Posts by Justin Hyde

  • Aston Martin turns toward Tesla with electric DBX concept

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 41 mins ago

    There will soon be a day when every luxury carmaker needing some kind of all-wheel-drive SUV model will seem boring. But that's still some years away based on the surprise Aston Martin uncorked at the Geneva Motor Show today — an all-electric, all-wheel-drive concept called the DBX that's less a James Bond speedster and more a competitor to the upcoming Tesla Model X.

    Aston Martin made clear the DBX was not the preview of a model it's ready to build, but rather the first swing by its design studios at how a high-riding Aston with some off-road capability might look. The two-door DBX includes space in both the trunk and under the front hood (has Tesla monopolized the word "frunk"?) thanks to the lack of traditional engine. The exterior's unique color comes from paint with a thin layer of chrome; the interior eschews traditional leather covering for Nubuck-like suedes. And power comes from a lithium-sulfur battery pack of unknown size turning electric motors at all four wheels — or it would, at least, if the DBX was more than an auto-show exercise.


  • World's fastest car? Koenigsegg Regera makes an 1,800-hp case

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 3 hrs ago

    Christian von Koenigsegg isn't a fan of standing still. His eponymous Swedish auto company has been turning out high quality, low-volume supercars now for just over a decade, challenging the likes of Bugatti and other artisanal builders for superlatives in speed and handling.

    Yet today, Koenigsegg launched his most ambitious car yet, one meant to stand on the stage with Ferrari, Porsche and any other builder. This is the Koenigsegg Regera, an 1,800-hp, $1.9 million machine capable of hitting 248 mph — in less than 20 seconds.

    While four-digit horsepower figures are rare but not unheard of in small-production cars, the method by which Koenigsegg gets its power may be as impressive as its totals. The back hatch holds a twin-turbo V-8 capable of 1,100 hp on regular high-octane fuel. That engine doesn't use a transmission; rather, Koenigsegg has fitted what he calls a hydraulic drive unit that's coupled with two electric motors on the rear axle. A third electric motor on the front of the engine provides additional energy — up to 700 hp total from all three.

  • Bentley's surprise sports-car concept aims a fist at Jaguar, Porsche

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 15 hrs ago

    Bentley's resurgence in recent years under the wing of the Volkswagen Group reflects the devotion to delivering exactly what a group of well-heeled customers want. The basic Bentley design has not altered much in the past decade, and that's just fine with owners who might otherwise buy a new house or boat instead of another Continental.

    But at some point, Bentley's masters want to grow the business. On the high end, that means a new and somewhat un-British SUV that will out-pamper the Rolls-Royce and Mercedes alternatives. And tonight in Geneva, Bentley unveiled a concept that shows another direction it could take — straight at Jaguar, Porsche and other sports car stalwarts.

    This is the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6, an ungainly name for a striking two-seat car, wearing a special metallic shade of British racing green, intricate headlights and a numbered grille just like the Bentley Blowers of the '20s. While Bentley declined to talk about how much power the concept held, the current Continental GT Speed makes 626 hp from its W-12 engine; in a smaller, and one assumes lighter, package a car like the Speed 6 concept with the same engine would be a buzz bomb.

  • 2016 Audi R8 ups the supercar ante with 610 hp, all-electric edition

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 4 days ago

    In the annals of supercars, the Audi R8 has always suffered from the curse of the tweener. While successful in racing, it's overshadowed by the Le Mans-dominating Audi diesel race cars; inside the Volkswagen empire, the shadow comes from the Lamborghinis that use the same V-10. With Porsche assimilated into VW, there's even more potential for internecine thunder-stealing.

    So Audi decided to ensure the new R8 has thunder to spare.

    The 2016 model that will be shown live for the first time in Geneva next week hones the R8 into more of a pure sportscar. The V-8 editions are cast out (for now); the only power source is the V-10, either in 540 hp or 610 hp states of tune, equal to what's granted those flashy Italian models. Power runs through a refreshed seven-speed automatic transmission and a bolstered Quattro all-wheel-drive system which will route all of it to either the front or rear axles as called for. And the revised aluminum-and-carbon fiber chassis sheds 110 lbs. from the first generation R8 — a necessary move, as it's the basis for the GT3 race-car edition.

  • Lexus, Buick top J.D. Power reliability survey, but tech bugs still common

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 5 days ago

    The J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study, a two-decade look at the problems in cars and trucks after three years of ownership, has been a glass half-full/half-empty exercise for a few years now. If you're an optimist, you'd say the list of most-reported faults — led by bad Bluetooth connections and poor understanding of voice commands — are the very definition of #firstworldproblems.

