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Your drive over rough tracks, dirty ground, dust-covered grass or hit rough motorways in the sun and rain. Have you ever thought what your car wheel might be going through? It’s the feet of the vehicle, no doubt very tough but it demands to care too.

After the car engine, the wheels are the most important part of your vehicle. You can always take care of those four wheels rather than investing unnecessary money in an untimely replacement. Moreover, coming to alloy wheels, it improves the performance of a car. A lot of people keep on driving miles after miles without worrying about the strong wheels. Don’t forget that even the strongest part of your car can get damaged without care and cleaning.

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Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

McLaren Senna

6/29/2018 1:44 PM

McLaren claims this is the most extreme road car it’s ever built. That’s kind of what you’d hope given who it’s decided to name it after, and what they’ve decided to make it look like. Needless to say, aesthetic design did not lead the way. The Senna is governed by aerodynamics - up to 800kg of air pressing the mid-engined two-seater into the tarmac at 155mph. It could produce more, but above that speed McLaren alter the wing angles to maximise acceleration.

Clearly, there’s a lot going on here. Not least that vast rear wing, able to swing through almost 90 degrees, and hidden winglets in the nose that work in harmony with it. This is a car that plays with the air, makes it work for the car as it passes over the bodywork.

The Senna is the next step in McLaren’s Ultimate Series range, sitting above the Super Series (720S) and Sport Series (540 and 570) models. It’s not a replacement for the P1, but instead is designed to set new standards in a particular direction - in this case, track performance.

It is road legal - quite an achievement when you think about pedestrian safety and getting a car with this many slats, wings and holes in its bodywork through the legislative process. It’s built around a central carbon tub made up of 170 separate pieces and powered by the familiar 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 from the 720S. For this application the engine has a new camshaft, new pistons, intake manifold, and an Inconel and titanium exhaust. It develops 789bhp and 590lb ft, powering the rear wheels through a seven-speed twin clutch gearbox. The sprints to 62mph and 124mph are taken care of in 2.8 and 6.8secs respectively and top speed is 208mph. Not that top speed matters here - the Senna, as you would hope, has a single-minded focus on lap times.

And it’s weight, not power, that has clearly dominated the engineers’ thought processes. The 4.87kg rear wing is able to support up to 100 times its own weight, each front wing weighs a mere 660 grams, even the door mechanisms have been changed - mechanical releases giving way to electrical, reducing weight by 20 per cent. All told, the Senna weighs just 1,198kg dry, so around 1,300kg with all fluids and fuel.

500 cars, each costing from £750,000, will be built over the next year. All have already been spoken for.

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

This gorgeous, outlandish, stunning 720bhp Nissan is not - we repeat, NOT - the next-gen GT-R. But we really, really wish it was. Perhaps it gives some clues about what Nissan’s plotting to replace the R35-gen Godzilla with…

This fabulous creation is in fact the Nissan GT-R50 by Italdesign. It’s a collaboration between the Japanese carmaker and the Italian coachbuilder, aiming to add some Italian flair and elegance to the brutal GT-R recipe, and celebrate two birthdays. Yes, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the GT-R name in Nissan history, and 50 years of Italdesign. This is much better than a cake with candles.

Nissan’s design boss, Alfonso Albaisa, says the GT-R50 is the answer to the question: “What if we created a GT-R without limits,’ and then actually get to build it?” A designer’s dream, then. Though it’s still recognisably a GT-R, every feature has been exaggerated to create a machine with true supercar presence.

Take the headlights, made up of multiple LED strips, bisecting a gaping front intake framed in gold. Yes, hope you like gold. There’s a lot of gold about the GT-R50.

The car’s roofline stands a whopping 54mm lower than the standard GT-R’s, and features strakes molded into its surface that channel air to the huge, McLaren-style pop-up rear wing, which lives, as you can see, in a rear deck swathed in gold. Well, it is a golden jubilee of cars, so why not go all out?

No modern GT-R would be complete without an iconic quartet of round taillights, and Italdesign has gone for a ‘3D’ design here, with hollow, Ford GT-style lamps ‘floating’ in the gold rear fascia. What a view to follow down the road.

Mind you, it’d take a Ford GT or McLaren to stay on the GT-R50’s tail. It’s based on the underpinnings of a GT-R Nismo, but the 3.8-litre bi-turbo V6’s wick has been turned up from 592bhp to a staggering 711bhp, courtesy of racecar-spec mods.

