There is nothing better than driving someone else’s car. That is my new constant in life, developed after I was invited to test some of Ford’s newest cars. Although standard automobiles like the new Explorer and C-Max MPV were ready to go with keys in the cupholder, I was drawn toward the ST hatchbacks brought for sampling like I was caught in an Imperial tractor beam. After taking a second to adjust the leather Recaro seats and mirrors to fit my lanky 6’4″ body, I exited the parking lot in a brand new Focus ST with a route to the Long Beach, CA annex of Signal Hill laid out not on the Microsoft Sync nav system, but on good old fashioned paper. No traffic on the 405 and a tank full of gas that I didn’t have to pay for meant my right foot got more exercise than usual. After all, why grab a sporty car and not stretch its legs a little bit?
10 years ago, Kia, along with its Hyundai stablemate, housed a lineup of cars with styling that made the Toyota Avalon look like a Maserati Quattroporte. Then, in 2008, the Forte, molded by ex-Volkswagen and Audi designer Peter Schreyer, ushered in a new era of good-looking Korean cars that has completely transformed Kia’s image in just a few short years. No longer were the Koreans seen (as the Japanese automakers before them) as cheap imports competing on price above anything else. While the $35,100 Cadenza is the most obvious example of Kia’s move upmarket, the company has yet another trick up its sleeve: according to Automotive News, Kia is readying a production version of its GT concept car first shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2011.
Sebastian Vettel took first place yet again in Abu Dhabi today, making this Grand Prix his seventh consecutive win and eleventh overall in 2013. Mark Webber, Vettel’s Red Bull teammate, recovered from a string of recent retirements to secure not only pole position during qualifying but also locked down second place on the podium. For the second race in a row, Nico Rosberg outpaced Lewis Hamilton to end in third place, bringing a few much needed points to the Mercedes camp as the team struggles to fend off Ferrari. The sole retiree of the race was Kimi Räikkönen, whose glancing blow against Giedo van der Garde led to the failure of the Finn’s steering in the first turn of the race.
It’s been years since Honda has produced a car aimed at bringing both budget-minded and affluent automotive enthusiasts to the brand, and with increased competition both foreign (Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen) and domestic (Ford, Chevrolet), the company has to examine its product line or risk losing the buyers that once made Honda the sporty Japanese automaker. The S2000 is gone, the Civic Si is a shadow of its former self, the CR-Z isn’t worthy of the name, and the Acura NSX is God knows how far away from coming to the market. All of Honda’s rivals offer something in the way of performance, so how is it that the automaker that gave us the CRX Si has so completely lost its way?
Although three races remain in the 2013 Formula 1 season, both Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull team have taken their respective championships with a stunning (if predictable) victory in India. Last week, Vettel’s closest competitor in points, Fernando Alonso, admitted that while it was technically possible to pull off a Championship victory, claiming first from Vettel was virtually impossible. Now, with Vettel’s commanding 30-second win in India, the German cemented his fourth consecutive Formula 1 title. And while Mark Webber’s retirement in Lap 40 added no points to Red Bull’s standings, the team has enough to claim the Constructors’ title as well.
The first memory I have of Porsche’s exotic is this: I was driving around the Orange County suburb of Irvine at roughly 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday with almost nobody on the road. In front of me, at a stoplight, were two V10 supercars revving their engines and ready to bolt. One was a yellow Lamborghini Gallardo, and the other, a silver Porsche Carrera GT. As soon as I heard the throaty bellow of those massive 10 cylinder, mid-engined coupes, I was hooked. The light turned green, they both sped away with exhaust notes trumpeting the departure of two of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, while I was stuck with the less-than-ideal combination of piss poor fuel economy and tepid performance of my 2000 Mustang. One day, I thought. One day. Now the Carrera GT is mine, albeit in my non-physical Dream Garage, and one day I will break it out of its fantastical state.
It may look like a stretched Cadillac sedan, but it’s not. It’s got armored doors eight inches thick. And there are 12 of them, each costing more than a Bugatti Veyron. The presidential limousine, nicknamed “The Beast,” is an 18 foot-long Cadillac DTS atop a General Motors truck chassis, one with so many safety features that the car nearly breaks the scales at about 15,000 pounds. Autoweek has interviewed a source described only as a “veteran agent” of the Secret Service, who spilled a few details about the armored limo, a vehicle so iconic that the band Nico Vega wrote a song about it.*