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    Performance Coupe Showdown: 2023 BMW M2 vs. 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse

    From the May/June issue of Car and Driver.Elsewhere in this magazine is a comparison test of eight rational compact SUVs that carry families, haul groceries, and do the daily grind honorably. Here, we compare two examples of a very different type of automobile. Built less for the practical side of transportation and more for the admittedly selfish pursuit of driving pleasure, the 500-hp Ford Mustang Dark Horse and its 453-hp German rival, the BMW M2, square up against each other now that the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger have hit the showers. Both the Dark Horse and the M2 are products of a major refresh, indicating that their makers are here to play for a little while longer—but maybe not much longer. The M2 is likely to be the last BMW to offer three pedals, according to M’s head of development, Dirk Hacker, and the Mustang is Ford’s lone surviving passenger car, although Ford CEO Jim Farley promises that the V-8 Mustang has a lot of life left in it. Perhaps you’re wondering why we didn’t include the Toyota Supra and the new Nissan Z NISMO in this round. We decided to examine only cars with rear seats; practicality isn’t completely dead here.Seeking the most visceral driving experience, we opted for the six-speed manual versions of the 2023 M2 and 2024 Dark Horse. The prices also lined up well. At $75,345, the M2 came equipped with the Carbon package ($9900), which adds carbon-fiber trim, sheds weight with a carbon-fiber roof and M Carbon bucket seats, and unlocks a higher top-speed governor and a day at BMW’s driving school. The M2 also had the Shadowline package ($300), which darkens the headlight surrounds and cannon-sized quad exhaust tips, plus adaptive LED headlights ($650) and special emblems and badging from the BMW M 50 Years package ($200). Its Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires are standard. The $78,755 Mustang Dark Horse had plenty of extras too. The Dark Horse Handling package ($5495) brings adjustable strut mounts, a more aggressive tune for the magnetorheological dampers, and wider 19-inch wheels wrapped in sticky Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS tires, which happen to fall under Tire Rack’s “streetable track and competition” category. The Recaro seats ($1995) get unique bolsters, while Grabber Blue brake calipers cost $495. The Premium package ($3995) tacked on an anti-theft system, wheel locks, and a garage-door opener. The painted Tarnish Dark and Shadow Black hood stripe ($5495) is an option we could go without. A day at Ford’s Performance Driving School is included with all Dark Horses. To ensure a proper environment for testing these two coupes, we drew a loop from Los Angeles southeast to Borrego Springs, then back north via Palm Springs and west into the city of Azusa. Palomar Mountain challenged us with tightly knit hairpins, Palm Desert’s Highway 74 brought high-speed sweepers, and San Gabriel Canyon Road took us to new heights and a dead end. To keep things real, we sprinkled in the occasional freeway stint around greater L.A. After over 500 miles of fun, we settled on a winner. Interior and ExteriorDespite each car sharing a host of spicy menu items, sitting in both is like visiting two completely different restaurants. Both vehicles get sport seats and large screens, but that’s where the similarities end. The manually adjustable Recaros in the Dark Horse are plush and comfortable. The M2 gets racing-style carbon-fiber buckets that are not only tough to get in and out of but also force your legs together. Technical editor Dan Edmunds complained about a lack of padding, digging his wallet out of his back pocket to find relief each time he climbed in. The M2’s seats were better at holding us in place during high-g cornering maneuvers, but the Mustang’s Recaros remained the obvious favorite in every other environment.Nostalgia and technology bump heads in the Mustang’s interior. Dotting the center stack ahead of the shifter are the push-button start, volume knob, and traction-control button. The whole area looks like it’s just missing a tape deck. Perched above it, though, is a Jumbotron-rivaling 13.2-inch infotainment touchscreen, and directly in front of the driver is a 12.4-inch digital instrument cluster. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are on the menu, as are launch-control settings and track-data analysis, and the gauge cluster’s look can change to a digital rendition of the 1987–1993 Mustang’s instruments. The Ford infotainment system did suffer from slow startups, distortion in music while using smartphone streaming apps, and relatively sluggish reaction to inputs.Ford Mustang Dark HorseHIGHS: Beauty that’s both seen and heard, comfy seats for the streets, brakes that will get you out of trouble. LOWS: Defeated by most gas stations and their entrances, it’s not good when the late-’80s gauge cluster is the clearest one, a few infotainment-related problems. VERDICT: The last—and best—of its kind.The BMW offers more screen acreage with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch center touchscreen embedded in the dash. There’s an almost overwhelming level of configurability, which makes finding an operation as basic as disabling lane-keeping assist a user-experience nightmare. You select drive modes through the touchscreen too, although you can activate your combination of favorites with the bright red M1 and M2 toggle switches near the center of the steering wheel. Light blue, dark blue, and red M patterns on the M2’s door panels and within the M Carbon bucket seats’ inserts add a splash of color to the BMW’s interior. There are carbon-fiber trim pieces on the steering wheel, dash, center console, door panels, and places where the Dark Horse uses grained plastic instead. Neither coupe has rear seats worthy of human passengers, but if you do cram someone back there, at least the BMW offers climate controls to keep them from complaining too much.Upright and relatively glassy, the M2’s greenhouse provides easy outside views. The Mustang’s smaller side glass and its mirrors that are no bigger than Pop-Tarts limit visibility. In the BMW’s rearview mirror, you can see a subtle hump at the corner of the trunklid, while the Dark Horse blocks that view with a wing. Good outward visibility makes lane changes less stressful—advantage, BMW.Powertrain and PerformanceThe Dark Horse takes choice parts from great Mustangs of the recent past: forged connecting rods from the discontinued Shelby GT500 and the Tremec TR-3160 six-speed manual transmission out of the last-gen Mach 1 and Shelby GT350/350R. The M2 is a mix of spare parts too. Its twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six powerplant is a slightly detuned version of the S58 found in many BMW M models. The 15.0-inch front and 14.6-inch rear rotors, adaptive dampers, and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential are all borrowed from its big brother, the M4. The straight-six in the M2 revs as if unencumbered by reciprocating mass. At no point on its way to a 7200-rpm redline does it sound as exciting and menacing as the Dark Horse’s 5.0- liter V-8, but the altitude-compensating turbos kept the BMW squirting ahead of the Ford in the thin air 4000 feet above sea level. On city streets, it’s the Mustang that has people swiveling their heads to see what is making that sound—especially with the exhaust in Sport or Track mode.The M2 wins the race to 60 mph, which it completes in 4.1 seconds, two-tenths quicker than the Mustang. It beats the Ford nearly everywhere, traveling a quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds at 119 mph versus the Dark Horse’s 12.7-second run at 115 mph. The M2’s short gearing means passing at freeway speeds doesn’t necessarily call for a downshift; the Bimmer’s 6.7-second 50-to-70-mph result is 2.5 seconds quicker than the taller-geared Mustang’s. BMW M2HIGHS: As quick as techno, performance that’s more accessible, easier to live with on a daily basis.LOWS: Can’t hear it over the Mustang’s V-8, optional seats are hard and difficult to get out of, shifter lacks the crisp engagement of the Stang’s.VERDICT: A practical, powerful, and fun sports coupe—the kind BMW used to make.During our stopping tests, the Mustang’s humongous 15.4-inch two-piece iron front rotors, six-piston calipers, and sticky summer tires dug in. The Dark Horse stopped from 70 mph in 141 feet, 10 feet sooner than the M2, and from 100 mph in 274 feet, 23 less than the BMW.Both the Mustang and the M2 gained some weight with this generation. At 3968 pounds, the Dark Horse is 214 pounds heavier than the BMW and 175 pounds heavier than its closest analogue, the previous-generation Mustang Mach 1. The M2, though 182 pounds heavier than the previous-generation M2 Competition, is easily the nimbler and more playful of the two.Driving ExperienceAgainst the seemingly never-ending corners of the best canyon roads Southern California has to offer, the M2 proves to be the easier coupe to drive quickly. The BMW’s Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires aren’t as aggressive as the big boots on the Mustang, but 1.04 g’s on the skidpad isn’t far behind the Dark Horse’s 1.07-g average. On the street, the M2 lacks the grip of the fat-tired Dark Horse, but it’s happier approaching its limits, inspiring the confidence to go harder into the next apex. The Dark Horse never gets left behind, but despite having better steering feel than the BMW, its larger size and greater mass do make hustling it on tight roads feel more like work. But sometimes work is fun. Plus, the V-8’s exhaust note sounds breathtaking as it echoes off canyon walls.Whatever the setting, the M2’s steering effort is usually too light. It’s easy to give it too much input, though a good driver will adjust quickly. And though we preferred the Mustang’s steering feel, it too left us wanting more feedback. Listening to the Dark Horse’s Pirellis squeal tells you more than the steering wheel does anyway. The driver can configure the M2’s ride toward comfort, but even the more pliant damper settings can’t add cushion to the stiff competition seats. The Dark Horse benefits from a smooth ride and plush seating, but its Handling package gives it just enough camber to cause tramlining on anything but perfectly smooth roads. Working the Tremec six-speed’s titanium shift knob is a direct and mechanical affair. Quick shifts are possible in both, although the Ford seems happier to take the abuse of a fast one-to-two redline shift. It also features no-lift shifting.The Mustang’s predatory growl greatly out-shouts the buzzing and pops of the M2. At highway speeds, the M2 is quieter and more relaxed than the Mustang and goes a lot farther on a gallon of gas. Its twin-turbocharged inline-six sipped a gallon every 18 miles, while the V-8-powered Dark Hose sucked down premium at a rate of 14 mpg. Offsetting that efficiency advantage is the BMW’s tiny 13.7-gallon tank, which requires refilling almost as often as the Dark Horse’s 16.0-gallon hold.When you pull into the gas station, you might scrape the Dark Horse’s optional front splitter upon entrance. Driving with it attached during street use requires angled entries to avoid damage. With no front parking sensors or camera, park carefully or listen for the crunch. The M2 (Captain Practical, as we nicknamed it) clears most parking blocks and—unlike the Mustang—has front park assist for when it won’t.And the Winner Is . . .Many of the Dark Horse’s best attributes—the roaring V-8, the sticky rubber, its menacing muscle-car looks, and its mega brakes—are all good enough reasons to want one. The BMW might not measure up when it comes to V-8 rumble, but it serves up performance with greater ease. More glass makes it easier to sluice through traffic. Its infotainment software operates without a hiccup. Its shifter, though not as wonderfully mechanical as the Mustang’s, is effortless to row quickly. We don’t love how light the steering feels in the M2, but the lighter clutch-pedal feel is easier on the leg. Plus, the M2 is quicker. More on the M2 and Mustang Dark HorseThe Dark Horse costs over $15,000 more than a similarly optioned Mustang GT and barely beats the GT’s performance. There always has to be a second place, but we wouldn’t call the Dark Horse a loser. Both coupes supply the type of driving experience we love, and we’re willing to give up a bit of comfort, some fuel economy, and a little of our hearing to experience it. But the M2 requires less sacrifice to enjoy the same performance and is a better time when you’re just trundling home on a clogged freeway. It’s more comfortable, more refined, and easier to drive to its limits. The BMW takes the win, but if you fall hard for the Mustang’s V-8, we completely understand.SpecificationsSpecifications
    2023 BMW M2Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $63,195/$75,345Options: Carbon Fiber package (M carbon roof, M Carbon bucket seats, and M Driver’s package, carbon fiber trim), $9900; Live Cockpit Pro (head-up display), $1100; lighting package (adaptive full LED lights, automatic high-beams), $650; Shadowline package (M Shadowline lights and exhaust tips), $300; BMW M 50 Years emblems, $200
    ENGINEtwin-turbocharged DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 183 in3, 2993 cm3Power: 453 hp @ 6250 rpmTorque: 406 lb-ft @ 2650 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION6-speed manual
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 15.0-in vented, cross-drilled disc/14.6-in vented, cross-drilled discTires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4SF: 275/35ZR-19 (100Y)R: 285/30ZR-20 (99Y)
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 108.1 inLength: 180.3 inWidth: 74.3 inHeight: 55.2 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 54/34 ft3Trunk Volume: 14 ft3Curb Weight: 3754 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 4.1 sec100 mph: 8.8 sec1/4-Mile: 12.3 sec @ 119 mph130 mph: 14.5 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 4.8 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 8.1 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 6.7 secTop Speed (gov ltd): 178 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 151 ftBraking, 100–0 mph: 297 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.04 g 
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 18 mpg 
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 19/16/24 mpg 
    — 
    2024 Ford Mustang Dark HorseVehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door coupe
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $61,080/$78,755Options: Dark Horse Handling package (adjustable strut top mounts, revised chassis tuning, magnetic damping system, 305/315 tires, performance rear spoiler with Gurney flap, front tow hooks, tarnished aluminum painted 19-inch wheels), $5495; custom hood and accent strip, $5495; Equipment Group 700A Premium package (premier trim with color accent group, accent stitched center console with electronic locking lid, wrapped knee bolsters with accent stitch shifter boot, color accent door trim, Security package, active anti-theft system, wheel locking kit, approach detection, welcome/farewell exterior lighting, universal garage door opener, memory driver seat and mirrors, aluminum foot pedals), $3995; Recaro Sport Seats, $1995; Grabber Blue brake calipers, $495; premium floor mats, $200
    ENGINEDOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, port and direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 307 in3, 5038 cm3Power: 500 hp @ 7250 rpmTorque: 418 lb-ft @ 4900 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION6-speed manual
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 15.4-in vented disc/14.0-in vented discTires: Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RSF: 305/30ZR-19 (98Y)R: 315/30ZR-19 (100Y)
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 107.0 inLength: 189.7 inWidth: 75.5 inHeight: 55.2 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 55/30 ft3Trunk Volume: 13 ft3Curb Weight: 3968 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 4.3 sec100 mph: 9.9 sec1/4-Mile: 12.7 sec @ 115 mph130 mph: 16.8 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.1 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 9.7 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 9.2 secTop Speed (mfr claim): 166 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 141 ftBraking, 100–0 mph: 274 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.07 g 
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 14 mpg
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 17/14/22 mpg 
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINEDYes, he’s still working on the 1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo project car he started in high school, and no, it’s not for sale yet. Austin Irwin was born and raised in Michigan, and, despite getting shelled by hockey pucks during a not-so-successful goaltending career through high school and college, still has all of his teeth. He loves cars from the 1980s and Bleu, his Great Pyrenees, and is an active member of the Buffalo Wild Wings community. When Austin isn’t working on his own cars, he’s likely on the side of the highway helping someone else fix theirs. More

