I’m so glad Motor Trend posted the videos of the interviews they did with the engineers and assembly workers of the Lexus LFA. The LFA can be considered a uniquely Japanese approach to building a supercar. Nowhere is that more evident than when you talk to the people responsible for bringing it to life and hearing them explain the parts of Japanese culture that influenced them.
Nissan USA did an interesting project last year to promote the 370Z as a tuner car. They crowdsourced the tuning decisions on their Facebook page. Fans got to vote for which modifications went on the car. This competition that was put on with the help of Motor Trend is the final phase of the project 370Z. Fans got to vote for another tuned car to take on the car they helped build in a series of competitions. The car that was picked is an enthusiast built Datsun 240Z powered by an RB26 turbocharged inline-6 from a Nissan Skyline GT-R. Here’s how it went down:
Motor Trend’s Johnny Lieberman takes us on a tour of the Mercedes-Benz Unimog museum in Gaggenau Germany. You can really tell that the Unimog is something he’s been passionate about as he explains what makes it so iconic and details the historically significant exhibits in the museum. Johnny also gets to drive some modern Unimogs on the museum’s proving grounds to show off some of their absolutely mind-boggling capabilities.
**EDIT** May 18th, 2013: Here is an additional video from the Daimler Automotive Group of the Unimog assembly line in Woerth as well as some additional proving grounds footage:
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.
This episode of Motor Trend’s Epic Drives bit takes us into Death Valley in the Mojave Desert with the 2013 Ford SVT Raptor. I always enjoy this segment because you learn a lot about both the car and the place where they go. Motor Trend has also stepped up the production value of their YouTube content this year probably as a response to their success in 2012. So sit back and enjoy some gratuitous off-roading in the Raptor and Arthur St. Antoine explaining the interesting features of the Mojave Desert.