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    2021 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 Struggles to Engage Its Pilot

    The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD isn’t a great sports coupe. The great ones offer more engaging handling, better and more responsive steering, and even a manual gearbox. Those are all things we might get when the Q60’s cousin, the new Nissan Z, arrives later this year.

    2021 Infiniti Q60 Starts at $42,675

    Tested: 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400

    The current Q60 debuted in 2017, and we’ve always found it to be more on the luxury spectrum than the sports-car spectrum. It’s certainly not the newest or most compelling sports coupe in its ever-shrinking segment, but the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400’s engine still has what it takes to make us smile whenever one comes around.
    The Red Sport 400 part of the name refers to the horsepower output of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 under the Q60’s hood. Power comes in at 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Base versions get a low-energy version of the engine with 300 horsepower. The new Z-car will employ a similar version of this twin-turbo powerplant, and that can’t come soon enough since the 3.7-liter V-6 in the current 370Z is long past its sell-by date. That Z is also expected to come with a standard six-speed manual transmission, whereas the Q60 buyer can only get a seven-speed automatic. Less likely to make it to the new Z is our test car’s ($2000) all-wheel-drive system. Like the standard Q60, the Z will be a rear-driver.

    Infiniti

    Winter weather prevented us from testing the 2021 car, but Infiniti hasn’t changed the Q60’s powertrain since we tested one in 2017. With all-wheel drive, a 400-hp Q60 posted a fleet 4.4-second run to 60 mph and a quarter-mile pass in 12.8 seconds at 111 mph. It’d likely be even quicker if the seven-speed automatic would shift faster.
    Slow shifts or not, we did appreciate the growls from the Red Sport’s boosted V-6’s exhaust, particularly at lower engine speeds. Running it near the 7000-rpm redline, however, leads to some gruffness. We were impressed enough by the tones coming from the exhaust that we looked under the car and noticed it had a $718 dealer-installed performance exhaust system that wasn’t listed on its window sticker.

    Infiniti

    There were no such tweaks to the chassis. There’s nothing glaringly offensive here; it just all seems a bit dull and not in line with what you expect of a 400-hp coupe. Back in 2017, the Red Sport measured 0.88 g of lateral grip and stopped from 70 mph in 164-foot stop, numbers that would be good for a family sedan but are only fair for a sports coupe.In Michigan, dry pavement is a rarity in January, but the roads dried and we ran out to our 10Best driving loop to shake the Q60 down. On our favorite loop, the Infiniti lacked the joy and composure of competitors like the Audi S5. Even an A5 is more fun than the Q. Infiniti offers a Proactive package ($1700) that adds Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS), a steering-by-wire system that Infiniti has been playing with for years. We’ve never loved that system and the steering weirdness it creates, but even without it the Q60 still lacks the responsiveness we expect in a sports coupe.

    Infiniti

    Along with the thrust from the Red Sport’s engine, much of the Q60’s appeal lies in its shapely bodywork. Our test car’s $695 Slate Gray paint and $2280 carbon-fiber trim made it a head turner. It’s a shame the interior’s dated look doesn’t match the exterior. Infiniti’s stacked infotainment screens and the materials aren’t commensurate with our test car’s $65,703 as-tested price. Base versions start at $42,675, and that’s about where this interior plays.
    The list of cars you could buy instead of this Q60 Red Sport 400 is long and includes the Audi S5, BMW M440i xDrive, and Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic coupe. All of those choices offer more refinement and are more engaging and enjoyable to drive than the Q60. A Lexus RC350 F-Sport comes closest to the Q60 Red Sport’s mien, but while the Lexus two-door can’t match the Red Sport 400’s power and acceleration, it does cost significantly less. In fact, moving up to the V-8 powered 471-hp RC-F requires a mere $1297 more than the as-tested price of our Q60. The RC-F and the Q60 Red Sport 400 aren’t even in the same league. While we’re looking forward to a Z-car with the Q60’s strong twin-turbo engine, even with 400 horsepower the Q60 Red Sport 400 itself isn’t a compelling choice.

    Specifications

    SPECIFICATIONS
    2021 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport
    VEHICLE TYPEfront-engine, rear- or all-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
    BASE PRICE$59,125
    ENGINE TYPEtwin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 183 in3, 2997 cm3Power: 400 hp @ 6400 rpmTorque: 350 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
    TRANSMISSION7-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONSWheelbase: 112.2 inLength: 184.4 inWidth: 72.8 inHeight: 54.5–54.9 inPassenger volume: 85–86 ft3Trunk volume: 9 ft3Curb weight (C/D est): 3900–4050 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST) 60 mph: 4.4­ sec100 mph: 10.5 sec1/4-mile: 12.8 secTop speed: 150 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 21–22/19–20/26–27 mpg
    c/d testing explained

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    Tested: 1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Deserves a Manual

    From the July 1998 issue of Car and Driver.
    For Mercedes-Benz’s C43 AMG intro, downpours in Phoenix and snows up in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest slicken the roads as if on Satan’s command. No luck, Lucifer—the C43 is slicker than you are. This tidy V-8-powered, AMG-altered four-door is Mercedes’s smallest sedan, but it’s second only to the S600 in quickness.
    [editoriallinks id=’8c1fd21b-ebe9-44fa-b793-c81059ddd260′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    AMG is the preeminent modifier of Mercedes-Benzes. Remember the AMG Hammer tested in our December 1986 issue? The Hammer was the world’s greatest sports sedan—a Mercedes E-class bod stoked by a 5.5-liter V-8 wearing AMG twin-cam 32-valve heads. It put out 355 horsepower, did the zero-to-60 rush in 5.0 seconds, and ran 178 mph flat out. Of course, it cost—Hammers sold for as much as $160,000 in the United States, while stock Mercedes 300Es went for around $40,000.
    More-recent AMG projects have been less wild, more affordable, and available for sale at Mercedes-Benz dealerships with the blessing of a full factory warranty. The Mercedes-Benz C36 got the ball rolling in 1995. This fat-tired and bespoilered C-class mini-hammer had a heavily breathed-on straight-six that made 268 horsepower—74 more than in a stock C280. In 1997, the price paid for that performance premium was $17,847 ($53,842 total).
    [image id=’a73ad4e6-a1bc-4a77-9d27-d2a050b65379′ mediaId=’3f4b6856-d0f5-45f2-a014-ce739489d0d5′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    This year AMG has pounded the C-class engine room full of V-8 vroom. The “donor” engine in this case is Benz’s newly introduced SOHC 24-valve 4.3-liter twin-spark V-8, a modular cousin of the 2.8-liter V-6 that now powers the stock C280. Some specifics: pressure-cast aluminum block; aluminum oil pan and pistons; hollow forged­-steel rods; and dual-resonance, power-broadening intake runners. As fitted to the stock E430, this engine makes 275 horsepower at 5750 rpm, and 295 pound-­feet from 3000 to 4000 rpm. (The 4.3 will also appear in an ML430 sport-ute and a CLK430 supercoupe.)
    [pullquote align=’center’]HIGHS: Beautiful, exquisitely supportive seats; V-8’s great engine note; lunge of on-cam power; fabulous sound system.[/pullquote]
    AMG slapped on a higher­ pressure oil pump and oil jets to cool the bottoms of the pistons, a new twin-tube air-cleaner assembly to reduce restriction, and a modified magnesium intake manifold that is ported to improve airflow. Stiffer valve springs have been fitted, and the cast camshafts are replaced with modular ones that provide a bit more overlap. These modest tweaks improve high-­rpm output, raising the peak numbers to 302 horsepower at 5850 rpm and 302 pound-feet from 3250 to 5000 revs. The V-8 even boasts squeaky-clean exhaust emissions. To wit: M-B claims the engine performs at Ultra Low­ Emission Vehicle levels. The price premium is $18,564 more than a standard C280, or $54,559.
    As with the C36 and every vehicle Mercedes sells in the U.S., a five-speed automatic is the only transmission. This unit, borrowed from the SL500, “learns” a driver’s style and adapts the C43’s shift characteristics.
    [image id=’f75c8aa2-5b4a-49eb-be7e-d72fdf064073′ mediaId=’fca641cd-0365-4d54-acfa-13d8b7a0616e’ align=’left’ size=’large’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Our style consisted primarily of sledging this hammer around, foot to floorboard. The C43 AMG rewards this type of behavior with a mellifluous yet malevolent V-8 burble and right-respectable accelerative g-force. Our instruments measured 6.1 seconds to 60 mph and 14.7 seconds through the quarter-mile at 98 mph. Terminal velocity: 151 mph, drag limited. The C36, which had a poorer power-to-­weight ratio and taller gearing, managed to hit 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, and ran the quarter in 14.6 at 97 mph. It also hit its governor at 152 mph. Our test car fell shy of Mercedes’ own (typically conservative) 5.9-second zero-to-60 time and 155-mph governed top speed, which suggests that our mini-hammer might not have been wielding its full wallop. Even making full power, the C43 will lose drag races to its Bavarian rivals because they come armed with manual gearboxes. They’re the similarly sized but $14,000-cheaper BMW M3, or the larger but similarly priced 540i (either of which can rip to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and blast through the quarter in 14.0 and 14.1 seconds, respectively).
    Still, some say there’s more to life than drag-stripping. For the C43, Mercedes modifies the C280 Sport suspension by adding higher-rate springs front and rear, and stiffer Bilstein gas-pressure “degressive-action” shocks (stiffest at first, then softer) with two-part piston and integral tension springs. Mercedes says they control body motions better than ordinary progressive-action (ever-increasing stiffness) layouts. Indeed, the C43 delivers precise ride control and handling without kidney-­crushing harshness. The aluminum V-8 is more compact and 44 pounds lighter than the C36’s iron-block inline six and those attributes improve handling.
    [pullquote align=’center’]LOWS: Price per pound of beef; power-sapping slush­box transmission. [/pullquote]
    The C43’s wheels are 17-inchers, 7.5 inches wide in front, 8.5 wide in back, mounted with Michelin Pilot SX tires, 225/45ZR-17s and 245/40ZR-17s—all stuffed inside subtly widened fenders. Huge internally ventilated, four-wheel disc brakes—13.1-inch fronts, 11.8-inch rear, all with floating discs and two-piston floating calipers for cooling—come from an AMG racing setup. They deliver such stopping power and fade resistance that all-out braking levitates you forward against the shoulder harness.
    [image id=’5c3f81a4-5207-47f3-986c-2ca33f2211cc’ mediaId=’92f528f0-080b-4083-88bb-1587bb5f612f’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Subtly trimmed with modest spoilers and side skirts, the C43 performance flagship is a hot shot. It boasts an artful chassis—fine steering up front, plentiful power exiting at the rear for sporting balance. A pip to drive, it levers the power against the tail’s stability—give some, take some. Moisture on the macadam let you feel “automatic slip regulation” at work. ASR serves as traction control and as an electronic limited-slip differential. An “electronic stability program” works to sustain directional poise by selectively braking one wheel if your path wavers. Prefer less techno interference? Just cancel it by poking two dash buttons.
    Right away we feel enough “techspertise” in C43s to go scything along a writhing, weather-lashed Arizona byway so slithery it oughta squirt us off like watermelon seeds. The C43’s front buckets feature pneumatically adjustable lumbar and thigh supports, plus torso-bolstering “wings” to hold both the driver and passenger in place during force-seven floggings. Wondrously adjustable works of art, they’re as supportive as you’ll find.
    [image id=’a537f738-9bd1-48f7-9355-90ce2561e7a0′ mediaId=’476d9003-127b-4ac6-889b-4e7af222c0fe’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’6×4′][/image]
    The C43 doesn’t seem to have any direct rivals. Over at BMW, $56,512 buys the phenomenal 540i six-speed, the closest thing in the U.S. to an M5. (The real M5 is about to go on sale in Europe and will cost more, competing directly with the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG.) An M3 provides closer competition in terms of size, but costs $14,000 less and proves equally involving to drive.
    [pullquote align=’center’]THE VERDICT: A runner and a gunner but outgunned by BMW’s manually shifted supersedans.[/pullquote]
    Given a $56,000 wad of cash to blow on an exclusive sports sedan, our logical, rational side would probably steer us into the BMW store for that 540i. It’s faster, roomier, and handles about as well as the C43. But our illogical, romantic inner child might pester us into snatching up one of the 1500 C43 AMGs Mercedes plans to import during the next three years, just to listen to its urgent wail, to revel in its quick reflexes, and to play in those multi­-adjustable seats. This one is for fun.
    Counterpoint
    If Mercedes is trying to one-up the performance boys at BMW, it had better head to the parts bin for a manual gearbox. In zero to 60, zero to 100, and the quarter-mile, this C43 outruns the BMW M3 automatic, but gets creamed by the M3 manual. For $54,559, you should get perfection—and it would be perfect with a stick. This is one time that it’s not hyperbole to say that in hard acceleration you can actually feel your back being pressed into the seat. The engine’s sound is simply thrilling. Despite this arsenal of V-8 firepower, the car sticks hard and handles like a dream. The only worry an owner will ever have is the prospect of a passenger’s staining the gray upholstery. —Steve Spence
    [image id=’f9f1e027-a6f7-4d17-8f43-df9d862a1a8a’ mediaId=’cd7896d2-7300-4c72-a7bf-c211b143f425′ align=’left’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    In November 1994, the C/D editorial staff drew up an automotive wish list. Any car, any price, drive it daily for five years. My choice: the Mercedes 500E, a stealthy, stoic sedan with supercar grunt. This C43 AMG might be my pick today, although I’d hope for a livelier example than our test car. With five gear ratios instead of four, and a better power-to-weight ratio than the lusty 500E has, the C43 should have been quicker and faster. Nevertheless, its wild-‘n’-woolly exhaust note, quick reflexes, and tight grip on the road push all the same buttons that the 500E did. Of course, if I wait another year, I could have the E55 AMG—the true 500E successor. —Frank Markus
    A limited-production hot rod like this one should be right up my gasoline alley, but I’m having trouble getting fired up about the C43. Issuing it with an automatic gearbox only is hard enough to swallow. Its slamming gearshifts and spasmodic throttle response, though, make smooth, spirited driving virtually hopeless. Sure, the C43’s a lightning bolt in a straight line, but I can’t imagine that stoplight drags were this car’s intended mission. I don’t want to discourage carmakers from climbing out on a limb to satisfy enthusiasts, but at this price, Mercedes should have done much better. —Don Schroeder
    [vehicle type=’specpanel’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=” vehicle-model=” vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=” vehicle-year=”][/vehicle]
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    2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo Puts AMG and M in Its Sights