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    Royal Enfield New Himalayan Long Term Review – More Negatives Than Positives?

    Royal Enfield New Himalayan Long Term ReviewWhile there are a lot of praise-worthy attributes on Royal Enfield New Himalayan, almost all of them were prone to negatives, taking overall experience downHimalayan 411 has always been the de facto motorcycle for many Indians craving a motorcycling journey filled with touring, off-roading and adventure. After a successful run, Royal Enfield retired the legendary Himalayan 411 and launched New Himalayan debuting the Sherpa 450 powertrain. After spending a long time with the review sample Royal Enfield provided, this is our long-term review of the New Himalayan.Royal Enfield New Himalayan Long Term ReviewYou must be wondering how we found more negatives than positives with the New Himalayan. It is sort of like James May starring in a Bengali TV serial. Hard to believe, but true nonetheless. So, is the motorcycle bad? Is it a lemon? Not at all. Almost everything on the Royal Enfield New Himalayan is praise-worthy. However, almost all of those praises come with caveats, taking the overall experience down.Royal Enfield New Himalayan Kamet WhiteWill the motorcycle stay this way forever? We hope not. We think Royal Enfield will iron out most of these negatives in the future, considering how Himalayan 411 was launched and how it evolved towards the end of its life cycle. But as it currently is, New Himalayan 450 aims to be the jack of all trades. Is it a master in any? Let’s take a look.Design & AestheticsNew Himalayan sticks to its design roots and maintains an overall similar silhouette as Himalayan 411. That said, New Himalayan has bulked up quite a bit and looks and feels like a big bike. When you’re on the saddle, this visual bulk lends a feeling of riding a much bigger motorcycle than it is. Fatter tyres at the rear, a large fuel tank along with USD telescopic front forks at the front lend a substantial feel. We love the way Royal Enfield integrated brake lights within rear turn indicators. Cool stuff.Royal Enfield New Himalayan Front QuarterThat said, I didn’t like the beak and the pattern on Kamet White colour, which is subjective, though. Objectively, Tripper Dash console clamp could have been tidied up. Especially with a transparent windshield, this unappealing setup is on full display. Rear luggage rack is sharp around the edges. Our driver nicked his hand when cleaning around this area. Other than that, we didn’t see any other sore points like exposed wiring, ugly welds and other attributes that might be termed deal breakers.Ergonomics & ComfortRoyal Enfield New Himalayan gets two-step adjustable seat height – 825mm and 845mm. I’m a 182 cm long individual and I found the taller seat height more appealing. I could even flat foot easily with the taller setting. Riding ergonomics of Himalayan are spot on and Royal Enfield has nailed the rider’s triangle. At least for my body composition. Riding posture is upright and lends great comfort in the long hauls. Standing and riding while off-roading feels like second nature. Heel plates are perfectly positioned too, offering good leverage to control the motorcycle.New Himalayan 450 ErgonomicsI had initially planned a 3,000 km long travelogue with New Himalayan. But that plan faded with every kilometre I clocked on this motorcycle due to the hard seat. While my shoulders, back, knees, ankles, neck and other parts were fatigue-free on longer hauls, my bottom wasn’t. And I constantly had to take a break every 100 km or so and switch positions every 50 km. 3,000 km of this pain? No sir. Maybe If Royal Enfield had given me the bike with Touring Seat accessory on, that would’ve been a different story.Powertrain & PerformanceThis is by far the juiciest part of the New Himalayan debuting Sherpa 450 engine. This is the first-ever Royal Enfield motorcycle to feature liquid cooling and a DOHC 4V head. Also, the first-ever single-cylinder Royal Enfield to feature a 6-speed gearbox, a slipper clutch and a ride-by-wire throttle. Performance metrics from this 452cc engine are 40 bhp peak power at 8,000 RPM and 40 Nm of peak torque at 5,500 RPM.Royal Enfield Sherpa 450 Engine100 km/h comes up in under 7 seconds and this is easily one of the most fun to ride Royal Enfield ever. Acceleration is addictive and is almost KTM-like in the way it builds pace. I liked the vigour and gust with which this machine accelerates. This new Sherpa 450 is not a thumper and sounds like any other liquid-cooled motorcycle would. Which is just fine, if you ask me.What isn’t fine, are those weird vibrations starting around 95 km/h and making their presence known till 120 km/h. Post which, engine smoothens again. These vibrations numbed my wrists and could be felt around fuel tank and footpegs. This is quite a bummer because 100 km/h to 120 km/h is kinda the sweet spot for this machine and that’s exactly where these vibrations are.Himalayan 450Also, the Royal Enfield personnel who briefed me about this motorcycle, said that the engine has high tappet noises and is quite normal for Sherpa 450’s high-compression nature. In my experience, I didn’t face any abnormal tappet noises at all. However, there were harsh and loud crackling noises from the engine at higher RPMs with our unit. I don’t wanna say knocking noises, but that’s how they sounded.Fuel Economy & Running CostsIn the first impressions review, I mentioned a 34 km/l fuel efficiency which turned out to be inaccurate as the bike’s fuel gauge is hilarious. More on it later. I did a proper tank-to-tank range test and the actual fuel efficiency turned out to be between 26 km/l to 28 km/l. For a 196 kg motorcycle hitting 100 km/h in under 7 seconds, that might look impressive. However, these figures I mentioned are best-case scenarios and if you wring the throttle more often, this engine gulps down fuel at a faster rate.Royal Enfield New HimalayanIf I take my commute needs and try to fit the New Himalayan in it, I was not impressed with bike’s high running costs. The 90 km commute between my home and my farmhouse on the New Himalayan commanded Rs. 650 to Rs 700 worth of fuel for a round trip. If I shell Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 more, I can just take my car. My car might be around 5 seconds slower to 100 km/h than New Himalayan, but it has a 4-cylinder engine displacing 1.5L and lugging a 4.4m long SUV weighing 1.4 tonnes along with 5 occupants and their luggage.Ride, Handling & DynamicsIf there is one area where New Himalayan didn’t show me any negatives, it is the bike’s ride and handling dynamics. The unit I was given had its triple tree misaligned, despite never falling once. In this sense, handlebar is always tilted towards exhaust side, while going straight. Also, there were strong rattles from the triple clamp area on my unit too.Royal Enfield New HimalayanDespite that, the way New Himalayan handles Indian roads is its strongest flex point. Suspension setup is significantly overhauled when we bring Himalayan 411 into the equation. We have USD telescopic front forks, first ever on any single-cylinder Royal Enfield. They do a fantastic job of absorbing bumps and ondulations. I often found myself carrying more speed onto bad patches of road and trusting the suspension and large 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels to do their thing. Which they did beautifully. When riding with a pillion, potholes or cavities made their presence known, but nothing sinister.Chassis is beautifully engineered on the New Himalayan. There is good cornering clearance, although, New Himalayan is not a corner carver. Lending more grip and confidence is the 140-section rear tyre as opposed to 120-section on its predecessor. Steering is not very quick, especially with the large 21-inch front wheel. But it is par for the course and lends a sense of stability and security.Royal Enfield New Himalayan SeatRiding Experience1. City – Royal Enfield has lowered the kerb weight on New Himalayan when compared to Himalayan 411 by 3 kg. At 196 kg, New Himalayan is still not a light motorcycle in any sense of the world. Further dragging the city riding experience is a rather heavy clutch. Especially in large cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi NCR, with slow-moving traffic, one would crave more lightness in both these regards. But weight and heavy clutch were present in Himalayan 411 too.What hindered city riding experience the most, was this Sherpa 450 engine on New Himalayan. This engine has little to no bottom-end tractibility, which is completely opposite to the torquey character on Himalayan 411. I have stalled this bike in 3rd gear, 2nd gear and even in 1st gear. One will get used to it eventually, but not having low-end performance is not a good thing. What is a good thing, though, is the liquid-cooling setup on this engine. Even in peak Bengaluru traffic, it got warm. Never uncomfortably hot, though.Royal Enfield New Himalayan Rear Rack2. Off-Roading – The same negatives that bothered me in the city, also bothered me while off-roading. These are heavy clutch, lack of low-end performance and bike’s rather heavy kerb weight. There was another negative that bothered me more, punctures. In North Karnataka, there’s Jaali plant in excess and occupies around 75% of non-forest and non-agricultural land. This plant has lethal thorns, especially when dry. Local people use Jaali plant as firewood and spread these lethal thorns while cutting and transporting this plant.Still, I did three different hill climbs on this motorcycle and I even blasted it across beaten paths on my red-soil and black-soil farms. Just like in the city, negatives kinda fade away when you increase the pace. On more technical off-road bits, New Himalayan gets slightly cumbersome. I turned on rear ABS when on my red soil farms as the terrain was filled with loose stones. I wanted to try water wading in a stream but was sceptical owing to the stubby exhaust positioned lower than in Himalayan 411.Royal Enfield New Himalayan 21-Inch Front Wheel3. Touring – This is New Himalayan’s biggest strength. The motorcycle yearns to be unleashed on the highways. There are ample provisions for you to mount your saddlebags, panniers, top box and even a tank bag. High-speed touring is very comfortable on this motorcycle, only if you opt for the optional touring seat accessory, that is. Engine heating is well controlled at higher speeds and straight-line stability is commendable. However, the big negative here is the vibrations that creep in between 95 km/h to 120 km/h.SwitchgearRoyal Enfield New Himalayan shares quite a bit of switchgear components from other RE bikes. The right side switchgear is fine and works as intended with a Mode button and hazard light button. I’m not a fan of left switchgear where Royal Enfield has integrated pass light into the main headlight dial. Where passer switch was located on older RE bikes, we have a Home button for Tripper Dash.New Himalayan Left SwitchgearNew Himalayan Right SwitchgearTo use a passer/flasher on New Himalayan, your left thumb has to be an Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast and is very hard to reach when you’re wearing full leather gloves like I do. Passer/flasher had a 7/10 successful hit rate too. Which is not as bad as the joystick used to navigate Tripper Dash. This joystick is very flimsy and doesn’t feel like a quality item. When you want to go up, down, left or right, there’s no issue with 9/10 click rates. But pressing this joystick to select, had around 2/10 click rates and it almost always registered right function over select (press).It was quite a shocker to me when I figured that New Himalayan doesn’t have self-cancelling turn indicators on an almost Rs. 4 lakh (OTR, Karnataka) motorcycle. Also, there is no beeping sound to the indicators and I often forgot to turn them off. On a touring machine, that’s not a good idea. Round ORVMs look nice. But they’re not very practical. Around 50% of the real-estate was occupied by my riding jacket and these ORVMs are prone to vibrations. When cruising at around 100 km/h where the vibrations creep in, left ORVM tends to fall and right ORVM tends to face the rider. Also, I have caught ORVMs yanking loose on bad patches of road or speed humps on video.New Himalayan ExhaustTripper DashWith New Himalayan, Royal Enfield is offering the Tripper Dash, a bright circular colour TFT display that supports smartphone connectivity, Google Maps integration and music controls. When I first received the motorcycle, Bluetooth connection was established, but navigation and music control never worked with both IOS and Android. There was a FOTA update rolled out for New Himalayan Tripper Dash on 21st February 2024 consisting of five software packets.Post this update, both navigation and music controls worked, albeit only occasionally. I often know where I am going. So, I didn’t use the navigation feature as much. There are two negatives why I would be hesitant to rely on this navigation feature. Firstly, navigation feature drains my phone’s battery as it needs Wifi, Bluetooth, mobile data, location and my screen to be turned on at all times. Yeah! If you’re thinking that using the Type-C charger to charge my phone on a holder would solve this issue. But now my phone is exposed to direct sun (40+° C in North Karnataka) and it heats up, force shutting Royal Enfield app and navigation will turn off regardless.Royal Enfield Himalayan 450 Tripper Dash UpdateSecondly, navigation feature doesn’t work all the time and randomly freezes when on the move. I used navigation feature once and it froze on the move and I caught it on video. If there were any turns and I had completely relied on the Tripper Dash’s navigation, I would have missed them all. Other than navigation, there are other features like dark/light mode based on ambient light, gear position indicator, detailed trip reports and other features that work flawlessly. What doesn’t work flawlessly, are the real-time fuel efficiency and DTE (Distance To Empty).Speaking of DTE, it is a good time to report about the hilarious fuel gauge. Initially, I thought Royal Enfield New Himalayan only showed more fuel than I was introducing it with. There is another behaviour where it doesn’t show any fuel on the meter, despite there being ample fuel inside. You never know if the gauge is showing more fuel than reality or less. Once, the meter was fully down and DTE was 0, the bike still covered 100 km with fuel to spare. You must have heard of range anxiety on an EV, I had range anxiety on this bike and carried a bottle of fuel in my bag, which is ridiculous in 2024 on a motorcycle that costs almost Rs. 4 lakh (OTR Karnataka).Himalayan 450 Tripper Dash Maps – When it doesn’t workLastly, we have to speak about the enthusiastic speedometer. One time, I was cruising at around 120 km/h and an esteemed gentleman on a 100cc Hero Splendor kept up with me for a long time, raising questions about whether the bike was really going at 120 km/h. I verified the variance in speedometer by matching it with my car’s cruise control. Then I took my GPS and accelerometer-equipped camera out and measured the variance. I don’t wanna quote numbers as they’re taken from consumer-grade electronics and not professional equipment, but there is variance. So, the 165 km/h top speed you might have seen on social media is likely to be way less than that in reality.ConclusionWe should not dwell on the negatives of Royal Enfield New Himalayan. To conclude this motorcycle, we have to take a few steps back and look at it from a broader perspective and we’ll realise that this is not a motorcycle at all. No. This is a statement. Royal Enfield is saying ‘Stand up, take notice, I’m making high-tech motorcycles now’. And what a statement this is! New Himalayan is a first-gen product and has a few niggles. But with some time, this platform is likely to be stronger than ever and will have fixed all or most of these niggles.Royal Enfield New HimalayanSure, we would like stronger lighting, a louder horn, self-cancelling turn indicators with sound alerts, cruise control as it has ride-by-wire throttle, reliable features and a hassle-free experience with a motorcycle that costs almost Rs. 4 lakh (OTR Karnataka). But we sure like the direction Royal Enfield is taking and are excited about the future products positioned on this new platform.Sherpa 450 Engine More

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    1990 Acura Integra GS Takes Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