    But this year survey contends those problems are becoming a defining part of owning a vehicle in the 21st century, and will be the difference between a car owner who comes back for more and one who decides to pair their smartphones with another brand.

    “At the three-year point, many owners are thinking about replacing their vehicles, and we find that how they feel about their current vehicle’s quality and dependability impacts their intent to consider purchasing the same brand again,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power.

  • Tesla tops Consumer Reports rankings again, but Buick, Subaru gain

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 6 days ago

    For years, the annual rankings of new cars and trucks by Consumer Reports have been a boon to import brands and trouble for American ones. Last year, that trend broke when the magazine named the Tesla Model S the best overall new vehicle, although Detroit was still under-represented in the top of the charts. This year, one Detroit brand has broken through, surging past Honda and BMW in the overall rankings and claiming the prize for best sports sedan: Buick.

    Yes, that Buick.

    GM's oldest brand ranked seventh out of 28 graded by Consumer Reports' surveys of 1.1 million vehicles owned by its subscribers and the magazine's own testing. Buick's improving reliability made it the top-ranked domestic brand, while Lexus, Mazda and Toyota held the top three spots overall.

  • Cadillac's CT6 flagship revealed in Oscars ad, sort of

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 7 days ago

     If you stepped away from the TV during last night's Academy Awards and thought "Hey, how strange that they're doing a long bit about 'Inception' this year," you may have missed the reveal of Cadillac's newest flagship. To launch its new "Dare Greatly" tagline, Cadillac bought many minutes of ad space, much of it set to Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," featuring various innovative people shot in darkly innovative fashion, like Steve Wozniak and the guy who directed "Bernie."

  • The most popular new vehicle in each state? Not what you might expect

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 10 days ago

    Sales races in the auto industry tend not to matter much beyond the desks of those who might get a free golf vacation for winning one. With nearly 300 new models of cars and trucks on the market, there's always a close competition somewhere. But rarely, if ever, do we get some geographic insight into what people are buying state by state. Do Texans really differ in their preferences that much from Colorado, or New Yorkers from New Jersey? The answer turns out to be yes.

    We asked IHS Automotive to share their count of the most popular vehicles of 2014 broken down by state. IHS Automotive's tracking differs from what automakers report in two important ways; it counts what new vehicles are registered in each state, rather than just national totals as sold by dealers, and it can separate vehicles registered by businesses from those registered to individuals. This list excludes those vehicles sold to large fleet buyers, like rental-car agencies and governments — leaving only those sold and used by individual retail customers.

  • Volvo vows to put first self-driving cars in customers' hands by 2017

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 11 days ago

    If self-driving technology has seemed more like science fiction than fact so far, it's because of not just the limits of the software, but the legal rules as well. All trials of self-driving vehicles in the United States so far have involved a handful of corporate employees in just a few states, and even then the results look like a new form of cruise control rather than something that could change how we live.

    Today, Volvo announced a real, on-the-streets test of 100 of its self-driving cars — a first in the world, and one that will put regular owners in the seats of what it says are production-ready autonomous vehicles, by 2017.

    Doing so requires far more than the 28 cameras, sensors and lasers Volvo says its system uses, along with a complex set of software rules, to tackle nearly 100 percent of all driving situations. It also required the approval of lawmakers in Sweden and Gotheberg, the city which will allow owners of these Volvos to legally cruise the streets while reading or chatting away on their phones from behind the wheel.

  • Mercedes reveals the 2016 Maybach Pullman, the hip dictator's ride

    Justin Hyde at Motoramic 13 days ago

    What can you say about a vehicle that was the ride of choice for everyone from the Pope to Emperor Hirohito? For three decades, no car in the world signified power more than the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman. Whether you were a James Bond villain or a real-life evildoer, the stretched Mercedes was the only ride that could properly convey your importance and malice.

    Today, Mercedes revealed the modern-day version of its historic roller, the Mercedes-Maybach Pullman — a 21-foot-long tribute to the 21st century's masters of excess.

    Built from the already generous S-Class, the Maybach Pullman gains an extra 3.5 feet of length over the regular Maybach, with a 14-foot wheelbase — longer than most Ford Super Duty pickups. Inside, Mercedes promises a level of interior comfort that will make Rolls-Royce owners spit-take their Chandon, from the finest quilted leathers to electrically opaqueing glass partitions between the rear-facing seats and the front chauffeur's compartment. Power comes from a 523-hp V-12, because 16 cylinders would seem copycat-ish.