A Slovakia-based company unveiled the commercial design for a flying car priced at more than $1 million on Thursday, saying it was ready for pre-orders with first deliveries expected by Continue Reading…
Yaaree Sort of ‘Autos’ Category
The Mopar Nationals has been one of the biggest events for Chrysler enthusiasts since the early 1980s. The three-day affair has a large swap meet, a big car corral, judged and “fun field” show areas, manufacturer displays, and drag racing on the legendary National Trails Raceway track. Come rain or shine, organizer Jim Belinda runs a tight event. Many attendees make a yearly pilgrimage to the center of Ohio to enjoy it.
Beyond the show on the dragstrip itself, the Mopar Nationals are noted for the surprises that show up every year and the nighttime activities. The town of Heath has graciously organized a Saturday night cruise with lots of fun stops. There are also opportunities to meet with friends and fellow fans of the Pentastar’s brands, sample some of the region’s nice restaurants, and soak up the Mopar vibe. It is a happening in the truest sense of the word. If this is your tribe, you belong here.
Geoff Stunkard, former editor of our sister magazine Mopar Muscle, was at this year’s event and forwarded this photo story to give a flavor of why the Mopar Nats are still the big deal.
After years of teases and rumors, the big Cadillac sedan is finally here—in concept form. We saw hints of what a no-holds-barred big Cadillac could be in the Ciel and Elmiraj concepts, but deep down, we always knew that the car that could actually get built would be a proper luxury sedan. Fans have howled about a supposed “Omega-chassis” S-Class fighter waiting in the wings, and we’re not talking about the not-quite-big-enough CT6. This, the Cadillac Escala concept, is the big, bold Cadillac we’ve been waiting for.
What the Escala is, though, is a demonstration vehicle and a vivid preview of things to come. Nearly everything you see on the Escala, from its styling to its powertrain to its technology, is in development for the next generation of Cadillacs, and that’s good news indeed.
Starting at the heart, the Escala is powered by a prototype 4.2-liter, twin-turbo V-8 that Cadillac has finally confirmed is under development for production. Cadillac won’t say anything more, but we have it on good authority this is a dual-overhead cam engine, not another Chevy small-block. We would venture to guess it’s attached to GM’s all-new 10-speed automatic transmission en route to the rear wheels. We know for sure that it’s equipped with GM’s Active Fuel Management system, which allows it to run on four cylinders under light loads to save fuel.
Whatever it is, it’s nestled in Cadillac’s latest Omega architecture and was built not in a concept studio but in a production studio. It’s no CT6 in a body kit, though. The Escala stretches 210.6 inches long, 6.5 inches longer than the CT6, and rides on a 127.1-inch wheelbase, 4.7 inches longer than the CT6’s. That last number is key, as it gives the Escala the longest in the class. Longer than S-Class, 7 Series, A8L, and XJ LWB. In fact, it’s only 1.5 inches shorter in wheelbase than the Bentley Mulsanne. If you want longer, you’ll need a Maybach or a Rolls. It’ll also likely be tough to find lighter or better handling, given what we know about the production Omega platform.
Not only is it properly large on the outside, but it’s also properly luxurious on the inside. Up front, the traditional gauge cluster and center stack have been blown up and replaced with a pair of long, overlapping, curved OLED screens developed with Samsung. Nearly as important, the much-maligned CUE system has been torpedoed and replaced with a rotary controller. Borrowing a cue from Rolls-Royce, the controller has been embedded with an old Cadillac icon, the “Flying Goddess” mascot that appeared on the hoods of Cadillacs from the 1920s to the 1950s.
In an intriguing departure from the luxury norm, the interior of the Escala is not dressed entirely in leather. Rather, much of the dash, door panels, seats, and cargo area are wrapped in fabric similar to the kind used for high-end suits. The backs of the front seats hold iPad-like entertainment screens controlled by another tablet stored between the seats. Farther back is the Escala’s big trick: a liftback trunk like the Audi A7’s. It, too, is wrapped in designer suit-type fabric and loaded with custom-fitted luggage.
Moving outward, we find the new face and tail of Cadillac. As the brand continues to evolve its signature angular look, this more aggressive styling will come to dominate. It’s highlighted by OLED lighting, which, like much of the car’s technology, is coming soon to production cars. The Escala rides on appropriately scaled 22-inch wheels.
Critics, ourselves included, have maintained for years that in order to reclaim its “Standard of the World” mantra, Cadillac needs to take on the modern standard bearers in Germany. Escalades are quintessentially American, but to prove to the world it’s back, Cadillac needs a proper world-beating luxury sedan. The Escala isn’t it—yet—but we hope it will be. Even if it isn’t, it’s a promising indication that something like it someday could be.
Charging station at the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, North Carolina
Ritz Carlton hotels will offer electric charging stations at properties across the globe it has been confirmed.
Currently installed at a majority of the brand’s North American locations and select international hotels, electric car owners charging at Ritz-Carlton locations can experience all that The Ritz-Carlton has to offer, with extraordinary destinations and exceptional service.