    From the June 1989 issue of Car and Driver.We have driven the all-new 1990 Acura Integra, and it is good. Damn good. And yet we’ve come away from our preview drive feeling disappointed.More on that in a moment. First, some background. Even a casual reader will know that the old Integra was one of our favorite cars. Ever since its 1986 debut, the sporty hatchback from Honda’s upscale division has impressed us with its amazing combination of practicality, performance, value, quality, and refinement. We voted the Integra onto our Ten Best Cars list in 1987 and then again in 1988. The Integra failed to make the Ten Best cut for 1989, largely because of tough new competition in the sports-coupe ranks, but by then Honda had a new Integra waiting in the on-deck circle.The newcomer is now at the plate and ready to swing. Ruthless in its product-introduction schedule, Honda replaces its major players every four years whether the scouting reports say “minor-league” or “all-star.” (And they almost always say the latter.) Thus despite the old model’s heady press notices, the 1990 Integra is new from the tire contact patches up. It sports a new engine, a pair of new transmissions, a new suspension, and a new interior. The Integra’s look has changed, too: the five-door hatch­back is gone, replaced by a new four-­door notchback sedan. The three-door hatchback remains, but it too is com­pletely restyled. Based on the latest Civic platform, the new Integra is longer, wider, and lower than the old model. The new three-­door’s 100.4-inch wheelbase is almost four inches longer than the previous model’s, and the new four-door sedan’s 102.4-inch wheelbase is more than three inches longer than the extinct five-­door’s. Both models employ the Civic’s suspension pieces: unequal-length con­trol arms and coil springs up front and a multilink layout at the rear. The latter ar­rangement consists of a trailing arm, two lateral links, a toe-control link, and a coil spring at each corner. Each end wears an anti-roll bar, and gas-pressurized shocks are used all around. The bodies that cover these worthy components are entirely new. Compared with the old Integra, which was sharp and angular, the new models are soft, round­ed, and smooth. Flush headlights replace the old car’s pop-up units. Frameless window glass tops the side doors. Neat, thin taillights grace the restyled rear end. The shapes look functional, and they are: the three-door’s drag coefficient is a low 0.32, and the four-door checks in with a 0.34 Cd. The interior is all-new as well, but that doesn’t mean surprises. Logic continues to be Honda’s guiding design force. The gauges are large, clear analog dials; the switches are simple buttons and knobs that feel good to the touch. And thanks to a panel that cants toward the driver, all the controls fall within easy reach. Happily, Honda has replaced the old car’s mobile-home-grade door and seat mate­rial with a natty gray cloth that considera­bly improves the interior’s appeal. We still have a few minor gripes—the steer­ing-wheel spokes, for example, are set lower than we’d like—but overall this is a first-rate cockpit. Despite increased interior room, the three-door hatchback remains best suit­ed to two passengers and their luggage. Normal-sized adults can fit into the rear seats, but they won’t want to sit in them for long. Cargo fits better: the rear seat splits 60–40 and can fold down com­pletely for extra storage space. Drivers who frequently travel with more than one companion will want the four-door se­dan. It can carry four adults comfortably, and it has an 11.2-cubic-foot trunk.The new Integra is more potent than the previous model, thanks to a new six­teen-valve, DOHC 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. The all-aluminum 1.8-liter puts out 130 hp at 6000 rpm—a ten-percent increase over the old 1.6-liter four. Torque is up 17.5 percent, to 121 pound-feet at 5000 rpm. The Integra de­livers that power to the front wheels through one of two new transmissions: a five-speed manual with revised ratios and a larger clutch, or a stronger yet more compact four-speed automatic with a lockup torque converter. A driver­-selectable Sport mode raises the auto­matic’s shift points and increases its responsiveness. Whereas the old Integra offered two trim levels, the new Integra offers three. The base RS package includes such stan­dard items as fog lamps, tinted glass, a rear wiper-washer (on the three-door only), intermittent wipers, and motor­ized front passive seatbelts. The LS trim kit adds power side mirrors, an AM/FM stereo with cassette, a power sunroof, and a new electric-servo-controlled cruise-control system that’s said to be more accurate than the previous vacu­um-operated system. The new top-of­-the-line CS package includes all of the previously mentioned niceties plus alloy wheels, power windows, adjustable side bolsters on the driver’s seat, and—on the three-door model—a rear spoiler. Most important, all GS Integras come with Honda’s ALB anti-lock braking system as standard equipment.Though we sampled both three-door and four-door Integras during our preview drive at Honda’s Tochigi proving grounds in Japan, we spent the bulk of our time in a top-model five-speed GS three-door. We never base our final conclusions on preview drives, but we came away from our experience in the three-door GS with a number of telling observations.The new Integra exhibits all of the goodness of the previous model—and more. The new engine winds to its redline with all the smooth, effortless grace of the old 1.6-liter, and the five-speed box shifts with a slickness all but unmatched in the industry. Despite the extra power provided by the larger engine, however, the Integra still doesn’t feel like a class-beating performer. We didn’t have a chance to conduct any instrumented tests, but a few hand-timed acceleration runs showed acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in the low-eight-sec­ond range. We saw an indicated 126 mph on the Honda PG’s banked oval, a con­siderable improvement over the old car’s 112-mph top end.Hustled around the PG’s twisty road circuit, the new Integra proved that Honda’s engineers have learned from past criticisms. The old car tended to lose its poise when pushed hard; the suspen­sion felt too soft for seriously sporting maneuvers. And the steering lacked the direct feel that serious drivers appreciate. Happily, both of those shortcomings have received attention. The new all-in­dependent suspension feels considera­bly tauter and more composed than the previous rigid-rear-axle layout. Bend into a tight corner and the new Integra responds with no theatrics. Understeer is still the prevalent cornering attitude, but there’s enough trailing-throttle over­steer to make the car tossable and easy to slide around. The GS’s standard 195/60VR-14 Michelin MXVs add to the fun, providing reasonable grip and predict­able limits. A new variable-assist steering system all but cures our other major complaint. The old Integra’s steering system was precise but furnished little in the way of cornering information to the driver. The new system, which gradually feathers out the amount of power assist as speed in­creases, is vastly superior. The Integra now steers with an accuracy and smooth­ness approaching the high standards set by Honda’s own front-drive Prelude. By now you’re probably wondering why we prefaced this report with a sour note. What’s not to like, you ask? Our disappointment stems from the new Integra’s character. The cars from Honda’s Acura Division are supposed to deliver something above and beyond Honda’s standard offerings. For the Integra, that has always meant a little added zest—more spirit, if you will. And that strategy has worked. The strictly sensible folks who wanted a first-class, no-nonsense set of wheels bought Honda’s Accord. Enthusiasts, on the oth­er hand—those buyers swayed by the conspicuous growl of a DOHC engine and the rakish presence of a swept-roof hatchback—gravitated toward the sporty Integra. The new Integra, however, is a mid­dle-of-the-road car. Granted, its styling is smooth and neat—there’s not a tacky line on the exterior. But the shape is conser­vative, even boring. Instead of looking dashing, the new Integra looks stocky. The wheel wells look too roomy (or may­be the tires are too small). The rear spoil­er spoils the clean rear end. The nose looks heavy. This is not an exciting car to look at. More Integra Reviews From the ArchiveNor is it particularly exciting to drive. Prior to our preview, we had heard ru­mors of a hot 1.6-liter four-cylinder with variable valve timing and horsepower ga­lore. The rumors, it turns out, are true—if you live in Japan. Domestic-market Integras will get a potent 1.6-liter four that is said to produce almost 160 hp (Honda would not confirm the output at our preview). Our Honda hosts made the mistake of allowing us to drive this hot­-to-trot Integra on the Tochigi oval. That was all we needed to feel cheated. Fitted with this powerplant, the Integra comes alive. The variable-valve-timing 1.6-liter four screams to its 8000-rpm redline like a Formula 1 engine under an iron boot. And it easily reaches that redline in fifth gear. Talk about zest! Unfortunately, Honda views the U.S. as torque territory. That means a larger­-displacement engine with lots of low-end grunt, not a high-revving 1.6-liter ban­shee that prefers manual transmissions to automatics. And so, unless U.S. de­mand is great enough, the sizzling 1.6-liter will remain a Japan-only treat.SpecificationsSpecifications
    1990 Acura Integra GSVehicle Type: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 2- or 4-door hatchback
    PRICE
    Base (estimated): $12,000–$16,500
    ENGINEDOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port fuel injectionDisplacement: 112 in3, 1834 cm3Power: 130 hp @ 6000 rpmTorque: 121 lb-ft @ 5000 rpm 
    TRANSMISSIONS
    5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 100.4–102.4 inLength: 172.9–176.5 inWidth: 67.4 inHeight: 52.2–52.8 inCurb Weight (C/D est): 2550–2700 lb
    MANUFACTURER’S PERFORMANCE RATINGS
    60 mph, 2-door manual/auto; 4-door manual/auto: 8.7/9.7 sec; 8.9/9.9 sec1/4-Mile, 2-door manual/auto; 4-door manual/auto: 16.5/17.4 sec; 16.6/17.5 secTop Speed, 2-door manual/auto; 4-door manual/auto: 126/124 mph; 124/122 mph 
    EPA FUEL ECONOMYCity, manual/auto: 24/22 mpgHighway, manual/auto: 28/26 mpg More

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    Comparison Test: 2024 Mazda CX-50 vs. 2024 Volkswagen Tiguan Split a Lot of Hairs

