Saturday, January 30, 2016

Found on Road Alive :1985 Plymouth Horizon

Here in the land that rust forgot I spotted one of the most forgettable cars from Chrysler...a Plymouth Horizon at a grocery store in Arcadia.  Forgettable as in I haven't seen one of these beasts in 25 or more years and completely forgot they ever existed.

These were intereting cars.  Sourced from a Simca platform this European Chrysler Division was the starting point for building stiff competition to VW's Rabbit (later changed to Golf) here in the U.S.
On paper it sounded pretty good, compact front wheel drive, 4 door hatchback and a VW sourced engine,  They sold well the first couple of years and were enough to get Chrysler bankruptcy protection help from the U.S. Government.  In typical Chrysler fashion for the era, they beat that horse until it was nothing but welts and a joke in the market place.  With a run from 1978-1990 it only produced 961,508 units.

There was one bright point in this platforms history.  The Dodge version got a turbocharged four cylinder producing 170 hp from a much larger than standard 2.2l 4cylinder.  This engine massaged by Shelby along with some suspension wore the GLH badge...
And like a bat out of hell it showed that Chyslers Dodge division was the performance division for the brand and this limited edition sold well establishing performance bars for others in the compact market to rise too.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Audi brings A4 Allroad Quatro and Htron Quattro Concept to NAIAS

A4 Allroad Quattro
Audi H-tron Quattro - image courtesy Audi

I don't know what I'm more enthused about The A4 Allroad Quattro or the H-tron Quattro concept that Audi showed last week at  NAIAS.

First up, since its actually being readied for sale, lets talk about the A4 Allroad Quattro.  Its name implies what the brand has done well for a while.  Performance oriented all wheel drive that can take you anywhere in any weather with confidence. Add in the versatility of it being built on a wagon body instead of SUV you retain the nimble handling and ride quality of a car, not a truck/SUV thingy. 

To build the Allroad Audi does a lot of tweaks and upgrades to the body and suspension to handle the higher ground clearance...not that you need it for off roading, but rather you don't have the old snow plow effect in winter driving that you get with a lower car.  

The other car of significance is the H-tron Quattro building on the E-tron Quattro unveiled here in Los Angeles in November.  This car is a significant upgrade over the E-tron as it uses a hydrogen fuel cell for electricity generation.  The upgrade comes in much further range, 350+ miles between fill ups that take only 4 minutes.  Build the infrastructure to support and this is a better and more viable option to the EV.  Having already driven an A7 H-tron I can tell you this is going to be an amazing machine.

More pics by me from the NAIAS show in Detroit in my flickr album.

Full press release on the A4 Allroad Quattro and the H-tron Quattro after the jump.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Avista concept hints at cues for future Buicks

GM's Buick division wowed us again with another stunning concept vehicle. Why does GM tease us so?  Stunning concepts yet they never make production.  Sure elements show up but they are watered down into basic boring instead of wowing us the way the concept does.

Harkening back to to its past, think Riviera's of the 60s, this concept is a true hard top 2+2.  Sweeping lines, no forgive me moment concessions to the curves and longer, lower, wider profile it projects.  ITs the ultimate of personal luxury wrapped in timeless proportions loaded with technology and performance that engineers only dreamt of in the 60s,  I won't hold my breath as we know Buick won't build it, but its nice to dream along with them.

All pics by me taken at NAIAS in Detroit a few weeks ago.  More pics from there in a flickr album.
More info on the Avista concept after the jump. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chevy Cruze hatchback unveiled at NAIAS

Borrowing cues from Ford and Honda Chevy brought to our shores the hatchbacked version of the Cruze.   I like it. Strong lines, nice proportions and a decent enough standard turbo charged 1.4l Four that will return good performance and great mileage.

