Driving the new C 63 AMG S coupe is an exercise in restraint. I suspect that owning one, then, will be that and many more things. The car’s purpose is simple. To be the best C-Class ever. And it ...
History was made in Daytona Beach, Florida, when the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda HPD Ligier JS Prototype, driven by Brazilian Pipo Derani and Americans Johannes van Overbeek, ...
One normally goes to Venice for a romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal and explore the narrow medieval streets on foot, to drink caffè or eat tiramisu in the Piazza San Marco and to marvel at ...
You could be forgiven if you weren’t aware that the Chevrolet Malibu is now on its third generation since 2008. The 2013 model, in fact, marked the beginning of a new generation, but it maintained ...
It’s not much of a stretch to say Honda Canada would not be what it is today were it not for its wildly popular Civic. The fact that the Civic has been built in the company’s Alliston, Ontario ...
Cadillac is killing it! Last year, the most American of car brands threw down the gauntlet with first the ATS-V and then the CTS-V. These two represent the most potent one-two performance car punch ...
  Let’s deal with this right off the top: the all-new Nissan Titan XD is a tweener. What I mean is that it’s a heavier light-duty truck that falls in between the half-ton and three-quarter ton ...
Hopping in and out of multiple cars every week means that Ignition’s writers and editors come to experience a wide range of comfort features, infotainment systems, safety devices and in general ...
WE OFFER SIX HELPFUL TIPS TO CONSIDER AHEAD OF VISITING THE NEW CAR MARKETPLACE Selecting and buying a new car is an experience as unique as your individual needs, budget, lifestyle and tastes. As ...
Expanded 2016 EnerGuide Label Highlights More Reliable Canadian Fuel Efficiency Numbers, Finally! If you happened to have been shopping for a new vehicle at any point in 2015, you may have noticed ...
Driving the new C 63 AMG S coupe is an exercise in restraint. I suspect that owning one, then, will be that and many more things. The car’s purpose is simple. To be the best C-Class ever. And it just might be. Along with its sedan counterpart, the C 63s are head and shoulders above the rest. Poised atop the best-selling luxury car line in Canada, Mercedes-AMG’s latest performance coupe gets the same hand-built AMG 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 that comes in the C 63 sedan launched last spring. With 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque that peaks at 4,750 rpm, the S model has 34 more horsepower and 37 lb-ft than the non-S model, and is capable of accelerating from 0-100 km/h in under four seconds. And while the rest of the C-Class lineup gets a very democratic 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and less powerful engines, only the AMGs are rear-wheel driven. As part of the fifth-generation C-Class (W205), which dates back to the Mercedes-Benz 190 (W201) range that reigned from 1982 to 1993, the range-topping C 63 AMG sedan and coupe models truly benefit from the winning ways of the Mercedes-AMG teams in Formula One, DTM and other series. I’ve now driven both the sedan and the coupe, and each is fitted with AMG’s Speed-shift sports transmission that slices through seven forward gears with divine purpose and finesse. Each also gets Eco start/stop and a Dynamic Select system to choose one of six driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual) that can change their demeanours from mild to wild to bat-s!#t crazy. While I was taken aback by the mega speed and handling abilities of the C 63 S sedan on Portugal’s big and fast Portimão Circuit, the back end did tend to get pretty unstable under hard-braking at the end of the long straights. The newer C 63 S coupe does not do this at all, and it’s because of several improvements that Mercedes-AMG has made to what is essentially a totally different car. The electronically-controlled mechanical rear-axle limited slip differential is a key factor here, but it isn’t alone. Compared to the base C-Class coupe (the C 300 coupe was at the launch, but I didn’t drive it), the AMG version shares only the doors, roof and trunk lid. The remaining body panels are AMG specific, and necessary to provide more substance rather than aesthetics. The wide rear fenders, for example, add 33 mm to each side (2.6 inches total) to accommodate the limited-slip differential, as well as a rear axle that is 46 mm wider. Likewise, the front fenders widen the car by 24 mm per side (1.89 inches total) so that larger wheels and tires will fit in the front and back, respectively. The coupe is 15 mm lower than its sedan counterpart, and the rear axle and LSD are both new compared to the C 63 S sedan. I should also point out the LSD in the non-S model is not electronically-controlled, and thus not as sensitive. The combination of the C 63 S’s lower centre of gravity, wider track width, larger contact patch, improved front and rear downforce (0.01 and 0.05 per cent, respectively), the AMG ride control suspension (and tuning) and other AMG tweaks make for a car that drives silky smooth at the limit. That it looks even better than the sedan is mere happenstance. Like the sedan press launch, the C 63 coupe launch featured gorgeous on-road drive routes as well as track driving, the latter under the guidance of Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador and factory test driver Bernd Schneider. And instead of Portimão, I find myself chasing down the five-time DTM champ on the incredible Circuito Ascari in southern Spain – the 5.425-km long, 26-turn full track that combines the best corners from many of the world’s most famous racetracks. In Portugal, Schneider drove the same car as everyone else. In Spain, however, the mouse is behind the wheel of the AMG GT S, while all the cats are driving C 63 S coupes. That said, I felt so much more confident driving said coupe that I was actually able to stay closer to “The Man” (that’s how our Canadian PR rep refers to him). Compared to the AMG sedan, the coupe is more stable under heavy braking and faster all around. There’s virtually no body roll, and it doesn’t understeer whatsoever – thanks in part to the dynamic engine mounts it shares with the AMG GT. What nervousness I had on my first lap was already gone by lap two, and I managed to click off 20 this time around, including a private session with just the two of us on track that saw me clock a respectable best time of 2:38.33. Mercedes has made great strides with its driver interfaces and usability in all its models, this being no exception. I won’t go on and on with specifics, but will say that it’s perhaps the nicest interior they make. The C 300 4MATIC coupe will begin arriving in Canadian dealerships in March with a $48,100 MSRP, and it’s a one of the best compact luxury cars in Canada. The same can be said on the on the luxury performance side with respect to the C 63 coupe models, though pricing won’t be released until April and the car won’t go into production until June. It will arrive in our showrooms sometime in July however. That is, if they even make it to showrooms. If you are at all interested don’t wait for them to get here because they will go fast – literally and figuratively. The thing about this car is that you’ll find yourself resisting many urges in your daily commute, but if you’re looking for a dual-duty high-performance luxury car to also take to the track, this is one that should be seriously considered. The Mercedes-AMG C 63 S sedan has already been named AJAC’s Best New Sports Performance Car for 2016. The coupe will be eligible to win it next year. And I think it will. BY THE NUMBERS | $164 /HP (CALCULATED W/ EST. BASE MSRP) | 125.75 HP/L | 264.53 HP/TON | 3.43 KG/HP | 8.9 L/100 KM (NEDC – COMBINED) SPECIFICATIONS 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé BASE PRICE: $82,500 (estimate only) ENGINE: AMG 4.0L twin-turbocharged V8 HORSEPOWER: 503 hp @ 5,500-6,250 rpm (SAE) TORQUE: 516 lb-ft @ 4,750 rpm CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / rear-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 7-speed dual clutch automatic DRY WEIGHT: 1,725 kg FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (NEDC COMB.): 8.9 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Audi S5, BMW M2/4, Cadillac ATS-V Coupe, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Infiniti Q60 Coupe, Jaguar F-Type R, Lexus RC F NOTABLE OPTIONS: PREMIUM PACKAGE - Parktronic w/ active parking assist, COMAND online navi w/ MB Apps, Burmester surround system, Keyless-Go; INTELLIGENT DRIVE PACKAGE ($TBA) - Distronic Plus, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, CMS rear, BMS Plus w Cross Traffic Assist, Pre-Safe Brake, Advanced Driving Assistance package; PREMIUM REAR SEATING PACKAGE - rear window sunshade, Thermotronic automatic climate control; metallic paint; designo upholstery; head-up display; passive lane keeping assist; power trunk closer; air balance package; 19-in. AMG 5-spoke wheels; AMG performance seat; AMG carbon ceramic brakes.
