How can I get some needed seat time during the winter months in Utah? I’m tired of sitting indoors playing Gran Turismo, Forza, or iRacing, what can I do? How can I continue to test and tune my car during the winter months so I’m ready for the upcoming racing season? Honey, what should we do this weekend?
Any of these questions sound familiar? We have one possible answer for you – Miller Motorsports Park’s WinterX series. Wait, what is WinterX?? You can can find out more about WinterX over on MMP’s website.
And “yes”, for those wondering, MMP does run the event in snow, slush, dirt, etc. You can see pictures of previous sessions here for proof!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the Utah Interntional Auto Expo is one of the best shows that you can attend. Here’s why:
That’s right. If you attend many shows, roped off cars and “Do Not Touch!” signs are all part of the ambiance. Not so with the international Auto Expo circuit – the entire purpose of this show is to actually interact with the cars.
The show is set up in sections by make, where the local dealership provides the fleet. Walk up to the Ford or Volkswagen section, and you’ll find all the doors unlocked, and no sneering looks if you decide to jump in the cockpit and feel the clutch response (don’t judge me).
The luxury brands are different. Many of the them brought a slew of models, but the doors are locked on them. Except Lexus! I was told by the Lexus representative, “They’re all open. Feel free to open them up and check them out.” Nice job, Lexus!
Now to the highlights:
We were surprised to see the BMW i8, and must say it’s looking much more roadworthy than it did in Mission Impossible 4. Much of the time with concepts, very little of the innovative design makes it to the production car. The i8 actually preserved a lot of what made it beautiful to start with.
Jaguar wowed us last year by bringing the brand new F-Type, but this year we got both the convertible and hardtop versions. Both gorgeous.
If you have been living under a rock for the last several months, you may not know that the highest trim level of the Dodge Challenger, called the Hellcat, is hella powerful. 707 HP at a bargain price of $60k. They’re also hella rare, which is why it makes the highlights.
If you haven’t seen the new Lexus line, it’s STUNNING. Your brain can hardly process all the angles, and they’re mind-blowing to look at. Behold, an entire highlight built around a single design element. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, LED headlamp accents! This accent appears to be present on most of the lineup, including the IS, NX, and RC, although not included is the R8, despite it having pioneered LED headlamp accents.
Attendees last year were stunned to see the new Corvette Stingray so early after production. This year we were treated to 2 examples of the coupe, one with the roof on, and the other with the targa off. Unfortunately, neither in the the Z06 trim.
Chevy brought both the ZL1 and the Z/28 variants of the Camaro. We posted a picture of the Z/06 variant because a Camaro with 505HP and a starting MSRP of $72k, we don’t expect to see many on the roads.
One of the highlights of the Utah Int’l Auto Expo is the test drives! Register at a booth, and you get free reign to drive a slew of models on about a 7-minute test drive around the convention center.
Present this year were Honda, Chevrolet, Ford, and Dodge.
We got to drive the:
- 485HP Challenger Scat Pack – So much power to the rear wheels that every corner is exciting.
- Fiat 500 Abarth – the peppy, Italian who is underpowered and massively expensive, but we can’t help but appreciate
- Honda Civic Si – Props to Honda for bringing a real manual to a public car show. There’s a reason the Civic Si is still a favorite.
- Ford Mustang GT 5.0 – We can see what the fuss is all about.
- Ford F150 King Ranch – I’m not a truck person, but talk about features and gadgets! 360 degree cameras around a massive (Ecoboosted V6) truck means that despite its size, it’s still navigable.
No car show would be complete without the eye candy you expect to be present.
Audi R8 V10 FSi Droptop, pioneer of sexy eyeliner.
The coolest stock spoiler to ever lie across a rear deck – thanks Subaru BRZ!
Nissan GTR – No frills, just thrills
The quirky BMW i3
The new Ferrari has ditched its cheap-looking gills in favor of an actual intake. Along with the striking pentastar wheels, and we feel like it’s growing up to be a bit less of a chick car.
Last week we ran out coverage of the 2014 LA Auto Show. Since we actually attended this show, we wanted to show you some of the other highlights from the show which may not have been debuts but were still there for the public to see. Many of the cars unveiled in 2014 were in attendance including things like the new Corvette Z06 Convertible and the Toyota FT-1 Concept. Others were in the vendor booths and were also seen the previous month at SEMA. Some of the coolest, most interesting, and even ridiculous cars were in the basement of the LA Convention Center where all the vendor booths were. Most of the vendors were aftermarket tuner and wheel companies such as Saleen and Giovanna. The cars ranged from a Hummer H2 with 34″ wheels to Smart cars with Lambo doors along with the usual assortment of European exotica. Scroll through the gallery below to see the types of things the media doesn’t usually show you from the auto shows. If you don’t live near one of the big auto shows like LA or Geneva don’t fret. Motor Trend puts on similar auto shows in cities all over the country where you can see most of the new model year cars available for sale and sometimes a concept of two might even be in attendance.
