Posts by Ezra Dyer
- Motoramic4 days ago
With the right tires, you can do anything. You can make a Miata hang with a Porsche, build a truck that can climb a wall, or, perhaps most amusingly, outfit a 565-hp Aston Martin that’ll run laps around an ice-covered pasture in Colorado. Which is what we did at Aston Martin On Ice, an event that put a fleet of British supercars on a road course made entirely of ice and snow.
While normally an event like this would be organized for a specific reason — say, to show off a new all-wheel-drive system — Astons on Ice seemed to exist for the simple reason that it’s exceedingly excellent to drift a bunch of Astons around a plowed field outside Crested Butte. Which is reason enough for me.
- Motoramic15 days ago
You heard it here first: Volvo is the best Chinese car you can buy in America. OK, fine, the best Swedish car funded by the Chinese. But without Chinese carmaker Geely stepping up back in 2010, Volvo could very well have gone the way of Saab — which is to say, fondly rememberedbut no longer with us. Perhaps worse, it could’ve been swallowed by car-clueless investors who lack the means to develop new product, leading to years of Zombie Volvos. Geely, though, has the money and willpower to accomplish what Ford never did—a wholesale overhaul of Volvo’s entire strategy.
Two words: four cylinders. Going forward, every Volvo will have a four-banger under the hood. The idea is to deliver small-bore economy along with big-motor performance. That promise has been hitched to plenty of other powertrains, from hybrids to turbocharged V-6s, and usually only half of the equation proves true. The Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E, though, churns out a 28 mpg EPA combined rating along with its 302 hp. That’s an unusual combination, especially for a non-hybrid.
- Motoramic28 days ago
Sometimes the secret to success is being just dumb enough to attempt the impossible. For instance, trying to tow a snowbound UPS truck up a steep hill with a small Subaru. That doesn’t seem like a feasible idea, does it? But you’ve got nothing to lose by trying, which is how I find myself dragging a UPS truck up a hill with a Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid.
The day before the latest crippling Southern snowstorm, I’m in possession of a bright green Subaru and a head full of bad ideas. I visit Lowe’s and buy a forged steel hook, which I shackle to the Subaru’s tow eye to create a beefy attachment point for my tow strap. I figure that when the storm hits, I’ll just cruise around in the all-wheel-drive Subaru and rescue the non-Subaru-having motorists. I get more action than I bargained for.
First there’s the Infiniti G37 coupe by the side of the road. The owner says she’s planning to just leave it there and she has a good point — even if I dragged her onto the pavement, she’d be right back in the ditch within 20 feet.
- Motoramic1 mth ago
I’m hurtling toward the desert scrub brush at 176 mph, 16 cylinders behind me and very little runway ahead. That’s OK, because I’m about to call upon 2 Gs of deceleration from the rear air brake and carbon rotors the size of crop circles. This is not a usual dealership test drive. This is what it’s like to be courted by Bugatti. If you’re lucky enough to have a Veyron-sized hole in your car budget, Bugatti would like to talk to you about its Dynamic Drive Program. There are 40 or so open-top Veyrons left to build, which is to say that Bugatti still has about $100 million worth of cars to sell. So it’s offering potential buyers a sort of super-deluxe test drive that incorporates both street driving and a few full-throttle blasts down a private runway. At no point are you pressured to buy undercoating or insurance for your insurance. How do you land an invitation to such an event? Well, if you’re a likely candidate, they know how to get in touch. Their people talk to your people, and the next thing you know you’ve got 1,200 hp beneath your right foot. And possibly, after that, a slightly depleted bank account and the title to a Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse. I say that if you can go full-throttle in a Veyron for 15 seconds and not deeply want one, you’re truly the embodiment of money not buying happiness.
- ezradyer at Motoramic3 mths ago
Ah, the life of a supercar. Take a look around high-roller enclaves like Miami Beach or Malibu and you’ll surely see plenty of brightly colored mid-engine lust buckets idling their way through traffic en route to the restaurant valet stand. It’s a shame, but the cars most capable of astounding feats of speed are the ones most likely to spend their days in traffic purgatory, 95 percent of their performance left in the envelope. I like to sneak the keys to cars like that and break them out of jail, put them to the glorious use that their engineers intended.