History was made in Daytona Beach, Florida, when the No. 2 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda HPD Ligier JS Prototype, driven by Brazilian Pipo Derani and Americans Johannes van Overbeek, Scott Sharp and Ed Brown, crossed the finish line for the overall win after logging 736 laps in the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona, the opening race of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This marks the very first overall victory for a Honda-powered car, as well as the first for the French-built Ligier prototype. CAMERA: Nikon D700EXPOSURE: 1/125 sec. at f/11FOCAL LENGTH: 80 mmISO: 200
One normally goes to Venice for a romantic gondola ride on the Grand Canal and explore the narrow medieval streets on foot, to drink caffè or eat tiramisu in the Piazza San Marco and to marvel at statues of famous explorers, Kings and Queens. It’s certainly not a place you visit to explore by car as there are literally no roads – every taxi is a water taxi, and the speed limit on the canals is 7 km/h. So upon learning that Audi was launching the all-new A4 here, I pondered (albeit briefly) the possibility that the Ingolstadt car maker had been secretly developing an amphibious version of its most important model. No such luck, of course. Venice is a veritable stone’s throw away from the Dolomites, a mountain range in the northeastern part of Italy that, besides boasting some of the most beautiful views in the world, also features some of the most fantastic driving roads anywhere. It is here, on the sinuous stretches of tarmac that rise from the shores of the Adriatic Sea, past the foothills of the Alps and ascend well into high alpine country, where Audi has laid out its latest bread-and-butter model for close examination. Over the course of about six hours, my co-driver and I take turns at the wheel, neither one of us wanting to give up the seat for the next stint. The A4 has been the heart of the Audi brand since the mid-1990s, and the all-new 2017 models make up the ninth generation. Including the original 1972 Audi 80 predecessor, Audi has sold more than 12 million worldwide since the beginning; and the platform has helped Audi achieve greatness in the World Rally Championship (WRC) and the German touring car championship (DTM). Built on the modular MLB evo platform, the new A4’s sporty, elegant and functional exterior is almost entirely new (more than 99 per cent they say). Though it may be described as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the design has been painstakingly refined in the wind tunnel to make it the most slippery A4 to date. The resulting 0.23 coefficient of drag is not only impressively low (second best in the world for production cars according to Audi), it helps maintain a cabin comparably quiet to the A8, while also improving fuel economy by up to 21 per cent, depending on the trim. Audi has six versions of the 2017 A4 with a choice of seven different (three TFSI and four TDI) engines ranging from 150 to 272 horsepower for other parts of the world. Canada, however, will only get the 2.0 TFSI (gasoline) option on account of the unresolved North American VW diesel emissions scandal. Fortunately, I’ve managed to secure one of the few A4 2.0 TFSI Quattro S-Line models, complete with the seven-speed S-tronic transmission, on hand to conquer the mountains. It doesn’t take long for the smiles to materialize. The car is taking the multitude of switchbacks with nonchalance – turn-in is crisp and precise, and grip is in ample supply despite the changing surfaces (wet/dry) as we punch through each cloud layer. The chassis stays flat through long, sweeping bends with almost no understeer to complain about; and the car doesn’t struggle one bit during the long, slow ascent to the summit. Weight is down by 110 kilograms despite the car being slightly larger than the outgoing model, with six kilos stricken from the front axle alone to help it turn and stop quicker. Audi claims this car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in six seconds, though it is closer to seven by my rough count. But while the car has a tendency to lag from a standing start, it certainly feels much faster when pulling out to pass at speed. Drive Select switches between regular and sporty driving modes, the ECUs communicating with a number of computers that are on board to manage the 30 driver assistance systems and achieve semi-autonomous operation. Things like active cruise control with predictive efficiency assist and traffic jam mode for stop-and-go traffic not only make it seem like the car is thinking ahead, it reacts appropriately, too. The interior of the new A4 is as comfy as it is an exercise in meticulous attention to detail. It’s not quite as luxurious as Mercedes cabins, but it does have a techier feel thanks to a number of tricks, including MyCar Manager for smartphones and the Audi virtual cockpit control cluster that’s also found in the Q7, TT and R8. Besides using Google maps for navigation, this system uses the ATE standard for faster rendering of the sat nav. Furthermore, the A4 now boasts the longest interior in its category, with more headroom and rear legroom than its predecessor, a 480-litre trunk and 30 different ambient lighting colours to fine tune the cockpit ambience. Pinch to zoom maps, a 750-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo, two USB ports, Audi phone box with inductive charging capabilities and a smartphone screen clone function on the multimedia interface means you can always stay connected. While the A4 is currently only offered with 2.0 TFSI powerplant (available trims include Komfort, Progressiv and Technik), we’re hoping more offerings will be announced as Dieselgate gets sorted out. For now, we have it on good authority that an A4 Avant wagon will be available in Canada roughly six months following the sedan’s on-sale date. That might not be enough for diesel fans, but with the price of gas as low as it is, it will be hard to ignore. BY THE NUMBERS | $171 /HP (BASE MSRP) | 126 HP/L (ENGINE DISPLACEMENT) | 151.4 HP/TON (HORSEPOWER TO WEIGHT) | 5.99 KG/HP | 6.3 L L/100 KM (DCT – OBSERVED) SPECIFICATIONS 2017 Audi A4 2.0 TFSI quattro BASE PRICE: $43,200 ENGINE: Turbocharged 2.0L I-4 HORSEPOWER / TORQUE: 252 hp @ 5,000-6,000 rpm CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / all-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 7-speed S-tronic transmission FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY.): 7.9 / 5.4 / 6.3 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: BMW 3 Series, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac ATS-V, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar XE, Kia Cadenza, Lexus RC, Lincoln MKS, Mercedes- Benz C-Class, Volvo S60 NOTABLE OPTIONS: LED LIGHTING PACKAGE ($900) – LED headlights, high-beam assist; S LINE SPORT PACKAGE ($2,250) – 19-in. 5-V-spoke design wheels with titanium finish, 255/35 R19 performance tires, sport suspension, front sports seats, black interior headliner, stainless steel pedals, brushed aluminum inlays, flat-bottomed 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel, S LINE EXTERIOR, PASSENGER LUMBAR SUPPORT, SPORT SEATS WITH LEATHER SEATING SURFACES, S LINE DOOR SILLS; DRIVER ASSISTANCE PACK AGE ($1,350) – Audi side assist, top-view camera, AUDI PRE SENSE REAR, REAR CROSSTRAFFIC ALERT; COMFORT SEATING PACKAGE ($1,350) – front sport seats, ventilated front seats; CONVENIENCE PACKAGE ($850) – Rear parking sensors, heated steering wheel, memory for driver’s seat and exterior mirrors; Metallic paint ($890); 18-in. 10-spoke dynamic design wheels with all-season tires ($800); rear side airbags ($500).