Photos by the Author
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL has been and will always be one of my favorite cars ever made. If the gull-wing doors don’t do it for you, surely the sleek body lines and bubble top roof do. The car has one of the most gorgeous straight on profiles around with just the right amount of slope and definition to its long hood, a simple yet elegant grille, and all framed by those iconic round headlights.
The classy Benz isn’t all about looks either. It was a big time trend setter. When the car came out in the early 50′s, it’s straight six put out over 200 horsepower. That was big time power back in those days. Plus it was one of the first cars to utilize direct injection as its method of fueling the engine. That’s a technology that is just now coming back and being realized as the most efficient way to get power, fuel economy, and be emissions compliant. Roll all of these factors into a car that is over a half-century old and you get a very collectible and very expensive ride. Most 300 SL’s are worth millions. Which brings us to this guy above. The red gullwing appears to be museum quality and yet its driver proceeds to take it flat out over a mountain road at speeds in excess of 100 mph. There are a few instances when the noise or tail… or both get a little squirly. Either the driver has boat loads of money or boat loads of testosterone. We’re thinking both. He may be crazy but you have to admit. The dude’s got skills. Enjoy.
Source: Motor Authority; Road & Track
One month and one hard drive crash later, we look back at the LA Auto Show. Most auto shows we, like you, sit in front of a computer and watch the new unveilings online. This time is different. We actually went in person and saw it all right before our eyes. This was made possible because of good timing. You see, my wife and I got married in San Diego five years ago and we try to go back each year if we can. The LA Auto Show just so happens to land on the same week as our anniversary! Let’s just say I have a very awesome wife to allow me to drive up to LA on our anniversary trip just for the show.
Toyota has always been one to push alternative energy. They were the first to offer a hybrid for the masses and have been quite a big seller as well as the butt of many jokes. Toyota is yet again taking new technologies and opening hem up for the public. This is the Mirai. In many ways it is like the Prius, ugly, is eco-friendly, and a first for the masses. The Mirai is the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car to be sold. Toyota promise a 300 mile range and thee car will be leasing for $57,000 or $499 per month. Now that sounds like a lot, but then Toyota is throwing in free hydrogen to all buyers. Only time will tell if Toyota can turn hydrogen power into gold like they did their Prius.
Mazda is jumping on the cute ute band wagon and served up this Mazda2 based CUV. The CX3 follows suit with the rest of the Mazda product line with its KODO design language. It will be offered with a Skyactiv turbo four and al-wheel drive. Specifics are yet to be announced but we speculate it will use the same 155 hp 2.0 found in the base models of the Mazda3. If it is anything like the rest of the Mazda lineup it should be a hoot to drive.Do you ever look at you Volkswagen Golf R and think, “I really wish I could haul more stuff…” Well now you can with the new Golf R Variant. The Golf R Variant is basically a Golf R drivetrain engineered to fit in its Golf Variant packaging. It uses the Golf R’s 296 hp 2.0 turbo, six speed dual-clutch transmission, and 4Motion all-wheel drive. The Golf R Variant is good for 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds (.2 sec slower than the normal Golf R) and has 57.2 cubic feet of cargo space. It goes on sale in Europe in the spring but there is no word if it will be sold this side of the pond.
Scion brought what can only be described as what Toyota would have built if they still sold the Matrix. In actuality the iM Concept is a modified version of the Toyota Auris which has been on sale in Europe and Japan since 2012. The iM Concept shows that Scion is still very serious about building fun cars for the younger generation. The iM gets its name from “individuality” and “modern” and it is just that. Scion says the iM has been given the green light for production and should cost less than $20,000. We expect the production version will loose its aggressive stance, large wheels, and body kit. More details on the production version are expected to come sometime in 2015.
The ultimate driving machine and SUV don’t get said in the same sentence very often but don’t tell BMW. They brought new versions of both their X5 and X6 M division SUVs. Neither are particularly beautiful and both are rather pointless. Both are powered by a 4.4L twin turbo V8 producing 567 hp and 553 lb/ft of torque. That is enough to move their 5000 lb masses to 60 mph in a claimed sub 4 second time. If anything, that is very impressive. Prices for the X5 M and X6 M start at $99,650 and $103,050 respectfully.