    Today, every Maserati comes with a built-in leap of faith. The 2021 Ghibli Trofeo shortens the distance of the jump and makes the risk very worthwhile.
    Maserati has enjoyed a spectacular history since 1914. Juan Manuel Fangio drove Maseratis to Formula One Drivers’ Championships in both 1954 and 1957, and Wilbur Shaw won the 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500 in one. There are great cars throughout Maserati’s past, and it deserves the reverence that its name commands. And yet for every high point in Maserati history, there’s been a mighty dip.Italian for trophy, the Trofeo name is being affixed to the Ghibli and Quattroporte for the first time. The name returns to mark a super-premium brand above mere regular Maseratis. It plays the same role as M at BMW, AMG at Mercedes-Benz, Blackwing at Cadillac, or Kirkland Signature at Costco. Currently, the Trofeo is applied to all three Maserati models—the mid-size Ghibli, the somewhat-larger Quattroporte four-door sedans, and the Levante SUV. The two-door GranTurismo and GranTurismo convertible models ended their run last year.

    View Photos

    Maserati

    To achieve Trofeo status, the Ghibli receives a Ferrari-derived twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V-8 with 580 horsepower and 538 pound-feet of torque. In the context of modern turbocharged V-8s, however, that’s modest grunt. The 603-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 in the Mercedes-AMG E63 S, for instance, knocks out 627 pound-feet, and the 591-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 in the Audi RS7 wallops with 590 pound-feet.
    While the Maserati’s engine can’t quite measure up to those two, the Maserati sends its power to two wheels, not four. To make the most of the available traction, Maserati employs a launch-control system that works with the excellent ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. To activate it, point the steering straight ahead and select the Corsa driving mode. If you’re lacking in calcium and your femurs shatter holding down the brake and accelerator, that’s on you. Release the brake, and the car races forward.

    2021 Maserati Lineup Receives Visual Updates

    Maserati Ghibli, Quattroporte to Get Trofeo Trims

    Maserati claims the sprint to 60 mph requires 4.0 seconds. Both Germans are much quicker. Unlike its all-wheel-drive competition, the Ghibli Trofeo launch control allows some wheel spin, and the launch isn’t the gut punch you’d expect from this power level. Before the acceleration begins in earnest, there’s a slight yaw in the tail as the tires hunt for traction and the mechanical limited-slip differential figures out where to send the torque. There’s no hard slam of thrust but a sensation of the car working to find its footing. Keep going, and the Ghibli Trofeo will hit 203 mph, according to Maserati. That’s right there with the claims for the Charger Hellcat Redeye. Now that’s a consumer-relevant comparison that needs to happen.

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    Maserati

    Maserati limited our exposure to the Ghibli Trofeo to the high-desert Willow Springs Raceway outside of Los Angeles. On the big track at Willow, the Ghibli Trofeo proved adept and easy to plant at the apex of each corner. These weren’t qualifying laps. Despite the 21-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero PZ4s, the Ghibli is a luxury car first and a sports sedan second. At a tepid pace, the suspension deals with Willow’s sometimes ragged surface without complaint. In the most radical Corsa mode, the stability control loosens its grip and makes it easier to get in trouble. Not easy, but easier. The thrust out of corners is short of the insane charge of the other sedans in this class. On the road, the Ghibli Trofeo will likely feel incredibly quick.
    The Ghibli’s 118.0-inch wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than that of a Mercedes-AMG E63 S, but the Maserati’s 195.7-inch overall length is 0.7 inch shorter than the German’s. It’s subtle, but those proportions and a taut skin-stretched-over-muscle appearance give the Ghibli a look that the rest of the class lacks. Maserati isn’t shy about adding swoops and flourishes that add to the aggressive countenance. For 2021, a restyled grille and new “boomerang” taillights add some zip to a design that was dang zippy when it first appeared back in 2013. To distinguish the Trofeo, there are some carbon-fiber pieces (because that’s what sporty sedans in the 2020s get) and a few red accents to announce the presence of the studly V-8 under the hood.
    Inside, there’s a new larger 10.1-inch touchscreen for controlling everything, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The seats are comfortable, the console-mounted shifter is precise, and there are big paddles behind the steering wheel for satisfyingly quick shifts. Never on the cutting edge, the interior has a certain old-school charm now—analog gauges in an era obsessed with digital displays. It’s possible that in a few years the Maserati will look less dated than the current electronic fashion.

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    Maserati

    The very best thing about the Ghibli Trofeo is that it isn’t an Audi, BMW, Mercedes, or even a Dodge Charger Hellcat. It might not be as quick as its competition, but it’s just as fiery. The Ghibli Trofeo is compelling because it sounds and looks different, and that makes it a unique proposition for an iconoclast. Just make sure you’re ready to part with the $115,085 that Maserati wants to help you stand out. That’s an eye-watering $41,400 more than the least-expensive Ghibli.
    Maserati’s history of ups and downs carry through to the massive depreciation suffered by its latest cars. Getting the most from the Ghibli Trofeo requires appreciating the allure of the marque’s history and finding it in the current car’s details and design. Be ready, however, for a big depreciation hit. That part is still a leap of faith.

    Specifications

    SPECIFICATIONS
    2021 Maserati Ghibli Trofeo
    VEHICLE TYPEfront-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
    BASE PRICE$115,085
    ENGINE TYPEtwin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement232 in3, 3799 cm3Power580 hp @ 6750 rpmTorque538 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
    TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONSWheelbase: 118.0 inLength: 195.7 inWidth: 76.6 inHeight: 57.5 inTrunk volume: 18 ft3Curb weight (C/D est): 4700 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)60 mph: 3.7 sec100 mph: 8.9 sec1/4-mile: 11.9 secTop speed (mfr’s claim): 203 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMYCombined/city/highway: 16/13/20 mpg 

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    2021 Porsche 911 Turbo Brings Effortless Performance

    A quick canyon run in the 2021 911 Turbo is like going for a jog with a greyhound. Only one of you will be working at your limit. We’d call it surgically precise, but anyone still using the scalpel metaphor to describe the Turbo deserves to be shanked with one, not just for unimaginative wordplay but because a regular old steel knife doesn’t describe the micron-precise character of a 992 Turbo. You need something sharper. Something diamond tipped or obsidian. This car moves like laser light. It can slice atoms. It launches so hard to 60 mph you might only have 2.4 seconds to swallow your tongue.

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    Porsche

    It’s not raw horsepower that gives the 911 Turbo its surgical speed, although its twin-turbo 3.7-liter flat-six engine—now making 572 horsepower—is hardly lacking. What’s more impressive is that those horses are sturdy beasts with a low, wide stance and a stable temperament. You can’t startle them, and although you might be able to get a squeal out of the Pirelli tires, it’s more of a war cry than a call for help. It takes a lot of tech to train ponies, and the 911 Turbo is a combination of mechanical and electronic brilliance. The front track width of the 2021 911 Turbo is actually slightly narrower than that of the standard Carrera, but the rear is nearly two inches wider. It’s 0.4 inch wider than the previous Turbo. Anchoring that extended track are big tires staggered to almost hot-rod levels, with 255/35R-20-inch rubber on standard 9.0-inch-wide wheels in the front and 315/30R-21s on 11.5-inch wheels in the back. Those big wheels turn like skinnies thanks to a retuned steering setup. Even the back tires are there to help by adding rear-axle steering to your all-wheel-drive slice and dice. Then, of course, there are the brakes, 16.1-inch full moons that will bring you down from triple digits as reliably as a concrete wall—and with much less damage. Shifts in the eight-speed transmission happen quicker than you can think of how you’d rather have a manual, and once you lower the whole thing down by 0.4 inches with the optional Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) system, you’re pretty much racetrack-ready. If our fractional-inch breakdown doesn’t give you the proper thrill, think of it this way: Taking the 911 Turbo around corners feels like someone has pulled the road straight in front of you. It’s genuinely surprising to look in the rearview mirror and see that it was winding.

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    Porsche

    2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S at Lightning Lap 2021

    Porsche 911 Turbo S Offers Performance and Persona

    Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet: Fast Headroom

    But all of this is what we expect from the 911 Turbo. A car that starts at $172,150 and can get to $200,000 almost as quickly as it can reach its 199-mph top speed ought to be a capable road-carver. It also should be a standout when it’s standing still. From outside, the Turbo shares most of the speedy jellybean looks of all 911s, but a walkaround shows that every inlet is just a smidge bigger, there’s an extendable front spoiler, and in the back it’s all ducktail and ducting, with a rear wing above the taillight bar and large air intakes in the rear fenders. In order to sound as tough as it looks, our test car came with the sport exhaust (a $3490 option), which changes the exhaust tips from the standard rectangular shape to ovals and gives the 911 an irritable snarl, sure to separate your car-loving neighbors from those who like to sleep in.
    Where the Turbo really earns its badges—a $310 option available in a variety of colors if you want them—is between high-speed sprints. The Turbo’s cabin isn’t just an acceptable place to spend a day. It’s a pleasure, a cocoon that hugs you gently, yet still offers enough room between you and a passenger for each person to maintain a sense of individual self. Back seats, as expected in any 911, are better suited to a picnic basket than picnickers, but you could shove a small pal back there in a transportation emergency.