And that’s how I find myself sliding sideways up an unplowed mountain road in an Audi R8 V10 Spyder. We are at the O’Neil Rally School in New Hampshire, home to a 600-acre driving playground, a fleet of rally cars and no valets.
- jhyde1 at Motoramic4 mths ago
Audi’s S-cars are great. They’re fast, they handle well, they’ve got exquisite interiors. But any given Audi S is a subdued creature compared to the full-bore speed monsters from the likes of BMW’s M division, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG or Cadillac’s V-Series. For the really over-the-top Audis, you now need to look at the RS models. The latest of which is the 2014 Audi RS7, which mates the A7’s sleek shape with a powerplant that would adequately propel a small naval attack ship. Audi debuted the RS7 in Las Vegas, or more accurately, the desolate roads far, far, outside of Vegas. This is a car that needs room to roam.
For $105,795—about $25,000 or so beyond the price of an S7—you get a seriously overhauled car. Horsepower leaps from 420 to 560 and the 0-60 time drops to 3.7 seconds, from a leisurely 4.5. And while the S7 and RS7 both use Audi’s stupendous 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, you do not add 140 hp simply by turning up the boost and ordering some schintzel. The RS7 gets different turbos, a whole new bottom end, a unique anti-lag system, beefed-up cooling and a different transmission.
- ezradyer at Motoramic4 mths ago
Each fall, Motor Trend anoints a winner in its annual Car of the Year competition. And then, about one second after the announcement, loyalists of various car brands begin quarreling with the selection. Why didn’t the Ferrari 458 Italia win? What about the Camaro? Did these guys even drive any cars?
Yes, in fact, they did. But, contrary to the expectations of many a passionate commenter or letter-writer, not all cars are eligible for Car of the Year. First of all, a vehicle has to be all new or significantly revised to warrant consideration. Second, price is a factor. The cap was once $100,000 but has crept up toward $120,000 thanks to inflation. If you can afford a McLaren 12C, feel free to consider it the Car of the Year.
- ezradyer at Motoramic5 mths ago
There are two problems with kit cars: tracking down all the necessary parts can be a pain, and the all-in cost can become prohibitively expensive, once you factor in paint and oddball parts. The solution, the holy grail of do-it-yourself car-building, is the “single donor” approach. With a single-donor project, you buy the kit plus a complete used donor car, then spend some quality time in the garage fusing the two of them into something new and wonderful—no further parts-sleuthing required. That’s the ideal. And that’s the premise behind the Factory Five 818.
- ezradyer at Motoramic5 mths ago
Personal watercraft, those motorcycles of the waves, are technologically superior to the Day-Glo buzz bombs that were pounding past the shore ten or 15 years ago. They’re quiet, clean and faster than ever. But the Kawasaki Jet Ski and its ilk aren’t as popular as they once were, a problem that’s linked to a very simple cause: modern watercraft are too expensive. It’s a fleet of BMWs with no Minis — figure $8,000 and up for what now passes as an entry-level machine. That’s a daunting price point for what is, ultimately, a toy.
Sea-Doo, perceiving the need for a back-to-basics machine, set out to build a new model to entice the crowd that turns to the used market in search of some semblance of affordability. The price goal: a wildly ambitious $5,000. It took eight years, but the result is the 2014 Sea-Doo Spark.
- ezradyer at Motoramic6 mths ago
The 458 Spider needs fuel. It’s Day 2 of the Tributo Ferrari rally, and today’s roads lend themselves to a rather fuel-inefficient pace. I pull into the King City Chevron to find a Fisker Karma at the opposite pump. The Ferrari’s capless filler neck is incompatible with California’s vapor-trap nozzles, requiring you to squeeze the pump’s collar with one hand while holding the handle with your other, so I’m at the pump for a while. The Karma silently glides away, replaced by none other than a snarling Alfa Romeo 164. I might skip Pebble Beach and just hang out at this gas station all day.
Nah. About 18 gallons later, we’re back on the trail to continue one of the best driving days of my life. Maybe seven or eight years ago, I was driving north on I-5, got bored and detoured onto some of these roads. And the roads in this part of California, far away from the coastal crowds and the cities, are really some of the best you can find, anywhere. Back when I first had that epiphany, I was driving a Ford Edge and pretending it was a Ferrari. Now I’m here in a 458 Italia, carving corners on roads that are like a racetrack that never ends.