The Ritz-Carlton network of destination charging stations make long distance travel convenient and easy from Washington, DC to San Francisco and Barcelona to Hong Kong with the installation of two charging stations at each property, and the ability to charge up for the next 150 miles in two and a half hours.
“Our organisation is committed to seek ways to inspire people to live differently.
“To adopt a lifestyle in which we can travel responsibly, comfortably and create memories that will last a lifetime,” said Ed French, chief sales and marketing Officer, The Ritz-Carlton.
“Commitment to the community and environment was part of our original 1983 mission statement. Globally, we focus our efforts in three areas, of which one is environmental responsibility.
“Our approach is to merge our global strategy with local perspective – allowing us to integrate sustainable initiatives across the broad range of geographic locations in both remote and urban communities where our company has operations.”
Would you live in the shoebox?
Greg Parham is an architect in Durango, Colorado. His construction company, Rocky Mountain Tiny Houses, builds customized shed-sized dwellings on flatbed trailers. As one of the most passionate advocates of the Small House Movement— a movement that often entails mobility — we asked him to bring us up to speed.
BBC: What is it that attracts people to tiny houses?
GP: Most people are drawn to them for the financial benefits. Some are more interested in the simpler lifestyle that tiny houses encourage, and others are interested in innovative design. I also get a lot of calls from people who have to relocate a lot for work and just want to be able to take their house with them. Most people use them for full time primary residences, though I have one customer who bought one to use as a vacation rental in her backyard.
BBC: What is different about your approach?
GP: When I first started out, I had grand aspirations to build models that were influenced by unique locations in the Rocky Mountains. While I’ve built three such houses, my plans for the remaining 15 or so have been put on the backburner by all commissioned builds we’ve been doing. In regards to these, I enjoy working very closely with clients to create a one-off custom house that matches their vision as closely as possible. No matter the project, I try to include a component that has never been done before in a tiny house; design possibilities are infinite, and need to be explored.
BBC: Is portability important?
GP: So far, all of my builds have been on trailers, though I have provided some designs for folks who wanted to build a tiny house on a foundation. Tiny houses were originally put on wheels to get around zoning laws. Most municipalities don’t allow you to construct a site-built house that is less than 600 square feet, so putting it on wheels skirts this issue. For people who have to move a lot, portability is the driving force behind buying a tiny house.
BBC: How easy is living off the grid in a tiny house?
GP: Living off grid is not hard at all, provided you have chosen good equipment and installed it properly. It does require a little work, though. For power, most people install a solar array with a battery bank. Typical lead acid batteries have to have the water topped off each month, and solar panels need to be kept clean for maximum efficiency.
For water, unless there’s access to a well, you need a water storage tank and a pump to pressurize the system. Depending on the size of the tank and water usage, that tank my need to be filled up quite often. Grey water can easily be distributed back into the environment, though that requires biodegradable soaps and no harsh chemicals. For solid human waste, the tried-and-true composting toilet, either commercially bought or homemade, does the job just fine. They need emptying occasionally, and the owner will need to maintain a supply of cover material such as sawdust or peat moss.
BBC: How road-worthy are your creations?
GP: They are better built and stronger than travel trailers, but that makes them heavier gives them more wind drag, so expect to spend more money on fuel and more time in the saddle of your pickup. I’ve towed several tiny houses 1200 miles over interstates, bumpy county roads, snow, mud, mountain passes, narrow city streets — you name it. The only problem I ever had was a low tire.
BBC: What’s the hardest part about going tiny?
GP: It depends on the person committing to it, but for most it is the process of downsizing — deciding what stays and what goes. You can only fit so much in a tiny house, so everything from furniture to clothing to dishes to books to knickknacks has to be culled.
BBC: What’s the best part?
GP: I think most tiny house owners would tell you, “Not having a mortgage or paying rent.” Granted, you’re likely to have some rent for land, but it’s maybe $100 a month instead of $1000. A lot of tiny house dwellers also like to brag that it only takes them 10 minutes to clean the entire house.
BBC: Do you see tiny homes changing the way we live?
GP: I don’t think the American way will ever die. It’s too prosperous a nation for people to not equate success with big houses, fancy cars, and lots of stuff. While the tiny house movement is growing, and awareness is definitely increasing, I feel we will always be a small minority. I actually think this isn’t a bad thing. If everyone had a tiny house, they wouldn’t be as cool.
Another cushy compact crossover may or may not be what the world needs now, but it’s exactly what Infiniti needs. Enter the swoopy, stub-tailed QX30—which Infiniti is pitching as a “premium active crossover”—to give the brand an entrant in a segment poised for explosive growth. We tested an all-wheel-drive QX30 and found it does a reasonable job of being a cushy compact crossover, with its 8.0 inches of ground clearance, skid plates, and roof rails joining the creature comforts and chrome that come with being an Infiniti.