Nissan has added GT3 competition-spec turbochargers and beefier intercoolers, a heavy-duty crankshaft, reinforced pistons, connecting rods and bearings, a new exhaust, and upgraded the cooling and oil systems. The six-speed dual-clutch gearbox has been strengthened to cope with the forces generated by the 575lb ft engine.

There’s also a revised Bilstein suspension set-up with adjustable dampers, 21-inch carbon-fibre wheels, and a completely revised, Alcantara-covered cabin.

Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Is it just us, or is that an incredibly thorough redesign, re-engineer and re-trim for what could just as easily be a one-off concept car made of papier-mâché and clay?

Nissan and Italdesign have really gone to town on this thing. Lots of specs, lots of attention to detail, and an absolute insistence this isn’t anything to do with a new GT-R. Are you sure, Nissan? We’d humbly suggest you reconsider…

We’d even take it in gold.

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

Good news, fans of gratuitously powerful under-tyred muscle cars. Dodge has updated the Challenger Hellcat for 2019, and introduced a new model that borrows bits of engine from the certifiable Demon. This is the Redeye.

No, it doesn’t have glaucoma. What it has is the Demon’s the 2.7-litre belt-driven supercharger (the largest fitted to any production car), twin dual-stage fuel pumps, strengthened pistons and connecting rods among other things. Thanks to those modifications, the Hellcat Redeye’s 6.2-litre V8 produces 797bhp – 90 more than a regular Hellcat did when it came out in 2014/15. Torque is up by 57lb ft to an entirely appropriate 707lb ft.

Available in standard or ‘Widebody’ (pictured) configurations (wider tyres and arches), the Redeye isn’t a replacement for the standard Hellcat. You can still buy one of those. Nowadays its makes 717bhp, which is still plenty, and will hit 199mph. The Redeye will do 203mph, hit 60mph in 3.4 seconds and trim a tenth from your ¼ mile time (11.1 for the Redeye, to 11.2 for the ‘standard’ car). Widebodys are a bit slower, but look roughly eight-point-three times cooler.

The Redeye is only available with the eight-speed auto ‘box, however, whereas the standard car can be specified with a manual. Is that a deal-breaker?

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

Until Dad took me to Riverside International Raceway for the 1962 LA Times Grand Prix, cars were just big, lumbering sleds grownups used to go places.

But that October Sunday changed everything for a then-kid, as Graham Hill and Jack Brabham, Ken Miles and Masten Gregory—among other racing luminaries of the day—engaged in a howling spectacle of speed, bravery and finesse, instantly and forever imprinting me with the bug. Hardly a unique scenario for young ’uns and sports, to be sure—and how I wished Dad would race his Austin-Healey!

That never happened, but decades later he did buy a Mini Cooper S. Perhaps he, like me, recalled the early Minis audaciously two-wheeling around turn 6 as they harried bigger, more powerful cars.

It’s funny how life repeats.

Because now, more years on and with that supercharged Mini now in my garage and my own kid, I couldn’t help but wonder: What kind of imprint should I create? There were two obvious choices: Hop in the Mini and treat the lad to a car race—or hop in the Mini and teach him to race. In a running relay, passing the baton lets the next runner continue the race. Since raising kids is to some degree like a relay, we go racing.

Apart from a long dirt bike apprenticeship, driving a manual-shift car is new for Derek. And his baptism is intense: a 140-mile freeway trip to Fontana the evening before the school, with plenty of lousy LA traffic and multilevel freeway interchanges to navigate.

Arriving at the speedway early on Saturday, we find an interesting mix of participants. Cars range from a restored Sunbeam Tiger to BMW M2s, from an early Tesla roadster to a Lexus sedan, and from built-to-the-hilt SCCA Solo rides to modded older Japanese coupes. A casual count suggests Mazda Miatas are most plentiful. Our stock Cooper S fits right in.

Happily for me, among the participants are several father-child teams, each with its own special reason for being there but generally paralleling our mission: for dads to share the driving passion with their kids; to nurture critical thinking and car-control skills among young drivers; to learn and grow together; and to enjoy auto racing’s excitement and competition.

We’d found a good home.