You could be forgiven if you weren’t aware that the Chevrolet Malibu is now on its third generation since 2008. The 2013 model, in fact, marked the beginning of a new generation, but it maintained so much continuity with its predecessor that it appeared to be more like a refresh. With the debut of the all-new ninth-gen model, however, so much has changed that there’s a good chance you might not even realize it’s a Malibu. One of the biggest differences is under the skin where GM engineers have lengthened the Malibu’s wheelbase (by a whopping 91 mm) and its overall length (by 58 mm), while keeping the same width. They’ve also shed 136 kilograms (300 pounds) of weight. More than one-third of the reduction (54 kg) comes from a structure that uses more high-strength steel than its predecessor, which enabled GM engineers to use thinner components that are lighter, yet deliver similar levels of crash worthiness. A greater use of aluminum, in suspension and chassis components and the hood (which itself is three kilos lighter than the steel hood on the outgoing car), has also contributed to the Malibu’s reduced mass. The lightweight theme continues under the hood, where the Malibu offers three four-cylinder engines, two of which are all-aluminum. An all-new 1.5-litre turbo (160 hp / 184 lb-ft) serves as the base engine, while a higher-out-central put 2.0-litre turbo (250 hp / 258 lb-ft) powers the range-topping Premier model. A 1.8-litre mill with a cast iron block mated to an electric two-motor drive unit (182 total hp / 129 lb-ft) powers the Malibu Hybrid. Two automatic transmissions are available, a carry-over six-speed pairs with the 1.5, while the 2.0 is mated to an all-new eight-speed, the first to be offered in a GM front-wheel drive vehicle. From a design perspective, the Malibu cuts a sleeker, more handsome profile compared to the boxier look of the outgoing model. Slim headlamps and a two-port grille opening bear a striking resemblance to other Chevrolets, the new Volt and forthcoming Cruze in particular. Strong character lines running the length of the car give the Malibu a more dramatic-looking profile. The interior is spacious, handsomely finished and pleasingly straightforward. Soft touch plastics and fabrics complement controls and switches that are well-placed and easy to use. In addition to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the former being available first, and the latter to follow later in the 2016 model year, safety is a primary focus for the new Malibu. On that front, the Malibu offers a broad range of collision mitigation technology, the sort of which has become common on many cars these days – front and rear park assist, front pedestrian braking, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert are among its many available safety features. What’s new here is Teen Driver, an industry first, which essentially enables parents of teenage drivers to monitor their kids’ driving habits. Standard issue on the Premier trim and optional on LT models equipped with the Convenience Package and upgraded radio, Teen Driver enables a parent to set the car’s maximum speed (between 65-120 km/h), and all of the equipped safety features (stability control, front and rear park assist, side blind zone alert, etc.) are enabled and cannot be turned off. So-equipped Malibus can also track distance driven, maximum speed travelled, over-speed warnings issued and stability control events, among other data. Teen Driver isn’t subscription-based, so once a parent sets up a PIN to go with their teenager’s key fob using the Malibu’s MyLink system, it’s a permanent part of the vehicle. It’s an innovative feature on a car that feels very well-engineered and carefully calibrated to suit consumer preferences After spending the better part of a day driving several trims on highways and local roads in the Palo Alto area, it seems to me GM has accomplished what it set out to do with the Malibu. All trims deliver a quiet, comfortable ride over a variety of road surfaces. Acceleration is reasonably brisk with all three engines, and the handling, while not exactly sporty, feels secure in everyday driving environments. The weight saving measures help give the car a lighter, nimbler and more responsive feel. Inside, the Premier trim is certainly the most luxe with its sheer volume of stuff, but the lower and mid-range trims (the LT in particular) also comes with an impressive array of standard equipment. That said, if performance matters, the Premier’s 2.0-litre turbo and eight-speed auto powertrain is the trim of choice as it offers the most engaging driving experience. In all, the 2016 Malibu offers a compelling value proposition, nicely packaged with an impressive array of safety features and technology for the broad mid-size segment. Its predecessor has been a solid sales performer on both sides of the border and I suspect this car will continue that trend. BY THE NUMBERS | $128 /HP (CALCULATED W/ AS-TESTED PRICE) | 125 HP/L | 6.14 HP/TON | 9.0 L/100 KM SPECIFICATIONS 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Premier BASE PRICE: $21,745 (L trim) AS-TESTED PRICE: $32,045 (plus $1,750 freight & PDI) ENGINE: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder HORSEPOWER: 250 hp @ 5,300 rpm TORQUE: 258 lb-ft. @ 1,700 rpm DRY WEIGHT: 1,536 kg CONFIGURATION: front-engine, front-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 10.6 / 7.1 / 9.0 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000 ALTERNATIVES: Ford Fusion Titanium, Honda Accord Touring, Toyota Camry XL
It’s not much of a stretch to say Honda Canada would not be what it is today were it not for its wildly popular Civic. The fact that the Civic has been built in the company’s Alliston, Ontario assembly plant since 1988 is no accident – few nations have embraced it like Canadians have. All told, Honda Canada has sold more than 1.89 million Civics here since its inception in 1969, and it has been the nation’s best-selling car for the past 18 years. Against this backdrop of long-running success, Honda began to roll out the 10th generation Civic sedan late last year, which will be followed by a coupe, five-door hatchback (the first hatch since the UK-built 2002-05 SiR) and a European-sourced Type R. Unlike the eighth and ninth gens, which were closely related, the 10th generation marks a significant sea change for the Civic. Sporting a completely new design, the 2016 Honda Civic Sedan is 50 mm wider, 20 mm lower and has a wheelbase that is 30 mm longer than the outgoing car. Greater use of high-strength steel in the chassis (now 12 per cent of its overall mass) has improved torsional rigidity by 25 per cent and improved aerodynamic efficiency by 12 per cent. It’s also 31 kg lighter. In addition, Honda engineers have made significant gains in reducing cabin noise via better body-sealing techniques and the use of flush-mounted acoustic glass, triple-sealed doors and a tightly sealed engine bay. From a packaging perspective, it’s all about getting low, which is bound to please Civic enthusiasts. The driver’s hip point is 25 mm lower, which has been made possible through the use of a lower floor and engine location. The Civic also sports an all new front strut / rear multilink suspension that includes thicker front and rear stabilizer