    Buying ice cream—much like shopping for a car—is a matter of taste. Sure, there are objective qualities to measure (something we focus on quite extensively), but after mulling over your fourth free sample, you choose the flavor you think will bring you the most joy. None of the options is bad; ice cream is a delicious treat no matter the flavor, but in the end, you follow your gut. Literally. New-car shopping is quite similar. When choosing between compact SUVs like the 2024 Mazda CX-50 and the 2024 Volkswagen Tiguan—two vehicles with more positive qualities than negative—the final choice often comes down to a simple matter of taste. We rounded up a pair of crossovers dressed to the nines with options, loaded up a weekend’s worth of luggage, and headed for the hills to see which SUV our taste buds preferred. What We TestedThe Mazda’s trim lineup offers more flavors than the Volkswagen’s, with an entry model starting at $31,675 and eight total trim levels compared to the VW’s four. Our top-trim CX-50 Turbo Premium Plus fetched $44,675, while our Tiguan SEL R-Line was equally loaded and stickered at a more modest $40,700, with the only addition being the Kings Red Metallic paint for $395. All-wheel drive is standard across the entire CX-50 lineup and on the SEL R-Line, but on lower Tiguan trims, all-wheel drive is a $1500 option.The Mazda’s zippy turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder is good for 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque (there’s also a less powerful naturally aspirated version). No matter the trim, all Tiguans feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder putting out 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. 2024 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-LineHIGHS: Costco-ready interior, compliant ride and handling. LOWS: Unenthusiastic powertrain, frustrating mix of new and old infotainment controls.VERDICT: Practicality without any flashiness.Interior Comparison The CX-50’s interior is all class from the moment you open the door. Dark leather is draped throughout the cabin, helping the CX-50 feel certifiably premium, especially with contrast piping and stitching on the seats. Forward visibility from the driver’s seat is good, but the low roofline hinders rearward visibility a bit. Headroom in the Mazda also could be better, and one evaluator complained about too-thick A-pillars. View PhotosMichael Simari|Car and Driver2024 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium PlusView PhotosMichael Simari|Car and Driver2024 Volkswagen Tiguan SELThe vibe from the German is a bit more utilitarian, to the surprise of nobody. The Tiguan’s materials are nice but not too flashy or stylish against the Mazda’s moody feel. The driver sits more upright in the Volkswagen, minimizing blind spots. And whereas the Mazda’s rear seat feels cramped, the Volkswagen’s earned praise for its airiness. Neither car manages to earn top marks in the ergonomics department. The Mazda’s finicky rotary-dial infotainment control is far from our favorite, while the Volkswagen frustrated our testers with its array of imprecise touch-sliders and haptic climate controls. The Mazda at least offers a workaround of sorts, with the inclusion of a touchscreen that you have to lean uncomfortably far forward to use.Fuel Economy and LivabilityThe Tiguan makes a case for itself in the fuel-economy department, beating out the Mazda during our evaluation. We covered roughly 600 miles during our testing, and the Tiguan sipped considerably less fuel throughout, returning 26 mpg compared to 23 in the Mazda. Things were tighter in our real-world 75-mph highway fuel-economy testing, where the Tiguan earned 30 mpg to the Mazda’s 29. That’s pretty close, considering the 72-hp, 99-pound-foot delta between their respective engines.The Tiguan’s extra length and taller roofline help prove the SUV’s worth as a grocery getter. The Tiguan crushes the CX-50 in practical storage and has room for 25 carry-on-sized boxes with the rear seats folded, compared to 20 in the Mazda. The Tiguan wins with the rear seats up as well, though the results are closer at 11 and nine boxes. 2024 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium PlusHIGHS: Handsome interior finishes, robust turbo four.LOWS: Cramped rear seat, middling fuel economy.VERDICT: A seamless blend of luxury and sportiness.How They Drive and PerformWhat it lacks in fuel efficiency, the CX-50 makes up in on-road enjoyment. Nudge the throttle and the CX-50 rolls off the line with smooth acceleration and linear power delivery. Turn the radio down low, stomp the accelerator a bit harder, and the Mazda’s turbo 2.5-liter offers a gearhead-placating level of turbocharger sound that earned more than one smile from our evaluators with the wastegate’s hushed woot doot doot. For the Tiguan’s part, throttle response is sharp, but acceleration quickly runs out of steam. It marches to 60 mph in a humdrum 8.2 seconds, a far cry from the Mazda’s impressive 6.4-second hustle. We found the Tiguan’s eight-speed automatic transmission to be a step behind the engine, as well, often settling on a gear higher than desired in spirited driving sessions. View PhotosMichael Simari|Car and Driver2024 Volkswagen Tiguan SELCompared to more vanilla crossovers in the segment, like the Nissan Rogue and the Kia Sportage, both the CX-50 and the Tiguan have impressive body control and handling. The steering is precise in both models. The Mazda overcomes its clearly artificially weighted steering, offering a sliver more precision and confidence than the Tiguan’s somewhat overboosted helm. Neither car is destined for the racetrack, but the Mazda does a good job of making you forget you’re driving a compact crossover. Which is Better?Although the Volkswagen offers better fuel economy and slightly more space, we continuously found ourselves wanting to spend our time living with and driving the Mazda. The nicer cabin, sportier driving demeanor, and handsome styling were just to our taste. If you’re willing to indulge the upcharge, the 2024 Mazda CX-50 proves quite the rewarding complement to daily life. You are buying dessert, after all, so why not pile on a few more sprinkles and add a waffle cone? View PhotosMichael Simari|Car and Driver2024 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium PlusSpecificationsSpecifications
    2024 Mazda CX-50 Turbo Premium PlusVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $44,675/$44,675Options: none
    ENGINE
    turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 152 in3, 2488 cm3Power: 256 hp @ 5000 rpmTorque: 320 lb-ft @ 2500 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    6-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/torsion beamBrakes, F/R: 12.8-in vented disc/12.8-in discTires: Goodyear Eagle Touring245/45R-20 99V M+S
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 110.8 inLength: 185.8 inWidth: 75.6 inHeight: 63.9 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 52/46 ft3Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 56/31 ft3Curb Weight: 3864 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 6.4 sec1/4-Mile: 14.9 sec @ 92 mph100 mph: 17.8 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 7.2 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.5 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.8 secTop Speed (mfr claim): 142 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 167 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.84 g
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 23 mpg75-mph Highway Driving: 29 mpg75-mph Highway Range: 460 mi
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 25/23/29 mpg

    2024 Volkswagen Tiguan SEL R-Line AWDVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $40,305/$40,700Options: Kings Red Metallic paint, $395
    ENGINE
    turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, iron block and aluminum head, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 121 in3, 1984 cm3Power: 184 hp @ 6000 rpmTorque: 221 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    8-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 13.4-in vented disc/11.8-in discTires: Pirelli Scorpion Zero All-Season255/40R-20 101H M+S
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 109.9 inLength: 186.1 inWidth: 72.4 inHeight: 66.5 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 51/47 ft3Cargo Volume, Behind F/R: 73/38 ft3Curb Weight: 4003 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 8.2 sec1/4-Mile: 16.3 sec @ 85 mph100 mph: 23.7 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.8 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.4 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.6 secTop Speed (C/D est): 124 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 181 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.84 g