 

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

About two dozen reporters this month drove a caravan of all-wheel-drive Jaguar I-Pace crossovers across a stream nearly 18 inches deep here, then up a steep, dusty mountain road, then around a Formula One racetrack, deep into triple-digit speeds — all without burning a drop of fuel.

Two days of driving the battery-electric I-Pace some 350 miles across southern Portugal convinced the nitpicky scribes that the new Jag has the chops to more than compete with Tesla and electric vehicles coming soon from Audi and Porsche.

With 240 miles available on a single charge, 394 silent hp and 512 pound-feet of torque providing acceleration to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, the I-Pace performs more like a sports car than a five-passenger midsize luxury crossover. The looks are striking, it has a long list of standard luxury and safety features, and it arrives at dealerships in late August at a price starting at $70,495, including shipping — at least $10,205 below the least expensive Tesla Model X, the only other electric crossover available.

Combine all that with a national dealer network — which Tesla does not have — and the I-Pace looks like a LeBron James-style thunder dunk for Jaguar.

Except that it may not be.

Despite a showroom of fresh vehicles, Jaguar has faltered this year mostly because of the industry shift away from cars. But the 2-year-old F-Pace, Jag's first crossover, also has lost steam. And a fuel-system problem stunted the launch of the compact E-Pace crossover this year. So, if one thing is clear, it's that the I-Pace, good as it is, is no slam dunk.

"Jaguar knows how to design a stunning crossover," says Au-toPacific analyst Dave Sullivan, citing the success of the F-Pace, the fastest-selling vehicle in Jaguar's history. But "going all elec-tric has unique challenges for a company where the brand has not had to launch an EV before."

Says Sullivan: "Jaguar was at the bottom of J.D. Power's [2018 Initial Quality Study], and this is going to be their first EV. Jagu-ar doesn't have the same leeway with customers that Tesla has. Tesla customers might look the other way or chalk it up to Tesla being Tesla when it comes to quality problems, but Jaguar cus-tomers expect more from an established brand."

No matter how positive the test-drive reviews, JLR officials be-lieve, they can't duplicate the media fascination and consumer passion for Tesla and its products, and they don't plan to try. There won't be comparisons to the Model X in I-Pace ads or dealer communications.

"The EV market is in its infancy," says Stuart Schorr, JLR's U.S. vice president of communications. Schorr also manages JLR's U.S. advertising and retail and digital marketing communications.

 

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

RAM 1500 CLASSIC

6/29/2018 1:32 PM

As a new Ram 1500 arrives in dealerships, the automaker will continue selling the outgoing generation of the popular pickup alongside the new one, adding a Classic badge to the generation that debuted back in 2010. That was the year Ram trucks split from Dodge, as you recall, so the Classic version is the one that kicked off the current lineup of Ram trucks that we've become used to.

The Classic model will be offered in the fourth quarter of 2018 as a 2019 model.

"As we launch the all-new 2019 Ram 1500, we didn’t want to walk away from a key part of the light-duty truck market," explains Mike Manley, head of Ram Brand — FCA. "Ram will continue to produce the 1500 Classic targeted at entry and commercial buyers."

More than just a Classic badge, the legacy 2019 Ram 1500 will offer three new packages as it enters its final year.

First up is Chrome Plus, which will be paired with the Tradesman trim and offer a body color upper front fascia, chrome bumpers, 17-inch wheels, remote keyless entry and carpeted floor covering. Next up is the Tradesman SXT pack, which will pair chrome bumpers, body color front fascia, a 5-inch radio screen, fog lamps, dual exhaust for V8 versions and 20-inch chrome wheels. The fog lamps and the 20-inch wheels will be new to the Tradesman trim. Finally, there will be the Express Black Accent Package that will be offered on all Express trim exterior colors. This pack will include black wheels, black badging and black headlight bezels.

The model itself will be offered in four basic trim levels: Tradesman, Express, Big Horn/Lone Star and SSV.

The Ram Classic will be offered in 4x2 and 4x4 flavors and a choice of three engines: a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel that will be offered later in the year. There's also a choice of three cabs and three bed lengths, including Regular Cab with an 8-foot bed or a 6-foot-4-inch bed, Quad Cab with a 6-foot-4-inch bed, or a Crew Cab with a shorter 5-foot-7-inch bed. The Crew Cab will also be offered with a 6-foot-4-inch bed.