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    Porsche

    In advance of track testing, we gave our 911 a street test, taking it on a scavenger hunt in search of “muffler men,” those roadside-attraction fiberglass giants built in the 1960s to advertise tire shops and transmission swaps. Exact locations of road-trip oddities can be difficult to pin down, so it made for a good challenge of the 911’s map display, outward visibility, and last-minute turning radius. “Over there, I see one!” shouted my passenger, prompting a hard brake application and sudden U-turn, both of which the Turbo handled as casually as it would a turn into a driveway. Speaking of turning into driveways—often an Achilles’ heel of sports cars—steep entries and unexpected speedbumps don’t bother the 911. Even without using the optional nose lift, we were able to navigate curb cuts and skim a gravel parking lot as we hunted down L.A.’s plastic colossi. If we decide to revisit a particularly difficult entrance, the GPS coordinates of any spot can be saved and will automatically lift the car on approach.
    The 911 Turbo’s everyday ease paired with arrest-me-now performance is what makes this car worth big bucks. It’s good at everything, making it not a surgeon’s scalpel after all but a handy, handsome, Swiss Army knife.

    Specifications

    Specifications
    2021 Porsche 911 Turbo
    VEHICLE TYPE rear-engine, all-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 2-door coupe
    BASE PRICE $172,150
    ENGINE TYPE twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve flat-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement 229 in3, 3746 cm3Power 572 hp @ 6500 rpmTorque 553 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
    TRANSMISSION 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
    DIMENSIONS Wheelbase: 96.5 inLength: 178.5 inWidth: 74.8 inHeight: 50.9–51.3 inPassenger volume: 74 ft3Cargo volume: 5 ft3Curb weight (C/D est): 3650 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST) 60 mph: 2.4 sec100 mph: 5.6 sec1/4 mile: 10.5 secTop speed: 199 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY Combined/city/highway: 17/15/20 mpg

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    Tested: Nine 2008 Compact Crossovers vs. Drummond Island