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 26 mpg75-mph Highway Driving: 30 mpg75-mph Highway Range: 470 mi
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 24/22/29 mpg

    C/D TESTING EXPLAINEDJack Fitzgerald’s love for cars stems from his as yet unshakable addiction to Formula 1. After a brief stint as a detailer for a local dealership group in college, he knew he needed a more permanent way to drive all the new cars he couldn’t afford and decided to pursue a career in auto writing. By hounding his college professors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was able to travel Wisconsin seeking out stories in the auto world before landing his dream job at Car and Driver. His new goal is to delay the inevitable demise of his 2010 Volkswagen Golf. More

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    2025 Porsche Taycan Turbo GT Goes to Extremes

    For Porsche, the Taycan Turbo GT’s 1092 horsepower was just the starting point in the quest for EV supremacy. The four-door sedan ditches its rear seat, swapping in a carbon-fiber storage bin (saving 49 pounds); it removes the driver’s-side charge-port door and associated wiring to save weight, even at the expense of an entirely new fender stamping. It also uses thinner windshield glass, ditches the rear speakers, and tosses the floor mats. We can’t help but respect Porsche’s all-in commitment on its new top dog in the Taycan lineup. Granted, the most extreme measures come only if you select the Weissach package, which, in addition to the weight-saving measures, brings a large, fixed wing in the back along with front and rear splitters and underbody changes that help create to 175 pounds of front and 310 pounds of rear downforce. Weissach-package cars also get gummy Pirelli P Zero Trofeo RS Elect track-oriented tires as standard, whereas they’re optional on the more feature-laden standard Turbo GT. All Turbo GTs have forged 21-inch wheels. We drove Europe-spec cars, which also get fixed-back carbon-fiber buckets, but those don’t meet U.S. unbelted-occupant crash requirements (absurd U.S. regulations strike again). Overall, the Turbo GT with Weissach is a claimed 165 pounds lighter than a regular Turbo GT and 157 pounds lighter than a Turbo S.Transformative TiresHere’s your regular reminder that tires make all the difference, and at our drive on the 2.4-mile Monteblanco circuit outside Seville, Spain, the Trofeo RS Elects completely transform the Turbo GT. There’s so much more front grip than with the standard Pirelli P Zero R rubber, which is to be expected, but the tires also totally change the balance of the car. With the P Zero Rs, we were a little underwhelmed by the tame, mild-understeer balance at the limit. But the Trofeo RSs—which have many Taycan-specific differences in the angles of the belts and plies, according to Pirelli, as well as the compound versus the off-the-shelf version or the ones fitted to the Ford Mustang Dark Horse—work the rear end much harder. It’s also far easier to get the rear end to waggle, but it still doesn’t bite. Even in Sport Plus mode, the steering effort is relatively light, but the pavement texture flows far more freely to one’s fingers than in most EVs. The active dampers that are also available across the rest of the updated 2025 Taycan lineup, called Porsche Active Ride, are standard on the Turbo GT. Even at racetrack speeds, they make for oh-so-flat cornering and the ability to more completely leverage the tires’ grip. We found the brake pedal to have a slight dead zone at the top of its travel, but then the large fixed calipers and carbon-ceramic rotors—Porsche trimmed almost five pounds from the brake hardware as well—shed speed of the roughly 4950-pound Taycan seriously quickly. Peak PowerThe Turbo GT retains a two-motor powertrain, but a 900-amp rear inverter, what converts the battery’s DC energy to AC for the rear motor, replaces a 600-amp unit from the Taycan Turbo S and is the key element in the massive power boost. The higher-flow inverter eats into some trunk space, not that buyers of a two-seat sedan will likely mind. Peak output can briefly kiss 1092 horsepower (for two seconds), with 1019 horses available for 10-second bursts; the Turbo S has a 938-hp peak. Adding some grams to the Turbo GT are steering-wheel-mounted paddles that are unique in the Taycan lineup. These were the idea of development driver Lars Kern, making it easier to actuate the boost mode than using the button at the center of the mode-control knob, which is how it’s done on lesser Taycans. The button remains, but the right paddle is easier to grab when doing serious wheel work, and Kern did so nine times during the Laguna Seca lap and 20 during the ‘Ring lap to add a 160-hp hit for 10 seconds at a time. Porsche didn’t want to do a mono paddle like GM has done on its EVs to control additional regenerative braking, so the left paddle switches between the Taycan’s two regen settings. Every other Weissach package that Porsche has offered—which until now has only been available on sports cars such as the 911 GT2 and GT3 RS, the Cayman GT4 RS, and the 918 Spyder—has cost serious money, typically $15,000 to $30,000. But on the $231,995 Taycan Turbo GT, it’s a no-cost option. This perhaps says a lot about how many Taycan buyers the company believes are clamoring for such a hardcore electric sedan.Track TimesBut the big question, ostensibly the Turbo GT’s reason for being, is whether it’s quicker than the 1020-hp Tesla Model S Plaid and the 1234-hp Lucid Air Sapphire. Straight-line acceleration is too close to call, with Porsche’s acceleration claims putting the Turbo GT right on top of or fractionally ahead of what we’ve measured from the other two. Porsche has already set records for production EVs at Laguna Seca and the Nürburgring, in both cases one-upping the Model S Plaid. At the ‘Ring, the Turbo GT went nearly 18 seconds quicker than the Tesla and an insane 26 seconds quicker than the previous Taycan Turbo S. That’s a monumental improvement, but there was some low-hanging fruit. Development driver Kern, the wheelman for both of those records, says the Turbo GT’s higher top speed—180 mph or, with the Weissach package, 190 mph—alone was worth three to four seconds through the fastest sections, where the Turbo S previously maxed out at its 161-mph limiter. Kern reckons that the Trofeo RS tires are worth roughly 1.5 to two seconds at Laguna Seca and about six seconds at the Nürburgring. The engineering necessity was for the car to be able to give its all for an entire lap of the ‘Ring. Kern recalls that during the record-setting lap, the battery temperature started at 57 degrees and rose to 144 degrees, just shy of the 149-degree give point.More on the TaycanAt our last Lightning Lap outing, the Lucid Air Sapphire decisively set a new EV record, going nearly 11 seconds quicker than a 2020 Taycan Turbo S. But the Turbo GT, with acceleration equal to the Sapphire’s, far more extreme tires, and about 350 pounds less weight, should have more than a fighting chance at taking back that mantle. We can’t wait to find out if it does.SpecificationsSpecifications
    2025 Porsche Taycan Turbo GTVehicle Type: front- and rear-motor, all-wheel-drive, 2- or 4-passenger, 4-door sedan
    PRICE
    Base: $231,995; Turbo GT with Weissach package, $231,995
    POWERTRAIN
    Front Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC Rear Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC Combined Power: 1092 hpCombined Torque: 988 lb-ftBattery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 97.0 kWhOnboard Charger: 11.0 kWPeak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 320 kWTransmissions, F/R: direct-drive, 2-speed automatic
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 114.2 inLength: 195.6 inWidth: 78.7 inHeight: 54.3 inCargo Volume, F/R: 3/12–13 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 4950–5100 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 2.0–2.1 sec100 mph: 4.3–4.4 sec1/4-Mile: 9.3–9.4 secTop Speed: 180–190 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined: 71–84 MPGeRange: 230–270 miDave VanderWerp has spent more than 20 years in the automotive industry, in varied roles from engineering to product consulting, and now leading Car and Driver’s vehicle-testing efforts. Dave got his very lucky start at C/D by happening to submit an unsolicited resume at just the right time to land a part-time road warrior job when he was a student at the University of Michigan, where he immediately became enthralled with the world of automotive journalism. More