 

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

MINI JCW OUT TO REPEAT

6/29/2018 1:24 PM

If there’s one team in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge hoping that history repeats itself, it’s the Mini JCW Team.

It was at the Watkins Glen International circuit last year where the Mini JCW Team -- supported by LAP Motorsports -- reached the pinnacle of its success in the series, achieving its first 1-2 finish with two of its three MINI JCWs.

And as the series returns to the 3.4-mile circuit in New York, Mini does so fresh off the same result it first achieved one year ago, with Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra in the No. 73 taking the most recent Street Tuner (ST) class win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last month with its sister car, the No. 52, finishing second. And in fact, that finishing order was an exact reversal of another Mini 1-2 finish at Sebring International Raceway back in March.

“Watkins Glen is one of my favorite tracks in the country,” said Mat Pombo, whose brother Mark was part of the No. 52’s winning lineup at Sebring and second-place result at Mid-Ohio. “We’ve always had a good platform in the Minis there, even the first year we were there. We were competitive and last year it all came together when we had a first and a second. Now, we’re coming off a first and a second at Mid-Ohio.”

There is one big difference, though, heading into Watkins Glen this time around – the race is four hours in length, rather than the traditional two. But winning an endurance race isn’t new for the MINI JCW Team, as it won the series’ inaugural four-hour race in ST back at Daytona International Speedway in 2017.

“It’ll be a little more challenging, a little more patience,” said Mat Pombo, who co-drove with Derek Jones to the Daytona win in 2017. “There’s so many (Grand Sport) cars that it’s about managing traffic and trying to keep yourself clean until the last 30 minutes and hopefully being able to race for the win.

“I think we’ve got a good lineup of drivers that are all pretty level-headed and all understand the long-term goals of the championship and the season, and to really try to keep MINI leading the manufacturer points. That’s what our goal was coming out of Mid-Ohio and we left with the manufacturer lead, so we’re really wanting to maintain that through Watkins Glen.”

For Mat Pombo, Team Owner Luis Perocarpi and the rest of the Mini JCW crew, that manufacturer points lead is the top priority for 2018, which is also the final year for the ST class.

 

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

For years Mexico has had its own armored car cottage industry catering to even modestly wealthy individuals who desire a little more security on their morning commutes, converting everything from VW Jettas to Chevy Suburbans to varying levels of ballistic protection. Most of the armoring work for cars sold in Mexico is done locally, not only because of the variety of cars being converted to ballistic protection specs, but because Europe's coachbuilders just cannot keep up with the demand.

Reuters now reports that the country's armoring specialists expect a 10 percent jump in the number of cars converted to armored spec and sold this year -- up to 3,284, according to the Mexican Automotive Armor Association -- driven by record crime levels including the 25,000 murders that occurred in Mexico in 2017. Reuters notes that the Mexican armored car market is much smaller than Brazil's, which saw sales of 15,145 cars last year and is expecting nothing short of a 25 percent jump in demand in 2018.

While the homegrown armoring industry has kept up with the local demand for years, automakers and their armoring divisions have taken an interest in localizing production in Mexico. Audi, in particular, has started assembling an armored version of the Q5 SUV in Mexico for the domestic market, as well as for export to Brazil to keep up with the demand there. The advantage for customers is a lower price -- the armored Q5 retails for $87,000, compared to about $95,000 or more for an aftermarket job -- as well as factory warranty. Reuters notes that Mercedes-Benz, Jeep and BMW have already started converting their vehicles in their factories in Mexico to armored specifications

The threats in Mexico and Brazil are a little different from other places in the world where armored versions of common passenger sedans are sold: Rather than targeted political assassinations, wealthy individuals are more likely to face kidnapping or armed robbery attempts, making lower ballistic levels such as B5, which can withstand fire from most handguns but not assault rifles, a more popular choice than something heavier and more expensive like the B6/B7 grade of protection aimed at shielding passengers from armor-piercing rounds or grenades. Stealth also plays a role, since many in Mexico with the means to buy an armored car choose something common to convert, like a small Volkswagen sedan or a Honda crossover, rather than something obvious like a Chevrolet Suburban with tinted windows.