I really want to like this car for a lot of reasons.  When the manufactures go toe to toe and up the bar we all win.  That's the rub I see with this car and I'd love Chevy to prove me wrong.  Shown here in the RS trim package, its just that a trim package.  Where Ford has the ST and RS versions and Honda with its hot hatch STi coming why would Chevy settle for meeting the bar for standard issue cars and not go out and wow us with a hot hatch as well?  Makes no sense...they have an amply powerful 2.0l turbo used elsewhere in the GM family, that would be the power plant to stuff into the Cruze and make it a competitive hot hatch as well.  I can dream can't I?

Let me get off the rant about not having a hot hatch as part of the Cruze line up.  This hatch as stated earlier is really nice looking in person and will have amply more room in the back seat, especially head room than the standard issue sedan.  Add in the muscular good looks, great ergonomics inside this car is certainly competitive with its mainstream counterparts and that's a good thing. 

All pics by me from my time at NAIAS aka the Detroit Auto Show.  More pics for the show in my flickr album.

Details on the car from the press release after the jump.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

2017 Lincoln Continental the ulitmate in quiet luxury

In 2012 Mark Fields at NAIAS, aka Detroit Auto Show promised a slew of new vehicles building a whole new Lincoln Motor Company with unique product, unique power trains and several new vehicles over the next four years.  Tuesday 1/12/2016 the Lincoln Motor Company unveiled its production ready Continental which promises to deliver the final punch closing the loop on that bold prediction.

What exactly is the Continental?  Size wise it appears to be about the same size as the all new Caddy CT6 slotting right in the middle of traditional mid size and full size luxury cars.  It doesn't offer a lot in the way of power train options, but with a 400 hp twin turbo V6 as standard what more could you want?  Add in standard all wheel drive and this will be a capable car able to run with the best in their class.  Bold prediction...more classic styling and devotion to pure luxury will put this car on a lot of buyers maps and be chosen over the CT6.

What I really like about the new Continental is that it has many cues that remind you of the last great Continental sedan of the early 60s.  The new grill with the cutouts that mimic the Lincoln logo are a nice touch.  Add in all the technology and pure luxury touches this car will run with the best of them.  No one can dare call this one a rehashed Ford product as it is pure Lincoln, Pure quiet, competent luxury.

But hey, don't take my word for how cool this car is in person, the Detroit Free Press named this car the most important new car reveal at this year NAIAS.

More about the Lincoln Continental after the jump from their press release:

Friday, January 15, 2016

Acura Precision Concept revealed at NAIAS

Probably one of the most stunning concepts with a chance of becoming reality was the Precision Concept revealed by Acura Monday at NAIAS.  Why do I say that?  Look at the NSX concept revealed in 2012 in Detroit and compare it to the production car roaming the streets now in final testing for release this spring.  Nominal changes but the main thrust of the design language remained intact.  Thankfully so.

The Precision Concept outlines the design language for the future of the brand.  Gone is the slab sides and safe soft corners and edges with the deep vee beak of the current models.  (The latter was so controversial and devisive I think it discouraged many buyers).  This concept is sharp edges and creases forming fractal planes.  Its bejeweld LED headlamps and floating taillamps.  Nothing at all like the current line up and a very strong language for the future.  Paraphrasing that baseball movie...Build it and the buyers will come.

All pics by me.  More in my flickr album from NAIAS.

Acura Press release on the Precision Concept after the jump.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 NAIAS Ford Press Conference Fireside chat and New Car Reveals

The press conference was longer than most get, but Ford had a lot of great news.  I divided it into 2 videos and 2 posts to better cover what was done and not dilute either the Auto or Mobility side of their business.  In short Ford is on a roll and rightfully of their product and growth since the crash of 2007.  Monday January 11, 2016 Ford outlined how its going to be transforming itself for growth by changing from an automobile company to an Automobile/Mobility company.

The video is long but it gives you a lot of background on where they are going as an auto maker and why.  It describes successes and future trends that are driving what they are doing.

Two important vehicles were introduced to us at NAIAS this week.  First up was the new Raptor which was revealed as a concept last year.  Second was a significant freshening of the Fusion for 2017,

Fusion introduces for 2017, going on sale late summer 2016.  The two models will supplement the existing models and will be a Sport featuring an 325hp twin turbocharged V6 and a  range topping model named "Platinum that features real wood trim and ultra premium leather seating, dash and steering wheel.