bars. New variable gear ratio steering is also standard. Powering the LX and EX trims is a 2.0L 16-valve DOHC i-VTEC four-cylinder, which is mated to either a six—speed manual or a CVT. Output is rated at 158 horsepower and 138 lb-ft of torque. While the 2.0L engine sits firmly within the Honda four-cylinder norm, the all-new 1.5L direct-injected turbocharged 16-valve DOHC inline four-cylinder is definitely ground-breaking. It is the first turbocharged engine to be offered in a Honda and its output (174 hp, 162 lb-ft of torque) is the highest for a non-Si Civic sold in North America. The 1.5 is mated to a CVT only, and is standard issue on EX-T and Touring trims. In terms of design, the Civic looks more Accord-like than ever before, particularly when viewed from the front. Inline LED headlights – a Honda / Acura staple these days – dominate a face that features a pronounced chrome-finished nose with a belt buckle-sized H in the centre, and a trapezoidal air intake below the license plate holder. It is a dramatic departure, to say the least, from the ovoid-shaped Civics of the past two generations. This car is sleeker, but more sharply creased, with pronounced character lines, flared wheel arches and LED taillights that remind this writer of boomerangs. If Honda wanted to make the Civic’s appearance more distinctive – especially when one goes whizzing by at night – it has succeeded. On the inside, the spacious interior feels like it’s come a long way. From the well-bolstered and very comfortable heated leather seats, to its gorgeous and easy-to-read TFT instrument display, to its elegant and easy to use infotainment interface, the Civic has an unmistakable up-market feel. A knob or a couple of buttons would be greatly appreciated for the audio controls, but it’s a minor complaint. Most of my time was spent driving the high-end Touring, and a few things are apparent with the new 1.5L / CVT powertrain. Firstly, this combination makes the Civic bad fast (particularly in Sport mode) where the rev-happy engine screams with delight under hard acceleration. Even in regular Drive, the Civic feels responsive and peppy. While I’m not a huge fan of CVTs generally (given their tendency to feel a bit rubbery), the one in the Civic works quite well. Power delivery is linear and precise and quite responsive to one’s right foot. From a handling perspective, the Civic sedan has me excited for what’s to come with the Si. The lighter, lower and more powerful 1.5 Civic feel very connected to the road. Ride quality is good, noise is well-suppressed (except under hard acceleration and on really bad roads), and the handling feels secure and nicely balanced. Getting out of shape in this car requires some effort. In all, the 2016 Civic is a major leap forward for a car that had been more or less travelling down the same road since the introduction of the eighth gen in 2006. It was time to chart a new course and, while some might feel it might have gone too far (at least in terms of its exterior design), Honda should be applauded for taking a daring and innovative approach with its most important car. BY THE NUMBERS  | $155 /HP (CALCULATED W/ MSRP)  | 116 HP/L 119.2 HP/TON  | 7.6 KG/HP | 6.7 L/100 KM (CVT – COMBINED) SPECIFICATIONS2016 Honda Civic TouringBASE PRICE: $26,990ENGINE: 1.5L turbocharged I-4HORSEPOWER: 174 hp @ 5,500 rpmTORQUE: 162 lb-ft @ 1,800-5,500 rpmDRY WEIGHT: 1,324 kgCONFIGURATION: front-engine / front-wheel driveFUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 7.6 / 5.5 / 6.7 L/100 kmWARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000ALTERNATIVES: Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, VW Jetta
Cadillac is killing it! Last year, the most American of car brands threw down the gauntlet with first the ATS-V and then the CTS-V. These two represent the most potent one-two performance car punch since the heyday of the BMW M3 and M5 which, depending on your personal preferences, was likely 1985, 1998 or 2005. Both the ATS-V and CTS-V are also strong contenders for the best overall performance car in the world at the moment. Now, we have the Cadillac CT6, a different kind of vehicle to be sure, but one that is no less impressive from an engineering standpoint. The latest Cadillac is an executive-class sedan that aims to throw this particular segment into disarray. In fact, representatives from the car maker say that the CT6 signals a new formula for a prestige sedan: the spaciousness and elegance of a proper flagship, the agility and performance of a smaller sedan. The key to this formula starts with the dimensions of the vehicle itself. The exterior measurements for the CT6 place it smartly in between traditional midsize sedans such as the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, and traditional executive-class sedans like the S-Class, 7 Series and A8. Its wheelbase is long–unbelievably, the back seat boasts more legroom than a current-generation Escalade – so the CT6 represents an inspired solution for the Chinese market, where long-wheelbase versions of cars such as the BMW 3 Series and Volvo S60 are common. To complete the dimensional picture, the CT6 features lightweight construction that incorporates 62 per cent aluminum and five different advanced joining solutions to further slash mass and ensure chassis rigidity. The engineers at Cadillac started this project with the notion of building an all-aluminum body, but they weren’t happy with the increased noise transfer of the lightweight material compared to steel, so they landed on a mixed-material concept. The results are impressive: Cadillac claims that the four-cylinder version of the CT6 is the lightest car in its class (1,659 kg) and is some 450 kg leaner than the fittest version of the Mercedes S-Class. Tellingly, the CT6 is also lighter than the base CTS, which is also a pretty handy sedan in terms of power-to-weight. Under that low hood, there are three different engines available: a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder, a naturally-aspirated 3.6L V6 and a 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6. All engines are linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission. During the drive event held outside San Diego, we focused on the top-of-the-line version and sampled the four-cylinder for comparison purposes. Of course, the twin-turbo V6 produced more excitement in a straight line; this was to be expected from an engine with 404 horsepower under foot. (This engine also features cylinder deactivation and automatic stop/start for better efficiency.) The lighter four-cylinder (265 hp) was no slouch, but it was a rear-wheel drive set-up that seemed less adept on the curviest sections of road compared to the AWD version. All versions come fitted with active rear steering, which reduces the turning circle and helps the CT6 carve corners more readily. The rear wheels turn 3.5 degrees out of phase at slow speeds, 2.75 degrees in phase at high speeds. The full-tilt CT6 also features the on-demand AWD system. In sport mode (the raciest of the three driver-selectable settings), 80 per cent of the torque is sent to the rear wheels, giving the Cadillac a level of connectedness that was entirely unexpected. For sure, that moment when you turn the CT6 into a corner at high speed makes you realize