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    2024 Fiat 500e Might Be All the EV You Need

    A starting price barely over $34,000. A claimed curb weight under 3000 pounds. Power and acceleration figures that aren’t chasing modern sports cars. Enough battery capacity for several days of around-town driving. Healthy levels of standard equipment. While a parade of big-battery, multi-motor, mega-horsepower, high-dollar electric vehicles are pushing EVs in one direction, there’s a dearth of small, affordable EVs that keep it simple, and the 2024 Fiat 500e is such a presence.Staggeringly Normal SpecsMost modern EVs make enough horsepower to put generation-old sports cars to shame, and that’s not exactly what everyone wants or needs. The 2024 500e is more of an anachronism in this sense, returning to the days of small, inexpensive cars that provide tepid acceleration. Here, a single permanent-magnet electric motor powers the front axle and produces just 117 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque. Fiat claims the 500e will meander its way to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds before topping out at 94 mph. And while that pales next to the dual-motor Hyundai Ioniq 5, which gets to 60 in 4.5 seconds, it is quicker than a Chevy Trax or a Kia Sportage.Under the body lies a similarly modest lithium-ion battery, which we estimate has roughly 37 kWh of usable capacity and will be good for 140 to 150 miles of range. Our projection would’ve been lower, but the 500e’s compact dimensions mean Fiat was able to keep the curb weight at a respectable claimed 2952 pounds, a far cry from those 5000-plus-pound Chunka Lunkas rolling around. The battery will charge from empty to 100 percent in a claimed six hours on a 6.6-kW Level 2 charger or in less than 4.5 hours on an 11.0-kW connection, and at its max DC fast-charge rate of 85 kW, it will refill to 80 percent in 35 minutes, Fiat says.Aesthetically, this little one is clearly a Fiat 500. The exterior picks up some LED lighting front and rear, as well as flush electronic door handles. But the flashiest of the new stuff as well as the throwbacks lie in the cabin. The dashboard trim, rounded gauge cluster, and two-spoke steering wheel are meant to evoke the OG 1957 Cinquecento. We dig the dedicated wireless-charging nook just below the (physical!) climate controls and 10.3-inch center display, which runs the latest version of Stellantis’s Uconnect 5 software. A 7.0-inch digital gauge cluster is a nice thing to see, especially as fellow small-car manufacturer Mini seems intent on eliminating that feature in favor of a cheapo head-up display.While the eyes may deceive, the 500e is a bit larger than it was before, ringing in nearly an inch longer in both wheelbase and overall length and also 2.2 inches wider. An additional 1.7 inches of shoulder room in the front row keeps the Fiat from feeling truly cramped, and the cargo hold will swallow eight cubic feet of stuff, or a few backpacks or several bags of groceries, with ease. The back seat will fit an adult, though not for long journeys—but then, you’re not going on a long journey, are you? Behind a seat set for a six-foot-tall driver, there was decent headroom, but the legroom was more reminiscent of a budget European airline than a car. Despite the small accommodations, the center console has a decently sized hidey-hole that could hold a small tablet. Two USB-A ports and another USB-C reside in various crannies. There’s only one cupholder that isn’t integrated into a door panel, but it can be folded and stowed when not needed, opening space in the cabin’s lower half.In addition to the tech, there’s a bunch of other standard kit in this package. LED headlights, automatic climate control, keyless entry and start, wireless device charging and smartphone mirroring, and rain-sensing wipers all are included. Also standard is the buyer’s choice of a Level 2 home charger or fast-charge credits through the company’s Free2move Charge program.Staggeringly Normal DemeanorWhile the Fiat 500e’s vibe might fit our Miami drive location well, this locale is not exactly suited for, well, driving. Endless parades of stoplights, confused drivers piloting rented convertibles (with the top still up, natch), strips of asphalt where lunar-rover testing clearly takes place (or should)—Vice City has it all. The 500e’s ride was, as we expected, a little on the flinty side, but we found very little unwanted interior noise until higher speeds. Chucking this little guy into corners at normal speeds made for a fun urban jaunt, with an appropriate amount of body roll for a small but kind of tall car.It’s fortunate that the 500e feels zippy at a relatively modest pace, because that’s all the pace the Italian jelly bean can muster. There’s a good bit of right-pedal sensitivity at lower speeds in both the standard Normal mode and the more efficient Range mode, and the zero- to 30-mph span is what matters most in a car of this ilk. Switch into Range mode, and the pedal does require a smidge more prodding to get going, but the increased regenerative braking permits one-pedal driving, so it’s the mode we preferred. If you’re not a fan of regen, Normal mode’s coasting and braking feel like any other small car’s. There’s also a Sherpa mode that limits the top speed to 50 mph and cuts max motor output to 76 horsepower. It was explained as an “Oh crap, I have less battery than I thought and need to get home” mode, not one for normal use.Dollars and SenseAchieving a $34,095 base price is not the easiest thing to do, especially at a time when the average transaction price for a new car is approaching the $50,000 mark, and that becomes clear in places like the torsion-beam rear axle and rear drum brakes. Unlike with Fiat’s last foray into battery-electric models, parent company Stellantis probably won’t lose the farm on every car it sells this time, despite that the new 500e’s MSRP is lower than its 2019 forebear’s, even with years having passed between their debuts. While it won’t solve the problem of charging access for those who park on the street, the 2024 Fiat 500e does help address one issue the EV space needs to work on: affordable variety. It’s a true city car, with the thrift and capability needed for most weekly forays, and it works well as a second around-town-mobile when long trips aren’t on the docket. It’s a turtle among hares, but if that’s all you need, why go overboard? SpecificationsSpecifications
    2024 Fiat 500e Vehicle Type: front-motor, front-wheel-drive, 4-passenger, 2-door hatchback
    PRICE
    Base: Inspi(Red), $34,095; Music, $37,595; Beauty, $37,595
    POWERTRAIN
    Motor: permanent-magnet synchronous AC
    Power: 117 hp Torque: 162 lb-ft Battery Pack: liquid-cooled lithium-ion, 37.0 kWh (C/D est)Onboard Charger: 11.0 kWPeak DC Fast-Charge Rate: 85 kWTransmission: direct-drive
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 91.4 inLength: 143.0 inWidth: 66.3 inHeight: 60.1 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 48/29 ft3Cargo Volume: 8 ft3Curb Weight (C/D est): 2950 lb
    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
    60 mph: 8.2 sec1/4-Mile: 16.5 secTop Speed: 94 mph
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
    Combined: 116–120 MPGeRange: 140–150 miCars are Andrew Krok’s jam, along with boysenberry. After graduating with a degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009, Andrew cut his teeth writing freelance magazine features, and now he has a decade of full-time review experience under his belt. A Chicagoan by birth, he has been a Detroit resident since 2015. Maybe one day he’ll do something about that half-finished engineering degree. More

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    Archive Road Test: 1989 Pontiac 20th Anniversary Trans Am