The Platinum is so beautifully executed it reminds me more of a Lexus, Audi or other luxury brand.  Definitely outclasses the top two sellers in the mid-size market by a long shot.

Overall the changes to the Fusion line up are nominal and only a sharp eye is going to find them.  The grill shape is sharper and contains a honeycomb mesh design on the Platinum model.  It has new headlamps and tail lamps as well.  Wheel designs are new and refreshed as well.

Power trains for the base models continue with the 2.OL Ecoboost as an option in the midrange models and standard in the range topping Platinum.  Exclusive to Fusion Sport is the twin turbo 2.7l Ecoboost.  Transmissions remain the same at this writing.

Press releases and additional footage from Ford after the jump...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

FordPass: Changing how we mobilize

In life its better to be the disruptor instead of the disrupted.  You make good things happen that way instead of rolling with the punches.  As Apple upset the world with iPhone and iTunes, Ford looks to make the jump from auto manufacturer to one of being a company in the business of "Auto Mobility". More than just a car company.  More than just a car, but all modes of mobility we use integrated into 1 platform with an app to access it.  FordPass is just the tool to integrate your digital, brick and mortar, and personal life seamlessly and easily.

Imagine a NO cost app that let's you integrate the facets of your life in one easy format.  When the platform needs a personal human touch...FordGuides are at your beck and call to guide you to your next destination, solve a problem with mobility or just get you to the nearest 'bucks if you're in a new town.  The goal is to change the way we move like Henry Ford himself did 100 years ago with the first affordable mass produced automobile.

FordPass promises to be available to anyone, not just a car owner, not just the Ford owner, but the person on the go that needs mobility solutions beyond their private car.  Just things it can do according to Elena Ford the program lead:

  • Get you to the train on time by giving you schedules and alternative routes should your primary route be at a dead stop due to traffic
  • Get you into a rental or ride share or some other transportation substitute should your train be stalled at a station or cancelled because of who knows what sort of problem.
  • Find you a restaurant or activity in a strange city
  • Provide you with information on shared auto programs to supplement your daily mode of transportation if its disrupted.
  • Arrange parking for you near your destination, even pay for it through the app so you don't have to use your cash.  Running late?  No worries your FordGuide can extend your parking and use your payment method programmed into the app to cover your back.
  • Visit a hub and get help with technology questions or see what the latest Ford has to offer is.
  • pay your car payment, schedule service or just an appt with the dealer to chat.
  • Interact with your SyncConnect app and prestart your car to unlock it, warm it up of cool it off before you get to it.
I was blown away with this platform and app possiblities. So much so I signed up for notices when it launches in March.  I'll sign up my wife and daughter as well as the opportunities this platform and app represent will be able to impact how we get around for the better.

This week I got to spend time at NAIAS as a guest of Ford.  Yes, Guest, its a perk of being a digital influencer.  They give me the experience, I write it in my voice with my own thoughts.  The opinions here are purely mine, as if anyone could tell me what to say.

Pics from NAIAS aka the Detroit Auto Show can be found in a flickr album.

What the Hail - live demo of Gorilla Glass Strength

There is very little I can add to this video.  Seeing is believing.  That 1 inch ball of ice shot through an air cannon into a sheet of gorilla glass the thickness of a Ford GT windshield says it all. crack.  This was by far the best demonstration at NAIAS this week in Detroit.

Actually there's more to the Gorilla Glass from Corning than strength.  Its a weight reduction of 30% over the traditional soda lime glass used in auto manufacturing.  That weight savings adds to performance, better fuel economy, and in the case of a true sport/race car like the Ford GT it helps to lower the center of gravity.  A win on so many levels.

Right now the only automotive application for this is the windshield of the Ford GT.  They are in talks with Ford for other applications. hope and wish...headlamp covers that never break or yellow.  That would be a total win!

In the end...take that naysayers when it was announced.  If this doesn't convince you the glass is better nothing will.