    From the February 2008 issue of Car and Driver.
    The mud hole didn’t look that deep. As it turned out, it was deep enough to be on a catfish farm. We did use a maple branch to gauge its depth. Okay, so maybe we didn’t get the branch all the way out there in the, uh, middle.
    [editoriallinks id=’deb5df21-26fd-4e56-a7b3-0097607bcf2a’ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    See, what happened was, we made an error in judgment common to off-roaders who are wet, weary, and want beer. The trail got rough—too muddy, too rocky, too vertical—but a paved road was only 1.2 miles distant. Who’d quit at that point? Especially since the only alternative was a two-hour off-road ramble in reverse. In the dark. In weather three degrees above freezing.
    About 20 feet ahead of this deep catfish hole, the Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI camera car had gotten stuck in another gooey clay hole. We took a vote and agreed to dispatch our fiercest off-roader, the Jeep Liberty, to go set it free. That’s how it was similarly torpedoed. A sunken Liberty ship.
    Our plan was to subject nine of the best-known compact SUVs to a mixture of light off-roading and challenging paved roads. Destination: Drummond Island, a 20-minute ferry ride from the eastern tip of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Twenty-five miles long and 15 miles wide, it is the largest freshwater island in the United States, a curious limestone escarpment dotted with cedar swamps, ridges, and prairie meadows. The island is home to 1200 full-time residents, not including bobcats, eagles, and wolves, and is the site of former Domino’s Pizza mogul Tom Monaghan’s controversial but bucolic 3000-acre resort, built in the late 1980s. We stayed next to the cabins that Pizza Man erected specially for his pals—a priest and two of his former employees, Sparky Anderson and Bo Schembechler. None of those guys showed up.
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    We hadn’t gathered this many soft-roaders since a snowy 2001 comparo that the Ford Escape won. Since then, the segment has exploded. “In a lackluster ’07,” noted Automotive News, “this is where the action is.” Sales of car-based SUVs climbed 23.5 percent in the first nine months of ’07. As of last fall, there existed 45 crossover nameplates, 11 more than the year before. The three hottest hot cakes? Honda’s CR-V, Ford’s Escape, and Toyota’s RAV4.
    Our nine econo-ute contestants all featured four-wheel drive and stickers as close to $25,000 as we could arrange. Although Americans have thumbed their noses at wagons for years, these are, in fact, tall wagons.
    None of our SUVs had a skid plate. None, apart from the Jeep and Suzuki, made more than faint claims to off-road prowess. “So how far do you want to take this?” asked our off-road guide, Craig Hoffman.
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    “Let’s just take the straightest route to the nearest beer-and-burger joint,” we told him. Which is how we wound up having to return the next day with chains, come-alongs, snatch straps, a water pump with a three-inch hose, and a jacked-up Ford F-250. It took three hours, but we yanked the Benz and the Jeep back through the kind of primordial goo that would ruin an alligator. Both fired up instantly. Both continued unfazed.
    “Tell me again, what magazine do you work for?” asked Hoffman.
    “Women’s Wear Daily,” I informed.
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=’jeep’ vehicle-model=’jeep_liberty’ vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=’jeep_liberty_jeep-liberty_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Ninth Place: Jeep Liberty Limited 4×4
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    You can’t always get what you want, and what we wanted—but couldn’t locate—was a Liberty with one option only, the $445 Selec-Trac II four-wheel drive. Although this second-gen Liberty carried the steepest base and as-tested prices in this group, it remains a conveyance so squarely aimed at the segment that we couldn’t exclude it.
    HIGHS: Vaultlike platform, a bull in the mud, a brand name with cachet.LOWS: Cramped seats and footwells, too heavy, dismal fuel economy.
    With its buttressed unibody, our Toledo terror felt even more solid and trucklike than the Suzuki. In fact, it was too insistent about its truckishness, what with that bolt-upright gun slit of a windshield, no dashboard, 4406 pounds of mass ( 952 more pounds than the winner of this comparo), and a trans tunnel so wide that it squeezed the front footwells into little bowling alleys. No room for a driver’s dead pedal. Neither was there room for proper seats, whose cushions were so narrow that we vowed to give up french fries. Or would those be liberty fries?
    [editoriallinks id=’26100905-550e-4836-b47d-35e7997a8fa1′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    No one was comfortable in the Jeep. It was the tallest vehicle here and always felt tippy, and its springs—super compliant in the first couple inches of travel—induced uneasy yawing that, in turn, confounded its sense of straight-ahead. Steering corrections were obligatory every couple seconds. Combine that with a spongy brake pedal, a 194-foot stopping distance, and the worst engine NVH, and you have a vehicle relying too heavily on a previous reputation.
    At least the SOHC 3.7-liter V-6 was a bull, offering the second-greatest power (210 horsepower) and the most torque (235 pound-feet). Throttle tip-in was smooth, too, a real plus during rock crawling. Alas, the V-6 delivered an observed 16 mpg, simply unacceptable. A fifth gear might have helped.
    [image id=’d35c5c08-a627-420e-87e7-4ab42932965f’ mediaId=’34b5d0d3-9333-4b3e-9928-ec6a6a49e167′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Of course, trolling through Drummond’s deepest and dirtiest off-road goop, all of those complaints vanished. On hand was an unbeatable 9.5 inches of ground clearance, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, ABS that knows to pulse longer in sand or gravel, zero body flex, big approach and departure angles, and a four-wheel-drive low range that multiplies engine torque 2.72 times. At which point, if the Jeep won’t climb it, just go out and buy some rappelling gear.
    It’s still a real Jeep, live rear axle and all, which will warm the hearts of loyal Jamboristas. But as one editor put it, “If you want a four-wheel-drive truck, why not buy a four-wheel-drive truck?”
    THE VERDICT: Happy in the mountains of Montana, unhappy on errands in Minneapolis.
    2008 Jeep Liberty Limited 4×4210-hp V-6, 4-speed automatic, 4406 lbBase/as-tested price: $26,785/$27,330Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 65/31 cu ftTransfer case: Full-time 2-speed with auto rear-axle engagementGround clearance: 9.5 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 9.3 sec1/4 mile: 17.0 @ 81 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 194 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.67 gC/D observed fuel economy: 16 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=’hyundai’ vehicle-model=’hyundai_tucson’ vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=’hyundai_tucson_hyundai-tucson_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Eighth Place: Hyundai Tucson Limited 4WD
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    The Tucson Limited is an exemplar of the Hyundai credo: a whole lot of stuff for a small pile o’ cash. Among other amenities, our tester came fitted with leather seats, XM satellite radio, alloy wheels, fog lights, a heated 10-way driver’s seat, six metal tie-down anchors for cargo, a composite cargo floor that’s easy to wipe clean, a 200-watt stereo, a flip-up backlight, and a twin-cam V-6. And then there’s Hyundai’s five-year/60,000-mile warranty.
    [editoriallinks id=’757ce8b6-22c0-4356-b387-727e063ac0bf’ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    But that’s where the excitement more or less hits a brick wall. Despite its V-6, the Tucson was the slowest to 60 mph and 100 mph and spent the most time lollygagging through the quarter-mile. Part of the problem was dilatory throttle tip-in—which at least made for silky step-off—and part of the problem was the four-speed automatic, which was apparently programmed in geriatric mode. On uphill grades at interstate speeds—where this vehicle, by the way, whipped up a hurricane of wind noise, tying it with the loudest in the group—the transmission hunted like a springer spaniel.
    HIGHS: Standard amenities galore, cushy ride, seamless all-wheel drive system.LOWS: Lethargic in all its moves, major understeer.
    What’s more, the steering offers vague turn-in and goes leaden during hard cornering. The suspension needs to be stiffened to reduce body wallow, which might also mitigate the way-too-early understeer. And an upward bump in fit and finish would help.
    [image id=’f2888bc9-3cb4-480b-bd7e-7318ee936fcf’ mediaId=’d5235157-147f-47f2-ae89-80aa599be830′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    On the other hand, headroom is expansive, fore-and-aft visibility is superb, the turn-signal and wiper stalks move with Lexus-like precision, and the Tucson surprised us by its ability to hump along Drummond Island’s Jeep Jamboree trail. Its approach and departure angles are greater than the Jeep’s, and its on-demand all-wheel drive reacts instantly and can be locked manually into a 50/50 split. We about fainted when the Tucson, attached to a snatch strap, yanked our high-centered Jeep Liberty off a hummock.
    In the end, the Hyundai felt old and too willing to remind that it’s an entry-level ute, making no attempt to trade on any emotional attraction. Noted one editor, “It seems aimed at folks who frequent bingo parlors.”
    THE VERDICT: Looks old, feels old, could do with a jolt of adrenaline.
    2008 Hyundai Tucson Limited 4×4173-hp V-6, 4-speed automatic, 3700 lbBase/as-tested price: $24,505/$24,665Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 66/23 cu ftTransfer case: Full time with auto rear-axle engagement and manual lockGround clearance: 7.2 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 10.3 sec1/4 mile: 17.7 @ 79 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 186 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.73 gC/D observed fuel economy: 18 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=’ford’ vehicle-model=’ford_escape’ vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=’ford_escape_ford-escape_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Seventh Place: Ford Escape XLT AWD
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    For 2008, the home office in Dearborn has freshened the Escape’s exterior and interior, although you’d want to be holding before-and-after Polaroids to pinpoint the differences. You can’t blame Ford. How much stuff would you change if you’d sold a million Escapes since its introduction in 2001?
    HIGHS: Open and airy cockpit, an accomplished long-distance cruiser.LOWS: Needs more isolation from road noise, could use a fifth gear.
    The Escape’s ride is firm, with minimal body roll, yet road imperfections are nicely filtered. The electric power steering is light if somewhat vague off-center. The two-tone seats are firm, high, and bolstered in all the right places. The interior surfaces are cheerful, airy, and pleasing to the touch. Even though it’s an illusion, the cabin feels as big as a gymnasium—probably a function of the super-thin A-, B-, C-, and D-pillars in tandem with a large backlight.
    [editoriallinks id=’6d7a6189-f35e-4d73-a32f-6eb64fa48017′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    Off-road, the Escape proved more agile than we predicted, in part because its wheelbase is as short as the Honda’s and in part because of its good departure angle. In the sippy holes, it was hindered only by its rear trailing links, whose leading edges were adept at snagging the tops of sticks, sod, and parts that fell off the other SUVs. At day’s end, the undercarriage abaft looked like it had just plowed the lower 40.
    Although Ford claims the Escape’s freshening included a major load of extra sound-deadening materials, we wish it had gone further. What’s more, back when this SUV was introduced, its rear seat was among the most comfortable for actual human adults. Since then, the Honda, the Saturn, and the Toyota have all surpassed it, and the skimpy fabric on the Ford’s seatbacks barely conceals the metal headrest posts.
    [image id=’06e982f1-49d8-4e56-b719-f061df4e7fe6′ mediaId=’8bb0aa1f-3c2a-40b7-9e64-b3151da801c0′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Still, all major control relationships are bang-on. “Everything seems well thought out,” said one editor. “I could cruise all day in this.” Added another, “It’s such an honest SUV—no unnecessary gewgaws, just the essentials to get the job done.” Too bad the redo didn’t include a fifth gear and more effective brakes.
    THE VERDICT: Honest and attractive, but the freshening didn’t go far enough.
    2008 Ford Escape XLT AWD200-hp V-6, 4-speed automatic, 3540 lbBase/as-tested price: $24,485/$24,485Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 66/29 cu ftTransfer case: Full time with auto rear-axle engagementGround clearance: 8.1 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 9.0 sec1/4 mile: 16.9 @ 83 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 198 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.68 gC/D observed fuel economy: 19 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=’suv’ vehicle-make=’saturn’ vehicle-model=’saturn_vue’ vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=’saturn_vue_saturn-vue_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Sixth Place: Saturn Vue XE AWD
    [image id=’68d04588-cf72-4a06-b073-081c84033016′ mediaId=’56648aab-fef6-458c-a911-467eebc52d60′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The new Vue, developed in Germany by Opel, is so much better than its predecessor that GM might well have considered changing its name. For one thing, the suspension tuning is now Teutonic—supple, yet with fine path control and no untamed wheel motions. For another, the ’08 Vue looks luxurious inside. Its faux-chrome and carbon-fiber trim bits feel rich to the touch, the amber IP backlighting looks Euro classy, and there’s been no attempt—inside or out—at styling gimmickry.
    HIGHS: Luxo interior, soothing interstate cruiser, Euro suspension tuning.LOWS: Daggerlike lumbar supports, smaller inside than it looks.
    You sit tall in the saddle, with vast headroom and an unobstructed view of the world—a room with a Vue. We did, however, bitch about the seats’ super-aggressive lumbar supports, and we also complained about the big steering wheel, whose squared-off inner lip resists your grip. But the platform proved solid and rattle-free, and everyone agreed the Vue was as comfy as the Escape on long interstate hauls.
    Nor was this Saturn humiliated off-road, although its poor approach angle resulted in the dismemberment of its chin spoiler. Otherwise, GM’s all-wheel-drive system was quick to transfer up to half of the pushrod V-6’s 222 horses—the most in this group—to the rear wheels. That power, by the way, pulled the Vue to 30 mph sooner than any of its competitors and placed it only 0.2 second behind the Nissan on the journey to 60 mph—all of it accomplished with minimal engine or road thrash. Combine that with the only six-speed in the group, not to mention the 181-foot stopping distance from 70 mph, and this Saturn was sure to swagger into victory circle, yes?
    [image id=’b81f0e28-48a2-4412-b8df-3cd1796d4c6a’ mediaId=’94894e55-9726-4347-bdd2-c67830e00c7e’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Well, no. This “compact” ute weighs a shameful 4104 pounds, making it the second heaviest of our trucklets. So it must be bigger, right? Wrong again. Riding on a wheelbase identical to its forebear’s, the new Vue’s extra lard doesn’t result in more passenger or luggage space, and neither does it allow for a third-row seat. In fact, the Vue offers the least cargo volume behind the front seats. And then there’s its observed 17 mpg, the predictable outcome of a largish V-6 attached to two-plus tons of anything.
    Customers who scrutinize econo-SUVs also scrutinize fuel prices. If gas reaches $4 per gallon, it may well be, “Adieu, Vue.”
    THE VERDICT: A handsome lad who is 400 pounds overweight.
    2008 Saturn Vue XE AWD222-hp V-6, 6-speed automatic, 4104 lbBase/as-tested price: $24,570/$24,800Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 56/29 cu ftTransfer case: Full time with auto rear-axle engagementGround clearance: 7.9 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 8.4 sec1/4 mile: 16.6 @ 83 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 181 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.76 gC/D observed fuel economy: 17 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=’suzuki’ vehicle-model=’suzuki_grand-vitara’ vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=’suzuki_grand-vitara_suzuki-grand-vitara_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Fifth Place: Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD XSport