A No-Flannel Zone
That said, not all QX30s are crossovers. (In fact, it’s arguable whether any of them really are.) Of the three QX30 models Infiniti will offer in the United States—including the standard front-wheel-drive QX30 and the zestier, also front-drive QX30 Sport we drove for this story—only the all-wheel-drive model makes the best argument to qualify as a crossover. The others lack crossover cred not only because they’re front-drivers, but also on account of their wheel/tire combos, specific interior and exterior design, and most significantly, lower suspensions that bring the base model 1.2 inches closer to the ground and the Sport version another 0.7 inch lower still. Expressive though their designs may be, these two QX30s in no way suggest any semblance of off-road capability; their drivers are hardly flannel-clad outdoorsmen. These are really upscale hatchbacks.
But that’s no insult. We like hatchbacks, and after our first back-to-back drives of the front-wheel-drive QX30 Sport and the all-wheel-drive QX30, we can understand why the front-wheel-drive models go by a different name—Q30—in markets outside the United States. In fact, Infiniti says it was mainly considering the needs of the European market when it crafted this car from the rib of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-class. In a deal with Daimler, Infiniti co-developed the QX30 using A-class/GLA-class bits, including its chassis architecture, its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (with the same 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque), and its seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, as well as sundry interior items. Unfortunately, the cars also share their low roofs, contributing to relatively cramped rear seats and modest cargo areas. The QX30’s bolt-upright rear seatback is particularly unpleasant.
The Infiniti Bits
While most of the hard parts come from Mercedes, Infiniti claims responsibility for the QX30’s springs, dampers, and rolling stock, which for the Sport model, brings 19-inch wheels and 235/45-series run-flat summer tires versus the 18-inch wheels and 235/50-series all-season rubber on other QX30s. The Sport’s spring rates are 7 percent stiffer, too, and the front brakes get cross-drilled rotors. Incidentally, Mercedes does not offer any GLA tuned quite like this; the only GLA-class with a performance bent of any sort is the pricey and rather more excessive Mercedes-AMG GLA45.
Not surprisingly, the QX30 Sport proved altogether more confidence-inspiring than its crossover sibling; it also was friskier even than the heavier all-wheel-drive Q30 Sport that’s exclusive to Europe. The direct and linear steering feels tight and responds quickly to inputs, with a pleasing effort buildup in corners. The body remains mostly flat in hard cornering, although the car is still somewhat prone to understeer, and the ride quality seems as if it would be annoyingly firm for everyday duty. The upgraded brakes initially felt rather grabby while we slogged through morning traffic in the city, but as the day went on, we came to appreciate their strength and firm pedal feel.
Our impressions of the engine and transmission and their attendant drive modes, gleaned during our test of the all-wheel-drive QX30, remained in the neither-love-it-nor-hate-it realm. Power is generally sufficient, but we’d still like a drive mode between Economy and Sport. On back roads, Sport mode kept the engine exactly where it needed to be to maintain turbo pressure and keep the throttle alert to our commands, although it seemed too jumpy around town. In Economy mode, things got much calmer, but turbo lag was a frequent offender. We also would love for Infiniti to have squeezed out at least a few more ponies for the Sport. (The company could be saving that for a Red Sport model in the future, we suppose.) At least torque steer seems well managed; we performed a hands-off-the-wheel, full-throttle launch to 60 mph—which we estimate will take 6.7 seconds—and the Sport tracked straight.
The QX30 Sport also looks sufficiently premium and sporty inside and out. Particularly in the case of our Magnetic Red metallic test car, which came loaded with LED lighting, the Sport Leather package’s black leather upholstery with white accents, and the Technology package’s driver-assistance features, including a 360-degree monitor. The Sport’s exterior styling is arguably the best of the QX30 trio, thanks mostly to its larger wheels, lower stance, and more aggressive nose. Inside, the QX30 Sport’s cabin gets supportive seats and a black microsuede headliner (both standard), with better materials than one finds in the simpler cabin of the Volkswagen GTI or the GLA-class.
As configured, our test car would sticker for $43,150, but the Sport can be had for $39,450, a price that includes a panoramic sunroof and navigation. Admittedly that’s a steep climb from other Euro hatches such as the GTI, but it’s a fair value next to the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Lexus NX that are the QX30’s stated competition.
But those are crossovers. And as we’ve stated before, the QX30 Sport is not really a crossover, but rather a Euro hatch, one that Infiniti happily did not leave in Europe.
VEHICLE TYPE: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
BASE PRICE: $39,450
ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 122 cu in, 1991 cc
Power: 208 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic with manual shifting mode
Wheelbase: 106.3 in
Length: 174.2 in
Width: 71.5 in Height: 58.1 in
Passenger volume: 89 cu ft
Cargo volume: 19 cu ft
Curb weight: 3250 lb (C/D est)
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
Zero to 60 mph: 6.7 sec
Zero to 100 mph: 17.9 sec
Standing ¼-mile: 15.1 sec
Top speed: 130 mph
FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
EPA city/highway driving: 25/32 mpg
Nobody likes feeling robbed of their money at the gas station. We all need to do our best while we still use it to use as little amounts as possible, and spend as little as possible as well. Here are a few different ways of saving gas money.
1. The next time you are looking for a vehicle, buy a four cylinder or a car really good on gas, or sell yours and get one. It doesn’t matter if it’s old, ugly, or whatever. Continue Reading…