Complete photos from my time at NAIAS courtesy Ford Motor Company can be found in a flickr album. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quiet Luxury revealed : 2017 Lincoln Continental

Lincoln took the wraps off its production ready Continental due this fall I. Show rooms. Full video of the remarkable features and powertrain coming when I return to L.A.

Teaser. Twin Turbo 3.0l V6 putting down 400 horsepower. 

Complete photos from my time at NAIAS courtesy Ford Motor Company can be found in a flickr album. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ford Fusion NASCAR revealed at NAIAS

Yes, Ford performance revealed #21 their NASCAR entry minutes ago at the North American International Auto Show aka Detroit Auto Show. 

Interesting tidbit, the race simulator used to develop this car is now being used to develop future passenger cards for the company. Who wins with that move?  we do! 

Complete photos from my time at NAIAS courtesy Ford Motor Company can be found in a flickr album. 

Honda Civic named North American Car of the Year

Torrance based Honda won North American Car of the Year at this mornings press conference kicking off the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Yes I was there and it's a well deserved award 

Complete photos from my time at NAIAS courtesy Ford Motor Company can be found in a flickr album. 

FordPass unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show

Ford surprised us all. Not a shock and awe rush of new cars. But by thinking like a startup and bringing along a product to make having a car easy and pleasant. 

FordPass is the complete concierge suite for the owner and nonowner alike. Things like finding your car, prepaying parking from the app is only a little bit of what it does. In a strange city and need directions to the nearest 'bucks live help will be there and give you turn by turn directions or send it to your cars navigation if it's a Ford product. Oops, forgot to make your car payment?  The app can do that too. It's all about making people's lives better. 

More on FordPass when I return from Detroit. 

Blogged live on an iPhone...blame Siri. 

Complete photos from my time at NAIAS courtesy Ford Motor Company can be found in a flickr album. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

NAIAS 2016 next week in Detroit and I'll be there

Lincoln Continental Concept at Los Angeles Auto Show

Rumors abound on what will be revealed next week at press days for NAIAS aka Detroit Auto Show.  I'll summarize here a few of what I've been able to gather from official manufacturers news and snippets from reliable sources.

Lincoln.  Production ready Continental will be revealed along with details on the cars features including Black Label top of the line trim.   Expected the twin turbo 3.0V6 generating 400 horsepower to be the talk of the town.

Buick.  Envision concept is definitely to be revealed along with a hinted at Verano replacement possibly a Buickized Opel Astra hatch.

Audi.  I love my A4, its been all but confirmed next generation A4 will be revealed here.  I'll be curious to see how far upmarket they bring it and if they will have a true "M" fighter in the mix.

Acura.  I love this underdog.  Great cars, ugly grills that keep them from  hitting the mainstream luxury market hard.  It may change with the reveal of their "precise" concept with entirely new body language for the brand.

Ford.  We get to see the redesigned 2017 Fusion. What else remains to be seen.  Pure speculation, rumor mills in the tech industry swear Ford and Google went to bed together for the autonomous car so its possible it will be confirmed here since no one has denied it publicly from either camp.  That would be the coup to swipe every ones thunder this year at NAIAS like the reveal of the GT at last years show did.  Pure don't quote me.

Mercedes Benz.  Their deluxe mid-size E class is to be revealed during a press conference on Monday.

Honda.  I could snark but they are set to reveal their pickup truck based on their capable minivan.  Look for Ridgeline to be their big reveal.  Rumor has it they'll tease us further with a hot hatch turbo motorized Civic there as well.

Chrysler.  The minivan inventor promises to reveal their best minivan ever at this show.  Will it be good enough feature wise to take on the heavy hitters from Toyota/Honda and even Kia remains to be seen.  I really want them to succeed with this launch.

Watch my flickr album for blogging on the fly recap of NAIAS next week. All I shoot at the show will be uploaded Weds 1/13/16.   Stay tuned for more thorough write ups when I return.

Complete photos from my time at NAIAS courtesy Ford Motor Company can be found in a flickr album.