that this isn’t your typical executive-class sedan. Then, when the roads took a turn for the worse, the optional Magnetic Ride Control system ensured composure. Of course, this particular Cadillac isn’t meant to replace the ATS-V or CTS-V during weekends at the track–that’s just not its purpose. But the brilliance of the CT6 is that top-notch engineering underpins what is an honest-to-goodness prestige sedan. If you remember the American brand of luxury from Cadillac offerings of long ago, you will likely be well pleased with this latest model as well. As is now tradition with the newest of Cadillac vehicles, the interior of the CT6 is an inspired mix of wood, leather and metal. There is a wealth of mix-and- match interior treatments available to the customer; the variations we saw were universally excellent in terms of look and feel. If there’s one glaring weakness in this particular vehicle, it’s with respect to technology. Full credit to Cadillac for pushing the envelope when it comes to incorporating new thinking, but it seems unlikely that the target customer for the CT6 will respond. Example: The revised CUE system is better than before, and in the CT6 there is a new touchpad that can be used to trigger the touchscreen. But the functioning of the system is still not as intuitive or responsive as more traditional switches, or even some other manufacturers’ rotary dial systems. The system incorporates a 360-degree camera to ease parking tasks and night-vision. Also, the CT6 features the world’s first production car rear camera mirror, which projects an ultra-sharp wide-angle view of what’s behind the car into the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, if the sun is at the wrong angle, it messes with that view, creating a double-image. (This feature can be deactivated with a switch, turning the mirror into a regular piece of glass.) Back on the positive side of the ledger, the optional massaging seats are the best in the business and the likewise optional Panaray audio system from Bose is incredible. (The effort the engineers have put forth to slash noise in the CT6 has set the stage for some truly memorable driving soundtrack moments.) In the final analysis, the 2016 Cadillac CT6 is a smartly engineered vehicle and the latest winner from a brand that should now be accustomed to winning. In terms of exterior design, it isn’t as bold as the level of engineering or technology might suggest; instead, it’s suitably understated, which is what would be expected of an executive-class sedan. But in every other respect, the CT6 is a car that will make people sit up and take notice. BY THE NUMBERS$182 /HP (CALCULATED W/ BASE MSRP) 134.7 HP/L 197.8 HP/TON 4.59 KG/HP 11.2 L/100KM (AUTO – COMBINED) SPECIFICATIONS2016 Cadillac CT6 TT AWD (Luxury) BASE PRICE: $73,555 ENGINE: 3.0L twin-turbocharged V6 HORSEPOWER: 404 hp @ 5,700 rpm TORQUE: 400 lb-ft @ 2,500-5,100 rpm CONFIGURATION: Front-engine / all-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic DRY WEIGHT: 1,853 kg FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY. / COMB.): 13.1 / 9.0 / 11.2 L/100 km WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 48 / 80,000 ALTERNATIVES: Audi A6, Audi A8, BMW 5 Series, BMW 7 Series, Lexus GS 350, Lexus LS 460, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz S-Class NOTABLE OPTIONS: ENHANCED VISION AND COMFORT PACKAGE ($2,515) – Rear camera mirror, power sunroof, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, leather seating surfaces; REAR SEAT PACKAGE ($2,795) – Rear seat infotainment, dual displays, remote controls, aux input jack, wireless headphones, quad-zone automatic climate control, ionizing air cleaner; ACTIVE CHASSIS PACKAGE ($3,895) – Magnetic ride control, active rear steering, 20x8.5-in. alloy wheels, all-season tires; BOSE PANARAY 34 SPEAKER SOUND SYSTEM ($4,255); METALLIC PAINT ($575-$1,145).
  Let’s deal with this right off the top: the all-new Nissan Titan XD is a tweener. What I mean is that it’s a heavier light-duty truck that falls in between the half-ton and three-quarter ton classes of full-size pickup. Essentially, Nissan is positioning the Titan XD to have more of the capability found in the latter, combined with the road manners and driveability of the former. Mechanically, the XD ticks a lot of the boxes truck buyers will approve of, starting with the Cummins engine. Made of a compacted graphite iron block with a forged steel crankshaft and aluminum heads, the Cummins 5.0-litre turbo diesel V8 tips the scales at just 362 kilograms (800 pounds). It features a new M2 two-stage turbocharging system that is designed to work well at both low and high engine speeds. A high pressure fuel system from Bosch featuring piezo fuel injectors allow for precise fuel control for optimized combustion, which helps to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. In terms of output, the engine delivers 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft of torque, which bodes well for towing thanks to its maximum tow rating of 5,460 kilograms (12,038 pounds) and maximum payload of 908 kilograms (2,004 pounds). This is good news if you’re going to be hauling a boat, horse trailer or loads of gravel, among other things. Under the skin, Nissan appears to have done its homework in building a rigid, durable backbone for the Titan XD. Its platform is shared with the Nissan’s NV2500 full-size cargo van, and features a fully-boxed steel ladder frame that has been reinforced for greater stiffness. A double-wishbone with a stabilizer bar forms the reinforced front suspension that’s tuned for hard use, while the rear utilizes heavy duty leaf springs and leaf bushings. A 13-inch rear differential features 3.5-inch axle tubes, while the front differential is 9.25 inches long. All Canadian-market XDs are 4x4. When it comes to stopping force, the XD comes with standard four-wheel disc brakes that are 360 mm (14.2 inches) in diameter up front and 365 mm (14.4 inches) in the rear. 17-inch wheels are standard, but 18 and 20-inch sizes are available. In terms of styling, Nissan has wisely chosen to avoid trying to out-cowboy the domestics by giving the XD a powerful warrior-type look designed to invoke an impression of size and strength. So, while there is a lot of brightwork on certain trims, especially the high-end Platinum Reserve, you won’t see any Texas-inspired belt buckles or other homages to the American West here. Much like the original Titan, Nissan isn’t selling nostalgia with this truck and its design is reflective of that. While in Arizona, I was able to sample several crew cab models, including the upper level SL, on a mix of on- and off-road drive routes that also involved towing a 4,082-kilo (9,000-pound) enclosed car trailer. A few things stand out from my time behind the wheel. First off, the XD’s interior is enormous, nicely finished and chock full of well-designed utility features. From a giant centre console capable of swallowing a 15-inch laptop to multiple 12-volt outlets, more cup holders than you can count on two hands and various other pockets and storage cubbies, Nissan designers have made the most of available space. Second, the Cummins engine is much quieter, both at speed on the highway and in slower city traffic. The oft-cited ‘diesel clatter,’ while