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New York Auto Show off to Rip-Roaring, High-Performance Start

4 Apr

2013 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG at the 2012 New York International Auto Show.

The 2012 New York International Auto Show is off to a rip-roaring start with the debut of four of the most powerful and high-performance two-door vehicles on the market.

Mercedes-Benz was the first German manufacturer to unveil the their latest incarnations of the SL, GL and GLK classes, and not surprisingly Mercedes chose to come out swinging with their most powerful, expensive and exclusive vehicle. The all-new 2013 SL65 AMG made its way onto the stage, followed by the GLK350 BlueTec and the GL450.

6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 engine in the 2013 SL65 AMG.

The SL65 has been tweaked and reworked for the 2013 model year. A new twin-blade grille stands out at the front along with two inlets finished in black. The massive 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-12 has an additional 17 horsepower compared to the previous generation, boosting the peak output to 621 bhp and 738 lb-ft of torque. The 0-60 mph sprint is covered in just 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph, impressive considering its curb weight is a considerable 4,100 lbs.

The engine’s power is transferred to the wheels via the familiar seven-speed sequential gearbox found on a host of AMG models such as the E63, CLS63 and S63. Four driving modes; Controlled Efficency (C), Sport (S), Sport+ (S+) and Manual (M) enable the driver to choose the aggressiveness and shift times of the transmission, from the eco-friendly C mode to the track-inspired Sport + or Manual modes.

Directly next to the Mercedes booth was fellow rival BMW. Not to be outdone, BMW delivered a number of new and pulse-pounding automobiles, consisting of three cars and one SUV.

2013 BMW M6 Coupe at the 2012 New York International Auto Show

Headlining Bavaria’s best was the all-new BMW M6 coupe and M6 convertible. Just as the SL65 AMG is one of Mercedes’ top-of-the-line vehicles, so can be said for the M6. Much like its four-door sibling the M5, the M6 is powered by a 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V-8. It might not match the SL65 in sheer power or torque, but the M6’s figures are nothing to scoff at. With 560 bhp, eight more than in the M5, BMW’s premiere two-door coupe is the most powerful six-series ever produced. As with the SL65, the V-8 in the M6 is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2013 Audi RS5 at the New York International Auto Show

Rounding out the German performance-laden first day is the Audi RS5, which will be making its way to states for the first time later this year. The RS5 will compete directly with the BMW M3, Mercedes C63 AMG coupe and the Cadillac CTS-V coupe. Unlike the SL65 AMG and M6 which feature forced injection, the RS5 flies down the road courtesy of a 4.2-liter naturally-aspirated V-8 engine producing a maximum of 450 horsepower. The RS5 also varies from its fellow Audi S-line vehicles due to the fact that the S6, S7 and S8 are all powered by twin-turbo V-8’s. As with the Mercedes and BMW performance coupe and roadster the RS5 has a sequential automatic transmission.

If you want to get your hands on any of the fast two-doors debuted you better be quick and act fast! The SL65 AMG is a special order only vehicle and comes at a heafy pricetag. No official pricing has been announced, but buyer should expect to dish out in the neighborhood of $200,000. Like the TT-RS and R8 GT the RS5 will have a limited production run with under 1,000 units produced.

Interior of the 2013 Audi RS5 at the New York International Auto Show

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First Look: Porsche 911 (991) Carrera S

22 Feb

The New Porsche 911 (991) Carrera S

Changing something that works isn’t easy. Case in point, the Porsche 911. Roughly every seven years Porsche’s iconic nameplate gets reincarnated, becoming more modern, powerful and efficient with each redesign.  Now in its seventh generation, the two-door sports car has come to symbolize the very essence of what the brand stands for. It’s not just a Porsche, it’s the Porsche.

With the latest 911, the 991, beginning to arrive in showrooms around the U.S., I wanted to get an in-person look at the new Carrera S to see if the changes to the exterior and interior resulted in success or failure.

When compared to its predecessor, the 997, the 991 is .20 inches shorter in overall height, .98 inches longer and has a wider track than the previous generation. Those figures might seem unsubstantial, and they are, especially when the wheelbase has grown by 3.90 inches. The expanded wheelbase is immediately noticeable, giving the car a lower, sleeker stance. A longer car might seem like a waste of raw materials to many people, but it’s actually a good thing. Increasing the wheelbase enables the 991 to have a lower center of gravity, this in-turn, gives the vehicle better stability and control at high speeds. And with a top speed of 188 miles per hour, or 187 miles per hour with the brands seven-speed Doppelkupplungsgetriebe (PDK) transmission, you’ll be thanking the engineers for the improvement.