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    Among our soft-roaders, only the Jeep and the Suzuki felt genuinely trucklike, partly because both employ extra buttressing in their unibody construction. The Grand Vitara’s short windshield, thin A-pillars, high seating position, 3000-pound towing capacity, and taut ride encouraged that perception. Truckish or not, it held its own on Drummond Island’s twisty paved roads, despite more body roll than we’d prefer. Its steering, in particular, was a boon, telegraphing road textures and available grip.
    HIGHS: Strong in the muck, macho styling, as solid as a tank.LOWS: Cramped interior, noisy at idle, somber and soulless cockpit.
    Although the Suzuki resembles some sort of macho Freightliner, with a way-too-dark bad-boy interior to match, its cockpit dimensions aren’t vast. Among our nine sport-utes, the Grand Vitara offered the least front interior volume, the second-worst rear volume, and a back seat that was shoulder-to-shoulder misery for three.
    Powered by a 185-hp twin-cam V-6, which was far louder at idle than any other engine here, our Suzuki was as slow to 60 mph as the Jeep. But the Grand Vitara is a big brute that feels as if it were pushing a lot of atmosphere. By the time it realized 100 mph, it had fallen 3.9 seconds behind the Liberty, and at interstate speeds, the Suzuki’s transmission often felt obliged to kick down a gear or two on barely perceptible upgrades.
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    Off-road, the Grand Vitara was pure Viagra, nearly as solid and capable as the Jeep, despite 1.6 fewer inches of ground clearance. Below the HVAC controls looms a big rotary dial that engages neutral, 4wd high, 4wd high lock, or 4wd low lock. In neutral, you can flat-tow the Suzuki behind your RV without racking up odo miles or spinning any gears. In low gear, with the center diff tied down, the Grand Vitara inched effortlessly over boulders and logs, placating those editors who are insecure about being seen driving anything that smacks of “mommy mobile.
    THE VERDICT: A mini SUV with the heart of a Hummer.
    2008 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD XSport185-hp V-6, 5-speed automatic, 3728 lbBase/as-tested price: $24,399/$24,399Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 67/24 cu ftTransfer case: Full time/2-speedGround clearance: 7.9 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 9.3 sec1/4 mile: 17.1 @ 80 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 178 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.68 gC/D observed fuel economy: 17 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=’suv’ vehicle-make=’mitsubishi’ vehicle-model=’mitsubishi_outlander’ vehicle-model-category=’compact-crossovers-and-suvs’ vehicle-submodel=’mitsubishi_outlander_mitsubishi-outlander_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Fourth Place: Mitsubishi Outlander SE AWD
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    This second-gen Outlander now can be had with a 168-hp, 2.4-liter inline-four rather than the previously standard V-6. The four-banger is mated only to a CVT rather than a six-speed automatic. To placate traditionalists, Mitsubishi installed a pair of paddle shifters on the steering column. They work eagerly and instantly, but it still seems goofy to gin up fake gears for a gearless system. We mostly used the paddles in downshift mode to summon some engine braking.
    HIGHS: Clever liftgate, carlike on pavement, hauls a lot o’ stuff.LOWS: Cheap-looking interior, gritty engine noise, vague steering.
    Our Outlander was shod with the lowest-profile, highest-performance tires in this group, so it was no shock that it logged the fastest lane change and was almost as capable on the skidpad as the Honda and Nissan. On twisty roads, it was agile, willing, and took a confident set, although its steering wasn’t nearly as communicative as the Nissan’s, which did damage to its fun-to-drive rating. The Mitsu nonetheless felt extraordinarily carlike, in part because it was as serene as the Toyota at idle and also the quietest at full whack. Despite those encouraging sound-pressure levels, the engine evinced an omnipresent grittiness that drew attention. And because the CVT can allow the engine to hang at WOT for longish spells, unkind comments ensued.
    [editoriallinks id=’b45b7a1e-0191-472f-9a74-27e58e95e13a’ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    The Outlander offered the most cargo storage behind its split rear seat, whose seatbacks, by the way, can be set to recline at any angle. It is available with a third-row seat. And it offers a two-piece liftgate, the lower section of which swings out flat, like a pickup truck’s tailgate. Two 220-pounders can sit on that flap.
    The Mitsubishi’s chief flaw was its dour and dull cockpit, chockablock with plasticky, cheap-looking surfaces that we deemed unacceptable in a $25,000 vehicle.
    You can manually lock the front and rear axles, and there’s plenty of ground clearance, but the Outlander tiptoed timidly off-road, partly because of its street-biased tires, partly because of its worst-in-test departure angle, but mostly because it felt fragile.
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    The Mitsu performed all tasks satisfactorily but none spectacularly, usually not a recipe for showroom stardom. Yet in the first 10 months of 2007, Outlander sales nearly tripled over the same period in 2006.
    THE VERDICT: Crisp interior styling but dynamically bland.
    2008 Mitsubishi Outlander SE 4WD168-hp inline-4, CVT, 3654 lbBase/as-tested price: $25,150/$25,150Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 73/39 cu ftTransfer case: Part or full time with auto rear-axle engagement and manual lockGround clearance: 8.5 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 9.3 sec1/4 mile: 17.3 @ 83 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 176 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.78 gC/D observed fuel economy: 19 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=’nissan’ vehicle-model=’nissan_rogue’ vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=’nissan_rogue_nissan-rogue_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Third Place: Nissan Rogue SL AWD
    [image id=’99d60901-930c-4dfb-bc47-7cc77ede4273′ mediaId=’45fd5feb-bcaa-43f2-9c17-84e833aba0c9′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Truth is, there’s no econo-ute that reliably twists your lips into a smile whenever you happen upon a stretch of Nürburgring-like tarmac. But the Sentra-based Nissan Rogue at least comes closest.
    The Rogue emerged as the sports car of the group, posting the quickest sprints to 60 and 100 mph and logging the briefest quarter-mile, backed by the highest trap speed. It was tied with the Toyota for best 50-to-70-mph passing potential. It was tied with the Mitsubishi for greatest top speed. It delivered the best brake feel. And no other test ute surpassed its skidpad grip.
    HIGHS: Go-get-’em handling, steering, and acceleration.LOWS: Grim rear visibility, nervous off-road, somber interior.
    Everywhere we nosed it, the Rogue felt light, nimble, and better planted than anything in the group, and its steering was the most carlike, with terrific on-center feel, perfect heft, and a sense of straight-ahead matched only by the Toyota’s. That the Nissan topped our fun-to-drive category surprised no one—and all for the lowest base price.
    [editoriallinks id=’8fe9174d-99bf-4e9f-86f3-43634f14f3b4′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    So, uh, shouldn’t the performance-biased player win a C/D comparo? Well, not this time. The Rogue’s mandatory CVT powertrain is loud at WOT, where it drones for seconds at a time if your right foot is heavy. Strangely, it makes up for that failing by being the quietest at 70 mph, and its 170-horse four-banger was judged as vibrationless as the Honda’s and Toyota’s.
    But the Rogue’s funereal gray and black interior was a Brian De Palma dream come true, and its thick D-pillar and tiny backlight darkened the cabin and restricted visibility. Off-road, moreover, the Nissan felt as out of place as the Mitsubishi, wanting to sprint ahead rather than crawl. Still, its front and rear axles can be locked in a 50/50 power split at launch, and the Rogue concluded our nature bash muddied but not bloodied.
    [image id=’9a5e9874-4c05-4094-9ee6-3147570316f6′ mediaId=’d07bb17c-db0b-4079-ae3d-fb18aabc8eb2′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The Nissan is as narrow as any of its colleagues here and lower than any of them. It weighs within 54 pounds of the lightest. And it eschews a big-horsepower V-6 in favor of an inline-four. Yet it gets the job done with speed and panache. Saturn, Jeep, Ford—are you listening?
    THE VERDICT: A stunning example of extracting the most from the least.
    2008 Nissan Rogue SL AWD170-hp inline-4, CVT, 3508 lbBase/as-tested price: $22,615/$24,925Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 58/29 cu ftTransfer case: Full time 2-speed with auto rear-axle engagement and manual lockGround clearance: 8.3 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 8.2 sec1/4 mile: 16.4 @ 86 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 185 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.79 gC/D observed fuel economy: 20 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=’suv’ vehicle-make=’honda’ vehicle-model=’honda_cr-v’ vehicle-model-category=’compact-crossovers-and-suvs’ vehicle-submodel=’honda_cr-v_honda-cr-v_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    Second Place: Honda CR-V EX 4WD
    [image id=’b6ed4995-d102-4ae1-9516-bbfd85c656ac’ mediaId=’d10c472c-b8e1-417d-9a4a-7c4560534646′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Our cynical editors rarely reach agreement on anything, including the depth of mud puddles, but every single voter simply gushed over this third-gen CR-V’s interior. Its cabin is airy, with 360-degree visibility. It feels tall, inviting, and vast, and the materials are expensively grained and stylishly matched—no jarring transitions from any one color or surface to another. The floor is as flat as a double-wide’s. And we’re pleased that the liftgate is finally hinged at the top, allowing loading from the left or right while shading you from the elements.
    HIGHS: Amazing fit and finish, a cockpit as cheerful as an Easter hat.LOWS: Odd-looking nose, could use a manual lock for the rear axle.
    Moreover, the front seats are winners—firm cushions that are just the right length, captain’s-chair armrests that somehow never obstruct the movement of your elbows, and seatbacks that gently wrap around your upper torso, holding you in place without making you feel trapped. The gauges are clear, the center stack is friendly, the steering wheel telescopes, there are storage bins galore, and the shifter clicks with authority.
    [editoriallinks id=’b3f1d135-1cee-4511-9650-5178e52cf8dc’ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    Although the CR-V is tied with the Escape for the shortest wheelbase, it is capacious behind the front seats, and it matches the Toyota for the most comfortable rear seat for two or three riders. The split rear seat reclines and offers fore-and-aft adjustment, and a center rider can stretch out, stashing his feet under the collapsible center console.
    We loved the CR-V’s dead-accurate, telepathic steering, even though it was a titch heavier than the Toyota’s. The ride-and-handling trade-off proved perfect. On pavement, the CR-V responded instantly—but never nervously—to all inputs. It offered the agility of a Civic with the solidity and structure of something heavier and more expensive.
    [image id=’af83008d-231a-4f59-9d36-bf27ca208b4d’ mediaId=’6b527564-16fd-4b55-a0e3-7fb8de8fae81′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    In the end, the Honda lost to the Toyota—by the tiniest of margins—for two reasons. First, its new nose looks like Jimmy Durante’s hanging off the front of a golf cart. And second, this Honda—like the Saturn and Ford—decides on its own when to rotate the rear wheels. Off-road, the transfer case did, in fact, send power astern quickly, but there’s nothing like the confidence that accrues from manually locking the axles before you start climbing a mossy limestone ledge covered in what our guide said was “more than a little deer snot.”
    THE VERDICT: Dynamically a TKO. A tsunami of quality, verve, and value.
    2008 Honda CR-V EX 4WD166-hp inline-4, 5-speed automatic, 3500 lbBase/as-tested price: $24,785/$24,785Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 73/36 cu ftTransfer case: Full time with auto rear-axle engagementGround clearance: 7.3 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 9.1 sec1/4 mile: 17.1 @ 81 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 181 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.79 gC/D observed fuel economy: 21 mpg
    [vehicle type=’adtag’ vehicle-body-style=’suv’ vehicle-make=’toyota’ vehicle-model=’toyota_rav4′ vehicle-model-category=’compact-crossovers-and-suvs’ vehicle-submodel=’toyota_rav4_toyota-rav4_2008′ vehicle-year=’2008′][/vehicle]
    First Place: Toyota RAV4 4×4
    [image id=’17890298-4adf-486d-b392-0552e2648a89′ mediaId=’85dc767a-b249-49c4-9a83-c9f9c9854dce’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Last year, a RAV4 landed on our 5Best Trucks list, although it was the V-6 rocket-ship version that swayed our delinquent hearts. In this test, we rounded up the cheapest, down-and-dirtiest four-wheel-drive four-banger we could find, sporting the lowest as-tested price. It was fitted with stamped-steel wheels and plastic hubcaps, for God’s sake. Yet it still claimed the big trophy, which, at C/D, looks a lot like a six-pack of Heineken.
    We once asked a senior Toyota engineer if he’d grown accustomed to winning so many annual awards. “Uh, no,” he said.
    HIGHS: Spacious back seat, Toyota ergonomics, Toyota resale value.LOWS: Noisy at WOT, needs a fifth gear, ought to come with alloy wheels.
    Climb into the spacious RAV4 and the first thing you notice is the organic, two-tier dash—radio in the balcony, HVAC controls in the lobby—whose swollen protuberances at first look Jetson-ish but in fact break up what would otherwise be a dull sea of plastic. The seats look expensive and are comfortable for hours. Same with the back seat, where the Honda and the Toyota—the two lightest vehicles in this group—tied for two- and three-man comfort.
    [editoriallinks id=’171c52d8-f35e-4ef8-ac03-69c8862a9890′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    Ergonomics? Tied with the Honda. Fit and finish? Ditto. Observed fuel economy? Two mpg better than anything in the group. Want a third-row seat? Toyota offers one. The RAV4 became the limo of our group.
    Off-road, the Toyota didn’t offer much ground clearance, but its approach angle was better than the Jeep’s, and a push of a button locked the front and rear axles, which then stayed locked up to 25 mph.
    The Toyota’s ride was a titch firmer than the Honda’s, but both handled with effortless competence—like cars, you might say—and the RAV4’s linear steering evinced the sort of precision that no one would expect in this segment.
    [image id=’1b9ea0f2-ee00-4e8e-9d89-3f057a1ccb6b’ mediaId=’b0171cd6-aec2-4c56-8324-156eda0126f6′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Still, the Toyota wasn’t perfect. Although its transmission was a gem—especially notable for its flawless downshifts—it would have been even better with a fifth gear. At full throttle, the engine was tied with the Nissan’s for emitting the most racket. The plastic-cladded A-pillars might better have been swathed in the cloth we so admired on the door inserts. And the liftgate’s glass should have flipped up.
    Otherwise, this is a mellifluous medley of structure, drivetrain, road manners, and carry-all practicality—an SUV you could justify to Ralph Nader. Notice, though, that the RAV4 defeated the CR-V by only two points. Statistically speaking, you might call that a tie. We wouldn’t argue.
    THE VERDICT: Chassis, drivetrain, and body all speaking the same language.
    2008 Toyota RAV4 4×4166-hp inline-4, 4-speed automatic, 3454 lbBase/as-tested price: $23,185/$23,743Cargo volume, behind front/rear: 73/36 cu ftTransfer case: Full time with auto rear-axle engagement and manual lockGround clearance: 7.5 inC/D TEST RESULTS60 mph: 8.8 sec1/4 mile: 16.9 @ 82 mphBraking, 70­–0 mph: 179 ftRoadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.74 gC/D observed fuel economy: 23 mpg
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    Tested: 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Is Automotive Brilliance