still detectable under acceleration, is well supressed. Better insulation is key here, especially the use of laminated front side glass that helps supress wind and road noise. Third, towing appears to be a real strength thanks to the presence of trailer sway control, an integrated trailer brake controller and downhill speed control, which is essentially engine braking. Towing the enclosed trailer up and down a long and winding stretch of highway near Scottsdale proved to be a drama-free exercise. The six-speed Aisin heavy-duty transmission seems ideally matched with the Cummins engine. Power delivery is smooth, both truck and trailer felt planted on the road and the downhill speed control was easy to modulate with judicious braking and acceleration. No gear-hunting here. In sum, the Titan XD is a well-engineered truck loaded with useful and innovative features, several of which will be familiar to first-gen Titan owners, including the spray-in bedliner, Utili-track bed channel tie-down system and bedside storage. The Trailer Light Check System integrated into the key fob, which allows one person to check all of the trailer lights, is yet another cleverly-designed innovation. Although not cheap, the Titan XD offers a lot of truck for the money, but the real question is how big is the market for a more capable half-ton pick-up? The answer to that question will go a long way in determining its long-term success. BY THE NUMBERS$169 /HP (CALCULATED W/ BASE MSRP)111 HP/L 150 HP/TON 6.05 KG/HP SPECIFICATIONS 2016 Nissan Titan XD SL Crew Cab 4x4 PRICE: $70,250 ENGINE: 5.0L V8 turbo diesel HORSEPOWER: 310 hp @ 3,200 rpm TORQUE: 555 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm CONFIGURATION: front-engine, four-wheel drive TRANSMISSION: 6-speed automatic DRY WEIGHT: 3,357 kg FUEL ECONOMY RATINGS (CITY / HWY.): NA WARRANTY (MOS. / KM): 36 / 60,000 ALTERNATIVES: Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra 2500, Ford F-250, Ram 2500
Hopping in and out of multiple cars every week means that Ignition’s writers and editors come to experience a wide range of comfort features, infotainment systems, safety devices and in general overloaded tester models brimming with options. All of us have experienced some head-scratching or annoyance as we learn or adapt to some of these systems, as most drivers have too. But even after the familiarization period some systems leave us cursing some so-called ‘advancements,’ while others are placed on our personal ‘must have’ lists for our own next vehicles. After surveying our motoring staff and contributors Brian Makse, Jil McIntosh, Justin Pritchard, Justin Mastine-Frost and Mark Hacking, we’ve compiled a list of 10 most commonly mentioned must-have features and annoyances. 10 MUST-HAVE FEATURES 01. Seat heating/ massaging (especially with leather). 02. Android Auto/Apple CarPlay. 03. Insane/Ludicrous/Eye-popping acceleration. 04. Heated steering wheel.05. Auto/push button unlocking AND ignition combo. 06. Steering wheel stereo and phone controls. 07. Collision avoidance systems (backup camera, forward collision warning/ braking, blind-spot warning, cross-traffic alert).08. OnStar/telematics emergency notification service. 09. Heads-up displays (HUDs). 10. Neck heating for convertibles (AirScarf on Mercedes-Benz models). 10 MOST ANNOYING OR POINTLESS FEATURES 01. Automatic door locking in Drive that doesn’t unlock all doors in Park. 02. Self-parking systems. 03. Glass roofs (especially with no shade or way to open).04. Exterior mirrors that can’t adjust out far enough to avoid seeing your own car in them. 05. Navigation/vehicle settings that can’t be controlled on the move, even when a passenger is sitting there. 06. Leather-lined vents07. Motorized cupholders. 08. Auto door unlocks that require you to pull out a key or fob to start anyway. 09. Useless rear seats (Aston Martin DB9, Vanquish). 10. Remote starter. MUST-HAVE FEATURES SEAT COOLING Seat warmers have been warming motorists’ buns for many years, and Canadian drivers love them to bits (along with remote car starters). Combined with a massage function, seat warmers have therapeutic benefits too for those who are constantly caught up in the daily commuter rat race. Moreover, warmers are only useful for a few short months out of every year. I’m often dumbfounded that seat cooling isn’t included by default; anybody who’s ever had to get into their car after it’s been baking in the sun for several hours is nodding their head in agreement. Even normal driving can make you uncomfortably hot and sweaty, so let’s put that dummy switch to good use, eh. HEADS-UP DISPLAYS HUDs are available in a growing number of high-end sports performance and luxury cars, but they should be in every vehicle due to the simple fact that they help drivers maintain their focus on the road. As these improve and spread to a wider range of vehicles, HUDs with multi-informational capabilities, such as ones that display navigational directions, multimedia information, shift points and other important info, will become the main user interface in future vehicles. ANDROID AUTO / APPLE CARPLAY The fines for distracted driving are going up and up, and using your smartphone while driving these days is just plain dumb. That said, Android and Apple, with cooperation from the OE manufacturers, have both come out with solutions that let people use and maintain connectedness with their mobile devices via the touchscreen display that is already integrated into most vehicles. Not only that, both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay allow drivers to extend the functionality of their devices to bring new features and/or tech to the vehicle. Talk about bonus points! MANUAL TRANSMISSIONS Because automatics and continuously variable do-jiggies just don’t cut the mustard, and because paddle shifters are just too easy to use, long live the standard gearbox! ANNOYING OR POINTLESS FEATURES SELF-PARKING SYSTEMS Being able to see 360 degrees around your vehicle is great, and kudos to the manufacturers for collectively putting cameras (and sensors) pretty much anywhere and everywhere to make that possible. There are obvious benefits to seeing things that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye from the driver’s seat, but a vehicle that parks itself is nothing more than a novelty, a pricey one at that. Besides the fact that anybody who drives a vehicle needs to know this most basic of skills to obtain their driver’s licence, I’ve yet to encounter a self-parking system that can reverse into a parking spot faster or better than me. Same goes for parallel parking. That’s just plain annoying! GLASS ROOFS If they open and close then great, but if they’re just a big, heavy pane of glass to give an unobstructed view of the sky, then what is the point? That said, glass roofs tend to create a warmer, more inviting atmosphere inside the vehicle, but the notion that they create a bigger or more useful space is just an illusion. If you’re feeling claustrophobic, open a window or make a pitstop. Safety is another area of concern with glass roofs and, in the event of a rollover or protrusion into the cabin, what’s better than thousands of tiny shards of glass flying around your face? How about none? Last time I checked ceiling airbags don’t exist yet.