The New Porsche 911 (991) Carrera S

Other prominent exterior changes include the rear taillights, which has a thinner and more blade-like design, and the rear spoiler is has been created to blend cleanly into the rear when not in use. The headlights and taillights have been pushed to the very edges, giving both ends of the vehicle an even wider appearance. As with the spoiler, the sunroof features a new design as well. Instead of sliding into a portion of the roof itself, the glass slides outside the car. When fully retracted the sunroof keeps the streamlined styling intact while maintaining maximum interior headroom

Interior of the new Porsche 911 (991)

The interior has changed just as much as the exterior. But once again, Porsche has been careful to preserve the overall feel and appearance, consistent with all 911 models. Upon entering the passenger cabin the center console instantly grabs your attention. With a sloped figure that leads up to the bottom of the center dash it strongly resembles the center console in the four-door Panamera. Within the center are a number of controls, all clustered together below the PDK gear selector. Of the two 991 Carrera S’ in attendance both were equipped with the aforementioned PDK, not the seven-speed manual I was hoping for.

Besides the center console much of the interior has stayed true to form. The familiar five-gauge instrument cluster allows the driver to keep track of engine speed, vehicle speed, oil pressure, oil temperature, water temperature and fuel level. Aluminum door handles and trim pieces stretched across the dashboard. Overall the interior is a success, the supple leather, high-quality fit and finish is consistent with what you would expect to find on a top-of-the-line sports car. There was just one thing missing, cup holders. Neither example presented has this simple, yet handy option. The aluminum trim has breaks in two sections on the passenger side of the vehicle. As seen in the 997 and Panamera, I expected these to yield to my touch, exposing a concealed cup holder. However I was mistaken. Although this might not be as important as other optional features, the ability to have a bottle of water properly secured, not rolling around on the seat or floor, while on a spirited drive is useful and practical, at least to me.

Doubters continually question how much more innovation can be developed for a model that is now 47 years old, but Porsche seems to have done it yet again. They have adapted an age-old design with modern technology, performance and styling. The 991 might not be the rawest 911 ever made, but it certainly lives up to the hype.

3.8L Flat Six Cylinder Engine in the Porsche 911 (991) Carrera S

© 2012 GermanAutoNews

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Pens and accessories to accompany your Porsche

26 Sep

Ballpoint pens with technology inspired directly from the racetrack. Athletic shoes with a suspension. Glasses with six hinges instead of the normal two. Does it sound outrageous and somewhat ostentatious? Well, it is.

While attending the 2011 Online News Association conference in Boston this week I stumbled upon a Porsche Design store in a local high-end shopping mall. Upon entering it became apparent the high levels of engineering and design Porsche continually incorporates into their vehicle have carried over to other product lines. Oh, did I mention price, those have carried over too.

A pen, what many could consider a very basic writing utensil, Porsche regards as a stylish piece of contemporary design. Because of this the bodies of their ballpoint, mechanical, and fountain pens are all composed of a material called TecFlex. TecFlex is essentially an interwoven piece of stainless steel brake line that has been adapted to hold ink as opposed to brake fluid.

When it comes to race-inspired products, the P’5510 Bounce S athletic shoes are similarly over-engineered and over-the-top. In-store prices ranged from $480.00 for the mesh version, or $600.00 for the leather-covered equivalent, these are far from a run-of-the-mill pair of Nike Shox. They might look like the Nikes, but closer inspection reveals a series of actual “shocks” on the bottom of the shoe, giving these kicks a suspension setup that would rival a F1 car. With the price reaching such levels one should be more concerned with twisting a part of the suspension than your own ankle.

Ok, so the pens are made from stainless steel brake line, and the bottoms of the shoes resemble something capable of taking on the Nurburgring. However the most useful piece in the store was probably the reading glasses. No, these are not something your grandmother would wear while reading the morning newspaper. These have a total of six hinges, allowing the eyewear to fold neatly into a carrying case. Not only are these available while prescription lenses and different magnifications, they’re also practical. Their ability to fold to next to nothing makes them easy to place in your pocket or center console.

If the Porsche Design store represents anything it’s the expansion of auto manufacturers. No longer are companies simply creating cars, trucks and SUV’s. Brands have branched out to create entire lifestyles for their owners and followers. From clothing and sunglasses to kitchen knives and luggage, it’s hard to find something a marque like Porsche hasn’t thought of. If your like me, you might not be able to buy a Porsche, but you can possibly buy a pen.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

At First Glance: All-New 2012 Porsche 911

23 Aug

By Matt McCarron

2012 Porsche 911: Courtesy Porsche North America

After months of partially disguised “spy” photos and unofficial press photos, it’s finally here. Today Porsche officially released the first details and photos of the their most revered vehicle, the 911. After nearly five decades of production the rear-engined Porsche 911 has become one of the most iconic and recognizable automobiles in the world.

Despite having subtle changes over the years the tradition of the 911 has remained largely unchanged. The 2012 911, designated the 991 internally, has stayed true to those roots. Although Porsche says the vehicle is “all-new”, many non-enthusiasts might claim the 991 looks nearly identical to its predecessor the 997. However, a closer look at the new 911 reveals many changes.