    From the June 1989 issue of Car and Driver.When the intercooled version of Buick’s turbocharged Regal T-type hit the streets in 1986, we suddenly found ourselves in the strange posi­tion of being captivated by an obso­lete mid-sized sedan. Old and crude, the potent T-type was nonetheless irresistible. Here was a car costing barely $15,000 that could run from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.9 seconds. A later version, the GNX, was quicker still. Judging by the bidding frenzy that arose when the 500-unit run of GNXs went on sale, we weren’t the only ones seduced by the Buick’s old-fashioned big-horsepower performance. Much as we enjoyed the Regals, however, we couldn’t help but won­der how the mighty Buick turbo V-6 would feel in a modern, sophisticat­ed car—a car with the taut handling and sleek aerodynamics to exploit the engine’s heroic output fully. Why not the Pontiac Trans Am? we wondered. Here was a car within the General Motors corporate umbrella that was not only considerably more contemporary than the Regal but that also needed some mechanical differentiation from its Chevrolet Camaro sibling. General Motors was apparently thinking the same thing, for now the Buick-turbo­-engined Trans Am is a reality. To celebrate the twentieth anni­versary of its muscle car, Pontiac is producing a run of 1500 special Trans Ams powered by a modified version of the lusty Buick turbo 3.8-liter V-6. This limited-production 20th Anniversary TA has also been selected as the pace car for this year’s Indianapolis 500. Like the Corvette convertible that paced the 1986 race, the turbo TA pace car will be completely stock—except that it won’t have air conditioning and will wear special lighting equipment. Of course, the hoopla surrounding this car would be hollow indeed if the 20th Anniversary Trans Am couldn’t outperform the old Regals. Rest assured that the turbo TA is equal to the accolades. Our test car scorched the drag strip with a 0-to-60-mph blast of 4.6 seconds and a quarter-mile run of 13.4 seconds at 101 mph. That means, as we go to press, that the turbocharged Trans Am is the quickest 0-to-60 sprinter available in any U.S. production-car showroom—at any price.Achieving such stunning times doesn’t require high-rpm clutch drops or other test-track trickery. Just pop the automatic transmission into drive, hold it with the brake while you raise the engine speed to 2100 rpm, release the brake, and floor the throttle. The turbo Trans Am instantly shoots forward like a runaway rocket sled. The roar from under the hood builds as the boost-gauge needle dances around the 16.5-psi mark. And the Turbo Hydramatic T200R4 four-speed automatic snaps off shifts crisply at just over 5000 rpm—without a nanosecond of lost thrust. The rush is so strong that the turbo Trans Am reaches 130 mph in just 30.2 seconds. You’ll recall that Buick engineers calibrated the engine-control com­puters in the turbo Regals to douse the fires under the hood at 124 mph. The speed cutoff was necessary to keep the old Regals within their modest handling and braking limits. No such precautions are needed with the turbo Trans Am. Thanks to its performance-oriented plat­form, the turbo TA can run without a speed limiter. Thus freed, the turbocharged 3.8-liter V-6 is able to push the Trans Am all the way up to 153 mph. At last: straight-line performance that delivers on the promise of both the Trans Am and the Buick V-6. The engine providing the motivation for these fireworks is basically the same turbo V-6 used in Buick’s Regals. The most significant change is a new set of cylinder heads, borrowed from the trans­versely mounted version of the 3.8-liter six that GM uses in many of its front-­drive cars. Pontiac adopted the new heads because they fit more easily within the narrow confines of the Trans Am’s engine compartment. In addition, the new heads provide better exhaust flow and have a more efficient combustion-­chamber shape than their predecessors. A new set of pistons match the cavities in the new heads to preserve the engine’s 8.0:1 compression ratio. The exhaust gases are collected from each cylinder head via short-runner equal-length headers and are fed to an AiResearch T3 turbocharger mounted in the front-right corner of the engine compartment. The turbo blows through an intercooler mounted just behind the radiator to pressurize a tuned intake system fitted with sequential fuel injection. A knock sensor reduces the chance of engine meltdown by signaling the engine-management system to slow spark advance and reduce boost pressure whenever it senses uncontrolled com­bustion. (To minimize these power-re­ducing measures, Pontiac recommends premium fuel.)Pontiac’s output claims for the V-6 are exceedingly modest: 250 horsepower at 4400 rpm and 340 pound-feet of torque at 2800 rpm. Judging by our performance fig­ures, we estimate that the engine pro­duces closer to 300 horsepower. Bigger front brakes are the only other important mechanical change on the 20th Anniversary Trans Am. Beefy 11.9-inch-diameter rotors with twin-piston calipers replace the 10.5-inch rotors and single-piston calipers used on all other Firebirds. The big brakes provide the additional fade resistance needed to cope with the turbo’s penchant for high speed. Unfortunately, front-rear brake balance is poor. Our test car needed 217 feet to stop from 70 mph, largely because the rear discs locked up prematurely. Pedal feel was also disappointing. The 20th Anniversary Trans Am shares its other underpinnings with GTA and Formula Firebirds. For the suspen­sion, that means struts in front, a precise­ly located live axle in the rear, and de­flected-disc gas-filled shocks and stiff coil springs at all four corners. A 36-mm anti-­roll bar is used up front; a 24-mm bar is fitted to the rear. Traction is provided by 245/50ZR-16 Goodyear Gatorbacks on 8.0-inch-wide aluminum wheels. The only nonstandard suspension parts are slightly softer front springs, which are suitable because the blown V-6 weighs about 100 pounds less than the V-8 en­gines normally fitted to Trans Ams. The turbo TA’s suspension works su­perbly on smooth surfaces. The car steers precisely and adheres to the road with a vein-popping 0.88 g of grip. Best of all, the TA is wonderfully stable at the limit—although the engine’s surgy pow­er delivery can make fine adjustments difficult. There’s just enough understeer to instill confidence, but you can easily kick the tail out by flicking the wheel or stepping into the boost. Unfortunately, the turbo Trans Am loses its manners when the road gets rough. There seems to be a mismatch be­tween the springs and the shock absorb­ers—a mismatch that keeps the Trans Am from ever settling down and feeling planted. Big bumps bottom the rear sus­pension easily—causing the car to bounce and lose traction when you’re cornering hard. Small bumps can be almost as irritat­ing. Tar strips and misaligned pavement slabs pound through the suspension so brutally that you’d swear the tires were made of solid rubber. Fender clearance is also on the tight side; both the front and rear tires occasionally rub against the bodywork in normal driving. All in all, the old turbocharged Regals were infinitely more comfortable for relaxed cruising. The nonabsorbent ride would be less bothersome if the anniversary Trans Am were tight and solid. But every bump summons another in a seemingly endless repertoire of creaks, groans, squeaks, and rattles. Admittedly, our test car was at a disadvantage—being equipped with the optional T-top removable roof pan­els—but even solid-roofed Firebirds suf­fer from this unbuttoned feeling. All 20th Anniversary Trans Ams are being built in a special production facility (see “House of the Specialty,” below), where an additional quali­ty-control stage attempts to tighten up the car as much as possible. But there’s only so much that can be done with the Firebird’s basic structure. House of the Specialty Where anniversary Firebirds are made, not hatched.The dream of building your own car, free from the bounds of corpo­rate conservatism and bureaucracy, is a common fantasy among automotive engineers. It was certainly a frequent topic of discussion when I was at Ford nine years ago. Many of my contem­poraries from those Ford days have since dispersed to other companies and other careers, but one has made impressive progress toward achieving the elusive dream.Jeff Beitzel was 28 years old when he left Ford in 1983. He decided to trade his declining prospects within Ford’s shrinking engineering com­munity for a consulting career. Beitzel hooked up with a small company that had begun to service Detroit’s increasing contract-engi­neering needs. Under intense foreign competition, the Big Three had discovered that they could often get things done faster and cheaper by hir­ing outside enterprises to do their en­gineering work. New operations were springing up rapidly to take on this new business. Within a year of leaving Ford, Beitzel found himself in a position to buy a portion of the company he had joined. With the help of family and friends, he made the down payment on his dream. The company Beitzel purchased was Prototype Automotive Services. When he took it over, it had seventeen em­ployees, a 20,000-square-foot building, and plenty of engine fabricating and testing equipment. Beitzel’s crew performed a variety of assignments—building a prototype of a cylinder head, modifying a truck engine to fit under the hood of a sports car, performing preliminary testing on a new twin-plug engine. Whatever the mission, Beitzel’s company handled it success­fully and quickly. The business grew. Racing also helped enhance the company’s reputation. Beitzel suc­cessfully campaigned Pontiac Fire­birds in IMSA’s Firehawk Showroom Stock series, achieving six wins in ten races last year. That success made him both recognized and welcome at Pon­tiac headquarters. And it gave him a valuable edge when he began to angle for the contract to build the limited run of 20th Anniversary Trans Ams. Beitzel successfully engineered the prototypes of the car, but because he lacked manufacturing experience he wisely took on a partner for the pro­duction job. His choice was Triad Ser­vices, a well-established Troy, Michi­gan, production company run by ex­-Chaparral racing engineer Mike Pocobello and Chuck Mountain, for­merly with Ford’s GT40 program. Beitzel and Triad landed the Trans Am production contract and formed a joint-venture company called PAS, Inc., to build the cars. Located in a leased, 40,000-square-­foot-facility in City of Industry, Cali­fornia, a mile and a half from Ponti­ac’s local distribution center, PAS assembles the anniversary TA’s turbocharged engines and then ships them to Van Nuys for installation on the regular Firebird assembly line. The nearly finished cars then return to PAS for final assembly, testing, and quality control. Keeping the shop busy is a big con­cern. But Beitzel seems to have that well in hand: he’s in the running for three other limited-production projects to follow the Trans Am pro­gram. Now that Detroit’s automakers are beginning to realize the benefits of niche marketing, expect to see more of Beitzel’s handiwork in the future. —Csaba CsereIf you’re beginning to get the idea that the turbo Trans Am has more in com­mon with a 1965 GTO than with a mod­ern sports car, you’re right. The TA’s re­markable acceleration and amazing handling come more from brute muscle and huge, sticky tires than from finesse and refined technology. The 20th Anni­versary Trans Am is a muscle car from the traditional mold. Inside, the turbo TA displays a mix­ture of modern and old. The basic com­bination of a big exterior and a small in­terior harks back to the inefficient days of yesteryear, while the instrument layout, the modern seats, and the excellent driv­ing position seem fully up-to-date. Included as standard equipment is a set of futuristic-looking sport seats, which offer power lumbar and side-bol­ster adjustments—as well as manual con­trols for the thigh supports, headrest po­sitions, and front height. Equally contemporary are the radio controls in the steering-wheel hub, which work well without interfering with your hand posi­tions on the wheel. All 20th Anniversary Trans Ams come in white with tan interiors. Further iden­tification is provided by “Turbo Trans Am” badges on both front fenders, Indianapolis logos on both rocker panels, cloisonné “20th Anniversary Trans Am” insignias on the nose and both C-pillars, a new filler panel between the taillights, and quad tailpipes. In addition, each car comes with a set of “Official Pace Car” decals that the owner can mount on the doors, if desired. More Pontiac Reviews from the ArchiveClearly, the 20th Anniversary Trans Am is not for fans of delicate, high-wind­ing automotive works of art. This is a car for muscle-car mavens, pure and simple. And that’s not such a bad thing, because those old enough to have had firsthand experience with the muscle cars of yore are likely to be the only ones who have the $31,198 needed to acquire a 20th Anniversary TA. That’s about $9000 more than a comparably equipped Trans Am GTA with the 5.7-liter V-8. Many of you may find that a ridiculous sum for what is essentially an engine op­tion and some added logos. And we tend to agree. But there seem to be plenty of buyers who are less concerned with re­finement or cost than they are with pave­ment-wrinkling performance. Buick had absolutely no trouble selling all the GNXs it could build—mostly because they delivered old-time horsepower as few modern cars can. We’re willing to bet that Pontiac won’t be holding any muscle-car clearance sales, either. SpecificationsSpecifications
    1989 20th Anniversary Pontiac Trans AmVehicle Type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2+2-passenger, 3-door coupe
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $30,717/$31,198Options: T-top roof, $920
    ENGINEturbocharged and intercooled pushrod V-6, iron block and heads, port fuel injectionDisplacement: 231 in3, 3791 cm3Power: 250 hp @ 4400 rpmTorque: 340 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm 
    TRANSMISSION4-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/rigid axleBrakes, F/R: 11.9-in vented disc/11.7-in vented discTires: Goodyear Eagle ZR50245/50ZR-16
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 101.0 inLength: 191.6 inWidth: 72.4 inHeight: 50.0 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 53/32 ft3Trunk Volume: 12 ft3Curb Weight: 3468 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 4.6 sec100 mph: 13.0 sec1/4-Mile: 13.4 sec @ 101 mph130 mph: 30.2 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.9 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 3.6 secTop Speed: 153 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 217 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.88 g 
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 13 mpg
    EPA FUEL ECONOMYCity/Highway: 16/24 mpg 
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINEDCsaba Csere joined Car and Driver in 1980 and never really left. After serving as Technical Editor and Director, he was Editor-in-Chief from 1993 until his retirement from active duty in 2008. He continues to dabble in automotive journalism and WRL racing, as well as ministering to his 1965 Jaguar E-type, 2017 Porsche 911, 2009 Mercedes SL550, 2013 Porsche Cayenne S, and four motorcycles—when not skiing or hiking near his home in Colorado.  More