WE OFFER SIX HELPFUL TIPS TO CONSIDER AHEAD OF VISITING THE NEW CAR MARKETPLACE Selecting and buying a new car is an experience as unique as your individual needs, budget, lifestyle and tastes. As a result, when it’s time to hit the market in search of your first new car (or perhaps your first new car in ages), there’s no one-size-fits-all solution on how to do it properly, and no single list or how-to guide that’s suitable for everyone. However, bearing in mind some important tips can help the new car shopper decrease stress and confusion along the way. Here are our six tips to keep in mind ahead of your new car shopping endeavours. FOCUS It’s best to start shopping with a good idea of the features you need, the sorts of traits that are important to you, and a few key competitors to test drive against one another. That all starts with determining the type(s) of vehicle you’re after. So, don’t be this guy: “I want a hatchback. I want to spend $15,000. I like the grille on this car. Should I get a pickup truck? I want to spend $27,000. I don’t like hatchbacks. What about a sports car? Oooh, that new Fusion looks nice!” You’ll want to get educated on your options, and there are many. Read reviews. Visit online owner forums. Check out the model(s) you like on YouTube. Hitting dealer lots with a fairly focused idea of what you’re after is a great way to avoid wasting time and becoming frustrated. You’ll also want to check out the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council (OMVIC) website, for a look at your rights as a shopper, and the rules and regulations around what’s allowed – and what isn’t – when it comes to price advertising and additional dealer fees. DON’T RUSH Buying a car on your lunch break is a great way to wind up with a car you probably won’t love. Plan ahead, take your time, and only visit a dealer for a test drive when you’ve got time to do it properly. A good test drive should take a half-hour or more, and if you’re strongly considering the model in question, you may want to test drive it more than once over the period of a few days or weeks. Schedule car-shopping endeavours into your calendar when you won’t be rushed. Want to have a look at some new cars in private? Visit a dealer after-hours and browse the lot. PRIORITIZE Make a solid, stick-to-it list of features and attributes your new ride needs to have. What’s important to you? All-wheel drive? Blind spot monitoring? High-performance Xenon lights for nighttime driving confidence? A lengthy powertrain warranty? Write down your price limit, as well as your priority features and attributes, to help you stay focused. Go over your list with sales representatives, ensuring you’re test driving a model that hits as many marks as possible. This list is important: bring it with you, and insist on seeing a model that delivers on the listed items. THE TEST DRIVEConsider calling the dealer ahead of time and scheduling a test drive appointment to avoid waiting. Before you set off, start with a full check of how you mesh with the vehicle’s cabin, systems and functions. Try the navigation. Pair your phone via Bluetooth. Fold down the rear seats and see if there’s enough room for your favourite ladder. The test drive is fun and informative, but there’s more to it than just the driving. Ask how long you can drive the car for: you’ll want to drive it in town, on the highway, on some rough roads and in a parking lot, as a bare minimum, to see how it responds in different situations. THE SMALL STUFFDoes the vehicle have enough cupholders? Will your spouse have enough headroom? How does it ride on a rough road? Is there room at hand for smaller items to be kept organized? Are there enough power outlets? Think of your lifestyle, the people and pets, the things you’ll use your car to transport, and how you need it to work for you in real life. Asking for a second test drive to confirm all of this – and refresh your memory on the model in question – is a good idea, too, as you narrow down your list of potential candidates. Bring the kids, the spouse, or a friend or two along for the ride, because often an extra set of eyes can reveal something you may miss. THE EXTRASYou’re about to seal the deal, and it’s up-sell time. Your wallet and bank account are already open, and your sales rep will be ready to pounce with extended warranties, add-on upholstery and finish protection, rust-proofing and more. Keep a few points in mind here. First, most add-ons don’t need to be purchased on the spot, so take some literature away, read up, and decide if the extra cost is worth it before deciding. Second, when it comes to extended warranty coverage, consider the cost of the warranty, versus the cost of putting that money aside in your own bank account toward repairs, and keeping it if none are required.
Expanded 2016 EnerGuide Label Highlights More Reliable Canadian Fuel Efficiency Numbers, Finally! If you happened to have been shopping for a new vehicle at any point in 2015, you may have noticed something strange: all new 2015 vehicles had apparently gotten much thirstier – up to 20 per cent thirstier – compared to the mechanically identical 2014 model sitting next to it in the showroom, according to the official government of Canada EnerGuide label prominently displayed on each car. Wait, what? How could this be? In truth, any vehicle unchanged by the manufacturer for the 2015 model year used exactly the same amount of fuel as before; the difference was in the way the government of Canada officially collected fuel consumption data from automakers, measured some of them independently, and reported those figures. In a nutshell, Canada finally moved away from the outdated two-cycle system it had been using for collecting mileage data, and switched to the more realistic five-cycle system that the U.S. government had started using in 2008 after consumer complaints that real-world fuel consumption was much higher than the government-reported figures. For 2016, the big news on the fuel efficiency front is that the Canadian government has come up with updated and more detailed EnerGuide labels, which must be prominently displayed on all new vehicles for sale in Canada. These use the more accurate five-cycle fuel consumption measurement not only to make more reliable predictions as to how much fuel new vehicles will use, but will now also show how this more info compares to others in its vehicle segment. For the first time, the labels will also add new environmental ratings for carbon dioxide (CO2), the main planet-hurting greenhouse gas, as well as a smog rating, which measures how it compares to other new vehicles in terms of health-harming pollution emissions. The Canadian government has added three new test parameters to its traditional city and highway tests: a cold temperature test, one using air conditioning, and a quick-acceleration/high-speed driving test that maxes out at 129 km/h, compared to the previous highway rating’s 97 km/h top speed. It really is remarkable: the highway fuel efficiency rating on all gas vehicle labels prior to the start of 2014 judged highway fuel efficiency at what on most speedometers would appear closest to 95 km/h. Another goal of the new labels is to better highlight the advantages and potential disadvantages of a new generation of green vehicles, be they hybrids, plug-in hybrids, no-gas-whatsoever battery electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S, or now fuel cell electric vehicles. All of these vehicles have increasingly advanced fuel efficiency numbers, along with potential major fuel cost savings (yes, even now with lower gas prices) and environmental advantages. On plug-in vehicles, it lists how far the vehicle can travel only using electricity (or AER for all-electric driving range), its total range including gasoline, as well as its different mileage ratings when using electricity. Plus, from a consumer perspective, the new labels and the more accurate rating system behind them also help keep manufacturer claims in check, especially when it comes to available electric range in plug-in vehicles, as well as fuel efficiency claims made for marketing purposes. This is not to say that even with more detailed five-cycle tests, companies will not try to gain competitive advantages in their fuel efficiency and related emissions testing, which traditionally in North America are performed by the automakers, with government spot checks to verify their accuracy. The most obvious and egregious recently has been the ongoing Volkswagen Group diesel saga, in which their TDI vehicles were found to conform to emissions regulations when tested in a lab, but