The typical B5 anti-kidnapping package includes steel and layers of ballistic glass 3 to 5 inches thick, reinforced runflat tires able to withstand multiple punctures if a car is lured into a trap via steel spikes, a siren system, an armored gasoline tank, reinforced door handles and sometimes even tear gas canisters located underneath that can be fired to repel attackers. Heavier VR7/VR9 armor levels offer protection from common military rifles and grenades, but these tend to be pricier vehicles that typically start at $300,000 new, directly from automakers and a handful of reputable armorers/coachbuilders like Trasco, Friederichs, Carat Duchatelet and ASC.

To discourage potential robbers from targeting vehicles in the first place, some customers in Mexico opt to import older armored cars from Europe that have serviced the diplomatic missions of various countries, cars like older Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S80 and Audi A8 sedans easily found in used condition.

In 2010, Jenson Button narrowly escaped an armed attack by a number of gunmen in Sao Paulo, Brazil, shortly after departing from the Interlagos circuit. The F1 champion's security driver used an armored Mercedes-Benz B-Class to escape, sideswiping other cars in the process. F1 crews from Mercedes, Sauber and Williams have faced multiple attacks from armed robbers in Brazil in recent years, some just days apart.

 

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght

Buick Enclave Avenir

6/29/2018 1:21 PM

What is it: The Buick Enclave Avenir is the brand’s most expensive and largest crossover. With three rows, attractive styling and ample luxury features, the Enclave is meant to appeal to folks who would buy a Chevy Traverse but prefer a more luxurious vehicle; unlike the old Enclave, and the Buick Rendezvous before that, this current version is different enough to warrant the price bump over competitive three-row CUVs.

Key Competitors: Ford Explorer, Lexus RX 350L, Acura MDX

Base Price: $56,795 As-Tested Price: $59,540

Highlights: For 2018, Buick completely reshaped the Enclave, giving it a new, lower top profile, extra standard features and a new trim line named after Buick’s coupe concept: Avenir. New standard features include LED headlights, LED taillights, rearview camera and rear park assist. The all-wheel-drive system is a twin-clutch design and is Buick’s first switchable AWD system. There are available high-tech features like Buick’s new QuietTuning system, a 360-degree view camera and ventilated front seats. Heated front seats are standard.

Our Opinion: You can’t really call Buick’s return to interesting and premium cars a comeback, but it feels like Buick’s lineup has surged ahead of where it was even five years ago. The Enclave is the current crown on Buick’s crossover lineup, with the Avenir trim being its jewel. Sitting in a parking lot, the redesigned Enclave looks better than ever, and more in line with the premium space Buick is supposed to fill. It’s not quite as stylish as a ’53 Skylark or a ’65 Riviera, but for a crossover -- it looks sharp.

Of course, styling isn't everything -- the new Buick offers a similar suite of convenience features as the competition: a 360-degree camera, heated seats, LED headlights and taillights and standard 4G Wi-Fi. Powering the Enclave is a potent 3.6-liter V6 that’s good for 310 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. That power goes through a nine-speed automatic and into the all-wheel-drive system.

With over 300 hp, the Enclave is quicker than you’d expect from a nonperformance-minded crossover. The power delivery is smooth and linear and peaks at 6,800 rpm. We can't comment on whether the AWD system will survive a vicious bout of off-roading -- we stayed on pavement -- but the switchable system is good enough for winter struggles.

The Enclave's suspension is tuned soft to better manage bumps with the big 20-inch wheels. The ride is soft as well, which says a lot considering the lack of sidewall deflection. If you don’t opt for the big wheels, the ride will likely be even smoother. The soft suspension does lend itself to roll and dive, but that shouldn’t be too big of a problem when you’re picking up the kids from school.

In the cabin, the standard 8-inch infotainment screen is crisp and easily navigated. The Buick comes standard with CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as six USB ports -- more than enough for you and your friends to charge your phones on a road trip.

Buick has sold about 18,000 Enclaves this year, putting it sixth in the large crossover category. To put that in perspective, Ford sold about 100,000 Explorers and Toyota sold about 90,000 Highlanders. So it has a ways to go. But this is the best SUV the company has ever produced.

We’d love to see a stylish Buick coupe leading the company's luxury push, but we're not holding our breath. With that in mind, the well-styled, three-row Enclave is the nicest car the company makes. Take a drive.

 

Comments | Posted in Cars By Christopher Lyght
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