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    Tested: 2024 Honda Ridgeline TrailSport Embraces Off-Road Fantasy

    Americans tend toward an instinctive aversion to moderation. We embrace drama and revel in inhuman scale, a nation of would-be tycoons and indefatigable explorers. We come up with ideas like Mount Rushmore and the Sphere in Vegas and nobody can talk us out of them. We look at the $20 million house on Zillow that has its own go-kart track and think, “That could use some more elevation change around Turn 3.” Into this miasma of ambition and delusion rides the 2024 Honda Ridgeline TrailSport, a relentlessly pragmatic machine in search of that narrow subset of Americans guided by rationalism. It’s the pickup truck for people who’ve never owned crypto.The irony of the Ridgeline’s TrailSport trim, new for 2024 and priced at $46,375, is that it represents a calculated step toward fantasy, a calculated attempt to win hearts rather than minds. Which is to say, it’s an off-road version of a street-oriented pickup. The primary hardware that effects this mild transformation—limbered-up springs, dampers, and anti-roll bars, along with General Grabber A/T Sport all-terrain tires—doesn’t turn the Ridgeline into a Ford Ranger Raptor, but neither does it ruin the Ridgeline’s outstanding on-pavement composure. The Grabbers look the part with aggressive tread design, but they’re the same 245/60R-18 size (nearly 30 inches in diameter) as the Firestone Destination LE 2 tires on every other Ridgeline since the 2017 redesign. The Generals were developed specifically for this truck, we’d guess with an eye toward retaining on-pavement civility. Indeed, the Grabbers are quiet on the highway, and the TrailSport’s 0.78-g skidpad performance doesn’t much lag the 0.79 g we saw from a 2021 Ridgeline Sport HPD or the 0.80 g from a 2017 Ridgeline Black Edition on the Firestones. As we saw with the Honda Pilot Elite and its 0.84-g skidpad performance, Honda’s torque-vectoring rear differential—which can send 70 percent of total torque to either rear tire—is a boon for handling.Highs: Still supremely useful everyday truck, all-terrain tires play well on pavement, fun VTEC noises.More surprising than the TrailSport’s lateral grip was its braking. At 180 feet from 70 mph, this Ridgeline and its General Grabber boots knocked a full 15 feet off the Black Edition’s results. Honda confirms there have been no changes to the brakes themselves, so credit likely goes to the tires, strange as that seems. This was also the quickest Ridgeline we’ve tested, cracking off the 0–60-mph sprint in 6.0 seconds and running the quarter-mile in 14.6 seconds at 94 mph. That’s mighty quick by mid-size-truck standards, outrunning the Chevy Colorado ZR2 to 60 mph by 1.1 seconds and beating the Toyota Tacoma TRD by a second. The Ridgeline’s power delivery is also much different than that of those turbocharged four-cylinder peers. Its single-overhead-cam, 3.5-liter V-6 is naturally aspirated and likes to rev, making its 280 horsepower at 6000 rpm and redlining at 6800 rpm. Honda fans will rejoice every time the V-6 crosses the 5350-rpm threshold, when the intake growl assumes extra urgency in the final pull to the top of the tach. That’s when the intake valves switch onto a high-lift, long-duration cam profile—or, in colloquial terms, the VTEC kicks in, yo. Lows: TrailSport mods don’t exactly turn Ridgeline into Raptor, no more cargo-bed audio, rear seats not the most comfortable.The Ridgeline’s i-VTEC (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system can also shut down both intake and exhaust valves on the rear bank of cylinders to turn the V-6 into an inline-three when the mood suits it. This transition is seamless and undetectable, but you might notice it when you fill up—the TrailSport squeezed 17 miles out of each gallon of fuel while in our hands, falling 3 mpg short of the EPA’s combined estimate. The Ridgeline’s clever thinking extends to its bed, which features a locking under-floor trunk at the rear (sized for a carry-on bag or two) and a tailgate that can open downward or swing out horizontally. The bed is made of fiberglass-reinforced composite, meaning there’s no need for a bedliner because the cargo surface is basically bedliner already—the “Why not build the whole plane out of the black box?” approach. Sadly, 2023 was the final year for the Ridgeline’s wacky tailgating audio system, which used the bed itself as a speaker. Even though there’s no solid axle and separate frame beneath that cargo box, the TrailSport is good for a respectable 1521 pounds of payload. It can also tow 5000 pounds, which is shy of lummoxes like the Jeep Gladiator (up to 7700 pounds) but is fine for your 22-foot center-console boats and such.Related StoriesThe TrailSport’s interior gets TrailSport logos on the front headrests, chunky rubber floor mats, and orange contrast stitching for the seats, steering wheel, and door panels. As for exterior flare, the TrailSport alone is available in Diffused Sky Blue paint, which is currently Honda’s signature off-road hue. The front seats are supremely comfortable, the rear seats less so, but the rear bottom cushions can fold up against the backrest to open up the back of the cab for storage. Fold the bottom cushions down and their legs smoothly flip out and lock into place, retaining plenty of room under the seat. How very smart and useful—are you detecting a theme?Verdict: The Ridgeline steps onto the dirt without ruining its manners.As for the elephant in the room, off-road prowess, we were wary of getting too wild with a truck that, in lieu of a front skid plate, has a “skid garnish.” But we figured maybe we’d undertake a bit of beach driving, which would seem perfectly within the Ridgeline’s use case. So, at Saint Augustine Beach in Florida, we rolled up to a vehicle access checkpoint, where a prominent sign read “4x4s Only.” The attendant stepped out, eyed the Ridgeline, and asked, “Is that four-wheel drive?” Sigh—apparently the General Grabbers didn’t adequately signal that the TrailSport, like all 2024 Ridgelines, is all-wheel drive. After learning that the beach drive was a lengthy one-way loop and cost $10, we decided that venturing out there wouldn’t prove anything about the Ridgeline that we didn’t already know, so we turned around and headed back to Florida State Road A1A. It was the rational thing to do.SpecificationsSpecifications
    2024 Honda Ridgeline TrailSportVehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
    PRICE
    Base/As Tested: $46,375/$46,830Options: Radiant Red Metallic paint, $455
    ENGINE
    SOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injectionDisplacement: 212 in3, 3471 cm3Power: 280 hp @ 6000 rpmTorque: 262 lb-ft @ 4700 rpm
    TRANSMISSION
    9-speed automatic
    CHASSIS
    Suspension, F/R: struts/multilinkBrakes, F/R: 12.6-in vented disc/13.0-in discTires: General Grabber A/T Sport245/60R-18 105T M+S
    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 125.2 inLength: 210.2 inWidth: 78.6 inHeight: 70.8 inPassenger Volume, F/R: 58/51 ft3Trunk Volume: 7 ft3Curb Weight: 4503 lb
    C/D TEST RESULTS
    60 mph: 6.0 sec1/4-Mile: 14.6 sec @ 94 mph100 mph: 17.2 secResults above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.4 sec.Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 6.3 secTop Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.7 secTop Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.8 secTop Speed (gov ltd): 111 mphBraking, 70–0 mph: 180 ftRoadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.78 g
    C/D FUEL ECONOMY
    Observed: 17 mpg
    EPA FUEL ECONOMY
    Combined/City/Highway: 20/18/23 mpg
    C/D TESTING EXPLAINEDEzra Dyer is a Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He’s now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive. More