that BMW will make an outstanding turbocharged M3 that will live up to the cars they’ve built in the past while using technologies that we will need for the future.

Source: Motor Trend on YouTube

2013 Porsche Boxster S

When Porsche first introduced the Boxster, the concept was for the car to be an inexpensive entry level model for the lineup. Turns out a reasonably priced mid-engine Porsche was a great formula for success. That being said, the Boxster had some shortcomings having to work around hand-me-down parts and Porsche’s mandate to keep its performance level significantly short of the bread and butter 911. Now that the Boxster and Cayman have proven themselves as strong sales successes, Porsche’s attitude towards them has reversed. The twins now get their own designs and parts in order to have the top of the line S models have almost identical performance stats with the base model 911. Motor Trend’s Carlos Lago also reveals that being the entry level model has the benefits of tuning focus. What I mean is that the Boxster is under less pressure to deliver specific 0-60 or Nurburgring times than the 911. The result is chassis balance that makes dialing in some oversteer more of a priority than outright grip. Cars tuned for fun are starting to become a rarity these days, but I’m glad to see some people still get it.

Source: Motor Trend