    From the April 1956 issue of Sports Cars Illustrated.

    So you can’t climb Everest, you can’t have Monroe, and you’re not likely ever to ride a rocket to the moon. But you can, if you’re properly heeled, achieve an experience that’s in the same ultimate class—you can get yourself a Mercedes-Benz 300SL. And if you really respond to machinery, the effect is the same.
    After exhaustive road testing of a standard 300SL, after driving impressions in a race-tuned version and inter­views with several owners and specialist technicians, I’m ready to haul off and make a flat, unequivocal statement: This is the finest production sports car in the world. No exceptions, no qualifications. On all critical counts, it scores.
    [editoriallinks id=’8aefd98d-4727-451d-95aa-e50d3b2d0057′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    As a piece of automotive sculpture the 300SL is a mas­terpiece. With its “gullwing” doors and its own Teutonic treatment of hippy, organic contours it stands splendidly apart from all the clichés of postwar styling, including the much-plagiarized Italian school. The 300SL is a car that can take first place in a concours d’elegance, then clobber all comers in a tough race. Man­ifestations of its might are victories won all over Europe and the United States from the world’s best all-out competition sports cars. At the same time it’s a luxury carriage. Sports cars as a rule offer little in the way of comforts and nice refine­ments. In fact, starkness is part of the stock-in-trade of most sports car builders. But the 300SL achieves the all-weather comfort and the rich finish of fine luxury cars without “engineering compromise”—that rarely-challenged excuse for typical sports car asceticism.
    Beyond this, the 300SL is prophecy incarnate. It’s a pace-setter, a style-setter, a design conception that is bound to influence the world’s automotive industry for many years to come. For example, a top Detroit stylist tells me that the 300SL’s roof doors are sure to be copied in the coming U.S. cars because they are the only means of getting in and out of the kind of ultra-low vehicles that the buying public craves. Several Detroit “idea cars” already have imitated this feature.
    And styling is the least of the 300SL’s shock treatments to the industry. Gasoline fuel injection (FI), first pioneered on the 300SL, will give the internal combustion engine a new lease on life and probably delay the advent of gas turbines for years. Detroit, aware that FI means instantaneous throttle response, more horsepower, and lower body lines, is already working all-out on injection. At the last count, there were 18 300SL’s in the possession of Detroit manufacturers who are boning up on FI’s secrets.
    [image id=’d4f57dcc-b10d-4509-9eaa-690c18b66c3f’ mediaId=’9ee57394-6914-4a29-be91-07516e494020′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Another feature that’s bound to be copied is the position of the 300SL’s engine—mounted on its side to lower body lines and the center of gravity. The brakes are novel. While brake diameters in all cars have shrunk to conform to shrinking tire sizes, it took the designers of the 300SL to think of widening the brakes to compensate for the lost friction area. The 300SL has four-wheel independent suspension, a feature of Mercedes-Benz cars since the early thirties. This, too, is being readied on Detroit drawing boards. Even the intricate and expensive trapezoidal frame may be adapted to automation’s techniques. Literally, the 300SL is a car of the future that can be possessed today.
    All 300SL’s are not necessarily alike. The standard pack­age that you buy across the counter costs $7463 at U.S. port of entry. It’s a magnificent performer, with dazzling acceleration and a top speed of nearly 140 mph. But there are many performance options. It’s beautifully, finely fin­ished, but there are many finish options. The result is that although you can get a 300SL for under $7500, few are sold for less than $8,000 after licence [sic] fees, taxes, and options have been added. And if you want a 160-mph, all-out competition 300SL you can invest $10,000 or $11,000 with no difficulty. But don’t get the idea that the pin-money 300SL is anything less than a going bomb.
    The fire engine red, strictly standard model that I first drove came to my door equipped with meister mechaniker Robert Leutge, an expert technician sent to the U.S. by the Mercedes factory to train agency mechanics. He tossed the door up, slid over to the passenger’s side, and I entered.
    [image id=’ed127bbf-ec7f-43ab-b7cf-686a2dcebbe9′ mediaId=’4fd85316-1347-407a-9248-43e0db0343e8′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    With the 300SL this is something of an art and it varies according to build, sex, and dress. For the first or fiftieth time it’s a thrill. Actually, the car is not a handy package to climb in and out of but the mild gymnastics involved are a small price to pay for what you get. The somewhat limited entry area provided by the roof doors is dictated not by the car’s lowness alone, but also by the extreme depth of the light, rigid, “three-dimensional” tub­ular frame. When you sit in the car your elbow rests on the door sill, which is wrapped over the top frame members. To simplify entry and exit for the driver, all 300SL’s are equipped with a steering wheel that can be folded under the steering column. Also, although the steering column is not adjustable, you can have your choice of two different column lengths.
    The doors can be locked from the outside by the con­ventional method. To open them, you press a slightly-protruding cam which exposes the door-handle. Give this an easy outward and upward tug and the door floats up to its full-open position, aided by springs that give just the correct amount of counterbalance. The door must be slammed hard to be closed and this produces a loud, jar­ring thud. On the inside door handle of every new 300SL is a somewhat disquieting notice urging that doors be locked from the inside to guard against their opening spon­taneously at high speed.
    When you’re seated in a 300SL you know you’re in. You’re practically encapsulated. You feel very much a part of the car, as you should be. Visibility is good. Straight ahead and just below eye level are a big tach and a big speedometer. There are plenty of other instruments and controls and they take some time to learn.
    [image id=’65550b84-561b-4c8e-b878-81d240a5854f’ mediaId=’81a03180-af2e-4fcb-b6a4-4b0bd2544e53′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The first thing I noticed was the low mileage registered on the odometer—significantly below the 1000-mile break-in period recommended by the factory. But Leutge put me at ease.
    “You don’t have to worry about winding up these en­gines,” he said. “Before they’re even dropped into a car they’re run for 24 hours on a dynamometer, including six hours at peak output. Then they’re torn down, checked, reassembled, and given another eight hours of running-in. Our times may be a shade slow, but don’t be afraid to peak it in the gears.”
    The tricks of firing up a fuel-injection car are few and simple. For cold starts you pull out what corresponds to a choke and for hot starts you pull out a different button—that causes a whining, high-speed pump to go to work in the fuel tank. It not only purges vapor pockets from the fuel system when hot, but also makes available a two-gal­lon reserve fuel supply. The factory recommends that the extra pump be used continuously during high-speed oper­ation.
    This is not one of those engines the existence of which its makers have spent millions to hide. It explodes into urgent, buzzing life, idling at a busy but smooth 750 rpm and every fiber of the beast is ready to charge.
    The 300SL has positive syncromesh on all four of its forward speeds. You thrust it into first, simultaneously punch the throttle and release the clutch and, in a number of seconds only slightly greater than your reaction time, peak at 40 mph. The sensation of catapulting acceleration is unfor­gettable. Second, again with tremen­dous G’s, propels the car up to the high 60s in scant seconds more. Third is a wonderfully useful ratio with terrific dig from about 9 to 96 mph.
    [image id=’59ea245a-ab9f-45b0-8b52-f34363c4eb0a’ mediaId=’cb33d487-a8da-49d1-8abd-b8a737d3f768′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL test – Sports Car Illustrated, April 1956, spread 1′ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The torque of the little 3.0-liter engine is fantastic and it’s hard to see where it all comes from until you remember that the injection system is pumping fuel into the cylinders at a constant rate that carburetors cannot match. Fourth gear, with the standard rear-axle ratio, gives smooth, continuous acceleration from 15 to 140 mph! It is thoroughly adequate for city traffic and even for pulling fairly stiff grades. For fierce acceleration and fast hill-climbing, third meets nearly all requirements. During our shakedown tests among the steep peaks and canyons of the Santa Monica mountain range, we had to resort to second cog only on the very steepest grades, and then we flew up to them. As for first gear, you should always use it when starting from a standstill. Beyond that you just keep it in reserve for pulling stumps and for competing in the Alpine Rally.
    There are tricks to driving the car. Its steering, with less than two turns from lock to lock, is definitely heavy and has a wonderful feel. The steering gear itself is of the no-backlash recirculating-ball type with hydraulic centering. The brakes are magnificent and indestructible, and they’re vacuum assisted. But they don’t lock the wheels at a touch, Detroit power-brake style. They demand some muscle power, and so do the clutch and the shift lever. In the 300SL, driving is not the near spectator sport it has largely become in this age of robotized motoring.
    [image id=’6ca77e57-704b-4625-bb28-218a7917d1f3′ mediaId=’2f054d3a-df23-4276-ae52-91299e7a70a3′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’The 300SL has a trunk but for anything except soft goods space is a bit cramped by the spare.’ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Minimum muscular endowment is required for the comfortable operation of the 300SL. Caution and sound judgment, however, are essential to the continuing enjoyment of this or any other high-performance car and even a small error can have very discouraging consequences. For example, I had read in both a British and an American road test that the car should be pushed through turns under power, actually steered with the throttle.
    As we approached our first tight corner I mentioned this to Leutge. “No—No!” he cried. “Do that and the rear end comes swinging around. With these pendulum axles you have to be careful. The oversteer isn’t much if you have competition springs, but with standard springs you must watch it all the time.”
    At this point I asked Leutge to demonstrate proper fast-cornering technique with the 300SL and he took the wheel. He popped his gear changes with a smart, hard style and reached his desired speed of entry into the turn. All the way around the curve he maintained neutral acceleration, just patting the throttle lightly and occasionally to keep his velocity constant. As the curve began to straighten out he stomped the throttle to the floorboards, rocketing into the straight. Further checking with men who have driven 300SL’s in competition verified this as the one-and-only technique for keeping out of trouble during high-speed cornering. With this car you do not horse around with throttle steering.
    During the very hardest cornering there is no perceptible body roll and you feel an unusual sense of security. This is added to considerably by the car’s phenomenal brakes which are fade-proof and provide uncanny stopping distances. The adjustable bucket seats give excellent support against sideways motion. There’s a remarkable absence of wind noise in this car, even at 138 mph, but otherwise it is by no means a silent servant. The auxiliary fuel pump, used constantly at high speeds, emits a nervous whine at the driver’s back. The indirect transmission gears have a loud, vintage buzz. These sounds are more or less musical to the enthusiastic ear. Less so is the peculiar, harmless clunking noise that originates in the rear axle mechanism of these cars when some, but not all, left turns are made.
    [image id=’ecd4bfec-3efc-4aa8-96d8-234284479510′ mediaId=’2975e6ea-1bf3-4368-8ea7-61c088df2482′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL test – Sports Car Illustrated, April 1956, spread 2′ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The coil-spring four-wheel independent suspension gives a ride that is surprisingly soft. The cornering feel in particular is quite different from that of a fast, solid-axle machine and is hard to describe. In place of the sensation of unyielding chassis “bite” on the road there’s a softness to the 300SL’s cornering grip: You do not feel as though you’re on rails; you know damned well you’re on rubber tires. The bite is tenacious all right, but not harsh. Barreling full-bore down a straightaway, the car never feels as though it’s becoming lighter. At top speed it still squats like a stalking cat and its traction under all conditions is pretty unbeatable.
    So far, we’ve been talking about the basic 300SL “economy model” with a touring-car camshaft. With this setup the output is 220 horsepower, the engine idles at 750 rpm, and the torque characteristics are quite uniform throughout the engine rpm range. This combination makes for one of the most thrilling rides of your life. That is, until you experience a 300SL running the hot, competition cam.
    With this one modification the car acquires an entirely new character. Now it peaks at 240 horsepower—a figure incidentally, which other road tests have mistakenly associated with the standard model— and it idles at 1100 revs. In the lower engine-speed range it is slightly rougher and it neither adds to nor subtracts from the vehicle’s performance. It’s in the higher rpm’s that it makes another car of the 300SL.
    Lance Reventlow of Hollywood is the devoted owner of a 300SL with the racing cam and all the other performance options. His car has heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers, Rudge wheels, an assortment of rear-axle ratios and special racing tires. It also has one of the all-aluminum bodies that the factory has available. The light body represents a weight saving of about 350 pounds and Reventlow’s car represents an investment of well over $10,000.
    [image id=’2471cdb6-f6ca-45a0-bdbb-8b3507007f4e’ mediaId=’e20dfa57-bfd9-4733-a168-8b6c52123a28′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’Author Griff Borgeson slide rules out some test figures. Note the seating position.’ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Lance introduced me to the delights of this rarified form of motoring with a demonstration of the effect of the racing cam. “Watch this,” he said, as he dropped into Third at about 2000 rpm and bore down on the throttle. The tach needle rapidly climbed past 3000, then 3500. I watched and waited. Then at 3600 all hell broke loose. The car, already accelerating as few cars in the world can do, took off as though JATO units or a second engine had been cut in. Beyond 3600 the acceleration was appalling. It was like being pulled forward at fantastic speed at the end of a powerfully-drawn cable. Oddly enough, the last time I had experienced that precise sensation was at the wheel of a 7.1-liter, supercharged Type SS Mercedes-Benz built in 1930.
    Reventlow stayed on the throttle until the tach hit 5500 and the scenery was a blur. The inexorable torque stayed the same, according to the hard pressure on hips and shoulders, until he backed off. In the “mild” range again, he slowed to 15 mph, then pulled away strongly in top gear. “That’s what I mean,” he said. “It’s really two cars in one. One is a lamb and the other is a raging lion. And you can turn them off and on with a touch on the throttle. You can putter around town for a year and never call on the fierce side of the car’s dual personality. But the instant you want that real wild performance, it’s there.”
    The competition springs and shocks give this car a far firmer ride and cornering bite. The Rudge disc wheels, which cost $350 per set, add 25 pounds to the car’s weight. But they’re essential for long races in which tire-change stops are critical. This car has won both concours and races.
    One of its recent race wins was at Torrey Pines, with Bruce Kessler at the wheel. Other cars in the full entry list at Torrey could be heard for miles as they blasted around the course. The fact that the obviously competent 300SL ran a muffler and purred its way to the checkered flag without pyrotechnics impressed many spectators. M-B’s West Coast sales manager tells me that during the week that followed, 11 300SL’s were delivered to individuals who said they were sold at Torrey Pines.
    [image id=’3f7c8fb2-98e3-490a-906b-d83bcae1b7a0′ mediaId=’6f9d7e12-a0cd-481f-b096-d7cbb7e041af’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=’1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL – Sports Car Illustrated, April 1956, spread 3′ expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    One of the main contributing factors to the long string of 300SL racing victories is its frame, which is unlike that of any other M-B production car. The complex network of small-diameter tubes is erected in such a way that the tubes are subject to push-and-pull stresses only, and not to twisting stresses. This torsional stiffness has an all-important effect on keeping suspension geometry uniform and that, in turn, has a decisive effect on roadholding. The tubes are everywhere—above the engine and in the passenger space. The frame is made mainly by hand and its appearance in large-scale production is not likely.
    The real guts of 300SL performance, of course, lie in its engine, which is a remarkable blend of radical and conservative design features. On the conservative side are the cast-iron block, the single overhead camshaft, the NOT vee-inclined valves, the far from straight-through porting, the moderate compression ratio. This last, nominally 8.55:1, varies with the individual engine and the actual ratio is stamped on the cylinder block, just under the name plate. The compression ratio of our standard test car was 8.28:1.
    On the radical side are the offset, inclined engine mounting position, and the unusual combustion chambers which do not extend into the head at all but are contained entirely within the cylinder block. The head has a perfectly flat lower surface and immense valves for a small engine; the intakes measure 1-5/8 inches and the exhausts are 1-15/16. Most radical of all, of course, is the fuel injection system.
    The 300SL’s crankshaft is cradled in seven main bearings. The short, H-section connecting rods are ground to a smooth finish. A passage up the center of the rod carries oil to the wrist pin. The heads of the full-skirted pistons are slightly wedge-shaped and they constitute an unusually functional part of the combustion chamber. Each piston carries three compression rings and one oil ring.
    [image id=’b3b97cf4-2173-4a05-bba5-c3d911aaa9b3′ mediaId=’8fa1dadd-21d5-4711-8ada-f159b36c966d’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The single overhead camshaft rides in four bearings and has a large vibration damper at its forward, sprocket end. According to my factory informant, the standard 300SL camshaft is identical to that used in the Type 300S touring machine. A number of people have wondered what effect fuel injection has on valve timing. Evidently it has none.
    The lobes on the 300SL’s camshafts have a fast high lift and very sporting duration and overlap characteristics:
    Standard CompetitionInlet opens: 11° – 20°(Before top center)
    Inlet closes 53° – 58°(After bottom center)
    Exhaust opens 36° 30′ – 56°(Before bottom center)
    Exhaust closes 10° 30′ – 18°(After top center)
    Cold-engine tappet clearances are .002 ins. for the inlets and .008 for the exhausts. For an overhead-cam valvetrain, the 300SL’s is quite silent in its operation.
    A point of considerable interest to the engineering fan is the more than slight resemblance between the 300SL engine and the basic engine that powered the immortal Types K, S, SS and SSK Mercedes of the Twenties and early Thirties. Dr. Porsche designed the old single-cam six with its eerie-sounding Roots blower. The ultra-modern Mercedes six looks much the same under its cam cover. The staggered valve arrangement is the same and the cam-follower layout is almost identical. It’s also interesting that the acceleration effect that Porsche obtained with a costly and complicated supercharger has now been duplicated and surpassed by means of the 300SL’s racing camshaft.
    [image id=’c7d66376-befc-4835-b1a4-0c21e0a8d439′ mediaId=’188ac3e7-af57-455a-8481-ce96a2015588′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    With the fuel-injection system, an assembly of six small plunger pumps delivers atomized gasoline directly into the cylinders, at a pressure ranging from 568 to 682 psi. Air alone is drawn through the inlet valves and the mixture of fuel and air takes place within the cylinders. The timing and the amount of each shot of fuel is regulated automatically and precisely. Filtration of both air and fuel is far more critical than in carburetor engines.
    You might expect maintenance of the system to be extremely tricky, but it’s not. The air filter requires cleaning every 2500 miles, the fuel filter every 15,000. The fuel-feed system compensates automatically for changes in altitude and temperature. On the throttle body in the air-intake manifold, there are a couple of adjusting screws for regulating idle speed and mixture richness. They can be adjusted with a small coin. And that’s all there is to it.
    One idiosyncrasy of the system is described in the owner’s manual. “It may happen with the injection engine that after stopping the engine will turn a few backward revolutions. This does not necessarily indicate a defect. Engage a gear in this case and stop the engine by clutching.” And another precaution: to stop, “turn the ignition key to the left while idling. Do not on any account try to stop the engine at a higher speed than the idle running one.” I assume that violating this rule results in de-lubrication of the cylinder walls by powerfully-injected raw fuel.
    Checking with many 300SL owners (at this moment there are 171 who have bought cars through the West Coast distributor alone) I have been unable to find any complaints against the reliability of the injection system or, for that matter, of the car as a whole. A mechanic who specializes on 300SL’s assures me, “You just drive the car— it takes terrific abuse and gives no trouble. We used to have one chronic complaint and that was about spark plug failure. Now we recommend platinum-point plugs and have no more of that trouble.”
    [image id=’06cd10e7-b17b-4255-aa17-be1a0cc7954f’ mediaId=’177886c6-c17d-4fac-99da-8798a6832d9d’ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    When you consider what it must cost to produce each of these cars—all the handwork, expensive components, quality— it’s hard to consider the 300SL as anything but a bargain at the base price of $7463. And this includes a splendid set of tools, power brakes, hinged steering wheel, optional steering columns, clock, heater, an exhaustive maintenance manual, a parts catalog, minutely detailed instructions for the servicing of the car for its first 62,500 miles, and many other bonus items.
    Actually, you can buy the basic 300SL for $6900 at the factory in Stuttgart, Germany. Transportation cost and import duty then become your responsibility. However, if you bring the car to the U.S. within six months of purchase, the factory refunds $1300 to you, which offsets the freight and duty expenses and then some. With large parts inventories in several American cities and with an excellent, factory-supervised service organization, it’s just about impossible to duplicate what the 300SL has to offer at any price.
    [vehicle type=’specpanel’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=” vehicle-model=” vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=” vehicle-year=”][/vehicle]
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    The 2021 Honda Ridgeline: Rugged and Ready