Perhaps Mercedes-Benz is to blame for this ridonculous car. Earlier this year Mercedes launched the S-Class Coupe. It should come as no surprise that Audi decided to take a bite out of that cake as well with the Prologue Concept. Although it isn’t based off any current Audi, the Prologue Concept could very well be a look into the future of the A8 but in coupe form, an A9 if you will. featuring new tech such as laser headlights, 4 wheel steering, 5 link air suspension, and nothing but touch screens inside for the controls and instrument panel, the navigation system can even be controlled from the rear seats! Imagine that on a road trip with kids… Power comes from a tuned version of the 4.0L twin turbo V8 used in the RS7 and Bentley Continental GT3-R and has 605 hp. Such power should scoot the Prologue Concept along to 62mph in just 3.7 seconds. Pair that with its good looks and the S-Class Coupe would have a serious challenger on its hands. Unfortunately for now it is only a design study but we say build it!
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been the luxury car of choice for thousands around the world. But what if that is too common for you? What if you want something bigger and more exclusive? What if you want to kick back in a recliner and let someone else do the driving? Well, Mercedes has once again joined forces with Maybach to make this possible. Say hello to the Mercedes-Maybach S600. From the outside the car looks longer, 8.1 inches longer. That makes it longer than the Bentley Mulsanne. The rear seat is replaced with two reclining seats that can recline up to 43.5º back, have fold out ottomans, and massage you. The cupholders will also keep your drink hot or cold for you. What more do you need in the back seat of your personal limo? The driver is well taken care of too with a 6.0L biturbo V12 making 523 hp attached to their right foot. Prices are estimated to start at $200,000, a relative bargain to the Maybach 57 from ten years ago.
Bentley hasn’t had a big convertible car for a while now. Sure there is the GTC but that is small compared to what Bentley brought to LA which is where most of these will likely be bought. Meet the Grand Convertible. In short, it is a convertible version of the Mulsanne Speed. It puts the same 6.75L 530 hp V12 to use and offers miles of headroom. Expect to see these cruising down Rodeo Drive if Bentley decides to put it into production.
Perhaps the most outlandish car of the show was this, the Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo. The wordy name references both Chaparral Racing, who was famous for their experimental Can-Am race cars with massive wings, and Gran Turismo. This Chaparral is purely and theoretical fantasy car that can be downloaded and driven in Gran Turismo 6. Inspired by BASE jumping wing suits and adapted to look like a car. The idea is the driver lays down face first and your limbs angled toward each wheel. The powertrain is also complete fantasy using a 671kw laser, lithium-ion batteries, and an air-powered generator to propel the car forward with 900hp of thrust. See the fantasy? This powertrain allows 1.5 sec 0-60 times and a 240 mph top speed, er, in Gran Turismo 6.
Lexus has had some of the most controversial designs in recent memory and the new LF-C2 Concept is no exception. Look past the Predator mouth and the piss-yellow paint and you’ll see something that is a bit of a cross between the recent LF-LC Concept and the Lexus RC but in convertible form. The 2+2 has no roof meaning open air driving 100% of the time. As of now it is just a concept and there has been no mention to drivetrain or price. If it does get the go ahead we expect it will take the place of the bland IS Convertible and create a RC Convertible. Until then we are stuck trying to look past that hideous paint to make a real judgment on this creature from Lexus.
The most anticipated car of the show had to be this, the new Shelby GT350 Mustang from Ford. Technically revealed a few days prior, the GT350 features a 5.2L V8 make more than 500 horsepower according to Ford. Other features include upgraded suspension including MagnaRide (Ford’s version of Magnetic Ride Control), massive brakes, equally large tires, and a mesmerizing exhaust note thanks in part to a flat-plane crank. Look for the GT350 to undercut the Camaro Z28 in price and perhaps knock it off its high horse.
The next stop on the auto show circuit is the North American International Auto Show in Detroit January 12-25.
Happy Holidays everyone! Hopefully we’ve all recovered enough from our post-holiday induced comas to start work on installing new go-fast goodies! Or in some cases, some of you have been “extra-special” good and received a new go-fast car!
Anxious to get out there and try out the new toys?
Not sure you can wait for warmer weather?
Have a solution for you, Miller Motorsports Park’s WinterX series. What is WinterX? Think of it as a an AutoX course on a world-renowned race track, regardless of the weather. That’s right - rain, shine, snow, sleet, wind – it doesn’t matter – you will be on the track! To find out the specifics, do the clicky thing here.
To give you some idea of what to expect, here are some photos from last season.
And below are some photos from this month’s WinterX event.