2012 Porsche 911: Courtesy Porsche North America

The wheelbase has increased by 3.9 inches, along with a lower height giving the 2012 911 a more aggressive overall appearance. The weight of the body has decreased by roughly 100 pounds thanks to lightweight aluminum-steel composite materials. The new 911 also has a wider front track, new rear axle and electro-mechanical power steering, resulting in greater driving agility, response and dynamics. On top of these features, the new Carrera S also offers Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC).

Another hallmark of the Porsche 911 is the high level of technology incorporated into each generation of the vehicle. The seventh generation is no different. According to Porsche the 991’s fuel consumption is up to 16 percent less than that of the 997. This improvement is made possible via a host of engine management systems, such as a start/stop function and electrical system recuperation. The seven-speed Porsche double-clutch (PDK) transmission also aids in the increased economy by letting the 911 “coast”. In addition to the PDK the 2012 911 will feature the worlds first seven-speed manual transmission.

Rear View: 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera: Courtesy Porsche North America

In terms of performance the new 911 offers more horsepower from a smaller displacement engine. The 2012 911 Carrera is powered by a 3.4-liter flat-six engine, compared with the 3.6-liter in the outgoing model. Regardless of this reduction the horsepower remains unaffected. The Carrera S model still has a 3.8-liter with 15 more horsepower, boosting peak output figures from 385 to 400 hp. These changes enable the 911 Carrera to accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds (with PDK transmission). Meanwhile the Carrera S does the same sprint with the PDK in 4.1 seconds.

The 2012 Porsche 911 will make its world premiere at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show in September, and is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. beginning in February 2012.

Interior: 2012 911 with PDK transmission: Courtesy Porsche North America

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

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Porsche returning to Le Mans in 2014

1 Jul

By Matt McCarron

Porsche 911 GT1: Courtesy Porsche North America

During the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month one might have noticed there was not much in the way of competition in the top-tier LMP1 sports prototype class. An Audi has claimed 10 of the last 12 overall wins at the world’s most prestigious endurance race. The other two overall wins went to Peugeot in 2009 and a Audi-powered Bentley in 2003. The last time Porsche took the overall at Le Mans was in 1998 when the 911 GT1, driven by Laurent Aïello, Allan McNish, and Stéphane Ortelli.

Despite 13 years passing since Porsche stood on top of the podium at the famed Circuit de la Sarthe Matthias Müller, President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG said it was only a matter of time before the most successful manufacturer in the history of the race returned to once again fight for the overall title.

“Porsche’s successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory,” said Müller.

The return of Porsche Motorsport to the LMP1 class should add depth and variety to a class that has become more predictable in previous years. Audi and Peugeot will now have another serious competitor to contend with. More competition in a race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans is always a good thing, especially when the new competition includes a manufacturer with as storied history as Porsche.

Porsche 911 GT1 at Circuit de la Sarthe 1998: Courtesy Porsche North America

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

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What is your favorite car?

20 Jun

As automotive enthusiasts we are constantly evaluating what’s popular in the auto industry, but we want to know what your favorite vehicle is. If you had the chance to choose one car, any car, which one would it be and why? Let us know. Leave a comment on our Web site, Twitter or Facebook pages.

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com

Porsche Carrera 4 GTS unleashed

12 May

By Matt McCarron

Porsche 911 Carrera 4 GTS coupe and cabriolet: Courtesy Porsche North America

The 997 model line of the Porsche 911 will be coming to an end this September at the Frankfurt Auto Show. However, that didn’t stop Porsche from adding one more version to their ever-expanding lineup of 22 different 911 models.

Porsche unveiled the 911 Carrera 4 GTS, adding a four-wheel-drive variant to the recently released Carrera GTS. The Carrera 4 GTS has an additional 23 hp over a standard Carrera 4S. This is made possible by internal changes to the 3.8-liter flat-six-cylinder engine including: a special resonance intake manifold with six vacuum-controlled tuning flaps and a sports exhaust system with four black tailpipes finished with polished, nano-coated inner shells.

This added horsepower enables the GTS to accelerate from 0-60 mph, 0.1 second quicker than the regular 4S. The optional PDK transmission and Sport Chrono Package Plus enables the GTS to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.0 seconds. The manual coupe GTS also and has an increased top speed of 187 mph (186 with PDK).

The exterior and interior accents are primarily black. The exterior is adorned with black side skirts from the 911 GT2, a black panel between the rear tailpipes and 19-inch RS Spyder design wheels, painted in high-gloss black. The interior is covered in black Alcantara on the center sections of the standard sport seats and on the rim of the three-spoke steering wheel and on the gear and handbrake levers.

The Carrera 4 GTS will go on sale starting in the fall.  The Carrera 4 GTS coupe will have a base MSRP of $110,200, with the Carrera 4 GTS cabriolet starting at a slightly higher base price of $120,100.

Carrera 4 GTS 3.8-liter flat-six-cylinder engine: Courtesy Porsche North America

© 2011 GermanAutoNews

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any unauthorized reprint or use of any material is prohibited. No content information whatsoever may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the express written consent of the creator of GermanAutoNews.com