    Reliability and a penchant for adventure are in Honda’s DNA. With humble beginnings building motorcycles in Hamamatsu, a city in the Shizuoka Prefecture of Japan, the small company was quick to blaze a trail of innovation and automotive excellence, which became its foothold in the industry. Whether it’s dirt bikes, four-wheelers, and side-by-sides or a range of highly adaptable, street-ready cars, trucks, and SUVs, Honda continues to break barriers as it defines the future of mobility on- and off-road.
    How It Started
    In 2006, Honda debuted its first and only pickup for the North American market, the Ridgeline. To say this truck ruptured the traditional light-truck landscape is an understatement. Touting a highly unconventional design set on a unibody frame typically reserved for sedans, it was accompanied by equally distinctive C-pillar, flying buttresses that adjoined the cab. Although a radical marriage of unexpected components, it would prove to be a rival for the industry’s 4×4 heavyweights. While the Ridgeline’s preliminary exterior stylings left much to be desired, the magnitude of its ability would soon become its calling card.
    Within that inaugural model laid the inner workings of an extremely versatile utility vehicle—the industry’s first In-Bed Trunk®, nimble handling, an impressive payload, and outstanding towing capacity. By 2017, the Ridgeline retained most of its beloved features but did away with its less flattering ones. The C-pillars were eighty-sixed and instead, the structural integrity was enhanced by cueing up critical load-bearing joints in the unibody. The result: the same powerful functionality with a decidedly more truck-worthy aesthetic. That year, Ridgeline became the first pickup truck to earn IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ and North America Truck of the Year.
    How It’s Going
    With its most recent redesign, the 2021 Ridgeline is clearly not beating around the bush. Starting at an estimated $35,500, the bolder and more robust surface area finally matches the capability planted under the hood. Thanks to a 280-horsepower, 3.5-liter, direct-injected VTEC V-6, one squeeze on the throttle introduces you to a responsive nine-speed automatic transmission that’s quick and also the most fuel-efficient in its class.
    The Ridgeline comes standard with an Intelligent Traction Management System and i-VTM4® torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, which makes it ultra-reliable in a host of unpredictable terrain or inclement weather. While most trucks are eager to strong-arm their way out of unfavorable topography, Ridgeline uses adaptive technology to out-think the road ahead. Its ability to survey paved and natural features is guided by a heap of tiny sensors that help optimize power and delivery distribution to tackle snowy or slick surfaces. With additional modes for mud and sand, up to 70 percent of the engine’s 262 pound-feet of torque is sent to the rear wheels, contingent on the circumstances.
    While Ridgeline continues to tick all the boxes, the handling and ride quality remain best-in-class. Down the roadway, it floats with a comfortable drive quality from the coil-sprung, independent rear suspension, which differs from the leaf-sprung, solid-axle setups of traditional pickup trucks. And it’s fully loaded with Honda Sensing® safety and driver-assistive technology to help keep you poised behind the wheel through hazardous forecasts and less than ideal conditions.

    Unwavering Upgrades
    The Ridgeline’s cosmetic overhaul and new, rugged stylings come courtesy of the talented team of designers and engineers at Honda R&D Americas (HRA). It’s been built out with new sheet metal from the front pillars forward, and sports an entirely new fascia: fenders, bumpers, and a squared-off nose coupled with a jawline that’s typically reserved for the brawny superhero of your favorite comic book.
    The new hood is defined by a pronounced power bulge and the more perpendicular grille is flanked by LED headlights bisected by crossbars that offer a menacing glare. Its broad side vents target airflow through the bumper and around the front tires and wheels to improve aerodynamics. With reduced backspacing, the Ridgeline accommodates a wider track, offering a broader, more planted stance that feels tougher and sturdier than ever. The all-terrain tires are fitted with a more aggressive sidewall and shoulder design while the prominent skid plates are primed to aid in maximizing protection against any type of ground it comes across.

    Turn up the dial on the Ridgeline’s powerful new physique even further by opting for the additional trim level designed in collaboration with Honda Performance Development™ (HPD™), the arm of American Honda Motor that specializes in production racing parts. A unique honeycomb-style grille treatment, black fender flares, bronze-tone wheels and HPD™ graphics create a mighty round up of complementary features, hammering away the past doubts of any naysayers questioning its original body shape.