electronically bypassed those emissions controls when out on the road, spewing from 10 to 40 times the health-harming nitrogen oxides as allowed by law into the air, both in Canada and the U.S. As of this writing, this has resulted in all V6 diesel versions of 2014 to 2016 Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche vehicles to be pulled from the new car market in North America, while all four-cylinder VW diesels from 2009 to 2016 were also affected, including in the last generation Audi A3 TDI. In early January, the U.S. the Department of Justice announced it is suing VW AG and its associated North American operations on behalf of the EPA, with various state attorney-generals publicly stating that VW executives were citing German privacy laws and holding up investigations into the matter. “Diesel-gate” is clearly an ongoing issue that will continue well into 2016, and possibly beyond. But interestingly, it’s pollutants like nitrous oxides that NRCan’s new smog rating is meant to identify and highlight. Long-term exposure to such particulate emissions found in diesel exhaust have been linked to increased heart, lung and respiratory problems, including lung cancer, by the World Health Organization. More commonly, automakers have tried to legally “massage” the five-cycle fuel consumption numbers to make their smaller or hybrid vehicles more appealing to buyers. Ford, Hyundai and Kia all had to restate their fuel economy figures for various models. Ford restated its fuel consumption figures for six models in June 2014 (’14 Fiesta 1.6 and 1.0, plus the ’13 and ’14 C-Max Hybrid and plug-in Energi, Fusion Hybrid and Energi, plus the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid), acknowledging their widely advertised figures for these models were too low. It was the second downward revision for the C-Max Hybrid, as Ford first restated its consumption numbers in 2013. Ford originally argued back then that the numbers weren’t a mistake, but that the EPA rules allowed it to use numbers generated from fuel efficiency testing with the Ford Fusion Hybrid under the EPA’s ‘general label’ rule for vehicles with similar drivetrains and weights. Still, the company “voluntarily” restated the numbers, and provided refunds to owners in varying amounts to cover their unexpected fuel costs. At the time, with Canada still using the more optimistic (some would say unrealistic) two-cycle figures, the fuel economy numbers Ford advertised here and on its official government fuel consumption labels were even more inflated than the miles per gallon figure advertised in the U.S., when translated into litres per 100 km. Ford later admitted errors in its testing regimen had been made, and once more revised some figures upwards again, paying out more money to those owners. So, the adoption, finally, of the five-cycle tests for 2015 in Canada was truly a significant step in communicating more accurate fuel consumption figures. It’s true that U.S. regulators have already announced that they are looking into revising and perhaps tightening some of the criteria used for all vehicle emissions and fuel consumption tests in light of the Volkswagen and mileage restatements, which may mean more changes to come. But for 2016, with a scannable QR code as well as more exhaustive environmental and cost information for all types of advanced vehicles, that EnerGuide label appearing on 2016 models now is much more than just the city/highway mileage numbers and annual fuel cost estimate it offered up before. Those new five-cycle tests should mean that the annual fuel cost estimate provided will also be closer to reality than ever, which is one of the main reasons we elected to include it for all vehicle listings in our guide this year.
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Who holds the world’s closed course record? A.J. Foyt

On May 13, Bill Elliot got behind the wheel of a hopped up Mustang in an attempt to set some kind of lap record speed at Talladega. The publicity surrounding this stunt was just another chapter in the sad history of unwarranted claims surrounding “closed course” speed records.

This car had already been taken to Bonneville in an attempt to record an official speed there. Apparently, the car ran one way at over 252 mph but it failed to make the mandatory return run and, hence no official speed was established for the car at Bonneville.

Now the car was reconfigured so that it could run at speed at the Talladega Superspeedway. The press release said that they “would attempt to break the 22-year-old NASCAR speed record held by Bill Elliott. Elliott himself will pilot Hajek’s E-85 Mustang FR500C, which has been reconfigured to NASCAR specs, at Talladega in an attempt to break his 212.089 mph qualifying lap from 1987 at the same track. FIA officials will be on site to verify the attempt and to validate the record.”

The claim that Elliott was going to set some new “NASCAR speed record” has to ber patent nonsense. The only way Elliott could set a new NASCAR record would be if he were to run a NASCAR-legal race car in an official NASCAR event – like he did back in 1987. This Mustang running in a private test session met none of these criteria. What the FIA officials were going to validate is a mystery to me – they wold be limited to verifying the speed that was recorded – since there seems to be no kind of FIA record that Elliott could set.

Already, Elliott’s NASCAR record had been bettered here by a NASCAR driver in a NASCAR race car. On June 10, 2004 Rusty Wallace, driving a Penske Dodge race car without the NASCAR-mandated restrictor plate, set a 216 mph lap. Faster than Elliott’s record but it did not meet the requirements to make it a NASCAR lap – even though NASCAR officials were there and they certified the lap speed..

Anyway, this latest publicity stunt ended badly. Elliott went out for a few practice laps and a tire failed sending the car into the wall. Any thoughts of setting speed records are now on hold.

Is there such a thing as an official “closed course record”. Actually the FIA rules has such a category in its regulations but I can’t find any reference to a closed course record in their lists of world speed records. I think any claims to “closed course records’ have to be considered as unofficial – even if the speed has been recorded by an FIA approved authority. (Since I am making the point here that many “closed course record” speed claims are erroneous in some way or other – I should acknowledge that my assertions may be flawed as well even though I believe they are correct.)

Back in the late ‘90s a number of very fast qualifying records were set in the CART series, first at Michigan International Speedway and later at the California Speedway at Fontana. The fastest of these lap records – 241.428 mph – was set by Gil de Ferran at Fontana in 2000. Sloppy journalists and publicists tend to refer to these speed records as “closed course records” without qualification. Actually higher closed course lap speeds had been recorded long before this. These CART speeds stand as record race qualifying lap speeds – and, as such, de Ferran’s lap speed is remarkable.

Going back to Talladega, in 1975, Mark Donahue drove the Can-Am Porsche 917/30 to a lap speed of 221.160 – a true “closed course record”. That’s faster than Wallace’s speed and I believe it still stands as the fastest lap recorded at Talladega. If Elliott wants to set some kind of record with his Mustang, that’s what he should be shooting for.

Mercedes-Benz had an experimental sports car project called the C-III with which they preformed many high speed runs at Nardo, a 7.8-mile circuit in southern Italy. The CIII-IV version was built to beat Donahue’s record and it succeeded, setting a new record lap speed of 250.918 mph in May 1979. Note that this was twenty years before de Ferran set his 241 mph qualifying lap record at Fontana.

But a four-cylinder Olds engine mounted in the rear of a streamlined Indy car chassis went even faster; propelling A.J. Foyt to the current closed course record. Running on the 7.7-mile Firestone test track at Fort Stockton, Texas, he recorded a 257.123 mph lap speed. To the best of my knowledge this still stands as the fastest ever lap run on a closed course. I suspect that this “record” is unofficial for lack of the required FIA supervision of the record run.

Good luck to Bill Elliott. I hope that he betters his old 212 mph at Talladega. I even hope that he beats Donahue’s 221 mph Talladega lap record. But, please, no more talk of him setting some kind of “closed course record” NASCAR-style or not.

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