    All Work and All Play
    The Ridgeline’s list of impressive credentials is long, but the mid-size pickup’s versatility in cargo management truly sets it apart from the rest. It has a maximum payload of 1,580 pounds with a towing capacity up to 5,000 pounds. Honda was the first to pioneer the dual-action tailgate, which is rated to handle loads up to 300 pounds. The useful functionality allows it to open downward or to the side, making it simple to load the bed with any precious cargo, bet it a couple of dual-sports or supplies for a home project. Ridgeline’s extra-wide standard bed makes it the only truck in its class that can flat carry four-by-eight-foot material between the wheel wells, and leaves a cushy amount of room along the bedsides if you’re stowing an ATV, which we discovered in our own rigorous rounds of testing.
    Ridgeline’s signature lockable, In-Bed Trunk® dates back to the first generation model and continues to be a standout feature. The trunk is made from a highly scratch- and dent-resistant composite material reinforced by glass fiber, and open to provide you with an additional 7.3 cu.-ft.of secure storage underneath the bed floor. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Honda offers the world’s first Truck Bed Audio System to guarantee that the good times keep rolling at every outdoor excursion you have coming down the pipeline.
    The adaptable storage capacity starts behind the cab, but it surely doesn’t end there. Inside, the Ridgeline boasts an exceedingly spacious interior with the largest cabin in its segment for passengers and gear. Behind the cockpit, the flat floor gives way to foldaway 60/40-split rear seat bottoms that make it easier than ever to house longer and taller items. The roomy insides afford enough capacity to adequately position a full size bicycle, leaving you with only little to no excuse to pack up and get away for some off-the-grid exploits.
    Uni-vision
    As a truck, Ridgeline is as multifaceted as it is prototypical. Its foundation is built on an unorthodox approach, which has allowed it to deliver creative features beyond the run-of-the-mill offerings of other mid-size trucks. Contrary to the standard offering of most competitors’ body-on-frame construction, Ridgeline’s now signature unit-body features a Honda-exclusive, Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which has been a large contributing factor to its success since. This innovative underpinning is shared amongst the equivalently adept Passport and Pilot in Honda’s lineup. United with fully boxed frame members for the body sides and rear tailgate frame with truss-style inner assembly, the unibody efficiently carves out room for a cushy rear suspension which creates a leveling effect while driving to provide stability and control. Even on the roughest and uneven terrain, Ridgeline’s notable car-like drive quality offers uncompromising comfort.

    A Stalwart Pedigree
    Whilst Ridgeline shares many attributes with its crossover counterparts, it is in Honda’s motorsports legacy where we find the root of this truck’s confident and enduring energy. Soichiro Honda said, “Racing improves the breed,” so it should come as no surprise that Honda’s extracurricular activities draw parallels to its fleet of off-road ready vehicles, and help inform their overall performance and aesthetic.

    That persistent spirit of exploration and charting a path through unknown territory is a gravitational pull for Honda, which is why it returned to the challenging terrain of desert racing in 2015. Backed by HPD™, the team’s custom-built Ridgeline continues to dominate the field along its similarly spritely and aggressive cousin, the Talon. Since then, Honda teams have gone on to secure podium finishes and class victories at the grueling Baja 500 and 1000, further cementing its rugged reputation.
    The Ridgeline proves to be a resilient daily driver, an outdoor opportunist, and a sturdy workhorse outright. Above all, it’s evident that whatever life tests you with, the redesigned Honda Ridgeline stands ready to rise to any challenge.
    More From Honda

    2021 Honda Pilot

    2021 Honda Passport

    2021 Honda HR-V

    2021 Honda CR-V More

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    Tested: 2021 Bugatti Chiron Sport Shatters Expectations

    From the February/March 2021 issue of Car and Driver.
    The Bugatti Chiron swims in molten torque. There’s so much pure, concentrated grunt that even at idle, the quad-turbo 16-cylinder feels like it’s trying to break free. It would rather crack the engine mounts and vaporize the calipers than stay still. This is physical force evolved into mechanical will.
    [editoriallinks id=’1e4a14d9-a097-4a07-bbd1-f64733fb7ce6′ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    That’s 1180 pound-feet of peak torque amid a mind-boggling 1479 horsepower—numbers so otherworldly that they are topped in insanity only by this car’s $3.3 million base and $3.7 million as-tested prices. With that much power and at that cost, this Bugatti ought to damn well be the quickest and fastest car that Car and Driver has ever tested. And it is. More or less. Sort of.
    Because not even Bugatti can afford to always have the latest Bugatti, the car we tested was a 2018 model that started life as a run-of-the-mill Chiron and was later modified to Sport-model spec. That $275,000 upsell consists of stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, lighter wheels, four exhaust tips, and carbon-fiber windshield-wiper arms.
    [pullquote align=’center’]HIGHS: Rocket-grade thrust, a cabin fit for royalty, knows when to relax.[/pullquote][image id=’ff165fa6-e483-453d-9fd2-f1f55ee8a228′ mediaId=’9fed640e-0d12-4768-8c19-ac72e5c6cb76′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    This car is not normal in any way. From afar, it’s a rocket-propelled marmoset. Hunched in profile, it’s about to spring and snag its prey. Up close, this one is gloriously finished in color-impregnated carbon fiber that looks like herringbone blueberry candy. Every stitch in the weave is perfectly aligned with its neighbors. It’s not a sports car exactly, and it sure doesn’t look like a luxury car. It’s a two-seat suborbital capsule with beyond-space-age aesthetics and nth-degree detailing. And it’s built to standards to which all automakers aspire.
    [editoriallinks id=’5045a727-fe9d-4d14-965b-385cfe9360bf’ align=’left’][/editoriallinks]
    Unlike virtually all other new cars, the Chiron doesn’t have soft-plastic bumper covers. Instead, the carbon-fiber fenders extend to and around the nose—a single sweep of seamless awesomeness. The exotic headlights contain four elements, each firing out photons the size of volleyballs. Smack a Mercedes-Maybach S-class with this prow and it may cost as much to fix the Bugatti as it would to buy that tank-like limo. In the U.S. market, the tail is protected by two rubber protrusions acting as bumpers. So Chiron owners are slightly better off backing, rather than nosing, into things.
    [image id=’46279239-9e37-4532-97ff-cb240de901a7′ mediaId=’fa18e8aa-b906-4367-8167-60e44fc67f68′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Apple CarPlay capability is neither standard nor an option, there’s no oversize screen inside, and the 300-mph speedo remains analog, which will give kids of the future something to ooh and aah at when they see a Chiron at a car show. Four elegant metallic dials flow down the narrow center console and control the cabin climate. The quilted seating surfaces are covered in leather that’s more buttery than butter. The steering wheel has polished spokes that glisten more brilliantly than sterling silver, and the rearview mirror is a delicate oval and seemingly meant only for decoration as there’s no way to really see out the back window. The Gumball Rally rule applies here: What’s behind you doesn’t matter.
    [pullquote align=’center’]LOWS: The action doesn’t start until 60 mph, can’t hide its weight in corners, fender benders cost more than a Ferrari.[/pullquote]
    The engine whirs to life and then seismically rumbles. From the outside, it sounds like the approach of an armored column; from the inside, as if you’re in a finely tuned rock polisher. After momentarily considering if your Nikes are good enough to touch the polished pedals and then pulling the somewhat indistinct shifter into drive, the Bug moves out authoritatively. It can’t defy the laws of physics, but it does impart a feeling of immortality.
    Speed is a talent even the most half-baked home-garage lunatic can achieve. Tuning for wide-open throttle is a straightforward pursuit. What’s amazing about this Bugatti is that it imitates a regular car so well. At part throttle, it putters along like, say, a Hyundai Sonata or Ford F-150. The Ricardo-made seven-speed dual-clutch transmission is programmed to keep engine speeds down when it’s not doing hero work, as if Bugatti engineers were reaching for that elusive double-digit city fuel-economy rating. So even galumphing along at 40 mph, the trans ratchets up to seventh gear and stays there, which is strange but not irritating like it is in your Hyundai. After all, with an 8.0-liter W-16 engine aboard, there’s always plenty of torque to keep the beast moving before calling on the four turbos or downshifting. There is never any barking or hesitancy from the powertrain, either; this isn’t a highly stressed race machine. And it’s not a normal production engine that’s been tasked with over-performing. It’s purebred and mission appropriate. When it’s asked to loaf, it will loaf like artisanal sourdough.
    [image id=’a47d7757-b010-4fbe-b2d4-a41f56d32378′ mediaId=’a96f4415-ed48-476d-b18e-f0936c9b7e35′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    That in mind, it’s impossible to disguise the humongous potential here. The transmission’s shifts aren’t brutal, but they’re also not smooth. We’d call them semi-harsh, as might be expected of any device designed to withstand so much power. The Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are massive: 285/30ZR-20 in front and 355/25ZR-21 in back. That giant footprint and the rugged construction required for the tires to maintain their shape at the Bugatti’s claimed 261-mph top speed mean unavoidable tire noise. That it is subdued in the Chiron, particularly in light of the car’s carbon-fiber structure, is an achievement.
    When other supercars are running out of breath, the Chiron is only starting to try. Based on quarter-mile clocking, this is the quickest car C/D has tested. Using launch control, we slammed through 1320 feet in 9.4 seconds at an astonishing 158 mph, and the car pulled hard beyond 200 mph. The Chiron’s 4544-pound curb weight is a drag from a dead stop, so the 60-mph run takes a rather languid (relatively speaking) 2.4 seconds. The Porsche 918 Spyder and even something as common as a 911 Turbo S can beat that. But the Bug needs only 4.4 seconds to reach 100 mph and 15.7 seconds to reach 200. We didn’t have the runway to test the 261-mph governor, but the Chiron feels fully capable of that.
    [image id=’d7bf56cf-0afd-4b49-891c-52ec2c721284′ mediaId=’b0be8d56-3410-4cc2-8464-ff5ac627d682′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    With its incredibly stiff structure and perfectly poised suspension, the Chiron is confident at speed to the point of overwhelming arrogance. It’s impossible to test this car’s limits on anything except a long track, so on the street, it always has more to give. And give. And then it asks for more fuel. When it’s humping, the Chiron practically needs to burp after drinking so much so quickly. And while it will run California’s 91 octane, it makes only about 1200 horsepower on the stuff. On 93 or better, it makes the full 1479.
    Eventually, all things must stop. Stupendously large carbon-ceramic brake rotors at each corner haul the big Bugatti down from 70 mph in 160 feet. Proper sports cars do the same thing in 140 feet or less, but they also weigh 1000 fewer pounds.
    [image id=’8731d591-2bb7-4beb-a6ce-d3fa4440ddb3′ mediaId=’10bc0b98-063a-4ed9-a74b-b66b1f771967′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    Handling? Sure, it goes around corners. And it orbits the skidpad at 1.06 g’s with a neutral balance that will turn to power oversteer with a sneeze of the turbos. But even with the Sport’s extra starch, the Chiron’s character is more about traveling fast in a straight line. Each turn seems like an interruption to the real joy of this car, which is ingesting continents with the imperious disdain available only to those who have $3.7 million to spend on a single car. It does that spectacularly well.
    [pullquote align=’center’]VERDICT: A car that’s financially, dynamically, and cerebrally out of reach for mere mortals.[/pullquote]
    If you’re insecure enough to need ego fortification through vehicular acquisition, there are a lot of conspicuous-consumption machines that cost a lot less than this one. Many of them even have silly doors that fly into the air when opened. The Chiron buyer needs to appreciate it for the integrity of its design, the quality of its construction, and how it confidently achieves speed unlike any other vehicle on earth—and not worry that its doors open like an Accord’s.
    [image id=’174399cd-c1c6-4c31-b532-cae21ff969b9′ mediaId=’31e11f80-111c-4fe9-a37f-303ed1d89eb2′ align=’center’ size=’medium’ share=’false’ caption=” expand=” crop=’original’][/image]
    The Chiron has been around since 2016, and only now have we had a proper run with it. It’s both quick and fast, indeed. But here at C/D, we’d save up a few more dollars and hold out for one of the 30 Chiron Super Sport 300+ models with an additional 99 horsepower and a 300-mph-or-so top speed. Because, really, why compromise?
    [vehicle type=’specpanel’ vehicle-body-style=” vehicle-make=” vehicle-model=” vehicle-model-category=” vehicle-submodel=” vehicle-year=”][/vehicle]
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